What Atheists Fear

There must have been a reason this thread was removed from the Facebook group, “Debunking Theists”. What could it have been but fear? I guess someone feared the thread made the group or someone in the group look bad.)


5 Happiest Countries

[Most of the initial conversation, except this fragment was deleted by the original poster and lost.]

RYAN S.: Yes, but it’s your responsibility to give us evidence that your claims are correct, Robert.

JANI: And im interested because im living “next door” to sweden, and have not read anything about what you are saying, Robert.

SPIKE: Robert, are you unaware that claims without any backing are completely useless? I’m 10 feet tall and can shoot lightning bolts out of my ass. Wait, even better. I spotted a 7 million ton meteor headed towards your house. It will hit sometime really soon. If that was true, you’d want to know more details. I’d be an asshole if I didn’t share them with you. See where I’m going with this?

CATHERINE: As poverty increases so does religiosity. The countries that provide a safety net eliminate the need for religion.


HUGH: has this list changed with the influx of refugees ?

SPIKE: Not in any measurable way we could find statistics for last time this came up.

STEVE BAKER: I think the first meme means “citizens” not “countries”. And the key reason they are happy might be, not that they are atheists, but that they have done the best jobs of implementing Christian socialism as a form of government.

SPIKE: Lolwut? What makes it Christian socialism?

STEVE BAKER: Taking care of the poor, sharing the wealth, making the rich pay higher taxes, making society more fair and just…things somebody rather famous advocated or would advocate. Socialism is actually a very Christian concept, whether it knows it or not, whether you like it or not. Don’t be afraid of the idea, it won’t bite you. It’s an important part of our culture. Nothing wrong with that, just as there is nothing wrong with moving beyond it.

SPIKE: You can’t claim those as Christian. You think none of those values existed before Christianity?

RYAN S.: Buddha did it first, Steve. He beat Jesus there by some five hundred years or so.

STEVE BAKER: I know how those values mainly got into our culture, and they didn’t come from either Buddha or cavemen. You folks are so afraid to grant Christianity the tiniest little thing, aren’t you? It didn’t invent the cross either, but I know how we all learned about them. It’s really as simple as that. I, for one, will not ignore such an important (if misguided) pert of our culture.

SPIKE: What makes you think I’m scared of anything? I appreciate the patronizing behavior though. I wouldn’t call a cross a Christian thing except in context. I believe in giving credit where it’s due. That Christianity claimed those virtues as it’s own more recently, locally, and forcefully than others does not lend it any credit.

STEVE BAKER: Spike, I hear ya, but I disagree completely. To claim Christianity is false is one thing, to deny that it is a powerful, pervasive part of our culture (even if, hopefully, dimming) is another. It seems to me that only fear could provoke such an unrealistic reaction. No offence intended.

RYAN S.: Feeding the poor? Buddha did it first. Sharing wealth? Buddha did it first. Loving your enemies? Buddha did it first. Jesus did not come up with any of these ideas, they were ripped off. There is only one thing, among all of the teachings of Jesus, which originates in the bible. Eternal damnation. Infinite punishment for finite crimes, the quintessence of injustice, is the legacy your Jesus created, the rest was simply stolen from previous cultures. We’re not arguing that christianity hasn’t been impactful, Steve. We’re arguing that the principles you’re extolling here are not, in actuallity, christian principles.

SPIKE: Bingo.

STEVE BAKER: Ryan, the argument is certainly that Christianity hasn’t been impactful. And, unfortunately, word of the Buddha didn’t reach the West in time to do diddly squat.

RYAN: It reached Jesus, so it sort of did, Steve. It may have been indirect, but Jesus demonstrably did not come up with these ideas. And point to where we said that christianity hasn’t influenced the world. Oh, that’s right, you can’t point to that because we never fucking argued it. If building straw-men is your thing then more power to you, but that bovine fecal matter will fail to achieve lift velocity.

SPIKE: Steve Baker, let’s be clear. Neither of us is making the argument you accuse us of. That’s called a straw man. Cut that out.

STEVE BAKER: Ryan, we certainly don’t know that it reached Jesus. According to most things on this page, Jesus never even existed. We certainly “know” no such things. There is no reason for us to be loose with the facts.

Here is one of the things that was said: Spike: “You can’t claim those as Christian. You think none of those values existed before Christianity?”

There is no “straw dog” here!

“From what is dear, grief is born,

from what is dear, fear is born.

For someone freed from what is dear

there is no grief

— so why fear?

From what is loved, grief is born,

from what is loved, fear is born.

For someone freed from what is loved,

there is no grief

— so why fear?

From delight, grief is born,

from delight, fear is born.

For someone freed from delight

there is no grief

— so why fear?

From sensuality, grief is born,

from sensuality, fear is born.

For someone freed from sensuality

there is no grief

— so why fear?

From craving, grief is born,

from craving, fear is born.

For someone freed from craving

there is no grief

— so why fear?”

–Dhammapada 212-216

SPIKE: If I run into a room where people are working and take their work from them, killing most and torturing the rest till they submit, and bring this work to others who haven’t seen it yet, it would be the height of dishonestly for me to take credit for any of it.

Regardless of any of this, people had been nice to one another LONG before any religion wrote about it.

STEVE BAKER: Spike, that is completely beside the point. You act like a Christ-o-phobe! Why?

SPIKE: That’s not beside the point, that IS the point. Christianity didn’t invent those concepts. Who popularized them is unimportant to whether they are Christian concepts. Religion can’t claim “be nice” as it’s own any more than that Bikram guy can claim those Yoga poses as his own. Moral outrage rightfully ensues.

RYAN S.: You know what isn’t beside the point? The fact that the principles you extol are not christian principles. They did not originate with christians, nor with Jesus, and christians throughout history have put lie to any claim of ownership of those ideas.

STEVE BAKER: I would say that culturally, that is where the ideas come from, however hypocritically they were stated or implemented. I’d say they have influenced every one of our great thinkers, like Nietzsche, and many of the not so great, like Karl Marx. A little study will show that this is undeniable. In my life, I have never before run into anyone who would deny this.

And, Ryan, you miss my point completely. I don’t necessarily “extol” these values, only mention where they came from. My use of the word “Christian” was questioned as if I had said a bad, bad word. It is not. Why all the fear?

RYAN S.: But they didn’t come from the bible, Steve. Your claim is demonstrably false, at best.

STEVE BAKER: The fear is so deep that you have had to stoop to fantasy to try to “prove” that Buddha taught Jesus everything he knew, when no such “facts” exist. I don’t even grant the existence of Jesus as a fact. We have no evidence at all that knowledge of Buddha entered our culture until much, much later. You guys are not even sticking to facts, like I thought we atheists were supposed to do. Yet if I say that the ideas of Christianity have been extremely influential, which to me is undeniable, I am called, essentially, a liar and a misguided I-don’t-know-what. To me, such an unreasonable reaction can only be based on some kind of fear. Your last statement, Ryan, is as conjectural and as false as they come.

SPIKE: Whether people were influenced by them is not the issue and is irrelevant. Where the concepts came from is what we are taking point with. It wasn’t Christianity.

STEVE BAKER: What an incredible reaction to someone simply calling the values extolled by Jesus, whoever he was or was not, CHRISTIAN

SPIKE: That’s not what happened here.

STEVE BAKER: LMAO! Re-read the thread!

SPIKE: You called a system Christian Socialism. It may as well just be socialism, endorsed by Christians. That’s all you meant.

STEVE BAKER: You read minds very poorly, Spike. In fact, you read very poorly.

RYAN S.: I never said that Buddha taught Jesus, Steve, only that his teachings apparently reached him, which isn’t an unreasonable assumption to make given that many of the teachings of Jesus are, in essence, identical to the teachings of Buddha. It is a fact that these concepts are older than the person you give credit for creating them, Jesus did not invent these principles. They are not principles which are christian in origin as they are older than christianity and it’s founder. Quode erat demonstrandum. There is only one biblical concept for which Jesus can be given full creative credit, Steve, and that is the idea that god will torture us for all eternity.

STEVE BAKER: Ryan, it is not impossible, but it is a MUCH less reasonable assumption than that Christian values have influenced almost everything in our culture, including socialist governments. To claim otherwise is, frankly, ridiculous. Ryan, have you actually READ the Bible? The concept of which you speak is very much Old testament! “Jesus” certainly didn’t originate it. He (fictional or not) originated other things you should perhaps read about.

SPIKE: We keep agreeing with you that Christianity has been influential. But we disagree on whether we should call a system run by a largely secular group something like Christian socialism just because Christianity claimed some values that you ascribe to that system. They would have had to originate with Christianity for it to be fair to call their system Christian socialism. Otherwise, as stated, it’s socialism, as endorsed by Christians.

RYAN S.: It is a FACT that those principles, those values, DID NOT ORIGINATE WITH ANY CHRISTIAN FIGURE. Jesus did not invent caring for the poor or loving your enemies. They are values and principles which are older than christianity and, therefore, cannot be christian principles. They are principles, yes. They can be valued by christians, yes. They are not christian principles.

STEVE BAKER: No one claimed what you claim, Ryan. I only said that these values largely entered our culture via the Church/ Please re-read the thread for more info. I was hoping that a discussion with fellow atheists would be more enlightened than this, frankly. Are you dudes Republicans or something? That would explain a lot to me!

And, Ryan, excuse me, but no such FACT exists and you must know it! Wow! An atheist who can’t differentiate fact from conjecture! You guys had better go change your shirts after all that sweating because someone used the word “Christian”!

SPIKE: Would you please stop being so smarmy? We’re all really being quite civil, relatively speaking.

JANI: :-) You steve should speak about the things you are arguing, not ponderwonder what these two fine gentlemen are doing or why they are etc ;-) Argue the matter in hand dont ponderwonder other people arguing against.

STEVE BAKER: Jani, I will use my own thoughts and words, like you, and I don’t take orders well.

SPIKE: Lol. That almost sounds like a threat. And Jani has a good point. It’s a basket full of red herrings to start arguing our motives.

STEVE BAKER: Scaredy cats! LOL!

RYAN S.: So the fact that we have documents which predate the time of Jesus extolling those values isn’t proof that those values did not originate with christian figures? Really, Steve? Please explain how those principles predating Jesus and christianity doesn’t prove that they don’t originate with christianity.

KENT: Seeing that your entire tribal belief system is conjecture and mythology , don’t you find that ironic Steve ? You have to accept the bible as a whole , not just cherry pick out some decent verses and ignore the violence , misogyny , and discrimination.

STEVE BAKER: Kent, I have no “tribal belief system”. Your second statement makes no sense. Please read my last comment above. It has been a long time since I have run into such fear or a mere word. This is like speaking to a bunch of babies. Ciou ciou!

STEVE BAKER: Ryan, read my lips, no one has ever been talking about originate. We’re talking about influence. That’s why they are commonly called Christian values and why we use the word Christian Socialist. This is very common usage outside of atheist groups. Such fear!

RYAN S.: Read my motherfucking lips, people who call them christian values are wrong. [The first point it starts getting nasty.]

SPIKE: You don’t get to put your name on a concept because of influence. That’s stealing, like plagiarism. Where is this fear you speak of? Why must you continue to be such an ass to us? Can you be honest for a moment and describe what you mean by fear other than purposely trying to ruffle feathers, you dick? [The second point it starts getting nasty.]

STEVE BAKER: OK, dick-face. This whole blatantly prejudiced discussion has been because I used the word Christian and used it conservatively and appropriately. You tell me why that would provoke such an unreasonable reaction other than fear.

KENT: We don’t accept your supernatural claims , therefore we are babies ?

STEVE BAKER: Please, Kent, learn to read. I made no supernatural claims. What? You assume that because someone uses the word “Christian” that they are one? LMAO!

KENT: Oh my , a christian calling names and using profanity ! Gee , way to show others how real christians act

STEVE BAKER: Kent, you must be a complete idiot!

KENT: Anyone that has read the bible and a few history books knows what christian values really are. Your condescension is laughable. A weak ad hom. Usually happens when you have no realistic empirical evidence to bring up.

STEVE BAKER: You will notice the FACT, Kent, that I didn’t start the ad hominem attacks!

RYAN S.: What you mistake for fear is actually extreme annoyance, Steve. It stems from the constant, daily attempts by christians to label all positive virtues as “christian principles” and use that to imply that non-christians, specifically atheists, can’t hold those values and that we should be christians. You stumbled into a minefield when you applied that label to those values, a minefield that you should have known was there if you really are an atheist.

When you’re talking about these things calling them “christian principles” add literally nothing to the conversation and carries quite a weighty implication in common parlance. It can only detract from a conversation to use labels to brand behavior as one religion or another. This raises the question of why you called them christian principles in the first place when doing so can add nothing to this conversation.


STEVE BAKER: You all went off the deep end for no reason. I will repeat perhaps my most pertinent comment.

“No one has ever been talking about originate. We’re talking about influence. That’s why they are commonly called Christian values and why we use the word Christian Socialist. This is very common usage outside of atheist groups.”

You don’t have to convince me of anything. That’s like preaching to the choir. However, that doesn’t make the word Christian a meaningless or inaccurate word, no matter how much you fear it. Simply stating it has even caused the false assumption that I’m some kind of Christian, when nothing could be further from the truth. However, the truth is very important to me. And facts. Not so much to people in this group, I guess?

RYAN S.:Again, not fear, Steve. Annoyance, and justified annoyance based on a genuine grievance at that. And, in this context, adding the word christian IS meaningless. It add literally nothing to the conversation and is a loaded term, that is the very definition of a meaningless term. Save it for when you’re talking to a bunch of christians and need a shorthand term for various values. It’s not useful here.

KENT: If you are murdering witches and torturing heretics , and persecuting gays , then maybe you could claim christian values.

But to take the positive values that have developed in societies to make them viable and claim they are christian influence is factually incorrect.

STEVE BAKER: “No one has ever been talking about originate. We’re talking about influence. That’s why they are commonly called Christian values and why we use the word Christian Socialist. This is very common usage outside of atheist groups.” FACT! Ciou, ciou! I hope you folks have a nice life.

KENT: See Ya

SPIKE: You switched the goalposts to influence after we said that those ideas did not come from Christianity. You called it Christian socialism. I asked what makes it Christian. You listed values that many groups of people could claim as part of their philosophies. Why don’t we call it Jewish socialism? My point was that without those virtues actually originating from Christianity, calling it Christian is just an attempt to steal those virtues and claim them as their own. Those values are no more Christian than human.

We, the entire time, have been talking about originate. If I was to call something Mexican food, the idea is that the recipe, at least, is somewhat reminiscent of one from Mexico. Like, one that came from Mexico. Tacos can be Mexican. Rice, not so much. It’s food that Mexicans eat, but it’s not exclusively Mexican food.

RYAN S.: So, in China, should they be called Buddhist values?

ROBERT: Steve’s made legitimate points. I fail to see why they are so hard to acknowledge.

RYAN S.: What legitimate point? That a lot of people call those values christian values so we should just let it go? I fail to see how that’s a legitimate point, Robert.

ROBERT: That’s just the problem you fail to see because you don’t want to acknowledge it…simple.

RYAN S.: How is it a valid point, Robert? Explain it to me, I’m more than willing to listen when the point is supported by logic and evidence, so far I’ve been given exactly zero of those.

ROBERT: It’s very clear and doesn’t need to be muddled up because you won’t acknowledge it…any other way…Steve for instance kept repeating and reiterating his points and still you guys deflected …his points were valid…I’ve no idea why none of you dont get it??? Mind boggles.

RYAN S.: His points are both meaningless and fallacious. It is pointless to label these behaviors and principles as “christian”, it adds literally nothing to the conversation and carries immense baggage, and to justify doing so by saying that loads of people do it is an argumentum ad populum fallacy. So meaningless and fallacious arguments are now valid points now? I understand that he wasn’t referring to the origin of said values with his label(which is actually what most people are referring to when labeling things), hence why I dropped that line. So, how exactly, and do be specific now, is his point valid, Robert?

ROBERT: He didn’t. He SAID CLEARLY “Christian influence”.

RYAN S.: Again, that doesn’t justify a pointless label which has such unavoidable baggage and adds nothing to the conversation.

ROBERT: Reread ALL his statements properly in context. He clarified them all. Calling it baggage clearly seems to indicate you didn’t really read what was said but read into his statements what you wanted to hear..he was pretty clear…

RYAN S.: I’ve read all of his statements, multiple times, and nothing he said justifies the use of that label. I would have responded the exact same way if he had called them muslim values, or buddhist values. Labeling those values as christian has historically ALWAYS been used to imply that non-christians don’t and can’t have those values, or that they are inherent in christian theology, neither of which are true. Rather than calling them “christian”, implying an exclusivity of those values to christian culture, he could have gotten his point across without any label at all. Therefore the label was meaningless and his justification, that many people do it, is fallacious. Quod erat demonstrandum.

ROBERT: European cultures had a christian background that influenced their societies. Fact! Far from fallacious.

RYAN S.: So let me ask this then: Are the principles of feeding the poor and loving your enemies buddhist principles in China or Japan? Would that label be fair because buddhism is what spread the values there? And an argument from popularity is ALWAYS fallacious, Robert. Always and without exception.

ROBERT: That wasn’t Steve’s point at all… You reading into his comments.

RYAN S.: Buddhism was infinitely more influential in China and Japan than christianity was, and for a longer period too. Therefore loving your neighbor and caring for the poor are buddhist values there instead of christian values. That was exactly the point he made. So how is it invalid when I do it and yet valid when he does it?

ROBERT: Buddhism started in India. Whether it made all the changes you claim is debatable,…it certainly didn’t bring in the sciences as well as European Christian cultures.

SPIKE: I only called you a dick after repeated appeals to you to stop being condescending. So I think you really started the inciteful rudeness. I just followed suit, and maybe raised you a little. Calling us all fearful when we are not presenting any fear could be construed as an attack, and you certainly used it to attempt to discredit our arguments.

RYAN S.: You need to study Chinese and Japanese history, buddhism was monumentally influential in those areas for a huge chunk of time. As for it not bringing the sciences, neither did christianity. Science flourished despite religious influence for the most part, only very rarely did religion profit science. The only two instances that I can think of where religion promoted and spread science. The first was the preservation and dissemination of the knowledge of the Greeks by ancience muslims and the founding of the first universities by the RCC. Other than that you’d be very hard pressed to find specific examples of religion bringing science to the forefront, usually it was persecuting and killing people for practicing science because they had the gall to question the “revealed truths” of religion.

ROBERT: You assume I haven’t…in fact, I have.

KENT: Ryan 1, Robert 0. He owned you Robert , lol

ROBERT: Of interest to me was Japanese Wabi Sabi….tea ceremony…more so than all the rest..not the food lol! Again, Buddhism started in India. Sid Harta Guthamma and I studied Buddhism for 3 decades.

KENT: I think Ryan went to seminary , he’s tough to beat in his area.

RYAN S.: So how can you argue that buddhism didn’t spread those values to those cultures, Robert? Buddhism clearly spread those values to those areas, so what is wrong with labeling them as buddhist values?

ROBERT: Christianity brought in a lot of the sciences. Many Christians were scientists. You need to reread you history.

SPIKE: Most humans in that time and area were Christians. That they were Christian says more about the time and place than them as persons.

ROBERT: Christianity evolved…whereas other religions, however sophisticated, remained stagnant.

RYAN S.: They were christians, yes. Many of them pursued the sciences in order to explain “god’s creation”, however their theological beliefs did not trump their scientific zeal. Their theology was checked at the door when they entered the lab and their theology never once aided their science. Oh, and as far as christianity evolving, it changed because society forced it to, not because the theology is benevolent.

ROBERT: That was never my argument or contention. The sciences are very convincing of a higher power that will, ahem, likely take an eternity to understand….lol! Sciences convince me more so, others less so, that there is a God…behind it all….we will never comprehend.

RYAN S.: That wasn’t my point. My point is that you can’t use the fact that science doesn’t have an answer as justification for saying that you do have an answer.

ROBERT: I never proposed that did I? So neh neh!

RYAN: Not here, not now. I seem to remember you making just such a “god of the gaps” argument in the past though. I could be wrong but I don’t think I am.

ROBERT: Wrong…again… [I’d have to say that Robert is eating Ryan S’s lunch up to this point!]

RYAN S.: So you’ve never engaged in an argument from ignorance? That’s awesome! You’re a true rarity among theists. [Why would anyone do such a thing, Ryan, though clearly YOU do.]

ROBERT: Why, thank you very much. I will take that as a compliment…lol!

RYAN S.: It was meant as one.

ROBERT: And I accepted it as such…lol! Starting to like you…moreso now lol.. Now back to Steve…hee…heee… He was pretty good…pretty clear, just saying…lol!

STEVE BAKER: (From a comment in another thread on this page.)

I agree that Christianity has perpetrated much evil, but they have also fed a lot of people and saved a lot of people’s lives. Whether it was all worth it, I don’t believe that either you nor I are truly in a position to judge. It would take a computer so huge that it doesn’t yet exist and maybe never will. Again, don’t be afraid to honestly evaluate religion just because you don’t believe in it. I don’t believe in it either, but rewriting history is one of the things atheists are supposed to loathe. Do you make an exception in the case of the history of religion? I’ve seen so much fearful fabrication on this page that it freaks me out, frankly!

It’s so funny to me that all I had to do to provoke such a rabidly fearful reaction was to mention the words “Christian socialism”.and then argue that, in our Western culture, that is a commonly accepted term and way of thinking. As proof, here is an interesting page on Christian Democratic political parties. If at least some Christian values are not a big part of our culture, why do so many parties use the name? How many use the word Buddhist in their names? Or, LOL, atheist?


In sword fighting, we call that touché. But, for some reason, I doubt anyone here will be big enough to admit it. LMAO again!

And YES, it has been my intent to get under your skins, once you attacked an innocuous remark. That is my purpose in life! And I say that as one of you! I would think that, as atheists, like me, you’d be used to it by now. The most hilarious part to me was being called a Christian! LMAO yet again!

KENT: It’s very sad you have such a dismal purpose in life, even sadder that you think you succeeded. I’m surprised that you didn’t also claim god created science. That’s equally laughable.

STEVE BAKER: Kent, you’re about as far off base as it is possible to be! Does that mean you think that I think that God thinks He created something? That would truly be sad, if you do.

KENT: If you are discriminating against gays , burning witches , and challenging anything that disputes biblical ” facts ” that would be considered to be christian values. Normal behavior , kindness , positive social interactions are just human actions not christian behavior. Just FYI , I’m not overly concerned with what you think , you can think and say whatever you want to. Doesn’t matter to me.

This actually is very representative of christian ideology. After all , these are the words and thoughts of jesus himself.

Matthew 10_34-37

STEVE BAKER: Unfortunately, not in the context of political thought or political parties in the countries in question. (see reference above).

“As long as the people don’t fear the truth, there is hope. For once they fear it, the one who tells it doesn’t stand a chance. And today, truth is still beautiful… but so frightening.” Alice Walker

KENT: [unrecoverable, irrelevant meme]

JANI: [unrecoverable, irrelevant meme]

KENT: You certainly realize that theists will do anything possible to make their religion seem plausible and believable. Taking credit for humanitarian values , taking credit for scientific discoveries ( even though the church often harmed and excommunicated the scientists ) are among their common tactics. This isn’t just christians , but all religions , especially the muslims with their miracles of the koran.

ROBERT: No, Kent, not ALL Theists will do everything possible to make themselves seem right

STEVEN BAKER: [unrecoverable memes relevant to the two above memes] Well, sure, Kent, but that has nothing to do with what I’m talking about here. We’re not talking about credit, we’re talking about history. It’s really as simple as that. To support superstitions, like Jesus being a Buddhist, as some have done here to keep from admitting facts, seems to me like the antithesis of what atheism proclaims it’s all about.

SPIKE: What fact is anyone here denying?

STEVE BAKER: I tire of having to explain what has already been written above in this thread. I’m tired of having to do all the reading and thinking. I speak in very plain, clear English. Try to obfuscate all you want. That changes nothing. Read for yourself. It’s all as plain as the nose on your face.

SPIKE: I read it all. I also saw all of us agreeing with you that Christianity has been influential. But where we disagree is with calling those values Christian outside the context of Christian things. Those values are as Buddhist as they are Christian. So to be most accurate, we should leave out the monikers that don’t clarify things. They instead add obfuscation and preference.

STEVE BAKER: To me, this is like some kind of fantasy version of the conversation.

SPIKE: Haha. So none of us here agreed that Christianity had a big influence?

STEVE BAKER: None except Robert! Everyone else was too afraid to admit any such thing! Quote me some evidence of your position. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I missed something. [No evidence of any such thing was ever presented.]

I read Buddhism getting all the credit via some fantastical conjecturing. I read this:

“Well, these have always been human values, so don’t use the word Christian for them.”

No one even seemed to realize that I was speaking of modern political parties, mainly in Europe, the core subject of the original post. They mostly call themselves Christian, so I just followed their lead. Why that would be such a grand error and no-no, I can’t fathom. Fear, I guess. Afraid of the boogie-man Christianity and that someone might say some little thing good about it (which I didn’t even intend to do, but see nothing wrong in doing).

ROBERT: Ya, agree, good quote! Again, Steve Baker has made perfect sense seems to me…what’s the problem? And I’ve no problem stating Christianity has been influential, it has. The sciences and NOT so much Buddhism at all have come out of Christian countries, not Buddhist ones… Ya, I agree, Steve Baker, you’re points where clear…and through much repetition it seems they didn’t want to acknowledge them.

STEVE BAKER: Yes, Robert, they were more ready to suppose that Jesus went back in time 500 years to be a student of the Buddha. I can only attribute such a reaction to some kind of fear. Maybe I’m wrong…

SPIKE: Science is irrelevant to the conversation. Red herring. He is making sense. Straw man. I, and other atheists here, agreed that Christianity has had an enormous impact. You both keep dancing around the issue. My example of nationality is a perfect one. Influence doesn’t change your nationality. Neither should it change the description of these values. Yes, Christianity advocated for some of them. That does not make them Christian any more than it makes them Buddhist.

STEVE BAKER: Spike, where did you go to school? Excuse me, but you seem to me to be rather uneducated. You sound like a parrot. After posting a crucial link, above, I issued this challenge, “In sword fighting, we call that touché. But, for some reason, I doubt anyone here will be big enough to admit it. LMAO again!” No one took it up. I gave you an assignment to come up with some evidence for your position above. I take it you didn’t find any?

ROBERT: I agree, Spike, you keep deflecting…and don’t want to acknowledge any valid points.

STEVE BAKER: Spike, do you really think you can parrot “straw man” and “red herring” to us without having a clue as to what you are talking about? Robert, can you believe the waste of time that could have been spent on something more valuable? I didn’t really come in here to give people a basic education they should have gotten in high school. Is this the way atheists think and conduct their business? I’m amazed! No wonder they don’t believe in anything! They’re afraid to!

ROBERT: No you would be correct if they said that…but if they said that, that’s ridiculous.

STEVEN BAKER: Unfortunately, someone did and was backed-up by others, but i have to admit that i made-up the going back in time 500 years part. I’m sure they meant he was indirectly influenced. On second thought, who knows for sure what they were fantasizing? History makes a shambles of such a conjecture, Spike! Is Spike your real name? “Spike ______”? Is that Antarctic?

ROBERT: Yes, but not all atheists are the same. Some think. Lol!

STEVE BAKER: I agree. I guess I just haven’t run into any in this group yet. You don’t strike me as an atheist… If you are, please excuse…

ROBERT: No, I’m not an atheist. I would call myself a panentheist.


“Spike ______”, where are you?

Perhaps you are off

Searching for a clue?

In this thread or in another on here, I talked about the beginning of the universe and how it could have either come from nothing or have been made by “god”. Not an old man with a white beard, but something spiritual. I talked about how both are equally probable (as far as we know), both seemingly impossible, and that science, theists, and atheists have no idea and zero evidence which might be true. I said both positions were a matter of faith. To me, that’s just logic. I got nowhere with that. They were afraid of that one too.

I kept expecting the ‘big guns” to investigate and come into such a long involved thread, like in my philosophy group, but only someone silly came, issuing orders about this and that. I said I didn’t take orders very well and someone who can’t read called that a threat. LMAO! Then a fresh breeze of sensibility came when you arrived! Strange group!

ROBERT: LoL ya but Facebook has a lot of different groups …lol

SPIKE: It’s a nickname I’ve had since before birth. My mother gave it to me. And ______ is my real name. That’s me in the photo.

Where was I making conjecture? And what examples from history can you give that bring my conjecture I hope for you to identify to shambles?

Can you please address the nationality example I made? I can’t become Mexican by influence. I’d have to have been born there. Why do we call these ideas Christian if they didn’t originate there?

SPIKE: I’m at work. At this particular job I have a lot of responsibility. Can’t always be posting on Facebook.

That’s a false dichotomy, unless your “god” includes any possible way things could have gotten started other than spontaneously. What if it’s all a simulation? Does that fit the spiritual thing you’re talking about? What if we’re all in a dream that someone is having? Is that spiritual?

I think you keep trying to argue a point that we aren’t making. Yes, Christianity has been hugely influential. I grew up in Florida. Does that make me Latin American by influence and proxy? That’s not typically the way we label things.

You really are caustic. Why can’t we disagree civilly? Why do we need to get jabs in at each other?

Also, as far as philosophical “big guns” go, I thing philosophers are very self aggrandizing. Like we couldn’t figure out how to tie our shoes without their insight. More often then not their pontification is somewhat removed from reality, as philosophers largely share this elitist viewpoint that they are needed for us to make sense of reality. I do just fine with psychology and technology. I need no more philosophy in my life.

I like how the first person to agree with you was the only person here with any sensibility.

STEVE BAKER: Yes, that scenario would include simulations. I even stated that. In the rough view, there’s no need to go into details. They all shake out the same. There is no false dichotomy at all. As for your last question, of course it would be spiritual.

SPIKE: Simulations aren’t spiritual, and including in that dichotomy seems to serve only to justify your overly simplistic explanation of this. You didn’t mention simulations, not here anyway. Why call it “god” if you don’t mean it? That just validates religious beliefs.

Why would being in a dream be spiritual? I dream. There’s no reason to believe that any spirits are involved with my dreams. There are other people in my dreams, and as far as I can tell, they think they are real people.

ROBERT: What a coincidence, I do too! lol… Philosophical thought isn’t just about tying ones shoes, Spike. Lol!

SPIKE: Philosophical thought is mostly not about tying one’s shoes. It looks like maybe you missed my point. Philosophers, especially people who identify themselves as philosophers, often see their input to society as overly valuable. The thing about tying shoes was a sarcastic joke, implying that philosophers think that without their contribution to understanding things, we would all be so helpless as to be unable to do simple things like tying our own shoes. I don’t know why I bother to spell things out for you when you often refuse to do the same for me.

ROBERT: Not really, I just thought how you think about philosophy in general comical. Philosophy helped bring in the sciences.

SPIKE: You don’t know much about what I think of philosophy in general. I told you what I think about philosophers.

Sure they did. But science is here now, and does not need philosophy to proceed.

ROBERT: Wrong! Philosophy is still a part of it all, Spike. [Completely true! Philosophy is an important part of science! Perhaps the most important part!]

SPIKE: That’s not what I said. We do not need philosophy to do science.

ROBERT: And you still didnt really see Steve’s points. We need philosophy….with the sciences.

SPIKE: I know exactly what Steve’s point was. I said it. I agreed to it explicitly. Christianity has had a huge impact on us. That much is true. I never even hinted it wasnt’.

ROBERT: I’m not sure everyone understood Steve Baker, and, if so, why didn’t they acknowledge it sooner instead of misconstruing so much of what he said in simplicity?

SPIKE: But I wouldn’t call a value Christian unless it originated with Christianity, in the EXACT SAME WAY that you wouldn’t call an American who really likes tacos a Mexican because of who influenced him. Can you understand that? I get your points, I understand them. They even make sense to me. Can I get a little acknowledgement from you? More than just me agreed to this. Both you and Steve just glossed over that.

