We had dinner last night, and about a 4-hour talk with my future son-in-law ;)
Okay, he's not really my future son-in-law (yet) lol. My daughter lives on the West Coast and thus, they haven't even met yet, but I think he's perfect for her, they would get along so well - but they both have much more to accomplish first :)
I've mentioned him before in this post (which is also further down on this page.)
He's extraordinarily busy, but made sure he made time for a dinner with us (he's a former intern for my husband at the Lexington/Fayette County public schools) at my favorite Indian restaurant and we spent a good 4 hours in good conversation. (We also owed him dinner for helping us move 2 years ago lol)
So, I got to see the personal pictures and behind-the-scenes stories about what some of the candidates were like in person, at the debates, when the cameras were off, and read excerpts of his paper on the algorithm he wrote to track Russian bots on Twitter (which hopefully will be published soon) and their efforts to influence American elections.
This is a kid who had the foresight to start taking Russian in high school, because he began to realize long before 2016 how powerful Putin had become and began noticing increased Russian efforts to exert influence on other politics in the world, particularly the US, particularly through social media, and the dangerous potential of that - and he wanted to learn to understand and speak Russian so he could discern for himself what was being said.
Let me tell you, his conclusions do NOT look good for American Republican susceptibility to Russian disinformation influence - with the higher ups knowing full well these things aren't true and using it to manipulate a win, and your everyday conservatives eating every word as gospel truth without proof.
Speaking of the dissemination of Russian/American Republican disinformation, he also shared his suspicions about the General Soleimani/Iranian situation, which were similar to my own.
Trump has proven repeatedly, both before and during his presidency, that he doesn't care about risks to national security or who is an actual threat to the US or the world at large - he only cares about who he perceives as threat to his own personal security and financial/political power.
Quaddafi, Jong-Un, Putin, Xi Jinping, bin Salman, just to name a few. You can try to justify and spin it all you like, but it's the very definition of corruption, at its worst.
I mean, hell, (Link - ABC News) Trump was friends with, and even illegally provided housing on his New York estate for, crazy-ass Libyan terrorist, Moamar Quadaffi/Gaddafi, until NY court ordered him to remove him off the premises - *** note the article is dated 2009*** - long before Trump's presidency or this level of political division and politicized press. This is a fact, not speculation - use any source you like, both conservative and liberal press reported it, at the time.
Additionally, he has openly bragged about friendships with questionable members of the Saudi Royal Family, (link - NBC News) claiming that crowned prince bin Salman was innocent of Khashoggi's murder, publicly contradicting CIA and other security agencies' findings, both domestic and foreign, without providing evidence to the contrary - just his word that they were his friends/could be trusted. Also a proven fact, not speculation - use any source you like, both liberal and conservative press reported Trump's direct quotes on the matter.
In fact, one member of the (link - BusinessInsider) Saudi royal family even bailed Trump out of personal bankruptcy by buying his yacht in 1991, bought the 45th floor of Trump Tower in 2001 for $5 million, and members of the royal family bought 500 nights at Trump's DC hotel in 2017 - again, proven fact, not speculation, use whatever source you like - and though they often don't report negative information about Trump, even Fox News reported them/were concerned.
All of this despite (direct link - 9-11commission.gov) the bipartisan 9/11 Commission Report proving funding for 9/11 was wired from American banks in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.Check the very detailed addendum for which banks were used and from where - again, fact - not speculation. The 9/11 bipartisan commission's investigation into 9/11 was very thorough, very detailed and has never been disputed - but Saudi and the UAE have also never been investigated further as to which wealthy members in those countries financed the terrorist acts from men other, poorer countries.
If you finance terrorism, using poor pawns from different countries to keep your nose clean - does that make you any less a terrorist?
Yes, Soleimani was truly a US enemy - but one of many, and considered a lower-level threat to the U.S. at that, for a long time, so ... why him and why now ???
Despite Pence's tweet, no - there is absolutely no evidence to support that Soleimani was involved in 9/11 - that has already been investigated by all our national security agencies, and by both parties in the bipartisan investigation by 9/11 congressional committee, previously and repeatedly - and we're still not certain what the impetus was for the recent US Embassy attack in Iran, which needed to be sorted out first.
Soleimani has certainly done or plotted to do a lot of other nasty things, but there is no evidence to support that he was in any way involved in 9/11.
