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In Times Like These . . . .


I am totally fascinated by what ‘s happening in Egypt. 

It’s the most exciting thing that’s happened in my lifetime, so far, and I can’t leave it alone.

The weather here is gorgeous, and I just have to be outside at least part of the day, but it’s not quite warm enough to take the laptop out onto the street, so I’ve been in and out, grabbing chunks of friendship outside and Egypt while in. 

I may do some off and on blogging as it unfolds.  In the meantime, watch it yourself here.

You Just Can’t Make Stuff Like This Up


UPDATE: with the help of friend Marjory, I’ve managed to place Don Tennant within the local community and concluded that it’s 99.9% likely that the following is, in fact, a brilliant parody.

If the following is a parody, it’s absolutely brilliant! 

However, it being a Letter to the Editor in the News-Gazette, Champaign’s rabidly-right wing newspaper, I’m inclined to believe that it comes straight from the heart of Mr. Tennant. 

Out here in the flatlands where the corn grows tall and the mayor of Champaign gets his 15 minutes of national attention by questioning Obama’s citizenship on You Tube, the odds on its veracity are overwhelming.

From the Opinions page of The News-Gazette, Champaign, Illinois, January 2, 2011.

(click on image to enlarge – text below)




Gay issue raises interesting question

As a Korean War combat veteran, Christian and grandfather of 14, I have some thoughts on the issue of homosexuals serving openly in the military.

Just who do those people think they are — these gays and lesbians — you know, the homosexuals of the Bible? Can readers believe that they have the gall, the audacity and the selfish desire to openly serve the country they honor and love by wanting to enlist in the U.S. military?

And, just think, they are demanding the privilege of serving during time of war.

What right or privilege do they think they have to possibly shed their blood, give up their lives or have their bodies torn apart by the weapons of war? Who do they think they are to want to protect their loved ones, friends and neighbors?

This should be an honor reserved only for right-thinking Christians and other straight-minded thinkers. It's only our patriotic blood that deserves to be shed for our country.

Those people seem to think that they should have that privilege and honor. I'd rather lose the war than be protected by the likes of those disgusting sinners. Their blood is tainted and unworthy to be shed for our country. (Oh, but I do love the sinner, it's just his/her sin.)

My Christian friends, we sure have to stick together on this one and make certain that our country is protected only by people like us who live by the words of love and wisdom set forth in our "Good Book." We sure don't want to ask, and we sure don't want them to tell us of their dirty little secret.


What I Know about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Part I


I have it.  That’s the first thing I know about it.  Or more accurately, I live with it. 

And I’m constantly discovering a new way in which I’m suffering from it—like peeling layers from an onion.  But today, I know that suffering from it is strictly optional, and when my denial bubble pops on a new level of my PTSD dysfunction, I’ve got a process that works for letting go of it. 

How’s that for a string of psychobabble?  I mean every word of it.

PTSD is a strange, scary, subtle critter.
In a strange way, I’m quite lucky.  I’m an only child, and when I was three years old, I had a specific event that taught me with profound certainty that my parents not only were not safe, but were potentially dangerous despite their very best intentions.  From that moment, I was on my own.

I use the word “lucky” because I’m convinced that an overwhelming majority of Americans born after WWI, or maybe WWII at the very latest, live with and suffer from various degrees and permutations of PTSD, without the slightest clue why they feel that something’s missing or not quite right, no matter how good their lives are otherwise.  Their life-long trauma comes from the disparity between the cultural norms of the time and the reality they see around themselves in their everyday lives and relationships—forever begging the eternal question “Has the whole world gone crazy, or is it just me?”

My other double-edged advantage besides having a specific event that gave me a handle on thinking about the whole trauma thing came in the form of my parents themselves. 

Don’t get me wrong.  My parents were amazing people, but they were products of the times and culture in which they were formed.  Mom was from Gibson City/Paxton, Illinois, and Dad grew up in Griggsville.  The small town factor alone added at least one full generation to the gap between us.  Add to that  that they were 40 when I was born, and you have two generations between them and the parents of my peers, and three generations between my parents and me. 

We are all formed by the cultural norms or “common wisdom” of our childhood, and when your parents were formed in a reality that is not the normal one generation past, but three generations from the day’s reality, the answer to the “is it them or me?” question is a lot easier to see and believe.