ROBERT: Christianity is and still has an impact on us for good if people don’t misconstrue the simplicity of it…

SPIKE: No one tried to say that Christianity is unimportant, or had no impact on us. That wasn’t anyone’s point here.

Impact or not, those ideas did not originate with Christianity. You both admitted that. But you refuse to understand why we wouldn’t call those ideas Christian. That seems weird to me. Where does that break down for you?

ROBERT: What I said was simple and clear.

SPIKE: Is Christianity’s impact good when Republicans use their religious beliefs to deny global warming and make legislation that destroys the ecology? Is Christianity’s impact good when people use their beliefs to deny rights to others, like marriage? How about when states enact laws forbidding atheists from taking office?

What you said was simple and clear. But it was incomplete. Do you genuinely not understand why we don’t think those concepts should be referred to as Christian? Let’s be polite and honest here. I’ve listed to, entertained, and understood, even accepted your viewpoint. You SHIT all over mine as if I’m stupid.

ROBERT: Depends on what some people call Christianity, Spike.

SPIKE: You agreed those ideas were not invented by Christianity. I know you understand why I don’t get to be a Mexican. Why is it impossible to draw that inference with the ideals in question? We give them a label for their origin, if necessary. Lots and lots of people fit shoe size 10. But size 10 is not Barry’s size, it’s the size Barry wears. Does that part make sense?

ROBERT: I haven’t called you stupid, Spike. I made no personal remarks, but why imply it? If what you say is true, I’ve no problem acknowledging it …or enlarging perspective…or, if untrue, saying so…that’s called debating. Sure, some of what you say makes sense, Spike.

SPIKE: I didn’t say you called me stupid. Maybe you have trouble with hypotheticals and metaphor. I said your behavior towards me and my sensible argument here is condescending and disrespectful, as if I’m stupid. You not as bad as Steve, but your attitude indicates that I’m denying obvious facts and sense making. I agreed with the facts, and I think what was said makes sense. I really don’t appreciate being accused of nasty behavior I’m not engaging in. If you’re gonna hate on me, find a good reason for it. There are some.

STEVE BAKER: Come off of it, Spike. If someone is dreaming this reality (your last question), of course it would be spiritual. And if God is an alien from a UFO, he really isn’t God at all, is he, and then we have to wonder where the alien came from. All irrelevant. I think you just want to argue, not discuss and learn or share knowledge. You are always contentious. And by simulation, I have something much more possible in mind, which would be pantheism or panenthesm. Something like Hinduism or Buddhism, where this “reality” is all an illusion and is actually just the mind of god, or a dream of god, or something god permeates but is not part of. Without a god or aliens, no simulation idea makes much sense, does it?

Why would a dream not be spiritual? You aren’t thinking. I exist. I am here in it in some form. If it is a dream and not real, that seems to fit the definition of spiritual to me. Believe me, the people in your dreams do NOT think they are real people. If you think they do, well, that might be crazy, no?

But it is obvious that you are not after truth. You are only after argument for the sake of argument. I will no longer feed that puppy.

Spike, I will repeat this one time, since you brought up the Mexican again:

I thought it was actually a pretty good try, but it’s a non sequitur, like comparing apples to oranges. I’m not sure I can explain it briefly, but I’ll try.

Nationality, race, or something of a nation is pretty fixed. What comes into or influences a culture is much more complicated and diverse. Black musicians invented rock ‘n roll, but it has largely become a white form. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have black roots. And if it was invented 1000 years ago in Africa or Japan, which i guess is possible, it didn’t enter our culture from those sources, so they are irrelevant. I’d say it’s black American music, even though it isn’t anymore. In our culture, I believe we all acknowledge that.

The specific values in question as far as Christian socialism are concerned might well have been invented or recognized outside of Christianity, but that’s not how they entered our culture. In fact, they had no name until Christianity came along and “Jesus” (real or not) espoused them. Then, as far as politics is concerned, Marx (who hated Christianity) was vastly influenced by it and socialism arguably influenced by Marx ever since.

You keep arguing this point, even though you say you have agreed with it. That’s strange. I challenged you to find one place in the thread from yesterday (above) where any of you agreed that Christianity has had an important part in shaping the values of socialism and that the many political parties named Christian socialists have legitimate names. You have so far failed to find any evidence (from above) for your contention.

The reason is obvious, all you seek is pointless argument! Your points about Republican hypocrisy, which is rampant, are completely irrelevant to my arguments. As we used to say in Indian, “Buy your books and buy your books, but all you ever do is eat the pages.”

SPIKE: You’re a lot nicer in the messages you send me. Got a reputation to uphold on here? [LMAO!]

“Come off of it, Spike. If someone is dreaming this reality (your last question), of course it would be spiritual.”

I see you get into this a little bit more below, but “of course it would be” and “seems to fit the definition of spiritual to me” are not the same. If I was actually a part of someone else’s dream, my consciousness would be an illusion. No spirituality needed, just a sleeping brain.

“And if God is an alien from a UFO, he really isn’t God at all, is he, and then we have to wonder where the alien came from. All irrelevant.”

Aliens? What? That isn’t god. And why would we expect the aliens origins to be so much different from our own? Abiogenesis seems to be possible, we just don’t know all the details yet. No need, yet, to invoke God. [Nor did I!]

“I think you just want to argue, not discuss and learn or share knowledge.”

Funny, I accuse people of that from time to time. I have strong opinions, that’s for sure. But I am quite open to new knowledge. Not much was really presented here. I know Christianity was influential. I don’t disagree. I still can’t find any facts you presented that I either ignored or denied.

“You are always contentious.”

You were telling us over and over how fearful we were being. If you don’t think you were egging us on and inviting escalation with that, you ought to take a closer look and try to imagine how you’d react to that. Even if you’d react differently, the fact remains that people don’t like to be called cowards and you ought to know that.

“And by simulation, I have something much more possible in kind, which would be pantheism or panentheism in mind.”

What makes you think that’s more possible than a simulation? Simulations exist, we know about them, we can make them. We don’t yet know if any Gods exist. Seems the likelihood rests with the things we can verify rather than with conjecture.

“Something like Hinduism or Buddhism where this is all an illusion and is actually just the mind of god, or a dream of god, or something god permeates but is not part of. Without a god or aliens, no simulation idea makes much sense, does it?”

Maybe it was humans who made the simulation. Maybe it’s just like the Matrix and it was robots that humans made. Lack of other conceivable options does not mean the ones we thought of are the only possibilities. [I’ll grant this tiny point.]

“Why would a dream not be spiritual? You aren’t thinking. I exist. I am here in it in some form. If it is a dream and not real, that seems to fit the definition of spiritual to me. Believe me, the people in your dreams do NOT think they are real people. If you think they do, well, that might be crazy, no?”

I said that as far as I can tell, they all think they are individual people. That’s about as much corroboration as I can get from reality too. It doesn’t honestly go much further than cogito ergo sum.

“But it is obvious that you are not after truth. You are only after argument for the same of argument. I will no longer feed that puppy.”

We are in a debate group. I did come here for debate, that was the point, yes. I came here to discuss matters about which I care deeply. That we disagree could be a misfortune, or annoyance to you, or whatever you want. But the entire pretense of this group is disagreement. If you don’t want to be disagreed with, especially with supporting arguments, maybe you’re in the wrong spot. :)

Where did I argue that Christianity wasn’t influential? I can’t find that. I said it was. I also said it didn’t create these ideas.

What if I was born in the USA, but spent the next 12 years in Mexico, raised by Mexican parents. There would be so much influence that behaviorally I might as well be Mexican. But that wouldn’t change my lineage. I’m not Mexican no matter how hard I try. I do not think my example was apples and oranges. How they entered our culture is also unimportant. We call burritos Mexican, but that’s incorrect. They were invented in the USA, San Francisco I believe. Using Mexican ingredients and selling it in Mexican restaurants does not make it Mexican. The same goes for ideals. It lends unfair validation to Christianity to call those values Christian, and here’s the important part, OUTSIDE THE CONTEXT OF CHRISTIAN THINGS. Yes, those are Christian values. They are not exclusively Christian. I understand perfectly well why you call them Christian, I just take point with giving Christianity the credit for an idea that existed before it did. Why don’t we call misogyny Christian? Slavery? Xenophobia?

I don’t know why those were in messages and not this thread to begin with.

STEVE BAKER: My work here is done. The argument has become completely ridiculous! I will have no part of it.

SPIKE: Yep. Declare victory. That’s how debates are won.

Can we call slavery as outlined in the Bible Christian slavery? If I follow the rules on how to beat my slave properly, those are Christian values, right?

But I’m being silly.

STEVE BAKER: You go ahead and take the last word. Declare yourself the victor. I could care less. This has all become stupid and small-minded. I will have no more part in it!

SPIKE: Ooh, the last word thing. Now I can’t say anything else without validating your insult. That’s clever. The small mindedness started with you essentially calling us all a bunch of cowards. Please be aware that was the beginning of the antagonism here.

ROBERT: Spike, no one’s hating on you. You’re being ridiculous.

SPIKE: Good grief Robert. I said he was calling us cowards. He repeatedly told us all we were afraid of Christianity, or just some particular ideas. Over and over he called us afraid. This is how you get people to do things they know are a bad idea, by calling them a chicken over their trepidation.

ROBERT: It’s because Steve Baker is repeating himself and explaining himself over and over, Spike. It’s tiresome.

SPIKE: Then go away. For fuck’s sake, no one is twisting your arm. I owe you no entertainment.

STEVE BAKER: And delivered none either! Hey, thanks for the discussion everybody, it was most…ummmm…educational!

RYAN S.: Does that mean that it’s buddhist socialism in China?

SPIKE: Wait, I thought you wanted the sense of superiority that comes with giving me the last word? Really, why come back to be rude again? Why did you call us scared over and over? Don’t you realize that’s a great way to escalate? Can we acknowledge that? I’d really rather be civil honestly.

STEVE BAKER: Spike, you are such a flaming ass-hole! I can’t believe they let you in here! That is the unadulterated truth!

SPIKE: Can you really not see that you calling us fearful over something that is really just annoying is instigating? And I’ve been called far worse than that before.

STEVE BAKER: LMAO! Ya, I guess the truth hurts, huh?

SPIKE: I really hope you’ve seen this show. That’s what you’re doing when you call us fearful over this bullshit.


STEVE BAKER: Boy, Spike, I really and truly got to you didn’t I? LMAO! Gee, so sorry I hit so close to home! NOT!

SPIKE: I can see that was your intent, but no not really. I’m just keenly aware that calling people fearful (chicken, coward, you won’t do it, you’re afraid) is one of the most effective ways to invoke overly emotional and impulsive behavior from them. But u can tell from the change in your demeanor that you are pretty irritated here.

I really find it amusing you think I’m such an asshole. I mean, I am. But you are too buddy. If you’re not aware, I don’t know how. If this is how you treat strangers in public, I’m quite sure you’ve been called an asshole before.


SPIKE: Look. I’ve been a dick. Honestly. But so have you. You wanna know how it got started? Scroll up and find you calling us afraid. Look closely below for me asking why and someone else examining it was merely annoying. Keep moving downward and you’ll see yourself continuing to call us afraid, so afraid. Everything short of actually calling us cowards. You’ll see me asking you to stop and soon after you’ll see me getting a bit rude reciprocally, with you. I well and truly would have preferred we both keep it civil. I have no desire to declare victory. Can we call a truce?

STEVE BAKER: Sure. Let me merely propose a modest piece of advice to you and your “friends”. Try, as card-carrying atheists, to get beyond calling fantasy facts, and, most of all, move beyond your apparently extreme fear of the words Christian, belief, and god. Believe me, you will make much better atheists without all that excess baggage.

SPIKE: Dude. That kind of response is not a truce. There was no place where I called fantasy factual. And I’m not afraid of Christina or Christianity. I tried over and over to get you to stop instigating that way. I practically pleaded with you. Now you’re trying to tell me how to be a better atheist? Go fuck yourself.

And of course I’M the asshole here. *rolls eyes*

ROBERT: That’s unkind of you, Spike, talking like that when you proposed a truce. I respected that but that was uncalled for.

SPIKE: Robert, you must have more trouble with nuance than I thought. Steve Baker’s response was not polite and indicates he did not accept the truce despite his claim that he would. Telling me how to be a better atheist, coming from an atheist, implies he thinks he’s better than me. I don’t know what the fuck he means by “better atheist” but I certainly need no instruction on how to think critically. Judging by the color of Steve’s response, MY response to him was quite called for. I’ve been asking him over and over to stop calling us afraid. I explained, reasonably and in a way almost any English speaker could understand, that calling people fearful is a great way to instigate. He never acknowledged this, but we all know that calling someone a chicken will get him to do what he was apprehensive over a moment ago, like being rude to Steve in response to him calling us fearful after repeated polite requests for him to stop and questions as to why he thought we were fearful. After all of that, after I asked for a truce, he called me fearful again, and also accused me of being delusional by saying I claim fantasy as fact. That’s troll tactics, like purposely trying to get under someone’s skin. It’s disrespectful and that’s why I disrespect him. Respect must be mutual, and I will not respect someone with none for me. You, Robert, despite how it may seem, I still have respect for. Steve can go fuck himself.

Oh, right. He also, after I asked for a truce, referred to my “friends” as if to imply they aren’t real friends. I really don’t know who the fuck you think you are Steve, but you don’t get to treat people like this and expect us to still be polite. [Gee! I didn’t know Facebook “friends” were real, actual “friends”.]

Robert, to be absolutely clear, this douchebag has made it obvious he thinks he’s superior to me and the other atheists in here. He thinks he knows better and more than us. I really don’t know what fantasy he thinks I stated as fact. But after I ask for a truce, and after you accept, that’s when the attacks and insults are supposed to stop. Since he took not a moment’s pause getting back to the personal attacks and his condescending air of superiority, I took the opportunity to tell him to go fuck himself.

STEVE BAKER: NOTE TO SELF: Try to never discuss anything with people with chips on their shoulders or inferiority complexes. It will never end well. Communication with such people is impossible, even if you fundamentally agree.

ROBERT: It’s nice to know you fundamentally agree with Spike. Steve Baker…that’s generous. Personally, Spike, I feel you over-reacted to Steve’s comments, but I understand some of your points… However I still feel it got far too nasty…

On Spike’s behalf, Steve, he did attempt to reconcile his views with yours. He’s not an entirely unreasonable dude…I’ve found…but likes to challenge in his own way folks.?….it’s unfortunate this ended ugly.

STEVE BAKER: Thanks, Robert. I know Spike thinks it was all about him, but, for me, except for a little fun at the end, it was all about the arguments expressed mainly by others.

Yes, this was the most contentious introduction to a group I think I’ve ever had. Nice welcoming party! I thought it interesting to think about what the reasons for that might be, since nothing I said was controversial in any way. Definitely not as controversial as Jesus having converted to Buddhism or Christianity having essentially no influence upon Western culture.

All I could come up with was fear. What other reason could there be? I discounted “hate” right away. Hope you have a good one. I’ll be seeing you, I hope.

ROBERT: Sure, I got your points. They were clear in my opinion…sadly, it got out of hand….oh well…ce lavie as the French say …lol!

SPIKE: What other reason could there be? Why not ask man? It was irritation. We said so. :)

Please understand that calling people chicken is instigating. Please. I honestly, sincerely, would rather us be civil. Hatred helps nothing.

On the effects of Jesus on people’s sociability.


ROBERT: Interesting, somewhat.

SPIKE: Also somewhat relevant, I thought.

RYAN S.: Daw, thee ickle Steve still thinks he managed to scare us. That’s just precious.

STEVE BAKER: Still LMAO! I never saw such a frightened reaction in my life! “Help! Christian zombies are on the prowl in the form of socialists! Eeeek!”

RYAN S.: You’ve lead a very sheltered life indeed if you can confuse annoyance with fear, Steve.

STEVE BAKER: If you only knew, dear Ryan S.! :-) You folks sure get awfully “irritated” awfully easily! At the mere mention of the Boogie-Man! 246 comments (including at least one “fuck you”) and counting. Probably a record for this page. Quite a reaction for mere irritation. I thought denial of the “truth” was something only “theists” do? LMAO!

RYAN S.: If, as you claim, you are an atheist and travel in those circles then you know that the term “christian principles” is a loaded phrase which has virtually always been used to insult and belittle atheists and other nonbelievers. So, if, as you claim, you’re just here for discussion, then why would you knowingly use a term so loaded with negative implications when using the term adds literally nothing to the discussion?

STEVE BAKER: Ryan S., why would you or anyone else make so many unwarranted assumptions? You have no idea what “circles” I might travel in. I never heard of any circles you’re talking about. What? You think I merely claim to be an atheist? Why would anyone do any such thing? Are those the kind of dishonest circles you travel in? I don’t consider the phrase to be any such thing and was talking about socialist parties in Europe. The term Christian Socialist political parties has a lot of meaning, whether you like it or not, and a lot to do with the original post. Your unfriendly tone here is exactly what I found from almost all of you the entire thread. What I found were a lot of babies afraid of common courtesy or the truth or the word Christian. If, as you claim, you’re an atheist, why all the unwarranted assumptions when you don’t know me from Adam? Too bad you didn’t read the Horus poem I wrote and put up here before running into such a discourteous, babyish reception. If you can’t stand the truth, what can you stand? That’s a serious question. You people have to start attacking someone en masse and start acting like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off because some term is used a little differently than you’re used to? Ridiculous!

RYAN S.: Way to not answer my questions, Steve. Go waste someone else’s time with your insipid trolling.

STEVE BAKER: [The first part of my reply has been lost because of the thread being censored/deleted. It concerned the fact that I spent an entire paragraph (above) answering Ryan S.’s one question.]

STEVE BAKER: And, while my wife and I pack to take the train to Paris tomorrow morning, I’ll tell you one more thing, Ryan. Perhaps it can be summed up with this poem I wrote years ago:

Conviction’s Lies (written in Chicago, IL)

To enter the realm of truth

Certainty must be left behind

With all the other forgotten

And lost things of this world

Neither hope nor love among them

Though bright beyond the first fire

Remember conviction’s lies.

©1997,2015 Steven W. Baker

It seems to me that so much of the tedious arguments in this thread stem from people wanting to impose their world view, their “beliefs” upon others. I guess I’d fit into the latter category of “others”, sorry..

All these conclusions you all have determined are the absolute truth — that Christianity has not been influential in the West, that we shouldn’t use the word Christian in any positive sense because of all the negatives, that we shouldn’t use the word because Republicans use it in a positive sense, that Jesus was a Buddhist, that I’m some kind of spy or troll and not a “true atheist” as defined by this group or some people in it.

Frankly, and to be blunt and to speak in language I know the least educated of you will understand, I piss on your absolutes! Because I can use the words Christian, Jesus, and belief without shaking in my boots or puking does not mean I am not an atheist. Earlier in this thread, I believe, I told my version of the beginning of this universe.

“Let’s base a theory on what science thinks it knows right now. It could be wrong, but it’s the best we can do. This universe of probably 11-dimensions is probably one of many, very possibly an infinity of universes. No one knows for sure. The math doesn’t answer that question. This universe has a beginning we call the “Big Bang” and has been expanding in every direction ever since. The theological question science can’t yet answer is this: What caused the Big Bang. In other words, what created the universe approx. 13.8 billion years ago. There would seem to be two answers, both equally illogical it would seem to me. 1) something known as “god” did it. We have no reliable information on this “god” other than that. 2} There is some unknown scientific principle that allows an entire universe to be “created” out of nothing. The multverse theory tends to make either theory more possible. I would tend to go with the latter, but “belief” in either alternative seems equally “logical” to me. Both seem impossible, really, to known science. Neither can be proven to be true or false at this time. Take your pick and be happy with it.”

I’m sorry so few of you could be bothered to read the whole thread. I expressed what I believe at that time.

I don’t understand your flippant judgments and I don’t understand your ready acceptance of things without proof. There are simply things no one knows. If you think you know them, or you can’t live your life with the ambivalence of accepting not knowing, then you commit the same “sins” as those religious people who think they “know”, the people whom you seem to hate so much.

You ask, in so many words,  if I am a true atheist, whatever that means. If it means I “believe” there is no god in any sense of the word, I guess I am not an atheist. To me, that is being a fool. At this time, science doesn’t know. No one knows. The universe either started by itself because of science we don’t yet understand and maybe never will understand; or, it was started by a god (not an alien, which would make these questions meaningless) who somehow always existed or came into being via science we don’t know and maybe never will. This god would not be an old man with a white beard who is your buddy. He would be something so alien that the very thought of him/her/it should make you truly afraid. No one “knows” if that god exists or does not. He/She?It would not be good, would not be evil, would instead be all things. That’s why evil exists. No one gives a fuck.

All of my life I have wondered. From the time I was a child looking up at the sky until now. Sometimes, when I think about the vastness of the universe, or my own mind, or the perfection of a cat, or about mathematics, or a beautiful sunset, I think, “Maybe there is that god.” Other times, like when I think about the primitive religions of mankind or I think about death, I think, “No, it is just a wishful fantasy, part of your dream to live forever, to be part of the infinite.” And i include my own death in that. I will be 70 this month, so I have to admit death is something I think about sometimes. I have pain, as many older people do, always — every day and every night. My time will come, my time will end. But that doesn’t make me think about going to heaven, or begging some god for forgiveness, or worrying about some afterlife. It just tends to make me think there is no god, because those desires seem like a trick of the mind to me

But I don’t “know” and I don’t pretend to “know”. Above, when I talked about the religions of mankind, I really wasn’t talking about Buddhism or some of the Native American religions. They seem to me to be much more in line with the kind of “mind of god” I mean when I talk about whatever “Great Spirit” could have been the Creator, if such a thing exists. But I don’t know. I have studied Buddhism all my adult life. I know a brujo in Bolivia very well. I know that neither my Japanese Zen Master from when I was young and studied in Kyoto, or my Bolivian brujo from when I was older knows. I know my cousin, who is a very wise and good Quaker minister, doesn’t know. No one “knows” there is only “belief”.

For some reason, I seem to lack that belief. I cannot say for sure that one is true and one is false. If you think you can, I say that you lie to yourself, just as devout Christians or Muslims do. Agnosticism seems to me like a cop-out. I can simply see it both ways and can go back and forth.

All this is why I find the firestorm over using the word Christian to describe political parties that call themselves by that name completely ludicrous. One would think that means I am dealing with people who think they “know” it all, when I “know” they cannot. At best, they are true believers. I am not.

If you think I am a troll, if you think you know me, if you think you “know” anything, my dear, you are sadly mistaken. Sorry.

STEVE BAKER: I know I’m a little slow, but I just read the group description. Reading it made me wonder if anyone else in here has read it.

I have always heard, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” This thread and others are full of presuppositional arguments. I guess the same principles that apply to theists don’t applied to atheists? Most strange to confuse spiritualism, belief, knowing and not knowing with religion and call yourselves “morons”.

“This group has been created, not with the purpose of debunking theists, but proclaiming truth. [And you KNOW the truth? How, pray tell?” Theists have already debunked themselves the very moment they declare their theistic worldview. [Really? And atheists haven’t?]

“We are people who think that using presuppositional arguments to defend one’s flawed worldview are morons. You should agree that YECs are the worst people in the world…” [The “worst people in the world”. My! That’s pretty darned uncharitable of you.]

I don’t even know what “YECs” are — Young Evangelical Christians?

ROBERT: Young earth creationists, Steve Baker…

STEVE BAKER: Ah, thank you, Robert! I have to get this jargon down! And somebody thinks those nuts are a big problem? “Morons”? “The worst people in the world”? Someone to be hated? Someone worth arguing with? Jeez! Amazing! It seems to me that someone would have to be pretty unsure of their atheism to waste much time with such pursuits. I think I dismissed such thinking when I was about eight-years-old.

ROBERT: Nah, they aren’t a problem. Most generally, they believe the earth 6000 years old, which is nonsense. We have trees older then that…they are misled, but not all YEC believe earth 6000 years old I’ve talked with…they are nice enough folks I’m sure, but some atheists have targeted them rather than debated them because their ideas are so ridiculous….perhaps…there are some militant atheists and their methodology just scares them away rather than educates others…i’m friends with all camps…and not so with militant mindsets which I oppose strongly…

Its unfortunate however that SOME NOT ALL creationists ignore the sciences….and that some who know the sciences ..mainly some atheists are so nasty to them rather than educate ..its not about ego its about learning….and being open to do so.

SPIKE: I said to go fuck yourself, but fuck you is good too. :)

A man named Steve Tillman has his story quite publicly available. The man claimed to be an atheist for years because, as he says, he was mad at God. In my experience, that’s not entirely uncommon, and it leads to a lot of theists thinking all atheists are just mad at God.

You don’t know what a troll actually cares about. The deal is that they misrepresent themselves on purpose. I’d be willing to bet a lot of them care deeply about the truth.

That description, and this whole group, are a reaction to and ripoff of another group. That description is a purposefully blatant plagiarism of the description in that group.

BRENDAN: Sweden is becoming a third world nation. This meme doesn’t mention the fact Scandinavian countries also have the highest number of people per capita on anti-depressants. I guess that JANTELOVEN (look it up) isn’t all its cracked up to be.

I wonder how many leftists here would support Switzerland voting in a right wing, anti immigrant party recently (SVP) or the fact Norways right wing, anti immigrant part (the Progress Party) now has a coalition government and Sweden’s anti immigrant, Democrat party is now second in power…

SPIKE: I agree with that. Mocking creationists serves only to make atheists look like jerks. It gets hard sometimes when I try to be polite but get threats of hell and get told I’m just too stupid to understand and that they’ll pray for me and that they hope I one day find [insert deity here], but that they know I’m not really interested in truth, rather that I just want to oppose [re-insert aforementioned deity here] because I hate him/her/it/them.

As far as I can tell, if you’re going to accept any part of the Christian story that includes any reason to worship God and treat Jesus as his son, there must be some science ignored. People don’t come back from the dead. Adam and Eve didn’t happen, so where did original sin come from? And why is Christianity the only one on the chopping block? Have we assumed, by this point in any such conversation, that all other religions are untrue? Because the same criteria religious people use to dismiss other religions can almost always be applied to their own religion if they so desired. I have a lot of respect when religious people describe their situation as belief rather than fact. I’ve got a few highly religious friends who know very well that their belief is not based in empiricism, but in faith. And there isn’t really anything wrong with that, but it’s dishonest, especially to oneself, not to recognize this.

Facebook Fun and Games (by Friends of the Middle)

I don’t know exactly what goes wrong in Facebook, but it does. I guess the same kinds of things happened when our group was email based…the same kinds of attacks and name-calling as you have seen in the last few posts from Facebook on this blog.  The element of anonymity must have something to do with it, as does a sort of inability for some to see themselves the way others see them.

Regardless, I see these “problems” as highly instructional in the area of human behavior and relationships. Frankly, I’m fascinated by them, even when I am the one under attack. So, here is another for your edification and enjoyment.

