Monday, February 12, 2018

Living with outrage addicts in a Post-Fact America….

I usually don’t respond to this sort of thing, but recently there has been a resurgence of Facebook based hoaxes claiming that big bad evil liberal Facebook was BANNING photos of wounded veterans from being posted on people’s profile pages and news feeds.

The post almost always includes this photo of a double amputee US Marine and exhort all true Americans to “repost this!”, or type “AMEN!”: or something…

It’s total nonsense. Facebook has never banned any such photos, as the fact that the photo is at present, all over Facebook clearly proves.  One of my best friends, recently reposted this particular story. I commented with a link to a popular fact checking site that debunked it and wrote that the Photo was definitely one worth reposting but Facebook had never, and is not now banning it. 

The response was interesting. Both he and his wife didn’t engage with me on the subject of the post being a hoax, rather they both enthusiastically responded with how biased and untrustworthy the fact checking site was. Which at first, stuck me as just a bit juvenile, but after thinking about it I started to understand why they were not interested in the reality of the story being false. It was the anger the story generated that was the important thing.

They were more vested in the “outrage” than in the facts.

Like many Americans I have struggled to understand the world in which Donald Trump’s supporters live. It is a place where Fox News is on full volume to drown out anything that could possibly contradict their world view. If by sheer chance reality does manage to find a crack to seep through, the response is essentially to stick their fingers in their ears and yell “ LA! LA! LA! LA! FAKE NEWS! FAKE NEWS!”

Outrage and anger are now America’s drug of choice. And a sizeable portion of the population have become hard core addicts. And like all good pushers and dealers, the GOP, the conservative media-sphere and the President himself know you need to keep your users wanting their fix. The only way the high can be sustained is to up the potency and the dosage.

It’s time we acknowledge that we are not dealing with people with a different point of view. We are dealing with drug addicts. Sadly most addicts won’t accept the idea that being an addict is bad for them until the consequences of their addiction to not just themselves, but to all those around them are too great to ignore.

What has become clear is you cannot engage with people who still support this President and his party on an intellectual level. Just like you won’t get through to an addict simply by telling them that the drug they are using is hurting them. They don’t care about that. It’s the fix… the high of being outraged about (fill in the blank……) that is all that matters.

The Huffington Post has a lead story today about the possible impact and dangers of the “next rescission” and how it will impact on the most vulnerable in America. The key take away is how the President of the United States will just say any and all bad economic news is “Fake”. Fox News and the conservative Media bubble will echo that endlessly, Fox Pundits will say that any economic woes too great to ignore are actually the fault of President Obama’s policies and we need get ANGRY at the Democrats for not letting President Trump “make America great again”.

That anger is critically important to the GOP. It is needed to distract from some rather unpleasant facts.   Like the massive hole in the Federal budget from the Trump tax cuts and how it will be used to justify huge cuts to Social Programs,  like unemployment benefits, which are  specifically  designed to help people during an economic downturn. When a lot of people lose their jobs and state unemployment  funds run out, states have to borrow money and sometimes increase payroll taxes ― something that makes Republican lawmakers enthusiastic about trimming benefits, and claiming they are "cutting taxes on small businesses" .

Addicts can get to a point where they will do almost anything to get their fix. Steal from friends and family. Neglect their children, and see anyone who challenges their behavior as “the enemy” and anyone who helps them maintain their addiction as their friend. Often the only way for an addict to move on into recovery is for them to hit rock bottom first.

I fear we may be heading that way. As for many people the anger and outrage has become more important than facts. To accept even for a moment that you voted for a man whose entire life is in realty the complete opposite of everything you claim to have voted for; is to admit that the drug is bad for you , and you have problem

An admission, that for an addict is the first, and hardest step to take.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Funny Odd Book Review - “Fire and Fury. Inside the Trump White House” By Michael Wolff

Ok I read it. It only took me two weeks to get my hands on a copy. (Yes, I know I could have downloaded an e-book but I like real books. Made out of real paper.)

