Monthly Archives: January 2017

What Do The Facts Tell Us About Ourselves?

A few Facts: (Not alternative facts or hopefully cherry-picked facts, but actual facts not meant to appeal to any one ideal or persuasion.)

  • In 2011, President Obama did enact a policy that seriously limited Iraqi refugees from entering the country. He instructed that all processing of new Iraqi refugees be halted for six months. However, he did not place any holds on current Green Card holders, people with current visas or refugees who had already completed the vetting process. (Jessica McBride, Heavy, Jan. 29, 2017)
  • The number of Iraqi refugees that came to the United States between 2010-2012: 2010 – 18,251, 2011 – 6,339, 2012 – 16,369. (State Department Records as reported and linked to by the Washington Post)
  • In 2015, President Obama did establish the list of seven countries that are considered “Countries of Concern” with regards to terrorist activities. President Trump used that list in his executive order and banned all “immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12)” In short, those countries are the list of seven.
  • President Trump’s executive order does include holds on current Green Card holders, people with current visas and refugees who have completed the vetting process but have not yet entered the country. (White House Executive Order, Jan. 27, 2017)
  • On January 12, 2017, President Obama ended the longstanding policy of the United States of “wet foot/dry foot” with regard to Cuban refugees. Previous to that change, any Cuban refugee able to make it to dry ground was allowed to stay in the United States and become a citizen without qualifying for humanitarian relief. As part of this change in policy toward Cuba, the US received no concessions from the Cuban government regarding how individuals returned to Cuba would be treated. Under the “wet foot/dry foot” policy, no Cuban refugee was required to undergo a vetting process similar to that of other countries. (Fox News, Obama Announces End To…, Jan. 12, 2017)
  • Mr. Trump’s executive order places a ban on refugees from Syria entering the country and that ban has no end date.
  • In 2017, the United Nations identified 4.86 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. Of those, about 10% or roughly 480,000 people, are in need of resettlement. (Amnesty International)
  • As of November 1, 2016, 13,210 Syrian refugees were relocated to the United States in 2016 alone. That is a 675% increase over 2015. Of those, 99.1% were Muslim (Christian News Service, 13,210 Syrian Refugees So Far…, Nov. 1, 2017)
  • High Income countries currently offering no resettlement opportunities to Syrian refugees (As of January 27, 2017): Russia, Singapore, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, South Korea, and The United States. (Amnesty International and The White House Executive Order, Jan. 27, 2017)
  • Through February 2016, over 470,000 Syrians have died directly or indirectly due to the on-going Civil War. (Syrian Center for Policy Research as report by PBS, A Staggering New Death…, February 11, 2016 )

Not Facts (Otherwise known today as Alternate Facts):

