The Refugee Ban of 2017

​On January 27th, 2017, President Donald J. Trump issued an executive order instructing a travel ban into the United States from seven countries with Muslim majority populations. Specifically, there is a 120 day freeze on all refugees inbound, an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria and a 90 day hold on citizen traveling regardless of purpose from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Following the issuance of the order were detainments, interrogations and in many cases, the turnaround of immigrants and refugees already properly vetted to come into the country.

Once upon a time, no one could tell anyone they could come or go: people simply landed and there they were. It’s how the first immigrants did it when they came from Europe and that’s how it was done for years. People arrived, set up shop on tracts of pristine lands full of life, and they saw that it was good. When the first immigrants landed, they quickly realized they were not alone. Yet the first Americans, Native Americans did not ask for identification or proof of a vetting process. There were no ports of entry and no ID checkpoints. These people lived off the land and showed great respect for it. They maintained balance between their needs and the needs of the world around them. They cared for each other in living color and accepted one another regardless of their differences inside and out. And they most certainly did not institute a ban on people coming into the New World.

Much later in our history, other campaigns of prejudice and segregation have been waged against groups of people for varying reasons. African Americans brought here as slaves were freed yet systematically denied basic rights for over a hundred years. The Chinese were denied entry to the United States after the California Gold Rush. People throughout the history of the United States have been denied the right to vote, the right to marry, and the chance to begin anew here in America. In the worst of times, millions have killed and died in horrible ways in war. Humans have shot, stabbed, burned, poisoned, gassed and exploded each other in the name of God and country because people thought it right to do so. In the name of fear and under the guise of security, people have been marshalled and corralled into pens and reservations. The one group tramples on the rights of another. In other occasions, people have fled their nations for lack of food, opportunities and security. The United States once took in these cold and hungry quite willingly. We’ve allowed others to visit temporarily for leisurely travel and others for schooling. My father was included in the latter group.

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, the United States has been in a state of heightened ignorance and security unmatched since the days of Japanese-American internment during World War II and the Red Scare. Digital and warrantless surveillance of the citizen is an idea more and more people accept as a form of lesser evil. Unfortunately because of ethnicities and religions of the 9/11 hijackers, terrorism has been largely associated Islam. Thus our president has banned citizens from seven nations where Muslims are the majority, never mind there have been no terrorist attacks carried out by citizens of these countries in the last thirty years. The 9/11 hijackers were from Saud Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Eygpt and Lebanon and none of those were refugees. They were visa holders, vetted and allowed to come into the country for one reason or another. The New York Times reports that of the Jihadist style attacks since 9/11, none of the perpetrators were from the seven countries, and none were refugees. More than half were born in the US and the half of those who weren’t were naturalized US Citizens. Conversely, we don’t consider the majority of mass shooting events which have occurred across the country to be acts of terrorism. Few of those shooting involved immigrants of any sort. The trafficking of drugs and human beings for use as sex slaves is also apparently less important than stopping the flow of migrants.

The persons now denied entry into the United Stated have good reasons for trying to escape their countries. Some seek the freedom to practice the religion or sexual preference of their choice. To remain in Iran as a LGBTQ is a potential death sentence. Somalian refugees hope to escape the rampant war and extreme poverty ravaging their country. Libya’s refugees are fleeing war and insurgency. Iraq refugees are fleeing war, insurgency and persecution. Sudanese refugees are fleeing the war in their country. Refugees from Yemen and Syria are also fleeing violence from their respective civil wars. It can be said that the refugees of Iraq are directly the fault of United States interference. While good was done by deposing Saddam Hussein, there was no plan to implement “the peaceful transition of power” we so treasure here over there. We’ve spent at least billions of dollars rebuilding a country we spent billions of dollars destroying. This doesn’t begin to touch on the cost in human lives, both American and Iraqi, military and civilian. It’s taken many blood soaked years to get the Iraq Forces up to fighting condition through training and cooperation. Syrian refugees can also be seen as our fault via proxy war against Russia played out through the Assad Government versus Syrian rebels. Because of US and Russian interference, neighborhoods have been held under siege, hospitals have been bombed, and people have died not only in the crossfire, but from starvation and dehydration. Refugees are desperate people merely looking to live and contribute. They could do so here in the United States before this executive order. Now we have officially turned a blind eye to their suffering, we have deprived them access, we’ve deprived them their fighting chance. We’ve deprived them hope of survival.

