“They’re the Young Generation (and they’ve got something to say)

“Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans…” President John F. Kennedy 

The winds of change—unstoppable and inevitable—course through these United States.  Often such change begins with destruction of what was, scattering the pieces of the past askew. But like a forest fire destroying lives to prolong life, the devastation brings opportunity.

In 2016 anger drove many Americans to abandon principals—to ignite the flames of destruction—in exchange for a firestorm named Trump. They believed the mere act of burning down the past would set it right. 

But even a devastating fire leaves some things unharmed. It does not destroy all the trees.

This election will not be decided by people like myself who will vote for anyone but Donald Trump.

This election will not be decided by those who would grant Trump the Presidency without the benefit of an election.

This election will not be decided by those who have already made up their minds.

This election will be decided by a new generation. And they have the clarity of the past to measure the need for real, rational change.

History may not repeat, but it rhymes (a quote attributed to Mark Twain but who knows?) Here, the rhyme is the rise of a new generation to seize the mantle of leadership.

Men like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders represent those of the Kennedy age who have served their country as they saw fit to do it. While I may not agree with everything they represent, they have been men of integrity. Not perfect, not flawless, but committed to fundamental honesty.

It is time they recognize the moment to pass the torch has arrived.

Pete Buttigieg ( well-educated, articulate, Navy veteran) and Amy Klobuchar (an accomplished lawyer and Senator) represent the rise of a new generation. Their resumes read like the American dream, striving for excellence.

While John Kennedy’s generation rose to preeminence tempered by World War II and the Cold War, this new generation is tempered by asymmetric warfare, instant communication, climate change, a more vibrant global economy, and complex–in some cases nuclear armed–geopolitics.

There has never been a time more critical for a cerebral President, attuned to embracing complexities, than now.

In 1959, during the race between Kennedy and Nixon, Kennedy’s Catholicism posed a major issue for voters. His youth posed another. These were divisive issues upon which many voters based their decisions. Yet that generation rose to the challenge.

In 1960, the idea that someday there would be a Black President was the stuff of disbelief for some and disaster for others.

Times changed and it came to pass.

Now, there is the real chance of a woman or a gay person occupying the White House. That this possibility exists is a good thing, that some will consider these salient issues upon which to base their votes shows we still have a ways to go.

And the only way we will get there is to learn from the past, but look forward to the future.

I, for one, am excited by the prospect of a new generation of American Leadership.

Trump’s Victory: What’s to Explain?

This is the season of the whining of America.

The media is inundated with stories of wailing and gnashing of teeth across America over the election victory of Donald Trump.

I got to experience the nonsense personally having to sit in traffic on an interstate highway in Denver so a bunch of crybabies could vent. I support their right to free speech. But just because it’s free doesn’t mean it shouldn’t accomplish something valuable.

All they did was delay several thousand people from their freedom of life. When the police finally cleared the highway, Trump was still the president-elect and I was at a loss to understand their empty, useless expression of ignorance.

Across the country, schools are holding counseling sessions, delaying exams, offering “safe zones” for people to cry and sob over this apparent national disaster.

People are at a loss to explain it. Cries to dismantle the Electoral College abound. More than half of Americans who voted apparently don’t understand the very process by which we’ve operated since we started electing presidents.

I have one question, what’s to explain?

Trump won. Clinton lost.

The problem may be a symptom of our giving out trophies to teams that go 0-18 in Little league. Don’t worry little Johnny or Sally, you guys came in number 10 out of 10. You did your best.

I don’t want to live in a system where doing your best is the benchmark.  I want to live in a system where, if your best is to finish last as a baseball player, you have an opportunity to excel at something else.

“So, doctor, I see here it says you did your best during your surgical rotation. That’s great, good job. Just do you best when you perform open heart surgery on me. Remember, if you do your best that’s all anyone can ask”

Not in my world.

In the real world, Trump won. You don’t have to like it. You can work to undo it in four years. But you cannot alter the fact by carrying meaningless signs and throwing a temper tantrum.

