Copyright

All blog posts, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted to the Author (that's me) and may not be used without written permission.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Proving Plutocracy

A "plutocracy" is one form of an "oligarchy" wherein the small group of people who run things is made up of the wealthy. While many have been sidetracked by the current administration's hyperbole and lies, the Republicans in Congress have been destroying the work of decades. And why are they doing it? Because their corporate, wealthy, billionaire masters pull their strings and tell them to.

The Republicans in Congress have started to destroy EPA rules and laws to protect endangered species and environments. What is most curious is that, in a representative democracy such as America, those in Congress are supposed to enact the will of the people they represent. And stats show that well over 80% of all people, regardless of politics, are in favor of protecting the environment and animals. So, why would Congress do these things?

Because big business finds it inconvenient. Big business wants to be able to log anywhere, to mine anywhere, to drill anywhere. They don't like having to submit EPA forms proving they won't hurt animals or the environment. They hate looking at all that potential in National Parks and Monuments and not being allowed to move in with big machinery and destroy it. They hate having to spend a little extra to make sure there is clean water to drink and fresh air to breathe.

And big business is who pays for the Republicans' to get into office. They are the ones who write the bills for Republicans and ask them to turn those bills into law. Big Business is the one pulling the strings. (This is not to say that Democrats don't get money from big business and the super-wealthy; however, the Republicans have a much tighter, pro-business/anti-regulation stance fundamentally, and big business can pull those strings much more easily for Republicans than for Democrats, who traditionally have a pro-environment, pro-regulation stance.)

The richest few, I think, believe that they will always have drinkable water and clean air to breathe. Of course, history shows otherwise; you may hurt the poorest first, then the middle classes next, but, sooner or later, the effects of unrestrained business will hurt even those who can afford the best, afford the necessities even as they sky-rocket in price and scarcity.

Clean water is good for everybody. Clean air is good for everybody. Protecting animal and plant species and environments is good for everybody. And here's why: most medications, including new discoveries, come from plants and animals. And, sometimes, those plants and animals are only found in the most delicate of environments. How many cures have we destroyed in the Amazon rain forest already, that we will never know about?

Did you know that without customers, most business fail? So, if the poor and the middle class don't have clean water and clean air, they die or move away and cannot buy your goods or services. Your business dies, just as your customers and customer base dies. It is actually in your best interest to be regulated.

Did you know that the regulation business employs thousands of people? By forcing existing businesses to regulate, the government created a ton of jobs and more economic wealth. By doing away with those regulations, business is killing other business and putting people out of work, weakening the economy and hurting their own customer base.

Republican leaders are going back to their constituents and finding them angry. They are being attack on health care, the environment, and regulations by members of their own party because they are not doing what their people want them to do. They are not listening. These leaders are fleeing from their own constituents, ducking out of meetings, and "needing" police escorts because they refuse to do the will of the people they serve.

The people have to take back control of Congress. If over 80% of people like the environment and want to regulate whether businesses can drill, mine, or pollute there, contact your representative by phone or (snail) mail/postcard. They cannot ignore a ton of phone calls and mail arriving at their offices. Be polite, courteous, and consistent in your message. And, if they don't listen, DO NOT VOTE FOR THEM IN THE NEXT ELECTION!

#revolution

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Where We Are

One of the things that frustrates me the most about this Nationalistic movement is that it is predicated on things that President Obama actually tried to do. He wanted to put a bunch of people to work on infrastructure. He wanted to get people training so that they could go from coal and gas to solar and wind (and others). He wanted to do a lot of things within the borders to get people working, get people spending money, and get people happy again.

And the Republicans blocked him every step of the way. They blocked his works bill for infrastructure every single time the Democrats put it forth... while refusing to bring forth their own works bill or work with Dems to make a bill they would pass. They blocked his bills for putting money toward re-educating people. They blocked nearly ever piece of legislation that the Dems put forth toward 'making America great again' and refused to help on bills that the Dems pleaded with them for bipartisanship. President Obama even put forth a moderate Supreme Court nominee nearly a year before leaving office, a person that many Repubs openly stated was a good choice and someone they would consider, and then the Repubs refused to do their job and, at the least, vet the candidate.

