Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I know what I'm doing! St. Ayn will help me ... of course you do ... of course she will

Ayn Rand-loving CEO destroys his empire 
"Crazy Eddie has been one of America’s most vocal advocates of discredited free-market economics, so obsessed with Ayn Rand he could rattle off memorized passages of her novels." 

How many times over recent months have I encountered worshippers of Ayn Rand?

Rand was not intellectually or academically qualified in any sense other than story-telling to espouse any grand theory of Kapitalism as a religion.

"His fairy godmother was Ayn Rand, the dashing diva of free-market ideology whose quirky economic notions would transform him into a glamorous business hero ... 
... Lampert is now known as one of the worst CEOs in America — the man who flushed Sears down the toilet with his demented management style and harebrained approach to retail.
Sears stock is tanking.
His hedge fun is down 40 percent, and the business press has turned from praising Lampert’s genius to watching gleefully as his ship sinks. Investors are running from “Crazy Eddie” like the plague. 
That’s what happens when Ayn Rand is the basis for your business plan."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How's The Government Gonna Pay Fer All That Coverage?

In recent months I've repeatedly heard a litany of scripted lamenting from self-styled Konservative or genuine Conservative Americans all concerned about the mechanics and costs of the Affordable Care Act.  True to the partisan Republican/Konservative rhetoric that seems to script so many anti-liberal persons and perspectives, the question arose multiple times.

"How the heck are we ever gonna pay fer that?"

Fact is that the ACA is well-planned whether the new government website runs like a Dodge or a Toyota or not. The funding is there despite what Faux News and Konservative Koncerned have to say about it. But my task is not to defend the party of the President. They can do that for themselves quite nicely.

No, my task is the hunting and smacking of GORKs ... King Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli went after Orcs to make Middle Earth a safer place to live.  Well,  I quite enjoy hunting dumb but dangerous animals, Grand Old Party Konservatives.

"How are we going to pay for the GOP Medicare D boondoogle."

I was asking that question some seven years ago when an earlier crop of fiscally and civically irresponsible GORKs passed the "new" Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. That was at a time when the know-it-alls and their lobbyist coaches controlled the House and the Senate and were abetted by a president who appeared to possess the economic depth and understanding of ... well ... Orcs.

Next time the money-wasters pretend to shed alligator tears over all the aspects of the American budget that they have yet to get to the lobby trough, remember ... they're only GORKs and you can't trust GORK wisdom that doesn't exist.

Here's something I wrote that was published in its entirety in the local papers back then about the Medicare legislation Bush, Hastert and Frist blessed us with ...

Thinking that congress had your best interests in mind when they legislated the new Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit?
Think again.
To understand why your new Med D prescription benefit is so complicated, confusing and expensive for your budget, you must understand one thing about the economic theory of the elected Republican majority at the national level.
"What's good for corporate capitalism is good for the country."
They really believe that.
They really believe that economically and socially the wisest plan is for  "pseudo conservative" legislation to force all of us to get out of the way while tax cuts to the rich and loopholes to business make our lives better.
Right ...
Medicare D is modelled on one of our classic corporate capitalist national failures: our commercial health insurance system. That's the vaunted one that under the most powerful economic force in the world has left us in 37th place globally in terms of effective and quality national health care.
That's the vaunted one that any system modeled after Britain or Canda or any other country where EVERYONE is covered would never exceed the vauntedness of corporate America's capitalist dream.
Here's how they did it ... and you must remember the power of lobbying in this country and how senators and congress persons can't decide how to vote until a corporate capitalist prompts their wisdom with cash.
These wise lawmakers chose some 260 private insurers (corporations who supported this scheme with lobby money given primarily to - you guessed it - Republican lawmakers. Republicans, you surely remember, are the majority in congress and therefore have the power to turn the scheme into law). Now then, these wise partisan lawmakers have forced you to choose one of those elite insurers.
Who are these chosen 260?
Why they're private pharmacy benefit insurers, HMO's, pharmacy organizations like Walgreen's, Long's and Wal Mart.
You surely didn't think they are social-minded or populist organizations like the Grange did you?
Naw ... these aren't social minded do-gooders. They're the profit-minded self-interested.
Our economically "wise" lawmakers have now made it legal for our government to send YOUR medicare money - I mean it, the actual money that would be used as your individual medicare benefit - to the corporation you have to pick  from among the 260.
It's an automatic revenue the corporation will spend advertising or marketing costs for in order to out-muscle the competition which will then be passed on to you as part of the additional premiums you'll pay out of pocket for your medicines.
This is a free-market system run amok.
In some areas seniors have 40-50 choices of plans. The plans have confusing choices of options, many of which involve differing monthly premiums (ranging from $0 to $60).
There are combinations of deductibles.
There are combinations of co-insurance (your percentage/their percentage of the medicine's price).
There are options to try cheaper generic drugs.
There are "tiers" (levels of priority and/or allowability) based on copays, generics, preferred brands, non-preferred brands, specialty drugs ...
and whether you buy from an "in-network" pharmacy with discounts or "out-of-network" pharmacy with no discounts.
There is no standardized nomenclature (no set of names, concepts, options and plan definitions that are standard among all of the 260 chosen corporate medical monopolists.)
One uses the phrase "co-pay";
another calls it "deductible".
What if we folks have questions?
Well,  we can go on line to a web site with a complicated web answer-giver. If you're one of the 75% of seniors who have never gone on line - well, chin up! A whole new cyber adventure is out there just waiting for you to invest in another corporate hog-trough sector by buying a computer and joining the internet surfer society.
What's going to happen with this pick-your-pocket-because-you're-over-a-barrell scheme?
Remember, the Republicans got this doofus plan passed with a projected price tag of $400 billion - a little less than the current sub-total for war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan by the way.
But wait!
We then learned that the Bush Administration told Medicare officials - in the tradition of Bill O'Reilly - to SHUT UP. They were told to keep the real cost which is in excess of $550 billion a secret.
What about the sacred chosen 260?
All vendors are not expected to remain "competitive." That means that not all vendors are expected to survive in the free-market system.
No, the biggest sharks with the biggest teeth and the biggest lobby dollars will win the survival of the health insurance fittest. We'll  see the 260 reduced to perhaps 10 survivors; mega-innsurers who will slug it out for all the leavings of those other 250 who just couldn't make it.
And instead of free-market capitalism we'll have closed-market monopoly based on sending Medicare tax dollars to friends of the Republicans.
Who might that be?
Well, United Health Group is spending 75 million on marketing and operations for this new Republican give away.
Aetna= $50 million
Cigna: $40 million
Humana (a midwest regional insurer)= $80 million.
Pfizer's in there too. You know Pfizer ... Bob Dole sold his Viagra perspective for Pfizer.
But those investments are chump change compared to what happens when all the Medicare clients sign on to automatic directed payments to the chosen hog-trough recipient.
This is the Republican American Way of course and whatever premium you pay to your chosen insurer will include recovery of that marketing money.
Then there's this: You'll hear words of wisdom from the Medicare RX Education Network and may receive mailings in envelopes bearing a return address of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
You are forgiven if you mistakenly assume these are official government communications to you.
They are not.
They have been allowed by Republican free-marketer politicans to use the government's official logos.
And if you run into something called "Medicare Today," you'll be seeing a creation of the Healthcare Leadership Council.
Who's that you ask?
Well, a group of hospitals, drug companies, medical equipment makers and academic medicate centers joined up some 300 members. They then raised millions of dollars for "outreach" to get seniors to sign up and authorize one of them to receive government Medicare dollars earmarked in your name.
The 37th best medical care system in the world is 37th because that system functions in the tradition of Exxon-Mobil's double-digit billions of dollars quarterly profits.
However, the 37th best medical care system is #1 in what is the truest priority: Turning billion-dollar profits while at the same time failing to adequately treat and protect all of its citizens.
That's the linkage between corporate lobbyists and corrupt politicians. That linkage and system is more and more revealing itself as foundational to the failed economic politics of contemporary corporate conservative Republicanism.
© Arthur Ruger 2006
*Reference: The Nation, January 30, 2005 - KILLING MEDICARE by Trudy Lieberman who writes about healthcare for The Nation.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Insanity ... after all that show of force, we don't seem to have anything of social redeeming value to show for our bomb-making skills.

