Friday, October 14, 2016

An Attempt to Silence the Opposition

Earlier this week the New York Times published the accounts of two women who allege candidate Donald Trump touched them inappropriately.  Candidate Trump claimed the article was “libel” and demanded an apology.  Following is the response from a lawyer representing the Times.  [Warning: strong language.]

“You write concerning our article ‘Two Women Say Donald Trump Touched Them Inappropriately’ and label the article as ‘libel per se.’ You ask that we ‘remove it from (our) website, and issue a full and immediate retraction and apology.’ We decline to do so.

“The essence of a libel claim, of course, is the protection of one’s reputation. Mr. Trump has bragged about his non-consensual sexual touching of women. He has bragged about intruding on beauty pageant contestants in their dressing rooms. He acquiesced to a radio host’s request to discuss Mr. Trump’s own daughter as a “piece of ass.” Multiple women not mentioned in our article have publicly come forward to report on Mr. Trump’s unwanted advances. Nothing in our article has had the slightest effect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself.

“But there is a larger and much more important point here. The women quoted in our story spoke out on an issue of national importance — indeed, an issue that Mr. Trump himself discussed with the whole nation watching during Sunday night’s presidential debate. Our reporters diligently worked to confirm the women’s accounts. They provided readers with Mr. Trump’s response, including his forceful denial of the women’s reports. It would have been a disservice not just to our readers but to democracy itself to silence their voices. We did what the law allows: We published newsworthy information about a subject of deep public concern. If Mr. Trump disagrees, if he believes that American citizens had no right to hear what these women had to say and that the law of this country forces us and those who would dare to criticize him to stand silent or be punished, we welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight.”

Judge for yourself (1) whether this candidate is morally competent to serve as President, and (2) whether the basic freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights would long endure under a Trump presidency. 

Gryphem

Monday, August 1, 2016

Character Does Matter!

Warning: Bluntly honest political opinion.  You are under no obligation to read further.  But if you do I challenge you to engage with the essential question underlying this year’s election, and answer honestly:  What kind of leadership does my country really need, and where can it be found?
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I am fed up with disrespectful and un-American behavior on the part of some candidates for our highest office.  Just when you think Candidate Trump has violated every ethical standard he could possibly violate, he finds a way to sink to a lower level.  His disrespect for American hero John McCain several months ago was inexcusable, and now he has decided to pick a fight with the family of another American hero. 

Captain Humayun Khan, US Army, served in Iraq.  Captain Khan, son of immigrants from Pakistan, served honorably.  He was killed in action and received the Bronze Star for heroism.

Now Candidate Trump has publicly disrespected the family of this fallen hero.   He spoke against them because of their Moslem faith, and antagonized them because they had the courage to call him out for being divisive.

It doesn’t get any worse in America than disrespecting the family of a soldier who gave his life in defense of this country.

Many Republicans have disavowed Trump’s comments.  Some have apologized for him.   Some have expressed outrage.  But most continue to support his election to the office of President.  That is hypocritical.

It is time for Republicans with ethics and patriotism intact to disavow this demagogue.  Candidate Trump has no respect for anyone – not for American heroes, not for the American people, not for his own supporters, not for You.  In my opinion, an informed American who votes for Candidate Trump after the  disrespectful way he has treated these and other honorable Americans is not a  patriot.

The candidate of the other major party also is no patriot, no friend of our military, and not a virtuous person.  Both major political parties have nominated ethically flawed candidates.

Once, long ago, I was a Democrat.  I left that party when they began caring more  about winning elections than doing what was right for our country.  After many years as a dedicated Republican, I left that party for the same reason.  

Today both major parties have abandoned honor, virtue, and moral courage.  Their patriotism, such as it is, is hollow, worn for show and effect.  Their ‘courage’ is bravado and bluster.  Neither of the two major parties (or their candidates for president) shows any sign of putting the best interests of our nation ahead of the political party (or themselves).

It is time for Americans of honor and goodwill to look elsewhere for leaders of  competence and integrity, to leave the major parties, to regroup around a  candidate of character who shares many of the highest values of both right and  left.  I have come to this conclusion: the ethical choice this year is the Libertarian Party. 

Some of you will have issues with one or another part of the Libertarian platform.  That is to be expected.  After all, do you agree with every opinion of your preferred major political party?  Think about this.  The essential founding principle of the Libertarian Party is individual freedom.  The very name of the party is derived from the word “Liberty.”

