A (damn) Shame


It wasn’t enough for Senator Mitch McConnell to brag that he would make President Barrack Obama a ‘one term president.’

Certainly that got him howls of support from those who carry latent racism in their hearts. And certainly it got McConnell the support of fellow obstructionists.

But, it didn’t work.

President Obama was reelected by a significant enough majority that left the troubled and divided Republican party scratching their heads.

Now, McConnell is back at his obstructionist worst, again trying to derail President Obama at the cost of the people he was elected to serve.

It’s bad enough that in his constipated, stubborn-as-a-bulldog-hanging-on-to-a postal-employee’s-ankle way, McConnell willfully caused potential court back-log by refusing to even meet with Merrick Garland, the presidents nominee for the vacant Supreme Court position made empty by Judge Anthony Scalias recent death. The guy won’t even talk to the nominee.

Now, the ‘great obstructionist’ brings it a little closer to home. He now will not consider President Obama’s nomination of Kentucky Supreme Court Justice, Lisabeth Taylor. Why? Because he says, that the president ‘did not consult him’ before submitting the nomination.

My friends, this has gone beyond ridiculous.

Most of us in the working world know the likely consequence of not doing our jobs. If we have been a good, faithful employee, maybe a refusal to work might be met with some attempt to reason with us. An attempt to find some solution. If our work history has been full of such refusals (as McConnell’s has,) the attempt might not be made.

Each time McConnell refuses to do his job, I have to, in absolute shock, ask: “How much more?”

Indeed, I have to ask, how much longer, will the citizens of this Commonwealth, and the country at large, even at the most extreme fringes, tolerate a paid public servant who draws a salary, but fails to be productive?

It would be one thing if he voted against every nominee that the President proposed. That would be regrettable, but would be his right to do. But Senator McConnell won’t even schedule a meeting. He won’t provide the basic respect of meeting, face to face, one man to another.

This has gone on long enough.

During the last senatorial election, I wrote a letter expressing concerns about McConnell’s stand on gun control legislation. I got, after a lengthy wait, a two page letter full of Conservative rhetoric, that was somewhat condescending. In it, McConnell said that he was acting in the best interests of all of the citizens of the Commonwealth (whether they liked it or not.) If I recall correctly, he then asked for a donation to his re-election campaign.

It’s one thing to be stubborn, convinced you are right to the point that new information fails to register. I think we all get that way from time to time. That’s why disagreements of all types occur–from obstruction in congress, family estrangement, even divorce between couples. Failure to consider the other person’s point of view, feet cemented in our own idea of what is right has led to wars, schisms and every other kind of ‘ism that has left our society all the more poorer.

What can we do?

If we can not get an elected official to do the basic minimum of his job, to simply meet with a nominee, we must, as ‘supervisors’ (voters) ask what we can do to deal with this nonproductive employee.

In a work situation, a supervisor might consider putting such an employee on a performance plan. Said employee would then have measurable expectations to perform during a specific period of time in order to improve their work performance. Documentation of the expectations with signed agreement of both the supervisor and the employee would be part of this.

In centuries past, a leader (in that instance, king) who thought he didn’t have to answer anyone was shown the light of day through the Magna Carta, a ‘performance plan’ which indicated that his people had certain expectations. Shouldn’t Congress have the same expectations?

Senators and Representatives come to office, seemingly free of any constraints on how to do their job, except for fear of not being re-elected. Perhaps it is time for all congressional ’employees’ to have, from the get go, specific performance plans that spell out expectations within their elected time. Failure to meet these expectations might be the official being unqualified to run for office for an additional term, or, ever again.

Certainly, President Obama is not the ‘supervisor’ of Senator McConnell. Indeed, McConnell has, in his reprehensible toddler like fashion, made it clear that he thinks that no one is ‘the boss of’ him. I’m not sure who would be the party to have a sit down meeting with the Senator and tell him that he is failing to meet even minimal expectations.

The troubled mess our congress is now in is the perfect example of what happens when we allow employees to run about in a consequence free environment.

I was possibly harsh when I called Senator McConnell’s behavior racist. But other than having a racist agenda what could it be? In his 30 years of being in Congress, has the Senator ever responded with such a violent dislike to any elected leader?

McConnell could not make Obama a ‘one term president.’ That has to gall him. But now he is like the sea serpent in the C.S Lewis book, the ‘Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” The serpent, failing to crush the Narnian ship within its grasp, is so blinded in its agenda to destroy, that the ship gets away. The serpent is last seen biting its own tail, so furious in its single-mindedness, that it has become blind to all else.

I am not saying that, to prove his lack of racism, McConnell should do everything the President wishes. That would be going too far the other way. But it is time to stop saying ‘no’ to everything President Obama tries to do.

As a former therapist, I learned to watch for patterns in problem behavior of my clients. I still believe in looking for those patterns in any problem situation. It has to be clear now that McConnell is not going to quash this man that he so obviously dislikes. He is making himself and his political party look like a gang of dissatisfied, spoiled children. He is so set on his agenda against the President, that he may end up destroying his own politicial party. Is it worth it?

When I first heard about McConnell’s most recent obstruction of President Obama’s Supreme Court candidate, I was furious. I wanted to start a petition to call for his expulsion from his office. I wanted to send letters to every elected member of Congress calling for his censure. I may still do that.

