Monday, July 18, 2016

Staying connected (or not) ... my political world

        So I've taken a three-week break from blogging, for one reason because the last two weeks have been so difficult.
     These have been sad times, depressing -- and I don't like being depressed. I want to think that my world view is more optimistic, but these last 14 days ... dang, it's hard.
     Makes me sometimes wish I could do without television, the computer and the phone.
     Which is why six hours two weeks ago Tuesday -- July 5 -- were actually kind of nice but also distressing.
     Got up that morning, the night after a significant storm hit here, to find that (1) my computer would not connect to the Internet and (2) the TV would come on, then not function.
     Those kind of things can mean panic here in this apartment.
     See the accompanying photo: That's our TV/Internet (U-Verse) modem. If those five green lights are on, good. If four are on, OK. Anything less, and especially if the bottom one turns red, uh-oh.
     We weren't totally out of touch. Bea's I-Pad was working fine; my phone was connected to the Internet. So e-mail and Facebook and Twitter were available there.
     But I like the TV; I like the computer -- and I want to use them. No such luck that day.
     Still, through the other devices, we weren't cut off from the world. So we learned this ...
     It was that morning that the news broke that the FBI was not going to charge you-know-who with wrongdoing in regard to e-mail servers. That news, of course, sent many people into orbit. 
     I've written this once or twice or 128 times before -- I try not to discuss politics online or with my friends who I know don't see the political/social world the same way I do. Does no good; only can cause hard feelings, and I value the friendships more than telling those people how stupid and gullible they are.
     I am going to say this again: I am sick and tired of this political season. I have been sick and tired of it for more than a year; I am going to be sick and tired of it through at least early November. 
     Aren't you?
     The answer to that is yes. But it's also no, not enough to shut up about it. I am appalled at the harshness, the bitterness, the ugliness of so many people's Facebook posts and e-mails about so many things.
     On Facebook, I have "turned off" many people's posts. But I do not turn off all of the posts I don't like because I want to keep somewhat of an open mind. There are people I respect, longtime friends, that I might not agree with -- aw, heck, I disagree -- but I will consider their viewpoint.
     They won't change my mind, but I pay attention. Because I want to stay connected to the world.
     So back to that morning and afternoon without my computer and the TV. I am not a technologically minded person; I am not a dumbass ... but close (there's a laugh there). It took a while, but I have figured out enough on the computer to set up my blog, write it, insert photos and then post it.      
     On this day, though, nothing I did was working. Then, nothing on the TV moved. The remote control doesn't scare me as badly as it did for months, but be it computer or TV, I am fearful of tinkering too much and making matters worse.
     So I knew to call AT&T for technical support. Doing so  is generally a pain in the behind. But at least I didn't panic as badly.
     It took two phone calls -- got cut off the first time -- and two disconnecting and resets of the system, but when the red light on the modem turned green, I knew we were about back in business on the TV.
     The computer, not so much. I looked and looked and looked, and could not find the network/sharing page I needed. The "off" button for connectivity stayed off.
     Before making a third call to AT&T -- this is now 6 p.m. -- I decided to keep looking, keep trying. And ... yes! I found the right button, the right page, and as soon as I did, I saw the "off" button for connectivity switch to on.
     By then, I'd also found that I somehow had switched on the button, bottom left front on the computer, for Bluetooth -- thus preventing the normal Internet connection. But even after that, the problem was -- I think -- that the storm the night before had knocked off my computer offline.
     Once I put in the Internet access code and the password (a complicated one), I was back in business.
     And then the two weeks of bad news began, every day or so it seemed. Baton Rouge, Minnesota, Dallas, Bastille Day in Nice, France, coup attempt in Turkey and hundreds dead, Baton Rouge again. 
     This after the Pulse club in Orlando, after Paris, San Bernardino, Charleston, Colorado, and go back some, Fort Hood, the Boston Marathon, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Colorado again ... back, back, back to Oklahoma City and 9-11. Schools, churches, military bases, planes blown up or disappearing, hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the Middle East for Europe.
     It's just keeps happening. So fast now it's hard to keep up. What a world, what a country we're living in.
     Meanwhile, there are the memorial services and the tributes, and the reporting and analysis never-ending on news shows. The endless debate on gun control and on racial matters and on ISIS and ...
