Being #NeverTrump Gave Me Super Powers!

IMG_2268Yes, you read the title right. Since I became #NeverTrump, I have the strength of three men! … Well, I actually have the voting power of three voters. Still not too shabby, but I guess I won’t be donning a mask and cape to fight crime; just to go to the odd comic book convention. See, it occurred to me that there is a funny little side effect to one of the major arguments that gets leveled against me by the Pro-Trump crowd. The argument is this:

“If you don’t support Donald Trump, that’s the same as voting for Hillary!”

This is a bad argument, of course. It’s false, dishonest and manipulative, but, for the moment, let’s give it more consideration than it actually deserves. I recently received a response to my writing on this subject in our local paper where I was told that my refusal to support either Trump nor Hillary was the same as me voting for Trump (obviously a Hillary supporter). We’ve all seen the meme:


But I got to thinking about this. Trump supporters see that first statement as valid and true. But, if you employ logic when examining it, there is exactly the same amount of evidence and substance (namely, none) for that second claim as there is for the first, so let’s take a look at what that actually means:

First, every American who is eligible to vote for president (those who registered to vote, are not felons without restored voting rights, are 18 or older and are not dead…sorry about the last one, Democrats) has exactly one vote to cast. Are we agreed on that? Ok, good. (I’m assuming we all agree on that.)

Now, if not voting for Trump is a vote for Hillary, then it is equally true that not voting for Hillary is a vote for Trump. That means that, by not voting for either, I’m actually voting for both. That means I actually have the power to cast TWO VOTES; twice that of a normal voter!

Stay with me, people! We have one more leap to make here.

So, what happens if I vote for someone other than the “Big Two”? Let’s say I decide to vote for Gary Johnson or Darrell Castle or even write in Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio…or vote for Pikachu. (I know…he wasn’t born in America, so he’s not eligible, but everybody’s looking for him across America right now, so there’s that…) Now, I STILL haven’t voted for Trump or Hillary, so that’s the equivalent of voting for both, so I have effectively cast two votes…but I also cast a vote for someone else. In effect, I have cast THREE VOTES in one election! I have effectively become more powerful than any voter who votes for either Trump or Hillary. I have the power of three voters…and I didn’t have to get bit by a radioactive poll worker!

I figure by this point I should have some #NeverTrump people at least grinning…and I hope laughing. It’s true that this is all silliness, but there’s also a point here. You see, I figure any Trump supporter reading this has gotten really irritated and has maybe even started to change color a little. A least, I can hope they are. “This is ridiculous and unrealistic,” I imagine them grumbling…and they’d be right. It is ridiculous and unrealistic, but the importance is where it’s all ridiculous.

What I’ve used here is actually a debating technique called “Reductio ad absurdum”; latin for “reduction to absurdity”. The idea is simply to take a concept to its ultimate, and usually absurd, conclusion. But the truth is that it’s not the final extreme conclusion that my vote actually counts as three that’s absurd. That’s actually just a logical conclusion based on the original premise. This argument that not voting for ‘X’ is the same as voting for ‘Y’ is dishonest. Your vote is something of value to be spent, much like money, where you decide it should go. Have you ever told someone that, if they don’t spend their money to buy a Bible, that’s the same as spending their money to buy porn? Of course you don’t, because it’d be absurd…and so, is this statement about voting. However you choose to use your vote, it’d doesn’t have a list of side-effects connected to it likes Cialis commercial.

So, if it’s such a bad argument, why do the Trump people keep going back to it like a touchstone? Do they not realize that it’s a flawed argument? Many don’t. For them, it was used to manipulate them and now they embrace it as gospel and use it against others. But there are those who know it’s dishonest and don’t care. For them, if it gets people to go along with their agenda, then the truth be damned.

Of course, if that isn’t quite enough to get people in line, they’ll amp it up a little and, when you continue to refuse to support Trump, they’ll just accuse you of actually being a Hillary supporter or even a closeted liberal. Sound familiar? It’s the same thing the left has been doing for decades, except their accusation of choice is to call us racists, but the purpose is exactly the same in both cases; to force people to do what they want them to regardless of their convictions or principles or even any concept of right and wrong.