Whether or not you agree with each and every Libertarian position, your vote for Libertarian candidates Gary Johnson and Bill Weld will be:
- a vote for experience, integrity, and ethical leadership; 
- a vote to disarm the most extreme partisans of left and right,
- a vote to stop cronyism and entrenched corruption; 
- a vote to end the culture of entitlement on display by the political and economic elite of both parties;
- a vote to terminate the reign of a dysfunctional two party duopoly that thinks  this year’s candidates are the best we can do.

A few of you may think voting for a third party candidate would be “throwing away” your vote.  Not true.  It is your prerogative to vote for a candidate you support.  To vote for someone you don’t support just because he or she is the lesser evil is throwing away your vote, particularly when there is another option.

What are you trying to accomplish with your vote?  Are you trying to save  America from Hillary Clinton?  At what price?  From Donald Trump?  To what end?   Either of the major party candidates will, if elected, be a political and ethical catastrophe. 

I do not choose to lend my support to either of the corrupt dysfunctional candidates headlining this election.  I will be voting for the only political party that is uncorrupted by power: the Libertarian Party.  I will be voting for the only presidential candidate on the ballot nationwide that can truthfully be described as a person of virtue:  Gary Johnson. 

Be honest with yourself, at least.  Are you truly satisfied with your choice of Republican or Democrat?  Are you planning to vote for someone, or against someone?  Before you make your final decision in this contest which might decide the essential character of America for generations to come, you owe it to your nation to give serious consideration to all your options.

Gryphem

Friday, June 17, 2016

Understanding the Greatest Sorrow: A Reflection on Tragedy in Three Parts

Introduction: My Background Story

Three years ago my three year old grandson and several of his little cousins were visiting at my mother’s house in Central Florida.  I was outside while inside toddlers in a line were parading around the house holding a brass candlestick as a scepter.  One minute they were marching, disappearing out of sight into another room.  The next minute there was a scream and a wail and panic.  By the time I got inside one of the parents was holding a towel to my grandson’s head.  There was so much blood.

If you have never seen a small child hurt like that, you probably cannot imagine how shocking, how traumatic the experience, the urgency you feel, the vital need to heal and comfort that child now, immediately.  I’m sure it’s most intense when the injured one is your own child or grandchild. 

My wife and I bundled him up and raced him to the hospital emergency room.  We were rushed right back into the treatment area.

It was a nasty cut over his eye.  After a while, the doctor got the bleeding to slow to a trickle.  But he needed stitches.  The team of a doctor and two nurses needed our help.  We had to hold the boy while the stitches were applied. 

My grandson, not really conscious, could not understand what was happening.  He struggled and thrashed and cried out.  We held him as still as we could while the doctor worked on his brow.  We tried shushing him, telling him he would be all right, but still he resisted and fought and cried.

He didn’t have the words to say so, but my grandson believed in those moments that he was engaged in a struggle for his life.  His face, normally so cheerful and friendly, was grim and determined as he fought with all his strength for survival.  We could not comfort him while his laceration was being sutured.  For him the experience was existential; for us it was heartbreaking.

Thank God the process was over fairly quickly.  The wound was closed, sterilized, and bandaged.  We were able to carry him home, where over the next couple of hours the sobs became less frequent as he gradually calmed down and slept. 

We were lucky.  The damage was not as bad as we thought at first.  The cut healed well and the scarring wasn’t bad.  We were worried, but as it turned out he never seemed to resent either of us for holding him still as he struggled.

If my wife or I could have traded places with him during all that, either one of us would have done so in a heartbeat.  But life doesn’t work that way.  We could not take his pain and angst and terror away.  We could only hold him and whisper reassurances while he went through it.  That’s all we could do.
 

Part Two: The Tragic News

Last Tuesday evening, only a few miles from where my grandson suffered his head injury, an innocent two year old boy fell victim to a more tragic fate.  He was playing happily at the lakeshore, on vacation, parents nearby, when he was snatched away.  My heart goes out to the family of little Lane.  His father jumped to save him, leapt into the water, grabbed the alligator’s jaws and tried to pry them open.  But he couldn’t.  No one could have.  The alligator pulled Lane under the water, where he drowned.  His body wasn’t found until the following afternoon.

This time for an innocent child there would be no coming back.  His cries and struggles for life were in vain.  There would be no calming down into sleep, no reunion with family, no time to heal.  He is gone, taken cruelly before his time.

