When some among us seriously harm the rest of the world in our name.

Heckofajobrepubbies

To no one’s surprise, the response tends to be essentially “ho hum” and “yea so?” Yet we bloggers really are among the most civically active members of society and I wonder how it is that we got so sophisticatedly wise about political campaign strategy and remain so inept, ignorant and apathetic about genuine civic responsibility?

There are duties required by that  responsibility when things go wrong or when some among us seriously harm the rest of the world in our name.

There’s a notion that the most rapid path toward resolution of all America’s faults and mistakes –  not to mention restitution and repentance – lies merely in working to elect specific candidates. It is an empty and naive sentiment.

Civic responsibility is love of country and not about looking for or appreciating merely doing the least we must.

That’s like the Survivor nonsense. Some are voted out and some stay. The game will continue with a new slate of contestants next season.

It’s not unlike loving to shop for our favorite foods or things while having no idea about all the processes involved that brought our delectables to market.

We seem to consider the purchase itself a more significant and needful event than the actual creation – the bringing into being of that thing which we desire to possess.

Buyers may know how to cook, use or wear something they can easily obtain repeatedly and casually by mere purchase without any knowledge of the effort and circumstances that make such a purchase possible.

We may even consider ourselves knowledgeable afficionados about that which we glorify but in reality we have no idea.

We may even pooh pooh someone else’s concerns because  we can persuasively justify our investment of time, energy and emotional resources in our favorite things.

Such in fact is what I’m doing right now in grinding my ax about civics, national reputation, morality and conscience and not paying attention to getting a candidate elected or another defeated.

I admit it

So what’s your excuse?

How is it you can get excited or discouraged about the most recent polls, political stupidity, chicanery and  deception and how that might cost someone the election without making noise about REAL social global justice?

Will an election loss make for you a disaster that many seem to emotionally equate to your favorite teams’s having lost the Super Bowl?

Or perhaps your civic sense is a touch more intense than that. Perhaps losing the election will be result in a vague civic unease  that in actuality is mere intellectual awareness while we go about our post-election consumption?

How can we get so lost in the heat and competition of emotional politics but never arouse  a mature and wise emotion when we know we  ought to?

Are we genuinely moved to care about our future – a future that will be an undeniable consequence of failure to perceive past events honestly and accurately and failure to set them right?

Can Veterans of my generation still make a difference?

Hell, I don’t know.

I tell my own children and older grandchildren flat out that my generation has greatly and comprehensively screwed up their future; that they absolutely must take back their country in a way they themselves see fit.

How they do that is theirs to figure out. They should not believe that they can be told honestly and truthfully by any political party or church as to who they vote for without question.

They won’t take back their country by choosing more of the same thing that brought all this foolishiness to pass.

If we cannot and will not look at the future in that manner then those of us who don’t care; those of us who shrug it all off are THE citizens of an imperial nation that continues raping less able societies abroad.

We are the citizens who sustain the Imperial States of America and will make of the coming blowback events an ugly reality.

This is not partisan politics. It is a parent’s legitimate and necessary patriotic duty to the country and to his family.

 

Bill Owens says he refused to meet Donald Trump who authorised the special forces raid, in which 25 civilians also died, days after his inauguration

“Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration?” he said. “Why?

“For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen – everything was missiles and drones – because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?’’

My generation is one in which there are still many living veterans. Furthermore, from ours and succeeding generations primarily come the children who make up the current blood and guts of America’s military.

If our children – or their children – come to us when considering enlistment or a commission, asking our reaction or even our blessing for their willingness to sign the bottom line, are we ready to speak honestly with them?

Have the things we’ve taught them about citizenship and patriotism come back to gratify us?

… or haunt us?

What is it we try to instill in them regarding a civic and patriotic sense of duty?

What did we teach and model for them when they were young and we were younger? Boomers … from the Vietnam era – a generation of soldiers betrayed by a government we all wanted desperately to trust?
The letter from college arrives.

“Dear Dad …….

Dad, I’m signing on and I’d like your blessing and advice.

I’m not having too many doubts about signing on Dad. Not too many questions – but I want your support and endorsement. You’ve never talked much about your service and I need to know what’s in your mind before I leave.”

Very well then ….

Dear Daught … Dear Son

As you know, you do not come from a family of warriors.

Your Grandfather was drafted.

Your uncle and I joined up in the 1960’s because it was that or the draft. Our national leadership had failed us badly because of their misguided and exaggerated fear of communist enemies;

There were afraid of rivals who had never proven themselves capable of toppling continents nation-by-nation, domino-like; let alone conquering the world based on military or economic power.

As a result of those years, the extremely poor choices made by politicians we trusted and elected left us with a powerful legacy not previously seen so powerfully in this country … acceptance of dissent as a patriotic act.

To this day that concept has not been refuted. More so, this current government has tragically demonstrated again just why it is vital that citizens hold government accountable.

Viet Nam  and the manipulation of the truth to justify the invasion of Iraq legitimized a permanent change in civic thinking. That’s why at least a part of our society remains  willing to question motives and speak out against the administration … and with greater empowerment to resist the social stigma of being isolated and marginalized by pseudo-patriotic politics. Our perspective is much more legitimate than it was in the 60’s and 70’s. We as citizens are duty bound to take and hold the ethical and moral high ground in this country rather than trust pretend presidential geniuses and broadcast blowhards who never wore the uniform in war.

