Category: Life in America


For the average, run-of-the-mill guy, such as me, the political and national events that have taken place since the 2016 election have been quite a bit to follow.   I have been through at least 8 elections since  I was old enough to vote, so I have seen quite a bit of politics, and political theatre since then.  I have also been around people long enough to be disheartened, if not downright scared of the divisions in this country.

What makes all of this worse, is the fact that everyone, on all sides of the political spectrum are like two people having an argument, and both are shouting at the same time.  No one is listening, and that’s not to say that “listening” is the cure-all here, but, it’s a senseless way to be, and completely pointless.  The winner of any of the political argument these days (if there is such a thing) is not one that presents the facts, makes their point, and persuades the other person the validity of their position;  no, it is the side that yells the loudest.  In this year, we have had a scandal-riddled presidency since day one, heck, since before Day One.   But, what are the meat of these scandals.  Are they real? Are they not? Does any one know what the facts are?  I am not picking a side here, mainly because I don’t know what is right, who is right, and whatever.  Is Trump acting, well, badly?  Yes, he is.  Are those that dislike him acting badly?  Yes, they are.  The problem is, it is so hard to separate what is real, and what is “Fake News” that many people like me walk around in a state of confusion trying to figure out if the next Washington Post “bombshell” is exactly that, or is it just another “I know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a girl, whose cousin’s wife’s sisters’s fiance knew someone who works in Washington and they saw something in a memo, but only read part of it.”

In any other place or time, something like that would not stand up to even the most cursory scrutiny.  Making accusations based on a sliver of a rumor would anyone laughed out of anywhere, and their integrity seriously questioned.  But, enough about the media, fake news, and the lot.  It’s been covered enough, and quite frankly, I don’t want to wade through that.

Today, Senator John McCain came back to Washington to vote on the motion to move the GOP healthcare bill for debate.  Vice President Pence had to break the tie.

And the left lost it’s collective mind.  (Or, what was left of it)

What astounds me is the intellectual dishonesty from the Democrats.  They were all over Twitter, and other media outlets talking about how now “people are going to die”.

Because of a debate?

It’s the same old tired rhetoric they have trotted out for the last two decades.  They, the party of “We have to pass the bill to see what’s in it” are now accusing the Republicans of obfuscation.  The whole thing is a joke, and the dishonesty from both sides is unreal.  The party of “Repeal and Replace” has been acting like the party of “We’ll take out the things we don’t like….maybe”.  They tried to repackage it, and rename it, and just keep the ACA in tact.  None of which made any sense.  But, now, the Republicans, by the slimmest of margins have moved their bill to debate.  Progress?  Maybe.

Nothing has been passed.  Nothing.  It’s being debated on, and we are a long way from passage of anything.  Add to that, my Twitter feed (such as it is) as well as Facebook were full of people clamoring for a “single payer system”.

Let us examine that for a moment.

I am not here to argue the economics of it or anything like that, there are others out there who are far more qualified to analyse that than I am.   I do not understand how anyone in their right mind would want a government agency in charge of one of the most personal things that we have as people.  Our health.  Why would anyone want to give control over how they are treated for an illness, or an accident, or a terminal disease even, to the government?  What is it about someone, or a group of people that desires outside control of their lives?   I find the calls for “single payer” is more indicative of what those who express that view, want for the rest of us.  Not for themselves, necessarily, but for the rest of us.  That elusive “them” or “the other guy”  I go back a bit to one my earlier writings “What Do We Want?  Tyranny!  When Do We Want it? NOW!” from last summer, where I talked about how the various groups of people across the political spectrum want revenge against “them”.  “Those people” whomever “Those people” may be.  When they express the desire for this country’s medical system to be “run like Canada’s” I honestly think they haven’t given it much thought.  So intent are they on implementing a system that would punish the rich, and tax to death everyone else, in other words punish “them”, they haven’t given much though to how it would affect themselves.

I am an independent thinker, I always have been.  One thing that will get me angry, and desirous of picking a fight, is someone telling me what to think, how to think, or what to say.  Or, even worse, someone trying to control my life.  I am not talking about being told what to do at work by my boss.  That is totally different.  My job is something entered into willingly on my part, and the part of my employer.  They pay me, I do the work I am assigned.  Do I disagree, perhaps, with policies?  Sometimes, but, in my disagreement, I come up with a solution to make it better.  Maybe they listen, maybe they don’t, but they are paying me to do a job.

However, someone telling me what to say, or think, or telling me what I must believe is totally different.  That is an imposition.  A totalitarian government is not something that most of us enter into willingly.  It is something that is imposed, something that is forced, and complying is mandatory, or punishment is handed out.  That is where I bristle, that is when my back gets up.   The thing about going to a single-payer system, is that it immediately becomes a  politicized single-payer system.  What you get treated for and for how long, or, if at all, is going to depend on your politics.

That should frighten any reasonable person.  It should frighten anyone, in fact.

I can’t even conceive of anyone telling me that I cannot have an illness, or worse, one of my children cannot have an illness treated.  That would make me insane.   A person, not my doctor, but, a person from some government agency,  a bureaucrat from a government agency is going to approve, or deny my treatment, based on how expensive it is, how many years I may have to live, and, yes, even my politics.  In fact, I would gather, in a very short period of time, (about 5 minutes after the legislation is passed) it will be the only deciding factor.

That should frighten anyone, regardless of your political stance.  Tyranny is not good under any circumstances.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a right wing dictator, or left wing.  The whole “If my side is doing it, its okay” argument is stupid, and pointless.  No one should want someone from the  government deciding if they get well, or get sicker, or even worse, if they live or die.    I hear stupid arguments like “Well, if the GOP does single payer, it will at least get done right.”

