Up Jack Creek

Truth, Actions, Life, Power

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Monday, July 9, 2018

Up Till Now

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We have seen many developments in the political landscape in recent weeks that are somewhat troubling. Those of us who are concerned about the direction the country is taking cannot help but question what our fellow citizens are thinking. And we question those in leadership roles in this country for their short-sidedness on the votes they cast and the lies they tell.

One of the most heart-wrenching stories we have been told of recently is the separation of children from their parents. Some of them are illegal immigrants that have crossed the border without going through the proper channels to receive asylum. But a large number of them are from the border entry points where they can ask for asylum. Even those families are being torn apart. With no apparent crime, those families are still being detained separately. Why? Is there no other solution? We do not know because we do not know where all these kids and parents are. Even after a court ordered these families to be reunited, too many are still not found.

We have also been watching the North Korean saga. From Trump meeting with Kim to Mike Pompeo’s recent weekend meeting, we have been hit with lies and disappointment. After Trump’s meeting, he declared the US would no longer participate in the war games on the Korean Peninsula with South Korea. He also told us that Kim had agreed on denuclearization. Even though many in the international community had been telling him to wait and see, he declared he deserved a Nobel. Now that Pompeo’s meeting did not go as planned, we are seeing the real truth. It shows the lengths this administration will go to defend its lies.

North Korea was not the first, nor the last in this tale of hostile countries vs. the US. Before Kim was Putin. There is a long history of Russia and its involvement with the US. We were bitter enemies during the Cold War and we have had strained relations ever since. During the campaign of 2016, they interfered with the campaign beginning in 2015. Their goal was to disrupt the elections and lean toward Trump because they felt he would be easier to deal with. It turns out that they were right. Now we have another meeting in the offing. Trump will meet Putin and he will tell us a lie again. I just wonder what lie it will be.

The G-7 meeting was also a disaster in terms of the global outlook. The US has virtually abandoned the remainder of the G-7 members because Trump did not get what he wanted from them. Now the NATO meeting is coming up and a letter was sent to each member from Trump stating that they need to step up their spending. That may be; however, the atmosphere has been set. It will be contentious and may result in nothing being accomplished. We need to be able to work with other countries and allies in order to ensure world health. We are a global world now. Easy access across the globe means everyone needs to work together to ensure a better future. We will see what Trump decides to do. I am afraid it will not be good.  

There are too many different ways these could go. The fact is, history shows us we need to be on guard against those who wish to do us harm. Are we any safer than we were four years ago? I do not think so. I think we need to keep a sharp eye on the players in the next few months. With mid-term elections coming up, it is our duty as citizens to pay attention to the nominees coming into office. Make sure we are aware of what each candidate stands for and vote for the ones who have our best interests in mind. Study them carefully because they will guide the future for us. We want them to reflect our ideals not fall in line with someone else once they are elected.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Dark Side

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Over the last few years, I have become more outspoken about my political leanings. In doing so, I have been exposed to the dark side of politics. I am talking about the many ways people will attack others because they do not agree with others. I am still astounded by the vitriol that has been thrown at me for my beliefs. It is not just me that has received these horrible words.

Many of us have been called horrific names and accused of being horrible people just because we have a different view. We are accused of being baby killers, haters, snowflakes, un-American, and anti-American. We are not patriotic because we believe in free speech. Most notably, we believe NFL players can kneel peacefully for the National Anthem. Beyond that, there seems to be another, even darker, side of our opponents’ agenda.

The crux of the issue is simple. Our First Amendment Rights are under attack from the right wingers in this country. Our freedom of speech is continually under attack by those who want to silence us. It has been very evident in the words we hear daily.

”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

There are five parts of this amendment. The problem is that we now have an administration that routinely attacks the freedom of speech and the press. They also push to include religion in their law making practices that may fringe on freedom of religion. They also diminish our right to assemble claiming those who do are doing it against this administration. They are also pushing back against anyone who chooses to claim they did anything wrong.  Each of these is important to the US. It is what makes us unique in the world. Destroying any one of them would be devastating.
Once again, we are faced with the outrage by Conservatives who want to squash those who disagree with them. Trump has repeatedly called our free press, “fake news”, both on Twitter and in press conferences. He has gone so far as stating news agencies should be shut down and some reporters jailed for reporting anything that looks badly on him or his people.

