Holy Night for Aleppo

I helped one of my students, Elsa Lee, create this video to make us think about what the Christmas season really means and the plight of our fellow human beings, particularly those suffering in Aleppo.

I know it’s sad, and not what people want to think about during the holidays, but that’s kinda the point. It’s what we should be thinking about and doing more to help prevent. No, I don’t have some great, wise and simply answer about what to do for the people of Aleppo, but I do know that we, myself included, have done far too little. As people use to ask, “WWJD?” = What Would Jesus Do? I know he wouldn’t be railing against refugees and saying, “It’s not my problem,” and nor should we.

I’ll be on News Talk Nov 22

justice-and-drew-news-talk

I’ve been asked back on Twin Cities News Talk (aka KTLK) this Tuesday, November 22 at 8am CST. I made an appearance on there back in August, when Drew didn’t have a co-host, for the Up And At’ Em program, but now it’s the Justice & Drew show. You can listen in the Twin Cities on AM1130 or on the Internet from anywhere.

November 22 marks fifty three years since President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. I suspect we will mostly be talking about that tragic day and my documentary, Conspiracy Theorists Lie (2015), along with general conspiracy talk. It should be fun and I hope you will tune in.

UPDATED:

I will be going on the air at 7:30am CST.

UPDATE:

Here is the podcast version of of my appearance. I began in hour 2 and continued on into the first part of hour 3.

Fake History

There has been a good deal of talk lately about fake news and how social media has helped it flourish. Hopefully this will prompt more people to think critically about the bubbles we all live in and the need for thoughtful, fact-checked, and well-edited news outlets. This is not to say that the mainstream media is always correct, or free from bias, of course not, but it is vastly superior to the alt-right, radical leftist, and otherwise conspiratorial “news” on the Internet.

As regular readers already know, I have spent years now arguing against fake history and the danger of its widespread acceptance. My documentary, Conspiracy Theorists Lie (2015), deals with the gateway drug to all modern conspiracy theories, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the overwhelming load of nonsense that surrounds that case. Additionally, I have written on the subject and tried hard to champaign a rational, thoughtful view of history through every means at my disposal.

tellthetruthnov22I recently asked people to help me #TellTheTruthNov22 and turn that sad day into a hopeful one. Please take a few minutes out of your day to do what you can. Here are some suggestions:

  • Use the hashtag #TellTheTruthNov22 to show your support.
  • Invite your friends and enemies to check out my work.
  • Give Conspiracy Theorist Lie a positive review on the Internet Movie Database, Amazon, and indieflix.
  • Contact media outlets, show hosts, and journalist to tell them the truth is worth covering.

There is no shortage of conspiracy nuts out there with large media soapboxes and megaphones from which they can spew their poison. Men like Roger Stone, who even NPR has cited as simply a, “Trump advisor,” rather than a compulsive liar. Help me grow my audience and become the alternative to this garbage. Help me make fake history a thing of the past.

It ain’t just a river in Africa

There was a tweet I saw a couple months ago when Trump won the Republican nomination that made me laugh but now haunts me. If you’ve seen the Netflix show, Stranger Things, you’ll understand. “This is the Upside Down and We Are Barbara. We Are Barbara!”

this-is-the-upside-down-and-we-are-babara

If you don’t get it, think of it this way. We are all partying on the Titanic and the iceberg just scraped by. We have no idea what we are in for.

Throughout this ridiculous election session I, along with millions of others, have been living in denial. “Trump couldn’t possibly win.” No matter how much he continued to win we kept telling ourselves this. “Surely the American people can’t be this racist, this sexist, this xenophobic, this dumb, this crazy.” Last night we found out how wrong we were.

I can only hope at this point that Trump’s actions will prove to be less radical than his rhetoric, and that the dreaded “establishment” he ran against will somehow be able to keep him in check. Neither of these possibilities seems likely at this point and I fear millions of Trump voters will soon be forced to admit that they too were living in denial about what a Trump Administration really means.

I’m still in shock but it’s being to turn to disgust. I’m upset at the poor choices the major parties gave us and the pathetic efforts of prominent Republicans and Conservatives to  do more to stop this madness. I’m also upset with myself for not doing more. Sure, I wrote and spoke out against The Donald from the start but I should have been yelling on the street corners and rooftops. I know, you’re thinking that probably wouldn’t have worked, but most everyone a year ago thought that a Trump candidacy probably wouldn’t work and look at how that turned out. A good argument can be made that Trump has proved the wisdom of the old old Spartan war cry: “He who dares, wins.” May we learn from this and prepare to fight again another day.

