Friday, November 19, 2010

TSA Has Gone Off The Deep End

I DEMAND to know what threat a 3 year old little (American) boy is to American airport security. I DEMAND to know why this little boy, barely out of training pants, was subjected to a FULL BODY PAT-DOWN.

I DEMAND to know why we, as a nation, are ALLOWING this behavior to go unchecked, all in the name of “security”.

You know what? The government and the TSA are lying to us all by telling this helps “keep us safe”. It doesn’t, and we all know it, especially when they will soon give all muslims exemption from pat-downs because of their religion. The only way it would ever come even close to working as they say is if EVERYONE who boards an aircraft was subjected to this, regardless of race, religion, age, or sex, no exceptions. But that won’t happen, so it’s POINTLESS.

What we need is Israeli-style profiling at airports to weed out suspicious persons before they get even close to the gate. Yes, I said (gasp!) PROFILING. It’s one of the best ways to ensure security and we ALL know it.

We profile everyone we come into contact with, naturally.

After all, I don’t see many people going out of their way to conciously chose a meth-whore as their best friend, a drunk for a taxi cab driver to drive them to the airport, or a burgler to watch their home when they are away on vacation. Why not? Because we profile the people we have contact with. We judge them on how they look, behave, and talk. That IS profiling. If anyone tells you it’s not, and that they don’t do it, they are lying not only to you, but to themselves.

It has nothing to do with race, except as it applies to probability. It is much more probable that your home will be burgled if you hire a burgler to house-sit. It is much more probable that you will be in a car crash if you hire a drunk person to drive you to the airport. It is much more probable that you will get ripped off, or at the very least put through an emotional wringer if you have a meth-whore as a best friend. And absolutely no one in this nation can deny that it is much more probable that a 20 year old muslim from the middle east would be a terrorist than a 3 year old blonde little boy from Atlanta GA.

So, why are we wasting time patting down 3 year olds, and letting people who wear a turban, burka, or carry the koran in their hands slip right on through without any inconvenience? Racism.

The TSA is actively engaging in racism already, in their wish not to appear as racist profilers. In not applying the SAME measures to everyone, they are engaging in discrimination, which is what they claim they wish to avoid.

We should just be honest and USE THE TOOLS WE HAVE, instead of allowing this rediculous sham to continue.

It’s time to have the guts to do what needs to be done, instead of putting on a really lousy show at the expense of that 3 year old, or that 80 year old grandma with the walker.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

More Muslims Now Than Before 9/11?

Last week, someone asked this question in a comment thread of an article on another site, concerning the controversy of Rev. Terry Jones’ intention to burn the Koran on the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on US soil to date.

The question of if or why there may be more muslims now started me thinking, which started me typing. It begs an answer of me, even if the supposition may be incorrect -since I have no data to actually support it- and even if my theories of why this may be occurring can’t be proven.

I can make relatively educated guesses as to some of the reasons why the numbers of followers of Islam are or may be up from what they were prior to the attacks of 9/11, but it’s certainly not based on anything other than the extrapolation of that supposition, a decent working knowledge of human nature, and reasonable deduction. Do NOT read this to be anything of a provable scientific nature, but rather as an acedemic excercise designed to ignite the imagination and pursue interesting possibilities. I will not be drawn into arguments over the validity of anything I suggest here, when I’ve now made it clear that none of what follows is anything more than speculation.

One factor that I can see immediately, which many may overlook while accounting for these possible increases is that many communist countries have relaxed their stand on relgious practices in recent years, and are allowing more religious freedoms than they have in decades. People who were once oppressed and afraid to voice their beliefs for fear of persecution are now more able and willing to do so in places like China and Russia. This can account for relatively significant increase, which is deceptive in nature because the majority of those just now being counted in these areas were Muslim all along. We just didn’t have the correct numbers before. Also, now that they have some freedom to actively recruit new members, many branches of many faiths are doing so. It is reasonable to assume that Muslims in these countries are converting who they can, when they can, how they can.

The second factor that is likely to be in play is that Muslims are encouraged to have more children, where other religious faiths no longer actively encourage members to do so. Families with large numbers of children within the Christian faiths, even among traditional Catholics, are fewer and further between for many reasons, including the ongoing trend of marrying at a later age, financial concerns, and general paradigm shifts in what constitutes cultural norms. Not so with followers of Islam. Their average family size is rising- or at least being maintained- worldwide, while people of other faiths, especially in the western world, are still on a decline that started decades ago. I don’t have the figures and studies to cite at the moment to support this, but I did read about this recently.

The third factor, and that which I find the most compelling to study and discuss because it explores the complexity of human instinct versus learned virtuous behavior and how it affects all groups- People who are looking for ways to validate themselves are converting to Islam.

In our need to assure ourselves that life has meaning, most humans have learned to keep that need to fulfill it in line with the needs of others around us. Joining or belonging to a movement- be it a mainstream religion, special interest group, political party, fringe group or cult- is often used to fulfill the need for validation, personal empowerment, and meaning to our lives- a sense of belonging and sharing. My best guess is the majority who are turning to the Muslim faith who were not born to it fall within this group. But on occasion, when people lose their sense of self, some may turn to an often unconcious and basic selfishness in order to fill that void. I would assert that a number of those who’ve lost a sense of self, or have experienced disillusionment in what used to fill that void, have latched on to a growing, energetic, and controversial religion because it has garnered much more attention in recent years than any other faith, movement, or special interest group, specifically and conciously in order to boost their feelings of validation. I don’t necessarily believe that a large percentage of any added numbers to the Islamic faith can be attributed to this motivation, but I’m absolutely certain that a percentage of any religion or large group of any kind happen to be people with this emotional outline that’s based on self-fulfillment over all other considerations.

