A New Protest Thing Anyone Can Do!

In this video we have The Donald, in his own words, championing the elimination of unnecessary government spending and asking the people to help him cut costs to make government more efficient–and for once I say we help him!

People, do you know of a federal employee who’s squandering taxpayer money? I do, and he’d frittering it away at the Mar-A-Lago Club every other weekend! Let’s all be sure to tell the inspector general about it so an official report gets generated that will slap The Donald in the face. You can fill out an official complaint at…

https://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/fraudnet.cgi

or call (800) 424-5454

Me? I’ve already done both. My complaint read as follows:

I know of a federal employee in a managerial position who is using public funds to finance personal vacation activities. Roughly twice a month, this manager flys in a government plane to a private resort where he compels federal employees to stay at a hotel he owns stock in. The cost to the taxpayer for each of these “getaway” weekends is estimated to exceed three million dollars. As a taxpayer, I am outraged by this overt abuse of government funds and I demand action be taken by the office of the Inspector General. The manager in question is the chief of the executive branch of the federal government.

   Thank you,

If enough people complain, we can expect an official report that the media will be sure to cover. So come on, folks, LET’S SOCK IT TO HIM!

By Clayton J. Callahan

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No, I Don’t Have To Hate All Republicans

I had a bit of a wake-up call this morning and it was refreshing. Former REPUBLICAN Governor Shwartszneger put out a video slamming Donald Trump and supporting Meals On Wheels as well as federally funded after school programs.

Wow!

Now, I’ve never lived in California but my liberal friends who have report that he wasn’t such a bad governor. Sure, he did a few things they didn’t like or agree with. However, under his leadership, the business of government got done and some improvements to environmental laws were made. He did not try to restrict voting access for African Americans. He did not try to take marriage rights away from homosexuals, and he supported a woman’s right to choose.

Like I said, wow!

To compare his type of Republican with that of The Donald isn’t like apples to oranges. It’s like apples to moon rocks! And it reminds me that I did not always sputter with rage whenever the Republican party was mentioned in my presence. In fact, there was a time when I simply disagreed with the GOP’s take on certain issues and that was all. Is it possible that I can return to those happy days of yore? Can the Republicans purge themselves of this wretched disease and return to the Big Tent of mild conservatives that they once were?

If so, there is hope not only for the GOP but for the country as a whole. If not…well, I’d better stay angry because I’ll need my rage to keep me in the fight for a free and democratic America.

 

By Clayton J. Callahan

 

 

An Insider’s View: The Dark Rigidity of Fundamentalist Rural America

In deep-red white America, the white Christian God is king.

By Forsetti’s Justice / AlterNet

November 22, 2016

As the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is being sorted out, a common theme keeps cropping up from all sides: “Democrats failed to understand white, working-class, fly-over America.”

Trump supporters are saying this. Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the media are saying this. Even some Democratic leaders are saying this. It doesn’t matter how many people say it, it is complete BS. It is an intellectual/linguistic sleight of hand meant to draw attention away from the real problem. The real problem isn’t East Coast elites who don’t understand or care about rural America. The real problem is that rural Americans don’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because they don’t want to admit it is in large part because of the choices they’ve made and the horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe.

I grew up in rural Christian white America. You’d be hard-pressed to find an area of the country with a higher percentage of Christians or whites. I spent most of the first 24 years of my life deeply embedded in this culture. I religiously (pun intended) attended their Christian services. I worked off and on on their rural farms. I dated their calico-skirted daughters. I camped, hunted and fished with their sons. I listened to their political rants at the local diner and truck stop. I winced at their racist/bigoted jokes and epithets that were said more out of ignorance than animosity. I have watched the town I grew up in go from a robust economy with well-kept homes and infrastructure to a struggling economy with shuttered businesses, dilapidated homes and a broken-down infrastructure over the past 30 years. The problem isn’t that I don’t understand these people. The problem is they don’t understand themselves or the reasons for their anger and frustration.

In deep-red America, the white Christian god is king, figuratively and literally. Religious fundamentalism has shaped most of their belief systems. Systems built on a fundamentalist framework are not conducive to introspection, questioning, learning, or change. When you have a belief system built on fundamentalism, it isn’t open to outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a position of power. The problem isn’t that coastal elites don’t understand rural Americans. The problem is that rural America doesn’t understand itself and will never listen to anyone outside its bubble. It doesn’t matter how “understanding” you are, how well you listen, what language you use…if you are viewed as an outsider, your views will be automatically discounted. I’ve had hundreds of discussions with rural white Americans and whenever I present them any information that contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they will not even entertain the possibility that it might be true. Their refusal is a result of the nature of their fundamentalist belief system and the fact that I’m the enemy because I’m an educated liberal.

At some point during the discussion, they will say, “That’s your education talking,” derogatorily, as a general dismissal of everything I said. They truly believe this is a legitimate response, because to them education is not to be trusted. Education is the enemy of fundamentalism because fundamentalism, by its very nature, is not built on facts. The fundamentalists I grew up around aren’t anti-education. They want their kids to know how to read and write. They are against quality, in-depth, broad, specialized education. Learning is only valued up to a certain point. Once it reaches the level where what you learn contradicts doctrine and fundamentalist arguments, it becomes dangerous. I watched a lot of my fellow students who were smart, stop their education the day they graduated high school. For most of the young ladies, getting married and having kids was more important than continuing their learning. For many of the young men, getting a college education was seen as unnecessary and a waste of time. For the few who did go to college, what they learned was still filtered through their fundamentalist belief systems. If something they were taught didn’t support a preconception, it would be ignored and forgotten the second it was no longer needed to pass an exam.

Knowing this about their belief system and their view of outside information that doesn’t support it, telling me that the problem is coastal elites not understanding them completely misses the point.

