Pic of the Day

How to Handle Our Complaints

Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.

— James 5:9

Our lives are hectic, and we are frequently on the go. First, it’s work, then grocery shopping, household chores, taking care of our pets, and making dinner, which is usually followed by more household chores. Once we have finished with all of these essentials, then we sometimes have little time for leisure. Let’s face it; our lives are full of things to do, and that can create serious stress at times. In those times of stress, how do we conduct ourselves?  Do we allow these stressful circumstances to dictate our reaction, or do we rise above them?  We all have fallen prey to complaining. We complain because we aren’t feeling the way we want or things aren’t going the way we want them to go. God calls on us to rise above our stresses and trials without complaining. It is perfectly normal to feel emotions of discouragement, disappointment, anger, sadness, and loss. Still, even in the emotional chaos, we need to act on truth and not on our feelings. Feelings come and go, but the truth of God’s love and protection will always remain.

First Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” God wants us to be thankful for every single circumstance we face. Always being grateful for all that life throws our way is not always easy. But, with Christ as our foundation, we can overcome the trials and stresses of each day. John 8:31-32 says, “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The truth sets us free from the captivity of sin and gives us a new life with Christ. With the truth of God’s Word, we can be proactive instead of reactive. We have the choice to either complain or make the best of things. 

God tells us how we can change our hearts and minds to stop complaining. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  We have to accept that we are in God’s hands. Some people will tell you that complaining is self-serving and completely the opposite of what we are called to do, but complaining is not always bad. There are times when we must take care of ourselves and stand up for our needs. We cannot always be passive, but we have the choice to turn to God to help us with our troubles. Sometimes, that means it is up to us to take care of our problems through guidance from God.

However, we are not to always look out for only ourselves. We are to show love and serve others, not just ourselves. Yet, we must take care of ourselves so that we are available to help others. If we keep others in mind, then we will not be focusing on our problems. Philippians 4:8 tells us what to do instead of complaining, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”  All of these “things” put our focus off of us and onto others. The more we focus on others, the less time we will focus on our problems.

The Bible teaches us that we have one place to go when we have a complaint, concern, or need. Psalm 17:1 says, “Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!” We aren’t told to complain to strangers or tell everyone close to us how bad things are. We are to bring our concerns to God. He is the nourishment for our souls. We are to take our worries to Him and let Him work ways on your behalf. God does not want us to complain. As James says, the Judge is standing at the door, and He is listening to our worries. 

Pic of the Day

Moment of Zen: Sleeping In

Pic of the Day

Is the Worst Over?

For the first year of Trump’s presidency, many Americans thought he could not go lower, but as each of the last four years has passed, we saw that there are no depths to his depravity. His depravity was on display to its greatest extent on Wednesday when he incited an insurrection by his followers to attack the Capitol. The most significant problem America now faces is not Donald Trump. Too many in Congress and a growing number of people in his administration have had enough. Yet there are still people like Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley and most House Republicans who continue to support him. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and reported by Fox News and other pro-Trump news outlets tried to claim Antifa, not Trump loyalists, were behind the attack on the Capitol. A friend and coworker of mine, who is a fellow Alabamian, texted me in response to the claims that the insurrectionists were Antifa in disguise and said, “They were just showing some footage on the news, and I was like, these people LOOK LIKE TRUMP SUPPORTERS. Antifa kids don’t have that Southern redneck look. It’s just like if you know rednecks, you know these people are true blue rednecks!” She is right. I grew up surrounded by rednecks. I recognize them when I see them. The people who led the terrorist attack were, without a doubt, Trump supporters.

Honestly, I have to wonder how people can watch and read Fox News, Newsmax, and other pre-Trump news outlets. While many of these people are weak-minded and, let’s just say it, stupid, not all of them are. My mother is an intelligent woman. She spent 30 years as a public health official and ten more years as an expert on pandemic response. She knows better than anyone I know the realities of a pandemic. Her sister, my aunt, died of the H1N1 flu. Yet, even with Donald Trump’s criminally negligent handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, she continues to support him. Not only that, but she believes all the stupidity she hears on Fox News and Newsmax. I can’t even believe she watches Newsmax. So, I have to wonder, do these media outlets have some type of subliminal messaging or hidden hypnotic device in their media? Hitler studied mesmerism and mysticism to understand how to maximize his control over people. I do not doubt that if we were in Germany at any time between 1933 and 1945, Fox News and these same Trump supporters would be behind and openly supporting Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.