  • This is a Muslim Ban – This is in fact, not a Muslim ban. It targets specific countries that are predominately Muslim, but it does not prohibit the movement of Muslims to our country specifically. However, the Administration might understand how people could easily get to that belief due to the fact that Mr. Trump called for a ban on Muslim immigration during the campaign. Nevertheless, any media outlet reporting that this as Muslim ban is being disingenuous and providing “false news.”
  • This policy “is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months.”  – This is not really similar to what President Obama did at all.  At least not based on the information we have available to us today.  In 2011, the Obama administration, in response to the arrest of two Iraqi nationals in Kentucky who were connected to roadside bombs that had been constructed in Iraq in 2005, halted all new visas to Iraqi refugees for six months while they 1) investigated how these individuals had slipped through customs without being flagged and detained, and 2) created more extensive background checks of Iraqi citizens seeking asylum (Washington Post). Thus far, it does not appear the Trump administration acted this past weekend based on any kind of event or evidence that would have prompted this ban. Rather it appears that the Trump administration is seeking to keep a campaign promise. Also, as noted above, the Obama administration policy was much narrower and allowed for those already in the system to be processed. The Trump policy is much broader and does not allow for “pre-existing” factors.
  • This is an immigration issue – This is a humanitarian issue, not an immigration issue. To suggest such is probably unfair to the literally millions of immigrants who have gone through the standard process of naturalizing to this country. Furthermore, a nation can’t as a general rule just open its borders to everyone without some kind of process for providing legal status to those individuals. However, in times of emergency such as this, many of those provisions are often set aside to provide for the welfare of refugees in a timely manner. But again, that would be due to humanitarian concerns, not immigration concerns.
  • This is a terrorism issue – This is a humanitarian issue, not a terrorism issue. To suggest that we should not reach out to the hundreds of thousands who have been displaced and are without basic necessities because one of them might possibly down the road try to kill us is cowardly. Horrifyingly so! Including those who died on 9-11, 3,043 Americans have been killed during terrorist attacks committed on American soil between 2001 and 2014. During that same period, 440,095 American citizens were killed in non-terrorism related gun violence on American soil (CNN). 35,092 American citizens were killed in automobile related deaths on American soil in 2015 alone (NHTSA.gov) It is completely justifiable to suggest that a vetting process be in place to try and protect the citizens of the United States. Prior to January 27, 2017, such a vetting process was in place. In fact, it has been described as the strictest of its kind in our country. Mr. Trump has stated we need to increase that to include an “extreme vetting” process, but has, as of yet, failed to define what that extreme vetting process is above and beyond what we are already doing.
  • Christian refugees will get priority over all other faiths – The executive order does not allow for Christianity to be the deciding factor on whether or not a refugee will get priority. However, it does state, “…provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality. Where necessary and appropriate, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall recommend legislation to the President that would assist with such prioritization.” The problem here is that as near as I can find, no country that is currently exporting a large number of refugees is a predominately Christian nation. Therefore, this misconception could actually be argued as partially true because Christians from these war torn nations will get priority under this executive order. Furthermore, a large number of the nations exporting refugees are predominately Muslim nations and therefore, it can be surmised that Muslims will be denied any such priority.

Now let me finish with a couple more facts of which I will make no commentary except for one final question:

  • Jesus said, “As I have loved you, love one another.”
  • Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.
  • Jesus said, “Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst of me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?

Does our current attitude as a nation toward our Muslim brothers and sisters who have been displaced from their homes through war reflect our declaration that we are country founded on Christian ideals?

 

 

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Christianity And The Hippies

Judge Not, That Ye Be Not Judged. 

That bible verse, found in the book of Matthew, chapter 7, verse 1, is without a doubt one of the most well known verses in scripture. I also happen to believe it is one of the key pillars of basic Christian faith. By my reckoning, it goes hand in hand with the Golden Rule. Bottom line, if you want to be a good Christian, you have to be ready to give people the benefit of the doubt. And not just some people. Basically all people. I mean, close examination of the scripture itself reveals that it doesn’t seem to come with any caveats or asterisks. It just is what it is.

Which brings me to my current conundrum.

At least once a year, a old dilapidated school bus will pull into our Walmart parking lot and take up residence for some undetermined amount of time. The bus itself is no longer the property of any educational institution in America. Not even third world bus lines would give this rust bucket a second look. Inside this bus is a ragtag band of…pick your favorite moniker; gypsies, hippies, soap-retardant sociology experiments. Whatever your name for them, they come to town, emerge, and quickly lay claim to the small corners of land adjacent to both major entrances to Walmart, as well as the main entrance to the Safeway shopping center. From these vantage points, they then attempt to raise funds by singing incoherently (at least to the passing traffic), dancing and waving ludicrous signs that spout nonsensical slogans that were already on their way out of pop-culture relevance for being cliche in the 1960’s.

And the second they arrive, I will admit, my judge-o-meter starts pinging off the charts. I’m not proud of this, but it’s true. I judge their clothes, I judge their lack of cleanliness, I judge their hippidy-dippidy mode of transportation that causes me to feel like I’m pulling into a swap meet for the down-on-their-luck instead of a major national retail store. (Wait, it IS Walmart. So to be fair, the swap meet thing might have been on my mind at least a little bit already before they arrived.) And most of all, I judge their intentions.

Then I start to feel guilty.

