Camera-people—Reset the Stage (2017Sep28)


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Thursday, September 28, 2017                                        4:01 AM

Camera-people—Reset the Stage   (2017Sep28)

Trump ran his campaign as if it were a live sequel to his TV game show, playing the crowd, trading dignity for attention. Now his presidency is more of the same. And I know, now that he’s president, you news-people can’t NOT cover his statements. But I have a suggestion….

Please stop forcing us all to watch Trump’s compulsive, neurotic hand-semaphoring. If you would simply zoom in tighter on his face, we wouldn’t have to deal with his wormy finger-dances—and, we could get a good look at those beady little eyes while he’s lying to us.

And if he shifts out of frame—let him. He’s been disrespecting the office and the spirit of the nation since he waltzed into politics. If he can’t speak calmly to one camera in direct address (like a president) that’s his problem—it’s not your job to help him make this into some ‘reality series’. He’s a goddamned government official—give him his camera but, please, don’t give him a stage.

No Time Off For Rachel (2017Aug02)


Monday, July 31, 2017                                             4:15 PM

In Post   (2017Jul31)

Post-project depression—it’s an old friend—the deeper I dive into making something, the more invested I get, the sharper the jolt of being dumped back on the sidewalk, project-less. Sure, I’m really just between the end of one endeavor and the beginning of the next. But at that moment of cathartic, exhaustive completion, the distance from where I am—to some future point where I will again have the mental effervescence and strength of will to start a new thing—seems like an impossible distance.

It’s a low point in my process—hence the depression, I suppose. But in general I really appreciate that cyclical aspect of things. I love the way it seems as if I can hardly move, hardly open my eyes—almost dying—every night—and then wake up every morning just full of energy. It’s so cool—it’s like magic. I mean—I get the eating food for fuel and getting energy from that. But to be recharged overnight by Sleeping—that’s just very cool and mysterious.

The track coach used to chide me about stopping once I reached the anaerobic burn phase—they call it a ‘second wind’. (It’s a great sensation—all of a sudden, the muscles stop the burning ache and you feel turbocharged—but it really means that your muscles have stopped burning oxygen normally—they’ve switched to a faster, but more toxic, anaerobic process. This floods the muscles with poisons, so, if you keep running on a ‘second wind’, you can seriously hurt, or even kill, yourself.)

But it was hard to give it up—once I was in that moment, after many hard laps, suddenly granted a ‘power-up’ that made me feel superhuman—I always struggled with myself to let it go. I even enjoyed waking up all stiff the next day and having to move around for a while before I could loosen up. I’m not sure I remember it properly, but I think we spent most of our childhood with aching muscles from the non-stop moving and doing.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2017                                           1:27 AM

No Time Off For Rachel   (2017Aug02)

One good thing about post-project depression—it passes quickly. I feel normal today, no great high or low, just steady. I was saved, in a way, from starting something right away (it’s always best to take a metaphorical breath before you start something completely new) by my camera dying. It’s recharged now—but the world will never know how I played this morning—it sounded okay, some of it—but I always think that, so I’ll never know without a recording.

But I’m not the only one with problems. A few Republicans are starting to say things that oddly resemble things I wrote in my blog-posts, last summer—about how Trump makes a terrible president, so bad a president that we’d be safer if he spent four years without leaving the golf course. I felt bad when he won the Electoral College—so they can suck it up and feel even worse, knowing that they’re on his team and they’re just now realizing what a mistake that was.

For educated people, there are values to America that have nothing to do with business or profit. Even if they spend all day in finance or commerce, they realize that all this free enterprise depends on a respect for the whole system—if civility collapses, the value of money is the first casualty. But Trump is an ignorant bully who believes that all of that is hogwash. Trump admires Putin for being ‘strong’ enough to have his political opponents murdered. That’s the kind of stupid we’re stuck with.

So, I’d say we all have some worries. My granddaughter has a slight fever—she’s been given a little grape-flavored Tylenol or something, and she’s being a very brave baby. Jessy says she has the same cold—poor Seneca has two sick girls on his hands. I hope his health holds out.

