Category: current events

Everyone Has Flaws, Some Major

When I went to check the news this morning, I was greeted with a new-to-me (and likely you) quote from President Reagan, back before he became President. The unedited version just surfaced in the Nixon Library, and it’s from when then-Governor Reagan called President Nixon up after the UN voted to recognize China. Reagan was not a fan (to put it mildly) of the way the delegation of Tanzania celebrated after the vote, which he disapproved of. He said:

To see those, those monkeys from those African countries — damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!

As a person who grew up admiring Reagan, reading this quote was more than a little unsettling. It’s so unabashedly racist, any which way you slice it. There’s no getting around that fact. For someone to think this, let alone speak it, says something about that person’s view of the world.

This made me think about the broader debate on who deserves to be honored with awards named after them, statues erected to them, buildings named in their honor, etc. Everything from Confederate statues to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. Some have carried that argument forward, saying people like Washington and Jefferson shouldn’t be revered because of troubling issues in their past.

(A quick side note to say I believe there’s a huge difference between someone expressing racist thoughts in 1780 and someone expressing the same thoughts in 1980, and they should be weighed accordingly.)

The more I think about it, the more clear it becomes that any award or building or monument dedicated to any person runs the risk of having a PR crisis at some point in the future, because people are people. They all have flaws. Is it possible for a blatant racist to accomplish great things? Sure it is. Being a racist doesn’t preclude them from fighting Communism, for example. (It also doesn’t stop them from making bigger mistakes or bigger great decisions.)

On the one hand, I believe if we go around trying to clean up and sanitize all the monuments to men or women around the world, we’ll likely end up with no monuments at all. If we knew the totality of each individual’s life, I’m confident we’d find evidence to disqualify them for being honored. (Cutting some of you off at the pass here: let’s remove Jesus Christ from the data set, just to keep things focused.)

So is that, then, the solution? No naming buildings? No making monuments? I don’t think so. I think naming something after someone only becomes problematic when we begin to put the person up on the same pedestal his monument rests on. But I also think that simply the act of erecting a monument or naming an award doesn’t equate to endorsing everything that person ever did, thought, or said. Down that path, no one’s recognized for anything. And recognition is important.

Why? Because it’s what helps us strive to be better. Seeing someone take a stand or break a world record or overcome some obstacle can inspire us to know that more is possible. The monuments and the awards are for the specific things those people accomplished in their field.

So my thinking on this has changed some since I first encountered the concept of tearing down memorials to flawed individuals. Not that I don’t believe there are some memorials worth tearing down (I still think there are), but rather that we need to be conscious about the greater place of that memorial or award. The context of where it sits, who it influences, what it endorses, and how it came to be.

Do I still admire Reagan? Sure, for some of the things he did. But I know for a fact he was racist, and that changes my evaluation of him as well. Do I believe we need to rename Reagan International Airport? Probably not. But my estimation of him as a President has already gone down a fair bit over the years, and this recent revelation has caused it to sink further.

I don’t know . . . I’m still processing some of this. Maybe it was all old news to some of you, but it was new news to me. What are your thoughts around this whole topic?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Pray for Trump

I read an article this morning that Franklin Graham, son of the late evangelist Billy Graham, is trying to organize a national “Pray for Trump” day this coming Sunday. According to Graham, Trump is surrounded by enemies and needs divine intervention at this point to protect him and bring him to whatever glorious endgame God must surely have in store for the man.

And I certainly believe there’s an endgame waiting for Trump. On that, Franklin Graham and I definitely agree, even if the temperature of that endgame might be up for debate. I’m also all for praying for the man. After all, the first scripture that came to mind when I read the challenge was Matthew 5:

38 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, An aeye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not aevil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right bcheekcturn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
42 aGive to him that asketh thee, and from him that would bborrow of thee turn not thou away.
43 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt alove thy bneighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, aLove your benemiescbless them that dcurse you, do egood to them that fhate you, and gpray for them which despitefully use you, and hpersecute you;
45 That ye amay be the bchildren of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth crain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye alove them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 aBe ye therefore bperfect, even as your cFather which is in heaven is dperfect.