But then I get angry that I’m feeling guilty. These people have basically come in and stolen prime real estate from the regular stream of panhandlers, beggars and homeless folks who have shown much more moxie over the last eight months than these interlopers by braving the brunt of a vicious Arizona summer.  In all honesty, those people were making me feel guilty first and really, their signs telling of personal tragedy seem a little more deserving of said guilt. I mean, c’mon, I only have so much guilt to go around.

Once I have this realization, all traces of my good will disappear and I find myself slightly simmering with anger. What’s up with these ne’er-do-wells anyway? (On the other hand, I rarely get to use the hyphenated word ne’er-do-wells much, and so if nothing else, I do appreciate them giving me that. Anyway…back to my other stream of thought.) They look perfectly healthy. Why don’t they go get a job?

As I think these thoughts to myself, a couple of notions enter my brain. One; Good Gosh, I’m now old enough that I can legitimately sound like the Grumpy Old Man character from the 80’s era Saturday Night Live without expressly trying, and two; You’re judging!

AHHHHH!!!! I can’t be serious. How am I not supposed to judge these people? I mean, seriously, is thinking to myself, “Wash your *&@! hair once in while,” really being judgmental?

Okay, fine. And I know I’m not supposed to think curse words even if I don’t say them out loud. But what am I supposed to do?

I suppose I could try and see life from their point of view.

Well…I can’t. I’m sorry but it’s just flat impossible.

So I try visualizing what their day to day lives must be like and this exercise leads me to another of the seven deadly sins, jealousy. (By the way, is judging one of the seven deadly sins? I don’t think it is by itself. But I don’t think it would take much of an argument to lump it in with pride so we’ll go with it.) These people have probably seen more of the world than I ever will. And since I am always day-dreaming about the travels I want to take, suddenly their existence takes on a romanticism that I can’t explain.

Until of course I realize that all of these places and cultures are probably being experienced inside a giant grime and filth covered petri dish filled with vast hordes of fleas and STDs. Suddenly, all of the romanticism is gone and I’m once again disgusted by them. AAANNNDDDD here we are back at the Gate of Hell entitled Unrighteous Judgement. Man this sucks!

All of these thoughts were circling my brain as I entered the Walmart parking lot for the third time this past Saturday. (Man, I hate that store. Why can’t they just help me and have someone follow me around and politely remind me of all the things I need to get the first time I’m there so I don’t have to go back repeatedly on a Saturday. The day when every single person in Graham county decides to come, grab a shopping cart that they don’t need, park it in the middle of the nearest aisle and settle in for the long haul as if they are in line for concert tickets that are never going to go on sale.) Anyway, as I pulled in, I saw one of these individuals standing on the corner dancing around smiling while holding a sign that read, “All We Need Is Love.”

“Yeah, uh-huh, love and my spare change,” I thought grumpily. Because last I checked, love was not going to buy them a drop of gasoline to get that hunk of scrap metal back on the road when they were done with their “winter of love” here in the Safford Walmart parking lot.

Then just as quickly I thought, “*&!@ IT!!!” There’s another demerit for judging again. And a second demerit for thinking that curse word. If there is any kind of accounting system when it comes to our final resting place in the afterlife, these people are screwing me.”

Regardless, I then determined that to cover myself, I would try to be judgement free and provide what spare change remained after my visit to Walmart to the girl with the sign that reminded of me of The Beatles song that I truly detest.

Except, when I got into Walmart, I discovered that Walmart doesn’t carry single Thank You cards anymore. Are You Kidding?!?!?! They had a birthday card with two animated naked butts on it with some line about expecting a crack about your age or some such nonsense, but not one single Thank You card that didn’t come in a package of 10 or more. I HATE Walmart!

Nonetheless, the upshot of the thank you card fiasco was that I had forgotten all about the girl with the sign. To be honest, I don’t remember if she was even there anymore by the time I left…or if I even left by the same exit. I just was so frustrated that I can get birthday cards for a dog, but not an individual thank you card that I forgot all about her.

So I didn’t give her my spare change. And I honestly can’t even tell you this morning if I feel guilty about it or not. In retrospect, I don’t know what that says about me or my devotion to Christian beliefs.

