Twilight for One Donald Trump

blog-punch1Donald Trump is a greedy rich racist sexist bigoted homophobic coward and boor. However, Donald Trump is not America.  Donald Trump is a reflection of the worst elements of humanity rolled into one human being.  I know many people who have elements of Donald Trump in their personalities.  I know racists. I know sexists. I know greedy rich and greedy poor people.  I know bigots and I know people who are homophobic.  I know many cowards who will not bother to stand up for their ideas or the rights of other people.  Donald Trump is unique in that he manages to roll all of the negative characteristics of humanity into one persona.

“The great secret of true success, of true happiness, is this: the man or woman who asks for no return, the perfectly unselfish person, is the most successful.”Swami Vivekananda

crooked-hillaryDonald Trump is not America.  Donald Trump is a creation of a media empire that is out of control.  A media that trends sensationalism, exploitation, fear and paranoia to feed a 24/7 system of so called news reports.  A system of glitz, glamour, ads, sound bites, commercials, sex appeal and worthless trivia that has little or no educational or informational value.  It is a system that neither informs nor educates.  It is a system that thrives on the likes of Donald Trump.  It is a system that thrives on the exotic, the unusual, the strange, the bizarre, the kinky, the outlandish and the far out.  Donald Trump is all of these things but he is not America.

“If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly.” Thomas Sowell

sex-imagesDonald Trump is not even a real Republican.  The party he claims as his own is one he and his small band (less than 9 percent of the total registered voters in the USA)* has managed to co-opt.  The Republicans that I have called friends over the years want nothing to do with him.  They are as appalled as the Democrats are at Donald Trumps rise to popularity in the media polls.  Americans however should not be surprised at this.  It is not the first time that a fraud, demagogue and charlatan has captured the media stage.  Looking back through US history, we can find similarities between Donald Trump and the likes of Aaron Burr, The Know Nothing Party, Huey Long, The Silver Shirts, and of course Joseph Mc McCarthy.   None of my Republican friends would avow affiliation with any of these characters.   They are not America and neither is Donald Trump.

“Find out for yourself what is truth, what is real. Discover that there are virtuous things and there are non-virtuous things. Once you have discovered for yourself give up the bad and embrace the good.”   — The Buddha

trump-and-putinEvery country in the world has its right and left-wing extremists.  It has been this way for hundreds of years.  Fortunately, in the USA, our political system usually kicks out the extremists and the middle ground or centrists have always trumped the left and right-wing fanatics.  Due to our political system, we have escaped such maniacs as General Franco, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler.  There are many drawbacks to our political system and chaos often seems to be a major characteristic of it.  There are many people who would discard such a system in favor of stability and security.  These people would buy such a political system at the cost of freedom and liberty.  In many nations throughout the world, citizens select benevolent dictators rather than trying to deal with the vagaries and uncertainties that are often characteristic of a US style democracy.

Donald Trump would have Americans believe that he will bring us stability and prosperity, but at what cost?  Donald Trump would build a huge wall to keep out immigrants.  Donald Trump would build Internment Camps for American Muslims.  Donald Trump would outlaw Gay marriage.  Donald Trump would create a police state to keep in check unruly minorities.  Donald Trump would insure that a woman’s place was back in the kitchen.

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” — Acts 20:23

Donald Trump promises to make all Americans rich.  That is how he is buying the support of a small minority of foolish Americans.   Donald Trump says “I am rich.  I know how to run things. I can make you rich too.  Look at how much money I have.”  And people believe him:  “Donald Trump will Make America Great Again means Donald Trump will make us all rich like he is.”  Well, he will promise to make every American rich.  That is the benefit he is promising for anyone is willing to vote for him.  All it will cost America is the cost of one giant prison system.

trump-wallDonald Trump says that he will create the largest wall that the world has ever seen, but it won’t keep out immigrants.  It will only keep out ideas and innovation.  Donald Trump supporters include the misguided and fearful who believe that if we only had less poor people, less immigrants, less refugees, less minorities, less disabled people and less women in power that “America Would Be Great Again.”  This is a delusion held by those who dream of a bygone era when “Father knew best, Blacks knew their place and women stayed in the kitchen.”  The myth of “The Good Old Days” is almost impossible to kill in a population fed on media mediocrity and where real history is either not taught or understood.  Donald Trump will not bring back the “good old days” because the good old days where not really that good.  Donald Trump will not “Make America White Again.”

A man asked Muhammad what was the mark whereby he might know the reality of his faith. Muhammad said, “If thou derive pleasure from the good which thou hast performed and thou be grieved for the evil which thou hast committed, thou art a true believer.” The man said. “In what doth a fault really consist?” Muhammad said, “When action pricketh thy conscience, forsake it.”Sayings of the Prophet

hate-speechWhat all of Trump’s bombastic speeches fail to note is that America is still great.  Unfortunately, the things that make America great are hidden behind the media pronouncements of Donald Trump and his ill-advised followers. The ceaseless stream of bad news, crime, bizarre and weird news that titillates so many also deprives us of being a well-informed populace.   In addition, our outlandish media system simply serves to hide the many great values that the USA stands for.

Most Americans and by this term I will include North America, Central America and South America, i.e., US Citizens, Mexican Citizens, Canadian Citizens and Citizens from Central and South America are decent law abiding compassionate and loving people.  The majority of the people I know or have met in Canada, the USA, Mexico, Central and South America will help their fellow human beings.  They are good Samaritans who will give some of what they have to provide for others in need.  They are not greedy or bigots or racists or sexists.  They are people like you and me who care for their neighbors, their country and their environment.  They are not Donald Trump supporters.

“Before someone will get the guts to monitor your life, he must get the keyboard of humility. To be a humble person, is a priority in leadership!”Israelmore Ayivor

The media and its fascinations with the likes of Donald Trump obscure the good that abounds in our nations.  The media obscures the daily good deeds and charities that are done in the name of love and compassion for others.  People like Donald Trump are raised on soap boxes and the ceaseless barrage of hateful comments from him and his followers hides the voice of the majority.  Donald Trump and his followers are the minority.

“It’s easy to stand in the crowd but it takes courage to stand alone”Mahatma Gandhi

trump-bankrupt-americaThe message of hatred and intolerance that spews daily from Trump is something that one could pity Trump for if it were not so dangerous and belligerent.  It is hard to feel sorry for the bully that is kicking other people when they are down.  Somewhere though, we know that such bullies are really cowards. Their intolerance and lack of compassion towards others is driven by fear and insecurity.  No matter how big and bad the bully seems, they are the biggest cowards in the playground.  It is time to put Donald Trump and his followers in their places.  There is no room in America for bigots, sexists and racists who are intolerant of and lack compassion for others. We need to keep America great by letting the world see the true values that guide our nations and not the distorted hate filled messages that the media loves to display.

