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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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Open Title

Chapter 1: Never Saw It Coming

On most occasions, Mike Deavers did not stand out in a crowd. He looked like most Washington D.C. staffers that one sees standing or sitting behind their Congressional representatives during hearings or testimony. His description was bland; short cropped brown hair, blue eyes, with an athletic build. Yet, though he would never be described as the life of a party, he drew people to him. He had an infectious smile and always had a complement ready for anyone he met. As most of his friends would describe, he was just someone that you instantly liked and wanted to be around.

Earlier that night Deavers and a group of staffers met at the Boundary Stone for drinks. It had been a long day of hearings in the Armed Services Committee and a few shots of high end whiskey appealed to the young men and women in the group. After three glasses of 16 year old Bushmill’s Deavers looked down at his watch and realized the time. It was just part two in the morning, and unlike the others in the group, Mike had to be back in his office early to help Senator Alan Clayton go over his questions for the second round of committee hearings.  On this day, Army General Hank Dillion, commander of all US forces in Afghanistan would be in the hot seat to explain his request for an additional 3,000 troops for a war most American’s had forgotten about, as well as two previous administrations.

At just past two-thirty on this early July morning, wearing a dark blue linen sports coat over a short sleeve canary yellow button up and a pair of khaki slacks, Mike Deavers walked alone. The Boundary Stone was eight blocks from the Victorian condo that he shared with another staffer, Carrie Milles, in Senator Clayton’s office. Earlier that day he had downloaded a compellation album of classic rock, and was listening to it through his Beats Studio earphones. He was just 26 years old, a graduate from Georgetown, and a quintessential millennial, who, on most occasions, would have ordered an Uber, but tonight he needed the fresh air.

Many in the group would later explain that Mike was acting a bit differently this night. The smile that was usually a permanent fixture on his young face was absent on this night. Though he joined in the conversations taking place around him, most found him hunched over, holding his glass, deep in thought. Carrie Mills, his roommate, was the only one in the group that asked what was wrong. Mike looked at her, smiled, and said, “Just enjoying the most expensive glass of Irish whiskey I have ever had in my life.”

When asked later, some of the staffers would mention Mike’s drink, if fact it was one of the first things they mentioned.  Most Senate staffers made just over $30,000, so it was strange to many in the group that Mike was ordering 16 year old Bushmill’s that cost $26 a glass. His family, compared to most in the small Colorado town of Berthoud, was wealthy. His father owned land that had been in their family for three generation, and with the housing market exploding over the past three years, he supplement his income as a teacher selling parcels to the highest bidders. His mother, ran a day care out of the basement of their home and Mike used to say, “I was an only child except for the 15 other kids in the house.”

Georgetown had always been Deavers’ dream school. When he was seven years old his father took him to a college basketball game between Georgetown and the University from Colorado. Instead of following the home team and a school less than 60 miles from his home, Deavers followed a school across the nation from him. He excelled in school, never playing a sport, but was involved in the debate club and mock trial team during high school. He applied and was accepted to Georgetown and his parents paid his way.

Deavers came to the intersection and could see his condo across the streets. During the early 2000’s Bloomingdale had gone through gentrification, and many of the old 18th and early 19th century Victorian homes had been bought and turned into high end homes for young families and, like Mike Deavers, those working within the bureaucracy of the United States government.

Mike and Carrie had been friends at Georgetown, with her being a year ahead of them. Both had interned in Senator Clayton’s office during their senior years. Carrie, who graduated a year before Mike was hired by Clayton’s office, she was the one who recommended Mike as an intern, and was helpful in him being hired on as a staffer. There was not a sexual relationship between the two. Though they had flirted on occasion as friends, Carrie had been in a long-term relationship with a man she met her freshman year at Georgetown. It was Carrie who offered the extra room in her condo to Mike to help relieve some money pressure so she could save for her upcoming fall wedding.

Bloomingdale, like most of the Washington D.C. suburbs, had its issues with crime, but it was sporadic at best. With more and more small families moving into the area, the police presence had increased, and incidents of robberies and assaults had decreased over the past three year. That is why, as Mike waited for the light to turn so he could cross the street, he paid little attention to the man walking towards him, especially this man. He wore a pair of jogging shorts and a long sleeve athletic pull over and looked as if he were cooling down after a run.