The party officials, cheerleading TV networks and pundit blowhards don’t have a monopoly on patriotism. Those are – every one of them – the least qualified to tell you or me what it means to be patriotic. They are the cut-and-run actors from my generation who have never served and have never justifiably spoken for the troops and veterans in today’s world.

You are going to join an all-volunteer military force that has the same commission given the military services during World War II. The big difference today is that the bulk of the troops back then were drafted. Your choice is voluntary – signing a contract offered by the Pentagon.

When you sign, remember that we who are not military members make up – along with you – the American population that expects you to honor that contract you endorse.

Citizens of this country expect total fealty from you which means loyalty to the United States, to the Constitution, and to the Flag.

Citizens of this country expect the same from our elected leadership. The leadership owes  us that same fealty, loyalty to the United States, to the Constitution and to the Flag.

Image result for commander in chief role

Citizens also expect of our soldiers the highest honesty, integrity and honorable behavior of which they are capable. Political behavior that is dishonest, lacks integrity and dishonors troops, citizens and country is a betrayal of all that America has traditionally stood for.

Citizens do not expect that our fully trained and capable military members are so brainwashed to fight and kill that they have transitioned to a place of shame. While desiring that our military children develop instinctive and effective military and combat skills, we do not expect our children to be turned into mindless killing machines devoid of conscience or the ability to make a moral choice.

Arguments insisting that combat training must teach instinctive hate, bigotry, racial profiling and cultural inferiority in order to create armies and soldiers capable of efficient killing and destruction of enemies are not legitimate reasons for why we fight. Nor do they hold out a possibly for what we hope the end result of a national military objective will look like.

Citizens want and expect that our troops are warriors of honor who instinctively act and react with exceptional valor;

…Warriors who reflect national ethics, a positive national morality, compassion and respect.

If those things are lacking in the leadership, a way to intervene before a corrupt leadership can poison the military is vital.

The nation cannot abide armies of failed or corrupted warriors.

If those values are lacking in the country, it is the citizens who have failed the military.

Military service is and should always be thought of as an honorable profession where men and women serve with honor;

… are treated with honor by a grateful nation.

If you are joining the military, I expect you to have a career of honor.

I fear for you but will keep those fears managed in my own heart.

It is your life, not mine, and I do not pretend to dictate your choices.

Nor is it a life that belongs specifically to a General, a Secretary of Defense, a President or a Political Party.

You are not to be a tool of helping a party focus national priorities in such a way as to win elections.

There is no military code of silence or submissive loyalty to the Commander-in-Chief that requires that you do not seriously consider the legality and morality of orders given you regardless of their source.

I of course hope that your own sense of civic and moral integrity is honed sufficiently strong as to allow you to perceive almost instantaneously whether or not an order is illegal.

But if you need time and have time, then I expect you to take that time and make up your own mind. Whatever decision you make – if informed by your own study, searching and wisdom – is all anyone can ask of you.

You have a right to expect to serve under the integrity and honor of the Commander in Chief of the military.

You have a right to expect and demand the Commander In Chief’s honesty, honor, skill, wisdom and understanding of all reasons when and why military citizens are to be placed in harm’s way.

I in turn have a right to expect that you pay attention – for me, for your family and for your country – to whether or not your Commander in Chief is being honest, honorable and legal.

The Commander-in-chief is hardly going to order me to do something illegal or immoral. If he gives an illegal or immoral order there’s a greater risk he will give it to you whom he might see as bound to obey blindly and without question.

So your father, your family and your country are at the mercy of your ability to discern and act on that discernment.

You are then left at the mercy of your father’s, your family’s and your country’s ability to discern the acts of our President, to hold him accountable and take action – if necessary – to make sure he is accountable.

You must trust me to be willing and supportive in making sure the leadership does not waste your vital blood, devotion and patriotism in pipe dreams, self-interested agendas and ideologies.

In closing, my adult child, I express my pride in you and your willingness to act on your desires only after you’ve given them serious thought and consideration.

I accept and endorse your decision as I trust it is your own.

You do your part and serve.

Image result for veteran

I’ll do my part and cover your back.

Anyone inside or outside this government who wants to criticize, harm or otherwise betray you will have to deal directly with me.

I promise.

Love, Dad

Finally! A church on the right and righteous side of a political issue.

 

Episcopal diocese joins federal lawsuit against Trump travel ban

A church in Washington state is suing the federal government for preventing it from practicing its faith. The Episcopal diocese says the refugee ban stops them from welcoming strangers in need.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A church is suing the Trump administration, claiming it can’t perform one of its religious duties. That duty is resettling refugees, and the suit comes from the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia in Washington state. Will James of member station KNKX reports.

I am for SOCIAL JUSTICE!! … and if ever there should be justice in this particular venue, THIS IS IT … This is TRULY about family values.

Marzian

Want Viagra? Not without a note from wife

“I want to protect these men from themselves,” said Marzian, a nurse.

HB 396 also specifies that only married men may obtain the drug and requires “a man to make a sworn statement with his hand on a Bible that he will only use a prescription for a drug for erectile dysfunction when having sexual relations with his current spouse.”

“This is about family values,” Marzian said.

My own liberal and progressive point of view: Put religion and patriotism in the same mixer and see what happens

1f06b-unclesambush6wt

My own “liberal” point of view: Put religion and patriotism in the same mixer, turn on the switch and one invokes a responsibility to reconcile the tenets of the religion with the realities of civic involvement (not patriotic nationalism) in our national discourse.