If you read pretty much any news that is not American news over the last 8 years, you would see that President Obama overcame the negative perception of the country built up over the previous 8 years of President Bush and got the world looking at America as a leader and innovator. The rest of the world praised Obama with his policies of sanctions against Syria, Russia, and others. The rest of the world saw those sanctions working and forcing the sanctioned countries to do things differently. You would read about how world leaders liked, praised, and enjoyed working with Obama, trusted him and his stance on things.

Now, those same leaders and news organizations openly mock the current American administration. They fear the isolationism and nationalism that the current administration states is its goal. They worry about the nationalists in their own countries as they surge because of the results of "BRexit" and the American presidential election. After America leading the way out of the recent economic collapse, the world fears that America's isolationism will stall that same economic recovery and even reverse it. Basically, the world is scared.

The current administration lies. It claims that Obama didn't try to do the many, many things he tried. It lies about who is at fault for where we are now. It lied about cleaning out the muck of Washington DC. It lied about cracking down on Wall Street (who it called liars more than once). The current administration uses executive orders when it doesn't need to. It threatens temper tantrums if it doesn't get its way, and seems to not understand how government actually works. The current administration is in constant attack mode against a press that is simply pointing out the many, obvious, provable facts that are out there. If they will lie about those things, what else are they lying about?

I can't help but imagine where we would be today if the Republican party had actually taken President Obama's many requests to work with him to heart and done it. Imagine how much better the ACA (Obamacare) would be today. Imagine if they had worked with him on his works bills and then helped pass it... we would be 8 years ahead on fixing old bridges, repairing old dams, maintaining old sewers, and fixing streets (among many other things). Imagine how the historically low murder rates and unemployment rates would be even lower if any one of Obama's retraining/education bills had been allowed to pass by the Repubs.

There comes a point where you have to set aside your differences, realize that things are failing, and work with the opposition to make it right. You have to realize that your constituents need you to lead, compromise, and do what is best for as many different people as possible, instead of needless throwing rancor and aspersions at the other party.

That, by itself, in today's political world, is a pretty revolutionary thought, isn't it?

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Executive Orders

When you have both houses of Congress decidedly on your side, you shouldn't need to enact very many Executive Orders (EO). You can introduce actual legislation that Congress can pass through the two houses and make law. Whether you liked him or not, Obama passed legislation in the first two years of his presidency because most of Congress was Democrat. He didn't need EOs to go around a hostile Congress.

So, why is Trump going the route of EOs? Why is he trying to circumvent the law creation and enactment system in place? He should, like Obama, be taking advantage of the Congress being "on his side" while it is (historically, the Congress will change to Democrat control at the two-year mark). Is it because not all Republicans are behind him? Maybe they are seeing cracks in the visage?

One of the best parts of going through the legal process of law creation is that many eyes see the legislation and, often, they can find the loopholes and unclear sections, point them out, and it can be rewritten. The EOs are not going currently going through that process. Instead, Steve Bannon is writing them late at night, doesn't understand legalese, and is making very poorly worded orders that are hard to follow and will likely be overturned in Federal court.

Everything about Trump's first few weeks in office smells fishy. Hell, it appears he is not even reading the EOs he is signing. The constant leaks from the White House indicate a house in disarray, where Trump doesn't even know the contents of the EOs he's signing. In one case, he apparently became upset after learning that Bannon made himself a part of the NSC in an EO. But Trump didn't read it before signing it, so didn't know that was part of the EO? If you were President, and signing something that would, effectively, become a law, wouldn't you read it before signing it? (one of many sources) There are even some who question whether or not Trump can read. Here's one video where the gentleman makes a pretty convincing, if circumstantial argument.