In my lifetime, there has been no period of time when the distance between conventional wisdom and reality has been greater nor more traumatic for a forming human being than the formative years of the baby boomers and generation X.  If you don’t get what I’m talking about, here’s an example:

The world in which I was forming was a very progressive world compared to most of the rest of Springfield and 1940s-50s America.  My parents and their friends and associates were well educated, enlightened intellectuals who read and traveled and were pacifists and rejected materialism and classism and stood up for civil rights and civil liberties, and were unafraid of the unknown and unfamiliar—and yet, formed by the conventional wisdom of their childhoods, they carried all sorts of erroneous nonsense from their past in their innocent hearts:  from a long list of racial stereotypes applicable to all coloreds except their colored friends—and the same for homosexuals and Jews and to a lesser extent women—to another lengthy list of what constituted morality that, although most of them were various forms of atheists and agnostics, drew heavily on the conventional taboos of conventional Christian orthodoxy and dogma.  And don’t forget that these peaceniks, including one of the original founders of the International Women’s League for Peace and Freedom, defended our involvement in Vietnam and the domino theory until mid-Nixon!  Their hypocrisy was obvious to my young mind, and it seriously pissed me off.

Most of my peers didn’t have even that little bit of affirmation at home to question authority and the tyranny of conventional wisdom to help them process the enormous gap that existed in the 1950s U.S. A. between the way it was spozed to be and reality!  Traumatic?  You bet your sweet ass!  Hippy?  Revolution?  Question authority? Visualize world peace (or whirled peas)?  Inevitable!  I think this is why the boomers are the first generation to really begin to get a handle on PTSD and begin to understand how it works and how to live with it comfortably, with a minimum of suffering.

Back to that suffering thing (and PTSD)
I sometimes get a kick out of responding to polls from Harris Online and ERewards.  Who doesn’t  enjoy telling a stranger what you think about the world?  Plus, they give you points which every once in a while can be exchanged for something worth having if somebody gave it to you for free.  Also every once in a while, the sponsor of that day’s poll will be a drug company with a new product. 

When that happens, the first set of questions after age and gender usually asks you what diseases you “suffer from,” and I always wish there were a place for me to explain that while I live with diabetes and ADD and a tendency toward hypertension and high cholesterol and depression and anxiety, I sure as hell don’t suffer from any of them.  This is the 21st Century, and these are all conditions with which a person with a little money and/or insurance can live quite comfortably.

Thanks to a new generation of research and picking away at the whole idea of PTSD, led by the boomers—many of whom themselves live with it, PTSD is also slowly but surely creeping its way onto the list of conditions one can live with quite comfortably and contentedly.

So just what is PTSD?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is one of those psycho-medical terms that means exactly what it says.  It was first addressed by the modern medical community during WWI when allied soldiers were returning from the horrors of that war with a condition that came to be known as “shell shock.”  Today stress is the number one killer in American culture, and post-traumatic stress is a chronic stress that one experiences after an especially powerful or prolonged trauma which at the very least undermines one’s sense of safety, well being, and the ability to trust and/or control one’s own environment.

People with PTSD tend to be intense, hypervigilant, easily startled, perfectionistic, demanding, unforgiving, rigid, anxious, possess a low tolerance for ambiguity, etc., or they may demonstrate an exaggerated opposite of any or all of those characteristics.

They often have varying degrees of tendencies toward at least alcoholism/addiction, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity, and/or a variety of phobias and neuroses.  They live with a lurking fear that somewhere deep inside lives the truth that it’s really them against the world and they are somehow inadequate to that challenge.

More to come:
Part II, A Personal Journey About Healing
Part III, Taking the Whole Thing Macro

Let’s Call Bullshit on the “War on Terror”


us-homeland-security-seal-plaque_m-747261 George W. Bush’s absurd “War on Terror” (WOT) is arguably the third or second (time will tell) largest scam ever pulled on the American people in the brief history of this wonderful and gigantic nation.  It’s time to put a stop to it.

Terror is a powerfully strong fear reaction to sudden, unexpected, life-threatening circumstances—an emotion, in other words.

Terror is what drove America’s wild over-reaction to to the bombing of the World Trade Center and led to the “Patriot Act” and the decimation of the Constitution and civil liberties and the balance of powers—and ultimately is playing a huge role in the falling apart of our System—financial and political.

Some guys from the Middle East stole some planes and provided the event.  America, led by cheerleaders from the already-on-the-verge right, provided the terror.  In Spades!

