Political Labels: How ya gonna live up to them?

Image result for left right politics

“Okay buster, I’m a ‘——–‘ and proud of it!

“Well, I’m really more a ‘——-‘ and I don’t agree with you and don’t really know what your label means but I know it must be wrong and dangerous to our Country.”

“Listen buster, we ‘——‘ stand for truth, justice and the American way and no amount of your ‘—–‘ crap is gonna change that.”

“Oh yeah? Well I’m just as strong in my knowing stuff as you are and we’d all be better off if you just shut the hell up!”

“You people seem to think ….. ”

“I stand with all those Americans who blah blah blah”

Image result for political argument cartoons

 

Who you callin two-dimensional?

The glory in being able to discern what we see in a three-dimensional way is that we can not only perceive automatically the differences between “near” and “far,” but also perceive cubes and spheres quite differently from squares and circles. Obviously such is a consequence of our enjoyment of depth perception.

Were that such were so for mental  images, conceptualizations and imagined realities. Which brings me to our notions of left and right in political and philosophical terms. It seems that particularly in philosophical/political contexts we mostly attempt to apply two-dimensional labels to ourselves in terms of our own intellectual prowess in seeing the world as it really is. Hence, left/right stuff does not reflect intellectual depth perception, rather two-dimensional thinking lacks depth or breadth.

Two-dimensional thinking is nothing more than either/or thinking on any subject. Today the subject is political philosophy which, in this country is dominated by either/or mindsets with their pretend basis and standard of comparisons that break behavior into right or wrong choices.

Either/or uses extreme extensions to praise or vilify other folks. For example, “liberal” is implied to be firmly entrenched next to “communism” via the “socialist” tendency while “conservatism” lies dangerously next to “fascism” via the “authoritarian” route. Another way of expressing this is the label-mindedness that considers the left wing or right wing enemies of Democracy depending on how an individual is living up to his chosen label.

Don’t label yourself. You will have less to live up to that does not belong to you and more freedom to be who you are.

Don’t label yourself. Be genuinely surprised then when you react in a way that surprises who you thought you were …. or who you thought you were supposed to be.

Image result for the authentic you

emotionalcompetency.com

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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

 

 

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

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.

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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.

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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?