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Family

What is family? Really consider that question for a moment. In your life what does family mean to you? Can you define it using a word? A sentence?

When I was young I thought I understood what family was. Every holiday was spent with both of my Grandparents. I remember Easter’s, Thanksgiving’s, and Christmas’ filled with family. I can look back on them with fondness because there were great memories generated from those events.

Things changed though. When my mother died in an accident, suddenly the whole definition of family drastically changed for me.

Let me first be honest: I was a great kid when I was young. I played, worked hard in school, had a lot of toys and friends and life was good. As I got older though I began to rebel and was not a good teenager. In fact I would call myself a true asshole. Once, while at my Mother’s parents house over night, I woke-up early and made my way to the kitchen. I overheard my mother and grandmother talking and just as clear as it was then I heard my grandmother say, “Karla, I can’t stand Jason. He is a terrible boy.” She wasn’t wrong…I was. (I will come back to this)

In 1993 my mother was killed in an accident. I remember, the moment after finding out, lying in my room crying. I was crying because of the loss, but most of all I was crying because of guilt. Personal guilt of who I had been and what I had put my mother through. She had a difficult life. My father was an abusive alcoholic who beat my mother, brother, and I on what seemed, especially towards the end, a continuous basis. After the divorce my mother struggled as a single parents trying to make ends meet while raising two boys. She did an excellent job, but I fought her. I fought her about school, money, everything.

Here is the odd thing. Now, 30 years later, I am a teacher and I have had so many students who remind me of who I was when I was their age. I have these talks with them about their behavior and their thinking and it’s funny to watch their eyes get wider with the recognition that I see what their parents can not see, what is actually going on. And I warn them about the path they are on. I can’t sit here and say those talks changed them, but at least in my classes, I saw a difference in them. I think mostly because they know the bullshit they pull on their other teachers won’t pass with me.

That night, while crying, I spoke to my mom and constantly apologized for the way I was and I made a promise that I repeated over and over and over again, I WOULD CHANGE. Not a moment of my life, since that night, have I forgotten that promise and everything I have done since that night is in hopes of fulfilling that promise to her.

The day after my mom’s death, family began to arrive and arrive for the funeral. Over and over again I remember being pulled aside by my grandparents, uncles, and aunts and hearing these words “Whatever you need we will always be there for you. You are with us and we are always with you.” It made me feel good to hear that. It made me feel good and comforted to know that my family was there for my brother and I.

However, my brother and I quickly learned that it all just talk. We never heard from my mom’s side of the family…EVER…after that day. The only time we did was when he or I reached out to them during a Holiday. I remember distinctly the phone being passed around to family members that had gathered for Thanksgiving. Most half drunk wanting to talk about my Mom or whatever and then passing it off to another family member for the same routine.

Fast forward almost a year. Keeping a promise I had made to my mother I decided to go back to school, to get a college degree. I had no idea how things worked, but luckily I had a adviser guide me through the process. I signed up for classes and was ready to move forward, until I was told I needed to purchase books. I didn’t have the money for all of them and I turned to my grandmother for help. I called her and told her what I was doing and asked if she could loan me $110 so I could buy books. Her reply was, “I am not going to send you money ever. I know this isn’t for books and is for drugs.” I couldn’t believe what she said. I did smoke marijuana occassionaly with friends, but the way she made it sound was if I were some drug addicted street kid. She had not spoken to me in almost a year, knew nothing about me, but assumed that was who I was. My grandmother Simmers ended up sending the money…that did go to books, and thankfully she did.

The Simmers side of my family was vastly different. My grandma Simmers had always been a more traditional grandmother. She had toys for us to play with, read us books at night, took us to parks and dotted on my brother and I. Maybe it was the fact that my brother and I were her only grand kids, until my cousin was born, but she was a traditional idea of a grandma. Not purposely attacking my other grandmother, but she was vastly different. She and my grandfather were wealthy, lived in the wealthy section of Fairfield, and visits to her house were mostly spent in the Den with the other kids while the parents socialized. There were never any toys there and though she had a huge backyard, it was kind of scary as a kid playing back there because for on thing it was dark and another thing would be our Grandfather yelling at us for climbing the wrong tree or something. “You kids stay away…” for the longest time were the only words I thought my grandfather knew.

Back to college. It was during one of those classes when I decided I was going to join the Navy. I wanted out of Crescent City and ultimately out of my life there. I watched this program on the Travel Channel about Australia and decided I wanted to go there. I looked into a variety of programs including working on Cruise Ships. And then, there I was in class staring out the windows that led to the courtyard and a guy dressed in Navy working blues walked through. I picked up my stuff, went and talked to him. He was a recruiter and a few months later, I joined the U.S. Navy.

There is the idea that your past defines who you are. I disagree with that. I do agree that events help to guide us, but I don’t believe who we were 30 years ago define who we are today. I view my life in two terms: Pre-Navy Jason Simmers and Post Navy Jason Simmers. I do not like Pre-Navy Jason at all and in fact I don’t even recognize that person. I grew up in the Navy, I found a purpose in the Navy, and thanks to the Navy, I found a path.

After my Mom’s death, my only real connection to my mom’s side of the family was my Aunt Karen. My mother has 4 sisters and 3 brothers (though one of them I have no idea about because I have only met him once. My mom once mentioned he was part of some cult or something, but honestly I have no idea if that’s true or just some family myth). Karen was the only one who reached out to my brother and I and I think we had more of a bond. It stems from an old passion of my mine, writing. I was an avid writer and wrote short stories. My Mom told Karen about it, she read some, and constantly supported my writing. She and her then husband Gary, even signed me up to take a weekend class at UC Davis with a group of writers. She was a cool lady. A hippie type die hard liberal, but at the time I favored those ideas (I have since seen the light…ha ha). So after my mom’s death, she reached out and we talked often.She and I talked a lot and she helped me see a lot of things about myself.

Prior to and during the Navy, I continued to reach out to my family, especially on holidays. I don’t know why, but felt like a responsibility I had, the first year, I called on Thanksgiving and, like before, had the phone passed around to half drunk family members. I did it again the next year and suddenly it hit me. Why? Why am I making the effort to call these people? In the 4 years since my mom’s death NONE of these people, not a single solitary one EVER made the effort to call me, write me, or even acknowledge my existence. Yet, here I was trying to make these connections to them. Every phone call my grandmother, Aunts, and Uncles would ask for my phone number or address. Never once did they call or write. I don’t know how to explain how that felt. I had friends who received care packages, letters, and whatever from family and I didn’t. There is one exception, my Grandma Simmers. Every now and then she would send one, but during my time in the Navy her health was getting worse, and sadly she passed away.

In 2000 I got out of the Navy and returned to California…briefly. Through a whole set of circumstances I ended up in Colorado. I met a girl named Brandy. During the summer of 2001 Brandy and I went out to California. I had asked her to marry me, and I wanted to introduce her to some of my family. She met my Aunt Karen, and then we went to my grandparents house. We were sitting around the den and the first thing out of my grandmother’s mouth was, “Do you remember when you called and asked me for drug money?” I corrected her, “Actually it was for books,” and right then she began with, “Oh now let’s just be honest because we both know what it was for.” I was pissed. Here I was, there to introduce them to the girl I was going to marry and this, this was the only conversation she seemed to want to have. Brandy could tell I was getting pissed, reminded me that we still needed to drive to Sacramento…and we left.

As I mentioned, my mother’s family is large. She has 4 sisters and 3 brothers. My grandmother and grandfather were married and combined their families. In 2003 Brandy and I got married. I invited all of my family to my wedding. Only my Aunt Karen, another aunt, a cousin, and my grandmother came. After the wedding and reception, Brandy and I were leaving to the airport to catch a flight to Miami for our honeymoon cruise. My cousin and I were in the bar attached to our reception area and she told me that there had been a discussion at a family gathering when my wedding came up. No one was going to go, including my grandmother. My cousin told me she called her out on it and only after some back and forth did she agree to come.

I am in no way condemning anyone. However, not long before Brandy and I were married my cousin had gotten married. I remember seeing the photos of it and seeing all the aunts and uncles there. It hurt, because it was a huge contrast compared to my wedding. My cousin deserved to have that kind of wedding, anyone in the family deserved to have that kind of wedding. It’s what family does. I have been to a lot of wedding in my life time of friends and I am introduced to cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. Its to be expected.  That ate a me for a while. What ate at me even more though was the conversation my cousin had with my grandmother. She had ZERO intention of coming to my wedding, NONE at all and only came because she was guilted into it.

It was that and years of indignation that I had finally had enough and called it quits. I wanted nothing to do with my family. Something my Aunt Karen had said to me during one of our conversations kept coming back to me, “This family always seems to find a way of hurting you to a core that you didn’t even know you had until the pain erupts from it.” I don’t know if it was a warning or just a off handed comment, but it stuck with me, because, for me, it made all the sense in the world. It was after my wedding that I had had enough. I decided I was done and in a way divorced myself from the family. It wasn’t actually a divorce…I just stopped calling and writing them. It started off as a test. How long would it take before they reached out to me. Well, eight years later the answer was ZERO. A complete goose egg.

