Good Cop, Bad Cop

It seems like no matter where we turn, we’re seeing another story about police brutality and racism shoved into our faces. The stories dominate our newsfeeds on social media, they are given the top spot on the news, and everyone has an opinion. A majority of the time, the police are condemned and the whole group of men and women who vowed to protect us are written off as racists and power hungry.

the_heat_bullock_mccarthyMy co-worker said something interesting to me today. I was reading more about the state trooper in Georgia who, faced with the task of informing 4 young children that they were now orphans, decided to postpone the bad news to give them a fun Halloween. I was recounting the article I just read, especially focusing on how sweet it was that he would be so selfless, while chills ran through my body. It was a very touching story, and I found it so refreshing to see a positive story about a brother in blue going viral such as this did. Then she said it.

“I’m surprised the kids opened the door for him. I asked why she said this, considering the man that stood before them was a police officer.

“A lot of parents these days tell their kids to watch out for the cops.”

I grimaced. She wasn’t wrong, but hearing it put so plainly still shocked me. The realization of this fact made my blood boil. Growing up, I was told that men or women in uniform were the good guys, the heroes. If we were ever lost or in trouble, go to them. They will protect us and help us. Personally, I still feel that way. The realization that kids growing up these days might be told otherwise, was heartbreaking. Sure, there are bad eggs, like with any group of people. They certainly shouldn’t get a free pass, but scrutinizing every man and woman behind a badge simply for that reason alone? It’s shameful.

We are shown more videos of cops harming people more than cops helping people. I’m not surprised, since this better fits the current narrative of America. I implore you to search for the good. They are out there. Some of my more vigilant Facebook friends have done just that, and I smile when I scroll past a video, photo, or article about a valiant cop. This trooper in Georgia is the latest, but he’s certainly not the only one.

There’s the cop who makes it a point to hang out with kids on his beat. He brings them snacks and shows them he’s not the enemy. He plays games with them. He talks to them. There are the cops who pull a man over and notice none of his kids are in car seats, because he can’t afford them. The cops use their own money to buy each kid a car seat. They said later that while they could have given the man a ticket, that wouldn’t help. That wouldn’t fix the problem. There’s the cop who notices a woman can’t pay for groceries, so they help her.

These cops aren’t looking for attention. They don’t need validation. This is the oath they took. Protect and Serve. They want to make our communities a better place. It’s important to remember that, even in the face of adversity.

Is the media the enemy?

There’s something that has been bothering me for a while now. Since I began my career in journalism, which started the moment I first had my work published in college, I have heard whispers online, and sometimes in person, of those who denounce the media in all forms.

“The mainstream media is brainwashing us!”

“What are they trying to distract us from?”

“All journalists are liars!”

And so on.

Now, as far as the lying goes, I understand it’s hard to trust those of us in the media when there are a select few who don’t deserve our trust. At this moment, Brian Williams comes to mind. A life-long career ruined and his name smeared because for some reason, he decided to flat out lie to his trusting audience. But for every journalist who plagiarizes or lies, there are 10 who are upstanding citizens and have committed their lives to feeding knowledge to the world. Just like we shouldn’t judge all Muslims based on the extremists, we shouldn’t decry all of those in the media because of a few bad eggs.

The hatred goes a step further than this. Some citizens of our beautiful country think that the media makes it their goal to feed us lies. That they’re trying to distract us from something bigger going on by making every headline about another subject. Take for example, Ebola. While Ebola isn’t a new disease, a few months ago there was an epidemic. Some parts of Africa and the surrounding areas had an outbreak on their hands. Thousands of people died. Ebola even came to our country, so naturally it dominated news headlines across the country. Thanks to talented doctors and scientists, a treatment was developed that allowed some of those infected to be treated and cured. The outbreak slowed and those infected in the US were healthy again. Slowly but sure, Ebola faded from the teleprompters on the morning news and became a page 3 story as opposed to the front page. It’s a normal news cycle.

There were no nefarious intentions, but so many were flooding the comment thread. “What were they distracting us from?” Some even gave suggestions as to what was going on during the Ebola outbreak that the media would need to take our minds off of and hide from us. Some actually gave me a good laugh.

Why am I bringing this up now? I had a conversation with one of my closest friends today. She’s a Democrat, but I still love her anyway. We were discussing the election when she asked me if yesterday’s election determined our presidential candidates. I let out a chuckle before informing her that no, yesterday was a local and state election. The presidential candidates won’t be chosen for at least a few more months. She didn’t know, because she refuses to watch the news. She doesn’t pick up the newspaper. She doesn’t peruse online blogs or news websites.