There’s a narrative that’s being used by some religious groups that’s deeply disturbing to me, even as I once bought into it. Confession time: I remember in the days after 9/11, I felt that George Bush had been helped by God to win the 2000 election because of what lay in store for the country. That if Al Gore had been president at that time, things would have been much worse. (Go easy on me. I was 23, and in Utah.)

That’s not an idea that I plucked out of the ether. It’s an idea many Republicans believed then, and probably still believe. Within my own faith, we believe the Founding Fathers of America were inspired by God to create a new template of freedoms, and I continue to believe that, although I don’t buy into the almost sainthood status some within my faith would have us bestow on them. The Founding Fathers were still simply men, warts and all.

But sooner or later all this “God put ____________ into office” logic begins to break down. To hear the Republicans, they’d have God helping in some elections and sitting others out. He got Bush into office, but then took a couple of election cycles off, letting Obama (who some Republicans called the anti-Christ, and I am not making that up, sadly), have a turn in the Oval Office. But then He came back to help Trump get in. But while He pulled that stunt off without the help of a national day of prayer to get Trump elected, apparently things are bad enough now that we need to move the prayer needle back to Trump’s favor.

Of course, it’s a dangerous thing to dismiss the role of God in our lives. To toss out the potential for prayer to actually have a real impact on us personally. I remember one of my professors at BYU questioning how mass prayers really were supposed to work. As if God was up in heaven, waiting to pour out blessings or unleash the heavenly host to come to our aid, but He had to wait for the giant Prayer Meter to get to a certain point before He could. And if someone ended up dying, God snapped his fingers in disappointment and said, “Shoot. They were just five prayers shy of me being able to help.”

That sounds ridiculous, and I don’t believe it. Yet I also think there are times when the collective faith of the many opens up avenues not otherwise available. There’s a dissonance in those two ways of thinking, and it’s not a dissonance I’ve totally come to peace with yet. I tend to believe it’s because my understanding is limited to a strict cause/effect way of thinking. But that’s a thinking bounded by a fourth dimension (time) that’s always linear. Always moving from cause to effect. But if a being could be outside that linear restriction, could the effect ever come before the cause? Could it be planned for, not ahead of time, but outside of it?

And now we’ve reached a point I had no idea I was even headed in when I started this simple post about praying for Trump. So before I head further down that rabbit hole, I’m going to back up and leave the topic for another time.

Where was I?

Praying for Trump.

I’m baffled that so many religious people can continue to put so much faith in a man who is so clearly without morals. Who doesn’t just spit on every single one of the ten commandments, but smiles while he does it and assures you he isn’t, even as the spittle’s still wet. This, then, is the tool God is using to keep the country safe?

I don’t doubt God capable of working through even the most rusty and decrepit of tools. His work will eventually be complete, no matter what. But I can’t pray for Trump to continue down the path he’s on. I can’t believe it’s one God looks on favorably.

Will I pray for Trump? Sure. The way the Children of Israel prayed that God would soften Pharaoh’s heart. The way Christ prayed for the men who crucified Him. I will pray for Trump the way Paul exhorted Timothy:

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
For akings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and bpeaceable clife in all godliness and dhonesty.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

Here’s hoping it does some good.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

On Abortion

Ugh. This isn’t really a post I wanted to write. Not because I don’t have feelings on the subject, but because so many people have a fairly high chance of sniping at each other in the comments section, and I don’t have any time to police the comments section these days.

However, I also recognize that’s a terrible reason not to speak up on an issue when I speak up on almost every other significant issue to come down the pike, and so I’m going to get over my reluctance and say a few things on this important topic.

This is actually one area where I personally am very proud of my church’s stance on the issue, and where I am fully in line with its statement. Here’s the most relevant part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s statement on abortion:

Church leaders have said that some exceptional circumstances may justify an abortion, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But even these circumstances do not automatically justify an abortion. Those who face such circumstances should consider abortion only after consulting with their local Church leaders and receiving a confirmation through earnest prayer.

Now, an explanation from me. I am against elective abortion when it’s something done for personal or social convenience. I know there’s the pithy “women had a choice when they decided whether or not to have sex” statement anti-abortion folks like to trot out, and I agree with that sentiment, assuming the woman did, indeed, have a choice in the matter. Getting pregnant is a natural potential consequence of having sex, even if you are using some form of birth control. I don’t believe ending the life of a child (or a potential child) because it isn’t convenient is a good enough reason. The “my body my choice” memes making the rounds aren’t something I can get behind 100%, though of course I also recognize that I am not and will never be a woman, and I have no chance of ever getting pregnant, and so it will never be my body or my choice. I’m still part of society, though, and I would vote for a law that outlaws abortion for personal and/or social convenience.