STEVE BAKER: You guys know how I feel about cops. Yet, in reality, what’s a cop to do? What would any of us do? Whatever we can to save our own lives? Something else? Honestly? Isn’t the problem really that everybody has a gun? That guns are so easy to get? That so many are so willing and ready to try to use them? I’ve tried, but I can generate little sympathy for the poor “victim” in this case.
STEPHEN: So, so, so very true Steve, I am just dispondent how freaking ignorance plays into these pics and senarios. I have very little sympathy for this thug with records to depict his character.
SHIRLEY: My Steve, having been a Navy SEAL and having worked in security, said that faced with some of these circumstances he would do whatever he had to do to live and come home alive
DARRELL: At one time the motto of police was to “Serve and Protect”. Now the motto is “Spray and Pray”. The police are not soldiers at war and the american public is not the enemy. If the police are so afraid that every movement is a deadly threat, and if they are so stupid they cannot distinguish between a cell phone, wallet, ink pin and a gun they should not be allowed to become or retained as police. Shirley you have told us your Steve was a Navy SEAL about a thousand times…give it a rest…please.
SHIRLEY: I agree with you on many points, Darrell. I know I have mentioned it, but it was poignant to what i was repeating. Those were his words (and it was a clarification for any who are new to the group).You know Darell. You can be very rude sometimes
DARRELL: This is you Shirley…If I hear one more time about your Steve the Navy SEAL, your high IQ, your advanced degrees, your indian hertiage….nobody ever asks you, but it the same thing all the time.
SHIRLEY: I personally don’t give a flying you know what about what you think. This forum is supposed to be where we can come and discuss issues, share thoughts and ideas and silly stuff, with respect for one another. I guess you just have no concept of respect.Oh, what’s the problem? Jealous?And as far as my mentioning my MBA and the MSA I am currently working on, why does it bother you that I have mentioned them a couple of times?
DARRELL: You can’t take the truth. Nobody brags on themself as much as you. I give respect where it is due not someone who constantly reminds everyone how surperior they are. You don’t like the truth, too bad, listen to yourself sometimes. You are classic Narcissistic Personality Disorder, accept it or not.
SHIRLEY: BS. I have never claimed once I was superior to anyone. Ever.
DARRELL: You mention everything over and over and over. Try showing how smart you are instead of repeating it over and over how smart you think you are. And please give it a rest about your Steve…we don’t care. Sorry I’m not jealous of someone I have zero respect for.
STEVE BAKER: Darrell, this is not the place for attacks, It is a place for listening, understanding, and patience. Have you been drinking? I find your behavior toward the lady to be way out of line and unjustified. Please refrain in the future, my friend. Everything someone thinks does not need to be said. We always have new people in the group, I see nothing wrong with clarifying whatever the person posting thinks needs clarifying.
KELLY: Jeremiah 9:23:Thus says the Lord: Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches.
STEVE BAKER: I can get into this act: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
SHIRLEY: Matthew 7: 1-3: Judge not, lest ye be judged.
DARRELL: Bulls shit steve, I’m not attacking this woman. Just another nut case.
STEVE BAKER: Unfortunately, I have had to remove the first person ever from this group. A couple of others have removed themselves after insulting everyone in sight. I’m sick of Facebook insults and will tolerate no more of them. If someone can’t be cordial and respectful, I will have no more patience. Support your positions on issues to the hilt, say whatever you want, but personal attacks upon other members of this group will flat-out not be tolerated. I will censor nothing and if the offending posts are removed, I will add them back. Thank you all for your contributions and readership.
SHIRLEY: Well said.
KELLY: I never will understand how the arrangement of letters on a page that define a language can be insulting. We are not face to face shouting at each other. Anyone can click and select to stop seeing the posts of certain people if they really do not care to read their posts. I hate whiners that won’t just fix their own situation. If you do not like what someone is typing, don’t read it.
SHIRLEY: neither do I understand. I do better in forums like this because in a large group of people, if someone says some of the stuff I’ve recently had said to me (nut case, indeed), I would probably get up and leave, because I am not good with confrontations. I have a bad temper which I do my best not to lose.
KELLY: But then unfollow whoever said it. That way you cannot be offended. But the others who may choose to read the same persons thoughts on other matter, still can. I am saying that your fight, as stupid as it was, caused a loss of an interesting participant for myself and other people. How do you see that as a fair exchange?
SHIRLEY: First plAce, I do not feel I did one thing wrong, Kelley. he attacked me and I tried my best to be gracious in supporting the simple statement Steve had made and clarifying that statement. I mentioned my MBA one time in here, and that was in response to this same person’s attack, calling me stupid and uneducated because I did not agree with something rude he had written. He could have disagreed from here to eternity, but attacking anyone in here is uncalled for, downright rude, and stupid. If I have offended you, then I apologize. However, I would venture to say that Steve’s decision was his decision based upon multiple remarks in here by this same person.
KELLY: There is no answer to why you could not have chosen to not read or to limit your ability on Facebook to read anyone you deem as offensive. I do that all the time, as I am sure people do to me as well.
STEVE BAKER: Kelly, I would feel compelled to join in here even with no request. Not “following” someone or even not being friends with someone has nothing to do with whether one can see/read their posts.
Even though we are not face-to-face here, we engage in conversations. When one has written something, then is reading the response, do you expect them to immediately cover their eyes and move on as if nothing is happening? Not respond? Be run out of town? I can’t picture that.
Remember, too, that these are PUBLIC conversations, not just for the 100+ people in this group, but potentially many more. If you agree someone can rightfully feel offended face-to-face, why not when insulted in public? And do you honestly feel there was no attack, no intended attack, and no insults in this case? If you do, then I have to say I certainly disagree with you. Maybe you should re-read the conversation, which will always remain on here.
I agree with you in many ways about Darrell. I consider him a friend even though we have not actually quite met yet. He has been in my store. We have written a lot of stuff to each other. We have sided together in arguments with trolls.
But this is about the third incident on here that he has been involved in. The other two I could excuse, but not a blatant, unwarranted attack like this last one. Then to lie to me about it after I warned him that his behavior was unacceptable was too much for me, so I alone made the decision to do something about the matter, even though I regretted having to do it.
I’ve never kicked anybody out of here for attacking me. I figure I’m fair game. But I will not sit by and watch others be attacked for no reason, then be told that the attack did not happen and that what I’m saying is bullshit.
SHIRLEY: could we please just close this subject? You can block me if you like. I would hate to not be able to read your postings, but we should just put an end to this and agree that none of us will agree all of the time. And I would bet if someone insulted you, you would say something. When I felt I was losing my temper is when i stopped responding to him.
KELLY: No matter how it played out, who was “right” or who was “wrong” I thought that both sides were adults. Again, with the handy little “I do not want to see this persons comments” or the “block this person” you could have ended the perceived “attack.” I would never want a spat between myself and anyone to cause others any changes.
SHIRLEY: I only hope, Kelly, no one attacks you or your thoughts in here or anywhere else
ARTHUR: Was it me? No, wait….
SHIRLEY: No, Arthur. It was not you. We may not always agree, which is expected, but your postings are usually very interesting. I respect your opinion.
KELLY: It isn’t about” not following” you can block anyone’s comments and never see anything again from that person in public or private. I read the whole thing while it was playing out. And have re-read it. I am saying that all players could have taken a different approach. There is zero innocence here.
MARTIN: I had my little fight with Darrell one day, but I’ll say that getting offended by somebody online is totally immature. From what I’ve seen there I wouldn’t ban, but I’m not the admin. Darrell can be rude as hell, but he was kind of right. Shirley, you’ve came out with your high IQ totally out of the blue when he said in general something like “even somebody with 80 IQ can figure it out.” That wasn’t addressed at you. Just the observer point of view, as I couldn’t give a crap more about internet rudeness or megalomania. Just kind of strikes me that a Mensa genius can’t figure out how to use Google translate. He also crossed the line this time, I think everybody should chill out and stop treating themselves so Goddamn serious.
KELLY:I am not defending the person, but the concept of this being a forum for open discussion.
JD: Live peaceably with all
KELLY: Jesus, if I had a nickel for every time my thoughts or statements were attacked?? I personally take offense when people here try to “school” me on the Bible. But I just let it slide.
STEVE BAKER: I disagree completely, Kelly. And one can only block someone AFTER the fact. Darrell has already been blocked by a couple of other people on here, but such things tend to distort conversations. When confronted with a chance to respond reasonably, Darrell chose to hurl more insults, at both myself and at Shirley. No one else insulted anyone except Darrell. Those are the facts.
MARTIN: That is very different, Shirley was attacked personally as Darrell finds her annoying. As immature as it is, it’s justified. “Schooling” on the Bible can be only feel offensive for a religious freak, not “an open forum defender”. Seriously, Kelly, decide on your position. Arguments against Christian faith are as valid as arguments against anything political and can be addressed with counterarguments if you have them.
Feeling offended by that is not sandbox, it’s nursery school level.
PAMELA: This is Steve’s group; he’s the moderator. What he says goes. End of story.
KELLY: Exactly, Martin, he may have been rude, but, Shirley, you do have a way of boasting that can be offensive. Plus, I’m really sick of the kitty cats. If I want to see kitty cats I will google them. But, being an adult, I just ignore your preachy comments, your kitty cats, and any boasting and accept and value the good information and funny comments that your participation ADDS to this group. I do the same with Darrell. I ignore if he is bitchy and rude and enjoy when he is witty and interesting. But you have now limited my ability to do that, when I was NOT a part of the fight. So I should not have to suffer the outcome.
Ha! Pamela, that is in contradiction to what Steve himself says, that it is a group where all opinions are valued.
ARTHUR: Well, Darrell certainly doesn’t like me. I will say it was hard to have a civil discourse with him, but maybe it was me.
PAMELA: I don’t know who Darrell is, and I don’t know what the dispute is, but I’ve never considered personal attacks in the same category as informed opinions.
MICHAEL: I’ve been insulted and called names, mainly because I provided facts that disputed someone’s extreme views. Yes, you can insult someone with words and I agree this is no place for it.
KELLY: No, I do not care about a debate on the bible or passages or the existence of God or anything. I take offense when treated as if my position is based on a lack of knowledge or intelligence, which is commonly the way in which I and others are “schooled” here.
STEVE BAKER: Martin and Kelly, you raise some good points. But the way I look at it is like this: everyone should be perfectly free to say anything in the world, use any language in the world, to talk about any subject under the sun. But I do not see how the personalities or personal actions, faults, etc. of our “friends” are fit subjects for public discussion or insults under any conditions. Those comments should be made in personal messages — face-to-face, as you say. Anything else is actually cowardly, in my opinion. When made publicly, what is someone’s goal except to hurt another person? To belittle them? To my mind, that fits under the category of personal public attack, not free discussion.
MARTIN: Yes that can be annoying Kelly, it wasn’t me though. I don’t attack people, I attack people’s beliefs. For most, it’s the same, for me there is significant difference. If someone is stupid I’ll say it, but I don’t open a conversation with that assumption
KELLY: So I am free to whimper and whine to you when someone claims that I have read the wrong version or wrong chapters in the Bible, not having a clue what I have and have not read in the bible, the koran, etc?
PAMELA: I don’t have a dog in this fight, but this whole exchange seems to me to be a perfect example of why people in general have such a hard time getting along. Debate always involves a certain amount of rough and tumble, but telling someone they’re an idiot or stupid is not productive. It feels good sometimes to do that, and I have to bite my tongue sometimes to keep from doing it, but that’s not argument; it’s unproductive frustration. If someone is so annoying to you (as Sarah Palin, say, or Ted Cruz are to me), then avoid them. No one ever changed their mind because someone called them a moron.
MARTIN: Steve, that’s what I was thinking. If you find somebody annoying, say it to his face, don’t make it public. Why would you? It just creates a mess and drags many interesting discussions down to personal insults hijacking the whole topic and destroying it for everybody.
Calling somebody a moron is a period, end of conversation. Not elegant but necessary sometimes. Better than some lame excuse like “I respect your view, but I have to take the eggs from the pan.”
MICHAEL: Stupid is a strong word. I know people who have some political beliefs based on ignorance. They’re not stupid, they just aren’t prepared to make political decisions.
KELLY: Well if you reach a certain age, you can have an opinion and vote, with zero education in politics. So that could be the issue at hand.
MICHAEL: I agree. It’s crazy, it’s such an important duty, yet many Americans vote against their own interests. So who’s the moron? The Tea Party guy who believe Koch bro propaganda or the centrist who believes in facts.
STEVE BAKER: LOL! Thank the Great Spirit, Michael, I think we all agree on that one — or almost.
PAMELA: If we’re starting a new conversation, I suggest starting a new thread. I think we’ve about exhausted this one.
4 hrs · Like · 3
KELLY: Back to the kicking out of the forum topic; I just think the issues of ONE or TWO should not be cause for the integrity of the group to change. So why not say, you two, take it outside of the open forum? Not dismiss one and not the other, when both participated?
SHIRLEY: Personally, Kelly (and this will be the last i say on this subject) I never wanted anyone blocked from here. All I wanted was some respect from another person and acceptance that my opinions are as valid as anyone else’s. I don’t understand your comment that I am boastful. About what? Am I supposed to dumb myself down? And by the way, you are defensive right now because not everyone shares in your beliefs; “So I am free to whimper and whine to you when someone claims that I have read the wrong version or wrong chapters in the Bible, not having a clue what I have and have not read in the Bible, the Koran, etc?”. I can say the same because I am a Christian and have been for 55 years, and yet I accept that there are many valid beliefs. I have read the Koran plus several study books outside of Scripture. I still maintain my faith. And I also ignored this person’s crude remark about the birth and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, even though we are supposed to not be ashamed. I do not believe I have ever made light of your beliefs. And I am sorry if some people have offended you in that area. I don’t believe most of us mean to come across preachy, any more than I hope you do. I hope you have a very good day.
STEVE BAKER: Kelly, after a careful review, I don’t see how both participated at all. I see one attacker and one victim. One person simply defended themselves against what I see as totally unreasonable, possibly drunken attacks, completely out of place here among friends. Then I sew lies and denial and more name calling when I simply tried to moderate. That’s why he was kicked out.
“Darrell, this is not the place for attacks, It is a place for listening, understanding, and patience. Have you been drinking? I find your behavior toward the lady to be way out of line and unjustified. Please refrain in the future, my friend. Everything someone thinks does not need to be said. We always have new people in the group, I see nothing wrong with clarifying whatever the person posting thinks needs clarifying. “
“Bulls shit steve, I’m not attacking this woman. Just another nut case.”
KELLY: Shirley: You know, Darrell, you can be very rude sometimes. I personally don’t give a flying you know what about what you think. This forum is supposed to be where we can come in here and discuss issues, share thoughts and ideas and silly stuff, with respect for one another. I guess you just have no concept of respect. Oh, what’s the problem? Jealous?” For me Steve, I do see this as active participation. Calling someone “Rude”, not knowing about “Respect” and “Jealous” are to me insulting comments.
No, Shirley, it was you. And not knowing me at all, please do not judge my knowledge, intelligence, study or beliefs.
And now, similar to with Darrell, you are wishing to pick a fight with me and then claim the victim.”And by the way, you are defensive right now because not everyone shares in your beliefs.” How dare you pretend to know if I am “defensive” or not? Watch your words as well please. You know not my feelings, nor intentions.
Why the necessity to place that statement at all?
Steve, she is insulting me by calling me defensive! Poor me, sympathy please? Jesus!
STEVE BAKER: [I say a person has the right to defend themselves when attacked. I have seen Shirley try to make peace here several times. Not anyone else.]
PAMELA: Ladies, I think this is enough. You both need to back off and go do the laundry or something productive. IMHO I have no business butting in, I know, but I really can’t believe this keeps going on and on.
KELLY: WOW! Laundry! Yeah, that is my life. I do laundry. Being a woman, that is super sexist and belittling. Wow! Let me wash dishes or change some diapers too. Could not possibly be working in anything else.
PAMELA: Now I’m just laughing. Over and OUT.
KELLY: See the way you can either just let shit roll off your back OR you can take offense at everything, Just an example. I am above letting words, even insulting words bother me. I wish we all were.
DENNIS: Does this mean I have to improve my behavior here? I’ve already been blocked from Energy Citizens. Never mind, I have to go do the laundry now.
JIM: Resort to personal attacks almost always signifies the weakness of one’s position and the inability to support it with reasoned argument. I have many good friends whose views are diametrically opposite mine. We disagree on lots of things but our discourse is always civil and nobody takes anybody else’s statements personally. Anybody who can’t or won’t adhere to basic standards if civility should grow up or shut up.
DALE: Thank you, Steve. Good decision.
SHIRLEY: I will say one thing. I just came home and was reading your comments, Kelly. I have not said one bad thing to you, neither have I attacked you in any way. And yet every posting from you can be strongly considered as an attack. I don’t know Darrell any more than either he or you know me. I just did not appreciate his remarks. I am sorry you have gotten so upset over this. One question; why don’t you let it go? If I bother you so much, if my and Steve and Milan’s little running joke with the cats offendS you…then block me. And please point out where I have been disrespectful in any way. I will apologize. And as far as I am concerned, we all need to accept one another and diverse opinions and stop this crap.
STEVE BAKER: [Yet another attempt at reconciliation and to get beyond this.]
KELLY: How am I attacking you by pointing out your hurtful comments? Wow. Reread your posts on religion.
2 hrs · Like
PAMELA: I haven’t followed this, but I’d like to say that “attacking” a religious dogma is not attacking the person who believes in it. Surely I can say that I find the idea of 72 virgins waiting for martyrs in heaven is preposterous without being accused of hating Muslims.
ARTHUR: Me too. And then I’m going to discover time travel.
Hmmmm. I don’t believe in much of anything but I can’t recall ever being offended by what I have seen on this, whatever it is. To each her/his own beliefs as long as he/she doesn’t force it down my throat. And wait a minute about those virgins, Pamela…
SHIRLEY: Pamela, this comes from another thread and some not so nice comments Darrel was making involving me. I don’t know about Kelley. As for the virgins, I have always wondered where they planned to get them. And Arthur Hotop, if you discover time travel…can I use it?
KELLY: Precisely, you have not followed this, Pamela. And not attacking a person’s religious dogma, but outright saying because you have been a Christian for god knows how many years that I and my personal information would be more intelligent if I read her Bible. Which she has no idea if I have or have not, and to what level I have studied religions of the world.
Well, I am off to the races! It was fun while it lasted. But nothing lasts forever.
STEVE BAKER: To quote Kelly: “I am above letting words, even insulting words bother me. I wish we all were…. I never will understand how the arrangement of letters on a page that define a language can be insulting. We are not face to face shouting at each other. Anyone can click and select to stop seeing the posts of certain people if they really do not care to read their posts. I hate whiners that won’t just fix their own situation. If you do not like what someone is typing, don’t read it.”
BARBARA: Just ‘wow’…

“Almost Christmas” (by Steven W. Baker)

Almost Christmas (written in San Juan, PR)

When I was a child
Christmas seemed a time of
Magical possibilities.
But like most magic
It was ultimately a little disappointing.

Jesus was born lived taught
That’s really about all we know.
His words were absorbed and cleansed
By a huge monolithic church
And much of the truth was obscured.

So he failed to change the world
The way it seems he intended.
Love, after all, has such trouble
Raising its head above the sea of self.
But isn’t that what Christmas is about?

©2003,2014 Steven W. Baker

Facebook Happenings, Part 3 – Teabaggers (by Friends of the Middle)


Tyranny Quote 2

Steve K: Well, thank heavens none of that is going on HERE! I mean, if it were, we would have government agency destroying files, then prosecuting citizens for doing the same.

Robin: Like Obamacare….

Steve Baker: I guess birth certificates and licensing doctors are tyranny? Establishing and protecting National Parks? Keeping lead out of gasoline? Ridiculous!

Robin: Steve Baker…the same rules on your issues are for the govt. too. Remember the govt. exempted themselves from Obamacare.

Steve K: Steve Baker, it is perfectly legal for citizens to issue birth certificates, license doctors, protect land and keep lead out of gasoline. No one would be thrown in jail for doing any of those things. Of course, other citizens might not find the licenses I issue useful, nor my birth certificates trustworthy, but it’s not against the law for me to issue such decrees if I choose. So your point is completely unclear.

Steve Baker: In that case, Steve K, let me clarify. The quotation defines tyranny as those things which are “LEGAL for the government, but ILLEGAL for the citizenry” (to do). The things I mentioned are not, as you say, LEGAL for citizens to do, only the government or people working for the government can do them. It is only LEGAL for the government to regulate them. I cannot, as a citizen, either license doctors or issue birth certificates, etc., even if I wanted to. And these are all activities (and there are many more) which I view as beneficial to society and individuals in society and not tyranny in any way, shape, or form. Therefore, they disprove the original quote. Is that clearer?

Steve K: Steve Baker, I can most certainly licence any physician I want – I give them a licence issued by me, Steve K, which they can proudly display on their wall. To say that they may need ADDITIONAL licenses to practice is not to say that I cannot licence a physician – I most certainly can, and no one will throw me in jail for doing so. That’s what honorary doctorates are about, after all – a doctorate is a kind of licensure. And ANY school can issue doctorates. So, it is CLEAR that you don’t know what you’re taking about.

Steve Baker: Good point, Steve K. Anyone can issue any worthless piece of paper that they want. None of them would give a doctor the legal right to practice medicine in any state in the union. Your point is the height of ridiculousness and you know it!

Let me put it another way. If you can issue a “license” to an unlicensed doctor and have him actually put it up on his wall and start practicing medicine with it, I’ll pay you $1000! I believe that makes it pretty clear who “doesn’t know what they’re talking about” and who is just trying to be a smart-ass, sir.

Steve K: It is not illegal for me to license a doctor. You’re wrong. Get used to it. It IS illegal for me to steal money from someone, unless I am a tax collector, in which case it is legal – that’s tyranny.

Steve Baker: Steve K, grow up! If something is meaningless it doesn’t matter if it is legal or illegal.

Also, as to your deleted comment that the AMA is not the government, yet licenses doctors… sorry, only state medical boards (the government) can legally license doctors. You were wrong again. If the AMA can’t do it, you can’t either.

Believe me, if you tried to set yourself up as a legal medical licensing agency and actually issued licenses to doctors to practice medicine, you would find yourself in jail for fraud. And rightfully so. That would not be tyranny. It would be stupidity and criminal activity on your part. Do I lie?

Can’t you understand a simple point, my friend?

And what about all the other beneficial things I listed (and there are plenty more) that are legal for the government to do, but illegal for citizens? Ignore away, Steve K. The point is… the original quote is simply extreme Right-wing lunacy. Lunacy you have apparently fallen victim to.

Steve Baker: To make it perfectly clear, Steve K, here’s a picture of where you are in this argument:

Precarious Position

Steve K: Steve Baker, when a man enters comments at the end of a 16 hour workday (5am-9pm), he may make a mistake. I caught mine 60 seconds after I typed it. You haven’t caught yours after how many days?

Steve Baker: Steve K, I have caught no mistake of mine, only of yours and I have a $1000 bet on the table to prove it. Funny that you haven’t responded to the bet. The thing is, you won’t admit it, but you KNOW that no individual can circumvent the law and the state medical boards and actually license doctors to practice medicine and to think you can is pure idiocy. Could someone (Robin?) please set this guy straight?

I can issue a piece of paper too! One that says I’m Napoleon Bonaparte, but that doesn’t make me a French Emperor now, does it?

Again, Steve K, just to make your position clear:

Precarious Position 1

And what you can’t get:


Maybe you’ll also want to create some National Parks in your spare time. There’s some real tyranny for you! LOL!

Smiley with Tongue

Dennis: According to the Monticello Jefferson website that archives all his writings, “This quotation has not been found in any of the writings of Thomas Jefferson.”


Fred S: I know that , but he said it to me one night in conversation.

Steve Baker: If he did say it, he was dumber than I thought. Interesting. The same as that James Madison quote about the Ten Commandments the Right cherishes so much – the only problem is, Madison never said any such thing and pretty much believed the opposite.

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves … according to the Ten Commandments of God.”



The Right is so full of lies that it’s amazing, huh?

Art: I think Jefferson was too smart to say something like this.


Facebook BS

[Sure enough, today Robin had deleted my entire conversation with the astute Steve K. was deleted. These people cannot stand to hear the truth! These are the last few posts:]

Steve Baker: Hey, “This quotation has not been found in any of the writings of Thomas Jefferson.” Interesting, no? Maybe now, Steve K, you’re going to want to establish and maintain some National Parks? LOL!

Steve K: Government ownership of land in the United States:


Federal Land

Anyone who owns rural land has his own park, designed the way he likes it.

As for your $1000 bet, “If you can issue a “license” to an unlicensed doctor and have him actually put it up on his wall and start practicing medicine with it, I’ll pay you $1000! ” send me the money right now or be labelled a liar and a welsher! I can send a license to anyone, and anyone can practice medicine any time they want. Now, the government may decide to punish that person with fines and/or jail time, but that doesn’t mean the person isn’t practicing medicine. So, send me the money, or you’re a liar.

Steve Baker: (message) Robin, so sorry you removed the conversation with Steve K. I was just starting to like the guy. LOL! I’m sure glad I got the whole thing copied before you deleted it. I have to admit, it was pretty embarrassing to Mr. Steve K. He must be disappointed today. He thought he could get $1000 from me without earning it. Maybe he should learn to read! LOL!

Steve Baker (later): Robin, I AM sorry you took down the conversation about the bogus Jefferson quote. I hope Steve K. is not a good friend of yours, and I mean no offense to you when I say that guy is as dumb as a rock and as stubborn as a mule. And I’m afraid he suffers from what we used to call poor reading comprehension when I was an English teacher. He is so typical of the kind of people I run into from the Tea Party — ignorant, confrontational, and easy to anger. I’m sure he believes everything the Right and FOX feed him. I know you’re smarter than that. I enjoyed the thread. Thank you.

Robin: No I don’t know him but he does like to jump in there….I really hate the division between the govt and the people …..and that was the point no matter who says it.

Steve Baker: I hope you read my comments, Robin. Those divisions are necessary and can be very good things. For instance, that’s what prevents Mr. Steve K. from licensing bogus doctors and foisting them off on your family as legitimate physicians. That’s a very good thing in my book!

In any civil, thriving society, the government must be able to do things that are illegal for ordinary citizens. Another good example is law enforcement. I don’t think you want Mr. Steve K. or even me running around with a gun being fake police. Things like this are illegal for excellent reasons, are they not? What is there to hate about that?

Not everything is what it first appears to be on the surface. We must dig a little deeper than Mr. Steve K. is able to.

Steve Baker: And, Robin, please let me know if I’m speaking out of turn, but i wonder what it was in the conversation that you found to be “too much”? Too much stupidity from the Right? The Jefferson quote that turned out to be a lie? My insistence upon the truth and clear thinking? What?

I mean, it’s your page, to put up or take down what you want, but I thought that conversation was very instructional. That’s why I put the whole thing up verbatim on my group page. My “Friends of the Middle” group now has around 100 members and is very active. I still have no rules and have still not censured or removed a single post.

If people reveal that they are stupid or ill-mannered, I think it’s particularly important to leave that for all to see, so they will know who they are talking to. If Mr. Steve K. revealed that he is stupid, blind, and stubborn, don’t people who read your page deserve to know him for who he is? To me, there is almost nothing on this Earth more important than truth.

Robin: Yes, govt. is suppose to do that. I worry about overstepping .

Steve Baker: Overstepping is completely different than someone thinking tyranny is anything that is legal for the government but illegal for citizens, don’t you think? That statement oversteps the truth by a long shot!

Robin: I was just being polite. Just like Obama hiding all his info but still open to ours and using it against us…not respecting the constitution…using the irs …etc etc….not what it was meant to be.

Steve Baker: I believe you are wrong about Mr. Obama. What you state is what FOX News wants you to believe so it can make more money and perhaps help its “friends” gain power. The facts are far different.

Robin: Obama has told us in his own words. He gets away with everything…so far. Where do you think I am wrong about him? Did you watch the movie “Obama 2016″ where using Obama’s words and actions trying to figure him out….it all came true…there is an update to google and the movie, “America, Where Would We Be Without Her?” Fabulous!

Steve Baker: All I can say is that he’s the best President we’ve had since, probably, Eisenhower. History will prove that. All these negatives are just the opposition trying to destroy the man, they are not the reality.

Robin: I think he is doing it all by himself….the funniest are when they use his own words….if you think our country is evil and want to level it down and are a Muslim….I can understand……what debt? The first step of sharia is to get the money….he is destroying America right in front of your face.

Steve Baker: I absolutely disagree and you can’t prove your contention in any way shape or form, my friend. America is doing pretty darned well, right now, better than most of the civilized world. You’d have to prove America is not doing well or that people are somehow worse off and you know you can’t.

Robin: You would have to be blind…

Steve Baker: No, I’d just have to pay no attention to the lies of FOX News and the radical Right.

Robin: Have you heard of the unemployment rate ? Have you heard of the debt doubling by the end of obamas reign ? Have you heard of the welfare enlarging ? Have you heard of the border problem ? How about the Muslim problem ?..the selling of American land…..the loss of godly values leading to the prison growth….divorce growing…etc etc…

Steve Baker: This is untrue, all economic indicators have improved since Mr. Obama took office. I have already proven some of that to you about the debt. All you have to do is look at these facts diligently, Robin. Why do you think the DOW is where it is? Unemployment is way down. It should be lower, but since your Republican friends have shipped all the manufacturing jobs to China, what can you expect? Those last things you mention act the same whether a Republican or Democrat is in office. Don’t you see that some people make money and hope to gain power by spreading lies that make people fearful and discontented???

Robin: Haven’t you seen how divisive Obama has been?….I don’t understand the Dow because I know it is artificially controlled, but I hope it doesn’t crash….there are plenty of problems to worry about, you just try to do the best you can and learn as much as you can…. I do think Obama is smooth and cool….and that does it for some.

Steve Baker: You don’t remember the Bush financial crash of 2008? You don’t remember how bad things were when Mr. Obama took over? You don’t remember the Bush wars and debt? You don’t remember the huge tax cuts for his buddies? What has Mr. Obama done that is divisive? It is the Republican racism and obstructionism that is divisive, that is absolutely abnormal in American history. By the way, the DOW is NOT artificially controlled. That would be absolutely impossible, requiring 100’s of billions of dollars. Not even the government could afford to do it and, if anybody could, it would be easily tracked. Where do you get this stuff?

Obama - 5 Years

Obama Truth

Robin: There is so little racism….that is a joke. People do not like his actions. But Democrats blame it on racism….Dow is computer controlled. We are doing well. I didn’t follow Bush closely, but he did love America…..

Robin: Steve, I agree with Dinesh D. Souza`and Charles Krauthamer…..too bad I can’t spell. Who are your most respected Democrats?

Steve Baker: President Obama, Dennis Kucinich, Alan Grayson, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Paul Krugman, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert. I was a Republican for many years. Then I couldn’t take their lies or the results of their economic policies anymore! They are completely corrupt and FOX News proves it every day.

The Democrats are only about half corrupt, not completely corrupt. America and the news media are almost totally corrupt because the rich and powerful and their corporations control almost everything — what you see, what you hear, taxes, wars, who can get elected, Congress, state governments, even the Supreme Court. But they don’t control the people I listed in my first paragraph. Those people seek what is good for the American people, not big money.

Robin: Thank you. I don’t know most of them.

Robin (later, on her Facebook page): Just unfriended my last liberal athiest democrat for the second time…..I don’t know why they come back.

Steve Baker (message): Sorry you defriended me, Robin. I didn’t know it was for the second time. Is that possible? Anyway, I meant it when I said that I hope you have a good like full of love. Take care, my friend.

Katie: and aren’t they so BORING?

Robin: Well yes because it is the same old ,same old…..but it is also boring like the devil….Which is not so boring!

Kathy: Tell me how to do that, I have to deal with radical anti-catholic, anti-conservative, conspiracy around every corner relative. They never go away. But I try not to let him rob me of my joy. People like you, remind me of the joy that is mine in the Lord. Makes me smile, God bless you Robin.

Robin: You too Kathy.

Catherine: The proverbial bad penny.

Robin: Some people think abortion is only legal for the first 3 months of pregnancy. Abortion is legal all 9 months!

[No one corrected her. So finally, I wrote:]

Steve Baker (later message): Just thought of something, Robin. You said the other day that abortion was legal for all nine months of a pregnancy, not just during the first trimester. Let me show you how easy finding the truth is in the Information Age. Just go to google.com and enter this question (without quotes): “Is abortion legal after the first trimester?” Voila: TRUTH! It will set you free if you let it. Free from all that FOX-induced anxiety and worry.

Facebook Happenings, Part 2 – Religion/Abortion (by Friends of the Middle)

1st Conversation



Sermon on the Beatitudes (preached at Greenbelt)

“I recently talked to a woman who, when her young brother died tragically, her church said irretrievably stupid things to her like “it must have been God’s will” as though that is a comfort, as though pawning suffering off on God is doing…”

Sermon on the Mount

Steve Baker: I like her! A lot of truth here, though cloaked in religiosity.

“…perhaps being God’s people is being a people who, like God, bless the world around us not on the basis of the world’s values but on the basis of God’s values.”

I had to look up the word “bless”, because I’m thinking of it in a special way here. From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: 1) to make (something or someone) holy by saying a special prayer; 2) to ask God to care for and protect (someone or something); 3) to provide (a person, place, etc.) with something good or desirable.

When you boil all that down, doesn’t it just mean “to love”? As Leonard Cohen’s “God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot” says, “For magic loves the hungry.” Isn’t that what the Sermon on the Mount is about?

But being the “atheist” that I am, I don’t think it takes God, or Jesus, or the Bible for any of this to be high truth. I think it’s important to realize that this life we are somehow given and all the things in it, good and bad, are our blessings. We are somehow given the capacity to pass this blessing on, not only to our children, but to all the good and evil things around us. We have the capacity to love, perhaps our highest capacity. It is our “blessing” and it is somehow also our duty.

There have been a few times in my life when I have been made to forcefully and clearly realize this, and they all involved death. Twice. it was my own — once near the top of a titanic mountain and once on the deep blue sea. I was sure I was going to die. I had to face it full on. I didn’t think about God or Heaven or Hell. I thought about the people I loved and the people who had loved me. I thought about how much I loved all the things of this world, even the mountain and the ocean and the storm. I thought about my blessings.

The other times were the deaths of my 20-year-old son, my mother, my father, and my best friend. I couldn’t think about them in Heaven or as ghosts or anything. I thought about what a wonderful gift they were to me, a gift I did not have for as long as I wished, but it was a gift of mutual love that is the greatest thing we can ever experience. It is the one thing I think of as immortal. That is our blessing! To love and to be loved. To make that circle of love as wide as our heart allows. Life is really that simple, and you don’t need some God to tell you that. You only need to realize it.

Robin: God is love and Jesus is that love showing us perfect love. I always wonder why anyone would not love Jesus….all people of goodwill embrace this instead of fighting it…

Steve Baker: That’s an easy question, Robin. Do you love my dog, Dusty? [And, actually, he dies years ago.] Probably not, since you don’t even know he exists. No one knows for sure if Jesus ever actually existed. That’s a fact. His very existence cannot be proven. Personally, I hope he did and, if he was the son of God, like Zeus had sons, more power to him. Somebody is reported (100 years later) of having said some good things, especially about love, and doing unto others, and not stoning women. Many, many (billions) of people in the world do not love Jesus, many of them probably better people than you or I, and there are many good reasons for that. If you love him, well, how wonderful. Don’t think you can impose your beliefs upon others. They don’t think they can impose their beliefs upon you. That’s the way Jesus said it should be.

Robin: Truth is truth…take it or leave it…I don,t have to know your dog to love him…it means I wish him well and would provide his needs if I were in that position…if God is real and you honestly want to know…just prayerfully…even if you are talking to the wall…obey whatever He says that catches your eye…most people that know and love God do not shove it down but people newly in love are somewhat obnoxious…but that is OK with me.

Robin: Steve, he really is on your side…he only wants what is good for you…stop being afraid…stop fighting and enjoy the adventure…there is much to learn and it is fascinating…You sound like you know Jesus…God will judge the hearts of people that have no knowledge of him…he is a good God.

Steve Baker: Amen!

Robin: Suffering is a part of love…a part of life.

Steve Baker:

Conviction’s Lies (written in Chicago, IL)

To enter the realm of truth

Certainty must be left behind

With all the other forgotten

And lost things of this world

Neither hope nor love among them

Though bright beyond all imagining

Remember conviction’s lies.

©1997, 2014 Steven W. Baker

Robin: God reveals himself to us…through His son, His word, His Church and the Saints and in nature , His world. It would be a terrible thing to miss but of course we will never know it all until we are in heaven. But we need God for the very reason that we don’t know it all. Some people think they are smarter and don,t need more…like this piece. Take a little knowledge or more…

Steve Baker: Robin, I think you need to realize that good, well-meaning, rational individuals can disagree with you and that there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m happy you’ve found something to believe in. I, on the other hand, have examined it all my life and continue to, and I reject Christianity and the Bible with all my heart. I find almost nothing there that even makes sense, let alone something to build a life upon. Many works of art, poems, novels, contain more truth and insight into our lives here than all of Christianity. Right or wrong, we’re all people. I think you need to ease-up and relax a little. FOX news and Facebook have you all fired up instead of letting you live in peace with yourself and the world, as I do. And I think it’s a very good thing not to mix up religion with politics or personal relations. It’s a deadly cocktail, in the end. PS — I have found, as I related, that I don’t need God at all, even in the worst of times. I don’t think I’m smarter than your old buddy with a white beard, I just know he ain’t there. I am, and that’s what I have to deal with, and I think my life shows that I can deal with it very well, thank you.