Another problem with rural Christian white Americans is they are racists. I’m not talking about white hood-wearing, cross-burning, lynching racists (though some are). I’m talking about people who deep down in their heart of hearts truly believe they are superior because they are white. Their white god made them in his image and everyone else is a less-than-perfect version, flawed and cursed.

The religion in which I was raised taught this. Even though they’ve backtracked on some of their more racist declarations, many still believe the original claims. Non-whites are the color they are because of their sins, or at least the sins of their ancestors. Blacks don’t have dark skin because of where they lived and evolution; they have dark skin because they are cursed. God cursed them for a reason. If god cursed them, treating them as equals would be going against god’s will. It is really easy to justify treating people differently if they are cursed by god and will never be as good as you no matter what they do because of some predetermined status.

Once you have this view, it is easy to lower the outside group’s standing and acceptable level of treatment. Again, there are varying levels of racism at play in rural Christian white America. I know people who are ardent racists. I know a lot more whose racism is much more subtle but nonetheless racist. It wouldn’t take sodium pentothal to get most of these people to admit they believe they are fundamentally better and superior to minorities. They are white supremacists who dress up in white dress shirts, ties and gingham dresses. They carry a bible and tell you, “everyone’s a child of god” but forget to mention that some of god’s children are more favored than others and skin tone is the criterion by which we know who is and isn’t at the top of god’s list of most favored children.

For us “coastal elites” who understand evolution, genetics and science, nothing we say to those in flyover country is going to be listened to because not only are we fighting against an anti-education belief system, we are arguing against god. You aren’t winning a battle of beliefs with these people if you are on one side of the argument and god is on the other. No degree of understanding this is going to suddenly make them less racist, more open to reason and facts. Telling “urban elites” they need to understand rural Americans isn’t going to lead to a damn thing because it misses the causes of the problem.

Because rural Christian white Americans will not listen to educated arguments, supported by facts that go against their fundamentalist belief systems from “outsiders,” any change must come from within. Internal change in these systems does happen, but it happens infrequently and always lags far behind reality. This is why they fear change so much. They aren’t used to it. Of course, it really doesn’t matter whether they like it or not, it, like evolution and climate change even though they don’t believe it, it is going to happen whether they believe in it or not.

Another major problem with closed-off fundamentalist belief systems is they are very susceptible to propaganda. All belief systems are to some extent, but fundamentalist systems even more so because there are no checks and balances. If bad information gets in, it doesn’t get out and because there are no internal mechanisms to guard against it, it usually ends up very damaging to the whole. A closed-off belief system is like spinal fluid—it is great as long as nothing infectious gets into it. If bacteria gets into your spinal fluid, it causes unbelievable damage because there are no white blood cells to fend off invaders and protect the system. Without the protective services of white blood cells in the spinal column, infection spreads like wildfire and does significant damage in a short period of time. Once inside the closed-off spinal system, bacteria are free to destroy whatever they want.

The same is true with closed-off belief systems. Without built-in protective functions like critical analysis, self-reflection, openness to counter-evidence, and willingness to re-evaluate any and all beliefs, bad information in a closed-off system ends up doing massive damage in a short period of time. What has happened to too many fundamentalist belief systems is damaging information has been allowed in from people who have been granted “expert status.” If someone is allowed into a closed-off system and their information is deemed acceptable, anything they say will be readily accepted and become gospel.

Rural Christian white Americans have let anti-intellectual, anti-science, bigoted racists like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, the Stepford wives of Fox, and every evangelical preacher on television into their systems because these people tell them what they want to hear and because they sell themselves as being like them. The truth is none of these people give a rat’s ass about rural Christian white Americans except how they can exploit them for attention and money. None of them have anything in common with the people who have let them into their belief systems with the exception that they are white and they speak the language of white superiority.

Gays being allowed to marry are a threat. Blacks protesting the killing of their unarmed friends and family are a threat. Hispanics doing the cheap labor on their farms are somehow viewed a threat. The black president is a threat. Two billion Muslims are a threat. The Chinese are a threat. Women wanting to be autonomous are a threat. The college educated are a threat. Godless scientists are a threat. Everyone who isn’t just like them has been sold to them as a threat and they’ve bought it hook, line and grifting sinker. Since there are no self-regulating mechanisms in their belief systems, these threats only grow over time. Since facts and reality don’t matter, nothing you say to them will alter their beliefs. “President Obama was born in Kenya, is a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood who hates white Americans and is going to take away their guns.” I feel ridiculous even writing this, it is so absurd, but it is gospel across large swaths of rural America. Are rural Christian white Americans scared? Damn right they are. Are their fears rational and justified? Hell no. The problem isn’t understanding their fears. The problem is how to assuage fears based on lies in closed-off fundamentalist belief systems that don’t have the necessary tools for properly evaluating the fears.

I don’t have a good answer to this question. When a child has an irrational fear, you can deal with it because they trust you and are open to possibilities. When someone doesn’t trust you and isn’t open to anything not already accepted as true in their belief system, there really isn’t much, if anything, you can do. This is why I think the idea that “Democrats have to understand and find common ground with rural America,” is misguided and a complete waste of time. When a 2,700-year-old book that was written by uneducated, pre-scientific people, subject to translation innumerable times, and edited with political and economic pressures from popes and kings, is given higher intellectual authority than facts arrived at from a rigorous, self-critical, constantly re-evaluating system that can and does correct mistakes, no amount of understanding, respect or evidence is going to change their minds and assuage their fears.

Do you know what does change the beliefs of fundamentalists, sometimes? When something becomes personal. Many a fundamentalist has changed his mind about the LGBT community once his loved ones started coming out of the closet. Many have not. But those who did, did so because their personal experience came into direct conflict with what they believe.