For 8 years I have to admit, it felt good. I wasn’t involved with the bullshit and pettiness of it all. The first Thanksgiving, I did have an urge to call, but I fought through it, and the one the came afterwards became easier to the point where it wasn’t even a thought in my head. My wife had a hard time with my decision because her family is amazing. I think it was the wedding that solidified for her how I was feeling about them and she supported my decision because she knew how they made me feel.

In fact, even my conversations with my Aunt Karen and I got fewer and fewer. She constantly wanted to talk about family and issues and I didn’t want it in my life. I didn’t want the stress or anger it caused. In one of our last long conversations, I could feel that it was moving towards family and I stopped her and told her that going forward I didn’t want to talk about them and warned that if that was why she was calling I would not engage anymore. Oddly enough, the phone calls got fewer and fewer.

In 2011 my Aunt Karen came out to see my daughter who was born that February. She had been diagnozed with breast cancer prior to coming out and had gone through the treatment and was feeling better. On the last night of her visit she sat with me alone while Brandy was putting our daughter to be. She had a told me she had a request earlier that day and mentioned she would talk to me about it later…and now the time came. She requested that I reach out and made amends with the family. I had a hard time believing this was coming from her. She had always been the one who supported how I felt and even encouraged my decision…and now she was asking me to make amends. I gave her a hug and said, “Karen, I am in a happy place. I love you, but that is not ever going to happen.”

Let me explain the 11 years up to that moment and hopefully it will give some insight into my feelings. After serving honorably in the Navy, and after moving to Colorado, I earned my Associates degree, went on to get my Bachelor’s in History/Secondary Education, and then went on further to get my Master’s in History. I had worked hard in school and graduated with honor’s. I got married (already explained that event) and had a beautiful little girl (of which notices went out). And in all that time, with everyone of those accomplishments, and life moments,  not a single phone call or letter came from any of my family. It may seem petty, and maybe it is, but I had this idea of what family is and what it does, and this wasn’t it.

My wife’s family has been there for every moment of my life for the past 17 years. They immediately took me in after meeting me and have treated me like a son, grandson, and brother. My sister-in-law was in the room next to me when my daughter was born. My In-laws were there to shake my hand and give me a hug after both of my graduations. And with every accomplishment I have had as a teacher and coach they have written notes and been there. Sure we have had our moments, but we have worked through them. My real family, hadn’t. No matter how many times I reached out it was futile. From 2000-2005 my grandmother and family asked for my phone number…a number that has not changed in 17 years. It got so ridiculous that it honestly became an inside joke between my brother and I. “He, did they ask for your number again?” One year my brother had the best come back, “Fuck yes they did and I told them to find the paper they wrote it on the last time they asked.”

A sea change moment came 3 years ago. My cousin called me to tell me my Aunt Karen was in hospice care and not going to make it. Her cancer had regressed, spread through her body, and she was passing. I flew out to see her, but by the time I had got there she was a shell of the woman I had known, filled with so many pain meds to control the obvious pain she was in, and didn’t recognize anything or anyone in the room. She would pass away that night. It was crushing for me, but what came next was even more crushing.

Going back 10 years. My Aunt Karen and I had a very close relationship. She was the only family member that reached out to me after my mom’s death and her calls became a bi-weekly and sometimes monthly event. Even though I was in the Navy and didn’t always have the time to call her as before, I did set aside a couple of hours when I could to talk to her. I mentioned how my Aunt Karen wanted to constantly talk about my family. She had her own issues with them. Out of respect for her memory I will not explain what they were, but they were enough to cause a great amount of strain between her and the family.  I will be honest with you, I never actually knew what it was until after her death. She skirted around it, but she did make it clear that she was not on speaking terms with a lot of them. I know this sounds so shitty, but I just accepted it and never considered pushing the issue. Yes, we talked often, but she was still my aunt and this adult figure and somethings just don’t get talked about.

While I was in California after her death I stayed with my cousin and met with some of my family and the conversations ended up on my relationship with Karen every time. I am not going to mention their names because at this point I don’t know the truth of it all, and honestly I don’t care.

The jist of it all was the same: Karen purposely pulled me away from the family.  It was obvious to them what she was doing. She had her own problems with family and used my own frustrations to create an ally for herself. She didn’t create the frustration I had with them, but she sure as hell fueled it, especially during a certain time period, and exploited it.

At first, hearing it my immediate reaction was simple: BUllSHIT. However it started to make sense to me. Reflecting back on those conversations with her, especially during a specific time period, when she herself was ostracized, the intensity of my frustration was fueled by her. Interestingly enough, which I didn’t know, when she was diagnosed with cancer she had recanted her accusations, and was making a mends with the family. Oddly enough, it was the about the same time she had come out to Colorado after my daughter was born and asked me to do the same. Was that because of guilt?  Had she realized she had pulled me away from the family so long that not that she was back in the fold she felt guilty about it?

I know that is some Tom Clancy type shit, and trust me, it was a mind f*ck for me as well, but it made sense. When the timeline was laid out and the conversations were placed within it, especially the focus of the conversations, it came together in this odd manipulation sort of way. Like I said though, I don’t know the truth. I do know somethings though. Prior to her passing our conversations became fewer and fewer. In fact, I began avoiding them. I just didn’t want anything to do with that family by the point. It had been six years since I talked to them…any of them, and I was in this good place and talking to her always brought back up things I wanted to move on from. A year before her passing she sent me this long email blasting me for not calling her back, for becoming evasive, etc. I replied explaining that it wasn’t purposeful, but with work and a two year old, it was hard to set aside time for her or anything else. She didn’t reply and never called me again. Oddly enough, when she passed, I was not in her will. It was odd because many times, especially after her diagnoses with cancer, she had mentioned that she was adding me it. I guess in the end I pissed her off. It wasn’t my intention, but honestly, it kind of solidified for me my views on that family.

That summer Brandy and I took Madison to California and I took the time to try to mend things with my family. I did this long as f*ck California trip making sure to see all my family out there to try to heal old wounds. It was the moment of clarity after Karen’s death that did it for me. I felt used by her and pissed off. Had I missed out on relationships with these people because of her? Had she ruined my chances with them by formenting, or at least, fueling a hatred? I didn’t know, but I was willing to take the blame.

Yet, it wasn’t a sweet end to a harrowing story. In fact, it was the start of a new chapter. Over the past year, actually really starting this past summer I began questioning things again. My wife and I were planning our summer vacation, and I considered driving out to California again to see my family. As we were planning, I began to consider something. Here I was about to drop a shit load of money to make another trip out there, but in the time since, how many had called me? How many had reached out to me? How many has mentioned making a “trip out to Colorado soon” only never to make it out? I understand that life gets busy and things get hectic, but it was something worth considering. It was during a drive to work that I started thinking about it all. Setting aside the past two years, because that is just petty shit, I began looking at the broader picture and what really struck me was a realization that I failed to have during that “Making Amends” tour of mine. Fine, Karen manipulated me, but why hadn’t a single one of them, who knew it was happening, reached out to me, warned me, or even cared enough to at least talk to me about their concerns?

Wrapping this all the way around. What is family? A connection to something? A bond that is supposed to hold certain individuals together because they share a last name or blood line? Or is it just a word? A word we put so much weight behind, so much meaning to, but in the end, just a word.  We view what family should look like and we want to see in ours a Norman Rockwell painting, but some see it and some don’t. I look upon my family here in Colorado, and though it is no Rockwell painting, the bonds are there, and they are tight. Yet, when I look at my actual family, I don’t see them no matter how hard I try to.

Maybe it is my fault. Maybe my separation from them has something to do with it, but there was reason for that separation. I hated the way they made me feel inside. I hated how they made me feel about myself. I hated the stress and pettiness that seemed to always hang over them. Was it because of me and who they still saw me as…the Pre-Navy Jason, or is it just how they are as people?  I don’t know.

Since this past summer I have had this internal debate raging inside my head. Those questions I asked during that drive to work began to mean more and more to me. They are good questions…all these people who pronounced their love for me couldn’t find it in their hearts to tell me what was going on. To reach out and at least ask me to talk? They just let it go on and on, even though I was pulling further and further away? And the debate turned into a question: Do I want these people back in my life?

Yesterday gave me my answer. I received a message from one of my “family” members. It was hurtful and disrespectful. It was something I would never, in my life, send to a family member, yet this person did. When I read that it, it ended the debate within me. It solidified an answer to the question I had been debating. I decided I didn’t want them in my life. They buried my brother and I with my mom 24 years ago, I came out 3 years ago, but it is time to back in that grave…and to stick with the metaphor, return to that peacefulness I had.

