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.

Sounds legitimate to me … [proof otherwise requested] … Don’t say “yes” when asked, “Can you hear me?”

Image result for can you hear me scam cartoon

Learned this from an LA Times headline… but the Times won’t let me get past a requirement that I subscribe, etc. So below I’ve pasted the same text from a Reddit site:

It’s the most cunning robocall scam I’ve encountered — and the fact that I’ve fallen for it more than once tells you how successful it can be. The phone rings. You pick it up and say “hello.” There’s a brief silence and then a woman’s voice says, “Oh, hi there!” She offers an embarrassed laugh. “I’m sorry, I was having a little trouble with my headset!”

I’ve gotten this call a number of times in recent weeks, at home and at work, and each time I’ve been suckered by the lifelike opening to stay on the line longer than I normally would for a robocall or a telemarketing pitch. It’s only when I realize I’ve heard the exact same thing before that I realize I’m hearing a recording. This is a new and highly sophisticated racket known as the “can you hear me” scam, which involves tricking people into saying yes and using that affirmation to sign people up for stuff they didn’t order.

It’s also an indication of what can be expected in the future from scammers and telemarketers as automated “conversational agents,” or chatbots, play an increasingly large role in interacting with humans.

I’ve spoken with a number of experts in the field, and they all say natural-speech technology is advancing so quickly that it may be only a few years until we won’t be able to tell if we’re speaking with a machine.

“On every front in development of conversational agents, there’s a huge emphasis on making them more sociable,” said Marilyn Walker, a professor of computer science at UC Santa Cruz with decades of experience in natural language processing. “This stuff is all coming together now in a way that’s getting very close to artificial intelligence,” she said.

The “can you hear me” scam doesn’t seem to be using that level of technical achievement, but it displays a sneaky savviness about how to manipulate people.

Dan Weld, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington, said the techniques employed in the calls demonstrate “careful human engineering with an understanding of the human dynamics of conversations and what will sound natural.”

In other words, you won’t know it’s a robocall until it’s too late. As the scam plays out, the recorded voice will raise the possibility of a vacation or cruise package, or maybe a product warranty. She’ll ask if you could answer a few questions. Or she’ll make it sound like her headset is still giving her trouble and say, “Can you hear me?”

Don’t say yes.

Police departments nationwide have warned recently that offering an affirmative response can be edited to make it seem you’ve given permission for a purchase or some other transaction. There haven’t been many reports of losses, but a Washington State man reportedly got bilked for about $100.

A recorded “yes” could also could be used to deny refunds to any consumer who complains.

“If someone calls and asks, ‘Can you hear me?’, do not answer yes,” advised the Better Business Bureau. “Just hang up. Scammers change their tactics as the public catches on, so be alert for other questions designed to solicit a simple yes answer.”

Walker, the UC Santa Cruz computer wiz, has been teaching computers how to speak since the 1980s, when she worked as a researcher for the Natural Language Project at Hewlett Packard Laboratories in Palo Alto. She’s also done stints at Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories in Cambridge, Mass., and AT&T Labs in New Jersey.

Talking machines have been epitomized for years by the automated switchboards that drive most consumers c****. But Walker said we’re seeing the next iteration of speech technology in the likes of Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa — devices that can respond to users’ requests and, to a limited extent, give the impression of conversation.

The next step, she said, will be computers that respond to voice commands to perform multiple tasks across multiple websites or platforms. For example, booking airline seats, a hotel and a rental car without a human having to look at a screen or touch a keyboard.

“The vision right now for conversational agents is moving seamlessly among various tasks,” Walker said.

She acknowledged that as the technology improves and becomes more commonplace, it almost certainly will be embraced by telemarketers and scammers to try to dupe people into thinking they’re speaking with a real person, thus making a questionable sales pitch all the more believable.

“That’s clearly not out of the realm of possibility,” Walker said.

She said machines become more human-sounding the more they can be taught to pepper conversations with the occasional “um” or “uh-huh,” or to laugh at the right moment. They’ll soon convey what sounds like emotion and will adjust their vocal pitch to match the context of the discussion.

“These things are all being pursued,” Walker said.

She’s leading a team of grad students that’s competing for the first Alexa Prize, an award offered by Amazon for the university that can come up with a “socialbot” capable of genuine chitchat.