Also, the literal number one item on Trump's "First 100 Days" document was getting term limits for Congress in place using a Constitutional Amendment. Yet that hasn't happened. It hasn't, to my knowledge, even been discussed. Yet, this might be the most effective thing Trump could do, getting turnover of the many 60+ year old, male, white Congresspeople for younger people of various ethnicities, backgrounds, and sexes. People who actually understand things like the social media, the immediacy of news and information today, the Internet (remember the Senator who didn't know what he was talking about and thought the Internet was made up of tubes?), how science works, and what's really happening to real people in the real world. I mean, if you are in Congress for decades, making $250k+ a year, with free healthcare for life, and all the other perks of Congress, you may just lose sight of how an average American, making less than $50k a year, who has to buy his own healthcare (or risk going without), and doesn't get the other perks has to live.

These are, indeed, interesting times. It remains to be seen how long they will last or how they will end.

#revolution

Monday, January 23, 2017

Lying Liars and the Lies They Tell

What I learned in grade school, junior high, and high school is that if a person lies about the small things, they will lie about everything and they cannot be trusted with anything.

Trump has decided to lie. And he lies about the stupidest, smallest, least significant things possible. It makes no sense. If he is going to lie about things we can look out our proverbial window and see the truth of, then what will he do when something big and important comes along?

I accept he won the Presidency. I don't completely understand it, and I'm still shaking my head over the Electoral College's first chance to live up to and perform its duty as mandated in the Constitution yet refusing to do it, but I accept the results.

I cannot, however, accept the lies. I was always taught that lying is bad. Granted, we all lie every day... you know, those little white lies that everyone uses. How are you? Fine (but you're really not fine at all; you're sick, you're mentally exhausted, you're on your last nerve). Did I wake you? No (it's 3:30 am, and you were having that awesome dream where 1980's Adrienne Barbeau is throwing sandwich pickles at your bare feet, of course you were asleep).

If you voted for Trump because of religion, the lying must really gall you. I mean, most religions directly or indirectly say that lying is sinful. And yet he does it about everything. Even the most easily researched topics and least complicated areas. Why?

When I was younger, what I discovered was that the people around me that lied regularly and often usually lied at the biggest, most important times. If the teacher found out something, that person would lie to the teacher's face, accusing others or shifting blame. In one case, that person accused me and it took getting a half-dozen friends who knew I was elsewhere to get involved to shift the blame back where it belonged. In another case, someone I generally trusted, but played fast and loose with the truth, stole something of value from me that I never got back. The same person actually used a teacher's confusion over who we were to steal my higher grade in a class we both had with that teacher (still an acceptable grade, but lower than I earned; and, yes, this also points out the age and infirmity of that teacher who couldn't tell two similarly-sized, blond boys apart in his classroom).

If Donald Trump wants to lie about something as simple as the size of the gathering for his inauguration, what does he gain by it? I mean, it takes about 10 seconds to make a Google search and see pictures from a dozen or more inaugurations, and see at a glance that fewer went to his than to many others. So why state it was the largest ever? What does he get by doing that?

One person may have the answer. This was tweeted by Anna Rescouet-Paz:
Tweet posted by Anna Rescouet-Paz, January 21, 2017
That makes a lot of sense. This liar wants to set up the ability to lie again and again. He wants to make lying so regular, that those who listen to him will not know or, and this is the key part, question the lies he speaks. He wants to keep his base distrustful and aggressive toward everyone else. He wants to further divide the nation.

And he may succeed. Because the people who want to hear this are coming from an emotional place. They are emotionally invested in Trump and in his lies, and they do not want to hear or accept facts that run counter to that emotion. They believe that foreigners are bad, are going to kill them, and are taking their jobs, even when there is no evidence to prove it. They believe that other races are out to get them somehow, even as the fact of being employed by, or working with, other races has never been an issue for them. They believe that Trump can bring back jobs even though those jobs have been gone for 20 years and are never coming back, but new jobs for which they could retrain are already here.

I can't help but wonder what Trump and his administration will say if and when something big happens. What if we have another attack on our soil? Can we trust that anything said by him will be true? What if Russia pushes toward global expansion and world war? Will Trump tell us truly, or let the Russians do what they plan? What about North Korea and Kim Jong Crazy? He claims to have missiles now that can reach America... will Trump tell us if that is the case, and what will he say if he does?

