Monday, September 25, 2017

The Right to Protest

While hurricanes continue to ravage the eastern coast of the U.S. and fires rage in the northwest, and tensions continue to build between the U.S. and North Korea, President Trumpf seems to be stuck on the peaceful protests of a few NFL players.

As Jim Wright over at Stonekettle Station rightly points out, Trumpf has not tweeted about the twice-ravaged island of Puerto Rico since before Hurricane Maria hit, while he has posted 17 tweets about the NFL.

Why is that relevant, you might wonder?

The United States acquired Puerto Rico in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. That makes them Americans. However, since Puerto Rico is just a “territory”, the citizens are not represented in Congress and cannot vote for President and Vice-President. But Puerto Ricans are considered natural-born U.S. citizens.

So when the media report that Puerto Rico is without power and water and communications – and may be so for months, even years – understand that to mean 3.4 million American citizens are without power and water and communications.

But I digress…

These protests that the President is so worked up about began last year when then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled for the playing of the National Anthem instead of standing. (I wrote about that here.

Kaepernick was roundly criticized by “patriots” who claimed he was “disrespecting the National Anthem” / “disrespecting the American Flag”.

Unlike these pictured here.

According to the U.S. Flag Code, this is an improper way to display the flag.

As is so often the case with small-thinkers, the typical response was, “If you don’t love America and stand for the National Anthem, then move away to some other country.”

Has anyone besides the Captain noticed there is a lot of anger and hatred in America today?

As a result of the criticisms, other NFL players started kneeling in support of Kaepernick’s right to kneel.

And more criticism followed.

Captain's Note: The practice of the teams standing along the sidelines with hand over heart while the National Anthem is played reportedly dates back to only 2009, about the time the U.S. Armed Services started paying the NFL millions of dollars to put on patriotic pre-game and half-time shows to help their recruiting efforts.

As a new season of football began, President Trumpf felt the need to weigh in.

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you'd say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He's fired.”

-President Donald Trumpf

Now mates, if you call one of my krewe a ‘son of a bitch”, you’re going to have to answer to me!

On Sunday, the NFL responded in force. Many teams issued official statements indicating their support for their team members who chose to take a stand – or a knee – on the issue.

Those teams “taking the knee” included the Colts, the Jaguars, the Dolphins, the Patriots, the Chiefs, the Broncos, and the Bills. Those teams who sat on the bench, with arms locked in solidarity, included the Raiders, the Packers, and the Saints. Those teams that stood, but with arms linked, included the Redskins, the Lions, and the Falcons. And those teams who stayed in the locker room until after the National Anthem was performed included the Bears and the Steelers. Just to name a few.

Maybe President Trumpf is a “great uniter” after all!

Sadly, Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, issued the following tone-deaf statement for his organization:

     "You are all simply paid performers on a stage and that field is my stage! You will stand, with your hand over your heart and with respect, when our Country's National Anthem is being played or you will no longer be a Dallas Cowboy, a Coach for the Dallas Cowboys or have any association with the Dallas Cowboy Organization! I will immediately fire you, no matter who you are!"

The Captain wonders how the team and staff feel about this “little dictator” speech?

Captain's Note: 09-26-2017 - With apologies to all, the Captain got suckered by a fake post on Facebook. Jerry Jones did not, in fact, give the above order. And if you watched Monday Night Football last night, you saw Jones come onto the field with his Dallas Cowboys, kneel in solidarity before the anthem, and then stand with the team for the playing of the anthem.

Of course, social media is on fire today, with both sides of the argument in full distress.

And, likewise, FOX News found a way to blame Obama…

But, you have to understand: yesterday’s protest was not about either the National Anthem or the American Flag. 

It was about a capricious president who stuck his nose into someone else’s business. 


And perhaps illegally.

It was about an insolent president who can find “some good people” in a crowd of torch-wielding Klansmen and Nazis, but calls our professional football players – who are peacefully protesting a very real injustice – “sons of bitches”, and insists they should be fired. 

It is about a hypocritical president who couldn’t find his heart even if Dr. Ben Carson pointed it out to him.



Thursday, September 21, 2017

Handout Mentality

Captain’s Note: The Captain began writing this blog post yesterday after an exceptionally bad day on Tuesday. Things got progressively worse last night, so I am amending and revising what I had planned to post.

One part of my weekly responsibilities includes spending one morning at a community ministry where I write checks to assist people with their past due utility bills.

This is not the Captain’s money, so it should be no big deal, right?

There are limits to how much I can give, so it’s a no-brainer, right?

And it’s only one morning per week… three hours. And on some days no one comes in, so I can get some other work done instead.

