On negative socially redeeming values: NRA, open carry and the psychology of 2nd Amendment Exploitation

My thoughts today in reaction to the following articles

The Cowboy Fantasy of a ‘Good Guy With a Gun’ – John Pavlovitz – October 2017

Unfunny humor about gun control –     Brian Hines February, 2013

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 drugstore 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?

It is called “Open Carry”, 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.

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.

“That’s the rub here: that every villain is a hero in his own head, and every small man wants to feel big—which is why the blood of thousands of Americans will continue to be spilled every year, and why the NRA and the GOP will joyfully swim around in it. – The Cowboy Fantasy of a ‘Good Guy With a Gun’ – John Pavlovitz

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. “

What gets me, every time I see black-clad guys and gals strutting around with their weapons, is how little they have to be proud about. It takes zero courage and zero skill to own a gun. All you need is a VISA card. Shooting defenseless animals from long range, or defenseless targets, earns zero “guts points.” – Brian Hines Unfunny Humor About Gun Control

A veteran myself, I know active duty military members as well as other veterans in my community who HAVE used a weapon in defense of our country.  They are genuine – the real thing – and would not hesitate to leave their homes, leave the churches before the sermon ends, leave the tavern with the last beer unfinished, drop what they’re doing, jump in their own transportation, get their weapons and make haste to the scene of threat or action.

They’d do it in a moment’s notice because they know where their weapons are – kept safe under lock and key until needed. Furthermore, 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 weapons away,  put folks in some kind of internment camp, force citzens to pay taxes or execute sinners for fornication.

… But  that is not what is happening. Nothing even close to that is happening.

Fantasy is not real, it’s merely fantasy.

Obsession with a fantasy that appears to summon heroes is the spin of political manipulation. Particularly it is an extreme so-called “patriotic” spin that seems to be endorsed by broadcast drugstore patriot networks and personalities.

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 symbols of patriotism on their sleeves.

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

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

They are the producers of the grisly cowboy fantasy.
They compose the narrative, they profit from the plot—and the good guys with guns all dying to be cowboys will continue to gladly generate sequels for them.

I’ve had it with the myth of heroic men, saving women from the bad guy.

I prefer that we save humanity from the deadly cowboy fantasy—by not giving it ammunition of any kind.” – The Cowboy Fantasy of a ‘Good Guy With a Gun’ – John Pavlovitz

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.

Like I said, this sort of ignorance would be comical if it wasn’t so unfunny. People who are clueless about the Constitution are pretending that they’re the only ones standing between us and tyranny. That’s hilarious.

Except, it isn’t funny. – Brian Hines Unfunny Humor About Gun Control

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:

“Please! 
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.

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 … people are gunned down and it doesn’t matter which Wayne or Eastwood character did the shooting.

It won’t matter whether he believes that Limbaugh, Hannity 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 gun-toting Constitutionalists was Thomas Paine, who said,  “give me liberty or give me death.

Paine did not declare that everybody needs to “carry” so shooters who are irresponsible can gun down a real or imagined “bad guy” regardless of collateral damage.

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

“Salesmanship the likes of which has rarely been seen in history, even in this nation of boiling commercialism.

It is no small accomplishment to convince millions of people that their safety and security – indeed, their very existence as a nation – absolutely depends upon the astonishing preponderance of devices that kill them on the hour, every hour, every day.

All the gun lobby does is bellow about freedom, about the Constitution, about preserving the ability to defend oneself against the onset of an intrusive, tyrannical government.

This is the song that has been sung for decades now, to the point that it is holy writ to those who think the ability to own an AR-15 with a magazine capacity large enough to take out half of Yankee Stadium, should the need somehow arise, is the apotheosis of American freedom.

Good luck with that; send me a note from the front, hero. I’m sure your Red Dawn fantasy will unspool itself any day now.

