How Putin Out Dealt Trump

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In a world where the life being lived is always the “best” or the “worse,” it’s an easy choice: facts, evidence, and actions; ideas, explanations, and decisions direct our deliberations to . . . → Read More: How Putin Out Dealt Trump

Passive and Aggressive Violence

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Ever a fan of mandalas, the X/Y axis, delta functions (the rate of change per unit) and comparisons, descriptions, and culture (each generation’s locus of hope and meaning), I drift toward ideas and facts behind . . . → Read More: Passive Violence

Polls

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Polls, polls, everywhere a poll Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind Poll this, don’t poll that, can’t you read the poll?

 

 

Polls. You can’t get away from them. . . . → Read More: Polls

The Creepy Things

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The creepy things are starting to creep into the Republican campaigns; the things so ugly and wrong they shut us down and leave us dispirited. How can Democrats find a path to victory through . . . → Read More: The Creepy Things

When Reason Stops Short

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DDUnlike bullets and political rhetoric, reason often stops short. Like bullets and rhetoric, reason often puts forth a single-sided, unchallenged view. Thinking is no longer a safe zone: it is used for deadly purposes. Political leaders and armies have conscripted reason into their arsenals. Insurgents and students deploy it in the service of their cause. As we review the cases, we see reason how reason stops short and trends farther and farther from the truth. It does its most damage when it stops short. Here’s proof.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin says he still recognizes Viktor F. Yanukovych as Ukraine’s president. Nobody has heard from Yanukovych since February, when he gave a press conference after he had disappeared and turned up in Russia near Ukraine’s border. It is a globally accepted practice that when a head of state flees a country voluntarily, has no popular or party support, no longer controls the military, can no longer appoint ministers or cabinet members, and no longer has signatory authority, that person is considered to have been stripped of the power of office. But in Russia, in the logic and reason of Putin, such a person still holds high authority. Reason stopped short.

The recent Ukrainian national election won by a billionaire chocolate maker, Petro Poroshenko, a former Ukrainian foreign minster and trade minister who knows Putin well, was not enough to convince Putin otherwise. Putin’s reasoning not only falls short but steps into a big hole—it ignores the overwhelming presence of a connected series of irrefutable facts. Putin is the communist president who would be the Russian empress Catherine. His subjects silent, fearful of laughing, afraid he or his agents will hear snickering, he declares he is sartorially arrayed in the regalia of power, when his closet (and coffers!) are empty and his tenuous rewriting of history is in free fall.

Putin positions his army on the edge of his reason. Looking down the barrels of very large guns spread across their borders, local populations and even nations rarely object to his fallacies and delusions. Armed threats are persuasive; his words make no case.

Nigeria is a first-class exhibit for reason gone awry and stopped short. The Nigerian government and army and the Northern insurgency of Islamists, Boko Haram, the group who recently kidnapped 296 school-aged girls (followed by another kidnapping of eight more girls), both attack reason in the depth of the heart: the safety and security of children. Continue reading When Reason Stops Short

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The Politics and Culture of the Fact-Free Paradox

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DDI never knew so many bad things would happen if I asked for and got a raise on the job. First, I would be told by everybody from HR (human resources) to our highest politicians in the Congress that I can’t be singled out for special treatment. If I get a raise everybody will want one, and fairness will demand everybody’s pay be increased!

That would cut into profits—bad for the stockholders and executives whose bonuses are tied to higher profits; bad for the economy because lowered profits would reduce company growth and therefore national economic growth. My raise would slow down the economic recovery and reduce exports since other countries have a wage advantage. Finally, since wages are tied to the job—and I am doing the same job—why should I warrant an increase for doing the same work?

Thinking about it, maybe I am greedy and self-serving for refusing to accept how my demand for more cash inflicts pain and deficits on important items on the balance sheet—profits, earnings, exports, GDP, the rate of growth.

Maybe I should consider a cut in pay. That way jobs would be created rather than lost! And America would be competitive!

Aah, even Ralph Kramden (played by Jackie Gleason on The Honeymooners, who, in television’s worst case of serial misogyny, continuously threatened to punch out his wife: “one of these days”) and Archie Bunker (played by Carroll O’Connor, who later played a Southern sheriff who romanced, married, and kissed a black woman) the television bastions of America’s iconic conservative confusion, never presented these arguments for the current wage status quo.

What they did present and what the arguments above lay out is another fact-free paradox. The form, and its suspension of reality, was once a favorite of advertisers.

Remember the 1967 Colt 45 malt liquor commercial whose drinker watched a series of short action adventure scenarios unfold right under his (never her!) eyes while being bored, even turned off, by their frivolous intrusions? Women, danger, action simply didn’t measure up to the hidden thrill and experience of the elixir poured professionally into the glass!

Believe it? You see it! You watch each step and desire every temptation.

It’s a great story! It creates an anti-hero to admire and emulate. Indifferent to everything except his special brand of joy; fully confident and unconcerned with the distractions and buzz that are the meaningless noise attempting to intrude on his power and space, his satisfactions are divorced from the reality around him.

