Happy birthday to the United States Marines! From the Halls of Montezuma to the shit hole of Fallujah and beyond into the future. I've always admired the USMC, ever since I was little shit and my uncle (a much bigger shit) was both a career Marine and my hero. When it was my turn to enlist, I joined the Army (the Marines didn't have a Ranger Regiment), and I never regretted that decision. But I still have an admiration for the Marine Corps and its traditions.
One thing I learned during my service: The Air Force has its technology and its ability to control the skies; The Navy has its ships and the ability to project its force around the world by sea. If you're in the Army, you have your unit, like the Ranger Regiment or the 501st PIR, the 82nd Airborne Division or whatever your unit is (if you're in some pogue ass unit, then you have your ETS to look forward to). But the Marines have their Corps, which is something the rest of us never had. Marines are truly a cohesive group, and that cohesion lasts for life - not just words, not just a group of friends for a few years after they get out.
I've always admired the Marines, even though it is my solemn duty to make fun of them when I can. So tonight I'll lift whatever I'm drinking to the United States Marine Corps and their 241 years of faithful service to the Republic.
If you're just joining us, welcome to the Trump era. The next four years, assuming he makes it that far, will either be a soaring triumph for the American People, or a boon for late-night comedians. There are some very good things about Trump's election and some very bad things.
One good thing is that this effectively retires Hillary Clinton from public life. Bye, Felicia.
Another good thing is that, with the White House and both houses of Congress in Republican hands, Obamacare would be shaking in its boots right now. You know, if it was a person and had boots. This little experiment in the new American socialism was a clusterfuck from day one, and the American People desperately need to be free of it.
The Second Amendment - a cause near and dear to me, and to millions of other Americans - is safe for a while. That is, unless you live in the Peoples Republic of California, where they just voted to impose background checks to buy ammo.
Trump's victory also means that the anticipated gun rush we all thought would accompany Clinton's win isn't going to happen. Many gun stores around the US stocked up on product in anticipation of this event, and now are holding MASSIVE gun sales. Ammo prices are expected to drop for a while.
There are other good points, but I'm still too groggy to remember them. Some of the bad points are:
The next President of the United States is a man who routinely brags about groping women against their will, then calls it "locker room talk". He refers to women as "a six, at best" or "a two."
I'm guessing that some entity somewhere has already begun looking into ways to build the Berlin Wall on our southern border, even though they have both ladders and shovels in Mexico, most illegal immigration occurs by air, and right now more people are leaving the US than entering it illegally.
The entire First Family have the personalities of villains from Gotham. Eric and Donald Jr. remind me of Uday and Qusay, and we're about a have a Ukrainian underwear model for a First Lady. Classy.
Anything that happens in the political life of the United States that makes the Russians happy is a bad thing, and our next president has already been caught lying about his relationship with Putin. This area of our foreign policy may become very scary at some point in the next four years.
The worst part of all of this, in my mind, is that we have just elected a man who obviously has no regard for the truth, and whose stories and lies shift regularly, depending on his mood. He was both for and against the war in Iraq, believes global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese (but doesn't), accused the first African American President of the United States of being an illegal alien (but that was all Hillary), accused Ted Cruz's father of involvement in the JFK assassination (but didn't), and the list is quite literally several hundred items long.
Wherever you stand on political issues in America, the Trump era is going to be an interesting time.
There's so much about this election that I just can't understand. In fact, I have trouble finding anything that makes any sense. This must be what happens when you ask an orange man a question, and the orange man replies with mind-boggling nonsense.
How does someone become a billionaire without being able to form a complete sentence? He repeats his original point, which is full of run-on sentences and sentence fragments, cobbled together to form something somewhere close to a cohesive thought, and then says, "Excuse me, excuse me," and then re-repeats his original point. It's as if he never fully learned his talking points, and is trying to remember them in tiny little bits throughout the interview, and then spews them out like half-eaten Cheerios as they occur to him.
