served your country – so what?

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

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It was 1968.  Lyndon Johnson had won easily in the 1964 Presidential election after finishing the term of President Kennedy who was assassinated in November of 1963.  But the political scene took a few nasty turns and in March of 1968 Johnson decided to drop out of the race.

Many Americans were disgusted with the Vietnam War, the blacks were disenchanted with the Civil Rights Act, the corruption of DC politicians became fodder for the frenzied press.  Brave, young warriors, disproportionately African-American, were coming home in flag draped coffins to an angry and unsettled America.  Those who survived the horrors of Vietnam often came home to chants of “baby killers” and were spat upon at the airports.

For many years thereafter, veterans responsibly assured future military warriors and heroes that this display of cowardice and disrespect toward service men and women would never, ever happen again in the United States of America.  If nothing else, the dignity of military service would be honored and respected regardless of political alignment or social status.  It had nothing to do with flags, parades, or memorial services.  It was simply a matter of revering the sacrifices of all who served their country whether in war times or peace.

During the 2016 campaign for President, the Republican Party hosted a wide array of worthy and qualified contenders for the party’s nomination.  One of them was Senator John McCain, a Vietnam War hero who was captured and subsequently spent five years in a POW camp suffering torture at the hands of his captors resulting in permanent physical disability.  Yet his documented valor in the line of duty was discredited by a man who had spent his war years in NYC “fighting off STDs” in a period of time which he termed as “my personal Vietnam.”  Trump referred to Senator McCain as a “loser for getting himself captured, not really a war hero.”  The 4 time draft-dodger went on to win the Republican nomination.

Enter Tucker Carlson of Fox News, a champion of the current POTUS and outspoken critic of anything or anyone not clad in the American flag and the traditional red MAGA cap.  Like his WH master and trainer, Carlson has not one day of military experience nor public service.  Yet, the self-proclaimed guru of patriotism has leveled a stream of negative invective against Senator Tammy Duckworth who had both her legs blown off while serving her country in combat in Iraq.

On Tuesday, Carlson called Duckworth, who is being vetted as Joe Biden’s possible running mate, a “moron,” a “coward,” and a “fraud.” He also called on those who love America to defend “our nation and our heritage and our culture” against Duckworth, Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar, and those like them.

During an online fundraiser Tuesday, Biden said the attacks on Duckworth were “disgusting, sickening,” and a “reflection of the depravity of what’s going on in the White House right now.”

The depravity of which Joe Biden speaks is rampant not only in the White House.  It is a contagion infecting the soul of America, it is as deadly as covid-19 and it is spearheaded by men like Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump.  Having never stood shoulder to shoulder with others in military uniform, having never spent a day in service to this old codgercountry, having never fought in combat and severely injured, having never seen the inside of a POW camp, how dare you, Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump question the patriotism of those who served with honor and valor? ‘Loser, moron, coward, fraud’ – the words are applicable, but being applied to the wrong set of characters in this sad episode of American history.

TAMMY DUCKWORTH

 

if God were here – what would She do?

laughing emoji2A dear friend recently suggested that listening to Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, right-wing politicians and preachers would add a dimension of understanding to the crisis enveloping our nation.  I tried his advice and immediately realized that the new dimension puts me in greater fear and disgust than ever.  The crap America finds itself in is much more odorous and enormously deeper than I ever imagined.  To my friend I must answer, “Next time just mind your own business.”

Okay, okay, I’ll admit that my attitude doesn’t advance the enlightenment of mankind nor does it advance a civil conversation, but I am wearied by the daily assault of racism and misogyny from the State News Network, the WH, and Bootlickers Unlimited.  I am wearied by curses and labels from those who are incapable of engaging in meaningful, intelligent dialog.  I am wearied….oh Lord, I am simply too tired to explain one more time to one more white, evangelical Republican that all people are created equal.  Yes, the blacks, browns, Muslims, gays, and Puerto Ricans are also loved by an omnipotent, magnanimous, munificent God and She absolutely loves those brown babies sitting in cages on our border.  Yes, She does.  It says so in their Christian scriptures.

You may query, “Larry, you seem awfully out of sorts, are you a political burn-out?”

I am fine, but I am weary.  And I am disillusioned.  Those issues that we are urged to discuss and find compromising solutions suitable to both of us – I have come to realize  we are so polarized on those key issues that there is no compromise.  Compromise is overrated anyway.  It reminds me of my ex-wife.  The compromise she advocated was this: “what’s yours is mine, what’s mine is mine and what’s ours is mine.”  Do you see the problem there?

Actually, I should probably not be this insincere about the weighty problems facing our nation, but have I told you how weary I am?  The American Academy of Psychologists has defined a new disorder in our country which they have named TBCS – trump bull crap syndrome.  It affects 10 out of every 10 Democrats and it is contagious.  Hey, go easy on me, I did not name this affliction and I did not vote for trump.

I see two solutions to my dilemma. 1) Seek solace and refuge with my make-believe monk friends on the island of Galagos in the Mediterranean, or 2) buy a few white sheets and work counter-intelligence with the local KKK.  Okay, option 2 is not a valid solution because there is no intelligence to counter in the KKK.   However, come to think of it, there is a 3rd solution.