It wasn’t abnormal to see young professionals running at all hours of the night in and around Bloomingdale. Because many living there worked in various government offices, especially the Pentagon, and worked odd hours, it was normal to see someone on the street getting in a quick run before heading off to work.

A Mike waited for the light; he reached into his coat pocket, pulled out his phone, and switched the song. He turned and looked at the man, who had stopped and was stretching. The light giving him permission to cross turned, and Mike put his phone back in his pocket and started to make his way across the street. As the opening chorus of Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away” was starting, Mike stepped on to the curb. Just as he turned right to walk forty more feet to the entrance of his condo he felt someone behind him.

The jogging man saw Mike begin to cross the street, and straightened up. He began to slowly jog, and as Mike was about to step on to the curb his pace quickened. He reached into the pocket of his athletic shirt, pulled out a small automatic pistol equipped with a silencer. Just as Mike turned to make his way to his condo, the man reached out his right hand, had the muzzle of his silencer inches from the back of Mike’s head, and pulled the trigger. Blood sprayed on the bushes and across the sidewalk as Mike body dropped face first. The muffled noise of the two more shots the man put into Mike’s back echoed in the darkness.

The man quickly put the gun in his pocket and, making sure to avoid the streetlights, jogged into the darkness of the night as “Drift Away” could still be heard coming from the headphones next to Mike Deavers dead body.

 

It was just past six as Janet Carsis stepped out into the humid Georgetown humid evening. She was a small petite young woman with light brown hair pulled back into a pony tail with tortoise shell glasses hanging off the end of her nose. Though she had lived and worked in Washington D.C. for two years, she still could not get used to the summer heat and humidity. She was from Phoenix, Arizona where the heat could cook an egg on the sidewalk in July, but the air was dry, and, standing on her porch, she missed it more than ever on this night.

Two years ago, she had made the largest commitment of her life. She had just completed her Bachelor’s degree in English from Arizona State with honors and found herself questioning the rest of her life. When she entered Arizona State she knew she wanted to teach, but a different life seemed to be calling to her. She had grown-up in a Catholic home and was never absent from the pews of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church during college. Unlike most of her friends who took full advantage of the freedom college afforded them, including parties and men, Janet remained devoted to her faith and her studies. So, upon graduation, she told her parents, Lonny and Marie Crasis, she was going to join the convent.

She joined Our Lady of Solitude Monestary and committed herself to her new life. During her time of testing, known as the postulancy, Janet, now going by Sister Mary, used her English degree to teach English to local Mexican immigrant mothers. Her dedication caught the attention of the Nuns, and once she received her habit, she was encouraged to participate in a program that would allow her to teach in Catholic Schools.  She had taken her temporary vows and was offered an opportunity to leave Arizona and teach at St. Francis of the Mount Girls Prepratory School in Georgetown.

Though she enjoyed teaching in Arizona, Washington D.C. appealed to her. When she was younger, her parents had taken her and her younger sister on a road trip to the city and she was amazed by the grandur of the monuments and city. Besides that, St. Francis of the Mount allowed her to fulfill the dream she had when she entered college to teach at the high school level.

Though St. Francis of the Mount was a Catholic school, the teaching staff was a mix between nuns and civilians. Upon arrival, Sister Mary found herself teaching Medieval Literature and, because she had played soccer in high school, she was made the assistant coach of the soccer team. Her students immediately feel in love with her. She was closer to her age than most of the Sisters who taught classes, and because she joined the convent later in life, she had life experiences that she could share with the girls. She became one of the most popular teachers at the school and it showed when she started an afterschool poetry club and over thirty girls arrived for the first meeting. The number only grew as her first year went along.

Her only discomfort with St. Francis came in the form of the Dean, Father Craig O’Neil. He was in his early fifties, balding, yet lifted weights every morning in the school’s gym to keep a muscular build. He walked though the school with a riding crop for no other purpose than to carry it and slap it on his thigh which echoed through the halls letting students know he was ever present.

He was a stern man who wasted no time in handing out punishment for even the smallest infractions. Most punishments came in the form of sitting in his office writing out the sins that led a student on to his radar. The worst punishment came in the form of expulsion. St. Francis was considered one of the most elite schools for young women and expulsion usually meant the student finding themselves in one of the local public schools. And because Father O’Neil held the power to remove girls from the school, he was a man the girls feared. At least that is what Sister Mary believed.