Luckily, the U.S. Constitution does not have the weaknesses of the Weimar Constitution. There is no Article 48, the so-called Notverordnung (emergency decree) provision, which gave Germany’s president broad powers to suspend civil liberties with a flawed system of checks and balances. Trump has often claimed that such special powers exist, but there are no such provisions in the U.S. Constitution. When Presidents have overstepped the bounds of their office, they have been stopped by Congress and the courts. It was not always done quickly, but democracy eventually prevailed every time. Donald Trump has twelve days left as president. While I do not believe Congress will be successful in removing him from office through impeachment, and with Cabinet members already resigning over the Capitol insurrection, it is doubtful that the Vice President and the Cabinet will invoke the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. I also believe that Trump will never resign on his own. There are twelve days of fear ahead of us. 

If the Republican Party does not distance itself from Donald Trump and punish those who are continuing to support him, then the Republican Party will cease to exist. There is a civil war within the Republican Party, and the party is in its final death throes. Can it survive this insurrection and, until Wednesday, the unwavering loyalty to Trump? I hope that Wednesday’s terrorist attack by Trumpists will force the Republican Party to reassess itself. As long as hate groups continue to exist in the United States, then Trumpism will continue. Like a cancerous tumor, Trump and his hate-filled supports need to be removed from having any influence in the United States government. If that takes revoking the FCC licenses from Trumpist media outlets and banning them from social media, then I am all for it. I do not believe that would be censorship because these outlets have become a public danger and are openly fomenting insurrection. Everyone who had a role in Wednesday’s insurrection and terrorist attack needs to be rooted out to ensure that democracy is restored and will continue.

If there is any doubt that Donald Trump believes he is the Republican Party should have been put to rest Wednesday when Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, explicitly said as much at his father’s “Save America” protest, where Trump incited the insurrection at the Capitol. “This isn’t their Republican Party anymore. This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party,” Trump Jr. said, and then warned Republicans who did not support his father’s efforts to overturn democracy: “We’re coming for you, and we’re going to have a good time doing it.”

The events of the past four years culminated in an open insurrection and an attack on the U.S. Capitol. I am profoundly saddened, incredibly angry, and terrified of what will happen over the next twelve days. I do not fool myself that the worst is over. Sadly, I think the worst has just begun unless swift action is taken to end Trumpism.

Pic of the Day

Chaos in Washington/Trump’s Insurrection

What happened yesterday at the U.S. Capitol is a tragedy for American democracy and sits solely at Donald Trump’s feet. Trump spent months before the election occurred claiming that the election would be fraudulent, and when it wasn’t, he continued to spout his lies about voter fraud. During the first presidential debate, he told the Proud Boys, “Stand back and stand by.” He realized early on that he was likely to lose, and he has been fomenting rebellion and sedition for months. When Trump called on his supporters to march on the Capitol where the Electoral College votes were being officially counted and certified, he incited an insurrection, and he got an insurrection, which ultimately failed. The last time armed insurrectionists violently opposed a presidential election, the United States became embroiled in its bloodiest war, the Civil War. The first pitched battle of the current insurrection was quashed, but to end this, those involved need to be prosecuted for the treasonous behavior they have fomented and participated in.

I am not sure how these insurrectionists stormed and breached the Capitol grounds and pushed their way past the Capitol Police. I am sure there will be a congressional investigation into how this happened. I did hear on the news that the Proud Boys and others had been planning this for weeks, but the Capitol Police did not heed the warnings to the extent they should have. The news also reported that some of the insurrectionists used chemical deterrents on the police, the same deterrents the police should have been using on them. One woman was killed in the attack. She was Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran from San Diego, a QAnon believer, and a staunch Trump supporter.

Yesterday was a tragedy by any standard. It was a disgrace that our current president encouraged this to happen. The events yesterday at the U.S. Capitol saddened me, angered me, and terrified me. This attempted coup was unprecedented in the United States of America. It was a function of our Congress that should have been a mere formality lasting an hour at the most. Instead, some Senate and House Republicans thought it was a good idea to contest the election and further incite an insurrection. Those who have backed Donald Trump and his egotistical and fear-driven claims are just as responsible as Donald Trump and those who stormed the Capitol. Let me be clear, this was a terrorist attack. Domestic terrorism is, in some ways, worse than foreign terrorists because it comes from our own citizens, and this attack was encouraged by the sitting president. All those involved in this terrorist attack, whether they incited it, silently supported it, or carried it out, need to be punished severely. This election must serve as a dark event in American history in which we learn a lesson that the United States will not tolerate domestic terrorism and insurrection.

I believed yesterday would be a lot of posturing and a waste of time in Congress by those who remained loyal to Donald Trump and his lies. I thought we would only see a group of Representatives and Senators defy their oath of office. What happened was much worse. The President gave a speech to his insurrectionist calling on them to march on the Capitol, and while it was unsaid, he was also telling them to stop Congress from doing their duty. When the dust settled and the insurrectionists and terrorists were driven out of the Capitol, most of those who planned to object to the electoral votes changed their minds, but Senator Josh Hawley stuck to his guns, betrayed his oath, and called for the electoral votes to be rejected. His stubbornness, treason, and stupidity will continue to incite terrorism. He should be kicked out of the Senate and not allowed to serve his term. This has gone too far. Fox News and Newsmax are claiming fraudulently that Antifa stormed the Capitol, though no one credible is making that claim. These were Trump supporters. These are dangerous times and those encouraging insurrection, terrorism, and sedition must be punished.