Negative attention does not prevent these kinds of people from exploring the possibility that this might be what they need in their lives, but rather encourages it, so it’s reasonable to assume that some people have done so, and will continue to do so.

A good example of this phenomenon is when Satanism became fashionable in the late 1960′s and early 1970s after the publication of the Satanic Bible and media exposure of Anton LaVey, the leader of the Church of Satan. The church gained legitimacy (thereby growing it’s membership) by virtue of notariety- most of it through negative media attention and public outcry- not by sound theological structure, an inherently supportive congregation, or any of the traditional ways that a religion establishes itself over time. They recruited the confused, greedy, and selfish specifically, through the church’s very structure, and the publicity they received ensured their message would be heard by those who would be enticed by it’s mystique and promises of personal empowerment.

Let me be clear- While I use this as an example, do not confuse Satanism as a parellel to Islam. They are vastly different from eachother, including the fact that Islam has a sound theology, ideology and dogma which has lasted for nearly two millenia (whether you agree with it or not is moot), while modern Satanism is clearly a fad that comes and goes in conjuction with media hype, pop culture, and the wholesale disenfranchisement of young people. I am in no way saying that Islam is Satanic, evil, or otherwise not a legitimate faith. I’m not even saying that Satanism isn’t legitimate. I merely used the rise of Satanism in recent history as an example to illustrate why someone might join a church or movement that has aquired the reputation of being violent or negative in current mainstream perception, and that it is indeed a known phenomenon often encouraged -rightly or wrongly- by sensationalistic, though not necessarily inaccurate media coverage.

Many of the converts who fall into the above description of the self-serving believer may or may not actually believe in the fundamentals of the Islamic faith, but they certainly have to believe they gain something personally by joining any group that stands apart by virtue of perceived violence or hatred. What those personal gains might be are numerous and predictable, since human nature itself is inherently selfish, and followers of any group or religion have expectations that they want to be met.

The self-centered follower gets a feeling of personal power in belonging to an established group- and an even stronger one when that group is singled out by society for any reason; often they are given a venue where they can vent their personal rage- disguised as righteousness- in ways not available to them before; they may gain tangibles such as goods and services; intangibles such as authority over or perceived superiority over others; there are usually promises of rewards in the afterlife- or when the movement succeeds- for the faithful, etc. Because of the utterly selfish nature of this type of follower, it is easy to predict that converts and lifelong believers alike who follow a belief system based on fulfillmlent of a selfish need, must continually be receiving something from it or they won’t continue to do it. They will move on to something else in that search for fulfillment when following the doctrine and rules is a higher price than what they are willing to pay for what they believe they gain from it.

Often enough to recognize, they may instead opt to stay within the original framework, but chose to attempt to alter it enough to suit their needs rather than go through the emotional work of trying something completely different.

We should all hope that these people do abandon their chosen vehicle as soon as possible rather than engaging in the latter, should they recognize that their original choice of religion/movement/interest group has failed to give them what they need. We are all safest when they are busy searching, rather than finding or creating. Need examples? Read the biographies of nearly EVERY tyrannical leader in human history. Read the bios of a few sociopathic serial killers. Then read the bios of cult leaders like Warren Jeffs, Jim Jones, Charles Manson and David Koresh. The similarities in their character flaws are easy to pick out. It is also impossible to deny the fact that once they settled on a single path to attain self-fulfillment, destruction and violence ensued.

While their overall number may be miniscule within the populations of any country, we must take note of them, since history has repeatedly shown us that this kind of follower of any religion, any movement, any special interest are the very people who are, should they stay within the mainframe of an unsatisfying group, the most likely to BECOME the fanatics- the leaders and sychophants of the fringe elements- intent on feeding fires, creating division and increasing tensions which can lead to both general and specific violence, in their misbegotten attempts to gain a sense of self.

This, I firmly believe, is the singlular most glaringly evident reason why, as a species, we have come to value the virtues of selflessness and generosity; of finding one’s self through giving rather than taking.

I’m sure there are other factors that also may lead to an increase in followers of Islam, or any other group or religion for that matter, but I will end this excercise at this point. My own personal conclusions are that the majority of new members to the followers of Islam can be attributed to previously uncounted followers, those they are actively recruiting, those newly born to it, and those who have chosen it for personal reasons based on legitimate human need for a sense of community and belonging. A minute fraction of new-and old- members of Islam must also be those who have conciously chosen it as a self-serving vehicle for personal gain of one type or another. I believe that the latter, in spite of the relatively small number, are responsible for the majority of what has become twisted and altered, causing confusion and discord within the faith itself, as well as the violence and hatred that has stemmed directly from it.