To counter lies and misinformation, I get my news from a variety of sites. I read a little right, a little left, and a lot of foreign press (who, generally, don't have a dog in the fight). I try to find the consistent facts and I believe that the truth is somewhere in the middle. But I know I'm also fairly uncommon in my quest for truth and facts from news. I fear for the Average American who listens to his or her echo chamber and simply reinforces the emotional truth they already believe in, facts and evidence be damned.

I fear where this president could lead the nation, even while I cautiously hope he has an epiphany and realizes how big and important the job he just undertook will be. I hope I'm wrong about him, but history shows that lying liars usually just keep telling bigger and bigger lies until they are stopped.

Trump is the Man

I want this known: the legal process of electing a President has concluded. The Electoral college voted and, right or wrong, good or bad, it has chosen Trump as the winner with more than 270 electoral votes. I completely accept this. And, therefore, I completely accept Trump as our legally sworn-in President.

However, I disagree with nearly all of his platform as President. I think his plans, such as they are, will take the country backward in some cases and will actively harm the nation in others.

I absolutely do not agree with the whole "build a wall" plan. First, the Mexicans I know personally are hardworking, energetic people who want the American dream and go after it with gusto. They work hard, often 2, 3, 4 jobs at a time. They are willing to take on some pretty shitty jobs just to get work and make money, jobs that the average American sees as beneath them to work. Mexicans open businesses. They employ others. They have a strong work ethic, most I know are strongly religious, and most are strongly pro-family, and they are a tight-nit group. Just the sort of people you want immigrating to your country.

What we should be doing, rather than building a wall, is increasing talks and relations with Mexico. Getting more of them to immigrate legally. Looking for skilled workers, like programmers, managers, and builders, and entrepreneurs who want to open businesses and welcoming them in with open arms. If we do that, the need for a wall will virtually disappear and we bring more wealth into the country as they open those businesses and work those jobs here.

We don't need a nationalistic approach to jobs and trade. We just need to stop thinking that any trade deal with a country is better than no trade deal at all. We need to show countries, like China, that if they are going to cap and trade clause our goods coming into their country, then we will do the same to theirs. That will cause them to rethink their priorities, which allows us to ease trade barriers to them over time -- win win. NAFTA has been an unmitigated success for the countries involved; no need revoke it or back out of it. Is it time to look at possible tweaks and revisions? Sure. That is always a good thing, and all countries should do it from time to time. But backing out completely? That's the sign of someone with a narrow perspective or a lack of information, not a visionary leader.

In many cases, companies don't need to be actively harmed by taking jobs out of the country, they just need incentives to keep as many as possible within the country. We need to be looking at how to provide incentives for the companies to keep the profits here, in the country, without penalizing them. Companies are fairly predatory creatures and the seek out the greatest profits -- how can we incentivize them to keep a job in the USA with workers that make salaries and have benefits, versus giving that job to someone in a foreign country that makes 1/5 the salary and, often, has no benefits to pay? Well, as I roll from this into the ACA discussion, one way would be to switch to a universal, single-payer insurance system, which would take a huge chunk of money the company has to pay US employees out of the equation, closing the wage gap slightly between the US worker and the foreign worker.

Repealing healthcare? Why? Is the ACA (aka Obamacare) really that bad? Of course not. Any plan the Republicans come up with will mimic or copy much of what is in the ACA today. So why repeal the entire thing only to replace it with something that will, likely, be about 70-80% the same?

Trump has yet to make a truthful or verifiable statement about the ACA, and that seems to indicate that he either doesn't understand it or is willfully ignorant about how well it has worked. Is it great legislation? Hell no. It has way too many loopholes that need to be closed, it would be far better as a single-payer system, and we need to browbeat the pharmaceutical and health insurance companies that exist into lower prices and better service (as all single-payer systems around the world have done, to the betterment of the peoples' health in those nations). Again, tweaks and revisions are all that is needed. Hell, even Republicans are questioning the Republicans' desire to repeal this legislation without having a firm, verifiable plan that the people can read and comment on first. That's really all the Republicans need to do, too. Just present a better plan or a better revision to an existing plan and let the American people decide if it should be enacted. Maybe a repeal isn't needed. Either way, the American people will still think the Republicans are doing a good job leading the country and listening to its people. Right now, there are many who feel they aren't listening at all... even to their own like-minded constituents on this topic (and others).

