Friday, March 31, 2017

America as merely Tin Coated, or a Still Great Nation?

Pres. Trump is building America into a tin coated, cost cutting version of its once great self.

Mr. Trump's process for "making American great again" is simply telegraphing to other countries like China and Russia, both long passed but once great nations in their own right, that it is finally possible that one of them can replace America as the world leader for so very many things.

By reverting from culture to only economy, we quite diminish ourselves.

For other nations to see the course we are taking, we tarnish our reputation to that of cheap corporations. The mere devices and toys of greedy businessmen.

For those other nations to view us as second rate, is to wake them up to the potential that once again, as for France, they could again be the cultural center of the world.

For countries like China and Russia, in considering their political sensibilities we could be forcing on the world just such failed philosophical leaders as of those two primary and once failed communist states.

As these things make other nations shy away from us, we truly need to have a very open and very real discussion on just who thehell we seem to think we are as America!

Monday, March 27, 2017

If It Weren't for Irony, Would I Have This Appreciation?

I was married once upon a time, or two. I had met a woman I found quite amazing. She, for some reason, found me quite amazing. That happens in life sometimes. More for some than others, to be sure. We were together for a while. For a while things were, amazing. Then? Then they simply weren't.

It's an old story. Many have lived it.

We split up. It wasn't pretty. She was, however. It wasn't. In fact in some ways, she wasn't. I was miserable. she was angry. And no, I didn't do anything anyone would say is something. What happened can be understandable. But any adult would see that what happened was unethical, immoral and fattening. And not in a good way.

The thing is, what is important is... after she left, after it was all over, other than the fact that we had a daughter between us, I continued living in our house. I wanted continuity for the kids. And maybe for me some, too. After a while the kids were fine and we really needed to move. But I didn't. You see, I didn't get that. That they needed to move, that I needed to move.

Finally I tried to sell the house. But the housing market bubble burst. This was back in 2006. That's when it started to go south for me. The house dropped $140,000 from where it was. It had doubled from where I had bought it, and it lost a lot that next year or so. Eventually, with two mortgages, I was under water. I couldn't sell. It sucked. Ten years later I tried to sell it again.

And it sold this time. I didn't make much on it but at least I got out from under it, I got out from under the second mortgage, I got out from under living in the house my ex wife and I bought together.

During the week I moved out, my SUV broke down. Back in 2000 I had bought her the SUV. She'd had a Ford Ranger truck for years and it was falling apart. The paint was peeling. She had used it all up. She was an internationally certified horse trainer and riding instructor. She used up that truck that she had gotten before she had even met me. She deserved the SUV. It was nice, fancy, dependable. It looked nice, it had the extras package. And it wasn't cheap.

When she left it surprised me that she said she didn't want any of the cars. So I got them.

Long story short, during the time when I was moving after having finally sold the house, during the week I was moving to a new house, the SUV broke again. Several hundred dollars later, it broke again. A few hundred later it broke again that same week.

I finally had it. I parked it and called the dealer where I have taken my cars for years (and shameless plug for Liberty Bay Auto in Poulsbo, WA). Another long story short (I was actually able to get it started again and simply drove it the whole mile over to their shop), I traded in the originally $32,000 1998 Nissan Pathfinder LE to them for $100 and got myself a nice and much newer little car that I love now oh so much.

My point in all this being?

I'd had my heart ripped out by my ex. I lived for years in the house we had decorated, had remolded together and had bought together. I had two of her cars, both of which broke down before I moved and one had to be towed, while the other had to be traded cheaply in on another car. I had also had another car too. A turbo, vroom, vroom. What a car! But the engine blew.

So I finally moved out of that house we had bought together.

Finally I had a new house, new car, and no more old cars breaking down anymore. I also have a 2006 Harley which I bought a few years ago and it's mine, all mine. I have no major remembrances of my ex any longer swimming around my mind. I had a house in the woods, on a couple of beautiful acres. I now have a house on maybe an acre, with an awesome view of part of Puget Sound.

Nothing about this place reminds me of my ex.

And then after we moved in, across the street from us, in the house on the water with a dock, a new family moved in. At first I thought, fine. Good for them. And then it happened.

They pulled up and parked a horse trailer out front on a road too small so that it was technically illegal to park it there. It sat there, day in and day out. We live on a tiny paved road with not lots of room for cars parked on either curb (no curb anyway) and two way traffic still needing to be able to amble along. I checked the law. Parking on this road is illegal. You need to have a driveway. Odd. I know.

So it's extremely obvious it's sitting there when we come and go. Or I look out a window.

See, I have a huge picture window with an awesome view. And right there, right out front, day in and day out, unable not to see it... is that horse trailer. Which by association requires that the people, or at least the woman wearing riding gear type clothing must be another "horse person".

Did I mention my ex was a horse trainer? And riding instructor? That when we were first living together I had moved into her apartment in the front of a huge modern horse barn with over sixty-two horse stalls, a round pen, an arena, washing stalls, offices, a couple of modern apartments, etc., etc., etc. It was a sizable horse farm.

My ex had worked so hard, before sunrise to long after sunset, that on Sunday mornings at 5AM I would get up in my bathrobe and even in the frigid winter air, in my bathrobe and slippers, push along the wheelbarrow and feed all of the horses for her so she could sleep in one day a wake. Myself, I had to commute an hour each day into Seattle and it was a brutal commute.