 After wading through Wolff’s highly dramatized account of life inside the West Wing of The Trump Administration, a few key take a-ways stand out.

Yes there are bits in Wolff’s account that most likely would not stand up to rigorous fact checking. (Not unlike many statements by Trump himself.) Yet if even one-tenth of what Wolff says he heard and saw is true, that alone is mindbogglingly scary.

Wolff’s narrative is almost dare I say it, Shakespearian. Warring factions all plotting for dominance in the Court of an unfocused, volatile, easily manipulated king. The main storyline in the book is the battle between White House “Chief Strategist” Steve Bannon and Donald Trump’s Children. Mainly, his daughter Ivanka and Son in Law Jared Kushner. 

 With each of them trying to get President Trump to adopt their respective agendas. With occasional appearances by White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus, and Congressional Republicans. But for the most part this is Bannon vs. “JarVanka”.

As interesting and at times both funny and scary as that saga comes across, it really is secondary to the real issue that Wolff has chronicled in his book. Donald Trump himself. Not what do people think about him, or say about him behind his back Not even is he smart or dumb? Crazy or Sane? Even the personal oddities of how he lives, eats, sleeps and behaves are not the real story here.

Wolff’s account , if even remotely accurate shows why Donald Trump will never succeed as President of the United States, and will keep lurching from one crisis and /or self inflicted disaster to another. Doing extensive damage the country as whole in the process. The reason is remarkably simple,  and in hindsight makes perfect sense.

Donald Trump doesn’t understand anything about the office he ran for and (if Wolff is to be believed),  never expected to win, but did. The President is portrayed as a volatile, disinterested man-baby who must be handled at all times, and who has no ideas, agenda or vision of his own. Trump’s main and at times singular focus is how he is or is not, getting the attention, deference and affirmation he constantly craves.

 Donald Trump is still trying to win his personal campaign to be bigger, more famous and better liked , than everyone who he feels never respected him. Be it the New York social elite. The real estate world, or the Media, in all of its various forms. 

For Trump, this has never been , and will never be about governing or leading the United States of America. For Trump this is all about his desperate need to show them all how great he is.

For Him, this is still about being a bigger and more admired / envied “Celebrity”.

Trump clearly doesn’t understand what it meant when he won, He has already done the most monumental achievement conceivable. The man, like it or not, IS the 45th President of the United States.  Yet, he is unable to grasp the one basic life changing truth about being President of the United States;  There is nothing Trump can do to become more famous than he is now.

As President there will always be people who will criticize, mock and oppose you simply because you are President of the United States. Trump will never get past that. He remains  consumed with the need to  respond and avenge any slight no matter how small. He spends his hours coming up with  insulting nicknames for his “foes”, arranging humiliation for anyone in his orbit who doesn’t constantly validate his incredibly fragile self image.

The actual business of being President just annoys him. Therein, as Shakespeare would say, lies the rub.   Any and all decisions Trump makes as President are done not in the context of leading the nation or the rest of the free world for that matter, but rather done in the context of what he feels will make him a bigger celebrity or punish people he dislikes. Or more accurately, punish people who don’t like him. A list which now includes the majority of the American People.

The biggest surprise for me in reading the book was that Trump doesn’t get it. All those “enemies” he obsesses about? They lost, he won. He is POTUS.  It doesn't get any bigger than this.   Donald Trump has finally gotten what he always wanted. He is the most famous man in the World.   But it's just not enough.  

Even his greatest nemesis, the late Merv Griffin, where he alive today, would have to stand up respectfully when Trump entered the room, simply because he IS the President.   Conversely, the non conservative media, be it The New York Times, CNN or even Vanity Fair, will NEVER suck up to him the way he so desperately wants them to, simply because he IS the President.

Like it or not, his name is now forever linked with that of Washington, Lincoln, FDR,  Reagan and yes, Barack Obama.  In Disney theme parks on a stage full of animatronic US Presidents  it's HIS replica that gets the last word.  But still,  for Donald it will never be enough.   He is the world's biggest "Sore Winner"

The only way Trump will ever get anywhere near the level of adoration and praise he craves, is if he were to actually BE a great President. Something that is utterly beyond his ability. 

