Those suffering from depression and anxiety, you’re not alone.

The ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) estimates that depression affects somewhere around 15 million Americans. Anxiety disorders also affect somewhere around 40 million Americans. Those statistics alone should tell you that you’re not alone. It is hard to convince yourself that this is the truth when all we feel is loneliness, abandonment, and isolation. Note that I said “we”, and not you.

This is my, somewhat anonymous, way of coming out and saying that I too am afflicted with generalized anxiety and major depressive disorder.

I don’t know how else to put this, but I’ll share some of my story I guess.

I won’t get into specifics, but I’ve fought this for around ten years. Could be longer than that, but who knows? It took me until sometime between my 22nd and 23rd birthdays to admit that I was feeling something like depression. I googled symptoms, looked at checklists, and took quizzes. All said that I was depressed, no shocker. I went to two therapists, and neither helped. I tried to talk about it, but how could I when I couldn’t explain what was going on in my own head? I couldn’t explain why I just stood in the shower and cried. I couldn’t explain that I didn’t want to commit suicide, but that I wanted to die. I couldn’t explain why the simplest things put me over the edge. I couldn’t explain that I felt nothing except anger. When something like this goes on long enough, you don’t even know what it is anymore. You don’t know who you are without it. It is this insidious descent that becomes just as much a part of you as your name. I couldn’t feel anything aside from anger, I couldn’t be happy for fear of it all crashing down. I did everything I could to numb myself from all of this, but it never worked.

After my two failed attempts at therapy and another year of trying to deny what was going on, I made the decision to seek treatment again. Of course, I didn’t make the decision alone. A concerned friend reached out to me to suggest that I seek help. I decided to begin my search. Thankfully my wife supported my decision completely.

Finally, a breakthrough. I remember that first meeting with my therapist vividly. It was like a vicious body blow that sent me reeling. I couldn’t shake it. I knew she was the right one. I’ve been going to appointments almost weekly for over six months now. I’ve been officially diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder and on medication for around four months.

Over that time I’ve realized that beating this isn’t easy, nor is it simple. There is no map to guide us. There are no cookie cutter cases and all of our situations are different. It takes serious work. It takes difficult reflection. Everyone has to fight this their own way, but know that in doing it, you are not alone. I’ve been there, as have millions of others. Hell, I’m still there. Some days I wake up and don’t want to move. What do I do? I get the fuck up and move. I get showered and brush my teeth. I eat my breakfast, and I go to class. Surely these sound like simple tasks to most, but for someone who’s depressed, they’re not. Other days I wake up and want to bake some cookies and go wild with all sorts of activities. The fact of the matter is that things still overwhelm me. I still let my anxiety get the better of me from time to time, and the depression is still hanging off in the distance. I wish I could say that I’m just magically happier, but I’m not. That being said, I’m a lot less fucking sad. I feel things now. I cry during movies, I laugh at comedies, and I kinda understand myself a little bit better. My point is, I didn’t give up and neither should you. If I’m capable of dragging myself out of that bog of self-deprecation, you’re capable too.

Look, I probably don’t know most of those who read this but I want to say a couple things that have helped me out.
First, take care of yourself. Self-care is hugely important. It doesn’t matter if that’s sitting down to read, eating a bowl of ice cream, or playing the shit out of some Starcraft 2. Take care of yourself!
Second, you’re worth it. I know I’ve always thought that I was this idiot who couldn’t do anything right. That isn’t true about me, and it isn’t about you. You’re good at something, and you’re worth something. Even if your greatest talent is bitching about historical inaccuracies in television shows (Looking at you Tudors), own it! Be the best at it.
Third, never give up. You’re better than the darkness. You can get through this. It won’t be easy, but since when has anything easy been worthwhile?
Fourth, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you need: a hand up, a hug, a shoulder to cry on, treatment, or an ear for you to verbalize everything going on in your head, just ask. Nobody around you can understand what you’re dealing with if you don’t communicate with them. I used to not communicate, then get angry when people couldn’t read my mind. It wasn’t until several months in therapy that I figured out that everyone around me isn’t telepathic. Still, I could use some work on that practice.
Fifth, get it out. Don’t let the darkness completely consume your head. Write, sing, exercise, do whatever it takes to release some of your pent up anger or sadness. Get out of your head and let it out. To me, there’s nothing more cathartic than a good purging session. This is something I’ve struggled with my entire life. I hold everything in, obsess over it, and explode. Those negative emotions get trapped and have no way out, only building up the intensity and driving me further downhill.

If any of you reading this can relate, I wish I could reach out and give you a hug. Sadly, I can’t. Technology hasn’t gotten that advanced yet. Instead, I can listen or read. If you need to vent, feel free to comment or message me on twitter @NikolaiBrumbach. I’ll be there. Keep fighting. Never give in. You’re worth it.

I’m a human being.
I’ve got depression and anxiety.
I wasn’t alone, and neither are you.

 

If You Still Believe the GOP is “The Party of the People”, You’re Wrong.

Sorry I haven’t written anything lately. I was in New York City for the College Media Association Convention, then had to get readjusted back to a school schedule. Real life first world problems.