We shall listen, not lecture; learn, not threaten. We will enhance our safety by earning the respect of others and showing respect for them. In short, our foreign policy will rest on the traditional American values of restraint and empathy, not on military might.”   — Theodore C. Sorensen

We are a few weeks short of Election Day.  The Trump bandwagon has already exploded.  Hillary has been asked what she will do to unite the country.  Unfortunately, stupidity and greed and hate cannot be united with honesty, integrity and compassion.  We will be left with an underbelly of nearly 30 percent of American voters who have supported Trump.  For whatever reason, (it really does not matter) we have millions of Americans who will vote for a man who has no qualifications to be a humane being never mind President of the United States of America.  We will have to take the problem of his supporters very seriously or risk a rerun of this past election.  I think I am on firm ground when I say that four things must happen to change in America:

  1. We need to insure a pathway to success for all Americans by creating a system of lifelong learning and job training.
  2. We need to change our political system and start by establishing term limits. I would support a system of a single term of six years for all representatives, senators and the President.
  3. We need to break up the monopoly that a few media giants have on the news. We need more integrity in journalism and not a system that is built on sensationalism and exploitation.  The news should inform people and help people make better decisions.
  4. We need a better system for establishing the credentials of candidates for office. The system of debates that we watched the past year did little or nothing to help people decide who was the most qualified candidate and what their concrete policies were.

Time for Questions:

Will you help get out the word?  Will you promise to speak out against Trump and his lack of morality and values?  Will you be sure to register to vote this election?  Will you educate yourself on the candidates and vote on the basis of values and not fear?  Will you help the world to see that Donald Trump Is Not America?

Life is just beginning.

“Americans need to educate themselves, from elementary school onward, about what their country has done abroad.  And they need to play a more active role in ensuring that what the United States does abroad is not merely in keeping with a foreign policy elite’s sense of realpolitik but also with the American public’s own sense of American values.”  — Mohsin Hamid

10- 22-2016.  Breaking News!!!  Trump unveils his 100 day plan in final policy speech.

His 100 day plan: Put women back into the kitchen by repealing Roe Versus Wade. Eliminate income inequality by giving more money and tax breaks to the rich hoping some of it will “trickle” down. Build up a military that is already as large as the next ten largest militaries in the world COMBINED. Put more people in prison who are trying to get into this country for a better life. We already have the largest prison population in the world. Sue his accusers for having the temerity to call him on his sexual predation and assaults. Build a big big wall to employ millions of laid off American workers. Finally, REPEAL Obama Care and replace it with something Great. Any more NEW FUCKING IDEAS MORON?

What the Hell is True? How do We Know What to Believe Anymore? – Part 1

truth-2I watched several shows the other day in which Trump supporters were interviewed.  People are as curious about his supporters as they are about Trump.  Given the unquestionable fact that Trump is a greedy sexist racist hate monger, why would anyone support him?  The assumed knowledge is that his supporters are a bunch of ignorant losers:  people who are uneducated or at best semi-literate.  However, the data and demographics do not entirely support this conclusion.  Many Trump supporters are intelligent educated and literate people.  These are also people who believe in the United States of America and care about their country.  What then persuades or convinces them that Trump is the right person for the job of POTUS?  His qualifications pose a questionable proposition that would seem to fly in the face of all known facts in the entire universe.  This dilemma strikes at the heart of the matter.  We do not know what to believe any more.  What is a fact?  What is evidence?  What is objective data?  Where can we find facts that are truthful (not really a redundancy)?

I think about my graduate students at the college where I have taught for many years.  These are students who are working on an MBA and are highly literate, highly educated and highly intelligent individuals.   Many of them already hold very well paying jobs and responsible positions in successful companies.   Nevertheless, the challenge that I continually face is to teach them the difference between facts, data, evidence and truth.  Despite their literacy, few of these students understand the difference.  This is a scary situation.  If these highly educated students do not understand the difference between these concepts, how can we expect the many uneducated members of the general public to understand and comprehend the essential elements of truth finding?  I say essential because facts, data and evidence are the three pillars of truth.  If you do not have these, you cannot find the truth.

liesSeveral problems make the issue even more complex.  In academia, we are dealing with a subset of life in which there is much less confusion over the truth since no one is deliberately trying to distort, lie or sell us anything.  There may be stupidity, lack of knowledge and even ignorance by many scientists and professors but the greed motive is much less tangible.  I am not saying it does not exist, but for most of my teaching career, I cannot think of anything I have ever tried to sell to my students and make a profit on.  I can say with some confidence that this is also true of all the instructors whom I have ever known or worked with.  The same situation does not exist outside of academia.  The marketplace is a vicious jungle when it comes to searching for the truth while academia is a tame zoo in comparison.

When we enter the marketplace and even more so in the political arena, the motive to convince us of something relies much less on elucidating the truth than it does on obfuscating the truth in order to sell us something.  Wells Fargo Bank wants you to open a credit account.  They don’t care whether you need it or not.  Volkswagen wants to sell you a car even if they have to hide the truth about pollution levels.  Every politician in America wants you to vote them into office.  They don’t want you to know the real truth about their competition or that they do not have all the answers to the problems facing our country.

Companies and politicians have a vested interest in hiding the truth from you.  Stories like Miracle on 31st Street where Macy’s sent people to Gimbels are few and far between and exist mostly in fantasy.  Similarly, stories about politicians with ethics such as “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” have become legendary because they depict a reality that seldom exists.  Most politicians will promise you the moon to get your vote and most companies will not tell you the truth about cigarettes, drugs, food or anything else unless forced to do so by some form of government regulation or mandate.  It does not matter whether it will kill you or not as long as you buy it or elect them.

trump-versus-hillaryFinally, we come to perhaps the biggest ruse of all.  If anyone is searching for the truth, they will eventually enter into the Fourth Estate.  This hallowed ground is defined as:  “A societal or political force or institution whose influence is not consistently or officially recognized.  Fourth Estate most commonly refers to the news media, especially print journalism or The Press.” (Wiki).   Thomas Jefferson believed that the two pillars of a democratic society were an educated citizenry and a free press.  Mark Twain was somewhat more skeptical about the power of the press and information to inform people when he noted that:  “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.”  The truth seeker has been taught since early childhood that in the domain of the Fourth Estate is to be found the truth.  Little do they know the quagmire they have entered into or that the role of truth finding in the Fourth Estate no longer exists.

Today, the major purpose of the news (whether print or digital or video or audio) is to sell.  Sell, sell, sell, sell and sell some more.  Sell junk, sell drugs, sell expensive credit cards, sell stuff and more stuff.  Stuff you don’t need, won’t need and will probably never need.  The job of the media is to convince you that you do need stuff, that you desire stuff and that you cala_verite_par_jules_joseph_lefebvren not possibly live without stuff.

I once thought that journalists were a group to be respected.   This was based on the knowledge that they had often risked their lives and their reputations to bring us the truth.  Today, journalists are little more than pimps for advertisers.  They have sold their souls to the devil, descended into hell and may never come out again.  The measure of a journalist is not how much information they provide to the public but how many advertisements they can sell.  The changing role of journalists has made it even more difficult for people to find the truth.  Nothing in the news is remotely objective or unbiased any more.  Every paper, every station has their spin on things.  The spin is determined by who owns and controls the media.
Take polls for example.  As we go into the final days of the 2016 US presidential election, you can find polls that favor one candidate or the other candidate.  If there are seventy polls, half may favor one candidate and half may favor the other candidate.  There is no truth even in these so called unbiased statistical polls.  Many of my friends have suggested that the news media want the race to be close because this keeps people tuned in.  Much like a sports match, we would rather watch an event that had a pair of evenly matched contestants.  My friends have suggested that the news seems to do its best to insure that first one candidate gets major media attention thus elevating them in the polls and then it switches to the other candidate providing them attention that elevates their poll numbers.  I am not a big conspiracy theorist but this theory does seem to have some merit to it.