Pray hard, trust that God, in her mysterious ways, will emasculate the bullies who have usurped our government and then lead our nation to a sensible election in 2020.  Maybe a female President?  Or maybe a gay president?

We want Pete, we want Pete, we want Pete.

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SLINGING

I once loved slinging the mud just as much as the next guy.  Lord knows that today we have enough ammunition to be slinging 24/7.  From religion to Hollywood to elections to old codgerpoliticians there is an endless supply of trash talk that can fill the airwaves with unworthy news, innuendo, gossip, and outright lies.  Even the sailor in me who many years ago drank too much beer with the rowdies in the local Navy hangout blushes like an innocent schoolgirl at some of what these ears hear today.

But, know what?  Sling mud and you’re going to get muddy.  Or to put it in terms an old salt would appreciate, “Sling shit and you will get shitty.”  Slinging becomes an acceptable way to communicate, a vocalization of the anger and disgust residing within the cranium and slinging is infectious.  Have you ever noticed that when you share the first cuss word in a conversation, the other person also takes more freedom with cussing.  When you talk trash about another person, those around you feel free to throw their trash into that conversation also.  It’s a socially transmissible dis-order.  I fear that our society has been infected with a terminal case of slinging.

This is on my mind because Trump will be in Orlando, one of my favorite cities.  I know the trash talk, the bullshit, the lies will flow freely in that arena.  Middle fingers will be pointed at journalists, insults will be leveled, lies will be told, and Trump will smile victoriously from the podium because he knows he has stirred up yet another crowd of supporters into hysteria.  Lord knows he doesn’t know how to run a country or keep us safe or play with other children nicely, or speak truth.  The only thing he can do effectively is stir the shit pot.  Aw hell, here I go again slinging.  I truly want to give it up.  Help!

My grandpa always said, “If you can’t talk nicely, then just keep your damned mouth shut.”  I sure wish he was still with us.  We could go to Orlando and spread some nice laughing emoji3conversation.  Well, maybe not.  Grandpa also said, “Don’t try to reason with holier-than-thou Christians, the IRS, and Republicans.  They have hearing problems.”

Grandpa was a wise man.

 

JOHN MCCAIN

I googled John McCain last night and was appalled by the number of results which labeled him as “Hanoi John”, a traitor, a coward, a friend of the communists in Vietnam, ad nauseam, etc.  They were no less distasteful than Trump’s loser quote during the campaign.  I never totally agreed with the Senator’s political philosophy, but the man has qualities which should endear him in the annals of politics and should receive words of praise rather than disparagement and anger.

“During the Vietnam War, he was almost killed in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. While McCain was on a bombing mission over Hanoi in October 1967, he was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. McCain experienced episodes of torture and refused an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer. The wounds that he sustained during war have left him with lifelong physical disabilities.”          JOHN MCCAIN

In spite of the tweeting twat’s assessment of McCain as “a loser, I like winners”, and subsequent infantile outbursts about the Senator’s betrayal of party agenda, John McCain is a surviving POW, a man who made service to country his lifetime endeavor, and Senator McCain is deserving of our respect and honor.  I don’t care what your politics are, his courage and sacrifice cannot be deleted from American history.

In his remarks following Trump’s address to the BSA, Senator McCain stated:

“we are an important check on the powers of the executive. Our consent is necessary for the President to appoint jurists and powerful government officials and, in many respects, to conduct foreign policy. Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the President’s subordinates. We are his equal!”                                                                                                               the new yorker

With his nay vote on the health care bill, John McCain exercised his ability to cross party lines and vote his conscience.  To the consternation of Trump and fellow Republican butt-kissers, Senators McCain,  Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have shown the American voter that there is a smidgen of integrity, ethics, and compromise in the Republican party.

The choices are yours in the upcoming elections of 2018 and 2020.  As a veteran, I admit that I am biased when looking at a candidate’s service history.  That directed my vote in 2016 when we had a choice of Hillary or Trump.  Neither was off-the-chart acceptable but Hillary had a legitimate history of public service.  While Trump was berating a verifiable war hero, his service record was nonexistent thanks to 4 deferments during his draft years.  When questioned about his military deferments, draft-dodger Donald Trump once said that the danger he faced from getting sexually transmitted diseases was his own “personal Vietnam.”  HOWARD STERN INTERVIEW

In 1997 with shock jock Howard Stern, Trump talked about how he had been “lucky” not to have contracted diseases when he was sleeping around:

I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world. It is a dangerous world out there. It’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam-era.  It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”

Our political world today is disgusting.  Heroes are ridiculed.  Elected leaders who have the audacity to vote conscience are harangued.  We were asleep at the helm when a segment of Americans brought Trump and his cadre of billionaires and white supremacists to power.

In retrospect, Trump was indisputably ill-equipped to serve with the men of courage and valor during the Vietnam era.  He did not have the necessary integrity and sacrifice to serve others rather than himself.  The facts of life on Earth force most of us to grow up.  Apparently Trump has never faced those facts.  According to the oath of the Boy Scouts of America,

On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

whom he flamboyantly and repulsively addressed, he doesn’t even make it to the starting gate regarding the race for wisdom and maturity.

We can do better.  We deserve better.  The elections of 2018 and 2020 will give us an opportunity for redemption.  Get to know your candidates and get out and vote.