My father is a good example of this. For years I had long, heated discussions with him about gay rights. Being the good religious fundamentalist he is, he could not even entertain the possibility he was wrong. The church said it was wrong, so therefore it was wrong. No questions asked. No analysis needed. This changed when one of his adored stepchildren came out of the closet. He didn’t do a complete 180. He has a view that tries to accept gay rights while at the same time viewing being gay as a mortal sin because his need to have his belief system be right outweighs everything else.

This isn’t uncommon. Deeply held beliefs are usually only altered, replaced under catastrophic circumstances that are personal. This belief system alteration works both ways. I know diehard, open-minded progressives who became ardent fundamentalists due to a traumatic event in their lives. A good example of this is the comedian Dennis Miller. I’ve seen Miller in concert four different times during the 1990s. His humor was complex, riddled with references and leaned pretty left on almost all issues. Then 9/11 happened. For whatever reasons, the trauma of 9/11 caused a seismic shift in Miller’s belief system. Now he is a mainstay on conservative talk radio. His humor was replaced with anger and frustration. 9/11 changed his belief system because it was a catastrophic event that was personal to him.

The catastrophe of the Great Depression along with FDR’s progressive remedies helped create a generation of Democrats out of previously diehard Republicans. People who had up until that point believed only the free market could help the economy, not the government, changed their minds when the brutal reality of the Great Depression affected them directly and personally.

I thought the financial crisis in 2008 would have a similar, though lesser impact on many Republicans. It didn’t. The systems that were put in place after the Great Recession to deal with economic crises, the quick, smart response by Congress and the administration helped turn what could have been a catastrophic event into merely a really bad one. People suffered, but they didn’t suffer enough to become open to questioning their deeply held beliefs. Because this questioning didn’t take place, the Great Recession didn’t lead to any meaningful political shifts away from poorly regulated markets, supply side economics or how to respond to a financial crisis. This is why, even though rural Christian white Americans were hit hard by the Great Recession, they not only didn’t blame the political party they’ve aligned themselves with for years, they rewarded them two years later by voting them into a record number of state legislatures and taking over the U.S. House.

Of course, it didn’t help matters that there were scapegoats available toward whom they could direct their fears, anger and white supremacy. A significant number of rural Americans believe President Obama was in charge when the financial crisis started. An even higher number believe the mortgage crisis was the result of the government forcing banks to give loans to unqualified minorities. It doesn’t matter how untrue both of these things are, they are gospel in rural America. Why reevaluate your beliefs and voting patterns when scapegoats are available?

How do you make climate change personal to someone who believes only god can alter the weather? How do you make racial equality personal to someone who believes whites are naturally superior to non-whites? How do you make gender equality personal to someone who believes women are supposed to be subservient to men by god’s command? How do you get someone to view minorities as not threatening to people who don’t live around minorities and have never interacted with them? How do you make personal the fact massive tax cuts and cutting back government hurts their economic situation when they’ve voted for such policies for decades? I don’t think you can without some catastrophic events. And maybe not even then. The Civil War was pretty damn catastrophic, yet a large swath of the South believed—and still believes—they were right and had the moral high ground. They were/are also mostly Christian fundamentalists who believe they are superior because of the color of their skin and the religion they profess to follow. There is a pattern here for anyone willing to connect the dots.

“Rural white America needs to be better understood,” is not one of the dots. “Rural white America needs to be better understood,” is a dodge, meant to avoid the real problems because talking about the real problems is viewed as too upsetting, too mean, too arrogant, too elite, too snobbish. Pointing out that Aunt Bea’s views of Mexicans, blacks and gays is bigoted isn’t the thing one does in polite society. Too bad more people don’t think the same about Aunt Bea’s views. It’s the classic, “You’re a racist for calling me a racist,” ploy.

I do think rational arguments are needed, even if they go mostly ignored and ridiculed. I believe in treating people with the respect they’ve earned, but the key point here is “earned.” I’ll gladly sit down with Aunt Bea and have a nice, polite conversation about her beliefs about “the gays, the blacks and the illegals,” and I’ll do so without calling her a bigot and a racist. But this doesn’t mean she isn’t a bigot and a racist, and if I’m asked to describe her beliefs these are the only words that honestly fit. Just because the media, pundits on all sides and some Democratic leaders don’t want to call the actions of many rural white Christian Americans racist and bigoted doesn’t make them not so.

Avoiding the obvious only prolongs getting the necessary treatment. America has always had a race problem. The country was built on racism and bigotry. This didn’t miraculously go away in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. It didn’t go away with the election of Barack Obama. If anything, these events pulled back the curtain exposing the dark, racist underbelly of America that white America likes to pretend doesn’t exist because we are the reason it exists. From the white nationalists to the white suburban soccer moms who voted for Donald Trump, to the far-left progressives who didn’t vote at all, racism exists and has once again been legitimized and normalized by white America.

Here are the honest truths that rural Christian white Americans don’t want to accept; until they accept these truths, nothing is going to change:

