Thursday, August 31, 2017

Racism and Religion

The signs are all about us.  So much so that we might barely be paying attention, but we are bombarded with the signals, as from outer space. Yes, racism is alive and well and living in America. And not just the American South. No, the racism cursing through America is all over the country.  That it seems to be increasing in scope and intensity with the onset of Trump also seems apparent. It is as though a storm is sweeping the country and increasing in intensity with each passing day.

Recently, President Trump issued a pardon to the most racist sheriff in America, someone who has been noted exclusively for his racism virtually his entire life and long term in office. Now President Trump knows about Sheriff Arpaio; everyone in America knows of him, and his concentration camps, killing fields really, given the numbers of people who have died under his incarceration. His action in pardoning Arpaio has sent out a signal loud and clear that racism is alive and well under his care.

And I read about a second phenomenon running about our country, sending out messages loud and clear—that our Christian (mainly evangelical) church leaders are frankly racist. Recently, a church leader promised there would be a civil war should Trump be impeached. Think of that. A church leader exhorting his body faithful to take up arms and kill other members of our national society, our American brethren should we dare to impeach President Trump. He wants them dead, all those who actively oppose our President.  He wants them dead. Now isn’t that a Christian act?  And then we have that dust-rag, Joel Osteen, with his megachurch in Texas, refusing to allow folks to rest and perhaps be literally saved by coming into his church that could house thousands.  If ever there was an opportunity to demonstrate the caring nature of Christianity, it was there and then, and pastor Osteen turned his back and retreated to his multimillion dollar mansion to suck his thumb and perhaps have a martini.

We are seeing these signs that organized Christianity at the least, is a fraud, and the more organized and the stricter, the more corrupt. How any pastor still in his right mind can endorse Trump to the point of exhorting his followers to take up arms and kill others beggars belief. Trump has virtually no Christian characteristics. He seems not to be an actual practicing anything. He has trashed that very Christian concept of marriage, by blasting through three marriages after serial infidelities (his third seems done, just not yet announced).  He cheats those who work for him, even to refusing to pay them for work done, resulting in hundreds, perhaps thousands of law suits against him. He is in incompetent at almost everything in which he engages, having gone through multiple bankruptcies, during which his investors have lost millions of dollars. Does he care? No, not at all.

And then he engages in what we might easily call anti-American behavior by consorting with some of our enemies. Whether his acts of “collusion” amount to treason is a question still to be decided, but the fact that it is an actual open question about a sitting US president is astounding on its face.

So I have now concluded that much of organized Christianity is racist at its heart. This statement delivers no surprise to many, but would be obviously distressing to the many pastors who are actually caring, humanistic in nature and real practitioners of what folks think of as Christianity.  It would seem there is a schism between the fake churches (think Joel Osteen in Houston, David Jones in Tennessee), and the many real, caring church organizations in America.

So, a Civil War, the preacher advocates. To protect a philandering, corrupt, unsuccessful businessman, who has never actually been any good at anything. Although I have a largely private sector background, mixed in with some government experience, our dear President convinces me that we really, really do not want a “businessman” running our government.  People in business operate under different premises than do people with mixed or largely public experience.  It is not that one is good, and one is bad, but rather, they are just very different.  The profit motive dominates the thinking of private sector people, as it should.  Good public sector people are motivated by effectiveness, i.e., effective delivery of whatever services, or programs being managed. Congress authorizes, but Congress does not manage, or even, for that matter, oversee the execution of its legislative programs.

But mainly, I believe, as do most rational beings that we do not want a racist at the head of our government. He encourages the racists among us, and brings out of their respective closets all the crazy, racists who have been biding their time. Our country is way more multicultural than it was even 20-50 years ago. Many of our racists harken back to those “good old days” of the 1940s and 1950s, when white men dominated America, and when there were many jobs for the population of white men, especially white men of limited talents.  Now, those jobs have fled our country, and the racist white men wish to “take back America” and, even, “Make America Great Again”.

America has indeed left those shores of 1950, and it isn’t sailing back any time soon. The only outcome of President Trump’s thinking, if it ever becomes reality, is a fractured country in which the heavily armed, racist folks run around killing other people, just because they can.