There were three obit-notices on Facebook today—it is simply not a good day. And I understand that this clown-car administration has journalists running themselves ragged—but why would they call it the Rachel Maddow Show and then let her take a vacation—and in the middle of summer—it’s just crazy, right?

(Joy-Ann Reid–I love you too–I’m just joking.)

Media Backs New Hitler (2016Sep10)


Saturday, September 10, 2016                                          11:26 AM

Is there anything Trump can do or say that will deter people from voting for him? Is there anything he can say that will finally push the media to report it as a lie, instead of just reporting his quote, and having a debate over it? Will this toxic confluence of media sensationalism, nationalism, and misogyny actually propel a border-line-psycho ignoramus into the Oval Office, edging out the best potential leader our country has ever seen?

They say the best way to win a fight is to act like a madman—it unnerves the opponent. This is the first time that strategy has been employed in an election campaign—because, prior to now, people who act crazy have been disqualified by the voters. Apparently, we now have voters for whom ‘crazy’ is acceptable. When fact-checkers report that 95% of what a person says is False, that usually disqualifies as well. But in this election, it actually helps Trump, because one of his lies is that ‘we can’t trust Hillary Clinton’.

I admire the way Trump obscures his total lack of experience by accusing Hillary of not fixing anything for thirty years—yes, she has done the hard work of public service, for thirty years, and more. But she hasn’t been President for thirty years—blaming her for all the (supposed) mistakes of her husband or Obama or Democrats generally—that only works on Survivor or The Apprentice. It shouldn’t be working in an election—it should be disqualifying in an election.

If a seventy-year-old visits one black church for the first time in his life, does that erase his racism? If his close friend, the alleged sex-assaulter, isn’t an ‘official’ member of his team, does that erase his chauvinism? If the one unchanging feature of his ‘supporter-commentators’ is that they never answer a direct question, does that make him a man we can rely on?

One thing that Hillary has done for thirty years is study policy—most of Trump’s policies (if you can call ‘secrets’ policies) are thirty days old, if that. When are we going to stop harassing Hillary about non-issues, like her emails, or Benghazi, or the CGI—and start asking questions about the millions of dollars wasted on investigating, interrogating, and always, eventually, vindicating her?

And, speaking of, why is Hillary the only person in America who can be accused, investigated, cleared—and still be guilty? That’s not a conviction, that’s a wish. And the media, apparently, is in the wish-fulfillment business—always talking about Hillary’s unfavorables as if she had earned then, when they’ve been dishonestly smeared on her, and embraced by people who ‘just don’t like her’. Hillary’s unfavorables say nothing about the woman herself, they are a verdict of ‘ignorant’ against the public. Why do we never hear discussion about why people are gullible enough to fall for dirty-tricks politics?

Media people, enjoy those high ratings—much good may they do you when our new Hitler takes the oath (with his fingers crossed, no doubt).

I Can’t Look (2016Aug25)


Thursday, August 25, 2016                                               12:08 PM

Slowly we turn, step by step…. Please, God, let this fuckin election be over. The Congress decided to sleep for eight years and the media have decided the people should sleep through these last two years (in solidarity?), mesmerized by the incessant drumbeat, ‘Clinton or Trump? Clinton or Trump?’

Completely outside the issue of that question being similar to ‘Gourmet Meal or Shit Sandwich?’, surely there are other things, other issues, other people in this world that we could spare a few seconds of attention on. I am constantly frustrated by so-called journalists reporting on the squeaky wheels of the world—has Research become completely forbidden? Is it impossible for newspeople to report anything other than the voices of spin-doctors, to find a story that doesn’t already have armed camps facing each other with oppositional memes? You know—actual news (as in new information).

The TV News has a tradition of arriving at the scene of an event, finding the stupidest person on the sidewalk nearby and asking their ‘opinion’ about what just happened. Nobody likes it, nobody gets any smarter because of it, but no one can seem to stop them from this exercise in inanity.