I doubt that few of us would hesitate to drop our smart phones, leave our keyboards and find some sort of weapon to defend our homes, our streets, our towns and our country the moment real actual enemies put boots on our homeland. What we say to one another about whether or not we would kill to defend our families and country is obvious.

My thoughts on America’s role as part of a global community focus primarily a desire for justice to the victims, redress if possible, accountability and harsh punishment for those guilty.

My thoughts do not need to claim that God wants or approves of the sort of killing commenced by our pretend-Christian in the White House who garnered support for threatening mayhem against specific people with lies. From a religion point of view my thoughts do not obsess on a blind vengeance against specific individuals, countries and peoples to whom guilt has not been justifiably and irrevocably assigned.

Those thoughts then do not have a need to construct some sort of theological portrayal of God that justifies the resulting horror. From a religion point of view our current leadership is in place because many fellow Americans see God in that way and set aside civic respect to vote in a demagogue.

My thoughts do move to dismay at any Christian who publically attempts to justify killing innocents because political demagogues labeled military action as a key component of something else labeled a “war on terror”; the implication being that war is a dirty business in which innocent human beings will suffer and collateral damage is acceptable so long as that damage doesn’t come ashore here.

The same people who oppose abortion have not spoken out about the deaths of pregnant women in the Middle East due to bombs and military violence. Let’s face it, the war-caused death of a pregnant Muslim woman is in fact a military abortion of her unborn.

overwhelming_indifferencesmaller

Too many Christians in this country are looking the other way, in fact have their heads buried in the sand whenever protest is made about so much killing.

When is the God of the hypocritical and morally indignant American Christian going to be satisfied?

I assume then that “mainstream thought” is that the American Christian community has no moral accountability for participating and supporting the exportation of war in such a mindless manner as we are seeing.

I assume that when our citizen soldiers are deployed abroad I’ll find solace in the comforting confidence and arrogance that says going overseas and killing whoever political liars decide are our enemies is patriotically and religiously correct.

I can prepare for death and mayhem with the pretended assurance that the current mainstream-thinking Christian citizens will weep with me and that my instinctive desire for revenge against those who resisted and were killed by our might (which is ordained of god) – their race and their religion is a spiritual attribute given me of God.

Is that what you god-talkers ask of me?

“The lies fly out of the White House like flocks of pigeons”

american-psychosis-smilefish_590

artist: Mr Fish – Truthdig

The sheer numbers of Americans who have serious trust issues with our broadcast and print media is staggering. However staggering it may be, at this time the justification for not trusting our news sources is extremely high.

I see where our President, 45, has excluded CNN from his working list of broadcasters with whom he will permit participation in covering news coming out of the White House. 45 does not trust CNN.

Personally, I find CNN somewhat easy to see through. Although bearing a tradition of news broadcasting that in the 198o’s took the news industry by storm and almost overnight became a cable equivalent of the ABC, CBS and NBC as major television news sources. In recent years, CNN’s credibility toadied down as its audience share was itself overtaken and left behind by Fox News. Being able to see through CNN’s attempt to compete with the sensationalized bias of Fox, I only trust CNN – as I do the 3 majors – to a degree that allows me to check other sources. I don’t trust Fox News at all, except to be the broadcast flagship of Kindergarten Konservatism and the Republican party at their worst.

I wrote the above paragraph as an explanation as to why my “news” bookmark folder on my browser has more than 50 links. When I need news I have to sift through the biases, right and left to get news and then use my link list to find secondary and tertiary verification. So goes the news business in this country.

Truthdig is one of the sources I use. The are a “News site providing expert coverage of current affairs; thoughtful, provocative columnists, presented from a progressive point of view.”

Chris Hedges is a columnist at Truthdig. I own two of his books, American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America 2007 :  and  Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle 2009

Hedges’ current article is American Psychosis, something I seriously recommend you read. My experience with Chris Hedges is that he has a progressive outlook but the two books of his that I own also bear seriously genuine conservative overtones as he laments the loss of perspectives and values which we ought to have held but did not.

American Psychosis reads to me in that same vein. I have posted a brief excerpt to encourage you to read it.

The lies fly out of the White House like flocks of pigeons: Donald Trump’s election victory was a landslide. He had the largest inauguration crowds in American history. Three million to 5 million undocumented immigrants voted illegally. Climate change is a hoax. Vaccines cause autism. Immigrants are carriers of “[t]remendous infectious disease.” The election was rigged—until it wasn’t. We don’t know “who really knocked down” the World Trade Center. Torture works. Mexico will pay for the wall. Conspiracy theories are fact. Scientific facts are conspiracies. America will be great again.

Our new president, a 70-year-old with orange-tinted skin and hair that Penn Jillette has likened to “cotton candy made of piss,” is, as Trump often reminds us, “very good looking.” He has almost no intellectual accomplishments—he knows little of history, politics, law, philosophy, art or governance—but insists “[m]y IQ is one of the highest—and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.” And the mediocrities and half-wits he has installed in his Cabinet have “by far the highest IQ of any Cabinet ever assembled.”

It is an avalanche of absurdities.  – Chris Hedges, American Psychosis – Truthdig

Corporate Welfare finally gets its chance to run the government as a business – an incompatible combination of show business, advertising and news.

govt-as-a-business

” if corporations are indeed people, they most closely resemble psychotics in their regard for others and the world around them.” – Brian Costello

This year looks to be momentous in so many ways. For the first time in our history we are not going to be led by a politician thought trusted to be statesmanlike, ideologue or party puppet. The current choice was made by the majority of voters in this country – be they not statesmanlike, ideologues or party puppets – but merely voters who woke up, got mad, voted and went back to their diversions. This uninformed block of voters, with an almost visceral anger and regardless of the dissent of the majority of American voters, bought the snake oil promises of a welfare capitalist, making him the First CEO of the United States of America.