We lived upstairs in the barn. So I could go out through our back laundry room into the upstairs part of the barn above all the horse stalls. I could go to each stall above it, drop down hay, timothy, grain or whatever the horse needed according to its note on the stall chute, and then go to the next horse.

Then I'd go back to the apartment, crawl back into bed, freezing in the winter, next to a lovely warm and attractive naked body that would appreciatively snuggle up next to me to warm me in appreciation. Something I always found amazing, as I was freezing at times I'm sure. But such was the appreciation she felt for my efforts. It was just one of those experiences that both found incredibly rewarding. That made life just a little bit better.

And now, all I have is that horse trailer that simply won't go away.

UPDATE: About a week after I wrote this, they sold the horse trailer! And my new experience in my new life finally, continued on.

Monday, March 20, 2017

No More Spankings

I have said this before, but perhaps it's time to mention it again. I will say this. And I try not to address this very often as many parents get upset in thinking they are being attacked. About that.

None of us knows what we're doing raising kids certainly for the first time and kids can be very different. Forcing them into a cookie cutter format is foolish, like with most K-12 schools. We do our best, love them a lot and that seems to work. So some bad ideas come off as good ones. Most parents deserve a lot of respect for a hard job that last at least 18 years.

Parenting is simply picking a path and being the smart one in your parent/child relationship.

It is fundamentally choosing a point of view from which to raise your child and then following it. Walking that path with them while being more clever than them. All while making the child work well for both yourself and the child theirself.

It was explain to us in psychology in college (I got my degree in psych), that once a child understands words, spanking becomes abuse. Why punch someone when words will do, for instance.

For one, pain does not need to be inflicted on a child at all ever. Just the perception. That also goes into S&M sexual behavior. MOST people don't need pain involved, just the perception of it, pressure suffices in most cases to enhance sexual release. If the pain is necessary that gets into deeper issues and can go awry. Just as with spanking with some parents. Some seems good, more is better when it's simply not.

A spanking is typically considered to be repeated strikes when only one is needed. A proper spanking should be one swat on the butt, half a second later, the word NO sternly spoken to associate pain or perceived pain with a verbal comment. So then you can just say NO, and it serves the same purpose. So why hit a child after that. Or after the child can understand spoken language?

What's our most primal response? Fight or flight (also called hyperarousal, or the acute stress response). What does your parents beating you invoke in you? Fight or flight. Why in God's name would you invoke that response in your own children? Ah, some might yearn for old school, biblical child rearing, the fear of God concept, or of the parent.

Well, I'd argue that's counter productive in the end. One can manage by fear or love, it's our choice. But you have to ask yourself if you choose fear, and in considering that love does work. Why would you choose fear? For most, because it's quick and easy and considers the child's point of view the very least.

As parents we can become inured to our child's needs out of our own exhaustion and frustration in raising them and in our not having enough freedom and pleasure because we are raising them. Some parents even resent that and will rationalize abusing their child even if ever so slightly over that consideration. We just have to be sure we don't put that on them, when it should be on us. Just because it works for some and we don't see all they do to their children, doesn't mean we should do it ourselves to our own.

There is one more I would add to that: freeze.

IF you're that scared that you can only immobilize, like a deer in headlights, you are literally traumatized to immobility. Again, why would you invoke that in a child you love? If ever you see that response in your child, immediately back the hell off and take another course. You've gone too far.

Or perhaps something else is going on with your child and you need to look into that. In some cases it can relate to their being abused by someone else, if not you if you do not realize it. We all have varying levels at which we react to things. In punishing one of your children the same as another, one might need far less stimuli to invoke the response you are looking for, while another might barely respond to anything you try. To apply that to both, could traumatize one of them and work against the better interests of both parent and child.

When my son was about 3 or 4, spankings never worked with him anyway. I stumbled upon something better. I sat him in the middle of the living room and lectured him for 20 mins on the physics of why he shouldn't do what he did wrong. It was hard to get him to sit, but I walked around him talking, keeping his attention. I was polite, happy, energetic, positive. This was about education, not punishment. I thought it would kill him, so did he.

A couple of days later, he did something just as bad. He didn't want to stop when I asked him to. So I asked him just on a whim to see his reaction, "Son, do you want a lecture again?" He immediately stopped his bad behavior and yelled, "NO, daddy please I don't want a lecture again!"

That worked far better then spanking OR yelling at him, which I also didn't do. Though his mother, esp., after we broke up when he was 4, continued to spank and scream at him. When I got him back at 5, it took years to fix the damage she did in only about 18 months.

Years later in junior high, he did something I needed to punish him for. Instead I talked to him about what he had done. I explained all around the issue trying to sell him on my point of view. Then I assigned him to read a book, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance".

I made it clear it wasn't in any way supposed to be a punishment but that his bad behavior came from a lack of understanding and knowledge. He still took it as punishment. After a while though he didn't and started to see what a cool book it was.

