Life and Living: Real, Real, Really Real

     I’m going to start this article off by saying that I haven’t sat down and penned anything in a “really” long time. My last article was published back in late November, and since then I have been pretty much dialed in to taking care of IRL issues during the holiday season. Now that 2014 is here and the holidays are over…well, allons-y!

What is "real"?

What is “real”?

     A friend of mine posted the picture on the right to her Facebook wall, and it duly showed up on my newsfeed. More than anything else, it gave me a few moments of pause, causing me to start thinking about what “reality” is, and how we perceive and relate to it. It occurs to me, that there is not one, but two types of “reality”; subjective reality, and objective reality.

     Take for instance, my opening statement. My application of the term “really” is meant to attach an immenseness to the actual quantity of time that has elapsed since my last article was published. However! What might seem like a “really” long time to me, may not seem so long to another observer. In this case the reality is subjective, based upon the perspective from which it is being observed. Another example would be my observation of say, a rose. While I may see the rose as being red, someone who is color-blind may see it as being a shade of blue. Which color is “real”? To them, the rose is really blue, while to me, it is red. Does this difference in observation render their observation any less valuable than my own?

     Conversely, there are things that exist that, no matter who observes them, everyone will agree that they are real. Gravity, for example. Regardless of who observes it, gravity still pulls all things down to Earth at a uniform 32 feet per second, squared. (Now, I know that this brings up the argument of our standards of measurement, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume that 32′ /sec2 is universally true, where the Earth is concerned.) The point being, that the force of gravity is real, and can be proven across multiple disciplines and (rational) schools of thought.

     I have a ginormous issue. It has to do with the penchant on the part of some, to try applying the term “real” to ideas, institutions and concepts, in order to impose their own beliefs on these things. A “real” American. A “real” Christian. A “real” man. (Word to the wiser amongst you, my fine, young readers! Whenever anyone presents this “No True Scotsman” statement as a representation of fact, it should set off alarm bells in your rational thinking centers!) Take the picture above. According to the creator of the meme, a “real” man is monogamous, devoted and, most importantly, heterosexual. Anything else, and the man is not “real.” So, a man like George Takei, who has devoted his love and life to another man, is not “real” according to the meme’s standards. Likewise, someone who truly loves, and is devoted to two women…a polygamist, (as allowable in Islam) is not “real” according to the meme.

     The idea that I’m attempting to get across to you all, what I’m saying, (if I’m saying anything) is to exercise a modicum of caution when attempting to present your own opinions. Sure, we’re all entitled to possess our own opinions, but that doesn’t necessarily elevate them to the status of being factual. Wikipedia defines “reality” as:

“…the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible.”

     In other words, “id est quod id est.” (“It is what it is.”) Any standards that someone might seek to impose on it, regardless of what “it” may be, are subjective. (Which circles back to my observation on gravity, which we can get into in another article!)

Commemorating September 11th: Where I Was That Morning

     I didn’t get to watch this speech until much later in the night. I say “night” because that’s what it was in Seoul, Korea where I was stationed at the time. I had been in the U.S. Army since April of 2000, and in Korea since early November of that year. On that evening, Tuesday, September 11th of 2001, I was just finishing up ironing my uniforms and getting my PT clothes set out for the next day.

     At about 11:50 P.M. (9:50 A.M. on the eastern seaboard), Jared Hopkins, who was pulling Charge of Quarters duty came and knocked on the door to my room. When I answered the door, he told me that there was a 100% telephonic recall in force, and that everyone had to come back to post. I asked Hopkins what was up, and it was then that he informed me that “someone flew planes into the towers in New York and the Pentagon. We’re under attack, man! Turn on your tv!”

     I immediately turned on CNN. What was unfolding in front of my eyes looked more like a new Bruce Willis “Die Hard” movie than actual news at first, but then the sickening reality of it all started to sink in. I watched as the towers fell, and the Pentagon burned. I remember thinking that our peace-time mission was now over, and that the whole world had changed on us. I spent the next three hours with one of my closest friends in the barracks, Berlynne Copeland, watching the CNN coverage from NY and DC.  To this day, I am grateful for her company and friendship during that darkest of times.