But either way, there’s one thing I am sure of. I don’t need to worry about what any of you who might be reading this are thinking. Because if you are now thinking of me negatively, then HA!!! You’re just as guilty of judging as I am…

…Except now I’m judging you and them. *&!@ IT!!! I need these people to move on soon. Between my unholy judgments and the mental cursing, I’m not sure my Eternal Soul Destination ledger can take much more.

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Sherlock, VidAngel And The Personal Expression Of Art

Ever since my wife and I discovered the hodgepodge of weird genius eye-candy and unapologetic high-minded, rapid-fire dialogue that is the television show (or what we would probably have called the Television Movie Event of the Week back in the ’80s) Sherlock four years ago, we’ve been hooked. From the first episode it was impossible to look away from the brilliance on display. The writing, the cinematography, the acting…basically everything was, to our point of view, brilliant. Yeah, the Chinese acrobat episode in season 1 wasn’t as strongly written as the other two (each season only has three 90 minute episodes), and yes, the Irene Adler episode in season 2 wandered into the tawdry for nothing more than shock value, but still. I would argue that there has been virtually nothing else like it on television, at least that we were willing to watch.

So, on January 1st, it was with baited breath that Shannon and I AND my teenage daughter Abby (who had joined our Sherlock obsessed family fan club a couple of years ago) sat down with baited breath to watch the premiere of Sherlock, Season 4. A full two years had passed since we’d been dropped off the edge of a cliff and left hanging with only two words uttered by Sherlock’s psycho nemesis, Moriarty, left to keep us company. “MISS ME?” It had been a long hard 731 days, but the time had finally come.

And then the first episode began and…it was good. It was really good. Not great, but really good. It didn’t do much at all for our “WHAT THE #*@& JUST HAPPENED!” concerns that we’d been harboring for so long, but it did tell a pretty darn good story. Until the end, which just flat out sucked. Great story telling, but still. The following week, episode two arrived and it was…well, just plain creepy. Not the best episode in my opinion by a pretty wide margin. However, it did set up a possible humdinger of a finale, especially since it also had failed to address the cliff-hanger from the previous season. Then, this past Sunday night, after we’d put our youngest three to bed, we settled in to watch what turned out to be not only the final episode of the season, but quite possibly the final episode of the series, ever. And? Well…not my favorite.

The concept wasn’t bad I suppose and it did answer all of the outstanding questions, but…eh. First of all, it decided to dabble on the edges of horror, a genre of which neither my wife nor I are fans. Secondly, it wrapped up in such a way that I felt very unsatisfied with the resolution. (I apologize for not going into detail, but as is probably obvious, I’m trying to avoid spoilers.) I understand why the creators of the series did what they did and what they were getting at, but I personally felt that this fourth, and possibly final season was missing many of the key elements I had actually found so captivating about the show in the first place.

And so it goes. Another television show that I loved had ended and I was left to decide whether or not I was satisfied with the overall product, including the ending. And that decision will be mine and mine alone. I’ve done this before. And the one thing that I have to be careful of is letting the common consensus affect my overall enjoyment or lack thereof. I have to remember that it doesn’t matter what EVERYONE else thinks, it only matters to me what I think. Cases in point:

Seinfeld – The immediate reaction to the Seinfeld finale was overwhelmingly negative. People didn’t like that it was a clip show. People didn’t like that the four of them ended up in jail. People didn’t like that Jerry and Elaine didn’t end up together. The list goes on and on. But I remember watching it the night it originally aired and loving it. I thought it was the perfect ending to have four people who had never progressed as human beings end up getting a dose of justice and still not having that change who they are fundamentally. I was stunned that people wanted the ending of Seinfeld to be some kind of life-changing event. It was a sit-com. A sit-com that had established who these characters were and suddenly fans wanted them to be someone else? Why? Anyway, I still hear people complaining about the finale of Seinfeld and I think, “Whatever.” I thought it was perfect.