By speaking up, we are exercising our right to free speech. By marching, we are exercising our right to peaceable assemble. By calling out our government’s lies or wrongdoings, we are exercising our right to petition the Government for redress of grievances. By pushing back regarding religious views, we are exercising our right to freedom of religion. And by letting our press investigate them, we are exercising our right to a free press.

The dark side is those who want to silence us. We have to continue to speak our truth and demand our rights. Anything less is unacceptable.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Known Spies and Tariffs

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Today marks an historic moment in White House history. Trump has invited a known spy, who may be responsible for the drowning of 46 South Korean sailors, to the White House. His objective is to deliver a letter directly from Kim Jong Un and facilitate a meeting between the two leaders. There have been several objectives that may be dependent on the denuclearization of North Korea. There are too many other issues that are not being discussed and those issues are going to be ignored.

North Korea has had a long history of human rights abuses. They are known to torture and kill their own citizens because of perceived slights to the regime. They have used chemical weapons and have more factories working on other options like that. The case of Otto Warmbier is a classic example of their treatment of foreigners that are accused of crimes. That young man came home in a coma and died just days later. There are many other examples of the North Korean treatment they have given other detainees.

Tariffs can be as scary as inviting the enemy into the heart of our country. Trump announced there would be tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. There will be 25% on steel with 10% on aluminum. These tariffs are in direct opposition of NAFTA. Even if you discard NAFTA, you have to understand that your daily purchases will be affected. Canned goods, beer cans, doorknobs, car parts, agricultural products and the list goes on. The resulting sales will also affect other parts of our economy.

Jobs will eventually go away because the normal consumer will begin to slow their spending in an effort to offset the loss of available funds. Consumers will likely stop purchasing some of these products thereby ensuring layoffs by companies and putting more people on unemployment. Then spending will definitely go down. For those still working, consider they will lose what tax breaks they have been given so far. It will be devastating to the average consumer in the country. More automation means fewer employees.

Trump is showing us he will do anything to erase everything that Obama accomplished during his tenure. His ego is so fragile he has to ensure his legacy is erasing Obama. How sad is that?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Changes

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Changes in life are constant. No matter what stage in life we find ourselves at, change is the only constant we can count on. Mine will be changing once again. Here's to new beginnings.

For many years, I never wanted to move back to my hometown. I felt out of place there because I didn’t grow up there. I started as a sophomore in high school so I only knew a few people the day I walked into the building for the first time. It was very unnerving for me as I went from a class size of 25 to the size of nearly 200. As a country kid, it was a major shock to the system. And I found out that a town that size has its own secrets.  That is one of the most important reasons for my reluctance to go back. Things have changed since then.

I spent a very long time living in other people’s shadows. I never really stepped out to shine on my own. Most of that was a problem with low self-esteem from the time I was little. I was always afraid I wouldn’t be able to make the right choices in life and it affected how I showed myself to others. I wanted to melt into the background. For 30 years it is how I felt.

Needless to say, things have changed. Once again, the change that is constant. I find myself at a crossroad and I’ve made a choice that many who know me will say is rather surprising. I am moving back to my hometown. I know. It is rather strange for me to say that, but I need to. I need to have family and friends who have always been there for me. With the exception of my kids, I am alone. As I get older, I need more. The kids are on their own and don’t need me every day. So I’m taking a leap of faith that this will be the right move for me.

I will continue to be me just with those who like me how I am. Enjoy your day!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Understanding the Power of Speech

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Throughout history, there have been many social and religious changes that have affected us fundamentally. These moments have changed how we live our lives, look at others, and changed the world as a whole. These changes started because someone spoke up and started ideas.

In the mid 1700’s, the Colonists became more and more angry with Britain because they kept raising taxes to pay off their debt. Someone had to speak up about how unfair it was to tax the Colonists more than their citizens in Britain. Someone had to come up with a plan to protest the increase in taxes. That person who spoke up started a movement that officially began with the Boston Tea Party. By the end of the century, the United States would become a sovereign country.

A century later, the cause would be women’s rights. Until that time, women had little to no rights. Husbands were allowed to beat them and they would not be prosecuted for it unless they died. As of today, women have only had the right to vote for 98 years. The right to vote is due to women who stood up and spoke up for the rights they were determined to attain. It was a long, and sometimes dangerous, fight for their rights. But they gained their right to have a say in this country. The one they helped build. We are still trying to get equality today.

How many speeches had to be heard to get to 1964 when the Civil Rights Act was put into law? Martin Luther King Jr. was not the only vocal person involved in that movement. That movement has progressed to include LGBT communities. They are still fighting those discriminatory practices that started the movement. People have died to attain these rights of anti-discrimination. With hate crimes still occurring, it is an ongoing battle.