This actually comes from Saul Alinski’s 12th Rule for Radicals: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Basically, embarrass, vilify and shame those who stand in your way…until they don’t stand in your way anymore. Yes, I’m saying that there are those who call themselves conservatives who are acting in accordance with the teachings of Alinski. The practices of the left are virulent and, when we play with them, we run a huge risk of getting infected with something we REALLY don’t want.

But that’s a subject for another day. I only bring it up to reinforce the point that this argument that not voting for Trump is the same as a vote for Hillary comes from a very dark, dishonorable, dishonest place. It has no validity and it’s only purpose is to bully you into doing something, no matter what your heart is telling you is right.

The next time someone tries to bully you this way, consider trying this: Do your best Star Wars Obi-Wan Kenobi voice (Sir Alec Guinness…he was way cooler), smile and say, “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” These people won’t get the humor in it; they have no sense of humor when it comes to their spray-tanned messiah. I can also pretty well guarantee they won’t get the pop culture reference and it’s always fun to watch people like that flounder trying to make sense out of such a nerdy reference!

Defend Your Principles And Values; Don’t Compromise Them

There’s a cancer in the conservative movement and the Republican Party. The carcinogen that kick-started it into high gear is Donald Trump. This cancer leads to the abandonment of conservative principles and values. When Trump first announced he was running for president, I figured his days were numbered once people started seeing through his facade of respectability. The problem is, he never actually bothered putting up a facade. He remained openly the same deplorable person he’s always been and, even worse, his supporters eagerly dismissed his incredibly liberal past, some of it only a few years old, and embraced his bad behavior. I could easily write an almost unending series of columns on why Trump is a horrendous choice for any office, but I’m concerned today about how contagious his attitude and behavior has become.

The first time I heard Trump mention a name in a speech and someone in the audience just shouted out, “Loser!” and Trump smiled like a proud papa, I feared this would only get worse. I wish I’d been wrong. Trump verbally abuses others; his supporters do the same. He objectifies, belittles and devalues women, even going so far to blame one for the bruises she received from a larger man; they do the same and go further, including calling and threatening her life. He encourages physical violence; they comply, punching people and threatening to do worse, including murder. There are more stories almost every day about Trump supporters making death threats to those who hold positions in the GOP and even to delegates if they stand in the way of a Trump victory. Let me say this again to impress the seriousness of the situation: There are people affiliated with the Republican Party through Donald Trump who are threatening to kill people if they don’t get their way! This is not what the GOP and conservatism has EVER been about. It’s what we’re supposed to be standing against as it comes from the left! But it’s ok since Trump said he’ll pay their legal fees, right?

All this would normally be enough for us to condemn a candidate without hesitation. After all, if it was Hillary acting this way, we’d all be calling her a monster…and we’d be right! However, many refuse to judge Trump by our normal standards. Conservatives who usually promote principles and integrity and the truth now turn a blind eye and gleefully jump on that Trump-wagon. National personalities like Sean Hannity, Michael Savage and Ann Coulter sing his praises and run interference for him. Even a local radio personality in my hometown, Kelly O’Connell, seems to have fallen under the Trump spell and is inclined to ignore the ugly truth and repeat the liturgical talking points of the Trump campaign.

I understand that people are angry and frustrated. I am, too. We conservatives have been lied to, used and betrayed by much of the GOP leadership, both nationally and often on local levels. God knows, the Republican leadership in my state is no prize but, when you start viewing the world through the lens of frustration and anger, you start making bad decisions. You start believing that any action, no matter how vile or even illegal, is acceptable as long as it benefits your idea of the ‘greater good’. We see this in the most vocal elements of support for Donald Trump. They overlook his bad behavior and poor treatment of others while also excusing their own bad behavior and poor treatment of others by dismissing the means in favor of their ends: supposedly to “Make America Great Again”. The thing is, justifying our means in pursuit of any goal is not how we achieve any degree of greatness. This is the kind of path that leads to us losing our way, our values and, ultimately, our souls.