Lost – The reaction to the finale of Seinfeld was more widespread because of how many people watched the show. But the reaction to the finale of Lost was more emphatic and anger-filled because the watchers of Lost were avid fans who had been with the show for six years. They wanted answers and felt like the finale didn’t provide near enough of them. People disagreed violently about what the finale even was trying to say. But overall, the general consensus was that Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and failed miserably to provide an adequate ending for the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. I, on the other hand, thought it was brilliant. I thought it was very moving and felt the symbolism of not just the finale, but the finale combined with the entire show made up the best series of television I had ever seen. Today, I still believe it ranks in the top five despite the continuing jokes from the majority of fans about how bad the series went off the rails in its final season and especially in the finale.

The Sopranos – This one I can’t speak to specifically because I have never actually seen an episode. But as a follower of pop culture, it was pretty hard to avoid all the discussions that went on about show creator, David Chase’s decision to cut to black without revealing what actually happened to his show’s protagonists. It sounds like it was ambiguity at its finest. Inception level frustration only worse because instead of investing two hours, fans had invested multiple years in this show only to be left hanging. I personally don’t have a problem with ambiguity. I liked the ending of Inception because I get to decide whether the top falls or not. But I am apparently in the minority. And it seemed that Sopranos fans were not amused.

However, when it’s all said and done, it doesn’t matter what fans think of the three examples mentioned above, or any other examples from the world of film. Because art is always subjective, and like it or not, television and movies are an art form. Yet somehow, in our self-serving day of 2016, we the fans feel like we should be included in the decision making process on how best to present these particular forms of art. And when our personal feelings are not taken into account, we can get highly incensed as if a great wrong has been done to us. But frankly, that’s just not true. Television shows and movies are simply art being displayed for our enjoyment and we can either like it or not…and that’s it.

Which brings me to my final point.

The movie filtering company, VidAngel, has lost its legal battle to keep providing filtered movies on every front and is now, for all intents and purposes, out of business. They are still pursuing all avenues available to them, but it would seem pretty clear that they will lose.

In once sense, this makes me a little sad. It would be nice to see certain entertainment offerings without content that I find objectionable. But on the other hand, I totally understand and respect this outcome.

I mean, really, would I ever expect to be able to take a trip to Italy and demand that I be allowed to see all of the classic paintings and sculptures that beautiful country has to offer boob free? Of course not. If I want to go see art in Italy, I had better be ready to get an eye full of mammary glands as well as a fair amount of male genitalia. I know that going in. So if I don’t want to see those things, I better not go to Italy.

And in that vein, I have to believe at a basic level that the same should be true for the art of film. Artists in the form of writers, directors and actors (to name a few) created these works of art. I may not like the art, but it is art. I don’t understand paint splotches on a canvas, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a painting. Likewise, I don’t see any redeeming quality in a film about a doll that comes to life and kills people, but the artists did. And if I don’t like it, I don’t have to watch it.

So to say to those artists, “I think some of your creation has merit, but I’m going to pick and choose which parts those are,” can come across as a little insulting. What they created was their vision, and they created it for consumption as a whole.

Which is why I grudgingly have to agree with the VidAngel rulings. I know it isn’t fair to families looking for clean content that Hollywood seems to be working against them. I know it isn’t fair that companies whose sole purpose is to create “clean” movies also happen to make movies that are, for the most part, unwatchable. But who said life was going to be fair? I saw on-line the other day a comment by someone who was justifying VidAngel’s existence. They stated that they should be able to watch their movies without any content they find objectionable. The only problem with that statement is, it isn’t THEIR movie. It belongs to a studio. If you want to buy a copy of it and then skip through parts, that’s your prerogative. But to try and work the system so that you “buy” the movie when you really don’t…not the same.

Again, if the courts had found otherwise and ruled in favor of VidAngel, I would be the first to applaud. But I knew they wouldn’t. Because once all the arguments are made, it only makes sense that they don’t. And maybe that’s ultimately for our good.

You see, another argument I have heard multiple times in defense of VidAngel is the metaphor of eating a sandwich with a tiny bit of dog poop in it. No one would knowingly do that. So, the argument goes, we as the consumer should be able to remove the dog poop from our sandwiches. But honestly, does anyone really want to eat a sandwich that had dog poop in it to begin with, regardless of how much effort was made to take it out? I didn’t think so. Maybe the same should be said for our art. If we don’t want it as is, then we probably shouldn’t want it at all.

