KingMidget's Ramblings

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Say Their Names

Xavier Lopez

Uziyah Garcia

Eva Mireles

Nevaeh Bravo

Irma Garcia

Amerie Garza

Maite Yuleana Rodriguez

Makenna Lee Elrod

Ellie Garcia

Tess Mata

Annabelle Guadalupe Rodriguez

Rogelio Torres

Althia Ramirez

Jayce Carmeloe Luevanos

Jailah Nicole Silguero

Miranda Mathis

Eliahana Cruz Torres

Jose Flores

Alexandra Aniyah Rubio

Jackie Cuzares

And one who remains un-named at this time.

Hearts bleed

Mothers moan

Tears shed

Fathers groan

An age of hope and joy

Thoughts and Prayers

Will not stop bullets

Republicans putting on airs

I wanted to write a better poem, but that’s all I could come up with. It’s nothing close to what I wanted because I’m at a loss. All I know is this — that if Democrats were as serious about this issue as they claim, they would put forward legislation in every state house and in Congress every single day. Legislation for universal background checks. Legislation banning anybody under the age of 21 being able to purchase or own a gun. Legislation ensuring that we do more to keep the mentally ill from possessing guns. Legislation to ban assault rifles and ghost guns throughout the country. Legislation designed to roll back the scourge of guns in this country. If Democrats were as serious about this issue as they claim, they would do everything possible to roll back the decades long effort by the NRA and the right-wing to warp the meaning of the 2nd amendment. If Democrats were serious … every single day, they would demand that the GOP and its enablers state clearly what side they stand on.

In no other civilized country in the world does this problem exist as it does in this country. It’s because we are being terrorized by the tyranny of the minority. Right-wingers have figured out how to use every tool in the tool box to ensure they have more power than their numbers support. Filibustering, gerrymandering, cold hard cash, the use of fear rather than solutions, and much more. They are using these things to protect their power at all costs. It will only end when the rest of this country wakes up and puts an end to their tyranny. It will only end when we all get loud and shout them down. It will only end when we demand that our “leaders” finally stop talking and start doing. Every damn day. Every single day. We must fight and win.

Otherwise, our children will continue to die. Our churchgoers will continue to perish. People in restaurants and grocery stories and bars and parks and everywhere that we go for peace and escape will be shot and killed because of the senseless gun culture that has taken root here in a way that exists in no other civilized, developed country. We should all be done with this dynamic.

Fight.

Every damn day.

Fight.

As though you are in that room and facing a mad person with a gun.

Fight.

Your life depends on it.

Fight.

The lives of your loved ones depend on it.

Fight.

Fight.

Fight.

Courtesy of David Tomaseti via unsplash.com

Steve Kerr

Steve Kerr, who played with Michael Jordan and who has coached the Golden State Warriors since 2015, is also the son of Malcolm Kerr.

Back in the day, Malcolm Kerr was President of American University in Beirut, Lebanon. During what feels like an interminable season of violence in that country, he was kidnapped and killed.

Steve Kerr knows the tragedy of violence and guns. For years now, he has been a passionate voice on the issues of guns and mass shootings in this country.

Just watch … and listen … and do something!

Clearing My Head

Herewith, a few things I want to say (and a great example of why the word “ramblings” is in the title of this blog…

First up, Tim Anderson and Josh Donaldson. Anderson plays for the Chicago White Sox. Donaldson plays for the New York Yankees. More importantly for this moment is that Anderson is black and Donaldson is white. During a game over the weekend, as they crossed paths in the infield, Donaldson referred to Anderson as Jackie, apparently as a reference to Jackie Robinson, one of the most revered athletes in American sports.

After the game, Anderson, his manager (Tony LaRussa), and other personnel with the White Sox accused Donaldson of making a racist statement by calling Anderson Jackie. Donaldson claimed he meant nothing derogatory by it, and that he had joked with Anderson in similar fashion in the past. Why? Because in a 2019 interview, Anderson apparently claimed that he was “today’s Jackie Robinson.”