People needn’t worry about rising numbers of Muslims. We need to worry about rising numbers of those power-driven, self-serving heretics within ALL faiths who would pervert them for no other reason than to fulfill their own base and selfish needs, figure out why there seems to be more of them now than there used to be, and fix whatever it is that’s ailing humanity that can cause such a destructive phenomenon before it gets beyond our ability to do so.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Michele Bachmann's Jobs Forum

I had the pleasure of attending the first of four Job Forums, sponsored by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann across the 6th Congressional District.
The focus and intent was to give a local update from business owners and jobs specialists, and explain some of the challenges small businesses are facing, and put real concrete reasons behind the lag in employment on the local level as well as the national level.
The congresswoman did a wonderful job moderating, asking each speaker to specifically address certain points they each had made in their presentations in order to clarify or expand on an issue.
The first to speak at this forum was Chuck Rau, a local small businessman who is facing the challenge of actually wanting to expand and needing to. He brought up the most obvious and recurring issue facing all businesses today, and that is one of uncertainty, across the board, as well as the credit issue many businesses are facing. How do they finance their companies, when lenders are not lending?
No one really knows how all the new laws being passed, or up for passage will truly effect business or the economy, since they are so huge, vague, and unfinished. Congresswoman Bachmann said that the healthcare bill alone has over 14,000 lines that begin with the phrase: “The Health and Human Services Secretary will…” meaning that there are no answers to at least 14,000 points of action, on which no decision will be made until after the fact, not before. This is just ONE bill. Uncertainty? I think that’s an understatement, myself.
Our next speaker was Greg Theis, a locally self employed contractor. His concerns were primarily the cost of doing business, overregulation, and the healthcare mandates.
He brought up the fact that the proposed penalty fees the new healthcare bill will levy against businesses who do not offer healthcare plans are actually much cheaper than providing pre-tax healthcare coverage, so we can expect many businesses to opt out of even offering any healthcare to their employees. This will mean millions of people will lose their coverage, and have to purchase their healthcare with post tax dollars.
He did have some good news, in that he did tell us that some of the stimulus money has actually been put into the construction industry, so projects that wouldn’t have been done this past year were able to be completed.
The next to speak was David Borgert, the St.Cloud Hospital/CentraCare Director of Government and Public Relations. He gave us the perspective of being a very large employer, as well as that of being a huge part of the local economy, and how recent changes and prospective changes are set to affect the local healthcare industry.
Other speakers were Matt Skwira, a self employed local man, who used a silhouette target to show how he feels when he looks at himself in the mirror- a governmental target. He brought up the use of restrictions to such a rediculous degree and without common sense that they are hamstringing industry and self employment in this state. “They are always coming up with new rules and laws. We have enough, we don’t need more. Let us alone and let us work.”
Next was Mark Bragelman, a banker, who not only spoke about the credit crunch and it’s ongoing effects, but also that even the banking industry has made changes in their hiring practices, chosing to focus on investing in technology instead of human resources. He told us how the administration is saying that banks should be lending, but no one has told the regulators who are visiting the banks, literally yelling at them for doing just that. I guess they didn’t get the memo yet.
Mike Myre, a small business specialist from the State of MN. He brought up the obvious point as to why businesses aren’t hiring as they could be- they are in survival mode, not growth mode. He gave information on the support organizations for small businesses in the state of MN.
Our final speaker today was William Beach, from the Heritage Foundation. He spoke about how the current government policies have failed, and why. Mr. Beach also spoke of how things could have been different, had congress made different choices earlier on. He showed powerpoint graphs that will be available at some point on Michele Bachmann’s website, and I’ll update when they’re available to view. They explain it all much better than I can.
All in all, I didn’t really learn anything new, but did get some clarification on what concerns our local businesses have, and why they are not pulling it together as quickly as the White House had led us to believe they would be.
The speakers were very good, well prepared, and all talked of very specific issues that are hindering our economic recovery on a local level, which seems to be lost in the grander overview of national recovery.
There were numerous other points that were made and discussed, concerning businesses and jobs, but I’m still processing the whole thing, to be honest. I’m sure I’ve missed some things, but if they come to me later, I’ll write another post.
It all boils down to one simple thing that all business owners agreed on during this forum-
The Government is the problem, not the solution, when it comes to putting people to work.
Business owners have no clue if what they had done in the past to pull out of recessions or near recessions will work this time again or not, since the game has no certain rules anymore, with all the new and sweeping legislation on the table like Heathcare, TARP, and Cap and Trade.
As long as this uncertainty lasts, we can expect to see more of the same from businesses. They will continue on in survival mode, not expansion and growth. We should get used to it, as long as government itself thinks it can fix the problems by spending our way out of debt, and taxing, regulating and restricting businesses to the point of closure.

I also had an opportunity to speak with Congresswoman Bachmann after the presentation, and we briefly discussed the provision in the Healthcare bill that will require the filing of 1099′s for businesses on purchases over $600. I had spoken to her about this last week, in her latest telephone town hall. She has informed me that she is following up on that, bringing it up to various committees and congressmembers as another reason why the healthcare bill should be viewed as hostile to businesses, and should be repealed.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The only fundamental difference

While writing a response a few days ago to another post, I said something which I really think needs to be reitterated and expounded upon.
I had said that the only difference between the far right and the far left is that the Right wants to legislate morality, while the Left wants to legislate social concience (You can substitute social justice in for that, since it amounts to the same thing).
There is a difference between the two goals, as we can see in the arguments and platforms on each side, but the mechanism they are both attempting to use is the same. Government.