78-trump-debate-lies-758x426Regardless of whether the media intentionally want to keep the race close or not, there is no denying that the candidate who is the most obnoxious, the most outrageous and the most sensational will garner the most press.  Trump has been well aware of this and has continually manipulated the media into providing him billions of dollars in free advertising.   The fickle public seems to swing from one candidate to the other depending on who they see in the news.  Trump has undoubtedly benefitted from his ability to keep the press absorbed with his every utterance regardless of how inane they are.  He can tweet at 2AM in the morning and be assured that Fox News will carry his tweet on the 7 AM morning news.

stupid-trump-supportersHow then can we blame the general public, educated or not, of being uninformed or misinformed when most of our society is conspiring against them finding the truth?  It is a trap that I have fallen into when I have railed against the stupid, illiterate and uninformed Trump supporters.  Sadly, they are not to blame for their reliance on Trump to give them the truth.  The have certainly not found it in academia or the Fourth Estate.  I have some solutions to this issue but I do not have the entire answer to it.  I do have part of the answer.  It is quite clear to me that one must understand the difference between facts, data, evidence and the role of these three elements in helping to shape the truth.   In Part 2 of this blog, I will go into the subject of Facts in more depth.  In the following parts, I will cover Data, Evidence and Truth.

Time for Questions:

How do you know what to believe?  Who do you trust to give you unbiased information?  How much do you trust the news?  Are you satisfied with the quality of the information you get from journalists and the news?  What do you think we need to do to improve the quality of information the American public receives?

Life is just beginning.

“There’s a danger in the internet and social media.  The notion that information is enough, that more and more information is enough, that you don’t have to think, you just have to get more information – gets very dangerous.” — Edward de Bono

Politics, Passions, Economics and Care Giving:  What is life really about?

Last week I turned 70 years old.  This was quite a milestone for a guy who once did not think there was any life beyond thirty.  This week, I attended the 52nd Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter Minnesota.   I would bet Minnesota has more towns named after saints than any other state or perhaps even country in the world.  One wonders why these early Scandinavians who settled in this area of the Midwest needed to pay so much homage to saints.  Knowing as many Lutherans as I do (My spouse belongs to this crazy cult of Christians) I would have thought that they would have named more cities after composers.  We should have dozens of cities with names like: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Praetorius, Vulpius, Schein, Schütz and of course Handel.  Is there a Lutheran who has not song the Halleluiah Chorus?  However, I digress.

Monday night this week, Karen and I watched the “Great Debate” live on Facebook or YouTube.  The debate featured the two presidential candidates for the USA in their first head to head confrontation.  The purpose of such debates is to demonstrate the candidates’ positions on key policy issues and to highlight their competency or lack of competency for the job.  However, everyone knew or expected that the debate might deal with everything from sex to gender and even past indiscretions of the candidate’s spouses.  The true wild card (besides Trump) was the moderator.  In the past, the moderators have been unable to control the debaters and this fault was even more egregious with Trump.  Thus this debate had the potential of a no-holds boxing much with no rules that would make an MMA (mixed martial arts) match look tame.

In round one, Hillary came out first and as Trevor Noah noted gave the first lie of the evening.  She said “Donald, it is good to be here with you tonight” or something like that.  The first round was tame with each candidate feeling the other out.  Like two boxers probing each other to see where the weak points were they were both careful to be courteous and to look presidential.


Of course, as is now well known and thus shall not be endlessly repeated, the debate went downhill from there, as least as far as Trump was concerned.  If anyone thought that he could “stay on topic” or demonstrate an even rudimentary knowledge of policy and positions, I will be happy to sell them the Brooklyn Bridge.  His supporters must be either delusional or stupid.  Only sycophants or as we used to call them in school “ass kissers” like Giuliani and Christie would have thought that Trump looked anything but the sexist and bigot that he is.

Hillary won every round as Trump made a fool of himself in the following areas:

  • Appearing unprepared
  • Bragging about not paying taxes
  • Bragging about his bankruptcies being smart business
  • Continuing to insult women and call them names
  • Continually interrupting and shouting over the moderator and Hillary
  • Having no concrete plans or ideas that were practical or feasible

Subsequent polls now show Hillary back up by several points and Donald on the decline again.  However, it is too early to declare the game over as there are still too many people out there who flip flop every day and who seem to change their minds depending on which way the wind is blowing.


People with Passion can Change the World for the Better

Traveling down to St. Peter on Tuesday to pick up my friend Vic who was going to the conference with me, I finished another one of the Great Courses by the Teaching Company.  This one was called “The Passions: Philosophy and the Intelligence of Emotions” by Professor Robert C. Solomon.  This was an audio course that you play in your car.  I have completed several of these now and the quality of these courses is very high.  The speakers are outstanding and the lectures are usually quite enthralling.  These courses make long trips much less tedious and as a bonus you learn something about life.  I learned about the importance of emotions and as opposed to my old idea that emotions (like Spock thought) were useless impediments in life.  I now appreciate how much they add to my life.  Life without emotions would be a world without color.

2016-logoOn Tuesday and Wednesday along with my good friend Vic Ward, I attended the 52nd Nobel Conference which was titled:  “In Search of Economic Balance.”  It featured many illustrious and highly respected economists such as:  Dan Ariely, Orley Ashenfelter, Paul Collier, Deirdre McCloskey, John List and several other well-known economists.  After every lecture, there was a panel discussion where the speaker and several of the other economists had a chance to discuss and interact.  Following these discussions, my friend and I debated, discussed and summarized what we thought were the most important points of each lecture.  I attended eight lectures, six panel discussions and numerous discussions each evening with Vic.

jims-apple-farmOn the way back from St. Peter, we stopped Jim’s Apple Farm when we saw a sign that said “Next exit, Minnesota’s largest candy store.”  I bought several treats for Karen and the guys at the library in Frederic. Jim’s lived up to its billing.  It may just be the largest candy store in the US. It is certainly the largest candy store I have ever been in.

I returned home late on Thursday and had a brief respite before traveling out again.  On Friday, Karen and I went to New Richmond to attend the 10th Annual Regional Caregivers Conference at the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College.  The theme this year was “Finding Hope, Humor and Heart in Caregiving.”  The keynote speaker was Elaine Sanchez, author and co-founder of

Karen and I both attended Elaine’s keynote speech and then Karen went to a session on music therapy while I attended a session on “Coping with Anger and Guilt in Caregiving” that was also given by Elaine Sanchez.  I have to say that Ms. Sanchez was one of the best speakers I have ever heard in my life.  The major thrust of the conference this year was dealing with people who are getting old (Karen and I) and how to handle people with conditions such as Dementia, Delirium, Alzheimers and Depression with love and compassion.  My background as you might know has little to do with such medicine.  However, with Karen and I both passing the 7th decade of our lives, the future has an increasing probability that one or the other of us will sooner or later face a debilitating condition that will require the other of us to provide care and support.  Thus, the purpose of attending this conference was for us to better learn the basics of caregiving for the elderly.

2016-conference-banner-for-web_post-conference-version_thin-1024x248Karen having spent thirty years of her life in Home Health Care is much better grounded and infinitely more knowledgeable than I am in this area.  Many of the ideas in the conference sessions were basic for her but for me the opposite was true.  I had my eyes opened and many of my concepts about conditions such as Dementia have now been thrown out the window.  I cannot begin to describe how much I learned at this conference and how valuable the ideas were for me.

