Democracy in Crisis

Democracy in Crisis

Wake up, America! Our democracy is in a state of crisis!

The news has reported that our elected officials have had people arrested for asking them questions about policy. There have been people jailed for free speech. There have been two people fired for investigating the ties between Russia and the current administration. There have been members of the current administration who claim that it is wrong to question the actions of the president or any elected or appointed leader of our country. There have been threats against reporters and other members of the media who question or comment on the wrongdoings of the current administration.

This is not how a democracy is supposed to work, but rather it’s how dictatorships work. The United States of America is not a dictatorship!

It is time, past time actually, that We, the People of the United States of America, for us to rise up and protest in a persistent, peaceful manner to get answers to the questions that are not being answered. We know that Russia tampered with the last election in order to get their preferred candidate into office. There is no longer any doubt about that. However, how deep does the deception of our last election run? That hasn’t been answered and, if the current administration has its way, it will not be answered.

If the current administration is innocent, why are the constantly trying to keep an investigation from occurring? Anyone with an ounce of common sense would realize that the fastest way to clear any doubt is to have an independent and thorough investigation that brings out the truth. Yet, every time an investigation gets close to revealing that truth, the current administration acts in such a way as to stop or delay the outcome of the investigation.

That simply smacks of illegal collusion and treasonous actions on their part!

To put it more simply, if innocent of any wrongdoing, then let an independent investigation be done to prove it. It is obvious through all the delays and mis-directions being given that there is guilt. That guilt does nothing but disgrace our country and, with it, the current administration.

Elected officials are supposed to represent us, whether we voted for them or not. In their refusal to listen to the will of the People, they are in dereliction of their duty to serve us! We must not allow them to continue to ignore us. We must demand justice and demand it now! The time for complacency is long past. Now, is the time for action from the People!

I will never advocate for violence, as I feel it is the absolute last resort of a civilized society to use violence as the means to an end. We are a democracy where civilized discussion of the issues should be encouraged and exhausted before any thought of an uprising should even be remotely considered. Yet, we are seeing our rights being torn from us by people who have lost sight of who they represent. If our elected officials no longer represent us, then we need to demand that they do or remove them from office as provided within our rights guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States of America.

No one in our country is above the law! Not the President, not Congress, and not any elected official. I have heard and read comments from people outside of our country who cannot fathom why we are not actively protesting in the streets daily about the actions of our leaders. It is unfathomable that so many of us are sitting around in complacency while our rights are being stripped away, while our elected officials act in ways contrary to what is best for ourselves and our fellow countrymen, while there is action taken against our fellow humankind, and while there is proof that a foreign power has stolen our highest elected office. They cannot understand why we do not act.

Have we become so lazy to allow our elected officials to run roughshod against us?

Have we become so self-absorbed that as long as it does not affect us personally that we are willing to sit by idly and, therefore, become accomplices in the wrongs that are being perpetrated?

Have we become so ignorant that we refuse to seek the truth and rather believe whatever we hear without question?

Dammit, America, wake up before it’s too late!

We must act NOW!

We must Stand Up and be Heard!

We cannot afford to let the people elected to office simply do so without our input and if they act in contrary to what we want, to not demand they change or be removed from office!

It’s never inappropriate for reporters or even citizens to ask for answers and get them from our elected officials!

Our country was founded upon the belief that government should be of, by, and for the People!

Our Democracy is in Crisis and it is time for us to work together to get it out of that state of being. If we do not, then we are guilty of its demise and, with it, our own demise.

For the sake of all that is good and decent, please Wake up and take action to save our country Now!

Immigrants are US

Immigrants Are US

Care to know a little history behind immigration to the United States? Here is a time line with numbers showing legal immigrants to the United States, some coming of their own freewill and others who did not.