The Right Wing wants to use government to enforce what their God has told them are the right things to do in life- do not kill, do not steal from others, etc. These ideals sound good, but coming from a religious standpoint, only their own definititions of what constitutes these moral behaviors matters to them. Our society has too many diverse opinions on what constitutes “moral” behavior, beyond the obvious necessary to continue as a working society, for any real agreements to come about with the Far Right. Judeo-Christian moral boundaries are not the same as my own, for instance, and I will never tolerate any government entity to force me to change those that do not coincide with their own (common sense, based on societal need) already. I don’t expect people of other religions to do so, either.
For instance, it is common sense that we not allow people to murder others, thus depriving them of the right to life. However, it is NOT common sense that a belief of when life begins, formulated from a religion dominated by men for 2,000 years, can determine what a woman can or cannot do with her own body. Nor is it common sense that a book written by men over 2,000 years ago be a foundation to disenfranchise a person for not being attracted to the opposite sex, depriving them of the same protections, benefits, and rights as those who do- ie marriage to the one they love, raising a family, and equal protection under the law for taxation.

The Left Wing also wants to use government to enforce thier beliefs that we are all equal, thus deserving of the same lifestyles, and of respect and nonjudgement. Again, these sound like good ideals, but they fall flat.
It is common sense that we allow others to live within the constraints of the constitution, without demanding compliance to our own biases.
However, it is NOT common sense to expect all to be equal, as we are all born with different talents, intelligence, and ambition. Some are predisposed to a nasty disposition or a lack of intelligence, and the Far Left would have us believe that it is simply because they do not have what others have in life. This may or may not be so, but what stops them from TRYING to attain it, instead of bitching and moaning about their lot in life? Some people may very well have less advantage than others, but the glory of our system is that they can crawl out of their own puddle of shit, should they chose to do so. And too bad- its HARD. It’s hard for everyone, really it is.
It is also not common sense that we not judge others. We do it every day, in everything we do. We chose our friends through judgement of others. We base every decision in every social situation on how we judge the others around us. It literally dictates everything we do, say, and chose! However, it is NOT common sense that we allow our personal judgements to dictate what constitutional rights we allow to those who are different from us.

Both sides’ goals are absolutely impossible to attain, for many reasons. The primary being that changing laws does NOT change minds. As long as we have freedom of thought, it cannot and will not change how people perceive their world, it will not change fundamental human behavior, nor will it change what we are taught at home and within society itself just by living within it.

This is why our government was set up as it is, with as LITTLE government interference in morality AND social concience as possible. Our founders knew that neither religious nor secular ideologies can coexist when one or the other dominates through law. Its why we have both freedom of religion, AND a secular government. They even things out, so to speak, so neither one has the opportunity to dominate our lives through law. The government should no more be allowed to tell us we MUST not drink on Sunday or women MUST not have bodily autonomy than they can tell us we MUST not gather in faith, or that we MUST accept government enforced charity to those we don’t believe are deserving of taking what we have earned.

You may believe that anyone who isn't far right or far left is wishy-washy and can’t make up their minds, but this is far from the truth. We certainly CAN, and we’ve decided that both sides are out to do nothing short of controlling- not governing- the populace through the same mechanisms, and are simply pursuing a different population management strategy.
Both the Far Left and the Far Right are WRONG. Plain and simple.

(originally posted at )

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I ran across this little video tonight on one of my late-night sojourns around cyberspace. I was in the midst of one of my “darkling” periods and wanted to find something that would either feed it or strangle it, I didn’t much care which. This documentary didn’t do either but, somehow, it was what I needed. Once again the universe came through for me. Way to go U! (link to the documentary is in the title of the article)

It’s a couple years old and the comments about it are too but what those comments did was show once again that virtually no one who commented “got it”. Most of them and, indeed, most people haven't the slightest idea of why those people are up there or how they really live. This is a good documentary but it is EDITED, for dogsake. Roughly an hour of finished footage usually means 4 to 6 hours of raw film, AT LEAST!

Yeah, sure some of these folks are mentally ill, no big surprise there. However, most of those who are know this about themselves and have chosen to A. reject the zombifying drugs that may or may not successfully treat their illnesses and B. have chosen to not inflict themselves on "society" and vice versa.

The stigma of mental illness is not just about the way a headcase reacts and interacts with society. It’s also about how society views the mentally ill and how it "helps" them. In order to be "treated" the average headcase must accept the labels and the requirements AND the restrictions on their movements and their behaviours. They also have to be GRATEFUL for the crumbs from the tables of the normies and they must bow and scrape to their "benefactors" and exhibit that gratitude. Don’t think for one minute that this isn't the way the game is played because it is. If you want the truth talk to your average veteran, not even a headcase just somebody who has served his or her country and is paying the price for their service. If you are brave enough, talk to an actual headcase or two. Even the ones who choose to play the games of the "do gooder" industry will, if they let themselves be honest, tell you about the very subtle but also very real system of rewards and punishments that is part and parcel of the VA AND civilian mental and healthcare industry. Society is willing to help these sad, damaged unfortunates but, like any god, “SOCIETY” must be acknowledged and, in some way, worshipped for its benevolence.