Thus, my suspicion is that killing Soleimani was more of a political and US power display, as well Trump's attempts at pleasing Republicans who were both overly paranoid about Iran (when there are worse threats) and on the fence about Trump's impeachment, than it was a justified assassination of a known threat to the U.S.
In short, I believe Trump assassinated a lower-level, lesser-powered threat, just because he could - then beat his chest in dominance afterwards, like the purely brain-stem-motivated gorilla he truly is.
And yes, we're a bit concerned, because world wars have been started over similar situations (World War I), so that is a not beyond the stretch of imagination and a very real possibility, here.
But I digress, back to the dinner - sorry, but I can't share any of the photos or any of behind-the-scenes stories at the Democratic debates, but I CAN tell you that some of the ones you'd least suspect are actually rude or cold when the cameras are off.
(Okay, I will tell you that one of them actually slammed into B with a revolving door and didn't bother to apologize and they did notice they had done so, just didn't care - and it's someone I would never suspect of ever doing that to anyone. That person has no idea of who they just hit in the face with a revolving door without apologizing, and mark my words, in about 20 years, they're going to regret that. )
Never underestimate the seeming "nobodys" of this world; if the Golden Rule doesn't already inspire you treat others as you would like to be treated, then please realize, if nothing else, though they may have no importance to you now, you never know who they might become later or who they might know - and they will remember how they were treated ;)
These are the little things candidates don't think about that actually have a huge impact on people trying to decide who to vote for - how they treat people when those cameras are off, how important they think they are versus the masses.
If you're one of our Democratic candidates, I understand being a bit guarded and security concerns, but never start behaving as if you're more important than your supporters, lest you be an elitist hypocrite and fail Basic Dem Ideology 101, and then the Republicans have a point (they're okay with elitism and classes versus the masses, mind you, but the fact that we claim not to be, but are, does make us hypocrites.)
And I do have to say there was one story about another one of the candidates, who has since dropped out (I think), that so disappointed and disgusted me, that I can't even look at them the same way anymore, ever again!
Also, some of the candidates left immediately after the debates were over, but 2 stayed and talked with, allowed selfies with, and even hugged every single person in attendance (Biden and Warren), with Warren staying until long after the cameras and crew were gone so she could talk to/find out opinions of every person there. I was told that she was the most genuine.
I'm not sold on any of them still, and I still have issues with Warren - I think she has a "truth enhancement" problem and has recently resorted to Trump-like petty attacks, deflecting off her own misdeeds onto other candidates - but she did go back up a few points in my mind after I was told that.
However, I will tell you the negatives I heard of how some of the candidates behaved and treated people when the cameras are off made a huge impact on me and are from a source that I trust, and thus they've thus been crossed off the list - how you treat people when the cameras were off is THAT important.
That is a character litmus test for me, one I learned to value from Johnny Cash (versus other celebrities), who I had the great honor of knowing personally at a very young age and his philosophy and version of what was actually most important about Christianity had a tremendous impact on me, but that's another story - one I've never mentioned to B (and most people don't know), but I might share next time we have dinner ;).
I need to add that there were no negatives said about Bernie, whom I love, but I am more concerned about his health, now. I have a deeper respect for his commitment despite his health problems (he's a trooper), but yes, just not sure if this whole thing is good for his health. If only he were even 10 years younger :/
Anyway, folks, this young man we had dinner with (my husband mentored during his internship with the public schools) is a very sincere, hard-working, compassionate young man, chocked full of integrity and good intentions - which I hope he keeps despite this jaded world, especially in politics today.
(In fact, apparently I'm not the only one at FCPS who had tried to fix him up with their daughter, so I guess we'll get in line and take a number lol. However, half those people are conservatives, so I do hope we at least get in the first choice for consideration category, considering our like-mindedness? lol)
He even shocked me with his ideas of how to overhaul campaign finance and do away with things like large corporate and lobbyist donations and replace them with a system that makes things more equitable as far as donations (I can't tell you what it is, because it's his idea, but of course it's brilliant.)
Also, he had ideas about how to provide healthcare for all, but still leave us with the power of choice on whether to do public or private insurance - and also to make sure, that unlike Obamacare, the commercial insurance companies no longer dictate treatment choices, clinicians do. I can't say more about that, either, but again, brilliant.
Agreed - although I personally believe that nothing is going to help much until we start regulating the cost of healthcare with legislation.