It took him a while to finish that book. He even read it while with his mother part of that summer. By end of summer he had read it all. When he told his friends about it back at school he got two responses. One, they thought that he got an awesome punishment. When he pointed out it wasn't punishment...second, they thought he had an awesome dad. A nice bonus. The point is it did so much more positive and eliminated so much negative in that kind of situation.

He was an unusual child to raise, nothing easy about it. We both had ADHD but his was worse than mine. So I had needed to find different ways to raise him because like me, he saw the world differently.

I got the full gamut of old parenting skills as a child. Whippings, hair yanking, being grounded, etc. My son got "grounded too" in removing stimuli not so much as punishment when young but as some resetting his stimulation levels. The trouble with him like me, was that we just adjusted to the new norm in being grounded. Which robs the parents of any benefit to punishment.

The belief that so much of what is bad today in young people has to do with not spanking then as child is confused and incorrect. There are so many other issues involved in what is going on today. Like every kid getting a trophy for instance, which is just as if not far more damaging.

Spanking as abuse, after they can understand words, comes from not knowing what else to do, frustration in the parent, and parents not having time, energy, or information about what else to do that does work better. In some cases it has been shown that never spanking with some children ever also works.

For one,one cannot claim that all things work for all children. Also in parents screwing up in raising their children, so much can be forgiven if the child feels well loved. The father being in the child's life has also countered much damage in child rearing.

It's a more complicated topic than spare the rod spoil the child, a biblical belief written by ancients who themselves were quite ignorant of so much and a belief system that has damaged the world more than was necessary.

Yet though it served its purpose for thousands of years, it also in part led to the dark ages, and it's dark side rears its defective ugly head from time to time. As we're seeing in American and world politics now. Now it needs to be replaced with something much better. We're getting there on that.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day 2017!

Let me say first, that today, I will not for the first time in many years, be in Seattle celebrating St. Pattrick's day like I have so many times and as I did with my son in 2010, for his first time. I originally posted this blog in 2011 when I again celebrated the day with my son at the Fado Irish Pub.

Now it is 2017. So many changes. A questionable human being has been elected as President (Donald J. Trump). We are now living in Bremerton,m WA after I sold my house of sixteen years, last year and then on 9/11 retired from many years in IT work. All so I could concentrate on my writings and filmmaking.

Tomorrow, I have an event I will be attending of creatives in Port Orchard. A gathering of filmmakers, writers, artists, photographers and creatives. My daughter (a musician, artists and photographer) and her boyfriend )an artist himself) will be going with me. Director and friend Kelly Hughes is throwing the event, our second after our successful first event last month. Everyone wanted another so this one should be bigger. I have bought a lot of camera equipment to restart my old LGN Production company I started in 1993.

My son and I had a great deal of fun on St. Patrick's Day in 2010 and duplicated the effort in 2011. Perhaps today we will stop by the High Fidelity Lounge up the street from home here for some lunch and drinks. But sadly the event tomorrow is curbing my celebratory activities today so I won't be trashed for tomorrow evening.

Someone said today on Facebook to me that: "St Patrick was a murderous son of a bitch anyway. Like most of the canonized Roman Catholic scumbags, Mother Teresa included."

My response was: "May be the case, I don't really care. I'm not celebrating him anyway. I'm fine with changing the name but good luck on that one. Besides, Celtic Heritage day just doesn't have the same ring. For that matter I'm anti religion. I still like Christmas, and St. Patrick's Day celebrations. It's just fun. I agree, it's good to know reality and what things are based in. But again, I'm definitely not celebrating St. Patrick, but the day of reveling in my Irish side of my heritage and the fun loving and positive aspects and nature of the Irish."

Anyway from here down it is my blog from 2011 (yes, I forgot to write a blog for today for this year).

I'm not much of one for parades, but there's no end to them during this week. There is even one Saturday here in Bremerton.

Flag of Ireland

There are some good links on this blog today for things Irish and St. Patty's Day oriented. I'm not saying anything about the bars I'm mentioning, I only go to those two (and a shout out to the Owl and Thistle) as I take a ferry over from Bainbridge Island and you walk along a path straight to Owl & Thistle or Fado, and then it's a straight shot to the left on 1st Avenue to Pike Place Market and Kell's. That way no car is involved. I can actually take a bus if I wish to and from the ferry and home. Then you can even hit the bar at the ferry terminal, Commuter Comforts, run by some of my favorite people.

Regarding those who are suffering around the world, they have my most powerful and earnest excessively positive thoughts to them all. May they all be soon dancing and happy once again and their troubles be put far behind them and never to find their address in the dark of night or light of day!

But on one day a year, no matter how bad things are, it's good to take the time to celebrate and forget about your woes and the world's troubles. A tradition that was once in Ireland, far more important perhaps, than it is now; albeit now is not so great either. Where we had the "Great Troubles" before, we now, in Ireland, have the "Financial Troubles" which is troubling, but after all, no one is kneecapping you over your credit rating, or blowing your friends up at the local pub.