  • Their economic situation is largely the result of voting for supply-side economic policies that have been the largest redistribution of wealth from the bottom/middle to the top in U.S. history.
  • Immigrants haven’t taken their jobs. If all immigrants, legal or otherwise, were removed from the U.S., our economy would come to a screeching halt and food prices would soar.
  • Immigrants are not responsible for companies moving their plants overseas. The almost exclusively white business owners are responsible, because they care more about their shareholders (who are also mostly white) than about American workers.
  • No one is coming for their guns. All that has been proposed during the entire Obama administration is having better background checks.
  • Gay people getting married is not a threat to their freedom to believe in whatever white god they want to. No one is going to make their church marry gays, have a gay pastor or accept gays for membership.
  • Women having access to birth control doesn’t affect their lives either, especially women they complain about being teenage single mothers.
  • Blacks are not “lazy moochers living off their hard-earned tax dollars” any more than many of their fellow rural neighbors. People in need are people in need. People who can’t find jobs because of their circumstances, a changing economy or outsourcing overseas belong to all races.
  • They get a tremendous amount of help from the government they complain does nothing for them. From the roads and utility grids they use to farm subsidies, crop insurance and commodities protections, they benefit greatly from government assistance. The Farm Bill is one of the largest financial expenditures by the U.S. government. Without government assistance, their lives would be considerably worse.
  • They get the largest share of Food Stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.
  • They complain about globalization, yet line up like everyone else to get the latest Apple products. They have no problem buying foreign-made guns, scopes and hunting equipment. They don’t think twice about driving trucks whose engines were made in Canada, tires made in Japan, radios made in Korea, and computer parts made in Malaysia.
  • They use illicit drugs as much as any other group. But when other people do it is a “moral failing” and they should be severely punished, legally. When they do it, it is a “health crisis” that needs sympathy and attention.
  • When jobs dry up for whatever reason, they refuse to relocate but lecture the poor in places like Flint for staying in failing towns.
  • They are quick to judge minorities for being “welfare moochers,” but don’t think twice about cashing their welfare checks every month.
  • They complain about coastal liberals, but taxes from California and New York cover their farm subsidies, help maintain their highways and keep the hospitals in their sparsely populated rural areas open for business.
  • They complain about “the little man being run out of business,” and then turn around and shop at big-box stores.
  • They make sure outsiders are not welcome, deny businesses permits to build, then complain about businesses, plants opening up in less rural areas.
  • Government has not done enough to help them in many cases, but their local and state governments are almost completely Republican and so are their representatives and senators. Instead of holding them accountable, they vote them into office over and over and over again.
  • All the economic policies and ideas that could help rural America belong to the Democratic Party: raising the minimum wage, strengthening unions, spending on infrastructure, renewable energy growth, slowing down the damage done by climate change, and healthcare reform. All of these and more would really help a lot of rural white Americans.

What I understand is that rural Christian white Americans are entrenched in fundamentalist belief systems; don’t trust people outside their tribe; have been force-fed a diet of misinformation and lies for decades; are unwilling to understand their own situations; and truly believe whites are superior to all races. No amount of understanding is going to change these things or what they believe. No amount of niceties will get them to be introspective. No economic policy put forth by someone outside their tribe is going to be listened to no matter how beneficial it would be for them. I understand rural Christian white America all too well. I understand their fears are based on myths and lies. I understand they feel left behind by a world they don’t understand and don’t really care to. They are willing to vote against their own interests if they can be convinced it will make sure minorities are harmed more. Their Christian beliefs and morals are only extended to fellow white Christians. They are the problem with progress and always will be, because their belief systems are constructed against it.

The problem isn’t a lack of understanding by coastal elites. The problem is a lack of understanding of why rural Christian white America believes, votes, behaves the ways it does by rural Christian white America.

Dear, Trump Supporters, Please Stop Being Such Whiney Little Snowflakes! 

trump-supportersOne month into the Trump era and I’m already hearing Republicans complaining about how unfair the world is being to poor Donald Trump… and my jaw is hitting the floor.

Back when he was “president-elect,” all I heard from his supporters was how great he was going to be for the country. He was described as an unstoppable force. A tough, common sense man who had all the right answers. And, frankly, I wasn’t surprised that his fans described him that way because that was exactly the way Trump described himself.

When he announced his run for the presidency he said: “I, Donald J. Trump, will be the greatest president in our country’s history!”

At the Republican convention last summer he said: “Nobody knows the system better than I, and only I can fix it!”

After winning the election he said: “I will unite the country and do a great job.”

And before his first week in office was up he said: “I’m going to fix this country. That’s what I do. I fix things.”

So it’s time for The Donald to put his considerable money where his huge mouth is.

It’s been a month, and I’m still not seeing any greatness. In fact, what I’ve seen is a circus, complete with wild animals and clowns running loose in the White House. Much to Trump’s astonishment, his travel ban was blocked by the courts. His National Security Advisor had to resign in disgrace. His first press conference was an unhinged display of incompetence, and I now he’s doing campaign rallies to boost his sagging ego.

And now the Trump supporters in my circles are gearing up for full excuse mode:

“The courts are too political. They have no right to stop the president.”

“Michale Flynn did nothing wrong. The Democrats just wanted to make it look worse than it was.” 

“The media is the real enemy. They are the ones who are making him look bad.”

“He misspoke, it wasn’t Sweden, it was Syria…or Norway…or Boling green. You know terrorism is real!”

Honestly, I don’t want to hear any of it. If Trump knows the system better than anybody, he should have known the courts check the president’s power. If he’s able to unite the country, getting the Democrats to cooperate with his administration should be easy…once he gets started. And if he would just shut up and start fixing things like he promised, I guarantee the media would become a lot friendlier.

In short, Trump got elected by claiming he was bulletproof and his supporters believed him. They believed in the great and powerful Trump who would be the most terrific president in our country’s history. If they were correct and he is such a man, no force on Earth will stop him from making us “great” again. But so far he’s proven to be anything but that man.

So, I don’t want to hear any of his supporters make excuses now that he’s riddled with holes and making an ass of himself. Instead, I would prefer that they honestly admit they got rooked by this con man…or just shut the hell up.

 

“By Clayton J. Callahan

 

Where Has All Our Money Gone?