     The following day was a somber one. No work got done in our office, we all just sat around and talked about what had happened, who we thought might have done it, and how our Army lives would be affected. The rest of the week was filled with formations, memorials, security upgrades and a lot of retrospection.

     My wife later recounted to me that it was 6:02 A.M. in California when the second plane hit 2 WTC, and that she, my father-in-law and our two boys were all watching CNN when the plane hit. Later that morning, the school principal called her and the kids in, feeling that both she and our kids needed to be around friends at that time. (My wife was volunteering as a teacher’s aid while I was overseas.)

     That fateful day, almost 3,000 people lost their lives in these senselessly violent attacks. The mastermind behind these planned attacks, Usama Bin Laden spent almost 10 years on the run in the Middle East before being killed by members of our SEAL teams earlier this year. Also on that day a number of children were born across the country, little rays of hope in the midst of incredible tragedy. One of them was Christina-Taylor Green of Tucson, Arizona.

Christina-Taylor Green: 09/11/01 - 01/08/11

    Christina was featured in the book “Faces of Hope: Babies Born on 9/11“. By all accounts she was a bright,  energetic and thoughtful little girl. She also grew to have an interest in our government and the Democratic process. On the morning of January 8th of this year, Christina attended a “Congress on Your Corner” rally being held by Tucson, AZ congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. As most of you already know, she never made it home. In another senseless act of violence, Christina was taken from our midst when a gunman opened fire on the crowd.

     As we pause this Sunday to remember the victims of 9-11, I ask that we also remember Christina. Remember that even in the middle of despair, there is hope. I think she would have liked that.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine. Et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant en pace, in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

(“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”) From the Liturgy of the Hours.

Commemorating September 11th: Bloomberg’s Blunders?

     As we fast approach the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, I can’t help but feel a certain amount of frustration with the people of New York. I know this sounds cruel to say, especially around such a solemn time as this, but I have a very good reason for this. The problem you see, is their mayor.

     Michael Bloomberg has been the mayor of NYC since 2002. He is also among the 20 most wealthy individuals in the nation. He ran for re-election and won in 2009. Evidently, the people of New York love the guy. But I digress, back to the issue at-hand…

Heroes All

First Responders jumped into action in the wake of the attacks on September 11th, 2001.

    In the hours and days immediately following the fall of the Twin Towers, a great number of first responders and clergy were among the humanitarian effort being mounted in lower Manhattan. They searched the rubble, they comforted the families. They dragged the broken bodies of our fellow men and women from the hell at the WTC, and they held the victims, and the survivors up in prayer.

     Now ten years later, Michael Bloomberg has made the decision to exclude two groups from commemoration ceremonies at Ground Zero: First Responders, and the Clergy. I find this unconscionable and indefensible. Above even that, it pains me to think that the people of New York have, in the span of a mere ten years, forgotten the many sacrifices and contributions made by these two important groups. Is there just so much apathy flowing through that city, that the voters can’t stand up united and tell their mayor to make the accomodations? I’m sure that if enough people got off their asses (yes there, I said it. Asses. I’m that incensed!) in at least three of the five boroughs, that Bloomberg would have no choice but to listen.

     There’s still time. There are exactly eleven days until this happens, and I for one think the people of NY need to start speaking up. Let the First Responders and Clergy be included. The people of New York, and for that matter the nation at-large owe these groups a ginormous debt of gratitude that we can never hope to repay.

Who Protects Families From CPS?

     I’ve been chatting up a few people lately in the field of Social Services. The reason for this is that I have a few friends with ongoing issues with Child Protective Services in the county where I reside. One of the questions that I posed to them was regarding people’s use of CPS as a retaliatory tool. For instance: a friend becomes a frienemy, and just to get back at their former friend, calls CPS and makes a false claim against the parent(s). (This has happened to us a few times, so I know it does occur.)

     Specifically, my question had to do with prosecution of the filer of the false claim for harassment. What I ended up finding out was that any reports that CPS receives remain confidential, even if the person reporting provides their identity. Should the claim turn out to be false and the parent(s) wish to pursue court action, CPS does NOT have to divulge the identity of the reporter! In my opinion, this is pure BOVINE SCATOLOGY!