What the hell does that even mean?

Neither side could do it right, and you cannot convince me otherwise.  The best system we had in this country was the system we had prior to Obamacare.  Don’t get me started on that.  I know way, way too many people who, once they were forced to the exchanges were paying premiums that were higher than their mortgages in some ways, with unbelievable deductibles, and care that was so limited it was a joke.  I don’t want to hear that god-awful abomination of a “health care plan” was a good thing.  I know better, I know too many people, middle class people, who had to sell cars, and houses, and what not just to afford basic health care.

Yes, the previous insurance system in this country had it’s flaws, but, the fact is undeniable, it did work, and it worked for a large majority of Americans.  Spare me the stories of over crowded inner city emergency rooms.  Try to remember that the overcrowded emergency rooms were not the fault of the insurance companies, but, the fact that many of these people were on Medicaid, or it’s state-level equivalent.  I am also not saying the over-crowded emergency rooms didn’t happen, I know they did, I was an EMT for a private ambulance service, and paid many a visit to hospitals and saw the overcrowded emergency rooms for myself.  Yes, they were miserable, but, what is the solution?  Let’s also remember, by and large, no one was turned away, and treatment was not denied.  So,again, what is the solution.  The fact is no one knows, but the politicians of this country seem to be willing to gamble with all of our lives in an effort to fix something that was never really broken to begin with.

The problem with single payer systems, is that those who advocate for one honestly believe that a single payer system is the only solution, and it is somehow magical, and will fix everyone’s problems.  It is those people who tend to be the ones who advocate for it the strongest, and they are generally the ones who understand it the least.   It is that lack of understand that makes their arguments so untenable.  Everyone of those who advocate for single-payer always point to Canada, or Sweden as an example of how single-payer.  Unfortunately they aren’t successful as their proponents wish they were.

Try showing someone who sings the praises of single payer success in Canada the following articles, and see how fast you are accused of showing them “Fake news”.

Healthcare Wait Times hit 20 weeks in 2016: Report”  20 weeks. Can you imagine waiting 20 weeks for a procedure?  A test? An MRI that might detect a disease process, but at 20 weeks might be too far advanced?  I cannot even comprehend that.   Follow that with this  “Canada Has the Worst ER/Referral Wait Times of 11 Developed Countries“.  Facts take no note of wishes, however, but that doesn’t deter the ‘governement-can-solve-everything crowd.   This oft-quoted study by The Frasier Institute just adds more fuel to the fire.  Now, if the average time from referral-to-procedure in Canada is 20 weeks, then, obviously there are those who get care sooner.  There is, but, that does not take away from the fact that on average, for any procedure, the average Canadian can expect to wait 5 months for it to be performed.   Imagine going to the doctor.  You, or a family member has an issue that causes their doctor concern.  Is fretting over the severity of the condition for 5 months worth it?  If it is something serious (Cancer, etc) five months is an eternity.

Single payer makes no sense to me, neither did Obamacare, and so far, the the stuff being proffered by the GOP.

I don’t want a health care system run by the government.  I want my doctor and I making medical decisions about me, or my family.  Not some bureaucratic pencil pusher.  I don’t want to have to wait months for a test or a procedure.  I also don’t want the government telling me what to eat, or what is good for me, or bad for me.   I also don’t want a judge, or a court, deciding when my life ends (if you think that won’t happen, Charlie Gard should be a wake up call for you) or if I have become “too expensive” and need to be put on an “end of life path”

I just want the government to leave me alone, and let me live my life the way I see fit. I also wish the same thing for everyone else.

What is so hard to understand about that?

 

“Out There”, “Flyover country”, “beyond the lights”.  I have heard those terms with varying frequency, at various times over the past, oh, twenty years or so.  They are terms that many in politics, and media, especially media, use to describe the rest of the country.  The country beyond the Beltway, between the coasts, the places beyond the city lights of the cosmopolitan urban centers.  It’s a disparaging term, and used as a pejorative to describe anyone not from those privileged, comfortable, and sophisticated bubbles of “civilization”.  You know those places, where they absolutely lost their minds when Donald Trump won the Presidency, those same people, bearers of the double standard, spewed nasty, spoiled-rotten-brat rhetoric about Hillary Clinton losing the election, about how she was cheated, it was misogyny, it was sexist, racist, homophobic, or whatever label they decided they wanted to stick on it.  They called the rest of the country “rubes” and “uneducated”, or “bigoted”.  They acted as if they alone knew what was right for us, and how DARE we decide we want something else. (For the record, I did not vote for either candidate, I found them both odious) So, a large portion of this country, mostly on college campuses, urban areas, and inside the Beltway, had a collective temper tantrum that almost six months later, is still going on.  News outlets engaged in stories designed to defame, discredit, and  de-legitimize the election of Donald Trump.  Now, all of the sudden, after 8 years of worshiping at the Altar of Obama, the press decided that they were journalists again.  The words “Fake News” quickly gained currency, and networks, newspapers, and cable news outlets, were routinely putting up stories about the so-called “Collusion with Russia”, and then, were having to correct themselves, issue retractions, or straight up apologize.  Trust in the media, already in the toilet, was sinking even lower.  No one in these elite, liberal, college educated bubbles could understand what was going on.  They all asked “What is wrong with the American people?” instead of asking what was wrong with themselves.   I know, introspection, and self-awareness is hard.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, if you are not a user of the social media platform, then you missed it, there was a minor revolution, or even, a revelation of sorts brought to us by a couple of reporters.  Real reporters.  Journalists who went out, and sought out the people of the United States, what some people call “Real America”, to find out the reasons that Donald Trump got elected, and how that happened.  One of these reporters, a Salena Zito with the Washington Examiner, routinely posts stories about the people she talked to, the places she visited,  and what she found.  It was a revelation of sorts.  (Of course, those of us here in “Real America” already knew about it) Salena actually reported on what she found, no spin, no slant, just actual stories about what the people who live in this country actually thought, and what they thought about the election in general, and what their communities are going through.  They were stories about jobs, the opioid crisis, the economic woes still felt by many small towns across the country. They were stories about the people, they weren’t about what either reporter thought. They didn’t editorialize, or inject their politics, they listened, and they wrote.  With all of the garbage in the news, or, what passes as news, stories by Salena Zito, and another gentleman, Chris Arnade,  put a face on a nation of people dismissed by Hilary Rodham Clinton as a “Basket of Deplorables”.  The unique thing was that these two people at different times, climbed into their cars and traversed the back roads, highways, and  byways of this country, to find their stories (Yes, folks, they drove, they got on the road to go find these stories).  No pretense, no pomp, no qualifying, just reporting, and good reporting at that.   The stories brought to the fore the people of this country.  I am one of them.  I live near one of those “urban bubbles” if you will, and what I read from both Mrs. Zito and Mr. Arnade served to confirm what I already knew.