I really don’t want Hillary as president but I also have to honestly say that, at least with her, it’d be clear who and what she is. We already know that, if she becomes President, she’ll do everything in her power to add to the damage already inflicted on our nation by Barack Obama, but at least she can’t hide her allegiances or her affiliations. She can be easily identified as an agent of the left, as a voice of the Democrat Party, making it much easier to motivate people on the right, in office and out, to oppose her.
Trump, on the other hand, has cloaked himself in the guise of conservatism and, although it’s a poorly put together cloak, many have enthusiastically accepted it, both his supporters who claim to be conservatives and the mainstream media who are more than happy to equate all conservatives with Donald Trump. Meanwhile, there are those within the Republican Party and the conservative movement who are spreading the lie that we have no choice but to support the GOP candidate, no matter who that is. (It’s ironic because many of these people are decrying perceived disenfranchisement of voters…conveniently only in primaries that Trump loses…and accusing those who oppose Trump publicly of trying to tell them who to vote for while spreading this narrative designed to bully conservatives into voting a certain way.) The problem is that, when we buy into that lie and give our vote out of some sense of party loyalty, or even out of fear of Hillary Clinton assuming the presidency, we give credence to claims that Trump and his hardcore supporters are typical of what conservatives are. For decades, we have constantly fought against accusations from the left that we are racists, sexists, homophobes and rich old white men who don’t care about anyone or anything beyond the bottom line. By lending our support, no matter how grudgingly or marginally, then, fair or not, we place ourselves under the same umbrella of elitism, bigotry, misogyny that fits Trump so well. Every accusation thrown at us will suddenly stick better than ever because of our guilt by association with a GOP headed in many ways by Donald Trump and guilt by complicity for actively choosing to give him our votes to help place him there.

And don’t delude yourself into believing he will magically become “presidential” upon winning the White House. He has spent his entire life indulging in his base nature and he’s a little too old and set in his ways to change just because he’s sitting in the Oval Office instead of some building with his name emblazoned on it. Those of us who either give in to pressure or allow ourselves to be conned by this snake oil salesman and support Trump in any way will find ourselves measured and judged based on his behaviors. It may not sound fair, but that’s the way it works. We are all defined by what we do and who we associate with much more than we are by our words alone.

I don’t care so much these days who the candidate is or what letter he puts by his name as much as I care about what kind of person he his and what he places value on, because we must stand firm on our principles and values more so today than ever. That’s what creates the solid foundation of integrity and consistency upon which we build our character and identity as individuals and conservatives. Make no mistake, the only way for a true conservative to actively support Trump is to ignore, devalue and abandon conservative principles and values. In doing so, our foundation weakens and cracks and ends up being more like dirt than rock…and you know what happens when you build your house on shifting sand.

Our foundation as a nation has already been eroded badly over time by both the overt efforts of the left and the lukewarm response of some on the right, especially the Republican Establishment and many Republicans holding elected office. Can that foundation be repaired? I certainly hope so but, either way, it’s more important than ever for us to protect and strengthen our foundations as individuals and to encourage the same in others who we can positively influence. Think about this in terms of your children, as they are the people you have the largest amount of influence over. If you’re planning on supporting Trump, think carefully first and ask yourself: What would you tell your children if they ask at some point if you supported him? Can you honestly tell them that he valued the things you value or that he acted in a way that you want your children to act? If not, then do you want to tell them that winning is more important than what you normally claim to value and what you’ve tried to instill in your kids? Be aware: You won’t have to say it at that point. Your actions will have shown what’s in your heart and, like a smoker who lectures their kids about not smoking and then is horrified when they catch them lighting up, your surprise, should they embrace bullying, launching verbal attacks on others, winning no matter who they hurt and an attitude accepting of thuggish, violent behavior, will be way too little, way too late.

