Beyond Civility


I just wrote two long political rants for Facebook and deleted both of them. Those sentiments are probably more suitable for this much-neglected blog where I don’t have to be so pithy.

Let me summarize the rants in caveman speak: Trump bad. Trump sycophants bad. How’s that? Yeah, sure, you’ve heard it before. This is more about how I plan to interact with them.

Moving forward, I’ll no longer walk on eggshells politely debating Trump supporters while they prop up one of the most uncivil leaders in history. They’ve chosen to ally themselves with disrespectful, mean-spirited demagoguery. There should be a consequence to that association. Engaging that cult with a “play nice” posture is enabling for them.

To some of my more liberal friends: You want to be nice? Kudos to you. You’re probably better humans than me.

Please don’t tell me to take the high road and pile on the stress that comes with internalizing my true feelings. I’ve tried that. I’m calling a spade a spade. If my blood pressure is going to spike, the other guy should at least feel something. Trump supporters shouldn’t be able to demand civility while splashing around in the fan club of a provocateur. And the rest of us should not let them off the hook.

I’m getting old and cranky. I just want to enjoy my guitar, my dog, my poor friends, my gay friends, my Latino friends, my Muslim friends, my Black friends…You get the message. That’s not just rhetoric. Unlike much of the Trumpland populace, I’ve been blessed with dear friends in all those categories.

If you are one of the intolerant ones spewing the not-so-subtle White Nationalist talking points seeping down from rightwing media, go screw yourself. If you find merit in the likes of Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Ann Coulter, or WhoTF else, fine. Keep away from me. There are 7.7 billion people on the planet. You certainly don’t need me for anything.

On Facebook, I try to vet people who send me friend requests. I check their timelines for posts and memes I don’t want to be associated with. Sometimes I get the old bait and switch and find nasty anti-liberal political memes on my feed. I will randomly “go off” on some of them.

Understand I don’t mind thoughtful, conservative, debatable stuff. But if all you ever have to contribute is a “funny” meme painting the other side as “evil,” then you’re basically an idiot, or someone too lazy to garner any real respect for your views.

I’m guilty of posting provocative memes, too, but I attempt to intersperse them with a  balance of reason, facts, and a studied read of the issues.

Most of us don’t thrive on all this bad blood. I would suggest rather than complain about millions of people like me who need to voice their pain, vote it away.


For the Record: I’m Not Angry

I am unabashedly anti-Trump, anti-ignorance, pro-free press and pro-America. However, today I hope I have finally risen above the anger which grew logarithmically from my very core following the 2016 election.

The entire world is pointing at America’s self-indicting president with befuddlement. The writing is on the wall. For all practical purposes it’s OVER folks.

Mark it down.

I will go to sleep tonight knowing I am on the correct side of future history. This might come across as a “neener neener” thing, but I don’t mean it that way.swamp

The president is being protected by the GOP majority in Congress … for now, but I believe the war on main stream media is not one Republicans will want to fight in their individual political campaigns. Some are beginning to realize that when you “drain the swamp,” which sometimes includes main stream media, those homeless swamp creatures start wandering into your back yard. Republicans will turn against Trump or lose the majority. Either way, the Donald bites the dust.

Most Trump supporters I encounter seem to take some kind of morbid pleasure in the anger and frustration of people like me. Perhaps they feel they are transferring the anger which caused them to vote for Trump in the first place.


That’s neither important nor consequential.

In the back of my mind I had been hoping the Trump presidency would end before I lost my ability to forgive the ignorance that elected him. But that’s not a personal issue for me anymore. I am not angry. Neither am I giddy about the inevitable collapse of this president. I’m merely focusing on the horizon where hope yet lies.

A Message to Friends Regarding the Muslim Ban

Just sharing a little personal experience here. A stream of conscience, if you will.

I understand that fear of the unknown is natural. Seeing a Muslim extremist on television about to chop off someone’s head is frightening indeed. So many of my friends have strong opinions on this and yet the vast majority of those friends don’t even know a single Muslim. Not one.

While working with government contractors and associations I’ve had the opportunity to work with quite a few Muslims. I’ve had a Muslim supervisor. I’ve worked for a company with an Iranian president I assume to be Muslim. I recall being in meetings where no two people were from the same country. There was a harmony of purpose to achieve common goals together. No one blinked. No one regarded anyone else with suspicion. On several occasions it was a Muslim who had my back, so to speak.

I’ve also performed music regularly at a restaurant owned by a Muslim. My music wasn’t censored. The money was green. All good stuff.

How strange is it that some people are willing to include dogs and cats within their concept of friendship, but not Muslims.

I make no claims to any expertise in this area, but I’ve noticed that the countries in Europe where terrorism is the biggest concern have Muslim communities that are marginalized. In those countries most of the Muslim population live in ghettos segregated from the main population. Laws are passed controlling the way they live and dress. Some sensible, some merely exclusive.

It’s always been different here in the U.S. Muslims come here, albeit in fewer numbers, and assimilate seamlessly for the most part. They are happy, productive and patriotic.