We need to step up, all of us, unless these people actually do “take back America”, because it may well not be a place the rest of us wish to inhabit. Voting is really our only recourse. So, register, get your friends registered, and vote. It is vital.

Oh, and on the sending prayers thing, folks in Texas and probably Louisiana need tangible stuff—money, clothes, water and food, shelter, even blood products. Prayers may make the sender feel good, but prayers won’t solve the problems of folks drowning in flood waters.

By for now.

Monday, August 28, 2017

A Little Procedure

A Little Procedure

Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 29, 2017, I am scheduled to enter the hospital to have stones removed from my bladder. It is four years, almost to the day, since I had this same procedure performed. The last time, all went swimmingly, the very large multiple stones were removed, and I had several days of recovery, during which I had to rely on a catheter for peeing into a bag. That was fun.

This time, they will perform the same procedure to remove the stones. But also, they plan to “shave” the enlarged prostate, which I am informed is more like coring an apple than it is “shaving”.

So, the entire dual procedure is not terribly complicated, although last time it required more time than anticipated, because the stones were quite large. But it is not complex like heart surgery is complex.

Still, any hospital based procedure, in which I am under a general anesthesia, poses some risk, and causes me to wonder about not awakening.  See, I am pushing on into serious age, being as I am in my 44th 39th year (you do the math). That alone gives one pause, on a routine basis. Partly, it is because I do not believe in the thing about boarding a bus that winds up at the pearly gates, where I am greeted by an official greeter and then introduced to God herself, before being assigned a cloud wherein I would meet and greet my relatives, et al.

I understand that all the pearly gates and heaven stuff is just a scam, what I have come to call a giant Ponzi scheme invented by the religious hoaxsters of the world to con you out of your money and to grant themselves some authority over your lives.  Everyone is terrified of dying. So the Ponzi master focused on that one fear and invented a whole tale about how you don’t really die; you just enter a new life stage . . . an after-death life, that goes on forever. Life, it turns out, is just a mildly unpleasant foretaste of your wonderful heavenly life.

But, no, that isn’t real. What actually happens at the death thing is anyone’s guess, since no one ever comes back to deliver reality lectures (no, your priest doesn’t actually know any more than you do. He just pretends to know).  The most likely outcome is that your brain simply stops functioning and you no longer are you. You stop being aware. And you don’t know it, because you no longer have a functional brain.  And nothing follows. Nothing.

So, that’s it. You’re done. And whether your friends and relations mourn you or share a cheering drink to celebrate your departure, will depend on the life you led, and whether you were reasonably kind, or a schmuck like President Stupidhead.

But, in any case, it won’t matter because you won’t know one way or another.  See, at that point, it is over. Got it?

So, that’s where my brain goes, every now and again, but especially if I am going to encounter general anesthesia. Who knows how my body will react? Good, I hope, because I have worked, with my lovely wife’s help, to maintain a reasonable body and mind. So, my overall health is good, and I expect I will come through this procedure as successfully as I did the last one. But I am four years older.

So, we will see. Hopefully, I will awaken sometime Tuesday after the procedure to be told all is well and I will be going home the next day.  We will see . . . we will see . . .

I do understand that not everyone follows this same thinking process. I really do.

So, here I come world . . . into your grip. Treat me kindly please.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Thoughts About Tomorrow


So, now we know, and no one on this globe can say they didn’t know.

Our President is a closet racist-Nazi.  I know he denies it, but I also know he lies, almost every time he opens his mouth. How does one know our President is lying? Well, when he opens his mouth and words come tumbling out, we know he is lying. This is perhaps his biggest problem . . . and ours. We have a President who almost never tells the truth. We think sometimes that he just doesn’t know or understand the difference between lying and truth-telling.  But I now conclude that he doesn’t even engage in “lying” per se. He simply says whatever would suit his needs/purposes at any given moment.  He doesn’t actually care whether what he says is true or false. If it meets his needs, then he will utter the words. I guess this is the narcissism, or the sociopathy at work.  Remember always, he is the compleat narcissist, and is a sociopath such as we may never have seen before.