I know, or at least suspect that sooner or later the person who sent me the message will begin reaching out to them or maybe they will shock me and just internalize it. If they do reach out I know lines will be drawn and I don’t want that. So let me say this: They won, I was the bad guy. I take all the blame for this and have accepted my punishment. I have sentenced myself to the baron wasteland of life with out you people…and I walk that wasteland with a large smile on my face.

Yesterday I made the decision to cut my ties, burn my bridges, and move on from them all. I wish them happy fulfilled lives. Yes, of course I hold animosity, but I will get over it. I know I will. I was so damn happy for 8 years without them in my life and I know I will get back to that place of happiness again.

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Wait…You Said Science

ScienceLast night I was watching a talking head program and the host has on a guest to discuss an article that was written that suggested that if humans had less children it would help curb global warming. Of course, within seconds it turned into just another right vs. left debate about global warming.  What caught my attention, though I have heard many times, was that the “left” kept on saying “You can’t argue with the Science.” Every time the “right” guy began a sentence the “left” guy screamed out the same sentence over and over again. With all do respect to the “left” guy, screaming something over and over again doesn’t make you correct, instead it makes look like a nut job who can not answer questions.

I am not going to debate Global Warming here. I have a lot of friends who believe in it and and lot that question it. Personally I stand on the fence. I believe we are seeing changes, but I also don’t believe that humans are the only cause of the problem. However, I do want to talk about the “Science.”

Every time someone who believes in global warming debates someone, they always turn to the same old argument…”Science proves it and you can’t argue with Science.” I find that utterly laughable only because science has been argued forever. Before science said that the Earth was the center of the universe…there was no arguing that point, until Copernicus came around and, yeah, argued it and said, no the sun was the center of the universe. Before science suggest that based on your luck of the draw in the color you were born determined your intelligence, which now is laughable. The whole point of science is to argue, to challenge old ideas and beliefs, and to advance the discussion. I’m sorry, but when you say, “The argument is over,” you sound more like the 16th Century Catholic Church than a reasonable human.

What I find most interesting though is that those who are die hard “Global Warming” enthusiasts tend to be on the left. As mentioned before, whenever the question of global warming comes up they always turn to “Science has proven it and you can’t argue with science.” It is fascinating to me that those who make that argument, that science is the “end all, be all” of the discussion, are some of the first ones who tend to also deny science.

For instance, science has proven that life begins at conception, yet the “left” is the first ones that argue against that believe. They like to argue that life does not begin until the fetus is born. They make that argument because accepting that life begins at conception would justify the idea that abortion is taking a life. No, they argue, this is not true. Let’s forget that the heart has formed and is beating. Let’s look past the fact that the brain has formed and is functioning. Nope…that is not “life” until it comes out of the womb.

I am not arguing for or against abortion (though I am against it), I am merely pointing out the hypocrisy. How can science be the final answer for one argument, but it is easily discounted for another?

Another example are GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms). I personally question the safety of these and avoid them when I can (though it is increasing more and more difficult to do, even with foods labeled “organic.” I read a study that some companies label their foods “organic,” but not everything about them actually is). Like it or not, the majority of scientist have come out and said that GMO’s are not harmful, and actually have advocated there use, especially in 3rd world nations. Yet, the “left”, even though science as said they are ok, argue the science. They point to some scientist who says the opposite and believe him over the majority. Ironic, considering they decry the “right” for pointing to any one scientist that questions “global warming” as hacks because they, yep, point to the fact that the majority support it. Hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Ok, let’s for the sake of argument say that “global warming/change” is real and that the debate is over. For the sake of this argument I am going to agree. However, where I have an issue is the cause. Let’s say that carbon’s released by coal and other manufacturing is the cause. How can you say this and demand one nation (the US) to cut down, while signing accords and agreements that allow 2nd and 3rd world nations to continue? If the problem is the carbon, cutting it from one nation and allowing another to continue to pump them seems counter to the purpose. And if you are not aware, the Paris Accords actually allowed that…which is why the “left” and global warming/change folks were actually against it (of course they forgot about that).

Let’s approach it differently. Let just for a second look at other possible causes. When I was in 9th grade, in science class, the biggest threat to the globe was the deforestation of the Amazon forest. I remember this wholeheartedly. I remember our who class watched videos, read articles, met a guy whose team was trying to save it, and we wrote about it. Well, since 1989 the Amazon Forest deforestation has continued. Not only has it continued in that time, but in 1989 90.4% of the forest was still covered, today it is down to 81%. Hundreds and thousands of acres have been lost in that time period. Yes, it has seen periods of slowing, but the deforestation continues. Let’s not forget the Gobi Desert in China. Since 1990, because of deforestation, the Gobi Desert has expanded by million, not thousands, but MILLIONS of acres. Right now one of the biggest health risk, besides the massive amount of carbons, in China, including Beijing, are sand storms. Fine particles of sand, whipped up by winds over the Gobi, sends miles long clouds over that nation.

You are telling me that has nothing to do with global warming? You’re telling me that my SUV has more impact on the climate of the Earth than the deforestation of millions of acres of land across the world? Well, if you listen to those who argue global warming or watch the videos, you see smoke stacks pumping out black smoke (though in the 1990’s US and western corporations are required to have filters the actually cut down on carbon released), but rarely if ever do they talk about the Amazon anymore.

Or how about this one…which is the one I wish more people would study. Until the ban, which required nuclear tests to take place under ground, the United States conducted 219 atmospheric atomic tests. God only know how many China, the USSR, India, Pakistan conducted. Let’s just round it off and say, 500 were conducted between 1946-1963. You are telling me, that the release of that much nuclear energy into our atmosphere has not caused climate change in the past 50 years? Massive amounts of radioactive energy released into our atmosphere, where there was already a certain amount that existed, has nothing to do with the changes in weather we have seen in our lifetimes? You’re telling me that all the tests done in the ocean has not caused changes? Nations dumped millions of radioactive components into our oceans and that has nothing to do with say the oceans heating, ice caps melting, etc.?

And let’s not forget about Fukishima. The UN’s nuclear regulatory committee has blocked survey after survey, story after story, about the fall out that was created by that reactor melting down and the continued nuclear waste emitting from it. Yet, reports are on the internet for those to read, yet the global changer’s never reference any of these reports in their “science.” Even though those doing the studies have shown that the Pacific corridor between Japan and the West coast of the US has warmed in that time, that millions of fish have died in that time, that changes to currents have occurred in that time. Again, science that is out there, but not referenced as a possible cause?

Really…the debate is over?

I am not right winger who sits and denies that we as a nation can not do more for our environment. I grew up on the California coast and LOVE the ocean. I support the Surf Rider Foundation and the continued work they do to safe guard our oceans and beaches. I don’t pollute, I worry about the bee population, and yes, rising oceans and ice caps melting concern me. However, I do not buy into the causes that I am being spoon fed, when I never see other possible causes examined to any length, and when they are, those scientists are referred to as “hacks” or studies are ignored or discounted. I also have issues when the science that most refer to comes from grants (remember a is money from the government that supports a theory…the more you “prove” your theory the longer the grant lasts and the more money you get) or from a report that was shown to be doctored and is questionable at best. I also have a hard time being told I have to change by people who are flying around on private jets, living in homes that use more energy in a month than I use in a year (Al Gore), and ride around in convoys of SUV’s to go 8 blocks from hotel to their talk about Global Warming. I have an issue with people who tell me that they purchase “carbon offsets” when time and time again the companies who pilfer in this game are shown to actually do nothing…zip…zero…to offset the carbons rich guy in the private jet uses. In one, that was popular after Al Gore’s first movie came out, they were saying that the carbon offsets being purchased were going to grow trees in the Amazon…come to find out that millions of dollars were spent, a few acres of trees were “grown” and all died within a year because they grew them in DEAD SOIL!!! So, rich celebrity flew is private jet, powered his three homes, and did so under the guise that they were purchasing “offsets” only to learn that the “offsets” never happened…so double the pollution.

So, yes, I do have an issue with the idea that “Science proves it and you can’t argue with Science.” Yes, you can argue with the science, it has been done since the dawn of time and will continue to be argued. Challenging science is exactly how new ideas are born, how we continue to advance as a civilization. Once you end the discussion because “Science proves it” then you hold back on innovation and the expansion of ideas.

Again, I am not arguing global changes. For the sake of argument I agree with it and not denying it. I am merely pointing the deficiencies in the argument. I believe a lot more has to do with it than carbon’s being released and unless we discuss, include, and address them all, how does the change occur? I am fine, totally fine, with reducing carbons. If we can find cleaner ways to power our society and industry, then I am all for it, but don’t sit and tell me that the coal energy plant down the street from my house is doing more harm to our environment than the one in China, or the thousands acres of Amazon that was cut down since I woke up this morning, or the left over radiation from hundreds of nuclear weapons that were detonated in our atmosphere, or for shits and giggles the entire female population of the 1980’s spraying Aqua Net don’t have anything to do with it. That is unless you can show me that neither of those has ZERO and I mean ZERO affect…and as of yet…not one scientist quoted by global changers has.