I get that people want change. I want change too. But this guy? How is this guy what you want to run this country? This idiot who can't even express himself effectively, spends half his time refuting other things he's said, and thinks he knows more about military tactics than the generals at the War College (the founders of American military doctrine)? You want THIS GUY to be PRESIDENT?! Did you see how he scoffed at the War College?
Of course, the standard answers will be: He was taken out of context, the election is rigged, the "mainstream media" is against him, he never said that, that's not what he meant, it's blown out of proportion, or "I guess you support Hillary, then."
But just watch the video, all the way through, if you can, and tell me if, deep down inside, you REALLY like this guy, or it you're only voting for him because of the alternative.
I've touched on this before, and it really has nothing to do with the big, greedy corporations, or the existing societal power base. I've marvelled in recent years at how evil some segments of our society are made out to be. I could point a finger at the media, some teachers, and people in general. But I think the real culprit here is ignorance, itself, isn't it?
I mean, there are some neighborhoods here in Houston, for example, wherein folks you meet on the sidewalk would be all too happy to agree that their plight is due largely to corporate greed. They're poor, you see, and the corporations don't care. Right up the road is a major international conglomerate, and right here, almost in the shoadow of their skyscraper, people can barely afford to eat.
And there are some awesome blogs, and other sites, that address the issue of poverty. www.mayfairplace.blogspot.com comes to mind. www.tomorrowproject.net touches on poverty, immigration and other social issues. Some tend to focus on the causes of poverty, on whose fault it is, while others try to narrow in on what to do about it.
What do the people in that skyscraper think? I mean, the folks on the top floor, sitting in panelled offices and talking to each other via video-conferencing. What do you suppose they think about the folks down there on the sidewalk, the poor people? Do you think they care?
I really don't. But at the same time, I'm not really sure why they should. I mean, yes, they're fellow human beings, and yet everyone has some responsibility toward the human race as a whole, and I think they would care on that level, sure. But that's not the practical level. On the practical level, how do they see their responsibilities toward society?
Well, one thing I can say for sure, after some years of working around these ivory-tower types. There is no percieved responsibilty whatever, to pull people out of the gutter. Those who succeed, do so by their own volition - and the same is true of those who fail. Societal, and social, responsibility extends to one's family, of course, and to one's employees (but only to the extend that can be legally enforced, which is fair). But certainly not to the wino on the street. But how much of the responsibility is that of the individual? Doesn't each person have a vested interest in his or her own future?
So where do I stand? I'm honestly not sure. What can I expect a corporation to do about the poor folks living in the street? I mean, realistically, who am I to demand that someone else give anything, even if they're rich and "can afford it"? And how much of the difference between how people turn out in the end, right or poor, is due to societal limits? Who can't become rich in the long run? How are people being "held down"?
I believe, though, that if we as a society really wanted to band together as one people, and put a definititve end to poverty once and for all, then we'd have done it a long time ago. I think we're just not interested. Not as a society, anyway. Individually, sure - but that's clearly not enough.
So for me, I guess it comes down to a question of individual response. The poor remain poor. Welfare remains welfare, and their plight remains their plight. What are you and I going to do about it? Giving money doesn't do crap - I'm talking about societal change.
So, you tell me: What's the next step?
Remember Abu Ghraib? Of course you do. Abu Ghraib was a tragedy and a travesty. Although it is my firm belief that what happened there was a one-off, isolated case, brought on by some poorly-motivated and poorly-trained lower-enlisted types, some people used that embarrassing episode to ridicule the US Military and the Bush Administration.
Well, of course they did. There's no such thing as a right war, but many see this war as particularly wrong. I disagree, but I'm not trying to get into the politics of war here. I'm simply trying to point out that many people used the images of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse as an excuse to trash our troops in the field.
And I'm not talking about terrorists, Iraqis, or the French (they all did it too, but thats another post). I'm talking about the American media. It was all over the place. Not right or left, but American. Period. And they used those pictures as fodder for some of the most vile, vitriolic hate speech I've ever seen leveled at other Americans during a war.
So, with that in mind, I'd like to include here some further proof of American military behavior in the field, the kind of behavior the American media isn't showing you.
