Saturday, April 27, 2024

Pure Americana: College Student Protests

    American College students have a long history of protesting societal grievances. 

From riots over butter to protests against tuition increases, student activists have spoken out for centuries.

There's been a renaissance of American student activism in the last decade. College students are more active than ever before.

With every new crisis threatening higher education, what lessons does the history of student activism hold for the future?

In a nutshell, student activism has brought about major changes in society like pushing for anti-discriminating policies and more.

I remember when San Francisco State University students (I was a senior in high school then) successfully pressured the administration to establish the country's first African American studies department in 1968.

I clearly remember the student protests about the Vietnam War being a major factor of getting out of the mess we created in Southeast Asia.

Moving forward college students around the country are protesting the treatment of Palestinians during the Hama/Israeli war that has resulted in a massive toll of innocent lives.

The students intense focus on what's happening in Gaza has forced the president and Congress to re-examine America's role in helping Israel while standing up and protecting the Palestinian people who are caught up in the crossfire.

One of the lessons from the history of student activism is clear: student activists are most often successful when they bring concrete, specific demands to the administration and to Americans at large.

Demanding an end to the war and release of hostages isn't just coming from college students - countries from around the world are also making the same demands.

As it Stands, time and time again, college students have proved that when they are at the forefront of confronting institutional oppression and societal wrongs, effective change can happen.

Friday, April 26, 2024

The Day a Journalistic Icon Resigned in Disgrace: Dan Rather Interview Set for Sunday

It's been nearly two decades since journalistic icon Dan Rather resigned from CBS after reporting a discredited story about then-President George W. Bush.

He's back. Watch for him on an upcoming episode of CBS Sunday Morning where the 92-year-old former anchor will talk about his work at CBS and his life in news. I'm looking forward to watching this interview.

He's going to be interviewed about the film "Rather," a documentary about his rise to prominence in media and his swift fall from grace.

For those who are unaware of what took down Rather it was about an incident when he cited forged memos disparaging Bush's behavior while he served in the National Guard in the 1970s allegedly written by his commanding officer at the time. 

It was fake news. Apparently Rather and his team did a poor job of vetting the memos and ran the story on "60 Minutes." What really made it bad was it appeared to be a naked attempt to make Bush look bad two months before the 2004 election.

With all of the misinformation we're currently seeing this election year Rather's ethical crime doesn't seem that egregious when you compare it to what's in the news today.

The important distinction between Rather and Fox News is that Rather didn't lie on purpose. His crime was not fully investigating the story. But he resigned and admitted he fouled up in that one incident.

Fox News however turns out fake news daily and when sued for lying the owners still continued to lie with impunity despite hefty fines.

The disgraced anchor's downfall was the subject of the 2015 film "Truth" staring Cate Blachett and Robert Redford, who played Rather.

In 2021, Rather spoke about "misinformation" on PBS NewsHour Weekend, warning on-air how "misinformation, outright lies, propaganda are rampant on the internet."

Despite his controversial exit, Rather has still been a fixture in the media, making regular appearances on CNN and MSNBC during the Trump presidency and is a prolific anti-Trump tweeter.

As it Stands, the upcoming CBS interview should be fascinating with the contrast of journalism today and in Rather's heyday.

Thursday, April 25, 2024

A Life Changer: Living With an Awareness of Mortality

     Since my father died last August, there's been other deaths in my family and among good friends. During this tough stretch I've had an epiphany. Several in fact.

1. Life is too short. Death is lurking behind every challenge in our lives. Naturally and accidently. It can come like a thief in the night. 

2. I've become aware of my own mortality, and it calls for changes in my life. I'm re-evaluating my priorities and unmasking the frivolous, empty pursuits that our culture often validates.

3. Time is the most precious of all commodities. It can't be bought. Period.

Fully embracing the fact that I'm not going to live forever is bringing my values into a sharper focus.

Material things have little, or no, sway with me these days. I don't feel like I need a new house or wardrobe to be happy. 

The subject of social justice is foremost in my thoughts as I watch with some trepidation as Trump tries to tear our Constitutional Democracy apart. 

I've always believed all men/women are equal. That belief is stronger now than ever before.

As a combat veteran with PTSD, I've been struggling with death since I left Vietnam in 1970. I couldn't resolve what I did and saw in the Nam. At times I even embraced death as a solution to my misery.

After 54 years of intrusive thoughts, I think I've come to a peaceful place in this last year as my loved ones passed away. Thanks to Shirley, my wife of 49 years, my priorities are more meaningful now. 

As it Stands, coming to terms with mortality late in life is not all that unusual. Perhaps the saying about old age making us wiser has some merit.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Here's a Collection of Cartoons Because You Need to Laugh

It's time for a laugh break.

With all the chaos and hatred engulfing our country we need to divert our attention toward something positive. Laughing.

After combing through the web, I've selected the following cartoons for your viewing pleasure. 

An interesting sidenote... I've never done this before and am curious how well it does with readers. Let me know what you think.


As it Stands
Have a great day and don't forget how to laugh when you feel like crying!

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

What Options Do Republicans Have if Trump Implodes Tomorrow?

"Well, here's another fine mess you've gotten me into!"

-Oliver Hardy: Sons of the Desert

Republicans have gotten themselves in a fine mess, politically, and morally.

They've staked their future to a former twice impeached president who is facing criminal trials in four different jurisdictions and is a convicted rapist. Not exactly the perfect presidential candidate in anyone's book.