Convincing so many people that their freedom is inviolably attached to things that kill them in piles every single day is amazingly successful salesmanship…and as we embark upon this national debate over guns, we must encompass this essential truth: all the grandstanding over personal freedom, over the Constitution, over the ability to defend oneself against the government, is the end-product of perhaps the most magnificent sales job ever deployed against anyone, ever.” -William Rivers Pitt

 

 

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triv·i·al·ize: (verb) to make (something) seem less important, significant, or complex than it really is.

figurehead
Whoever succeeds Mr. Trump and whenever that is, the first order of business will be to un-trivialize the office of President of the United States; to make it mean something other than what it stands for in this moment.

The article is honest, blunt and expresses my sense of what the most immature baby -boomer of them all has accomplished.

Donald Trump Is Just a Figurehead

 … he has the title and he has the bully pulpit—from which he’s bullying everyone from NBA players to people protesting white supremacists to DACA kids.

But he’s not actively governing the United States. That work is happening elsewhere—in Congress, the courts, the Fed, the career civil service, lobbyists, and in the states. Or it’s not happening at all.

It’s not just that Trump lost the epic battle to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Trump never understood the Affordable Care Act to begin with, and played no part in developing Republican alternatives.

On knee-taking, drugstore patriotism and hurt feelings: It’s the lies that kill.

WWII Vet Kneels

‘Those Kids Have Every Right to Protest.’ 97-Year-Old WWII Vet Kneels to Support NFL Players” – John Middlemas

Real Courage: WWII Vet Kneels in Support

Who are those most offended by knee-taking as a genuine, civic and even patriotic expression of concern about what Americans are aware of or ignore?

Drugstore patriots.

Drugstore Patriotism: The wearing of one’s prideful ego, narcissistic posturing and nationalistic foolishness on one’s sleeve in order to be seen, in order to be heard and in order to grind a particularly mindless ax.

To those who are quagmired into a belief that taking a knee is only about a song and a flag: It’s the lies that kill.

The remembering will go on for lifetimes long after the acrimony and partisan politics have faded. The legacy of public drugstore patriotism will be an ongoing and painful confusion for many of the same reasons that caused a shift in American civic awarenes during the VietNam War.

Wannabe “peace celebrities” are on their soap boxes with “We-are-too-polarized-to-communicate-so-we’ve-got-to-stop-challenging” brand of pop-psycho-pretend-statesmanship blather. It’s still too early for that. That time is not here yet. For all sides – not just one – the time to start acting peaceful, regretful and anxious that we stop talking nasty is now.

I don’t know how many citizens slept thru civics class, let alone even included such a class in their maturation process. I do know that constant bellowing at the electorate on how they should vote is about as effective as bellowing at the store shoppers outside a box store the day after Thanksgiving. Aren’t we all bellowed out and tired of being bellowed at? Bellowing as a form of educating someone else on how they should vote is the tired and proven Democratic path to loss of elections. Democrats are still learning this lesson.

Genuinely pissing all voters off is where it’s at.

There is nothing more powerful in arousing a national sense of indignation than to have a bunch of mom and pop towns and villages start waking each other up with infectious resolutions. That will outdo political educating and bellowing every time. The answers to the questions of why are more transparent, obvious and politically rancid.

PBS has an awesome series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick entitled The VietNam War. I don’t recommend you watch it. I demand that you do so. You’ll see and learn more truth about both sides of the conflict than you might think. You’ll also understand more about  governments that mostly tell you what it wants you to think – not know – in pursuit of an agenda. You may come to suspect that drugstore patriotism begins at the highest levels of government and is dispersed throughout the country by a media seeking profit, not wise civic awareness.

Who are our most precious citizens now when it comes to talking with experience about military service and what it means to be a genuine patriot? Real veterans, not the pretend kind. Among them let’s have more veterans who have banded together and taken a stand; who’ve spoken out and continue speaking – who in fact refuse to be silenced; and whose respect the current leadership in both parties has lost completely as they focus on the drugstore kind of audience.