Each of 12 sponsored teams has received $100,000 from Amazon to fund their work. The team with the best-performing bot will win $500,000. An extra $1 million will go to the team’s school if its socialbot “converses coherently and engagingly with humans on popular topics and news events for 20 minutes.”

Obviously, any technical advances will be considered for future versions of Alexa.

I asked Art Pettigrue, an Amazon spokesman, if the ultimate goal of the contest is to produce a machine capable of speaking like HAL 9000 in “2001,” albeit without the homicidal tendencies.

He declined to go that far. But Pettigrue said that “we’re really at a tipping point for so many elements of the technology.

“We’re in a golden age of machine learning and AI,” he said. “We’re still a long way from being able to do things the way humans do things, but we’re solving unbelievably complex problems every day.”

Think the “can you hear me” scam sounds devious? Just you wait.

Note: To people who can read the whole article, did I miss anything?

These are our Republicans folks … there are no other “good ones” waiting in the wings to correct things.

Image result for of the people by the people for the people

Classical “republicanism” was all about the sovereignty of the people:  of the people, by the people and for the people.

I truly wish that our current Republican Party were truly in that category.

However, these ain’t those folks.

These are “Fox News Republicans,” dancing arm-in-arm and in lockstep to the music of Big Money. “Of the people, by the people and for the people” is the least thing on their minds.

These folks have taken the NFL’s “Lombardi Doctrine” to an obscene extremity in prostituting their pretend allegiance to our country at the feet of a corporate capitalist presidential shyster.

Led by Trump, the Fox News Republican Party has sold us out because for them winning has been the ONLY THING.

For years now we have seen, read and heard Republicans posturing as “patriots” who with ugly disingenuity proclaim that welfare corporate capitalism is really the ideal of American society. This has been a blatant attempt by Fox News Republicans to claim ownership of our cultural and philosophical high ground.

If you buy into the sales pitch that Fox News Republicans represent our purest American values you have purchased the snake oil. You have fallen for the so-called “art of the deal,” and in doing so you have probably assumed that such snake oil is the liniment for “making America great again.”

I agree with Shawn Vestal of Spokesman-Review

Vestal: McMorris Rodgers backs GOP health care plan stripping insurance from Eastern Washington’s poor

Recall, if you will, the words of Cathy McMorris Rodgers, uttered in a press conference in the Capitol on Jan. 10:

“Let me be clear. No one who has coverage because of Obamacare today will lose that coverage. We’re providing relief. We aren’t going to pull the rug out from anyone.”

This was a surprising, even shocking, statement from McMorris Rodgers, who is part of a team whose goal has always clearly been based on just that: yanking that rug, hard, to lower taxes for the wealthy.

But, because this is a difficult thing to come right out and say in decent company, McMorris Rodgers and her fellow House repealniks have danced and dodged, finessed and fudged, omitted and insinuated that what they’re doing will not be bad for the millions and millions of Americans who obtained health insurance under Obamacare.

Her statement on Jan. 10, though, was of a different order than the usual slip-sliding. It was a clearcut, seemingly humane, recognition of a sense of responsibility for the potential effects of what she and her fellows were trying to do.

Which is probably why it didn’t seem even remotely true. That was confirmed later the same day, when a spokeswoman for the congresswoman launched the moonshot of oily political weaseling: McMorris Rodgers, the spokeswoman said, had misspoken. She meant to say “people who are covered under Obamacare will not lose coverage the day the bill is repealed.”

Ah yes. The day of. After that, though …

Read the opening paragraph by Abby Zimet, staff writer at Common Dreams.

 Let ‘Em Die  gop-let-em-die

Rant time. The obscenities and idiocies of Thursday’s proposed budget are almost limitless.

Egregious examples: Slashing Meals on Wheels, which feeds a half million veterans and many (often-Trump voting) elderly residents while allowing them to stay at home, when one $3,000,000 golf trip to Mar-a-lago would cover 419,000 meals and, by year’s end at this rate, 20 million meals.

Cutting an annual National Endowment for the Arts budget that will only cover Melania’s security at Trump Tower for almost five months.

Cutting National Historic Sites funding that will give her a couple more months, or PBS, which is only worth three weeks.

Hiking the defense budget $54 billion for more war, which could fund conflict resolution work at the Institute of Peace for 1,543 years; their funding will instead be cut.