The Presidency is beyond his emotional, intellectual and physical capabilities. Additionally his own ego won’t allow those around him to succeed on his behalf, out of a deep pathological fear of others taking the spotlight away from him.  

What comes through in Wolff’s account is a man who could very well launch a nuclear strike just to ensure he is center of attention.

A man who, because he has no grasp of the job he won, will latch on to whatever the last position or idea presented to him was. Presented simply and preferably with color pictures not words.   Donald Trump has only one interest as President of the United States , it isn’t the Republicans, or Democrats or anyone or anything else for that matter. It is about getting adulation and greater fame vis-à-vis people and institutions he envies. For Donald it is about his obsession to affirm his ego, 

If “Fire and Fury” has shown us anything, it is this obsession with celebrity, that  Donald Trump will forever be focused on. In complete disregard for everything a President of the United States needs to be and do, in the here and now.

What Michael Wolff has done, is shine a light on the fact that the only way the Executive Branch of the United States Government can be restored to even the most basic functionality, is to remove Donald Trump from it, as quickly as possible.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Catch Up Blogging.... Back in the Bay Area

Yeah yeah... I know it's been forever since I posted here. In my defense, I have been (to put it mildly...) insanely busy.

As I write this, I am sitting at my desk, in my new office in downtown Oakland, California. 12 weeks ago, such a scene wasn’t even a glimmer in my mind. 12 weeks ago, I was sitting at home in London, watching the telly. When my Blackberry vibrated with an email from my old employer, Kaiser Permanente.

Three Skype calls and three weeks later I had a job offer to return. Return to KP and return to the United States.  That was 8 weeks ago. Now I sit at my desk at  Kaiser Center in downtown Oakland, while I read news reports of the Brexit drama back home in London.

Back home in London… Is both an odd and perfectly logical sentiment at this point. I find that I am still in a bit of state of culture shock being back in the US. It is hard not to feel like you are half one place and half another. The news last week of an incident at Oxford Street Tube Station had me scouring the internet for details. Yet the right side of my brain was quick to point out; “Uh, that really has nothing to do with you...”

That’s an odd feeling... 

Life is about leaps of faith. What you do, who you share your life with, where you build that life. All leaps of faith. Leaving the US to move to London was a leap of faith. Now it’s a bit of deja’vu. Like picking up where I left off 7 years ago. Leaving  London to return to Northern California. I find I had to just take  a deep breath, and leap.

I am excited and happy to back at Kaiser Permanente. It is an organization I am very passionate about. I believe in our mission, I love our culture and am thrilled to be back among incredibly talented friends who share those beliefs. Still three weeks in, I find I dearly miss London. Part of it is, the odd transition. As familiar as the Bay Area is, it isn’t the place I left 7 years ago. (Nor should it be.) But some of that change has been a bit of a shock. 

When deciding where to live I thought I might go back to San Francisco, where I lived for nearly a decade. But the city has changed somewhat. The current tech boom has thrown the divide between those who are doing well, and those who are not, into sharp vivid relief. San Francisco feels…. mean.  

Not cruel- or evil mean, but more like New York City, every man/woman for themselves, kind of mean.   This  is partly due to the sheer sticker shock of moving back.   London is not a cheap city to live in, but  the SF Bay Area runs about  6-10% more expensive  in terms of cost of living than Greater London.    Case in point, the cost of housing.

When I left San Francisco in 2011,  I was living in a small, but nice  one bedroom apartment, South of Market.  Not in a bad area, but sort of close to a less than desirable area.  What  I liked to call  "Uhhhggh Adjacent".  Not in the "Uhhggh" but adjacent to it.

Still  it was a great place, walking distance to pretty much everything  and  it had a HUGE kitchen and a back patio deck  that I used for grilling.    

