Keeping It Positive on Inauguration Day: Warning–Contains Snark and Snark Byproducts

I don’t trust politicians. I didn’t trust Barack Obama. I don’t trust Donald Trump. For those who say Trump is not a politician, well, he is now.

What I do trust, though, is the process. I trust the process of transition and change. I trust the beauty of free speech and protest. I trust the every-day people who no one knows about that are really running our government.

I also trust the time-honored practice of looking on the positive side of things. So, here are some positives for you, regardless of your political ideology.


Keeping it Positive–We show the whole world how its done. We change our government over every four or eight years without ever firing a shot at anybody. No one dies when we have elections. Martial law is not needed. Look at us world–this is how you do it.

Keeping it Positive–The burden of keeping conspiracy theories going is hard and tiresome, so now those people who have been spreading false information about Obama can rest, and the other side can work up crazy conspiracy theories about Trump. Its is a kind of a balance of insanity that works for us. We can call it Crackpot Zen.

Keeping it Positive–You still have control over your life. I was never in favor of Obama’s policies, however, that didn’t hinder me from enjoying life, making friends, and becoming the best person I can be. I feel pretty much the same way about Trump. POTUS doesn’t have the kind of power to ruin me.

Keeping it Positive–It is way more fun to be snarky. I am very positive that this new POTUS will provide plenty of opportunity for me to be snarky. Mockery will be in full bloom.

Keeping it Positive–Kings and kingdoms rise and fall, but the Word of the Lord remains.

Keeping it Positive–We survived Nixon. We survived Jimmy Carter. We can survive anything.

Keeping it Positive–Republicans now have the responsibility of governing. If they succeed, it will be great for all of us whether we voted GOP or not. If they fail, they will not have long to mess things up, because another round of elections is in two years. Remember, that is what hampered Obama, he overreached, and the people slapped his wrist two years later.

Keeping it Positive–Now Michelle Obama and George Bush can hang out more often.

PIZZERIA FAKE NEWS STORY FREE ASSOCIATION EXERCISE

yeah, i’m looking at you NPRThe story sounds like a drug-inspired paranoia trip. But here it goes.

Some conspiracy whack jobs on the interwebs told everyone that a pizza shop in Washington D.C. was a front for child-sex trafficking and satanic illuminati shenanigans. The conspiracy loons said Hillary Clinton was involved. Their mindless bilge was all propagated as news, when in fact it was fake-news. Fake-news seems to be more profitable than real news.

People believed these lies unconditionally and didn’t bother to check the facts or consider the source.

Death threats were made. Innocent people were harassed. Someone went into the pizzeria and shot off a couple of rounds from an assault rifle. He said he was investigating the claims about Clinton.

I told you it sounded crazy, didn’t I?

In my novel The Little Girl Waits (which you should buy right now) I have a scene where the traffickers are using an auto repair shop as a front for their evil, and the good guys go in to investigate. It is one of the better scenes in the book, IMHO. But that is fiction. This loon took a real rifle into a real pizza restaurant. A PIZZA RESTAURANT! That is not fiction.

So, the next time someone tells me that the elements in my novel aren’t “believable” I’m just gonna point to this.

I’ve come to think that believability in a story is slightly overrated. (By the way, have you bought my novel The Little Girl Waits yet? Go Ahead and get the follow-up to it, How Great is The Darkness while you’re at it.) When I pick up a novel to read, I don’t want it to look exactly like my everyday world. I want it to be different. I want the unexpected. I want to see believable characters in unbelievable situations. In fact, I like that sentence so much, I’m gonna set it off in its own quote bracket to highlight the point like they do in fancy publications.

I want to see believable characters in unbelievable situations

This gets back to another thing I believe in so deeply. Character trumps plot. We love characters. We tolerate plots. The plot only exists to reveal the integrity and grit (or lack thereof) of the character(s). I’ll use Harry Potter because it is so easy. The plot of what is going on and the whose it, spell it, when it, is very inconsequential. We care about Harry, his friends, Dumbledore, and the showdown with Voldemort. The characters are the plot.

Of course, the plot matters. I don’t mean to say it doesn’t have a role to play in the development of a good story. What I am saying is that character development matters far more, and it is the characters that keep the reader engaged. The moment the reader stops caring about the character he or she is likely to put the book down and go turn the television on  and watch the Gilmore Girls–because that is all character.