Perhaps even more important than the knowledge and theory I learned was the fact that Karen and I are both committed to continuing our journey through life together no matter what obstacles are thrown in our way.  Karen had a mammogram on Monday of this week and when we returned home from the conference on Friday, we found an envelope in the mail from the clinic.  The results were not entirely positive and she now has to go back to the clinic for some follow-up tests.  Karen’s mother died from breast cancer so this is a particularly threatening and scary area for her.  Each day seems to bring good news and bad news and a never ending challenge to stay positive in the face of the difficulties that growing old poses.  I am sorry to tell you but one does not grow old like fine wine at least in the physical domain and often not in the mental domain either.

The week is now coming to a close.  We have visitors from out of town today and Sunday may just be the first day this week where nothing is happening.  But looking back on the week, can anyone tell me what ties these conferences, debates and courses together?  What do the subjects of politics, economics, passions and care giving have in common?  Four seemingly very disparate themes, yet a common thread clearly run through all of them.  Like a mosaic or kaleidoscope, the more I journey through life, the more apparent the interconnectedness of all life is.

Donald Trump will soon be ancient history and like Joe McCarthy will be relegated to the garbage bin of American political life.  His supporters will disappear as the political landscape is placed back into a better equilibrium with life and nature.  Hillary Clinton will become the first woman in American history to be elected president.  The clown that called her a crook and liar will become a laughing stock and an embarrassment to the people that supported him.  Few people will admit that they voted for this bottom feeder.

Life will go on.  Baby Boomers will continue to age.  Many will suffer from some form of Dementia.  The major problem of American life will turn from dealing with economic issues to how we can take care of so many elderly people who have no money and cannot take care of themselves.  It is a question that politicians, economists and caregivers must all have passion about or we will have a national catastrophe of epic proportions.  If we do not pay attention to these issues, we will have a Great Depression but it will not be an economic depression but a Depression of Care and Love for our growing elders.

Time for Questions:

What did you do this week?  Was it a good week or a bad week for you? Did you learn anything new this week?  What did you learn?  Do you enjoy life or find it boring?

Life is just beginning.

I guess we have all heard that tired old bromide “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” but if it is not then what is it?  Today may not be the first day of life for some people, it may just be the last day.


Un toast à l’humanité: A Toast To Brave Men! and Women!

toast-of-the-week-black-friday-1101326-TwoByOneUn toast à vous tous braves hommes!  Here’s to all the jurors and prosecutors who decided to execute a twenty one year old for crimes against humanity.  “Vengeance is mine saith the Lord” but here on earth we can decide who can live and who can die. Who must be punished and who must be acquitted.  Death is the only justice for the evil and it only takes eleven good men and a prosecutor bent on political gain to decide who lives and who dies.

Un toast à vous tous braves hommes!   Here’s to all the righteous men who want to decide who can be married and who cannot be married.   Let’s not have a world where people who care for each other can choose who they can love.  Government and politicians know more about love and compassion and it is up to them to tell us what love is sanctioned by God and what love is evil.

JACK-23549-Chicago-Concert-Poster_rvsd-P-72dpi1-805x1024Un toast à vous tous braves hommes!  Here’s to all the brave men that want to send others to fight in the name of liberty and justice and the American way of life.  Let’s keep killing all those bastards who defame America or who don’t want Democracy.  The world will be better off with less of those evil people who don’t believe in Mom, God and the American way of life.

Un toast à vous tous braves hommes!  Here’s to all those Americans who think voting and politics is a waste of time.  Kudo’s to those who are smart enough to realize that Monday night football and American Idol are much more important than who is elected Senator or President.  Let us never forget that all it takes are enough people who don’t care and we can all go back to the good old days.

Un toast à vous tous braves hommes!  Here’s to all those Americans who are simply apathetic about what happens to other people.  Why give a damn if it does not affect your life or money?  Let’s only think about our own team and our own friends and our own family and the hell with all those other losers and deadbeats.   Let the downtrodden take care of themselves.

Un toast à vous tous braves hommes!  Here’s to all the religious people who are against other religions.  The world has too many religions as it is and we all know that our religion is the only right one.  Let’s persecute and denigrate other religions.  Let’s abhor those who are less sacred then we are. They have no right to contradict what we believe in or the God we know is ours alone.

Un toast à vous tous braves hommes!  Here’s to all the greedy people in the world who put profits before compassion.   Money is their God.  Money is their only God.  Greed is good.  Greed knows who the true and only true God is.  The rest are fools since they worship false Gods like kindness and love.  Jesus was misguided when he threw the moneylenders out of the temple.  We need to rectify his mistake.  God is Greed and Greed is God.

Un toast à vous tous braves hommes!  Here’s to all the men who put race before humanity.  Race is the only thing that counts.  You must be true to your race.  Blood is thicker than water.  People who are not true to their race are cowards.  My race is and always will be better than your race.  Your race is so inferior to my race that it needs to be persecuted and denigrated.  Kudo’s to the race baiters and race haters for theirs is the Kingdom of Hell.

Jimmy CarterUn toast à vous tous braves hommes!  Here’s to all the people that believe that welfare, social security, Medicare and Obama Care are socialist plots to undermine the government of the United States of America.  Surely they are the only ones with eyes who can see that poverty and need are traits of people who have no discipline or honor.  Good people do not rely on the government for handouts; they simply pull themselves up to heaven by their own boot straps.

Un toast à vous tous braves hommes!   Here’s to all the people who can go to bed tonight secure in their gated communities that they will not be robbed or raped by the dregs of humanity.  Once we can wall ourselves in from other humans, we can forget about crime and poverty and concentrate on the really important things in life like golf and pickle ball.

Un toast à vous tous braves hommes!  Here’s to all the people in the world who don’t inconvenience the rest of us with problems and issues that we don’t really care about.  The world will be a better place when they all die with a stake through their hearts and stop pestering the rest of us about poverty and education and health care and jobs.

Un toast à vous tous braves hommes!  Here’s to those people who think nothing will ever change and that in a dog eat dog world, you simply take care of yourself.  Nothing any of us can do will make a difference. Nothing any of us can do will ever change anything.  So why bother.  Let the dead take care of themselves and we can take care of ourselves.  Good guys finish last.

Un toast à vous tous de braves hommes. Un toast à vous tous les politiciens. Un toast à vous tous, hommes religieux. Un toast à vous tous, hommes patriotiques. Un toast à vous tous les hommes qui ne se soucient que de vous-mêmes. Un toast en enfer pour ceux d’entre vous qui me rencontrer là-bas.

Time for Questions: 

Do you really give a damn? If so, what do you give a damn about?

Life is just beginning.

What if it isn’t’?

Bigots, Liars and Right Wing Radio Talk Show Hosts

There is a perfidious odoriferous evil in this country that is labeled as Radio Talk Show Hosts.”  This panoply of would be patriots and dispensers of sage wisdom includes such infamous names as Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck, Bill O’Reilly and most infamous of all Rush Limbaugh.  Each of these commentators is supported by millions of naive and gullible people, who listen, believe and follow the guidance and supposed advice of these slick Goebbels like hucksters.  goebbelsHucksters who purport to share truth, knowledge and insight on the everyday happenings of politics and society.  Only in America, with our First Amendment rights would such liars and hypocrites be tolerated.  Ironically, these slanderers are 100 percent supportive of the Second Amendment but have mixed tolerance for the First Amendment.  They love the First Amendment when it protects their right to lie, exaggerate, falsify and spread vicious innuendos (Obama is not an American, Obama is not a Christian, Autism is a fraud, etc.), but they hate it when it supports the rights of others to speak out against injustice and deception.

