My pals on the left (they are dwindling and shall, no doubt, shrink anew) are always ripping into the flesh of one after another antediluvian Republicans and I am often in agreement that the spectacle is untidy. I might have to put my rear out a bit in 2016 (hey, I worked for Romney in 2012, but, er, nobody seemed to notice, including Romney). I love ‘em all. I do. Trump is easy to defend, horrible to support. He is the only guy who said: “no borders, no country…” Ben Carson is Gandhi, St. Peter, Zeus, Clarence Thomas… and just a wee bit too much Alan Keyes for a divided nation. Bush is a gentleman and was a solid governor. The Bush family is a Republican dynasty because they were leaders who met their times. If Jeb! does not get asked this time, he will serve as Sec. of Defense, or some other proper role. Carly Fiorina thinks on her feet and dazzles with her combative insight. The governors. The Senators. The Cubans. The libertarian. These are substantial people with keen insights and conservative solutions. I LOVE OUR BENCH. Even Kasich, our John Edwards, without the mistress… Anyone of them could lead.
(Featured Image Source: Red Alert Politics)
This was a unique and special Christmas in our family and I got a spectacular gift from my daughter… the return of BrightRightLight.com, a website that I put together too long ago to remember in order that I might tilt towards windmills and talk back to the television. I have become, like my old man, a guy who returns fire at the talking heads. Pere had it easy, only getting infuriated by Walter Cronkite and a few lesser lights that followed him. But, I find myself reacting violently to scores of commentators, political actors, limelight lickers and writers/writers/writers who bake my blood to a slow boil. See, I knew I couldn’t handle this. My old man, whose letters (if I can figure out scanning) you will be herein to with introduced to, forewith… only had to bitch about Cronkite. I will be complaining about much more.
By way of introduction, I am a writer “hobbyist.” That’s what I call painters who don’t sell their paintings and actors who are willing to work for free. I once gave a talk to the local Rotary club entitled “My Failed Writing Career” which allowed me speak about all my near misses in the world of screenwriting and even a few of my successes in the world of playwriting. After all, I am a produced playwright. Soon, after I figure out a few digital tricks, big chunks of the crap I have written, screenplays, plays, bad early journals and lots of letters will make their way to the Writing section of this site. And since I am a writing “hobbyist” I will expect any of you taking the boring trek over there to sample the wares, will leave nothing but positive comments, since that 8th grade poem to my crush means a lot to me. Now, if I start charging you half a cent per visit… well, then I don’t really care what you leave behind.
I am the father of two grown-ass children. They are amazing. Just ask them. I am married. She is amazing. I work, selling radio. I kind of suck at it. Unlike my writing career, kind of sucking in this field can still get you paid. Not much, sadly. I am old enough to be retired from blogging. Instead, I am starting. My politics is American liberty. My religion is Christian Beats All Others, which I am not certain is a denomination. My gender is pre-determined. My race is French/Irish. My bias is kindness. I am confident that a whole slew of people will be really sad at my funeral, I am that little of a jerk. My own failures have motivated my children to great heights.
Another name you may come across on this site is Firth Caldwell. I identify with Firth 100%, although, at times, he can fly off the handle speaking about Muslims and Republicans. Don’t be alarmed. He is, like me, in every way, a thoughtful observer of our cultural maelstrom. Unlike me, Firth shamelessly plugs his one book: “Bet: The Mind of Poker” which can be purchased online, or you can order the Word Document “no cover” version of the book for $1.25 from BRL. Crazy Uncle Firth shows up from time to time on this site, but he is always with us in spirit.
My first post is a portion of the interview with President Obama and Steve Inskeep from NPR. I am learning how to cut and paste just the portion of the video that I want. I don’t have a comment on this one, just trying to get the mechanics down. To my kids, thank you for the chance to move some intellectual product. Writing, like poker, is a real sport. Fingers don’t fail me.
— Chip Fortier
As many of you know, the last three weeks have been a mini-hell as my wife, Karen Fortier, has recovered at Norfolk Sentara from heart surgery to replace 2 valves. 22 days later we have made it home where Karen is resting and walking, beginning the slow climb back to her old self, but better! Her care at Sentara was superb from doctors down to the people who clean the floors. The Sentara staff are a unique army of caregiving, concerned, smart and approachable professionals and our care was overwhelming. In classic Karen fashion, she made it a point to learn the names of everyone who helped us. This is a photo of Savannah, who was a great help to Karen in one particularly difficult patch. Savannah and I also discovered another connection.