But today, they have a new thing—they don’t have to go looking for the stupidest person anymore—they just quote Trump’s blather-of-the-day, and call it news reporting. That’s beyond lazy—especially as they inject no hint of judgment or fact-checking—they simply parrot his words—as if they had meaning. News Fail. Get it together, cable news.

The thing that really gets me is when the media harps on Hillary Clinton’s ‘untruthfulness’—they can’t say her name without repeating this popular theme. And don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying she’s a paragon of honesty. But if they must add that ‘popular opinion’ to every mention of her, can’t they also always add that studies find her exceptionally honest compared to other politicians? Can’t they add mention of the fact that while it’s popular to call Clinton a liar—it is also incorrect? Why is that so hard? Are they afraid that confronting their listeners with the facts might turn them away?

This bothers me because I empathize. If the world thought me a liar, and I wasn’t, and all I heard from the news was repetition of the opinion that I lie, without any mention of the fact that I didn’t lie—well, I’d be pretty unhappy about that. Wouldn’t you? And what ever happened to being wrong? If Hillary Clinton says anything that turns out to be incorrect, she’s never wrong—she’s always ‘a liar’. If we follow that logic, we must elect Hillary Clinton—we could use a president who is never wrong.

I wouldn’t even be writing this rant right now—I was trying to relax and watch the news on TV. But rumor, fallacy, and claptrap are not my idea of news reporting. I can’t watch it. But I keep going back, vainly hoping for some common sense. What a fool I am. Journalism as a popularity contest just doesn’t work—telling people what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear may be profitable, but it hurts us, where it used to help us. It distracts us where it used to inform us. Like reality TV, it shows a semblance of reality that has been curated for entertainment value.

The death of print journalism has gutted the research departments of all the great journalism sources—the news today practically feeds on itself, working as hard, now, to share from other sources as they used to work on out-researching other sources. Reporters are flying blind, with virtually no back-up troops to dig into records, archives, interviews, analysis, or do good old shoe-leather research.

Yet the media has more news-channels and more hours of the day needing to fill those channels. It’s not a good situation. The public is no longer being informed—we are being curated by different media-moguls, fighting each other to indoctrinate their audience in their private agendas—journalism as a public service is nothing more than a legend from our glorious past. I miss Huntley & Brinkley. I miss Cronkite. I miss the news.

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Failure at CNN and The New York Times (2015Apr24)


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Friday, April 24, 2015                                              5:59 PM

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What with FOX News, Court TV, Network TV news, and MSNBC all out there working their angles, I use to tell myself not to worry—after all, there was always the ‘Gray Lady’ and CNN. They both have respectable histories and both seemed to display a real dedication to journalism. But I’ve been noticing the mob mentality of mass media inveigling its way into the thinking of even the ‘respectable’ news-editors lately. I’m even starting to wonder about Gwen Ifill!

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Let me give two examples from today that raised my blood-pressure and totaled my peace of mind. The first was the headline of the New York Times issue on the kitchen table: “Obama Apologizes For Drone Strike that Kills American and Italian Hostage” What the hell is that? We didn’t take those people hostage. We don’t use human shields as SOP military strategy. And Obama wasn’t at the controls of the drone that hit the innocent victims. It’s ISIS who should apologize (if those fuckers had consciences, like human beings). These fucking savages terrorize the planet for years, and we focus on the rare mistakes where one or two of the deaths can be laid at our doorstep (if you ignore the source of the exigent circumstances).

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When are we going to cut this poor bastard a break? But Obama is nearing the end of his last term—for my second example, let’s turn to Hillary Clinton. I wouldn’t be Hillary Clinton for all the tea in China—this poor lady is America’s favorite target. I hope she doesn’t get elected—you fuckers don’t deserve her. And she certainly doesn’t deserve the treatment she gets at the hands of all the hacks pretending to be journalists.