As for living in squalor and poverty; yep, they do that too. At least if you are keeping score using the standards of our oh-so-politically-correct-society. Some, but by no means all of them, do take advantage of the "social programs" designed to help "the disadvantaged". Why the hell shouldn't they? The rejects and outcasts of a given society actually perform a vital function for and within that society. If they didn't take advantage of charity, how would all the fat and fatuous upwardly mobile yuppies get that nice, warm, fuzzy feeling that they have helped those poor unfortunates who, in the yuppies opinion, just cannot take care of themselves without the largesse their betters choose to bestow upon them? Thus do the “saviors” make themselves and their (usually but not always) liberal consciences feel better and feel better than someone else.

The supposed squalor is primarily from lack of water; what water they do have/get is too important for drinking and cooking to be wasted in washing. The video didn’t say but, living out where they do, I would suspect that most of the time, they clean their dishes with clean or cleanISH sand, gravel or dirt – just like our pioneer forebears did. It was said repeatedly that they have to “haul their water” and that isn’t something that is easily done.

Poverty? Well, that's in the eye of the beholder. No, they don't have iPods and cell phones; no, they don't have $100 jeans and $200 sneakers; no, they don’t drive new and/or environmentally conscious hybrids nor do they live in a 3000 sqft. “McMansions”; no, they don't have professional haircuts and french-tipped nails. If that is living in poverty, then I live in it too. And I don't give a flying fat damn about it either!

They do not generally use “money” in the traditional sense but then they don’t go into town much now, do they? So why should they use the currency of a society they do not take part or only take minimal part in? Among themselves, they seem to use a system comprised of equal parts barter, gifting and reciprocity. Marijuana is apparently sometimes considered currency and that’s not a new thing either. Any society will define wealth and a medium of exchanged based upon the degree of perishability and what is desirable within that specific society. Is this self-medication? Sure is but that does not make it ineffective or maladaptive. And, while we are on the subject, I have known literally hundreds of people over the course of a long and colourful life and I have yet to see a stoner (aka pot smoker) who ever beat his wife or girl friend or children. I can’t say the same for all the boozers I have known. Of course, their judges and detractors will whine “But it’s illegal!” Yeah, yeah I know, so what? Chocolate is fattening and rots your teeth but you don’t see much of decline in sales because of these little tidbits of information, do you? Lots of things are illegal and people still do them. In droves.

So, we’ve got a few folks, relatively speaking, who smoke up a bit now and then out where no one can see them or be affected by it. We also have elected, appointed and/or almost appointed public officials who don’t pay their income taxes too and that sure as hell affects more people than Maine or Gecko or Stan, the pig farmer blowing a bowl now and then. Who is more in the wrong? Who does more harm to society? The self-appointed “outcasts” or those greedy and public service-minded liberals who want to save us all from ourselves by reaching deeply into our pockets and even more deeply into our lives? I know how I vote, how ‘bout you?

Also, regarding the use of illegal substances, there were a number of comments that decried the use of methamphetamine by our doughty group of retro-pioneers. Nowhere in the entire hour and 7 minutes did I see anyone on the mesa use or even mention crack, crank or meth. Yet, the thoughtful commenters were criticizing them for using it and demanding that the police, DEA or some other form of governmental storm trooper swoop in to stop their use and round up all the miscreants. The ONLY mention of anything other than pot smoking was by Virginia, while living and begging in town, who said that she smoked crack. And even when she went back to the mesa for a while during her pregnancy, she never said, mentioned or used ANYTHING. Does meth use happen out there from time to time? Maybe so but there was NO EVIDENCE that it did or does.

Another indictment of the mesa dwellers was about the fact that Maine refused any and all treatments for his cancer. There are a couple of reasons for this one of which he mentioned himself. He said, “Given the choice of dyin’ in a fuckin’ hospital bed or dyin’ out here, under the stars. Ain’t no choice.” Obviously, he had made his choice. It’s the same one that I will make one day.

There’s another reason, I think, that Maine chose not to treat his cancer. He developed what is called, by anyone but the Veterans Administration and its functionaries, Gulf War Syndrome. I have known more than a few of my fellow veterans who suffer a myriad of illnesses and “conditions”, including cancer, due to exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. The ONLY way they can/could get a disability rating from the VA and, thus treatment for the results of said exposure was/is to drop the words “Agent Orange” from their disability claims. I have a very good friend who has, over the course of time, had his entire back carved down by over 1 inch in thickness to try to get rid of the recurrent, mostly benign, tumors. He has lost most of the mobility in his upper body including the ability to raise his hands higher than his shoulders due to the massive scarring from multiple surgeries. Obviously, he can no longer work. He could not get competent and comprehensive treatment or a disability rating until he stopped claiming that this and other problems were the result of Agent Orange. Within days, literally, of changing his claim he was given a rating of 100% disabled due to “a skin condition resulting from his military service”.

By the very same token, the VA does not recognize “Gulf War Syndrome” as an illness or condition resulting from the military service of any veteran of the first Gulf War. Also, by the very same token, no affected veteran can receive a disability rating and therefore treatment for any injury, illness or condition originating from any relationship to “Gulf War Syndrome”. However, just as in the case of Agent Orange, most of the affected vets
CAN get a rating and treatment if they change the wording on their claim. What makes this an even greater atrocity is that there have been dozens and perhaps hundreds of cases where GWS can be and has been passed on to the spouses, children and unborn children of GW veterans.