Your new president (sorry, I just can’t bring myself to say “our”) has the power to change this. His actions are that of a reactionary rather than an intellectual. I want to say he’s just f@/king dumb, but I’m trying to write with some degree of sophistication.

Banning Muslims sends a huge message. A message large enough to cause a sensitive high school kid to abandon his plans on medical school because he now feels disenfranchised—a potential ISIS recruit in the making.

Sure, some of the Islamic traditions seem backwards and primitive to the western world. I certainly believe they need to evolve. But I really doubt that ostracizing them or cramming our culture down their collective throats is going to have the desired effect. We should live by example and watch as they adopt over time to a more progressive world. We should punish them when they actually break a law, not before.

There are Islamic extremist nutcases out there—foreign and domestic. It seems they don’t pick their targets randomly. I don’t plan to live in fear, but neither do I want my country to adopt policies guaranteed to make us more of a target.

But really, I guess that’s my way of saying if you don’t actually know any Muslims you have no credibility with me.

Be Nice

In the late ’70s and early ’80s I was involved in a Christian Pentecostal church which subsequently became very controversial because of its association with a high profile evangelist of dubious sincerity. I was young, inexperienced and, for the most part, dumber than a rock. However, in retrospect there were many great lessons to be learned apart from faith and scripture. Also, this experience exposed me to many fascinating characters; some good, some outright disdainful.

One of the good ones was an elderly preacher by the name of Glen Miller. As a musician I will never forget his name for obvious reasons. He was a sweet man who was extremely fond of the adage “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.” In that regard he practiced what he preached. I once witnessed him in a heated debate with another preacher during which he remained kind and respectful throughout. All the heat came from his opposition.

The United States is moving forward with some historic Supreme Court decisions that step on very sensitive areas in our communities. Many people feel their rights and traditions are under attack. Perhaps the latter is true. I think it’s clear some traditions need to be attacked. After all, sacrificing virgins to the Sun God was once an acceptable tradition somewhere. With the way we are able to exchange information in modern times, there is no excuse for failing to evolve and become more enlightened.

The momentum of social progress can rise gradually like the tide, or come crashing like a wave. It’s the wave that concerns me. As we debate the issues of today, we need to understand that the adage is true. Human nature can be extremely defensive. If you start an argument with an insult, your words are completely wasted beyond their contribution to a mob mentality. You will not convert anyone regardless of the strength of your logic. However, if inciting a mob reaction is what you intend, be prepared for the consequences.

Am I guilty of this? Oh, hell yeah. That’s why I decided to do a little blog writing as self penance.

We are truly divided. There will never be a time when everyone becomes liberal or conservative. In fact, there are studies that indicate our political views may be more in our DNA than in our souls. Is it not wrong to attack someone for having tendencies that they were born with? I know this is a fuzzy line. Even I have moved from one end of the political spectrum to the other as the result of arguments put forth with the correct recipe of logic, diplomacy and persistence.

Keeping it real, I know that at my self righteous best I am still dumber than a rock in the greater scheme of things. When you spend enough time looking at Earth from the perspective of the Hubble Space Telescope you are forced to realize there will always be more questions than answers. It’s an exercise in humility. Like that line in the Lee Ann Womack song “I Hope You Dance”: I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean. Humility and diplomacy go hand in hand.

The country is experiencing growing pains. Everyone is cranky. The best advice I can give was better delivered by the Patrick Swayze character in the 1989 film Road House. Be nice.


Rickie and JenniferI don’t really know how to say good bye. It’s really a struggle.

For those who know me as a musician, this guy was my first fan. Over the years he gave me more encouragement than anyone. For that, especially, I will forever be thankful.

Rickie was uniquely Rickie.

We were childhood friends about as opposite as two can be. He had a seemingly insatiable penchant for mischief. I was always a very reluctant cowardly type. Socially, he seemed to be able to connect well with anyone, at least from my perspective. I was the brooding introvert. He was into everything, never wanting to miss out on a good time. But he never made me feel pressured to follow along. He was a class rebel. I was the good student.

The two things we did share, however, were a passion for music and a love of the water. Ultimately, we spent more time jamming together than fishing or water skiing on the bayou.

Rickie loved playing guitar. But learning to play guitar came a little easier for me, probably because I was more withdrawn from the rest of the world than Rickie. So he started to celebrate my abilities in ways that always made me feel special. It was support I desperately needed at times. His kindness had no bounds.

We briefly separated when I went to college. Then he decided to take a stab at the college life himself and tracked me down. I tried to help him adjust, but it seemed his free spirit couldn’t be contained for any extended period of time.

Years later, we connected again in Maryland. I had rebooted my life up there. He was bouncing around after getting displaced by a hurricane. That was an eventful era with many stories. So many things have happened since, but we never completely got out of touch. He made a point to follow every band I’ve ever been in. I could never leave a musical project or start one without wondering how I was going to explain it to Rickie.

Many times Rickie would call or write me and say, “Remember so and so?” He never seemed to forget anyone or anything that happened when we were kids and beyond. My memory was not so good.

But I won’t forget him.