March 17th, is St. Patrick's Day. It is a high holy day of drunks, Irish and party goers the world over. They say on St. Patty's day, everyone (who wants to be) is Irish. It's a grand day of sharing community and inebriation. Always have your toast "Sláinte!" ready at hand as its commonly used as a drinking toast in Ireland (and Scotland and the Isle of Man), literally translating as "health". And here health to ya!
Saint Patrick (c. 387–461)

It's also a special day for Catholics. But they have their blog, I have mine. I have celebrated St. Patty's day all my life. As far back as I can remember. My mother, when I was younger than five, had a cut out streamer hanging from one side of our ceiling in our living room, to the other, saying: "Erin Go Bragh!" Meaning, allegiance to Ireland or typically, "Ireland Forever". It is probable that the English version was taken from what was a "dative" context, such as Go bhfanad in Éirinn go brách ("May I stay in Ireland for ever") or Go bhfillead go hÉirinn go brách ("May go back to Ireland for ever").
This was funny because, she is Czech, but I think she was just a "party girl" and liked celebrating a day that was all about, well, celebrating. Her husband at that time, wasn't my dad, who was Irish, but her current husband, who was always proud of saying he was English. We never got along. Of course now, for some reason, he claims Irishness. I've no idea why. He claims he never made a big deal out of being English, nor did he ever decry Irishness. But he did.

Odd to say, my mother has done that too. In telling her once I stepped over my brother's prostrate form, on the living room rug, watching TV, she made me step back over him because, "if you step over someone, it means they may die." She denies ever saying that now. Strange enough, a few years after that, he died.

Back to St. Patty's day.

And now, our Wikipedia moment:

"Saint Patrick's Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig) is a religious holiday celebrated internationally on 17 March. It is named after Saint Patrick (c. AD 387–461), the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland. It originated as a Catholic holiday and became an official feast day in the early 17th century. It has gradually become more of a secular celebration of Irish culture.

"It is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador and in Montserrat. It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora, especially in places such as Great Britain, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and Montserrat, among others."
According to legend, Saint Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Christian Irish people.

Wearing of the green

Originally, the color associated with Saint Patrick was blue. Over the years the colour green and its association with Saint Patrick's day grew. Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St Patrick's Day as early as the 17th century. He is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish, and the wearing and display of shamrocks and shamrock-inspired designs have become a ubiquitous feature of the day. In the 1798 rebellion, in hopes of making a political statement, Irish soldiers wore full green uniforms on 17 March in hopes of catching public attention. The phrase "the wearing of the green", meaning to wear a shamrock on one's clothing, derives from a song of the same name.

Now that that's all out of the way....

Normally I would probably go to Seattle's Kell's Irish Pub at Pike Place Market. Have some lunch, get a T shirt ($20 entry fee).

I do so dislike that they use plastic cups but worse, that they use cups that are not a full Pint. So you have to pay extra and get two "pints" on St. Patty's day if you want one. The up side of that is that you end up with more than a pint, but it's God awfully expensive that way.

There is a lot to enjoy however. People are there early, at the Fado this year, they are starting by opening their doors at 7:30AM. It's always fun once in a while to have a pint first thing in the morning (but please, be sensible, eat breakfast, drink a glass of water between each pint).

Now most pubs are celebrating all week long, staring the previous weekend, and ending the following one. But I just celebrate it on the Day.

I love Irish music, especially if it's live, and its always fun to have some good clean laughter, good times with interesting people, friends and loved ones, or at least strangers who treat you nicely. And St. Patty's day is all about being nice to strangers and having a pint with them.

Sláinte!

On a side note, it always helps to have a few Irish blessings under your belt for St. Patty's day. If you can belt out a few of these you will be the life of the party Here are a few I have hanging on my walls:

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

May those who love us love us.
And those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we'll know them by their limping.

Now a few quick ones good for a toast in a raucous room of rowdies:

May you live as long as you want,
And never want as long as you live.

May the saddest day of your future be no worse
Than the happiest day of your past.

May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light.
May good luck pursue you each morning and night.

May your glass be ever full.
May the roof over your head be always strong.
And may you be in heaven
half an hour before the devil knows you're dead.

Always remember to forget
The friends that proved untrue.
But never forget to remember
Those that have stuck by you.

May the enemies of Ireland never meet a friend.

May the roof above us never fall in.
And may the friends gathered below it never fall out.

Here's a toast to your enemies' enemies!

For those religious types:
May the Lord keep you in His hand
And never close His fist too tight.

May your neighbors respect you,
Trouble neglect you,
The angels protect you,
And heaven accept you.

When we drink, we get drunk.
When we get drunk, we fall asleep.
When we fall asleep, we commit no sin.
When we commit no sin, we go to heaven.
So, let's all get drunk, and go to heaven!

May your troubles be less
And your blessings be more.
And nothing but happiness
Come through your door.

May the luck of the Irish
Lead to happiest heights
And the highway you travel
Be lined with green lights.

May you be poor in misfortune,
Rich in blessings,
Slow to make enemies,
And quick to make friends.
But rich or poor,
Quick or slow,
May you know nothing but happiness
From this day forward.

May you have food and raiment,
A soft pillow for your head,
May you be forty years in heaven
Before the devil knows you're dead.

May the face of every good news
And the back of every bad news
Be forever toward us

May I see you gray and combing your grandchildren's hair

And finally....

There are only two kinds of people in the world,
The Irish, and those who wish they were.

Okay, that was just a jest for fun, maybe yet one more....