Khalil BendibHow fortunate that this occurred at a time when the previous excuse for the government to take all our tax dollars and give them  to the war profiteers, The Cold War, was seriously losing its punch.  And wasn’t it cool that good old Uncle Dick, was there to mentor his friend the President and take advantage of his simplistic world view and need to show Daddy, and to guide him into declaring war on an emotion! 

Better ‘n the Cold War on account of there’s no foreseeable end.  Ever!!!  And Cheney and his Warbux cronies declared free champagne and caviar in the Winners’ Circle Clubhouse, and the party’s still going strong.

Back in 2008, candidate Obama sent me a letter in response to my comments about retroactive telecom immunity and presidential abuse of power (he was my Senator) in which he explained that because of the superamazinggeewhiz importance of the WOT to our nation’s security and our children’s futures, we must be careful in reprimanding the excesses of [the obviously deranged] Mr. Bush, that we not tie the hands of a future [fabulously sane and upright Democratic] president—or something very much to that effect.

(That letter, incidentally is the reason I am careful to explain to friends that I did not vote for Obama in 2008.  It was only a matter of his name being next to the box the checking of which would be my best bet for voting No Effing Way McCain/Palin!)

And that’s the problem in a nutshell:  The President of the United States (and who knows how many members of Congress) believes that sending our young men and women to fight and kill and be killed in a foreign country is an effective way to fight an emotion!

If you want to “fight” terror, Mr. President, here’s how to do it:

  1. tsa_profiling Declare the WOT bogus and, as they say, walk the response to it all the way back.  That’s “all”, which means absolutely everything from “enemy combatants” because you say so, to the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA—and even governmental use of the word “homeland.” And “back”, which means gone, repealed, dismantled, erased from existence.
  2. Bring the troops home.  Now.  All of them.  Tell the Afghans and Pakistanis and Iraqis that if they’d like our non-military assistance in getting their acts together, we’ll be happy to sit down and explore ways that we can do that, but no assistance will involve the American military participation in combat or in aiding or assisting in combat.
  3. Open a national dialog on the subject of fear.  You’re a tremendous communicator.  It’s what you’re famous for, so do it.  For 65 years, the oligarchy that owns America (the people George Carlin referred to as our Owners) have used fear to reinforce their ownership and keep the money flowing from our hands into their pockets.  Let’s talk about that.  Let’s talk about how it happened and make an honest appraisal of where we are today as a result of that fear.  People fear what they don’t understand.  Let’s talk about it until we do understand.  And then let’s talk some more about what we can do to to set the country on a path to a real recovery—not just financial (although jobs would be a good place to start), but a recovery of national unity and spirit.
  4. Appoint a nonpartisan, professional-politician-free commission to examine the actions of the Bush administration and arm it with a special prosecutor to pursue prosecutions where applicable.  That particular past is one that we cannot afford to turn the page on.  Horrible crimes against humanity and against the US Constitution were committed in the name of “national security” and deregulation by the last administration (too many of which are being continued by yours) to simply turn the page and move on.  The Bush years presented America with an open wound which cannot be healed by the application of a Band-Aid.  It has infected the body politic and it will continue to fester under the surface until either it is excised in the light of day or its poisons take over our national bloodstream—unto death.
  5. Lead.  So far, your “economic recovery” has had very little to do with our economic recovery.  Wall Street is thriving(?).  Main Street, not so much.  Candidate Obama had some potentially very worthwhile ideas about turning things around:  a national jobs corps, investment in infrastructure, small business investment and support, reinventing mass transit, restoring real regulation to the financial industry,  investing heavily in education—mostly ideas that might have provided jobs and opportunities for real people.  Unfortunately, we’ll never know whether they would have worked or not, because when candidate Obama became President Obama, the first thing you did was sit down with the Republicans (who, in case you have forgotten, lost the 2008 election, big time) and present your proposals to them.  And when they said, “No, we wouldn’t like it if you did that.”, instead of taking names and kicking ass—going on TV and calling them out, saying “America, you elected me to fix this mess.  Here are the people who are now standing in the way of doing that.  Please replace them with people who are interested in fixing the mess we are in”, you responded to their “No” with an “Oh, OK.  What would you like me to do?”

A very incomplete list, to be sure, but I can’t help but believe that it would be a good start on getting our nation back on track.

Feel free to discuss, add your own items to the list, or argue against it in Comments.