I told her this was proof of what I have been telling her all along. She should read the news. She should be informed of what’s going on in the world and not rely on me to be a talking head who recites the day’s headlines whenever she asks. She should know about all of the presidential candidates and not blindly vote for the most popular Democrat because she’s registered that way.

“F the news. Media propaganda! All of it! That’s why deep down you want a different job. I refuse to be spoon fed poisonous lies by idiots who want to control our minds.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. Where does she get this stuff? Where does anyone get this idea from? The media is not the enemy. If it weren’t for the media, where would we all be? We would be ignorant sheep, wandering around without proper clothing since we didn’t even know the weather forecast.

The takeaway? Pick up a newspaper! Flip on the local news while you get ready for work. Participate in healthy discussions about politics. No matter what your opinions, we should all be educated and informed. And just to drive the point home, there are no conspiracies, and the media isn’t trying to deceive you. We can’t help that not all news, is good news. We have dedicated our lives and careers to what we do. Some reporters and photographers even put themselves in harm’s way on more than one occasion. Give them the respect they deserve!

Political Roundup

It was a busy week for Dems and Republicans alike. After much anticipation and speculation, Joe Biden finally announced that he will not be running for president. It was met with some cheers and some groans. It seemed that many democrats really wanted Biden to run. The current Vice President has a high approval rating and is well liked among politicians. There were a few campaigns to “draft” Biden in order to coax him into running. Aside from Biden being a popular choice, Dems were frustrated with Hillary Clinton. Between her swirling scandals and her rigid personality, Dems weren’t crazy about her position in the race. She is quickly associated with the words “liar” and “untrustworthy” by Americans. The Dems felt more confident with Biden.

Joe had his reservations, however, and most people think it is because of his late son, Beau. Beau Biden passed away only a few months ago, and Biden and family are still grieving. Biden was quietly meeting with supporters and talking with his family to decide if running right now would be the most beneficial thing for the entire family. On top of that, Hillary had a promising performance in the first Democratic debate. After her glowing reviews, many felt Joe’s window of opportunity was closing. In the end, Joe decided it wasn’t the best time for him or his family, so he decided against throwing his hat in the ring.

For the GOP, it was a week of rebirth in a way. With John Boehner’s resignation as Speaker of the House, the GOP scrambled to find a worthy replacement. After a tremulous year, they needed someone young and fresh, who could shine a new light on Congress and be a positive influence going forward. There were a few rumors that former vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, would be elected and was the GOP’s first choice for the new Speaker of the House. Almost immediately, Ryan shot down these rumors, but a few days later it was announced that a unanimous vote elected Paul Ryan as the new Speaker of the House.

cnbc-moderatorsThe third GOP debate took place this week, and t was a bit of a shake up from what we’re used to (and tired of) seeing. Donald Trump is beginning to fall in the polls while Ben Carson and Marco Rubio slowly creep up, snagging the majority in key states. It’s still early, so things can always continue to change, but this is a good sign for those who don’t consider Trump a serious candidate.

The debate itself was a bit of a circus, in part because the CNBC moderators seemed to be biased and throw “gotcha” questions at the candidates. They did their best to push through, although the Republican National Committee was less understanding, and has suspended the next debate as a result and has severed their relationship with NBC.

As for the debate itself, Marco Rubio was crowned the winner. He made himself stand out by not attacking his fellow candidates and making his views heard. He certainly has the drive and passion to be our next president, and it will be interesting to see where he goes from here.

On today’s episode of “What Grinds My Gears” – Obama and Grumpy Cat. What? You read that right.

Barack Obama continues to make a mockery of the position of Commander in Chief of the United States of America. First it was refusing to give up his Blackberry. Then it was the late-night talk show appearances, parading around like some sort of teen heartthrob. There were signs of anti-patriotism, especially from the First Lady who refused to pledge allegiance to the Flag. There are so many more but instead of opening up that can of worms, I want to focus on what is happening now, with Grumpy Cat, and how it related to the current presidential campaign.

We’re all familiar with Grumpy Cat. The lovable and sad cat who pattered her way into our hearts with her signature frown. Surely a house cat doesn’t have much interest in politics, but Obama brought her into the political ring when he compared her to Republicans, saying they are gloomy. Don’t we all love a sweeping generalization? I know I do. Too bad we would be crucified for making sweeping generalizations about other groups of people in the US, but I digress.

He went on to do his best Grumpy Cat impression, saying the Republicans are “down on America” and we have “made great strides” despite Republican politicians. He was met with a round of applause and cheers from the crowd. Republicans live in the “Twilight Zone” and that things were much worse in 2008. Obama single-handedly caught Osama Bin Laden! He created jobs! He is our Savior!