So what has happened over the course of the last few weeks? FBI Director James Comey confirmed that there is an ongoing investigation into Trump-Russia connections. NSA Director Mike Rogers said there’s zero evidence Obama wiretapped Trump. House Intel Committee Chairman Devin Nunes went crazy, gave info to or received info from the White House regarding Trump-Russia, refuses to comment on it, or show what he has. House Republicans failed at the one thing they said they were going to do since 2009, and that’s replace Obamacare. I mean they couldn’t get the votes to pass it in a House that they control! Oh, and the GOP decided that profits for ISP’s and advertisers are more important than American’s right to privacy. Timothy Caughman was murdered by a white supremacist, domestic terrorist in New York City, nothing from Trump. A terrorist attack in London claims the life of Kurt Cochran, a white American, and Trump sends the biggest condolences. Of course, an American dying to the hands of a Muslim fits his narrative doesn’t it?

Let me say this again, if you think that this is the Republican party that President Abraham Lincoln envisioned, you’re wrong. If you think that this is the party of the people, you couldn’t possibly be more wrong.

First, I want to say that I was once a registered Republican. I apologize for that. This isn’t the GOP I remember though. Looking back at it, President George W. Bush doesn’t seem like such a bad guy, right? I mean he started a war for profits and to help his buddies companies out, but he wasn’t going to start a war with anyone who wasn’t a WASP American. He may not have been the smartest guy, but you could see him potentially holding his own in an intellectual conversation. Now, we’ve got a guy who refers to any negative press as “fake news”, anything not for him is an enemy, and uses words like “bigly” and “yuge”. GWB was a guy who had a shoe thrown at him during a press conference and basically said, “Freedom of speech, fuck yeah!” Trump probably would have had that guy publicly executed in Times Square. I wish I could say I’m being sarcastic, but given what we’ve got in the legislative branch, I don’t think I’m joking.

All that being said, let me get into something actually worth talking about.

The American Health Care Act, as put forth by Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, was a huge win for insurance and pharmaceutical companies. It put a cap on individual’s care provided by the federal government. So, you’re going through chemo and you hit your cap, you’re done. Well, unless the state decides to give you a hand. It provided tax breaks to the upper middle class and the rich. It allowed these corporations to write off bonuses and salaries of executives as business expenses, tax breaks again. After the Freedom caucus said that the bill wasn’t destructive enough, they threw in defunding of Planned Parenthood, destroyed coverage for birth control, and completely disregarded women’s healthcare. It still wasn’t enough. Plain as day, this was profits before people. Sadly, I have to thank the Freedom caucus for their resistance, because that is what killed this bill in the House. At the end of the day, the bill looked like a project that was sloppily thrown together at the last minute. They’ve been talking about this for seven years and that is the best they could do? Trump blames Democrats, Ryan, and the Freedom caucus, all the while saying he didn’t promise this would be done immediately. Except, you know, every time he brought it up on the campaign trail he said it would be done immediately. Now he’s gone on to say that he’ll just wait until Obamacare implodes, then everyone will want to make a deal. Well, it isn’t imploding in non-Republican states (shocker!), and dead Americans is good for business now.

The GOP’s decision to destroy the FCC’s consumer privacy protections was appalling. I don’t have anything to hide, but it doesn’t matter. Every person has a right to privacy, but not when that privacy can be turned into corporate profits, I guess. The bill basically says that any American citizens private TV, streaming, internet, and computerized financial and medical histories can be sold. Why? Under the guise of “better advertisement”. What? Say I’m a state senator, and I know of two or three people spreading the seeds of discontent regarding my time in office. I can start a shell corporation, buy their information, and discredit them, or otherwise make their lives hell. But who cares? Internet service providers and advertisers make money, they pay their lobbyists, who in turn pay off representatives. Everyone wins, except the overwhelming majority of Americans.

The meeting with Chancellor Merkel? Appalling. Shameful. Embarrassing. I’m sad to see the level of disrespect she received. Why didn’t she get a trip to Mar-A-Lago? Oh yeah, she’s not a man. She’s also, arguably, the leader of the free world. Trump decided to shake her down for money she “owes” the US and NATO, which she rebuffed. He refused to shake her hand. He tried to goad her into his bullshit about wiretapping. I mean, seriously, this ass clown is our president.

Timothy Caughman’s murder? Infuriating. Not one word from this administration regarding him being killed by a domestic terrorist. I guess that’s because the assailant was white, and as long as its a white guy, it’s cool. Enough is enough. Black lives matter. It is 2017 and this is America.

Muslim ban 2.0? Blocked! Hahahahaha! ‘Nuff said.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump apparently run everything in the White House. Well, whatever isn’t touched by Steve Bannon. Trump said he wouldn’t fall victim to nepotism on the campaign trail, except now they’re both leading meetings and task forces. They’re both working in the White House as “advisers” and “voluntarily” following ethics guidelines. Am I the only one who feels like they’re on crazy pills? Can you imagine what the GOP base would have done if President Obama’s daughters were grown up and he gave them a job in the West Wing? There would have been race riots all over the south. Trump did it, but that’s okay, right?