The electoral college, as enshrined in our constitution as Freedom of Speech and the Second Amendment, is the way our election system works. The problem lies in the dumbing down of Americans and ignoring their obligation to understand the process.

We, the people, are the problem.

I am willing to bet half the people in this country couldn’t name five presidents. They wouldn’t know their congressional districts, the name of their US Senator, or be able to explain the branches of government.

I bet many Americans think the Electoral College was in the Final Four last year.

There are more than 300 million Americans. Many of them are qualified to be president. Yet, we offered up two of the worst candidates ever.

The same people bemoaning the victory of Trump over Clinton seem to ignore the greatest act of political embezzlement ever in Clinton’s nomination. The same party leading the tears over their loss were more than happy to circumvent the system when it suited them.

They wanted to make history. They did that and more if anyone is paying attention. They sold the soul of the democratic party, under the guise of promoting a woman for president, to the highest bidder; the Clinton dynastic machine.

They denigrated the Bush monarchy and then tried to emulate it.

While they blindly marched to their expected entitlement, a bunch of Americans said enough is enough.

You cannot tell us who we can choose. You took away our choice and sent us, reluctantly but in sufficient numbers, to choose someone else and doom your candidate.

I did not vote for Trump. I voted for what I believed to be the lesser of two evils. Will Trump’s presidency turn out to be a disaster? No one can say. But crying and sobbing and screaming and yelling does nothing.

Seeking a change in the electoral college process may be worth discussing but, in another example of the genius of the founding fathers, making such a change is complicated. Something those screaming the loudest don’t understand despite the fact they are the very reason why it is complicated.

We don’t change a system of government because some are unhappy with the results of an election. For those of you struggling to explain the Trump victory to your children, here’s a simple idea.

Turn off the TV and make them READ about how our government works. Letting the media explain the workings of the government is equivalent to child abuse.

Trump won. The Electoral College is the law. If that bothers you, the next series of Congressional elections is two years away, start preparing now.

I see something good arising from this election. Both parties were handed a defeat. One by their own hand and one who had their hands tied by the wave of frustrated Americans. Perhaps the parties will start to listen to all Americans, not just those party apparatchiks trying to maintain the system.

If you want to ensure a better America for your kids. If you want to ensure there IS a better America to pass on to your kids. Then start to work for term limits for Congress. We term limited the President for very good reasons. Assuming for argument’s sake that Trump is a bad president, there is a chance to remove him from office in four years (with sufficient electoral votes.)

Failing that, the worst we must endure is 8 years. I would hope, before the next election, we can find candidates that inspire people to vote for them, not against them.

And Yet a Silver Lining…

The last thing to come out of the box was hope. It flew away.”
Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake

flagFirst, let me do what my obligation as an American citizen compels me to do, offer my congratulations to President-elect Trump. While I did not vote for you, I accept the will of the people in selecting you as the 45th President.

I wish you well in your time in office. I hope you will recognize the obligation of trust America has placed in your hands to preserve this republic.

In every event, no matter how it may be perceived, there are both negatives and positives. In the case of this election, perhaps President-elect Trump will demonstrate to the American people where the true power of government resides, with Congress.

Despite years of trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, even with a Republican majority, Congress failed because enough members worked against it. That majority is one seat less today with another leaning Democrat.

Congress sets the budget. Congress controls the purse strings.

This may serve as a blunt, even dangerous, education for America with an inexperienced President wielding his limited powers against the vast experience of career politicians.

The repudiation of the establishment Mr. Trump touts as illustrating the frustration of Americans with this system did not carry to Congress. The overwhelming majority of incumbents were re-elected.

Perhaps, we will seize this time to impose term limits on all elected offices. Experience is important, entrenchment is counter-productive.

This was an election which offered two choices, jump off a cliff and take your chances on a survivable landing or stand your ground against a stampeding heartless carnivore who shows no remorse to those who stand in her way.