Slicing funding for low-income housing that could cause a new epidemic of homelessness. And, in one more vote for death and destruction, slashing climate change and other environmental programs as “a waste of your money.”

And please tell me how the public good would be served – what socially redeeming effect – would justify this:

Are we willing to concede that the Fox News Republican politics, culture and philosophy are more American than anyone else’s?

When a Kindergarten fiscal Konservative asks, “How ya gonna pay fer it?” , here’s your answer.

800 bases
When a Kindergarten fiscal Konservative asks, “How ya gonna pay fer it?” , here’s your answer.
(This page is huge)
On Republican rationale for “reforming” health care, education, and all the other pious patriotic talk about supposedly wanting our country to “live within a budget” …
Hell that’s what most of us have always had to do (well those of us who learned how to spend less than we take in). We’ve always done that.
So how come we don’t look at all our budget expenses and adjust spending according to legitimate Constitutional priorities , i.e. the “insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare” stuff?
How much – regardless of which party is in charge – are we spending on the following … and why?
Ask your Congresspersons that question. Ask them to tell you why we need to spend so much on this particular budget item at the expense of, say, universal health care, free college education, housing solutions for homelessness.
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Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (American Empire Project) Chalmers Johnson and it’s $10 on Kindle and less than $15 in paperback

To the Washington Fifth District: What your congresswoman is up to …

House Speaker Paul Ryan And GOP House Leadership Address The Media After Weekly Conference Meeting

On our Fifth District’s Congressional Representative … and she is more representative of something else than she is the well being of her district.

As I read through her list of accomplishments, I was struck by the sum of those accomplishments – which amounted to nothing more than doing her job – what she was elected to do.

There was nothing outstanding in her list which was written to imply that she had accomplished the kind of spectacular success that a lesser politician might have failed to do. There was nothing in her resume that could not have been as easily accomplished and bragged about by a Democrat.

What is in her particular resume, however, (if you do your research) is that she suborned her priorities to the priorities of her party. In doing so McMorris Rodgers team-worked herself onto the starting party team. In that regard, she and her team did not spend as much time on their constituency concerns as they could have. They were busy wasting tax-payer time attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare” to their constituent choirs) more than 50 times since its passage. The statute was enacted in 2010 which means that Republicans wasted money and ignored more pressing problems an average of ten times every year through 2016.

Check out what Cathy McMorris Rodgers is doing right now in addition to dodging constituent town hall meetings:

While we were distracted by Trump, Republicans advanced these 9 terrifying bills

1. H.R. 861: To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency

This bill — cosponsored by Republican members of Congress from fossil fuel-producing states — is just one sentence long, and says nothing about what would happen to the multiple environmental regulations the EPA has instituted since 1970, or its multibillion-dollar budget, or its thousands of staffers. H.R. 861 is currently awaiting action in the subcommittee on environment.

2. H.R. 610: Tax dollars for private schools

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) introduced this bill in January, which would redistribute funding earmarked for public schools in the form of vouchers for parents to send children to private schools. Over the long term, this would eventually bankrupt public schools, and create a stratified education system in which cash-strapped public schools would be unable to meet the educational needs of low-income students. The bill is awaiting action in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

3. H.R. 899: To terminate the Department of Education

If this bill, introduced by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), becomes law, the U.S. Department of Education would terminate by the end of 2018. The bill’s brevity leaves many questions unanswered, like what would happen with Department of Education grants for public schools and universities, its budget, or its staff. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has said she would personally be “fine” if the agency she heads were to be abolished.

4. H.J.R. 69: To repeal a rule protecting wildlife

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), whose constituents likely include hunters who kill wildlife for sport rather than for food, introduced this joint resolution voicing displeasure with a Department of Interior rule that prohibits “non-subsistence” hunting in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. The resolution passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate.

5. H.R. 370: To repeal the Affordable Care Act

While President Obama was in office, House Republicans voted at least 60 times to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — despite its futility. However, the Trump administration has made the repeal of Obamacare a top priority, meaning the repeal bill from Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) is likely to pass.