1607: Jamestown Colony in Virginia
1619: Approximately 20 Africans forced into slavery in Jamestown.
1620: Roughly 100 people, later known as Pilgrims, come to what is known today as Plymouth, Massachusetts.
1630 to 1640: Approximately 20,000 Puritans arrive in the region.
1680: Roughly 7,000 African slaves in the colonies.
1790: Approximately 700,000 slaves in the US, with between 500,000 to 650,000 brought between 17th and 19th centuries.
1821-1830: 143,439 immigrants to the US.
1831-1840: 599,125 immigrants to the US.
1841-1850: 1,713,251 immigrants to the US.
1851-1860: 2,598,214 immigrants to the US.
1861-1870: 2,314,825 immigrants to the US.
1871-1880: 2,812,191 immigrants to the US.
1881-1890: 5,246,613 immigrants to the US.
1891-1900: 3,687,564 immigrants to the US.
1900-1910: 8,795,386 immigrants to the US.
1911-1920: 5,735,811 immigrants to the US.
1921-1930: 4,107,209 immigrants to the US.
1931-1940: 532,431 immigrants to the US.
1941-1950: 1,095,039 immigrants to the US.
1951-1960: 2,515,479 immigrants to the US.
1961-1970: 3,321,677 immigrants to the US.
1971-1980: 4,493,314 immigrants to the US.
1981-1990: 7,338,062 immigrants to the US.
1991-2000: 9,095,417 immigrants to the US.
2001-2010: 13,900,000 immigrants to the US.

Between the years of 1820-2000, the following numbers of immigrants came to the US from each of these countries:

Germany: 7 million
Mexico: 6 million
Great Britain: 5 million
Ireland: 5 million
Italy: 5 million
Canada: 5 million
Austria & Hungary: 4 million
Russia: 4 million
The Philippines:2 million
China: 1 million
Sweden: 1 million

Take a moment to let these numbers sink in. In the last 70 years, approximately 41,758,988 people immigrated to the United States. Those numbers are the legal immigrants. There are likely thousands more undocumented people who have immigrated to the U.S. in those years, including prior to the 1940s. The vast majority of those people came to make a better life for themselves. Many, came due to war, persecution, and famine in their home country. I find it both depressing and ironic that now, under the new administration, there is a movement to deport people and a demonization of immigrants, particularly when many of those people advocating this were either immigrants or the offspring of immigrants only a few generations ago.

Demonizing immigrants isn’t new. After all, the Irish were demonized as they brought a very large influx of poor and Catholic people to the country. The majority Protestant population distrusted them based primarily on their religion. Now, we have the same occurring to people who are immigrating who practice Islam. We also have negative rhetoric about people of Hispanic and Asian decent occurring as well. It’s not the first time Asians have been discriminated against either as many Chinese immigrants were blamed for the decrease in wages when the railroads were built in the 1800s since they would work for lower wages. Hispanics, in particular, are demonized for similar reasons, but not many non-immigrant or non-Hispanic people care to become migrant farmers/pickers either.

The present administration promised to get the “bad hombres” out of the U.S. Yet, we see and hear news reports where people who have been in the U.S. for 20+ years are being deported for something as minor as a DUI that took place decades ago. Hardly the hardened criminal element. In fact, if having a DUI were punishable by deportation, then there are likely plenty of people who should be deported, illegal or not.

Rather than eliminating criminals, what is occurring is the breaking up of families of people who have done nothing major or even nothing at all, except for entering the U.S. without proper documentation. Many of these people have worked since they arrived and done jobs that will go unfilled if they are deported simply because former immigrants and the children/grandchildren of those 41,758,988 people who came to the U.S. since 1940 won’t do the jobs the illegal immigrants do because those jobs pay little and are under extremely harsh conditions. I challenge the unemployed white person to go out and pick vegetables or fruits for 12+ hours a day for low wages. Some may attempt it, but many more won’t even try.

Rather than eliminating criminals, there are children who live in fear that their parents will not be home when they finish school or fear their parents will be arrested when taking them to school or checking in with U.S. immigration services. What happens to these children, some of whom will be orphaned for no good reason? Some will live with neighbors or relatives, but the trauma they experience will not end as it will always be with them.