Many of the girls confided in her their fear of Father O’Neil, and considering his demeanor and penchant for rules, Sister Mary believed that is what generated the fear. That was until she befriend a Junior, Lisa Bowen.

Lisa had grown up in a strict Catholic home. Her father, who was a ground keeper for the Capital Building, made sure his family, especially his two daughters, were in church every Sunday. Lisa was an excellent student and it was no surprise to her mother and father when her application to St. Francis had been accepted. Through her Freshman and the first semester of her sophomore year, Lisa excelled in school. She was a straight “A” student, made the varsity soccer team, and also participated in student government. Things changed though after the first semester of her sophomore year.

Her friend Cathy Brands, who was more rebellious than most girls, talked her into skipping class. The two went out past the soccer field to small grove of trees where a drainage ditch flowed passed. Cathy pulled out a pack of cigarettes. Lisa remained strong, but succumbed to peer pressure and decided to try one. She was in the midst of taking her first and only drag when she saw the look of shock on Cathy’s face and a felt a strong hand on her shoulder. She turned around with the cigarette hanging from her lip and before he stood Father O’Neil. Because Cathy had seen him approaching she had tossed her cigarette in the ditch and dropped the pack on the ground at Lisa’s feet. Cathy was told to go to class and Lisa followed Father O’Neil to his office.

In most schools, being caught skipping and smoking on school ground would lead to detention, or a worst, suspension. Not in Father O’Neil’s St. Francis though. From the moment they entered his office the word “expulsion” dripped off Father O’Neil’s thin lips. Lisa broke down in tears. She had worked so hard to be accept into St. Francis and knew her father’s wrath would be severe. She begged Father O’Neil to give her another chance. Father O’Neil sat down in his desk, looked her up and down, and then opened the top drawer, pulled out a sheet of paper and pen, and pushed it across his desk. Lisa would not be expelled, her punishment would be a weekly meeting in his office to write her sins.

Soon Lisa’s grade began to drop, as did her involvement in school. She quit student government, and though she continued to play soccer her sophomore year, she informed the had coach she would not return her junior year.

It was during her junior year when Sister Mary arrived. Lisa joined her after school poetry club and knew her only as the young girl who sat in the back of the room and did not seem to have many friends at the school. Lisa was hard to approach at first. She was always the last on in the room when the club started and the first one out when the meetings were over. The club consisted of a topic for the day and the students writing about the topic and sharing their poems with the class. Even though Sister Mary saw Lisa writing, she never shared her poems. Finally, Sister Mary, more curious about Lisa’s writing than what the other students had written, required the girls to turn in their poems. The topic was friendship and the poem caught Sister Mary off guard.

Considering the topic was friendship, Lisa’s poem was dark and sad. In it she spoke of how she had once had so many friends and shared so many happy moments with them. Now her life was in chaos, her friendships were gone, and she felt as though she were spiraling down into darkness.

Sister Mary spent the night re-reading Lisa’s poem trying to think of a way to connect with the young  girl. At first she wanted to talk to her about the poem and the chaos in her life, but she was afraid that pressing her would cause her to retreat and stop attending the club. So, instead, she decided that she would make it a point to talk to her. And that is what she did. Every day, during the meetings, Sister Mary found a way of talking to her. It might be by mentioning how nice she looked or how well her penmanship was. After a while, it seemed that the wall Lisa had built around herself seemed to come down little by little. She began sharing some of her poems and before long she would stay after the meeting helping Sister Mary clean up.

Two weeks before the school year ended, Sister Mary was walking to the teacher’s lounge between classes and heard an announcement over the schools public address system for Lisa to report to Father O’Neil’s office. Lisa had told Sister Mary about the smoking incident the year before and that she had weekly meetings with Father O’Neil to write out her sins as punishment; and she assumed this was one of those meetings.

About a half hour had passed and Sister Mary was making her way back to her classroom when she saw Lisa walking towards her with tears streaming out of her face. Concerned, Sister Mary quickly ran over and wrapped her arms around her asking if everything was ok? Over Lisa’s shoulder saw Father O’Neil standing in the hall with his riding crop slapping his thigh. Before Lisa could say word, the class bell rang and Father O’Neil sternly informed both Lisa and Sister Mary to get to their classes.