But back to the pizza shop. It is actually a place called Comet Ping Pong Pizza. Disclosure–I’ve never been there, so the pizza might be lousy.

I think they should lawyer-up and start the lawsuits. If I owned that business, I would sue everyone I could find that pushed that fake news story. I’m not generally litigation happy, but for crying-out-loud there needs to be some accountability here. Free speech is important, but I can’t shout, “Fire” in a movie theater and fake news propagators must be held accountable.

12644809_1017354808326438_8064216445276119356_n1
This is not a real news story

 

There are two problems at play here, as I see it. The first problem is, as this (click here) article on slate points out, conspiracies to hurt children exist. One only has to think of Jerry Sandusky at Penn State or the Catholic Diocese of Boston highlighted in the film Spotlight. It is sickening to think about, but true. The second problem, though, is different. It is the problem that we attribute the worst possible societal crime to our political opponents. It is not enough to suspect a child-sex ring, but somehow it must be Hillary Clinton’s fault. Before the progresses get all high and mighty about this, they need to realize they are equally to blame when they all but accuse Donald Trump of having white hoods in his closet.

This is all problematic. But you know what else is problematic–who we blame. If  I hear one more person blame “the internet” or “social media” for this (yeah, I’m looking at you NPR), I’m gonna do something serious like eat an apple without washing it first. Dont’ try me!

This is not the internet’s fault. The internet is neutral, like a car. You can drive it wherever you want. The internet takes you places and grants you conversation. The problem is not the medium. The problem is that people have lost the ability to think critically. I don’t when it happened, somewhere since my childhood the important skill of analysis has vaporized.

Fake news stories have been here, since, like, forever! The National Enquirer was based on it in my childhood. People read it, but they knew it was garbage.

Somehow we’ve lot the ability to chuckle at the stupidity and move on.

The reason is we want to believe the garbage.

It reminds me a bit of my theology of zombies. You read that right. Zombies have a theology. The short of it is that the zombie genre and our fascination with it hints at a deep down feeling of unease that we have with our life. We have a sense that something is out of balance, something is not quite right in the world, and we are just one bad moment from ending the whole thing. This thinking has crept into our political world. We expect there to be a political apocalypse any day now, when our darkest nightmares are confirmed. It is fatalism that flows from a lack of spirituality. To read more about the theology of zombies, click here.

Therefore, the political enemy must, necessarily, be completely evil. He or she can’t just be wrong on the issue or the policy, he must be completely evil. So George Bush was compared with Hitler, Obama was a secret Muslim, Trump is a Nazi, Clinton is the Illuminati, and on and on and on. This kind of though pollutes our national discourse.

One more thought. Chew on this for a bit. A pastor friend of mine shared this week that someone he knew refused to pray for peace because he believed that the world needed to get worse and worse so that Jesus would come back.

That is how you end up with assault rifles at pizza joints where people are looking for presidential candidates sacrificing children.

 

 

 

POST ELECTION ANALYSIS

FOUR MORE YEARS

 

The only thing more fun (politically speaking) than making election predictions is analyzing them after they happen.  It also gives those of us who love this kind of stuff the opportunity to explain why we were so wrong.  In fact, the subtitle for this blog could be “WHY I WAS WRONG BUT TRUST ME I KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT NOW”.

Let me start by congratulating the President.  Not that he is waiting for my approval or words of affirmation, but I think he would be safe in assuming the election safely gives him ‘legacy’ and puts him in the double dipper category of Bush (43) and Clinton and Nixon.  Bush was bogged down in the Iraq war in his second term and Clinton had the Lewinsky scandal and Nixon, well, we all know about that.  I hope and pray the President avoids scandal and quagmires in his second term.  It would not be good for him or the country.

Now, for some analysis.

1.  Whatya know, the Polls were pretty much right on the money!  I have always viewed polls as primarily skewing Democratic, which is why I thought Romney would win.  But they didn’t.  Instead what we saw was consistent correlation between the actual vote and the polling predictions.

2.  This is still a deeply divided nation.  The electoral map looks more overwhelming than the vote.  Obama only won Ohio and Virginia by the slimmest of margins and as I write Florida is still too close to call.  This divide is  sociological, not political.  The geographic regions of the northeast, the west coast, and the upper midwest are separated by culture and values with the heartland areas and the deep south. 