The Truth About the GOP Healthcare Plan

6. H.R. 354: To defund Planned Parenthood

Despite the widely publicized debunking of the video alleging the women’s health nonprofit was selling human organs, Republicans are still refusing to stop destroying Planned Parenthood. Rep. Diane Black (R-Tennessee) introduced a bill that would prevent any federal grants from going to Planned Parenthood for a full year unless they swore to not perform abortions. As the chart below from Planned Parenthood shows, only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood resources go toward abortions, while the vast majority of funding is used to help low-income women get STD tests, contraceptive care, and breast cancer screenings:

7. H.R. 785: National Right-to-Work legislation

Conservative ideologue Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is aiming to cripple unions at the nationwide level with a bill that would systematically deprive labor unions of the funding they need to operate. Unions often provide one of the crucial pillars of support for Democratic candidates and causes, and conservatives aim to destroy them once and for all by going after their funding. It’s important to note that right-to-work is bad for all workers, not just union members — in 2015, the Economic Policy Institute learned that wages in right-to-work states are roughly 3.2 percent lower than in non-right-to-work states.

8. H.R. 83: Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act

Multiple cities and states around the country have openly stated that they won’t abide by President Trump’s plan to aggressively round up and deport undocumented immigrants. A bill by Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pennsylvania) would strip all federal funding of any city that doesn’t obey Trump’s immigration policies for up to a year.

9. H.R. 147: To criminalize abortion

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Arizona) wants to aggressively prosecute pregnant women seeking abortions, along with abortion providers, by making abortion a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. The bill is currently awaiting action in the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.

To fight back against these bills, call 202-224-3121, ask for your member of Congress, and tell them to vote no.

These ain’t no Harlem Globetrotters … hell they ain’t even the Pomona Polecats!!

 
 
 
Trump and his all stars: Flynn, Bannon, Conway, DeVos … 
and now Sessions. Sitting in last place … awe come on!!!

My Congresswoman from the 5th Congressional District, Cathy McMorris Rogers, needs to be sent to the minors. She plays ball for a self-styled Washington all-star team that seems to have no understanding of the rules and philosophy of the civic game of governance.

These particular all-stars are a collection of self-labeled  konservatives who still struggle with stick shifts and complicated words containing more than five letters.

These guys are hoping we won’t have noticed just how “all-star” they are now 6 weeks into their watch. They seem to want the country to stagger forward handicapped by a flat tire at the highest level of our leadership vehicle.

We are getting no correct-direction signals from any of these leaders. They have no skill and are not up to the task of leading, let alone even managing difficulties. Despite the lop-sided political advantage of our most recent national election and the temerity and caution of the opposition party, these supposedly wise Republican leaders and strategists are demonstrating an incredible lack of skill at managing the affairs of state.

As James T. Kirk goaded Khan, “You [Republicans] just … keep … missing … the target.”

If there is such as thing as a “normal situation” in this country I could say that “normally” when one party emerges victorious in an election, those who voted for the other party can take comfort in the general high quality, integrity and bi-partisan value of governing wisdom of those who did win.

Not this time.

These guys make it look like this country elected the Washington Generals instead of the Harlem Globetrotters. They can’t dribble, can’t shoot and certainly can’t play team-oriented ball.

They’re constantly out of bounds, palming the ball, committing foolish and egregious personal fouls and falling further and further behind on the scoreboard.

They try to play on only one end of the court where the bleachers are full of fanatics who want to change the way the game is played, want to change who can play and want to change what the public address system is allowed to broadcast.

If you look down their bench, you don’t see anyone riding the pines capable of substituting for the fumblers on the floor.

You do see some of those benchwarmers nursing dreams of future stardom by focusing on the bleachers when they should be focusing on the game itself.

You see flashes in the pan for whom the team’s financial backers have big plans and lots of money but also a limited self-serving priority of filling more bleachers rather than championship rings.

Not the players …

Not the coaches …

Not the owners …

… none of them show skill, wisdom or even a concern that the team remain viable, competitive and effective.

We’re not witnessing the creation of any kind of winning tradition here in the spirit of the Cavaliers,  Cubs, or Patriots.

Oh no!!

We’re looking at having to endure years of the 1960’s Mets when Casey Stengel asked, “Can’t anyone here play this game?

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

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?

45’s inability to handle this stuff is what leads to more fumbles.