Now what that means, is that no one will be able to engage in discussions with him requiring coming to agreement over future courses of action. He will utter whatever suits his needs and then, subsequently, may act or direct a completely different course of action. Then he will deny any problems caused by him (he always has Obama or Hillary to blame).

So, no domestic or foreign leader will be able to negotiate with him in good faith over any issue.

On the racist-Nazi thing, he was, to be fair, probably raised by a racist-Nazi father.  We seem not to know anything about his mother, except, we are told that she arrived in this country as an illegal immigrant.  But, he was perhaps indoctrinated early by his Nazi daddy.  And we have now seen that, because he cannot restrain himself when his pathetic brain is exercised, his infant brain, trained by his daddy, kicked into action over the Charlottesville mess.    He allowed the whole world to see clearly that he acted as a racist and a Nazi in his failed attempts to express sympathy for the victims of the Charlottesville massacre.  I remain sure that David Duke and his Nazi counterparts were pleased and even emboldened.  I assume his daddy would have been thrilled.

So, now our Nation faces years ahead of interracial hatreds being expressed more or less openly by Trump’s stockpile of deplorables . . . you know . . . his voter support.  And we, the remainder of our Nation have to figure out what to do about him, his policies, and his nasty supporters.

One thing that occurs to me is that we dare not remain “tolerant” of their actions. This is not really a free speech issue any longer. I am given to understand that free speech rules do not allow yelling “FIRE” in a crowded theatre. So, I am thinking that, they should not allow Nazi’s or KKK thugs to openly demonstrate. Free speech and the right to assemble can and should be denied those who profess Nazi or KKK beliefs.  If the German people decided it was no longer ok to be a Nazi, then perhaps we should pay attention and also deny them. Remember, it is illegal in Germany to fly the Swastika flag. So why not here also?

And it is long past time to declare both the KKK and any organization espousing Nazi beliefs to be domestic terrorist organizations. Then we can proceed to deny them permits to assemble, and deny them permits to carry weapons of any type. They must be made to understand that their purposes are not to be allowed here. If we would deny ISIS such permits, then surely we can and should deny our homegrown terror groups such permissions.

And Trump, well, I guess the only sensible solution to his behavior is to let him ramble (maybe delete his Twitter account?) and then vote him out of office. Congress also needs to do something pre-emptively to  legislatively remove his ability to declare war or to drop bombs on anyone without their express permission. In short, he cannot be trusted with the nuclear codes and should not be allowed to take us to war. Remember, he will lie if he really wants to go to war. And I believe his fondest wish is to be a wartime president.  He may have been a draft dodger, but he sees himself as a glorious wartime leader, clad I suppose in colorful armor, or maybe wearing a Superman costume.

That may be our only hope for a future without nuclear war.

Unfortunately, with President Stupidhead still in charge, we will no longer be able to hold off the worst of climate cataclysm.  That will require a new President (and a new Vice President) and a whole new non-republican Congress.

Good luck on that one.

Ta ta folks.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The end is near, the end is near . . .

Nothing like two crazed two-year olds each in the middle of a temper tantrum, but each armed with nuclear weapons to gain your attention.  And Rex Tillerson tells us all we can sleep peacefully at night, and we should not be concerned. Well, Rex, you’re an idiot, but I suppose you already know that.

Way back when I was an engineer in the aerospace industry, we were working on a missile design that could be launched from a nuclear submarine, and each of the 16 missiles on board each submarine, could deliver ten nuclear warheads, independently targeted on different cities.  That was back during the 1950’s and early 1960’s. It was a time when we didn’t used to elect total idiots to the presidency. Dwight Eisenhower, and JFK come to mind. They were smart, understood both foreign and domestic policy issues and seemed to possess the intellectual awareness needed for a complex world.

And they had to deal with the Soviets. Stalin, Khrushchev, et al, were determined to maintain the status of the Soviet Union after WW II. Their leaders were as determined as ours to promote and maintain their views of how the world ought to be run.  And so the Cold War was initiated and then maintained for decades, with each side armed to the teeth, but still run by rationalists.