I’m certain his parents would have traded places with Lane if they could.  But that’s not how life works.

We all know of this, and other great tragedies that devastated the Orlando area last week.  Death has stalked the innocent and interrupted lives being well-lived.
 

Part Three: The Vision

I had a dream yesterday morning in the darkness just before the light. 

It was more of a vision, really.  I was in the skies above Florida, hovering just under high gray clouds in the moments before dawn, looking from the southwest back toward Disney and Orlando.  In the distance below and far away I could see the Seven Seas Lagoon and the Grand Floridian Hotel.  As I peered closer I could see that there was a child near the lakeshore.  He was under the water.  I felt, more than saw, that he was stuck under a log.  He was not moving. 

There was a tiny stirring.  The child seemed to be awakening.  Although his body remained motionless under the water, the child sat up.  His spirit drifted upward, above the surface.  He rubbed his eyes and looked around, confused and scared.  He didn’t seem to know where he was or what had happened.  I felt pain in my heart for his loneliness, but I was powerless to reach him.

I watched this innocent little soul waiting bravely by the lakeshore.  Gazing toward the horizon beyond the lake I saw the skyline of the city. There was movement.  Another being appeared in the sky above the city and was approaching. It was an angel coming toward the child.  I thought she was wearing a robe of gray, but perhaps that was only the predawn twilight.  She seemed to have small wings and hair blowing in the wind as she hurried across the sky in our direction.  I couldn’t see her very well, for she was so far away, but somehow I knew her name was Christina.

Christina reached the Seven Seas Lagoon and held her arms out to the child.  He put out his lower lip and seemed for a moment as if he was going to cry, but he didn’t.  The look of fear and hurt in his eyes was a bit less.  He watched the angel, and he knew she was his friend, and he reached back to her.

For a few moments, the angel rocked the child on her lap, patting him tenderly.  She sang beautiful songs to him.  They seemed to draw comfort from one another, and they were at peace.  A tiny wisp of love appeared visibly between and around them.

I became aware of a small crowd that had gathered in the distance, low over the city.  They had been there all along, but I hadn’t noticed them because they had been huddling near the ground.  They were baffled, troubled.  Some were angry.  Some were desolate, forlorn.  All were confused.  None knew what to do or where to go next.  Then one of them noticed the two hovering over the Seven Seas Lagoon and rose up into the air a bit.  Others followed.  Soon there were more than 40 flying toward us slowly, hesitantly, not daring to believe that anything existed beyond their place of loss and mourning.

They too were angels.  Most, but not all, were young like Christina.  There were a few women, and more men.  As they approached it seemed each countenance was most characterized by sorrow.  But as they arrived, a few at a time, some began to smile.  They smiled at Christina, and they smiled at the little boy. 

By the time the last of them arrived near the lakeshore, some were interacting with the two they had come to see.  One sat beside Christina, held the boy’s hands, and talked with him.   A moment later another stroked his head and wept quietly; I could not tell if the tears were of sorrow or joy. Another patted Christina on the shoulder paternally.  Tiny sparks of joy began to be visible around the gathering. 

One or a few at a time, they all came to visit Christina and the child.  They smiled, sometimes wistfully, sometimes peacefully.  Each took comfort from the presence of the others.  There was the palpable sense of an inexplicable hope, and a gradually dawning awareness that all was not lost. 

Over the next several minutes a few straggling angels arrived, one at a time, from nursing homes, hospitals, and wherever angels come from.  All wanted to see the child.  All loved the child.  All appreciated and admired the one who was caring for the child.  All brought their own bits of fading sorrow and surprising joy to share with the others.

The entire assembly began a beautiful dance.  They floated above the water, moving gracefully around the child and the angel in the middle.  They moved inward lovingly, outward peacefully.  They rose higher, drifted back, joined hands, twirled.  One of the dancers took the child by the hands, swung him around happily, and returned him to his friend. As the dance continued the troupe spiraled upward, higher and higher.  When they began to draw near the clouds, I felt the presence of a place of love and joy in that direction.

I watched them disappear all together above the skies, and I knew.  I knew their tragedies were real.  I felt their pain and loss, and the pain and loss of the ones they had to leave behind.  I knew their wrenching grief.

I also knew the pain and loss were not the end of the story.  For beyond the inconceivably sorrowful there existed a more blessed reality.  Something from there brought to those grieving souls a spark of joy, to the forlorn a wisp of love, to the troubled a soft sensation of peace, and to the discouraged an unexpected and beautiful prospect of hope.  I knew they were finding that place together. 
 