Robin: I’m sorry.

Steve Baker: No problema, thank you, and I like talking with you.

I have to seriously wonder, Robin, my friend, what you are so violently afraid of that you censure and delete everything that doesn’t totally agree with your preconceived views? Didn’t Jesus say that we should be open to the world. Didn’t he come here partly so that God could experience what it truly means to be a human being? Jesus did not shy away from the world and its experiences, especially with Mary Magdalene.


2nd Conversation



Doubting Thomas: UK Archbishop Unsure of God’s Existence

Archbishop of Canterbury

Robin: It happens to all of us. But those questions were a long time ago for me…

Steve Baker: Me too!

Robin: The Lord asked if there would be any faith left on earth when He returns. The devil is having a hayday all over the earth. …the war between good and evil…I tried to invite 3 guys and their wives to a prolife fundraiser today. I’ve been playing tennis with them 3 days a week for 15 years and they were unsure because of their liberal leanings …if the grown ups don’t know abortion is wrong and loving new human beings is right…and helping them is a good thing …no wonder the younger generation is so lost…..and these men are good friends and will always be good friends.

Robin: My husband has been a volunteer doctor at the clinic for 10 years and they all think that is great…. PS…I’m just a bum.

Steve Baker: Prove to me that a fetus is a human being. Doesn’t a human being have to be able to exist on it’s own? Show me anything in the Bible that says a fetus is human. Show me anything in the Bible that says abortion is wrong. It is a woman’s choice (at least, early in her pregnancy). Only she can make that decision. Government cannot intrude on her own body and her rights. Neither can anyone else. I trust a mother to make those decisions, not government, especially not a Republican government that cares not for babies once they are born!

Too bad Jesus didn’t tell us not to procreate too much, because we already have for the sake of our precious planet, which keeps us alive.

Robin: We always need good people…..we will suffer for it someday.

PS…what did you think a fetus was, if it is not human ? I’ve never heard that argument before. We live on different planets….and you thought you understood love….

Steve Baker: I thought you were kind of a libertarian, Robin? The prohibition on abortion s nothing but church government usurping the inherent rights of women. It has no basis in the Bible or the teachings of Jesus. Thank goodness they don’t think women should be stoned to death anymore (mostly). And half the US government wants to destroy this right that belongs only to women. Only a woman can make that decision about her own body. A woman should never be forced to have a child she knows she cannot properly care for. That is tyranny of the worst kind!

I love mothers, you love fetuses. I’ll take mothers any day.

Robin: Mothers are so damaged from this but of course you didn’t know….

I can’t prevent it from being legal but I have one vote and I vote for whatever is good.and holy and pleasing to god…you have the typical godless…secular point of view….the flesh is always at war with the spirit…the high road is always the toughest but the most rewarding…life is difficult…and it is suppose to be….excersise creates muscles.

You haven’t heard of adoption? It is the child,s body that gets aborted….I have 4 daughter and you think I should have the right to end the life of all of them if I feel like it. And you think a woman wants to kill her child…she may be desperate and scared but no one wants to have an abortion…unless they have no conscience and/or are just evil.

Steve Baker: Never mind! A fetus less than three months old is part of a woman’s body, not a child. More like an egg or a sperm. It is not viable. It cannot live on its own. Like an egg or a sperm, it might become a human or it might not. I agree, though, that an abortion is something that should not happen in many cases.Unwanted pregnancies should be prevented or ended with birth control. The tragedy occurs when a woman has a baby she doesn’t want or cannot take care of. Or one resulting from rape or incest. Yuk! To think any of that is “killing” is simple ignorance. Adoption is often a tragedy too. Take a look at some of the adoption forums on Facebook. Some very sad stuff there! I certainly support your right to believe and feel otherwise, but to try to impose your religious views on other, innocent women is simply wrong, perhaps even evil! I thought you believed so much in freedom and liberty from tyranny for all???

Robin: How come when I have an opinion it is imposing my beliefs. Maybe I am selling hope. Women are innocent without knowledge of love. Without love I am just a noisy gong. Without love and faith one doesn’t have hope. If a fetus is viable, is it ok to kill it? Or terminate it ?

It is always a tragedy when we don’t love .

Steve Baker: You’re telling me you don’t want to implement that belief into political action like you said you wanted to? Love has nothing to do with it. You should love the right of women to be free.

Robin: Of course…I am one vote.

Steve Baker: That is wanting to impose your view on others. Also, I said the fetus was NOT viable at the time of abortion. That’s the law and the way it should be,.

Robin: You think it is good for women to be able to have that choice and in many respects I understand and want them to have an easy way out…it is just not good…and it is one thing that it is legal but it makes me sick watching these political women”celebrate” it.

Steve Baker: I understand and respect your feelings, but that is another matter entirely and not nearly as important as freedom for women, in my view.

Robin: Think about it…freedom to end life.

Steve Baker: Think about it…women enslaved by people who don’t even know them and don’t really care about them as people, only about some abstract principle! Freedom for women!

Robin: Fear and desperation enslave people…all aspects of our lives need discipline…so we can have freedom…with God you are never desperate and no need for the fear of even death…with sin you are a slave…but everyday we have choices. Everyday God is there for you, waiting for you…always ready to forgive…with unconditional love.

Steve Baker: People who need heaven fear death. People who need God fear death and, often, everything else. Only the brave and fearless stand alone. It’s only logical. Someone else’s forgiveness means nothing to me. I forgive myself. That’s what Jesus was talking about, in my view.

Steve Baker (later): Robin, a thousand pardons, but please let me be brutally honest with you.

1) You oppose legal abortion during the first trimester for all women regardless of their personal beliefs, needs, wisdom, and freedom, because of your own personal beliefs, which you seek to impose upon them. The fact that abortions being illegal does not stop them, but only makes women suffer more means nothing to you. You’re willing to accept the government’s and church government’s decisions in these matter over the woman’s despite knowing that there is nothing in the Bible defining the beginning of life nor prohibiting abortion, and despite the fact that you call yourself a libertarian.

2) You put up quotes by Thomas Jefferson that could not possibly have been made by him which defines any police, fire departments, medical licensing, government regulations, formation national parks, etc., as tyranny and then stand by that definition, censuring my comments to the contrary.

3) You constantly condemn the President for no discernible reason I can comprehend except that he is a black Democrat.

4) You act like Benghazi was some conspiracy against the United States by the President of the United States based upon zero evidence, only the frantic cries of FOX News, etc. And despite the fact that, even if mistakes were made, they pale in comparison to Reagan’s errors in regard to the Beirut Embassy bombing or Bush’s in regards to many attacks upon embassies. You apparently know nothing about Allende and Chile and what Nixon did there.

It has become painfully obvious to me that you have not studied nor thought deeply about any of these matters. All you do is hysterically parrot the church and FOX News positions even when they are full of lies and conflicts and paradoxes. If you ever do decide to seriously investigate the lies being told to you, then I will be happy to discuss them with you. Until then, I have more important matters to attend to. I hope you have a wonderful life full of love. Adios, amiga!

Facebook Happenings, Part 1 – Morality (by Friends of the Middle)


Philosophy Discussion 1

George: Believe me, they don’t speak for all Christians. A true Christian has love and compassion for ALL.

Steve Baker: And any Christians who thinks the Bible says one word about birth control or abortion is sadly mistaken.

Milan: I am glad you two read your Bibles…

Steve Baker: Even though I take nothing they say literally, all the “holy” books are important world literature. That’s why I’ve read and closely studied the Bible and the Koran twice each from cover to cover, as well as re-studying parts at other times. I have even read the stupid Book of Mormon cover to cover, which I doubt most Mormons have ever had the fortitude to do. I’ve studied almost all of the ancient Hindu and Buddhist texts and done meditation nearly daily for 45 years. I still study American Indian religions. Because of all this, I am not religious. But that doesn’t mean I don’t respect mythology.

Milan: We shall have a discussion on the Bhagavad Gita then.

Steve Baker: “Abandon all attachment to the results of action and attain supreme peace.” –The Bhagavad Gita

Rod: Like the Buddhist monk said at Burger King – ‘Make me one with everything!’

George: Steve, we are kindred spirits. I read all the books of the major religions, as well. I found wisdom in all of them, but remained a Christian. Re: abortion, Jesus Christ made a statement that is applicable: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my bretheren, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Rod: And then there was Onan…. the seed spiller.

Martin: Reading “holy books” without cultural and historical context has little value. I’ve also read all of them. The Bible has very few interesting things to say, some apocryphs are more interesting (e.g. the Book of Thomas). The New Testament is a cut and paste piece of early Gnosticism and few other alike cults of empire including Dionysus and Egyptian myths of a solar God. The Old Testament is a rip off of Sumerian, Babylonian, and Egyptian religious rules and rites with some ethnic war propaganda and a few pieces of fine literature. There is nothing unique about that book.

George, this is exactly how you Christians manipulate. Where did he say “A fetus is a human begin and has an immortal soul from the time of being conceived”, as, without that statement, this quote of your doesn’t apply. Your doctrine comes first here, then you’re looking for a proof. I wouldn’t like to be in your shoes though, believing in an immoral soul given by God makes life indeed a bit complicated, where is this soul coming from and when is it activated? Let’s just sing together: “Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is good!”

I’ve skipped the book of MoRon…deliberately. Sometimes it’s just better to use your time to do something more valuable, like to watch the paint dry. It’s not a “holy book”, but a 100-years-old version of a Sunday mail tabloid.

Steve Baker: George, perhaps so! But I find almost everything in the New Testament to be nebulous, without true definition, as legal things must be and things that can truly, unambiguously guide our lives. I don’t find, for instance, that passage in Matthew to include fetuses that cannot live except in the womb, etc.

Rod, your reference to Onan is probably one of the strongest references used to prohibit both birth control and masturbation. Unfortunately, it has major problems. God slew Onan, not for “spilling his seed”, but for not fulfilling the levirate marriage obligation to produce an heir with his brother’s widow — the brother God had killed. This despite Onan being married in the regular way. The heck with women! Screwed up, huh? And since this is in the Old Testament, it’s Jewish not Christian, and the Old Testament, like Greek mythology, is all myth and primitive attempts at law. The book does not even belong in any Christian Bible, the same with the Book of Revelation.

That Old Testament God really loved to kill people! He is like a baby having tantrums! He makes zero sense!

And any connection of birth control with religion is completely stupid in my view. There seems to be no shortage of “souls”, and God surely gave us brains to make intelligent decisions, not destroy His wonderful world with too many people. In my life, I have and will make my own decisions about children, not follow some stupid church dictate. I also support people’s right to masturbate any time they want, even though I never do it myself.

I consider abortion to be a very serious business and, for me, probably a bad thing. I am very happy I never had to be involved in one during my life. Doing so would have probably made me very sad.

That being said, I believe with all my heart that only a pregnant woman can make those kinds of decisions for her child and for herself. I trust mothers and their instincts and judgment. A woman in that situation has a huge instinct to hold and raise her baby. Only she can conceive of the burdens and weigh the pros and cons of bringing her baby into the world. I trust her to make the right decision for her and her baby. I don’t trust government or religion or myself to make that decision for her, only her. Then there are the practical, medical reasons to allow her those decisions, even when it comes to abortion. Because of all this, women deserve our love and respect and support, never our condemnation for what only they know they must do for the good, really, of all.

Martin: I think Rod example was sarcastic, but that’s maybe because I would use it like it . Onan is the most misinterpreted piece of the Bible. As you said, Steve, it was about denying God’s will, the Old Testament is always about that, you obey your Alfa male in heaven or the sadistic motherfucker will make you pay. They set it up like this so clan leaders could justify their own similar behavior.

Abortion is bad, but killing animals for food is not nice either. An adult pig has more emotions and feels more pain that a month old foetus that is only a human in potentiality. I’ll value the life of all living creatures and still eat them. A mother has every right to abort something that is part of her body, and as we make animal slaughter as humane as possible in civilized society, we also make sure to abort early enough before the brain develops in a fetus. I don’t really care about any religious argument in that matter. Talk about soul, God, and other imaginary friends and the argument goes straight to the wastebasket.

Steve Baker: Couldn’t agree more, Martin.

George: Martin, you’re a lost soul. I’m praying for the healing of your heart and mind. Spiritually, you’re a month old “fetus”; may you continue to grow and thrive in God’s womb–this life.

Martin: End of argument for all religion nut jobs. How do you know I’m a lost soul and not a Satan’s spawn or maybe the Antichrist himself?

Be a good Christian and use your prayers on those who need them (like Ebola and war victims, hungry children, etc.), not on those who dare to disagree with your doctrine. I don’t need your prayers or your compassion. I’m doing just fine, believe me. And don’t talk to me about spirituality. I assure you that I have much more experience than you in that field, although for you, it will be Satan realm, like anything that is non-Christian, right?

George: I can pray for everyone, even Satan’s redemption.

Martin: I hope you’re not Catholic, as you just committed a heresy that they used to burn people for. But really, leave me and my buddy Satan alone, we’re doing just fine down here. Those Ebola victims…not so much.

George: I’m Orthodox. Praying for you…

Martin: Satan’s redemption is not part of official orthodox church doctrine, but hey, not my circus… Maybe we can drop by with Belzebubh to Heaven for some chardonnay one day. All we drink in Hell is this bitter black coal porter and some flaming red ale sometimes Belzebubh is the name of my cat, you should pray for him too, not his fault that his owner is a satanic degenerate and named him like this.

George: We Orthodox are permitted to pray for the redemption of anyone, even Satan, even if not officially encouraged to. May God exorcise the demons of cynicism and bitterness from your soul. Praying for you…

Martin: Take the bitterness, but don’t you dare to touch my cynicism! I warn you, I have horns and claws…arggg…..

George: I have others to pray for, Martin. May you find God and have a good life. And, keep that sense of humor!

Martin: Finally, I’m telling you those Ebola victims need it slightly more than I do. Have a good praying weekend, my Christian friend, until it’s all you do. I have no issues with that. But when you try to impose your rules on somebody who doesn’t give a crap….those claws will rise. My cat is really named Belzebubh, but I call him Bubek (pronounced: boo-back) for short, makes sense in Polish.

Steve Baker: So much “meat” here and in other threads, I hardly know where to start. The subject of abortion (and many others) brings up issues of right and wrong, which often brings up religion, which brings up some of our most closely held feeling and ideas.

I have always been proud of this group — going all the way back to 2007 — for the members conducting themselves in a civil manner and respecting each other and our differences. I’m not about to tell anyone what to do, but I hope that can continue. In another thread (Tea Party Nation), Dale just made some good points on that subject. Everybody, me included, should read that and take it to heart.

DALE: I am not a Tea Party member and disagree with the segment in that movement who are extremist. Their are certain principles I support, but not all and certainly not all the tactics. Capture the feeling you have when you are being confronted, attacked if you will, by this person. It’s not a good feeling is it? When you launch an assault on others, that’s the same feeling you may be creating. This is why no matter how passionately I might hold a position, I really try to lay off personal shots and name calling. It just amps up the anger and shuts down communications.

We have almost 100 people now and keep growing. Before, when I was publishing our Newsletter, we had almost 1000. Both figures are a lot for a group as intimate as this one. I don’t know exactly why all of you come here to talk and listen, but I know one thing we have in common. I’ve thought about it over and over through the years. Everyone here CARES! Everyone wants to make a better life, a better world, for themselves and for others. We all have different ideas about that, but we all share that desire, that trait, if you will. I have always appreciated and admired that about all of you, my friends.

Since that is the case, I think we all tend to be passionate people. I have seen anguish and pain nearly turn to tears on the printed screen when some of you talk about what you see and know. Our poor, departed Sandy was one of those. I could often see and feel the pain and frustration in her words when she would think about how we should be, rather than how we are as people, as a nation, as a world.

Because of that passion, we often express ourselves with passion rather than restraint. Our goal is always truth and justice. I think we have to permit that passion, encourage that passion if we are to get closer to that perhaps mystical goal — TRUTH! If sometimes we show a lack of restraint in what we say, the rest need to show restraint, perhaps, in how they listen. I see so much of that on here! I may not be a paragon of that virtue myself, but i recognize it in many of you and I thank you.

As I said, I’m not about to tell anyone what to do or censure anything, as happens so often in these Facebook groups. I only ask that we all continue to place our senses of humor, our caring, and our love above all other things. In “Tea Party Nation”, we see the opposite of that — discourse dictated by hate. Keep in mind…that is the opposite of what we are and what we stand for, my friends.

George: Orthodox Christianity isn’t Islam, we don’t convert by the sword, Martin.

Rod: I was always taught that, when in polite company, one should not discuss religion or politics. Sound advice!

George: Christians are bound by the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:16-20) to witness for Christ and His Gospel. If asked, or in defense of the Faith, we are commanded to speak up. But, we don’t force our religion or views on anyone. As for politics, you’re obviously not Greek!

Rod: Got it in one, George – not Greek and not Christian either. I have witnessed too many atrocities in the name of religion to identify with any faith. I believe that it is necessary to respect human life and demonstrate a caring lifestyle by example. I do not need a flawed interpretation of mystical revelations to guide me. I can still show compassion and support to my fellow man as an atheist.

Steve Baker: Rod, wouldn’t that be boring — no discussion of politics or religion?  I guess this ain’t polite company then… Happy to hear all views.

Steve Baker: Jules doesn’t believe you can have morality without religion.

Milan: May I suggest Nicomachean Ethics 101?

Jules: If you’ve read that why don’t you explain it?

Milan: As with your understanding of economics, there is so much basic understanding that has to be in place, I suggest you take in some information first…

Jules: Ha, that’s rather cowardly.

Milan: Let me assure you sir, I am no craven, but I do suggest you read earlier posts on the subject and acquire some fundamental understandings so such things make sense…

Jules: I’ve got a first class degree in economics and I’ve read a lot of classical philosophy maybe not as much as you so enlighten me and make a statement

Milan: Oh OK..

Jules: Interesting.


Steve Baker: Jules, I already spent a lot of time enlightening you about ethics on Theo’s page. By the time I finished, I didn’t hear another peep out of you. It would just be deja vu here. The fact that you think GW Bush did a good job tells me you know almost nothing about economics, because you subscribe to discredited right-wing theory instead of reality. No offense intended.

Art: GW did a good job????

Steve Baker: Here’s the way that “morality” conversation went, Jules. Theo started out with this meme:

Philosophy Discussion 2

Jules: Your comments didn’t make sense and you contradicted yourself several times. I didn’t see the point in carrying on.

Steve Baker: Then it went like this. (Maybe you could enlighten us further, Jules?)


THEO: Halleullah!

JULES: A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion, a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true. Socrates

THEO: Did you get that off your dad or the Internet. Either way I agree.

JULES: Why would share this if you agree?

THEO: Because religion is as offensive as racism.

JULES:If you don’t have a basis of morality then you can’t make such moral criticism

THEO: Are you saying that I have no moral basis, Jules? we’ve known each other since we were kids…

THEO: Pay a living wage, Jules. Be moral!

JULES: If morality based on religion or emotions isn’t true then what is a true basis of morality? I don’t think any moral opinion has any truth. For me when someone moralises they’re simply saying this disgusts me therefore it should disgust you to. lol

STEVE BAKER: Jules, morality can have many other bases than religion. It can be argued that the history shows the morality of religion to be truly flawed and there are so many awful acts condoned by the Bible — slavery, stoning, the subjugation of women, war, intolerance, etc., especially in the Old Testament (what’s it doing in there anyway? It’s the holy book of another, rejected religion.). Read Richard Dawkins. What is moral is what contributes to good, to what makes us better people and a better society. It is actually very Darwinian. It has nothing to do with some god and some ancient, outdated set of laws.

JULES: Hi, Steve, Dawkins basically advocates the point of Theo’s post that innate emotions have evolved in humans that universally act as a moral guild for all how all humans should behave/make moral decisions and is therefore an objective basis of morality. Its the central tenant of humanism and spouted by left wing intellectuals in defence of liberalist agendas. Darkins might be a good biologist but not a good philosopher and it’s a an illogical idea. We have obviously evolved to coperate with others and therefore the feelings of how we interact in groups evolved as well in terms of having innate emotions in given scenarios that govern how we act and inspire the rules of the group. However this doesn’t mean that an emotional basis of morality is objective (i.e it exist externally of human opinion and is therefore in a sense true), it doesn’t make the morality universal and it doesn’t it optimal. take moral issues adultery, rape and murder, individuals experience emotions feeling these things are wrong and set morals for themselves and as a group to say don’t do them. However individuals also experience emotions compelling them to do these things. they experience a conflict of emotions, ones that serve to wary of the consequences of doing them and others inciting the benefits of doing them. We’ve evolved to want and not to do these things, the decision depends on the circumstance, therefore the rules/morals we devised depend on our preferences and therefore morality is subjective and not objective. Furthermore innate emotions differ from person to person, rules in different groups vary to complete opposites and our corporative feelings evolved to work optimally in small groups not large societies. Our opinions on what is good and what makes a better society would likely differ steve

THEO: I think you should at least pay minimum wage, Jules, Even to people in Barrow. You should evolve to cooperate with your fellow human beings. I worked a few days for you while I was on the dole (welfare Steve) I remember you telling me how hard I worked and that you couldn’t get people to work that well let alone use their initiative. Then you gave me well under the minimum wage for my efforts. Stick that in your philosopher’s pipe and smoke it…

STEVE BAKER: Jules, well, of course philosophical positions can be argued academically endlessly. That’s why I recently left a Facebook philosophy group. Positions were being argued endlessly by people who had never studied in their lives and assumed that nothing has ever been learned in the history of philosophy. Their “guide seemed to be whatever drug they were doing at the time. Call that “emotion”, if you will.

Of course you are wrong about Dawkins and about a non-absolute, non-emotional basis for morality. I guess we agree that we can cast aside the religious absolute belief. Fortunately, we humans have evolved more than emotions and belief in magic and the old man in the sky with a white beard.. We have evolved logic, science, and empathy. Empathy is certainly NOT an emotion, it is an action. It is an arena in which we apply our logic to determine what certain outcomes would be under differing conditions. Those outcomes are sometimes of an emotional nature, but that is irrelevant to the process.

Since we have much more than “opinions”, since we have known outcomes from the past which can be logically evaluated, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that what we think “is good and what makes a better society” might not differ as much as you posit.

JULES: I don’t really understand your response. The definition of empathy is the ability to understand the emotions of others. The post is full of inference but it’s basically saying by understanding other peoples feelings we also experience feelings which allow us to judge right from wrong. Is it not?

You said that I am of course wrong about an emotional basis of morality being non-absolute but I was discussing objective morality which is not the same thing. I take it you meant objective but you didn’t responded to any of the points I made. You state that “empathy is an arena in which use our logic” I don’t know what you mean by this but I think the fact that your using the term our logic might suggest what’s going wrong. You can’t have your own logic Steve, logic is defiantly absolute.

STEVE BAKER: Your response makes no sense. Are you trying to pull my leg? The subject is 1) whether there is an “absolute” basis for morality; 2) whether there is other than an emotional, non-objective basis for morality; 3) whether empathy can shed any light on the subject. I maintained that there is no possible “absolute” morality, but there can be a rational, scientific basis for morality, though that is not a trivial task, as the history of philosophy shows. The quest begins by discarding #1.

As to the third subject — empathy — you were right when you introduced the subject as “understanding”, but wrong when you contradicted yourself and said it is “feelings”. It can be feelings, but it can also be rational and logical, which is what you refer to as objective. Empathy is more than understanding another person’s emotions in some emotional way. It is understanding and conceptualizing that other person’s emotions, history, future, life experience, and alternatives, in a logical as well as an emotional manner. It is putting yourself in the other person’s place totally, not just their emotional place, but their LIFE place, if you will. Because of that, it deserves its position as a cornerstone of morality, as even Jesus insisted, not as a religious or emotional person, but as a logical, rational, objective person.

Empathy has a long philosophical history, or course (see Iain King and Michael Slote, for instance). In phenomenology, empathy is considered to be the condition of intersubjectivity and, as such, the source of the constitution of objectivity. Interestingly, research has shown that people with “defective” minds — such as those who suffer from autism, alexithymia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychopathy, etc., have little ability to understand the perspectives of others — they lack the ability to empathize correctly. This is a major finding of the “theory of mind” school of thought that indicates empathy is much more than emotional.

THEO: I see you guys are getting on like a house on fire.

JULES: The question was simply whether there was an objective basis of morality. The point that I had raised was that an emotional basis of morality was not objective where as Dawkins and others claim that it is. You had said that I was wrong but now your saying it is non objective? You’ve also missed the point by suggesting there’s a scientific basis of morality. Morality concerns questions which are not scientific. There are measurable differences in the pros and cons (social, economic etc) for yourself and others of having certain morals but that doesn’t mean that the morals people chose have any truth. For example religious groups have different morals which have different measurable benefits. Moral questions arise when there is an issue that has a conflict of interest between individuals or groups. Being a man a science and reason myself, I agree that the way we determine the likely outcome of taking certain moral positions should be done using rational scientific method. However, science has no ability or use in determining who should benefit and who shouldn’t when a conflict of interest/moral question arises.

STEVE BAKER: I have merely insisted that there is less than an absolute and more than an emotional basis for ethics, which is also Dawkins’ position, not the position you have so neatly assigned to him. But I said that it’s a complicated subject. For instance, you say “science has no ability or use in determining who should benefit and who shouldn’t when a conflict of interest/moral question arises.” I will assume by “science” you also mean rationality and logic, correct?

Let me give an example. Man A loves his happy life, his wife, and his children. He has every reason to want to live. But he hates Doctor B. Man A comes down with a deadly disease that can only be cured by Dr. B, who also has every reason to live and arrives to save Man A’s life. Man A kills Dr. B, then dies of the deadly disease.

Logic proves that this murder was “immoral”, not even in Man A’s own life-loving self-interest, hence “bad”. This is not an emotional basis for morality, but a rational one. There are many other, more subtle examples that could be given. The necessary logical assumption being that what contributes to life is “good” and what contributes to “death” is “bad”. I suppose one could argue against that, but it would hardly be a sensible argument in light of the fact that we are not abstract rocks, but living beings with but one limited life that we demonstrably, normally value.

JULES: Steve, I want to have a logical understanding of your response however, I need some further information. Are psychoactive toads common in Bolivia?

STEVE BAKER: No idea. Do you eat them often?

THEO: Timmy Rock does.

Steve Baker: Jules says, “Your comments didn’t make sense and you contradicted yourself several times. I didn’t see the point in carrying on.” What do you guys here think?

Steve Baker: More silence, Jules? You argued that there can be nothing but an “emotional” basis for morality without religion. I argued that wasn’t true. Was that confusing for you, Jules? I tried to keep the discussion as simple as I could for you…

Steve Baker: Well, I’m disappointed!

Art: Well, since I basically agree with your approach, I think you made good sense. Morality preceded religion, I’m pretty sure. It was a way for early man to get along. Religion just co-opted it. To the best of my limited knowledge, pretty much all religions teach the same basics. Of course, how they practice them from time to time is another question.

Martin: Jules, too bad you stopped at the classics, if you go on to Kant you’ll learn that you’re wrong, but there is Nietzsche and Wittgenstein hiding in the corner and later on Karl Popper and Bernard Russell. If you read more you’ll KNOW that morality IS POSSIBLE WITHOUT RELIGION (or in fact is possible only AGAINST the religion) Maybe that’s why you stopped?

Art, correction, all MONOTHEISTIC religions teach the same basics. There is almost nothing similar between, say, Buddhism and Christianity.

Jules: Steve, you contradicted yourself several times and endlessly confused the argument. The point that I had made to Theo and the point you had responded to was that I had stated that morality is subjective, that it is a matter of preference and is no more true than any other preference you have. Then you said your wrong read Dawrkins idea of an emotional basis of morality, I pointed the flaws in this argument and why it wasn’t objective. You then said Dawkins theory wasn’t objective??? You stated taking about absolute morality which wasn’t being argued.The you said there was a scientific basis of morality then back tracked and said there’s a rational basis of morality but didn’t say what it was. I described how moral questions arise out of conflicts of interest where a gain exists for one party results in a loss for another, you said you could show how reason would prove who was right and wrong in such an incidence yet the example you gave didn’t even have a conflict of interest as it wasn’t in the interest of guy to murder the other guy.

Martin, why don’t you share the great knowledge you gained from these books and tell us what is an objective (i.e it exist externally of human opinion and is therefore in a sense true) basis of morality.?

Rod: I think you should all watch this – it encapsulates my opinion of philosophers – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jdxCLyJa5E

Jules: Martin, you certainly haven’t read what Nietzsche had to say as. Nietzsche declared that most people live under slave morality apart from moral supermen that decide their own way. Nietching philosophy was used by the Nazis to justifie their policies. Wittgenstein would’nt have anything to say on the matter as he believed that all philosophical problems were actually problems derived from language and were therefore not problem that actually existed. Betrannd russel agrees with Nietzsche and myself as he states in the history of western philosophy that he can find no fault with logic of nietches philosophies only repulsion at his appreciations. Otherwise Russel was basically a utilitarian as was karl popper, utilitarianism being a subjective basis of morality, their writings had nothing to say on the matter we are discussing. The basis of Kant’s morality is an emotional basis of morality or moral intuition as he termed it. Thats the matter we’ve been debating, if he Kant has stated something that has contradicted what I have said then argue your point.

Art: In terms of morality? Not to make to much of it, but wasn’t it Bertrand Russell? Actually, very enlightening.

Steve Baker: Jules, there’s a quote and other things that apply to your comment that appear in the article about Joel Osteen’s “blasphemy” Milan brought to our attention above/below (http://www.wnd.com/2014/08/joel-osteens-wife-accused-of-blasphemous-remarks/):

“What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely, idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point, in your rambling, incoherent response, were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. May God have mercy on your soul.”

You are very confused. All I ever maintained was that there can be something MORE than an emotional basis for morality that is not based on what you call “objective” (and I call “absolute”) religious dictates. I gave Dawkins’ thinking about social Darwinism as an example. You claimed that was “emotional”, not I. Then you became lost in ridiculing rather than listening, ending with the implication that I must be doing drugs. Do you seriously believe any of that could make anyone take you seriously?

So I presented an important example of an instance of morality that was based in rationality, not emotion, not religion, but you ignored that, very conveniently, I might add. Your summary of what happened in that conversation is fantasy. Your attempts to confuse will get you nowhere.

You seem to believe following the dictates of some idiot who happens to have written something that appears in, say, the Bible, from a long dead culture, something usually contradictory and unclear (again, see the Osteen article) is “objective morality” and provides a firm footing. You say anything else is purely emotional.

I say morality is emotional, rational, social, historical, and Darwinian all at the same time. Morality contributes to happiness, as Aristotle stated, and it contributes to survival, as Dawkins maintains. That’s why your Nazi Germany no longer exists. We, as a society, are always evolving morality. There is no other way. The dictates of some long-dead ass-hole or emotion might provide a starting point in some cases, but religion is no more objective than what any other man says. If you are under the delusion that God has ever had anything to say about morality, well, then may He have mercy on your soul. I say you are wrong, and so does all of human and philosophical history.

Let me leave you with a quote from our friend Wittgenstein, whom you said had nothing to add to our argument:

“A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that’s unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.” –Ludwig Wittgenstein

Pull, Jules, pull!

Jules: You’ve turned to Jesus now, Steve. I am glad. I think that’s for the best.

Steve Baker: ???