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I saw three assholes talking on CNN. The left-wing-view guy makes a simple declarative statement—that ‘no evidence has been produced to support any charges of wrongdoing in the case of the Clinton Foundation vis-à-vis contributors getting special favors’. End of story, right? I mean, they’re journalists, right? Wrong. The moderator asshole responds, “Well, isn’t that just daring people to go and find proof?” In what bizzaro universe is an avowal of innocence the same as a dare to find wrongdoing? Only a total asshole would twist a simple sentence to mean its opposite—and only in the name of high ratings, truth be damned. A professional journalist wouldn’t even be talking about malfeasance without proof in the first place, never mind insisting on speculating on the whispers of her self-professed haters.

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These people are lucky they live in a modern world where they can say these things in print or on a TV screen. If they said this shit in public, I’d fucking attack them—what a bunch of scum. You’ll notice I mentioned glancing at a newspaper headline on the table and seeing three assholes on CNN. I did not read the paper and I didn’t watch CNN—these were just snippets that I noticed in passing—and wished I hadn’t. I’ll pay actual attention to the details of these jerks when journalism comes back in style—and that’ll happen as soon as the major media corporations go bust, not before. So, I’m not holding my breath—or watching the news. Fuck’em all.

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It’s Not The Pope’s Fault (2013June30)


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Golly-gee, but we like to quibble, don’t we? Just as the gutting of the Voter Rights Act’s oversight-powers was explained with talking points, without any analysis of the true issue, i.e. racial bigotry, so also did the recent ruling in favor of LGBT marriage (and inclusion, by inference) fail to address the true issue—religion.

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We have, as a society, matured to the point of being less-than-serious about notions of hellfire, angels, effective prayer, and stoning (as a religious duty). While we remain polite and non-judgmental when confronted with fundamentalists who appear to be truly convinced of the reality of a God with whom all people are in daily contact—and are beholden to, in both deed and intention—we grow more and more to hear them as neurotics who are blind to a particular compulsion towards irrationality—like arachnophobics, you know?

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While Faith remains a serious subject, it is nonetheless a good working definition of psychosis—to believe without evidence, to imagine what is not palpable to any of our senses, such as imaginary friends—it is only by the ancient roots of the major faiths and the immediate parental influence to adopt these fantasies that keeps us from laughing at how truly bizarre their cosmologies are, when compared to scientific evidence.

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Let me stop here, now that I’ve used the word ‘science’. I can hear all the debating points racing through the heads of any evangelical who might read this. Let me just say that Science is not a religion, it is a tool. We use this tool for many things in our modern lives—we board jetliners; we get boob jobs; we use skin lotion and SPF protection; we make phone calls; we wear polyester blends. Some of us send robots to Mars, some of us dig up evidence of the Earth’s past, and even the evidence of people who lived before monotheism existed. You can quibble about biological points (like evolution) all you want; you can question the wisdom of using science (a far more attractive debate than the present debate—pitting faith and science against each other) but in the end, we use science because it works—and nothing can be done about that. It’s pitiful, really. With the medical advances made since Moses’ day, the infant mortality rate is way, way down—to the point where many of the zealots questioning Science would have died at birth, if not for the usefulness of modern science.

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And let me just clean up a few loose ends: yes, no one knows anything about the why and how of Creation—even the Big Bang theory doesn’t explain where ‘everything’ came from, to begin with. So, yes, there was a creator—whether it was a being or a piece of energy—nobody knows; why someone or something would choose to create a universe—nobody knows. But Science gives us a hint.

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In its discovery of the nature of our solar system, our cosmos, and all the billions of other galaxies and nebulae, Science shows that the God who supposedly spoke with Abraham, Moses, or Joshua didn’t know any more about Astronomy than those ancient people did. Thus we must entertain the idea that the God that spoke with such prophets was speaking from inside their brains. Science helps us here, as well—the perception of voices and visions is a natural part of the human condition—especially under duress, such as during a long fast, or the prolonged oxygen-deprivation of a smoke-house, or incense smoke.

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Thus we find—those of us prepared to be sensible about things—that the science indicates religion was born from one-part magical thinking and one-part manipulation of groups through claiming spiritual authority. That second part was addressed by Karl Marx in his Das Kapital, and produced the phrase ‘Religion is the opium of the masses’. It still works today for many church leaders and hypocritical power-brokers—they perpetuate the myth that there is some sort of reason why the few are wealthy and the rest of us have to live on their leavings, working for their benefit, until we die.