And if you are a global changer…be careful before you spit out that wasted line of logic…because if you buy one science wholeheartedly because the “majority agree,” and then turn around and deny another science where the “majority agree” you are little more than a walking, talking counter argument, and yes a hypocrite.

160506-kirell-scarborough-tease_kr9op4Chalk one up as a victory for the Democratic or Independent Party. Last night on the Colbert Show, Joe Scarborough, the talking head of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, announced that he was officially leaving the Republican Party. He said it wasn’t solely about Trump, but more about the fact that the Republican Party has lost it’s way. Two points to address here.

The first is the implication that the Republican Party has lost it’s way. I’m not sure what exactly Joe was talking about because he failed to explain. He through out a few platitudes for the set up question by Colbert, “Wait, aren’t you part of the Republican Party?” And of course it came with applause when Joe turned in his Republican card on national television.

Where exactly, Joe, has the Republican Party lost it’s way? It won the House in 2010, held the House with a larger majority in 2012, won the Senate in 2014, and in 2016 it held the House, Senate, and won the White House. So if that is losing it’s way, I’d hate to see what it would look like if they found their way…maybe 300 members in the House and 75 members in the Senate?

Here is the most interesting part, and if anyone has followed the Republican party over the past 6 years, or the past three months, is that the Republican party is no monolithic. You see, if the Republican all walked lock step with each other then I could see where Joe could make the argument, however that has not been the case, and it hasn’t been the case since 1952.  The reality is that the Republican party is made up of different factions and it has been a headache for presidents since, hell, Lincoln, but more recently with Republican presidents since Eisenhower.

As the Civil War was coming to it’s conclusion, the first Republican president, Lincoln, though with massive Republican majorities in 1865, faced divisions with in the party…the Radicals vs. the Moderates. It was the same way with Eisenhower when he was elected in 1952 with majorities in the House. He faced many different factions and found himself working with Democrats to get things done. It was the same way with Reagan in 1980, and even W. in 2000. There have been some issues where the Republicans have walked lock step with, but more times than not, Republican presidents have had to deal with the different factions.

That has not been the case of the Democrats since 2006. They have walked lock step with each other. No matter the issue or Legislation, the leader directs and the party has followed. I would argue that has been good, especially if they are in opposition (W. in 2006 and now Trump) or once they controlled the White House under Obama.

If anything, following Joe’s logic, I would argue that it’s the Democratic Party, not the Republican party, that has lost it’s way. My stepfather was a lock step Democrat. We would have conversations all the times, I can honestly say, based on how my stepfather described the party, the Democrat no longer look like the same party. They have moved to the far left, blurred the lines between socialism and social activism, and no longer represent the party of old. And it’s because of that shift, that Trump became the president. Many Democrats actually voted for Trump not only in primaries (where he got the majority of independent and Democratic votes), but also during the election. He was the first Republican in decades that not only broke the Blue Wall, but shattered it, taking almost every one of the Blue Wall states.

The second thing about Joe’s “announcement” is how hypocritical it truly is. Since the election of Trump, Morning Joe as well as other liberal outlets, have seen a rating spike because of their hyper critical analysis of Trump and his administration. That’s fine because it was to be expected. The same liberal talking heads who were utterly silent for the past 8 years have a Republican back in the office and suddenly they are doing their job. So based on that, those who are now paying attention to Joe and Morning Joe, because they were (and still are) the lowest rated morning show, are under the very, very false impression that this is how it has been since the creation of Trump in the primaries. Those now paying attention may actually believe that Mike and Joe have been battling this man since day one, and it has only escalated since the election. NOT TRUE!!!

Here is a harsh reality. Donald Trump was on Morning Joe, during the primaries and the general election 142 times, the only other morning show out did them was the Fox News Channel’s Fox and Friends (no surprise there). What is worse was that every interview started the same: A couple of questions about policy, a few minutes on polls, the the rest of the interview of them having a grand ole time (all this comes from a Washington Post editorial titled “The Many Times Donald Trump Yukked it Up with Morning Joe”)

It went beyond that. Joe Scarborough, during that entire time, being the only “Republican” on MSNBC, defended Trump, even going so far as, on multiple occasions calling Trump “the next Ronald Reagan” and saying that Trump was the “best thing for the Republican party.” They have been friends for a long time. In fact, Trump even offered his luxury golf course in Florida for Joe and Mika’s wedding (before they announced their engagement while they were dating). They have spent time together in New York and Florida, and even accompanied Trump on a trip to Scotland.

It was only after the election, when Trump essentially blacklisted MSNBC and CNN, thus Morning Joe, that suddenly that Trump became a “Thug,” a “goon,” etc. Morning Joe, like the rest of liberal media, jumped on board the Trump hate train very quickly once they realized they would no longer get him as a guest on their show, because, like all the others, they saw a ratings opportunity. Spend the morning bashing Trump, thus preaching the the MSNBC viewer choir, and rating will be much better than supporting him.

Of course, everyone knows that Trump sent out a mean tweet against Mika, and are assuming that is there the split came. Nope. Since the election Morning Joe has gone after Trump and his family, not based on policies, but based on personal attacks. I don’t done the Trump tweet, but it was a bit of retaliation that I think was deserved. I’m sorry if you are upset by my stance, but that’s how I feel. In my life time I have never seen the sort of attacks I have seen by the media against a sitting president…on the personal level. I watched Fox during the Obama administration and nothing, nothing said about Obama was on this kind of level, and it sure in the hell was not personal attacks on the man and his family.

Joe made a decision with the election of Trump. There is ample proof that during the primaries and during the general, Joe was a Trump guy, or at least vied for his attention and presence on the show. Yet, since the election, Joe, who considered Trump the next “Reagan,” has been one of the most vocal in his personal, and yes, outlandish attacks on Trump. So much so, that any accomplishment, even one that Joe would support, has gotten scant to no attention on the show.

Consider this. One of Joe Scarborough’s biggest issues is the treatment of veterans. It was something that was something near and dear to him while he was a member of Congress, and it is something that he has been passionate about for a long time. When the VA scandal broke, Joe was one of the most vocal when it came to attacks on the Obama Administration for not holding those accountable. Oddly, it seems that Joe has forgotten that. Since his election, Trump has signed three pieces of legislation to help veterans. One was a hotline, another allowed veterans to seek medical care outside of the VA, and the other was to allow the government to hold those in the VA responsible, including being fired. Everyone of these things were what Joe has argued for since the VA scandal. Yet, here is something interesting…Morning Joe spent a total of 7 minutes on these pieces of legislation. SEVEN MINUTES FOR ALL THREE. Joe made a choice: praise an accomplishment of Trump, an accomplishment he has been an advocate for, or remain opposed to the man and get the ratings. Well, with a total of  7 minutes devoted to all three, it shows where Joe has decided to lay his idea and values.

In the end, Joe announcement that he was “leaving” the party made him look like nothing more than a hypocrit. For those who have not followed Joe until the election, as the audience seemed not to have, they would have seen it. If it is because the Republican party has lost it’s way, fine, then avow that you would not join the Democratic party that has truly done so in the past decade. But of course that never came. And if it’s about Trump, please explain the 142 times he was invited on to your program and you guys “yukked it up.” Explain why you heaped praise on this man, even going so far as to heap the ultimate Conservative praise by referring to Trump as the next Reagan. Explain, why, since Trump has not changed a damn bit since (it was why I dislike him from the start, why I didn’t vote for him, and why I have issues with him as president), you didn’t disavow him long ago. Explain you vacations to his luxury Florida home. Explain the numerous times you have “hung-out” over the past year. It’s is because you can that make you announcement last night one of the biggest examples of hypocrisy ever.

Sure those that don’t know the past were quick to applaud your decision, but those who have followed you have the past couple of years knows the truth.

 

como lakeI just read an interesting article in the Daily Mail about Lake Como in Italy. If you are not familiar with Lake Como, it is the destination of the rich and elite of the world. It is extremely beautiful which explain why famous folks like Richard Branson, George Clooney, and Madonna all own multi million dollar homes there. Lake Como has long been the vacation destination of the elite. During it’s Golden Age, the Hollywood elite would scamper to this plush area as did global royalty, including the King of Camelot himself, President John F. Kennedy.

Right now though, Lake Como is facing a crisis. No, it’s not green algae or tree beatles eating away the trees. The crisis is refugees. Over the past five years millions of refugees have fled northern Africa and Syria and made their way across the Mediterranean. Italy has become the central hub for these refugees, where they then make their way to the rest of Europe. For the past couple of years the refugees would make their way through Lake Como on their way to Switzerland, however, with growing pressure, Switzerland has closed it’s borders and these refugees now find themselves stuck in midst of the elite. How? The rail system into Switzerland crosses right through Lake Como, and because the Swiss have closed their borders, the refugees find themselves in limbo and because of this status they have essentially made a make shift refugee camp at the rail station.