Trump is a walking time bomb. He's already cracking during the first week of his first of four trials. Between falling asleep and farting in court he's been the picture of an old man giving way to his dementia. 

Because Trump has permanent Tourette's syndrome and no self-control he's already at odds with the judge and has violated gag orders with impudence in at least ten examples. The judge really doesn't want to put Trump in jail for the violations and is bending over backward by just giving him financial fines and second and third chances.

A court clash is inevitable. It's such a tough call because the judge wants him in the courtroom. If Judge Merchan decides he has no other choice but to put him in jail accommodations could be made. 

The Manhattan Correctional Center, where Jeffery Epstein ended his life, is only about 100 or so yards away from the courthouse in Manhattan where his trial is taking place. Trump could be confined there and participate in the trial through a video link.

It's also possible Trump could be put in a gilded cage, like Trump Tower or Mar-a-Lago because the Secret Service does have an obligation to protect him.

If jailed - regardless of where he's confined - Trump will play the martyr card and go to new heights as the victim of the century.

However, he could snap and lose whatever tiny bit of sanity he processed and go full looney and be confined to a padded room. With a full-on gibbering idiot Republicans would have to turn to... who?

Exactly. If the day comes and Trump implodes, he's going to guarantee the Republican's will be a minority party for at least the next decade.

There is no plan B. As unimaginable as that may seem to be it's true. Trump hasn't even named his VP pick yet, who could at least be a possible alternative.

Nikki Haley? I don't think so. I have an idea though. They could name Tucker Carlson as their candidate as most of the MAGA cult (once called the Republican Party) currently follows him religiously.

As it Stands, Carlson would also go a long way in keeping Republicans a minority for more than a decade.

Monday, April 22, 2024

It's a Mystery: Why Did Speaker Johnson Suddenly Flip on Ukraine?

A while back, GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Christian, said that he felt like Moses with God parting the sea and elevating him to the speakership.

That dubious blessing turned out to be somewhat of a curse as Johnson has been caught up in a maelstrom of MAGA morons who are enabling Putin and threatening to vacate his seat if he helped Ukraine out.

At first it appeared Johnson was sympatico with the far-right fire starters in the House and a good soldier for Trump who summoned him to Mar-a-Lago to kiss the ring two weeks ago.

But something happened. No one is sure why Johnson opened the floor to vote on aid legislation for America's allies. It was a sure thing Marjorie Taylor Greene and other ultra-right morons would go after him if he did. He knew it but ignored their threats.

Why? Johnson hasn't been a profile in courage in his entire career and now people are suddenly impressed with something he did - Republicans and Democrats alike.

Was it another biblical moment for him like Paul's journey on the Road to Damascus moment when he totally changed his beliefs and acknowledged God's presence in his life?

I'm going to go out on a limb here... but I doubt it. I'm not a particularly religious guy and I tend to look at hard cold facts over miracles. The fact is - despite his big move - Johnson is still Trump's creature.

My guess is it was a convergence of events that convinced him not to hang our allies out to dry. 

His son just graduated from the Naval Academy. Meeting with two GOP house chairs and our intelligence community was a turning point when they laid out the carnage that would follow if a bill wasn't passed. 

Pressure from conservative Republicans who wanted to keep their seats in prominently Democratic areas also played a part in his decision. 

Perhaps he realized he didn't want to be known as the man who turned over our democratic ally to Russia.

The important message is Johnson did the right thing. The bill passed and he seems confident that he'll withstand MTG's lame assault against him. Maybe because - believe it or not - Democrats have told him they would support him in an ouster vote.

As it Stands, we may never know all the reasons that motivated Johnson to do the right thing. Let's just be thankful he did.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

The Realization That You Can't Always Get What You Want

"And I went down to the demonstration

To get my fair share of abuse

Singing "We're going vent our frustration

If we don't, we're going blow a fifty-amp fuse"

Sing it to me, honey...

You can't always get what you want"

The Rolling Stones

Generally, when we reach a certain age, we come to the conclusion we're not always going to get what we want in life. Reality intrudes with practicality in most cases.

However, there's a lot of wealthy families whose children get most of what they want like their parents do. It's called entitlement. But that doesn't mean they get EVERYTHING they want.

I desperately want the LA Lakers to beat the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs despite sports guru's not giving them a chance in hell. 

Okay. They lost game one. It doesn't mean the series is over... at least not in my mind. I'm prepared to back them to the bitter end. It's called being a fan.

The odds are I'm not going to get what I want, and I'll have to wait until next season.

Americans are tired of the constant political warfare being waged over the airways and social media. Most people just want some civility restored where it's safe to debate without going nuclear.

I say to those exhausted people you won't get what you want unless you vote for change and fight for truth and defend facts. Even then you may not get what you want...but at least you gave it a shot.

Being human we don't all react nicely when we don't get what we want. Some people, like rapist and former president Donald Trump throw tantrums and threaten people with harm when their will is thwarted.

There's no such thing as a good loser in 2024. The fact that there's going to be millions of sore losers - regardless of the results - is scary. 

I've come to the conclusion that people are strange. Me included. I can go all day without eating with very little discomfort, but I can barely contain my uncertainty before each Laker game.

Part of me suspects we suffer whether we get what we want or not. If I don't get it, I suffer the loss. If I do get it, I still suffer because my team may lose next time.

As it Stands, there's nothing wrong in going after what you want - it's how you deal with the results that determines the difference between being happy or sad.

Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...