- Gryphem

 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

DESPERATE TIMES (Part 2): NATIONAL UNITY

Welcome back, Gryphem readers.  Let’s get right to the discussion of our desperate situation and what we can do about it.

I am an ordinary American.  I served in the U.S. Navy, taught history and language arts in public schools, and am the father of six.  I have a love of history, a passion for freedom, and an obsession with integrity.  And as I told you last time, I have an idea.  It is an idea that has the potential to stop the coming catastrophe in its tracks, and change the United States and the world for the better.

Let’s start from the premise that the election of either of the presumptive presidential nominees of the two major political parties would be disastrous for our nation.  If you disagree with this premise, you need read no further.  But if the lack of a competent, ethical candidate at the top of either ticket bothers you, let me remind you of this.  We the American people are not bound by the choices which the major parties set before us.  We do not have to accept a presidential candidate that we do not support, that we do not respect, just because that candidate has been nominated by a political party.  We do not have to choose between the lesser of two evils.  We can opt for something else altogether.  And this time around, we should.

Polls have repeatedly shown that in a general election matchup with the Democratic frontrunner, Governor John Kasich is the only one of the final three Republicans who would win decisively.  Polls have shown that in a general election matchup with the Republican frontrunner, Senator Bernie Sanders is the only remaining Democrat who would win decisively.

In other words, the American people as a whole prefer the candidates who are running second and third to those currently on track to win the nominations.  So why aren’t the parties nominating those candidates? 

Good question.  Think about that while I explain a couple of important things you need to know.

Most Americans don’t realize that the concept of political parties is not in the Constitution.  In fact President George Washington, the only president who was not affiliated with any political party, advised strongly against the formation of political parties.  However, the two-party system has become so firmly entrenched that most of us cannot imagine American government without it.  Fair enough.  But let’s look a little closer.  Did you know that throughout American history the political parties have changed?

The first two American political parties were the Federalists (John Adams) and the Democratic-Republicans (Thomas Jefferson).  The Federalists faded away, the Whigs appeared, and the Democratic-Republicans were transformed into the Democratic Party by President Andrew Jackson.  When the Whigs began to die out, the Republican Party was born.  In only their second presidential election attempt, Republicans managed to win the White House.  They elevated Republican Abraham Lincoln to the presidency where he managed to save the Union and free the slaves.  After the Civil War we settled into a Republican versus Democrat dichotomy that has endured for more than 150 years.

That doesn’t mean the political parties have stayed the same for last century and a half.  On the contrary, the two parties have reinvented themselves several times.  Originally, Democrats were considered the more conservative and Republicans were considered the more liberal of the two parties.  That changed under the New Deal of the 1930s, and also during the Civil Rights reforms of the 1960s.  So American political parties can rise up, fade away, or change with the times.  They have done so repeatedly. 

I believe the profound dissatisfaction that a majority of Americans feel with the current situation indicates that the political parties are overdue for evolution and realignment, or possibly for replacement with new parties that will more closely reflect the opinions and needs of the American people.  It has happened before, and it will happen again.  Perhaps now.

The extremists of the right and the extremists of the left are the ones who drive the agendas of the two major political parties.  Those extremists do not share the values or priorities of the great majority of Americans.  Most Americans are dissatisfied with the frontrunners put forward by angry voters of both parties.  They do not want the intentional angst, the heated rhetoric, the hyperbole, the rudeness, the intolerance, the dangerous divisiveness, or the hatemongering they see on both sides of the political aisle.  Most Americans just want decent, honest, effective government.  The political parties are not only NOT the solution; the political parties stand in the way to prevent a solution.  Each party is allowing its extremist base to force anger and indignation to the fore, blame the other guys in every situation, and seethe about the evils of compromise.  All this prevents us from coming together, forces persons of goodwill to accept this extreme divisiveness or risk being excluded altogether.

Heated rhetoric, disunity and dysfunction may serve the powers that be in the two parties, but they are not in the best interest of the people of the United States of America.  It’s time to call their hand.  It’s time for a Real Change, a change in the political party power structure. 

How courageous are we willing to be?  How far outside the box are we willing to think?  If we are courageous enough, creative enough, amazing things might happen.