Here is why Trump won: People like me, and I can only speak for me, got sick and tired of the constant message from our elected officials, and from the media, and Hollywood, that the things we hold dear, our beliefs, values, rights, and ideas needed to be changed.  We were rubes, we were “bitter clingers” “deplorables’ and routinely called “racist”, “homophobic” and what ever other kind of “-phobic” they decided to stick on us.  In the weeks leading up to the election, Clinton and her campaign and her media enablers were acting as if she was not a candidate, but rather “President in waiting”.  It was disgusting, and it was enough to inflame anyone.  The display of arrogance and ego was astounding to me.  I got sick of it, I got tired of being told I was evil, or bad, or somehow mean for expressing my views, holding fast to my values, and wanting to just be left alone so I could live my life.  I did not want Hilary to win, I shuddered at the thought of her being president (I shuddered only slightly less at the thought of Donald winning)  So, now, here we are.  The “rest of America”, since November 8th, has somehow become the riddle that needs to be solved.  So, not to be outdone, the liberal media (because they are) has decided they are going to go out and find “America”.  the Huffington Post has decided to send a busload of their journalists on a 23 city tour of America, to do (in their mind) what Salena Zito and Chris Arnade have already done.  However, they are doing it by bus, and they are going to 23 cities, and the cities they are visiting, not surprisingly, were cities that Hilary won a majority of votes in.  So, in essence, this has become the Huffington Post “bias confirmation tour”.  Its amazing, and it is as if the liberal media has not learned a thing, nor do they understand just how despised they are.  The fact that they are going to cities, and not the rural, suburban, and semi-rural areas the other reporters went to, shows that they are merely going doing this so they could say “me too”.   Talk to Trump voters?  No, several of the reporters in this entourage have stated they are not going to talk to any Trump voters.  What they are doing, is going out to find Hilary supporters and have a good cry together, and share some mutual outrage, but try to mask it as an attempt to find “real Americans”.  This whole thing has inspired a Twitter hash tag #HuffPointheHeartland, and it is hilarious.  Instead of finding some integrity, and acting like the reporters they claim to be, and going out and objectively pursuing a story, they are going out to find stories, and people that agree exclusively with them, and of course, find people who have been negatively impacted by the Trump Administration, or the GOP, or both.  I also expect they will make something up if they can’t find it.   They are despised, and they just don’t understand it.  I am not sure whom I dislike more, Hollywood types with big mouths, idiotic politicians, or reporters and media types.  None of these people are even remotely qualified, regardless of their education level, to tell me how to live my life, what to think, or what to say, or what is right for me.  Yet, they seem to think that doing that is their job.  I hope one of these HuffPo reporters decides to walk into a diner in Southern Illinois, and start talking down to the folks that are there, and winds up wearing a plate of mashed potatoes.  I also hope one of the locals records it on their iPhone.

The bottom line is this.  This effort by the Huffington Post is just another attempt by the liberal media to make people believe they care, and they are in tune with the people.  What it actually is, is a tour of safe spaces, where they won’t be challenged, but can feel like they accomplished something.  If anything of any substance comes out of this, I will be truly surprised.

(Note. Salena Zito is also a CNN, and New York Post contributor.  You can find her on Twitter @SalenaZito. Chris Arnade is on Twitter as @Chris_arnade, and at The Guardian)

Trump. Again.

“The Donald” has won New Hampshire, and now, the din has become almost deafening.  In fact, on both sides of aisle, as socialists celebrate Bernie Sanders crushing of Hillary Clinton.