When one man’s agenda shows total contempt for the highest elected office in the land, something has to change. McConnell’s problem has become our country’s problem. And, its a shame.

What can we do? Other than exercise our right to vote and to lobby Congress to change, I am not sure. And that is the saddest thing of this whole mess.

McConnell’s problem has become our problem.

And, its a shame. A damn shame indeed.

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Trump: Why Black Lives SHOULD Matter


Presidential Candidate Donald Trump appears to suffer from one specific kind of color-blindness: He appears only to see the color White. 

It was bad enough that he began (and continues to) run his presidential campain with the type of inflamatory comments that tend to appeal to the demographic of angry, older white men (and women who haven’t thought it through.)

Worse, he then pontificates about ‘making America great again’– partially by building a wall to keep people—specifically Mexican people in search of a better life—OUT. He conveniently forgets when saying this that we are a nation of invaders who conquered the mostly peaceful native Americans in the name of manifest destiny.  

It is strange that people who espouse this ‘build the wall’ idea forget such history. Some of our ancestors came to  North America to flee religious persecution. Some came to work off being indentured due to debts or criminal issues. Some came unwillingly, to be sold to the highest bidder, their lives no longer their own.

Some saw the ‘new world’ as a chance to make a new life for themselves and their families. Never mind that people already lived there, minding their own business. But, that’s another story. 

We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it. Or, with the mentality of the biblical mule that lacks understanding, we can repeat past mistakes again and again. 

I had a problem with people rising up righteously proclaiming Trump a ‘bad Christian.’ Who isn’t? Anyone who can tell me that they get their walk with God right 24-7-365 has either a problem with delusional behavior or spiritual pride.

However, I do have a problem with Trump appealing to the base side of humanity’s tendency throughout time, to pick a scapegoat to abuse, minimalize and blame for their own shortcomings.

Trump’s idea to imitate the former Soviet Union in building a wall frightened me. Think of the precedent. We build a wall to keep ‘undesirables’ out (who decides who is undesirable?) How long before that wall becomes a structure to keep people IN?

How long can America remain free with such a fascist ideology in place? Is that making our nation (which I think is already awesome) “great” again? 

Yesterday, at lunch, a tiny article in my newspaper mentioned that Trump also refused (initally) to disavow white supreamacist groups such as the Klu Klux Klan. Or David Duke, who seems to think that Trump is the only ‘salvation’ for this country.  

Trump said he would not voice an opinion without doing some research. 

Wow—that’s unusual. Trump frequently shoots off his mouth without doing said research. Yet, on this very relevant issue, he claimed to not know enough to express an opinion.  

Let me tell you, people. I grew up in Southeast Alabama. I worked for many years in NW Florida. If you don’t know what the Klu Klux Klan is, you’ve been living in a cave. It may have gone underground in recent years, but white supremancy is alive, well, and very dangerous.

We are more likely to have what I call the ‘lace-doily’ type racism today. Racism hidden behind defeatist policies of government, military and yes, our law enforcement, but we still have racism. You don’t have to research the Klan to know that it is bad. 

If you are really unsure, ask a member. They may hide under sheets, but their opinions  often give them away.

I recall a school principal who proudly told me that  the Klan was ‘just a social club.’ I wasn’t comfortable socializing with this person again. Especially since, just before this comment was made, this ‘social club’ had burned down the home of a interracial couple in our area. Not quite my idea of ‘socializing.’ 

When Trump’s tap dancing to evade his disavowal of white supremacy groups stirred up (justifiably) many potential voters, he was quoted as saying, “Okay, okay, I disavow them.”  

This reminds me of the little kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He only says ‘sorry’ because he has been caught and is likely facing consequences—likely of the unpleasant kind. 

This morning, while waiting on a checkup at my doctor’s office, I saw where a friend had posted another amazing example of Trump’s lack of care for the Black community. He had a rally in Georgia, and saw a group of Black students peacefully assembled. His asked the Secret Service, before the rally started, to have these young men leave. This was on the campus where these students were paid enrollees.  

I will ask the question that leaps to mind—would he have done this if this group was a bunch of Ivy-leage looking WASPS? Likely not. He would have assumed they belonged there because of the way they looked. Yet, if he saw a Black or Hispanic there, God knows what meanness they would have on their minds. Gotta get them ‘outta there!’ 

I think one thing that is being proven to America, sadly, sometimes by demonstrations and violence, is that Black people are tired of being stepped on, discounted, and found as something less than worthwhile.

Black lives do matter.  Just as much as the lives of any other human being on the planet. It past time to stop pretending that they do not.

It is surprising to me that Trump, as a successful businessman, doesn’t grasp a simple marketing principle that merchandizing giants such as Wal-Mart and other stores got about 20 years ago. Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and yes, Same-Sex couples have amazing purchasing powers. They have good jobs, good taste, and they can lay that cash down in a hurry to enrich a retailer’s bottom line.

IF they are treated right.  

The Montgomery bus boycott in the 60’s (led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) proved this point in a time when black jobs were not likely to be as well-paying as now. Today’s success of minorities in the business world proves one thing—they’ve come a long way, baby. It is to the peril of marketers (and politicans) to not realize that. 

That Trump doesn’t seem to understand that Black (or other minority) lives matter may come back to haunt him. It may be, when it comes time for America to vote, that he will find that it is he, not them, being politely asked to leave the event.