In 2016 we are in the midst of a “perfect storm” of voter disillusionment.  Political parties are presenting options not in the best interests of the people, and two candidates with the highest negative ratings since tracking began 30 years ago are the presumptive nominees.  If ever the Republican-Democrat juggernaut needed be toppled in favor of something that more Americans want and need, This Is The Time.

The majority of Americans would prefer to replace the presumptive nominees with persons of ability and integrity.  I am suggesting just that.  I am suggesting a third alternative to the divisive alternatives of left and right.

Among the final five candidates, two have risen above the partisan rhetoric and the politics of destruction.  Two of the candidates are persons of compassion, ability, and most of all, integrity.  Each of these is the kind of person most Americans want as their leader. 

Governor John Kasich is the kind of person most Americans want as their leader.  Senator Bernie Sanders is the kind of person most Americans want as their leader. 

I am suggesting a National Unity ticket of John Kasich and Bernie Sanders.

Don’t stop reading.  It’s logical.  It’s ethical.  It’s not politics as usual.  It could work.

A National Unity ticket is not new in American presidential politics.  Abraham Lincoln’s Vice President in 1864 was Andrew Johnson.  Lincoln was a Republican, Johnson was a Democrat.  Lincoln was the president who saved the Union; Johnson was a southerner from Tennessee who had remained loyal to the Union.  Together, the Lincoln-Johnson National Unity Ticket won.  Without that 1864 victory, the United States of America as we know it might not even exist today. 

A Kasich-Sanders ticket, or Sanders-Kasich if you prefer, would pull in all the Republican voters cringing at the thought of what a Trump presidency would do to their nation and party.  It would pull in the enthusiastic Sanders supporters who see Hillary Clinton as corrupt and regressive and Bernie Sanders as fair, fresh and optimistic.  Most importantly, this National Unity ticket could pull in the 60%-in-the-middle, the majority of voters who consider themselves as neither left-wing nor right-wing, but just common-sense ‘do-the-right-thing’ Americans.

Imagine the excitement for voters!  Something truly new in American politics in this generation… a real alternative to the depressing options put forth by the parties… a chance to be part of history-in-the-making!  Voters would flock to the Kasich-Sanders (or Sanders-Kasich) ticket to be part of this historic uprising at the ballot box.  This might be remembered in history books of the 21st and 22nd centuries as the election in which the American people rejected the limited alternatives put before them by extremist parties; the election in which American voters rejected hyper-partisanship and came together as one American nation of left and right, young and old, going forward together; the turning point at which the deep divisions that once threatened to tear our nation apart began to heal; the time when we, led by two visionaries in John Kasich and Bernie Sanders, reinstituted government of the people, by the people, for the people.

This is bigger than who gets a four year term in the White House.  It is that, of course… but it could change the very fabric of the American political process for the better. 

Can the candidates come together and make this happen?  I believe they can, if they want badly enough to save this nation, and if they and we are willing to work across the aisle and around the aisle to do what is best for America.  We can do it despite the politically powerful types who tell us we cannot succeed.  We Can Succeed.  We can do it despite the threats of violence from extremists who will hate the idea of cooperation and compromise.  We Can Succeed.  We can and will succeed if we have enough imagination to envision a better world just around the corner, if we have enough love for America, enough hope for our shared future, enough faith in ourselves and our fellow citizens, enough energy and courage to take action and make it happen.

I am not na├»ve.  I understand the profound differences between Governor Kasich and Senator Sanders on matters of economy, foreign relations, and the proper role and form of government.  But there are bigger issues on which they can build consensus.  They are both men of integrity.  They both love America.  They both want the hyper-partisanship that is destroying us to stop.  What better way to halt that divisiveness in its tracks than to defeat the hyper-partisans of both extremes by working together?  What better role model for the children and young adults of a disillusioned America than a Republican and a Democratic-Socialist leading together, acknowledging the differences between them without condemnation, finding common ground as we move forward as One American Nation?

This could happen.  You could begin to create it.  It would be the hardest thing to do, politically, in generations.  But it could be done, and it could succeed, and it could Save America. 

You can be part of this campaign.  It is not only a campaign to elect a candidate (or candidates).  It is a campaign to break with destructive politics of the past and begin the healing of the United States of America.  It is a campaign for renewal of faith in freedom and integrity in our 21st century world.  

I hope I have inspired you to think about this as a real possibility.  The challenge is daunting, and time is short.  But the consequences of failing would be catastrophic, and the rewards of success, without compare. 