We all need to toughen up when it comes to free speech

Last month, the Pew Research Group released a study showing 40% of millennials polled believe government should be able to censor speech considered offensive to minorities. In the Las Cruces Sun News paper, a commenter in the Sound-Off section asked “why conservatives manage to make ‘politically correct’ and ‘compromise’ dirty words”. It also that claimed political correctness is the embodiment of “common decency” and those who oppose it are mean-spirited, slanderous and prejudicial. A Sun News contributor and publisher of a New Mexico political site, Heath Hausamen, wrote on his site recently calling for polite online discourse and condemning speech he implied leads to violence (“Online discourse should encourage understanding, not violence”). The implication here, while much of the media and the left are simply saying it outright, points directly to the killer in Colorado who recently went on a rampage in a block of buildings, including a Planned Parenthood. While it’s not clear if Hausamen is trying make this claim or not, the claim has generally been that the fact that those who oppose groups like Planned Parenthood inspired this murderer by exercising their speech rights and talking about the heinous acts that Planned Parenthood are engaging in. He, and others like him, are calling for speech to be regulated in order to do away with offensive and hateful speech. 
It sounds enlightened on the surface, but it’s really a disturbing trend pointing away from the principles that made America great. It’s disturbing because so many young people are ok with allowing the government power over the second right mentioned for protection from that same government in our Bill of Rights. They’ve bought into a seductive narrative that truth is relative and opposition to what they believe is hate. The thing is, polite and popular speech wasn’t the reason for the First Amendment. It’s for the revolutionary, incendiary, offensive speech that makes people uncomfortable and spurs them to think and take action. Free speech is more than an individual right. It’s essential to human progress. 
The men who enumerated this right in our Constitution are the ones who’d just finished fighting a bloody war for independence that had been precipitated by speech that was offensive to a great many and absolutely lead to violence. The revolutionaries who wrote and spoke backed up their words by taking up arms. The words of men like Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams were offensive and condemned by many as encouraging resistance and violent rebellion against the government. They were, of course. Thank God that they were. Even Thomas Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence, sadly, are still considered offensive by many today. After all, Jefferson talks about rights endowed upon us by God, not by any laws; absolute rights like Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Life, especially, is a right that most pro-choice people hate being discussed as an absolute and the idea of God being cited in a government document is horrific to many progressives today. Isn’t it sad to think of our founders being targeted to have their speech limited today?
Throughout our history, revolutionary speakers and writers like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Susan B. Anthony, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. have changed our nation for the better. Their words were inflammatory and created discomfort. Imagine if those words had been silenced because they made people feel bad when that’s what made them so powerful. But that’s what many want today. 
I figure I’ll be accused once again of wanting to get rid of all laws regarding speech, but that’s just not the case. We do need laws prohibiting speech that solicits violence or creates panic, but we don’t need to be broadening those limits. For example, progressives are jumping on the bandwagon claiming that those who talk about the practices of groups like Planned Parenthood (the wholesale killing of babies, the selling of their corpses with all the dispassion of a n auto junkyard) are encouraging the sort of violence we saw recently in Colorado. This couldn’t be further from the truth but, for the left, it seems like we’re now living in a cable TV show: “Truth Is The New Hate Speech”. 
We’re citizens of a nation founded on confrontational revolutionary discourse. We don’t shy from that or cry foul because we don’t like what is said. We combat speech that we find offensive or wrong with our own speech, which us equally protected. It’s the way things change. It’s the way those who are wrong or dangerous are ferreted out and identified. Speech is one of the main weapons that our founders left us with in order to defend and promote what is good and defeat and call out what is evil. But, to use that weapon properly, we have to allow for others to wield the same weapon and we can’t cry foul or run for a ‘safe place’ when we hear things we don’t want to hear. Let’s thicken our skins a bit and embrace the benefits of a society where speech is protected and countered with more speech. 

A Call To Fight For Revolution In The GOP

We’ve had a rocky year politically. At the federal level, we’re seeing the results of two presidential terms of “Hope and Change” that’s left so many Americans feeling hopeless and facing changes that have definitely not been for the better. Our society has been under near constant attack by progressive agendas that treat our Constitution like a nuisance to overcome or weasel around in order to limit speech whenever they decide that speech is inappropriate, trivialize and silence people of faith and attack our right to defend ourselves and others. Progressives push a false environmental narrative that does nothing but spend money with no discernible results. They downplay the importance of laws and securing our borders while painting those who break our laws as the victims. They promote the government taking more and more in taxes, spending more on their pet projects than it brings in and calling it all “charity” and “assistance”. 