Watch the whole thing. Don't click it out as repetitious. That would be an act of moral cowardice.

Realize that we Americans and our competitors with our boy toys just couldn't bring ourselves to not light one more ... over and over again ...

Then explain to yourself how and why we think we are the greatest country on Earth because we have the ability to do what with our firecrackers?

And of course some will say there was scientific testing going on. Of course there was.

A consequence of scientific testing reminds us that our own contemorary political and moral American heroes authorized the use of depleted uranium in Iraq to make our bombs and bullets tougher penetrators. Those heroes remain strangely silent about the horrible and enormously large spate of birth defects in the same specific combat zones.

I was asked, "Saving thousands of Japanese and American lives wasn't socially redeeming?"

The comparative ... whose "thousands of lives" are we valuing the most at the expense of the lives of others?

Wouldn't it be fair to ask residents and relatives of residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to see if their unwilling sacrifice redeemed the social good everywhere else?

We could subjectively declare - if we assumed and were insistent that we possessed the higher wisdom and the will and means to impose it - that that the social good of saving all those lives is greater than the loss of life in those two cities.

I find it extremely difficult to rationalize a form of murder as a necessary social good in which the protection of one side's soldiers and citizens at the terrible cost to anyone else is paramount. Such in fact constitutes a social evil.

The precedent established by Mr. Truman and the American government is with us today. Wise or not, we are required to acknowledge that we were the first to use those atomic weapons of mass destruction and we did so in anger and with extreme prejudice ...

We are not noble because we did that and today's reaped whirlwind of atomic terror began with that self-serving "noble" decision that many among us today rationalize.

I believe that when we make that sort of self-serving rationalization, we authorize ourselves to do it again to someone else ... and tell ourselves how much better it is to do it first before it is done to us.

After all, we are, as Geoffrey Perret wrote, A Country Made by War.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

On gun-toting straight-shooting Konstitutionalists

the valiant men of Open Carry Texas

"A group calling itself “Open Carry Texas” showed up today fully armed with semi-automatic pistols, rifles, and other firearms.  They wanted to present a strong and intimidating front against a group they believe,  wants to limit their liberty.   Theses brave men stood shoulder-to-shoulder, weapons poised for immediate response to any hostile move from their sworn enemies.
Who were these sworn enemies, gathered to deserve this flashy show of weaponry and might?  
It was four mothers."

Right ...

Got me to thinking. It seems that the slogan driving these folks with the big iron(s) on their hips is …
“If you block me from using my First Amendment Right I will exercise my Second Amendment Right and use my weapon on you!”
… or something like that.

As to who the traitorous un-American “YOU” bent on destroying our liberties is …  and the reasoning behind the extreme step of using a weapon against another citizen, well that’s up for interpretation.

Apparently whoever it is seems to be the evil spawn of the 1930’s and 1940’s Germanic and Italian terrorists who have somehow re-incarnated into the 21st century.

But that’s confusing because aren’t them guys the historic heroic idols of extreme right wing American pseudo-patriotism?

The “H” guy? Or better even, the Mussolini guy who was not ashamed of government corporatism while lying to and bleeding the common citizens in order to keep the rich in power?

I believe it is called “carrying” ... and is part of making what is considered a patriotic statement having to do with defending our liberties whenever and wherever those freedoms appear to be under attack.

So then, what does “under attack” mean?

What is in the mind of someone who feels the need to publicly flaunt  personal ownership of a weapon because something frightens him that  is not frightening most people who are otherwise civically engaged and active.

Is there a difference?

Well, although we all have that right some of us use common sense that dictates that one need not  “carry” unless a defense of rights is under literal and immediate physical attack, war or invasion of our country.

Otherwise, “carrying” is just another word for “packing” (as in heat) which declares
‘I’m a macho guy who could accidentally shoot a kid, a little old lady or her pet if I was of a mind to. ‘
A veteran myself, I know lots of other veterans in my community who HAVE used a weapon in defense of our country.  We are genuine – the real thing - and would not hesitate to leave our homes, leave the churches before the sermon ends, leave the tavern with the last beer unfinished, drop what we’re doing, jump in our trucks, get our weapons and make haste to the scene of threat or action.

We'd do it in a moment’s notice cause we know where our weapons are – kept safe under lock and key until needed.

And for most of those I know it would not be any different if those attacking were government agents or military troops sent to forcibly take our weapons away,  put us in some kind of internment camp, force us to pay our taxes or execute us for fornication.

But  that is not what is happening.

Nothing even close to that is happening although in recent years I would not have put such a possibility beyond the reach of the those who advocated (Dick Cheney) an imperial presidency plan.

That was real.
That was political.
That was an extreme Republican Conservative move that was also endorsed by pretend broadcast patriot blowhards like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Glen Beck would have endorsed it on whatever network dumb enough to hire him back then so long as  he could see through his country-lovin snake oil tears.

So who is packing … er, I mean “carrying?”

All I can venture is a perceptual speculation based on behavior, verbiage and posturing.

Most carriers appear to be dying to be seen  publicly wearing.

Most carriers appear to be hoping someone will challenge them so they can then draw.

Most carriers act like they will be disappointed if they don’t get to publicly use the weapon so as to be seen as heroic.

It seems to me that would-be Second Amendment heroes won’t hesitate to manufacture (imagine) enemies to the homeland in order to sustain a macho sense that hearkens back to every Wayne or Eastwood movie where the good guy gets to shoot somebody.

Or they are willing to suspend judgment and critical thinking by falling for any broadcast lie hook, line and sinker.

Consequently, when you see a carrier "packing" in public with a cold hard stare hidden by movie-hero sunglasses you can read in that stone cold facial expression and posturing this message:
Before it’s too late and I can no longer be and feel heroic!
Please …. somebody make my day!”
Flash your weapons guys, get out those comic books and to hell with anyone else in the crowd, their children or their grandchildren.

And just like the Hannity acolyte in Tennessee who gunned down several human beings in a church because they were Hannity-defined  “liberals” …

Just like that … someone’s child will be gunned down and it won’t matter which Wayne or Eastwood character did the shooting.

It won’t matter whether he believes that Beck, Limbaugh or Fox News said it would be acceptable

… there will not be anything heroic about the perpetrator.

… only  a stick horse, plastic chaps and cheap sunglasses trying to cover cowardice, a junior high maturity and a lack of the greatest civic attribute a citizen can offer the country:

Common Sense ... One of the Founding Fathers beloved of Kindergarten Konservatives and gun-toting Constituionalists, Thomas Paine,  said give me liberty or give me death.

Paine did not everybody needs to "carry" so those gun-toters who are irresponsible can be gunned down regardless of collateral damage.

And woe unto those too afraid to speak up or disagree with the heat packers.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Union not putting words in their mouths ... lets GOP speak for themselves.

Latinos and other immigrants control the long-term fate of the Republican Party
One ad shared with POLITICO shows Texas Rep. Lamar Smith calling the popular DREAM Act “a nightmare for the American people” and quotes Georgia Rep. Paul Broun saying undocumented immigrants are “criminals and they need to be treated as such.”
Iowa Rep. Steve King makes an appearance in one clip, referring to illegal immigrants “hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
And in multiple commercials, the AFL-CIO highlights Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks’s statement that he would do “anything short of shooting” undocumented workers in order to crack down in illegal immigration.
Immigration as a serious concern impacting millions of innocent American citizens.