I I don't mean to imply that it's all fun and games over there, or that everyone's happy we're there. I don't mean to diminish in any way the simple fact that this is a war. Sort of.
But if you're going to show one side of the picture, and use that to great political advantage, then why aren't you showing the other side as well? Why isn't anyone showing American troops in the field acting like compassionate human beings? Or at least normal human beings? I was there for more than a year, and I nevr say any kind of abuse by American troops. I did, however, see a lot of the kind of thing shown here in these photos, which were sent to me by a friend (I have no idea who took them or when - although the ones with the USMC digicamo must have been taken after the digicamo came out).
Also, I wouldn't want anyone to think that I'm trying to use these pics to justify our being there, or to justify war in general. I'm just like you in that, if I had my way, all of our troops would be home right now. But I don't have my way, and I have to accept that, because to jyust pull them out, without first accomplishing the mission, would be another travesty.
I also have to accept other simple facts about our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan - but like I said above, I'm not trying to get into the plitics of it all. A friend sent these pics, and I wanted to show them to you.
Here's the question for the day (week, whatever):
Another way to put it might be, Do those who run for public office still have the moral right to privacy? I mean, no legal right to privacy is implicit in the Constitution, right? But there's still a moral right, isn't there? Even if the subject is running for a public office, he or she still have some privacy inherent, right?
Yes? No? Maybe?
Check out the ABCNews story here: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Story?id=3165953&page=1.
Personally, I don't care for John Edwards, for example - but I also don't care about his taxes. I've got enough to worry about. Ya know? And he's just one of what, fifty?
So what do you think?
Finally, someone I can listen to!
Until now, the most credible person I could find to listen to was either Dennis Miller or someone along those lines (and by credible, I’m talking about what makes sense to me, not what so-called scientific credentials some lab coat has).
Until now, the message that made the most sense to me was that the world’s climate is changing, but it’s part of a natural cycle, and that what we’re doing has nothing to do with it.
Well, I still believe that the current round of global climate change is part of a natural cycle, but I’m not so sure that we’re not helping it along.
See, I’ve always listened to Art Bell, who is a staunch believer in global warming - but of course even Art will tell you that ninety percent of what’s heard on his show is made-up baloney. Most folks who listen to that show do so for the sheer entertainment of hearing someone call in and claim to be an alien from outer space.
Then you’ve got that weirdo Al Gore, whose own now-famous energy use claims have proven to be about as accurate as his older claims (he created the internet, his mother couldn’t afford her medication – the list is decades long).
I’ve even posted here on Tengu House, looking for anyone who could point me in the direction of someone I could listen to, who didn’t strike me as either completely off their rocker, or just someone who had some ulterior motive.
David Suzuki, the Canadian environmentalist, is that person. This is who I was looking for. Now, mind you, I’m not completely on board with everything he’s saying (like, Canadians are smarter than Americans because they have his TV show and we don’t). But I do like his credibility, which is to say, I believe that he actually means it. And, I don’t think the man’s completely crazy.
Here’s what I’m trying to get across with this post. I still don’t believe that auto emissions are a powerful-enough problem to be destroying the world. And I still don’t appreciate the environmental left (a largely unfair characterization, I admit) accusing the hole in the ozone on my Jeep, if you follow my hyperbole.
But I do believe that global warming is real, and that proper efforts at conservation and energy reduction will help. Finally, after all this time, I’ve found a popular, as in mainstream (in Canada, anyway) environmentalist global-warming-banner-carrier to whom I can listen, because he’s obviously not a hypocrite.
David Suzuki and his family produce one bag of garbage a month. The rest is recycled, or else not produced in the first place. He’s been teaching on environmental issues for decades, and is well-respected in both the scientific and environmental communities, basically worldwide. See, it’s not just about how you and I are ruining the world, with this guy. It’s more about biodiversity, and about all of the hundreds of little things that you and I can do better, that might help.