Not so fast. Putting everything else aside and just focusing on this snippet of commentary, Obama is being a fierce hypocrite. He’s trying to turn the tables on the Republicans and blame them for everything that is wrong with this country, and throwing in jabs at George W. Bush while he’s at it. People so easily and quickly forget what things were really like before Obama took office. They forget that Bush helped us through one of the worst events in American history. They forget that faced with a Congress that was controlled by Democrats, he was shut down on changing key issues. Unlike Obama who abuses his power and makes playground bully threats, Bush didn’t use his veto power to undermine our political system.

Here’s hoping America does their homework and puts a Republican in office this time around.

Why should we trust Hillary Clinton?

The news headlines are damning. Polls show that most of America, including Democrats, don’t feel they can trust Hillary. Pundits debate over her emails, her public persona, and Benghazi. We know we can’t trust her, yet some liberals are drawn to her and have rallied behind her through the scandals. She has the potential to be the first woman president, but we shouldn’t vote for someone just to change the face of history.

Hillary makes promises, so many that we have heard before. Things can change in this country. The economy can thrive again. Women will have equal rights and equal wages once and for all, shattering the glass ceiling. We’ll tax the rich, and give to the poor, like a modern day Robin Hood. Hillary spins a fantasy that sounds so good it hypnotizes liberals, even those who have a nagging feeling that she cannot be trusted, especially as the leader of the Free World.

At the first Democratic debate, when posed with a question about Hillary’s emails, Bernie Sanders exclaimed that “America is sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!” He was met with raucous applause and a nod of approval from Hillary.

I get his angle, but American should care about Hillary’s emails. Sure, we hear about it a lot, but for good reason. She secretly set up a private email server and exchanged classified information. Not only is it sneaky, it is dangerous. That email could easily be hacked by terrorists and enemies of the U.S. since it isn’t protected by the government’s security. The FBI continues investigating, which should be a sign that it isn’t just a political attack. This is on top of the Benghazi scandal in which she is a key player.

Let’s even put aside the current scandals she is a part of. What about her continuously contradicting views and stances? It was only in 2008 during her bid for president that Hillary went on record saying that marriage is between a man and a women, and that sanctity should not be messed with. Now Hillary is ecstatic that gay marriage is legal and is an ally to the LGBT community. 2008 Hillary was a supporter of the Second Amendment, and now she is pushing for gun control. 2008 Hillary was a supporter of the Iraq war, and she was opposed to issuing driver’s licenses to immigrants. 2015 Hillary is a friend to immigrants.

How can we trust someone who can so quickly change their mind about the most important issues facing our country? Will she change her mind again? There’s no way for us to know.

Why do millennials love Bernie Sanders?

Millennials are a long sought after demographic that candidates have wanted to collect for years. That age bracket, 18-29, is hard to relate to. Candidates from both parties struggle to appeal to these young men and women. I myself am a millennial. I see the ads online, the T.V. spots, the social media campaigns. We’re being urged to “Rock the Vote,” to get involved in politics, and to support a candidate. Millennials make up such a large portion of the voting population that it’s important to grab that support. On top of that, millennials can still be swayed. We’re growing up and becoming adults. This is the time when we form our opinions, including out political affiliation and undying support for a candidate that’s either red or blue.

To me, it seems like a lot of millennials tend to lean left. As I scroll through my Facebook and Twitter feeds, I see so many posts from former classmates and friends about their support for Hillary or Bernie, or their desire for Joe to place his hat in the ring. They’re extremely vocal about these opinions, too. ON debate nights, my phone heats up with constant updates and texts among friends discussing the issues at hand. Some of these discussions are titillating. Others leave me feeling like I have whiplash as my face turns 3 shades redder than normal.

To explain why so many millennials love Bernie, I have to touch on why so many millennials seem to bleed blue. For one, the young generation tends to do what is “in,” for lack of a better term. Everyone they know is a liberal, they hear their parents talking about politics, and this outside influence has an impact. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had friends who are liberal actually yell at me and tell me I’m “not really a Republican.” “But I am,” I will stammer back. This usually turns into a feud more than a friendly debate.

They’re listening, but they aren’t understanding. At the very least, they aren’t open-minded or willing to put in the research. They regurgitate and believe what they are told. Bernie tells them he will help women, he is the voice of the voiceless, and he will help the middle class. Haven’t we heard this from just about every candidate? Of course that’s what they say. But what are their real views? What is their political history? Are they a flip-flopper who isn’t sure what party they belong to? Have they said completely contradictory things in the past?