STUD?

3.  FOXNEWS and MSNBC lost all credibility with me, possibly forever, in their election coverage.  I was flipping between those two and CNN and what I saw was cheerleading at MSNBC and a complete meltdown by some of the personalities at FOXNEWS.  CNN had far better numbers (John King is a demographics stud) and analysis overall of what was taking place.  It was so bad at MSNBC that I thought Rachel Maddow was going to cry for joy as she listed all the wonderful policies that will stay in place because Obama won.

4.  I don’t think the election was about values or policies.  It was about trust.  Mitt Romney was never able to overcome the public image he had of being a mean-spirited evil Wall Street fat cat.  This was coupled with the distrust about his religious leanings and his apparent willingness to say anything, kept him from gaining the trust fact.  People voted for Obama because, in the end, they simply trust him and his ‘gut” more than Romney’s strategic machine. 

Okay that is some baseline analysis.  I still believe that our nation is a “center-right” nation in general so I wouldn’t jump to the grand conclusion that this election spells doom for conservatives and conservative causes.  It does mean, however, that Barack Obama has beaten the Republicans twice, and they will never get the chance to beat him again.  America likes the President.  Sometimes it is that simple.

Okay, so I’ve made my analysis.  Now here is what I want to see.

I want the President and Congress to work together and tackle immigration, the national debt, and tax reform.  Okay–that’s what needs to happen now get to work.

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS AND MY OWN PERSONAL CRYSTAL BALL

ANOTHER FOUR YEARS? (NICE JACKET)

For starters, my crystal ball is sometimes dim and cloudy, but what does it matter?  This post will have a short shelf life anyway.  By Wednesday morning we will know more than now.  However, for the past 20 years or so I have made election predictions.  I have been right the previous four.  The last time I was wrong was the Bush/Clinton/Perot election.  Who knew a crazy man could get that many votes and swing the election to Clinton?  Not me!

TIME FOR A CHANGE? (I NOTICE SLEEVES ROLLED UP)

Please please please keep in mind that regardless of who wins the presidency I will be disappointed.  I am not in love with either candidate, and generally tend to be non-partisan on these issues.  I enjoy watching and speculating, like a person who doesn’t bet on horses might watch a horse race for the pure enjoyment of it.  That’s me.  But before the rest of the nation votes (here in Washington we vote my mail and my ballot was turned in last week) I want to share some of my analysis.

  • If President Obama is re-elected, it will be by a very, very slim margin.  I am one of those who think that he might lose the popular vote but win the electoral vote.
  • Ohio is not the only key state.  I suspect Pennsylvania and Wisconsin might go Romney, as well as Colorado and maybe even Oregon.  Yes, Oregon.  Call me crazy, but I’ve got a hunch.  Romney could win the Presidency without Ohio, which would be a very big deal.
  • Four years ago I predicted then Senator Obama would win, but I couched it by saying he would be a one term president and I likened him to President Carter.  Weirdly, this election cycle reminds me of 1980 a great deal.  Romney, though, is no Ronald Reagan and President Obama is much stronger than Jimmy Carter was.  However, the Benghazi debacle feels a lot like the Iran hostage situation and gas prices feel something like gas lines.  In 1980 it was pretty close in the polls, but when people went to vote, it broke for Reagan.  I feel like it could happen again tomorrow.  It might break for Romney in a big way.
  • Polling traditionally favors Democratic candidates and under reports Republican strength and turnout.  The polling currently is a statistical dead heat nationwide, which means, to my mind, that Romney may actually have  a 4-5 point lead.

Two months ago I would have said the Romney campaign was dead in the water, but right now, analyzing things the way they stand, I predict that Mitt Romney will be the next President of the United States.  Keep in mind, I am not saying that is what I want, but that is my analysis.  If he does win, I think his coattails might be long enough to give the GOP the Senate and the House.  If this is something you are happy about, please accept my congratulations.  If it is not, please don’t blame me.  Besides, there is just as good a chance that I am wrong although I am trying to be objective.

I personally believe that not much will change regardless of who wins.  People will continue to live their lives, go to work, raise their families, and Jesus will still be sovereign.