     If you ask me, I think CPS possesses far too much power. They have the power to rip apart families at will, based solely upon their own subjective observations. Most of these “workers” possess little to no real experience in fields of Psychology, Child Development or other valuable, applicable subjects. Granted, there are some cases that are so obviously detrimental to the child, that even the most daft social worker can tell something is amiss. What I’m talking about however, are cases where a child is seized from the home just because they cut their lip open while climbing over the back of the couch! (I actually DID this when I was four years old, but back then my mom and dad didn’t have to worry about a hyper-suspicious county Social Services program!)

     We need to start lobbying our local lawmakers to instill some protections for PARENTS. Child Protective Services agencies need to be placed in check. They started out as a good idea, but we’ve allowed them entirely too much leeway.

     (Add-on thought:) I apologize for not addressing this very obvious discrepancy with the original version of the post, however I just had the epiphany. CPS seems to be in DIRECT violation of the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which states the following:

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”

     How is it that CPS can get away with taking action without due process, acting on heresay AND denying the accused party the right to face their accuser? This bears some further research, which will result in another blog post at a date to be determined…

The Growing, Preventable Storm

     As Hurricane Irene fwaps us on the left-hand side, the worldwide animous, disdain and rhetoric continue to drag us down into what I fear will be a hard-to-escape quagmire. From here in the U.S., to Geneva to the Middle East, things are happening…

     Earlier this week, the small, Communist island nation of Cuba succeeded another Communist nation, North Korea at the helm of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament. The first thing about this that I find troubling is North Korea presiding over a conference on disarmament while at the same time actively developing a nuclear weapons program inside of their own borders, and also providing technologies and parts to other hostile governments such as Iran and Syria. I would not be surprised if Woodrow Wilson, the presidential mind behind the League of Nations is rolling in his grave at this very moment! Seating Cuba at the wheel of this conference is like putting the Marquis De Sade in charge of child abuse prevention! (Or Michael Pearl, for that matter!)

     Speaking of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad again today opened his mouth, and spewed vitriol against Israel, stating that there would be no room for Israel in the region once a Palestinian state is established. Ever since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, their relations with Israel have been hostile, with this latest president calling for Israel to be “wiped off the map”. During a Quds Day rally in Tehran, Ahmadinejad also stated that once a Palestinian state was established, that the “liberation of all Palestinian lands should follow.” (For those lay-people reading my blog that don’t quite get that, it means the REST of Israel.)

     We already know for certain that Iran also has a developing nuclear program, with centrifuges recently moved to a reinforced bunker to protect them from attack. (presumably by Israel or US!) Now, if you haven’t done so by now, connect the dots my fine young readers. Who else is Iran “buddy buddy” with in the worldwide web of nefarious characters? Hmm, let’s see. Iran and Venezuela have close ties, yes? Mahmoud and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez have been hanging out together recently, and I don’t think it’s because they have a mutual love of coffee. If memory serves me correctly, Venezuela is pulling all of their gold reserves out of Europe and the U.S., according to a recent Deutsch Welle article on the matter. It seems to me that Hugo Chavez is ALSO “buddy buddy” with the current dictatorship of…Cuba, who just took over chair duties on the 65-member U.N. Disarmament Conference…

     The wolves are slowly circling, and it’s like no one is seeing them. Either that, or they just don’t want to. Either way, stormclouds are definitely building at a quickening pace.

Debating Religion: Refutance Is Sistile?

“We are Dyslexus of Borg. Refutance is sistile. Your ass will be laminated.”

     A few posts back, I got into a discussion with Truelibertarian regarding religion, why I believe the way I do and why it works for me. He asked me if I could provide concrete, physical proof that God actually exists. After thinking about the question logically, I answered him honestly. NO. There is no concrete proof, most of what we have is based on faith. Now, I know that a LOT of Christians are going to take a fair amount of umbrage with this statement, but to these I would ask the very same question: “Okay, can YOU prove beyond a shadow of doubt that God exists?”

     Atheists I think, have just about as much of a chance of proving beyond a shadow of doubt that God does NOT exist, all things being equal. These two opposites however, still insist on getting into heated theological debates. If you ask me, it’s an exercise in futility.