It’s about not being so destructive. It's about helping, taking small steps to begin to correct some of the problems that we’ve allowed to seep into our everyday lives. He campaigns for the rights of all people to be able to eat healthy foods, for example (as opposed to truly healthy foods being available only to those who can afford organics and the like). He supports efforts to curb the use of PBDEs and other toxic chemicals. And, here’s the kicker: he actually lists, on his website (www.davidsuzuki.org), different ways to reduce some of the negative impact that humans have on the rest of the natural world – simple actions, such as turning your computer completely off when you’re not using it, using your clothes dryer less often, keeping your home furnace clean.
These, while not exactly ground-breaking in their brilliance, are the kind of environmental solutions I’ve been looking for – as opposed to some scatterbrained millionaire in Hollywood telling me to take a bus more often.
I also like the efforts of David Suzuki's daughter, Severn Cullis-Suzuki, who addressed the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro at age 12, in 1992. She helped launch an internet think tank called the Skyfish Project in 2002 (which is no longer active, evidently), and is a member of Kofi Annan's Special Advisory Panel. She frequently speaks about the importance of eating locally-produced food, for example - things I would never have thought about.
These are people, in my opinion, who are actually worthy of not only respect for their efforts, but of actually being heard. Worthy of being listened to. And worthy of being taken for real. Their slightly out-there politics aside, there are real, non-whacko ways in which you and I can contribute to the success of human efforts to reduce our impact on the rest of the natural world. And in my estimation, tuning in to the Suzukis is a great way to start.
Gonna hit ya with a BLUE UPDATE:
Well, more of a clarification, actually. I've always been torn on environmental issues. Sort of. It's difficult for me to explain my precise stance on such things.
Even back when I was a hardcore right-wing Republican (further right than that, actually), I was also a Greenpeace volunteer on a sea-turtle project in Florida. That was years ago. And I've always disagreed with the monicker "eco-terrorism," preferring instead "eco-vandalism," because I didn't see where any terror was involved (referring to the destruction of equipment, where no lives were threatened). I see now that this little distinction is also championed by David Suzuki.
My point here is that ecological issues are important to me, as I think they should be important to everyone who lives on this planet - which is almost everyone I know (a little joke there). But they're also sidelined by people in the US who are so easily marginalized as nuts. When you live in a suburban world, and your idea of seeing nature is mowing the lawn, it's hard to visualize how much damage is being done by humans. Then, if you add to that the rants and tantrums of the Meslissa Ethridges of the world, or other celebrities who ride in limos while decrying your Tahoe as an ozone-killer, etc etc etc, it's awfully hard to keep listening.
I was on the sea-turtle project because it was easy to see the problem, and the solution wasn't something that made me a crazy person. I didn't have to put a logging family out of work by chaining myself to a tree - I just had to help some little baby turtles take their first little paddle-steps in the right direction.
Does any of this make sense? There is such a thing as environmental whackos, but you don't have to be one of them to be concerned about eco-issues. You don't have to be a nut-ball to work to correct some of the little things in your life that can make a difference. When I was in Thailand, for instance, there was the issue of beach litter. Some of the folks out there, locals mostly, directed us to throw our plastic water bottles into the sea. It was simply the most convenient place to toss your trash. Of course, we just packed out the bottles and all was hunky dunky. But that's an example of the kinds of solutions I'm talking about. That's the attitude I'm looking for. Reduce your own level of waste, by using less of what you don't need. Use public (or mass) transportation more often. Turn the lights off when you're leaving the room. Use more recyclable materials - and then recycle them. But being a hypocrite doesn't help the envirnment. Ill-infomed snobbery isn't an endangered ecosystem. And not everything I do, every single day, is destroying the world. We're so obsessed with liberal guilt (that's liberal with a lower-case L) that we've begun teaching our children that we've screwed them out of a future.
That's why I'm so enamored with the message that David Suzuki puts forward. Yes, it's a problem, but you don't have to go berserk about it. In fact, going berserk won't help. Screwing in more efficient light bulbs will help - especially if everyone does it.