Martin: Jules, do you seriously think I’ll go through 1000 pages of boring like hell Kant to summarize it in editable form on an internet forum? You must be joking! Do the exercise yourself to find out what Kant found — a objective morality without religion. You did your homework on other philosophers. Too bad you mix it with Nazis that have nothing to do with the subject. Nietzsche found a lack of morality as nihilism and religion with particularly Christianity being nihilist, meaning it’s basically immoral, so new morality must be opposite and comes from the “will to power”. That’s why ubermench is moral, as he had no choice, as it represents life. Ubermench doesn’t “decide their own way”, ubermench is “amor fati”, he follows his will, but his path is made by “will to power”.

Now, I’ve brought Wittgenstein here for the reason you stated, if the question about objectivity of morality has no logical value, the question shouldn’t be asked. I find that the philosophy of science has a lot to with the subject, specially the falsification methodology of Popper. They never discussed morality as it is scientifically not measurable, I’ve bought those all authors together (but there are way more) just to show that the morality issue is much more complex than simple objective/subjective. In fact, both terms have no logical value, the same as all metaphysical claims of morality, regardless if Platonic or Kantian. No one serious of today philosophers discusses this subject. To be honest, I didn’t mean to go through all this long discussion, I’m only addressing the “objectivity” issue.

Steve Baker: Martin, once someone buries his nose in the Bible (or Koran or Book of Mormon, etc.) and believes they have found objectivity, there is probably no way to save their soul with anything like reason or life or love or even “will to power”. They believe the entire world is nothing but emotion and blind themselves to all other possibilities. There is much evidence of that in this discussion, is there not?

Martin: And I almost wrote a PhD in philosophy and Nietzsche was a good part of it, so don’t tell me that I didn’t read it through, pretty please.

I can quote you the chapters with closed eyes

Steve Baker: The Osteen article is so sublime and timely to this discussion. Look what happens when someone tries to use the Bible as a basis for morality, or anything else for that matter.

Martin: Well, I only speak because philosophy was mentioned, so I want to shoot down that door. Any discussion about morality in modern philosophy is a fallacy. As for religious mambo jumbo, I simply don’t care.

Jules: I didn’t the read Facebook quote of your argument. I don’t believe in any religion, I’ve listened to your attempt to engage in reasoned debate and the attempts of many others and recognize that you utterly fail, the comments you make don’t logically contradict mine, when a clear logical untruth is pointed out you don’t realize it you just engage in transference or just write a load of nonsense as if the more you write the more it detaches you from the clear errors in your argument. You don’t understand logic and reason and I honestly do not know how to respond to your comment. I think you’d be far better off following Christianity as I consider far worse to follow ideas based on false logic.

Martin, what a coward you are. In my experience if someone can’t summaries a complex idea they don’t understand it.

Steve Baker: More insults, Jules! That seems to be about all you have to offer. Evidently, you feel we are so stupid and far below you that we don’t notice. Sad. I had hoped you were a serious person. You have presented nothing coherent — simple or complex — in any of these discussions. All you do is complain and attack, with nothing specific to back up anything you say. Sorry, that doesn’t get it here.

Jules: Well if you can’t recognize what is logical and engage with I can’t do anything else.

Steve Baker: Let’s hear something logical for a change, then. You have never presented one rebuttal of any argument presented.

Jules: Transference again, If that make you feel better then I am all for it. OK, what is an objective basis of morality? Do you understand the difference between a subjective basis and objective basis and why that is important?

Steve Baker: I have stated what I believe, but you chose to ignore it — morality is both subjective and objective, without the intrusion of religion. Your question really, as Martin has stated, has no meaning outside of Ivory Towers and undergraduate textbooks. That’s my answer. Let’s hear yours.

Jules: It can’t be subjective and objective, that’s the point! I didn’t read the Facebook quote of your argument again, sorry. You still haven’t understood the argument in the slightest. You haven’t addressed the objectivity issue. What exactly are you claiming Nietzsche wrote about morality being objective that is relevant to this argument? To Martin.

Steve Baker: Why can’t it be subjective as well as objective as philosophy sees it? Because some textbook tells you that? Morality is much more complicated than that and can easily have both objective and subjective components, like many other aspects of human endeavor, including even science, mathematics, and philosophy. Right? But I don’t believe religion has any objective components.

Jules Ross: Tell me a subjective component of mathematics.

Steve Baker: Irrational numbers, smart-ass!

Art: Well, this is a bit harsh.

Jules: Ha! Which ones are they?

Steve Baker: I have based everything I have said on your opening statements, Jules. You have conveniently ignored everything I have written. I tire of this nonsense.

“A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion'”

“If morality based on religion or emotions isn’t true then what is a true basis of morality? I don’t think any moral opinion has any truth. For me when someone moralises [sic] they’re simply saying this disgusts me therefore it should disgust you to.” [sic]

Jules: I thought you were talking about irrational numbers explain how it makes them subjective

Steve Baker: http://www.nytimes.com/1997/12/20/books/the-subjective-underbelly-of-hardheaded-math.html



Jules, seriously, with a know-it-all attitude like yours, you will never win any arguments and few friends. Perhaps, in your erudition, you know Cromwell’s Rule: “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.” –Oliver Cromwell

Jules: “Last year Alan Sokal, a physicist at New York University, wrote a parody of relativistic argument, asserting that almost everything in mathematics and physics was a cultural creation having no objective reality. The inclination to believe in that assertion and even welcome it led to his paper being published by the journal ”Social Text,” which didn’t get the joke. Meanwhile, the parodied point of view has continued to thrive”

It wasn’t even arguing your point.

Steve Baker: Totally wrong, Jules. You didn’t read far enough or closely enough, as usual.And morality is the same, as I have stated — SOCIAL!:

“But mathematics, Mr. Hersh [Reuben Hersh] argues, keeping company with such controversial figures as the late philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend, is not a purely objective detached pursuit of invariant knowledge: it is ”like money, war, or religion, not physical, not mental but social.” It is not just influenced by politics and culture; it is inseparable from them.”

Jules: You don’t get the point, mathematics is not concerned with actual reality only the logic derived what is agreed to be real

The point the article is making is that mathematics is applied to subjective concepts not that mathematical logic is in itself subjective.

Steve Baker: Evidently, a bunch of folks disagree with you. All I was doing was answering your question, which you have now forgotten, “Tell me a subjective component of mathematics.” I just did that. But our subject is morality, Jules. Just like math, science, and philosophy, whether you like it or not, morality is BOTH subjective and objective, because it is social. It is not purely emotional, as you have posited.

Jules: I was arguing against an emotional basis of morality. You don’t just have a problem with philosophy you have a problem with english comprehension. And that had nothing to do with irrational numbers.

Steve Baker: And you have a problem with being insulting to the max, Jules. I was obviously kidding about the irrational numbers. Maybe you don’t know what they are? I thought it was a pretty good joke. Lost on you, I guess.

Martin: Sorry, Jules, I have better things to do than proving I understand Kant, I’ve proved it in university, that’s enough. I don’t know if coward remark was directed at me, as I’m totally lost in the amount of posts. If so, ad personam at this stage of discussion only proves that you have no arguments at all. As for objective morality for Nietzsche I think it was obvious, but let me try again: will of power is imminent to life itself, will to power and the source of “morality”, not the good and evil, but life vs nihilism. Nietzsche would never use a term “objective”, as it’s a metaphysical term. He wouldn’t use the “morality” term also for the same reason.

Jules: OK, so the basis of morality is individual survival, which certainly could be considered an objective basis of morality if all moral questions had a consequence on survival which they don’t. As far as Nietzche never using the term objective, I think you need to return to which ever you university you went to and ask for your two pesos back.

Steve Baker: I rest my case.

Martin: Correction: he used it a degenerative term, the same with morality. He didn’t use it as a part of his philosophy, if that was somehow unclear. Still. I see no point of discussing anything with someone who ends every argument with ad personam attacks. Have fun being an asshole.

Jules: Greek culture, for Nietzsche, are an example of the way in which objectivity and history can be used in the service of life when coupled with a ‘pure will to justice’ and plastic power in order for one to sift through the many-sidedness of history and do justice to life. In conclusion, while Nietzsche unleashes a devastating critique of objectivity, he does argue that there are ways, and in fact there have been ways, in which objectivity can be used in the service.

Martin: “Survival” is not objective “principle”of evolution, as evolution has no principles. It’s not a God plan, or some platonic idea. It’s a blind force. Early Darwinists sometimes believed in it like a dogma, but once again from times of Popper, science doesn’t make those judgments.

Survival in fact may be obsolete if digital consciousness (or artificial intelligence) ever appears.

Jules: Survival is objective as it is not a mattter of opnion whether someone has survived. You must survive in order to reproduce. That is a principle.

Martin: You refer to early Nietzsche works while he was still under Schopenhauer’s influence. It’s the time of a Greek fascination. Late Nietzsche is going towards science, until in Also Speaks Zaratustra he cuts it too as metaphysical. Sometimes it’s good to read the book, not only a review. I could provide quotes if you were a bit nicer, but I don’t really care so you can beat me.

Reproduction is also not a principle, and as for survival: ever heard of Schrodinger’s cat?

Jules: No. I’ll be nice, tell me. Reproduction is the central principle of evolution.

Martin: Evolution has no principles. It’s a process, not a set of rules. Survival is the principle of a species. It’s achieved by reproduction. You totally mixed up the two things.

Jules: What?? All processes have principles otherwise they couldn’t be explained.

Martin: Also I don’t see how Nietzsche was referring to objectivity in Greeks, he praised Heraclitus and blamed Plato, the inventor of objectivity for the Greeks’ fall. The moral code of the Greeks didn’t have to be objective to be in service to life It was strong enough to be accepted without questioning. It’s not the same.

You don’t need to explain anything, it’s enough to falsify it.

Jules: You’ve falsified yourself

Martin: Do you even know what falsification is and how it’s applicable? I didn’t noticed us discussing any scientific theory, we are defining terms!

Jules: You’ve proven yourself to be wrong.

Martin: Now, that’s better, but no, I didn’t.

Jules: Oh yes, you did.

Martin: And before it ends like a typical sandbox fight, I’m out of here,

Steve Baker: “Simple solutions seldom are. It takes a very unusual mind to undertake analysis of the obvious.” –Alfred North Whitehead

Jules: Steve, I don’t disrespect what you think. It’s just the way I like to argue. Debates have to be a bit of competition but I’ve always had what Socrates said on morality in the back of my mind when arguing with you as his point was similar to yours. Socrates said that what was morally right was what contributed to a good and happy life and that it was objective because what contributes to a good and happy life isn’t necessarily a matter of opinion. I’ve got other thoughts on the matter but its probably best to leave it.

Steve Baker: But you still misunderstand. Aristotle stated the Socratic position much better, and I consider it an emotional one when it comes to morality — happiness. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just incomplete. I believe that is only one component. I’m sure that British fucker who likes to cut people’s heads off is happy when he does it. That’s hardly a solid basis for morality. One can extend that to the greatest good/happiness for the greatest number but then you’re in Holocaust and communist territory.

We have learned a few things in the last few thousand years, even if not so much. I find it extremely interesting that we aren’t any better at giving good educations than Socrates or Plato or Aristotle were. It has been a long time since I formally studied philosophy, but when I did I was insatiable. Now, since I’m a writer, I try to keep up on it at least as much as I do the news or music because my characters and my poems often utilize it.

The example I concocted was one that was objective and Nietzschean — life, Darwinian and Dawkinsian existence! At least, as objective as we can get in this subjective world. Western religion I have no use for at all.

I don’t write online only for myself or my friends (and enemies). I write also for my children, my grandchildren, and posterity. That’s one reason why everything from this group, starting in 2007, is preserved in a series of thick books and there will be two more by the end of this year or early next year — all the emails from 2013 and 2014. I count on Facebook to preserve the stuff here, but I back it all up just in case. I write for the future. I try hard not to be confusing or confused, but time and words are limited in this forum, yet I’m pretty sure my mind and my words are pretty damned clear. If there is something bothering anyone, or confusing anyone, they should just ask. I’m not perfect, but I’m not stupid either. But, please understand, I’m done arguing with you about this matter, Jules. My words stand, even if you erroneously find them contradictory. Your agenda, whatever it is, is apparently completely contrary to mine.

Jules: (message) Sorry, Steve I was utterly pissed last night.

Steve Baker: You certainly acted like it. In our group, we carry on discussions as if they are among friends, which they usually are.

What Happens If You Try to Give Israel a Fair Shake (by Steven W. Baker)

I am not really “for” one side or the other in this war. I want peace at least as much as anyone. But I am sick and tired of the facts and the truth being distorted so much that people don’t know any more what’s true and what isn’t.

I believe in few things in this life — not God, not man — but I believe in love, liberty, friendship, art, equality, honesty, and truth. Without truth, the others are a sham.

Here’s a rather long but very instructional online discussion on the subject from yesterday. I hope you enjoy it and learn something from it, my dear readers.



RIAZ: You mean you are still surprised by the arrogance of power? The country that has crossed every boundary imaginable in its hubris, is not only the model for NetanYahoo, it is his principal supporter and enabler. I had to leave the USA to be able to see it better, or in the words of Gibran, one cannot see the profile of the mountain when one is on it, one has to take distance…


BREAKING – Israeli military starts ground operation in Gaza!Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the military to start a ground operation in Gaza, his office has announced.”The prime minister and defence minister have instructed the IDF to begin a ground operation tonight in order to hit the terror tunnels from Gaza into Israel,” the statement said as cited by Reuters.Reuters witnesses and Gaza residents reported heavy artillery and naval shelling along the Gaza border.




Hamas is offering Israel a 10-year truce if it accepts 10 conditions. The Jerusalem Post reports, based on an Israeli Channel 2 newscast, that Azmi Bishara announced the proposal on Al Jazeera television today.   Bishara, a former Israeli Knesset member, fled Israel in 2007 after being accused of spying for Hezbollah. He is currently living in Qatar where he is a high level government advisor.

According to Ma’ariv (Hebrew) these are the conditions:

  1. Withdrawal of Israeli tanks from the Gaza border.
  2. Freeing all the prisoners that were arrested after the killing of the three youths.
  3. Lifting the siege and opening the border crossings to commerce and people.
  4. Establishing an international seaport and airport which would be under U.N. supervision.
  5. Increasing the permitted fishing zone to 10 kilometers.
  6. Internationalizing the Rafah Crossing and placing it under the supervision of the U.N. and some Arab nations.
  7. International forces on the borders.
  8. Easing conditions for permits to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque.
  9. Prohibition on Israeli interference in the reconciliation agreement.
  10. Reestablishing an industrial zone and improvements in further economic development in the Gaza Strip.

AMY: Tunnels? Why would they send blind rockets if they could use tunnels?

RIAZ: I might have mentioned that The Oxford English Dictionary gives the meaning of Yahoo as follows: A rude, noisy, or violent person.

mid 18th century: from the name of an imaginary race of brutish creatures in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726).

AMY: Or all of the above. Hard to believe he’s been at the top for so long.


DENEICE: Once the warring starts, people take sides and rationalize the hatred and violence. I’m pretty naive about this. I don’t understand why the Israelis were able to just take Palestine’s land, those settlements after the WWII Balfour division of the country. It seems like illegal trespass and THEFT. it would be like us just gradually settling into TORONTO or Mexico. Just taking the land that is part of another country.

KERRY: It began day 4 after the declaration that Israel and Palestine were two states…in 48. It was ALWAYS the plan. The freaking HOLY LAND!

DENEICE: I have become areligious the past two years. The religious people are not good examples.

KERRY: You teach a population to be on high alert…as the Zionists did…in Israel…everything becomes a threat. Nope, for the most part…they are not! More people die in the name of god… Who needs that kind of god? Who would create that?

RIAZ: Words and labels are our biggest problems… The current ongoing conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis is not a war, or to use Gandhi’s words when asked about the war between the nationalist Indians and the British, he said it was a war if they liked to call it one, it was a war between the cat and the mice… War is between roughly equal forces.

DENEICE: Religion seems to me to be used to control people and to justify crimes against others …and the planet. You just claim, “God said it’s okay.” The Hobby Lobby argument basically.

Saw an old LAW & ORDER episode last nite. The defendant had killed his daughter’s science teacher who taught evolution. He said God told him to, that his daughter was being influenced by devils. The mother had strayed and got cancer, and he said God had punished her. The defense attorney used a First Amendment argument, basically you can kill if it’s your sincere religious belief, even if unreasonable. The guy went to prison.

KERRY: Some universal themes. Look at the witch burnings?

RIAZ: A very quick facts sheet review: http://thrivalroom.com/understand-israeli-palestinian-apartheid-11-graphics

DENEICE: I saw a Real Time with Penn Gillette, the magician-atheist. He was the NICEST person on the panel of religious people. He was really KIND, compassionate, and they were extremely judgmental, self-righteous people… rationalizing terrible conduct with their religious beliefs. Bill Maher can be rather mean-spirited, too. I run into people all the time who claim they have The Answer…and others are wrong. And some religious beliefs are pretty dang “inventive.” Harmless to believe in gods and magic until you start killing and hurting others and using that mythology as the rational.

KERRY: Scientology is advertising in our bus stops now.

DENEICE: Here is the list of Senators supporting funding the bombing. Lesser of two evils? I don’t think so! This is what happens when war lobbies own our government. You KNOW what to do…call, write, tweet…and when it comes time to vote…JUST SAY NO!

The following Democratic senators are co-sponsoring the resolution (SR498) supporting Israel’s bombing campaign of civilian population centers. (Remember: if you donate to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, you are donating to people who defend the murder of children, so don’t do it!)

Sen. Menendez, Robert [D-NJ], Sen. Menendez, Robert [D-NJ], Sen. Schumer, Charles E. [D-NY], Sen. Blumenthal, Richard [D-CT], Sen. Boxer, Barbara [D-CA], Sen. Nelson, Bill [D-FL], Sen. Franken, Al [D-MN], Sen. Murphy, Christopher S. [D-CT], Sen. Cardin, Benjamin L. [D-MD]. Sen. Casey, Robert P., Jr. [D-PA], Sen. Shaheen, Jeanne [D-NH], Sen. Tester, Jon [D-MT], Sen. Kaine, Tim [D-VA], Sen. Begich, Mark [D-AK], Sen. Coons, Christopher A. [D-DE], Sen. Hagan, Kay [D-NC], Sen. Markey, Edward J. [D-MA], Sen. Mikulski, Barbara A. [D-MD], Sen. Stabenow, Debbie [D-MI], Sen. Pryor, Mark L. [D-AR], Sen. Warner, Mark R. [D-VA], Sen. Landrieu, Mary L. [D-LA], Sen. Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [D-NY], Sen. Schatz, Brian [D-HI], Sen. Hirono, Mazie K. [D-HI], Sen. Heitkamp, Heidi [D-ND], Sen. Klobuchar, Amy [D-MN], Sen. Heinrich, Martin [D-NM], Sen. Levin, Carl [D-MI], Sen. Donnelly, Joe [D-IN], Sen. Bennet, Michael F. [D-CO], Sen. Udall, Mark [D-CO], Sen. Whitehouse, Sheldon [D-RI], Sen. Booker, Cory A. [D-NJ], Sen. Durbin, Richard [D-IL], Sen. Brown, Sherrod [D-OH], Sen. Manchin, Joe, III [D-WV]

KERRY: Thanks.

STEVE B: Where are the Republicans? In the interest of truth, I looked this bill up. I just thought I’d let you know that SR498 was a 2011-2012 bill to “Amend the Rules of the Senate” not a bill “supporting Israel’s bombing campaign of civilian population centers”, and, I believe, was never even passed. It says nothing at all about Israel. Otherwise, many Republicans would have voted for it. Look it up! Don’t you think the truth is important?

AMY: The reason for religion is not to hurt others but to find peace in oneself and with the world around us. It’s horrible how people twist it and use it to advance their own very human agendas, and how that turns so many against it on principle. And how that clouds, if not destroys the actual spiritual gain from practicing.

Sally: More war and more war and more war and more war. Wars for Profit. Here’s why, YET AGAIN:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IemDukEBHJs (“Evil Greed” music video)

STEVE B: Too bad the “Palestinians” won’t stop their hatred and attacks. Not in 67 years! The evil idiots!

GEORGE: A pox on both houses. What do you think that the GOD they both worship thinks? “Thou shall not kill.”

AMY: It’s a two-way street. There’s evil on both sides. I don’t believe in a human-like God that would favor anyone who works against peace.

KERRY: There is an organized when trained, well funded army on one side…and stone throwing, rocket lobbing prisoners on the other, who have been relegated to ghettos, since the 4th day of the creation of two states in 1948. I also do not believe in a human created God…and no longer do I believe that we should keep our mouths closed for fear of retribution. What is happening is organized, methodical genocide in the name of God…Working for peace…without working for social justice…is not working for peace. Surrender…is not peace…it is returning to pre-nazi Germany…to ghettos …to pogroms.

SteveB, you have a priceless opportunity to educate yourself here. I strongly suggest that you take advantage of it.

GEORGE: I’m not defending everything Israel does, not by a long shot. The constant encroachment into Palestinian territory with the new settlements suggests to me that they are operating in bad faith re creation of a viable Palestinian state. But, when Arabs teach their children to hate Jews, and destroy Israel, they are no better. To resort to violence (-What happened to you followers of Gandhi?) when the other side is so much better trained and equipped is not only morally defective, it is sheer madness. There is no keeping score (“It’s 300 to 2″) with violence and death. Are you going to tell me that Hamas would not like the death count to be much higher for Israelis? You are trying to justify violence and death. If the Palestinians were actually non-violent, they would indeed have the moral high ground. As it stands, both sides have blood on their hands, and that is indeed morally “equivalent”…as I stated–a pox on both houses. This is why for the most part I have not taken part in or supported your constant condemnation of Israel, because you refuse to acknowledge the culpability of the other side.

Amen, Amy! I’m pretty sure that my Lord hates what is going on in the Holy Land.

STEVE B: Good job, George. Finally, some reality here! Kerry, you’re the one who needs to study a little history and open your mind. Your prejudices are showing glaringly.

AMY: Wow, SteveB, you’re really not listening, and being really aggressive towards an entire ethnic group as well as an earnest individual here who is making a reasonable argument. I’m surprised to find this attitude here, and disappointed. I can’t believe you are bashing entire religions or countries. That’s why children are being blown to bits on the beach in Gaza this week. Get a grip. As for history, we all need to let that go. That’s the biggest hindrance to peace there.

GEORGE: “Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called children of God.” (-Matthew 5: 9)

Thank you for the support, SteveB. I can understand how people feel about an issue like this, it’s easy to want to support the “underdog” in a fight. But, neither side are angels. Setting the moral considerations aside, and looking at the issue from a purely strategic point of view, it makes no sense for the Palestinians to resort to violence when they are so badly outgunned. It is as if Hamas is in cahoots with Israeli hawks like Netenyahu, they play right into his hand and give him justification for what he does, and make him look like some kind of Moshe Dayan (-which he is not-).

KERRY: SteveB, I obediently and loyally defended Israel for decades. I have a bias…its called human rights…and social equality. I will not defend Zionism…nor do I defend any extremist terrorist acts, but …BUT…there comes a time to take a stand…and that time is now. It is not okay to destroy the homes,. hospitals, utilities…and most important the lives of people being forced to live in a damned sardine can.

GEORGE: Kerry, I think that we all support human rights. How about Israel’s right to exist?

KERRY: Let me pose a question in response to that George. Do all Native Americans, not deserve their own nation….THE UNITED STATES? Do not all African Americans not deserve their own state, where they can be safe…respected and equal? Do not ALL people deserve to be safe and free and respected where ever they are ? No…not unless they can find a place…where no one else claimed homes…for generations, before them. What nerve the world had to take from one oppressed people to give to another. We are all doomed to coexist. To share this land that NONE of us own….Do all Jews, Muslims and others…deserve to live in peace? Yes…and whether for good or not, it will be among others, different from themselves…and alike as well.

AMY: You want history? I’m borrowing this because another person put it so well:

It seems that many think that if Palestinians oust Hamas and cease mortar and rocket attacks, Israel would have no need nor desire to engage military action. First of all, military action in Palestine on the part of Israel is never NOT engaged. That is the nature of an Occupation. Whether it’s nightly arrest raids, harassment, restriction of movement thru checkpoint proliferation, denial of work and travel permits, tear gassing, cordoning off of water supplies, forcible seizure of lands, forcible expulsion and bulldozing of homes, uprooting of olive trees (livelihood for most) all the way to full-scale air attacks, bombings, and ground invasions such as the one initiated yesterday, the Israeli military is ENGAGED and acting on orders from the Israeli government and with financial support from all of us, as US taxpayers.

Israel can exist without this brutal occupation. And they have to stop lumping the people in Gaza with Iran.

GEORGE: Kerry, we agree on most of these things. I stated that I did not approve of everything Israel does. They were given a piece of that land for a reason, we all know why. In a perfect world, we would all coexist. I blame it on Western Colonialism just as I’m sure you do, it was the Brits who controlled that land in Palestine. The point, my point, is that Israel now exists, and has a right to, at least as much as anyone else. That includes the Palestinians, as well as Native Americans, and so on. I never said otherwise. I just refuse to demonize Israel as the only aggressor in this sorry state of affairs.

KERRY: George indeed the British “owned” the land…if a nation can own land…there are always people…who were there first. But ..yes, Israel was given to the Jews…because they had been tormented, tortured and murdered throughout history. So were the Muslms…but of course, the Holocaust made it all the more critical. And yet…within days of the creation of the state of Israel…Israel became the aggressor…and nothing justifies the genocide they are perpetrating now. If you listen to the Zionist extremists…they speak of Palestinian babies having tails…just as the Jews were accused of having horns! They have dehumanized an entire people. That is what was done to them! It is not excusable imo


OK, I’m going to try to explain my position on this subject one more time, because I think there is a BIG double standard involved in many people’s thinking. You will have to actively use your imagination and work hard to put yourself in someone else’s place. I’ll try to make that process as easy as possible.

You could live anywhere–the US, Europe, South America, it doesn’t matter. Wherever you live and whatever family you have, or friends, they are there with you, living normal, peaceful lives, or trying to. Peace and safety are things you think you need.

The problem is, there is a gang of young thugs in your neighborhood that keeps firing guns at anyone who happens to be walking by. They have already killed several of your neighbors and wounded others.

Now, what would you expect to happen next? Myself, I think I’d want a police SWAT team to arrive quickly with overwhelming force. I don’t think I’d want the friendly neighborhood meter-maid or beat cop without a gun to come knocking on their door, asking the thugs politely to stop what they are doing. I think i would be happier if none of the police were killed. I happen to know a few of them.

Maybe I’m cold-hearted, but I don’t think I would care so much if some of the gang of punks were injured or killed. I would simply want them to be stopped before they kill me or someone I care for.

You, on the other hand, maybe were brave enough to, once or twice, go knock on their door and ask the gang leader if you could help them and to pretty please stop the killing. It didn’t help. Maybe you and your family are recent immigrants and the gang members and their ancestors lived in your new country a long time ago. In fact, one of the gang members used to live in your nice house before he fell on hard times and went to jail. Now you and you family are all citizens, you love your new country, and, through hard work, you have prospered. You really, really want to help the gang members. Maybe the whole world does. But doesn’t the indiscriminate killing have to stop first?

Think about it! In reality, what exactly would YOU want to happen if this were your neighborhood with the lives of you and your loved ones at stake?

And I will readily admit that many of the gang-members have extremely sad stories. “Jake’s” mother died when he was only three and he had to go live with an abusive uncle. “Roger” has been messed-up and crazy since anyone can remember. He can’t even help it. The leader, “Andre” is just bad, he was always a bully and probably always will be. All of them have been poor all their lives and, sometimes, hungry. Their gang is full of sad stories. No one will give them jobs. Few even like them. They are the outcasts, the dregs of society whether it is their faults or not, and, quite possibly, it isn’t.

They have neighbors in their building. Some of these neighbors are scared to death of the gang. Many have had problems with them. Some of the daughters and even mothers have been raped. Many have been threatened at gunpoint and robbed. Others sympathize with the gang members and even help them at times.

I have to tell you this, though. While the killing of innocent people is going on and will not stop, I don’t give a damn what kind of MFers they are! I want them stopped by any means necessary. Wouldn’t you?

Now, how exactly, in this scenario, is your situation any different than Israel’s on a much larger scale? Especially since the violence has been going on for 67 years and, somehow, the “police” have not been able to establish the peace.

Think about it! In reality, what exactly would YOU want to happen if this were your “neighborhood” with the lives of you and your loved ones at stake?

GEORGE: Kerry, I personally know many Jewish people who disapprove of what Israel is doing, they are sympathetic, ethical people who do indeed care about the plight of the common folk in Gaza and the West Bank. But they also feel that Israel has a right to defend itself , and if that means an incursion to eliminate the people firing the rockets, so be it. Israel the aggressor in 1948? Were they not under attack almost immediately?

STEVE B: Kerry, if a nation cannot own land, are we not in serious trouble? What of the national parks and forests? What of the land where oil drilling, mining, and pipelines are not permitted? Actually, the Israelis weren’t “given” any land. They had to buy what they started with, the rest was spoils of war, as George has indicated. Your excited diatribe has no factual basis in history, Kerry. Why demonize Israel for defending itself? I mean, seriously, what is your reason?

DENEICE: Have you all read or watched The General’s Son? (There is a shorter 28 min video)

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=etXAm-OylQQ (an honest Israeli Jew tells the Real Truth about Israel)

There are good articles here too:

http://www.vox.com/2014/7/17/5902177/9-questions-about-the-israel-palestine-conflict-you-were-too (9 questions about the Israel-Palestine conflict you were too embarrassed to ask)

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miko_Peled (Miko Peled–born 1961 in Jerusalem–is an Israeli peace activist, author, and karate instructor. He has written one book, The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine.)

PAUL: SteveB, Israel did not buy any land. They drove the Palestinians off the property they owned into refugee camps. I kind of agree with your story about the gangs. Only it is the Israeli IDF occupying forces that are the gang that shoots people randomly. But then again, people like you never consider the plight and sufferings of the Palestinians. Only hardcore Zionists thinks that the land Israel is occupying is theirs as the spoils of war. The Israelis are stealing more land from the Palestinians.

KERRY: Thanks, Paul!

STEVE B: Paul, you are very wrong about Israel buying land. But it was not Israel, it was the Zionists who eventually founded Israel. It was only after the Zionists were attacked from all sides, with 10% of their population killed, that “Palestinians” were removed in the interest of safety and peace. Look it up. Even DeNeice’s reference says that, I believe. It is a well-established fact, but another fact that has been forgotten, apparently.

KERRY: If lies could be converted into money…Israel would be the richest state on the planet… The intent of Israel has been since day 1, to erase Palestine…to claim their God given right to Israel…the question is …who the hell told them God’s plan? (assuming there is a god…and that God would be one of hate and murder…which if that is the case…doing Hitlers’ work in Palestine…makes a mockery of 6 million who died!)

STEVE B: You have it exactly backwards, Kerry. I’ve witnessed the events my entire lifetime and many others have too. I can present much more evidence than what follows, believe me. Have you ever read Exodus, by Leon Uris?

Maybe this will refresh a few “memories”:

from: https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090514041306AANzOO1

God said to Abram: “Go from your land … to the land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1)

Jews have had a continued presence in Israel for 3,000 years and have never relinquished their claim. Arabs rejected the United Nations resolution of November 29, 1947 calling for the establishment of two states in Palestine, with an all out war to eliminate Jews enacted by the Arab world. After the 1967 War — another war of Arab aggression — Israel recovered a small remnant (13% in whole) of what was promised to them by the UN — eventually handing back the Sinai Desert for peace with Egypt in 1977.

Between 1948-1967, Jordan and Egypt, who governed the West Bank and Gaza, respectively, never offered to surrender those lands to form an independent Palestinian state. No Palestinian organization ever sought an independent state. No Arab country had even suggested its existence. An Arab Palestine has never been the name of any nation or state. ‘Palestine’ was a geographical term used only to identify administrative boundaries within larger empires, nothing more.