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If Nero Had Only Had A Twitter Account

These are important days in our country.

Tensions are on the edge within the hallways of government as the balance of power begins to shift at the highest levels of the world’s greatest nation. There is much to be done. Laws to be written or rewritten, heads of agencies to be replaced, economic decisions that will affect every woman and child throughout the world to be made. One can only imagine how any man or woman faced with such responsibility could cope in the face of such pressure.

But thankfully, in today’s world we have a revolutionary advancement that gives us unique insight into the man who will lead our nation and represent us throughout the world. We can know exactly what overwhelming issues are weighing heavy upon his mind. Is it the future of Obamacare? Is it an economy that is growing but at such a stagnant rate that it is crushing the dreams and aspirations of thousands of Americans each day who can’t find a job that will pay their bills? Before 2016, one could only guess. But today, we are blessed with Twitter, a wonderful invention that allows us to know exactly which issues of the day our beloved Commander-In-Chief is focusing his priorities on. And the answer?


President-elect Donald J. Trump’s Twitter feed from January 6, 2017, 6:04 p.m.

Wow, the ratings are in and Arnold Schwarzenegger got “swamped” (or destroyed) by comparison to the ratings machine DJT.  So much for…

President-elect Donald J. Trump’s Twitter feed from January 6, 2017, 6:12 p.m.

being a movie star-and that was season 1 compared to season 14. Now compare him to my season 1. But who cares, he supported Kasich and Hillary


Okayyyyy. Not exactly what I expected from the soon-to-be most powerful man in the world in the days leading up to his cabinet picks going before congress, but maybe it’s a one-off. Surely he has other things to worry about, right?


President-elect Donald J. Trump’s Twitter feed from January 9, 2017, 4:27 a.m.

Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn’t know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a…..

President-elect Donald J. Trump’s Twitter feed from January 9, 2017, 4:36 a.m.

Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never “mocked” a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him…….

President-elect Donald J. Trump’s Twitter feed from January 9, 2017, 4:43 a.m.

“groveling” when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!

———————————–

What? Let me speak to you directly Mr. Trump. I have no desire to get into the argument about whether or not Meryl Streep is overrated (she’s not, but her political rants do tend to get a bit loose with the facts, see: Walt Disney comments) but rather, do you realize she’s an actress? An ACTRESS! Hopefully I’m not the first to remind you of this, but hey, THE VOTES ARE IN! You won, dude! She can’t DO anything to you. So if she criticizes you on an awards show that is watched by less than 7% of the American public…here’s a thought…LET IT GO!

And Arnold? The man was brought in to fill a role on a “reality” show. That’s it! A show you are still listed as being an executive producer on, by the way. Which means that, in a roundabout way, YOU hired him! Okay, so he didn’t support you during the election, but does that really mean you have to take time away from preparing to run the free world in order to take a cheap shot? What in the name of Beelzebub’s french poodle is the matter with you? Four out of my five children have better sense than you are exhibiting, and the only one not included on that list is three years old.

But, wait. I should step back. Maybe these two examples are being cherry-picked. I’m sure since he won the election Mr. Trump has been under a lot of stress. Surely, as his many supporters have suggested over and over again he will, he is becoming more presidential and rational in his use of social media as the mantle of the office draws nearer.


President-elect Donald J. Trump’s Twitter feed from January 5, 2017, 6:25 a.m.

The dishonest media likes saying that I am in Agreement with Julian Assange – wrong. I simply state what he states, it is for the people….

President-elect Donald J. Trump’s Twitter feed from January 9, 2017, 6:45 a.m.

to make up their own minds as to the truth. The media lies to make it look like I am against “Intelligence” when in fact I am a big fan!


Wait a minute. Again to Mr. Trump directly. As president-elect, why on earth would you be quoting Julian Assange at all? The man is currently living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in order to avoid being extradited to 1) Sweden, on charges of sexual assault and rape*, or 2) the United States, on possible charges of espionage, conspiracy to commit espionage, theft or conversion of property belonging to the United States government, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and general conspiracy. And frankly, up until he decided to help you in your campaign efforts by releasing the hacked e-mails of your opponent, it was pretty much the consensus of the majority of American people who actually knew who he was, that Mr. Assange was an untrustworthy, vile reptile of a human being.