I think it's way past time we stop letting big pharma and insurance mandate clinical treatment rather than clinicians themselves, and the cost for that treatment should now at least be curtailed by government legislation because it's gotten out of control, IMO.
Because you know dang well it does not cost Big Pharma $100 to make a 1-ounce vial of easy-to-make insulin (that according to "fair market" rules, should be cheaper because there are so many competitor, yet it's inexplicably not), nor does it cost them $30 to make just 1 anticoagulant pill when there are now several competitors in that class.
Big Pharma has still yet to explain why, or even really be fully questioned by congress on why, considering all the generics that have flooded the market versus branded medications, the prices never go down more than a couple of dollars?
Now look, I'm a believer in fair market - but I also believe in consumer protection and anti-trust laws - and that the market can become "unfair" through greed - unchecked abuse of power, monopolies, and shady business practices that benefit a few while sinking your average American, greed running amok without consequence.
Be that as it may, I'm telling you, B is an up-and-comer in the political world, already on the national Dems radar because of his actions as the president of democrats at his university, as well as his studies on political bots and Twitter - and even in this age of political division, he's somehow still much beloved by both liberals and conservatives alike, both at his university and while interning at the public schools where my husband works - so keep on the lookout, because in about 10+ years from now, I know you'll see his name on your ballot boxes.
However, since he attends university in another state, I asked him not if, but when he becomes senator (and then president, of course), which state would he want to live in and represent? lol. He wasn't sure yet.
Though I would love it, if it were Kentucky, I wouldn't blame him if he chose elsewhere to try and represent that's less of a lost-cause battle and he agreed lol.
Anyway, it's important to us to keep this young man encouraged - so I'm leaving this here, once again, if he ever gets homesick or needs a momentary reminder of belief in himself :)
It was our great pleasure to take you to dinner, last night - and I hope you're still sipping on that wonderful chai tea like I am! (I'm not kidding, it's the best I've ever, right?)
Thank you for allowing me to pick your brain - I hope you didn't feel interrogated? However, we all laughed a lot too, so I hope you had at least some fun :)
You are brilliant, of course, but more importantly to us is the fact that you're an honest and good person with a big heart - the best :)
Keep that big heart, don't ever let it go, no matter what happens - and if ever you're in a situation where you have to choose between your popularity and your conscience, please choose your conscience - I know you will :) Name your moral price for what you want and don't go one step past it, promise us?
Also, learn from what you saw when the cameras were off during the debates, how that made you feel, and promise yourself you're never going to be like that/treat people that way, no matter who they are or how important they are or aren't.
How you treat people, when in a more powerful position, can make or break people in lower positions, and they're looking to you for hope. No pressure or anything right? lol. But you can do this - you know this :)
We just love you, sweet boy, we're so very proud of the man you're becoming and are :)
BIG hugs to you ...
~ Mark and Chrystal Chaplow - your adopted Uncle and Aunt (and hopefully your in-laws someday? lol)
PS - Your advice about The Rise of Skywalker was also heard, confirming the worst possible scenario I had already heard and what I feared most about the game they've been playing with the identity of Rey's parents. We were going to see it at the Kentucky Theater, this weekend, but now I think we'll wait for streaming lol.
Though I loved the last two films, I was already becoming a bit bothered by the newer-film notion that "the force" was in any way genetic and the tendency towards good and evil may be somewhat possibly genetically predisposed, rather than the force being a spiritual gift bestowed upon certain individuals, obtainable for even the the most low-born in the universe, choosing in free will how to use it - the power of free-will choice (amen)!
So the premise of this film sounds as if it will totally disappoint me further along those lines, with the worst possible outcome, and asks me to suspend my disbelief a bit too far - thanks for your insights.
Ah, Hollywood - when will you learn that sometimes, people just want a ending that comforts in a believable way, not one that keeps them guessing and chasing red herrings past the point of even making sense anymore and disappoints.
PPS - Whups, just wanted to add that I didn't mean to imply above that my preconception of this film came entirely from B, it didn't - it came from several people - plus I was already confused about the increasing implication that there was a genetic component to the force in the prior films, myself.
I have edited that a bit, just to be clearer what I meant.
However, B was one of the 4/5 people whose opinions of film I trust (because they're analytical people who appreciate good film as much as I am/do) that were disappointed. I may still see it at the Kentucky Theater (old Art Nouveau theater in town, we shall see - I tend to have my own, weird perspective on stuff anyway ) :)
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