The government of Lake Como has proposed to build a standing refugee camp, but it is facing massive push back. Reading this, you would expect that it is the dirty Trump-like nationalist of Italy who are pushing back against a camp like this, but you would be wrong. Instead, it is the very wealthy of Lake Como who are pushing back. Out of fear that a refugee camp would only encourage more refugee’s to come, the residents of Lake Como have made it clear that they do no want this camp. Because, after all, the rich and elite come to Lake Como for the beauty and to be pampered and the last thing they want on their multi-million dollar vacations is to be reminded of the problems of the world, especially having to see the down trodden on their door steps as they drive their Bentley’s to the posh $1000 a plate restaurants before heading off to sail on their multi-million dollar boats.

This is only one of many examples of the hypocrisy of the wealthy that we have seen in recent years.

  1. The government of Marin County, California just proposed building affordable housing for residents who can not afford to purchase a home in this plush, wealthy section of the state. However there is push back, especially from the wealthy elite who are concerned that such housing would “damage” the beauty of the area and, of course, bring down housing values.
  2. A couple of years ago, there was a proposal to build wind turbines off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. It made perfect sense. Because of the constant winds that flow off the coast, why not take advantage of them and build clean energy? However there was push back from the elite, including then Senator Ted Kennedy, because disliked the idea of having their views disrupted by these large white turbines sitting off the coast of their multi-million dollar homes.

There are many more examples, but the three I have pointed out have something in common. Think about it for a second. Refugee’s, Affordable Housing, Clean Energy…what do they have in common? When you take all the America residents of Lake Como, or the wealthy elites of Marin County and Martha’s Vineyard and you see which party they donate money to, it comes out to be almost 95% Democrats. Democrats who have pushed that the US and the world do more for refugees. Democrats who champion affordable housing. Democrats who are the first to jump on any chance to promote clean energy. Yet, as shown, when it comes to these things being put in their backyards they are the first ones to push back.

Why? Why would champions of these causes be so strident in their denial of having them in their own backyards? I would argue it comes down to money and their elite status. Follow me here. These folks write big checks to candidates who promote these ideas with the idea that by doing so, they are helping. Joe Millionaire rights a $250,000 donation to the refugee cause. He thinks that money will go to building shelters for them or help promote them being allowed into countries. They have done their good deed. Then suddenly they find out that cause is now pushing to build a refugee camp in their backyard, somewhere they have to see it and deal with it, and suddenly the tone changes. It’s ok for some place like Greeley, Colorado to have to deal with the refugee population, but god forbid Aspen have to deal with it.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually understand it. If I owned a multi-Million dollar home in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, the last thing I would want is for something to interfere or impede that beauty. If I owned a home on the coast the last thing I would want to see when I sat on my porch in the morning with my coffee is a valley of wind turbines or oil derricks. The last thing I would want to see as I drove down to my $1000 a plate lunch is a track row of affordable housing or a refugee camp. I earned my money (or was lucky enough to be born into it), or purchased my elite hideaway from the rest of the world, and the last thing I would want is to be reminded of the dredges. I get it and I am actually ok with it.

My issue is not that they are pushing back against these things, my issue is the hypocrisy behind it. These folks are the first ones to write big checks to Democratic candidates or to social issues. Again, I have no issue with that. It’s your money, do what you want with it. However, when they write these checks, they are in essence supporting these causes and by doing so, putting their names and wealth behind these causes. They tell the rest of the world that we must “accept” these things. We must be more caring and open. Our hearts must go out to these people and we must do more to help them. Again, I am ok with all of that. Yet, when suddenly they are asked to accept them in their neighborhoods, suddenly they build walls. Funny isn’t it. They are the first to decry a wall, but are the first ones to build a wall to protect their elite status.

What is most ironic about all of this actually centers around the refugee crisis. If you go to the Daily Mail article dealing with Lake Como, there is actually a video of George Clooney speaking to refugees. I think the Daily Mail put that on there because Clooney owns a home in Lake Como. I’m not sure of Clooney is one of the people pushing back against the proposed refugee camp, and if he is, oh man. However, I did find the video ironic.

If there was ever a supporter of former President Barak Obama, it was George Clooney. Clooney, in the course of the elections of 2008 and 2012 raised and donated over $30 million for Obama. He did not stop there. During the 2016 election he held a fund raiser for Hillary Clinton that raised over $15 million. In other words, Clooney was invested in Obama and his actions. Which makes his work for these refugees interesting.

What is consistently lost in the story of Syria and Libya, where the majority of the refugee’s are coming from, is why. The media, who have shown they support the refugee initiative of Obama, and thus the Democrats, will constantly show the images of the refugees and of course will air segments on their news programming like 60 Minutes or hour long documentary like investigations. Each of them showing the horrors in the nations they are leaving. Each showing the horrors of the crossings into Europe. Each showing the horrors of the conditions in the refugee camps. And of course, each showing those against the refugee’s as some Hitlarian look-a-like, red faced, and looking as if he/she is ready to pounce and beat a refugee. Yet, in all of these they fail to mention Why. It wasn’t as if one day that millions of people decided to up and leave their nations. And of course the media will show the footage of the war taking place in these nations. The stock footage of men firing AK-47’s, rockets being fired from helicopters into civilian populations. It’s all horrid…but again why?

And here is where the video of Clooney talking to these refugees becomes ironic. You see, both the Syrian Civil War and the atrocities taking place in Libya have a very large American hand print on them, but more importantly…an OBAMA hand print. Yes, the very man Clooney supported in two elections, who he raised millions for, is also implicated in the very refugee crisis Clooney is lending his face to.

You see in 2011, an even called the Arab Spring erupted in numerous Arab nations. First it started in Egypt where Mubarak was removed from power and the Muslim Brotherhood took control, only to have a quasi-civil war erupt, which removed the Muslim Brotherhood and now Egypt is controlled by a faction of the military. Then it spread. It erupted in Libya, where the people, supported by the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical factions, rose up against Gaddafi. Then it spread to Bahrain, Quatar, Yemen, and of course to Syria.

How does Obama play into this. Well, if you recall, Obama supported the Arab Spring. He called for Mubarak to step down (also putting pressure on him by threatening sanctions), and supported the Muslim Brotherhood government, even though it was repressive and the people rose up against it. As Gaddafi fought against the uprising in Libya, using air support, NATO called foul, and the US joined in, though without Congressional approval, to initiate a no fly zone, and of course used US fighters to take out Libyan surface-to-air missile sights, not to mention Libyan ground forces (though never reported in the news). Gaddafi fell and the country fell into chaos.

SIDE NOTE: As Libya fell into chaos, the US using fear of weapons getting into the wrong hands, continued to have a presence there, even though other nations bailed. Well, come to find out, that US presence was there because the CIA was collecting those stockpiles of weapons and funneling them to fighters in Syria. Where was the base of operations for this? Yep, you guessed it, Benghazi.

And of course there is Syria. Just like in Egypt and Libya, the Arab Spring erupted in that nation. In hopes of removing Assad, the people rose up. In the early stages one could possibly support the uprising. After all, like Mubarak and Gaddafi, Assad has a long history of human rights violations and being oppressive governments. However, the battle turned into something more as radical groups became involved in the battle and suddenly, like with Egypt and Libya, the lines became blurred between good guy and bad guy.

The Obama administration had its hand in all of these uprisings. It support the uprisings in Egypt, used the US military to support the uprisings in Libya, and covertly used the CIA and US military to support the uprising in Syria. And what all of these have in common is that these nations were left in chaos. Egypt, with a long history of democracy, was able to right the ship, however that has not been the case with Libya and Syria. Libya is now controlled by different factions vying for power, not to mention now becoming a hub for ISIS. Assad in Syria is supported by the Russian and Iran and because of that has been able to withhold the attacks on his government, but in doing so, it has allowed radical factions, like ISIS, to control parts of that nation and thus has led to millions of refugees.

Yet, in none of the media coverage, or in Clooney’s nice little refugee video, is any of this mentioned. I personally find it fascinating. The very groups that have called out those against allowing hordes of refugees into the United States, were the same people who supported a president who Administration had a hand in creating the very crisis we see.

Now, I don’t know Mr. Clooney, and maybe I should give him credit. Maybe he realizes that his support of Obama in a very contorted way led to the refugee crisis, and based on some guilt, he feels that he must do something for the very people his personal bank account helped to create. I know that is snarky, but when facts are laid out on the table it’s just a sad sorted reality that we have to accept.

The media, frankly, treated Obama with kid gloves, and because of that, did not call him out, as they would a Republican president, for a foreign policy that was utterly flawed and, again frankly, created a mess in the middle east. Sure, it is easy to look at brutal dictators and support any uprising or action to remove them, however in doing so, one must look at the consequences. What is most ironic about all of this is the fact that the media were the ones who quickly turned on George W. Bush for doing this in Iraq, but blindly and without any real critical analysis, allowed for Obama to do the same thing, yet on a much larger scale. US intervention in Egypt, in Libya, in Syria, helped to create this mess, and it was done with the sole idea of removing despots. It was the same thing that was done in Iraq with the same results. Only difference was that the media and people like Clooney expressed their outrage and dismay over one, while ignoring the other.