But secondly, I want to make sure I understand your logic. You use Mr. Assange’s words and state the same conclusions that he does, but you don’t agree with him? Or is there some nuance that you are trying to convey that just doesn’t come across well in 140 characters?

Nevertheless, this “lying media” or “dishonest media” line is one you like to use a lot. Take for instance this tweet.


President-elect Donald J. Trump’s Twitter feed from January 6, 2017, 4:19 a.m.

The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!


Oh my Gosh!!! The “dishonest” media is not reporting that Mexico will pay back money spent on your precious wall because you have not provided one speck evidence that Mexico actually will be paying back any money spent on your precious wall. That’s called journalism. You report facts. You don’t report “Believe Me! They are going to pay it back because I’m awesome and I say they will,” as credible evidence. In fact, it would be dishonest of them to report that Mexico will pay back those funds because Mexico has stated unequivocally that they will, in fact, not pay back those funds or pay for the wall in any way. So, it would seem that by not reporting that any money spent on “the Great Wall” will be paid back by Mexico, the media is actually being honest in their reporting with the facts they have available to them.

In fact, you seem to question the honesty of any media person if their honesty happens to involve you. Take Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold. He bothered to look into whether or not you actually spent the money your foundation raised at an event supporting veterans on actual veterans. What he found was not very flattering to you. So what did you do? You called him “a nasty guy” and then went about covering your butt. Once you had done that to a level you felt comfortable with, you then blasted him and the rest of the media you continue to call dishonest for not being nicer to you. This “nasty guy” then went on to uncover the fact that your foundation spent money on…wait for it…pictures of you, that you then used to decorate the clubhouses at your own golf resorts. That’s priceless…aaaand also illegal. And to top it off, you totally validated this “nasty guy” who belongs to the “dishonest media” by admitting in your 2015 tax return that you had in fact done what he reported you had done.  When it comes to your use of the the word, “dishonest”, I believe quoting Inigo Montoya might be in order. “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Bottom line, Mr. President-elect, I will end this post with some advice. 1) Toughen Up. You ran for the highest office in the land. People are going to take shots at you. Get over it. 2) Twitter is not your friend. In fact, at the rate you’re going, it could undo your presidency. You are putting far too many things “on the record” with your 140-character verbal diarrhea sessions that seem to occur at hours in which you really should consider sleeping. 3) Grow up! PLEASE!!! You represent all of us now. And frankly, you’re embarrassing.

If you can accomplish those three things…well, you’d still probably be an egomaniacal jerk. But at least you wouldn’t be proving it over and over again via an outlet that you can never take back and has no filter. On the other hand, if you’re not going to stop (which I fully expect you won’t), at least you will be the most entertaining president we have ever had. Which will be of great comfort to us all, I’m sure, when the whole nation’s economy implodes due to your YUUUGE border taxes and your best friends, the Russians, march in to pick up the pieces.


*The statute of limitations has run out and Julian Assange cannot be prosecuted on some of the charges he was facing in Sweden due to the actions of the Swedish prosecutor.

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The Burden of Being “America’s Choir”

I feel for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir today. I really do!

I mean I feel for their members, I feel for the organists and conductors and I feel for the leaders of my church who have to make tough decisions. Because the decision each of those individuals had to make in these last couple of weeks have been rough. And regardless of what they chose, it was always a no-win situation.

Now before anyone gets upset thinking this is going to be an anti-Trump post, hear me out. I’m not so much speaking about Donald Trump specifically as I am the situation the choir finds itself in.

I’m quite certain that when The Mormon Tabernacle Choir (we’re just going to refer to them as MoTab from here on out for clarity’s sake) accepted the invitation to sing at Lyndon B. Johnson’s inauguration in 1964, it was done so with much joy and appreciation. It undoubtedly represented an opportunity for the LDS church to be recognized and accepted, by the President of the United States at least, as mainstream. It was recognition that had been long, long overdue and I can only imagine the pride those choir members must have felt, as well as church members worldwide, as they sang in Washington D.C. those many years ago.