Finally, the House Intel Committee hearing with FBI Director Comey and NSA Director Rogers. Fox News and the GOP base decides to cherry pick whatever can potentially fit their narrative. Devin Nunes can be as off the wall as he wants, because I suspect he’d go down in this investigation as well. The right wants to sweep all of this under the rug, but damn near went ballistic when President Clinton got an extramarital blowjob. Comey and Rogers both stated that Trump’s claims about being wiretapped and under surveillance were ridiculous. Comey made a lot of “No comment” style answers, which was absolutely telling. In the Navy we were told to say, “I can neither confirm nor deny”, which was essentially a confirmation without saying so. That’s what Comey’s answers reminded me of here. Face it, the president is under investigation for possible collusion with Russian entities during the campaign. He is under investigation for potentially working with the Russian government. Russia! Goddamn Russia! Our sworn and mortal enemies since the end of World War 2! Communism, ICBM’s, mutually assured destruction. We’ve got a president who has employed known agents of Russian business and government interests. The same president, by the way, who still refuses to release his tax returns or financial records. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Let me wrap this all up in one neat little package.
The GOP is no longer the party of the people. They have put profits before people, and party before country. How? Deciding that people’s privacy isn’t as important as the almighty dollar. Deciding that people’s health and well-being isn’t as important as the almighty dollar. Deciding that collusion with foreign governments to direct policy and actions of our great nation isn’t as important as the almighty dollar. Deciding that domestic programs that help millions isn’t as important as the billions of dollars that could be made by defense contractors. The GOP base is fully endorsing: nepotism, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, bigotry, corporate domination, and the destruction of anything that stands against them or in their way. No, this is no longer Lincoln’s party.
One thing is certain though, Trump could “Make America Great Again.” Believe me, America will be so much greater the day he is out of office.

Veterans and Military in Trump’s address to Congress

Mr. President, we’re back at it again. Your joint address to Congress was riveting stuff, really. It was like watching a caricature of great Machiavellian characters speak. I can’t tell if you’re attempting to be a satire of yourself or not. If you are, then you’re doing great work. I can talk about disliking who you are as a person until I die, but I digress. Let us get to the topic at hand. Where do you draw the line? When is enough, enough? Veterans are not political bargaining chips.

I’d really like to know. Earlier today, an interview aired where you told Fox and Friends, “They lost Ryan”, which referred to the military leaders and fellow SEALs involved in the raid in Yemen. Shame on you. The blood is on your hands Mr. President.
Allegedly, several of your aides told you that the raid shouldn’t go forward. Nevertheless, you decided to go ahead with the ill-advised raid without clear intelligence saying that you should. You, allegedly, didn’t skip dinner or even go to the situation room. What did you do? Eat and Tweet. That’s it folks, this is our president.

Not only did we lose Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens, but 20 civilians lost their lives, and for what? Nothing. No actionable intelligence was acquired, no high-value targets were dispatched. Senior Chief Owens’ father, William Owens (also a veteran), said, “Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation.”
On February 8th, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, “Anybody who undermines the success of the raid owes an apology and a disservice to the life of Chief Owens.” First, call any Senior Chief in the Navy ‘Chief’ and see what happens. Secondly, those of us who question the poorly planned raid that the president called for are not doing a disservice to Senior Chief Owens’ life. Politicizing his service and his death in the line of duty during an address to Congress is disgusting. Putting his wife on center stage and using her image to further your agenda is despicable. I’ll admit that seeing Mrs. Owens’ tears made my eyes water. I’ve seen numerous women cry at the thought of their recently deceased husband, son, or father. I’ve held dear friends in my arms while they cried over their loved one’s death. It is a powerful moment, and you took advantage of it for political gain. You touted the raid as this wildly successful thing, yet many sources claim otherwise. You owe an apology to the Owens family, and to all families who have lost loved ones overseas.

You said, “heroic veterans will get the care they so desperately need.” I have a pretty simple question for you, how? You allegedly are proposing an increase in the defense budget to the tune of $54 billion, while cutting many federal agencies by a combined total of $54 billion. With this increase, we’re looking at a defense budget that is higher than the next 13 countries combined. That is absolutely ridiculous. The defense budget needs to be cut. We need to reinvest in the education system and (I hate agreeing with you) rebuild our infrastructure. We have the tools we need to protect our interests, but we all know that you don’t actually care about that. You don’t actually care about veterans or service-members. This budget increase is about paying contractors and big businesses, not providing for us or increasing our pay. Your federal hiring freeze has resulted in vital services for service-members and veterans being put at risk. What do these things have in common: Centers for Child Development on bases worldwide, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Personnel Support Detachments? All are run on federal budgets and affected by the hiring freeze. We’re talking about veterans who are already struggling to receive healthcare and benefits they need. We’re talking about military families being stripped of affordable opportunities for childcare. We’re talking about service-members orders, pay, retirements, travel, etc. If you’re serious about helping our community, then help it. There are an overwhelming number of veterans, nationwide, who spend the night on the streets or in shelters. Numerous veterans are committing suicide on a daily basis. An astounding number of veterans are having to wait for, or are being outright denied, medical treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many veterans, myself included, are fighting wars inside their own heads. These may be caused by service, or exacerbated by it. The point is, the issues that have plagued our community for far too long are quite public. You don’t have to try very hard to see where you could start helping, but you don’t actually want to do that, right?
I would have some respect if you just owned and it said, “I don’t give a fuck about our veterans or service-members. They don’t make me money.”

