Expedient morality

It is a rather sad state of affairs when children who could be the victims of sexual predators, or may already be, see that what is more important than their physical and psychological well being is whether or not a tax cut for the top 1% and corporations will get them more wealthy.

A conservative child molester is more preferable to some than is a liberal.

It is how Donald Trump wants it.

Charity should not cancel itself out.

There are over 435,000 people living in the United States on Temporary Protected Status (TPS). They were granted this status because they come from countries affected by violence or disasters, and it can be renewed for as long as it is unsafe to return.

Yes, temporary may be in the title, but “temporary” should be controlled by whether or not the conditions that had many of these people flee death come to an end. The time should only run out when the life threatening conditions end. After major natural disasters like hurricanes, you know the emergency housing is temporary, but you don’t send the people home while the flood waters are still high. You wait until the water goes down and it’s safe for people to go home.

If there is no extension, these people lose work permits and can face deportation which could leave them with the choice of splitting up their families, as some have had children while here, or bringing their children, who know only this country, back to where they will face danger.

I live in Massachusetts were there are over 12,000 people with TPS status. The entire Massachusetts Congressional delegation supports extending TPS, as does Governor Charlie Baker who is a Republican, so the concern is not a political party thing.

It is a people thing.

With Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announcing her decision on TPS extensions, 5,000 Nicaraguans and 86,000 Hondurans face being sent back to countries where anyone who reads a newspaper or gets news on the internet knows are not safe places, and what they had fled is still going on.

In 1998 when Hurricane Mitch wrecked much of Central America, TPS was extended to immigrants from Honduras and Nicaragua who had entered the country illegally, and was renewed by administrations of both parties since.

Now, they have until 2019, a deadline I am sure those who are making those countries unsafe will take notice of and stop what they are doing because drug cartels are gentlemanly that way.

For those from Sudan it all ends in November 2018.

When Haiti was hit by an earthquake in 2010, people from that island were granted temporary protected status which will end on July 22, 2019, because as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke determined, the conditions caused by the earthquake “no longer exist”.

TPS beneficiaries have lived in the U.S. for years and worked here. They have contributed to the state and national economies.

By contrast, when the Capelinhos volcano on the Island of Faial in the Azores erupted on September 27, 1957, congress passed the Azorean Refugee Act which authorized the emigration of 1,500 people, and this did not apply just to those affected by the volcano, but also allowed other citizens of the Azores to benefit from these temporary measures. Although the effects of that eruption were temporary, the people who fled and their descendant have remained and weren’t sent back, and they have contributed to the places in which they settled.

Their presence here was not only not detrimental, but like those under TPS, their presence was beneficial to the national and state economies.

Instead of being sent away, those under TPS should have the opportunity to become legal residents some day. They have already proven themselves.

There was, apparently, a time when the United States had a heart.

Perhaps resuscitating that heart would be what makes America great again.

Some holiday advice

Sometimes a conversation is just that-a conversation. It is not a debate or a discussion.

It is just someone passing on a tidbit of information solely for the purpose of doing that, not to introduce a topic that needs to have pros, cons, a winner, and a loser.

You are at a family gathering, sitting at a bar, hanging around the water cooler (for the younger people, that was a thing before break rooms and drip coffee machines), or at some social gathering with old and new friends when someone mentions that while driving in his car the other day he heard a song that he liked.

He is not sure if it was because of the rhythm, the lyrics, the melody, the performer, or a combination of all or part of those. He just liked it. And, perhaps in case someone else may have heard the song, he might hum, whistle, or sing a few bars if he is not shy about singing at a family gathering, sitting at a bar, hanging around the water cooler (for the younger people that was a thing before break rooms and drip coffee machines), or at some social gathering with old and new friends, or might recite some of the lyrics he can recall.

And that is where he assumes it would end unless, perhaps, someone else mentions a song they like.

However, there always seems to be that one person who begins analyzing the song, critiquing the lyrics, questioning the appropriateness of the rhythm choice, giving a literary assessment of the fault to be found in the lyrics, and ending with a summation of why the song should not be liked, so that what was just an offering of information in conversation that should have ended with people walking away from the gathering, sitting at a bar, hanging around the water cooler (for the younger people that was a thing before break rooms and drip coffee machines), or some social gathering with old and new friends with no conflicting feelings, ends with people walking away with a little anger and with silence replaced by mutterings.

An emotionally neutral thing has now produced negativity, and annoyance, and the day is no longer the same.

Remember as we enter the holiday season, people may not want your opinion or your correction, they might just want to have a conversation.

If every simple conversation becomes a debate, people will just stop talking to, or will avoid being with or near the perpetual debater.

If you have to debate everything, or feel that you need to somehow come out on top where there is no top to come out on, keep a diary.


Pop may have to disappoint the boys

In July of 2016, with the Republican National Convention approaching, and with Donald Trump heavily courting the gun owner vote and supporting uncontrolled gun ownership at the behest of the NRA, the president to be was asked about his sons’ trophy hunting in light of recently published photos of Eric and Don Junior posing with large game hunting trophies like elephant tails and the whole animal they shot.

Although he admitted that he himself did not hunt, he proudly defended his sons.