     Another concept that I have grown to accept is that, based upon culture and upbringing, no one religion or set of beliefs is “right” for everyone. What may work for me may not work for someone else. The same is true for systems of government. While a lot of narrow-minded Americans may believe that Democracy is the best form of government for every country in the world, other countries sit back and laugh at us, because they, like myself, are a bit more enlightened. They realize that Democracy will not work dynamically.

     Take Great Britain for instance. Their system of government has existed far longer than ours. For them, a Constitutional Monarchy works. China on the other hand, has thrived with a Communist government in place, a great deal of that due to the intuitive evolution of the flavor of Communism that China operates under. “Waitaminute! What about the Soviet Union!? Communism failed in Russia. Remember the fall of the Berlin Wall?” Yes, I remember. I watched it on CNN! I would posit to you the reader, that Communism in Russia was destined to fail from the beginning, simply because the culture is different.

     Recently, there has been a great deal of upheaval in countries where Islam is the primary religion. Some of this is due to public perception of government not abiding by the tenets of the Muslim faith where care of the populous is concerned. Egypt, Lybia, Syria and Tunisia have recently seen mass uprisings, and even Saudi Arabia has seen protesting of its government’s policies.

     Culture plays a great part in the success or failure of an idea. This is an immutable truth that we’ve seen borne out time and again in governments past and present. (At this point, the blog post takes on more of a logical flow from one idea to the next, so please bear with me as I share epiphanies!) This brings us to an idea that is bandied about in the U.S. quite often: the separation of church and state.

     Separation of church and state is a myth. The reason I say this is that, if you look closely, church and state have always been intertwined in some way, shape or form due to shared principles.

     I know that a fair amount of this is debatable, and I’m probably going to get some comments to that end which is all well and good. I am by no means an expert where government and religion are concerned. I’m simply relaying my observations and opinions on the matter(s). If it stimulates discussion, all the better for us to continue the real task in life: learning!

     I close this with something of a fledgeling trademark where debates on religion are concerned….”Heloooo KITTY!”

Remembering Lydia Schatz – Part Two

“Long they laboured in the regions of Eä, which are vast beyong the thought of Elves and Men, until in the time appointed was made Arda.”

((“Beren”) John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, “Valaquenta”)

To Train Up A Child Cover

TTUAC Cover

    I’ve been laboring for quite sometime as to how I was going to write this follow-up to “Remembering Lydia Schatz“. I had, at the time I composed the first blog entry, sent e-mail to No Greater Joy Ministries voicing my opposition to the concepts set forth in Mr. Michael Pearl’s book “To Train Up A Child”. Today, I received a reply. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Mr. Chuck Joyner, the “Assistant General Manager” of NGJ would back TTUAC wholeheartedly, with the same apparent willful ignorance with which the book was written. The biggest issue I faced was just how to present this information to you, the reader of this humble weblog. What I came up with is this: copy-pasting the entirety of the e-mail into this entry, and adding annotations where I wish to counter Mr. Joyner’s assertions. Afterwards, and I HOPE this doesn’t take on a “TLDR” (“Too long, didn’t read”) aspect for you all, I will add some further research notes. But I digress…

     Without further adieu, the e-mail reply from NGJ Ministries:

“Thank you for writing to NGJ and to the Pearls.  They regret that due to their workload and the volume of email that they receive that they are not able to respond to each one personally.  The Pearls and the NGJ Staff are not professional counselors and any advice that they give is their personal opinion. (1)
I apologize for the delayed response but several of my emails were not delivered until yesterday evening. 
I encourage you to read To Train Up a Child. . Nothing in the book can be used to justify the behavior of the parents who killed their 7 year old daughter. (2) The DA’s response on CNN claimed that there was no question in his mind that the book influenced the parents to do what they did, but he gave no evidence or examples.(3) He also mentioned the Pearls were free to write “awful things” but gives no example of awful things that were written.(4) The CNN Report was a one-sided portrayal of a terrible event and many are exploiting her death for their own twisted purposes.(5) Almost every person that has had negative comments on the book has never read it.(6) We have thousands upon thousands of positive letters and emails praising the book from those that have read it and followed its principles.(7)
Here are quotes from the book that actually warn against abuse.
“Train up-not beat up. Train up-not discipline up.”(8) “A child needs more than ‘obedience training’, but without first training him, discipline is insufficient” page 4
“Disciplinary actions can easily become excessive and oppressive if you set aside the tool of training and depend on discipline alone to do the training.”(9) Page 9
“Parent, have you trained yourself not to discipline immediately but to wait until your irritation builds into anger? If so, then you have allowed anger to become your inducement to discipline.” Page 25
“Parent, if you are having problems with your children, you can be assured that you are not alone. Your children are also having problems with you. You are going to have to make adjustments in your own life if you are going to help them with their problems.” “… the responsibility for making a significant change is completely yours.” Page 32
“There are always some who act in the extreme. These individuals are capable of using what has been said about the legitimate use of the rod to justify ongoing brutality to their children.” page 50
“The rod should never be a vent for parents’ anger. Where the supreme motivation is anything other than the child’s good, it is inevitable that such behavior by the parent will assuredly create problems.” page 51
These quotes and the rest of the book are about turning the hearts of parents to the children and the hearts of children to the parents. Those that properly practice the philosophy of To Train Up a Child enjoy the fruits of joy that it produces. 
I am sure the hateful and false statements that are being made against the Pearls and NGJ grieve the Lord Jesus Christ to tears.
 Sincerely, 
Chuck Joyner
Assistant General Manager
No Greater Joy Ministries”

     1) According to the NGJ website, Mr. Michael Pearl possesses a BS from Crichton College. Now known as Victory University, this college based in Memphis, TN is a private, for-profit Christian Liberal Arts College. At no point in either TTUAC or on the website does it state just WHAT field of study Mr. Pearl’s BS is in. Instead, the website states:

 “Though holding a BS from Crichton College, when Michael is asked for his credentials on child training he points to his five children.” (http://www.nogreaterjoy.org/who-is-ngj/)

 I would hazard to guess that this BS does NOT include any kind of widely-accepted, transferrable credit Child Development course of study.

     2) Absolutely right on at least this one point, however if one reads just the first few chapters, that material alone sets the stage! In one of the first sections of the book, entitled “Obedience Training”, Mr. Pearl equates the training of children to the training of mice, rats and dogs. In another section within the same first few pages, it talks about training horses. (“Whoa, Horse”) In this respect, Mr. Pearl’s book causes the parent reading this for guidance, to view their child on these terms. The sheer ignorance and disdain for children that this shows is astounding! What Mr. Pearl fails to mention here, the distinction that he FAILS to make is that, unlike horses, dogs, rats and mice, children are SENTIENT, self-aware beings with souls. I didn’t see that mentioned anywhere within all of this drivel about training animals.

     3) Earlier today, I had the unique pleasure of actually speaking with Mr. Michael Ramsey up in Butte County. His opinions as stated to CNN haven’t changed from what I could tell. Though the case against the Schatz’s is over, he emphatically encouraged me to continue the information battle against NGJ, insomuch as this tale needs to be told, expanded on and tried in the courts of public opinion. While Mr. Ramsey may not have had quite as much of a say as he would have liked at the time, I on the other hand have the benefit of a weblog and the new media to present these “evidence and examples” that Mr. Joyner is so curious about!

     4) “Awful things that were written”? Oh, let me see…children equal animals in the aspect of training? I’d say that’s awful…

     5) “Twisted purposes”? Standing up for the children is “twisted” in your book? Please excuse my bluntness Mr. Joyner, but you can go procreate…with yourself. “Twisted” is what Mr. Pearl suggests in the same CNN interview that you quote in your e-mail. I submit the following excerpt from that interview:

(Interviewer:) “Let’s say a seven-year-old…slugs his sister.”

(Pearl:) “He would get…a seven-year old would get ah…ten or fifteen licks…” (more dialogue)

(Interviewer:) “With what?”