The United States is a country of immigrants. There is no question as to that, especially if you look at the numbers above. Legal or illegal really doesn’t matter in the long term, especially when you consider that the people we know as the Pilgrims were illegal immigrants. They did not ask permission to stay from the First Nations/Native Americans when they arrived. Instead, they simply stayed and took advantage of them to the point where First Nations/Native Americans were driven from their lands through wars and broken treaties. Imagine if they had the power to deport those who did that or the progeny of those who did that to them. Would that be fair?

When the vast majority of people leave their homelands, it is not done on a whim. It is done to survive. It is done out of fear. It is done out of hope for a better life. It should not matter whether they come with papers or undocumented because they come and enrich our culture and our country with their culture. The only reason people want to deport them is fear. Fear of the unknown that could easily be known if folks would simply step up and be welcoming to them. It’s amazing what a smile and a kind gesture can do to further understanding.

It is also ironic and depressing that many of those who wish to deport or demonize immigrants claim to be good Christians. They seem to forget that one of the most important commandments given in Christianity is to “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” There is no commandment to hate others. There is no commandment to fear others. There is no commandment to deport others. Love your neighbor. That means to love your fellow humankind regardless of his or her immigration status, religion, skin pigmentation, or any other label placed on other people.

So, what are the solutions?

First, for politicians from both parties to stand up against the administration and end these needless deportations. Then, for them to create a fast-track way for immigrants to remain in the U.S. and obtain citizenship more easily.

Next, and slightly less than legal, for churches and people who care to create a network not unlike the underground railroad to shelter and provide sanctuary for people who need it. These same people need to stand up and speak up for immigrants, legal and undocumented, to stop the deportations and assist immigrants, recalling that their ancestors were immigrants themselves.

A key to all of this is not seeing people as immigrants or undocumented immigrants, but as people just like we are. As such, we are to treat them as we would like to be treated.

Never Forget–Never Let It Happen Again

Today, January 27, 2017, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This day was established on November 1, 2005, to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. It is also the day in 1945 when the Auschwitz-Birkenau death/concentration camp was liberated. Over 6 million Jewish, 2 million Romani, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled, and 9,000 homosexual men (Wikipedia) died as the result of the Holocaust.

Some of you may be saying, “Gee, thanks for the history lesson. What does this have to do with me here in the 21st Century?”

It has everything to do with you.

The common phrase associated with the Holocaust is Never Forget. That phrase is more than just some catchy advertising campaign. Never Forget is what those who survived the Holocaust tell us because they not only want us to never forget what happened to the millions of people under the savage reign of the Nazis, but they want us to make certain it never happens again. Unfortunately, it has in places like Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.

It happens when groups of people are set apart as being the cause of problems from loss of jobs to terrorism. We hear it today from the current incumbent of the White House who calls Mexican people “criminals” and “rapists” and “killers”. He blames violent crimes on Blacks and Hispanics. He’s called for a ban on Muslims. He’s signed executive orders to ban Muslims from immigrating and to build a wall to keep Mexicans out. He has also taken action that would be detrimental to the LGBTQIA community. His words are reflected in the actions of his supporters who go on the attack against these groups of people and some of whom, frighteningly enough, also fly the flag of the Nazis or engage in the salute of that same group.

Never Forget also means to never let it happen again. If we never let it happen again to the Jewish people or to any other group that is discriminated against, that honors the victims of the Holocaust. No group of people should face those horrors again.

The numbers of Holocaust survivors are dwindling as that population ages. Their call to us should never cease, even when the last survivor dies.

We must act against prejudice and violence against marginalized people!

We must STAND UP to those who bully, threaten, or attack marginalized people!

We must act against laws that discriminate against other people!

Now is not the time to simply Never Forget, but it is a time to ACT against future atrocities!

Even if it doesn’t personally affect you now, there’s nothing to say it will not affect you or someone you love in the future. Therefore, STAND UP and ACT UP against prejudice and violence wherever you encounter it. Whether it is contacting your elected officials or marching in the streets, it is up to US to Never Forget and NEVER let it happen again.

Dammit Democrats!

