Stop Crying Wolf

Exclamation!I saw a guy on Twitter the other night call someone a racist for – get this – criticizing Bill Cosby, saying, basically, that he (Cosby) should be in prison. What bugged me most about the exchange wasn’t the guy defending Cosby – after all, he hasn’t been convicted of anything – he just looks pretty damned guilty. What bugged me was, the knee-jerk of crying racism when it isn’t there.

Listen, racism exists. No doubt about it. But, so does rape. And, whenever someone makes a false rape claim, it hurts real victims. The ones who aren’t believed at first, or perhaps ever. And, I think it works the same with false cries of racism.

Know what? I’m blind. But, I consider myself lucky. I plan to run for office someday. Maybe just local office. Maybe something most people will never notice. Or, maybe not. Who knows? Thing is, though, one thing I’m not gonna have to worry about is how I view people. Know why? Because I don’t see people when I meet them. If you’re a blazing hot woman, know what? I never have to worry about you telling me to look at your eyes. Nope, doesn’t matter how built you are. If I meet a black guy, I don’t have to worry about instant perception based on skin color. If I meet a Hispanic businesswoman, I don’t have to worry about any notion that I’m judging her based on her guessed-at immigration status. Because to me? I’m not seeing people. I’m hearing personalities. And, judging someone based on their personality? Doesn’t get you in trouble by knee-jerking fools who want to cry “Racist!” or “Sexist!” or “Homophobe!” Because the knee-jerkers know full well what they’re doing. Once you label someone a racist, you can’t unring that bell. Once you make that accusation, you’re always going to get traction with people who want to dislike you and believe everything negative said about you – true or false – because too many people put their agenda, or political party, or self-interests ahead of everything else. Me? I don’t care. I’m pretty middle-of-the-road. I’m for the death penalty, and I’m pro-choice. I’m for both – border security, and anti-censorship. I’m for gay marriage and cutting everybody’s taxes. Yes, even the rich. Everyone means just that to me. And someday, I’ll bring that message to a campaign. Because that’s how I live and I’m brutally honest about it.

So, to those who cry wolf whenever their feelings get hurt or whenever someone of a certain race or ethnicity or gender gets criticized (especially for something like rape), stop it. Just stop it. You wanna argue an issue, great, that’s awesome. You want to throw a label out there that has no basis in fact just to sling mud? Then you’re worthless. You’re the kind of person who takes the low road because it’s the only way you can score points, and that’s just flat out dishonest. If your lies, and those of others like you, were viewed as harshly as people falsely accused of being racists? World’d be a far better place.


Currently listening to: “Spellbound” by Siouxsie and the Banshees

Running for Office

Someday, I will, I don’t have any doubts about that. Probably just local office, but that’s good enough. Still, I have to say, if that Americans Elect thing is still going, I’d have no problem running for president in 2016. Do I have any illusions about winning? Hell no. I wouldn’t even get 1% of the vote. But that wouldn’t be my goal. No, what I’d want to accomplish would be to get positions out there and into the discussion that people actually give a damn about. More important? I’d be honest. Those who know me understand what that really means. My honesty? It’s a brutal honesty, to be kind.

First thing I’d do is post the limitations of the executive branch on my web site, and promise to abide by those limitations. I wouldn’t ram legislation down the throats of the American public (like the Affordable Care Act, which pays off insurance companies who are, right now, sticking it to everyone I know who’s being forced into buying their product.) Nope, not going to happen on my watch.

Setting foreign policy. Yep, that’s in the job description, and that’s what I’d do. As well, I’d axe the Secretary of State and have my VP handle those duties. If he’s my right-hand-man (or possibly woman), that’s who I’m going to make policy decisions with. So, that’s going to be who I let handle the duties of Secretary of State. There. One government position eliminated (at least for 4 years), and that money would go right into paying off the deficit. Or, at least, paying it down.

I wouldn’t be on TV every week giving interviews or holding press conferences. I’d be, you know, working. Doing my job. I’d give the weekly YouTube update to the country, but that would be about it. Also, I wouldn’t travel much. My job, first and foremost, would be here, so unless it was absolutely necessary, here is where I’d be.

Promises. I’d only make promises I could keep. And, I’d only make promises worth keeping. I wouldn’t go around the country for ten months telling people how my first order of business would be, say, closing Guantanamo Bay, and then not follow through. If I promise that I’m going to put policy info up on the web and give people 30 days to weigh in? I’m going to listen to what they say. After all, it might be my job to sign on the dotted line, but if you’re selfish in that job? You’re a failure. The country doesn’t belong to you. You’re nothing more than a representative of the people you serve. And I think that’s largely been forgotten. But I guess when it costs you a billion bucks to get the gig (even if it’s not your own money), you might start feeling entitled. Not me. Every job’s a privilege, regardless of the paycheck. I don’t think I’ve ever had a boss who’s been disappointed with my effort. I’d want to leave office feeling the same way, despite partisanship, when done. If the only thing about my time in office everyone could agree on was: “He worked his ass off for us”? Fine by me.