Through her last class of the day, Sister Mary could not help but think of Lisa. Part of her wanted to leave her class to make sure she was ok, but strict rules prohibited teachers from leaving students unattended. She would wait until poetry club to speak to Lisa, but Lisa did not come to the meeting. Concerned, Sister Mary walked the halls trying to find Lisa and was informed by her last hour physics teacher that she had left her class not feeling well and went home.

After the poetry club ended, Sister Mary drove home. She shared a two bedroom apartment with a fellow nun, Sister Alice. Both were part of a pilot program where nuns were asked to live in the neighborhood where they taught. The idea behind it was that by living in the neighborhood they would have a better idea of where many of the students came from. By doing so, it would help them to build relationships with the girls and a level of trust. Seeing a nun walking through the halls in their habits could be intimidating for many of the girls, but seeing them in the same neighborhood would make them more approachable both in and outside of school.

As Sister Mary was getting out of her car, she saw Lisa walking towards her. Before she could say a word, Lisa again broke down in tears. Holding her tightly, Sister Mary listened as Lisa told her about the chaos on in life and why she, and other girls feared Father O’Neil. In shock, Sister Mary could feel her muscles tightening and anger taking over her emotions.

 

As Janet Carsis was no longer Sister Mary. Her faith had been tested and she walked away from her calling. She was still living in Georgetown, sharing an apartment with Sister Alice, but was planning to move back to Arizona before the end of July. Over the past three weeks her life had taken so many different turns and all she wanted to do was go back home and find solitude with her family, especially her little sister, who was getting married in September.

It was the announcement of her sister’s engagement that Janet Carsis found herself driving through the streets of Georgetown on this night. She was on her way to a jewelry store ten miles from her apartment. Two days ago she had purchased a bracelet as a gift for her sisters to celebrate her engagement, and has received a call from the jeweler letting her know the engraving was finished.

She opened the box and smiled with delight at the work the jeweler had done. It was a sterling silver bracelet and inside was engraved, “Happiness Is The Joy You Bring To Others.” She thanked the old man behind the counter, and walked out to her car. The sun was starting to set in the West, and Janet decided instead of going home to cook a meal, she would drive to the supermarket and pick up something quick to eat. As she walked through the Safeway, five miles from her apartment, she felt as though she were being watched. The hair on the back of her neck stood up as the man waiting in line at the next cash register looked like the man she had seen driving behind her, and was definatley the man who was staring at her in the produce aisle.

She paid for the pre-made salad she had decided would be her dinner and wanted to leave the store before the man was finished purchasing his groceries. He made her feel uncomfortable by the way he would quickly turn away when she looked up at him. It wasn’t the way he looked. Though he was wearing a pair of worn jeans and a faded bomber jacket, he was clean cut with short cropped brown hair and glasses that made him look studious.

It was now dark outside and Janet regretted parking so far way from the front of the store. Her and Sister Alice had both purchased devices that track the steps a person takes in a day. They were in competition with each other to see who could get the most, and in doing do, Janet tended to park further away so that she could get in her steps. Now though, with it being dark out, and having parked so far away, her car was just visible under the store’s parking lot lights.

She had her keys ready, and just as she put the key into the slot of the driver’s side door, a crashing blow to the left side of her head sent her to the ground. Her vision was blurred and could barely make out the figure standing above her. And then darkness enveloped her.

She wasn’t sure what it was, but some sort of bump woke her up. A stabbing pain echoed though her head as she opened her eyes only to find herself in darkness.  Her whole head felt damp and she could taste blood and she licked her lips. She tried to move, but both her hands and feel were tied together. Another bump and she realized that she was in the trunk of a car, and by the sound, they whoever was driving was taking her down a gravel road. She started to scream and pound the metal above her with her hands and kick the side with her feet. Suddenly the car came to a jarring stop. She slid forward and her head hit something hard. The car started to move again. She began pounding once more, and again the driver slammed on the brakes, but Janet braced herself and did not slide forward this time or the other two times the driver repeated the maneuver.

The car stopped. Janet could hear voices, both male, coming from the front of the car. Fear gripped her as she her two car doors open and footsteps in the gravel moving towards the back of the car and the trunk. Her defenses took hold of her as she began to debate what she would do when the trunk opened. Whoever it was obviously had bad intentions. Why else would they have hit her? Why else would they have tied her and put her in the trunk of a car? She tried to maneuver her body so that she was on her back and her feet facing towards the latch. She hoped to kick whoever opened the trunk, and with any luck, disorient him enough so she could jump out and either escape or scream and get someone’s attention. The only problem was that the space was too tight. Finally, she decided her only chance was to talk to these men and hope that whatever their plans were, this part was the worst of it.