The great thing about the fact-free paradox is it involves three strategies in one.

The first is follow-the-liar. This strategy involves an ontological assumption that money is God, despite the Pope being a Marxist (says Glenn Beck).

For questioning the intrinsic nature of wealth as all virtuous, Beck declared the Holy Man to be a hater. Beck, a former alcoholic, now a “dry drunk” (someone who exhibits the attitudes and behavior of a wet drunk), with severely damaged brain cells and weird voices, reduced one of the world largest faiths (and collection plates!) to a closet ideology in which the Bible makes no mention of social justice (or by Beck’s logic, divine justice) and poverty is no longer God’s problem.

For Beck, “the strength and light of his journey” (I’m quoting Pope Francis) models his drinking. Beck’s form of liberty releases him from a dialogue with a God not made in his own image. Continue reading The Culture and Politics of the Fact-Free Paradox

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A Profile of Flaws

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Moral charges no longer have political meaning! Violate any of God’s Supreme 10 or men and women’s high ideal of public trust, or the simple statues of common law, and after taking the state plane overseas to see your mistress, paying the highest ethics fine in the history of the state, run for office by campaigning against a cardboard cutout which is not even the image of your opponent—and in South Carolina District 1, you can win by 10 points!

Ideas and people connect values and actions. Cardboard cutouts and moral charges are the new symbols of faith for a coast that was once America’s richest locale, a coast that generated the ideal of the American Dream that now has been consumed by its contradiction—not overrun by the contradictory presence of Africans enslaved that dream left out as it created its riches from their labor, but by the corrosive greed of entitlement that ignored their humanity. That greed has overwhelmed all common sense and decency in South Carolina 1. It threatens the country.

Tuesday’s special election in SC-1 was about Mark Sanford. Conducted in two stages, a Republican primary, then the special election, the electoral process presented a badly flawed, unrepentant individual continually exercising bad judgment—Thursday, he appears in local court to answer charges of trespassing for entering his former wife’s house without her consent, after being previously warned—and the voters sanctioned his passive mean-spiritedness as their ideal of character and to represent their politics.

But every action has the seeds of change in its core. Those seeds are ideals that stretch to the arc of the universe, Dr. King reminded us. Let Mark Sanford have his day, his win, his office, his place as the symbol of our worst.

That symbol is but a symptom of a larger, growing illness that is taking many forms. When the Air Force’s top officer in charge of preventing sexual assaults is charged by civilian police for drunkenly grabbing, in a parking lot, the breasts and buttocks of a woman whom he did not know, Houston has a bigger problem than the personal conduct of a corrupt congressman or the failed positive of a career military officer.

Today, the AP reported the Air Force removed the launch authority from 17 officers in charge of the nation’s most powerful intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles, siloed in Minot, South Dakota. An April inspection found multiple readiness violations, from failing to obey orders and a lack of decorum to potential compromises of the missile’s launch codes and ignoring safety precautions.

Yesterday, the Pentagon released its annual report on sexual assaults. By its own statistics, the US military—an organization trained in the highest ideals of honor and conduct—has a higher rate of sexual assault than any civilian organization. Continue reading A Profile of Flaws

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Digging Deeper: Mocking God

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This election, there’s a movement around the country to use the Bible and prayer in the wrong way. It makes God a political partisan. It associates God with vengeance and hatred, substitutes a personal or group judgement for God’s own as it despoils the idea of divine glory, and mocks God by asking God to grant divine intervention and authority to actions God condemns.

Put aside the impulse to run to the barricades of clichés, the library of platitudes about religion. Go outside free will, the failed standards of churches, the doubts about the existence of God, the comfortable substitution of superstition, the smug blindness by which we ignore the invisible, universal presence our ancestors were able to discern with slowly evolved awareness of its immanence. For all doubters, simply look to creativity–one concept–the endless, infinite, ever-changing, amazing creativity that is the world, things small and large, near and far, that are, even by our limited measure, eternal marvels of patterns and chaos that link light arriving to our eye before the earth was formed.

After creativity, morality is a universal set of human rules, tied to an afterlife. Sacred texts developed by communities coded behavior and designated good and bad. For Christianity, the Bible is a sacred text. Its words by many believers are considered the holy writ of God. And its believers, many people of power and influence, of education and means, are using its verses to pray for the defeat, death and the spiritual disembowelment of Barack Obama.

E-mails are being widely distributed with the title, “Pray Psalm 109:8.” Here’s the relevant section of Psalm 109 people are using to pray for Barack:

When he is tried, let him be found guilty, and may his prayers condemn him. 8 May his days be few; may another take his place in office. 9 May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. 10 May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven[a] from their ruined homes. 11 May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor. 12 May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children. 13 May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation. 14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord; may the sin of his mother never be blotted out. 15 May their sins always remain before the Lord, that he may blot out their name from the earth.

People around the country are praying these words, sending them to friends, specifically putting “Pray Psalm 109:8” on tee shirts, hats, and bumper stickers and earnestly bowing their heads without thought or remorse that Barack be “blotted out.” Others are using what they believe are God’s words to ridicule Barack, mocking him with the swift righteousness of  a God whose wrath is final. But God’s wrath is not theirs; their judgement is not His. By not embracing God in love, they deceive themselves and mock God.