And the politicians, their public relations flacks and the VA said at the time of the first Gulf War that they would treat the new crop of veterans better than they treated the Vietnam vets. Oh gee, I’m so glad. That’s so good to know, isn’t it?

So, it’s not too much of stretch to imagine that Maine or any other veteran might refuse treatment from a bunch of flannel-mouthed, lying VA mouthpieces and their rent-a-docs. At least, it isn’t to me. It’s a long-term, multi-symptomatic, systemic and ultimately fatal illness. Besides, how in the blue, bloody hell could he get competent treatment when the cause cannot be correctly diagnosed and labelled?

I wonder what the powers that be will not call the illnesses and conditions the men and women currently in military service come home with. I have no doubt that they will be fucked and fucked over by our benevolent dick-tator and his assorted flunkies.

On only two subjects can I even partially agree with the self-proclaimed judges of these people is that of the children. I don’t generally think living out there is a bad thing for kids but I can see where it might be a bit limiting. Again, the conditions under which they live are not my primary concern, let’s face it most kids don’t care if they get dirty, are dirty or even if they stay dirty. It’s part of being a kid. Home schooling is not necessarily bad but, brace yourselves yuppies, neither is it necessarily good.

Like any kids, these have to be educated as to how the world works, how it got this way, how they can and/or will fit into it if they so choose. Sadly, I don’t think they will get this kind of education out on the mesa. Then again, I’m not completely sure that they will get it in a so called “mainstream” school either. So, it’s a toss up. What I do know is that the kids we saw who lived on the mesa seemed healthy and happy. They seemed to be adequately socialized within the society in which they lived and to have contact with other children and peers. They may not have all the little goodies and trinkets that their townie counterparts have but I am not sure that can be considered a negative anyway. Certainly not by me.

I am also not hugely thrilled with the presence of all the broken down cars and trucks and the obvious garbage lying around. I can understand it but I don’t have to like it. There is a limited amount they can do with anything that will not burn. Most do not have the money or the vehicles to take it into town to be disposed of properly but surely they can limit it to a given area rather than allowing it to proliferate at random through out the area.

My third and final objection lies with the filmmakers who state at the outset that there is an estimated population on the mesa of about 400 people. Yet they chose to concentrate only upon this one small pocket of admitted malcontents rather than show some of the alternative individuals or groups that also live there. Several of the commenters stated that they had lived or do live elsewhere on the mesa in what sometimes seem to be vastly different circumstances. Some live at least partially “on the grid” in, at least somewhat, more traditional dwellings and their attendant property taxes. Others say that they too live or lived off the grid as well but in less anarchic and more organized groups. There are probably some more formally organized but still fairly non-traditional groups and probably some even more extreme loners who neither have nor want contact with anyone else. Does this make either the more or less sociable better or worse than the small group that was portrayed in the documentary? Not to me and certainly not to them. From the comments I read and what I can infer, from knowing a little something about this kind of lifestyle from my own experiences, as well as from the video itself; I can say that a general feeling of “live and let live” is probably the guiding mantra of most of the mesa dwellers.

Sadly, I expect that there will eventually come a day when the so called “dominant society” will take action to corral, absorb and control the mesa dwellers. No society will
allow its most basic tenets to be rejected, ignored and flouted forever. We have seen it before. The larger organism will always try to absorb the smaller regardless of what the smaller might wish. However, when it comes to human beings, in the face of resistance the larger society will destroy the smaller rather than let it exist independently. If Stan, the pig farmer and Robbie, Mama Phyllis and Espy, Dean and Gecko and the rest of the mesa people resist, and we know that some will, there will be bloodshed. When it happens, I will grieve for them.

I was homeless (neither by my choice nor completely by my own actions) and lived in the Black Hills National Forest for 8 months (most definitely by my choice) and I loved it. That’s right; I LOVED IT! I would not change it for the world. I miss it virtually every minute of every day since I returned to “the world”. There are many things I love about the life I am living now; primarily the non-traditional family that I have been fortunate to help build but there is something wonderful about the simplicity and peace that I found in the forest. The intervening years have not been kind to me and I suspect that I am no longer physically able to return to that way of living but I still dream of it.

By my own estimate, there are at least 400 or so people living off the grid in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming. Most of the people I met while living in the forest were veterans (and/or their families) individually living off grid in varying degrees. Some went back to “civilisation” permanently, some went back only to return to the Hills permanently and some sort of commute back and forth as they choose and have a sort of “weekend” relationship with their families and children with or without divorce.

I have seen and experienced firsthand the raised eyebrows, assumptions, judgements and conclusion jumping that the so called “normies” react with. That they base their opinions upon virtually no personal experience other than to see or hear about the forest folk doesn’t seem to make a difference to most of them. Though they have almost no personal knowledge or experience with them they believe themselves to have the right to marginalize or persecute them. The normies have no idea that some of the forest people work at conventional jobs, some get disability benefits and/or treatment from the VA and some support themselves and their few necessities through more free-floating occupations such as wood carving or other types of art. The area is quite a tourist mecca so that kind of thing can be quite profitable at times. Of course, hunting, fishing and gathering also go a long way in providing for them.