She heard the key enter the lock of the trunk, and suddenly it flipped open. The bright light of a flash light dazed her for a second. Janet brought her tied hands to her face and wiped her eyes, as she brought them down she realized the dampness she felt had been her blood. She looked up and saw the bispectaled man from Safeway staring back at her. Just as she was about to speak the man stepped back, raised his hand, and fired two shots into the trunk. The first two slammed into Janet’s chest and immediately she felt the air leaving her lungs. She coughed, and blood spurt from her mouth. The man, slowly raised the gun a little higher, and with the barrel pointing at Janet’s face, pulled the trigger.

Chapter 2

 

Senator Alan Clayton still had a hard time seeing the image that stared back at him in the mirror. It was exactly twenty-one years ago when he first looked in the mirror outside the Oval office. Then he was one of the youngest to have been elected to the United States Senate. In fact he was the sixth youngest, entering office just two months after turning thirty. It was an inside joke between him and Senator Joe Biden, who had entered office six weeks after turning thirty.

It had been his only liability when he ran for the Michigan open seat. He graduated from the Naval Academy 10th in his class and quickly made a name for himself as a hard charging Marine Corps officer. During Operation Desert Shield, Clayton, achieving the rank of 1st Lieutenant,  was attached to Alpha company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, which was one of the first companies that crossed the Saudi/Kuwait Border. He considered making the military a career, but civilian life was calling him back home.

He had grown up in a devotedly Republican household, but after the Gulf War, he became dissolutioned with the party. The break came with the recession of 1992. He saw the hardships of those living in his state and believed the government could to better to help those in need. So it was that when Bill Clinton ran, Clayton worked in Clinton’s Detroit campaign office. His work caught the attention of then mayor, Coleman Young, and was hired on as a staffer. When Young announced to the staff that he would not seek reelection because of health issues, Clayton offered his services to the election campaign of Dennis Archer. Upon election, Archer made Clayton the head of his communications team.

In 1996, just before his 30th birthday, Clayton decided to take a chance and put his name in for Michigan’s open Senate seat. It was his service in the military and his father’s long years of working in Michigan’s steel mills that helped him gain enough support for the state Democratic party that led him to win the primary in a near landslide. His youth was the only thing his Republican, Norm Howard, could attack him on. Unlike Howard, who avoided the Vietnam era draft with a college deferment, Clayton served with distinction in what had been, up to that date, as America’s military resurgence on the globe. In the end he won the seat with 54% of the vote.

It had been a long twenty-one years, but Clayton had become one of the most respected members of the Senate. He was known by many in Washington D.C. who did not let his party affiliation stand in this way of doing what was right for the country, often times siding with Republicans on legislation he believed would benefit the people of the nation. It was why, even though the Republican’s currently controlled the Senate, the Senate Majority Leader looked past Clayton’s party affiliation and made him the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Outside of the Capital he and his wife, Mary Claire, were actively involved in various charities, especially those involving children. Mary Claire learned early in their marriage that she could not bare children, so the couple devoted their lives to helping the children they could never have. And even though polls showed national disitisfication with Congress, Senator Alan Clayton’s number rarely if ever in his twenty-one years in the Senate dipped below 60%. It was because of this, that Clayton wielded a certain power that few members of Congress attain. He was a Senator the media clamored to interview, and a Senator few in Washington D.C. refused to listen to when he spoke, including the three presidents who resided in the Oval office over his years in the Senate.

Now, the man staring back at him looked older. His blonde hair, which first made Mary Claire notice him at a Democratic fundraiser nineteen years ago, was white. And though the sparkle many commented on was still there in his ice blue eyes, the wrinkles at times hid it. He seemed to have aged beyond most men his age; which he blamed on the stress of the office he held and the many challenges the nation had faced over the past two decades. And though he was one of the first ones in the Capital gym in the morning, the bones creaked and the joints didn’t move as they once did.

“Senator Clayton,” a female voice said. He turned and smiled at Harriet Monk, President Downs’ White House Chief of Staff. “The president will see you now.”

Alan Clayton fixed his tie, buttoned the top button of his grey suit, and thanked the secretary as he stepped into the Oval Office.