Most conservatives, be they Republicans, Libertarians, Independents or even Democrats understand that progressive agendas are wrong-headed and destructive. (And, yes, Virginia, there are conservative Democrats. There’s really only one organization that has the numbers, funding and political clout to effectively oppose it all. It’s effectively stood for liberty, equality and the value of life since its founding, usually in the face of staunch opposition from Democrats. It’s the Republican Party. While modern Democrats today push a false narrative of a “Party Switch” in order to distance themselves from their own party’s past and label Republicans as racist, elitist, homophobic women-haters, the real damage caused in the GOP comes within the party itself. 
Leadership and many in office have become a disappointment more often than not. It seems we’ve gotten very good at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. We create the image of being ineffective and unprincipled by talking big, then capitulating; giving in and backing away from initiatives like defunding Planned Parenthood and our leaders sign off on Obama’s wish lists like this latest Omnibus bill. Add corruption to the mix like Diana Duran’s gambling fiasco and Susanna Martinez’s attempt to misuse her authority…not an isolated incident for her, either…and we create an image of corruption that the left delights in hanging on all Republicans. 
Because of this, so many conservatives shy away from the GOP and members decide to leave. I do understand their feelings. The problem is, there’s really nowhere else to go. There’s currently no other party that has the potential to embrace conservatism so fully and the ability to stand against the Democrat Party effectively. 
The GOP is still the best party for conservatives to unite, but things have to change soon. The majority of Republicans are good people, but who need to actively oppose those who embody terms like “RINO” and “Establishment Republicans” and have been steering the GOP in the wrong direction for way too long. We still have many good officials and leaders and they’re easy to recognize. For the most part, look for the people who make enemies out of the Republican establishment as well as the left. We just need more of them and I know they’re out there. There was an awakening in the GOP with Ronald Reagan and the seeds of revolution were planted with the TEA Party movement. That was a great start, but now’s the time for conservatives to harvest those seeds and either reclaim the Party and restore the principles and integrity it once represented clearly or abandon it to fade into oblivion and create some new unifying force for conservatism elsewhere. For me, I’m not ready to give up. I believe the GOP’s worth saving, but it’ll require conservatives to stand together: conservative Republicans standing up to leadership to force them to do what’s right and other conservatives to step into the Party and add their voices. This is still the party of Lincoln deep down and most members know and embrace that, but we’re long overdue for revolution and reclaiming our Party is a vital step in reclaiming our nation.
Most conservatives, be they Republicans, Libertarians, Independents or even Democrats (Yes, Virginia, there are conservative Democrats…although they tend to be devalued and bullied into silence.) understand that the progressive agenda is wrong-headed and incredibly destructive to our society. There’s one organization that, above and beyond all others, has the numbers, funding and political clout to effectively stand against all this: the Republican Party. The GOP has effectively stood for liberty, equality, personal responsibility and the value of all life since its founding in 1854,usually facing staunch opposition from Democrats. While Democrats today try to push a narrative of a “Party Switch” that is both untrue and fairly incomprehensible to follow in order to distance themselves from their own party’s past actions and try to paint Republicans as racist, elitist, homophobic women-haters, the truth is that the real damage caused in the GOP is committed within the party itself. 