A friend of mine passed this on to me. As a guy who wore the uniform, I can attest to the truth of this narrative. Just prior to my last deployment to Iraq, the US Army gave me a parka and set of snow pants that I had to schlep all the way to Bagdad and back. Why? Because the military has money to burn and somebody’s corruption just paid off.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER
For release 1/12/17
WAR CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE F-35
“The F-35 Lightning II Program (also known as the Joint Strike Fighter Program) is the Department of Defense’s focal point for defining affordable next generation strike aircraft weapon systems for the Navy, Air Force, Marines, and our allies. The F-35 will bring cutting-edge technologies to the battlespace of the future.”
Lurking behind this perky little PR blurb, from the F-35’s own website, is the void into which the soul of the human race has disappeared.
This is war consciousness: locked into place, awash in money. The deeply flawed F-35, the most expensive military weapons system in history, is ultimately projected to cost over $1 trillion, but no matter: “It will bring cutting-edge technologies to the battlespace of the future.”
What does that mean? It sounds like an ad for the next Star Trek movie, but it’s U.S. foreign policy — or, more accurately, the defining assumption of nationhood: We will always be at war with someone. It’s the quintessential self-fulfilling prophecy. When we spend trillions of dollars “preparing” for war, by God, we’ll find an enemy.
This is the consciousness we must transcend, and opposing Lockheed Martin’s way-over-budget, absolutely-unnecessary-for- national-security F-35 fighter jet, which is supposed to be ready to go by 2019, is certainly a good place to start.
“The F-35 is a weapon of offensive war, serving no defensive purpose,” reads the petition now in circulation, initiated by a dozen organizations. “It is planned to cost the U.S. $1.4 trillion over 50 years. Because starvation on earth could be ended for $30 billion and the lack of clean drinking water for $11 billion per year, it is first and foremost through the wasting of resources that this airplane will kill. . . .
“Wars are endangering the United States and other participants rather than protecting them. Nonviolent tools of law, diplomacy, aid, crisis prevention, and verifiable nuclear disarmament should be substituted for continuing counterproductive wars. Therefore, we, as signers of this petition, call for the immediate cancellation of the F-35 program as a whole, and the immediate cancellation of plans to base any such dangerous and noisy jets near populated areas.”
At the local end of this travesty, the F-35s, which would be based in Burlington, Vermont, and Fairbanks, Alaska, are so dangerous they could render nearby residential areas uninhabitable. The extreme noise level could cause cognitive impairment in children, according to a World Health Organization report; and the planes’ high risk of crashing, combined with highly toxic materials used in their construction, put local residents at an unacceptable risk.
But the absurdity of subjecting people to such risks is magnified exponentially by the needlessness to do so.
Roots Action, one of the organizations calling for the F-35’s cancellation, describes the fighter jet as “a first strike stealth weapon designed to penetrate air space undetected. It will be used for massive killing and destruction in more wars like Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Vietnam in which millions of civilians have been killed and wounded and millions of refugees created.”
Yet these wars didn’t advance any rational agenda whatsoever. They didn’t make America safe, much less “great.” To confirm this point, the Roots Action site cuts to CIA director John Brennan, testifying before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee last June:
“Unfortunately,” Brennan tells the committee, “despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach.”
He goes on: “The resources needed for terrorism are very modest, and the group would have to suffer even heavier losses of territory, manpower, and money for its terrorist capacity to decline significantly.”
Let’s sit in silence with these words for a moment.
In the silence, the word “why” emerges with enormous force, more force, perhaps, than it’s possible to bear, at least when one begins adding up the costs of our ineffective efforts. Why are the weapons of war the only tools we choose to wield — the only tools we can imagine wielding — against the threat we call terrorism? Why are the multi-billion-dollar agencies of government trapped at such a feeble level of consciousness — war consciousness — that they are able to envision nothing but the wreaking of more destruction to “keep us safe,” when everything about this activity weakens us, endangers us, makes us ever less safe?
What if we began waging peace against terrorism? That is to say, what if we began to recognize that understanding the enemy is what’s crucial, while thinking we can destroy what we fear is an illusion of monstrous proportions?
Consider: “The Defense Department is designing robotic fighter jets that would fly into combat alongside manned aircraft,” the New York Timesreported in October. “It has tested missiles that can decide what to attack, and it has built ships that can hunt for enemy submarines, stalking those it finds over thousands of miles, without any help from humans. . . .
“Defense officials say the weapons are needed for the United States to maintain its military edge over China, Russia and other rivals, who are also pouring money into similar research (as are allies, such as Britain and Israel). The Pentagon’s latest budget outlined $18 billion to be spent over three years on technologies that included those needed for autonomous weapons.”
What a world we’re planning! I believe there’s still time to change directions, but the demand to do so must begin today.
Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.
© 2017 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, INC.

Me against the local GOP

Trump Nominating Gorsuch

Hello, below is a statement by Oregon GOP chairman Bill Courrier (the bald guy on the left) about Oregon Governor Kate Brown (on the right, duh).

His statement is followed by my e-mail response. Frankly, I am flabbergasted by the amount of self-delusion old Bill is indulging in these days. It’s as if Trump is just a moderate, run of the mill Republican, and the liberal reaction is some kind of massive hissy fit. Nothing could be further from the truth, however, and I intend to keep letting them know that by every means available (including this blog).

So here it is, Bill Courrier’s statement (in italics) and my response (also in italics):

Mr. Courrier says…

Wilsonville, OR – Oregon Republican Party Chairman Bill Currier issued a statement on Wednesday in response to media reports that Oregon Governor Kate Brown had formed a “Trump Resistance Team”. Currier said that Brown’s “social action team” threatens to further divide our nation, and suggested that the Governor prefers playing political games instead of devoting herself to solving pressing problems here in Oregon. Currier also raised questions about the motivation and funding of Brown’s new campaign.

“This kind of rhetoric by a sitting Oregon Governor is inflammatory, divisive, and unprecedented. We have enough problems coming together in America without elected officials wasting time fanning the flames. The voters have spoken, and public opinion polls show general approval of President Trump’s actions so far. Governor Brown risks being left on the fringes of our society, instead of being considered a bipartisan thought leader. With mounting long term debt, state spending ballooning out of control, transparency and corruption issues, pressing transportation needs, and economic development challenges, does Kate Brown really think Oregon voters elected her Governor to play political games?”