President Charles Downs was no different than his predessors when it came to putting his personal touch on the Oval office. Being from Arizona, he had a desert and Native American motif surrounding him. Clayton personally hated it. Not because he found everything about it cliché, but he liked the reserved modern atmosphere of the previous president, and this reminded him of the the previous Republican’s Texas style and look.

Charles Emory Down’s was an unlikely president. He joined the US Senate two years prior to Clayton during a special election, when the Senator he replaced was tapped by the president elect to be his Sec. of Treasury. At first Clayton could not stand Downs when he first met him. It wasn’t because Downs was a right wing Christian conservative. He could accept that. What he considered laughable about Downs was that he looked like a caricature of what Clayton expected from a Texan. His ill fitting suits, the bolo tie, the large white Stetson that adorned his head even during sit down press interviews, and of course the charcoal and white cowboy boots.

However, he found commonality with Downs. The father of four, like Clayton, Downs was considered about the well being of children; though he approached it from a Christian stance. During their first meeting and casual conversation Clayton mentioned that he was going to be attending a charity ball to raise money for a half way house for abused women. Downs asked to join, wrote a personal check for $5,000 at the end of the night, and the two found a common cause.

Though they drastically differed on many issues over the years, the two worked together to help push legislation where common ground could be found. Before long the other members of the Senate knew if they wanted to get Downs on board with a piece of legislation they could go through Clayton and visa-versa. The friendship was strained however when Downs announced his intention to run for president three years ago. It wasn’t that fact that he was running that strained the friendship, in fact, Downs had been hinting at the idea when the Democrat had been re-elected four years prior.

What caused friction were Downs’ attacks on the Democrat’s first female party nominee and a close friend of Clayton’s. At first the attacks were solely based on policy, but at the polls tightened the last two months of the general election, Downs’ campaign made it more personal. What finally did it for Clayton was when a PAC supporting Downs aired a series of commercials calling into question the character of the Democratic nominee by pointing to her daughter’s long history of drug and alcohol abuse, starting when she was in high school. In a fit of rage, her daughter had written a book where she attacked her mother, who she felt put her own personal approval ratings before her daughter. Though she would apologize and recant much of what was written years later, the PAC used the book and clips from interviews he daughter had done to promote the book against her. Clayton personally called on Downs to condemn the attacks, and though he did, Clayton felt it shouldn’t have taken a phone call from a former friend and ally to do so.

Though the tension remained, Clayton remained the Senator, by-passing the Minority Leader, whom Downs turned to when he needed support for legislation. It didn’t always come. Downs’ abrasive tone towards the Democrats in Congress had alienated him from most, and Clayton was no different. He always knew Downs was a Christian Conservative, but Downs’ closeness with the evangelical church, especially its far right wing branches, created undone stress especially among homosexuals and abortion advocates in the nation. Clayton was never one to throw his full support behind those two groups and their agendas, but he felt the president’s rhetoric was more hurtful than constructive.

Since becoming president, Downs had nixed the bolo and adopted a more traditional tie, though it he always wore of varying colors of red. The one thing that struck Clayton, as most people, when he first met Charles Downs was how much of an imposing figure he was. He stood 6’4”, was a wall of a man with broad shoulders and the chest of an NFL middle linebacker, and his salt and pepper hair gave off a tone of maturity and sophistication. His Texas drawl could be smoothing while at the same time intimidating depending on the situation.

“Alan,” President Downs said, then crossed the room and grasp Clayton’s hand while at the same time patting him on the shoulder.

“Mr. President,” Clayton said as he gently put space between himself and the president.

“Come now,” Downs said still gripping Clayton’s hand, “Charles is fine.”

“In deference to the office, I feel it’s right to keep this formal.”

“I can appreciate that,” Downs said finally letting go of Clayton’s hand. “Have a seat,” he said gesturing to the couch in the middle of the room. “Drink?”

“Yes, sir,” Clayton said as he eased into the couch. He paid no attention while Downs worked behind him at a roll away bar that Downs would have on hand during personal meetings.

President Downs walked over with two glasses, handed one to Clayton, and sat down in a cushioned seat across from him. “I hope you’re still a bourbon man.”

“I am,” Clayton said as rotated the glass in his hand.

“Well, you’ll appreciate this,” Downs said and leaned back in his seat. “I was down in Kentucky for the Derby last year and some rich sumabitch gave me a bottle of this. Swore it was the best damn bottle of bourbon ever distilled.”