Which, ironically and without purpose, brings this full circle. The elites and wealthy are continuously the first ones to tell us what is right, yet, with deep hypocrisy, live much different lives. Education is a perfect example of this. The wealthy and elites decry the idea of school vouchers, which allow student an opportunity to leave failing schools and attend good school. The media and elite decry this as an attack on public education, and thus tell us that it is wrong, that school vouchers will hurt public education. And there in lies the hypocrisy. They tell average Americans that they shouldn’t support school vouchers because it will hurt public education, while they send their own kids to the very schools that school vouchers would allow lower and middle class students to attend. Which leaves the question: Is it really about protecting public education or is it more about protecting the elites from having to share space with those beneath them? Well, if we look at the example of Marin County, Lake Como, and Martha’s Vineyard, it seems that the answer is clear.

Perspective

downloadDuring my APUSH class this year, while covering the events that led to the Civil War, a student raised her hand and asked a question that made me think really hard. “Mr. Simmers, do you think we are seeing the same divisions today that we saw in the 1850’s?” My first reaction was to down play the divisions today as part of the ebb and flow of discussion and difference. Yet, I had to pause, because the more I thought about it, the more I found it hard to argue. We are so dead set in our beliefs today, so quick to dig the trench and man it, that it’s hard to believe that discussion and debate can lead to compromise. When we see Republicans, and now Democrats, simply say “No” instead of finding common ground on legislation. When we see friends and family, so deep in their convictions that they end relationships. When we see the sides battle ready and engaging in violence to defend their ideas instead of coming together to find peaceful resolution, then maybe we are closer to a dark period of our past than we want to accept. Worse, we are closer because we are as bullheaded and blinded by our ideas as those before were with results that could have been avoided.

A lot of people are going to disagree with this post and chalk it up as “just another person defending this man.” That’s fine if you view it that way. Chances are, if you despise this president, anything positive said or anything put into perspective, will automatically lead you to that conclusion.

Here’s the deal, based on the ratings of Morning Joe, in which Mika is a guest host, most people do not watch it. Honestly, used to catch it, but stopped because it was nothing more than blather. Yet, being someone who does follow conservative blogs and news, I have been made very well aware of some of the very vile things these hosts, including Mika, have said about this president.

Listen, I get it, there are A LOT of people who dislike Trump, and I am ok with that, but there is a line. If you are the regular Joe on the street you can say anything you want about this man and his presidency. However, when you are a member of the media there are unwritten rules of couth when it comes how they address and discuss the president. Policy disagreements are open for attack. Legislation passed or debate is open for attack. However, since the election of Trump, the media have crossed these lines over and over again in ways that I have never seen in my lifetime. They go after him on a personal level that is blurring the live of objective reporting to hit man porn.

It is perfectly fine if you disagree with the president or a policy as a member of the media, however when you engage in personal attacks, then the line between objective reporter/analyst is crossed. Since the election of Trump that line has been crossed by a lot of people in the media, but some of the most ridiculous and disrespectful things have come from Mika and her crew at MSNBC. And worst of all, it seems that they do so because it draws ratings. They know their audience hates the man and because of that they believe they have carte blanche to say whatever they want, even if it crosses into the the viles and utterly disrespectful of the office. Why? Because their audience likes it because they agree with it. And that is the saddest part of it. Those that turn a blind eye because they agree, instead of holding their media accountable and saying “the personal crosses a line.”

I don’t, again, let me make it clear, I DON’T agree with the tweet by Trump, however to claim it is “unpresidential” presumes something that is not the reality we have seen. Yes, if Trump were treated with the same kid gloves that Obama or previous president were treated with, the same respect for the office shown to previous presidents, then yes, his tweet is purely and undeniably “unpresidential.” Yet, as mentioned above, that is NOT THE CASE. As I said, I have never seen the likes of the attacks on this president as I have seen by the media since the election of Trump, and because of that, I think we have entered a realm not seen before on both sides. We see the media overstepping bounds never before seen crossed, and in return, we are seeing the reaction of a president we have never before seen.

Yes, you can chalk it up as Trump being thin skinned or immature. However, I just do not think that is a fair analysis. First of all, had other presidents received the type of treatment and vileness we have seen from the media, who knows how they would have reacted. If the attacks on Trump were merely based on policies and a tweet like this came out, then yes, I would agree 100% that it was out of line. Yet Mika has made it personal on numerous occassions, and in kind, Trump made it personal. Agree or disagree with it, that is fine. I personally DISAGREE with it, but I do so because for me, BOTH ARE WRONG.

Since this story broke, all the focus has been on Trump’s tweet, yet not one single story (I watched CNN coverage of this) mentioned a damn thing Mika has said. The way the media this portraying is that poor little Mika was just coming to work to report the news and big bad Trump just attacked her. NOT EVEN CLOSE TO FACTUAL. Since the election of Trump Mika and the crew at Morning Joe (among others at MSNBC and CNN), have made some of the most vile and disrespectful comments not only about Trump, but about his family. Yet, because so many who watch these channels hate Trump anyway, they are ok with the personal attacks, worse they applaud it. Again, if their attacks were on policies of Trump, then fine, that is required of a free media. Yet, that is not what they have been. They throw personal punches that are uncouth and just wrong for any member of the media to throw at ANY PRESIDENT, and yesterday the president punched back. Again…we have never a president do this, but then again, we have never seen the level of attacks like this. And again…I AM REFERENCING THE MAIN STREAM MEDIA…not radio hosts and commentators…that is not the media…that is just dirt mongering passing themselves off as news barriers.

And spare me the “Trump has gone after the media, so they have a right to counter punch.” First of all, and equal counter punch to Trump’s attacks on the media would be to show where he is wrong, not engage in PERSONAL attacks on the man or his family. Secondly, it suggests that this is the first time the media has been attacked by a president. As if, until Trump no other president called out the media or certain stations for being “fake news.” On a daily, if not weekly basis, Obama attacked Fox News as fake news, as over hyping stories, and called out members of that channel and suggesting they “find a new job.” Yet, what we did not see was people like O’Reilly, Kelly, Hannity, or anyone else engage in personal attacks of Obama. They called him out on the policies they disagreed with, but not the president himself.

If one were objective, they would see that what I am writing is right. I hate feeling I have to constantly say this, but I am not defending Trump here. I made it clear that I disagree with his tweet. Yet, I am also saying that NO ONE IS INNOCENT in this exchange. Since the election of Trump the personal attacks have reached a level I am utterly disgusted with. It’s not even news anymore and it has reached a level that we all need to call out. Agree or Disagree, Like or REVILE Trump, that is fine, but we have to hold our media accountable. And for all those who are turning a blind eyes to the vileness because you hate the man, be forewarned because come 2020 or 2024 you will have someone you like in that office, and once you allow this door to be opened, it will be left ajar, and be ready. Once you allow it, it becomes the norm. Yes, we need to hold the president accountable for misguided and immature tweets like this, but we also must hold the media accountable so as not to create an atmosphere where tweets or comments like this are the reaction.

And one final note about the “Sexism” being implied in all of this. Fine, call it sexism, but before you do, make sure all of your ducks are in row before doing so. What do I mean? Make sure that before you comment and share the Mika story, you have a history of calling out those who have denigrated women. For every Mika that the left tends to loose their sh*t over, there is a Ivanka, Palin, Rice, Mrs. Bush, Mrs. Reagan they were utterly silent about when personal attacks were laid out by those on the left. I was not fan of Sara Palin’s, however the constant drum beat of how stupid she was and criticisms of her education, clothing, and looks with utter silence by the feminist left in this country was unbelievable.

And that is the double standard that is exposed in liberal/left outrage over this. They are the first ones to dawn the protest flag over comments like this, but when those same comments are directed at women they dislike, oh how silent they become. And I think this is why so many on the right poo poo sh*t like this. They of course condemn it, but they reserve their chorus line of disgust displayed by the left because they see the hypocrisy that is so blatant. When they see a Chris Mathews get red faced with his rage over the sexist tweets of Trump, they also remember how he was the same person who mocked and personally attacked Palin. When the double standard is black and white, it becomes hard for some to accept that one event deserves “outrage” while a similar one does not.

Yes, I do see the difference. This is the president of the United States engaging in this immaturity. Yet, the ones who are drum beating the outrage are just as guilty. I saw a Congress woman today attack Trump because of the “mental health” aspect of his tweet. It was funny, because the news host I was watching then played file footage of her, in reference to her critics, calling them “crazy,” “Stupid,” and yes, questioning their mental health. Again, the hypocrisy.