I see hashtags scattered across social media. #feeltheBern. I see creepy tee-shirts that say, “Bernie is Bae.” Are they sure who they are voting for?

What does the Oregon School Shooting Mean for Us?

Yesterday was a tough day for America, and particularly Oregon. A shooter opened fire on Umpqua Community College campus in Roseburg, Oregon. 10 people are dead, including the shooter. It is a tragedy whenever there is a wrongful death, but especially a mass shooting to add to the list. The fact that there is a list is already disconcerting enough.

Help and prayers are pouring into this small community south of Portland, and the rest of America mourns along with them. The victims will be remembered in a montage on the morning news, with their smiles faces plastered across the T.V. as family and friends talk about their hopes and dreams and the impact they had on the world. This will last for a few days, maybe a week, as more information is released from law enforcement and we collectively shake our heads as we learn more about this senseless tragedy.

As friends and family start the path toward healing, the dialogue for the rest of the country changes. I hate to mix politics with a crime of this magnitude, but unfortunately that’s the script Americans follow. Soon panelists will begin arguing about gun control on every news channel, and guest psychologists will make an appearance to give their two cents about the “why;” why the gunman did what he did, why this campus, what happened in his life that led him to this?

This opens up a bigger, broader conversation that undoubtedly comes in the weeks following a mass shooting- how can we prevent this from happening again? Some say gun control is to blame. We need to have stricter regulations for weapons. Some even suggest making guns illegal. Why do regular citizens need guns anyway?

I honestly don’t think gun control is the problem. After all, drugs are illegal. Does that stop people from doing them? Robbery is illegal, and so is murder. Yet we have robberies and murders. If someone is bad, they aren’t going to begin following the letter of the law. So gun control won’t help. It might put up a slight road block, but it wouldn’t make it impossible.

We haven’t heard much about this shooter yet. Actually, we haven’t heard anything. The most we know is maybe his name, and that he is 26 years old. I think this is a purposeful omission so the focus isn’t taken off of the victims. We will begin talking about him, though, and when we do, it will sound familiar.

“He was always withdrawn.”

“He had a few incidents before this.”

“He said some questionable things on social media.”

There always seem to be a sign. I can’t think of a mass shooting that didn’t involve a shooter who turned out to be showing troublesome signs very early on. Yet no one ever speaks up. They just assume nothing will come of it. At least until it does.

I think mental illness should be the focus. Our country’s view of mental illness is highly skewed. Those with mental illness aren’t treated the same as someone with a physical illness. Why is that? In many cases, their untreated mental illness can end up hurting innocent people.

Now I’m not saying mental illness is a scape goat to commit heinous crimes, because it certainly isn’t; but maybe the stigma surrounding it should change.

This won’t fix all of our problems, but if our attitude about mental illness changes, there’s a possibility we can prevent this in the future.

Kim is back, back again

Well, we can’t seem to escape Kim Davis. At this point, she’s practically a household name. Either she’s spoken about with disdain or celebrated for her stance against “the man.” If you’re wracking your brain trying to remember who she is, I’ll give you a quick recap.

Kim Davis is a Kentucky county clerk who is responsible for issuing marriage licenses to happy couples getting ready to say “I do.” Kim Davis is a Christian, and she believes same-sex marriage is wrong and a sin against God. Up until a few months ago, this fact didn’t interfere with her day to day duties as a county clerk; that is, until same-sex marriage was legalized across the United States and she was brought face-to-face with a same-sex couple looking to get their marriage license. She refused to issue them a license because of her beliefs, which spiraled into the side-show act that we now have in our midst. Many conservatives rallied behind her, including GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, and she was even jailed for refusing to do her job. She was released from jail after a few days and went right back to her post, where she passed off the marriage license duty to her office minions and holed up in her office, away from cameras and press.

She was fading from the spotlight, but now she’s back and she’s been touched by the Pope. No, really, she actually hugged him. During Pope Francis’ visit in the United States last week, he had a secret meeting with Davis and her husband. We only heard about this today, from Davis and her legal counsel. For a while, the Vatican didn’t make a comment in any direction, and then, all of a sudden, they confirmed that the meeting did take place. I know, pictures or it didn’t happen. According to the Vatican, a photographer was on hand along with the Pope’s security and official photos will be released by the Vatican at some point. The Vatican hasn’t said much else.

According to Davis, during their meeting, the Pope embraced her and asked her to pray for him, and commended her for standing her ground. Their meeting lasted about 15 minutes and he even gave Davis rosary beads for her Catholic parents.