“My sons love to hunt. They are members of the NRA, very proudly. I am a big believer in the second amendment. My sons are hunters. Eric is a hunter. He puts it on a par with golf — ahead of golf. And my other son is a hunter.”

Obviously he had no problem with big game trophy hunting.

Eric defended his hobby and the pictures as well.

“Not a PR move I didn’t give the pics but I have no shame about them either. I HUNT & EAT game”.

“I AM A HUNTER I don’t hide from that.”

Don Junior also went on to say that daddy

“really doesn’t understand why Eric and I hunt. He is open minded and so always allowed us to go hunting.”

Here we are in November of 2017, and after the word went out that the Trump administration’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, whose chairman, Ryan Zinke is a big game hubter, would end a 2014 Obama administration ban on big-game trophy hunting in Zimbabwe and Zambia, and that the remains of African elephants, which are listed on the Endangered Species Act as threatened, can be imported, there was a bipartisan outcry. A few days later, Trump reversed the action, and put this decision on hold.

He tweeted,

“Big-game trophy decision will be announced next week but will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal.”

This horror show is the very practice he had such positive words about when he spoke of his sons’ love of hunting big game.

And he also tweeted,

 “Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!”

The boys, and Zinke, may not be too pleased.


Net Neutrality about to go. Surprise! (only if you are not paying attention)

Tougher than fighting to keep what you already have is fighting to get back what you had, but lost.

On December 14, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission will decide whether or not to dismantle regulations that ensure “net neutrality”, the equal access to the Internet. The existing regulations were passed in February 2015 by the FCC, and prevent Internet service providers from discriminating against how broadband is used.

Prior to the2015 FCC ruling, President Obama had declared,

“There are no toll roads on the information superhighway.”

Without this regulation, the way will be cleared for Internet service companies to charge users more to see certain content and to limit access to some websites.

Technology companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, spotify, Dropbox, Netflix, Twitter, and Snap want the regulation to remain.

Right now, users can access these sites without paying to do so, but if the regulations go, providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, can  force Internet companies to pay for faster connections, companies who will then pass the cost on to the user.

According to Google,

“The Internet should be competitive and open. That means no Internet access provider should block or degrade Internet traffic, nor should they sell ‘fast lanes’ that prioritize particular Internet services over others. These rules should apply regardless of whether you’re accessing the Internet using a cable connection, a wireless service, or any other technology.”

Think about your cable bill and all those channels you have to pay for because of packages with many being of no interest to you whatsoever, or those introductory packages that get you hooked on certain channels that you will either lose or have to pay the increased prices to keep.

If you hate the way you are treated when it comes to your cable bill, what with sudden cost increases and higher prices to keep what you already have and like, with you having absolutely no say in the process beyond cable or no cable, get ready to experience the same when it comes to the internet.

A random memory

I was having a beer and talking with friends at the bar the other day when a customer, who can’t stand a bar without music, came in and went directly to the jukebox and fed it a healthy meal of dollar bills.

As usual his play list was very eclectic, and among his many choices was “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”.

From the mid 1980s until I left Southern California, I was a member of the Long Beach Gay Men’s Chorus, The GMCLB. I have great memories of those days, of the rehearsals and performances, and cherish them all, there are many, and the people who were part of them.

Every Friday night, regardless of any plans, even a heavy date, the members of the chorus would meet at The Broadway on East Broadway in Long Beach.

The bar wasn’t all that fancy. It was a small somewhat narrow neighborhood bar with tables for group conversations, stools at the bar, and chairs that could be moved around if you wanted to sit alone or join in group conversations.

And there was Ed at the baby grand, halfway down the room against the Eastern wall, were he tickled the ivories playing his own playlist and requests.

Chorus members would enjoy a drink or two until Ed began the intro to “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”, and from where we were sitting we would do our four part rendition. The other patrons enjoyed it, at least we assumed they did as they never objected.

A few of his chosen songs later, Ed would intro “Java Jive” and we would do our four part rendition of it.

With the two songs having been performed and our drinks consumed, we would go our separate ways for whatever we had planned.

One day I got a phone call telling me that Ed had died. He kept his illness to himself, perhaps only telling close friends, but he had planned his funeral service, and wanted the chorus to perform in part or in whole.

He was Baptist, so many of his hymn choices were traditional and we only had to devise the Harmonies. However, the processionals accompanying him in and out of the church were songs that were not traditional but special to him.

Before the funeral began, we took our place at the front of the church. There were faces among those in the crowded church that betrayed a strong and serious conservative religious attitude, especially those of his family who we hoped would not react the wrong way when his casket appeared at the church door and the piano began the introduction to “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” as Ed was brought in.

The service, with its somber traditional hymns and prayers, followed.

With the final prayer and the invite to the grave side and to the gathering for the usual casserole heavy post funeral “fellowship” at his and his partner’s house after, the piano began the recessional, and Ed left the church to “Java jive”.

It was how we wanted it.

His family was happy as they loved Ed, and the choice of songs was so him.

To this day, whenever I hear either song, live or recorded, I sit quietly and reverently singing the bass parts I still remember after over a quarter century.

I have some great memories of some very great people, and the memories and the people in them continue to grow.

Oh, and if we are ever in a bar together and you want me to be quiet, just play those two songs on the jukebox, and you will have at least three minutes of silence.