Trump won New Hampshire, rather handily, in many ways it was expected.  However, one primary does not a nomination make.  (Although, with the crows and cries from the Trump supporters, you would think he just won it all)

What is it about Trump supporters? Why, in many cases, are they so virulent, so vocal, so “in your face”?   I like Trump supporters to this:  Picture a Trump’s campaign, even, Trump the person, as a banquet, a banquet laid out by someone to satisfy a group of hungry people.  Now, on that banquet table, are carefully prepared favorites, things that the preparers know the hungry people want to eat.  However, also on that table, among the platters of delicious foods, are platters of things no one would eat, and many would find disagreeable., in fact, they may even be garbage, they smell so bad.  The hungry people arrive, and decide, “well, we are here, lets eat, at least at this banquet, there is stuff we can eat.”  So, everyone decides to get their fill, but in the process, have to reach over, around and aside of the platters of garbage, from which the emanating odors mingle with everything else, making it hard to smell the good stuff.  Still and all, once they navigate around the foul inedible, they pronounce the banquet as “The best” and “delicious”, despite warnings, and even, evidence, that the presence of the garbage at the table is going to harm them, despite all of the good food they have eaten.   In the meantime, the banquet goers are being told by others to take a step back, and look at the entire table.  For if they did, they would find the whole thing unappetizing, and walk away, despite the presence of their favorite foods.   And some, continue to eat, hoping that someone comes along, and cleans up the garbage, and gets rid of it, so all that is left is what everyone wants to consume.

I see tweets, and FB entries, praising Trump, talking about how he is a “leader” and “what this country needs”.   Now, I also understand what has given rise to Trump, and on the other side, Sanders.  It is an electorate that is fed up, finished, and angry, citizens who feel betrayed, and even, sold out.   People that are tired of “politics as usual” and the empty promises and hot air that comes out of Washington.

I get it, I am one of those people.

We are tired of the threat that is being posed to us by terrorism, unrestrained illegal immigration, a President who acts more like a dictator than the leader of a nation.  Tired of do-nothing Senators, and Congressmen.  We need, no, we want someone to do something about that.  Someone who will stand up and say “No more, this has to stop”.

Unfortunately no one has.  Well, except for Donald Trump.

The problem with Donald, and there are many. (take your pick) is that he is not, and never has been a Conservative, even a moderate one.  He is in it for himself, he is not in it for the country, the people, or our sovereignty.  He is in it for his ego.   His speeches on immigration, and terrorism strike a chord with many, because that is what people want to hear, he knows this, and he speaks to it.  It is little more than populist nonsense, with no real substance behind it.  It is what is selling though, and it is what is getting people to support him.  What most Americans want, is their country back, a sense of security, and the knowledge that Washington is not actively trying to run their lives.  Most of us just want to be left alone to pursue our version of the American Dream.  For various reasons, many Americans believe Donald Trump is, or can be, the man that does that.  Many of us disagree with that notion, and disagree with much of what Trump has to say.

Nonetheless, people are paying attention, taking it in, and following him.  In a speech just before the NH primary, Trump offered more of the same, talking points, and applause lines with very little substance, or policy behind them.   When I ask Trump supporters what he offers, I get very little in the way of responses that either point out what it is that he has, or, even make any sense.  I did get one reply on Facebook from a FB friend who is a Trump supporter, and she said “Trump is saying what we want to hear”.

That, folks, says it all.

Trump actually had his own, on the mark critique of his supporters, when he quipped during a speech recently in Iowa, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,”.  Which to me, is telling commentary on what he thinks of his supporters, and of himself.   In that one line, he is saying that his supporters blindly follow and support him, and it matters not what he does, they are so loyal, they wouldn’t abandon him.  Additionally he is saying that he is also above the law, and that if he shot someone, it shouldn’t matter.   There is not an ounce of humility in that man, and certainly, no respect for the people that support him.

Furthermore, the number of racist, white supremacists that support Trump, as well as Nazi, and other anti-Semitic types is more than a bit disturbing to me, and something that, I would think, any candidate would want to distance himself from.  It would seem, that Trump, while never acknowledging the support from these people, has also never disavowed it, and has never distanced himself from it.   Every extreme is present in every presidential election, in the past the extremism has always had little effect on the out come of the Presidential race.  This is the first election, in the 50 years I have been on this planet, where it seems that extremism has a much louder voice, and, while certainly not being courted, it is being tolerated, which should disturb just about anyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or, in 2017, because the election is going to make us wait.

The other night, a group of old white folks got on a stage, and said a bunch of stuff, I am sure you saw it, The Democrat Debate.  Yes.  That one.

So, over the last several months, we have one candidate on the Republican side, and at least two on the Democrat side, that are saying the things the masses want to hear.  All night, during the debate, we heard about how the candidates were going to give us everything our heart desires.  Free Healthcare, Free College Tuition, Free Birth Control, Free this and “Free” that.  But, what was conspicuously absent from their promises of rainbows and unicorns for everyone, was any talk about freedom, liberty, and our Rights.

Why does it seem to me, that any discussion of our Rights under the Constitution these days, results in people sidestepping the issue, or acting as if talking about those Rights is bothersome, and an annoyance.  “Why confuse the issue with Rights” a co-worker said one night at work.  As we go along in this election cycle, which is taking on a decidedly surreal aura about it, it seems like there are more fist-shakers, rabble rousers, and snarling, sign waving people than I have ever seen in my life.  I am old enough to remember the protests of the 70’s, and I don’t ever remember an election cycle where the American people seem so distant from the vision that our founding fathers had.

It seems, that in this America, we are focused on revenge, on sticking it to “the other guy.”  whoever that might be.  We are about reclaiming what we perceive as lost, and  what we perceive as “ours”, and not seeming to care if bloodshed  winds up being part of the equation.  Now, I am not talking about bloodshed for a noble cause, or in the defense of something we hold dear.  I am talking bloodshed in the name of “I am taking back what is MINE!”, leaving the definition of what “mine” means, to whatever fits the bill at the moment.  In every issue, from Illegal Immigration, to Gun Rights, to Abortion Rights, the undertone of the threat of  violence, is slowly starting to become less of an undertone, and more of an overtone. The riots in Baltimore, and Ferguson, MO, are a glimpse of what is to come if things slip further out of contriol.   It is as if, we want these candidates of ours, the ones that we believe believe as we do  to be in control, it seems, but so long as it is the “other guy” who is being controlled.   We want the Illegals thrown out, guns taken away, abortion on demand, the sanctity of life be damned, and whatever we want when we want it. Listening to our candidates, they say the things that fire people up, and get the fists shaking, and it’s not in a good way.  Throughout history, tyrannical governments have found their way to the fore when the people, tired of whatever malaise is infecting the nation, want a change, and they want a big change, and they want the change to serve, not the nation, but their self interests.  They want that “other guy” who is responsible for all of the aforementioned malaise, to be punished.  In the eyes of most conservatives, it is the liberal, Socialist Left, and in the eyes of many liberals, it is the Conservative, Christian Right.