Let me digress for a moment.  You might be thinking:  “John is labeling and using pejorative terminology to describe these people whom he obviously does not respect, how is this any different from what he is accusing them of doing?”  Good question.  Here is the simple answer.  I am not getting paid or making any money from what I am telling you.  Read this if you want to or not.  It’s not going to put any money in my pocket.  Rush Limbaugh’s annual salary is seventy million dollars.  These radio talk show hosts are making millions of dollars by sowing rancor, discord and disillusionment.  Furthermore I condemn their behavior and I hope to show the key principles that we should all follow when engaged in public discourse of any type.  Principles that I believe would return civility and respect to our government and airwaves.

If the ranting’s of these vicious individuals were strictly entertainment and was recognized as such, I would have no problem.  However, when lies are mistaken for truth, when innuendoes are mistaken for facts and when hyperbole substitutes for civility, we all have a problem.  Too many of these radio talk show hosts are listened to and trusted by millions of Americans.  They use the same tools of propaganda developed by the Nazis to spread “big lies” which are believed by their listeners.  What should a listener be asking and expecting of those who are highly paid to dispense such advice and information?  I think there are three principles which should be in the forefront of any audience’s mind when tuning into a radio talk show host or for that matter any so-called expert or talking head.   Failure to follow these principles results in misinformation, misdirection and all too often a general miscarriage of justice.

  1. Search for facts and truth
  2. Civility and respect for the opposition
  3. Win-win and the Golden Mean.

Before we begin to look at these three principles, just a few of the type of vitriolic and extremist comments made by these talk show hosts will serve to illustrate my points about degrading, hyperbolic and vicious speech.

“The shutdown was so magnificent, run beautifully.  I’m so proud of these Republicans, and that is because they have branded the Republican party as the anti-Obamacare party.” – Ann Coulter

“If homosexuality being inborn is what makes it acceptable, why does racism being inborn not make racism acceptable? … We are born that way. We don’t choose it. So shouldn’t it be acceptable, excuse — this is according to the way the left thinks about things.” – Rush Limbaugh

“My main point remains true, It is an over diagnosed medical condition. In my readings, there is no definitive medical diagnosis for autism.” – Michael Savage

“The government is full of vampires, and they are trying to suck the lifeblood out of the economy.” – Glenn Beck

Sean Hannity claimed that White House science and technology adviser John Holdren “advocated compulsory abortion” and sterilization.  PolitiFact had previously rated a similar claim — made months earlier by Fox News’ Glenn Beck — “pants on fire” false. 

Barbara Espinoza took to her website and boldly admits that she called the president a “monkey,” and then defends the racist statement by noting that, “Unless there has been a takeover of America and free speech is no longer allowed and I can be put to death for making a remark, I refuse to take the fifth.”

Finally, a comment by Ed Schultz that pretty much sums up much of the rhetoric used by the right wing talk show pundits.

“There’s something very ugly and dangerous going on in this country,” Schultz said. “Right wing talk show hosts seem to be amping up racist and reckless rhetoric like never before … the level of racist and violent rhetoric on hard-right wing radio today is off the charts.”

A brief caveat before we look at the three principles I am advocating for public and civil discourse.  I have omitted any recognition of extreme, incendiary, racist or outrageous comments on the part of “left” wing talk show hosts, such as Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann, Thom Hartmann and others (See List of progressive talk radio hosts in the United States).  I readily admit my bias is liberal and progressive.  I also admit that I am frequently entertained by the comments of Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and other liberals.  I find them less violent, less inflammatory, less racist and less reactionary than any of the right wing commentators I have noted.  Nevertheless, the rules I am going to discuss apply to them as well.  Whether or not they are right wing or left wing commentators, these principles should apply.  I believe “We the People” should hold commentators to the same standards of dialogue and discourse regardless of political persuasion.  Whether or not you are right leaning or left leaning, let us all expect that people who are paid to elucidate and illuminate the rest of the country, will and must be conservative and cautionary with their rhetoric.

Search for facts and truth:

The first principle for honest discourse is a search for Truth based on facts.  True, facts can be elusive.  For instance, what is the height of Mt. Everest?  What is the population of New York City?  Who is the richest woman in the world?  What movie star is the most popular?  Facts change since the world is not a static entity.  Many things that were once facts are now in the dust bin of antiquity.  The search for truth is a process that relies on facts to confirm decisions that are then judged to be true or false.  For instance, a trial revolves around evidence that either supports a verdict of guilty or not guilty.  The elusiveness of truth is well illustrated by the famous Rashomon story wherein a robber, a bridegroom, a bride and an innocent bystander all give widely differing versions of an alleged rape and murder.  The famous lawyer Clarence Darrow once said that “there is nothing as unreliable as an eye witness.”  Dr. W. E. Deming, the noted quality expert often said that there is nothing in life that can be determined with 100 percent accuracy.  He noted that “it all depends on how you measure something and that all measurement relies on a process.”  One process will reveal one set of metrics or “facts” and another process will reveal another set of metrics and facts.

If facts are indeterminate and truth must be based on facts, is there any truth in the world?  The answer is that truth exists if we think of it as a “range of possibilities.”  For instance, was Jodi Arias guilty or innocent?  The probability is high that she is guilty but not a 100 percent certainty.  Jurors are warned that they must be certain of their verdict beyond a “Reasonable” doubt.  But what is reasonable to one person might be wild conjecture to another.  Can we depend on a written confession?   How many innocent people have been coerced into “false” confessions?  Can we depend on anyone telling the truth?  Confessions often depend on how much the person has to gain or lose by “telling the truth.”  Workers in many organizations quickly learn whether telling the truth is a valued asset or a major liability.

Thus, the search for truth must be an ongoing pursuit.   Richard Feynman, the Nobel Prize winner in physics said that the highest obligation of a scientist is to prove they are wrong.  The search for truth in science is a series of successive approximations.  We learn more, we accumulate more facts, we find more reliable and valid data and our theories of reality become stronger or they are jettisoned in favor of new paradigms that better fit the facts.

Imagine then, if talk show hosts treated the “Truth” as a pursuit of knowledge and not as an absolute reality that belonged to one party or one individual.

Civility and respect for the opposition:

The second principle for civil discourse is Civility.  Unfortunately, every day brings new instances of incivility and a culture of narcissism and self-absorption.  In many cases, we see rampant greed and a total disregard for the welfare of others.   In the worst cases, we see school shootings, murders for money, road rage resulting in violent encounters and a hostile culture where few people feel safe at night on any major city street in the USA.  Do I attribute this to talk show hosts?  Did incivility come first and lead to the selection of such commentators as Michael Savage and Ann Coulter or did the latter talk show hosts contribute to the wide spread increase of disrespect and hostility in our culture?   My guess is it’s a two way street.  There are no doubt many other major factors. However, when you look at the number of people that are tuned into these talk show hosts, you cannot deny the impact that their vitriol and hate has had on those who look to them for advice and inspiration.