It is my view that this new president has a cabinet of capitalist cronies who bring mostly business-driven theories about “government-as-a-business” as opposed to genuine experience in managing bureaucracies that are inherent in a system of governance.  This new president is about to engage our country into Hasbro Land for games of Monopoly and Risk on a national and international scale.

The new president is not a Republican ideologue.

As I said earlier, he is in fact a snake-oil self-promoter, narcissistic and overconfident in his self-perception as a successful mega-marketing capitalist who thinks he knows how to treat the country as his latest Tower and its citizens as his exploited and non-unionized minions and/or victims.

His party  also has its own ideological dreams that seem now even closer to reality than that of the 2004 Bush re-election.

We get to watch, protest, make noise … whatever

… because we won’t be in the game. We just get to keep score and mutter.

It won’t be our game. Furthermore, it won’t be the game of the the gullibles who assumed his campaign rhetoric was all promise, all substance and unselfish intent. They are they  who proceeded to seriously endanger our complicated means of working toward a more perfect Union, our multi-cultural means of working to establish Justice, to insure Domestic Tranquility, to provide for the Common Defense, to promote the General Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.

In my view that is what the minority of the voters – but a majority of voters in enough electoral college states – did for the rest  of us …

and did not do so with any civic wisdom.

In hindsight it has become obvious that my own vote for candidate Clinton (which was based mostly on my notion of competency and not the identity of her political party) was not a mistaken vote in terms of who the alternatives were (and I don’t believe in withholding a vote for competency in the name of point-making.)

However, I almost feel that the one jug of lemonade in all this is the shakeup of our politics-and-business-as-usual defined by the influence of money on our civic moments. If the Democratic Party steps up to plate with enough aggressive advocacy of the good stuff (about which we only heard cheap talk and promises) as a result of being humiliated by the process of elections, then a multi-party dialogue becomes a more attractive alternative to the current two-dominant parties-supported-by-the-same-money system.

Speaking of George Bush’s 2004 re-election which was driven primarily by manipulated  American Christians on the Uninformed Right of Civic-mindedness, that loss now seems ironic in that one of the jokes making the rounds is that Dubya is supposedly relieved that he is no longer the most unpopular president and has been replaced by a man whose current approval rating before he takes office is only 40%.

You know, I was raised in a small rural community in Idaho among most folks who almost worshiped Franklin Roosevelt – primarily as they talked about the Great Depression and demonstrated an almost universal reverence for him. I don’t recall anyone during my childhood or teenage years who had anything bad to say about FDR, given the ultimate recovery from the Great Depression – stimulated of course by the needs of World War II.

Roosevelt in those years became a national hero, a steady hand on the tiller as we negotiated that precarious journey across national and global troubled waters. Many disagreed with him about national isolation from global affairs and foreign wars but as events unfolded we got behind him.

His political enemies were not so much the Republican Party as much as the large-scale business moguls going back to those unregulated capitalists whose greed ultimately led to the stock market crash and depression. Roosevelt went after them, not as criminals, but as unchecked greedy capitalists who had ignorantly assumed that what was good for business was overwhelmingly good for the entire population. It was a population which at that time had little if any  protections regarding health coverage, minimum wages and pension programs and limited government commitment to Domestic Tranquility. Yet, they insisted then – as do their heirs now – that unregulated pursuit of wealth based on greed and driven by lobbying money (against which individual citizens cannot compete) will make America great again and validate the so-called American Dream.

Speaking of wet dreams and capitalist notions …

THE CORPORATION is a must-see documentary for anyone concerned about the enormous influence of multinational corporations on just about every facet of our existence. Sweatshops, child labor, environmental destruction, product marketing to children, the limiting of people’s access to information, and the privatization of the most fundamental resources — and even the most basic building blocks of life itself — are discussed in great detail, as are how brands are marketed to children and the sometimes shocking history of many corporations’ relentless pursuit of profit and “the bottom line.”

Though clearly on the side of those who see corporations as monstrous entities destroying the planet, The Corporation does present the viewpoints of those who disagree with the central premises of the documentary. It also is not all doom and gloom; people from all over the planet concerned about the effects of corporations on their communities and resources talk of their successes in standing up to powerful multibillion-dollar interests. – Brian Costello, Film Critic, Common Sense Media

Since its release in 2003, The Corporation remains as relevant (if not more so) today as when it was first released.

Speaking of long-time Republican disinformation …

Trickle-down economics is not a legitimate free-market or economic ideal that leads to domestic tranquility. It is purely, factually and emotionally propaganda – a big fat lie – and always has been. The most honest of our successful capitalists have said so themselves, regardless of the Republican ideological nonsense about trickle-down that became prominent during the Reagan administration.

Yet I digress. My point in bringing up Roosevelt and Reverence for the presidency along  with how our victorious survival of World War II created another American Hero for us to reverence: Dwight D. Eisenhower (the nation’s “grandfather” in the 50’s). If we toss in the impact of television first and foremost as entertainment and secondly as the broadcast alternative to radio news, we might better understand how it is that broadcast television was driven more by the need to entertain than the need to inform. One way to entertain was to make the American  President more of a celebrity and sacred saint than we should have.