When I moved out  I was paying $950.00 a month.   That same apartment  now rents for nearly   $4,000.00 a month.   The recent "tech boom"  has made living in San Francisco akin to trying to find an apartment in Midtown Manhattan.  Possible, but only if you have a lot of money.   This has been a boom for landlords and driven development and yes, gentrification in downtown San Francisco.

So, not wanting to spend half of my income on rent,  (as well as forking over one of any bodily organ I have two of, for a deposit),  I, like many folks have opted out of  trying to live in San Francisco,  and instead, moved to the East Bay. (Oakland ).   Mostly due to the the cost of housing in SF, but also because what I mentioned earlier.  The city just feels...  angry.

There has always been a undercurrent of tension between many San Francisco residents, and the city's large  chronic homeless population.    Recent op-eds from various "tech bros"  decrying  the issues that come with a large homeless population, and the resulting backlash against such opinions, has given the city a feeling of being solidly divided along  socio-economic lines.   The angry "haves" who are tired of urban blight, and the even angrier  "have nots"  who have been driven out of their traditional neighborhoods by the recent Tech boom.  

"Don't give them any money, they'll use it to buy drugs or booze!"  A friend of mine used to scold me when I would hand a homeless man on Market Street a dollar.

In all honesty he was probably right. Yet it is hard to just "walk by" a man lying on the ground who clearly has not spent a night indoors in a very long time. It is the greatest civic issue facing San Francisco. The mass of homeless. For years the homeless migrated here for the mild winter, and for cash. 

The city used to hand out cash to the homeless in lieu of services. Until 2003 San Francisco had the highest cash grants to the homeless in the country —nearly $400 a month, and recipients were not required to even prove residency. Well you can imagine what that did. It turned San Francisco into a magnet for the homeless.

It was Mayor Gavin Newsom, who started "Care not Cash". A program where instead of getting money, the homeless get housing and other assistance. It did make a difference. In the time that I lived there ,  there was a reported drop in the number of homeless on the streets. Yet, critics of the program said  the impact was  minimal, and never  addressed what they see as the root causes of homelessness. Critics of those critics, said  the "homeless advocates" were apologists for drug use and petty crime, and the "right" to live in the street, didn't outweigh the rights of  private property owners.

Reality as always, probably lies somewhere in the middle.

Again, case in point,  my old neighborhood South of Market.   In 2011, shortly before I moved, the city closed off a section of the street in front of my apartment building, and made a very nice small urban pedestrian park  with benches and artwork.   What happened next was sadly all too predictable.  Having made the space safe from car traffic,  it immediately became a homeless encampment, strewn with trash,  human waste and used needles from intravenous drug use.

Local property owners had to eventually demand the city  remove the park and reopen the street to traffic. Which they did.  One former neighbor of mine said the risk of local children getting hit by a car,  was preferable to  kids having "to walk  through  poop and syringes."

Yet there was no mention of where those homeless people went,  after their camp was cleared out.  That part of the equation remains largely unsolved.

This past weekend as I walked down Market Street and through UN Plaza there was a palpable feeling of anger in the air. As techies lined up to buy a $6.00 cup of coffee, they glared with annoyance at the homeless man camped out on the sidewalk in front of them. Who in turn yelled in angry defiance that San Francisco was HIS city and he wasn't going to go anywhere. 

As I walked around downtown San Francisco  this conflict seemed to be  everywhere. Maybe it's just good old Lutheran  guilt, but it seemed where ever I went, I was  confronted by someone angrily asking me  for spare change .   It got to the point where I just didn't want to make eye contact with anyone. And I felt really crappy about it too. Yet in all truth what good is one dollar, or a hand full of change going to do this person? What they really need is housing, substance abuse rehab and mental and medical health services. None of which I  carry in my pockets as I walk down Market Street. 

The rational side of my brain is quick to remind me that I give every month to my church, which in turn supports programs like the Interfaith Homeless Shelter program and the  San Francisco Night Ministry. Which does try to provide those real needs I just mentioned. So why do I still feel so rotten when I pretend not to hear "Hey!! U got change?"  yelled at me by the angry homeless guy with the paper cup? 