Wherever you go and whatever you do,
May the luck of the Irish be there with you.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Atheism Doesn't Really Exist

This, on Real Time with Bill Maher, between Aussie comedian Jeff Jeffries and Pierce Morgan...was just so funny. Real, but serious.

I agree with Jeffries on another topic. There shouldn't be a need for the term, atheist. It seems to be a term created by theists, by the religious, to describe those who see things differently. A viewpoint that once could get your hung, burned at the stake or killed on the spot. Which explains off much of what theists claim about how one everyone believed in God. They didn't. You just didn't bring it up and expect to have good things come, or anything ever again if you were simply murdered by others or the State.

atheist (n.) Look up atheist at Dictionary.com

1570s, "godless person, one who denies the existence of a supreme, intelligent being to whom moral obligation is due," from French athéiste (16c.), from Greek atheos "without god, denying the gods; abandoned of the gods; godless, ungodly," from a- "without" (see a- (3)) + theos "a god" (see theo-).

The existence of a world without God seems to me less absurd than the presence of a God, existing in all his perfection, creating an imperfect man in order to make him run the risk of Hell. [Armand Salacrou, "Certitudes et incertitudes," 1943]

I've blogged about this before in detail. Though I'd also argue "atheist" is not actually a term defining a disbelief in God per se, but in the definitions of a belief in a Supreme Being. What Freemasons call the Grand Architect (G.A.O.T.U., the Grand Architect of the Universe).

Possibly the God as portrayed by organized religions, but without the nonsense attributed from organized and confused religions as creatively manufactured by human societies and lost individuals who were not infrequently either on drugs or simply had mental problems. Or as in the case of Mormon's Joseph Smith, simply a conman gone seriously wrong once he found the paradise of people easily beleiving anything he said if he just invoked the concept of a God.

Like I indicated, I've previously written extensively on this.

Atheism has been generally defined as a disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or Gods.

Define God then. Yeah, exactly. Best of luck. Let's give it a shot though.

God:

1. (in Christianity and other monotheistic religions) the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being.

synonyms: the Lord, the Almighty, the Creator, the Maker, the Godhead; More
2. (in certain other religions) a superhuman being or spirit worshiped as having power over nature or human fortunes; a deity.

So, it IS God as defined by religion.

Which is what atheists object to. Though many don't realize that themselves. They think it is a God in any sense. But when you consider other definitions outside of the binary sense one gets in religions, you then get into something very interesting.

When you consider reality over fantasy and "revealed" religions such as the Middle Eastern desert region's religions of Judaism, Catholicism \ Christianity, and Islam, it offers an entirely different view on things as referred to in this article.

Good luck if you can see what I'm saying there, but that actually is an example.

And pleaseeee don't waste my time with things like, it's just as fantastical as religion.

Because it's not. It is at least based on some thing. Like logic, proven or soundly plotted elements and concepts. And yes, that actually is a far cry as opposed to being basically founded on fiction, word of mouth historical teachings, and various forms of literature. It's the difference between saying that I got to town by walking, one foot in front of the other, as opposed to say, Mohammed making it clear across the countryside in a night. 666 miles. That number sound familiar?

"God ordered Muhammad and the Islamic faithful to pray 50 times a day, and after returning to ask again, Muhammad had the number reduced to ten, then five. Upon returning from Paradise, Muhammad came back to Mecca, where he described his journey to his followers. Muhammad described Jerusalem to Abu Bakr, who had been there, and he agreed that the description was accurate."

Right. He negotiated with God, from 50 to 5? Negotiated. With God. You're buying this.

Okay then.

He traveled 666 nautical miles in a single night, back then?

No, he didn't. Cutting to the chase, yes, science is founded in some thing more real. Far more so.

Still, enjoy your beliefs. If you do insist on that, then you may find this old blog of mine interesting.

It should be a free country. It should be a free world. Just don't shove your beliefs down the throats of so many others who have a vastly different and more founded take on reality.

OK?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Beware They Who Have All the Answers

I've written about this before. Years ago I was in my early 20s and I was invited and went somewhere with someone I knew from work. I was in the Air Force at the time. He and his wife picked me and my wife up at our house. Something I later regretted. We were driven unknowingly across the Washington state border up to a place deep into the Idaho hills to a religious compound of white supremacists.

They were very nice people, but with an underlying sense of dysfunction. Superiorities. Religious and racist superiority. We met their people, their congregation, then were invited into their church in their compound. Their national leader was in from Georgia that day.

As he gave his speech, he railed about racist things for about an hour from the pulpit. My wife was terrified. I was horrified. It was such a stark contrast to talk to very congenial people who suddenly got behind hate with such vehemence and passion.

It was only after the service that their national leader was told about us. That they had new people visiting, checking things out. People who were spoken for by one of their own and a member of the military, which they love. He came over and talked to us.

He couldn't have been nicer and apologized saying that had he known we were there as first timers, he would have toned it down. But I put on a big smile and put him at complete ease. I told him, quite honestly, that I was very happy he didn't hold back because I really wanted to know exactly what they truly believed. He relaxed and was more cheerful after that, less concerned about us.

We were at the back of the church, standing around the bench seats. Several of the oldest women in the group, all in their sixties or even seventies, and were very motivated about their beliefs. I had myself a lot of experience about religion and the bible.