I am not going to say much more about this. Honestly, it is too awful. However, I want to leave you with what Vermont’s Republican Governor Phil Scott tweeted in six successive tweets. I have combined them into one paragraph. I don’t often agree with Republicans, but I can at least respect Scott. He and his administration have kept COVID-19 cases low in the State of Vermont. He has never been a fan of Donald Trump. He refused to vote for President in 2016 and voted for Joe Biden in 2020. Here is what he said:

This is a very disturbing time for our nation. What we are seeing today at the U.S. Capitol is not a peaceful protest – it is an unacceptable attack on our democracy. The rioters have actively assaulted police officers, and they should immediately evacuate the Capitol building or be removed. Make no mistake, the President of the United States is responsible for this event. President Trump has orchestrated a campaign to cause an insurrection that overturns the results of a free, fair and legal election. The fact is the results of this election have been validated by Republican governors, conservative judges and non-partisan election officials across the country. There is no doubt that the President’s delusion, fabrication, self-interest, and ego have led us – step by step – to this very low, and very dangerous, moment in American history. The fabric of our democracy and the principles of our republic are under attack by the President. Enough is enough. President Trump should resign or be removed from office by his Cabinet, or by the Congress.

This is the Trump presidency. This is how we should remember what Trump has done for/to the United States: he led an insurrection to overthrow democracy.

Pic of the Day

The Circus, i.e., the U.S. Congress

As a child, I went to a couple of circuses that came to Montgomery, but it was only one or two times. My father did not like clowns, and so we rarely went. What I do remember is that there were some serious performers: lion tamers, acrobats, tightrope walkers. Then there were the outrageous acts: clowns, magicians, and other stunt-oriented artists. Just as Congress is a diverse group of politicians, a circus is a diverse group of entertainers. The two groups have a lot in common. Congress also has those who are serious and want to help Americans. Then there are those who are there just for theatrics, posturing, and acting like clowns.

Contemporary circuses experiment with new circus formats and aesthetics, typically focusing on human artistry. Modern circuses tended to favor a theatrical approach, combining character-driven circus acts with original music in a broad variety of styles to convey complex themes or stories. A contemporary circus continues to develop new variations on the circus tradition while absorbing new skills, techniques, and stylistic influences from other performing arts. Congress has changed in much the same way. There is a lot of posturing and performances, but the difference is that circuses have a purpose of entertaining their audience, and Congress has the duty to makes laws that influence the daily lives of Americans through legislative debate and compromise. Congress has failed in this duty. They debate, but nothing gets accomplished because they refuse to compromise. The Constitution directs Congress to serve as the voice of the people and the states in the federal government. Yet, it is apparent, especially with the stunts and attempts to overturn the re ent presidential election, they no longer represent anyone but their quest for power.

In my opinion, the circus atmosphere of the U.S. Congress is not tied to one party affiliation. Both Democrats and Republicans have their own ridiculousness. The so-called Progressives of the Democratic Party attempts to block any compromise, just as the Tea Party and Freedom Caucus of the Republican Party do the same. Both want to punish those who do not align with their political philosophies. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) have no control over their respective party’s more radical factions. Pelosi can’t control the Progressives because they oppose her, and McCarthy has joined in with the insanity of his radical factions. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) does have greater control over his Democratic colleagues as they seem primarily to have the same goal, but the last few days/weeks have shown that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has lost control of many members of this party. If McConnell had control, there would not be at least fourteen senators, led by Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), who plan to reject Biden’s electoral votes from states Trump claims, without evidence, to have won. The two Republican Senators in Georgia, in a reelection fight, have now signed onto the effort, although it means they are saying that the voters in their state should be overruled in their choice for president.