Part of the problem is despite San Francisco spending over $200 Million last year on the problem,  the number of homeless that I see on the streets  seems larger than ever.

Yet I could give every cent I have to every homeless person I see and it wouldn't do anything to help solve the problem. So I keep walking avoiding eye contact and lamenting the fact that in spite of all the non profits, churches and social services working to aid the homeless in this city, it still seemed to boil down to someone coming up to me and furiously demanding spare change as I tried to make my way home.

I really don't have a point to make here. I hope that as we move through the Holiday season, everyone who reads this will find one organization that does good work, and donate to it. Be it the Red Cross, a church, a food bank or shelter. 

Happy Holidays from The Bay Area...

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

I've Been Told.....

I am going to violate my own embargo on posting about Donald Trump.

Normally I would ignore the latest lie / tantrum / tweet-torm / insanity as just more of the same from this administration and the infantile orange tinged sociopath who occupies the White House. Yet this time it is worth commenting on for a couple of reasons.

In a press conference in the White House Rose Garden yesterday. Trump was asked why, after two weeks he had still not commented publicly on the deaths of four US special forces soldiers, killed in an ambush earlier this month in western Niger.   The US troops had been embedded with a larger unit of Nigerien troops and were attacked as they left a meeting with local community leaders a few dozen kilometres from the remote town of Tongo Tongo.

It is always interesting to watch Donald Trump answer a question he was not prepared for.   It is like watching a child try to explain a mess he has been found in the middle of.  It begins with rambling assurances that there actually isn't a mess and that the room is supposed to look like this. 

Then when it becomes  clear that isn't working,  the child segues to a big fib, to redirect blame and attention.  In this case how all the other kids made far worse messes  than him,  in fact  he is  the cleanest, neatest kid EVER.  

If Donald Trump were in fact,  a small child trying to get out of cleaning his room, this might be endearingly funny.    But instead  we saw a 70 year old man,  the President of United States do this in a desperate attempt to distract attention from the fact that he has not paid any attention whatsoever to the deaths of four American Green Berets,  in a terrorist attack. 

Like a Toddler caught in fib, When Trump gets caught in a lie his goto follow up is .... to tell another lie to justify it . His usual follow up fib has been, and was in this case as well; "I don’t know, that’s what I’m told.”

Just like he "was told" his inauguration had the biggest crowd ever?

Just like he "was told" that President Obama had wiretapped him during the campaign?

And who can forget all the times Trump "was told" about President Obama's Birth Certificate?

What makes this latest "it's what I was told", lie particularly pathetic was his desperate flailing attempt to blame this on the Military. Claiming he was told by Generals that President Barack Obama didn't call Gold Star families. When pressed to explain his lie, Trump stammered; "'President Obama I think probably did sometimes and sometimes he didn't,' Trump said. 'All I can do is ask my generals.'

So who was it who "told" Trump this time? Which Generals? When? Asking all of these questions is pointless because Donald Trump is lying. And like toddler with no concept of honesty, when when he gets caught in the lie, he just tells a bigger lie to try to shift the focus or blame.

But don't dwell on this too long.  After all, tomorrow's lie will be even bigger and crazier,  and in no time at all you'll have forgotten all about today's lie.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Remembering a different life...

The following is a updated repost of  one of the first blog entries I ever wrote, back in  October, 2006.  

I was bouncing around the web a couple of weeks back and stumbled on It is a site than helps you locate addresses of people. So out of curiosity I typed in the name of my best friend from High School. Sure enough a result for his name came up. Not sure if it was the right person rather than call, I sent a note with my business card attached saying, if this was who I thought it was, to please write back.

A couple of weeks went by... and I forgot about it. I honestly didn't expect to hear anything back. Then the other day I got an email and it was indeed from him. It is an interesting experience in a way. I really have not heard from him since I attended his wedding. At the time I really envied him. He was marrying a wonderful gal and starting to build a life. They now have a five year old son with a daughter on the way due in December. He said it was amazing to hear from me couldn't wait to hear all about what I have been doing over the past few years.