(Pearl:) “Ah…probably a belt, a kid that big, a boy…I’d probably use a belt, it’d be handy, I might use ah…a wooden spoon or uhm…a…a piece of…” (measures distance with his hands) “…ah…a…like plumbing supply line, a quarter inch in diameter, flexible enough to roll up…”

…so in effect, Mr. Pearl would give a seven-year-old child fifteen “licks” as he calls them, with a rubber hose. I’d say that’s pretty twisted, and ABUSIVE. A seven-year-old child isn’t really that big. Granted that some are bigger than others, but it still does not justify hitting them fifteen times with ANYTHING, let alone a rubber hose!

     6) In order to read the book, we’d have to BUY the book. I personally cannot see the point in spending my hard-earned, recession economy dollars on a piece of dreck like this. I guess I’ll just have to do what so many others have done: look up excerpts on the grid, along with statements that Mr. Pearl and his camp have made on national television and on their own website. Those statements alone are more than enough to cast serious doubt on the concepts put forth in TTUAC!

     7) “Thousands upon thousands”? I highly doubt it. That would mean that there are that many bad parents in the world. (Then again, maybe it isn’t such a reach…)

     8 ) Here we have one of many instances where Mr. Pearl attempts to rewrite the English language dictionary. “Discipline” is defined as follows:

“Noun: The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.”

“Verb: Train (someone) to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.”

     Mr. Pearl does this with other words as well, such as drawing distinctions between “hitting” and “spanking”. The following excerpt is from the same CNN interview:

Pearl also throws knives!

(Pearl:) “Ah, I don’t use the term hitting.”

(Interviewer:) “Wait, what’s the word?”

(Pearl:) “Spanking.”

(Interviewer:) “And is there a difference?”

(Pearl:) “Heh…absolutely. A hand is hitting. A little switch is spanking. A wooden spoon, or a spatula? A rubber spatula…that’s spanking.”

    

     Merriam-Webster defines “hit” as follows:

transitive verb /1 a: to reach with or as if with a blow b: to come in contact with <the ball hit the window> c:to strike (as a ball) with an object (as a bat, club, or racket) so as to impart or redirect motion

2 a:to cause to come into contact b:to deliver (as a blow) by action c:to apply forcefully or suddenly <hit the brakes>

intransitive verb / 1 a: to strike a blow b: to arrive with a forceful effect like that of a blow <the storm hit>

2 a: to come into contact with something

     9) Discipline…training….we could go round and round. What’s the point!? The point is that Mr. Pearl does what so many other narrow-minded people do: he manufactures facts to support his own conclusions. He tries to re-define terms that are already defined, so that they fit into his narrow little concept of child “training”.

     He contradicts himself as well. According to the NGJ website article entitled “In Defense of Biblical Chastisement, Part 1”, he makes the following statements:

“We don’t “hit” our children.”

“We decry the fact that “corporal punishment” is practiced by some people motivated by self-interest, and this is what the spanking abolitionists are seeing.”

     The NGJ camp does not call what they advocate “corporal punishment”, however let’s look at the actual definition of the term:

“1: punishment applied to the body of an offender including the death penalty, whipping, and imprisonment

2: punishment administered by an adult (as a parent or a teacher) to the body of a child ranging in severity from a slap to a spanking”

     …waitaminute! To spank, or not to spank, is that the question? I thought Mr. Pearl told that CNN guy that he does spank! What the frell, over!?

     There is decidedly more to that e-mail that I could comment on, but I think that I’ve made my point. Michael Pearl, and for that matter Chuck Joyner and all those that support NGJM, are seriously “twisted” (warped, whacko, bonzo-seco bug-nut crazy, pick your perjorative!). Anyone who would hit (yes, that’s what it is. There’s NO DENYING IT!) a child fifteen times with any object in the process of administering corporal punishment (again, res ipsa loquitur!) is twisted, abusive and just plain W – R – O – N – G on SO many different levels!

American Rhetoric: The (Long Island Iced) Tea Party Patriots?

     In the process of looking over my old blogging entries from Facebook, I ran across one that I wrote in April of last year, having to do with the two weeks I spent as a member of the Armed Forces Tea Party Patriots group. Given current events in the political theater, I thought that I might re-work that blog article for this blog!