Dammit Democrats, you screwed up what should have been a landslide victory once again! What in the hell is wrong with you? Never mind, you don’t know what’s wrong unless you establish a committee to create a think tank to determine what’s wrong.

I figure after almost 49 years on this planet and having been registered and voting Democrat for the past 30 years, I’ll give you my insights as an outsider. Do I expect you to listen? No, but it’d be nice if you did.

First, you have got to stop being so damned nice all the time. I recall the first time I noticed that, as a whole, the party is too damned polite. It was during the election between Michael Dukakis and George Bush, Sr. While the GOP was throwing every bit of muck and garbage they could at our candidate, the party kept playing nice. Taking the high road when you should have gone after any weak spots you could find, and there were plenty. Then, when Gore ran and, once again, the party went flat. Same with Kerry. Yes, there is the hacking scandal to blame in part for the current mess, but there’s more to it than that. Which brings me to my next point.

Second, the Democratic Party used to be the party of the poor and middle class. We’re the party of FDR and JFK! Have we lost sight of being able to not only fight for the rights and welfare of the poor and middle class, but to also communicate with them? The folksy manner of George W. Bush and the populist rhetoric of the current president-elect should remind the party leadership that great ideas don’t mean a thing if you cannot communicate them to folks that may only have a high school education or less. FDR, while being a wealthy man, was able to do this through his demeanor and weekly fireside chats. He used larger words with caution and relatively sparingly. Yet, words are just a part of the issue.

The GOP has campaign offices set up all over the United States all year long and even in non-campaign years. They are visible in almost every small town from coast to coast. Our party shows up around campaign time, then goes away after the election. When the average person can walk past a GOP headquarters 24/7, 365 days a year, but only see a Democratic office during a campaign cycle, what message does that send? It send the message that we are around for you to elect, but no other time. That’s egregious! Set up offices like the GOP does. Be active in communities. Support and raise up candidates who are viable and active members of their communities and not just names. I know when I tried to run for a state legislative seat where I lived in Florida, the local Democratic party seemed resigned to defeat because the incumbent was one who held the office for quite a few years. They wanted people to go door-to-door with petitions for other offices, but didn’t see how a high school English teacher could be a viable candidate. I wasn’t a name. I wasn’t wealthy, so why help? How many other contenders are there who are staunch Democrats who are working class people who don’t receive support from the party that he or she should to even have a chance at contesting a seat? I think there are more than the party leadership thinks.

Third, and this goes along with the second, get out there and talk to people. I think pollsters are relied on far too much and the people far too little. If we are the party of the people, then we need to know what the people think. What affects their lives. What will help them live a good life, send their kids off to higher education or a good job? The things that truly matter to most rank and file voters.

Fourth, celebrate our diversity as a party. We are not a party of one race or one socioeconomic class. We need to communicate that better. We’ve had the greatest opportunity these last 8 years with President Obama in office to show off our diversity. He did many things to help, from the Affordable Care Act to seeing that marriage equality became the law of the land. We didn’t capitalize on that enough, plus we didn’t combat the negative rhetoric about those items enough. We allowed the GOP to incite fear over both of those items far too much. We could have shown how both would help all Americans, again by going to the local level where there were people who saw these things as either government intrusion or as being somehow against our values as a nation.

Fifth, we need to go back and find our roots as a party of the people. There are new generations who don’t recall the victories of our party that helped all Americans. They don’t realize that fair wages, good working hours, vacation/sick time, and other social net programs were due to the efforts of our party in particular. We witnessed a resurgence in our values and roots in the campaign of Bernie Sanders. He, while historically an independent who sided with Democrats on most issues, excited the younger voters. He didn’t do this through his name or by being the preferred candidate of the party, but through listening to what was needed in our country. He reached out at the grassroots level, much like President Obama did, to listen and act for the people as a whole. Hillary had the experience, but Bernie had both the experience and the passion. What’s more, he excited the passion in the largest voting block in our country. (For the record, I supported both candidates in the primaries and supported Hillary once the primaries were over). Hillary tried to excite the voters, but that’s not her style. There’s nothing wrong with her style, but given the opponent was well-known for his loudmouth and willingness to do whatever it took to be elected, her strengths became weaknesses in the eyes of some voters. Besides, the GOP had enough alleged muck on her to sabotage her efforts. We played into their hands, in effect. (This goes back to my first two points).