One aside, this campaign talked about character as a quality critical to a President. Yet, Ms. Clinton chose to go against a well-established tradition in this country. She declined to give a concession speech. I wonder, had the results been different, if she would ignore such a choice by Mr. Trump.

Neither were good choices. How this story ends remains to be seen.  That this country will persevere is unquestioned. What we will look like as a country in 4 years is the question.

Congratulations, Mr. Trump, take care of our country.


Supermoon: Portal to the Past

There is a newly discovered phenomenon caused by the soon to be visible Super Moon. A window to the past  has opened in the fabric of the universe. This allowed NASA scientists to speak to the Founding Fathers at the original Constitutional Convention.

When asked what they thought of the current condition of The United States of America, these are the exact words from these great men.

“Are you f#%^*ing kidding me?”  The words were difficult to hear over the sobbing and self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Whether it was a celebration of the Second Amendment or despair was unclear.

The portal was forced closed by Jefferson and Franklin then sealed on that end. They left a message for us to take their name off the country.

A Lifetime of Presidents

The list of presidents I have survived.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, George Bush, Barrack Obama.

The first presidential election I was eligible to vote in, 1976, pitted Gerald Ford against Jimmy Carter. I picked the winner. Since track records are so important in selecting a candidate, I thought I’d share mine. You’ll see I often cross party lines in support of the candidate I believe most qualified.

In hindsight, I may not have always made the best choice but I am on a winning streak and you cannot argue with success.

1980 Reagan V. Carter (Picked the winner)

1984 Reagan V. Mondale (Picked the winner)

1988 Bush V. Dukakis (Picked the winner)

1992 Clinton V. Bush V. Perot (Picked the winner)

1996 Clinton V. Dole V. Perot (Picked the winner)

2000 Bush V. Gore (Missed this one courtesy of the United States Supreme Court)

2004 Bush V. Kerry (Missed this one)

2008 Obama V. McCain (Picked the winner)

2012 Obama V. Romney (Picked the winner)

2016 Clinton V. Trump (I will pick the lesser of two evils.)

I bet my winning percentage continues. I consider my record to be 8-1-1.  8 wins, 1 loss, and 1 forfeit.

As of today, I am 80% successful in for voting for the winner. After Tuesday, I expect that to climb to 82% and my record to go to 9-1-1. Perhaps that’s the best we can hope for. A 911 for America, rescue us from the abyss.

The Right Choice: A Vote for Trump

I have decided to vote for Donald Trump. This was not an easy decision. There are any number of reasons not to vote for him. But, in the interest of America being great again, the choice is clear.trump

He embodies everything that is good about this country through his take no prisoners approach to honoring contracts. Think of the money he’ll save us.

He knows how to avoid taxes, within the law. I’d like to learn how.

He is not troubled by any sense of fairness of these laws. A conscience is an unnecessary burden. It is a handicap for a man with his finger on the nuclear trigger.

Speaking of nuclear weapons, he’ll reduce the nuclear launch window to three minutes. Our enemies will never expect the missiles to arrive so quickly.

He knows how to create a successful image as evidenced by the very mention of his name. I mean, come on, is there anything better than the Trump name?

He is a world class negotiator who will put the rest of the world to shame with his skills. Russia, China, and Luxembourg do not stand a chance.

He is a brilliant educator. Imagine an American educational system based on the Trump University model. That shuld be reesin enuff ta vote en makes we grate agin.

He is not a nasty woman.

Most women in the world have not filed any complaints about him. This may be a limitation of time or opportunity, but it is still true. The number of women complaining about him is statistically insignificant.

He’s fooled Vladimir Putin into investing in his success. He could have ended the cold war before it started.

He needs to open his eyes only about 15% to 20% to see the problems with Hillary. Squinting is efficient, he uses less light.

He can Tweet with the best of them. It’s time we had some 2:00 a.m. tweet wars with the terrorists.