Clayton took a sip. He couldn’t argue with whoever the man was, it was one of the smoothest drink of bourbon he had ever taken. “It’s very good.”

“Well, if it has the approval of Senator Alan Clayton, then it must be,” Downs said and took a sip of his own drink. “How is Mary Claire? I heard she was on her way to Zimbabwe?”

“Malawi,” Clayton correct the president. “She’s going a part of a human rights group to bring attention to sexual violence there.”

Downs smiled, “I swear, if Mary Claire would convert, the Catholic Church would have to Saint her.”

Clayton could not help but laugh at the thought of his wife converting to Catholicism or any church for that matter. “Well, thank you.” Clayton adjusted himself and crossed his legs. “With all do respect Mr. President, I’m sure you did ask me here to discuss bourbon and my wife.”

Clayton could tell by the expression on the President’s face that he was somewhat taken aback by the abruptness in his tone. “Well, ok then,” the president said and bent forward to place his glass on the coffee table that separated the two. He leaned back and loosened his tie. “You have General Hank Dillion before the Armed Services Committee this afternoon?”

“I do,” Clayton said after finishing his bourbon. He wasn’t surprised that this was the reason the President had requested this meeting. Since the Secretary of Defense, Paul LaMont, had announced his intention to request additional troops, the President had been hinting at his personal approval of the idea though he boxed himself into a corner by announcing publicly he would waited to hear the Armed Services Committee’s recommendation.

“Well, word around the water cooler is that you plan on going on the attack,” Down said and leaned forward. “That you are going to piss all over the idea?”

Clayton could feel in the tension in the room building. He looked down at his empty glass and wished it were full. He could use a little liquid encouragement at this moment. “I think that is an overstatement of the facts.”

“Then you approve of the increase?” Downs asked with a grin.

“No, I don’t,” Clayton blurted out.

There was an uncomfortable silence in the room as the President stared at Clayton. He stood up and began to pace. “Well, damn it Clayton, that is where I am confused.” The President walked to the Resolute desk and leaned against it. “I recall you being in the room with the Sectary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs, and Congressional leadership and I could have swore you expressed support for the increase.”

And here it was, the moment that he was expecting. He knew, from the moment his secretary had told him that the President had requested a meeting with him that he would sooner or later attempt to box him in a corner. For the past twenty-four hours he had been asking himself how he would react and if today was the day to put all of his cards on the table. He twirled the ice cube in his glass and then set it down on the table. “With all do…”

“Oh cut the ‘With all do” horseshit and spit it out,” Downs said as he gripped the edge of the desk.

“Fine,” Clayton said and took a deep breath. “I’m not going to give you this one.”

“What in the hell is that supposed to mean?” Downs said then pushed off his desk. “You aren’t giving me a damn thing. You are giving General Dillion what he needs to execute the mission.”

“I don’t see it that way,” Clayton said hoping that he had set the right trap.

“How in the hell do you see it?” The President had walked into the snare.

Alan Clayton stood up and was determined to stand his ground. “I’m not giving you this hammer to use for your re-election bid. You have done jack shit about Afghanistan for the past three years. You haven’t mentioned this war except when you’re addressing the academies or our troops. For the past three years the Pentagon has been hinting at a troop increase and every goddamn time it’s about to drop, suddenly the Secretary of Defense balks. I know damn well, as chairman of the Armed Services Committee he’s done so because you’ve pressured him to demure. So let’s not pretend that this is suddenly a national emergency when we both know this is a quiver in your re-election campaign.”

It came as a surprise to Clayton when the President didn’t lash back. Instead a large smile appeared on his face. He crossed his arms, lowered his head, and started laughing. “I get it now,” Downs said and looked up. “This has nothing to do with me, but everything to do with you.” Downs slowly walked around the Resolute desk and sat down in his seat. “I’ve been wondering who would be the first Democrat to announce their intention to challenge me next year. Here he stands before me, a Judas.”

“Excuse me?” Clayton said. He could feel the blood pressure rising and took a deep breath to calm himself.

“You and I both know the Republican’s are going to lose the Senate this election,” Downs said learning forward in his seat. “I also know damn well that the minority leader is retiring which puts you and Senator Hassleman in the running for the Leadership position. That’s not what you want though…no, it’s this seat that you want” Downs said and slapped the arm rests of his chair. “Well, let me ask you something Alan,” the President said with a smirk, “If this troop increase is my hammer, isn’t your move against it the nail?”