There was also, in the area where I lived, a sort of core group of folks who were rather more functional that would make the occasional trip into town to take care of shopping and other needs for those who asked them to. They did and do so out of that sense of loyalty and camaraderie that Maine spoke of. I was very fortunate and deeply honoured to know them.

As with the mesa dwellers, we do what works for us.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

Something to Consider

In these difficult times, it’s hard to think about where to spend your limited charitable time and dollars. I know this intimately, as I am a member, officer, and Exaulted Ruler- Elect (president) of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, St. Cloud Lodge #2843.

If you aren’t aware, the BPOE is a strictly American, patriotic charitable fraternal organization with nearly a million members and a 141-year history, a network of more than 2000 lodges in communities all over the country, a generous charitable foundation that each year gives millions in scholarships, an inspiration to youth, a friend to veterans and more. The Elks began accepting women as full members in 1995, but the “brotherhood” aspect of it has not changed, in that we are all bound to eachother by virtue of our committment and dedication to helping others.

I joined the newest Minnesota lodge less than 3 years ago, and I can honestly say it was the greatest thing I’ve ever done, other than having my children. Our order is different from any other organization in many ways, but what grabbed my attention is that they surpass many with larger membership rolls in their giving, and are much more active in local communities than any other I had found in my area. Our giving is focused on DOING, not spending, but of course it takes money to do the things that we do. The Minnesota state project, supported by all lodges in our state is the Minnesota Elks Youth Camp, located north of Brainerd on Pelican Lake. It’s one of the best facilities I’ve ever seen, providing the summer camping experience to hundreds of kids every year who otherwise would never be able to go to camp. It has been in operation by the Elks since 1954, if I’m remembering correctly. Each state has it’s own major project, and we here are very proud of ours. The Elks sponsor an annual Soccer Shoot, and also the Hoop Shoot for three age groups of elementary school kids, with the winners progressing from lodge level, district, state, and up to National competitions. We have many scholarship programs, as well as essay contests and other youth activities. We sponsor a veteran’s transitional home here in St.Cloud, and host many functions throughout the year at the St.Cloud VA medical center. We have an annual Flag Day ceremony, as well as participation in local parades where we actively promote our Drug Awareness program. We respond to requests for help to families of veterans with simple things like fixing plumbing and other simple household repairs and maintenence, or cutting a winter’s worth of wood for home heating while their spouse is serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. We do a LOT of great things! But back to what I was originally writing about…

I returned on Sunday afternoon from my weekend long training seminar, where we had discussed many of the challenges of regular operations and keeping the good of the order foremost in our planning as we prepare for the upcoming year. Of course, the undeniable fact of our current national financial distress was a prominent topic, as it has bearing on every aspect of the charity work we do. Most of the lodges also have clubs, where they run their business in order to support their lodge’s charitable endeavors. Some, like the lodge I will soon preside over, do not have a club and rely on fundraising alone. We have differing challenges than those that are more encumbered, but one that we all face regardless of size of membership, location, or any other differences, is that we all are competing for those limited charitable dollars available within our communities.

I’m not asking for you to give to my lodge, visit your own local Elks club, my particular charitable order or any other. What I’m asking you to consider is whether or not you’re spending at least 3/4 of your available charitable dollars and/or hours in giving that stays within your communities, supporting your neighbors, their children, or the veterans who have given so much to us all. It is all well and good to give to those less fortunate in other far off countries who are in need, as they always are. Haiti needs our help, as well as many others, and they will continue to need and request our help far into the future. There will always be countries less fortunate than we are, and it is a great thing that we in this country can afford to help them in times of need or tragedy. But what of the quiet tragedies and simple needs in your own city? Your county? Your state? Your country? With the challenges being faced by many people closer to home, you may want to consider if you can give some of your time, even if you can’t afford to give cash right now, to an organization with local impact.

Please spend a few minutes to review your charitable giving, both in time and dollars, and see where you can help to improve the lives of those in your community. Investigate those organizations who have been receiving your time and money, and make sure you’re helping the people you really want to help.

And of course if you’re interested in learning more about the Elks, you can read more about what we do nationally HERE (where you can also look up your nearest local lodge), in Minnesota HERE ,  and my home lodge of St.Cloud MN HERE . We’d be very happy to invite you to join, or help in any capacity you’d care to!


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Welcome, Russ!

"Still Life With Cheese" - photo by Auntypsychotic, used with permission

I look forward to reading more of your comments on what is posted, past and future.
Now that I know someone is reading it, I've got reason to be more productive, too!
Both I and my contributor Auntypsychotic hope that you enjoy it, or at least get something out of it, even if you may not agree with our views.
We write a mix of political commentary, random humor, personal sharing, and just fun, odd or quirky stuff that strikes our fancy.
As I inferred, the blog has been sorely neglected for periods of time, but I will be more involved again soon.
My fiancé just had major surgery, so I will be a bit preoccupied for awhile, but if possible I plan on getting more up this coming week.
Again, Welcome! Feel free to comment, and spread the word to anyone else you think might enjoy the blog.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me!

its my birthday Pictures, Images and Photos

Another year older, hopefully wiser, and definitely hotter than ever!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

safety and other fairytales

I wrote this in response to a post by Moon on another blog. If you wish to read her VERY good and well-written post the link included above should take you directly to it. She asked me to post it here. So, going against my usual shrinking violet persona and unwillingness to thrust my opinions on the defenseless, I accede to her request.