This is primarily a propaganda effort akin to the Gingrich imagery prior to welfare reform in the 1990's that fed off citizen's imagination of welfare queens, lazy single mothers and deadbeat dads lurking on welfare rolls all over the country.

It was in fact a republican attempt to capitalize on the knee-jerk reaction back then when someone ahead of them in the check-out line started waving food assistance coupons (the easily discernible funny looking money) at the cashier.

No lie was bigger than the myth of massive welfare fraud that needed to be cleaned up. The reality was something more manageable: a reformation of a government system of handouts that enabled apathy and discouraged initiative on the part of welfare recipients.

The welfare budget impact on national GNP and federal budget has always been essentially less than the a small percentage of actual spending on military hardware and the more than 700 American military installations worldwide that politicians are extremely loathe to try and  justify.

But, needing fodder on which to tread with their upwardly mobile inflammatory jack boots, grandstanding pork-barrel politicians taught us all to belittle and disrespect the poor single welfare mothers (or less frequently, fathers.)

We were told to be indignant. The stampede was set off. ("of course MY child could never be one of those welfare addicts. How could that child ever humiliate ME? Of course I'm for Welfare Reform!)

For immigrants today we are left with the bad seed of an idea that because of the flow of illegal immigrants into this country, we are on the verge of economic and political collapse because we don't have a Berlin wall on our borders keeping the pestilence out.

For every Berlin wall-advocate I'd like to see an acknowledgement not of the criminality of businesses that hire illegals, but the political criminality of demonizing workers with families who pay taxes off their fake SS cards (thereby possibly benefiting some unaware American citizen who is getting credit for those tax payments.) At the same time these "outraged" alien fighters include in their spending priorities that tax revenue (much of which will never leak back to the workers in the form of refunds since there is reluctance to file a return.)

So we see flamboyant clowns masquerading as patriots advocating building a wall to keep the revenue source out ... they're fools and want us to join them in the fools club.

If one's political thinking never evolves to the kind of depth and complexity that the issue merits, one remains a political partisan making a fragile no-substance mountain out of a molehill of a problem.

The recent Latino protests in reality could have been proclaimed as a protest against political exaggeration and insult to an American electorate.

From my own career experience in the state public assistance office I spent more time dealing with lazy native-born gringo/jingo Americans that whine about not being able to find a job because the Mexicans took them all.

You know, them there lazy citiznes act like certain political role models who claim one false thing to pursue another more dreadful false thing ... personal access to government money 

As a gringo myself who pays attention to demographics and the Hispanic culture in which I have family, part of me looks forward to the day when Hispanics outnumber jingoes - er, gringos.


Because for Hispanics, Asians and other American sub-cultures in which which more and more citizens are being born, there remains ample substance of CULTURE and a consistent value system that reflects cultural mores of behavior, responsibility and respect (especially respect for parents and senior citizens.)

Such is exemplary of a social value system that has been been rapidly fading for years from the consumption-prioritized American populace that stops, looks and listens every time a nursing home advertises how easy it would be to buy your way out of taking care of your elders.
Another example of grandstand jingoism disgracing a nation is the notion that those who come here must speak English or die. In my experience, I've seen impending deaths of elderly immigrants and the children of immigrants averted only because they sought and found someone who could speak their language and listen to them talk about their child's or parent's health problem before it was too late.

There is nothing dumber than the statement that "My immigrant ancestors had to learn English and these are no better." No they didn't. The majority of the earliest never did. But they worked hard and they paid taxes - neither of which require the ability to speak English. And I don't think they expected the sort of jingoistic nonsense dribbling out the mouths of the noisiest of their descendants.
We don't have a mountain of a problem with immigration in this country. We have a mountain of a problem from the sons and daughters - both elected and unelected - who are descendants from immigrants.

And as AFL-CIO strategist Tom Snyder declared:

“This is just a beginning. This is a down payment. The Republican Party may control the immediate fate of immigration reform, but Latinos and other immigrants control the long-term fate of the Republican Party.”

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What civic responsibilities and why do they matter?

I recall the time when my interest in politics was something akin to but less than my intense interest in the NBA, MLB and the NFL. The winners and losers in local, state and national elections were mostly a matter of "Did the person I like win or lose?" There was very little if any interest on my part in initiatives, law-making or the rising and falling fortunes of our political parties.

I'm an old veteran with no hair, high blood pressure and military memories going back to the early 1970's when Jane Fonda was a swear word and my cousin somehow got into the National Guard and I didn't. Had I waited another six months before enlisting, the new draft lottery which placed my birthday at the 350+ level would have meant that I, like Mr. Cheney, could have pursued my "other priorities."

Somewhere downstairs I've got an old hard-cardboard Schlitz beer-box with enough military records in it to prove I went and to prove I did. There's a bunch of ribbons down there in a glass jar where sometime I'll go down and look at them. There's an air-medal (and maybe a cluster) that are still in their containers. There's little sterling silver wings that my commander told me I could wear even when not on flying status after completing ten combat missions. They're all down there to prove I went and did.

When I was studying Russian at Syracuse University, Woodstock happened less than 100 miles away. I wasn't about to drive over and see that. I was too mad at Jane Fonda - mad about her movie Barbarella and its flaunting R-rated morals-challenged images which had offended my youthful moral view of the world. Oh and I was incensed by her Hanoi activities.

Funny how time changes perspectives. My yuppie kids are outraged that in 1968 I deliberately refused to go to Woodstock.

I agree with them.
What was I thinking?

Was my patriotism so shallow that rain, mud, outlandish music, naked women and pot smoke could rock my foundation as a true American?

I'm embarrassed about what I thought was important when I was 22 and what I did and didn't do about it.

Yet, here I am today, a retired and stay-at-home repository of all my experience which is the only source of wisdom I have to offer my kids and grandkids.  I sure as heck am not going to teach my kids that military veterans are long on judgment and condemnation and short on forgiveness. Most veterans have seen enough in life to know that there's not much useful in taking an "I'll never forgive you for that!" attitude in most areas of life.

No, I'm not retired from the military. I got out after 6 years and served 2 more in the reserve. 29 years later, I'm still aware of a sense of difference between the civilian and military world where you have got to trust somebody before you follow them.

In 1968 I was so mad at LBJ, I voted for Nixon so I guess that made me a Republican.

In 1972 I thought McGovern was a peacenik and I was a war-nik so I gave Tricky Dick another vote.

In 1976 I was genuinely offended at Ford for pardoning Tricky Dick so I voted for Carter. Guess that's my first sentiment for the Democrats.

In 1980 when Reagan asked "Are you better off now...." he got my vote. Back to bein Republican.

In 1984 he looked tougher than Mondale so I voted for RR again.

By 1988 though, I didn't trust Bush the First so I went into my vote-for-the-outsider mode and voted for Dukakis. Democratic fool am I?

1992 and I'm mad at Bush Sr. who seemed to think looking like Patton would fix the economy and voted for Bill Clinton with the following little sentence in sotto voce: "Ok you SOB, you'd better not blow it."  Back to thinking in a Democrat way.

By 1996 I began to suspect I was more of a liberal than a conservative and just couldn't bring myself to vote for Dole.

So there I am, trying to vote the man instead of the party, flip-flopping and waffling with the best of them.

By 2000 I realized that my veteran's instincts were alive and well and I saw only form without substance in George W. Bush. He's my age and I could never vote for anyone who at best was no smarter than me. Besides, an old NBA fan like me thought Bill Bradley was the smartest guy for president and I was disappointed that he didn't get nominated. I voted for Gore, the military veteran.