The purpose of a separate Palestinian State was defined faultlessly by the late Zoher Moessein, head of PLO bureau of military operation:

“There is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians and Lebanese; we are all members of the same nation. Solely for political reasons are we careful to stress our identity as Palestinians. Since a separate State of Palestine would be an extra weapon in Arab hands to fight Zionism with. Yes, we do call for the creation of a Palestinian state for tactical reasons. Such a state would be a new means of continuing the battle against Zionism, and for Arab unity.”

An offshoot of the occupation myth is the ‘refugee’ fabrication. It states that a significant portion of the Arab population was driven out of Israel by force during the 1948 War. It makes for good copy, but it’s false. Egyptian activist, Edward Said, the most famous of these “refugees,” for example, has been exposed as a fraud, as has this revisionist history.

Mark Twain, a man, one would think, as devoid of ‘imperialistic Zionist’ intentions, wrote in 1867 that Palestine was “a desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given over wholly to weeds.” Yet, Arabs have claimed that over a million refugees were forced from their homes during the 1948 War of Independence — this number includes Arabs whose relatives entered Israel from 1946 onward. The number of Arab refugees is probably closer to 400,000, most of whom took it upon themselves to flee despite Jewish assurances that they would not be harmed. The contention that Arabs were removed by gunpoint is totally incorrect. Research by the Arab-sponsored Institute for Palestinians Studies in Beirut found that “the majority of the Arab refugees in 1948 were not expelled and 68 percent left without ever seeing an Israeli soldier.”

In her meticulously researched book, From Time Immemorial, Joan Peters proves that a roughly equivalent number of Jewish refugees were expelled from Arab nations during the same period — 120,000 from Iraq alone. It is estimated that one million immigrants were integrated into Israel’s society from 1948-1950.

None of them, on the other hand, were confined for life to refugee camps.

PAUL: Israel did not buy any land. The Palestinians were shoved out in 1947 and 1948 in a civil war the Jews began in 1947. Transjordan, Egypt, Syria and Iraq did not enter the fray until 1948.

STEVE B: You’re simply dead wrong, Paul.

KERRY: I just want the fucking killing of innocent people to end!!!! I could care less about religion…I care about humanity…!

STEVE B: Let’s at least get the facts straight! I think we all want that. Just to get practical here, how can the killing stop without the truth being known and taken into consideration? What plan can work based on lies and misinformation? I haven’t mentioned religion, have I? Are you hung up on that?

KERRY: If you want the facts…try this DeNeice’s reference, above: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miko_Peled. FACTS!!!!! not religion mythology or dogma…FACTS. Because if you take the religion out of the equation…you have HITLER Part 2!! Israel…Exodus…Zionist….= RELIGION!

STEVE B: Kerry, READ! STUDY! Don’t just blabber! Your reference says nothing about what happened in the period we’re discussing.

KERRY: Jewish or Christian…both have members who are ZIONISTS.

STEVE B: Sorry, I don’t follow your “logic”.

KERRY: SteveB, I have been a student of this for 50 + years starting in Hebrew school…when I was 6. I believed the lies too, obediently…until I did not. SO don’t talk to me about blabber. If you actually listened to the entire thing…you would know you are wrong Steve. He speaks to it all. As a former Zionist, and an Israeli…

PAUL: http://www.ameu.org/PDF-Archives/vol46_issue4_2013.aspx (“What Israel’s Best Friend Should Know”, by Mike Peled [mentioned in references, above – Sbaker])

KERRY: Paul, great find! Thank you!

STEVE B: Here’s something from an Army friend of mine who speaks fluent Arabic, has spent a lot of time in the Middle East and has friends on both sides of this conflict. He’s studied the history of the region even more intently than I:

“The Palestinians were thrown off their land so the Jews could have it.”

This is probably the key sentence. In point of fact the Palestinians were not “thrown off their land”. While the Vilayet of Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire then a British Protectorate and up until 1947 the Zionists were very careful to buy land in Palestine. I have seen nothing reputable that disputes this. In 1947 five Arab Armies invaded Israel with the stated intent of destroying the fledgling State of Israel. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem at the same time called for Jihad to exterminate the Jews.

( I am shooting from memory here but pretty sure I can back all this up.) In point of fact the Arabs/Palestinians planned to exterminate the Jews in Palestine. When things didn’t go exactly as planned some 500,000 Palestinians, but not all, fled the area. When the dust settled, the Israelis who had lost some 10 % of their population, wouldn’t let them come back. The Palestinians who remained are still living in Israel.

This is not unprecedented. All the Sudetenland and East Prussian Germans fled the Russians in 1945 and were never allowed to return. Muslims and Hindus fled India and Pakistan in 1949 and never returned. Over 1 million were killed. Greeks fled Turkey and vice versa in 1920 never to return. Approximately 1 million Pied Noir French fled Algeria in 1968 (?) never to return. There are more but you get the idea. In every other case some other country accepted these refugees and they became part of the receiving country.

The big difference here is that the rest of the Arab world never accepted the Palestinians. They have lived in refugee camps since they 1947. What we see today are third generation or younger descendants.

So what is the solution? I don’t know. Israel is a small country of some 5 or 6 million surrounded by 500 million Moslem Arabs. This idea that they are so powerful and the Arabs so weak is not exactly accurate. Maybe for the moment, but quantity has a quality of it’s own.

I’ll save the rest for later, but I think if you make the assumption that the Arabs were driven from their land that may lead you down the wrong path.

KERRY: SteveB, no one is better indoctrinated than the military. Give me a break.

STEVE B: Sorry, Paul and Kerry, this was AFTER the Zionists were attacked by the “Palestinians” and all their Arab neighbors. What would you expect the Jews to do? Be exterminated without a fight? You have to be kidding! Your extreme prejudices are showing, Kerry! You know nothing about my friend. You see? You don’t know or can’t admit when you know absolutely nothing about a subject or a person. That’s what prejudice is, my friend.

KERRY: Ah, Steve, as is your ignorance….you see… prejudice…pre- judgement…is making a position before knowing the facts. I lived with the very same belief you hold now….and made an educated choice…to re think…. no prejudice at all. No prejudgment…

STEVE B: I love all people. I’ve lived all over the world and now live in Bolivia. I love the “Palestinians”, but their hatred of the Jews, their religion, conditions, history, and leaders have forced them into one violent, tragic mistake after another. They are the ones who suffer most from this, so I can understand your sympathies, but that doesn’t change the truth of the situation, which is easily learned and grasped. For instance, it is a blatant lie that Zionists did not buy land until they were attacked and had to do what they did, pretty much, in self defense. Try hard to put yourself in THEIR place, just as I often put myself in the unfortunate “Palestinians” place and wonder’ “Where is their Gandhi?”

PAUL: The Zionists did not buy land. Read the article for which I gave you the link. SteveB, you are following the Israeli pattern, when someone speaks the truth, you attack them for being prejudiced. The Israelis have been rewriting history for years. This is the legal mechanism used to take the land from the Palestinians. First they were chased off their land, then the land was declared abandoned and claimed by Israel.


(1948 “Abandoned Areas Ordinance” from Laws of the State of Israel)

The Zionist began the attacks, SteveB. As Miko Peled, whose father was an Israeli General at the time, has clearly stated. SteveB, you are apparently unwilling to read what Miko wrote, I gave you the link.

STEVE B: Oh, the old rewriting history trick, huh? Ridiculous. Get serious, please. This is high school level stuff, Paul. The truth, please!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_land_purchase_in_Palestine (“Jewish land purchase in Palestine”)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1948_Arab%E2%80%93Israeli_War (“1948 Arab–Israeli War”)

KERRY: SteveB, I loved looking at your page…and clearly, you have a love of people and social justice. I was happy to see that. I also understand your compassion for Israel, as most of the world to one degree or another felt both guilt and sympathy for their experience. All that said, I could not disagree with you more on their status…how they came to accumulate land…and at what cost. To hear intelligent Israeli women…and sympathizers…claim Palestinian children have tails…TAILS…. that they are used as human shields? This is the propaganda Hitler used…when justifying the murder of the Jews, Gypsies et al. all I can ask is that you imagine…what might you think…if you thought independently …apart from the emotional pleas of Israel?

I was taught the Palestinians were nomads. They had no permanent homes. They never settled until Israel became a state. You need only look at their home. Orchards they tended for generations…to know that is a lie. Israel…is plowing down their homes THEY are re-writing history. There will be no Palestinians in that story.

STEVE B: Kerry, I appreciate you comments. If you knew me you’d know that I’m as free a thinker as you will ever find. I don’t buy propaganda, which is why I don’t like the propaganda I’m being referred to in this discussion. If we disagree, we disagree. No problem. But let’s at least get our facts straight, shall we? I’m being told what I know are untruths here.

KERRY: As I am, Steve. We are reading two different stories…and we might never agree…but that is almost irrelevant…what matters is dead children…and the hatred that grows…when children and elders are slaughtered.

STEVE B: So unfortunately, the “Palestinians” (I don’t really know what to call them any more) are reaping what they have sown, they are the ones re-writing the history I’ve known all my life and I hate to see that. You should not let your sympathy for them and whatever you feel for the Jews distort the truth, at least. Where is their Gandhi? That is their only way out but their leaders and religion prevent that, I fear.

KERRY: Steve, where is the Israeli Gandhi? They have offered solutions for half a century. The only one Israel accepts is surrender…and they know …they will be eliminated if they surrender.

STEVE B: The British were not the ones who needed a Gandhi, nor were white South Africans, nor whites in America during the civil rights struggle, nor the Roman occupiers of Jerusalem, so long ago. Given my analogy above, given the true history of the situation, how do the Jews not have a right to defend themselves with whatever force it takes?

My analogy might be even more apt if you would think of the “Palestinians” as American Indians who would suddenly start acting like the Arabs, lobbing missiles at YOUR city, kidnapping and killing random people, blowing themselves up in Times Square, at the Oscars, at the Stupor Bowl. I believe they would have just as much right, or more, to do that than the “Palestinians”. Are you seriously telling me that you would support the violence against YOU and not want the SWAT team to be sent in? If so, I am incredibly incredulous!

KERRY: The 4 children on the beach…were knowingly slaughtered…mowed down…after being watched …identified…murdered. Because …hate allows for such things…. The Jews…of all peoples…should know better. that is why I do not speak of the Jewish state. I speak of the Zionist state…because to be a Jew…is to have compassion…to lift up…to share…to be a Zionist Nationalist…is to put the state above the people….as the Nazis did.

STEVE B: The unfortunate children on the beach who didn’t mind their father — you know no such thing. Your prejudices are showing again.

In my lifetime, I have seen Israel seriously try to make and maintain peace many times. Not the Arabs. Israel has bent and show a willingness to bend. Not the Arabs. They seek only the destruction of Israel and complete genocide from all I can gather. You know that, don’t you? The latest example was the cease-fire the other day. Hamas kept firing rockets. The idiots want war! There is such a thing as having compassion for one’s own children. Where is that in “Palestine”?

KERRY: I know about the children from an eye witness report from NBC.

The Zionist army is the best trained, best funded army in the world…they have no need to do wholesale slaughter…they have transferred all of their hate…and fear…upon these brown skinned people…who are exactly …as they are…with blood, and love and family…and yes…hate. okay, done for now…I can only handle so much…before my heart breaks…and my anger rages .. .We can talk again …but now…I need to step back. Even I …can say things out of anger…that I cannot take back. I choose not to do that.

STEVE B: None of your commendable sympathies change the nature of the fight for survival!

KERRY: Damn!!1! and none of your compassion…justifies your brutality…

STEVE B: And, let me guess, that eyewitness was a “Palestinian” on the beach? How could he know what went on on that particular ship at that particular time? Believe me, no eyewitness on that ship is saying any such thing, are they? The truth takes discrimination of mind, not discrimination of heart.

And I have no brutality in this matter and you know it. I only speak the unfortunate truth. Life is what it is. It is not a picnic, as much as we might wish it to be so from the cozy confines of our nice houses.

KERRY: The best thing in the universe will be when humanity finally destroys itself…and it will…over money…because that is the freaking bottom line…I just hope we do it without taking the rest of creation with us.

PAUL: Sorry, SteveB, those purchases ended in 1948. In 1947 the Jews only owned 7% of the land it what would become Israel. Miraculously in 1948 they owned 80% of that land, they did not buy the land.

http://savingisrael.wordpress.com/1947-un-partition-plan-for-palestine/ (“Two States: One Arab, One Jewish – Why Israel Exists”)

At the time of the U.N. partition, in 1947, about one third of the inhabitants of the British Mandate of Palestine (roughly the area west of the river Jordan) were Jews who owned and lived on about 7 percent of the Palestine Mandate land. The remaining 93 percent of the land was owned and occupied by Arabs who then comprised about two thirds of the total population of the Palestine Mandate. Despite the clear predominance of Arab land ownership and population, the UN Partition Plan set aside roughly the western 57 percent of Palestine for the intended Jewish State and the remaining eastern 43 percent for the intended Arab State.

STEVE B: Jeez, of course they ended in 1948, Paul. That’s exactly what I’ve been saying. You said they didn’t exist. How am I wrong and you right? They ended in 1948 because the war broke out! Israel was attacked from all sides! You think that doesn’t matter? Who were they going to buy from when everyone in the land, including themselves, were refugees of war. Please study your high school history. They ended up “owning” the land because they won the damned war, despite great odds, through heroic fighting and great losses. But you aren’t about to grant them one damned thing are you. Why? After the war, who was there to sell land? What a joke!

By the way. I’m for a two state solution. I think some land should be traded for peace. I think a way must be found for the “Palestinians” to have a better life. Unfortunately, this is not what their terrorist leaders want. Maybe if they would just cool the attacks and terrorism. WHERE IS THEIR GANDHI?

KERRY: They offered a 10 point solution that is not being discussed. Arafat also had solutions…the only one that will be accepted is surrender.

STEVE B: Surrender is irrelevant when you are in the position the “Palestinians” are in, isn’t it. Or do you mean the surrender of Israel and the deaths of millions–AGAIN!

PAUL: Israel began the Civil, the Arab neighbors joined in later. I guess we own Italy, Germany and Japan then huh. Didn’t we win that war? What happened was the Zionists drove them off their land and then declared the land abandoned. SteveB, have you noticed that Israel is still taking land? They like to take the land where the water is located. Israel will chip away at the West Bank until there is nothing left on which a second state could exist. Most of the terrorism takes place at the hands of the IDF, the occupying force, and the Israeli settlers.


PAUL: The Israelis have bulldozed down about 20,000 Palestinian homes on the West Bank. Are you telling me that is not an act of terror.

DENEICE: They need to share, stop fighting and play fair

PAUL: because you do not have an understanding of history, SteveB, does not mean I am in error.

STEVE B: You folks are being idealistic, not realistic. “All is fair in love and war.” Tell me the truth — do either of you really know ANYTHING about war? Have you ever been in one? I believe I am speaking to prejudice, not reason and knowledge. Your emotions are so carried away that your thoughts are not tied to reality. Excuse me.

Paul, I have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have been in error this entire discussion. You don’t see that?

PAUL: You are speaking of prejudice. I am without a shadow of doubt sure you are wrong, SteveB.

STEVE B: Were you right about the Israelis buying land? LOL!

PAUL: You have proven nothing. You ignored all the information you were provided. You said the Zionists bought the land. The truth is, other than 7% of the land they did buy, they took the rest.

STEVE B: This discussion proves that you were in error and even you admitted it previously when you backtracked. I’m getting tired of the BS. Ciou ciou!

PAUL: I did not backtrack on anything. Your assertion that the Zionist bought the land on which Israel resides is clearly not true.

STEVE B: I rest my case. You guys have a great evening and peaceful dreams.

KERRY: SteveB…nothing much has been proven except that people will continue to kill people for reasons they choose to believe are just…when there is NO justice in killing.

DENEICE: No name calling.

PAUL: You did not rest your case, it fell flat.

KERRY: And try washing the blood off your hands SteveB…

STEVE B: Blood on my hands? LOL! Much has been proven, much has been ignored. Prejudice is blind to truth.

DENEICE: So what follows is not my opinion on who is right, but five things that have helped me to frame my own views on the subject. I share them merely in the hope that they might help others.

http://www.libdemvoice.org/israelpalestine-trying-to-find-some-balance-32981.html (“Israel/Palestine: Trying to Find Some Balance”)

KERRY: SteveB, you started by calling me an idiot…I should have ignored you from that point on.

STEVE B: OK, Kerry, that proves it. I called the Palestinians idiots. Not you. READ!

PAUL: You are pretty blind, SteveB.

DENEICE: Children of Peace simply refuses to take sides. A UK-based organisation that aims to protect all children in Israel and Palestine – regardless of community, culture, faith or gender – it works with grassroots communities to build friendship and trust.

http://positivenews.org.uk/2011/community/youth/3518/children-of-peace-new-hope-for-palestine-and-israel (Children of Peace: “New Hope for Palestine and Israel”)

You have to see both sides and attach to neither and commit to peace and nonviolence. It’s Hatfield & McCoys with its own version of injustice and atrocity.

PAUL: SteveB adheres to the principle that might makes right. Which means the Israelis can do what every they want to the Palestinians and take what they want from the Palestinians and it is alright, because they have a big army.

DENEICE: Please stop the hostile speech. Please

STEVE B: DeNeice, where there is a right and a wrong, not to choose sides is cowardice. Seek the right. Seek the truth. It is so much more important than blind idealism.

DENEICE: That is dead end thinking IMO.

PAUL: It is cowardice not to look at the merits of both sides.

KERRY: Taking a walk…

STEVE B: I have looked at the merits of both sides in this conflict all my long life.

[later, via PM’s]

STEVE B: DeNeice, (do people ever call you Deenee, or Dini–don’t know how to spell it–but that’s what we called by dear Aunt DeNeice)…enjoyed the discussion. Thank you.

I have one very important question for you. At the end of the discussion, I said, “Where there is a right and a wrong, not to choose sides is cowardice. Seek the right. Seek the truth. It is so much more important than blind idealism.”

And you said, “That is dead end thinking IMO.”

What exactly did you mean by that? Do you really believe that there are NOT situations where one side is right, regardless if that is the case or not in the instance under discussion? Do you really feel it is not of the utmost importance to discover the truth and determine if this is the case?

You seem very idealistic to me, which is commendable. Do you sincerely believe that to seek what is right, to seek truth is “dead end thinking”?

Please, how can that possibly be? I feel this is very important. Thank you.

DENEICE: I’m out.

Advice for children:  “Don’t argue.   Don’t bully.  Don’t be bossy. Don’t hit.  Don’t call each other mean names. Don’t talk badly about your friends. Take turns. Be fair and SHARE with everyone. Don’t leave anyone out.  Help those who need help. Have fun.”

STEVE B: I don’t know why, but i expected better from you. I am disappointed.

Wow, DeNeice, I just discovered that you removed that wonderful discussion! I am even more disappointed in you and your disregard and disrespect for truth. That’s OK, though, I’ll be posting the whole thing on my blog and in my Facebook group later today. I think it is so highly instructional.

I am not really “for” one side or the other in this conflict. I want peace at least as much as anyone. But I am sick and tired of the facts and the truth being distorted so much that people don’t know any more what’s true and what isn’t.

I believe in few things in this life — not God, not man — but I believe in love, liberty, friendship, art, equality, honesty, and truth. Without truth, the others are a sham. I hope you understand that, but, apparently, by your actions and words, you do not.

And, in the interest of truth, I just thought I’d let you know that SR498 (which you entered into the discussion as a bill allowing the bombing of Palestinian children) was a 2011-2012 bill to “Amend the Rules of the Senate” and, I believe, was never even passed. It says nothing at all about Israel. Otherwise, many Republicans would have voted for it. Look it up! And you don’t think the truth is important??

DENEICE: I didn’t remove it

STEVE B: I have no access to it this morning. All I get from Facebook is:

“Sorry, this page isn’t available The link you followed may be broken, or the page may have been removed.”

DENEICE: I changed the setting.

That was Kerry’s post which I may have quoted the list of “yea” votes on:

http://www.nlg.org/news/releases/national-lawyers-guild-urges-us-government-cease-3-billion-annual-military-aid-israel (“National Lawyers Guild Urges US Government to Cease $3 Billion Annual Military Aid to Israel”)

STEVE B: No, I mean the entire conversation is inaccessible. Gone. By the way, that article bears no resemblance to what you posted.

DENEICE: Three people  complained to me in private msg, incl. followers who were not even commenting in the thread. I didn’t want to un-friend you or them to un-friend me so I changed the post privacy setting. I created a ceasefire.

STEVE B: Well, I have no such restrictions. What were they complaining about, the truth? LOL!

DENEICE: I’ll check.

They all used the words “Closed-minded”. So there is no need to share the rest. I choose to end this discussion. Need coffee. Peace.

STEVE B: Ah, no problem, with “closed minded” meaning of a different opinion. How, well, CLOSED MINDED’ I also notice that you have no answer to my original question, above. I find that fascinating. LOL! Ciou, ciou.

[Message cannot be sent based on either the receivers’ privacy settings or yours.]

[later, via PM’s]

STEVE B: Paul, good discussion. Thanks. I was rereading it this morning, an activity I suggest you do too. Just one small point: You started by maintaining, “SteveB, Israel did not buy any land. They drove the Palestinians off the property they owned into refugee camps.” I proved that to be a falsehood. You then changed your tune to, “Sorry SteveB, those purchases ended in 1948. In 1947 the Jews only owned 7% of the land in what would become Israel.”

Then you made an inexplicable statement (to me, at least): “Just because you do not have an understanding of history, SteveB, does not mean I am in error.”

PAUL: Steve, I did not backtrack. The sorry was a shortened , sorry you are mistaken. Your standard of proof for yourself is very low. The discussion was about whether the Palestinians were driven from their land during the creation of Israel. The truth is they war and the Israelis took their land. Your article spoke about the purchase of land by Jews between the early 1900s until 1948. They had acquired 7% of the land on which Israel sits. Which would mean they too 93% of the land that was owned by the Palestinians. Which in the end means, the Jews did not buy the land.

If you are tired of distortions of history, you should quit using Israeli propaganda. Clearly you are depending on the cleansed and often inaccurate history you were taught in high school. You should remember the victors always write the history. They seldom do their enemy justice in that history. Israel was build on a foundation of propaganda.

STEVE B: You stated flat-out that they didn’t buy any land. After the war started, there was no one to buy it from. The entire conversation will be posted in my Facebook group, Friends of the Middle, and on my blog: http://www.friendsofthemiddle.org/blog, because I find it highly instructional and enlightening. DeNeice tells me my access to the conversation has been removed because people complained that I was “closed minded”. I take this to mean “of a different opinion”. I am sorry that you folks have such low regard for the truth. By the way, I am not Jewish, not a Zionist, and not on Israel’s side. I only seek a balanced telling of the truth. Have a nice day, Paul.

PAUL: You stated flat out that the they bought the land. I was 93% right and you were 7% right.

STEVE B: I only stated that you were wrong that they didn’t buy ANY land. Of course, I realize they only bought some. I never stated otherwise. I never said they bought all of Israel! READ! By the way, how many people or groups do you think own 7% of the US? That’s a huge amount of land. The Jews would have bought the rest had the entire Arab world not attacked them. The truth is very important to me and so are the exact meanings of words.

So interesting to me that pointing out some facts, or even having a difference of opinion is being “closed minded”. I call that kind of thinking Nazism!

PAUL: 7% is not nearly as huge as 93%. All of those purchases (as was clearly stated in that so called proof of yours)  were made before the Palestinians were driven from their land.  What I was taking about was the period after 1948 when Israel was created at the expense of the Palestinians. None of those Palestinians were compensated for their loss of their property. They left with only the clothes on their backs and whatever they could carry. Most of them spent the rest of lives in refugee camps.

When you cannot see the other side that is closed minded.

My position is that Israel is there to stay. But the expansion of Israel into the occupied territories has to end. The occupation of the West Bank has to end. The blockade of the Gaza Strip must end. How can a people cut off from the rest of the world have an economic life.

I should point out that Israel’s demand for land settlement in the West Bank is that the Palestinian state would be completely encompassed by Israeli controlled land.

STEVE B: I agree with much of what you say here, Paul. If you knew me, you’d know that I am about as un-closed-minded as they come. That does not mean I don’t honor truth. If you say you were “talking about the period after 1948″, I believe you, but you absolutely did NOT state that. You were unequivocal. “The Israelis did not buy land.” As Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” To be for the Arabs does not mean the truth must be thrown away. That was really my whole point. The truth should lead us to “right action”. I found little respect for the truth among my “opponents” in the entire discussion, only sympathy for the Arabs. I’m only fighting for balance.

PAUL: To be for the Israelis does not mean the truth should be thrown away. What you offer as truth is made up of a lot of propaganda.

Take the 30 minutes needed to hear Miko Peled’s statement of the facts:


STEVE B: I have. Funny, he seems to be the only source you guys have (repeated 4 or 5 times in our discussion). I simply don’t believe his personal version of the “facts” corresponds to the truth as revealed by the history books and other, less prejudiced, accounts. It would really be hard to find a less reliable witness, when you think about it. I believe you are simply wrong about your idea of “propaganda”. I guess we should just agree to disagree. What i mind is the complete and utter condemnation of a person who believe differently than you or Kerry or DeNeice believe. I find that morally reprehensible, don’t you?

PAUL: Miko had had access to Israeli archives and meeting transcripts from the period of those wars. As well as having a high ranking Israeli participant as a father. I can think of no more reliable witness to what transpired. As I suspected you wish to ignore the facts to rely on your preconceived notions. History books are often prejudiced. I am right on the money with regard to the definition of propaganda.

STEVE B: Good for you, Paul. I couldn’t disagree more, so let the name-calling begin. Surely I am much worse than “closed-minded”.  And that’s from DeNeice, who says she doesn’t believe in name-calling. Ah, the disrespect for truth and difference of opinion can be huge, no? Ciou, ciou.

Rich and Poor and Education (by Friends of the Middle)

from the “Friends of the Middle” Facebook page:


Dale: Is there anyone who does not agree with this conclusion? I doubt it. The problem is, how do we break out of the condition?

“Americas [sic] Aristocrats and the Robber Barons of Wall Street” by Jack Waymire, Linkedin
May 20, 2014 (http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140520185728-10738435-americas-aristocrats-and-the-robber-barons-of-wall-street)

An aristocrat is a member of a privileged ruling class. America’s aristocrats are the 535 Congressmen who rule this country. This privileged few make the regulations that become the laws of the land. Then they use their unbridled power to exempt themselves from laws that affect the rest of us. For example, pension, healthcare, insider trading, and IPO laws do not apply to the aristocrats, our politicians, who run this country.

Two major differences separate the royalty who ran Europe and the American version of aristocrats. In Europe, membership in the aristocracy was a birthright. In America, you have to win an election to become a member. In Europe, aristocrats committed felonies with impunity. In America, aristocrats can be prosecuted for felonies if they are caught on tape, there are eyewitnesses, and the crime makes headlines.

Politicians spend vast amounts of money manipulating public opinion to win elections and gain admittance to the aristocracy. They also have an ongoing need for increasing amounts of money to stay in power. They say power corrupts. Aristocrats will do whatever it takes to remain in office.

The unquenchable need for money helped create special interest groups. Industry executives pay aristocrats to approve legislation that protects their revenues and profits. Our founding fathers would roll over in their graves if they knew a new aristocracy had taken control of America.

A robber baron is a U.S. capitalist who acquires vast wealth by exploitation and ruthlessness. One of the biggest special interest groups in America is major corporations — a group that collectively populates Wall Street.

Financial service companies spend more than $300 million per year on lobbyists who dispense money to aristocrats who pass regulations that protect the financial interests of companies and their executives.

Companies are not robber barons; the executives who run the companies are the robber barons. On a regular basis, they rob Americans of their personal wealth, and they do so with the impunity that they purchased from the aristocrats.

How else do you explain Wall Street actions that have cost investors and taxpayers trillions of dollars, yet not one robber baron that runs a major financial service company has been indicted or sent to jail?

Aristocrats allow robber barons to make millions in compensation while their companies pay fines for fraudulent acts without admitting guilt. Most of the time, the fines are a small percentage of the revenues and profits that were earned by the robber barons’ companies. Fines are not a deterrent they are a cost of doing business for companies.

The aristocrats receive gobs of money and the robber barons make gobs of money in salary, bonus, and stock options. The loser is the American public, which has been disenfranchised by greed and the aristocrats’ insatiable thirst for power.

There is an incestuous relationship that exists between politicians and Wall Street executives. Corrupt politicians regulate greedy executives. Do not expect this lucrative partnership to change until there is full transparency and executives go to jail when they make decisions that break the law. The solution starts in Washington, DC, not in New York City.

SteveB: Yes, how? We have to get big money out of politics! Period. And with the Supreme Court’s invaluable help, we’re going in the wrong direction. I’m for a Constitutional Convention, but that seems unlikely. Referenda on ballots could have helped, but the Supremes seem to have short-circuited that. I sure hope somebody has the answer, Dale. Both of our political parties have been bought and sold, one a little more than the other, IMHO.

Pam: Sounds about right to me.

Art: Probably just a choice of words but I would say the new American
Aristocrats are the 1%. We are an oligarchy today, no question and it is inherited.
I can’t believe we would have ever heard of any of the Bushes or Romney,
if they hadn’t been born and raised with a silver spoon and unheard of
advantages. Sometimes they drift into politics but mostly they just buy
politicians. So where I would differ with the article is that most Congressmen
and women are simply bought and paid for lackeys of the Aristocrats. There
are some exceptions, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Saunders come to mind.

SteveB: I agree completely, Art!

FredS: The thing that keeps bothering me is that 30 people in the world control more wealth than 3.5 BILLION of the rest of the population. Most of these are from the US. WHEN WILL THE PEOPLE WAKE UP? I have no problem with people making profit. I just can not handle how lopsided this world has become.

It is a fact that most people hate the representatives they have in congress, but their local man is fine with them and they will reelect them time and time again He or she surely could not be part of the problem.

Dennis: My representative is the longest serving member of Congress, John Dingell, who is finally retiring (his wife will try to replace him). I appreciate that he was one of the politicians responsible for Medicare, but he has always been a lackey of the auto companies, while claiming all along to be pro-labor, and is an opponent of gun control. I have voted against him in every primary since his district was gerrymandered and I unfortunately wound up it. I’m sure I’ll now be voting against his wife and who knows how long she can live and occupy the seat.

Dale: I know where will be an uncontrollable impulse by some to put a lot of spin on the following numbers. I’m just providing the data.

From http://opensecrets.org/pres12/ (no date shown):

2012 Presidential Race:

Obama / Romney
Raised: $71,526,772,692 / $446,135,997
Spent: $683,546,548 / $433,281,516
Debts: $7,223,153 / $1,200,000
Cash $5,397,399 / $12,921,629

Overall Spending:
$1,107,114,464 / $1,238,097,161

Top Contributors:
U of Calif $1,212,245 / Goldman Sachs $1,033,204
Microsoft $814,645 / Bank of America $1,013,402
Google $801,770 / Morgan Stanley $911,305
US Govt $728,647 / JPMorgan Chase $834,096

Sector Totals:
Lawyers/Lobbiest $27,959,192 / Finance/Real Est/Insur $58,902,452
Misc Biz $22,598,697 / Misc Biz $29,090,785
Commun/Electron’s $20,723,578 / Health $18,692,033
Finance/RE/Insur $20,431,321 / Lawyers/Lob $15,791,881
Ideology $17,276,836 / Ideology $10,522,878
Other $91,795,860 / Other $72,942,064

Spending by Candidate: $683,546,548 / $433,281,516
By Nat’l Party: $292,264,802 / $386,180,565
By Outside: $131,303,114 / $418,635,080
Total: $1,107,114,464 / $1,238,097,161

Dennis: Romney didn’t spend enough to buy the election?

Dale: You are right. Obama did.

Stanley: Dale: I believe that you must drill down a bit deeper. The 535 are tools for the true ruling class. (Corporations, Wall Street, the Banker’s, the Military Industrial Complex, the Media, and all the special interest groups who shape our economy with legislation, including tax policy that favors the elite.) The average citizen does not have a voice in the normal discourse of the Belt Way. It is only at the ballot box that any of the average citizens can influence outcomes. But that can only happen when the voter is knowledgeable and motivated. And therein lies the problem!