As I have noted in past writings, we were momentarily sidetracked by Cuba and its attachment to the Soviets. We had the military might to dispose of Cuba, but the Soviets began claiming it as a satellite ally.   They brought in arms and some troops.  But, then they began bringing in missiles that could reach the US. That was a measure beyond what we intended to tolerate. So, as Soviet ships approached Cuba with missiles, we said NO. We would not tolerate a Cuba armed with nuclear missiles. We engineers continued our daily work, but each night, we would retreat to a local pub to drink and contemplate our future, or lack thereof.  Should we head to the Sierra’s, or rather try to reach the coast when the missiles began flying?  See, we knew with reasonable certainty what would occur should the missiles in fact begin to fly.  It would mean the end of everything we held dear, and perhaps the end of our universe.

Now, the only thing that sustained us was the leadership at the top of our nation, both civilian and military. We thought we had intelligence at the top, even if that intelligence was now being tested to the maximum.

So, now spring forth to 2017. We have known for many years that the Kim family, daddy and junior, were/are authoritarian dictators who seem not to mind killing anyone in their way.  North Korea has been that way for decades, perhaps as a result of that UN "peace action" back in the 1950s. They neither won nor lost.  Both sides called it a draw, but the North at least was forced to withdraw. They/we have been relatively hostile ever since.

Then the Kim’s came in to power, and they seem to behave as crazed two-year olds, especially Kim the younger.  He is always saying or doing something terminally stupid, just to show he is in charge.

He was always a problem, but one we thought could be “managed”.  Enter Donald Trump, another two-year old with a classic terrible-twos temper tantrum, on seemingly all the time.  He also says and does terminally stupid things, just to show he is in charge. Tweeting up a storm at 3:00 AM because someone has said something snarky about him is not the stuff of National Leadership we all dream of.

And, despite having earlier said admiring things about Kim, the Donald has decided he is to be “handled”.  And Kim, does not wish to be “handled”. So, he has continued to proceed with his missile and nuclear warhead design challenge to the world at large.  He will possess them by God, and if the world does not like it, then he might just take out that part of the disapproving world.  And if the Donald in particular does not like it, then Kim just might aim one of his infamous missiles at our bases in Guam, just, you know, to show that he will not be “handled”.

Now, the Donald, in full two-year old temper tantrum mode, will not be spoken to/at by just any old two-year also in full temper tantrum mode. So, he fires back in full might, all about fire and fury such as the world has never seen. Well, see, actually, the world has seen the fire and fury. They were called Nagasaki and Hiroshima.  And we, the World, don’t quite know what to make of this display of two-year old temper tantrums aided by nuclear weapons.  We once were governed by responsible, thinking adults, who surrounded themselves by responsible thinking adults. No longer.

 Now, we have to sit and bite our nails each day, til one or the other two-year old decides to go play and torment someone else. And the awful part is that we no longer have any assurance that there are any intelligent, responsible adults left at the top . . . on either side.

And, I am left, nearing the end of my life, wondering whether my children and my grandchildren will be able to continue living in this world.  And it doesn’t help when I read articles by folks like Stephen Hawking who keep yakking about how we all need to leave this planet because, even if the Donald and Kim don’t destroy us, we have already done so much damage to our environment, that our world may not be livable much longer. Oh, gee, just what we all needed to hear.

And, I am left dazed, and wondering what happened to the adults in our universe.  Reading the continued approval by even 25 or 30% of the people who supported our lunatic president makes me want to throw up. And, looking at and listening to his appointees is not helpful.  Where, I wonder, does he find these people? Our leaders, even our dimmer ones like Reagan and Bush II, used to at least try to fake it by bringing in some folks who appeared to be responsible adults.  But, not the Donald. He apparently only knows people who are either terminally stupid, angry like him, or permanently on the make . . . other con artists like him.

So, I go through the motions each day, and hope this will not be the last day I will observe a butterfly, or see a smile by a loving child.  And, I fail to detect any adults at the top of our land who seem moved by the continued histrionics. Folks in our land seem either borderline hysterical, like me, or angry with folks like me for daring to disapprove of their chosen two-year old “leader”.

How did we reach this pass?

And how will it end?