By the time George W. invaded and occupied Iraq and lied to me and you in order to get away with it I was having problems with the political behavior in this country that now seemed more important than the Red Sox beating the Yankees.

When my wife Lietta took off for Texas to help Cindy Sheehan beat up on George Bush, I also decided to get involved ... as a citizen ... rather than a party partisan.  This despite the fact that my dissent and opposition to a sitting president almost demanded that I support the opposition party's candidates and issues - to the degree I could stomach them and could stomach their lack of stomach for a fight.

I soon learned that lock-step support of a sitting president and publicly patriotic loyalty grandstanding had very little to do with civic responsibility and holding the government responsible. I was in good company .. folks like Tommy Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight the Eisenhower.

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. -President Thomas Jefferson
“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.” - President Theodore Roosevelt
Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President. - President  Theodore Roosevelt
To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. -President Theodore Roosevelt
Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionist and rebel men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion. -President Dwight Eisenhower

Good enough for me. So I began public dissent and never regretted it. Didn't stop no wars, didn't get anyone indicted or impeached and didn't impact the outcome of any elections despite all that Lietta and I could do.

But ... I felt good about myself for trying, for taking a stand and for standing for something of merit.

Bush's 2004 re-election after all those manipulative antics and with the help of religious and social conservatives was a shock for me. It taught me things about American voters as a group and their diminished or absent attention spans that I've never forgotten. Predominantly republican congresspersons, television commentators and talk-show jocks all acting and speaking almost in lock step synchronicity, saying the same things and sticking almost sickeningly to the same talking points and slogans left me with a vulgar and foul taste in my mouth.

Democratic voices were mostly mealy-mouthed and seemed almost afraid to throw down any gauntlet against what I began calling the Kindergarten Konservative Klamor.

By 2008 there was no visible republican worthy of my vote and perhaps with one or two exceptions the democrat would get my vote. For me the eventuality was either Hilary or Obama and when McCain nominated the Konservative Kindergarten Kween my voting choice was going to be totally obvious.

I am not a democrat but I can say with total honesty that there appears to be no republican worthy of my vote so long as the party itself is beholden to the tea party crazies. Voting to re-elect Obama was a no brainer. And I am not happy with our sitting American president.

Again here I am, So there I am, trying to vote the man instead of the party, flip-flopping and waffling with the best of them.

So here I sit at my keyboard ... reminding myself why I got involved when one president and his administration lied their way to all those dead soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

I want to rephrase a few things I wrote about a president in 2005 and expand the subject to include the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary.
In 1968 when I enlisted I had a rough idea of what I was getting into.
That "rough idea" was based on trust ... trust in a system and, ultimately, trust in a specific leader and a specific governing political party. The specific leader of course was LBJ, the specific party was the Democratic Party and the specific system was and is the system that allows us to hang our political opinions on buttons and sanctimonious drapery of stars and stripes from which we belch our prejudices.
When you sign up you endorse a contract on the bottom line. It's a contract with specified written obligations on the part of both parties, but also with unspecified but powerful assumptions on the part of both parties.
In the case of joining the military knowing what you are getting into is based on very powerful unwritten but nationally accepted assumptions:
(1)  The integrity and honor of the commander in chief of the military and that CIC's skill, wisdom and understanding of all reasons when and why military citizens are to be placed in harm's way.
As a volunteer you are at the mercy of that individual, his party and their combined priorities - with a strong expectation that those priorities extend beyond a desire to remain in the driver's seat.
(2)  As a volunteer you are at the mercy of your own fellow citizens (including your own family) whom you trust to be willing and supportive in making sure the leadership does not waste your vital blood, devotion and patriotism in pipe dreams, self-interested agenda's and ideologies;
hat leaders are driven by a genuine desire to involve the country in on-going mutual participation and compromise regarding foreign policy before resorting to force as a last resort.
(3)  Volunteering to become a soldier is volunteering to preserve and protect - with your own power and will - the country, its borders, its citizens and its institutions. It isn't volunteering to keep a political party in power.
The only way to avoid that circumstance is for the citizens to assume their rightful role in the triangular relationship with the troops and the CIC. The troops are expected to trust the CIC's wisdom as well as the patriotic participation of the Citizens who will keep the CIC honest.
The CIC is expected to trust the troops to follow orders and expects to sustain by honesty and integrity the support of the Citizens.
The Citizens expect the troops to do their duties and expect the CIC to sustain by honesty and integrity his political authority. The Citizens must be willing to hold the CIC accountable and willfully resist when the honesty and integrity of leadership is absent.
That is what is going on right now.
The politicians have demonstrated a lack of leadership at a time when leadership is needed.
We have civic responsibilities that include critical thinking, striving for common sense and an ability to wade through or ignore bullshit so we can help do something about the bullshitters. If I could fire and replace them all I would ... but I can't. However, there's no requirement to sit quietly in the tavern while the blowhards waste everybody's time and money with political silliness. We ought to stand up to grandstanders, bullies and drugstore cowboys - no matter the color of the ice cream on their boots.

That's why I'm taking my mind off the shelf and going back to the scuffle. It seems to be what makes me feel good about myself for trying. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What is Civic Participation and Empowerment?

The United States Institute of Peace is an independent, nonpartisan institution established and funded by Congress to increase the nation's capacity to manage international conflict without violence.

USIP’s Strategic Goals

To help prevent, manage, and resolve violent international conflict both within and between states

To promote post-conflict stability and development

To increase peacebuilding capacity, tools, and intellectual capital worldwide

To build and shape the field of international conflict prevention and management and to
professionalize its practice

To build knowledge and create innovative tools for peacebuilding

To bridge research and practice in preventing, managing and resolving violent conflicts

To teach, train, inform policymakers, practitioners, students and the public about the challenges of conflict prevention, management and resolution and how to respond to those challenges

8.8 Necessary Condition: Civic Participation and Empowerment

8.8.1 What is civic participation and empowerment? Why is it a necessary condition?
Civic participation and empowerment refer to a condition in which every citizen has the means to actively engage in the public sphere, including political processes.437 Under this condition, civil society is empowered, protected, and accountable; the media are present, professional, and independent of government influence; equal access to information and freedom of expression is upheld; and political parties are able to form freely and are protected. Civil society, the media, and political parties can mitigate the potential for violent conflict by providing legitimate public forums and mechanisms for peaceful debate.438 Through these means, the population can also peacefully participate in politics, provide a check on the government, and influence government policy. Without opportunities for civic engagement, motivations for violence may be more likely to increase, as the population seeks to ensure their voice is heard and their needs are met. Civic participation and empowerment also require respect for fundamental civil and political rights439 of minority groups, including the perception that these rights can be freely exercised without fear of retribution.440

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I’m just a liberal whiner … why Flush Limbaugh and Squawk Hannity were right and I was wrong.

Cumulus Planing to Drop Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity

Politico reports that Cumulus Media plans on dropping Rush Limbaugh's show at the end of the year.Cumulus has reportedly decided not to renew Sean Hannity's contract either.
Awe ... too bad for Flush and Squawk.

Squawk Hannity rejected? Bet that doesn't sit well at the Blowhard News Network, not to mention in Orem, or Utah Valley University where St. Sean Of The Cross With Arrogant Smugness has a statue in the auditorium.

More than once I’ve heard the refrain from friends and family with whom I maintain a passing “relativity” that I just flat out read too much.

It’s a problem I’ve been stuck with most of  my life … reading too much which is then followed up the equally destructive addiction of thinking too much about what I’ve been reading.

I’ve recently been given to more fully understand that the solution to all the problems in our country are essentially encountered in the simple (or was it simplistic?) minds of the simple (or was it simplistic?) followers of national conservative thinkers like Messers Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly and other members of that broadcast think-tank fraternity.