Morally, we have a responsibility to ease the suffering of others when and where we can. When we are responsible for said suffering, we are obligated to help if we can. Put simply, this means the refugee program and the scores of people in need should not suffer for the wanton acts of a very small few. This does not mean refugees should enter the United States without some indication of no ill intent. Vetting is a tool, neither perfect nor foolproof, and it doesn’t work at all if the perpetrator is outside of its scope, i.e. born in the USA. Rather the system that allows people to enter the United States by visa, obtain green cards and citizenship needs revision with the knowledge that even then, we will not catch everyone who means us harm. The best way to really discover terrorism is through knowledge. When we know a thing or a person, we know better when something is amiss. To know it, we need to understand it and gain perspective. If we manage possible exposure to terrorism like a disease, namely total quarantine from refugees entering the country, we’re not actually addressing terrorism with an effective response. It’s like applying a bandage to the wrong wound. We need to stop witch hunting targets of opportunity. We need to stop looking solely at people from Countries x through z, or at only Muslims, or people wearing head scarves, or skin color, or haircuts. Everyone entering the United States should be vetted by specifics beginning with who, what, when, where, why and how. This needs to be done with priority going to those suffering from circumstances which infringe on the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those requesting Visas can wait. 

Refugees cannot.

The Refugee Ban of 2017

I Am Back.

I am back, though I cannot honestly tell you for how long I am back for, nor will I take this opportunity to tell you why I was gone in the first place. That story is perhaps for another time. What I will say is that I am back for one reason and one reason alone:


As of this writing, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has endorsed Donald Trump while Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, at the behest of their campaign advisors have stooped to tag teaming against him at a debate. Trump, Rubio and Cruz are the GOP frontrunners, Dr. Ben Carson and someone someone Kasich are woefully in the dust and on the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders vie for their party’s nomination. To date, this is a race which has defied all expectations and all speculation from experts. This is a White House race which has the political establishment reeling, staggering haphazardly to regain footing while trying to understand why people are rallying behind nontraditional candidates. I think I have the answer.

People have speculated that Americans are sick to death of the political status quo. While I can’t speak for America, I can speak for me: I’ve been sick of politics for years. Posturing, promises, the right phrases and statements meant to sway coming from people who are and have been “public servants” for years. I look at the chaos in the Congress, most recently displayed by the controversy surrounding an unwillingness to entertain nomination hearings to replace Supreme Court Justice Scalia, and I can only think that these public servant candidates are only more of the same thing we’ve endured year after year.

1104toon_tolesThe political campaigns are also a subject of ire for me. Despite the money they’ve gathered, if you go any of the websites of the campaigner, you too can contribute with the click of a nifty donate button. I have the fortune of living in a state the candidates don’t need, so we are spared the constant barrage of political commercials that campaign money pays for. As this very moment, my state is cutting the budget to our school districts and university system while the campaigns continue to amass tons and tons of money in order to fly to and from and cram the message down the throat of the people. That doesn’t sit right with me and again, I don’t think I am the only one who feels this way.

There are two people who have resonated with me and if you look at the state of the campaign trail today, my two have really come down to one choice.

First, when Dr. Ben Carson came on the scene as a possible political candidate a couple of years ago, I thought it a fantastic idea. He spoke out against Obamacare in a time when no one really knew for sure what the law would do, but more importantly, he was a doctor in the field with some actual knowledge about getting medical care in America. A doctor speaking out against the status quo of medical insurance spoke volumes to me. I hoped he would have done better during the campaign but alas, he’s all but dead in my opinion.

And then, there is Donald Trump. He’s a businessman, an entrepreneur and a television personality. He’s hit American politics like a hurricane. He’s left analysts and opponents both stammering in his wake.

He’s rich.
He’s loud.
He’s brash.
He’s unapologetic.

What can I say about him that hasn’t been said already?

How about this: he’s not a politician. The man is not a career politician, nor is Dr. Carson. They’ve not been seated in the chambers of the House of Representatives or guests of the Senate. They’re not cozy with the judiciary or with anyone in the Executive branch. Trump is definitely not a Democrat and the Republican Party establishment hates him. To the establishment, Donald Trump is an insurgent, an outsider, a usurper. He reminds me of me.