And finally, “radical Islamic terrorism.”
Can we stop it with this already? Please? If you knew anything about Islam, you would know that it really isn’t much different from Christianity in America. We’ve got the KKK and white supremacy groups, they’ve got ISIS, Hezbollah, etc. Separate the religion from the nut jobs. I could say that people who bomb abortion clinics, Westboro Baptist Church, and the KKK are radical Christian extremists. Guess what, I’d be right. The crazies don’t make up the entirety of a religion, unless it’s a cult. I’m not a pro-religion guy in the slightest, but come on. Yes, these jihadist organizations waged war on the western world. We haven’t given them any reasons not to take up arms against us. You’re only worsening the problem by providing textbook recruitment materials for these extremist groups. They can pull up any of your speeches and show how much you hate them. Pretty simple concept, right? Your new national security adviser doesn’t like the term, so you probably shouldn’t use it.
I’ll get to the rest of your speech at a later date, but I felt this needed to be said.
Stop politicizing our community. Stop.
We are not a commodity to be used to earn brownie points from Americans who didn’t serve.
We are people.
We are Americans.
Stop treating us as if we’re otherwise.
Remember what we are, and what you aren’t.
We are veterans.

 

 

Discriminating LGBTQ+ Kids is Cool Now?

Disclaimer: I will probably meander off the path of my real intentions in this post. I will likely paint with extremely broad, venomous strokes. Apologies in advance for any language.

Where did we go wrong as a nation? Is opening children up to discrimination not far enough?
Vice President Mike Pence stated “Washington has no business intruding on the operation of our local schools.” Don’t start Mr. Pence, just don’t. Don’t try to veil this action, which you’ve undoubtedly pushed, as valuing State’s rights over Federal regulation. Remember in 2006, as head of the Republican Study Committee, you said “societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family.” You’ve stated the preventing gay marriage isn’t discrimination, but enforcing “God’s idea.” You opposed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because it “wages war on freedom and religion in the workplace. You said repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would turn the military into “a backdrop for social experimentation.” You signed a bill that made same-sex couples applying for a marriage license a felony in Indiana. You may or may not support conversion therapy, but the fact that’s a question is a problem in the first place. You said the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill was advancement of a “radical social agenda”. You added that it would have “a chilling effect on religious expression, from the pulpits, in our temples, in our mosques and in our churches.” Remember in 2000 when you said “Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexual’s as a ‘discreet and insular minority’ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities”? Your Religious Freedom Restoration Act “allows businesses and individuals to discriminate against anyone who offends their religious sensibilities”. From the beginning, you opposed President Obama’s direction regarding transgender student’s rights and bathroom use in schools. Why? Because it’s a ‘state’s rights’ issue? Get the fuck out of here. Nothing about your past says that you’re a ‘state’s rights’ guy. You’re a blatant homophobic, discriminatory, bible wielding fuckstick. Don’t get me started on your thoughts regarding women, women’s rights, Planned Parenthood, abortion, or anything else you stand for. I’ll save that for later.I’m strictly focusing on your crusade against the LGBTQ community, and specifically, the decision of this administration to roll back directives from President Obama regarding transgender protections in public schools.

Don’t act like you weren’t doing a happy dance when Betsy DeVos, a religious nutjob with no experience with public education, or Jeff Sessions, a blatant bigot against anyone who isn’t a WASP male, were appointed. These two, along with the completely negligent president, allows you free reign to support your ass-backwards social agenda. No, this wasn’t a state’s rights issue sir. You just gave public schools the green light to continue ostracizing, isolating, and discriminating against transgender students. Now, tell me again, how old are most public school students? Somewhere between 5 and 19, right? So, you think it’s a good thing to for adults to be able to attack kids because they’re different? Fuck you and everything you stand for. These are children we’re talking about. This is America. You know, “land of the free”, and all that jazz? I guess that only applies when you’re a white, christian man who loves boobies, beer, and the Colts.

Let me break this down for you and every other conservative in America. Also, for anyone reading; if I’m wrong, please tell me! I want to help but I’m pretty dense. Gender and sex are two different things, and sexual orientation is another thing entirely. They’re all pretty easy to understand, but I’ll be sure to break them down for you. Gender is a social construct of societal norms which dictate what behaviors are acceptable or appropriate. For instance, working on the car is a “man’s thing” and baking is a “woman’s thing”. Our gender identity is what we define ourselves as in our society, male or female. Sex is biological, or what we are coded as in our DNA. Sex is what parts we are born with. Biological males have a penis and testicles (somebody might have removed yours, but that’s okay. We call those eunuchs. They’ve been around a long time.) and an X and a Y chromosome. Biological females have a vagina, ovaries, and two X chromosomes. Sexual orientation is who or what we deem as sexually pleasurable or arousing. Pretty simple, right?

Gender = what societal roles we identify with.
Sex = what parts we have.
Sexual orientation = what gets our rocks off.
Get it? Got it? Good. If not, it’s okay. Read it again, really slowly. Sound it if you have to.