SteveB: President Obama raised $71 billion? Something wrong there… I told ya they were bought and sold! Got to get the big money out of politics!

SteveG: The above, if it has Obama’s numbers followed by Romney’s numbers indicates Obama spent $1,107,114,464, while Romney spent more–$1,238,097,161.

Dale: Obama spending was a little less than Romney, but enough. The unpaid advertising of entertainers – Letterman every night, Jon Stewart, Colbert, etc. plus the sycophant media wrapped up the package.

SteveG: That sounds a lot like the old game of “Yes, but…”.

SteveB: I guess I don’t understand, Dale, how any of this can be construed as criticism of Mr. Obama rather than criticism of the system and Mr. Romney as well. So what if the President spent a lot of money because he had to? So you think he would have been a better, smarter man if he had spent, say, 25% of what his opponent did? All this does, actually, is remind me of what a total ass and fool Mr. Romney made of himself during the campaign and how extremely happy I am that he will never, ever be our President, regardless of what his rich pappy wanted for his little rich boy. And I believe Mr. Romney’s actions and words since the election prove that he really has no grand interest in America. It was all talk! I believe Mr. Obama wants to make things better, whether he can do it or not, and if a guy that smart can’t do it, maybe no one can. We don’t really know for sure, do we? But I’m pretty sure his heart, at least, is in the right place. I certainly can’t say the same for his out-spending rival who was dumb enough to cost himself the election with his demeaning insults of the bulk of the American people and his unabashed elitism.

Art: So it’s just about money? Jeez, I just thought Obama was a lot better person. Silly me. Pretty good summary of the difference of the two sides, methinks. Well said, SteveB.

SteveG: We all do agree election reform and campaign reform are needed. Citizens United and big money need to be out of US politics, but we don’t think it will happen.

SteveB: I agree with THAT too, SteveG!!

Stanley: Admission…… I became an Obama supporter in 2008 for the following reasons: I had been a reliable Republican voter for 40 years. I liked Bush when he was first inaugurated in 2001. (We shook hands in April 2001, at an awards event that he attended.) I listened to Rush Limbaugh, watched Fox News, and generally was a pro business Republican. Because of my position, I entered political discussions solely based on economics. (Today, economics and economic theory are still the backbone of my arguments.) In the later part of the G.W. Bush Administration, I was questioning much of what the media was reporting about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. When I took the early retirement, I had more time on my hands than in the past. When I was home, I tended to “flip” between CNBC Financial News network, Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. I found it peculiar how these “cable news” channels would report the same event in such a different manner. I began to read more than ever before. When the Bush administration was winding down, like others, I started looking to the next Presidential election. It looked like John McCain’s turn had finally arrived. Hillary Clinton was the preferred candidate of the Democrats. I just didn’t believe that McCain was Presidential enough. However, I would have voted for him as a default vote against Hillary Clinton. All my financial and economic mentors were warning of the potential financial crisis. On Dec 13, 2007, I sold all my “equities” and invested in a simple money market fund. (The week of March 9, 2009, I put $600K back into equities.) My situation had changed drastically. It was no longer necessary for me to measure my political opinions in discussions with my “country club Republican” friends. As many of you, I grew up in a small town in Indiana. I suspect that we all had similar beliefs, about the “other”, and most things that were different from the norm of our environment. However, “…. you can’t let a farm kid go to town, or the county fair… cause, once they see the “BurleyQ”, they’ll be ruined forever.” Because of my experiences in business and the extensive travel… I no longer accepted the shared view of my former peer group. I couldn’t understand why it was right for anyone to set themselves up as being superior to another human being. I know that I have been blessed, and may not deserve the rewards that I have received. Just lucky, I guess. I question why others must be made to accept something less. This transformation of thought led me to say, who is this Obama? I, as many of you, was a teenager when John Kennedy was our President. I don’t know just how good a President he was, but I am certain that his Presidency was a “feel good time” in our lives. (It was Johnson who led the Great Society social programs that most Republicans despise.) I thought the election of Obama would be inspirational and would help the United States citizens to come together. And then the events of 2007-2008 started to look like a potential economic mess. I was very curious about the acronyms that “Jim Cramer” and others were using. So I had to learn the language of Wall Street. This led me to read several books reporting on the crash of 2008. While, I studied economics at Purdue my use of economic theory was for business forecasting, not theory. The whole “trickle down” theory, Milton Friedman, Jack Kemp, Art Laffer, Ronald Reagan, Don Regan peaked my curiosity. (Remember Friedman’s acceptance became a part of the Reagan Administration. A full decade after Purdue.) So once again, I had a need to try to understand this different form of economic theory. And, I do. Frankly, I have been disappointed with the performance of the Obama administration. He, in my opinion, should have been more forceful when he had Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. He was not, he was faced with a near economic depression and the possible crash of everything that the United States stood for. He was left with two wars that the majority of Americans did not want to fight. There was a growing awareness by the American citizens that something was drastically changing. I now understand that for more than 30 years the building blocks for the Friedman economic model were deeply entrenched in the mainstream of business, political, and economic thought. So, yes, we all have reason to question the direction that our country is headed. I don’t believe that this can be laid at the feet of Obama. He is an easy target for those who fear his Presidency. Let’s not forget the “strategic” planning that happened the night of his first inauguration. The Republicans conspired to make him fail. The rise of the TEA PARTY, fueled by the fear of a changing America, caused many to try to change our government. The Republicans co-opted this discontent. Therefore, the 2010 congressional elections allowed the Republican party to gain control of the House, and by so doing made it possible for nothing to be legislated since. This played right into the hands of the obstructionists, and has made Obama the “whipping BOY” of the conservative “Take Back America” thinkers. So, in that regard, I believe that the conservatives are winning the battle to destroy America. If that is the result, the wealthy will still be wealthy, the middle class will be a case study in history classes, and the new demographic of “brown Americans” will eventually decide that they have had enough!!!!!!!!!

Dennis:  Nice summation. Stanley. I especially agree with your selling all your equities in 2007. I read all the of the same warnings, mostly from some libertarian financial gurus, but decided to ride out any downturn with defensive stocks. Bad idea. But it did wise me up to how naive libertarians can be. Maybe this time we should listen to George Soros:

“George Soros Sells All Shares of Citigroup, Bank of America and JP Morgan” by John Vibes, IntelliHub
May 20, 2014 (http://intellihub.com/george-soros-sells-shares-citigroup-bank-america-jp-morgan/#8DyW4cbDY2gItWsq.99)

Stanley: Dale, I hadn’t read this article, but it’s obvious I vigorously AGREE!

Pam: Thanks for your thoughtful analysis, Dennis Stanley. It is so gratifying to an old liberal like me to know that old-time Republicans can think. I didn’t grow up hating anyone and thought about Republicans the way a citizen of Indiana might think about a citizen of Illinois–different, but not all that different. The divisiveness and vitriol we see now are not new to politics but they are new to me. I don’t know why economic theory has taken on the cast of religious belief, but I guess people want certainty in economics and politics as in other things. Nothing is better or worse in itself; what matters is how it affects real people, and our runaway crony-capitalism is quite simply not good for people. Not even for the very rich, because great wealth is isolating. When Hemingway said, “The rich are different from you and me,” he spoke the truth. I agree with Art that much of the Tea Party’s hatred of Obama is race-based, and I agree with you,

About Reaganomics. Kennedy was inspiring (I was a college freshman when he was killed) but a bit of a wastrel. It was Johnson who set this country on the right course, and despite his crude ways he remains my hero.

Pam: I said “Dennis,” but I should have said “Stanley.” Oops.

SteveB: That’s 4 demerits, Pam! I told you guys about demerits and rules for this group, right? LOL! THERE ARE NO DAMNED RULES! WE’RE FREE! (Though I will tolerate very little name calling without calling the guilty party names!)

Stanley: The moral of my story: If you are a small fish, swim with the sharks. You may not be able to kill a sea lion, but if you swim with the shark…. you will eat well!

Dennis: I’ll excuse the mistake, Pam, but it was F. Scott Fitzgerald who wrote that the rich are different.

Stanley: Remember this is 2016: Hillary MIGHT try to balance the forces between the elite and the average citizen…… Whoever is the Republican nominee will surely NOT! They will be too indebted to the Money Class. So let’s not think that electing Hillary will revolution our government. The change we are talking about is not a “light switch event”, but rather an evolution that will take time to come to fruition. The voters must show the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, and others that “We the People” don’t care how much you spend….. we will vote in own best interest. Eventually, the rich will not invest into a loosing cause. They enjoy their wealth too much.

Dennis: The most ignorant voters determine elections:

“The Power of Political Ignorance” by Lynn Vavreck, The New York Times
May 23, 2014 (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/25/upshot/the-power-of-political-ignorance.html)

SteveB: Ouch, Dennis! Scary! This is exactly why Republicans don’t want good public schools or free college education for the masses, why they want charter schools, home schooling, no teachers’ unions, and austerity for our public schools–they want to keep us barefoot and ignorant! That’s their ideal electorate. Unfortunately, we’re letting them succeed!

Dale:This is exactly why Democrats enlist union drones to make phone calls to ill informed last minute registered voters and fill their heads with envy politics, promises for racial/ethnic minorities that are not kept and really never could have been, fear tactics around the loss of government handouts and promises of “easy” college loans. Maybe this is why Democrats want to FORCE teachers to be in unions, since when they have a choice they opt out. Oh yeah, they also say their Democratic candidates understand how to create jobs and stimulate growth, but don’t explain how massive increases in regulation, favoritism to their ideologically preferred companies and industries, IRS incompetence and ill conceived obstructive orders make it impossible for business owners to risk additional investment to grow. And, as usual, the media is totally clueless, so they print the party pulp supplied by the Democratic and Liberal media mill….this is what those uninformed rely on for picking who to vote for. It’s a sad situation indeed.

Dennis: I think that would be considered a rant.

SteveG: The only robo calls I have gotten are from Republicans (I am not registered in either party and never have been). Most of us are years away from student loans and I do not think and college loan is “easy” when the interest starts day one. Unions have saved Americans for decades – fought for employee rights and benefits; regulations have saved lives in the mines and other industries when followed – the environment likes it too – saves our air and water – remember the pollution of the White River; if followed, Duke Energy would not dump coal ash.

Stanley: Dale, I think that your comments are better when you cut and paste.

Dale: Dennis, I confess, it was a rant. SteveG, well done, right out of the D handbook. Stanley, Truth hurts. SteveB, Are you on a break or is it everyone else’s turn to take shots Pam, nice to hear from you again. Your self control is refreshing. Even though we do not agree on many subjects, your civility is really welcome.

SteveG: I read no handbooks; came from an upstanding Republican background; spent my life helping others to live, work in their community, and to get off assistance programs. Dealing with reality down low changes one’s thinking and makes a difference.

Stanley: Dale, who’s truth are you talking about? Yours, Karl Rove’s, Sean Hannity’s, Glenn Beck’s, Rush Limbaugh’s, Charles Krauthammer’s, Bill Kristol’s, Roger Ailes’, Cliven Bundy’s, Donald Sterling’s, Sharon Angle’s, Christine O’ Donald’s…? Oh I know…. the intellectual heavyweight–SARAH PALIN!

Dale: Stanley, I cannot remember the last time I listened/viewed Hannity, Beck or Limbaugh…really.. Krauthammer is spot on with most, but not all points, IMHO; however, I only read his material every once in a while, maybe twice per month. I don’t even know who Kristol or Ailes are. I’m not sure why you feel you are in a position to define me?

I appreciate and admire your willingness to share your own background and how you have come to the positions and viewpoints you espouse. I think it reflects both your self assuredness and/or your comfort level with this forum. This is intended as a compliment not a sarcastic jab.

Steve G, I appreciate your contributions to society, now that I know more, and I have no reason to question your intellect or motivations. I have lots of issues with the Student loan bubble that is a product of policy pushed primarily by the Democratic Party. This debt bubble is very similar to the housing debt bubble and is a result of, or very strongly influenced by social engineering legislation. One could piously say “everyone is entitled to a college education,” which is BS, or one could say, ” find another way to provide easy money and you lock up the votes of the young.” Either way, young people decided to borrow lots of money they are having trouble paying back and now they want taxpayers to bail them out. Another ripple effect is that Universities have no incentive to cut their bloated staffs and programs, so the prices go up virtually unchecked. As long as the money is available from (over extended) student customers, let’s just keep raising the price of college. Politicians want votes — laws are passed to encourage easy loans — students borrow and spend — universities (administration, teachers, etc.) are fat and happy and vote for more largess. Did you note the Contributors to Obama — Universities! Where do Universities get the money to contribute to politicians, anyway, and why would they? Duh, to buy favorable treatment.

IMO, unions saved some Americans decades ago, it was a good thing they were there. Today, If workers feel they want to organize, let them freely vote to do so. (When that has been the case: Good bye unions. Good bye union graft. Good bye legislation bought by union funded advertising and foot soldiers.)

IMO, proper regulation is absolutely vital for a functioning democracy. We will likely disagree about which areas have been over regulated and which under regulated. We will also probably disagree on which areas need to or have received proper enforcement of regulations already passed. This area needs a lot of work and is under funded. (Note that I am disagreeing with Tea Party and/or Republican general convention here.)

SteveB: Unions: Since the subject has come up, I thought I’d write my two-cents worth.

When I was in high school and college, I was in the musicians’ union–had to be. I was “forced” to join. There were many places our bands just couldn’t play if we weren’t in the union. Plus, we made more money that way. It was a win-win situation and I never had anything but good experiences.

Later, during my brief tenure (8 years) as a high school English and creative writing teacher, I was in the teachers’ union (both, actually, at different times) and, again, had nothing but good experiences.

One summer, I worked in the “Region” in NW Indiana at a company that recycled waste from the “trenches” of steel mills and drug companies, recovering tin, copper, and other valuable metals. There was no union, and there was no OSHA as far as we workers were concerned. I made a little more than minimum wage, but I needed the job for my growing family. Teaching just could not support us, not even in a very minimal live style. That’s one of the reasons I left the field as soon as I had an opportunity.

The first part of the recovery process was usually that a tank truck would dump its load into a huge, open vat that was heated from below. This process occurred in a titanic, old steel-frame building with a little corrugated metal stuck to the sides and roof so the sometimes dangerous vapors could leak out into the surrounding city. Great, huh? Normally, the company had no idea what all could be in the waste they were processing and din’t care as long as it contained recoverable metal salts.

One of my lowly jobs was to go into these vats after they had cooled down and, with pick and shovel, dig out the solids that remained once the liquid had been evaporated. One day, late that glorious Indiana summer, as one of those vats was being heated, it erupted into a titanic fire. Remember, they didn’t even know what they were heating. With the way the building was constructed (or deconstructed) there wasn’t really much damage the fire could do unless it exploded–always a possibility, I guess.

I don’t believe there was any alarm, but we all started exiting the building in a hurried manner, though I don’t remember running. As i was almost out, my boss told me to grab a fire extinguisher from a post nearby and go “help put the fire out”. Being a good employee and needing the job, I didn’t even think, but obeyed unquestioningly. My boss went ahead and left the building. As I neared the fire (completely alone, I think), not even thinking about the possibility of an explosion, I saw that squirting the little fire extinguisher was a lot like trying to empty Lake Michigan with a teaspoon. I quickly “fired” it in the general direction of the fierce heat and got the hell out of there to join everyone else outside.

As if that wasn’t bad enough…

A few days later, the fire was out and all that was left was solid. I don’t remember if the fire department was ever called. Another worker and I were sent into the vat to “dig it out”. We never wore masks, respirators, or anything. We were given nothing but picks and shovels. Down in the vat, we found that it was still smoldering and giving off fumes. I remember that I was worried about my steel-toes boots catching fire. It was hot and stinky. We started digging. That’s the last thing I remember. The next thing I knew, I was waking up on the floor outside the tank with some coworkers gathered around me. I had passed out and my “friend” had carried me out of there. I’m pretty sure that if he had been overcome too, we both would have died that day. My nose was bleeding profusely. My boss told me to take a break. There was not even a suggestion that I go to a hospital, nothing.

During that break, I did some thinking. Then I simply walked off the job and never returned except to the office to pick-up the pay I was owed. I never complained because I knew it would do no good. The company simply, obviously did not give a shit about its “expendable” workers.

If there had been a union, I guarantee you things would have been different. Unions are a godsend in the wake of company greed. They are not a luxury, they are obviously essential. Yet, how soon we forget, no?

I believe this article (below) gives a pretty fair summary, though I would emphasize much more the tremendous good unions did for the American worker early in the 20th Century (I believe my story is more typical than unusual):

“Unions: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly” by Michele Masterfano, Huffington Post
Sept. 17, 2013 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michele-masterfano/unions-the-good-the-bad-t_b_3880878.html)

SteveG: Neither will we as a society always agree nor will we always disagree, it is when we as a country are playing games with our own people, their future, our military, our financial institutions, housing, environment, etc. and, we are there, that the future is bleak. Democracy has left us an oligarchy and until democracy, through all of our outcries, returns, our world will be full of bubbles ready to burst.

Pam: Education is another bubble that is getting ready to burst IMHO. Dale is right about the bloat in higher education administration. There are more Deans and Associate Provosts running around than you can shake a stick at, while class sizes get larger and half the teaching faculty are poorly paid adjuncts. And, yes, money is at the root of it (again IMHO). Education has become big business, at every level (Walmart’s K-12, the Texas textbook industry, spa-like campuses), and the biggest bucks go to administrators and coaches. You say students take out loans voluntarily, but just how voluntary

is it really? Big Ed. advertises to consumers just as surely as Big Pharma does, making people believe they need more school and more medication when perhaps what they need is a good job and some bran cereal. I exaggerate, but is it any wonder that the young flock to universities when they have it drilled into them from preschool on that they must get a college degree or forever be left behind? When someone is manipulated into doing something, you blame the manipulator, not the one manipulated. The fact that college athletes and adjunct faculty are trying to organize unions points to the need for them. Any institution can become corrupted, but when there’s a need for a union you can be pretty sure it’s in response to gross injustice. Maybe when we rid ourselves of injustice, we can do without unions, but I don’t see that day coming any time soon. I wish we could expend as much energy on working out solutions to our problems as we do blaming others for creating them. But when a handful of people have all the money and influence, we have to call them out. The next stage after oligarchy is tyranny. I hope we never go that far, but we’re no more immune to tyranny than the Iranians.

Art: While I agree with your conclusion, Pam, I wonder if they think of it that way?
To many of us, that is where their policies are taking us, yet somehow I
don’t think they would describe their goals as you do. Interesting and worrisome.

Once again, sorry, Dale, but this strikes me as a lot of emotional rhetoric with no factual evidence to back it up. Where do we many, many former Republicans who just got fed up with the lies and lack of logic fit in this equation? Are we the dumb stupid recipients of these calls from the “union drones”? Let me think back. Hmmm? I have never received one of those calls. Well, that’s a relief, I guess I just became ill informed on my own. It is indeed a sad situation.

Reading through your post, Dale, the thrust seems to be saying that only rich
kids have the right to go to college. As a former poor kid who used a Student Defense Loan to get through school, I’m not so sure I agree with that. I agree with some of what you say about colleges, although I suggest you listen to Ms. Pam, who was a college professor, as to the fabulous salaries the actual teachers currently make. I am trying to donate $1M to my alma mater, but I so distrust the State (South Carolina) that I will probably change my will and send the money elsewhere.

As for Unions, yes of course there have been abuses but no more so that
the bloated corporate bureaucracies who steal from the taxpayer and the share holders with impunity.

Finally, just a note but Krauthammer writes regularly for the Washington
Post, part of the stupid blind liberal media whose goal is to mislead good honest Americans.

SteveB: Art, the Church of Steve would be more than happy to receive your donation and you could earmark it any way you want–forced castration of Republicans, praise to you and your loved ones in every service, a guarantee of eternal bliss after you die, whatever. Why give money to some stupid university just so they can make people not as stupid as some of the people who write Dale’s articles?
May 26 at 12:36pm • Like

Art: This did (very briefly) cross my mind,, but I think maybe UC Davis or Harvard might be a better end place.

Dennis: I think Harvard educates more of the Republicans that the Church of Steve would castrate.

SteveG: I just think you should adopt me and leave it to your kid, Art.

Dale: Art, it was not my intended thrust or my belief that college should be only for the rich. In the US it was decided long ago that primary education is so important that we will provide it for all citizens. College education is not a right. It is a product, available for sale to those choosing to buy it. The price can be paid from cash on hand, or with gifted or borrowed money. People deceived into thinking they will not have to repay loans or that getting a degree (or even an education) means they will automatically get well paying jobs is dishonest and damaging. The University industry, as Pam cites, is complicit in the deception.

It’s very heartening that you are in a position to donate to your alma mater and willing to enrich the lives of aspiring students, any amount, but especially such a generous contribution. There are often ways to make grants that are performance and/or cause directed, so you can monitor the outcomes of your gifts, at least while you are living. If it’s an Estate gift, there are sometimes ways to establish trusts with executors who see that your wishes are followed after your death. Naturally, universities prefer unrestricted gifting, which allows them to apply donations to any hair brained idea they come up with. Like the law that says the time necessary to do a job will expand to fill the time allotted, Universities find ways to use all the money donated to them. Unfortunately it rarely includes going towards offsetting the cost of educating students.

Stanley: Art, I also am impressed that you would be so generous. The thought has not occurred to me. But, since I went to a state funded land grant university, I am not so inclined to leave anything to them. I have been quite generous to my two sons, and now am funding a “trust” for my 5 month old granddaughter. I guess I haven’t shed myself of all my Republican tendencies.

Dennis: I gave $25 to my university alumni fund and thought that was pretty generous.

I don’t quite understand how you can say, Dale, that education is important but that a college education is not a right. Why should we cut off public support to any capable student at an arbitrary level? You seem to imply that education is an elitist privilege and not a national societal benefit. At least you’re not advocating privatization that exploits students for corporate profits. Maybe students now have to go to another country that seriously values education:

“A Guide to Tuition-Free Universities and Colleges for International Students” by Scholars4Dev
2014-2015 (http://www.scholars4dev.com/4031/list-of-european-countries-with-tuition-freelow-tuition-universities-colleges)

SteveG: And Tennessee is adding free Associate Degrees.

Dale: Dennis, at no time have I said or meant to imply that college educations are only for the privileged. IMO the prolific availability of advanced education is one of the differentiating qualities that has enabled the US to excel. The Free Enterprise system is another, IMO.

I can say that a college education is not a right, because it isn’t. Where is there law or divine imperative or any other directive that says everyone should have a college education, let alone that it should be free? As a society, we could decide to make it that way and maybe that is your wish (I don’t know that’s the case and you are entitled to that wish, if it is), but for now, just like cars and houses and TVs and food are not free, neither is a college education. There are scholarships, grants, gifts, incentives for saving, tax offsets and many support mechanisms (all of which I agree are good for us). There are also lower cost education options, accessible to many/most people.

Your phrase “cut off public support” is an interesting one. If you mean put limits on taking money from some people (aka taxes) and giving it to other people, IMO the lines need to be drawn somewhere. Do you agree there should be limits on wealth redistribution? Or should all “worthy causes,” based on who knows what criteria, be funded by “someone else?”

Dennis:  By “cut off public support” I meant that we somewhat arbitrarily support universal public education through high school only. Why do this when it is to the benefit of the country to continue the support since a high school education is not sufficient for the skills needed in an advanced industrial society? Since corporations demand skilled employees but aren’t paying to educate them, then what’s the problem with government support for advanced education and skilled worker training? We subsidize corporations in other ways and don’t require them to pay their share of taxes, it seems to subsidize the education of their future employees isn’t a great leap.

FredS: 100% agree!!!!!!

Dale: Dennis, it’s been my experience that both small and large employers spend significant money training workers. Even College graduates generally join firms lacking practical business skills and are given formal and on-the-job training, often for months before they are capable of contributing significantly. The investment by employers is necessary and a risk, but what other choices do they have? I’m not talking about food service and other retail jobs, but for most other types of firms and especially manufacturing companies. In addition to training employees to do the immediate job, companies large and small pay for advanced certification and technology programs, often taught at community schools, that enable hires to advance their careers…even if it means they leave to do it at a different company.

Finally, the private sector provides a lot of the teachers who give practical instruction, beyond the formulae, theories and fundamentals taught in purely academic coursework. Their industry/business experience enables people currently working or in new positions to more quickly advance and it happens because companies are willing to create flexible schedules for the instructors and/subsidize them.

SteveG: Some high schools are incorporating trade certifications into their curriculum options to afford students a leg up on obtaining employment after graduation–HVAC, cosmotology, manufacturing internships, culinary arts, ASE certification, etc. Often several school corporations form a cooperative to provide the programs at times associations with either community colleges or technical schools. Here students at 14 years of age can test into the local community college taking 15 quarter hours per quarter with the school corporation paying for 10 quarter hours. When they graduate from high school they can also receive their Associates Degree with all course work transferrable to Central Washington University.

Dale: SteveG, I really like your post! This is full of hope. Full of cooperation. Full of creativity and innovation. It has solutions for all levels of competency, economic and social backgrounds.

I’d love to have us think of other ways to build on these approaches. How could we publicize these and others? How can we get more communities adopting cooperative options between local businesses, schools and the public in general. Would community foundations support them financially? Could crown funding be used to provide facilities, supplies, teaching materials?

I’ve been involved recently with financial literacy programs for minorities. It takes qualified volunteers, space, publicity, translators, etc., but it’s vital, I believe to break the cycle of generations of poverty and ignorance around saving vs. spending, predatory lending and check cashing shops, insurance rip offs, mortgage and rental scams, the economic value of healthy family relationships and other issues.

SteveG: School corporations, foundations, state governments, and manufacturers have been involved in my experience. The one problem arising in a Manufacturing Boot Camp is the in house (manufacturer) training portion as they were wanting students to be 18 at that point (insurance/liability) issues. Once completing the program and graduating from high school, they were hired. This was in Crawfordsville, IN. Theyalso had an HVAC program. Greencastle, IN and some surrounding schools have the culinary arts programs. Lafayette, IN has had for decades the cosmotology program. and Yakima, WA has the cosmotology and AD/high school grad program. Tennessee is actually trying to get a free Associates Degree program for state residents who graduate from high school. The programs in Crawfordsville (Boot Camp and HVAC) were initiated by manufacturers to fill fill their needs. Many companies indicated their biggest need was critical thinking. The companies in conjunction with a community college established a Skills Net program (based on a program from Toronto–welding, mechanics, computer skills, etc. were the start based on company needs. Eventually, this resulted in a sub-campus of the community college coming to town. All I have known started as a grass roots need and grew from there.



But, of course, Norway can do this because they are a rich, exceptional country. I guess the US ain’t so exceptional and, lately, seems to think it is too poor to do anything except give tax breaks to the rich and austerity to everyone else! What a pathetic country we have become!

Dale: SteveB, how about dropping the negative tone for just a minute and contributing to some positive discussion on ways we can cooperate for everyone’s benefit. You like to invent and create. Join a process that challenges all of us to come up with solutions that don’t get blocked by ideological differences.

There are community health care facilities already in place in many areas. Are there ways we can turn volunteerism into training and learning opportunities, so that disadvantaged youth can grasp the importance of nutrition, clean living conditions, stress reduction and mental health, etc.? Maybe we’ll inspire a few more people to stay in school, to lift themselves from despairing conditions and/or attitudes. YMCA’s, Boys and Girls Clubs, even scouting, all were developed by communities, not business, government or religions. (I know, YMCA has Christian in the title, but if you are a member, you know there is no tilt or message involved these days.) there are wonderful life skills (like patience, leadership, responsibility, respect for life and property) taught in these places, overtly and covertly.

SteveB: Yep, just what I need! Someone telling me what to do and how to think! I guess you can’t see, Dale, that the way Norway does it is a positive proposal, but then you have yet to respond directly to any of my other posts. Why is that, please? All you can do is try to correct my behavior? Excuse me, but I honestly find your comment personally insulting.

Pharrell Williams – “Happy” (Official Music Video)

Dennis: Re: Financial literacy training for minorities, I’ve never understood why this is not included in high school curricula for all students. I had a course like this in Belle Union before I transferred to Greencastle HS which had no such course, even for the non-academic track. On the cynical side, however, it might put a big dent in America’s consumer oriented economy if everyone was financially literate and exercised discipline with credit spending.

Dale: Dennis, earlier this year I drove six hours to Tallahassee to join a group of about a dozen financial planners from around the state to meet with both the insurance and securities regulation departments, the Governors office and a number of Florida congressman and senators. Among other topics, One of the bills we spoke to them in support of was a financial literacy course requirement of 1 credit for all high school students. ONE CREDIT, that’s all. The materials and teaching guides already exist, having been created for other similar public education situations.

I heard a couple of weeks ago that the bill died in committee because of opposition from one constituency. Guess who? The teachers union.

Dennis: I find it extremely hard to believe that the Republican controlled legislature of Florida could be influenced by a teachers union.

Art: Me too. I would like to know more about this. Suspect there is more to
this than the initial accusation. I am virtually certain it is not because they did not want students to be educated, so maybe look a little further. Was it coupled with teaching Creationism as science, maybe?

Dennis: Or maybe it was so laden with pro-business propaganda that the teachers refused to be used. Oh, and was this an ALEC proposal?

Pam: Why would the teachers’ union oppose a course in financial literacy?

I taught in a public high school over forty years ago, and our school had a teachers’ union. I declined to join, because I knew I would never go out on strike. It seemed disingenuous to join something I knew I wouldn’t support. I had a great principal and great colleagues and never had any complaints. Now, decades later, my son-in-law is a high school science teacher (Teacher of the Year two years ago :-)). Teachers in NC are getting the shaft big time–read the newspapers–and I see the need for a union that will stand up for classroom teachers. I don’t see how anyone could support an entity that was corrupt, as some unions certainly were/are, but when there’s injustice in the workplace, unions are indispensable.

Dale: Any of you are free to “create a story” around the information I gave and I fully expected you would. It’s human nature to try to explain away anecdotes that challenge our belief systems. I do it too. I’m trying to get better at recognizing when I do it and stepping back before responding with:

It didn’t happen,

The facts are wrong,

Its OK if it did happen because….

I do it. We do it. We are all humans trying to make sense out of a complex world and categorizing shortcuts are one way to cope. (IMO denial is a far better coping mechanism than shooting up a school, for instance, but I’d still like to see my skills in this area improve.) (I keep hoping there will be other confessors out there.)

The bill was introduced by two Republicans, Heather Fitzenhagen and Manny Diaz, and there were 44 co-signers supporting. Here is the particular case, if you would like to do more research:

HB 367 (2014) Financial Literacy Instruction in the Public Schools
HOUSE- Died in K-12 Subcommittee

The explanation I was given was that the union lobbied they were protecting teachers by not allowing the requirement to be added to an already loaded teaching curriculum. I didn’t make an effort to verify that explanation, because I just don’t have time to chase down the story and, short of calling legislators to ask (good luck on that one!), I don’t know how to track down any other explanation.

This episode points out one of the problems with public unions, however. As opposed to private sector employee vs. employer resolution, public unions can end up pitting one sector of the public against another — Teachers vs. all other citizens, for instance. In theory, teachers, who also have children in the state needing financial literacy, would seem to want to have regulations and support materials so their children are educated too. The union leaders, if overly zealous on behalf of ONLY teachers’ interests (as they interpret them), may ignore the “good of the rest” to support their constituency. In an ideal world, this wouldn’t happen, but we don’t live in an ideal world.

To Pam’s point, if there are injustices, a union may be one way to address them. In Wisconsin, once it was not mandatory for teachers to pay to be in a union, the voluntary membership levels have gone from approximately 115,000 to 75,000, and they continue to decline. As vocal and vigorous as the teachers unions were in Wisconsin, when it became a matter of choice, more than 1/3 voted with their feet.