Having grown up Catholic, having been lead Alter Boy, graduated from a Catholic school in 8th grade (actually the only year I attended a Catholic school...long story), then since high school I had been learning about various religions. Having graduated high school in 1973, I had known far too many of the Jesus Freak type's and got very acquainted with their favorite tactics and passages. I also held a large and practiced list in my mind of biblical conflicts.

I could easily shoot down anyone trying to convert me and had even convinced a few people they were following a lost cause. Something I stopped doing one day after I crushed one guy's beliefs and realized that I really had no right to destroy his comfort and religious delusions. He had been at peace, happy, and yet he walked away from me that day lost and confused.

Actually if his faith was that strong, I could never have broken it. Which also speaks some to that mindset that even in the face of reality and facts, people will still hold onto their religious delusions.

I hope it did him good though, because I feared it may not have. So I stopped doing that. I had only done it though because I had gotten so sick of the question from various strangers asking me, "Can I give you my testimony."

These self proclaimed Jesus Freaks wanted to give people some big long story about how they were "born again". I wasn't the only person who got sick of people doing that. You couldn't sit in the high school lunchroom without some nutcase coming up and offering to bore you to death over your meal. Boring because it always seemed to be the same story in general.

So when a bunch of tiny, old racist religious women surrounded my wife and I in the church in a compound in the back hills of Idaho where even the local Sheriff they told us was afraid of them, they didn't know who they were talking to. Still, I was also nervous from the stories we had just heard that day from the pulpit. By their national leader.

It seems someone like me who bought into them but later one day decided to abandon (escape?) them, complained to the Sheriff as soon as he got of their compound. So the local sheriff and friends drove to the compound gate and called up to them. They said the Sheriff's men were afraid of them and would never come onto their property. They said that proudly, with broad smiles. Things like that.

At one point, we realized that we could potentially disappear and NO one would ever know what happened to us or where we had gone. It hadn't occurred to me, thinking we would be going to a church there in town where we lived, that we should tell someone where we were going and who we were going with.

Anyway, I figured as long as we were nice to these people, and positive, we would be perfectly safe. It was pretty surreal and unnerving though. I acted like I was honestly seeking answers from the old women, though I was pretty sure I already had more than enough information on them to make an informed decision.

I quizzed them on the difficult parts of the bible to seem genuine. I had somehow turned from potential member of their flock, to spy. And they had answers. Very convincing answers. I would then say, in order to look like I wasn't sure and then give them the opportunity to convince me..."Okay, then what about..." and would give them another unsolvable, or unanswerable bible passage to respond to. And they always had solid answers. To the point that both my wife and I, started to feel a bit creeped out.

In the end, I gave them a good run. They believed they had us hooked. We thanked everyone, got driven home and....never talked to the guy again. I'd considered, since we had security clearances for nuclear weapons, perhaps I should report the guy.

Not that he did anything wrong. But it was a radical group and I thought it might be better our people knew and were aware, than not. However in telling all this to my best friend, he convinced me not to. Because during the day he pointed out, I worked fifteen miles away from home, on base, and they knew exactly where we lived now. What if I pissed them off? So I just dropped it and that ended it.

So here's my point. And it has to do with our new President. With the Trump administration and much of what we're seeing going on lately.

What I learned that day on that compound of armed, white, American Christian racists was that anytime you find a religion that has all the answers, they don't. They simply do not. So do not trust them. Never trust them. Something is wrong. Because that is the thing about theism and authoritarianism. You can NEVER know all the answers. When anyone ever does, they are seriously misleading you. They are either delusional (be scared) or lying to you (be very wary).

Authoritarians are like that. They think they know it all, or want you to believe they do. They have to seem like they have all the answers, so they can act decisively. But it's a mask. A lie. A sham.

And now we have one of these types in the white house. Only he's not religious. He's a capitalist, a narcissist and a petty, greedy little man.

It occurs to me the changes in human experience since the advent of electricity. Life used to be pretty quiet, pretty sedate. You go to an office, there was no radio, no sounds, people felt that was normal and changing it made you odd, or worrisome. But we adapted. Things started advancing faster, within our lifetime, rather than through several.

Then came radio and the 1960s, opening us to so much. Then Cable TV, MTV, instant media and now we are saturated, addicted to stimuli. Everything has to be bigger, better, stronger, more.

Donald Trump is now president and you see so far how that is going.

It's an obvious progression in that sense. We need a chance to acclimate to this, to learn to reconsider priorities. Not just to react, but to see what we are doing, what is being done to us, how we are acting in ways not us, but of others and too frequently against our own best interests.

We would rather elect drama than worker. Excitement than boredom. Entertainment than social worker. Social. A social worker works for and in society, in government, for people. Conservatives have warped it into something like the red menace, rather than people working with social conscience.

We really need to take a look at ourselves and work for our benefit and not just those who want us to work for their benefit.

How about some good news?

Our next president? It will be very easy for her (or him), to seem like a very awesome and great president indeed!

Cheers!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Political Ignorance in a Trump Universe

The ignorance in this last 2016 presidential election on the side of Hillary Clinton supporters is superseded only by that of Donald Trump supporters. It is reminiscent in form of the quote by Winston Churchill.

'Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…'
Winston S Churchill, 11 November 1947

I'll get to Pres. Trump's address to both houses of Congress, in a moment.

For many Clinton supporters who have been around a while, they saw this as her time to become president as after all she had put up with, succeeded through, and done they felt she deserved it. And they deserved it to have a woman president. It was time for a woman president. We are long past that time. It needs to happen. Just not apparently with Hillary. Sad for her, but true nonetheless after to failed runs for that office.

However Mr. Trump should never have been a candidate. That is clearly obvious now even as it was for most people during the campaign.

In hindsight we can now see what I had thought all along during the campaign. That yes, Hillary had paid her dues to become president, all through husband Bill Clinton's rise, campaign, two term presidency and all throughout his romantic antics. Also through her work in Congress and as Secretary of State under the opponent, Barack Obama, whom she had lost to not once but in the end, twice.

However as we now examine our actions and how things turned out, we can see more clearly that as some contended during the campaign, Bernie Sanders could very well have won over Donald Trump. I had said and wished that Hillary would have subordinated herself to become Bernie's Vice President on the ticket to his Presidency.

I still think that would have been a world changing event.

Not a Trump style world changing event, but a positive, useful and constructive one. With Hillary as VP, someone who had been through all she had internationally to the point of Secretary of State, what a block buster team that could have been. Perhaps she could then have run at a future date as President. Perhaps it was simply never to be.

In looking now at the world and the state of American politics, it seems clear that we should all have put aside our beliefs and desires, and gone with a Bernie/Hillary ticket and not a Clinton/Bernie ticket, and certainly not as it turned out, a Clinton ticket up against some nutcase like now Pres. Trump. I said that before many times but no one would listen, that surely she would sadly never take second to a Bernie Sanders.

Very sadly as we now see.

We don't realize the advancements we've made. Some say the IQ has dropped. But I think more importantly what we're seeing is a better educated citizen, smarter people, who aren't yet smart enough. And Republicans always want to cut education. Makes you wonder. And I won't even go into things like cognitive dissonance here.

These people are smart enough to know there is someone behind the curtain, but then think it's the Illuminati (which always surprises them when you tell them that), or some ridiculous entity, or that this is as deep as it goes and no others are involved, or no other process, entity or entropy is involved.

What I've seen, mostly to be honest on the conservative side (liberals have another issue altogether), is that they are smart enough to see they need to break things down somewhat in order to see what there is and where the problem is.

While a wise person knows when you stop doing that and you have the answer. OR, that you cannot achieve a viable answer from any known information at the time.

Still some will push over the edge into what many call insanity, but is simply drawing conclusions with too little information, or never drawing a conclusion other than the one they have already drawn and which all too frequently turns out to be totally incorrect, once all the information is finally known.

Which almost always does eventually show up.

And so we find those who we offer the solutions to for things and yet they refuse to accept it, in thinking they are that smart as to be able to literally divine the answer from not enough correct information. When frequently it is answers they need and not just one. And so it goes, on and on.

And so too, to most critical thinking people they appear stupid.

But they are not stupid. They are simply not intelligent (or educated) enough. Basically and to put it simply, they know just enough to get themselves and others into real trouble and to look foolish.

Therein lay the Republican party.

One of my favorite people for many years has been Christopher Hitchens who sadly died of cancer in December of 2011. In considering what he thought about Hillary, he would have preferred to have seen her not even run for president. But she did not run in a vacuum. She was against Trump.

I have to believe that he would have seen her as President a far better thing for the world than a Trump administration as we have now and as we're seeing is highly dysfunctional and frequently clueless, self serving, and at times outright dangerous.

Charlie Rose on February 24, 2017 had a segment of his show about Chris asking his wife and friends how he would see things today if he were still alive. There is also an article by Newsweek titled, "What would Christoper Hitchens Write?" (1/2/16)

What Chris might have said may all well be true. However he didn't see her having to run for president against not a Barack Obama, a figure who cut a graceful Fred Astaire profile in form and mind, but a Donald Trump figure who cuts more of an Alfred Hitchcock profile though with little of the grace and intellect and none of the style.

Pres. Trump has  a flabbiness of mind exceeded only by his inflated ego, overt narcissism, greed and questionable mental health. He is not insane as some claim but is a capitalist and narcissist and I'm sure other terms of dysfunction we will be seeing and hearing of in the near future. If he makes it that far.

Chris called out Todd Purdum's view of Hillary Clinton and her husband. Yes, there are many things to be said about all that. Which brings us then back to Pres. Donald Trump. There is little need to lay out the issues we are now seeing with him as President of the United States of America. He is a travesty pure and simple and if you cannot yet see that, you simply don't want to. There is no comparison between the two. One is a work horse, one is Donald Trump. One may have an agenda that would have been poignantly put into place, one is scattered and a novice or worse at executing his skewed and admittedly deconstructive agenda.

Even with all the things we know about Hillary, we would still today be far better off with her than a Donald Trump as president. Both Hillary and Trump have as politicians do, deluded their supporters. Trump simply had a far easier job of it with his. As could be seen in many fact checks during the election campaign up to today, Hillary showed far more truth in her statements than Trump ever did or again, even as he does today.