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By now, we’ve reached an even deeper level, where our society is a fragile, complex creation that must be lubed and fueled constantly—and any upset to the rich and powerful is seen, locally, as a ruined economy. In other words, we’ve created a civilization that can get by without cooperation from a few malcontents, that can get by while still firing millions of people, for years at a time—all as long as the cowed and silent keep worrying about their kids, about their elders’ medical care, and about keeping their homes.

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So, don’t be misled by my jocular tone—these problems are not simple, nor are their solutions clear. Our society’s weaknesses are as much a part of our lives as its strengths—that is why ‘violent overthrow’ never accomplishes anything better than before the old leaders toppled. We cannot say, “This is bad. That is bad. It must stop immediately!” Absolutism is a great way to draw the lines of battle, even if it does cover up the heart of the problem.

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We have to look for small incremental changes that trend towards a more perfect society. We have to bring our socio-political involvement up by an exponential rise—the bait-and-switch razzle-dazzle of the Media is trying to entertain us, not inform us—and certainly not educate us. We must take our political involvement away from mass media and network it as individuals, keeping open minds and searching for compromises that we can all live with.

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And such an enlightened constituency would be big trouble for the Powers That Be—hence the constant mass media razzle-dazzle. However, an ‘enlightened constituency’ never even pops up, as a subject for discussion—we are all too busy playing the Media game, taking our debating prompts from their sound-bites and photo-ops. They pick sides and we jump to do likewise, approaching each issue from the same perspective we bring to our professional sporting events—when most major issues are more complex than the media ever even hints at.

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The far-Right are disputing our society’s inclusion of the LGBT population as equally human, and they always boil down the reasons to Religion. Which is strange, when you think about it—I’ve read the bible—nobody gets stoned by Jesus because they went ‘against God and nature’. The only impetus for making this a religious issue is that homosexuality, as evil, has been in the cannons of the major faiths, put there by church ‘leaders’ with a bit of a self-identity problem. As children, anything of a sexual nature evinces the response ‘eew!’, whether hetero or homo, and these childish reactions have come to be established church dogma without, as I said, any direct instructions in either Bible on the evil of non-hetero impulses.

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It wasn’t until the 1960s that we began a conversation about what was okay to ‘talk about’ so, in a way, even heterosexuality was considered ‘evil’ up until that time. It couldn’t be mentioned at a party, it couldn’t be debated by politicians, and it couldn’t be covered in school. The 1960s were the first time Americans recognized that teaching children about the biological facts of reproduction, birth-control, family planning, and disease might be worthwhile. Before then, it was very little different from the 19th century’s Victorian-era hypocrisies and ignorance.

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At the same time, those rigid conventions disguised a society of misogyny, domestic child-abuse, racism, and an unstated, classist view of women, poor people, non-white people, non-Christian people, and the rich and powerful. So the LGBT community shouldn’t feel too badly towards their hetero brethren and sistren—we haven’t been out of the closet all that long, ourselves. Thus, that whole ‘spiritual purity’ business is somewhat be-smeared, and that was before all the priests got busted for buggery.

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Another problem between the gays and the far-Right is the whole ‘division of church and state’ issue. The Neo-Cons, the Tea Party, whatever you call these yahoos, have actual been bending this rule all along—and recognition of gays is a repair of that leak in our national ideals. The Evangelists don’t disapprove of LGBT citizens as dangerous, they disapprove of LGBT citizens as ‘against God and nature’.

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And I’d like to nip that ‘against nature’ business in the bud, right now. Naturalists and zoologists have documented many examples of homosexuality across the entire range of the class mammalia. As with tool-using and intoxication, our animal friends are similar to us in this way as well—so to describe it as ‘against nature’ is ‘against common-sense’.