Being honest means no tap-dancing around tough issues, either. At least once a month, I’d walk into the White House briefing room and give my press secretary the morning off and just handle questions on-the-fly. The press would ask, I’d answer, simple as that. And, I wouldn’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” I don’t understand why every president thinks they need to know everything about everything whenever somebody asks a question. It’s a big freaking planet. Political junkie that I am, I couldn’t tell you right now who the top dog is in Denmark or Thailand. So what? This is a job, it isn’t a trivia game. You don’t get bonus points for memorizing the name of every world leader the way kids have to memorize the state capitals. If, during my campaign, some TV talk show host started to ask me to name certain world leaders (as happened in the Bush/Gore election cycle), I’d answer thus: “Go pound sand. You think that’s going to help the American people? Me knowing how to pronounce the name of the leader of Sri Lanka? Come on, get a clue.”

On hot button issues, I wouldn’t back down and I wouldn’t mince words. Picture this happening during my campaign:

“Mr. Monks, what’s your stance on abortion?”

“It’s Joe. And abortion? I’ve never had one.”

“No, sir, what I’m asking is, what’s your position on abortion?”

“Well, it’s still Joe, and I’m not going to have one, either. Since you want to hear something, though, how about this. I’m not running for Supreme Court Justice. Abortion’s legal, my office wouldn’t have anything to do with changing that one way or the other. If I could run for Supreme Court Justice, that’d be a great question. Why don’t you save it for then, just in case we begin electing those guys.”

Cable TV would eat that up, no? Or how about this on live television:

“Mr. Monks, What do you plan to do about ISIS?”

“It’s Joe. Didn’t you hear me tell the last guy? Okay. ISIS. How about we take a page from the Reagan/Russia playbook. We win, they lose. End game? No more ISIS.”

“Are you saying you’d use the military to battle ISIS?”

“No, let me make myself clear. I’d let the military run wild, with the goal of exterminating ISIS like cockroaches. You’ve seen the work of ISIS. Beheadings, their crimes against women, it’s a long list. I’d be happy to be the president responsible for peaceful Middle Easterners 20 years from now asking, ‘What was ISIS?'”

Think you’ll hear that from anyone in the 2016 campaign? Think you’ll ever hear a politician saying that while running for a major office? Picture this:

“Mr, uh, Joe. Where else would you use the military?”

“See? You’re getting it now. Where else? I don’t plan on using the military anywhere. In fact, I’d like to bring some guys home. Some of the guys in South Korea? Let’s bring a bunch of those guys back so they can spend their paychecks here. We’ll send some subs to float around in the area and if North Korea wants to saber rattle? Let ’em. I plan to ignore them. But if they act out against our friends in South Korea? It won’t require men on the ground at tip-of-the-spear. If something happens, then all those guys come home. It’ll be death from above, and death from the seas, and we’ll put our bomb makers to work on some new toys our aircraft can drop on North Korea until we eventually hit their leadership. We’ve got expensive satellites, we should be able to see any troop movement, and wipe them out with drones and Stealth bombers and sub-launched missiles. I’ll turn North Korea into a video game for our men in uniform, and in the afterlife, North Korea’s leadership can pal around with ISIS.”

Think that might get me a couple of votes? I think so. Not enough to win, but enough to keep getting me on TV to talk about the important things, like taking the roadblocks out of the way of American small business so we can kick start the economy and stop handcuffing entrepreneurs the way it is now, with over-regulation and fees and ridiculous business disincentives.

Finally, who wouldn’t want to see this:

“Joe, will your campaign be taking money from big oil?”

“Hey, you’re from MSNBC, aren’t you? You, you call me Mr. Monks. Or better yet, Sir.”

“Uh, okay. Will your-“

“No, no, I’m just kidding, relax. Big oil? I won’t take money from anybody, that’s what overzealous legislators do to all Americans. Will I accept donations from oil companies? No problem doing so. But I won’t be taking any names. Donating will never equal access. I don’t plan on ever knowing who gave what to this campaign, and companies that think donations will get you some sort of payback down the road? Give your money to one of the other candidates. The last guy promised transparency and it was one of the most closed, information-controlling and access-limiting administrations in history. If I win the political Lotto and get in, everything – and I mean everything – will be out in the open.

If we plan on a sneak-attack on ISIS? No, clearly things like that won’t. But if I’m talking with congress about them getting a new education bill going to make sure every kid in High School has an e-book reader so we can save on textbooks? You’re going to know about it. Like you do now. If I’m going to talk with the EPA about the best place to locate a new refinery, I’m going to tell everyone, like I just did. If I’m thinking about sending one of the Secret Service guys out for McDonald’s? You probably won’t hear about that. But then, I’m not the kind of guy who sends people out to get me food. I’d get two or three of ’em and we’d just all go, show up unannounced, and order. Then we’re going to sit down, with the people I was elected to represent, wave and say Hi, and eat.

Because that’s what real people do. Somebody posts a pic on Facebook of me with special sauce running down my hand? That’s life. I’m not going to worry about the small stuff. I’m going to worry about the big stuff, and hope every day results in the next day being better for everyone.”

Joe holding a can of Honest Fizz


Honest. That would be me. Right down to my soda.


Observations & Stuff

Haven’t blogged in forever, so just throwin’ some stuff out there.