While he and I do not share much in common (white, rich and old I am not), he is something I’ve not seen yet in my adult life. Donald Trump is the last candidate to resemble a real person than anyone else running for office. The politician candidates aka the rest of the contenders don’t make mistakes or misspeak: they make gaffes or faux pas. They have their prompts and catch phrases. They have their campaigns telling them what they should say or do next. They speak in “politically correct” fashion, a term and behavior which has trickled down so pervasively down into our lives, you can’t read a book or take a class without the chance of encountering a trigger warning. Trump is a walking, talking trigger warning, he’s not politically correct and I like that. Detractors will tell you he’s not always been successful, but to me, that only adds to his appeal. He’s had bankruptcies and failures, has been divorced and has been sued. Sort of like the rest of us outside of the political class. He says what’s on his mind and it’s raw. Unscripted. He makes mistakes, just like the rest of us. Ben Carson is just as real to me. It’s a pity he’s been practically done in by his own campaign.


Who am I? I’m a father, a student, a husband and a veteran. I’m a not a democrat, or republican, I’m not a donor, or a lobbyist, or a Wall Streeter. I could care less about the Oscars, the Grammys, the Hugo, the Super Bowl or all the other nonsense American Media tells me I should care about. I don’t line the streets holding campaign signs for anyone: I don’t have the time nor the inclination. I work to put food on the table, gas in the tank and a roof over our heads: my wife works for the same goal as well. I’m a nobody, an outsider, an insurgent to American politics. Much like Donald Trump.



This political race has woken me out of an 8 year slumber because it is decidedly not status quo. It’s been perplexing and confounding everyone who has versed themselves in the machinations of a broken political system. It’s been taken over from within and without, and I like that very much.

Something tells me I’m not the only one.


I Am Back.

Father’s Day

My father was not around for me after my parents divorced, living at times in a different borough in New York City. To be fair, that’s not his fault since we were the ones moving from place to place before settling down at my grandmother’s apartment for several years. He held solid employment: my mother did not. He held firm roots in a downtown apartment in the city: we moved many times in six years before leaving NYC altogether. And yet, it was my father I only got to see once a week every Sunday.

The father figures in my life to include my father weren’t so great. Dad was probably obsessive-compulsive, constantly slaving away on sports numbers and statistics for gambling. My half brother’s father was an alcoholic, a mean drunk, mentally unsound, had been violent towards my mother my presence at least twice that I can remember and held her at gunpoint when she threatened to leave him, also in my presence. The men in between were trash, in it only for sex.

When we moved to Alaska with my brother’s father, the trend in men continued down the slope. He cheated on my mother and she on him with my youngest brother’s father who in turn cheated on his own wife and family to sleep around with my mother. That promptly stopped when she found out she was pregnant. In the meantime, my father in New York called less and less until the time where I heard from him sporadically. The times we spoke were full of promises unfulfilled. Before long, I’d resigned to not hearing from him, making the erratic contact easier to manage.

I thought I was leaving all of this behind when I left to the Army, but looking back, my childhood and the lack of good men in it permeated the rest of my life. I wept in front of my drill sergeant because I believed myself unworthy of him. I was combat arms and for years worked only with men. There, I latched on to my closest leaders: I know now I was looking for a father. The death of my youngest brother and later my mother threw everything I thought about life out the window (literally in the first case.) As with all the other inadequacies I felt about myself (my height, physique, ability as a soldier) I dealt, stuffing the things I couldn’t deal with into my duffel bag and soldiering on.

My father comes back into the picture when my mother died. He was the one who notified me she had passed and I could remember being so angry at him. My anger persisted as we worked to find her a place to rest: I told him we should get beers, to which he protested and I blew up. I felt as though he were treating me as a child. I never spoke to him again. Years later, December 2010: an apartment manager contacted me to tell me he was gone. He died without family and without a word from his only son in over ten years. When my mother died, I expulsed my father and choose to have no parents at all.

I think about myself now and know I get in trouble when I drink. For years I felt that last night my father was treating me as the 12 year old boy he last saw instead of an adult. For this, I cast him out of my life after years of broken promises and missed calls. I wonder now if he didn’t have some insight into me and alcohol through his own experiences. I believe he was much too conservative to ever share those experiences as that was not the type of man he was, though I will never know now because of my own stubbornness.

My father was shorter than me in height, was meticulous with statistics and was obsessive about the things which interested him. He had relative sucess with women, though I suspect like me, he was clueless of when a woman was pining for his affections. When he was engaged with me, he was a good father. When he wasn’t, when he couldn’t see me, he was simply not there. I didn’t understand it until I went through my own divorce: in the face of not having my children I almost disappeared completely.

I get my father more now than I ever have. I can only hope that he can find it in his heart to forgive the bad behavior of his only son so many years too late.