I know I have a lot of friends who disagree with everything that I wrote here. As I said before, they chalk this up as a defense of Trump and move on. Fine. Yet, if you were objective you’d see that this is a condemnation of both sides. Pure and simple. I have to say, that since this election, I have seen my some of my friends in a very disturbing light. Before we would engage in discussion and debate, now it is straight to anger and the “Unfriend” button. Sad that we have come to this place in a nation where discussion and debate were the foundations and have led to voices being heard and changes made for the better. We’ve seen it before, but the question is, can we avoid the dark path of historic regret, or can we come together for positive change? Like my students question, I’m personally having a hard time finding the answer.

loveofgame_01Of all of the knocks that professional sports take, one of the most ridiculous for me, is the one MLB baseball receives.

The NFL has faced scrutiny because of domestic violence in recent years, but that does not even come close to comparing to the reality that the NFL, purposely, withheld evidence between concussions and long term brain damage. A scandal of its own making for one purpose, to keep fans coming to watch big men destroy each other…in other words, for money. And of course there was last year, when the NFL saw it’s rating dropped and blamed it on the length of games and commercial breaks while avoiding the elephant in the room called Colin Kaepernick and others who, in the eyes of many American’s, disrespected the nation and flag by taking a knee.

The NBA has been under attack in recent years because of it’s ridiculous draft policies which essentially make college a one-and-done prospect for most kids. Not to mention the “Super Team” building of recent years, where the question of who would play in the finals became a foregone conclusion. The downside of that has been a huge pool of blah blah teams playing for nothing more than revenue (i.e. my team the Sacramento Kings). Then of course there is the “break’s” superstar player take, which means that if say Cleveland comes to Denver, there is a damn good chance that I wont see Lebron on the paint because our game fell on his “much needed” rest day (when we know that he really just see’s the Nuggets as nothing more than a bump in the road towards the foregone conclusion of his team being in the finals, so no need to waste time on the court).

Then there is the NHL and NASCAR. I have never been a fan of either, but over the past decade I have literally watched these two sports become near nonexistant.  Attendance is down, as are sponsors willing to invest money in these sports, when they could dump it in sports where people are actually watching. I am not knocking these sports or their die hard fans, but honestly they have become bottom of the bag draws and that is where the scrutiny about them comes into play. Granted, as mentioned, I am not a fan of these sports, couldn’t name a top ten guy in NASCAR or the NHL if my life depended on it (is Gretsky still playing?).

Which bring me to baseball. A decade or so ago, the biggest “scandal” to rock the Major Leagues was that the truth we all knew was exposed…players were juicing. Yes, it reached the levels of Congress where, instead of fixing jobs and helping the middle-class, they spent months investigating steroids in baseball. Yet, no matter how much they made it a scandal, most MLB fans didn’t really give a shit. Yeah, we were conflicted with the reality of cheating vs. watching our favorites players smash 450 foot homers, but in the end it just exposed a reality we all knew existed. Seriously, when your favorite players goes into the off season looking like Erkel and comes back looking like Arnold, something is up, but who gives a shit, he has 40 homers before the All-Star break and your team is in contention.

Right now, with everything else rocking major league sports, the biggest knock that I am seeing the media make on MLB is “The games are too long.” No sh*t Sherlock. It has been this way…forever!!!. However, they are pointing to the ridiculous. Example: Average game time in 2004 was 2 hrs. 37 mins. compared to 2016 when the average time increased to 2 hrs. 48 mins. OH MY GAWD!!! Seriously, to all the baseball fans out there, honest question, did you notice the 11 minute increase over 12 years? “Hell yeah Jason, before when I went to a game I was knocking back 5 cold ones, now I’m officially hitting a sixer…thanks a lot eleven minutes (sad face emoji).”

I have few good memories of my father, but the one good one I have are summer nights outside. My father would be B-B-Qing up something (honestly, I can’t recall ever having a meal during the summer that was not grilled, except for the once a months joy of deep fried, beer battered shrimp and scallops). We would be outside, sitting on the picnic table, Dad would be grilling, and on the radio was the either the Giants or A’s game. I know I am probably wrong on this, but the game would start just as Dad tossed a match on the coals and we finally retire inside when the game was over.

I remember those night fondly. Getting eaten alive by mosquito’s, while listening to Dave Kingman or Will Clark come up to bat. Never actually knowing the score or if the at-bat matter much, but hoping against hope that Kingman would hit a homer or Clark would get a hit. I know I am wrong, but there was a summer where I swear Dave Kingman must have homered ever damn game that season and Clark must have hit .800 for the season.

I grew up a baseball fan and yes, I love the sport. I played it, lived it, and like most boys, dreamed it. I had dreams of playing right-field for the Giants or A’s for the longest time. There has not been a time in my 40 odd years of life where baseball didn’t matter. Yes, I am a die-hard fan, and yes, like I am sure it is the way with NHL and NASCAR fans, no amount of sh*t talking my sports is going to change my mind.

Yet, if the biggest hit MLB is taking is the length of the game, well, honestly, I’ll take it. Baseball has always been a long game. The seconds ticked off between pitches, the minutes ticked off by a change of pitcher, the seconds ticked off because of the home-run trot. It’s always been a part of baseball, and honestly, it also gives baseball it’s charm.

I honestly consider baseball a family sport. Maybe that comes from my memories as a kid, but it has been reinforced by the years I’ve added on. Think about the two major sports in America right now…NBA and the NFL. They are fast paced games, your attention is locked on them, and except for commercial breaks, your family and conversation are merely background noise. Not with MLB. Because of the lag time between pitches your engaged with your family. Sitting around the table watching on listening to the game and, unless it’s a 3-2 count with runners on and 2 outs, your with your family and engaged. It’s the same way when you go to a game. I have been to NBA games and NFL games and I can’t recall a time when I actually engaged with my friends and family because the game moved so fast (except time-outs and half-times). Not so when I go to baseball games. Sure, I am watching the game, but there is time to spend talking to family or teaching the game to your kid.

A perfect example of this was two years ago. My family and I headed out to California, and one of the things I had to do was catch a Giants game. It had been 12 years since I had been at that stadium to watch my team play. Also keep in mind the fact that the Giants had just won their 3rd World Series the year before. Yes,  for a few minutes I was enthralled in the majesty of the stadium and watching my team live on their homefield, but I still spent time playing with my daughter, trying as best I could (she was 4 years old) to explain the game. It was family.

There is a downside the the lag in baseball…it gives the false sense that nothing his going on. Any true baseball fan will tell you that there is A LOT going on. Depending on the count and the batter, there is positioning of fielders, and of course the biggest question…what pitch to throw and the prayer that it does catch or hang in the sweet spot. In 2007, my wife and I went to a Rockies game. There were runner on, but there was a lot of lag time and my wife went to grab us drinks. My wife loves the Rockies, and at the time, Troy Tulowitsky was her favorite player. There I was, under a blaring sun, waiting for my wife to come back with drinks, when I watched something that had only happened 12 times to that point in the entire history of baseball.   With runners on 1st and 2nd, a live drive was hit to Tulo (out #1), runner on second left, Tulo jogs over and steps on the plate (out #2), the runner on first had gone and was just a few steps from 2nd base when Tulo laid the tag on him (out #3). In the entire history of baseball, I had watched only the 13 unassisted triple play…my wife however missed it, and still to this day she brings it up (on a side note, I put my ticket for that game on Ebay just to see how much I would get and wound up selling it for $185…I bought it for $40. The other is in a case with a signed Tulo baseball and card).

Another downside is as a coach. Don’t get me wrong, even during lag time in a game, there are about a million things rolling through my mind. However, for anyone who has coached Colorado high school baseball will admit to, when it’s 30 degrees outside with a light drizzle and your bones are frozen and ice is forming off the bill of your cap…a shorter game would be nicer.

Yes, I get it, baseball is a slow sport, and yeah, I have heard it so many times…”It’s so boring.” Every time someone says that around me they hear an ear full, because they are just telling me they don’t understand the game. If you watch a game, as a fan, there are about 100 things happening on that field with every pitch. How the batter is standing, where the outfield and infield is positioned, and not to mention the too numerous to count options a pitcher has. There is always something happening on the field in front of your eyes, except of course, during the lag times, but then again, those should be spent talking to friend and family anyway…so who cares?

Yes, I am approaching this as a fan of the game, but honestly, if the largest hit MLB takes is the length of the game, I’ll take it. I honestly believe with all my heart, no matter how popular the NFL and NBA are, America is an will forever be America’s game. You take any NFL or basketball players and you ask them “When you were a kid did you play baseball at all,” I will be that 80% of them will say “yes.” I don’t think you will get those numbers if you ask a baseball player the same question about football or basketball. Me personally, baseball was the only sport I played. Sure, I’d go out to the field or to the court and play football and basketball with friends, but I’ve never worn the uniform. Baseball might not be the sport you end up playing, or loving, but you played it.