The key is in reducing complex issues into powerful straight forward but brief clarifications.

For example, unfounded concerns about climate change, pollution and ozone layers has been reduced to the straight forward clearing up of any confusion with Limbaugh’s  dismissal of my concerns as the “neurotic hand wringing of tree hugging ‘environmentalist whackos.’"

Can it be any clearer than that?

And how could I have ever forgotten those years in the 80’s when I too was a devout dittohead and when Rush dismissed female equality issues as mere notorious “feminazism?”

Is there not something irrationally appealing about living in a world dominated by black-white certitude; where such things as nuances have no impact? That’s the beauty and loveliness of simple (or simplistic?) life in Right Country/

There has to be security in that psychic foreclosure stuff.
But their certitude consigns them to what psychoanalyst Erik Erikson called the state of psychic foreclosure. 
Foreclosed persons are easily attracted to the beguilingly simple, one-size-fits-all belief systems of powerful others that they adopt as their own so as to avoid the sometimes lonely rigors of personal searching. 
The foreclosed are the ready disciples of demagogues in every age. – Psychologist Paul Ginetty
It really isn’t about logic or common sense.

It really isn’t “I just wannabe loved.”

It’s more of “I want to be singing in the same choir and on the same page as somebody who is simply (or simplistically) famous, influential and popular among my friends.”

No matter that I sacrifice my individuality and intellectual integrity so long as I am loved and respected by all my fellow sacrificers. We are they who willingly shout “Amen!” to the simple (simplistic?) profound declarations of the national blowhards - those talkers who willingly admit to never having read up on or pursued knowledgeable command of the topic they wish to deride.

It’s not about that kind of sacrifice … its about inclusion and a “brothers-in-uninformed-arms” intimacy with a voice on a radio.

As psychology professor Paul Ginetty wrote,
They get a chance to feel real smart when the master seems to agree with them, failing to see that it is actually they who are agreeing with him.
Yes, if I want to calm down and retire to a life of ignorant bliss I should repent, reconvert to ditto-headedness so that I too can enjoy a life of simplistic simple-mindedness.

… maybe even stake out a booth at the local Elk Snout Tavern where as a disciple I can spread the shallow gospel of simple arrogant ignorance

Friday, July 19, 2013

To America's military sons and daughters: Jesus will never want you to kill anyone in His name.

It has come to my attention that there are religious fools, (which usually starts among the officers) currently serving with you.

These American pretend soldiers are not your typical noble American warriors who have sworn an oath to defend the country and Constitution.

Rather, they have taken it upon themselves to pretend that the old Testament God who gets mad enough to kill people is still in charge.

They believe that the same false god inspired the U.S. Constitution and formation of a military order of soldiers who are to be primarily warriors for His Son.

Do not be tempted to take their spiritual opinions, advice and counsel as gospel my child.

America is not God’s chosen weapon of vengeance nor enforcement of a freedom all over the world won with blood and at the point of a weapon.

America is not the home of modern versions of medieval crusaders who plundered, raped and killed while believing that God and Jesus wanted them to do so.

America is not the home of generals whom God has ordained nor has Jesus authorized to kill indiscriminately in His name.

Never will America be commanded to blow them away in the name of the Lord.

Never will you be legally authorized by any officer or non-com to commit murder or any atrocity as your duty to God and country.

If you commit such acts you will be guilty of shedding innocent blood and will not be able to blame it on the moral cowards who commanded you.

If you fall into that kind of pit I encourage you to make immediate contact with me so that we can try together in all our love and devotion to do whatever it takes to protect your life, your integrity and your soul.

Unlike those military liars, I cannot nor will I ever demand that you blindly accept my own moral judgments in place of your own.

Unlike those military liars I CAN promise you that you WILL be accountable for blindly accepting as some sort of duty and obligatory response to the foolish evangelizing they believe they have the power to force on you.

There ARE people in and close to the military who will back you up should you ever have to stand up to your officers and non-coms who want you to believe they can punish you for ignoring their religious attitudes and practices.

I can help put you in contact with them.

I praise you for your willingness to serve our country.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Who Will Be the 2016 Republican Nominee for Washington Governor?

Guest writer Bryan Burke, who with me is an editor at Washblog, writes from his Eastern Washington perspective at EW Voters and Eastern Washington Politics sites. I'm excited to publish on of his recent articles.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee will be up for re-election in 2016, and the presumption is that he will run for re-election. However, who is likely to be the Republican nominee that challenges him for Governor of the State of Washington? Washington is a solid Democratic state, and Republican candidates for Governor have been rejected at the ballot box over and over again for the last few decades. The Republican Party seems clueless about what to do about that. They keep recycling the same anti-tax, anti-government message every election year, and they keep losing most state-wide races. I have no problem with that. I say let them keep failing. That said I cannot help but to speculate what Republican will run against Inslee for the Governor of Washington in 2016.

Republican Nominee for Washington Governor in 2016?

2016 is a long time a way of course. Potential candidates will not make a decision to run or not run for another two years or more. However, it is a fun conversation for political junkies in a slow election year. Jerry Cornfield, Herald Columnist, listed some of his guesses about who will run for Governor of the State of Washington against Inslee. He quotes Rob Mckenna as saying he will not run a second time. I have made some predictions of my own. I am betting that Dave Reichert, Congressman and Retired King County Sheriff, will be the 2016 Republican Nominee for Governor of Washington for reasons I listed below. I don't think others like Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Rob McKenna will want to be the Republican nominee for Governor.
If you're a Republican with thoughts of running for governor in 2016 know this: Rob McKenna will not stand in your way. He's told insiders of the Grand Old Party he's not interested in a rematch with Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee to whom he lost by a couple percentage points in November. That's not to say he won't change his mind. . . . Who will be the party's torchbearer in 2016 if McKenna isn't?

Republican Congressman Dave Reichert for Washington Governor?

The former King County sheriff is in his fifth term in Congress from whence Inslee came. Reichert could be the 8th Congressional District representative for life but his sights are on something grander. Most figure it's the U.S. Senate though running the state might be too attractive to pass on.
Dave Reichert is ambitious. Of course, everyone on the list is. However, there are different kinds of ambition. As Sheriff, Dave Reichert seemed to have particularly enjoyed the public attention that came from his office solving the King County Green River murder (although Reichert's role is dubious). That is the kind of attention that only a person elected to an executive office is usually able to enjoy. As a congress person, he is just one of hundreds in Washington D.C. I am betting that he is hungry for a brighter spotlight. <!--[if gte mso 9]> I disagree with Jerry Cornfield. I think it is the Washington Governor’s Office is what Dave Reichert wants. Some may think that a position in Congress is more prestigious than Governor, but you just are not in the center of the spot light as you are in the Governor’s Office.

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers for Washington Governor?

She is in her fifth term and is chairwoman of the GOP caucus making her the highest ranking Republican woman in Congress. She enjoys the national stage more than that of Olympia where she spent four terms as a state lawmaker. That might be reason enough for her to abstain from the governor's race.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers will stay in the U.S. House. She seems comfortable there, and it has been very good for her career wise. I get the impression that her party advanced her to the Chair of the House Republican Conference so they can claim her as a token woman in their leadership. She seems to enjoy that role and she seems quite comfortable in the U.S. House of Representatives. However, I don't think they will advance her any farther in the House leadership. The Republican Party and especially Republicans in Congress are still too much of an old boy network. When she realizes this, then maybe she will consider a run for some other office. Perhaps it will be for Washington governor as the Republican nominee, but probably not in 2016. I think she will stay where she is for a while.

Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler for Governor of Washington as the Republican Nominee?