Unfortunately, GOP leadership and many Republicans in office have become a disappointment more often than not. It seems that the Republican Party has gotten very good at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. They talk big, then capitulate; giving Democrats whatever they want, from backing away from efforts to defund Planned Parenthood of federal money to simply signing off on Obama’s wish list with the latest Omnibus bill. They create their own image of being ineffective and unprincipled. Add cases of corruption to the mix that, while pale against the corruption of those on the left, still cause damage to the GOP. Here in New Mexico, we had Diana Duran’s gambling fiasco and Susanna Martinez’s attempt to misuse her authority to punish people she saw as making her life difficult…not an isolated incident for her, either. Their actions are deplorable and do need to be condemned. They create their own image of corruption that the left delights in painting all Republicans as equally corrupt. 
It’s because of all this that so many good conservatives shy away from joining the GOP or decide to leave if they’ve been members…and I do understand their reasoning. The problem is, there’s really nowhere else to go. The Libertarian Party only embraces some conservative principles and many that are clearly liberal. As such, they will probably never be able to gain the numbers necessary to stand against the Democrats. The same numbers problem exists for other smaller parties, like the Constitution Party and the Conservative Party. And those who become Independents are simply throwing away any chance they had for presenting any kind of unified conservative voice. 
The Republican Party is still the best place for conservatives to unite to affect positive change. The majority of Republicans are good people who are truly conservative and who need to become active and oppose those in the Party who’ve created the need for terms like RINO and Establishment Republicans and have been steering the GOP in the wrong direction. It’s not too late to repair the Party. After all, we have many good Republican officials and leaders and they’re easy to recognize. For the most part, look for the people who make enemies out of the Republican establishment as well as the left. There was an awakening in the GOP with Ronald Reagan and the seeds of revolution within the Party were planted with the TEA Party movement. That was a great start, but it seems that now is the time for conservatives to harvest those seeds and either reclaim and reform the Republican Party and restore the principles and integrity that it once represented so clearly or abandon the Party completely to let it fade into oblivion to join the Whigs and start something new to become a unifying force for conservatives to stand proudly together again. For me, and I’m not nearly ready to give up on the GOP. I believe there plenty that’s worth saving there, but it’s going to require conservatives to stand together. Conservative Republicans need to stand up to leadership when it’s wrong and force them to do what’s right. Conservatives who aren’t Republicans need to step back into the Party and stand with their brothers and sisters to make their voices stronger and louder. The Republican Party is still the party of Lincoln deep down, but in order to bring that greatness out again, we need to once again stand united on the principles that the party was founded on and that we still believe in. America was built with a system in place to allow for constant revolution without the need for resorting to violence in the process and we’re long overdue for revolution…first within the Republican Party, then within the nation. 

Thoughts on Thanksgiving…From 227 Years Ago

Two-hundred and twenty-seven years ago, on October 3, 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation designating the 26th of November as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. While Thanksgiving itself was actually established by Abraham Lincoln and then passed into law by Congress in 1941, it was Washington who created the foundation and set the tone for what Thanksgiving was to be.

This is what Washington wrote:

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington
This is a far cry from the proclamations of future presidents, especially those of Barack Obama, who has tended to spout historical inaccuracies about the history of Thanksgiving and encourage us to have discussions about health care on this day or, this year, discussions about gun control. It’s obvious that the original purposes of Thanksgiving have been lost to most of us, so let me take a minute to break down the major points of Washington’s original proclamation:

1) It’s the duty of all of us to acknowledge God’s power and position, to obey Him, show gratitude for what he has given us and pray for his protection and favor.

2) Thanksgiving was to be devoted to the service of God so that all Americans could be united in that service, gratitude and time of prayer.

3) We were to ask forgiveness for sins committed against God, both as a nation and as individuals.

4) Our government was supposed to be a blessing to the people by being built upon “wise, just, and constitutional laws”. (I doubt Washington would even recognize out country today, based on what he had envisioned.)

5) We were to pray for the other nations and leaders around the world to be blessed.

6) We were to pray for knowledge in the practice of religion, in being virtuous and in increasing our scientific knowledge, as well. These were aspects of life that were never meant to be at odds with each other, as they have become in many cases.

7) Our successes and prosperity ultimately come from the hand of God and we are to pray for, and be thankful for, such prosperity.

One final point: This is the sort of writing from a sitting president that has those today who desperately want to redefine Freedom of Religion as freedom FROM religion pulling out their hair in frustration. Like it or not, America was founded and built upon a strong belief and dependency in a very Judeo-Christian concept of God. But look at the other writings and prayers of George Washington in comparison. In spite of this insane effort to label Washington as a deist by taking a few statements severely out of context, it’s very clear in his writings that he was a devote Christian who, not only prayed to God, but who also constantly invoked the name and authority of Jesus. That level of specifics is missing from this proclamation for a very clear reason. This is the freedom of religion that is spelled out in our Bill of Rights. The concept of us living under the grace and authority of God was meant to be accepted as true by all of us, no matter what our sectarian concept of God was. Even atheists were meant to accept the concept of us being created equal and that our rights came from some constant and immutable source and definitely not from a document or lawmakers or government. Even without a belief in God, it was expected that we would all understand that there were aspects of our existence that didn’t exist solely at the whim of people in charge. They exist because of a higher authority and a creative force that precedes any man made law or institution.