For those of you too young to remember the Vietnam War, an idea was thrown out to protest peacefully. We called those sit ins. Many of those were held during the war years to protest and question why we went to war in the first place. Too many young people were dying for an undefined reason. Technically, it was not even a war. It was a police action. People died because of these protests. But they began because someone had the courage to speak up and not stay silent.

Hitler began with the power of speech. He was instrumental in the beginning of the Nazi Party. As he was a brilliant speaker, it fell to him to speak to the masses about the positive aspects of the Party. Although he was eventually stopped, he wreaked havoc on the world.  He was instrumental in killing 6 million Jews. But his speeches led to the destruction of several countries and the deaths of many.

Today we are still witnessing the powerful effects of speech. It brings people together and can lead to changes that make our lives better. It can also lead to changes that are not conducive to a better life and there is a fine line. We need to keep our eyes and ears open and speak out when we see things we feel are wrong. Silence is consent. Make sure you are not the cause of wrongdoing. Speak up about what is right.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Warrants Heard 'Round the World

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On Monday, warrants were issued for Michael Cohen’s home, his office, and his hotel room. These were issued out of the Southern District Federal Court based on information that Robert Mueller has come across during his Russia investigation. Reports are that these warrants are based on the $130,000 payment made to Stephanie Cliffords; a.k.a, Stormy Daniels. The payment in question happened 12 days before the 2016 election.

The initial knowledge we had of said payment was because the bank investigated the transaction and decided it needed to be sent on to the federal regulators. They would then investigate the transaction to determine if it was due to money laundering or possible terrorist activities. In the case of Michael Cohen, the bank felt it needed to file a SAR, Suspicious Activity Report. This was known before the election. The trouble with it now is that it is common knowledge to have been paid to porn star, Stormy Daniels, in regards to an NDA.

What we know is this. Michael Cohen took out a home equity loan to pay $130,000 to an LLC that Stephanie Cliffords was the recipient of. We are now aware of the NDA she and Cohen signed leaving a signature line blank that used Trump’s pseudonym of David Dennison. According to Cohen, the NDA gave Cohen the right to sign and Trump did not have to. He was considered a 3rd party beneficiary even though there was a 3rd line with the option of and/or.

Because the Southern District Court is the court that issues the warrants, the most likely action Mueller took was to send the information he has come across to them for them to make a decision. The information he had may not have had anything to do with the Russia investigation and he made the decision to pass it to federal courts in order to avoid any possible accusations of prejudice on his part. We do not know if anything will result in anything that would in breaking any campaign finance laws. That is yet to be seen. At this point it is only due to banking issues.

Trump claimed the FBI “broke into” the offices of Michael Cohen. The FBI actually had no knock warrants in order to prevent the destruction of documents and computers. It is they would do the same for any other citizen. Cohen is not alone in the actions taken today. It happens to others and he is not above any other person when it comes to the law. There may also be another reason for the no knock warrant today.

Trump and his organization have a history of destroying documents in violation of court orders. He has played fast and loose with document retention, claiming his company had not used a server for many years. This gave them the opportunity to claim they did not save emails and destroyed documents as a routine. During the 70’s, the Trumps were found to be violating the fair housing statutes by not allowing African Americans to rent apartments in any of their buildings. They are currently involved in a property dispute in Florida regarding their management of another property in that state.

No matter what anyone thinks about Trump, he has a history of ignoring court orders, discovery motions, and then claiming ignorance. The Trumps have hidden assets and used trickery to stymie his adversaries. Now that the FBI has Cohen’s files, we may find out how much Trump has hidden very soon. Only time will tell if he has done anything this time. It should be interesting.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Rhetoric, Raids, And Cohen

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It was announced today that the FBI had raided the offices of Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. The apparent reason has to do with the $130,000 Cohen paid to porn star, Stormy Daniels just 16 days before the 2016 election. Cohen claims he made the payment in his role as personal attorney for then candidate Donald Trump. Unfortunately, he had to take out a home equity loan to complete that payment which raises the question of why he would do that. I think we will find out soon enough.

In addition to the raid on Cohen’s office, we have seen another chemical attack on the Syrian people by the Assad regime. It is the first one in over a year and comes on the heels of an announcement by Trump that we would be removing American troops from Syria over the next six months. The response to last year’s chemical attack was to drop over 60 bombs on Syrian forces. We do not know what this year’s response will be; however, the attack was probably due to Trump trying to obfuscate the Syrians. The result was a very human toll. Women, children, and the elderly suffered horrific deaths that should never have happened. Assad was letting Trump know what he would do if there are no consequences.