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He’s lost in his narcissism. One of the best instruments of resistance in dealing with 45 has proven to be mockery, satire and parody. Consider at the popularity of Saturday Night Live versus the popularity of your president.
45’s inability to handle this stuff is what leads to more fumbles. Such is the principle reason for the mockery … mine included.

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.

When religious rhetoric is used to garner electoral support we all lose.

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The key to a viable democratic republic is not a common religious righteousness. Rather, it’s a harmonious diversity in which there is an appreciation for differing perspectives. Differences are buttressed by an on-going tradition of keeping sacred the long-time legal reverence for individual rights and freedom.

It’s THAT freedom the we have seen denigrated through political rhetoric that portrays America as a global victim somehow authorized to extract vengeance against imprecisely defined “others”;

… that insists we can justifiably redress perceived wrongs against us with belligerent and rash behavior contrary to what I thought we all mutually considered “core values.” It’s THAT freedom that we have seen denigrated through religious social rhetoric that portrays American Christians as a social victims somehow authorized to assert themselves at the expense of the Bill of Rights – attempting to formalize social vengeance against imprecisely defined “others”;

Although it may not be necessary that those reading these lines immediately get out of their pajamas, turn off the computer and go picket the nearest Christian church, it is necessary that we pay attention to the voting patterns and habits of the last 35 years. In particular we ought to note the increased intensity of those who seem to feel that they are the only “moral-values” voters. These are the voters who have been apparently stampeded into the only political action required of them by their own activist Christian political celebrities.

They must continue to vote every two years.
They must be stampeded into keeping the supposed Christian-in-the-White-House IN the White House, accompanied by loyal and partisan congressional Republican crusaders; they who – on their horses with flags flying, lances ready and swords drawn – are ready to force their political ideology on those very gullible voters who bought the snake oil.

Showdown Coming

I see the “showdown” as not between conservative and liberal Christians nor as between conservative Christians and a coalition of every other citizen in this country. What I see is the possibility of conservative Republican congresspersons driven by the radical religious horses that got them there actually going so far as to legislate something that seriously alters how life is lived in this country.

I see foolish people triggering a showdown between right/left and liberal/conservative that explodes in an uncontrollable way – forcing everyone to choose sides when they badly would not want to choose – a choosing that has no socially redeeming value for human freedom and personal rights in America.

It’s one thing to enact laws the keep taverns 200 feet from churches. It’s something else to enact laws that seriously alter our national habitual understanding of – for example – our Bill of Rights and a separation of church and state.

If that happens, these radicals who thought changing the laws was all that was needed will have no clue as to why rioters don’t “play fair” just because “it’s the law now.” They will not be prepared to cope with mass refusals to quietly allow themselves to be taken off to jail instead of rioting and striking back.

If Taliban-like laws were enacted we could see narrow-minded militant literalists become self-appointed and God-approved executioners. We could see a mindless, illogical and unreasonable acting against the gay, non-Christian, political liberal or abortionist in the tradition of those who perpetrate hate crimes.

The first time a jury in a community dominated by literalist thinking found such a person not-guilty I think these radical religious politicians would find themselves with more than they could handle.

Would you just sit around and moan if periodically a van came down your street and you watched as your gay neighbors, your neighbor who had a private abortion, or liberal speaker-outers were loaded up and hauled off?

Not for long …

That’s the naivete behind the assumption that making a law enacts a specific morality which everyone will observe BECAUSE we are all afraid of the law and the consequences of breaking it.

That’s the tragedy that could come to pass so long as our public patriotism has the substance of tissue paper and we live afraid of paper tigers.

America has a chance … lest all the rebels die.

Next time an uninformed makes a rhetorical statement about food assistance fraud consider the source and the source’s sources.

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More myth from the department of crooks and liars: The “Facts” below have not changed forever.
I know, I worked for the state. I authorized and issued Food Stamps. I was a tri-lingual case worker and managed food assistance for an assortment of non-English-speaking immigrants.I denied assistance to any who could not prove eligibility.

However, I saw more fraud from my gringo clients than my non-gringo clients. My gringo clients made far more accusations of food stamp fraud on the part of immigrants and fellow gringos whom they deemed dishonest. In fact, if I wanted to know what was being broadcast on Fox News my unemployed gringo clients were good sources.

Next time an uninformed makes a rhetorical statement about food assistance fraud consider the source and the source’s sources.