In making the Celebrity President the protagonist of an on-going series of dramatic stories, the news we watched drifted away from publishing news for the sake of informing the public across a spectrum of issues. We let ourselves become focused on the manufactured drama of political maneuvers and rhetorical discourse.

In retrospect, led by the needs for corporate broadcasters to generate revenue across their broadcast spectrum, news became then driven by advertising. News topics had to be interesting to hold those diminishing attention spans of viewers. The apex might have  been the televised debate and campaigns of candidates Kennedy and Nixon in 1960. After that it was all downhill as we saw a greater reliance on rhetorical words and images during the subsequent election campaign between Johnson and Goldwater.

After that election, the genie was out of the bottle permanently with no way to put it back. The genie facilitated a long downhill slide into manipulation, sound bites, diminished substance and ultimately the rise of fake news.

We turned our president and our governing bodies essentially into reality shows that absolutely had to entertain more than inform.

Such is the current state of our news media which incidentally provided over 5 billion dollars in free advertising to our new incumbent during the campaign. Why? Because substance be damned. His antics became our antics, his lies became our lies, his tweets became the state of our civic intelligence.

Recovering some sort of sanity in reporting reality rather than sensationalized or propagandized news is a hefty challenge.

Our new incumbent has already trivialized the Office of President. His decisions and their consequences will not be trivialized, make no mistake. But the office will sink to the undignified level of its incumbent personality (who is already a paragon of trivial thinking).

He has not the statesman’s personality of any of his predecessors. Nor does he demonstrate the dignity and desire for integrity in his behavior. He is in fact a run-of-the-mill but newly-promoted CEO of the most powerful economic enterprise on the planet. He has won the ultimate edition of The Apprentice, nothing more and many things less.

The news media has its work cut out for itself.

We could be propagandized, advertised and self-promoted down to second-rate global significance.

We could become even meaner than the trigger-happy global bullies we already are and who have worsened the recent decades of promoting American economic values globally at the  point of a gun.

We could in fact see a not-so-funny version of Back to the Future 2 with a real-live version of Biff Tannen presiding over a gigantic tower built on the backs of the same voters who bought the snake oil.

I have pretty much given up on the attention span and critical thinking abilities of these  kinds of voters who ballot against their own best interest. I still believe in educated understanding of how our governments function and how elected representatives are chosen. The “educated” part is the problem and certainly not part of the solution.

The news media has its work cut out.

Entertainment be damned, our broadcasters absolutely must step up to the plate and become truly anchors of The Fourth Estate.

Oscar Wilde wrote:

In old days men had the rack. Now they have the Press. That is an improvement certainly. But still it is very bad, and wrong, and demoralizing. Somebody — was it Burke? — called journalism the fourth estate. That was true at the time no doubt. But at the present moment it is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it. We are dominated by Journalism.

In United States English, the phrase “fourth estate” is contrasted with the “fourth branch of government”, a term that originated because no direct equivalents to the estates of the realm exist in the United States. The “fourth estate” is used to emphasize the independence of the press, while the “fourth branch” suggests that the press is not independent of the government. – Wikipedia

There are prescriptions for curing this serious malady. One was laid out in the career of a respected journalist who famously spoke out during the Fake News Era of Joe McCarthy. A collage of the thoughts of Edward R. Murrow, a journalist who knew his business and discussed why broadcast integrity matters:

We hardly need to be reminded that we are living in an age of confusion — a lot of us have traded in our beliefs for bitterness and cynicism or for a heavy package of despair, or even a quivering portion of hysteria.

Opinions can be picked up cheap in the market place while such commodities as courage and fortitude and faith are in alarmingly short supply. There is a mental fear, which provokes others of us to see the images of witches in a neighbor’s yard and stampedes us to burn down this house.

And there is a creeping fear of doubt, doubt of what we have been taught, of the validity of so many things we had long since taken for granted to be durable and unchanging. It has become more difficult than ever to distinguish black from white, good from evil, right from wrong.

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.

We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.

During the daily peak viewing periods, television in the main insulates us from the realities of the world in which we live. If this state of affairs continues, we may alter an advertising slogan to read: LOOK NOW AND PAY LATER. For surely we shall pay for using this most powerful instrument of communication to insulate the citizenry from the hard and demanding realities which must be faced if we are to survive. I mean the word survive literally.

One of the basic troubles with radio and television news is that both instruments have grown up as an incompatible combination of show business, advertising and news. Each of the three is a rather bizarre and demanding profession. And when you get all three under one roof, the dust never settles. The top management of the networks with a few notable exceptions, has been trained in advertising, research, sales or show business. But by the nature of the corporate structure, they also make the final and crucial decisions having to do with news and public affairs. Frequently they have neither the time nor the competence to do this.

I have said, and I believe, that potentially we have in this country a free enterprise system of radio and television which is superior to any other. But to achieve its promise, it must be both free and enterprising. There is no suggestion here that networks or individual stations should operate as philanthropies. But I can find nothing in the Bill of Rights or in the Communications Act which says that they must increase their net profits each year, lest the Republic collapse.

I am frightened by the imbalance, the constant striving to reach the largest possible audience for everything; by the absence of a sustained study of the state of the nation.

Do not be deluded into believing that the titular heads of the networks control what appears on their networks. They all have better taste. All are responsible to stockholders, and in my experience all are honorable men. But they must schedule what they can sell in the public market. The sponsor of an hour’s television program is not buying merely the six minutes devoted to commercial message. He is determining, within broad limits, the sum total of the impact of the entire hour. If he always, invariably, reaches for the largest possible audience, then this process of insulation, of escape from reality, will continue to be massively financed, and its apologist will continue to make winsome speeches about giving the public what it wants, or “letting the public decide.”