Finally, the Democratic Party needs to stop being so damned centrist on every issue. We need to embrace our progressive side on some things and our more conservative on others. Instead, we sit on the fence too damned much. There’s nothing wrong with being able to take a conservative position on one issue while taking a progressive tack on another. We can be fiscally responsible, but still find ways to pay for social programs, for instance. We can fix our infrastructure by putting people to work, for instance, though work-fare programs where people who are able to work are trained to do so and given a job to receive their check. Yet, we can also care for those who truly cannot work as well.

We have a lot of work to do to win back both the Congress and the White House, assuming the incoming administration doesn’t sell us out to the Kremlin and set our country back hundreds of years or creates a Fourth Reich out of our country.

Be Prepared To Save America

The country, as we know it, will change dramatically come January 20, 2017. As such, we must be prepared. Already, there are rumblings from the GOP to gut the Affordable Care Act. They already attempted to undermine oversight of the House, but enough Americans stopped them through calls, emails, and letters. Don’t think for a minute that they’ll stop trying to pull midnight shenanigans or hidden attacks on those they deem as “enemies”.

We have already seen that the incoming person to the Oval Office has chosen to cozy up to a foreign government. Heck, even members of his party have done so with impunity. It seems the threat to our democracy will be from within as well as from outside in the coming years. This is why we must stay vigilant. We cannot allow our country to be taken over by a puppet president who answers to a foreign power and ignores his own intelligence agencies.

Here’s how I look at the next 4 years in the US as far as it comes to what we need to do to protect ALL Americans.

1. Make certain you have all the contact information for your politicians from the local level all the way up to the top (or down to the bottom if they’re GOP or Orange Sauron). Use that information to write/call/email/tweet your views and demand to be heard.

2. Keep a file of their pledges and promises and things they say or do and call them out if they screw up or praise them if they do what’s best for ALL Americans. (Use all your information from #1 and social media to do this).

3. Get or stay active, including informed, on all issues from local to state to national. Be heard!

4. Support candidates who will champion ALL Americans and not just a few.

5. When voting occurs, vote. If you don’t vote, you can complain, but you’re part of the problem if you don’t vote.

6. Orange Sauron DOES NOT have a mandate. The GOP does not have a mandate. He LOST the popular vote by 2.8 million votes! Remind him and others of that. If it wasn’t for the Electoral College, he’d not be there. Hold him accountable for special interests and his mouth/tweets.

7. Stand up against ALL forms of prejudice! Do this however you are able. March, hand out pamphlets, call, write, be there for someone who feels threatened, donate to causes, just do something. If not, you’re part of the problem.

Again, stand up and speak up for what is good. Don’t allow prejudices against others for whatever excuses they make to prevail. We are better than that as a country. There is no room for fear or hatred in the US.

Thank youE

Divided

Divided

E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one. That’s the traditional motto of the United States. A motto that reflects that our country is made up of people from many different lands, cultures, races, religions, and such. It is a motto that states, although you may be different from me, you are okay. You are accepted and acceptable. You are free to be the person you are, love whomever you love, worship however you wish or don’t worship any deity, and that’s okay.

Yet, with this last election cycle in particular, the idea of unity was tossed out like smelly garbage. One particular candidate with his inflammatory rhetoric managed to abolish a sense of unity within the United States. He created what many pundits, including Time magazine, have called the Divided States of America. This is not to say that there haven’t been factors or ideologies that festered below the surface of American society since the country’s inception. Anyone with a sense or knowledge of history knows those ideologies exist and have existed for decades. They came to a head once before as our country waged a civil war. They appeared during the push for civil rights. They continue to appear as we see inequalities in our justice system, our economic system, and other places within our society. We see people still speaking out for justice, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, the Flint water crisis, and the Standing Rock water protectors.