I will confess, I have mixed feelings about that.

For the most part, I have not kept in touch with anyone from my High School days. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed High School, had great friends and good memories. Yet it really was a whole different life. Like many LGBT kids in the mid to late 80's I was closeted and terrified of coming out. On some level every day had some undercurrent of fear of my "secret" being discovered. The ultimate put-down was to say something was "gay" or to be called a "fag". You saw the kids who were even slightly effeminate or "different" getting tormented on a daily basis.

So you kept your mouth shut and your eyes closed. When you watched those 80's brat-pack movies, while your friends oggled Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy, you didnt admit to anyone, not even to yourself that you thought Rob Lowe and Emilo Estavez were really hot.

Add to that, the media was full of stories of this new "gay disease" called AIDS, and the Reagan and first Bush Administrations were not interested in getting any information about it out to the public. So like a lot of gay kids I didn't know what to think. Could I get AIDS by coming out? By even holding hands or kissing a guy? Was it really God's way of getting rid of homosexuals? The fear you felt was this huge cloud that hung over you every day. You really did wonder if you were destined to be miserable and alone for your entire life.

And of course at time I thought I was the ONLY gay kid on earth. Now I know that there were in fact more than a few. Even at my own school. But at the time, the sense of isolation was overwhelming. But then, time moved on. I left and in many ways never looked back.

I moved to Europe, studied there, came back to WI and went to college, after graduation worked, traveled back to Europe, then even moved to Asia. Eventually, I came back to the US and settled in Chicago, and then I came out.

Like many people, for me coming out was a frightening and painful process of self-discovery and acceptance. I think back on the fear I felt in those days and it seems like I am watching a movie of someone else's life. A life that I would not ever want to revisit. Yet in truth it was MY issue, not my friends. They had no way of knowing what I felt. The whole traditional High School experience of the first date, first dance , first kiss, first umm... "whatever", while a given for everyone else, was just not possible for a lesbian or Gay kid in South Central Wisconsin in the 1980's. Or at least not for me.

Many Gays and Lesbians who should be my age never lived to see today. The statistics on suicide for LGBT youth in the 1980's and 90's will give you nightmares. I am so amazingly fortunate to have the family that I do. My parents are the two most incredible, supportive and amazing people in the whole world. Coming out to them while scary as hell, was truly the end of an old life and the beginning of a new much brighter and happier one.

( Just in case I haven't told you - Thanks Mom & Dad.)

I marvel at many of today's LGBT kids with "Gay Straight Alliances" and alternative proms. When I read about kids taking their same sex partner to a high school dance, I can only smile and be amazed at how, at least in some places how far we have come. Though certainly for thousands of LGBT youth in America the reality has not changed from the one I knew .

Over the years I didn't stay in touch with people back from "back home". One wedding, an occasional Christmas Card was pretty much the limit of my contact , and even that soon stopped. Someone recently asked me why I didn't keep in touch with people from those days, and honestly I didn't really have a good answer. Hence my card to my friend.

I know what you are wondering. Will I tell my old friend (s) that I am gay? Will I open up my life now to those people from my life "then"? Does it even matter?

Honestly? I don't know. I'll keep you posted...
FLASH FORWARD  11 years...  October 11, 2017

It is worth noting,  the friend I wrote about  in  2006 , like so many other  amazing friends from my life  have shown me  in words and deeds  what I have always suspected,  my friends are in general, a lot wiser than I am.   As  I mark today's  National Coming Out Day there are straight allies in my life who  I still cannot thank enough,  

From JJ, the friend in Wisconsin  who answered that  letter in 2006,  and reminded me  why were friends in the first place, and  still today  reminds me to laugh at life  more than  30 years on.  There are our friends we shared growing up.  Ed, the police officer in Fond du Lac and, Mike the deputy sheriff in Madison  who still give me permission to be silly,  and when needed, permission to be serious; and at all times the incredible friendship and trust to just be me.  