Christine O'Donnell, photo courtesy of Gawker.com

     Last week, TPP activist and three-time political failure Christine O’Donnell walked off the stage from a Piers Morgan interview on CNN. Evidently, she was extremely uncomfortable with the questions that Piers was asking her, perfectly VALID questions regarding comments that she’s made during her runs for office and in her new book, “Troublemaker”. Christine is a vociferous backer of current GOP candidate Michelle Bachmann, who incidentally just finished first in the Iowa Straw Poll last week. Christine is ALSO a self-avowed Tea Party Patriot.

     Now don’t get me wrong! I’ve seen plenty of bad behaviors on the lefty-liberal side of the aisle as well! A prime example of this would be the many shenanigans of former Speaker of The House Nancy Pelosi. From her aspirations of having a private Air Force jet to fly her pampered arse across the country, to calling conservatives who spoke out against the Liberal agenda “unpatriotic”. Senator Barbara Boxer’s dressing down of a U.S. Army General last year also speaks poorly of the left’s attitudes toward the military. But I digress, we’re talking about the TPP…

     The following was pretty much my after-action review of the AFTPP group, and the people it was composed of at that time…

_______________________________________________________________

     During the past few weeks, I have spent a LOT of time in the Armed Forces Tea Party Patriots group here on Facebook. While I came away with a greater appreciation for political views, and even a few friends, I also saw some things within the TPP movement that bother me.

     Tea Party Patriots, I learned, come from all walks of life. From rich to poor, from east coast to west, these people are VERY concerned with the direction that this country is heading in under the current leadership. While that in and of its self is a good thing, I also noted that, within the TPP movement, there are several factions operating on the EXTREME right that have infiltrated the TPP, spewing conspiracy theories and fear-mongering. Here are just a few examples:

     The “Barb Adams” types: A user, one Barb Adams, would continuously post a link to a website, dedicated to freeing one 1LT Behenna. Seems that this 1LT was involved in the death-by-shooting of one Ali Mansur, a suspected Iraqi insurgent that was in 1LT Behenna’s custody and unarmed at the time he was shot and killed. While 1LT Behenna maintains that Mr. Mansur attacked him and that he acted in self defense, I brought to Barb’s attention that 1LT Behenna is (was) a U.S. Army RANGER, which means that he has been through RIP and Ranger School training, and would have assuredly had other, “less-than-lethal” means of subduing a prisoner in his control. From what I gather, the U.S. Army agrees with me, because they sentenced him to 25 years. I mentioned this to Barb, and her response was, and this is a DIRECT QUOTE from a message she sent to me! She writes; “John, anyone who wants to put our soldiers iin (sp) PRISON like you is NOT someone I am interested in talking to. Liberals are insane; they worry about the perpetrator’s rights instead of the victims.” WHAT!? No, I don’t WANT to put our soldiers in prison, I WANT them to do the RIGHT THING while they’re out there representing US! Does this woman think I LIKE seeing our brave men and women ending up this way? Think again, BARB! (UPDATE THOUGHT: In this situation, 1LT Behenna forced a reversal of roles for Mr. Mansur, from perpetrator to victim. Victims rights now apply.)

     On several occasions, I have made it known in the group that I am a MODERATE LIBERTARIAN, slightly left of middle on the political scale. However, I guess since I still embrace the Rule of Law, and believe that people, EVEN ENEMY COMBATANTS have certain rights while in custody, that I am a bleeding heart liberal. PSSH!

     The Birthers: There is a growing conspiracy theory that our current president, Barack Hussein Obama, is not legally entitled to hold office. The “Birthers” maintain that Obama was NOT in fact born in Honolulu, Hawaii, but was born outside of the U.S. and is therefore NOT a natural-born citizen of the U.S. Now, as with any kooky conspiracy theory, the Birthers can’t get their damned story straight. Some will tell you that the birth certificate that the Obama campaign posted on the internet is a fake, and cite other BCs as proof, ones that have already been PROVEN to be frauds, no doubt perpetrated by the Birthers themselves. Others contest that the BC posted is not an original, and want to see the “long-form” birth certificate as proof. (Which might just shut these nuts up, why not?) Lately, the birthers have been increasingly making their presence known in the AFTPP group.

