Agent of Change

A Blog by Cory!! Strode, who really should write something interesting here.

Archive for the month “January, 2016”

Trump ain’t no dummy, dummy.

Say what you want about Trump, he’s not a moron. He turned the last debate before Iowa into a PURE drama, pitting himself against the Republican establishment. Trump is making a play for the people who moved over to the Republican Party during the “southern strategy” realignment and have been kept there by Talk Radio, Gingrich style anger and promises that never get fulfilled because if they get fulfilled, they can’t be used as wedge issues again.
Trump won’t give specifics, but reads his crowds, reflects their anger and panders better than any politician I have ever seen. Now that he has made himself the ultimate outsider, he is holding a big rally he says will raise money for veterans, and hit ALL of the media outlets he can saying that Fox will make huge money and isn’t giving any to veterans.
His people, who get all of their new from Fox, have now turned against it because THEY DON’T HELP THE TROOPS. Of course, he gives no specifics, has held events like this and offers no proof that any money went to veteran’s organizations and is well known for having the cops remove homeless vets from in front of his buildings. But, in the end he knows it doesn’t matter. No one cares what he does, it’s what he says.
He has been able to crush Fox News, something the Democratic Party was never able to do because they have no credibility with the viewers of Fox. Trump is a cartoonish figure, his businesses outside of being a landlord have all failed, and yet he had the ability to switch parties and positions and completely dominate a field that had governors, senators and a member of the omnipresent Bush family.
His speeches are more rock show than political rally. He has given no specifics to any of his plans other than “I’ll hire good people.” He has a level of Teflon that Reagan would have envied. And he has effectively neutered all criticism by blustering and bullying, making his critics buffoons he mocks at his unscripted events.
The man is a lot of things. Dumb is not one of them.


How a lousy rat bastard became a positive person

A bit of background:

I was a single father, and while my marriage only lasted 2 years, the custody battle lasted three, and thought I “lost”, within six months, my X had asked if I would take over raising my son, as she couldn’t do it.  He would live with her for a year or so, sometimes, and then move back in with me for 2 – 3 years, and so on.  With that and working two jobs, I was a pretty bitter and cynical guy.  It was so bad that at one job, my co-workers replaced my cubicle name tag with “Mr. Bad Example” from my favorite Warren Zevon song at the time.

There came a time when I met a woman and we started a relationship. I hadn’t been in a relationship in over a decade and didn’t want to mess it up, since I didn’t know if I had the skills to be in one, so I asked one of my co-workers at the group home.

She said I needed to practice unconditional love.  I said that I do and she said that I may THINK I do, but I don’t.  I had said that I would end things if the woman I was dating did this or did that, and that was putting conditions on things.  I had to REALLY give that up if I meant what I said and just accept her as she was and support her changing, as we ALL change.

And I committed to that.  I read up on things to help myself be calmer, to understand interpersonal stuff and to build a positive mental attitude.  I used to make fun of the whole idea of a positive mental attitude, but as I committed to the idea, I found that I liked it.

The relationship ended, as relationships tend to do.

But I kept the idea of positive mental attitude and unconditional love in my head and kept working on it.  As I did, my job changed and I became the director of a juvenile justice group home.   I explored changing EVERYTHING about it from my new perspective and found models we could use to move from a punishment based-dynamic for the teenagers who were there to a growth based dynamic.  I treated my staff with the idea of Assuming Positive Intent:  Start from the idea that people are doing things for a positive reason and go from there.

For example:  I would drop in at random times at the group home, partly to keep the residents thinking I could be in at any time and partly to see the dynamic of the house during times I wasn’t there.  One of the guidelines we had was that we did not take the residents on activities until chores were done.  I came in one night and no one was in the house.  Supper was still on the table, no chores done, nothing.  Rather than “Why did they do this!!??” I assumed that there positive intent behind what was done, and put away the meal, cleaned up the table and as I did, the van showed up, and everyone got out…and one of the clients was in a cast.  He’d broken his ankle, and the staff had to take everyone to the ER.

So, if you simply assume people do things for a positive reason, it changes how you see the world. Walk away from your first instinct being that people are out to get you.

My son had a rough time after high school.  He was angry that he didn’t go to college with his friends (he blew off all of the deadlines and wasn’t a very good student) and began to abuse drugs, be destructive to my life and the house, and generally became a horrible person.  I set some final red lines around his behavior and he took off for a year…and when he came home, hat in hand, and asked if he could stay while he looked for a job, I asked if he was clean and sober.  He said he was and his new job would be testing him…and he lived with me for a year, got on his feet, then needed to come back for a year…and it was raw unconditional love that made it possible for me to make it through that.