Here’s my question … how can it be considered racist to refer to a modern day ballplayer by the name of one of the most revered athletes in the American sports canon? Seriously. Every team has retired Jackie Robinson’s number so no player will ever use it again. Every year, all teams celebrate Jackie Robinson day with this year’s celebration coinciding with the 75th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball.

I’d get the outrage if Donaldson called Anderson an Uncle Tom or Aunt Jemima or a pickaninny or a nappyheaded loser or a slave of the system. Or a whole lot of things, but this … somebody help me out here.

And, oh by the way, Donaldson was suspended by MLB a game for what he said.

Second, I got around to watching the final episode of This Is Us last night. (I know, I know, there’s one episode left, but that appears to be a “greatest moments” type of episode. Last week’s episode was the real last episode of the series.)

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with this show. The first season was an absolutely gorgeous experience, the closest thing to perfection I think a TV series can be. As the seasons rolled by, I felt like the writers and creative minds behind the show were trying to hard to squeeze as much drama and tears as they could. And then this final season of the show, about half way through, became nothing more than a slog to the end, with each episode used to close up story lines, to wrap things up, and they did everything they could to tie each of those story lines up with tidy, neat little bows. Not exactly how I would have ended the thing.

Anyway, as I watched the final episode last night, there were a few moments when my eyes teared up a bit. I wondered why and figured it out relatively quickly. The show is nothing if it’s not about connections that are made and are there no matter what. Family, friends, people never even met, people no longer there. But the connections remain and they draw you in. This final episode was a wonderful reminder of how important those connections are. How vital they are to our human condition.

Third, a little update on what I’ve been doing on the creative side. I finished a novella a couple of weeks ago. It’s a 45,000 word domestic thriller. If you’d like to take a listen to the opening of the story, you can search for my podcast Slice of Life Stories on Spotify, Apple, iTunes, and other podcast platforms. The Spotify link can also be found here. The story is with a couple of beta readers at the moment, but once I hear back from them, I hope to have this story out by the end of June. It needs a cover. It needs a real title. And once it gets those things, I’m pushing public. This was as fun, quick story to write and I hope readers enjoy it.

I’ve also started painting again. Last year, I had an objective of getting a website up where I could start selling some of my “functional art.” Coasters, spoon rests, vases, trivets, trays, clocks, and a few other assorted things. Along with less functional painting experiments on canvas. At some point, I’d also add photography to the website.

Well, plans don’t always come to fruition. I’m hoping to focus on that in the next couple of months and at least get the website up and out there while I populate it with products. We’ll see if it happens this year.

Finally, I’m moving on to another writing project that I describe as the most challenging I’ll ever take on. It’s a personal story that is about a member of my family who is no longer with us. It will be creative non-fiction, trying to tell this person’s story with the facts I have and filling in the rest with details that are as accurate and true to her as possible. We’ll see if that happens this year. 😉

Fourth, serial killers in fiction. Are there any that aren’t filled with cliches and tropes. Last weekend, I went to a local book and music fair. I bought a handful of books from the writers who were there. I started reading one of them last night. It’s about a serial killer and guess what? Within the first two pages, we learn that he has mommy issues. Why? Why can’t he have daddy issues? Why can’t he have big brother issues? Or little sister issues? Or, here’s an idea — no issues at all, just a cold-blooded, ruthless killer who likes to kill people? Nope, can’t have that. Mommy issues, because apparently that is the only thing that drives people to become serial killers. Jeez. Anybody out there aware of good serial killer fiction that doesn’t involve mommy issues.

Fifth, and finally … guns. That’s it. Nothing more to say because it doesn’t matter. Nothing I say will change this frozen, numbed state that we are in. So … guns. Fuckin’ guns.

Books I’ve Been Reading

In December 2018, I made my first trip to Europe. We visited Berlin, Prague and Vienna. It was a great trip, and it was a horrible trip. As we arrived at our second stop (Prague) I got sick. So sick that I hardly did anything the rest of the trip. I personally believe I am patient zero in the COVID pandemic, even if that was almost a year before the virus really showed up. (Let me have this moment of glory, please.)