There is Tim, the Pastor in Pennsylvania, and James, the School Teacher from Boston, who both  lived  remarkable lives of  always seeking the best in people and in doing so, taught me to do the same.  Each of their  passing has left me  missing them both every day.  There is Todd, the Lawyer in Dallas,  who challenged my own stereotypes of how I thought friends  would react to my coming out,  and instead ended up teaching me invaluable lessons about  acceptance and true friendship, travelling half way around the world to surprise me at my wedding.

There is Tom and Karen,  the couple in Georgia whose friendship has literally spanned three decades and two oceans , and who always knew, didn't care, and have always loved me for who I am.  Mark, the Career Air Force officer in Germany, and Dale,  the IT guru in Wisconsin  who I had the honour of being a Groomsmen at their respective weddings, and years later are still both sharing their adventures with me.  All these amazing people, along with so many others I am blessed to call my friends.

Along with all these people, I have been blessed to have found  wonderful communities of faith where I was shown that God is Love,  and never hates.   Trinity Lutheran in Madison,  Holy Trinity In Chicago, St, Mark's Lutheran in San Francisco and St. Anne's Lutheran Church in London,

And as always, my incredible family who just by being themselves  encouraged me,  and gave me strength  to just .... be myself.

And yes,  to my friend PJ, and  others who,  for reasons political,  social,  and religious  felt they could not  continue our friendship,  I thank you as well.  Not because  I don't miss you,  for believe, me,  I  do miss you , every day. Yet  I owe you my thanks for  showing me that the choice to live authentically does not come without cost, and therefore must not, ever be taken for granted.  

Lastly,  to my amazing husband  Eric.   Who without even trying,  provides me with  living proof every day  that taking those steps to come out of the closet were by far, the best ones I have ever made

Monday, September 11, 2017

Remembering a September Morning

(The following is an updated repost  of an entry from Sept. 11th, 2011)

Today the media, and the blogposphere will undoubtedly be full of all sorts of remembrances and commentary around 16 years having passed since the terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001.

To be honest I really don't like to dwell on the topic. Not out of any sense of personal pain, but more out of respect, for those people I know who were far closer to the events of that day than I was. My experience that day was a somewhat surreal one.

I had gotten up very early and caught a flight from Chicago Midway to Houston. I was heading there for work. It was about 20 minutes into the flight, the seat belt sign had just turned off, and people where shifting about, getting comfortable. I had just pulled out my laptop to work on the presentation I was going to be giving later that day. Suddenly the seat belt sign came back on, and the crew announced that everyone was to return to their seats and prepare for landing, the flight would be returning to Chicago.

The Pilot then came on the speaker system to say that there was nothing wrong with the plane, and we were returning to Chicago because the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) had ordered the flight to return to "clear air traffic". He said that was all the information they had, and he apologized for the inconvenience.

Everyone on the plane thought the same thing. (Not terrorism.) Chicago Midway had upgraded to a new Air Traffic Control System earlier in the Summer and a few weeks prior, there had been a series of glitches that had delayed several flights.  Everyone groaned, made comments about "Government Efficiency" assuming it was yet another problem with Midway's system that was going to mess up  our day.

This  assumption that was bolstered when the captain came back on the loudspeaker  and announced  that we were not returning to Midway but rather we were diverted to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

The woman sitting next to me was happy about this thinking at least it might be easier to get on the next flight out to Houston. I nodded, and said "I hope so", thinking of how I might salvage the rest of my schedule that day and make my afternoon meetings on time.

It took us about 30 minutes of circling over O'Hare before we could land. Sitting in a window seat I watched as the line of planes waiting to land stretched to the far horizon and oddly enough, no planes were taking off. I commented on this to the woman next to me, and she said "wow Midway's systems must be really screwed up!" I laughed and said that what we get for Ronald Reagan having fired all the good Air Traffic Controllers. She laughed and said she had forgotten about that.