So what’s the deal? This pope has been hailed as the “cool pope.” He seemed progressive and understanding and loving of all people. On the same hand, he is still a Roman Catholic individual, and those ideals are firm, especially for the Pope. But why go out of his way to meet with Davis, especially in secret? This makes it more disconcerting. I think the pope’s time could have better been served meeting with those less fortunate (which he did make some time for), or even kids in hospitals fighting for their lives. Why Kim Davis? Maybe we’ll never know.

Why Did Walker Drop Out?

It’s been a busy week for the GOP. First, Scott Walker drops out of the run for president. A few days later John Boehner announces he will be resigning as Speaker of the House, right on the tails of the Pope’s visit to Congress.

What exactly is going on in the Tea Party? Why are two notable figures stepping out of the spotlight?

In Scott Walker’s case, Donald Trump is a large part of his reason for dropping out. Well, at least that’s part of his remarks when he made the announcement that he will be gracefully bowing out of the run for the White House. In the same breath, he urged most of the other candidates to do the same so that they could rally behind the second strongest candidate to more successfully take on Trump. Trump’s tactics are unheard of, even in politics, and other Republicans look at him as an antiestablishment knuckle-head who isn’t serious about foreign policy or many of the key issues plaguing America. Walker’s remarks aren’t surprising considering the other candidates have become more vocal about their disdain for Trump. It doesn’t make it any less surprising that he would suddenly give up.

Aside from hoping to unite the other candidates against the Big Bad Wolf, Walker was also dropping in the polls. At the start of campaign season, Walker was widely considered as a serious contender for the White House; but this was before the Trump Show started airing. Since then, Walker has trouble finding his footing and making his voice heard. He was drowned out by Trump’s one liners about Mexicans and women, and overshadowed by the momentum of fresh faces like Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson. I would even venture to say that most Americans wouldn’t be able to pick Walker out of a line-up.

Then there were his debate performances. Walker missed opportunities to make a point on key issues that would hit the press by sunrise. Instead, Trump, Bush, Carson, Fiorina, and Rubio were the widely talked about candidates, with a sprinkling of Chris Christie. These were two missed opportunities for Walker and the polling numbers reflected that.

Trump still has the top spot, with Fiorina and Carson neck in neck and gaining rapidly. Walker is being reasonable and must have started to realize that his chances of occupying the Oval Office were fading away.

Who will be next? Only time can tell, but I would predict that one by one, the other candidates who aren’t in the top 5 will begin dropping like flies as time wares on and we inch closer to choosing one candidate to represent our party. Except, maybe, for Rand Paul. He might go kicking and screaming.

The Pope Lands in America

Yesterday marked the Pope’s first visit to the United States. Pope Francis has already spoken in Washington D.C., and tomorrow he will address Congress before visiting New York City and Philadelphia.

The last time a Pope visited was in 2008, but things are a bit different this time. While the Pope’s visit has always been a revered occasion, Pope Francis brings a breath of fresh air with him, and Catholics and non-Catholics alike are marking the monumental occasion.

Pope Francis has been received as the peoples’ Pope. He lives with very little mean for a Pope, can be seen shopping for eyeglasses like the average human, and even rides around in a smart car. He carries his own luggage. He isn’t afraid to mingle with the people and doesn’t hold himself in a higher regard than the rest of the Catholic world. As a Cardinal before he was elected as the Pope, he would ride public transportation to and from work, and wasn’t afraid to serve the most dangerous and impoverished communities.

Pope Francis even stopped his motorcade in order to get out of his car and bless a disabled child. While the blessing isn’t a new move for a pope, putting the people before himself with disregard for his own well-being is a new step for a pope.

It’s not just his personality that has everyone won over, but his morals. He’s seen as a progressive Pope, speaking for the masses and swaying from well-known Catholic values. While Pope Francis doesn’t necessarily condone actions that are against the teachings of the Bible, he is adamant to point out that there can always be progress and a new way to do things. When asked about same-sex marriage, he pointed out that God loves everyone.

Now in Washington D.C, Pope Francis addressed 15,000 people in front of the White House, and even addressed political issues.

“During my visit I will have the honor of addressing Congress, where I hope, as a brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation’s political future in fidelity to its founding principles.”

He also spoke about “one of America’s most precious possessions,” religious freedom.

He spoke on climate change, urging Americans as well as the rest of the world to take a stand to correct the problem before it is too late.

Pope Francis will speak more during his visit to the US, but most notably will be his speech to Congress tomorrow at 10 a.m.