Unfortunately, they had no idea of the precedent they were setting that would come back to bite them so 50 years later.

You see, since that inauguration, MoTab has sung at four additional inaugurations. When they are called, they answer. It’s a very “Mormon” thing to do. It’s the same attribute I believe Mitt Romney was exhibiting, despite his obvious misgivings about our current president-elect, when he accepted the invitation to Trump Tower (and a high profile dinner in front of the cameras so that Mr. Trump could parade his defeated foe on display) to discuss the job of Secretary of State. If you call a Mormon to serve, more often than not, they are going to show up. It just is.

The problem now is that since LBJ, only Republicans have called. Richard Nixon called, Ronald Reagan called, George H.W. Bush called and his son George W. Bush called. Who didn’t call? Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Does anyone else see a problematic trend developing?

The LDS church has long maintained a stance of political neutrality. Yes, church leaders have weighed in from time to time on specific issues they believe directly relate to Church standards or teachings, but overall, they do not support a party, a candidate or an ideology. But when one adds this string of Republican inauguration appearances to the overwhelming support Republicans enjoy on a national level among latter-day saints, especially in the state of Utah, outsiders might be prone to take away the wrong message. Or even insiders for that matter who might be Democrats…I suppose.

Which brings me back to my feelings of sympathy for choir members and church leaders who had to make the decision on whether or not to sing at the inauguration of Donald Trump. For them, not good options existed. Had they refused, word would have gotten out and I am quite certain backlash from inside the church would have been fierce and ugly. But accepting has been anything but a cakewalk either.

Throughout the final days of the campaign, social media battles were erupting all over the LDS landscape regarding Mr. Trump. Members were arguiung right and left amongst themselves on whether it was right or wrong to vote for someone who personally had exhibited such great disdain for many things LDS members hold dear. It was not an easy decision and although it would appear the majority of LDS Republicans opted to vote for Mr. Trump in the end, for many, it was not an easy decision.

So now we are coming up to the inauguration. Should the choir travel to D.C. and sing? I personally think they should not. I believe that as the church becomes more diverse and more of a world-wide institution, taking part in any activity that might be construed as supporting one candidate or party over another should probably be avoided. And that view has little to do with whether or not the candidate might be considered moral or not.

It’s about trying to be non-partisan or non-political in 2016’s hyper-political environment. I mean, c’mon, let’s be very real with ourselves for just a moment. Do we honestly believe that social media wouldn’t have exploded with negative backlash within LDS circles if Hillary Clinton had won and the choir had been invited and accepted said invitation to sing at her inauguration? Maybe the majority of members wouldn’t have taken to Facebook or Twitter to express their outrage, but a very vocal group would have undoubtedly been infuriated that the church would send its most visible ambassadors to support “that criminal.”

Unfortunately, the opportunity to make the right decision regarding a performance at Mr. Trump’s inauguration was taken away from today’s choir 50 years ago. Despite all the positive press received by the choir (and by extension the church) due to their presence at inaugurations over the years, MoTab probably should have politely declined LBJ’s offer in the name of their political neutrality. It might have led to some negative backlash at the time, but I guarantee that having the opportunity to politely decline today would have been totally worth it.

Having said that, I hope they do well. I hope they sound as good as they do every Sunday morning during The Spoken Word.

But I do have to add, there was some great humor to be found in the situation as evidenced by the hashtag that trended on Twitter following the choir’s announcement. And if you can’t laugh at some of the offerings found under #motabsetlist, then you simply need to get a sense of humor. Some of the best examples were as follows:

  • I Tweet Thee Every Hour
  • Oh Say What Is Truth (No title alteration needed)
  • Let Us Not Speak Kind Words
  • I Thank Thee Oh God For A Profit
  • Or the Primary song, “I Have Two Little Hands”

But my personal favorite was definitely:

  • Because I Have Been Given Much, I Need A Massive Tax Cut

C’mon, go ahead and laugh. You know it’s funny. And in the meantime, I believe I speak for church members everywhere when I say, Good Luck Choir! We love you and feel blessed that you represent us so wonderfully regardless of where you perform.

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