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No, their objections are religious in origin. “It goes against God” is their problem—and an especially knotty one, since there are no ‘Thou shalt not’s in the New Testament specifically against LGBT lifestyles. On the contrary, Jesus, as portrayed in the bible, is all about inclusion, tolerance, and love—the only thing that seems to upset him is money-changers. I wonder why we don’t have long debates about money being evil?—Christ didn’t seem too keen on it—But not a word about persecuting Gay people. I wonder why?

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No, the ‘sin of homosexual behavior’ is dogma, not faith. It is something the CEOs of the churches included out of ignorance and fear. They could change their position on it. And they will. Acceptance of gay pastors and priests is already happening, and the new Roman Pope, Francis I, seems to see the writing on the wall, as well—and the Catholics could use all the good press they can manage, right now.

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But for the present, that land-that-time-forgot, below the Mason-Dixon line, is still trying to tell folks that both archeology and evolution are delusions of satanic origin, that Science can’t have everything its own way (although it can and does—even against the scientists’  preferences) and that heterosexual, missionary-position-only reproduction is the only acceptable sexual activity. Now, these are wacky positions to take on issues which the vast majority of human beings have already become comfortable with on a secular level.

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That vast majority is not atheists, either—it is the vast majority of modern day people who keep their religion for its benefits, not for its intellectual shackles. They believe in love, charity, forgiveness, and mercy—but they don’t believe in fairy tales. They believe that there probably is a life after death, but they don’t believe they will be judged by a St. Peter’s Basilica fresco that Michelangelo painted. They are, bluntly stated, the ones with some common sense.

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But our nation’s guarantee of Religious Freedom forbids any attack on the beliefs of the fundamentalists—and I would be the last person to attack them—I envy those simple enough to truly believe the whole story. They know a happiness that is out of reach for atheists like me. And don’t assume I see myself as smarter than the fundamentalists —I am only less credulous. They have obviously used a great deal of brain power to keep alive the tatters of old-time religion—and they shouldn’t be counted out yet, by any stretch. It wasn’t all that long ago that pagans like me were ostracized and persecuted nearly as bad as Jewish people.

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Ah, the good old days, when strangely dressed Arabs’ religions were beneath our contempt. Now a small group of them are a threat to world peace and unity. The extremist Muslim suicide-bomber is an iconic image in our current culture. Yet nobody characterizes the shootings of abortion clinic doctors as the acts of extremist Christians—nobody calls the DHS on those people.

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The Protestants had a good thing going here in the USA. For most of the last two centuries of our country, while we espoused religious freedom, we actually had persecution of Jews (and Atheists). And our legislation has a particularly Calvinist bent to it—as if Protestants’ religious convictions had somehow innocently crept into the halls of power and leadership. Imagine.

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But the civil rights of our LGBT citizens have brought into question a long-established, dogmatic rule—that homosexuality is a mental disease, a perversion of all that is good and sweet. There are still ‘clinics’ that offer a ‘cure’. Ha.

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No, the big shots have had their diversion tactics reduced by one—support of LGBT civil rights is nearly unanimous in this country which, in this age, cannot be said about almost anything else! They’ll get by—they still have plenty of paper tigers plastered all over the media—people are still a long way from recognizing how wholly, how boldly they’ve been played. What was that rule-of-thumb? The bigger the lie, the easier to believe—yeah, that’s the one. Hitler’s fav, I believe.

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There’s an old bumper sticker that read: Hire a teenager, while they still know everything!  —not so funny when you use ‘priest’ instead of ‘teenager’, though, is it? So, next time you’re tempted to watch MSNBC or FOX, or even CNN, when you think the story will support your ‘team’ in the politics-olympics, save yourself the agita, and read a book instead.

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(The illustrations for this essay were provided BY: Wikipedia.com and BY:

the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, from their collection of the works of Sir Anthony Van-Dyck (March 22 1599–December 11 1641))

NOTE: The Netherlands’ world-reknowned Rijksmuseum opened a new website, Rijksstudio, which allows downloading of hi-def images of the over 125,000 masterpieces in their museum’s collection–and provides software that allows art students to design their own projects using the museum’s digital-graphics resources. To join the fun, goto :  https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en