So, rolling back this directive to accommodate students of the LGBTQ community, specifically transgender students, is literally just an attack on something you don’t understand. You don’t see how a biological male can identify as a woman, maybe want to wear dresses and makeup, play with dolls, and all that. Newsflash: It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have an impact on any of our lives! Whether Jen was born a boy, but identifies as a girl or Elle doesn’t put themselves into either of those narrow minded genders doesn’t change anything about your life. Don’t you dare try to argue about different parts being in the ‘wrong’ bathrooms.
How many times have you seen the genitalia of someone else in a bathroom? Were you looking? Why? You’re the one with mental health issues if that’s the case.
You know how I can tell if the person taking a shit in the stall next to me is a guy? I can’t! Can you? Do you have x-ray vision? “But it puts our women at risk of being raped and assaulted!” Really? Because rapists cared about rape being illegal in the first place? Maybe we should outlaw rape, murder, heroin use, and child abuse! It sounds an awful like the conservative argument about “Gun-Free Zones.” Criminals don’t care what the law says, that’s why they’re criminals.

Haven’t we always said that in America you can be anything you want? We proved it in this election. A man born into a millionaire family, who thinks he’s a soldier because he had sex in the 80’s, was a reality TV sensation, and is absolute mental midget just became the President of the United States! So now, we’re saying that you can be anything you want, as long as it’s straight, not ‘strange’, and fits into the neat little shoe box you call your mind.

You’ve just made it okay for schools to say, “Sorry, I know you like to be called John, but you were born Jennifer so you’ve got to use the girl’s room. You’re a girl, you’re weird, you need help because something is wrong with you.” Any sort of incremental progress we’ve made over the last 8 years is being decimated by your barbaric and draconian thought process. Now it is time for us progressives to sit back and allow you to shove your religion down our throats. Finally, you can espouse the ‘love’ of your mystical man who lives in the clouds. It’s about time that you could roll back the persecution of Christians in this fine nation, because you’ve been persecuted for such a long time. Don’t start with me about ‘religious freedoms’.

This action validates HB2. This action promotes hatred, bigotry, and discrimination. The cultural forces that you are supporting are complicit in the suicide of LGBTQ kids. You are complicit in the isolation and dismantling of any rights of these children. You’re saying that what they are is an abomination and their lives are of zero value. You’re allowing schools, which for many students is the only safe place they have in their lives, to be the jackboot crushing their soul and destroying their spirit.

The blood is on your hands, all of you. Pence, Trump, conservatives, neo-cons, and Trump supporters.

As a veteran, I served for the rights of all Americans, not just those who have the ‘luxury’ of being a white, straight, cisgender male. It’s pathetic that I even have to say this.
As a future educator, I will protect all of my students from any discrimination and bigotry. I will make my room into a bulwark, sheltering them from the harm outside of my classroom. I will teach all of my students to be open-minded human beings with a respect and appreciation for all other lives on this planet, regardless of who they are.
As an activist, I will never let those in my circle of influence forget the atrocities that are being committed by your hands.

But it’s about state’s rights, not discriminating against the LGBTQ+ community, correct?
Fuck off.

Today, I’m ashamed that the country that I love, that I served, has turned into this monstrosity. I will never be able to comprehend what has happened to our country.

Maybe that’s because I think all people deserve to be loved, wanted, and understood.
Maybe that’s because I think children are the future.
Maybe that’s because I think children deserve to be loved, affirmed, and supported.

Why I Oppose Donald Trump:

“You know, the military and the law enforcement, generally speaking, but all of it – but the military gave us tremendous percentages of votes. We were unbelievably successful in the election with getting the vote of the military.” – President Trump, 21 January, 2017 at the CIA

I am a veteran.
I did not vote for you President Trump.
I would not vote for you if it were a life or death situation.

Let’s go back to the Vietnam War, Donny boy. Wait a minute, you didn’t go, did you? That’s right. If the records are true, you received four different draft deferments while attending college. So when your number was called for the fifth time, you went, right? Nope. You didn’t. You received a fifth and final deferment for bone spurs in your heels. You received a full medical deferment which exempted you from all service. Hell, bone spurs are so common now that they don’t prevent you from service as long as you can do your job. It took two shoulder surgeries for the Navy to finally say, “You know what? Nothing else we can do. Go home.” Your feet hurt real bad though, right?

Now, lots of people received draft deferments. I can’t really hold that against you. You were born rich and the poor had to be sent off to fight the rich man’s war. It’s a reality, and I’ve accepted that. You should have left Vietnam where it was, but you couldn’t resist, could you?