“You also have to wonder about the origin and funding of this campaign,” cautioned Chair Currier. “We’ve seen many recent examples of Governor Brown’s public policies and political motives being shaped and funded, in whole or in part, by out of state billionaires like Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, and George Soros – along with in-state billionaire Win McCormack. It’s high time Oregon voters reject the extremist agenda of these hyper-rich cronies and leave the governing of Oregon to Oregonians.”

“I have to remark at the irony of this report,” added Currier. “Kate’s email to supporters reads, in part, ‘Now, more than ever, we must bring communities together to resist in a divided nation.’ Yet this call to action urges her progressive activist supporters to come together to divide people. Not exactly a “uniting” approach. Past elected officials have always tried to find a way to work with a President of the opposite party, even up through President Obama’s administration. It’s time for Democrat Leaders to stop whining, get to work, and find areas of common ground with President Trump, to accomplish the important business of our state and nation.”

Currier also took note of the hashtag games being played, saying, “The #teamkate hashtag is interesting, if a bit short sighted. A quick twitter search by a social media professional – or even an amateur – would have revealed that it has already been taken. Let’s hope Governor Brown does nothing more to revive the other hashtag she was known for – #korruptkate.”

The Oregon Republican Party is the state’s arm of the Republican National Committee. It’s Chairman and officers are dedicated to preserving and advancing Republican principles within the state of Oregon and to improving the lives and livelihoods of Oregon’s working families through economic freedom and equal protection under the law.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday 02/01/17–3:30 PM PDT
Contact: ORP Communications Director
communications.director@orgop.org(link sends e-mail) – (503) 902-4671

 
 And I replied to the Oregon GOP director of communication thusly:
In his statement, Mr. Courrier expresses the concern that Governor Brown’s actions are counter productive to the goal of uniting Americans. Quote, “We have enough problems coming together in America without elected officials wasting time fanning the flames.”

And I agree. However, her actions are also understandable in light of the President’s behavior. Perhaps you’ve noticed and perhaps you haven’t, but Donald Trump has continued to do all he can to divide us. In light of his travel ban, his cabinet picks and his behavior toward the press, most liberals Governor Brown’s response as reasonable.

You see, Republicans now have the exicutive, legislative and, soon to be, the judicial branches of our national government in your hands. And thanks to your efforts to defeat Mesure 97, Oregon’s state budget is in no position to give back what the federal government is soon to take in healthcare alone. In short, liberals have their backs to the wall and have everything to lose and nothing to gain.

Please understand that it is not for the man tied to the post, but the man holding the whip to be the magnanimous one. Republicans MUST hold out the olive branch first if there is to be any unifying of Americans at all because the liberals are in no position to do so.

Mr. Currier goes on to state that the governor should be focusing on “transparency and corruption issues.” Okay, tell me what those issues are specifically, and I will gladly join your chorus. Seriously, I personally despise corruption from the left or the right. Make me your ally! And while I campaign for your cause, perhaps you can get Mr. Trump to release his tax returns like he promised he would.

Incidentally, Mr. Currier’s assertion that “voters have spoken, and public opinion polls show general approval of President Trump’s actions so far.” is laughable. We all know Trump lost the popular vote, and his approval ratings are at historic lows according to Gallop. This assertion deflates credibility and if I were him I’d strike it out of the text.  

Finally, Mr. Currier asks where Governor Brown finds the money for such a Trump Resistance Team. That may be a valid question, but my feeling is that the answer is more likely to be from donations than graft. Keep in mind, the ACLU raised 26 million dollars last weekend alone as reported by the Washington Post. The ACLU states that they typically take in only 4 million a year! It seems liberals are opening their wallets like never before.

These are extraordinary times, and they will call for extraordinary measures. From my perspective, I see a runaway Republican Party doing all it can to terrify liberals. For Mr. Courrier to complain when liberals push back is frankly assinine.

Like I said, it’s up to the GOP to extend the olive branch. If you do that, there is hope for uniting this nation. If you do not, we are lost.

 

Folks, we need to keep on speaking truth to power. This is especially true at the local level. Do not let falsehood stand! Do not let propaganda be legitimized. Always answer back because that is how we resist!

 

By Clayton J. Callahan

My Plee to The Man

I sent this letter to every big name I could think of in the GOP except Trump (As stupid as he is, what would be the point?). Perhaps someone will listen, but at least I can look ’em in the eye and say, “I told you so” when things go south.

Dear Prominent Republican

Do you want a civil war?

I am asking this as a real question for which I hope your answer is, “hell no!” But, I’ve got to say, as a student of history, that’s exactly where we are headed if the Republican Party continues to support an extremist agenda. Now, to be clear, I am not writing this letter to make any kind of threats. Like any patriot, I don’t want a civil war either. I am writing this letter because I believe we are on a collision course for just such a disaster, and I am doing all I can to avoid it.

Now, why would I suggest that something so extraordinary as a real probability?

Well first off, for the past six years I’ve noticed how the Republican Party did all it could to stop Obama’s liberal agenda. After all, that was your path back to power after the pounding the GOP took in the 2008 election, and I understood your desire to push back. However, the way the GOP did it caused some unexpected blowback that cannot be ignored.

A total refusal to cooperate or negotiate with President Obama was justified to the public by a campaign that painted him as some kind of far left socialist. This, in turn, inspired your base to concoct hundreds of conspiracy theories to support your position. The talk radio jocks took it far into left field and the Republican establishment did nothing to discourage them. Was Obama a socialist? Perhaps, but that didn’t sound provocative enough. Was he a Muslim? Oh, that sounded good! Was he secretly part of Al-Qaeda? Was he born outside the USA? Was he going to pull off a coup in Texas? And as the talk radio chatter spilled out over the internet, the GOP din nothing but smile on the sidelines, knowing that it would pay off in votes.