There are risks.  No great thing is ever done without risk.  But don’t you think the effort and the risk are worthwhile?  Success promises to turn the tide of American decline, to reinvigorate us as one nation, together again. 

How bold are you?  How innovative are you willing to be?  How “all-in” are you willing to go?

If you think the Kasich-Sanders (or Sanders-Kasich) National Unity ticket really should happen, you need to MAKE it happen. 

For this to work, it first needs to be heard and embraced by the candidates.  About a month ago, I wrote to both campaigns, but I do not know how far it went in Vermont or Ohio.  I need you, Gryphem readers, to republish this wherever you can, in whatever way you can.  There are less than 100 of you who are regular readers, so the contribution of each is crucial!  One of you will send it to someone who will send it to someone else who will have the personal email or telephone number of Governor Kasich or Senator Sanders, or a member of their staff or family.  One of you will have a talk with a friend who will talk with another friend, who will get an editorial about the National Unity ticket published in the Washington Post or on CNN. 

YOU are the next link in the chain.  YOU need to spread the word.  Your task is to BEGIN.

We must speak up and demand better.  We must proclaim that INTEGRITY is more important than partisan positions or personalities.  We must publicize this dramatic new idea of National Unity fast and hard, because we don’t have long to make it happen.   

I am taking the unusual step of publishing my email here.  I do this not because Adelaar Gryphem is particularly important in this entire process.  No, my primary job has been to enlighten you by explaining the idea, to let YOU know about it, to let YOU carry it forward.  However, I will continue to do whatever I can to further the cause.  In the event that anyone needs further communication to clarify ideas, suggest strategies, or connect with this writer, I will be available.

Today’s post is not just an ordinary blog to read.  It is your Mission, if you choose to accept it.

Thank you for being a critical part of this historic undertaking.

For National Unity,
 

Gryphem
Gryphem@gmail.com

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Desperate Times (Part 1)

Well, friends, it appears that the worst is about to come to pass.

This is not a partisan commentary.  I don’t like either option the political powers-that-be are about to set before us.  I am a conservative-leaning moderate with no love for extremists of either left or right.  I am frustrated by the increasing devolution of American politics into blame, condemnation, mindless posturing, and incompetence.
It has long been my hypothesis that for the past 30 years each President has been worse than the one before.  (By this I mean worse for the nation; this is not necessarily an indictment of the moral character of individuals who have held the office.) 
·         Reagan was great because he was amazingly positive.  He saw opportunities where others saw only obstacles.  He united us, gave us hope, broke the Soviet juggernaut, and gave a self-doubting America a new lease on life.  To a large degree, George H.W. Bush built upon the legacy of Reagan. 
·         Bill Clinton had personal moral failures, but he was not a bad president. He ran the country generally according to the Constitution and balanced the budget a couple of times.  (Many attribute those balance budgets to the conservatives in Congress.  Perhaps, but it was President Clinton who signed those balanced budgets.) 
·         George W. Bush started well.  He entered office with promises of refocusing on our own nation (as opposed to international intervention) and even the potential of a mission to Mars.  Not many remember those early days because eight months in everything changed.  President George W. Bush led us effectively through the crisis that was September 11, 2001.  He helped us regain our courage and our confidence as a nation.  But later, mostly in his second term, he went too far.  He sought and found ways around law and Constitution in his pursuit of better ways to find and stop potential terrorists.  When I learned that this man I once admired had condoned torture as an interrogation tactic, I realized he had gone over to the Dark Side. 
·         President Obama has been, in most ways, a train wreck.  He accomplished almost nothing in his first term, not even the one thing I hoped he would accomplish, closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo.  In his second term he got his ‘Affordable Health Care’ passed (barely), but it is by almost any measure not working, and the status of health care for most Americans is far worse today than it was two or three years ago.  President Obama undermined the Constitution, bypassing Congress and implementing many of his policies and procedures by executive order.  Besides all this Obama inherited an already catastrophically enormous national debt and instead of trying to fix that problem, doubled down on overspending.  Even if we were to start spending wisely next year, and we probably won’t, it would take us decades to recover.
I thought we had reached the bottom.  Practically bankrupt, more divided and hopeless than any other period in my lifetime, including the turbulent years of the late 1960s with its riots and wars.
But we have not bottomed out just yet.  Look what’s coming our way.
On the one hand we have someone who arguably may be the most corrupt politician on the national stage since Richard Nixon, who has sidestepped one scandal after another, lied with impunity, and manipulated people and systems with great disregard for laws and ethics, all the while proclaiming her compassion for the poor and disenfranchised.  She has been a model of Machiavellian efficiency. 
On the other hand we have someone who is potentially even less scrupulous and more dangerous.  A billionaire who has never worked to advance the best interests of anyone but himself, whose only moral barometers are increasing his net worth and absorbing more and yet more of the adoration of the masses.  He routinely insults everyone from the poorest immigrants to his most influential colleagues and even his own supporters.  He threatens to derail our international alliances, bomb the rest of the world into submission to “American” interests, and impose a thinly-veiled fascism on the people of the United States based upon his own view of how things ought to be.  His entire platform can be summed up as an anti-establishment, anti-immigrant, anti-intellectual, anti-everything-but-Donald.  His supporters are for the most part angry people who admire his willingness to take on the politicians and social architects who got us into all this trouble.  While their grievances are real, what they don’t realize is that this solution would be far worse than the problem it is supposed to solve. 
A Trump presidency would be reminiscent of the doctor who reported that “the operation was a success, but the patient died.”
I could go on and on about historical precedents, logical inconsistencies, and the appalling absence of ethics among the leading candidates this presidential primary year.  But you get the idea.  We can still hope, for a few more weeks, that one or the other political convention will be contested, that a better alternative will emerge.  But it’s becoming apparent to most that this election is going to present us with a Hobson’s choice between two unacceptable alternatives. 
No matter which side wins, America Is Going To Lose.  What can we do?
I have an idea. 
It’s a long-shot, an outrageous idea.  It’s an admittedly desperate move, but desperate times call for desperate measures.  We owe it to ourselves, our country, and future generations of Americans to try anything that offers a possibility, however slight, of averting the catastrophic outcome that we have almost (but not quite) come to believe is inevitable.
There is one chance we can come through this with our freedom and integrity intact.
Stand by for further details.