Anyway, Berlin was our first stop and the first place we went the day after we arrived was the Stasi museum in Berlin. The museum is located on the former grounds of the Stasi in what was once East Berlin, behind the Wall. It was a fascinating place with incredible stories about what the Stasi, the East German secret police, did to control the population of East Germany during the communist era.

Fast forward to now and my history teacher friend in Oregon who reads more voraciously than anybody I know, recommended Stasiland by Anna Funder. Funder tracked down people who had lived in East Germany under the domination of the Stasi, and also talked with people who had worked for the Stasi. It’s an incredibly good read. It’s amazing what the Stasi did to control the population. Tens of thousands of employees and hundreds of thousands of informers who reported on the actions of every day citizens, to the point where nobody could trust anybody else in the country.

The Stasi also … created a dance, the Lipsi, as a counter to the dances of the West at a time when Elvis was roaring through the world. The dance was described as a sexless dance. In the book, Funder describes trying to figure out what was so odd about it until she finally figured out that there was no hip action in the dance. So, there you go. Another thing the Stasi did was telecast a show every week for decades that attempted to mock western TV shows. There was no Western thing that was too small for the Stasi to attempt to counteract.

I told my friend that I wonder if anybody has ever done a study to figure out what lasting damage was done to the East Germans, who first lived under Hitler and then lived under the East German communist government and the Stasi for decades more. It’s one of those things that creates an image in my head of circumstances I don’t see how humans can survive and remain human.

Next up is Aloha Rodeo by David Wolman and Julian Smith. Aloha Rodeo focuses on the 1908 Cheyenne Frontier Days — a three day rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyoming, that had become the grandest spectacle of its kind at that time. What made 1908 special was that three paniolo from Hawaii showed up to compete in the steer roping event.

Aloha Rodeo is a perfect example of the type of history book I enjoy reading. There’s a back story that gets into the history of Hawaii, how cattle showed up there and how they became an integral part of the society and culture there, with paniolo (the Hawaiian term comparable to cowboy) perfecting the art of wrangling steer just like the American cowboys were doing in the West, only they were doing it years and decades before it started in the continential United States.

So, the reader learns a little more about the history — of both Hawaii and Cheyenne — and then the story narrows down on this one particular event that likely seems obscure, but it says something about our history and how things happened back then.

If you’re looking for some good non-fiction, I highly recommend both of these books.

Beyond those books, I also read C. Litka’s The Prisoner of Cimlye, the second in his Tales of the Tropic Sea duology. As with the first book in the series, it is a fun read. Nothing to heavy. Just an adventure in a different land than ours. If you need a little escape, give it a try.

There are other books I’ve read since my last post of this type. But … I’ve forgotten them already. 😉

Picking A Side In The Political Wars

(Note: This post will be likely be filled with generalizations. I’m not sure yet because I haven’t actually written it. But if there are generalizations here, it is a short cut. No, I don’t think all Democrats think and act in lockstep. Nor do I think Republicans do the same. What I hope to do in this post is reflect on the general movements of both parties and explain why I am siding with the party I am.)

In recent years, I’ve tried to be balanced around here in my attacks, criticisms, and thoughts on the political wars going on in this country these days. Both parties have jumped the shark, as far as I’m concerned and that has led to our nation also jumping the shark. We no longer have leaders in this country. Leaders willing to make the hard decisions and lead over the noisemakers of their base. No, instead, in both parties, the “leaders” are merely followers, allowing the masses to misdirect them away from what this nation sorely needs. There is no more cooperation. No compromise. We just have endless war and division that grows ever more as the days and weeks go by.

I was a lifelong Democrat. Coming of age in the Reagan years, I was opposed to virtually everything he did and registered as a Democrat when I turned 18 during his Administration. I remained a Democrat until four or five years ago. I never really questioned my allegiance to the Democratic Party during that time because the party seemed to be more in tune with what I believed needed to be done, while the Republican Party of Reagan and Gingrich, Cheney and Bush, et al, did not speak to my dreams and vision of the America I wanted to live in.