Over the weekend, more rhetoric came out of the Twitter rants of Trump and, once again, he blames Obama, Hillary, Sessions, and Rosenstein. The Washington Post is again nothing but fake news. Just last week, he accused CNN of vetting their hires based on their political leanings. And FOX News mistakenly showed a graph from a poll on a live broadcast that showed Americans believed FOX News more than they believed Trump.

The most amusing part of this is realizing how gullible people can be. Supporters of Trump now have to come to the truth. The tax cuts, trade wars, and increased spending will eventually overwhelm our financial system. The dollar is already losing in the world markets and we have seen the DOW run very erratically. How long can that be sustainable? In another situation we seem to be getting much closer to the center of the Russian investigation. Mueller is requesting more indictments and still getting closer to Trump’s world. How much longer will it be before he gets to Trump?

We may not have much longer before these questions are answered. For those of us who questioned why anyone could support Trump, our time is coming for a reckoning. His cronies are falling one by one and may end up with charges resulting in jail time. Will it be from financial dealings? Or will it be from campaign actions? We do not know yet. But I think we will eventually. I wonder what his supporters will say about that?

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Pink Floyd's Wall It Isn't

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We have almost 2,000 miles of border between the U.S and Mexico.  Over half of that is owned privately or is Native American land. These properties will be the monkey wrench in Trump’s planned border wall.  Most likely, there will be many lawsuits down the road.

The idea of the border wall has been in existence for many years. Some parts of this wall were constructed over 40 years ago in urban areas, especially in the Southern California area. We have been seeing replacements being made in the older parts of the wall more recently as they do deteriorate over time. Trump tried to tout the replacement of old walls as new wall, but he was soon found out to be exaggerating.

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 was intended to add 700 feet of fence to the border; however, the most likely action would be more Border Patrol agents deployed instead of wall construction.  We currently have approximately those 700 miles of wall. The communities along this stretch of border have long opposed the construction because it will cut their income by roughly 40%; thereby hurting the economy. For them it could be devastating.

Although the governors of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona have been very supportive of the wall, locals have had a very different reaction to the news of the wall coming to their towns. Those include property owners and law enforcement officials. Even the Mayor of Laredo, Texas has reservations about the impact the wall would have on their community. Not only does he feel it could damage the good will they currently enjoy with their neighbors to the south, but it will hurt their economy. About 40% of the area’s economical base comes from those same neighbors.

At this point, it may be moot. There will definitely be many court battles by property owners in order to retain their own property. We know that Trump tends to open his mouth and insert his foot. He has no idea of the havoc he incites when he makes these statements. To the residents in the areas most affected, he has put fear in their lives with threats of losing their own holdings. To be forced off their own land is no better than what was done to Native Americans and Africans centuries ago. But Trump does not care about them and anyone who disagrees is butting their head against a wall.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Sexual Revolution

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In recent weeks, we have seen a spate of accusations of sexual misconduct by people in authority of both children and women. A Nashville pastor, a Long Island judge, more than a couple members of Congress, and multiple entertainment/business big wigs have been accused of many different acts.  It does not seem it will end anytime soon because the list goes on.

We have seen an outpouring of accusations since Bill Cosby was arrested and charged. They have been from women about treatment by men in power all over the country. When Harvey Weinstein was accused then removed from his own company, the dam broke.  Even though many accusations had been made against Trump during the campaign, it took the Weinstein scandal to make it front page news. The courage of those accusers gave other women the courage to speak up in ways they had never felt comfortable before.

This is a revolution. It will be powerful. It may be the impetus for more changes.

Monday, April 2, 2018

An NDA Conundrum

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We have been hearing quite a bit about what an NDA is and how it functions legally. It seems that Trump has been part of a few such legal documents over the years but recently a couple of these have made headlines. They are, of course, big news because of who had entered into them with Trump. A porn star and a playmate are the participants these documents involve.

Although we do not need to know the juicy details, we do need to understand the implications of these actions. NDAs are designed to keep participants quiet about details of an interaction whether it is between two consenting adults or between employers and employees.  Many entertainers, business leaders, or famous people will utilize these agreements to keep wild stories from hitting the airwaves and possibly endangering their current lifestyle. In that regard, it is understandable that Trump would have a few of these in his history.