As ol' Ben Franklin said: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

There is no safety this side of the grave and those people who believe otherwise are self-deluders at best and liars at worst. Like the sanctity of life, "safety" does not exist but as a human construct and as an attempt to sleep soundly. There are a myriad of reasons why I am not an Obama supporter and think that he will do more do restrict personal liberty than a chastity belt . However, there is not diddly squat that he or anyone in the oval office can do to make or keep us safe. Even if he were rational and competent the best he could do is provide our military and the civilian public with the necessary tools/weapons to increase our own personal safety. We can each make ourselves saf-ER but no one and nothing can make us "SAFE".

To believe that the government, be it in the form of elected and/or appointed officials or police or military personnel, can make us safe is to invite someone to prove the believers wrong and usually catastrophically. We MUST all do what we can and what we can get away with to increase our own personal safety and that of our families.

The average American wishes to delegate responsibility for their own safety to someone, ANYONE rather than take on that RESPONSIBILTY for themselves. To do it themselves means that there is no one to blame when, as is virtually inevitable, their lack of safety is shoved up their noses. Even some (and possibly most) conservatives would rather not have to do it themselves. Bitching and whining about big government and all the while calling for the government to do this, that or the other thing to keep them "safe".

The "peepul" bless their flabby, black hearts want to believe that each individually, and collectively "we", are or can be "safe". They are bitterly disappointed and full of angry recriminations whenever something happens to show them to be anything but safe.

However, these same people who believe and demand that the state or it's functionaries keep them safe are not willing to pay the freight that goes along with even the illusion of safety provided by the state. On the evening of 9/11 I was tending bar and listening to all the booze-fuelded outrage and opinions on the subject. The bar I ran was about 100 yards from the main gate of Ellsworth Air Force Base and a good number of Flaps who were, along with the local civilians, my clientele. I say this to indicate that there were very few deliberate morons involved in the discussions.

As we discussed what happened, what would happen and what SHOULD happen the subject of airline security was hotly debated. I said then that after the initial shock wore off most people would begin to bitch about delays and searches etc at air ports. I told the assemblage that within 6 months John and Jane Q. Public would be loudly protesting the inconvenience of what needed to be done to insure even a modicum of safety in the world that now existed for most Americans.

Sadly, I was much too optimistic; it was less than 3 months before the protests I first heard and saw reported in what passes for news in this country. Again, the dear people want safety but not at the cost of personal inconvenience.

The same can be said about who to "blame" for a couple of dozen religious psychotics attacking our country and our people. Even before 9/11 it was not news that planes could be used as weapons and bombs; Pearl Harbor taught us that or it should have. The true outrage most people felt about the attacks was not about the method or even the attacks per se but rather it was about the violation of the illusions of our safety, our supremacy and our immunity. Long before 9/11 I, and many others, knew that we have no safety, we have no supremacy and we have no immunity and we never have had any of the three. Anyone over the age of 10 and with a pulse should know it too.

When certain actions were taken (not including the war) the people were all for them. They didn't ask for particulars, they just wanted to feel safe again. Then the methods used started to be reported in the news and all politically correct hell broke loose. This method was invasive, that action was unconstitutional, those measures were "torture", blah blah blaaaaah. I'm not a huge fan of the Patriot Act but much of it was necessary. "Why?" you may ask. Because in the 70's and early 80's we hamstrung our intelligence communities and forced them to fight an undeclared and covert "war" while blindfolded with one foot in a bucket. Reality was much too unpalatable for the American public to accept so they put on their collective blinders, shoved their collective heads into the sand thus exposing their vulnerable collective asses to the tender mercies of those who don't like us.

Since 9/11 reality is once again too unpalatable for the American people. Abu Ghraib, water boarding, Guantanamo Bay, humiliation of prisoners ad nauseam have shown the public what is necessary to even begin to increase our state of readiness and create circumstances where we, as individuals, can take the necessary steps to keep ourselves safe. But the public doesn't really want to know; they want to be kept in blissful ignorance and maintain their little fantasy world of safety. When they are forced to know the truth they both bitterly resent it and feel the same compulsion that Pontius Pilate felt and wash their hands by attacking and indicting those who do their (the publics') dirty work.

I had a discussion with a young man several years ago about the new practice by law enforcement in South Dakota (where we lived at the time) that stated that everyone must have their identification on them at all times. I do not recall if it had been passed into law at that time or not but what it meant was that if one was stopped by the fuzzards and did not have his/her ID on them the fuzzards were then permitted to cuff and stuff the miscreants and take them to jail.

Not surprisingly, I was against this little gestapo tactic and said so. "Papuhs! Papuhs! You haf papuhs? Ve haf vays of making you talk!" The young man then said that he believed it to be okay since they did it to "keep us safe". When I asked him how in the world my carrying a piece of laminated paper would keep him safe he had no answer other than "It just does!" and that the police would then "know who to watch and/or arrest". When I queried as to WHY such desperados would or should be arrested he had no answer at all other than to sing the same old self-deluding song of "it will keep us safe".

And HE and his ilk are part of our electorate. THAT makes me feel very UNsafe.

Like I said at the beginning of this little missive:

As ol' Ben Franklin said: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."