I spent over three years regularly listening to the so called “Patriot” radio station when I lived in Minnesota.  Daily diatribes by people like Mike Medved and Hugh Hewitt each trying to outdo Mike Savage in terms of gross invective and vile comments about the presidents, liberals, gays, democrats, college professors, college educated people, women, minorities, disabled and even elderly.  Day after day, hour after hour of endless demeaning, hateful and malicious comments made about anyone who they did not deem sufficiently patriotic by their narrow definition of patriotism.  Time and again I was reminded of Samuel Johnson’s comment that “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

Civility is defined as: “Formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech.”    Civility does not exist in talk radio.  Most of these talk show hosts are abject cowards.  They hide behind their microphones and distance from others to insult and demean those whom they want to attack.  They are bullies of the worst kind, since they will not even come out to face their opponents.   These bigots want to equate patriotism with military service and heroism with serving on the front lines, but look at the record for most of the top bigots.

  • Mike Savage, did not serve
  • Sean Hannity, did not serve
  • Rush Limbaugh, did not serve
  • Bill O’Reilly, did not serve
  • Michael Medved, did not serve
  • Glen Beck, did not serve

I won’t even mention Ann Coulter (Cornell University) or Laura Ingraham (Dartmouth) both of whom are Ivy League graduates and never served a day in their life except as high paid business or legal consultants.

The more cowardly these phony patriots are the more they fly the flags of patriotism, jingoism, chauvinism, racism, xenophobia and intolerance.  Ralph W. Sockman once noted that “The test of courage comes when we are in the minority.  The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.”  These pitiful excuses for humanity neither demonstrate tolerance or courage.  Indeed, they demonstrate the exact opposite.  They are intolerant when they feel they are in the majority and then attack those who are weaker and more defenseless.  When in the minority, they are silent cowards who hide behind the First Amendment, the American Flag and hollow calls to their servile brand of patriotism.

Let the American people start judging politicians, TV hosts and Radio Talk show hosts by their civility and respect for their opponents.  Americans who value respect, politeness and civility need to tune out anyone, right or left who has no respect for others, unless of course, the others have demonstrated time and time again that they have no respect for those who disagree with them.

Win-Win and the Golden Mean

My third principle for civil discourse concerns the Golden Mean and the concept of win-win.  The Golden Mean was a principle first noted by the ancient Greeks to denote the idea that moderation was the guiding principle of a successful and happy State and human existence.

 In philosophy, especially that of Aristotle, the golden mean is the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency.  For example, courage, a virtue, if taken to excess would manifest as recklessness and if deficient as cowardice.  (

The win-win concept first became popular with Steven Covey’s book “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.”  Other writers such as Alfie Cohn and Edward De Bono also wrote about the power of the concept and its unique position to make allies out of former enemies.  In a win-win scenario, would be antagonists move from an adversarial negotiation to a problem-solving mode in which the goal is to find an outcome or outcomes that are highly desirable to both parties.  Win-win theory stresses the importance of a joint decision that supersedes even compromise.  Unlike compromise, wherein everyone sacrifices to attain a mutual decision, in win-win, the parties seek to avoid decisions that are less than optimal for either party.  Compromise is always a fallback position but win-lose is not admissible in the set of desired outcomes.

Now imagine for a minute, a group of Republicans and Democrats, or a group of pro-choice and anti-abortion advocates or a group of conservatives and a group of liberals all sitting down to a win-win scenario.  Instead of bargaining, fighting, positioning, game playing and slimy tricks to get better position, the participants sit down in a spirit of cooperation and good will.  Each one knowing that the principle of the Golden Mean entails finding an optimum solution that lies somewhere between the two extremes or perhaps even in a different frame.  Now you can imagine what the Founding Fathers were able to do and why the documents that this country were built on are so magnificent.  As Abraham Lincoln said:

“The true rule, in determining to embrace, or reject any thing, is not whether it have any evil in it; but whether it have more of evil, than of good. There are few things wholly evil, or wholly good.  Almost everything, especially of governmental policy, is an inseparable compound of the two; so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded.”


I am talking about “EVIL” people here.  The Nazis were evil.  Why, because they sowed hatred, intolerance, injustice, contempt, racism, genocide, murder and destruction.  They used the machinery of democracy to establish a reign of terror like the world had never seen before or since.  Many Americans have asked “Could it happen here.”  Goring said:

“Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

The Nazis laughed as they led Germany into destruction and as their propaganda machine convinced millions of innocent Germans that they were protecting Aryan supremacy and the German way of life.  Millions of Americans are being led down the a similar road of hatred and intolerance by these Nazis style commentators who call themselves Radio Talk Show hosts.  Hitler said: “I do not see why man should not be just as cruel as nature.”  Himmler said: “The best political weapon is the weapon of terror. Cruelty commands respect. Men may hate us. But, we don’t ask for their love; only for their fear.”  Talk shows feed on the fear and cruelty that they not only exacerbate but they also create.

In my 67 years on this earth, I have been to Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Catholic, Unitarian, Baptist, Methodist and several non-denominational churches.  I have attended over 30 Jesuit Retreats at Demontreville Retreat Center in Minnesota.  I do not claim to be a great Christian.  I do not claim to turn the other cheek as often as I should.  I do not claim to help my fellow man as often as needed.  What I do claim is that in not one of these houses of worship, have I ever seen Jesus portrayed as a racist or a sower of hatred and intolerance.  In the famous parable of the adulterous woman, Jesus said: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”  In Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan, he said “Who is the neighbor to him who fell among the robbers?”  In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said “And why beholds thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but consider not the beam that is in thy own eye?”  Over and over again, Jesus preached love and forgiveness.  Where does Jesus say “Go and preach hate?”  “Go and preach intolerance.”  “Go and preach bigotry.”

Time for Questions:

Has fear blinded too many Americans to the symptoms of bigotry and intolerance and incivility that are symptomatic of many Talk Show Hosts?  Are you going to church on Sunday and applauding Rush Limbaugh on Monday?  Are you silent in the face of hypocrisy, racism, sexism and homophobia?  Do you take a stand on your principles whether you are Christian, Catholic, Muslim or Jewish?  Are you following principle of love and forgiveness or an “Eye for an Eye?”  What can we do to abolish the pervasive malice, hostility and meanness that are symptomatic of Radio Talk Shows today?

Life is just beginning.


Evolution in Reverse:  From Homo Sapiens to Trump Deplorables.

Dancing Racists-2I ponder at a quote by the author Stephen King in which he notes that Donald Trump will never get elected but “he has certainly exposed the ugly underbelly of conservatives in America today.”  I think about this comment because (by recent polls) Trump has a large percentage of voters in his camp who qualify for the “Deplorables” label than Clinton so recently used.  Ironic that the King of Insult and Slander now says “anyone who makes such comments about Americans is not fit to be president.”  The truth is that anyone who fits into this underbelly or “deplorables” category is not fit to be an American.  They share nothing in common with the values that our Founding Fathers had for this country.

This “underbelly” that King refers to and that Hillary calls “Deplorables” is a group of racist, xenophobic, sexist, ignorant bigots who belong to such fringe groups as the Tea Party, KKK, Aryan Brotherhood and Sons of the Confederacy.  Many who do not belong to these groups simply espouse racist and bigoted ideologies hiding in the sanctuary of their own homes. These are largely uninformed and uneducated people attracted to the glamour and promises that Trump seems to hold out.  Vote for Trump and you can be great again.  No more mortgages!  No more taxes!  No more government telling you what to do or not to do!  No more immigrants taking your job and standard of living away!  Be able to tell it like it is and don’t worry about political correctness!