In all this while, the uneducated masses were lapping the propaganda up with a spoon. Fed a steady diet of suspicion, fear, and falsehood, they were primed and ready for a man like Trump who would “make America great again.” So far, I’m sure I’ve told you nothing new. Sure, you may have phrased the above paragraphs a little more gently, but you’d be lying to yourself to deny its true—and I’m depending on you to be an honest person. But now, I do have something new that you may not have been fully aware of; all this time the left was watching and getting mad.

The good news was that the anger of the left was put in check by their confidence in a Hillary Clinton victory. She was seen as a shoe-in and, with her in office, liberals could feel safe that the things they hold near and dear would be protected even if the congress stayed Republican—and when she didn’t win, the left lost its collective minds.

Now, I’d be unsurprised if that last sentence didn’t make you smile a bit. After all, November 8th, 2016 was a heck of a good night for you and your friends. The image of liberals crying in their beer is sure to give you some pleasure, and I will allow you that. However, what happened next should have caused you some concern. Possets rang out across the nation that sometimes devolved into outright riots. They lasted for days in some cities and posed a serious threat to public order.

Now, did the protests disturb your calm?

If they didn’t you’re frankly a fool. However, I’m assuming you’re not a fool or else this letter is a complete waste of time. So I’ll assume you were also disturbed by the inauguration day protests, the Women’s March, and the airport protests a week later. Congressional offices have been flooded with phone calls, letters, and postcards. The White House has been forced to shut down its comments line and even offices like yours are being so flooded with calls your mailboxes are always full.

It’s almost as if thousands of people feel very strongly about something and refuse to be ignored.

Trump, I must say, hasn’t a clue. Even a casual examination of the man reveals him to be a child in a man’s body who’s enthralled by the speckle of adoring crowds that may or may not actually exist. Perhaps you don’t agree with my assessment of Trump? Fair enough, I will not belabor the point. However, I will point out that all his decisions so far seem to completely discount the mood of half of our nation. He selects the most extreme appointees, bans immigration from Muslim countries, threatens the media and alienates our southern neighbor with abandon. At the same time, GOP congressmen like Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) are jumping in with radical “Right to Work” legislation.

 And frankly, to a liberal like me, it’s looking as if all our worst fears are completely justified.

So, what happens next?

That is the $100,000.00 question now, isn’t it? Thus far, the protests have been completely ignored by the Republicans in congress and one wonders when the left will realize that no one is listening. What would you do in such a situation? Would you move to Canada? Would you just swallow your rage and take it like a good boy? Or would you…how do Republicans phrase this…turn to some kind of “Second Amendment remedy?”

As your President Trump once said, “…there’s nothing you can do, people, there’s nothing you can do. But I don’t know. Maybe the Second Amendment people. Maybe?”

Now, do you honestly think that it’s only conservatives who think this way?

As our President Kennedy once said, “Those who do not make peaceful revolution possible make violent revolution inevitable.” Was Kennedy right? When liberals are forced to swallow loss after loss with no concessions of any kind, will some of them get crazy enough to start a real fight? Would people actually die?

Like I said earlier, I am a student of history. My Bachelor’s is in history from Miami of Ohio. In circumstances exactly like what I have described above, arms have been taken up and people have actually died. Have you ever heard of the Weather Underground of the 1960s or the Symbionese Liberation Army of the 1970s? How about the Irish Republican Army of the 1980s, do you know how many people died in that war?  To me (and I hope to you) such a conflict is a nightmare scenario, but it’s a very likely scenario if Republicans remain committed to their current course. But the reasons behind all this fear are actually quite simple to articulate.

To quote Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here is a failure to communicate. Some men you just can’t reach…I don’t want it any more than you do.” Are you one of those people I just can’t reach, or are you a person of insight who will listen to another point of view? I pray the latter.

This letter is my desperate attempt to un-fail that American communication. Please listen to it because the salvation I’m about to propose is simple to obtain. Are you listening? Good.

The solution is to throw the Democrats a concession or two and to do it now. As I stated earlier, the Trump administration is following the most extreme right wing policies imaginable and the Republicans in Congress are going right along with him. This is obviously not the way forward because if you back any animal up against the wall it will bite you. If however, you give a dog an occasional bone you can get him to do backflips.

Okay, so I grant backflips may be too much to ask.

But would it be too much to ask you guys to encourage Trump to nominate Eric Garland to the Supreme Court? Face it, a lot of Republicans thought he was a good choice in the first place, and it would go a long way to pacifying a large swath of liberals. Or how about some social security legislation that improves the lives of old people. Face it, the elderly are a big part of the Republican base, and grandma’ just might return the favor to you in 2018. I could go on and on, but my point is that the Republican Party has to stop enabling its most extreme fringe, restrain the president’s worst inclinations and do some tangible things in congress that will make liberal America less terrified and desperate as a whole.

Is that so hard?

No, not really. In fact, it’s a return to that good old Ronald Regan/Tip O’Neil era when government actually worked, and Americans weren’t at each other’s throats. As a prominent Republican and a decent human being, it is your duty to act. Passively standing by while conservative extremist terrify radical liberals into a bloody frenzy is not a moral option.

So, please, leave the extremists agenda behind and travel down a more moderate road. Encourage Trump to follow his better angles (Remember Lincoln?). Give the other side the occasional concessions and make some good old fashioned deals. Right now, Republicans have the executive branch, the legislative branch and most of the governorships wrapped up in a neat little bow. Times surely seem good to you. But if you don’t reach across that aisle and soon you may not only lose all that, but you and I together could lose our whole damn country to bloody strife.

And you do love your country, right?

 

Staff Sergeant (SA) US Army (Retired) Clayton J. Callahan 

Wise Words From Former Director Jon Jarvis of The National Park Service

Image may contain: one or more people, hat and outdoor

“I have been watching the Trump administration trying unsuccessfully to suppress the National Park Service with a mix of pride and amusement. The NPS is the steward of America’s most important places and the narrator of our most powerful stories, told authentically, accurately, and built upon scientific and scholarly research.