My wife, Karen, made it a point to “talk up” all the staff who came into her room to help her. She learned all of their names and found out things about them. One funny moment came at about 3 am when one of the nurses was doing “vitals” on Karen. Karen said “you don’t seem yourself” and the nurse started going into a detailed litany of her problems. Only Karen… Well, when Karen was grilling our poor nurse, Savannah, she discovered something that rocked me back.
Savannah was from Asia and so we rattled off all the cool countries I had seen in my trip there as a young man. Turns out, I had visited Savannah’s home when I was 23. She grew up in Cambodia and when she was a young girl, she lived for four years in the Khoa I Dang refugee camp on the Thai border. I have only exhibited two moments of genuine courage in my life and going to Khoa I Dang, not considered safe for young American travelers, was one of them. I was overwhelmed by the suffering and wrote this at the time: “Perhaps Cambodians’ claim to fame will be the magnitude of their suffering but, in fact, it is their lust for life that sets them apart.” Is that Savannah in the left corner of my photo? Probably not, but WOW.
What was it like being Ren’s son? Imagine spending your whole life knowing that your father loved you because he was explicit in saying so. That has been my happy life. He was direct and generous. He was funny and kind. He spanked us and we lived. He was the best dad as a kid and, like fine wine, with age, he became something more — our Pere; this wise, kind, funny, generous change agent in our lives. Being Ren’s son was nothing short of amazing. I was one of only five people on the planet who consistently received letters from him signed “Love, Dad.” And I got to borrow lots of cash that I did not pay back.
I have met a lot of men from the Greatest Generation and my father was the tip of the spear. He was a West Point graduate, successful businessman, entrepreneur, writer, lecturer and, ultimately, devoted patriarch. Through his writing and prison ministry, he achieved a rare third act in his life. I can honestly tell you that my dad lived a life of service to others from his time as a teenager through the last days of his life, and yet did so without depriving himself of the comforts of abundance. He was joyful, no matter what calamity was wreaking havoc on his body or spirit. He remained a happy and contented man to the end.
I recently had this email exchange with a liberal friend about Che Guevara. We try to keep it civilized but we sure are far apart. Read the exchange below.
I easily found sites that condemn Che as a murderer. But I also found this…
This is what I meant when I said you never budge. Your…”passion” in stating the degree of hypocrisy of those tee shirt showoffs stands as an example of exclusionary justification. There is always more context than “he was a MURDERER” type statements.
You insist on calling me a lefty and after all these years I’m beginning to resent it. You, on the other hand rarely bring any balance to your position. Things are most often very black and white. You use easily identifiable labels for people and ideas. These are ways of oversimplifying your opinions so they have the least surface area for critical consideration.
My position has always been one of balance, well, seeking balance anyway. You can’t honestly say I spout only the most radical left wing agenda. You can’t caste me as narrow minded.
When you have seen passion in me during our discussions, it has most often been in response to a claim of yours, rarely in support of some ideology from the left.
Maybe the world has become too large for people to talk in a balanced way. Conversation is possibly too impregnated with little more than anecdote while the greater context is sacrificed to the epidemic of political alignment by sound bites too many of us excuse as news.
Why else would people, white, middle to lower class, less educated, geographically contained people continually vote against their best interests? What has these people so gripped with the idea that allowing corporations to have control over our government is good for them? That the vast majority of income in this country is going to less than one percent of the population is good for them..? The answer is isolation, ignorance (not stupidity…) and a lack of balance in what they consume as news.
I apologize if this sounds “holier than thou”. I don’t have malice in my position. But you have to admit that more than once I have mentioned that we so easily get off on tangents when what I want to discuss is what you want for the country and how we should get there. Where that interest goes off the rails is usually when you express outrage for the things that the radical periphery of the left pushes. Che Guevara is an example of that.
My dear friend,
I hate to sort of continue the feud but you are a lefty and I think what you did with my Che comment is a classic example of why no amount of our interactions leads me away from that observation.