In the craziness of the current political situation, it’s hard to figure out what’s going on, but the bottom line is there is a major fight over whether or not the United States will remain a democracy. On one side are Americans, Republicans as well as Democrats, who might agree on virtually nothing else, agreeing on the reality that Democrat Joe Biden won the 2020 election fair and square, and by a significant amount. They recognize that he is the president-elect. On the other hand, Trump and his supporters argue without any evidence that the president has somehow been cheated of reelection. They are using the uncertainty their words have created in the minds of weak-minded and deluded Americans to argue that the election now must be reexamined. They have abandoned democracy and broken their oaths to the Constitution. Just as a reminder, the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate take the following oath:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Donald Trump and his supporters have become domestic enemies of the United States and our Constitution. They are also backed by foreign enemies, considering Trump’s allegiance to Russia. Few members of Congress are currently faithfully discharging the duties of their office. I lay more blame on Republicans in the Senate, especially Mitch McConnell, for Congress’s dereliction of duty. The fact that it took nine months to pass another, yet wholly inadequate, stimulus package to help struggling Americans showed that they no longer care about the American people. They only care about themselves. Quite frankly, I would not mind if every member of Congress resigned and pledged never to seek reelection, allowing an entirely new Congress to take over, one that would compromise and work to better this country. Congress desperately needs term limits. We need new blood and new ideas in our legislative branch. If the members of Congress knew they had limits to how long they could serve, they might be more amenable to compromise. They would not always be thinking of reelection and could accomplish their obligations to their government office. Currently, the absence of term limits merely perpetuates the circus atmosphere of the United States government.

The only sanity that can be found in the Republican Party are those who are opposing a very public attempted coup of the U.S. government. A few Republicans are standing on the principle of democracy. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) called Trump’s Saturday phone call to the Georgia Secretary of State a “new low in this whole futile and sorry episode.” Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) characterized the call by saying it was “deeply troubling” and people should listen to the full recording. Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) said the call was “absolutely appalling” and tweeted, “To every member of Congress considering objecting to the election results, you cannot—in light of this—do so with a clean conscience.” Former Senator John C. Danforth (R-MO), who has supported the political career of Josh Hawley, the first senator to back Trump’s challenge to the Electoral College votes, rejected those efforts. Danforth said, “Trump’s false claim that the election was stolen is a highly destructive attack on our constitutional government. It is the opposite of conservative; it is radical….”

The best voice of reason came from former President Barack Obama. Writing on Twitter about yesterday’s runoff elections in Georgia, Obama warned that Trump and his supporters are threatening “the fundamental principles of our democracy.” Obama went on to identify what at stake in Trump’s effort to stay in office despite his election loss: “Our democracy isn’t about any individual,” he wrote, “even a president.” Trump and his supporters have abandoned the core principle of the U.S. Constitution, as outlined in its Preamble:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Trump cares only about one person: himself. He doesn’t believe in “We the People” but “I, Donald J. Trump,” and far too many Republicans have supported this belief. Luckily, at noon on January 20, we will return to the rule of “We the People,” and democracy will be restored. 

When a joint session of Congress meets today (in what is sure to be a circus of the absurd), the task will be to count and confirm Biden’s win. Here’s what we can expect to see:

  • Congress will meet around 1 p.m. Eastern time in a joint session convened in the House chamber and with Vice President Mike Pence presiding.
  • Clerks will hand Pence the envelopes of states’ electoral college results in alphabetical order. He will read them aloud. Congress will vote on each one.
  • When they get to Arizona, Senator Ted Cruz (Tex.) and a number of other Republican senators, as well as Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ.) and probably Mo Brooks (R-AL) among other Representatives, will object. They are supposed to object in writing and hand it to Pence to read. (But these lawmakers will probably try to make speeches, too. They should not be allowed to do this, but I doubt Pence will silence them.)
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) or other top House Democrats may respond, which may or may not be allowed by Pence.
  • Then the House and the Senate split up and can debate each challenge for up to two hours. Leaders in both chambers want to quash these quickly. They will hold a vote on whether to accept the challenge. It will fail in each chamber because there are enough Senate Republicans who will not vote to reject the votes and the House is controlled by Democrats. Both chambers must vote individually to reject the votes or else the votes must be accepted.
  • Lawmakers will rejoin in a joint session and keep going down the list of states. It is expected that Republicans will challenge all or most of the swing states that Trump lost, from Arizona to Georgia and on to Wisconsin.
  • While this process usually takes no more than half an hour, this could stretch well into the overnight hours or even through the day Thursday. By the end, Pence will have to declare that Biden has won the electoral college and that Biden will be the next president. (Even though Trump has started pressuring Pence not to do so.)

All that’s left after this is to inaugurate Biden on January 20. But the rift in the Republican Party created by this day will remain long afterward, and if they allow Trump to continue with his insanity, it may very well be the end of the Republican Party. At the very least, it will be the end of the Republican Party as we knew it. It will no longer be the Party of Lincoln, but the Party of Trump. My fervent hope is that that this is a learned lesson for American democracy, and all Americans realize just how close we came to losing the democracy we hold so dear. Sadly, listening to the incredible and unbelievable stupidity of Trump’s supporters, it is a lesson that is unlikely to be learned because they no longer want democracy. They want a one-party system and the destruction of the Democratic Party. However, what they do not understand is they are destroying the Republican Party they proclaim they believe in. I’m afraid the circus that is our government will continue. They will carry on their imitation of “The Greatest Show on Earth” even though that circus ceased to exist in 2017, just a few months after the circus that has been the Trump administration began.