The Park Ranger is a trusted interpreter of our complex natural and cultural history and a voice that cannot not be suppressed. Edicts from on-high have directed the NPS to not talk about “national policy”, but permission is granted to use social media for visitor center hours and safety. The ridiculousness of such a directive was immediately resisted and I am not the least bit surprised.

So at Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta should we not talk about his actions to secure the rights to vote for African Americans in the south, or is that too “national policy”? At Stonewall National Monument in New York City, shall we only talk about the hours you can visit the Inn or is it “national policy” to interpret the events there in 1969 that gave rise to the LGBT movement? Shall we only talk about the historic architecture of the Washington, DC home of Alice Paul and Alva Belmont or is it too “national policy” to suggest their decades of effort to secure the rights of women can be linked directly to the women’s marches in hundreds of cities last weekend?

And as we scientifically monitor the rapid decline of glaciers in Glacier National Park, a clear and troubling indicator of a warming planet, shall we refrain from telling this story to the public because the administration views climate change as “national policy”?

These are not “policy” issues, they are facts about our nation, it is how we learn and strive to achieve the ideals of our founding documents. To talk about these facts is core to the mission of the NPS. During the Centennial of the National Park Service, we hosted over 300 million visitors (now that is huge) to the National Parks and most came away inspired, patriotic and ready to speak on behalf of the values we hold most dear. The new Administration would be wise to figure out how to support the National Park Service, its extraordinary employees and their millions of fans.”

 

By Jon Jarvis

Von Clausewitz Vs. Trump

von-clouswits-vs-trump

So, how can an average schmuck like me bring down Donald Trump? After all, he is (and I still choke on these words when referring to him) the president of the United States. And who am I? Nobody important, I’me just a guy with a blue collar job and a blog. Somehow the contest seems a bit unfair…that is until you start thinking like my boy Carl Von Clausewitz!

Who the heck is/was Von Clausewitz and what does he have to do with the price of pinatas in Oregon?I’m so very glad you asked!

I’m so very glad you asked!

General Carl Von Clausewitz was a 19th-century Prussian soldier and writer who stressed the psychological and political aspects of war (see where this is going?). His most famous book was titled “On War” and is considered a masterpiece of military theory that is still studied at West Point today. Why? Because soldiers like to win and old Carl had some pretty good ideas on how to beat a superior opponent with whatever force you happened to have.

One of his most applicable ideas to the Trump problem was his concept of “friction.” Von Clausewitz used this word in a very specific way. He said, “fiction is that which makes the easy difficult and the hard impossible.” Marching troops from one town to another may be easy, but if the roads are muddy, the bridges are out and the troops all have the flue the easy soon becomes impossible. Thus, if you want to win, you should do all you can to increase the friction of your enemy and decrease friction on your own side as much as possible.

So, how does this apply to the anti-Trump resistance movement?

Simple, we must make the easy difficult and the hard impossible for Trump at every opportunity! If he wants to build a wall, we must protest upon the construction site. Can he have us forcibly removed? Certainly he can, but we have just increased his friction…and we ain’t done yet. Next, we slap him with a lawsuit, write letters to the editors of local papers, and flood the phone lines of every congressman in Washington. Soon, his easy little construction project becomes more and more impossible difficult until he gives up because it’s not worth the effort.

In short, throw enough sand in the machine and the machine stops working. Every action you or I take is just such a grain of sand and I intend to throw in fist fulls!

As an individual, I don’t need to be so strong that I can take down Trump by my own self. I merely harass and annoy him while joining my efforts with as many others as I can. We resist with every means we have available until we gum up the gears beyond repair. Using this understanding, no act is too small as long as it either adds to Trump’s friction or decreases ours.

How do we decrease our own friction? By working together. We must join with others who share our concerns and work toward the common goal. This is why I was glad to see a pro-life women’s group included in the Women’s March on Washington, DC on January 21st. True, I and most other liberals disagree with their position on abortion. But today the fight is against Trump and every grain of sand counts!

We are already seeing the effectiveness of this strategy as Trump released an executive order this past week banning Muslim immigrants. In one day massive protests took place at airports nationwide, followed by an ACLU challenge that a federal court supported. Is this battle thus won? Maybe, and maybe not; but no soldier expects to win every battle in a war. But we keep fighting just the same. By keeping up the pressure in big ways and small, we will wear down our opponent until he finds himself utterly exhausted and demoralized.

And in the end, Von Clausewitz and folks like us will defeat Trump!

 

Never give up! Never Surender!

Well, it’s been a long couple of months. Back on November 8th, I got down…and then I got mad. I got tear up the walls mad. Of course, anger without action is impudence, and that’s something no man likes to be associated with. So I got busy fighting Trump. Right now, many people are wondering what they can do and are feeling powerless. After all, the big buffoon is now the president and that fact must be accepted on some level. So we lost, right?

Friends, we have not yet begun to fight!

I am still looking for more I can do, but if you need inspiration, here is a list of actions I’ve taken. They are all easy to do and feel really really good when you do them. Because action is the will given form, and that is a power no tyrant can survive for long!

So here its is: a list of things I have done since Trump got elected…
1) Got really really mad.
2) Wrote every elector who’s address was public.
3) Attended my first protest march
4) Attended other protest marches
5) Called all my representatives on the phone to express my concerns several times (maybe two hundred by now…not sure)
6) Sent postcards to Trump Tower expressing my true feelings for him and his staff picks.
7) Written letters to editors
8) Started an anti-Trump blog
9) Joined Planned Parenthood
10) Joined the ACLU
11) Subscribed to Mother Jones
12) Became a sustaining member of NPR
13) Attended activist meetings
14) Decided never to give up and never to surrender!