If we go on as we are, we are protecting the mind of the American public from any real contact with the menacing world that squeezes in upon us. We are engaged in a great experiment to discover whether a free public opinion can devise and direct methods of managing the affairs of the nation. We may fail. But we are handicapping ourselves needlessly.

We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men — not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular. This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy’s methods to keep silent, or for those who approve.

We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. – Edward R. Murrow

I will end with my most frequently expressed quotation:

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.

Oliver Lange, Defiance – The Journals, 1971

Barring a large enough scandal, barring a resignation in disgrace, barring an impeachment – all of which are legitimate possibilities, I anticipate four years of Monopoly and Risk.

Well, looks like Genrul O’Reilly of the Fox Brigade has a new commander in chief for the War on You-Know-What.

lk022415dapc_590_441

Get ready … it’s November and the Winds of War will probably start blow-harding any time now.

Trump rallies the faithful against the ‘war on Christmas’

It’s beginning to look a lot like the war on Christmas.

Or rather, the annual controversy — inspired by the 2005 book “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought” — about whether or not there is such a thing.

President-elect Donald Trump, in his postelection victory tour, is casting himself as the protector of the celebration — or, at least, the traditional greeting associated with it. “When I started 18 months ago, I told my first crowd in Wisconsin that we’re going to come back here someday and we are going to say ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” Trump said on Tuesday. “Merry Christmas — so, Merry Christmas, everyone. Happy New Year, but Merry Christmas.”

“Federal government is an aircraft carrier, not a speedboat, turning it is hard”

lead_large

President Obama doesn’t seem to be as worked up as everybody else stuck on the panic button. This interview is a gentle, mostly sober conversation with Trevor Noah.

Trevor Noah Turns to President Obama for Reassurance The Daily Show host’s wide-ranging conversation with the outgoing politician had an air of melancholy in the wake of Trump’s election.

As President-elect Donald Trump’s transition unfolds, with new twists and turns every morning, the waning days of the Obama administration have played out in curious parallel, a sort of melancholy off-Broadway production to the gaudy, bizarre spectacle of Trump Tower. President Obama’s farewell conversation with the Daily Show host Trevor Noah Monday night focused on many of his administration’s accomplishments, and was framed by the obvious respect that Noah, a biracial African comedian raised by his mother and grandmother, has for them. But the discussion had the same tinge of genuine fear that has characterized other recent interviews with the president, related specifically to one looming question: What happens now?

The president’s historic legacy is in so many ways secure. But over the course of their 20-minute conversation, he and Noah touched on signature pieces that now seem under threat, specifically Obamacare, progress on race relations, and the country’s geopolitical standing in the world. It was a sober meeting, reflective of Noah’s clear desire not to imitate the more skeptical, jabbing style of his predecessor Jon Stewart, but to instead position himself as a late-night host who will often choose to swerve away from an easy laugh in favor of a more even-handed dialogue.

One conservative viewpoint we as Americans must sustain

On American “religiousness.”

In combination with the theology around Atonement and Redemption, Jesus offered a practical means for letter-of-the-law human beings to transition into a compassionate and forgiving society. He pressed for a society liberated – at least spiritually- from the either/or governance of God as managed by Jewish leadership and either/or civil obedience as managed by Roman authority.

There IS one conservative viewpoint we as Americans must sustain – spiced however with more activism. It’s our Christian traditional way of looking at the teachings and role of Jesus as perhaps the most compassionate human being who ever lived.

In truth, such is the ultimate fundamentalism and evangelical literalism that must be the sole basis for a call to traditional values.

When Jesus asks that we take his gospel to all nations we take a message that has to do with our relationship to God and not God’s compulsion by extortion as a tactic rather than a theology.

The current religious political agitation will not result in the resolution of who is right over who is wrong. It could, however, result in a victory based on political scheming by one side over another… certainly not the way of the Master. Such would be a false victory in that both sides would lose, America would lose and would continue down the path toward curse and byword for the rest of the world at large.

The success of the historical Protestant Reformation might be best described as a win/win circumstance in that God did not repudiate one point of view at the expense of the other. Both Catholics and Protestants survived. Both remain powerfully connected to Christian tradition and beliefs today.

However, the weakness of that victory displays itself among Catholics and Protestants who remain steadfast in their insistence that the other does not have total truth or authority. A Pope recently declared Protestant invalidity by not being the original true church. Narrow-visioned Protestants with their merchant-like (must have it in writing) obsess about biblical authority and ignore Catholic wisdom as coming from a false or un-authorized source.

Protestant literalists seem to forget that all Luther did was yank the Bible out of the hands of his Catholic superiors while keeping for the most part the same theological assumptions that drove Catholicism with it’s insecurity about its own power and led to the Dark Ages.

The ultimate consequence from such absolutist thinking is of course the assumption that God is a nit-picker with note-taking angels from whom he will arbitrarily and without mercy or compassion declare who is good and worthy as well as who is sinful and deserving of punishment.

Right.

At issue is not whether the United States was founded with intent that America ultimately becomes a Christian nation. At issue is that we have more than 225 years of experience living under a Constitution that, in its own way, is one of the most successful historical documents ever.