I was attempting to show you the differences in how you and I think by offering you the example of the Che t-shirt. My point, since I was talking about people on the left that were spouting a bunch of (in my opinion) nonsense about GMOs, I gave the Che example as a shorthand to illuminate my frustration. I hoped this simple illustration would help you see how frustrating and futile it is for anyone with even a glancing knowledge of Che’s crimes to continue a rational political conversation with someone wearing a Che t-shirt. The equivalent (if one is required) would be a dude with a Hitler t-shirt or trying to talk racism with a guy with a Bull Connor t-shirt. But, remember, I did not bring up Che to change the subject or point fingers at leftists, or disparage your beliefs, or oversimplifying my ideas… I brought up Che as a shorthand to try to explain to you the difficulty one faces on the right constantly plowing over old ground, “settled law” as Al Gore might call it… It was an illustration of something that appeared obvious to me, so obvious that I could share it with you as an example. If you are wearing a Che t-shirt, you have already announced your ignorance (to me) and inability to engage in any serious political discussion, because we are not even on the first square together.
Your response to that is to go FIND AN ARGUMENT CONTRARY TO MINE. Yeah for Google. What did that take you? All of 3 minutes. And, so you managed to pick a Reddit post that was put out by permission from a Marxist historian defending Che. This is beneath you. Stop doing that. Take a position. Right here, right now.
CHE GUEVERA – Murderous, sadistic killer — True or False – Research it, THEN…
PICK. You’ll feel better. But, you can’t pick. Because if you ever picked, you might suffer from the ailments you dislike in me, including being “very black and white,” “rarely bringing any balance to your position” or using “easily identifiable labels for people and ideas.”
But, there are things that are BAD —
Marxism, the Soviet Union, Stalin, Lenin, The Stasi, Pol Pot, Khmer Rouge, Berlin Wall, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Kim Jung Sung (Un) (Il), Sandinistas, Chairman Mao, Communist China, PLO, Yasser Arafat, Trotsky, Jaruzelski, Ceausescu, Das Kapital…
I am black and white on every one of the topics mentioned above and about a hundred corollary items centrally located in the evil history that is communism tried on this planet. I believe that the evidence is incontrovertible that communism directly contributed to the deaths of a hundred million people and what drove those deaths was an ideology that was inhumane and murderous, a reality that was spoken about loudly in conservative circles and was seen quite differently from your side. So, if someone wears a t-shirt with any of the above depicted on it, I shall secretly consider them a complete idiot but publicly I will barely have time for them, because (and on this point you are so right) I CAN NOT BUDGE. COMMUNISM IS THE BLOODY, SHIT-TURD OF HUMAN ORGANIZATION. I HATE IT.
Tolerance is not the only virtue. It’s unfair, you say. My arguments lack nuance. How can you put Che Guevara and Pol Pot in the same category? I say, how can you not?
So, please do your research beyond one Marxist professor, and, at your leisure, please let me know your view of Che Guevara. He may not have been a pedophile (the allegation has multiple sources), but he was a murderous fuck. I look forward to you calling me in agreement when your research brings our points of view together.
Do yourself the favor as a thinker and write down what positions you hold in your heart that are not “in balance.” Do an exercise in “narrow minded” thinking. What things do you hold so tightly out of balance in your heart that you would be willing to sacrifice for them? When you know those things, you will begin to be in true balance.
I know, I know, I’m only pissing you off even more. So be it. What are ruined friendships for, except to bitch about how awful the other guy was.
So, yes, I mentioned the Che t-shirt as an example of why arguing with the left is so exhausting (we share NO common ground on Che) and futile, and you shared a link with me that proved my point. You will never see what you did as a “narrow-minded” gesture. All the “narrow-mindedness” is always one way. You just assume that it never even occurred to me to check my sources in forming an opinion on that murderous prick, so you send me a worthless link to BROADEN my mind. But your link is a piece of worthless journalism. It is one Marxist professor offering to explain the evils of a comrade through obfuscation and weirdly crafted non-denial, denial language. It is as weakly sourced as a puff of smoke and it is not true. But that is all you sent me and I presume it was meant as your strongest argument.
If this is different from how you see it, please illuminate that for me.
As to your second question, about what would I do differently for the country, well, I’ll try to work on that response and ship it as well.