What many people seem to be forgetting, is that the institution of an authoritarian government affects them as well.  Does anyone out there think that the people running for President, especially Sanders, Clinton, and Trump are running because, as President, they would put country first?  Put the people first?  Their rhetoric is about punishing those nebulous “others” however they choose to define them, be it illegal immigrants, gun owners, the rich, or what have you.  It is a rhetoric of class division, racial division, and economic division, designed to pit people against one another, and take our focus off of the important issues. In this day and age of the “low information voter” getting people fired up with rhetoric that doesn’t require much thinking isn’t very difficult. Heck, these days, outrage is manufactured by those wishing to move an agenda forward.  Photos and news footage of angry, fist shaking people shouting slogans, and threatening violence tends to project the image that there are large numbers of angry people agitating for change.  These days, it doesn’t even have to be true, just make it a hashtag, and pretty soon people latch on to it, without even thinking about the facts, or, even considering what the facts are.  The “Hands up Don’t Shoot” is a perfect example.  People are so mired in their insular, self absorbed social-media-pop-culture world that real news, and real events, important events don’t make it past the latest Kardashian gossip, cute kitty video, or viral photo.  Remember #thedress from earlier this summer?  It was the lead story on “Good Morning America”, a stupid story about a dress that is/was perceived to be different colors by different people, was all over the news.  A story, about a dress… something that, even 10 years ago would have been fodder for “Inside Edition” or something similar was the lead story on a morning national news program.  When people are focused on the trivia, the minutiae, and the unimportant, and it masquerades as the important, then anything that really matters (world events, the economy, etc.) gets shunted aside. Additionally, with the ever present “social media” on our phones, and in our faces now, 24/7, the trivial becomes important, because it’s the first thing we see.  It’s distracting, and that, ultimately may be the goal.  Today’s social media, is the equivalent of putting the  comics on the front page of the newspaper 30 years ago, followed by the TV listings, the gossip columns, and then “cute photos” sent in by readers, with the news, and the important stories being the last section.

It is this kind of dumbing down, this kind of media slight-of-hand, that is keeping people from learning and understanding what is going on.  This is where tyrrany starts, it is when ordinary people allow someone else to do their thinking for them, and then mindlessly repeat what they hear without giving it a second thought.  It seems to me, in some ways, that there are people in this country who want someone to think for them, and want more government controls, they want “someone” to take care of things that they could, and should normally do themselves.   Think about the advent of the “self driving car”….  Cool, new, “cutting edge”, technological, and one more thing that does something that the average person generally should have no problem doing.  Promoters of the self driving car, are saying things like:

“Safer than having people drive”

“It can avoid accidents, and, indeed, prevent them from happening”

“Can go anywhere, while you ride along in comfort”

Does anyone see a problem with this?  I would not, under any circumstances, want a self driving car.  However, people are all ga-ga over them, and can’t wait to own one.  I like the fact that I get in to my car, and go where I want, not where the car decides to take me. I don’t want to be a passive participant.  And that is the point.  Too many people want to be passive participants.  They want others to think for them, to tell them where to go, and how they should get there.  A self driving car?  Really? So, once you get in it, you are now at the mercy of whomever controls the programming for the system that controls the car.  I find no merit in such a vehicle, none whatsoever.  Yet, it is promoted as a “safety solution” and something that will put an end to the high number of deaths every year from automobile accidents.  That is how anything that ultimately takes away a bit of your freedom, or your control is promoted.  It is promoted as something that promotes “safety” either for children, or the elderly, or ourselves.  Think about that for one moment.  A car, that is programmed, and even if it is programmed by the owner to travel, the destinations, the routes, and the dates and times, are saved in a computer network somewhere, somewhere, where someone else can get access, and see where you have gone, and how often, and how long you spend there. It is just more information about you, that, can be used against you.  Add to that, how easy would it be for someone who wants to, to change where you are supposed to go? How much power would you have to override that?  What comes next after that? “Smart houses” that record what goes on in them, under the guise of crime prevention? Domestic violence prevention? Fire prevention?

Giving up control over our own personal vehicles and personal space to others, so we can feel “secure” is the wrong road to go down. Technology is cool, and does great things, but those great things are hardly innocuous, or neutral.  They can be used as weapons against us, when they wind up in the wrong hands.  Right now, so much of our lives depend on technology, whether it’s our smart phone, our computer, or our vehicle’s GPS navigation system, that we are exposed in every possible way.  Giving up control over what we hold as freedoms, to those who promise to be better stewards of it than we are, is frivolous, dangerous fantasy.   Many people, however, desire the control, but they want to be on the sidelines watching, they want the control, just so long as it is on others, not on them.  That is not, and never will be the case.  Once an enemy is identified, isolated, and the blame for the societal issues of the day placed on that enemy, it makes it easier for those who wish to exercise power and control.  The people become focused on the “enemy” that they don’t realize that the control is also applying to them.  In their zeal to find a politician who will isolate, and control the “enemy” people don’t realize that they are giving up their freedoms and their rights.