Father’s Day

The Inquisition Chapter Eight

Diane continues to recall how she got into her current situation, reminiscing meeting her team partner in crime, Sam. Hope you enjoy, and I am definitely looking for comments on the chapter please.


The Inquisition Chapter Eight

Inquisition Updated

Hello readers and apologizes for the delay in postings. I have updated the chapters I’ve posted so far with chapter 6 becoming an entirely new chapter. I have also named them, a throwback to past versions the story and hopeful an clue to content of the chapters. Thanks for reading and following. Comments and criticism appreciated.

Update: it helps when I post a link lol.

Read “The+Inquisition”

Inquisition Updated

Traveling Review: Newport Mansions update – Servant’s Tour

In my original review of the Newport, Rhode Island Mansions, I mentioned the Elms mansion had a separate servants tour to be had, which peeked my interest. So after some time exploring the New England area (and hurting for a local day off the long road) we returned to the Elms for said tour.

Unlike the main tour which was a self guided audio tour, the Servant’s tour was guided by a pretty sharp gentleman: if you ever go to the Elms and see a group meeting outside in front, chances are this is the servant tour about to begin. Our guide made the tour a little more personal, first splitting us into males and females as it would have been during the time period, and then assigning us each a job (yours truly was a valet/busboy). With jobs and tour badges on neck, we proceeded to the top floors of the Elms.

Inside were all sorts of cool little tidbits of gadgetry, knowledge and informational factiods which seem to complete the first tour if you’ve done it, though the first is not at all necessary for understanding this one. One example is a glass brick ceiling of the third (or so) floor serving as a portion of the actual servant quarter floor. Another is the call system used to manage dozens of workers in three different fields. The fix for who was being called was a system utilizing three distinct bells, one for each group. Pretty nifty for one of the first electrical callboxes.

Any one familiar with the Elms might recall that the owners of the Elms wanted the upkeep of the mansion to go about without guests actually witnessing the work being done. Servants were largely to be unseen, which meant operating in the lower levels, back compartments leading to rooms and living on the upper floors of the building. The house boasted an cul-de-sac-esque loading dock covered in the summer by vegetation, making deliveries virtually unseen. Along the same vein was the subroof, equipped with a tall wall all around and ample walkway for staff to hangout, enjoy the weather and relax.


From here, the tour goes back down the stairs to the lower levels, familiar territory for people who’ve been on the normal tour. Yet the familiar sight stops at the kitchen as the servant’s tour progresses beyond into laundry, refrigeration, and the boiler room, complete with a lightbulb testing area and a receiving track for coal coming into the property. It’s interesting to note how the methods of running the house changed with the advent of technology (refrigeration technology, electricity, etc.) From here, like most other tours, it’s out the gift shop at the conclusion.

Logistically, the tour takes visitors in through the receiving dock and all the way up the stairs, four or five floors up. Rooms are pretty small, which in a good size group means everyone is crammed in as the guide drops history on us. Eventually it’s back down the stairs and down another stairway into the boiler room. On a  side note, there is an elevator for the main building. Cons, as I’m sure you might have figured out, is no photography inside.

Regardless, I enjoyed seeing how the other side of society lived amidst the socialites of the times. The servant’s tour was quite educational and very enjoyable. Thanks for reading.

Traveling Review: Newport Mansions update – Servant’s Tour

Traveling Review: Mark Twain House and Museum

The outside of the Mark Twain House & Museum, courtesy of

The Mark Twain House & Museum is the place to tour the home where Samuel Clemens, better known by the pen name Mark Twain wrote several of his books including the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, respectively. What I did not know is a later house belonging to Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, is also on museum property.

Madeline Beecher Stowe's later home.
Madeline Beecher Stowe’s later home.

First we toured the Stowe house, which is not where she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. This house is actually where she moved later in her life, though the house itself is skillfully adorned with several items belonging to her, including the desk on which she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The museum also had copies of her original handwriting, which was pretty cool.

20150428_155948 20150428_155955The Mark Twain house was quite impressive in the respect that Twain actually wrote many of his masterpieces there in that house. The inside resembled the insides of some of the Newport Mansions such as the Breakers, but further therein were nooks and rooms I could definitely imagine myself hunkering down to write in. The home also boasted electricity, a sizable patio and an indoor garden. This home was truly an inspiring place. Unfortunately for Twain, he invested poorly at some point and was forced to sell the home.