He’ll get rid of the Mexicans, Muslims, Canadians, and unattractive women. Although the Canadians have voluntarily stayed away, the Mexicans are going home to the better-paying jobs (or still coming here, I’m confused on that point), and the Muslims are, at the moment, scarce.

The military will be stronger and better equipped due to his four years of military education and marching skills. Nothing like a good parade to strike terror into the heart of ISIS.

His opponent is a nasty woman. (See above)

His opponent uses preparation in seeking an unfair advantage in debates. He wings it. He is jazz to her classical. You want swinging ignorance or boring competence in the White House?

His opponent has spent years in government. How hard can it be to do better with no experience?

He will eliminate the Affordable Care Act and redirect the money to more important health issues, breast enhancements. Now there are some warheads that will make America great.

President Kennedy set a goal of putting Americans on the moon by the end of a decade. Imagine what the end of this decade will look like after a Trump Presidency.

So, I’m voting for Trump. He will remake America in the image of Garrison Keilor’s Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong (and 10s), all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.

I took a hard look at things and have seen the light of his brilliance. I don’t need to know how he will make us great, or when he will make us great, I am satisfied with his promise TO make us great.

The voices in my head are right and I’ve decided to listen.

P.S. The original title of this piece was Descent into Madness. The voices said no.

Donald Trump: Divine Right of Ascendency

In the third and final debate, Trump handed America the single greatest reason not to vote for him. By refusing to say he would accept the results of the election, he goes against 240 years of American tradition.

The one aspect of America that differentiates us from some countries, the thing which many countries have come to emulate, is our peaceful transition of power.

Elections are always contentious. Candidates are expected to go after their opponent’s ideas, concepts, plans, and experience. It is how we measure and evaluate their suitability for office.

Yet we expect, no demand, that every candidate accepts the results once the votes are counted. There is no room for “keeping the country in suspense.” Trump’s statements on this point border on incitement to anarchy.

Is there voter fraud in elections? Of course. Yet the overwhelming majority of voters cast their votes honestly and within the law.

Every campaign has zealots. There are those on both sides of this election who see their candidate as the only choice and are willing to do anything they can to ensure victory.

The problem with the Trump campaign is it is headed by a zealot with delusions of grandeur. He, alone, will decide the validity of the election process.

Is the existence of voter fraud justification to nullify the results because one candidate is dissatisfied with the election? Of course not.

If Trump has evidence of “widespread” voter fraud involving millions of votes, the time to produce this information is now. Before the election. Not wait and see. Instead, Trump says he’s “seen” evidence of voter fraud and warns the election is rigged.

That is a beautiful thing, Mr. Trump. We should just take your word for it.

What Trump is saying is clear.  If Clinton wins, it’s because of fraud. If he wins, it’s because America has spoken.

Americans will speak on November 8th. And I, like most patriotic and rational Americans, will accept the results.

If Clinton wins, it will not be as a result of voter fraud. If Trump wins, it may well be the results of voter insanity. Choosing a candidate who tells you that he will only accept one result is as un-American as one can be.

That’s not making America great again, that’s turning America into a 10th century Dark Ages kingdom led by someone who sees themselves as having the divine right of ascendency.

A Modest Proposal: Choose Clueless

Perhaps we’re missing an opportunity with the Libertarian Party. While I don’t believe Gary Johnson or Bill Weld are completely clueless, perhaps a little cluelessness might be just the sedative we need for this election.14523018_1439657252726278_6508428197223627262_n

Consider if you will a Johnson/Weld administration. The Presidential Daily Briefing lies sealed and unread in the White House bathroom, buried beneath a copy of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

The National Security staff gathers in the situation room.

Mr. President, the Russians have positioned tanks on the borders of Kazakhstan. What should our response be?

President Johnson: Where?

Mr. President, the Chinese have devalued their currency again. It will cause an economic tidal wave of financial disasters in the Nikkei and Hang Seng. What should we do?

President Johnson: I had a dog named Hang Seng. He died. Sometimes there is nothing you can do. That’s life.