So, with all that said, let me conclude by saying Happy Thanksgiving. No matter what your beliefs are, may God bless and protect you and yours today and throughout the coming year.

Now, what are you doing sit here reading my ramblings on Thanksgiving of all days?! Go spend time with those who you value in your life and let them know that you value them. And take a few minutes to reflect on all that you have to be truly thankful for. I suspect that it’s a lot more than you normally realize. It always is for me.



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I’m going to miss B.B. King

bb_kingEveryone’s doing it right now. Normally, that’s reason enough for me to let something be and focus elsewhere. Today, though, I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and talk about B..B King, partly because writing is cheaper than therapy. So, for the next few paragraphs, you, the reader, gets to be my therapist.

My heart is broken. My whole life, I’ve been into music that had others my age rolling their eyes at me. I love all kinds of music, but I tend to gravitate toward sounds that just further labelled me as a weird outsider to many. I was into 70s Rock at the end of the Disco craze. I held onto Punk Rock when New Wave was pushing it out way too soon. I listened to Alternative bands long before they became chic. Through it all though, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for blues. I love the sound of Bobby Bland, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker and so many others. I mourned the death of Koko Taylor in 2009…with only a few other friends who even knew who she was. But, last night, we lost someone who’s name is known by everyone. The King of the Blues, B.B. King has died.

Just looking at that sentence, I want to delete it, somehow take it back and make it not true. I’m not stupid. I know we all die, but something about B.B. felt immortal to me. In spite of his health problems, in spite of his age, when I got a new alert late last night about his death, I couldn’t even process it. I got out of bed and just sat in the living room in the dark for a while before pulling up his music on my iPod and just losing myself in it for a while. The funny thing was, like so many other times in my life, listening to that music made me feel better, more at peace.

I know. It sounds strange, but listening to blues raises my spirits and B.B. King’s music is a great example for why that is. Blues is not just about crying, “Poor me!” Like so many other performers, many of whom were profoundly influenced by him, King’s music was about embracing the pain in life, but doing it with humor and sarcasm and a huge amount of joy. If you don’t believe that, just pull up some videos of him performing. When he was sitting on stage playing Lucille, there was boundless joy shining in his eyes. The message I got from B.B. King’s music: Life can be hard, but it doesn’t have to beat you down. Of course he’d sing about giving up on life to go shopping  for a tombstone instead (All Over Again), but he’d also sing about a woman doing him wrong while making fun of her in the song (How Blue Can You Get). Then he’d sing about a woman with big feet and a big hard head (“Caldonia”) or he’d record a cover album of Louis Jordan classics like “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens” and “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie”.

In later years, he had plenty of health problems including diabetes. The last time he came out to the Blues Festival in southern New Mexico, he slowly shuffled out onstage and sat after performing only one song while standing, but even though he was clearly no longer even close to being the young man he once was, he never stopped performing for as long as he could physically show up and play and he was always wonderfully friendly, gracious and giving of his time to others, especially the younger musicians who came up idolize get him. He played the role of mentor so comfortably to the likes of Eric Clapton and, of course, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Plus, he could rock the house like no one else!bb_king2

B.B. King was a man who, like we all will, finally succumbed to the frailties and failings of his mortal body. As a man, his life left us with an example of how to live our lives with joy in the good times and bad and how to treat others with humbleness, compassion and respect. As a musician, he remains a giant, a legend, whose music will never fade or lose its impact and whose influence will help mold countless generations of musicians yet to come.

For those of you who took the time to read this, thank you for witnessing me trying to temper my grief with all the positives that a man I greatly admired without ever getting to meet left as his legacy. Tonight, I’m going to listen to B.B.’s music. I’ll grieve his absence from our world and immerse myself in the treasure he left behind. Tomorrow, I’ll get up and try to live according to a very simple sentiment:

Better not look down

If you want to keep on flying

Put the hammer down
Keep it full speed ahead
Better not look back
Or you might just wind up crying
You can keep it moving
If you don’t look down”

Rest in peace, B.B. King