20150428_173957Logistically, both houses were only available by tour, and there were pros and cons to both. Our guide at the Stowe home seemed young and inexperienced, growing somewhat uncomfortable in lapses of silence and lack of questions from our group, while our Twain house tour guide seemed quite knowledgeable in comparison. At the Stowe house, photography was allowed, while in Mark Twain’s: no photos please. Amazing works of fiction written in the Twain house. The Stowe house, more of a retirement home for her.

One thing I can’t say much about is the museum itself: we arrived at the Twain museum and hour and a half before closing, which was just enough time to tour the two houses and nothing else. However, the little bit I was able to glance off entering and exiting, there is much to see there and perhaps I have a reason to return.

All in all, I think any writer will get a kick out of visiting the homes of two masterful American authors. Thanks for reading.

Traveling Review: Mark Twain House and Museum

Traveling Review: Mystic Seaport, the Museum of America and the Sea

In the town of Mystic (yes, the very same Mystic in Mystic Pizza starring Julia Roberts) Connecticut is the Museum of America and the Sea, or simply, the Mystic Seaport. Our original purpose of visiting this site was to see the Charles W. Morgan, the last surviving American wooden whaling ship. With that being said, there is a lot to be seen at this gem of a place.

The Mayflower II, replica of the original Mayflower
The Mayflower II, replica of the original Mayflower

First off, Mystic Seaport is a working restoration yard which routinely repairs and restores wooden vessels of all sorts, employing local men and women and versing them in the skills of a truly dying art. Docked at the seaport during our visit was the Mayflower II and the Sabino, a 1906 steamboat under restoration until 2016.


Cutaway models of the Charles W. Morgan.
Cutaway models of the Charles W. Morgan.

On the gravel path to the shipyard is a long building holding the key components to the structure of a wooden ship, including the keel, ribs and frame as a lesson in how wooden ships are put together. Inside the shipyard itself is an a exhibit revisiting the restoration of the Charles W. Morgan, and using that restoration as the vessel to educate visitors on the tools of the restoration trade, the materials and types of woods used in shipbuilding, and the hazards to wooden ships to include weather, reefs, and wood-boring marine worms. The back drop to the exhibit are the sounds of power tools as Mystic shipwrights work on restoring the Sabino.

The Sabino under repair.
The Sabino under repair.

The Charles W. Morgan was open for viewing and proved to be a pretty impressive vessel in it’s own right. Add to this an extremely knowledgeable volunteer eager to school us in the history of American whaling and it made for a very cool experience.


As with the USS Constitution, we happened to luck out and stumble on the seaworthy replica of the slave ship La Amistad, subject of the movie Amistad, berthed at the Seaport for the winter and shipping out the very same day for New London.

The Amistad
The Amistad

There’s more to Mystic Seaport than the ships though: the Seaport also runs the traditional shops and buildings dedicated to 19th century seafaring, to include a smithy, shipping agent’s office, and nautical instrument shop, to name a few of many. Mystic Seaport is another one of those places where visitors should dedicate at least three hours to see everything there is to see there.

Traveling Review: Mystic Seaport, the Museum of America and the Sea

Travel Review: the Norman Rockwell Museum

During the middle of our trip, my companions and I veered off the Revolutionary War path and stopped in Stockbridge, Massachusetts to partake in the Norman Rockwell Museum which bears works by the man it’s named after. If you don’t know who Norman Rockwell is, you may have seen his work on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post or at the very least, maybe this image in a history class:

“The Problem We All Live With,” a commentary on public school desegregation.

Norman Rockwell is an American artist defined by his works which have captured the state of the country for over half a century, a large portion of that work for the Post from 1916 to 1963. Originally, Mr. Rockwell worked with live models until photographs became available for him to use instead.

Rockwell’s take on Rosie the Riveter

The Museum itself is packed with artwork: canvases of works submitted for use as magazine covers, portraits, and a donated collection of the magazines themselves. Rockwell was inspired by J.C. Leyendecker, an amazing artist in his own right. We had the fortune of being at the museum while it hosts an exhibition of Leyendecker’s work as well.


The museum is easily traversable, and unlike any other place we visited on our trip, had free wheelchairs and strollers for patron use. The lower floor had large photographs of Rockwell himself, as well as a viewing room for an informational video about his life.

20150427_150031It was not a bad place to visit, though I have to admit it was personally not one of my favorite parts of the trip. Still, the Rockwell Museum is an amazing collection of art and imagery and a testament to the creative skill of a great American artist.

Travel Review: the Norman Rockwell Museum