MH370. Listen, I know families want answers. I would, too. But a freaking
plane went off radar, cut communications, deviated from its flight path and
nose-dived into the drink. There’s no black boxes. No flight data recorder.
Nothing beyond a short transcript of what the pilots said to the tower
before turning everything off. Where the hell do you expect to get any
answers from, folks? I feel sorry for each and every one of you, but this
demanding answers and accusing the government of a cover-up? Really? You’ve
got basically zero to go on. And that’s a whole lot of water to hunt
through. Five miles deep in places. Totally dark down there. Underwater
mountain ranges, trenches, you name it. And you’re pissy because the last
line of the translated flight transcript is a little off??? I know we’re
talking life and death here, but this is like my wife demanding answers
about a missing lighter during one of our parties. Now, she may want
answers, and there may be a bunch of people hunting for the thing, and we
might even have a basic search area narrowed down, but there aren’t going to
be any answers until the damned thing turns up and we find out who put it in
their back pocket instead of their front pocket and walked away with it.
There’s a bunch of countries helping out round the clock. Let them do their
best and hope for results, because searching an ocean is *not* an easy task,
and these people have been doing it for a month straight.

The NCAA. How out of touch am I with college hoops? When it got down to
Kentucky vs. U Conn for the national championship, I rooted for U Conn
because I thought it’d be cool if Jim Calhoun won another title.
Unfortunately, Jim doesn’t coach U Conn any longer, and I didn’t even know.

The Giants. I may actually splurge for the Sunday Ticket for the first time
in 3 years over at my Mom’s, because for the first time in recent memory,
the Giants did a whole lot during free agency and significantly upgraded the
team. Big signings. Splashy signings. If things come together with the new
players, this could be a playoff team. Getting to see all 16 games? Might be
worth it this season.

Writing. Been banging away like a madman on the keyboard for weeks now. Ran
through a set of batteries on Dad’s old keyboard in less than 3 months,
which never happens. I was pretty set on the lineup for Grave Choices, the
new anthology I’ll be releasing in May, and then. And then I got an idea for
a new story, and started writing it. And, that new story became an
all-consuming creative inferno. End result? A 65 page creature story that
blindsided me (har-har)  and will now close out the book. It’s put me up
against the wall time-frame-wise to be done with my final draft, but what
the hell. When the Muse calls, you pick up the phone. Every time.

Freelancing. Couple weeks back, I got the single strangest assignment I’ve
ever gotten in my life. It’s for a magazine that caters to 60somethings.
Yes, it’s a men’s mag. No, I didn’t know it existed until I got the call.
Interracial, cuckolding, grandmother swinger sex. No, I didn’t mistype that.
Oh, and the kicker? “Any chance you could turn this one around in a week?”
Needless to say, professional that I am, I did *not* deny that I’d gotten
the e-mail, took the gig, and met the deadline. Whatever pays the bills,
baby, whatever pays the bills.

Guitar. Broke another string yesterday. Now, this is no surprise, really,
strings don’t last forever. But for a novice like me, who’s used to strings
lasting six months at a clip, this was irritating. Billy, who’s been doing
this professionally for 20+ years, says, “Dude, it happens. We’re playing a
hell of a lot more than we were a couple of months ago.” And this is true.
Still, in my head, I have this misguided belief that strings should only
break when my guitar is in it’s case, and I don’t need it. I should hear a
muffled, Sproing! In the middle of the night, and think, “Oh, better change
that in the morning.” Still, can’t complain. Even though this set only
lasted 2 months, Billy and I (and John, on Tuesday’s) are playing a *lot* of
guitar. Yesterday I picked up a song I had never played before, and in one
run-thru not only nailed it, but nailed the dynamics as well. Last week, I
hit 30 on my ‘Playable songs’ list. Truth be told, never thought I’d get
here. Tried learning several times during my life, back when I had sight,
and could never do it. Now? Thanks to Billy, I can hold my own at any
backyard party for a good 3 hours. Not bad for a year and a half.

Gas. Hey, all my liberal friends. You ignored it last time I mentioned how
you all went into hiding when Obama took over for Bush and gas prices didn’t
return to ‘normal.’ Yesterday we paid $3.71 for gas, and we sure as hell
weren’t buying premium. Please tell me, again, folks, how gas prices being
double what they were under Bush is Bush paying off big oil.after 6 years.
C’mon, I’ll wait. I’m reminded of Simon & Garfunkel every time I go to the
pump, because all I hear out of the same people (as well as the media) is
the sounds of silence when it comes to gas prices, when newscasters were all
but apoplectic on-air when gas first hit $2.50 a gallon under the last guy.
Where’s the outrage now, huh?

Movies. I’m sitting on a pair of free passes to our favorite Regal. Me? I’m
thinking Godzilla, opening weekend, maybe the last show on Sunday night so I
don’t have to deal with the Friday and Saturday crowd. I don’t care what
people say, the trailer sounds fun, and the Godzilla roar isn’t a
disappointment. My nephews say from the trailer that Godzilla looks like
Godzilla, the big, rubbery, loveable Godzilla. Might just circle that date.
Who’s with me?