     Now, this group has THREE administrators running it. The founder, one Gary Stein, is a U.S. Marine Sergeant. The other two are civilians, near as can be told. NONE of these three have made ANY attempt to curtail the shenanigans being engaged in by either the neo-cons, OR the ultra-libs that constantly enter, snipe debate then leave. In short, the group’s Wall section is starting to look like some half-hearted attempt at a Jerry Springer episode. While the few outspoken right-wing nut cases stand on their soap boxes and pontificate, the majority of members either outwardly agree, or silently acquiesce. It’s rather sickening to see that the people who are supposedly worried about liberty and “everything good that our forefathers stood for” are so quick to jump to immature conclusions, abandon the Rule of Law, and / or let idiocy run amok.

     So I left, my BS tolerance meter finally having pegged the ZERO mark. I think at this point, I’m now looking for the “change” that is NOT coming from the Obama camp, NOT the stale Republican stuff, and DEFINITELY not from the Tea Party Patriots. In my humble but WAY more informed opinion, this movement is still in its childhood, and boy does it reflect that in the overall lack of mature forethought and consideration for things. I guess what I’d like to see is a NEW Tea Party movement, comprised of people that are a bit more level-headed in their approach to things like state and geo-politics. While the current incarnation of TPP is just “shooting from the hip”, the NEW TPP would know WHEN to shoot and when to just holster, how to take careful aim at each issue, and what ammo is called for.

“I KNOW ye can fight, but it’s our WITS that make us men!” (from “Braveheart”)

Gun Control: Doing The Second Amendment Cha Cha Cha

     One sticky conundrum. What to do, what to do. The second amendment to the U.S. constitution, part of the “Bill of Rights”, defines the right of the citizenry to keep and bear arms. Or, does it? Here we go, doing the cha cha cha;

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

     Now, this can be read and interpreted two ways. First, that every citizen has the absolute right to “keep and bear arms”, and that the “well regulated militia” is necessary to the security of a free state. Or, that the people’s right to “keep and bear arms” is so that the states CAN form and maintain a “well regulated militia”. In other words, does the amendment protect the militias, the rights of the individual to own a firearm, or both? (I would have to say the latter is true.)

      I personally do NOT own a firearm. I’ve never found the need (nor the available funds!) to purchase one. This is not to say that I’m ready to surrender my constitutional right to own one, however.

      This short post is just to get people thinking about the different aspects of gun ownership, gun control, how the second amendment applies, etcetera.

Parenting, and Letting Go

     Normally, I sit here at my keyboard, looking at these monitors and typing out my opinions on news topics. I opine about the things I read on such sites as Fox News and CNN. This morning however, I find myself faced with something of a much more personal nature, and I feel compelled to air some of my thought processes here on my blog. Why, I really don’t know. Maybe to enable some sort of catharsis, maybe in search of some hidden epiphany. Whatever the motivating factors, it should be a good read; heaven knows it’s a difficult write!

     I have three kids. Two of them, my young sons, are grown men already. My oldest is twenty-three years of age, and lives with his wife back east. My younger son will be twenty-one in November and still lives at home. Then there’s our daughter. At seven years old, she is the “princess” in the house. But, I digress…

     Right now, my younger son is having a “relationship issue” of sorts. To put it plainly, the girl to whom he is engaged has been divesting herself from the relationship. My son, being the type of person that loves with his whole heart, doesn’t want to see the indicators that are in front of him. We’ve been through this before with him, about two years ago. That one was a mess, which took him almost three whole months to recover from physically, even longer emotionally. Now, I see the same things happening again. I see the same pattern of lies and the same “primrose path” statements from the young lady (I restrain myself from referring to her in a much more disparaging fashion!), the same “ostrich” behavior from my son.

     The last time this happened, I nearly lost him. At one point, he even told me that he didn’t want me in his life anymore. Well, we got past that, and when he started dating again, I advised him not to lose his head over a woman. He assured me he wouldn’t, yet here we are again.

     What to do, what to do. Or, do I even do anything? How do I sit here and watch this spiral again, knowing the toll it took on him last time? I guess the thing that hurts the most is watching him go through this emotional rollercoaster, with sharp turns that hurt and bruise his psyche, while at the same time not wanting to intrude to deeply into what otherwise is his situation to deal with.

     This kind of thing is easier when they’re young. That’s for darned sure.