“It’s amazing, I can’t even believe it. I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world [dating and sex], it is a dangerous world out there. It’s like Vietnam, sort of. It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”
“You know, if you’re young, and in this era, and if you have any guilt about not having gone to Vietnam, we have our own Vietnam – it’s called the dating game, dating is like being in Vietnam. You’re the equivalent of a soldier going over to Vietnam.” – 1997 to Howard Stern

Really? I mean, come on Donald. I’m sure we’ve all had bad relationships and bad sexual partners, but comparing that to war? Comparing dating and sex to being a ‘very brave soldier’? Not to mention this isn’t any particular war, but the one that YOU skipped out on.
But wait, there’s more!
You spent some time at the New York Military Academy. That’s all well and good, hell, I probably could have used some sort of structure in my life as a teen. But to say, “I always thought I was in the military”, in regards to your time there? That’s a little absurd. Any veteran knows that time in service is nothing like your military academy experience. You also allegedly said that the New York Military Academy gave you “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.” Yeah, I’m gonna go ahead and say, “No, it didn’t.” I’m going to use purely anecdotal evidence here but my training and various schools lasted somewhere around 11 months. Five days a week, my job was to attend various schools and training to make me into the best possible sailor I could have been. I get it, you went to an expensive prep school for a couple years. It wasn’t anything like military training. Your life, your friends’ and shipmates’ lives didn’t potentially depend on your training.
“I felt like I was in the military in a true sense, because I dealt with the people.”
Give me a fucking break.

“He is a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, okay?” – referring to Sen. John McCain

Let’s set something straight right now, Sen. McCain is not a hero because he was shot down and captured. He’s not a hero because he was a POW. He’s a hero because he refused to accept parole or favors as stated in the code of conduct. (Coincidentally, Hero of War by Rise Against just started on Pandora.)

“I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.” – after receiving a Purple Heart from a veteran

The Purple Heart is the one medal that nobody wants to receive. I’ve seen them delivered to men that I hold dear to my heart. I’ve seen them delivered to grieving widows who just lost their husband, sons who just lost their father. The Purple Heart is not something to make light of sir.

“Who wrote that? Did Hillary’s scriptwriters write it?” – referring to the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan

The three previous quotes prove that you understand less than nothing about the military and veteran community. You attempted to discredit Sen. McCain for being captured, while participating in a war you ran from. You disparaged prisoners of war. You attacked a gold star family and claimed that their story was written for them. How any veteran in their right minds could support you is, frankly, beyond comprehension.

Let’s leave your comments regarding the military aside for now. I’ll finish this up with a little letter of sorts.

Mr. President,
I made an oath to “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.” You are, by all means, an enemy of the Constitution. You’ve attempted to dance around the checks and balances laid forth by the Founding Fathers with a series of executive orders. You’ve attacked the independent Judiciary laid forth by the Founding Fathers. You’ve attacked freedom of the press and established orders based on religious discrimination. You’ve made promises based on xenophobia and racism. You’ve appointed people who are woefully unqualified, and bitched when questions have been raised about said appointees. You’ve been tied to many Russian diplomats, businessmen, and Vladimir Putin himself. You’ve given our allies doubts about their relationship with the USA moving forward. You’ve given our enemies the greatest recruiting tool in the world. You’ve bragged about committing sexual assault/rape, and no, that wasn’t “locker room talk.” In fact, if someone were to say some shit like that anywhere near me, I would feed them their teeth. You’ve bragged about being able to shoot someone in broad daylight, and everyone would approve of it. You’ve said over and over again that torture works. You’ve mocked those with disabilities. You’ve mocked your detractors. You’ve mocked protesters and suggested that we’re all being paid. You’ve surrounded yourself with people who think “alternative facts” are truth. You’ve surrounded yourself with people who’ve run anti-Semitic and racist websites. I could keep going, but I’ll stop here. Gotta leave something for the imagination, am I right?
There’s one common thread to all of these problems though.
The thread is you Mr. President. You are the one making a mockery of the Office of the President of the United States. You’re the one making our fine nation into an international laughing stock. You’re the one causing us to raise questions about where your allegiance lies. You’re the one who belittles anyone who dare doubt him. You’re the reason I oppose you.
I oppose you with every fiber of my being Mr. Trump. I’ve experienced a lot of pain and suffering. I’ve experienced many trials and tribulations in my time on this Earth. I’ve seen a lot of evil, and I’ve felt a lot of hatred. Mr. President, there is nothing I’ve opposed more vehemently than your Presidency. If you want to “Make America Great Again”, please resign. Let me be clear, I mean you no harm. I just can’t stand seeing our country fall apart under your regime.

I would not vote for you if it were a life or death situation. I would not praise you if it were a life or death situation.

Sincerely,
United States Navy Veteran
80% Service Connected Disability Rating
“Nikolai Brumbach”

 

“What choice did you give us?”

California hardcore band Stick To Your Guns (@STYGoc on twitter) asked this question in “What Choice Did You Give Us?” off of Disobedient, their album from 2015.

What choice did you give us?
We have no option other than to resist. The level of misogyny, nepotism, and bigotry we are seeing from this regime is quite a bit more than disheartening or disconcerting. Our president is constantly attacking the credibility of the press, and arguably attempting to censor them. The Muslim travel ban executive order is a textbook example of xenophobia. To say that it is not an attack of Islam is ignorant. Freedom of religion is one of the pillars of our great country. Of course, the president seems to only support freedom of religion for Christians. As we’ve seen over the last couple weeks, people all over the country and around the world are rising up and organizing to display their opposition to our president. Throughout the campaign cycle and into the presidency, our rallies and demonstrations have been attacked. The alt-right and conspiracy theorists attempt to discredit us by tying us to George Soros. If we could have been paid for the demonstrations, then I’m missing a couple paychecks! These are all assaults on the First Amendment of the Constitution.

“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.”