We landed and had to wait an additional 20 minutes to get a gate. but finally pulled up to a jetway , and we all lumbered off the plane into the gate area I was getting annoyed because people were not clearing the area in front of the door but were all standing around the televisions that were tuned to the CNN Airport Network. I was about to say a loud "excuse me!" when I happened to look up at the TV and saw CNN  replay footage from ABC of the second plane hitting the World Trade Center.

CNN then cut to live shot of a column of smoke and ash where the World Trade Center Towers were supposed to be, but weren't. I called my office and my boss told me not to come in, The area in downtown Chicago around the Sears Tower was being evacuated. I called my parents and let them know I was not in Houston, got on the CTA Blue Line and went home.   The rest of that day I did what most Americans did, watched the news, and when the images became overwhelming, I put on my roller blades and went blading along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

It was brilliant sunny day. One of those late Summer, early Fall days that you get in Chicago that make you appreciate what a beautiful city it is. As I stopped at Oak Street Beach and admired the downtown Chicago skyline, I didn't think that somehow the "world had changed". But rather I found myself thinking how the United States had  sadly, finally  joined the rest of the world.

Before that that morning, Terrorism was something that happened in other places, Israel, Lebanon London, Belfast , places far away. Even the first World Trade Center bombing for many people, didn't seem like international terrorism. After all, the people responsible were caught when they tried to get the deposit back on the rental van they had used. (How sinister could people that dumb be?)    That is what changed I think, it was the moment America lost the illusion that somehow our two oceans would keep us safe from global terrorism.

For friends of mine who lived in New York on that day,  I understand  that  today  is a much different  experience for them.   A good friend of mine is  a New York City Police Officer  who  lost an arm in the attack that day.   Another friend of mine worked  for an investment bank housed in the  North Tower,  she had a doctors appointment so she didn't go into work  that morning.   For her, today  is a reminder of  the  friends and co-workers  she lost  that day.

For the numerous friends of mine who have served, and currently serve in both Afghanistan and Iraq with the American and British Armed Forces, they deal with the effects September 11, 2001 on a far different  and far more personal level than most people ever will.

So this evening, as many attend attend  memorial services,   people all over the world will think about the events of that day, pray for those who were lost, and show solidarity and support for friends and family for whom this anniversary is far more personal than political.

God Bless America, God bless us all.

Monday, August 14, 2017

We have seen this story before...

There once was a time when to be a true American Patriot meant you fought against Nazis.

Now we have a President of the United States who is beholden to them, and therefore unable to denounce them, even when they commit cold blooded murder of Americans.

Those who keep trying to draw equivalences by saying " both sides in Charlottesville engaged in violence!", are showing their true colors. Yes some the anti nazi protesters engaged in violence,... while FIGHTING NAZIS. Fighting something so vile that the entire world once went to WAR to destroy it.

If some of the protestors were violent, it was because what they were protesting is PURE EVIL in it's darkest form. So spare me the "we need to respect others right to free expression," nonsense. No, I don't. There is no right to freely advocate rounding up people like me and putting them in camps for extermination. There is no right to advocate that others are somehow less human than you are.

Whoever says "both sides were at fault" in Charlottesville, is saying It is ok to believe that I should have to wear a pink triangle, and that I am less human than they are. Anyone who says I should respect someone's right to hold those views, is a NAZI SYMPATHISER ,
and needs to know that is never going to happen.

There is no room for "finding common ground" it is not stooping to their level when we fight back. Turning the other cheek here is not morality, it is stupidity. There are times when evil must be fought, not negotiated with, not educated, not even resisted.. but FOUGHT. This is one of those times. It starts with angry young men with torches demanding the "right" to attack others. We have seen this story before we KNOW how it ends, the ONLY response it to must be to END it before it goes any farther.

Today is a very good day to stop and remember our history...

Anyone who believes what these monsters espouse is my mortal enemy, and I will treat them as 

I will give Keith Olbermann the last word on this.