The Ku Klux Klan is using Donald Trump as a talking point in its outreach efforts.  Stormfront, the most prominent American white supremacist website, is upgrading its servers in part to cope with a Trump traffic spike.  And former Louisiana Rep. David Duke reports that the businessman has given more Americans cover to speak out loud about white nationalism than at any time since his own political campaigns in the 1990s.”White supremacist Groups See Trump Bump – 12-10-15

Racists+not+oc_0826f0_4310362Today, we now know (thanks to Trump) that we have at least ten million US citizens who think that Donald Trump could deliver on such promises as noted above.  This latter fact simply astounds the rest of us (180,000,000) registered voters who would sooner drown ourselves than see Donald Trump as president.  The majority of US voters know that Trump is a buffoon and a bigot playing on the heart strings and delusions of a minority of people who have no clue what the USA stands for or what our Founding Fathers envisioned for this country.

We_want_white_tenantsI am not worried about Trump.  King is right. He will never be elected.  I am worried about the disillusioned and hapless people who are supporting him.  These people are the real threat to America not Donald Trump.  Cast out by an economic system that rewards the most competitive, the Trump supporters are the least competitive and most hard hit by the recent economic recession.  Statistics tell us that Trump’s supporters make up a large segment of the population who are unemployed and unemployable.  I should say unemployable at a wage sufficient to support a family.  Just like in Germany during the recession, it was this same type of people who were most attracted to Hitler.  They were the unemployed, uneducated and people who felt life had been unfair to them.  When Hitler came to power, they became his willing disciples and minions.  The parallels between the hate and xenophobia espoused by both Hitler and Trump would be uncanny, if not for the fact that it is and always will be predictable.  The formula to create such hate and bigotry has been the same for four thousand years.

Here is the formula:  Lack of education + lack of economic opportunities + a notable minority population + one hate filled leader = Prejudice, Discrimination and Violence.  

neo nazisLeaders throughout history have used the above formula to incite their followers to acts of hatred which have taken such forms as the inquisition, pogroms, mass deportations, genocide and the Holocaust.  It has always been the same formula and it has always worked.  The hapless, ignorant and hopeless are lured by the sirens of revenge and retribution to take action against a targeted minority group who are portrayed as having stolen their hopes and dreams.  The solution is to eradicate the despicable group and thereby restore the future that was stolen from the hapless and ignorant.

Listen to the V for Vendetta “Revolution” speech:  Speech

Protest At Ground Zero

NEW YORK – JULY 4: Shirley Phelps-Roper holds up signs as she joins fellow members of the Westboro Baptist Church, from Topeka, Kansas, as they protest across the street from Ground Zero July 4, 2004 in New York City. The church members believe that because of homosexuals and America’s rebelious and immoral conducts, God has brought on acts of terrorism as a way of punishing society. (Photo by Monika Graff/Getty Images)

I often listen to right-wing religious fundamentalists and one of their favorite refrains is “The end is near.”  In their minds, the just will be rewarded with a life of happiness and prosperity.  The unjust (anyone who does not subscribe to their particular religious orientation) will be condemned and punished to a life of pain and hell fire.  Many of these fundamentalists deny the concept of evolution in favor of what they call “Intelligent Design.”  This is a creed that subscribes to a literal interpretation of the Bible in which an all-powerful God created the world in 7 days.  No primordial soup, no dinosaurs, no Homo sapiens predecessors.  Adam was created by God and Eve was created out of one of Adam’s ribs.

It is interesting that after about two hundred years of science proving the Theory of Evolution that we seem to have more people than ever before who endorse the idea of “Intelligent Design.”  Darwin’s theories suggest that more intelligent people would have a better chance of surviving, hence propagating even more intelligent people as the gene pool favors those with a higher I.Q.  However, when we look at Trump and his supporters, this concept does not seem to be working.  The number of people who support Trump is simply astounding.  Could we be de-evolving?  Could we be regressing mentally?  Will the dumb inherit the earth?

paineOne would have thought that most of the Neanderthals who succumb more easily to bigotry and hatred would be on the decline.  Instead, in the last few years throughout much of the world, it seems as though the fanatics, racists, and bigots are on the incline.  Witness the rise of ISIS and its supporters all over the world.  What is happening?  Was Darwin wrong?  Is the world witnessing a devolution instead of an evolution?  Donald Trump and his followers seem to be evidence that not all of the population has been evolving according to Darwin’s Laws.  A sizable portion of US citizens seem to be going from intelligent thinking rationale Homo sapiens to stupid unthinking racist bigoted Homo rednecks.  Where will this end and what will we do with these Neanderthals?

Listen to Charlie Chaplin’s “Great Dictator” speech:   Speech

hitler and trumpMost of the US is supportive of the idea of destroying foreign Muslim terrorists.  But what of domestic right-wing terrorists?    What about the home grown nutcases, terrorists, Nazis and extremists in the USA?  If we assume that the KKK, racists and sexists in the USA are of the same ilk and just as dangerous to liberty and freedom as Islamic terrorists, then when do we wage war on our domestic terrorists?  When will we enlist the Army, National Guard, police and other liberty protectors to jail and wipe out these home grown extremists?  Should we allow American Neo-Nazis the right of free speech and the right to vote, when we lost nearly a half a million citizens in a war to save the world from the Nazis and Japanese warlords only seventy years ago?

homophobesWhy are we tolerating groups wearing swastikas, Nazi armbands and Hitler slogans?  Groups parading around against immigrants.  Groups who make a mockery of the values that this country was built on.  This tolerance is a disgrace to the Founding Fathers.  It is a disgrace to the Union soldiers who fought for the freedom and equality of African Americans.  It is a disgrace and affront to the soldiers that lost their lives fighting the Fascists.  It is a disgrace to the people in this country who are first and second generation Americans.  Finally, it is a disgrace to all people who believe in the idea of “liberty and justice for all” which is a part of the Pledge of Allegiance to our country.

“If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace.  We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”  — Samuel Adams

As patriotic citizens, we need to stop applying double standards.  We need to treat domestic enemies as ruthlessly as we do foreign enemies.  We need to stop tolerating extremists in this country just as we despise extremists in other countries.  Goldwater was wrong.  Extremism is not a virtue.  Extremism of any sort is an evil insidious disease that if left untreated will spread and infect an entire nation.  We need to speak out against extremists, whether left, right, foreign or domestic.  There can be no room for extremists in a country based on Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. There are many who forget that freedom for oneself is based on freedom for all.  Anyone who would take away freedom from others has no right to freedom for themselves.

“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves” — Abraham Lincoln

I want to remind some of you of a recent history in the USA.  It was a time between about 1950 and 1990 when smokers had rights and non-smokers had no rights.  Smokers could light up wherever they wanted to from offices to parks to restaurants to hospital waiting rooms.  If you were a nonsmoker, smokers could blow smoke in your face, put the ashes out in your car and throw their butts wherever they wanted to.  Nonsmokers had no rights to challenge this behavior.  Smokers were simply executing their constitutional rights to pollute the air and help the rest of us develop pulmonary lung conditions.

Well, the times finally changed.  The large corporations that tried so hard to make smoking glamorous and dispute the idea that cigarettes were a major contributing cause of lung cancer, finally succumbed to a combination of lawsuits, anti-smoking campaigns and citizen awareness.  Non-smokers have rights to.  The right to clean air and the right not to have to be around people who indiscriminately smoke.  In what was a long battle against smokers, smokers finally became the “bad” guys and non-smokers are now the good guys.