     Practically every day, the candidates for President hammering, belittling each other. People hammering, belittling the candidates. People playing the Blame Game. Blame the Black Lives Matter movement, blame the white supremacists, blame ISIS, blame the LGBT people, blame guns, blame the media, blame the liberals, blame the conservatives, blame Hillary, blame Trump, blame the President. Always blame the President.
      It goes with the President's job. We've been listening -- for a couple of months -- to an audio tape (33 discs) and here is what we heard late last week:
       "... What is indisputable is that the democratic Republican society led to a much more raucous style of American politics. Instead of discussing politics politely at dinner tables or in smoky taverns, these groups were likely to take to the streets in mass rallies.
      "These government critics also had few qualms about chastising their leaders. ... Now the opposition sought to debunk [the President's] entire life and tear to shreds the upright image he had so sedulously fostered. ..."
      Talking about Obama? Oh, no. George Washington!
      The book is Washington: A Life, by Ron Chernow, also the author of Hamilton, which led to the Broadway musical (ever hear of it?).
       At the end of his second term, Washington was pretty darned unpopular, particularly with some of his fellow Founding Fathers (such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, Presidents-to-be Nos. 3 and 4).
       George Washington, the Father of our feuding country.
      Heck, I blame Jerry Jones. Nah, not this time (wait a couple of months).
      Blame Nick Saban, who assures us it's much tougher being a college football head coach than, say, being an officer of the law. Just don't ask him about disciplining his players for a little marijuana use and a gun in their car ... because, well, there are LSU fans in Louisiana and the system is "rigged" (gee, where have we heard that?).
       If the media dares to ask Coach Saban, well, blame them, too ... for doing their jobs.
       I blame the New York Yankees, for some mediocre baseball this season. But as I often say and know full well, not many people feel sorry for them. Also know this: We've won our share and lots of other teams' shares.
       Really, I blame Richard Nixon -- for everything. That's an easy one.
       The worst President ever. He was a crook. Twice-elected, Republicans. Hard to forgive that; soured me forever on Republicans. But you have a chance to top it this year.
        Just got done reading Last of the President's Men by Bob Woodward. Oh, Tricky Dick. Talk about crooked and liar, about self-absorbed, arrogant, deceitful, paranoid, conspiracy theories, and "a secret plan" that really wasn't there. And, out of the public and media's sight, cursing and a blacklist.
         Give Mr. Trump this: Unlike Nixon, he doesn't hide his terribly slanted views. His flaws are out there. I could go on, but I'm not going to.
          I'll blame Trump for stirring up the nation's anger, and taking millions with him. And millions will blame Hillary ... and Obama and, well, George Washington.
         Here's my disqualifier for Trump; I could list a thousand reasons. But if David Duke endorses you, if Bobby Knight speaks up for you ... that's enough for me.
         Ah, I got into politics some, didn't I? Sorry to bother you.
         I like news shows, news/analysis shows; I want to hear and see the reasoning, the differing viewpoints. Might not agree, but I want to do my own evaluation.
         Can't hide from the bad news, either. Wish it wasn't so. The protest marches, the mass deaths remind us of the difficult days -- mixed in with great times -- of the late 1950s and the 1960s. 
          I am not a political/social expert, not a pundit. But I have been telling Bea for months that I feel a revolution of sorts coming on -- maybe from minority groups, from the middle/lower class, and from the disenfranchised majority.
         There is anger, and there is violence, there are these "wild cards" -- and it's playing out in the streets, across the world. And the "blame game," particularly by our politicians, just stirs up the anger.
          Can't avoid seeing it on TV or on the Internet. Unless you abstain or you can't connect online.
          (After President Obama was re-elected in 2012, I wrote a blog piece saying we needed to move on. One of my sportswriter friends wrote and said I should stick to sports. Good idea ... but I'm living in the world, not just the sports world.)
          The previous two weeks have been ugly, and sad. I expect the next two weeks, with our political conventions, could be ugly -- mayhem in the streets in Cleveland and maybe Philadelphia. It could be a sign of what's to come in the next four years.

          And the rest of the world is shaky, too.
          I don't want to be angry, or depressed, so after I post this blog, I will take a two-week break from Facebook -- I know you'll miss me -- and I will limit my TV watching.
          I will watch the NBC Nightly News and the PBS Newshour and CBS' Sunday Morning because I like those and they keep me informed, and I'll keep up with the below-.500 New York Yankees (not much fun right now). Too early to worry about LSU football.

         You can have politics.
         And if the lights on the modem don't come on, and the Internet and TV don't work, for the next two weeks ... no panic.