In our history we have seen the evolution of a multi-faceted society based not only on religion and philosophy, but on cultural diversity without which our positive American mythology of a melting pot could not be such a uniting part of our national psyche.

Under our Constitution we have seen the growth of a habitual way of looking at things – an automatic stance if you will – that allows for diversity of opinion and the freedom to express opinion. It is hard to make the case that deterioration of those aspects of society  – according to our own sense of common good and the idea of public decency – is the fault of the Constitution and can be remedied by taking its proven formula of success and modifying it into something that codifies a specific viewpoint.

We absolutely have no need of religious reins-taking of our political process as a path to America’s personal and global salvation.

New theologies – whether they be about “Prosperity“, “Dominionism“, “Spiritual Warfare” or the “End Times” – ought not be the basis for seeking government power at the expense of society as a whole. If we are to reform moral and ethical practices in this country, we need to define Jesus’ Good Samaritan, Prodigal Son and Sermon on the Mount in relationship to our power as a diverse society,

to our prosperity as a tool of reform,

to our lost influential position on a global scale as an instrument of advocating peace,

to our lost spiritual and cultural values as a means toward compassion toward one another.

There IS a need for resurrection.

We all know what kind of restorative process I’m talking about.

To Religious “Social Conservatives” too proud to admit to a foolish vote for Republican God-Talkers

 … and who still  pretend that they know better than we do what God wants us to

Republican Christians have no special credibility for passing moral judgment on anybody else. We have even more Christian Celebrities stepping into the spotlight, selling books, expanding televangelist ministries as well as the usual pretenders who claim and act as if God is prompting their every word and deed.

It is to all of you I respectfully request a purpose-driven and honest exposition, scriptural or otherwise. No individual, no Christian church and no Christian alliance of like-minded evangelicals, fundamentalists, traditionalists or liberals has any right or responsibility to define for me how I should exercise my consciousness of how I practice citizenship.

In fact, as a citizen, and in the tradition of American free-market sharing of ideas and concepts, I see it not unreasonable to invite those blowing the hardest to tell me more about God and Politics. Not believing that my own outlook is absolute and inerrant, I’m willing to be more informed.

So to you big time Brothers and Sisters; all of you born-again politicians, all you self-described moral conservatives: you owe it to the entire American audience – and not just the religiously gullible whom you have targeted. You must speak honestly to those whom you haven’t made captive by media, technology and social conformity. Please elaborate on  issues raised by the apparent conflict between belief, assumptions and reality:

1- Are ALL of your political and economic policies divinely inspired?

2- Are they based on and do they include the precepts taught by God, your preachers and prophets as written in scripture; a God-writing which most fundamentalists insist is inerrant and which the Mormons insist to be true as far as it is translated correctly?

3- Should the skeptics among us believe that opposing Republican political policies is opposing God’s will? Speak plainly here because when you guys imply that it’s so, those who think you’re smarter than they are when it comes to making God talk will conform.

4- Do ALL of your policies enhance human life? In that regard, do the families of the evil-doers – parents, spouses and children – fall into the category of deserving the sword? As a matter of fact, if God places you folks at the head of this country, what is God’s position on collateral damage?

5- Jesus was outspoken in advocacy of human dignity in clear and unambiguous terms. So how does God justify your and your candidates’ ambivalence about torture as a means of exporting righteous American freedom worldwide?

6- What does God say about the justifications from your candidates and preachers that sexual debasement is justified in pursuit of said exportation?

7- Has your version of God declared that our processes of education and scientific study are of the devil? You must speak plainly if you believe you speak for God. Do you believe that the encouragement of responsibility around human sexuality is sinful and displeasing to Him?

8 – Is social justice important to God?

9 – Did Jesus believe that profit was more important than compassion?

10 – Has God repudiated Jesus’ declaration that the laborer is worthy of his hire?

11- Is it God’s will that working against gay marriage is more important than working to put people back to work?

12- Is it God’s will that Republican economics – voodoo or otherwise – is the one and only sacred economic approach to feeding and sheltering the people?

13 – Does God support deception as a political tool?

14 – Does God endorse a policy of political mud-slinging rather than reaching agreement with those who disagree with you? What about yea yea and nay nay?

15 -Does God want our politicians to put our elderly at economic and health risk?

16 – Does God believe that generating massive profits to drug companies is a greater good than relieving human suffering?

17 – How does that align with honoring father and mother?

18 – And finally, is Jesus really going to come as a thief in the night? Or has he revealed to you and the rest of the Christian Right that He cannot come until American Christians maneuver Israel into a circumstance that unlocks the Key to the End Times?

Christian practice as taught and exemplified by Christ is not something complex nor is it something that requires convoluted logic and ideological twisting in order to ponder treasure in Heaven.

Christ said directly, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.”

He did not say that Caesar and God are one and the same.

Until you teach the difference, you and your sheep remain a primary cause of the lack of harmony, lack of social conscience and absence of real moral outrage in this country.

When it comes to moral outrage, your hypocrisy and failure to reflect social conscience on a comprehensive and all-inclusive level generates legitimate moral outrage.

You do it deliberately and apparently by arrogant ignorance.

Your sheep do it with apathy.

 

although for the life of me I can’t conceive of a place where they wouldn’t become moochers.

speak-english-or-get-out

If you are thinking- challenged and haven’t found something popular to be mad about, how about your neighbors who don’t speak English?

There is nothing dumber than the statement that “My immigrant ancestors had to learn English and these are no better.”