How hard could that be?

But on Tuesday – which also happened to be “International Talk Like a Pirate Day” – I was in a foul mood.

A Blackbeard mood!

And the four clients that came in didn’t improve my mood.

Now, each client is given a standard form to complete. Many just fill out the top page and hand the clipboard back to me.

“I’m sorry, there are four more pages there.”

I want to know more about them, about their lifestyle, and about the community in which I serve.

Almost all admit to smoking. None have ever admitted to drinking alcohol.


One of the questions on the form asks why they need financial assistance.

“I ran out of money” is a frequent answer.

I just let that one go.

Less than half of the people I see have finished high school.

Many are widows whose husbands left them with nothing.

Few attend church, but they apparently don’t mind relying upon the kindness of church people.

Sadly, most are beyond the age of being able to improve their situations, and many look decades older than their driver’s license indicates.

So I write the check.

But yesterday, one woman in particular stood out. She is relatively young.

Let’s just say younger than the Captain.

She has two children in elementary school.

And she presented an electric bill for over $600!

Several excuses were given.

“That’s two months worth!”

“The utilities recently switched to automated meters and everybody’s rates went up.” (That was a year ago.)

When I pointed out that her usage more than doubled over the previous month, she claimed that the pump on the well broke and she hadn’t noticed it right away so it kept running.

Ah, country living.

And then there’s the electric fence that keeps her son’s horse in the yard.

She has a horse?

Yes, and she has cable and internet services at her house too.

But she ranted about the electric company: “How do they expect me to pay that? I’m a single mom!”

And unemployed, I might add.

Now, many of the clients I see are either physically or emotionally unable to work. They have paperwork to prove it.

And this woman?

Oh, she is physically able to work, but she does not.

“Because the kids…”

And so she counts on a meager government assistance check and food stamps and any charitable organization she can hit up to pay her bills for her.

Somehow having children gives her the “right” to not work.

Somehow having children grants her the privilege of having others pay her bills for her.

That bothered the Captain. Deep down.

When the Captain’s father died at an early age, he left the Captain’s mother with four children to raise. She had a high school diploma but hadn’t worked in the 20+ years they were married.

But she got a job! Because she had a family to take care of. Eventually she even took on a second job to help put my sister through college.

Yes, all four of us went on to college and beyond!

Having children is not an excuse.

But that’s not the end of this rant. Oh, no. Not even close!

Last night, while perusing Facebook, the Captain came across a news article about how the Red Cross had stopped helping the people of Houston.

Now, if anyone had actually read the article, it said there had been a computer crash.

But did anyone read the article? One couldn’t tell by the comments that followed!

Trolls! Trolls everywhere! Bashing the Red Cross!

“Where’s my money?” they cried.

“We were in a flood a few years ago and all the Red Cross did was put us up in a motel for one night.” they wrote.

“Sure, there are Red Cross shelters and food and stuff, but they aren’t helping us!” they whined.

“All that money we donated just goes to pay their CEO’s salary!” they ignorantly assumed.

And then, from Key West, the cry went up, “Where is Jimmy Buffett? Why isn’t he down here helping us?”

Because, you know, Jimmy is rich. "He should be giving us money helping us out!"

And they turned on him! The Captain was amazed at the venom hurled at the man who helped make Key West what it is today!

Captain’s Note: Jimmy Buffett is currently in Paris preparing for an upcoming concert. He did issue a statement explaining this and offered encouragement to the people of Key West; he promised he would do what he could from afar. And I believe him.

And finally, there is a guy apparently active on Twitter who goes by the name "Sassy Gay Republican". He was once very outspoken against President Obama, particularly the Obamacare insurance program. 

"As a young adult in perfect health, why should I be FORCED to pay for insurance I don't want and likely won't need?"

Well, last week Mr. Sassy Pants was involved in an automobile accident. And guess what! No insurance!

So now he has set up a "GoFundMe" account begging for people to help him pay his hospital bills. 


You see, the Captain wants to know, when did mainstream America take on such an entitlement mentality? Now that has long been an insult hurled at the poor, but these folks who are whining and complaining now are middle- and upper-middle-class folks.

The Captain wants to know why these people didn’t make better plans, knowing that they live in a hurricane zone. The Captain wants to know why they don’t have the necessary insurance to recover. The Captain wants to know why they haven’t put back a nest egg to see them through a disaster like this.

The Captain can be an S.O.B. sometimes. I own that. Nonetheless, I want to know how in hell we got to this point?

“How do they expect me to pay that? I’m a single mom.”

Where did we go wrong?