At the same time, I definitely recognize there are times when that choice was ripped away from a woman, and I am so grateful my church recognizes it as well.

Why do so many governments insist on removing any exemption clauses on abortion laws? I have to assume it’s because they worry that if those clauses exist, women will just claim they were raped in order to have abortions. And so they decide it’s more important that no abortions happen than it is that some women are able to have some say in the matter of what happens to themselves in the case of rape or incest.

I find that despicable.

If a woman wants to claim something that isn’t true in order to fit the stipulations of the law, that’s up to her, not me. I’d rather protect the ones who really need protection. I would be fine with any law that prohibited abortion for personal or social convenience, so long as it included exemptions for the cases outlined above. Without those exemptions, I don’t believe any law should be passed. So I’m very much against the recent abortion laws being passed.

Which likely means I’m irritating friends on both sides of the issue with this post. Not the first time, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise anyone. I would like to think there’s more people in my boat, agreeing with elements of both sides of the debate. But don’t we all like to think most people agree with us most of the time?

I don’t have anything to add beyond what I’ve said here, other than a request that people keep the comments civil. Here’s hoping.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

On the CMP Corridor

This post might be a fair bit shorter than many of you might expect. I haven’t said anything about the CMP corridor, despite it being pretty big news here in my home in western Maine. For those of you outside the state, it boils down to this: there’s an effort to bring Canadian power down to New England, and to make it happen, it has to go through Maine. That much is established fact. What’s far from established is what all of that means. To illustrate, allow me to quote the summaries that supporters and objectors are using for the project. Guess who says what.

First:

The New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) is Central Maine Power’s proposed 145-mile long corridor of thousands of high-voltage megatowers cut through the Maine woods. CMP’s corridor would be as wide as the New Jersey Turnpike, and the towers each as large as the Eastland Hotel in Portland. This corridor would be cut through pristine Maine wilderness in order to bring electricity from Canada to Massachusetts, with no stops in between.

Second:

Why do so many people support New England Clean Energy Connect? Because it will create jobs, revenue and economic opportunity for Maine residents and cleaner air throughout New England at no cost to Maine residents.

To say there are strong feelings around this project would be a severe understatement. But it’s also far from as straightforward as either side would have you believe. How can you know that? Well, it’s a project that received support from both our Trump-lite former governor Paul Le Page and our staunch Democrat new governor Janet Mills. (Though they supported it for different reasons.)

Of course, some would say that’s just a sign of our politicians selling out to big business, but I need a few more facts before I decide to whip out the old tinfoil hat, and I tend to think many “conspiracies” are nothing more than people choosing to read the facts in a certain light.

So where do I fall in all of this?

Nowhere. I have been unable to find reliable information sources that convince me one way or another. At this point, big money has entered the picture on both sides of the argument, and both sides are using the exact same arguments. If you love the environment, then you either hate this project for slicing up our pristine woodlands, or you love it for bringing clean energy and cleaner air to all. If you’re about economic development, you either want Canada to take its power and go home, or you want all these jobs that will come to Maine.

Frankly, the arguments all make good points. (At least as far as I’ve studied them, which is admittedly not extensively.) And I have heard no argument strong enough to persuade me to get off the fence where it’s nice and comfy. At this point, it feels like they’re all talking around in circles, and so I stop really caring what decision they come up with and just wish they’d come up with a decision. Either way, we’re still going to have both the end of the world and a bright new ecological utopia, so just pick one.

If I had to vote one way or another, then I would vote in favor of the corridor. Why? Because people I know and respect have heard the arguments far better than I could, and they’ve come to decide that’s the best choice. I don’t personally know Governor Mills, but I have friends who do. I don’t believe she’d fold to corruption in the few months she’s been in office. I think she heard the arguments, for and against, given by experts, and she reached a conclusion.

Fair enough.