Those immigrant ancestors who managed to  learn English did so as a matter of expediency, need and genuine willingness to adapt and enter our society. They did it as the wisest practical solution –  and not because candidate and pundit fat heads made tough speeches about forcing people to learn English and requiring the government to print no forms in anything but English.

It almost makes you wish that some particular immigrants – those whose descendants have become unreasonable jingoists or mindless bigots –  had not come here back then.
The American Dream might be more alive and well rather than a nation’s biggest lie.

… as if speaking English then entitles immigrants to the total respect of all the angry white folks who think Fox News is fair and balanced

… as if those viewers – demands met – would then welcome anyone who is “not-U.S.” to be with “U.S.”

Those immigrant ancestors who did manage to learn English (and there were many more who never did) didn’t do so because American jingoists (I know that’s a big word for people entirely raised or entertained by four-letter English words) refused to talk to them.

I was asked once to teach a conversational Spanish class for business and  health care persons in the local community college. Class never got held because enrollers were too few.

Fifteen years ago, through my Episcopal parish, we started an ESL (English as a Second Language for all you English-speakers who get stuck after 4 letters) primarily aimed at local Hispanic families.

When the number of those who signed up reached 46 the college saw $$ in fed funding and actively started recruiting me to turn the class into a college-based course. Local immigrants wanted to learn English but had to balance the demands of a local job market and economy. This in an area of  high unemployment where many English-speaking white folks refused to work for minimum-wage labor in seafood canneries that support the entire community.

I remember my Russian classes at Syracuse University in 1969. Our teachers were mostly White Russians or their descendents who fled the USSR at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. Most if not all were degreed and still spoke English with a heavy Slavic accent.

In fact, because I could already speak Spanish, my Russian grammar professor laughed and told me that I spoke Russian with a Spanish accent, not an American accent.

You know, Russian has its own alphabet with more letters than in the English alphabet. Russian is expressed with words whose spelling and pronunciation are changed depending on what are called declensions: the variation of the form of a noun, pronoun, or adjective, by which its grammatical case, number, and gender are identified.

I didn’t know what a declension was til Syracuse and I thought the Russian was impossible project for me.

Consider the following:

There is nothing dumber than the statement that “My immigrant ancestors had to learn English and these are no better.”

Written in Russian: Там нет ничего глупее, чем утверждение, что “Мои предки иммигрантов изучать английский язык, и они не лучше”.

Transliterated (using English letters to try to pronounce the above statement): Tam net nichego glupeye, chem utverzhdeniye, chto “Moi predki immigrantov izuchat’ angliyskiy yazyk, i oni ne luchshe.

My point was that my Syracuse instructors were far more educated than most Americans, yet they insisted that English was much harder for them to learn than Russian would be for us. They did it but not under an insane and bigoted threat of deportation if they did not. And we as a nation are all the better because of our immigrants regardless of their language.

Because of their perseverance brash young military students in 1969 who qualified for the Russian course in the first place by getting higher aptitude scores than most citizens of this country were capable of achieving became bilingual Cold Warriors. Why? Because immigrants came here and were allowed opportunities  to become citizens, to contribute and to receive benefits from our American dream.

Which causes me to express the idea that our citizens’ weak abilities with their own language is embarrassing. Such is much more a national shame than whether or not our immigrants learn English at all.

More of the immigrant problem lies not with the immigrants but in the hearts of sons and daughters – both elected and unelected – who are descendants from immigrants, but who seem to think that every one of THEIR particular ancestors learned to speak English via some sort of divinely jingoistic American osmosis.

I might suggest that we should make it a law that all Americans who do not learn to speak English correctly and effectively should be imported to places where their language laziness wouldn’t matter … although for the life of me I can’t conceive of a place where they wouldn’t become English-speaking moochers.

Which Dads and Moms taught them to think this way and act it out?

blog16-faget-1160x768

A New Dawn for Hate?

This morning, in Ogden, Utah, Aaron Feller McFarland and his husband, Nik McFarland, woke up to find the slurs “FAGET” and “HOMO DIE” emblazoned across their car in blood-red spray paint.

Yesterday, Nancy Leong experienced a more casual form of harassment. On her morning run in Denver, as a car whooshed by, a man screamed at her, “Build that wall!” Never mind that Nancy, an associate professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, is an Asian American, born and raised in this country. Her brown skin and dark brown hair were all that were required to raise the ire of her harasser.

STAND WITH US TO PROTECT EVERYONE’S RIGHTS

Aaron, Nik, and Nancy are not alone. A mere three days after the election, reports of harassment and violence directed at people of color, immigrants, LGBT people, Muslims, and others have been pouring in. Shaun King, the senior justice writer for the New York Daily News, has received dozens and dozens of reports of abuse and is chronicling them on Twitter. The Southern Poverty Law Center is also collecting reports of racist harassment, as are various news outlets.

aclu-logo

liberty-valance

Bullies don’t like it when all the little kids start keeping their lunch money in their pockets and talk sassy talk.
And of course we Americans who are too busy consuming to understand this stuff only understand that as usual we are expected to react as a collective jingoist entity.
Like mushrooms fed manure in the dark or who are told to ignore the liar behind the curtain, we simply must be offended.
– ‘Cause that’s what Americans do.
– ‘Cause those who bully in our name are only thinking of global peace
– ‘Cause the great American foreign-policy actors tell us that we as the American electorate who collectively ARE the bully are collectively “disappointed”.
And WHY are we disappointed?
Because our badly battered neighbors object to our pillage, rape and extortion in the name of world peace?