Gryphem 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Has this ever happened to you?


This morning I showed my ID card to the guard as I drove through the gate to the base where I work. I parked and walked into the office.

It was then that I discovered my ID card was missing.

I checked my pockets, satchel, and desk.

I got some items out of the safe while considering what to do next.

I retraced my route, looking for the card on the ground. I searched my car. 

I returned to the office and searched the entire desk area again. I searched trash cans in office and bathroom. I checked the area around the safe, even though I knew the card had been missing before I went there.

I went back to the parking lot and searched my car again, this time looking under seats and mats. I got on my hands and knees to search see if had landed on the asphalt under the car.

I walked to the gate and asked the guard if he remembered handing the card back to me after inspecting it when I drove onto the base. He did. 

Truthfully, I already knew the guard had given the card back to me. I was just stalling for time trying to think of new places to search.

I went back to the car to seek out new places where it could have fallen.

I discovered a space into which it could have slipped if I'd set it on the steering column. That must be where it had disappeared to, I thought. There was just no other place it could be.

I got tools from the trunk and dismantled the steering column housing to see if my ID card had fallen in there. It had not.

I went back to the office. 

I had a critical task that needed to be completed for my supervisor immediately.  To complete that task I needed access to the company website. Without my ID card I could not access the internet at all.

With no prospect of locating my card anytime soon, I persuaded a coworker to let me use his computer to access the internet on his computer. I completed the urgent task and averted the impending administrative crisis.

I told my coworker about the black hole at the center of the universe where stray socks and the occasional ID card go when they vanish.

Out of ideas, I reluctantly went to the command security office, where I asked (with more embarrassment than hope) whether anyone had turned in an ID card. No one had.

I returned to my desk, despondent, confused, and without a clue as to what to do next. I sat.

In my mind I reviewed where I had been, what I had done between the front gate and my desk.

I began to repeat every little step and movement of those fateful few moments, reviewing in my mind, acting the motions out physically.

I stood, picked up my satchel, and recreated the movement of taking it off my shoulder and placing it on my desk.

I saw an opening in the back of the satchel that I'd never noticed before. 

It was too small for anything more than a few sheets of paper, and it was partially sealed with Velcro. 

I looked into that small opening and discovered a portal to the black hole at the center of the universe.

I put some coffee on to brew.

I went to my car and put the steering column back together.

I returned to my desk and drank my coffee. Enjoyed my coffee.

Now I'm going back to search for all those missing socks.

- Gryphem