His plans to deregulate the banking industry? Well, Clinton and "W" did that, and we achieved one of the worst financial collapses in the country, and it took years and re-regulation to dig out of it. Why do what has already proven not to work? Dodd-Frank is a good thing. It keeps the banking industry honest in its dealings with its customers and the nation. Deregulating energy companies so they can amp up production and go after harder and harder to reach energy reserves? Again, we've done that, many times, in the past. Each time it has achieved sick people, destroyed ecosystems (like drinkable water) and caused millions and billions in health, property, and clean up damages. Why would we ever do that again? It has proven not to work, time and again.

Questioning climate change? Well, here's the thing; every other nation (including China!) is leading the way to cleaner energy. Some countries, like India are actively promoting solar and wind at a massive rate. And, this is the kicker, they get most of the technology from the US. The rest of the world going green is actively helping the US economy. Now, imagine if the US stopped arguing over climate change and, instead, continued to add jobs and incentivize the green industries? Hell, we'd have thousands of new jobs, thousands more exports, and millions more dollars pumping into local economies. What if those areas where coal is played out and the mines are closed were where we built solar panel factories? What if where shale gas would be pumped, and ruining the local ground water, instead we built a large wind turbine factory? What if, in those area where oil wells are running dry, we built solar roadway production factories? What if we built desalination plants and water turbine and geothermal factories, employing people to make the technology of the future, rather than continuing to protect and prop up the existing oil industry? This is visionary leadership, not deregulating and allowing the gas and oil industry to plunder our national parks and monuments, clear-cutting forests, and destroying what limited drinking water resources the nation has.

The one area that I agree with Trump is that our federal government needs to be cleaned up. We absolutely need term limits in Congress to get turnover and fresh ideas. We need to do away with gerrymandering and rigged elections. However, I question how he is going about doing it. How is electing people who literally have no clue about the jobs they are nominated for (DeVos, Romney, Carson, et al) going to achieve success? How is having one of the architects of the last economic collapse in your cabinet going to help you "clean up the swamp"? It makes no sense.

So, I completely accept that this man is now our legally chosen President. As you can see, however, I do not accept his platform. I think it is narrow, short-sighted, and could harm the nation over time. I hope I'm wrong, and I hope he surprises me (and us), but his first, stumbling steps have not been promising.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

How're You Doing?

If you voted for Trump because he was an outsider, how is that working out for you?

He hasn't even taken office, and he is already acting like an insider with his cabinet choices. And his improper statesman decisions are affecting the US's relationships with other countries. His lack of knowledge of protocol has already had a deleterious effect on Taiwan and China. His improprieties have seen him have a normal citizen (his daughter) in a formal meeting with dignitaries and a love-fest for regimes that the US is currently struggling against, like Russia.

If you voted for Trump because he promised to "drain the swamp," how is that working out for  you?

He hasn't even taken office, and he is already filling the swamp with new creatures, muck, and mire so as to make it as thick and uninviting as possible. It is as if he typed "opposite" whenever doing a search for someone to fill a cabinet position. He has already dropped his idea of trying to get Congressional term limits (one of the few ideas he had that I could get fully behind). He is already putting in place people who caused, or were a part of, some of the worst issues the country has had to deal with in the last 20 years as members of his cabinet.

If you voted for Trump because he was going to force companies to stay in the US, how is that working out for you?

He had to be reminded of his specific promise to 'force' Carrier to keep 'all the jobs' in the US, wasn't able to, said he managed to keep 1100 jobs in the US (which turned out to be about 720), and gave Carrier such lucrative incentives to stay that other companies are looking to it as a playbook for how to get tax credits and other incentives from the government. Saving less than 40% of jobs is not a viable plan to keep businesses in the US. His strong "35% tax" quickly became incentives and tax breaks instead.

If you voted for Trump because he was such a strong business leader, how is that working out for you?