See, it’s not about the “other guy” or “them”,  It is about us.  It is about our society. It is about our country, and all of the citizens that live here.  We cannot afford to elect anyone who desires to take away rights, subjugate a portion of the population, or curtail our personal, and private activities, or worse, subject them to the scrutiny of someone or some group who is given the power to decide if it is an activity that we should be allowed to partake in, based on whatever agenda they happen to be running.   Regardless of whether or not you disagree with abortion, gun ownership, homosexual marriage, or any of the the other issues in our society today, it does not give you, or anyone, the right to prevent those folks from expressing opinions, protesting, or celebrating those issues by using violence, imprisonment, or the threat of such. It seems, however, that these days, there are people who seem to think that using violence is the only way, and don’t seem to shy about expressing that.

Illegal immigration.

Next to Hillary’s emails, and the Planned Parenthood fiasco, it is the one issue in the current election cycle that resonates with everyone in this country.

Every day, in this country, we have people spilling over our borders, entering through our ports, airports, and unguarded seashores, and, even, being packed into freight cars by criminal human traffickers. We have nearly unsustainable levels of people in this country looking for and getting hand outs from the government . It is an issue that is very important to many citizens, it is about our way of life, it is about National Security, and it is about economic security as well.

But, what are we going to do about it?

Well, what can we do about it?

On the second question, as well as the first there are several “schools of thought” if you will on how to handle the crisis.  From the Left, they want open borders, on the Right, secure borders and tougher laws. From Americans in general, there is a “send them all back” sentiment.   Neither side can offer a constructive plan on how to  deal with it, because Americans of all stripes are demanding something be done NOW!

Let’s be honest with ourselves about this issue; and, before you go making assumptions about me, let me spell this out:  I don’t like illegal immigration, and I fully agree it must be stopped, and our border secured.  I understand, that although there are many people coming here to make things better for themselves, there are also large numbers who are here to cause problems, break laws, and do nefarious things, not to mention the very real possibility there are ISIS-types among those illegals. I worked 9-1-1 in a Law Enforcement environment, in a town that has a rough reptuation, as well as being a haven for gangsters, and criminals of all stripes, telling me that there are serious criminals coming here illegally, is like saying water is wet. Prior to the Obama Administration, ICE was a regular visitor to our lock up.  I remember quite often running names and coming up with criminal histories marked “previously deported alien”.   However, not all of them are criminals, not all of them are bad, and not all of them are from South America, Central America, and Mexico.  Illegals come from China, Russia, Germany, Jordan, Israel, Cameroon, South Africa, Korea, Malaysia, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Canada, India, Pakistan, and, well, you get the picture.  People enter this country illegally every year, from all over. One of the principal points of entry is in the Southwestern United States. but, they enter everywhere.

As solutions go, there are none that will solve the problem quickly.  It is too far gone, and too far advanced to turn around on a dime, and fix.  Regardless of what Trump and his supporters might think, there is simply no way to come to a fix that isn’t going to take a lot of time, energy and money. Fixing the problem, which should be a priority, will be expensive.  It needs a multi pronged approach, there has to be action on three things: Securing the Border, dealing with the millions who are already here, and preventing more from coming in.

Shouts of “Build a Wall” or “Send them all back” are neither practical, or real solutions.  We can’t send back millions of people.  How would that be done?  Do you really want the world to see train and bus loads of people being forcibly removed from the country? Do you really want this country portrayed like that? The “Land of the Free,” packing people in to freight cars, a la, Nazi Germany for deportation to another country?  Look, I know they broke the law, but, seriously, how could anyone with a sliver of humanity in them see that as nothing but barbaric. Who would round them up? Do you want to go there too?  How would you avoid any violence? Because violence would surely result from any kind of forceful measures, and would quickly spiral out of control.  If you are one of those who think it wouldn’t, your are delusional, and devoid of any logical thought. So. lets remove the “send them all back” option from the equation, except for those convicted of crimes.  The criminals can go, we don’t need them.

So, what do we do then?  Path to Citizenship? Mentioning that is like saying someone in the room has the measles.  Is that a “reward” for breaking the law? Perhaps.  But, what is worse; Giving a segment of the illiegals citizenship, or, being seen as a human rights violator right up there with China, Iran, and some other nations?

At this same time, current Immigration laws would have to be enforced, vigorously. The borders, including our ports, coasts and airports, as well as the long border crossings between us and Mexico as well as us and Canada would have to be secured. There would have to be immediate deportation of those that are caught crossing the border illegally.   I have no problems with those borders being patrolled by heavily armed border guards in armored vehicles. Remember, this is OUR country, and we can choose who we wish to let in.

Along with strengthening the border and other points of entry, there should be a comprehensive effort to remove the criminal element, and deport them back to wherever they came from.  Immigration and Customs should be beefed up, and be available whenever law enforcement comes upon someone who has a criminal past, and is here illegally, or, is here illegally, and has committed crime. Upon arrest, and the determination that the individual does not belong here, ICE agents should be on call to take the person into custody, and to a central location where they will be sent back to wherever they came from. Many other countries around the world have strict immigration laws, we need to have them too.  This country belongs to those of us (regardless of where anyone came from) who are citizens, whether they became a citizen last year, or their ancestors did two centuries ago.