Admittedly, I have rarely voted for a Republican. Why? Because they simply do not speak to me.

But something changed a few years ago. The single biggest issue was the advent of identity politics and how it has overtaken the Democratic Party. How it has turned us from a society seeking to be color blind, gender blind, blind to all of our differences. No, instead, we now focus on those differences to the exclusion of virtually anything else. So too, the harshness of the #MeToo movement and its insistence that people be punished for wrongs from years and decades ago, its insistence that women are always to be believed and men are never to be trusted, turned me off.

Honestly, I feel like as a middle-aged white male, I am not wanted in today’s Democratic Party. As somebody tweeted at the height of the #MeToo movement “all men are rapists.” Add to that my skin color and my age, and I begin to feel like I have no rights, no opportunity to speak what I believe and what I feel without being attacked. Simply because I am a white male.

So … I left the Democratic Party. Because it had left me.

Unfortunately, the GOP has nothing to offer me as well. So, while I am no longer a member of the Democratic Party, I continue to vote for Democrats. Why?

The events of the last week or so provide the best example of why. But before I get there.

I don’t support forgiving all student debt. I don’t support free college for all. I don’t support defunding the police. I don’t support open borders. There are a lot of things modern Democrats, at least the noisemakers among them, support that I simply have no interest in.

But … the difference between Democrats and the GOP is rather simple. On the one hand, you have ideas that are intended to assist people, to provide them with opportunities, to try to achieve fairness, to open doors instead of closing them. On the other, you have ideas that are meant to instill a single view on all. Laws that are meant to control and limit.

Florida is going after Disney for, of all things, having the gall to object to legislation. For exercising free speech — a right granted to Disney by a conservative court that thought corporations should have a right to free speech.

In state after state, the GOP is taking every step it can to make it more difficult to vote instead of easier.

For almost 15 years now, the GOP in Congress has done absolutely nothing to govern. Nothing to address issues that face this country. Nothing to seek compromise. Nothing at all. Except confirm the hard-core right-wing judges nominated by GOP Presidents. No credible immigration proposal has come from the GOP members of Congress. When the GOP controls either house, they use that control to shut down debate, discussion, and votes on essentially every piece of legislation that is meant to address our nation’s issues. They famously have become the party of “no” to anything and everything. And they don’t shy from any of this. They wear proudly the mantle of NO! Many leaders of the GOP in Congress have never actually authored legislation that has become law.

And with the news out about Roe v. Wade and its possible destruction by today’s Supreme Court, red states are ratcheting up their hard core views. Louisiana is considering legislation that would essentially outlaw IUDs. Other red states are considering banning morning after pills. While other red states are trying to come up with ways to punish residents who leave the state to have an abortion in a state that allows them. And I’m sure they have legislation outlawing same sex marriage just waiting for the right moment.

This is just the tip of the iceberg you know. They also refuse to accept that our children should be taught our history. All of it. And not just the glorious bits. I don’t necessarily agree with critical race theory — the elements of it that suggest that race informs every single act and decision that takes place in this country. But, there are elements of it, the teaching of our real history and not just the sanitized history of the exceptionalism of America that are critical to raising citizens who can think for themselves and learn from the mistakes of the past. I would much rather have the citizens of this country know the truth of our history instead of the “eyes closed” history the GOP wants to feed to our children.

What’s the difference? Democrats want opportunity and fairness — health care, education, good paying jobs, equality of opportunity, an acknowledgement of privacy and people’s rights to make their own personal decisions about their own lives. While the GOP, more and more, is demanding that the only thing that is permissible, the only beliefs that are allowed, the only actions that can be legal … are the ones they agree with. Democrats are the party of opportunity and equality (even if they are struggling to get that message right these days) while the GOP is the party of control and limitation and fear. Democrats are the party of community while the GOP is the party of sink or swim, all on your own.

I know which side I’m on. Which side are you on?

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