More and more reports of how poorly run his actual business is, more reports of how his (mostly) silent business partners keep the business afloat, and more reports of how he just doesn't understand what the term 'conflict of interest' is or means.

Basically, unless you voted for him for his sexist and racist stances, you are probably already showing signs of disappointment as he goes against every plank and platform he ran on. I know the people who were pro-Trump on my FB feed and other places have been strangely quiet since he started to make actual decisions and ignored everything he supposedly stood for during the campaign. Which, in the end, means you voted pro-racism and sexism. How's that working out for you?

And he hasn't even taken office yet.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Jack Reacher Movies

A new Jack Reacher movie starring Tom Cruise is about to be released. I'm happy that the book series, one of my favorites, has made it to the big screen and that it has a major star attached. However, the star and his treatment of the subject is a problem.

The reason that Reacher is such an intriguing hero/anti-hero character in the books have to do with his size and his taciturn nature. He is tall, heavy, muscular, and has some very strong quirks; he doesn't own anything beyond what he carries with him, he doesn't have any real ID (until later in the series, anyway), he can't drive, and he doesn't use toothpaste (or floss or mouthwash)-- he simply uses a toothbrush, which is one of his few possessions.

His size is almost a character itself within the books. He rarely meets someone his own size, and he uses his size and physical presence to his advantage in the novels: frequently he can stop a fight from happening just by being so physically intimidating; sometimes he allows people to assume that because he is large, strong, and quiet, he must be stupid or slow; and he uses that great size and his attack-first mentality to end a fight before the opponent knows it has even begun. Not to mention how many women are attracted to him because of his size and physical features (even though he is not an attractive man, his size, confidence, and physicality make up for it).

Another big issue that comes up a lot in each of the books his inability, and lack of desire, to drive. He comments frequently that he breaks cars, grinds gears, and just isn't very good at any aspect of driving. He is always giving the keys to someone else to drive him; those close to him just assume he won't be driving. The few times he is forced to drive in the novels, bad things tend to happen.

Reacher, in the books, is also so physical that many of the fights don't last more than a couple of hits. Reacher believes in hitting first, hitting hard, and ending the fight before it begins. He does this because he understands that the longer the fight goes on, the more chances to get seriously injured he has. Reacher is no dummy; he wants to stay as safe as possible and without injury. So, he will head-butt a person before they are expecting it. Or he goes for a debilitating one-punch/blow type of hit, like to a nose or the neck. When fighting multiple enemies, he will try to kill or maim someone seriously in one blow so he can turn his back on them and go after the next. He is a whirlwind of force and power, not to be taken lightly.

When Tom Cruise cast himself in the role of Jack Reacher in the movies, fans of the series were a bit surprised. Reacher is 6'5", Cruise is listed at 5'7" (some say he is closer to 5'6" or even shorter). Forced to make the best of an odd situation, Lee Child made a statement about Reacher's size being "a metaphor for an unstoppable force" and that Cruise's acting and status as a star could fill that gap. I'm not sure any fan really bought it, or thought that wound up true in the first film. While Cruise can play bad-ass, and has real acting chops (although he hasn't really used them in awhile now), he just doesn't come across as the physical person that Reacher just is.

The first movie contained multiple fight sequences, and all of them involved fairly complex choreography in which Cruise fought both single and multiple entities. Because no one would believe his little body could take people down in one or two blows, the fights were lengthy martial arts dances that just didn't fit with the character of Reacher, whose fighting technique is military close-fighting and street fighting techniques.

That first movie also showed Cruise in a complex, interesting, and dynamic car chase sequence, where Cruise's Reacher showed exceptional skill at driving. A total departure from the books in every way. The trailer for movie two also shows a car chase sequence in it, with Reacher once again behind the wheel.

While they tried to keep the physicality in place, Cruise came across somewhat laughable when he threatened people in the first movie. In the trailers for the second movie, I find myself smiling once again when he threatens people. When a 6'5", 250 lbs monster of a man threatens you it is simply different from when a 5'7" guy threatens you, even if that smaller guy knows martial arts and can kick your ass three ways to Sunday. On screen and magnified, it just doesn't look or come across the same way as in the books.