Comprehensive, strict, and enforceable immigration laws, and a system to enforce those laws is what we need to enact.  Fixing the problem will take time, probably on the order of ten or fifteen years, but it can be done.  We won’t make the country impervious to illegal aliens, but we sure can make it tougher for them to try to get in, and, make it tougher for those who do manage to get in to stay. We also need politicians not afraid to act, and put the interests of the country above the interests of the party.(whichever party they belong to) Donald Trump does not qualify as “not afraid to act”, his bombast is worthless, his plan nativist and isolationist, appealing only to the xenophobic, and racist among us. Enacting any plan the requires the removal of large amounts of people, would require enacting a police state in this country, which is anti-thetical to anything and everything this country was founded on.

Now, let me make this clear: I am not talking about a blanket amnesty, if there were feasible, agreeable path to citizenship, then it would have to include getting oneself off of welfare, finding stable, productive employment, and staying out of trouble with the law (x number of misdemeanors, or one felony conviction within x amount of time gets one deported, perhaps) .  Once staying on illegally, whether it’s a border-jumper, or someone who over stays their visa, is made riskier, and less attractive, that may force many to head back where they came from.  LIke I said, it’s not going to be done quickly.  The only way to do that is to violate the civil and human rights of millions, and that will just lead to violence, and that is not a solution either.

Also, the next thing that would be necessary, is a stable, and growing economy, and a lean toward energy independence, which would create jobs as well.  A growing economy in Mexico, and South and Central America would also help, as many of the people who come here are poor and with little means.  But, again, this all takes time.   At this point, what we have to deal with is this:

Porous borders, anywhere from 11 to 20 million illegals.  A system the is broken, and has been allowed to languish under the current administration, as well as an administration that has sought to make it easier for people to get here illegally. That is what we have to deal with, and even if we “fix” the system, we will still have millions of people here, that are here illegally, and a solution is needed for them as well.   The very idea of forcing millions of people out of the country is appalling to me.  I don’t like the fact that they are here illegally and have taken advantage of my country, but, at the same time, I don’t like the idea of rounding up people by the millions (and, honestly, how would we tell who was who?) and shipping them off either, so I am at an impasse.  There has to be a workable middle ground here, and it needs to be found. Internal and external security needs to be rebuilt, illegal immigration needs to be brought under control.

Shouts, slogans, screams for mass deportation are not going to solve the illegal immigration crisis in this country.  The only thing that can, is a solution that addresses every avenue in this issue, and takes into account the security, well being, and needs of  American citizens first and foremost.  It has to be that way.  We are a sovereign nation.  We have the right to secure borders, and a secure homeland.  It’s really that simple.

The first debate is over, and the 2016 Republican Nomination race is in full swing.

Donald Trump, is leading in the polls, although latest reports have his lead shrinking, and his popularity declining, and some other candidates are moving up, notably, including Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and Ben Carson.

The one characteristic about this race, so far, is the seething anger, much of it from Trump supporters.  Now, I have to sympathize here momentarily.  I understand their anger.  Mainly, they are angry, not so much at the current administration, but more so at the current Republican leadership in Congress who were elected on big promises, but, once in office, failed to deliver on them, and caved to the Democrats at almost every opportunity.  In fact, I will gladly state, that I am angry right along with them.  To say I am pissed off at the current state of affairs in Washington is a bit of an understatement.

Anger aside, however, the viciousness with which Trump supporters attack their opponents, is, I think, a bit overwrought.  Yeah, fine, he’s your candidate, but he’s not the Magic Man, and he certainly isn’t this nation’s savior.  Trump critics everywhere meet criticisma like this with expletive ridden, factless bombast anytime anyone comes out against The Donald.   Over at Red State.com, Erick Erickson, who runs that site, dis-invited Trump from Red State Gathering 2015, that took place in Atlanta back on August 6th-9th.  He caught much in the way of the above described vitriol.  He describes some of it in this post here.  He also admits that his dis-invitation of Ben Carson was a mistake.  (I get the Trump dis-invite, but not the Ben Carson one, but he explains it, and admits he is wrong, so that’s good enough for me)  The contrast between those who disagreed with his Trump snub, vs, those who disagreed with the Ben Carson snub is, as he stated, “…..and the reaction about Trump was 80% expletive filled rage.” . There is passionate disagreement, I know, I can be that way, when it comes to things I am passionate about.  But, blind, anger filled rage, aimed at someone just because they disagree with, or don’t like someone that you put on a pedestal, serves no purpose, and actually does little to advance an argument.

I may be among the angry, but I am not among the Trump supporters.  Several reasons. First of all, he has no solutions.  He has soundbites and slogans.  Second of all, he is not a conservative in any way, shape or form, and was never a Republican.  In fact, it is documented that he was a donor to Hillary’s senate campaign.  He is here to play spoiler, and that is about it.  Furthermore, I am thinking this is a bit of dust up as well, and as the dust settles, so will Trump’s poll numbers. Additionally, his appeal comes from the fact that he is talking about sticking a thumb in the eye of the political establishment in Washington, and right now, that is what many voters want to hear, and are rallying around the guy whose thumb is extended, and is just looking for a target.

But, what about all of those angry voters?  Well, they are there, and they are, for the moment, rather vocal about it and don’t care who knows.  But, what is driving the anger?  For starters, it is the fact that many are tired of the Republicans saying one thing, and doing another.  They are tired of a President who seems more concerned with golf, celebrities and vacations, than the serious business of running the country. Many are tired of what appear to be threats to their rights, and their way of life  As I have said before, these political times are like nothing I have experienced in the 35 years or so, since I was old enough to understand the political process.  What will happen to the anger?  Well, that remains to be seen.  Anger can only sustain a candidate, and their base of supporters for so long.  Clear, well thought out statements on their plans should they get elected need to be forth coming.  Because when everyone is done shaking their fists, the angry voters are going to start thinking, and then they are going to have serious questions for not only “their” candidate, but all of them.  The candidates that are going to rise to the top, are the ones that are going to have clearly articulated goals, as well as be brave enough to take on the establishment, both within in the party, and within the opposition.  Once that candidate comes to the fore, then the voters will find common ground.  However, that candidate is going to need to be strong, as well as clear, articulate as well as “angry”, and will have the American people’s back.  All of us. Because right now, across many segments of our society, people feel betrayed by Washington, their party, and their politicians.