What does this have to do with Neanderthals?  About a week ago, a disgruntled smoker was asked to put his cigarette out in a Waffle House restaurant.  He pulled out a 9-mm handgun and shot the waitress to death.  An aberration?  An anomaly?  A freak occurrence?  I think not.  Rather, we have an example of an individual who believed his right to do whatever he wanted to, whenever he wanted to “TRUMPS” the rights of the rest of us.  This is the same behavior that is exhibited by racists, sexists, bigots and right-wing fundamentalists.  They are all infected with the idea that their beliefs and ideology are so important that those of us who do not subscribe to their nut case philosophies have no rights.  In the worst of cases, such as the Waffle House, they believe that we have no right to live.  This must change.  How you might well ask can it change?  How do we erase bigotry and hatred?

Waffle House Customer Shoots and Kills Waitress over No-Smoking Policy

against racismThe only way it will change is for good people to speak out.  Speak out against racism.  Speak out against sexism.  Speak out against homophobia.  Speak out against intolerance.  Speak out against injustice and discrimination.  You don’t know what to say?  It’s simple.  WWJD?  A meme that I see on a lot of t-shirts provides one reply that all Christians should endorse.  If you are not a Christian, simply practice the Golden Rule or some other rule that shows respect and love for others who are not like you.  That’s what Jesus, Gandhi, King and many other great leaders would do.

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi

BTY:  I still like to smoke a pipe or a cigar once in a while.  I do not smoke where others will be subjected to the smoke or smell.  My father and sister were both heavy smokers and both died from lung cancer. My father was 60 when he died after two lung operations and my sister was 58 when she died.  I stopped smoking regularly when I was diagnosed with a pre-cancerous lung condition about 9 years ago.  Hoping a very infrequent pipe or cigar will not kill me before I get run over crossing the street.

Time for Questions:

Why do you think so many people seem to hate others?  What causes intolerance and bigotry?  Do you have friends who are bigots, sexists, racists?  What do you do about their attitudes?  Do you challenge their ideas or do you simply ignore them?  When should we challenge bigots and extremists?

Life is just beginning.

“Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature…. If the next centennial does not find us a great nation … it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.”  — James Garfield, the twentieth president of the United States, 1877

“Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite” — Joseph de Maistre



Irony, Paradox and Serendipity or why a Donkey knew best!

Once upon a time, back when animals could talk and people did not rule the world, there was a donkey named Isaiah.  Isaiah was the wisest animal in the land.  He knew everything about life and death.  All of the animals, even the owls came to Isaiah when they had a question they could not answer or when they had a key decision to make.  The most intelligent people in the world would also come to Isaiah when they had a problem they could not figure out.   Isaiah was not only  intelligent but he was kind as well.  Now that might seem like a paradox to some.  Can we be intelligent and also kind?  Were not managers at Enron the “smartest men in the room?”  Maybe, but Enron’s senior management would hardly seem to qualify as kind when you consider the damage they did to the lives of their employees.   In truth, it often seems that the greatest paradoxes of all time, involve the harm done by “highly intelligent people.”  The world is full of examples of smart people who do great harm because they care little for the feelings or welfare of others. Fortunately for the world, Isaiah was not this kind of creature.  He was the epitome of wisdom because he combined intelligence with feelings and empathy for others.

No matter what the problem, Isaiah would always consider the potential damage and impact on others of his decisions and choices.  Whenever he reasoned out a problem, the morals and ethics of the problem were just as important to Isaiah as the solutions.  A solution which caused damage to anyone was not seen as a good solution.   Many of the people and animals were skeptical that Isaiah could always find a win-win solution but somehow Isaiah always did.  Most people find that the key decisions they make result in ironic outcomes that they would not have been able to predict.  This was not the case with Isaiah’s solutions.  His outcomes were never ironic.  Isaiah seemed to have the ability (like Merlin) to foresee the future.  Within the unlimited possibilities of various time-lines that the future laid out, Isaiah could always find the optimal path.

Once when one of the animals asked Isaiah how he managed to construct such robust solutions, he attributed his ability to serendipity.  According to Isaiah, his ideas were often happy accidents which surprised him with their elegance and simplicity.  But how could serendipity be the answer when his batting average was 100 percent.  Thus, another paradox, how could serendipitous decision-making result in outcomes that are always beneficial?   Luck may favor the prepared mind but even luck has its limits.  Isaiah’s abilities seemed to be more of the miraculous nature than of a serendipitous nature.  If so, this is truly ironic, since Isaiah did not believe in ghosts, gods, angels or miracles.

However, as with all good things, they must eventually come to an end.  Isaiah grew old in years and tired in body if not sometimes in spirit.  He had less energy for solving the problems of the world and gradually the animals and humans stopped coming to him for solutions.  The various species retreated further and further from each other.  Humans started building houses and walls and fences to keep themselves in and animals out.  Ironically, the further they went from each other, the more they mistrusted each other. Fear led to mistrust, mistrust led to suspicion.  The once harmonious relationship that existed between animals and humans dissolved in a mist of animosity and betrayal.

Friends started killing and eating friends and inexorably neither side could trust the other side.  Excuses for killing others became the norm and a human declared a theory called “Survival of the Fittest.”  Within this theory, might became right, power made the rules and the “fittest” could dominate those deemed as less fit.  Whole species were seen as suitable for consumption or slavery by other species.  Everyone was a commodity.  Anyone with no commercial value went to the bottom of the economic pie.  Human Resources became the norm in business and English Majors, History Majors, Art Majors and Philosophy Majors were paid less than high school dropouts.  Those who were loyal to the economic engines of society were given status and high paying jobs.

Sadly, Isaiah saw all this, but could find no solutions to the problems or trends.  Eventually, though he lived for many hundreds of years, people just regarded him as that “dumb old donkey” who did not say much.  As time passed, most people and animals even forgot that Isaiah had a brain or could speak.  Isaiah did not feel the need to disabuse anyone of their conceptions and so he just kept to himself.  At the age of 5887 years Isaiah died.  His body was sent to a glue factory to be processed.  He left no legacy of writings, nor any erudite body of knowledge, nor any great poetry nor any glorious music to be remembered by.  Just another old donkey that croaked, so who cares!

Some, if they had known Isaiah might have chided him for not posting his ideas and thoughts on Facebook or YouTube.  At least that way, he might have achieved some measure of fame if not fortune.  Ironically, or paradoxically, or serendipitously, (choose one), it never occurred to Isaiah to become Internet or Google savvy or famous or rich.  History may someday rediscover his genius and perhaps he will yet be remembered in homage to his major contributions to world peace for thousands of years.  Stranger things than that have happened of late on the Internet.

By the way, it is generally believed or was at least “once upon a time” that Isaiah (and not Euripides or Aeschylus or Sophocles) was the Father of Irony, Paradox and Serendipity and that these concepts were widely used by him in his conversations and discussions with other humans and animals. Thus, while the words today bear an etymology that derives from Greek vocabulary, their usage in practice and ideology must be attributed to Isaiah the Donkey.

Time for Questions:

Can you give me an example of irony or serendipity or paradox in your life?  What do ideas matter anyway or do they?  What if everyone was a philosophy major?  What would happen if more people practiced kindness instead of hate?  What value do animals have?  Are they just commodities?  What if we were all vegetarians?  Would it make any difference to the world?

Life is just beginning. 

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