UPDATE:

Since writing this yesterday I have been thinking about how easy it is for people to dismiss my words as more hyperbolic rhetoric. We’ve all become so used to politicians being denounced as corrupt, immoral, evil, the worst thing since Hitler, etc., that we’ve become numb to it. Sure, he’s bad, but so is she, and it all become the same meaningless computation in which everything is equally bad. Should a candidate come along who is uniquely unqualified and dangerous this is dismissed as another, “boy who cried, wolf,” non-event.

I understand why Secretary Clinton and President Obama felt they have to play nice and tell us to give Trump a chance. They figure there is nothing to gain from harping on the problems they have identified with the man at this point but this also makes their previous words feel like just another game; just more rhetoric; just name calling, rather than reality. I was very disappointed in Mitt Romney, who correctly identified Trump as someone who should never be given power, and invoked John Adam’s famous warning that democracies die of suicide. His efforts were too little, too late, to stop the Trump Train but now they have been completely wiped out in a single tweet:

romney-trump-tweet-after-election

One statement I did find myself identifying with was Van Jones question on CNN about how we explain this to our children? He is right to call this, “a nightmare,” and not just for minorities. I too don’t know what to say to my son. Even when children are too young to understand all the horrible things that Trump has said, they still know that Trump is a bad man and bad men should not be president. I wasn’t happy when Obama won in 2008 and 2012, because I voted for the other guys, but I never bought into the denunciations that he was unAmerican or maniacal. In fact, he seems like a very good man and I was proud to tell my son, “That’s our President. And we respect the presidency.” But now, how can I point to a President Trump (the words still sounds like a bad joke), who embodies everything I do not want my son to be, who does not respect other human beings on so many levels, and tell my son to respect him?

It genuinely sickens and frightens me that a man who courted the White Nationalist (i.e. hardcore racist) vote and has excited them like no other candidate in my lifetime, was actually voted into office. Even if Trump does not live up to their expectations, what will they be inspired to do? Just look at what they are saying and ask yourself, “Why are they so happy about this election? What does it mean to them? And what will that mean for us?” I know that in his victory speech, Trump tried to play the role of unifier, but who can actually believe any of this? We all know that’s not who he is.

I realize that 99.9875% of the population is, “So over it,” and just needs to move on with their lives, but I can’t pretend that this was just another election. I think the Titanic analogy is an apt one. The Titanic was built to withstand a direct hit by an iceberg, just as our Republic was built to withstand the power-hungry machinations of a single man, but under the right (or wrong) circumstances, you never know what will happen, because these protections depend on certain assumptions about the danger at hand and Trump clearly doesn’t follow standard assumption of normal behavior. Will Trump sink the Republic and kill more than half of us? Probably not. But will he be just another president, and maybe even a good one? Certainly not. Believe me!

45: Happy Birthday to Me

When I was in elementary school I had a teacher who bought a stack of books to give away on the last day of class before Summer. All the boys wanted the same one, a sci-fi, “Choose your own adventure,” time travel story, with multiple endings. We all had to pick a number from 1 to 100 and try to match the teacher’s random pick. I knew the smartest answer would be to go right in the middle, 50, but I felt liked 45 sounded better. It was close enough to the middle to be reasonably smart but, more importantly, I had a connection to it, in one of those silly, superstitious, synchronicity kind of ways that we all get tempted by from time to time; when something just feels right.

As it happened (dumb luck, I know) the teacher also chose 45 and the prized book was mine. Since then I’ve often noticed 45 in my life, as if it were significant. I know, that’s the way the mind works, we all see patterns that aren’t really there (e.g. noticing the two times that 45 happens to comes up in one day and ignoring the hundreds, if not thousands of other numbers you might have encountered). Still, I’ve continued to imagine that it mattered; that it was my, “lucky number.”

Today is my forty fifth birthday and we are on the verge of electing our forty fifth president. Oh yeah, and my son just told me the other night that his current weight is forty five pounds. In the back of my mind I have long imagined that this will be a lucky year for me; a major turning point. But that seems increasingly silly.

For the last month or so I have been fixating on the fact that I will soon be closer to 50 than 40. A half a century and what have I done with it? The sad truth is, I have spent far too much time trying to, “be somebody,” and looking to measurements of worth that are worthless. I have also spent too little time appreciating what I have. I think it’s time to stop freaking out about numbers and get on with life.

So, maybe 45 is a turning point, and a marker of “lucky” times ahead, but only if I choose to make it so. Man, I’m getting corny in my old age. Before you know it I’ll be writing self-help books about the power of positive thinking. Okay, I probably won’t go that far, but at least I’m finally happy with the path I’m on and the man I’ve become.