Several Federal Judges decided to halt the ban of individuals travelling from Muslim countries. Following those decisions, the president unleashed a tweet storm about the “so-called judges” allowing terrorists to enter the United States. Of course, Timothy McVeigh, Dylan Roof, James Holmes, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were white Americans. Why isn’t there a ban on whatever caused these men to commit the heinous acts they did? What about skinheads, the KKK, etc.?

Played by the rules, repaid unjustly.
We showed up peacefully and fulfilled our civic duty. We voted for who we felt was the best person for the job. Instead, the Electoral College gave us you. Now, I’m not one for replacing the Electoral College with a popular vote system, but come on man. You carried a populous message about making America great again, being a champion for the middle class, and draining “the swamp”. What do you do instead? Appoint a neurosurgeon and former Republican Presidential Candidate, Dr. Ben Carson, to Housing and Urban Development. Appoint a former Goldman-Sachs executive who made his fortune by foreclosing on American families following the 2008 economic crisis. Appoint a billionaire, Republican donor, Betsy DeVos to Secretary of Education. Mind you, she’s never set foot in a public school and wants to replace public schools with good, old fashioned, Christian learning. Jeff Sessions is the new Attorney General and he was denied a Federal Judge position in the late 80’s after being deemed too racist. Sen. Price for Health and Human Services, the same guy who got sweetheart deals on bio-medical stocks, wrote legislation to favor his stocks, then sold it all. Your (former) National Security Adviser has obvious ties to Russia and had illegal contact with Russian delegates before, during, and after the election. Your special assistant is the former chief of Breitbart, and a man with a history of anti-semitic and racist sentiments. You appointed a big oil executive as Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who also has close ties to Russia. You’ve lied left and right about Russia, so which of your major slogans are you actually fulfilling here? I could go on and on, but I’ll stop for now.

But the truth is this: We will note hesitate. Do not allow a peaceful rage to become hate. I promise you, you’ll regret the day. A stain that won’t wash away
Mr. President, you may have noticed a rising portion of the population speaking out against your Constitutional atrocities, consistently false rhetoric, and unbecoming conduct on Twitter. The day after your inauguration, millions of men, women, and children took to the streets worldwide. I marched in Boston with my wife, a good friend of mine marched in New York with his wife, and my uncle marched in Sacramento. Elected officials, everyday women, and everyone in between showed up to let their voices be heard. Unlike the anarchists who showed up to throw bricks on January, 20th, no harm was caused by our demonstrations. I don’t recall hearing about any arrests or any trouble at any of these marches. Interesting that we can show up, people from all different backgrounds, and protest your attack on American liberties with no trouble. Your campaign rallies were constantly shown to be full of hatred, fueled by misplaced rage, and potentially dangerous. We will not stop speaking out, but we’ll not let this movement devolve into a firestorm. We will not lash out against you, because we won’t stoop to your level. We will not stomp our feet, assign blame, and point fingers like children.  We will provide facts, logical reasoning, and civil disobedience. Mr. President, you’ll regret the day that you decided to attack the rights of all Americans. Like it or not, this will be what you’re remembered for.

When it all falls down, when you’re wondering; where it all went, what it all meant, we’ll have no words left.
I assure you Mr. President that you are creating a legacy for yourself. You’re a man of many firsts! The fastest to reach majority disapproval, the first to cause massive global rallies against a president, the creation of the most unqualified cabinet in United States history, and the largest popular vote loss for a president in US history. That’s right, the largest popular vote loss. George W. Bush lost the popular vote and won the presidency, but that margin was a slim ~500,000. You lost by over 3 million votes.
But it’s not all bad, you’ve also rallied more people to a common cause than even George W. Bush could muster after 9/11. That’s saying something. I mean, it is all against you and everything you stand for, but I guess that’s kinda the point.

We’ll always be your enemy, so save your breath.
I feel like I don’t even have to explain this. Look at every single on of the president’s speeches, press conferences, and tweets. There is not a single thing you can say or do to turn any of us to your side. I am painting with broad strokes here, but as far as I’m concerned, the only positive you can do is tell the truth and resign. Your constant spouting of hate speech, illogical and immature attacks on your detractors, and self-aggrandizing is more than unbecoming. Do us all a favor and stop talking. All you’ve done is piss people off around the world, including leaders of allied nations. You’ve given terrorists and enemies of the United States more than enough fuel to feed their recruiting monster.

“One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

All bolded parts are from “What Choice Did You Give Us?” by Stick To Your Guns. It is not my own and I do not intend to pass it off as anything other than inspiration for this post.

This is a Wake-up Call for Punk

I know we’ve probably all said those three words, “Punk’s not dead“, but let’s be honest… It has been since the Reagan era ended. At the very least, it’s been limping along into the neighborhood of whiny tweens occupied by the All American Rejects and Dashboard Confessional. If that doesn’t make you cringe, then I can’t help you. Now, I’m not saying there haven’t been any politically driven outfits since the Reagan era, but for every Refused and Rise Against, there are a million more Good Charlotte-esque bands out there.

As it turned out, Reagan was the perfect target. He was a caricature of 1950’s Americana. He was a movie-star turned president, cut from the perfect conservative cloth. As far as I’m concerned, he hated everyone who wasn’t: rich, straight, white, male, or the epitome of straight-laced, middle America ‘suburbia’. There’s trickle down economics, the war on drugs, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the illegal arms deals. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.