Look, I don't like this any better than you do. But while I was enjoying my lunch (or trying to), it was brought to my attention that CNN and Fox News are both running indepth team coverage of the "Breaking News" and "Developing News" story of the day, which is that Paris, after being released from the pen for health reasons, has been ordered back into court by the judge. Apparently, outside of her palacial estate, there waited a Sheriff's deputy to take her back in as soon as she got home.
There were also about fifty MILLION media vans.
So here's my question: This is what you, the American people, care about? This obviously clueless, spoiled, half-witted little princess? This is your major concern of the day?
Or is it simply that the mass media have decided that this is what should be important to you? Does anyone really, honestly, give a rat's ass about this chick? I don't think even Paris Hilton honestly cares about Paris Hilton.
And here's what I would like to do about it: I would like to suggest that the next reporter, comedian, blogger, announcer, animator, writer, drug pusher or pimp who so much as utters her name in public*, gets temporarily deported to Western Dharfur, where he or she can spend the next three to six months (depending upon the severity of the offense) reporting on something that's actually important to the human race.
Or to southern Thailand, to cover the strife occuring between Thai Buddhists and Malay/Indonesian Muslims.
Or to parts of Central or South America, to witness firsthand the effect that the illicit drug trade, fueled by rich Americans like young Ms. Hilton here, has on the poor families and villages who are caught between corrupt governments and narco cartels.
I'd like to do that, but obvously that would violate the free speech rights of a whole lotta folks, who are, after all, just trying to make a living by telling you and me what's really important in this country. Thank goodness we have them - otherwise, how would we ever know these things?
How would we ever know what kind of perfume and underwear Ms. Hilton wears? How would we ever understand how difficult it must be to be her? How hard it must be to not be allowed to come and go as she pleases?
Look. I don't like it any better than you do. But while I was enjoying my lunch, little Paris's little world got sucked into a vaccuum. And thankfully for the rest of us, we have CNN and Fox News to suck us all in with it.
*For our part, Tengu House has placed a permanent ban on further posts containing the name or likeness of, or any other direct or indirect reference to, Paris Hilton. People who are famous just for being famous don't particularly deserve our time. She's a sentient being, and should be treated as such, no different from the rest of us.
It will be a joke. Literally. The prisoner wants his last words to be a zinger. He wants to tell a joke. And he's accepting mailed jokes - the funniest one, he says, will be his last words.
Now, as I'm sure you can imagine, this is causing a bit of a stir here in Texas. Do we really want to allow the prisoner to make light of the situation? Do we want this guy stealing the gravity of his own exocution? Wouldn't that be disrespectful to the family of his victims?
Here's my take. I honestly believe that we already have guidelines in place for this. You see, his sentence is being carried out, and it doesn't include curtailing his right to free speech, does it? There's simply nothing in his sentence that says he can't tell a joke. And as for the victim's family, since when is the sentence carried out on behalf of the vicitm's family? It's supposed to be carried out on behalf of the state.
And if it's on behalf of the state, it has to be done by the letter of the law. And since there's no law against an inmate telling a joke before his exocution, voila! An eleventh-hour yuk.
I mean, he can write a book about his murders. It may or may not be a commercial success, and it may or may not be any good, but he can legally write it, can't he? I know he can't make any money off of it, but that's another issue.
He's not writing a book, he's just telling a joke. Bad form? Yep. Poor taste? Of course. But there's nothing, I'm willing to bet, in his sentence that should preclude him from it. Death Row inmates say things like "I'm glad I did it" all the time. This guy says he doesn't want to be disrespectful, he just wants to go out on a laugh.
I still think it's pretty sick, though, and I seriously doubt there will be too many people in the gallery laughing. But it's another example of supporting some semblance of free speech, even though I disagree with what's being said. We're all in the same bowl of water, right? Besides, this guy's about to die for his crimes. Does he also have to keep a certain demeanor about it? How much does he owe?
I realize there are many who simply oppose the death penalty anyway, and for them, the matter of the joke is quite moot. But I wanted to leave that hot potato aside for this post, and just ask you'all what you think about the whole dead-man-joking thing.