Herrera BeutlerShe's 34, in her second term and clearly a rising star for the party. A 2016 contest might be too soon for her career. Plus, her announcement Tuesday that her unborn child has a serious medical condition requires such talk be put on hold because her family comes first.
I just cannot see Jaime Herrera Beutler as the Republican candidate for Washington Governor, and I don't think 50% of Republican voters will either. That does not mean that she will not run. However, I don't think she is ready and I bet she knows it. She is of course a protégée of Cathy McMorris Rodgers. If on an off chance McMorris runs, Jaime Herrera Beutler would not.

State Sen. Steve Litzow of Mercer Island?

Steve LitzowLitzow is a moderate on fiscal and social issues though you might not realize it because he's refused to break ranks with his conservative caucus to pass a bill he co-sponsored on abortion rights. A former public school teacher, his strongest suit is education which is a proven winning issue with voters.
No comment. I just don't know enough about the guy.

State Sen. Andy Hill of Redmond for Govenor?

Andy HIllHill is the lead budget writer for the Senate Majority Coalition, an impressive assignment for a freshman senator. He's also a cancer survivor. That combination -- knowledge of numbers and compelling personal story -- generally adds up to electoral success. The question for Hill is whether he's ambitious enough to seek the job.
Same as above. I just don't know enough about Andy Hill.

State Sen. Michael Baumgartner for Washington Governor?

mbAmbition is not a problem for Baumgartner who took on U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell in 2012 and lost badly. This session he's in the loop for writing budgets and setting policy for the state's universities, gaining knowledge and making contacts which could prove useful should higher office beckon.
It was a smart move for State Senator Michael Baumgartner to run against U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell in 2012. No one thought he had a real chance of winning so when he lost it did not hurt his future prospects. He did break the 40% barrier so many were inclined to believe he ran a decent race. The best part of it for Michael Baumgartner was that he increased his name recognition and donor base and gained experience campaigning in a more high profile race. However, if he ran as Republican for Governor of Washington and lost badly like he did against Cantwell, he would not necessarily continue to reap the same benefits. You cannot loose badly over and over and still be respected as a candidate by your party. He probably knows that. If he runs, it will be a calculated risk in this regard. Another big loss would hurt his career. Also, Michael Baumgartner comes into politics from an international policy background. State government may not interest him as much. I think he will stay in the state legislature for a few more years, and then run for federal office again. My prediction is that he will not run for governor in 2016 for Washington Governor. Other Republicans will be more interested in being the nominee.

Three years from now

We got plenty more time to speculate. A lot will happen between now and the primary election in 2016. Careers will be made and lost. Scandals will hit the headlines. Plenty fodder for us political junkies.

 Bryan E. Burke Exec. Director Eastern Washington Voters -- Making Eastern Washington More Progressive 

Friday, June 14, 2013

You are known by the company you keep ... ideology without compromise.

I, TEApublican, do solemnly swear to uphold the principles of a socialism-free society and heretofore pledge my word that I shall strictly adhere to the following:

I will complain about the destruction of 1st Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 1st Amendment Rights.

I will complain about the destruction of my 2nd Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights by legally but brazenly brandishing unconcealed firearms in public.

I will foreswear the time-honored principles of fairness, decency, and respect by screaming unintelligible platitudes regarding tyranny, Nazi-ism, and socialism at public town halls. Also.

I pledge to eliminate all government intervention in my life. I will abstain from the use of and participation in any socialist goods and services including but not limited to the following:

Social Security
State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP)
Police, Fire, and Emergency Services
US Postal Service
Roads and Highways
Air Travel (regulated by the socialist FAA)
The US Railway System
Public Subways and Metro Systems
Public Bus and Light Rail Systems
Rest Areas on Highways
All Government-Funded Local/State Projects
Public Water and Sewer Services (goodbye socialist toilet, shower, dishwasher, kitchen sink, outdoor hose!)
Public and State Universities and Colleges
Public Primary and Secondary Schools
Sesame Street
Publicly Funded Anti-Drug Use Education for Children
Public Museums
Public Parks and Beaches
State and National Parks
Public Zoos
Unemployment Insurance
Municipal Garbage and Recycling Services
Treatment at Any Hospital or Clinic That Ever Received Funding From Local, State or Federal Government (pretty much all of them)
Medical Services and Medications That Were Created or Derived From Any Government Grant or Research Funding (again, pretty much all of them)
Socialist Byproducts of Government Investment Such as Duct Tape and Velcro (Nazi-NASA Inventions)
Use of the Internets, email, and networked computers, as the DoD’s ARPANET was the basis for subsequent computer networking
Foodstuffs, Meats, Produce and Crops That Were Grown With, Fed With, Raised With or That Contain Inputs From Crops Grown With Government Subsidies
Clothing Made from Crops (e.g. cotton) That Were Grown With or That Contain Inputs From Government Subsidies

If a veteran of the government-run socialist US military, I will forgo my VA benefits and insist on paying for my own medical care

I will not tour socialist government buildings like the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

I pledge to never take myself, my family, or my children on a tour of the following types of socialist locations, including but not limited to:

Smithsonian Museums such as the Air and Space Museum or Museum of American History
The socialist Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Monuments
The government-operated Statue of Liberty
The Grand Canyon
The socialist World War II and Vietnam Veterans Memorials
The government-run socialist-propaganda location known as Arlington National Cemetery
All other public-funded socialist sites, whether it be in my state or in Washington, DC

I will urge my Member of Congress and Senators to forgo their government salary and government-provided healthcare.

I will oppose and condemn the government-funded and therefore socialist military of the United States of America.

I will boycott the products of socialist defense contractors such as GE, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Humana, FedEx, General Motors, Honeywell, and hundreds of others that are paid by our socialist government to produce goods for our socialist army.

I will protest socialist security departments such as the Pentagon, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, TSA, Department of Justice and their socialist employees.

Upon reaching eligible retirement age, I will tear up my socialist Social Security checks.
Upon reaching age 65, I will forgo Medicare and pay for my own private health insurance until I die.

_____________ _________________________
Signed Printed Name/Town and State

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

If we discovered that another country was doing this to our children, we would declare war

Last night we were invited to view a disturbing film and participate in a discussion of what we as a congregation might do in response to a national problem that is quite naturally repeated locally in both urban and rural settings.
A Place at the Table as reported by NPR
“One nation underfed. Really?
Many of us don't think of the U.S. as the land of the underfed.
In this era of the expanding waistlines, we hear far more concern about obesity than we do about hunger. But the two are more closely connected that many of us realize.
A new documentary, A Place at the Table, peels back the curtain on the problem of food insecurity, weaving together the stories of low-income Americans who struggle to put healthy food on the table, despite the fact that they have jobs.”

Became aware of this group which goes back to the 1980’s
Our nation has the food and programs in place to end childhood hunger, but consider what we are up against – the stigmas and embarrassment that surround hunger, the challenges presented by acess to healthy food, and the struggle to connect children with the resources they need to thrive.
“If we discovered that another country was doing this to our children, we would declare war.” ‒ Jeff Bridges
It’s as if many Americans of the youngest parenting generations have never learned to cook. And have you noticed that the sections of food markets that offer processed, pre-cooked or tear-them-open-and- throw-them-in-the-microwave-or-in-a-saucepan-on-the-stove-top are so much larger and contain more inadequately nourishing foods … foods one has to have at least some measure of knowing how to cook from scratch?
The hunger problem is about much more than the deluge of processed easy-to-prepare junk meals.

It’s also about an economic and democratic system locked in the hands of agri-business corporations who price and unreasonably market junk food, processed or otherwise, at costs that offer convenience but not relief from many family earners who have far too many economic problems and inadequate income circumstances that are not their fault.