Harriet Tubman is a major source of my own belief, this woman whose head was crushed by a 40 lb. scale weight when she was 12, leaving her in a six-month coma and with debilitating lifelong seizures and migraines. She was the height of 19th century courage as she guided small bands of the enslaved to freedom across hostile landscapes, never caught, never losing a passenger on her underground railroad, even as she lapsed into day-long seizures, never captured despite the $40,000 price tag on her head by those who condemned her victories for freedom as evil.

During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman served as a soldier, scout, spy, and nurse–but never fired a shot. She united faith and works. She healed hundreds of soldiers given up on with dysentery, using an herbal remedy she learned from the enslaved. She liberated the largest one-day total of the enslaved, over nine hundred, as she commanded three ships clearing mines from the Combahee River, a blackwater river along coastal South Carolina. She was present at the nation’s first emancipation celebration at Port Royal, SC, beginning midnight, January 1, 1863. As freedom spread across the South in its own long march, at the time and place of its notice, no soldiers died and no deaths were recorded. Freedom was unspoiled.

God’s warrior angel deserves sainthood. Her work is how God answers prayers. It shows how God intervenes, not through death but hope. God is a refuge, not an assassin. The grace and protection of God surrounded her every step. She always claimed to be guided by God’s voice.

Those who are praying the verses above are praying not for the righteous guidance of God but for his vengeance. Their praise of God corrupts his intent. Their hearts do not see God as a fortress against distress. Their stubborn hearts follow a false way. They profane the sweet honey from the rock.

Among the leaders of the Psalm 109 prayer movement is Kansas Speaker of the House, Republican Mike O’Neal. O’Neal also wrote in an e-mail: “At last – I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look it up – it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!” This is a man deceived by the wickedness of his own heart, a man who cannot ask for glory. He has misjudged God’s trust. Continue reading Digging Deeper: Mocking God

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Just Sayin' Is All (Midnight Musings edition)

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Republicans are incessantly ranting about things like morals, ethics, and family values.  In other words, they just can’t stop whining about the things they don’t have.

Priests and ministers are always encouraging us to have a “personal relationship with God”.  Wouldn’t the first step towards that kind of relationship be to cut out the middleman?

I wouldn’t mind people trying to put the Ten Commandments in public buildings if those same people would agree to follow them.

If Sarah Palin had half a brain, she’d be able to appreciate the vast emptiness that exists in the other half of her skull.

People who are glued to FOX News 24/7 aren’t necessarily a devoted audience – they’re just too stupid to know how to change channels.

Hey, remember when George W. Bush was president?  The Republicans don’t.

A day without Rush Limbaugh is like a day without an anal cyst.

I think that if the GOP wants to get intimate with my vagina, they should start with a romantic dinner, flowers, and an expensive little bauble from Tiffany’s.

If Republicans were as concerned about government spending when one of theirs was in the White House as they are when one of ours is, Obama would now be under fire for how he’s using the surplus he’d inherited.

You have to admit there’s a certain something about Republican politicians.  I don’t know exactly what it is, but it has an extremely unpleasant odor.

I remember when the TV news was delivered in an editorial-free, without comment, monotone.  I’m so glad the MSM has replaced all of that boring factual shit with dazzling graphics and mindless chit-chat!

You used to have to buy a crappy tabloid at the supermarket check-out if you wanted innuendo, speculation and gossip.  Now you just have to tune-in to the nightly “news”.

Devoid-of-talent celebrity wannabes used to vie for a five-minute spot on the local news – now they have their own reality shows (Seasons 1 through 6 now available on hi-def DVDs!)

I wonder when so-called Christians will have their come to Jesus moment – and if they’ll even recognize him when they get there.

I’d love to see Mitt Romney visit Canada – as long as someone straps him to the roof of a car for the trip.

If facts could literally bite you in the ass, not a single GOP politician would be able to sit down.

You can’t insult Republicans by calling them ignorant, ill-informed, classless bigots –  these days, they just take it as a compliment.

One can’t help but be amused when the Catholic Church takes the moral high ground on an issue.  It’s kind of like listening to a bunch of pedophiles and their enablers talking about morality – actually, it IS listening to a bunch of pedophiles and their enablers talking about morality.

Ann Coulter fans love it when her latest book hits the Top Ten on the best-seller lists – it means they can buy a copy at the local Dollarama for $1.99 the same day!

Don’t you get a kick out of Republicans insisting that Obama controls the price of gas at the pump?  It’s understandable, though – obviously he’d want to raise prices in an election year.

Those folks who got trotted off to FEMA internment camps during the Bush years, and the “true progressives” who are being trotted off during the Obama years – how are they getting along?  Anyone heard anything?

It’s said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different outcome.  That being said, why haven’t all Republican voters been institutionalized by now?

If I had a dime for every time a GOP politician told a lie, I would have been part of that infamous 1% years ago. Continue reading Just Sayin’ Is All (Midnight Musings edition)

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