I won't even go into the Republican, Conservative, and Russian slander against Hillary going back to the 1990s. A grass roots hatred of a candidate that deserved that hatred far less than did her opponent in Trump in deserving his praise by those who have found they need to translate in their heads, what he is saying, because he is frequently not saying anything coherent. And reading into what the president says is a highly, extremely dangerous thing to do, and to have to do.

Frankly, Trump supporters were far more easily duped to the point that we now have him as POTUS. Something that will plague not only America, but the entire world, not to mention benefit Russia and perhaps China, for a very long time after he leaves the world stage.

To be fair to Trump supporters, they voted for him not out of intelligence and information, but out of anger and frustration at our government. It has indeed been entrenched for decades now in a style of government that desperately needed change and repair. Much of  that repair being needed for Republicans working hard to damage the government.

Thinking to elect a disruptor, someone to shake up the government and not just another status quo candidate, Trump is most definitely now disrupting things.

However he has consistently and blatantly lied to us, damaged our government's standing with our citizens and even more so with other countries around the entire planet. Good things will come of his presidency, of that I have no doubt. But in the same way as a broken leg is stronger at the break than it was before it was broken. However that also weakens the areas on either side of that break.

Things like government and in such a big and powerful country as the US, needs care not damage to fix things. Of that few gave much consideration out of their frustration at being promised change for so long and seldom seeing it. Or simply not seeing it as fast as change happens on reality TV shows.

I get that. We all do. But a child throwing a tantrum in a shopping mall merely evokes a parent to do whatever they can do stop the tantrum. Not necessarily at all doing what really needs to be done.

Yes, a good parent will do what is needed, and not just what is required to assuage the child. Trump however is not a good parent. Pointing to his children raised by wives and not him, is not proof of anything other than to show that he knows how to marry multiple women and have them raise his kids. Not to mention, those children do have problems as we're now seeing. First off, they're all capitalists. And too rich to really see clearly what most Americans are living through.

When Republicans say "affordable" healthcare, or what American's can afford, or for them to pay reasonable healthcare costs, they have no clue that is a code word for too expensive. My healthcare now that I'm retired is one third of my income. One Third. That's just to have healthcare coverage and not even considering out of pocket expenses.

As for Ivanka, I personally have issues with anyone who chooses on their own to convert to any religion, let alone one like Judaism which is convoluted and rather silly like so many religions. Especially those desert religions of the Middle East which evolved out of a one time need and have evolved into a religion of the obfuscations of reality.

But then, that's what religions do. Make the fears of living more palatable. Offer up hope. When reality should do that if we would just let it. But that really isn't the point either. The point is, Trump is now president. Two words that should never have ever come into the public consciousness: President Trump.

Just how politically ignorant can we be to have allowed such a thing to take place?

Obviously. Pretty damn ignorant. But mostly just frustration.

I have never been so embarrassed to be an American as I was the day Trump was elected. I was pretty embarrassed by the Nixon debacle in the early 1970s as a kid in High School. I was embarrassed by Gore losing to Bush in 2000 and that debacle. I was more embarrassed with the false war in Iraq and then George W Bush being unbelievably re-elected in 2004 at which time I simply gave up on the American people for a time until Obama was elected.

But nothing trumps America electing a Donald Trump as president.

Nothing.

Speaking of political ignorance, Pres. Trump's speech last night on February 28, 2017. He spoke through his teleprompters, made it mostly through the speech with only a single break where he almost turned into The Donald again, but caught himself and returned to reading Steven Miller's curious speech.

photo from CNN

The ONE thing I'd have liked to see last night from a President who says he wants to bring people together... A nod at Republican's for their eight years of obstructionism, now that they ARE in power, for them also to work with Democrats. To have put that ALL on Democrats was ludicrous.

I wouldn't have half minded the several other negative nods at Democrats about that then.

But when it was mostly Republicans refusing to work for America through eight years, it screamed for equal time to both parties last night to do something constructive together, especially for the Republicans and even more so.

Mr. Trump's creating the Voice agency to point out immigrant illegal activities brought a hush of fear over the Congress for a moment, then a few Republicans clapped. It is not as he said to support victims but to further his contentions about immigrant abuse of Americans. A sad commentary on the Trump administration.

Highlights of Pres. Trump's speech if you missed it (go here for a more professional account):

-Various fluff, chaff and misdirections
-Magical promises.
-He's great!
-Republicans rock!
-Immigrants are dangerous! To the point of their creating Voice agency to publish list of crimes by immigrants. The President claimed that murders were being kept quiet by 'special interests']
-Democrats suck because they are partisan and they need to work with Republicans. Republicans apparently are doing just great on that point!
-ACA ("Obamacare") is giving people cancer or something and needs to be exorcised from American consciousness for the great plan Republicans are going to put in place, if only Democrats and the American people would get out of their way and let them implement whatever it is they may come up with if they can only think up something and by the way, NO ONE KNEW that healthcare reform was so hard.
-Display a woman who was in a wheelchair and an inspiration.
-Display the wife of the Navy SEAL the president sent into harm's way with too little planning and who died on the mission, leading to an emotionally rousing and very long standing ovation.
-Other stuff.

It's going to be a very, very long four years....