At the time of Reagan we had (off the top of my head here) bands like: Bad Brains, Bad Religion, Black Flag, Rollins Band, Reagan Youth, Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, Agnostic Front, Ramones, Suicidal Tendencies, Descendents, Sonic Youth, Crucifuck, Gorilla Biscuits, the Clash… All doing their thing in one way or another. Masses of humanity with a soundtrack to their anger. Hatred turned towards the man the country just elected. The man who was against everything we stood for. Sounds familiar right? I’ll get to that later.

The early to mid 90’s put the nail in the coffin for punk. Clinton seemed like a chill enough dude. He liked to play the sax, didn’t really mean to fuck the people over, and allegedly (picture me using air-quotes there) liked to smoke a little smoke, and get a blowie or two. Nothing wrong with that, right? Well, that and bands like the Gin Blossoms, Matchbox 20, and the whole boy-band thing kind of took over. Everything was good, I guess, so there wasn’t as much to be angry about.

Then 9/11 happened. I still remember that detail vividly. It is one of several “flashbulb memories” for me. We invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, ousted Saddam, killed him, and generally made life suck for our service members, their families, and the citizens of the countries we took up residence in. Plenty of bands jumped on the George W. Bush hate train, but it never really turned into anything. There were protests, concerts, albums, but it wasn’t a movement. Part of me thinks bands like Green Day just jumped on it to make a quick buck. But hey,  Green Day would never go against everything they’d ever done just to make a few bucks, right? *crickets*

Now we’re onto the politics…

Then we had Obama, that was historic. We just elected an African-American to the White House. This wasn’t some white dude trying to tell us cutting taxes for rich people would make poor people prosperous. He didn’t try to tell us that gay people were going to hell, and all those aborted babies are roasting like marshmallows. We couldn’t be mad at Obama. He sure got fucked by Clinton and Bush 43 though. The repeal of Glass-Steagle during the Clinton administration was a big factor in the global economic collapse of 2007-2008. You could argue that Clinton’s mishandling of information regarding Osama Bin Laden may have contributed to 9/11, which led to Bush’s fumbling through the entire war. Psst, George, a war on a word doesn’t end. You can’t kill an ideology.

Fast forward to 2016. The DNC completely fucked the people over. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was performing extremely well in the Democratic primaries. He won quite a few by popular vote while delegates and super-delegates decided to side with Hillary Clinton (D-NY) anyway. As it turns out, I guess that was the plan all along? Well, that pissed off the base of voters who turned out for Bernie, a base (voters between 18-29) that has been known notoriously for NOT VOTING. So what happens? We watch the rise of this madman on the right, Donald Trump. An oompa-loompa with bleached hair and baby hands spouting rhetoric built upon ignorance, hatred, and bigotry. Nobody gave Trump a chance, and that’s where we went wrong. We never took him seriously. He bragged about rape, vilified the media, supported torture, and attacked those with disabilities. But he did the same thing that Bernie did. He mobilized a voter base that doesn’t show up most elections, the uneducated ‘Muricans on the right.

So how is this a wake-up call? How is this punk’s lifeline?
Let’s face it, Trump makes me wish Reagan could be president again. I pine for the days of Bush 43. I think that even Mitt Romney or John McCain wouldn’t be half as bad as this psychopath. Trump is installing a cabinet that is full of unqualified, unethical, racist, misogynist, criminal, dishonest, bigots. His Vice President Mike Pence supports “religious freedom” which is good right? Naw, he just wants to be able to discriminate against the LGBTQ community with impunity, because he’s a Christian. His right hand man is Steve Bannon. He formerly ran the “alt-right” site, Breitbart.com, and has a history of antisemitism . (Can we stop calling them alt-right? Please? They’re neo-nazis and they deserve to be knocked the fuck out)

They’re attacking women’s rights. They’re attacking LGBTQ rights. They’re kicking out immigrants, travelers, and visa holders. They’re destroying our rights as voters, as citizens, as Americans. They’re leading the destruction of the next generation of Americans. They’re ruling us with an iron fist.

We’ve seen the overwhelming marches and spontaneous protests across the country. We’ve seen constituents tell their representatives to vote no. We’ve seen the popular vote fail in delivering who we really wanted once again. We’re watching history unfold right before our very eyes. We can stand by and watch it happen, or we can pack into musty clubs, throw our bodies around, blow out our vocal cords and eardrums. We can let people know that we’re fucking pissed. We can blast anthems about how much Don the Con blows. We can rip the spineless Republicans for not standing up to this asshole, when that is their duty as prescribed by the Constitution. We can add a soundtrack to back the millions of voices around the world to make one beautiful, angry show of esprit de corps. We can take back the power from those capitalist fucks in Washington, or we can all sit here and cry. As Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) stated at the Women’s March in Boston, “We can whimper. We can whine. Or we can fight back!”

If you’re not throwing your vest on and lacing up your docs right now, you’re wrong.
Punk’s not dead. It has been hibernating, waiting for the spring of our discontent to arouse our passions. Finally, spring has sprung.