Ramping Up the Fear ….

I would like to add something that we joke about a lot over here, at least in the circles I mix in, and maybe people outside the country aren’t aware of it. There is all this fear mongering about this threat and that threat, like the country is some really dangerous place to wake up to everyday. For sure there have been devastating events involving weather and natural disasters and mass shootings and these are not to be downplayed. But for the most part things have always seemed pretty safe to me. I have traveled on my own to states like Mississippi and Texas for days at a time and not felt unsafe. I have never had an incident of anyone losing their anger over anything. People are generally very polite, they will stop to let you cross a road if you are jay walking, open a door for you, say good morning. I also go out in the evening and have no issue about driving late at night. But all I hear about is how dangerous it all is. You would think by the media and politicians rave that we are scared to leave our houses.

The violence and shootings with regard to African Americans and white police officers are the result of a systemic problem. If these people had not been racially profiled and targeted we would not be seeing what is happening today. I am very comfortable mixing with people of all colors in this country and have attended the black community to attend a gospel singing event where I was the only white person in the church. Everyone was welcoming and no one so much as battered an eyelid at the color of my skin. There was a reception afterwards and I was invited back to the church.  And yet I hear on the local news how dangerous Oklahoma City is and everything is about shootings and murders and death. I also find Mexicans extremely polite and respectful and have no fear of them.

And as far as guns are concerned, I don’t have any fear of the that fact that people want to own them. And I’m from a country where we don’t have gun ownership written into our constitution. It’s not the gun that is the problem, it’s the society behind the gun that needs fixing. I’m not even going to say it’s the individual behind the gun that is the problem. Some people are deeply against gun ownership and I respect that but I don’t think taking the guns away is tackling the problem.

And now we have this Donald Trump and Hilary machine ramping it all up. Both have the potential to turn this country into the dangerous place they actually want it to be. This serves their agenda so they will be able to suppress everyone, plus the fact they both appear to be sociopaths.

If you look at every civilization over time, the methodology of those in the minority over those in the majority is to use every tool in their arsenal to stop the majority from “rebelling”. They use fear as a way to keep things in check. And it works. I have even heard some people in Oklahoma talk about all the terrorists and how we have to fight them. When the main fear is the homegrown leader who is sprouting all the fear. That is not to say that terrorism is not an issue, but to a large extent it has been caused by foreign policies of this and other countries over a period of time to the point where those on the receiving end of the policies react. That is what terrorism is. But of course our leaders’ methodology is not to look at the cause, it’s to attack even harder.

Good luck to us all …

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Cleveland, Ohio’s Shameful Extravaganza

I checked the Daily Kos yesterday and I saw a series of very disturbing articles from diarists: It made me feel I had a lot to fear in this country if Donald Trump were to win the election. The first article is about his wife and how a Jewish reporter received death threats for not writing a nice enough story about her. I started to feel that an America under Trump will be one without First Amendment rights and where certain groups (Jews, Blacks, gays, and Muslims for starters would be targeted). In fact anyone that disagrees with Donald Trump will be targeted if you’re important enough.

The second article I saw was about the group Queen stating they did not approve of their song “We Are The Champions” being used in a political context. Donald Trump in absolute defiance played the song the next day of the Convention. As most of us from the Queen music era are aware their lead singer Freddie Mercury was gay. The GOP platform specifically targets gays  and suggests they need to undergo conversion therapy. The hypocrisy alone is astounding.

The next post was more of a wake up call that anyone who disagrees with Donald Trump is going to feel the weight of his disapproval. This article speaks to delegation votes that were robbed even though Trump didn’t earn any of them. I quote from the diarist:

“And so we continue peeling back the layers on what exactly Trump justice would look like from inside the White House—where anything that doesn’t match his reality or aspirations gets stamped out, shut down, cast aside, squelched, crushed. Pick your verb—if you’re on the wrong side of Trump, forget about it.”

“It doesn’t matter what party you’re in, Trump and his minions will “squelch” you, to use the word of a Republican delegate and 25-year party loyalist from the District of Columbia.”

The final post concerned statements made by Donald Trump about the Black Lives Matter movement. Despite the fact they had nothing to do with the Dallas or Baton Rouge shootings of white police officers and have stated they do not support violence, Trump is going to “put the attorney general of the United States on ‘em.”