I would also like to throw out some love for softball. As I have gotten older and the body doesn’t work the way it did, I had to step away from playing baseball, but softball was always there. I loved playing, but more importantly, through playing it, I also gained a love for girls fast pitch softball. Every year I follow the College Softball World Series, was pissed off when the Olympics pulled it, and was happy as hell when the Olympics reinstated it. I have had two of my former students who were lucky enough to make it to the next level of the sport they have dedicated their lives to, and honestly, I followed their progress because, with all do respect to the volleyball, basketball, and soccer players, it was a sport I understood.

So feel free and knock baseball for how long it is. I’m cool with that. Compared to the drama surrounding the other sports, if my sport being too long is the worst thing about it, I’ll take it.

yulin-dog-festival-2017In Yulin, China, they hold what is known as the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, also known as the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. It is a 10 day celebration where dogs, usually captured, are paraded through the streets in crates and then taken to the city center where they are brutality killed and consumed. The dogs are killed in brutal ways including picking them up and bashing them on the ground, slitting their throats, taking a hammer and bashing their heads in, or strung up by their hind legs and gutted. The dogs are then skinned, filleted, cooked, and consumed by men (and women) who believe that dog meet helps their libido or with heat exhaustion.

For a long time, in terms of racial distinction or attack, the Chinese, or Asians as a whole have been tied to eating dog or cat. All though my life I have heard this and the words have slipped from my tongue on occasion in a derogatory way. For example. I lived in Crescent City, California and on the street a block or two from my house there was a large population of Hmong people. I never paid much attention to them, until one day. My brother had just gotten his driver’s license and the next day, while driving to school, he ran (more like bumbed) into the back of a car. The driver was Hmong and after the accident he made a huge fuss about it. He sent my parents an estimate for repairs that came out to be like $2,000. There was no way my brother caused that much damage. In fact, when we got out and checked the only thing we saw was a cracked blinker. The estimate was for a new bumper and for a fender (obvious to us he was trying to bilk my parents for previous damage to his car)

So, being the teenagers we were, we set out for a bit of retaliation against this guy. On a few nights, by brother, myself, and a couple of our friends egged the shit out of the guys house. While doing so, we noticed the amount of cats there seemed to be on the street, and yes, we drew the conclusion between the fact that they were Asian and the interesting amount of cats in their neighborhood. In the end, my parents challenged the guy, paid for a new blinker and a dent in his bumper which came to about $200.  (On a side note to this story…I have partaken in eating cat. While in the Navy, I was in Ecuador, and we were in a questionable section of the city drunk as shit. There was a food cart selling these sticks of meat outside the club we were in and, as we were leaving I bought one. Shit was so good I bought three more. I caught up with my friends and offered them one and my buddy, who was Hispanic, asked if I had eaten it. When I told him I already had two of them, it was at that point he informed me it was cat meat. And, being totally honest, I was so drunk and thought it was funny, that I ate two more of them. It was a running joke for while there…until the next morning when I was reminded of the joke and then it wasn’t so funny).

There is a point to that story, and I will get to it in a second. However I want to focus on this ceremony.

I was not aware of this ceremony, mostly because I don’t follow the local traditions and holidays in rural China. However, over the past couple of days I have seen these images of dead logs laid out on tables surrounded by Asian men, so I looked it up and found out about Yulin and it’s celebration. Upon further research, I also found out why I am seeing so many of these images lately.

It seems that every year for almost a decade, when this festival rolls around, Animal Rights groups, especially PETA, put out a media blitz. They fill social media with the disgusting photos of this celebration in hopes of drawing outrage, and thus, activism. The more images and the more disgusting they are, the more outrage, and thus, more people calling for an end of this celebration.

I am in NO WAY defending the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. It is disgusting. However, I do find it a bit ironic. When you look at the make-up of Animal Rights groups, especially PETA, it is mostly die-hard liberals and leftists in this country. Of course not all members fall into that category, but a majority of them do.

Why that is ironic is because it is the left that will be the first ones who will condemn anyone for attacking anyones culture. We have seen this so much over the past 16 years since 9/11 and the “War on Terror.” Whenever there is a terrorist attack and the right starts banging the drums of war and retaliation, the left is quick to point out how we need to understand Islamic culture. Any time Sharia law, female mutilation, or the treatment of women in Middle Eastern nations is brought up by a member of the right, some one from the left is quick to point out how the right are guilty of “appropriating our culture on others.”

A month ago I posted about a burrito truck in Portland, Oregon had been shut down by the city. Why? Because the owners, while on a trip to Mexico, observed how women in the town they were in made their tortillas and they brought that back to Portland, through a California “health” twist on it. They were making pretty good money, people really enjoyed their burritos, however the story on how they acquired their recipe got out and people protested. The attack was “cultural appropriation” and the burrito truck was shut down. At the time I ranted about it in terms of how the left were now starting to eat themselves. You see the owners of the burrito truck were two women and self avowed liberals. Suddenly, they found themselves on the other end of liberal outrage, and suddenly their life’s dream came crashing down around them.

So that brings us to the Yulin Dog Meat Festivals. There are nine Asian nations, including China, where dogs and cats, are part of the menu. The festival itself is pretty new, however the tradition of eating dog in China goes back centuries. Celebrations and festivals, though not on the scale of Yulin, have taken place in China during the summer months for 400 years, because it is believed that dog meat helps stem the heat. So in other words, it is part of Chinese culture. The people partake in the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, not because it is some gathering of the masses who hate dogs, but because it has been a part of their culture, and this town turned it into a celebration.

And so there is the ironic aspect of this. Anytime anyone condemns the practices of Islam the left is quick to condemn. A good example of this is Ayann Hirsi Ali. If you are not aware of who Ali is, she is a Somali refugee, who, when she was younger, had her clitoris removed. She has spent her life condemning the practice of female mutilation and other horrific acts committed against women under Sharia Law. However, Ali is condemned by the left. Over the past decade, though she has written numerous books, testified before Congress and the UN, and has started an organization to help women who have been abused by Sharia Law, whenever she is invited to a college campus to speak, protests, led by the left erupt. College campuses usually resend her invitation, however when they don’t, Ali is shouted down and personally attacked. And what is the thrust of the attack on Ali, that she is “appropriating western values on Arabic nations and cultural beliefs.”

Yet, when it comes to the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, the same people and groups that would, and have, attacked Ali, are the first ones to speak out against this brutal festival. As I mentioned, every June, since the start of this festival, Animal Rights Groups and PETA have put on a media blitz condemning it, and yes, the continued use of dog as part of the Asian/Chinese diet. Of course they are being consistent in their displeasure of anyone eating meat, however, the issue here is not Vegan vs. Meat Eaters, but ones views of what is culturally corrects vs. 400 years of culture.

When I taught AP Psychology, there was a part about schema’s which is pattern of thought or behavior that organizes categories of information and the relationships among them. We have our ideas about a variety of things and most of those are based on our experiences with them. For instance, for the longest time I believe I was allergic to white rice because when I was young I ate it and threw up. I avoided white rice until I was much older and finally ate it and had no problems. I found this interesting experiment to do with kids. I bought Lifesavers online from Australia and handed them out to the kids. Issue: One of the best selling flavor of Lifesavers is Musk in Australia. So when the kids put them in their mouths they (some liked them) were disgusted. Why? Because they associate the smell of musk with old people.

The point of that is that we all have our ideas of what is right and wrong. Yeah, I believe the brutal slaughter of dogs and cats is not cool, but I have also grown up where these animals are pets and loved ones not a Sunday night meal.

I just see the hypocrisy in all of this. We have to be consistent in our beliefs. You can suggest that Animal Rights groups and PETA are actually being consistent, and I would agree with that, but still though…are they not appropriating their western values on other cultures…and is that not the larger evil?

I want to end this on my teenage scuffle with the Hmong people of Crescent City, California. Of course part of me wants to apologize, and I do. Egging the guys house, like 7 times, was not cool on my part. However, I was a teenager and the guy was trying to pull one over on my parents, and so in my teenage mind it was all fair in love and war. However, I will admit that I was also guilty of being a very ugly American. In all honesty, there were no more cats on that street than in all of Crescent City. My friends dad, actually was a member of the humane society who captured stray cats and neutered them. He would catch truck loads of the damn thing on a weekly basis (and yes, I did joke on a few occasions that he must of have driven down said Hmong street just once to catch all of those cats). I had no idea who those folks were. They had been living on that street for a long time, had their little community, and yeah, a few of the girls were pretty cute. They lived in their section of town, didn’t bother people, and I lived in mine. However, when our two worlds collided that fateful morning, I’ll admit that my bias turned into derogatory speech, and that was not cool. I have no idea if those folks ate cat, shit for all I knew they probably were as pissed off as many people in Crescent City with all the damn stray cats in their neighborhood. My point is, by writing this blog, I became self aware of my own biases and actions, and yes, I regret them (even though it was a fun time because man, we stealth ninja the shit out of those nights and egged the f*ck out of his house. In the morning we would drive by, making sure to be stoic as we did and not laugh, just to see how bad it was. A couple of times he was out there cleaning and yelling at his kids. Sorry man, again…the teenage mind).