Clayton smiled, “Mr. President, I will put my years of service to this nation and my support for our military up against yours any day of the week,” Clayton said moving closer to the door.

“You think for one second that you walking into the committee today and attacking a distinguished general requesting more troops to support our men and women in midst of combat is going to win you the support of our military? In what world do you and the Democrats live in?”

“The one that knows that the original request was for 10,000 troops and you paired it down to 3,000 because you were afraid of the numbers and what it would do to your polls,” Clayton said and smiled. “And when I bring this up today and force General Dillion to testify to that, my next line of questioning will be about how 10,000 more troops would be more effective to the outcome compared to the 3,000 the President forced him, the Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs to accept. He will either balk or talk, but either way, considering all the networks will be covering the hearing today, the message will be loud and clear as to who supports our efforts and our young men and women fighting a war you’ve done a hella of trying to ignore.”

Clayton could see that the color in the President’s face was gone. He had fired a salvo at Downs and he had hit everyone of his targets. For the past three years one of the biggest criticisms of President Downs’ was his weakness on foreign policy and today Senator Alan Clayton was going to expose that to the nation. Whatever hopes that Downs had and a close but ultimately successful reelection bid were fading right before him.

“You play this card, Alan, you had better be prepared for an all out fight,” Downs said. He turned in his seat and looked out the window. “If you somehow win the Democratic nomination, I promise every piece of dirt I have on you will be thrown until I find something that sticks. And once I do, I will shove so far up your ass until the smell of your breath will make you gag.”

“You should have known this day was coming,” Clayton said as he stepped to the door. “I warned you that allowing that PAC to use Lynn Keller’s daughter against her would be your downfall.”

“Get out,” Downs said without looking at his old friend.

 

Senator Alan Clayton sat in the back of his Lincoln Town Car as the driver maneuvered his way out of the White House grounds and onto Pennsylvania Avenue. He poured reached into his coat pocket, pulled out the flask he had received from his troops upon their return to the states after the Gulf War, and took a long drink. From the moment he learned of the Pentagon’s intentions to ask for a troop increase he had been planning this moment. For days and weeks he had been mentally playing out how it would go and surprisingly it had gone exactly had he had expected. He was sure, when the request for 3,000 troops came filtering out that the number made no sense. Considering the objectives laid out by General Dillion when he was named overall command of allied forces in Afghanistan, the numbers didn’t meet the objectives. Using his sources, Clayton learned he was correct. In fact the number had originally been a massive troop surge of 20,000, but it was Dillion himself who quashed those numbers out of concern that pushing that number might mean he wouldn’t get any. The 10,000 number was workable, especially after Great Britain and Germany had promised to increase their presence by 2,000 respectfully. With the fall coming the allies could make a huge push in key areas, hold the enemy to respectably small areas though the winter, and then make a final push in the Spring. The 3,000 would never accomplish those goals, at least in the way Dillion had presented them.

Clayton picked up the car phone and quickly dialed number. The female of his secretary, Alice Verdon, quickly picked up the other end. “How goes everything?”

“I confirmed with Senator Hassleman’s secretary that General Dillion accepted his breakfast invitation.”

“Ok,” Clayton said and looked at his watch. “Make sure my questions are ready.”

“Printed and bound as you asked,” Alice said cheerfully.

“You’re a sweetheart,” Clayton said then ended the call. He quickly dialed another set of number. A man voice answered. “Are they still together?”

Kevin De La Rosa, sitting at the bar of restaurant looked across the room and saw Senator Hassleman and General Dillion talking over drinks. “Yes, Senator Clayton.”

“No phones?”

Kevin looked down at the two phones in front of him, “The general wasn’t too happy about the idea, but he agreed that a break from them would be a, and I quote, ‘a welcomed break,’” De La Rosa said while making air quotes with his fingers.

“Great,” Clayton said then looked at his watch. “It’s three more hours until the hearings begin. Try to get them to delay as long as possible. I know Downs will get speak to him before the hearings, but the less time he has to prepare the better it will be.”

“I’ll do my best.”

Senator Clayton leaned back in his seat and took about long drink from his flask. Everything seemed to be coming together perfectly.

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