Mr. President, remember Aleppo? The place that caused a bit of a controversy during the campaign. It’s under siege by the Syrians.

President Johnson: Nope.

If an earlier President Johnson hadn’t been able to find Vietnam on a map, I can think of 56000 Americans who’d be better off.

Maybe an absent-minded professor type is what we need. Oblivious to the international scene, yet still with his hands on the nuclear code. What could go wrong?

Mr. President, Albuquerque has sued the government for more federal aid. What is our response?

President Johnson: Hmm, Albuquerque, Albuquerque, that sounds familiar. Better be safe than sorry. Help me open the suitcase and we’ll nuke’em.  After all, what do we have all these nuclear weapons for if we’re not gonna use them?

Let me know when they hit, I need to take a nap.

The Whole World is Watching (Again)

(For added special effect, here’s a link to Chicago’s “The Whole World is Watching.” Just skip the ad if it pops up, let the music start, then read away)

During the first presidential campaign debate, Donald Trump answered the question about the future direction of America by favoring stronger law and order. His answer implied that the law enforcement community is either unwilling or unable to provide what he considers acceptable law and order.

His obvious scorn for preparation for the debate was on stark display with that pronouncement.

In 1984 President Reagan signed the Comprehensive Crime Control Act. This was a wide-ranging consolidation of penalties for criminal violations, started a more widespread use of forfeiture of properties and assets of organized crime, and reinstituted the federal death penalty.

In 1994 President William Jefferson Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.  The bill was a reaction to the increase in violent crime and rising homicide rate in the US. This created a set of minimum mandatory sentences, increased use of electronic surveillance, and increased federal aid to state and local law enforcement.

Proponents argued, despite recognizing there would be a significant impact on minority communities, that each of these bills had the support of minority legislators and community leaders.

This is only partially true.

While many minority members of Congress voted for the legislation, they argued for added provisions including increasing aid to education, job training, and programs aimed at reducing poverty.

These provisions were never incorporated.

Which leads me to the point of how Trump panders to lowest common denominator with each position he takes. In this case, the strong law enforcement crowd. They see themselves as the solution to the crime problem. In fact, they, like the previously mentioned laws, are reactions to the problem.

They are not the solution; they are one element of the solution to a complex problem.

You can flood the neighborhoods of the south side of Chicago, or anywhere else, with an army of cops and lessen the number of incidents of violence. Yet the problem will remain.

Law and Order is not a solution; it is a TV show. And like a TV show, it is not reality. It replaces the truth with fantasy.  A fantasy embraced by those seeking a quick solution to an embedded and difficult problem.

There’s a line in the movie, Fort Apache: The Bronx, about the former 41st precinct in New York. One officer, experienced and jaundiced by the reality of the time, explained to another officer, “We’re not a police department. We are an army of occupation.”

Like other armies of occupation, the Police Department soon realized that occupation is a short-term strategy. Eventually, they had to address the root cause. Police departments are ill-equipped to deal with these endemic problems.

Yet Trump would suggest stronger law and order is the answer.

We need to recognize that armed response to violence is not a solution, it is a placebo. We need to reduce the culture of violence and prevent those conditions which foster it from arising again.

We need to learn from the successes and mistakes of the past to create a more responsive and effective law enforcement model.

By all measures, the 1984 and 1994 crime measures both offered fixes to short-term problems and exacerbated the deeper, underlying causes. While some credit the passage of these laws with the reduction of violent crime, an equal number point out that the decrease in violent crime was already underway.

Through what amounted to a trick of accounting, we removed thousands of people from the welfare system by putting them in prison. And put them back in prison when, on release, they were unable to find jobs and re-offended.

Then, we turned the prison system into a for-profit enterprise. I have no doubt we could find a cost-saving method of implementing the death penalty through the private sector as well. Capitalism at its finest.

Despite the braggadocio of Trump, you cannot solve poverty with prisons, embrace enforcement of laws without also embracing education, or create “armies of occupation” as solutions to the racism and hopelessness of a segment of American society.