And to quote again from the diarist: “And never mind that the Republican National Convention is looking like a combination of horror, comedy, and reality TV injected with steroids for the world to see, especially for including this dude—just never mind all that.”

Whatever is going on in Cleveland at present is the most abhorrent and disgusting example of bullying, bigotry, xenophobia, homophobia, and all the rest. It suggest a reign of terror and the loss of the rule of law in this country. It reeks of fascism and propaganda and the N. and H. words (that I’m apparently not supposed to say under Godwin’s Law). Can you imagine the leader of this shit show having the finger on the red button for civilization?

Big Pharma’s Monopoly Continues …

Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins uses the example of epi-pens to make a point about the monopolization of Big Pharma in this country. Epi-pens are a life-saving auto-injection device used by millions of people to treat anaphylactic shock and allergic reactions. Cousins informs us that the price of epi-pens has increased by 45 percent in the last 10 years.

But EMT’s in cities are not buying them due to their high price. Instead they are relying on an old method which involves using epinepherine and a syringe.

Coal as a “Clean”Energy Source of Energy, the GOP Platform and ALEC

The GOP Platform is claiming that coal is a “clean” energy source, in complete denial of science and the well documented harmful effects to both humans and the environment.

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD/PRWatch) reported in June that Peabody Energy, the largest private-sector coal company in the world, is funding a group of individuals, scientists, non-profits, and political organizations that are promoting a position that climate change is not real.

The documents that have been released so far are only showing the company’s creditors. But they show the the financial connection between these groups.

And surprize, surprize, the REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE (RNC) is listed as a creditor of Peabody.

Interesting how it then turns up on the GOP Platform agenda.

ALEC is also a recipient of Peabody funding:

I quote from the article below: “Peabody sits on the ALEC corporate board, participates in the Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force, and according to the bankruptcy filings it has provided funding for numerous other ALEC events and “scholarship funds” to bring state legislators to ALEC conferences and events. A lobbyist from Peabody Energy told legislators at a ALEC conference that it is seeking “guerrilla warfare” against the EPA. ALEC has long promoted climate change denial at its annual meetings and through its “model” legislation.”

See:  Peabody Coal Bankruptcy Reveals Climate Denial Network Funding

GOP Platform Erupts Out Of The Past

I am sure the world is looking on in horror at what American politics is dishing out at present. It affects many people around the world what happens in this country.

The Democratic Party still needs to keep pushing Senator Sanders progressive platform which Hilary Clinton has committed to: student aid, immigration reform, minimum wage, criminal justice reform, environment and climate change.

In any case, look at what the alternative GOP platform represents. A culture war and one that again ignores the economic inequality and jobs issue. Seriously, what sort of message would Republicans be sending their children with a vote for a Trump/Pence ticket!

The regressive, conservative, human rights bashing GOP Platform erupted out from the darkness (and the dinosaurs) a couple of days ago.

Here is my understanding of it to date:

  • a pornography provision pronouncing it as “a public menace”.  Well, isn’t that a bit hypocritical when Mrs. Trump has posed nude.
  • military women to be barred from combat.  This strips women of equal rights with men in the military and paints them as the “fairer” sex (with pay scales to match no doubt).
  • coal is labelled as a “clean” energy source of energy.  Here, we have the complete denial of science with its well documented harmful effects of coal on both humans and the environment.
  • a strict, traditionalist view of family and child rearing.  It implies that children don’t have any rights.  There is a reference here to “conversion therapy” for gays and parents being able to make medical decisions without interference.
  • a most ridiculous statement that “natural marriage” between heterosexual couples is most likely to produce children who don’t become “drug-addicted or otherwise damaged.”
  • gay and transgender rights is again raised with another reference to “conversion therapy”, disapproving of homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and transgender rights, including pushing states to deciding which restroom a transgender person will be allowed to use.  Targeting gay and transgender people!
  • overturning the Supreme Court marriage decision with a constitutional amendment and appointing judges “who respect traditional family values.” An attack on same-sex marriage!
  • building a wall along the U.S. border despite Paul Ryan stating that such a measure was not going to happen.  And no mention of immigration reform generally to deal with the issue in a logical, and productive manner.
  • demanding legislators use religion in making laws stipulating “that man-made law must be consistent with God-given, natural rights.”  There goes the First Amendment and the separation of church and state!