The problem with Trump having these is that he occupies an office in this country that should not be compromised by his personal attachments in this way. We have also seen the bent of his support go towards those who have questionable backgrounds of their own. He supported Roy Moore, who had almost as many accusers as Trump himself.  And let’s not forget about Rob Porter. He is an abuser who was also welcome in the White House. It does make me wonder what else is being hidden that could affect our country.

Until Trump was elected, it did not matter about his NDAs. Those were his business. Now that he has been elected, it is our business. We need to know about his life. We need to know about his weaknesses. He needs to be more open about what he has done for business and personal reasons. We know about his personality. We know he cannot take criticism. He lashes out. He cannot tell the truth when he needs to. He means to distract.

How many other NDAs does he have? How many other skeletons in his closet? How many can hurt this country? We do not know and that is the problem. At any time, something in his past may bring him down and it will bring us down with it. We need to stay vigilant.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

To The Rebels

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There is a quote by Rob Siltanen that I absolutely love. It is about what this world needs.

“Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” 

We need diversity. We need different. We need those who stand out and stand up. As a society, we need to be immune to the status quo. We need to recognize those people who choose to be different and challenge the rules. We need to listen to them. We need to be proud of them for their convictions.

It is what made our forefathers take on the monumental task of breaking away from England’s rule. They stood up for what they believed in and took on an all powerful country. We still need people like this. And we have them. We have the young people who took to the streets last week to march. They are the ones we look to for our future.


We have many periods in history where change was made because of those rebels who felt it needed to come. They preceded the end of slavery, the voting rights of women, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the protests over Vietnam. Each one of the these fundamental changes in our history was made because of the rebels, the ones who refused to accept the status quo.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Russia and China Debacle

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Last year, Congress overwhelmingly voted to enact sanctions on Russia in response to their meddling in our elections. They have not been in action; however, because Trump has yet to enforce them. In the interim, Trump has continued to say he believes Putin when he says that Russia was not involved. He has continued to say the Russia investigation is a hoax, disregarding the indictments and plea deals.

In addition to those issues, Trump has congratulated Xi for being able to stay President for life and Putin for winning another election. He is cozying up to two of the most distrustful men in the world.  It has been making our allies a bit uncomfortable. For our allies it is a concern about the ability of the US to stay an ally.

There have been so many indications that Trump cannot be trusted with our leadership it is no surprise our allies are very worried. What they see is a country without clear leadership and for a country that has the largest and mightiest military, it can be very disturbing.

The indictments and plea deals have been rather extensive since Mueller started his investigation. Think about how many of those were associated with Trump and his campaign. Some of those were part of his transition team and even came as cabinet members. There have been more that are no longer working in the White House because of scandals, such as abuse, that were found after they had been there for some time. Recently, his most trusted advisor, son-in-law Kushner, has been down –graded in his security clearance.  And do not forget the girlfriends that have come forward.

His recent public statements about Putin and Xi have shown us what we have in the White House. We have someone who denigrates the world except for two of the leaders no one else trusts. He attacks his own people but touts how great Putin and Xi are. What does that say about Trump? He cannot be trusted. We have to keep our eyes on him and make sure he is held accountable for the actions he takes.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The March

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On Saturday, we saw marches happening across the country, and the world, led by students. The leaders were the students who were at Marjory Stoneman Douglas the day 14 students and 3 teachers were killed by a lone gunman.  In addition to the march on Washington D.C., marches were held in many other cities like New York, Miami, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh. To show support Israel, New Zealand, Australia, the U. K., Japan, Belgium, India, France, and Chile also held marches.  One march was even held in Antarctica. There is solidarity across the globe when it comes to keeping children safe at school.

It gives hope to future generations that young people can make a difference. Instead of sitting back and accepting what they have been told, they are looking for a positive change. And they are willing to put the energy and action into doing so. I am so proud of this generation for taking the initiative and standing up for what they believe in. Remember the Civil Rights marches? Look what they accomplished. And they are trying to do so in a non-violent way.

Since the march, I have been finding seeing posts criticizing the marches and, more specifically, the kids. I have seen accusations that they did not write their own speeches and that they should stay home and let the adults fix the problem. Since the adults have not fixed the issue they have known about for years, the kids will.

How can anyone criticize the kids for doing something they will not? How does learning CPR help in a school shooting situation? How does anyone trivialize how these kids feel? They want to go to school to learn not fear for their lives. No one should expect them to.