Our mega-monsters worship profit at the expense of the common good. They see ideas of social justice as hostile to the corporate-lobbied and incredibly bass-ackward way of providing for the general good.
We can and do produce more than enough food but then mangle access to food which as a commodity has greater corporate-driven profit motive than that of food as a basic human right based on actual biological need.
We did that. We have allowed businesses in many sectors of our lives and allowed them to profitize at exorbitant price levels that have no justifiable basis determined by the  actual cost of production. 
As much as we can blame corporations which are by definition precisely compared to the amoral function of sharks, we more so must hold accountable our current and past elected government stewards in both parties.
There is nothing noteworthy in pissing all over each other in public displays of political righteousness about a correct point of view and the way America ought to be governed when our politicians themselves - paid and supported by corporate lobbies - have become the biggest perpetrators of child cruelty and actual economic abuse in this country.

They really do this and they know they do. They make decisions that give with one hand and take with the other which causes the people they are elected to serve to stand helpless and watch their own children go hungry.

This because pious political self-styled civic heroes are too busy talking about much less important things. When it comes to feeding the hungry, “How are you going to pay for it?” is not the first question a panel of legislators should ask.

Rather, as shown in the film as spoken honestly, the real first responders should fund their real first priorities rather than the priorities of those who have the most money.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

What does it mean to be Christian in America? Or what it shouldn't mean?

The Not-So-Lofty Origins of the Evangelical Pro-Life Movement

[W]hat galvanized the Christian community was not abortion, school prayer, or the ERA [Equal Rights Amendment]. I am living witness to that because I was trying to get those people interested in those issues and I utterly failed. What changed their minds was Jimmy Carter’s intervention against the Christian schools, trying to deny them tax-exempt status on the basis of so-called de facto segregation.
In other words, as Randall Balmer has succinctly put it: “the religious right of the late twentieth century organized to perpetuate racial discrimination.”
As I write this we citizens of the United States of America live in a country that has nurtured and sheltered the growth of religion within its borders. We have done so - despite the lies coming out of social conservative noise-makers - with what has become a constitutional mandate to keep state and religion separated; to keep both out of each other's way.

As I write this I’m aware that many religious politicians have spoken about tearing down the traditional wall of separation of church and state. Such a movement of itself is constitutionally part of the rights of citizens who desire to advocate for legal and governmental change.

Advocating for change and reform is part of what it means to be American, like baseball, apple pie and Mom.

Seriously considering change and reform must include a sense of what “being American” really means.

In the absence of civic passion, do we not passively allow our society to slide toward being told by others the correct answer to “What does it mean to be Christian in America?”

For me being an American Christian equates to believing in Jesus as the founder of a global religion that has become the predominant spiritual philosophy in this country.

Furthermore, Christianity as a global religion is essentially the consequence a historical religious imperialism that proved to be - much more than philosophical conversion - the most successful force behind its growth.

We then are either spectators of or participants in a conflict in this country about what a Holy (or Wholly) American Christian identity really means to its citizens.

What being Christian in America ought to mean …

If we follow Jesus do we not follow the ultimate portrayer of human goodness? Ought we not follow Him who taught love of God and each other and who taught that compassion and understanding are the highest spiritual virtues to be sought?

Jesus tells us to love and be concerned about the poor, the suffering, and the weary. Jesus encourages us to learn and practice compassion.

However, in America, conservative Christian celebrities seem to be telling us that such is not as important as other things:

-Being seriously frightened by the threat of having our children indoctrinated in the homosexual agenda and lifestyle by human beings who are different from us and are "evil" while we are "good."

-Being more concerned about a plot by judges to assault our right to publicly acknowledge God.

-Being outraged by media slander of Christians which is in reality a media slander falsely portrayed and exaggerated by slanderous and agitating right wing celebrities.

-Being disgusted by Hollywood attacks on Judeo-Christian ethics which are supposedly distinctly separate from common sense ethics, personal morality and sense of goodness - thereby inferior to conservative Christian values for the rest of us.

-Being very worried that America is experiencing the imaginary lifting of God’s hand of protection and the imposing of His judgment on the nation most responsible for endangering the land and people of Israel.

Conservative Christian political activists express this in a form that assumes that we all - like they - have glibly accepted the notion that America is special above all other peoples;

- that God has maintained some sort of holy curtain of protection from natural and man-made disasters and attacks in our less recent history because of our supposed holiness;

- that America has enjoyed some vague status in the eyes of God as an especially chosen people and nation more worthy than the rest of the world.

-Being “fearful” of God in a way that recognizes God’s capacity for wrath and punishment to those who stray, backslide and slip into immorality. The God of the Christian political conservatives is perfectly capable of destroying the innocent with the guilty as evidenced during the 9/11 attacks and the godly fist of Katrina where God expressed His displeasure with an entire city that has supposedly mocked Him for too long.

This is the stuff of which an American Christian separation from global Christianity is made.

You tell me, gentle readers. What does it mean to you to be Christian in America at this time in our history?

Although many Christians are not actively and outwardly religious except perhaps on rare Sundays, special holidays or family events, there are millions who sit in congregations and outwardly celebrate their religion in a spirit of worship and fellowship every week. Yet many of these do not cross the line into the politics-and-religion discourse.

They are content in their lives but are they content with what they are told from the pulpit or see and hear on television and radio?

The citizens of this country hold the power to impact the political and spiritual direction in the U.S. and the time is coming when it will be unavoidably necessary to willfully and powerfully express themselves as to what being Christian in America really means.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Would you want these folks teaching in our schools?

The failed Republican civic behavior is only worsened and made more complicated with the pitiful public relations failures of Flush Limbaugh and Fox News with its stupor stars, Squawk Hannity and The Fracture O' Reilly.

They have all now childishly teamed up to become a significant part of the problem with no relationship to the solution.

The absence of any sense of civic responsibility is overwhelmingly louder than any party or broadcast rhetoric itself.

How would you like it if these kinds of Kindergarten Konservatives were teaching your children civic values?

Fighting the war on terror while remaining strictly stuck with the Republican Tax Cut Experiment.

Fighting a war on terror that no longer has logic, common sense or any kind of national success story that can be attached to Republican methods.

Fighting a war on terror with an eye single to how to incorporate strategy and tactics in such a way as to create exceedingly lucrative opportunities that are awarded to favorite corporate supporters.

Lack of health care access for millions and opposition to universal health care is part and parcel of the conservative myth about a free-market system going back to the stubborn in-denial theorizing of failed capitalists of the 1920's.

Then, post -WWII - it was assumed that capitalism and American employers could shoulder the responsibility for health coverage for all American workers and prove to the world the wholesome power of unrestricted free-markets where capitalist employers would willingly include health care and other well-being benefits in the "cost of doing business" prior to making claim on net profit.

That assumption has proven to be a disaster. Corporate America - primarily a Republican sponsor that rewards political sacrifice of personal ethics with money -  has been left at a competitive disadvantage globally and unable to resist the temptation to become competitive by robbing workers of both job and health security.

This circumstance involved both parties going back to 1946, but most recently, those who finally managed to purchase political influence have moved the problem to its extreme absurdity.

The Medicare Prescription Drug problem as resolved by blind, stubborn and foolish Republican politicians is a disaster and can be unequivocally laid at the feet of every politician claiming to be formally Republican.

Medicare D which is so unwise, one-sided and profit-driven is PRECISELY what being a Republican stands for.

Republicans no longer have a sensible alternative to what Americans are demanding now. "Conservative" is a word that even self-styled conservatives can no longer accurately define. Self-describing one's self as "conservative" is at this moment not much more than calling one's self a bootstrap American or  some other heroic self image that implies deep thinking.

There is little deep thinking at this point to the current dominant "conservatism."