When precious national blood is sacrificed and reason demands justification, shallow partisan politics seriously wound the fabric of all families in America. The time to speak out has never been more critical. Voices … it’s our time to tell the leadership, regardless of which party, that this drugstore tragedy must stop as soon as possible.

Not one more citizen need die to preserve the lies. It’s the lies that kill.
The lie that the correct side is only my side kills.
The lie that disagreement with me means you aren’t on the right side kills.

The notion that I’m right and you are wrong and nothing good will happen until you admit you’re wrong and I am right is a winning tactic for debates … I suppose … where a referee says, “Yup, that guy with that argument is the smartest.”  It’s also a lie that can kill.

Limiting yourself to the drugstore patriotism doesn’t go too far in any wider venue where your pretend posture has become the cheapest, most demeaning and diminishing turd regarding the value of every human life.

A presidency or a party with intellectually foppish projects and a parade of presidential wannabes who attempt to don some sort of wise-statesman cap and gown have worn this particular fabric so transparently thin as to offer the American electorate nothing but pure intellectual insult.

Drugstore patriotism says NFL rather human dignity and the national sorrow of racism. Drugstore patriotism says NFL rather than Puerto Rico.
Drugstore patriotism says tavern talk rather than sincere discourse.

“In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. To criticize one’s country is to do it a service … Criticism, in short, is more than a right; it is an act of patriotism – a higher form of patriotism, I believe, that the familiar rituals and national adulation … My question is whether America can overcome the fatal arrogance of power.” –
J. William Fulbright


 

“On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.

Is not nationalism — that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder — one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?

These ways of thinking — cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on — have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power.” – Howard Zinn, July, 2007

Mother! Hard to track at first … and then fascinating

mothermovie

 

I see where the media that caters to and to a certain extent is supported by an audience of devout and literal-minded Christian believers have stepped to the forefront waving a flag of religious offendedness at the message of this spectacularly intriguing, fascinating and thought-provoking film.

I went to see Mother! because my beautiful lady had read about it and wanted to see it. I knew nothing about the film, had never heard of it, and expected – oh, I don’t know, perhaps some sort of Mommy Dearest or Flowers in the Attic or some such melodrama.

It took about 20 minutes for me to involve myself in what I saw as slow-moving action and unfolding. Had I realized from the get-go that I was about to see a powerful metaphor of an assortment of moral ecological and religious themes defined by human behavior, I might have picked up on all the clues early on and found myself anticipating a predictable outcome.

It didn’t happen that way. After those 20 minutes or so I found myself intensely tracking every word of dialogue, camera angles, indoor and outdoor views while attempting to mentally cache each hint or clue and thereby foresee what would happen. Such a process led me to an intuited notion that the meaning and intent of the film was not hidden but layered.

Comparisons are being made to the public reaction to Martin Scorcese’s  The Last Temptation of Christ as a film to either love or hate. The mood engendered in me by Mother! reminded me of my mood when I watched The Witch (2015).

Love it or hate it as a film with a message rather than an endorsement of a cause or attack on a religion, if the film is so well done as to force you to actually WORK at picking up the metaphorical intent and message, it is a movie well made.

The “villains” in this film are none of the principal characters. The villains are in fact the almost mindless extras whose main function seems to be that of home invaders who show no respect for the protagonists or the home.

As we will probably see a furtherance of the amazing polarization between the religious,  the not-religious and the secular in the context of this film’s message, I point to the thin-skinned reaction to whoever challenges a cause or belief from both polarized points of view.

Remember the religious hysteria around the Da Vinci Code?

Remember the back and forth between the religious and nonreligious about the graphic violence of The Passion of the Christ, Mr. Gibson’s faith-driven homage to the Roman Catholic version of the crucifixion?

Those who want to offend will offend.

Those who look to be offended will be offended.

The media-who-sensationalize-for-money will eat it all up.

It’s probably an autumn preview of the War on Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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.

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” 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.

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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”

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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.