The woman I dated came back into my life, and apologized for the things she had done, and by this point, I was a different person.  I was wary, as she tends to not just burn bridges, but to douse them with napalm and dance while they burn, but forgiveness isn’t ABOUT the other person.  It’s about letting go of the hurt they caused you.  A few years later, she did it again, and I didn’t fight or get mad, just accepted that was who she was and loved her anyway, hoping things would be well for her.  And then about two years ago, she came back AGAIN, and again felt horrible about what she’d done to burn the bridge, and I explained to her that when I said unconditional love, I meant it.  I keep the circle of people I give that to tight, but when I do give it, I give up thinking about consequences because I know it’s the right choice.

It’s why I laugh when she calls me “Goody Two Shoes” all the time, when my nickname when she met me was “Lousy Rat Bastard”.  And when she apologizes for the things she’s done, I remind her of what the term Unconditional love means.

I’m not saying she changed me.  I’m saying that she was the catalyst for a change that I needed to make.  My time running a group home changed me.  My last 5 years working with developmentally disabled adults taught me SO much about kindness, patience and positivity and also changed me. The last three women I have dated have all told me that I am a Good Man and that they admired how I treat other people.

It is a learned skill. I don’t believe people are good or evil, but I do believe we end up being selfish, left to our own devices. Being a positive person is hard work and a skill most of us aren’t born with. But, I made the change

And you can make it too.  Fake it until you make it is perfectly valid.  People were telling me that I was a calm person before I felt like I was a calm person.  Find what works for you, but the biggest change you can make is your own attitude.  You make the weather of your day. If you wake up unhappy, you’ll be unhappy.  Wake up and remember that you woke up today, so it’s a good day. Actively look for the good things of you day. Take time to enjoy every sandwich.  Do that and you’ve started down the path.

It isn’t easy.  I am NOT a naturally positive person.  I have dysthymia which tends to make me think setbacks are worse than they really are, but I make the weather for my day.


Today’s political thought

I preface this by stating that I am just a little to the left of the late Paul Wellstone, so my observations may be a bit skewed.

Too many times, people on the left side of the aisle have dismissed Ted Cruz as “stupid”. I will reiterate that the man is a lot of things, but stupid is not one of them. He can say outlandish things, tell big whopping lies and say calculated things that appeal to his base, but stupid? The last two months should put that to bed. Cruz knows his audience. What WE think is stupid, speaks to a group of voters he is counting on and last night shows just how skilled he is.

Look at his “wacky” statements not through your eyes but through the eyes of someone who hates the government, life revolves around “Guns and God” and thinks that Obama is the most evil, liberal, Muslim to walk the face of the Earth…and you’ll see he is talking directly to them.

He HAS to win in Iowa. His strategy is to sew up the evangelical vote and bring along that people who hate Government for the ride. He also needs to attack Trump, but he knows that other people have tried it and failed, so…he went for the dog whistle. He said Trump is from New York City. To his target market, New York City means: Liberal, not Christian, not REAL Americans…and the ones who sent your job away. Sarah Palin used to say the same thing for a cheap applause line. It’s like blaming all of your problem on the Media, a quick way to tell the base that Liberals Did It To Me AND YOU again.

And last night, Cruz went into the final debate before Iowa, on Fox’s “Business” Channel. Fox Business has become where people who aren’t mainstream enough for Fox News show up. If you think Hannity is fratboy smug, Stuart Verney makes him look like Al Franken. So, he hits all of his talking points and then, with Trump, goes in for the kill. He taken the Birther stuff Trump has been flinging and turns it into a rousing “god Bless America” minute where Trump is, for the first time, at a loss for words.

Cruz attended Harvard Law School, graduating magna cum laude in 1995 with a Juris Doctor degree. He ran the Harvard Law Review and edited Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. This is not some goober who spouts goofy stuff for no reason. This is a man who planned everything he has done so that he can run for President as an outsider, hated by Washington with a record of throwing sand in the gears and breaking things. His father is a prominent Dominionist, a movement that believes that the Book of Genesis mandates that ‘men of faith’ seize control of public institutions and govern by biblical principle.

Dismissing him would be a big mistake.


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