But, the agenda item that was supposed to be the big winning point for Trump was about jobs and standing against the TPP agreement.  That is missing from the platform.  People don’t even seem to register that the issue has been completely ignored.

I guess the hate and bigotry is more important than the jobs.  If the GOP wins the election I can see those same people continuing to have no jobs.  They will either have a lot of time to reflect on that or no time to reflect as they continue to work their two and three jobs to pay the bills.  So much for Trump making America great again!

Finally, add to the above the human rights bashing Newt Gingrich’s comments about deporting everyone in America with a Muslim background (including citizens) who believe in Sharia law. Another, who always seems to keep turning up out of the darkness around election time.  He also seems to have forgotten that his comments violate the First Amendment decree regarding freedom of religion.

Scrambling through the Electoral Process

A recent NPR program talked about the place of religion in American Society. The guest speaker made an offhand comment about the current electoral process. He said that although a lot of people are angry about what is happening in the country, if you look beyond the anger, there are some other emotions driving it. One of those emotions is vulnerability. There is a sense of vulnerability about where we are at for the present and where we are going to be after November and moving into the future.

There are a lot of people talking about the unrest in the country and how it wasn’t like this growing up. Well, I’m not from here originally so I don’t know what it was like growing up in America. But it does seem that we are in a very difficult period in the country’s history. I also relate this to Chomsky’s documentary “Requiem for the American Dream'” where he talks about cycles, though this cycle seems particularly significant (and onerous).

Four years ago when President Obama was re-elected the atmosphere was completely different. It was almost as if there wasn’t an election going on as he slipped back into the second term of his presidency. There was none of the disarray or discontent that we are experiencing at present. It is incredible to think that it only takes four years for the country to enter such a maelstrom politically, economically, and socially.

Moral Development and Our Political Process

An article by Ann Dapice in The Oklahoma Observer (June 2016, Vol. 48, No. 6) called “Whose Morality?” considers how we process new information that contradicts  previously held beliefs.

The article says that moral development is important for dealing with change. Supposedly, moral development occurs when we experience conflict that can’t be resolved at our present level. New ways are needed to resolve the conflict. And this moral development (or lack of it) applies just as much to our political leaders.

Ann Dapice was referring to the work of development psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg. According to Kohlberg there are six stages of moral development which can also be divided into three levels.

Level onePre-conventional (egocentric)

Stage 1 – avoiding punishment and deferring to power. “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” thinking. People mostly act based on what they can get out of it for themselves. These people can be bullies and cause a lot of misery to others. They like breaking the rules and are not intimidated to stop doing so. They are also groupies – whether blue or white collar. They support the group if it works for them.

Stage 2 – satisfying the self and sometimes others

Level 2Conventional (ego/ethnocentric)

Stage 3 – acting in a way to gain others approval which includes dress, peer pressure, following the group. Being seen as nice is important, rather than being seen as good. Select values are also important here that must not be broken. People don’t want to be seen doing something embarrassing to the group.

Stage 4 – focusing on authority and fixed rules, such as the 10 Commandments. Without laws chaos would ensue. But the finer nuances don’t exist. So it’s not ok to kill someone but its ok to deny someone health care and kill them that way. And its ok to kill outside the group like people in another country. The law is viewed in a formalistic way, but the “spirit” behind the law is completely missed. Loopholes and exceptions are also easily indulged.

Level 3Post-conventional

Stage 5 – looking at laws to work out what is right. New evidence and understandings are indulged. Changes in perception about what is moral can also result through trying to work through new dilemmas.  People here are able to look beyond their own group’s interests when dealing with justice issues. They will attempt to make laws more just without breaking the law.

Stage 6 – conscience and choosing ones own ethical principle which is like the “do unto others …. ” outlook. People here will break unjust laws using non-violent means.

Here’s how I would categorize some of our leaders (some may disagree):

Stage 1: Donald Trump

Stage 2: Hilary Clinton/Bill Clinton

Stage 4: President Obama

Stage 5: Bernie Sanders

Stage 6: Ghandi

I think Ann Dapice’s summary statement is apt: “We need leaders and citizens who have the moral development to examine what is right, to accept the responsibility to act on what is right, and the knowledge and skills to follow through.”

I don’t think we are at that stage yet.