Outside of Donald Trump, one of the biggest issues that seems to take up most of my Twitter and Facebook feed, is gun rights, and the associated Second Amendment legislation stuff that goes along with it. For much of my life, I never paid very close attention to Second Amendment rights, and things like that, always figuring they would always be with us, it’s not that I am against guns, or I didn’t care, I just didn’t pay attention.

Now, guns have never been a part of my life, outside of the odd BB gun.  My dad never owned any, but I did have an uncle who had a few guns.  However, even though guns were never part of my life, I was pretty familiar with them.  Being a military historian, and avid student of World War II, becoming familiar with guns, at least on paper, is part of learning about the history of the conflict.   That being said, I had always wanted to shoot a gun for real, however, being that I grew up here in Illinois, my dad couldn’t just go out to the local sporting goods store, by a .22 and bring it home for me to plink away with.  As I grew up, and became of age, I did manage to get a Firearm Owner’s ID card, but never bought a weapon, because money was always needed for something else.  Anyway, the upshot is, I never really paid much attention to 2nd Amendment stuff, but I did know that anti-gun types were rather irritating.

Fast forward twenty years, and things have changed.  Still not a gun owner, but,  I was gaining a better understanding of what the “gun grabbers” were up to, and what gun rights supporters were doing to counter that.  I began to understand that 2nd Amendment rights dove-tailed with First Amendment rights as well as all of the other rights in the Bill of Rights.  Even more so, I have also had a very strong belief that everyone has the right to defend themselves, by what ever means necessary, and, if that self-defense includes a gun, well, then, so be it. Honestly, a person gets shot breaking in to another person’s house, the, that person had it coming.   Don’t want to get shot? Then don’t do things that will lead to that happening.  Harsh? Well, yeah, but that’s how it goes.  If one intends to harm someone, and that individual gets hurt, or killed, because their intended victim put up a fight, well, then, there is no sympathy, or excuse.   But, enough of that.

A couple of years ago, as my two oldest sons became of age, they relocated to Texas (one because Uncle Sam said so) and, I had always heard that Texas, as far as guns went, was considered by many to be a “free state” in that regard.  Certainly, less restrictive than Illinois.  Two years after they both moved down there, okay, one was stationed there, and the other moved there, figuring he would do better making a living than he would in Illinois (He was right).  We decided to take a vacation to Texas to see both boys, and see the sights.

And get in a bit of shooting.

Yes.  That was the main reason outside of seeing my sons (one of whom was back from his second tour of Afghanistan): Getting a chance, finally, to shoot a gun for-real.

I had never handled a gun, a real one, but, in the late 80’s I was building model guns from model kits that our local hobby shop sold.  They were expensive, but, when finished, they acted like their real life counterparts.  On our first trip to the range, I was about as excited as a kid at Christmas.  I was looking forward to shooting both rifles and handguns, and my better half an I agreed that the kids (my two youngest were in Junior High at the time) if they were allowed to shoot at all, we would rent them .22 caliber handguns.  Full disclosure:  I will admit that I found the fact that one can rent a gun at a range rather interesting, because I had never heard of that before. (Remember, I was rather naive on the “gun culture”) At the first range we went to, we were warmly welcomed.  The employees were super friendly, and they went over the range rules with the seriousness that they required.  The range also had a gun store, and that is where we paid for, and rented the guns, signed the paperwork, and got our lessons on how to load, hold and shoot the 9mm Beretta, .45 M1911 and the .22 Ruger for the kids.  After that it was into the range.

Shooting was fun, I was nervous at first, but was able to handle the weapons with confidence, and I found I also enjoyed helping the rest of the family with loading, and clearing the guns.  Like I said, I had never used one, but I had  accumulated knowledge on how they worked, so I was ready to put my “book” knowledge to real life use. We had a great time interacting with the range staff, and some of the other shooters that were there. I also enjoyed talking shop about the various weapons with the range staff, as well as some other folks there.

It was this trip that moved me from being a passive 2nd Amendment guy, to an active one.  I gained a deeper understanding about guns, the people who own them, and how important those rights are to us.  Not only that I learned that shooting is fun, and it’s a worthwhile activity.  But, I began to understand the Second Amendment even more.  I am a holder of a gun card again, here in Illinois, but after a second trip to Texas this year to see my sons, and my brand new daughter in law, and for some more shooting, I am thinking that moving to Texas would be a great idea……

So, now, I stand for the 2nd Amendment, and I am not passive any longer. I follow what is going on with gun laws around the country, as well as legislation, and I pay attention to those politicians who wish to restrict our rights.  I know now, its a never-ending battle, because, fighting for one right, means fighting for all of them.  I am actively aware of things that go on now regarding gun rights, as well as encroach on free speech, and other rights.   To those who are passive on the issue, or or those who would say “Well, I am not a gun owner, so it doesn’t matter”. I say this:  As Americans, we should be vigilant in protecting all of our rights, fighting for all of them, not just the ones we feel we “are part of”. Because if we fight for one, and not others, we stand to lose them all.