Lastly, Cruise is a pretty boy. Reacher isn't. As he gets close to and seduces women on screen, they are reacting to how pretty he is, not to his sheer .... animal physicality and confidence. Again, it is believable that Cruise can get the woman because he's, well, Tom Cruise. In the books, it is almost always Reacher's actions that overcome a woman's lack of interest; he is confident, kind and courteous (in a military sense as well as just a "nice guy" sense), has a raw physicality, and is protective toward them.

I will probably not see the second movie in the theaters due to these changes, but likely will watch it on video later. While I'm happy that the character has made it to the silver screen, the changes to the fundamental nature of the character are off putting to me. I didn't actually mind the first movie and thought they did a pretty good job of bringing the book's story to the screen. However, I was constantly taken out of my immersion in the film by Cruise's size and totally different take to the character. I'd like to see a movie with a more faithful-to-the-character portrayal of the character. I can see someone like an Alexander Skarsgard playing the role, as he is about the right size (6'4") and can act.

ADDENDUM (1/7/2017)

Finally watched the second movie. Beyond having some of the same characters, locations, and general plot beats, the movie looked little like the Jack Reacher novel it is based on. It wasn't a bad movie, it is just not Reacher. They have to rewrite and write around Cruise being totally unfit for the part that it snowballs into changing large sections of the plot.

What's funny is that John Wick makes for a better Reacher movie than either of the two Reacher movies. While still not the size of Jack Reacher, John Wick has the intensity, economy of movement, and deadliness that a Reacher fan should enjoy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

To Honor or To Serve?

I was raised in a military family. I was raised in a military town. Part of my upbringing occurred on a military base. My father is a 20-year Marine veteran. So I understand service, sacrifice, and loyalty. Which is why, even though I personally find it poor manners and bad taste to sit, kneel, or otherwise ignore the national anthem, I will defend to my death your right to do it.

Others have said it better and probably more eloquently, but being an American is hard work. The rights conveyed by the Bill of Rights are difficult to live up to, not because they are confusing or hard to understand, but because they apply to everyone, including that person down the street, on the TV, or even in your own house with whom you vehemently disagree. Your rights end where that person's rights begin, and vice versa.

There is so much hatred and vitriol in our country right now. I simply don't understand why, except to say that it sells. I mean, would you really, truly listen to some of these pundits if what they were saying wasn't so outrageous? The extreme is selling and it is selling well. So much so that there are very few actual, legitimate news programs left. It has all become opinion pieces and entertainment.

Any time someone forgets that the rights conveyed by the first ten amendments apply to everyone, regardless of race, sex, orientation, or political leanings, I start to get worried and leery. That is a person who, often, either is uneducated, uninformed, or has an agenda. If the reason is one of the first two, you can explain how the Bill of Rights work, that it applies equally to everyone at all times (with a few caveats), and you educate or inform them, making them a better citizen. But those who either refuse to listen of have an agenda will twist, ignore, or obfuscate what you try to teach them and will continue to spout their hatred.

I'd like to coin a new phrase and a new movement, somehow: compassionate understanding. No matter how offensive what someone else is doing or saying is to you, try to be compassionate to the reasons and understand the motives. For example, maybe what Colin Kaepernick started offends you -- why? what about his protest movement is so offensive and why are you reacting so strongly? Why is such a simple, peaceful means of protest causing such a reaction to you? What is it about transgender people using the restroom of the sex with which they identify (and, quite possibly, dress and look like, too) causes you issue? Are you simply uncomfortable with the difference of a man dressing, looking, and acting like a woman? Are you a little uncomfortable with your own sexuality such that you think you might find such a man attractive when you otherwise identify as heterosexual? Is that transgender man harming you in some way with his choice? Why does another religion make you so fearful? What about it is causing you difficulty? Is anything that religion is doing really affect you in any way? What about that liberal person offends you so much? What about that conservative causes you so much stress and fear?

Let's step back, learn about those people and things we fear and distrust, walk a mile in their shoes, and see what the root cause of your discomfort really is. I think, in most cases, you'll find the problem really resides in you.