“Law and order” solution to crime is like injecting morphine into a broken arm.  The pain is gone. The underlying problem still there, waiting to reemerge when the medication wears off. The problem, like the pain, will be worse.

Recent events would suggest the medication has worn off.

Trump touts the endorsement of organizations such as the Fraternal Order of Police as validation of his position. I think it more a sign that the Fraternal Order of Police has lost sight of its true purpose in pursuit of empty promises of more cops.

If Trump had his way, there’d be thousands of more cops on the street. But if I were them I’d be worried how, or if, he would find a way to pay for them. Look at his business “success.” He contracts for something, then refuses to pay for it.

Listen to his own words about paying taxes. He doesn’t pay them because he’s smart. Those same taxes that go to support law enforcement. Trump doesn’t put any value on them. He merely panders to an unsophisticated, narrow-minded, short-sighted mentality.

No one had a stronger law and order approach to crime than the Gestapo or the KGB. Crime was rare in Moscow. Paris was almost crime-free during the occupation. Crime is pretty low in Pyongyang as well.

That’s strong law and order.

The law and order pronouncements of Donald Trump invoke the chilling echoes of a Final Solution.

Is that the kind of America we want?



America’s Long Walk on a Short Pier

The America I know, the one that once served as a bright shining beacon to the world, is changing. Our headlong panic rush to insulate, rather than defend, ourselves from those that would do us harm is disheartening.

Talk of building walls, denying entry based on religion or origin, craving a national policy of carpet bombing without regard to innocents is not a solution. It is the easy way out. That is not America.

We are on a very long walk on a short pier.305880-pier

America was once the country who built piers to welcome those who seek the American dream. We stood greeting those looking for a better life. Yet now, because it is so easy to focus on those who misuse our welcome, we are throwing it all away.

When did we become so afraid of standing up for what is right, that we are willing to bury our head in the sand?

We bought into this ‘I’m being bullied nonsense’ and cry to our mommies. I know this may offend some people but you don’t run from bullies, or try to legislate them out of existence. You stand up to them.

It’s the only way to solve the problem. Time to recapture our pride and dignity.

Now, we are faced with a Presidential election. The campaign is a bunch of meaningless drivel, hurled by both sides, that offers no real solution, no intelligent analysis of the problem, and no real hope for change.

We are better than that. We deserve better than that. And yet, most of us just follow along like blind sheep lured by the aroma of fresh feed right into the slaughter house.

Instead of doing the hard work of identifying those who would misuse welfare, we punish the entire program.

Instead of doing the difficult task of bringing the fight to the enemy, we embrace politicians with no idea of the rules of engagement who see carpet bombing as a solution to end a philosophy. Innocent casualties be damned.

Instead of making the effort to understand the complex problems facing us, we engage in screaming matches that do nothing.

Instead of focusing on the logjam that is Congress, we scream and yell about useless Congressional hearings and speeches that capitalize on our ignorance.

Instead of embracing education, we dilute the standards then blame teachers for the results. Johnny can’t read and we do not care.

But there is still time.

There is time to remember that Congress holds the purse strings of America, not the President, and understand who holds the purse strings of Congress.

There is time to return to an America where holding public office meant doing public service not keeping it for life.

There is time, but it, like the end of the pier, is growing short.

I have noticed a troubling trend among the tattooed generation of Americans. I am noticing more and more individuals sporting a barcode tattoo on the back of their necks.

If we are not vigilant. If we do not wean ourselves away from chasing Pokémon. If we do not think instead of remaining mindlessly enslaved to our cell phones.

If we do not realize that we have stopped adding to the pier that is the American dream but continue to walk at our current pace, we will find ourselves at the end.

Those sporting this barcode tattoo may be a foreshadow of the American future.

Where once each new generation represented an addition to the treasure of America, our people, they may be reduced to nothing but inventory from a failed dream.

Think before we walk into oblivion.