However, what makes the election so much more insidious is that a foreign government helped to fuel the disunity. As has been reported by the CIA and the FBI, the Russian government wanted the GOP candidate to win. Why? It’s more than simply an attack against the Democratic candidate. It’s that the Russian government, as well as other groups and countries around the world know that if the United States is a divided country, then we are weaker. When a country is weak, it is vulnerable. It is that vulnerability that the enemies of the United States wants to capitalize upon in order to either control us or more of the world.

Tomorrow, the Electoral College will meet to make the final decision on who should be the next President of the United States. They have a great deal of pressure upon them to act for the best interests of the United States rather than simply rubber stamp the candidate who received the most electoral votes in our system. They need to realize that that candidate did not receive anywhere near the popular vote as his opponent. Last count was somewhere in the area of 2.8 million more votes were cast for the Democratic candidate than for the Republican one.

2.8 million.

Now, I know that the Democratic candidate has her own issues. I can understand why the electors may not want to allow her to become president even though she won that popular vote. That’s okay. However, what’s not okay is to allow a person as divisive as her Republican challenger to become president either, especially given the interference of a possibly hostile foreign power in the election. The electors of the Electoral College have a choice to make, but they have options in that choice.

They can rubber stamp the winner of the outdated Electoral College vote winner and do so knowing that his tenure in the Oval Office was gained through the interference of a foreign power. Doing so would be easy, but the consequences could be catastrophic for our country.

They can elect his opponent who won the popular vote by a margin that was far beyond most of the popular vote victories in modern elections. She may have her detractors and issues with some voters, but she has the potential of uniting our country once again, plus her votes were not gained through the interference of a foreign power or through gerrymandering or voter intimidation or voter disenfranchisement.

They can choose another person who may have been a candidate who may be able to unify the country. That person could be from either party and a number of names have been discussed who would fit that description.

What the electors must realize is that they have the power at this point to reset our country. They can choose what they think is the easy way, yet risk continued and worsening disunity in our country; or, they can choose another path and create a way toward a more unified country. We, as citizens, need to hope for the more unifying approach. If not, then we need to prepare as best as we can for things far more worse than we’ve already seen.

Thank you for your time.

It’s been awhile

I apologize for not posting anything for the past few months. Part of that was due to trying to get my children prepared for this school year, part was due to trying my best to maintain sanity during the election, part was due to training to run my second marathon, part due to compiling a new book, and part due to the panic and anxiety I’ve been feeling as a result of the election.

Whew!

I did complete my second marathon, but not as I’d hoped. There were changes in the race that were unexpected, including it being much warmer than it usually is in mid-October in Toronto. While my finish time was much worse than my first marathon, the mileage I physically ran was actually longer than an actual marathon. This was due to changes made in when they decided to start closing the course and there being no markings for how to complete the course once it was closed. I chalk it up to being my first ultra-marathon as it was over 26.2 miles by almost 2.5 miles. So, it was my worst marathon, but my best and new personal best for an ultra-marathon.

As far as the book goes, it is a collection of short stories and poems entitled, Fourteen Poems and Five Stories. Many of the pieces in the book are rather dark, but overall, I hope those who pick up a copy will enjoy it. It’s available on Amazon as well as CreateSpace and for order through most bookstores.

Finally, the election. Still trying to wrap my head around how someone as vile as the president-elect could have even gotten the Electoral College numbers needed to become the president-elect. Yet, as I write this, I am hopeful that the recent revelations about interference from Russia and his other shady dealings will cause the Electoral College to veer off their typical rubber stamp of approval and select either Ms. Clinton or someone more unifying than the person whom I shall simply call Orange Sauron.

Last, it is a snow day here where I am. I enjoy the snow, not shoveling it, but the ambiance it gives to the earth. The quiet way it falls and coats the earth in its blanket of white. Almost gives the earth the appearance of being cleaner than it is sometimes.

I wish you peace and hope to write more much sooner rather than later.