We are not hearing serious, deep or well-reasoned conservative ideas from the Boehners, Kantors, Ryans, & Gingrichs or even those already fired, like Allen West.

The out-of-office disaster who labeled himself the "education President" but who, despite the compassionate self-label, left children behind, imposed terrible burdens on public schools, and failed to provide the necessaries to make his compassionate promises come true.

Prime Republican bread and butter is the distraction of the pseudo Christian morality that makes political mountains out of molehills at the expense of that with which any religious believer ought to be most focused: Compassion, justice and equality.

Any Republican blowhard who throws up one of the pseudo "moral" issues needs to be immediately confronted with a question about torture, injustice and inequality inside America and globally.
That's nice, Mr. Republican, but what does your personal morality prompt in you regarding torture, injustice, inequality and the lack of compassion your party and your radical religious right supporters ignore so pointedly?"
We can knock down the entire facade of the Republican party's pretended patriotism, conservatism and regard for humanity in general because it was built on bull, bluff, personal political chicanery and deliberately contrived inflammatory lies.

Would you want such jokers teaching high school government and civics classes?

Hell no!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

American Exceptional-ism: A nation adorned in the emperor's new clothes

Author Oliver Lange in his novel, Vandenberg, had this to say about American society in the 1970’s.

"We proved the lie, were served up with a gagging portion of our own vintage distillation of apocalyptic horseshit
-- all the narcissistic swill about indomitable spirit, invincibility, courage and nobility of purpose
-- and demonstrated once and for all to those who looked on with interest a fact long suspected:
that this nation, through a self-administered indoctrination of spurious righteousness, larded with the false rewards of superfluous luxury, had at last achieved the most tractable, malleable -- let's face it, spineless -- people to walk the face of the earth." 
-Aptly described by Oliver Lange in Vandenberg - The Journals, 1971
Lange’s Cold War novel concerned a fictional lone American holdout against a Soviet occupation of America – hardly a liberal theme by today’s standards.

Yet the description still appears to fit this society to a Tee.

Our politicians of both parties thrive on tossing our way narcissistic swill about what America stands for and what the American People are truly like. I’m reminded of G.W. Bush during his presidency expressing surprise that the rest of the world might not see America and Americans in the same light as our narcissistic swill and all those talking points celebrities of all stripes throw at us.

We do hopefully attempt to teach, encourage and try to foster ideas of indomitable spirit, invincibility,  courage and nobility of purpose in the military. You know, those on whom we count and by whom have cast our imperialistic dice; importing Democracy, war, defense and security. 

For the rest of us talk is cheap. We indomitable spirits are inspired by the cheap theatrics and propaganda of talk-show and political personalities, movies and commercialized patriotism more interested in money than global peace, global honor or global respect.

Robert Blum has a video out there that flat out states the premise of America’s track record all around the world, Be nice to America or we’ll bring Democracy to your Country. 

I dare you to expose your beautiful minds to that short video and then tell me how and why none of it is true nor an accurate portrayal of what’s been going on while we potato our couches.

The public righteousness long proclaimed by the TV reverends and political god-talkers finally caught the attention of genuine social justice Christians who are now furiously publicizing social justice values in the most justified religious backlash in years 

,,, and having success – except among those who think God is a conservative Republican.

That might be a good sign but it still seems like the most popular and followed god-talkers are not the ones advocating that we care for our poor and infirm. No, the god talkers that fill former basketball arenas and mega-churches are either promising that God the capitalist wants to reward folks too trusting for their own good with riches

… or are promising that the greatest threat to religion in America lies in liberal and progressive values that detract from the image of God as the One Angry Almightyness who supports a fundamentalist literal definition of sin which can’t be tolerated with any degree of allowance..

I suggest that the wisest thing we can do is turn off the television sets and all the other “sets” through which we are told what to think, what to feel, what to be afraid of and how our money can buy us relief from all of it.

I suggest that being fluffed into believing every little commercialized medical threat and the need to consult your doctor needs to be seen as a need to ask the Doc if super-glue on the lips is a good way to stop eating corporate-larded-consumable swill

… and if ear plugs and eye masks are the best way to lower all your physiological levels to a manageable level. ( Have you every noticed how that word broken down the middle forms two double syllable concepts: “physio” and “logical” – neither of which are honestly proposed to you in pharmaceutical commercials?)

Turning off the TV sets would help - at least until advertisers and broadcasters get the message that selling larded false rewards of superfluous luxury, gossip-based headline news and self-absorbed entertainment is not what a mature society wants.

Oh …. sorry … that above paragraph describes someone else’s Brave New World where “mature” and “society” can be justifiably used in the same sentence …. but certainly not our Cowardly Consumptive Outworn World.

We can’t go on like this much longer.

Our new clothes were never new and never clothes.

Our uncovered asses are all hanging out there exposed to the winds of change 

…while we, well we seem to be content in our ignorance or awareness of (whichever fits) the fact that we are the most tractable, malleable -- let's face it, spineless -- people to walk the face of the earth."

Thank you Oliver Lange … sorry that you are still right on the money.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Grand Old Perpetrators Versus National Defense

The over all integrity of a nation will most immediately and powerfully be impacted by the models presented by its political parties.

That modeling ought to be a natural attention-grabber.
That modeling ought to present a public affirmation of concern for good of the country rather than political opportunism as the height of its most significant values - or the depth of its apathetic depravity.

One of the greatest roles of national leadership is that of modeling the country’s core values which are supposedly our ideas worthy of mention.

When those models fail, the beacon on the hill deteriorates into nothing more than the search light at the gate of a prison compound the encloses crooks and captives. It is merely a beacon driven by fear and self-interest; the lie that the greatest country in the world will not exploit the world for its own profit and security.

The entire notion of our American republic with representative government is that of citizens who do have a voice ... and use it.

... a voice its leadership must take seriously
... that American elected leadership in all parties is the last place the world should see lies, deception and preferential treatment.

This current leadership crop will without a doubt be recorded and remembered as possibly the least efficient in modern history. Worse, these leaders will be regarded as absolutely the most incompetent despite posing as wise ones who act from a real understanding of how a nation is made great.

Currently, one party's silly partisan justifications for refusing to act openly and accountably on behalf of the people by affirming an extremely qualified cabinet-level nomination insults Americans and abuses the American dream.

These prominent party politicians demonstrate a limited depth of intellect that seems stuck at the Junior High level. Such is nothing more than a denigration of national integrity in the name of political self interest.

It is because of leaders like these that the idea of checks and balances and citizen ability to override leadership irresponsibility was put in place.

Such is not an obscure constitutional point. It is a vital constitutional principle upon which hang circumstances of much greater national well-being than the apathy that lets crooks and liars stay in place.

Let us hope that enough Americans in each state will take action to clean house in the next election by deciding who has broken trust, who is unworthy of the affirmation of re-election.

McCain Admits Republicans Put Grudges Ahead of National Security in Hagel Filibuster

 If it weren't so tragic it would be funny to see McCain's crocodile tears and wounded feelings for Dubya as an excuse for keeping the best man for the job on the sideline.

 Yesterday John McCain cried to Fox News that Hagel has said mean things about George W Bush and people don't forget that:
 "To be honest with you Neil, it goes back to there is a lot of ill will towards Senator Hagel because when he was a Republican, he attacked President Bush mercilessly.

At one point said he was the worst President since Herbert Hoover.

Said the surge was the worst blunder since the Vietnam War which is nonsense. And was very anti his own party and people. People don't forget that."
Here's hoping Arizonans will wake up and not forget Senator Politics-Ahead-Of-Country.

Doofusness; The incumbent sitting Lame Duck American President

It's a vanity issue. For Mr. Trump that means he must satisfy Mr. Hannity, Ms. Coulter and these kind folks: On Networks and ...

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