But that’s only if I were forced to vote. In reality, I’m not, and so I won’t. Not even to advocate that you support or reject the corridor. (Though I’ll likely get friends telling me I’m wrong no matter what.) In an ideal world, we’d have more time, hire some independent analysts, and really get a handle on what the impact of all of this will be. But it appears we don’t have time, so . . .

Whatever?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

What, Exactly, Did You Expect the Mueller Report To Do?

Ever since Mueller began investigating Trump and the 2016 election, the whole effort seemed to snowball in importance. More and more people began to talk about what the report was going to do. We all watched it develop, and some read so much into the slightest bits of news that would come out. The argument was Mueller was a genius, and he was going to prove once and for all that Trump was crooked. It was all one big masterplan, and once it was complete, the world would know at long last all the Truth about what really happened.

At least, that’s what people came to believe, it seemed. And now the report is finished, and Trump’s Attorney General read it and assured us all that it cleared Trump of any wrong doing. (In other news, Cruella DeVille’s lawyer read over the independent investigator’s report into a string of dognappings and assured the public Ms. DeVille was totally exonerated by its findings, though maybe the report wasn’t ever going to be released to the public . . .)

Of course there’s no small amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth, but I’m left wondering what, exactly, people expected to get out of this report. Yes, I realize it was the mythical silver bullet that was going to Solve Everything, but anyone who believes that somehow still believes the problem lies solely with Trump. That if we could just get him out of office, then all would be well with the country again.

As I’ve said before, President Trump is really just a symptom of deep seated problems in America. 90% of Republicans think he’s doing a swell job. 1 in 3 independents think the same thing. Heck, even 4% of Democrats like what he’s up to. Yes, he’s able to cause all sorts of problems from his seat in the Oval Office, but the continued tolerance for him and his approach to politics and life in general isn’t going to go away with the wave of a wand or the lines of a report.

Imagine, for a moment, that the report said Trump was 100% guilty of collusion. That he’d personally called Putin up on the phone and asked him to help win him the election. Imagine that phone recordings of the conversation were even included, complete with a Dr. Evil-style laugh fest at the end of the talk, as they all contemplated how awesome this plan was going to be.

I honestly don’t think even that would have moved the needle enough to do anything other than further divide the country. Yes, it likely would have persuaded more independents, but in this day of Deepfakes and altered media, it’s too easy to dismiss anything. You’d have Republicans claiming the tape was doctored, and they’d trot out evidence of it, then all assure each other that evidence should be believed.

If you think I’m dreaming, then consider for a moment the response by some to the shootings in New Zealand. Livestreamed on Facebook. Manifesto published by the killer online. And yet you still have people claiming it was all done by actors. That it’s one big conspiracy. (I’m not going to link to any of it, and I don’t recommend any of you check out the idiotic arguments. They’re not worth the digital bits they occupy on a hard drive.) Never mind the countless witnesses. The law enforcement. The hospital workers. The news coverage. These people are fully ready to dismiss all of that as a conspiracy.

I understand the hope. The thought that somehow the general public will come to its senses and give Trump the boot. But it’s not going to happen through a Report. Trump’s power is rooted in fear. In making people afraid of people who are different than they are. That the country is changing, and that we are under attack. The only real way to combat that is either to somehow get those people who are afraid to overcome their fear, or to wait for those people who are afraid to be drowned out by people who don’t share that sentiment.

I don’t have solutions in this post. I know yelling at Republicans and calling them names won’t solve anything. The same is true for putting all your faith in Democrats, as if they’re the morally superior party. I personally believe the best shot we have at getting out of this is by breaking out of the two party system and the lie we’ve agreed to believe that one side is Right and the other side is Wrong. But one thing I’m sure of is that it’s going to take a whole lot more than a Report to make all of this go away.

We’ll have another presidential election in 2020. And we’ll see how the country’s feeling at that point. But it can’t be a “right vs. wrong” mentality that gets us out of this. Republicans aren’t 100% wrong, and Democrats aren’t 100% right, or vice versa. If you believe they are, then I’d argue you’re part of the problem too. Dismissing Republicans as “evil” or “bigots” is just another flavor of dismissing the Other.

But at this point, I feel like I’m just turning preachy. My apologies. It’s Monday, and no Report is going to solve any of my problems today, it seems.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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