Senate Bill 0367 (2014) – The Florida Senate
GENERAL BILL by Fitzenhagen ; Diaz, M ; (CO-INTRODUCERS) Ahern ; Brodeur ; Castor Dentel ; Clelland ; Combee ; Cruz ; Danish ; Dudley ; Eagle ; Edwards ; Fresen ; Gonzalez ; Hood ; Hooper ; Kerner ; La Rosa ; Mayfield ; McBurney ; Moskowitz ; Murphy ; Nunez ; Patronis ; Perry ; Peters ; Pilon ; Rasc…

SteveB: Legislative crap is complicated, but, as far as I can tell, Bill 0367 became incorporated into Florida Senate Bill 0212, which cleared an Education Appropriations Subcommittee by a vote of 12-to-1 on Apr. 9 and was forwarded to the full Education Appropriations Committee, which killed the bill on May 2.. This is a quote from 0212:

“Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
34 Section 1.Paragraph (f) is added to subsection (2) of
35 section 1003.41, Florida Statutes, to read:
36 1003.41 Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.—
37 (2)Next Generation Sunshine State Standards must meet the
38 following requirements:
39 (f)Beginning with students entering grade 9 in the 2014
40 2015 school year, financial literacy standards must establish
41 specific curricular content for, at a minimum, personal
42 financial literacy and money management. Financial literacy
43 includes instruction in the areas specified in ss.
44 1003.428(2)(a)7. and 1003.4282(3)(h).”

So it appears to have been the money men who killed the bill, not educators, from what I can tell. More Florida Republican austerity?


Senate Bill 0212 (2014) – The Florida Senate
Calendar Filed Today Bill Actions Senator List Find Your Legislators District Maps Vote Disclosures Committee List Committee Publications Bills Help Searching Bills Calendars Journals Reports Appropriations Executive Appointments Executive Suspensions Redistricting Statutes Help Searching Statutes C…

Art: Jeez, do you really think politicians would try to blame something that
they screwed up on some group they don’t like? That wouldn’t be nice.

Actually I once tried to add some curriculum to an Army program to provide counter terrorist training to Security Assistance Officers and NCOs headed
for overseas Embassy assignments. We had lost a few in Europe and
elsewhere, the Course already existed and you’d think it would be easy. It wasn’t. There are indeed only so many hours in a day, and there are indeed also only so many instructors on the roles to teach and limited funds and on
and on.

Did get it done, but it took a couple of years of effort.

SteveB: Maybe this is what Republicans mean by “American Exceptionalism”–exceptionally unequal! But we’re being beaten by the likes of Chile, Mexico, and Turkey! LOL!

“Countries with the Widest Gap Between Rich and Poor” by Alexander, E.M. Hess,Vince Calio and Thomas C. Frohlich, 24/7 Wall St.
May 20, 2014 (http://247wallst.com/special-report/2014/05/20/countries-with-the-widest-gap-between-rich-and-poor)

Rich and Poor

Most egalitarian – Iceland

Most unequal income distribution:
10. Japan
9. Greece
8. Spain
7. UK
6. Portugal
5. Israel
4. USA (“land of opportunity”?)
3. Turkey
2. Mexico
1. Chile

Dale: ECONOMIC SAUSAGE! Stop asking if Piketty was right or wrong; not everyone will ever agree anyway
Yesterday at 7:57am • Like

SteveB: More orders??? Who asked what??? We all know that America’s economic decline since our youth is entirely Mr. Obama’s fault.

I guess what I’m trying to say, Dale, with all due respect, is that I don’t think your commands serve your side or your arguments (well-written and commendable at other times) very well. This is at least the second time in this group that you have tried to order me around. As a rhetorical technique, it leaves much to be desired, being on an approximate par with name-calling and, like name-calling, usually indicates that a person is losing the argument. I believe and I believe most of us here feel that one very important aspect of America is that people are supposed to be equal. To give orders indicates, perhaps, that you think you are better than someone else. It’s an elitist attitude that, I believe, has no place in these discussions or in the great American debates we must embark upon as a people if we are to survive as a great nation. If people are not equal, then there is no need to give the children of failures an even break, because their parents have already proven themselves to be inferior. I feel, wrongly I hope, that this is at the heart of much of the Republican attitude toward education and poor people in general. If you think that is what will make America great again, then have at it, but I don’t really think you feel that way, so cool it with ordering me around, please. Thank you.

Apologists for President Obama? (by Friends of the Middle)

I believe this was one of our best group discussions ever! To take part in this kind of lively political debate, you can join our Facebook group, “Friends of the Middle”. In my humble opinion, the Right didn’t fare very well. What do you think?

(From the “Friends of the Middle” Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FriendsOfTheMiddle/permalink/817532951591619/.)

Dale: Six years of Obama. Six years! How long will his apologizers continue to give him a free pass? Contained in this column are the sickening data that his administration, under his direction, have been totally ineffective in improving….or even stemming.

“Mortgages for the Masses” by Al Lewis, The Wall Street Journal
May 19, 2014 (http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20140519-705088.html)

Let me recap:

– Home-ownership levels fell to 64.8% in the first quarter, the lowest in 19 years
— For the last half-decade, college graduates have left school with huge debts and bleak job prospects.
— “household formation” has nose-dived by about 800,000 a year since 2007-09…hitting the lowest levels since World War II.
— 43% of all homes sold in the first three months of this year were all-cash deals.

Six Years! Where is the leadership? Where is the accountability?

Dennis: I think you’ll need to go back further than six years to find all the criminals that should be held accountable.

“The Case Against the Bernanke-Obama Financial Rescue” by Binyamin Appelbaum, The New York Times
May 16, 2014 (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/18/business/the-case-against-the-bernanke-obama-financial-rescue.html)

Art: And no one thinks the Republicans might have had something to do with all this????

JD: Thank goodness Bush is innocent of any wrong doing—pharmaceutical companies being able to charge whatever they wanted, trillions more for unnecessary war’s, big tax breaks for the rich, the government on the edge of collapse. I think the current President isn’t perfect, but with what Bush left him, he’s done a pretty damn good job!

Dale: Why is the instant reply always…blame someone else? Attempt to deflect. Is it so hard to take responsibility for not getting the job done? Of course others have been less than perfect, but they at least admitted their shortcomings. Not Obama. Not his blind supporters. When will the apologists stop apologizing for lack of performance?

JD: I would like for you to show me where the Bush administration apologized for anything they did. Colin Powell had the decency to say he’d been duped. It works both ways on lack of performance. And, although my eyes are not perfect, I’m not blind.

Dale: Another deflective comment. This isn’t about Bush. Do you not get it? This is about Obama failures. Do you really not have the sense that in many, many areas he, Obama specifically, has been a disappointment? BTW, I’m not saying all areas, but if you cannot see any of his failures as a leader—lack of vision outside of his political ambitions, lack of selecting effective staff, lack of skills in negotiation or relationship building, not admit them even in any way, it speaks volumes.

Shirley: Dale, are you a troll?

JD: It must be so comforting to sit way up high. You see everything and know all. Why can’t I just understand what you think? You can talk and write with your facts and figures, but I’m not drinking your Kool-Aid. Can you hear that or is the volume too low? Everything is about President Obama. If you could just get him to see your views, the whole country would be back the way you think it should be. You’re not going to change the way I think and you’re always right, so what’s the use? Your superior in every way. That should make you sleep better tonight. You don’t want anyone’s opinion but your own. Next you’ll be taking your ball and going home.

Dale: In some ways this does help. I wanted to see if there was a genuine interest from the readers of the (ill-named) “Friends of the Middle” to open up and consider other points of view. You have answered the question, at least for yourself. I know I’m not always right and I admit it. Maybe that will help you sleep better tonight.

JD: I sleep just fine, but I thank you anyway!

Stanley: Dale, if you don’t like Obama…then I know you are going to love HILLARY in 2016!!!! A basic understanding of how our government works—you can’t truly blame Obama for the mess that is our government if you don’t acknowledge that no President can legislate, but rather can only sign or veto bills sent to him by Congress. How many bills has Obama VETOED? I know that Limbaugh, Krauthammer, Crystal, Beck, and Hannity hope that you will blindly accept their talking points, but they can only persuade those that are not well informed.

JD: Well said.

Dale: Stanley, touché. What will happen if: A) Hillary decides not to run? B) She is not able to run (health, accident, etc.)? What kind of a campaign would result and who do you think would be the nominee?

Stanley: Would you like to make a “Romney Bet” on Hillary not running? That is just wishful thinking by a Republican Party that doesn’t have a national electorate that will vote in a conservative—trans-vaginal probes, no immigration reform, many women’s health issues that they are against, and all the Plutocratic directions from the elite and well connected! It’s going to be a tough election…better get some Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn and enjoy!

Dale: Yipes! All I asked was a good humored hypothetical question. I don’t wish ill on anyone, but unusual events happen and life goes on. If Hillary is not challenged during the nomination campaign season, except by Biden, and then drops out for any reason, what do you think would happen? This isn’t offered as a gotcha question, just asking for anyone’s speculation.

Hmmm, I guess this reasoning applies to all Presidents then. None of them can be held accountable because they are only responsible for executing the laws handed to them. Is that what you are saying? Let’s see, does that apply to botched foreign policy? Or to a mismanaged IRS? Or to an out of control NSA? Or to a Veterans Affairs Department that isn’t functioning, despite frequent complaints?

I know what you are going to say. It was bad before he got there. My question is, what did Obama do on his watch? If this had been discovered when Bush was President, would you be giving Bush a free pass? Probably not, nor would I. The difference is the same standard of expectation for “performance” doesn’t seem to apply to “The Anointed One”.

SteveB: Well, I do love a lively discussion and I hope it continues and that we have many more of them. If the past history of “Friends of the Middle” is any indication (http://www.friendsofthemiddle.org), that’s a given! I think you have raised a very important, though very complicated, issue, Dale, and I thank you for that. But I, too, am baffled by your opening attack on Mr. Obama. The Senate Banking Committee just proved what a titanic, divisive issue this mortgage mess is. As Stanley and JD have indicated, though, the whole thing is intrinsically wrapped-up with the Bush Administration, the Bailout, the Student Loan Mess, and the continuing Republican attacks on the middle class. With this current Congress, who could be surprised that the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer and the middle class is disappearing? But I’m glad to see you come around to that idea, at least, Dale, because you have argued in the past that the rich ain’t gettin’ richer. I would love to hear your perspective, now, on the Student Load Mess, soon to become the Student Load Crisis. Do you not feel that a good education is the right of every American, not just the rich? There are many possible reasons for the statistic cited in your posted article. Here is an alternative perspective on the Mortgage Mess:

“What It Means When 43% of Homebuyers Pay Cash” by Mark Huffman, ConsumerAffairs.com
May 12, 2014 (http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/what-it-means-when-43-of-homebuyers-pay-cash-051214.html)

Stanley: Well, Dale, I didn’t want to go here, but…a little background. I am just a simple old man from humble beginnings whose life has been blessed with many riches. To the point, I am disgusted with those who regurgitate the day’s talking points as “original thought”. I know that newspaper editors must sell papers, and that television producers must generate advertising revenue by getting higher ratings, and radio talk show host have to prevent “dead air”. I know that there is an entire industry of political consulting that does surveys, focus groups, and various other activities designed to make the candidate not who he/she is, but rather, a political version of “The Stepford Wives” who will get elected with no intent to help their constituents, but rather to help “themselves”. I know that for 40 years I was a registered Republican. I benefited greatly from policies of the business conservative wing of the Republican party. I have looked George W Bush in the eye and shaken his hand. Some would say that I have a million reasons to continue to support the failed economic theories of Milton Freidman that are the driver behind our economic mess. I have read “Too Big to Fail”, “13 Bankers”, “The Big Short”, etc. I was an economics major. I did business forecasting at a Fortune 100 company as a Sales & Marketing manager. Here is my point, all this makes me very SKEPTICAL of all politicians. However, I am more skeptical of the partisan nonsense that I hear repeated in my community by some very well-to-do citizens who are only repeating the day’s talking points. I am quick to challenge them to see if they can argue/debate their expressed positions below the surface. I get disgusted when it becomes obvious that they believe what they are told by someone who has an agenda. That’s what I learned to do in sales and marketing. “To match your product or service to the prospect’s need, REAL or IMAGINED”. I have no respect for anyone so easily manipulated, but I will take their money. Just saying. I have more to share but I’m late for my “tee time”.

SteveB: The fact is…the Republican Right Wing philosophy has dominated the government ever since Reagan. America has been in decline ever since Nixon. I call this the “Great Republican Experiment” and it has failed miserably. Blame anyone you want! Blame whomever FOX News says must be blamed. None of that changes the fact that, to save America, we must return to the more enlightened political philosophy of the 1950’s and 1960’s and advance it into the 21st Century. Taxes must be high and unavoidable for the rich (it was 90% then and we prospered like never before). Social services and public education must be expanded to catch up with the rest of the world and rebuild the middle class, or the rich will have no market for the crap they sell us and it will all (the world including America) collapse in chaos. All the statistics point to this unavoidable conclusion. Dale, please read: “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty. All the supporting evidence is there for your perusal in one book. I’d love to see you try to deny it without the support of FOX News talking points. We’re bored with every problem in the world being blamed on Barack and Hillary because FOX News and the Kochs say so. Surely you agree that just can’t be reality?

Dennis: I’m favoring the label the “Great Retrogression” for the past 35 years, SteveB, but that’s mainly because I made it up. By the way, considering how much Nixon was hated for the Vietnam War, it’s hard to admit that he was the last liberal president, was he not?

SteveB: Ya, I made mine up too, Dennis. I didn’t get it from FOX or even MSNBC. I think it’s important to get the word “Republican” or “Right-Wing” in there, or even “Extreme Right-Wing”. How about calling it the “Great Extreme Right-Wing Retrogressive Experiment”? And yes, in many ways, Nixon was the last economically liberal President. I guess that’s one of the reasons Republicans hate the very sound of his name…along with the utter disgrace, of course. But in terms of the bold-faced lies, he was just another typical Republican politician, out for himself, money, and power, not necessarily in that order. Oh, and one other important point: The “Great Extreme Right-Wing Retrogressive Experiment” is like a speeding freight train out of control. Even Mr. Obama hasn’t been able to slow it down much, especially since he apparently sees himself as some kind of “Great Compromiser”, despite FOX News’ constant assertions that he has turned America into his own personal socialist empire. LOL! But perhaps Dale sees America as a dictatorship without a Congress and a Supreme Court hell-bent on destroying the American Dream?

Dennis: I favor “Great Capitulationist” for Obama’s label. I find it a bit uncomfortable to be a defender of Obama on some of the forums. He is constantly attacked by know-nothing teabagger-type Obamaphobes on really stupid, trumped-up, Faux Noise phoney-scandal issues. My response to them is to give the following diagnosis of their problem: “Obamaphobia is a dementia resulting from the cognitive dissonance resulting from a black man living in a white house.”

SteveB: Ya, the “Great Capitulator”, like Bill Clinton. But, as Dale has tried to teach us, all our problems are the fault of the President’s “Six years!” Anyone who says ALL our problems are NOT Mr. Obama’s fault ALONE is being blindly partisan and simpleminded! Huh? If the talking points say the President must be constantly attacked for everything, then he must! All the underlying issues must be swept under the rug or we get accused of kissing the President’s ass. P-l-e-a-s-e! The condemnation of the President is the only issue they have, apparently.

Mark: Hey, Dale, surprise surprise, the “middle” here leans to the left. You must get used to swimming upstream here in the “middle” and you need a thick skin. I have to admit I hadn’t been called a troll before!

SteveB: Ya, having known Dale personally for a long time, I have to admit he’s no “troll”! Good point, Mark. Now, if we could just bring you guys a little toward the middle! Always happy to have both your contrarian views! Thanks for keeping us honest and making us dig into why we think and feel the way we do. That’s what true debate is all about—a search for truth that no single party has to begin with, but can be shared by all once it’s uncovered in all its glory. Let us hope that’s what happens here. If we can’t reason together, how can we expect our politicians to?

Dale: SteveB, I rarely watch FOX News. I was at the beach most of Sunday and have just read that Hillary was apparently the subject of much TV network discussion. It seems you and others are far more concerned, maybe agitated is the better word, than me about what is presented on the junk, pseudo news channels. I actually think it’s funny that you let FOX get you so upset. It’s comical when you become apoplectic over anything that Sarah Palin says. She is just one voice and not taken any more seriously than, say, Elizabeth Warren. Oops…did I say the wrong thing there?

Stanley: A couple of the societal norms that give me heartburn: 1) Those that go along to get along. 2) Those who practice the widely accepted belief that it is better to disagree quietly, not to call to task those who don’t agree with them. I would profer that both these strategies contribute to the disengaged nature of many in our society. My fear is that those who practice these norms are easily manipulated by the decision makers who get elected to represent us. So here is my last thought…You should loudly express your point of view, if and only if, you are willing to be challenged by those who disagree. I have, and will continue to practice this form of public discourse as my right. It is who I am.

Dale: SteveB, please do not misstate my comments. I did not say ALL our problems are Obama’s fault. I asked why he should not be held responsible for ANY of the shortcomings of his administration. It is really disappointing that no one has the courage to admit he has made substantial errors in policy and execution while in office. Why should this President not be judged like all Presidents before him?

SteveB: Dale, much of what I write is sarcasm. I never see or read a thing from FOX. We don’t get it or MSNBC or anything but CNN International here in Bolivia. But your post certainly appears to me (and others?) to blame the President for everything you lay any blame for—100% of the blame you mention. It may be a coincidence, but that is one of the main Republican talking points right now. If you also blame Bush or Congress, especially the Republican House, or anyone else for anything, I’d be happy to hear that in specific words. I have often stated in our group that I am disappointed in Mr. Obama’s leadership and criticized him (mainly for having sold out to big money to some degree), but I thank the God of the Church of Steve that it’s not Mr. Romney or McCain/Palin I have to say I’m disappointed in!

Stanley: Let’s play a game. You tell me 10 things that Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush did wrong, and I will respond to you with 10 things that Bill Clinton or Barack Obama has done wrong. Wanna play?

Art: I’ll start with one: What was the purpose of Bush invading Iraq? It cost us 4500 lives and thousands more injured. It will cost us over $2 trillion when all is said and done. What was the national policy objective after we took Iraq? It is the General’s mission to take an objective, but it is the Administration’s responsibility for what comes next. Why did Bush choose to fight that war on a credit card, leaving subsequent Administrations to pay for it? Maybe that’s three.

Stanley: OK….. #1) Why did Bill Clinton sign the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act? (This allowed the big banks to trade securities on their own book—some would say, the beginnings of the financial crisis.) #2) NAFTA (This has benefited Canada and Mexico more than the United States.)

Art: I have sort of stayed out of this so far but I must say I find the article interesting. It says that the US government got back $200 billion on a $190 billion investment. So, given all the peripheral stuff that went on around this—not too bad. As for the rest, yes, we have a problem—students graduating from college who might go into the house buying arena are held back because they are paying off enormous student loans. Pretty common knowledge. Wealth is being concentrated in the hands of a few and the middle class is being squeezed out. Guess who buys houses? What I cannot see is how this President is somehow responsible for all the various internal market forces and external foreign policy issues that arise all over the world. Where he could affect things, he’s done pretty well. No Americans are dying in Iraq today. 4500 died under Bush. No Americans died in the overthrow of Gaddafi. We are finally getting out of Afghanistan, our longest war with no end remotely in sight. No Americans have died in Syria, a conflict we cannot resolve. I could go on, but you get the idea. And, yes, I have spent a lot of time in the Middle East and speak Arabic.

Internally, the Republicans vowed in 2008, in the aftermath of their defeat, to block everything the President proposed. They have done that consistently. How do you propose to not pay bills that the Congress voted to accrue? Their actions have done great harm to the country and to Americans in general. This despite the fact Mr. Obama won twice by substantial pluralities. It seems to me that his winning indicates the will of the majority of the American people and that it was up to the Republicans to acknowledge that and get on with governing in the best interests of the people. They have not done that. Look at the filibuster record in the Senate. Disgraceful.

Where possible the President has used the Constitutional power of the Administration to issue Executive Orders, But not so many as his Republican predecessors, but for that he is accused of acting as a King. Like someone else here, I was a pretty loyal Republican for some 40 years. I would have a hard time now voting for one to mow my yard.

I’d like an answer first. We’re talking 4500 lives here.

Pam: Well said, Art.

Mark: “This despite the fact he won twice by substantial pluralities. It seems to me that his winning indicates the will of the majority of the American people” Take a look at the red/blue states again:

2012 Red-Blue States Map

Dale: Mark, Obama received 51% of the votes in both 2008 and 2012. 51% is not a mandate; however, it is a plurality, he did win the elections and the people are now suffering the consequences. The first term, one of his burdens was being one of the most ill prepared, least experienced Presidents ever. One would have thought there would be some improvement in the second term, but in my opinion, what we are seeing is his managerial and strategic weaknesses exposed. Now he won’t hold unstaged press conferences, he directs information which might be damaging to be withheld, and he is generally in “bunker” mode. Not to mention, most people in his party don’t even want to be seen with him.

“The will of the people” now give him a 45% job approval. If you are looking for a ray of hope, that’s up from January, when it was exactly the same as Bush in his sixth year. Reagan and Clinton, who were both better Presidents, again in my opinion, had ratings in the 60’s in their sixth years, but you probably knew all of this already.

JD: I really could care less if the President is in a “bunker mode” or his approval rating. I care about the things that most people do—getting this country back to where it can function. Most people want good jobs that pay wages that can support their families and fixes for infrastructure, the minimum wage, unemployment, immigration, and the list goes on and on. Who stops these bills? Why do the Republicans want to cut the safety net that helps so many? There’s plenty of blame to go around, that’s for sure, but President Obama has been obstructed at every turn.

Dennis: “Obama Administration to Reveal Justification for Drone Strikes on U.S. Citizens” by Nedra Pickler, AP
May 20, 2014 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/20/obama-drone-strikes_n_5360746.html)

Stanley: There can be only one reason that Dale continues to ignore any reasoning. I am sorry that his life experiences have made him so intolerant of those who are different. Dale will probably never get over these deep-seated beliefs. Fortunately, his generation will not live forever and future generations don’t share his mindset. I also noticed that Dale couldn’t bring himself to play my game. That would have required acknowledgement of the many failures of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Oh well, I knew he wouldn’t when the challenge was made.

Dale: Stanley, it seems to me that your wording is unfortunate and inaccurate. I don’t wish ill on anyone in this group. I have formed opinions, using reasoning different from yours, but that doesn’t mean I ignore ANY reasoning, or more specifically yours. I’m not intolerant…I just don’t agree. I accept that you have a different view and that’s OK with me. Do you feel the same? My political, economic, or social positions don’t keep me from doing volunteer work, contributing to religious organizations who provide magnificent social underpinning for poorer and less fortunate people, and also contributing to the economy by earning my own way, paying taxes and creating work for others.

“Liberal Self-Identification Edges Up to New High in 2013” by Jeffrey M. Jones, Gallup
Jan. 10, 2014 (http://www.gallup.com/poll/166787/liberal-self-identification-edges-new-high-2013.aspx)

The statistics agree with your comment that there is a trend towards more US people self identifying as Liberal over the last 20 years. Of course, it’s only 23% now and that is a record high. If it takes five years to go up 1%, which is the rate over the last five years, it will only take 75 years to get to the current level of those declaring themselves conservative, 38%. I’m sure our opinions of that happening are different, but you are entitled to your opinion.

Art: Dale, I feel we are piling on a bit and that is not what we want to do. What we would like is a reasonable logical conversation about these differences and perhaps an attempt to find a way to bridge at least some of the differences. Facts are a good way to do this. If you have factual information as to the President’s failings, by all means bring them up. We can discuss the accuracy of these facts and their relevance.

I’ll give you an example. I suspect you do not like the Affordable Care Act. For me the issues are: 1) the US spends about 14-15% of its GDP on health care. Most other modern states spend about 7-8%. 2) According to the CIA Fact Book and the World Health Organization data, the US ranks around 30th in most measurable health care statistics such as infant mortality, preventable deaths etc. So generally this means we pay about twice as much as any other modern country for health care and yet rank near or at the bottom for outcome. I think that’s pretty poor. I personally have lived with Universal Health Care all my adult life. It has worked fine. When I am sick I go to a Doctor, get treated, and don’t worry about paying for it. It is covered.

Statements like, “One would have thought there would be some improvement in the second term, but in my opinion what we are seeing is his managerial and strategic weaknesses exposed.” are absolutely meaningless and really don’t contribute much to the conversation. It is abundantly clear you don’t like him. Fair enough. We see that a lot. Assuming it is not racial bigotry or religious fundamentalism, then, if you can come up with factual evidence, we can have a worthwhile discussion. We may not convince each other of much, but at least we can grasp the logic of the other guy’s position. Just a thought.

Dale: Art, thanks for the thoughtful and thought-filled post. Tonight when I am done working I’ll try to add more specifics, as you rightfully suggest.

SteveB: I have just reread this entire thread and find several things of interest.

1. Dale and Mark, I will refer to you as the “Republicans”. Dale, you started this discussion (thank you very much!) with a condemnation of Mr. Obama, pinning the housing and mortgage problems on him by implication, yet you have no comment on arguments to the contrary that we have made or that were made in the article I presented. You seem to have lost interest in the facts of that little issue.

2. You Republicans have stated that we are “blind supporters”, “apologists”, and won’t admit that Mr. Obama “has been a disappointment” and a “failure”. Yet I find considerable criticism of the President and his administration by our side in this thread, but it has simply been ignored. At the same time, you Republicans don’t seem to want to talk about anything but Mr. Obama. If you have nothing to say about the abject failures of the Bush Administration and the “Grand Republican Experiment” we are still in the midst of, how can you say that we are the ones who are apologists and blind supporters, especially when you repeat so many Republican talking points (Hillary’s health, etc.)?

3. This (#2) is most telling, I feel, in the discussion of whether Mr. Obama has a mandate to rule or is somehow an illegitimate President. I say this because of the way the two of you present all kinds of statistics about how slim his margins of election were, how low his support, and how few “liberals” you feel are in the electorate. Yet the fact remains that he was elected according to our Cnstitution and is the legitimate President, even if Republicans don’t wish to grant him that “honor”. But remember, the Right started out not even wanting to grant him the honor of being an American and look where that went. Somehow, you completely forget and don’t want to discuss Mr. Bush’s margin of “victory” over Mr. Gore, or the fact that, despite that, Democrats allowed him all the rights and privileges of the Presidency without crying that they wouldn’t cooperate in any way because he was “illegitimate”. To me, that makes such points of yours concerning the President null and void.

4. I notice that you Republicans also failed completely to take up Stanley’s excellent challenge to criticize Republican Administrations, despite our offered criticisms of Democratic Administrations. To me, this makes your charges that Mr. Obama gets a free ride rather ridiculous. It looks to me like it is Mr. Bush, in particular, and Mr. Rayguns who get the free ride. But you ignore history and say, “This isn’t about Bush.” How very convenient to so completely ignore the historical context of what is happening in America.

5. I find it extremely interesting that you Republicans have so little or nothing to say about the big issues, or what you say is so vague as to be mere talking points with no substantive support. I see no large, legitimate issues in the realm of foreign policy, where Mr. Obama has proven to be more of a Republican than many Republicans. Art’s excellent points about the wars went conveniently unanswered. What have you got in reality, Benghazi? LOL! And Mark, what about the huge issue of the dreaded “Obamacare”, which you have previously stated to this group “has already wrecked the economy”? Maybe, even though I will readily admit it still has some problems, it is perhaps going a little better than you would like? And what about the economy, which seems to be going pretty darned well too compared to where we were and compared to much of the rest of the civilized world? I think the Democrats are much more disappointed in that arena as to job creation, investment in America, taxes, etc. You Republicans still seem to have your way pretty completely in the areas of taxes, deregulation, energy, the environment, global warming, etc., etc. Yet you still complain? And in the super-important issue of education, I hear nothing from you Republicans. And where is the bemoaning of your famous “deficit”, which used to be your biggest issue, I thought—the issue of debt that would destroy the entire known world? Not as big a problem as you thought? Not worth a mention? LOL!

6. So you Republicans are left with the smallest of issues—“Hillary”, illegitimacy, mismanagement, and mortgages. And here are a few direct quotes of your opinion of Mr. Obama’s failures that you consider to be such huge issues: “…His failures as a leader—lack of vision outside of his political ambitions, lack of selecting effective staff, lack of skills in negotiation or relationship building” and “…Botched foreign policy? Or to a mismanaged IRS? Or to an out of control NSA? Or to a Veterans Affairs department that isn’t functioning, despite frequent complaints?” and “The first term, one of his burdens was being one of the most ill prepared, least experienced Presidents ever. One would have thought there would be some improvement in the second term, but in my opinion what we are seeing is his managerial and strategic weaknesses exposed. Now he won’t hold unstaged press conferences, he directs information which might be damaging to be withheld, and he is generally in “bunker” mode. Not to mention, most people in his party don’t even want to be seen with him.” Is that all you’ve got? In that case, you sound more like Obama supporters and apologists than we do!

I would appreciate, for once, specific responses to the points made, not more diversion, avoidance, and apologies for Republicans, especially for Mr. Bush. So far, it seems to me, the point of the Republicans here has been, as someone said, a mere “talking point”–Obama is bad. That doesn’t really get it in a discussion as important as this one. Thank you for this interesting discussion, my Republican friends and all my Friends of the Middle.

JD: Nice job SteveB! Dale has made me more aware of what it must be like to get anything done in Washington.

Mark: I prefer not to be “drawn and quartered” by you middle of the roaders. You certainly have divined alot from the less that 50 words I have posted on this forum.

SteveB: Mark: “I prefer not to be ‘drawn and quartered’ by you middle of the roaders.” Thank you, I consider that to be quite a compliment and hope you’ll stick around.

Mark: “You certainly have divined alot from the less that 50 words I have posted on this forum.” I’m a brujo too, Mark. We divine stuff, what can I say? If I have represented your views incorrectly or unfairly, please feel free to correct me.

Pam: With all respect, Mark, you are not the one being drawn and quartered, Mr. Obama is. But set that aside. SteveB and Art have both made excellent arguments, backed up with evidence. They have asked repeatedly for evidence to the contrary, so that facts, not hot air, can settle, or at least deal with, these vexing questions: health care, education, the Middle East, Russia, etc. You say Obama is not qualified—based on what? If you want to use comparisons in your arguments, I’d be careful if I were you. Republicans reap what they sow, then blame the Democrats for their failures: the banks, the Recession, degegulation that has had real-world consequences (the coal ash spill in NC, the extreme weather patterns resulting in large measure from the burning of fossil fuels, soaring health costs, and a sluggish bureaucracy.) The list goes on, and we could write a book on each. Mostly what I get from arguments on the Right is that you don’t like liberals, which I have to assume is because you don’t like the liberal style, ie., educated, informed, socially responsible, compassionate, egalitarian, and open-minded. And the beards and Birkenstocks probably don’t help either. Your gut tells you there are too many freeloaders. My gut tells me, and I witness with my own eyes, too many good, hard-working people who are being squeezed by the lack of security and opportunity.

One of the hardest things a human being can do is change his mind about a long-held belief. Have you EVER done that? If so, I’d like to hear about it. And I don’t mean deciding that you prefer plaid to stripes. I used to believe in adoption, 100%. Over forty years of experience has taught me that I was dead wrong about it. Making that mental shift has not been easy. In fact, I’ve gone through two and a half years of extreme emotional, psychological, and intellectual crisis. I was wrong, and I admit it. My actions hurt others, and I don’t try to deny it—at least not any longer. There is great liberation in letting go of destructive beliefs and attitudes (black people are lazy, poor people deserve their plight, Christianity is the only one true religion, the rich deserve their wealth because they work harder than a steel worker). My world has not crashed around my ears, as for decades I believed it would if I admitted my errors. Instead, I am living more authentically today than I have since I was a child. You don’t have to be locked in a prison of your own making, which is what the angry right-wing mob is doing. Obama is not the one in the bunker.

Mark: Pardon me, but where do you find the time to construct such an argument? I’m at work. You don’t know me and frankly, I don’t want to waste my time trying to change your mind. It’s not fun or interesting to be the “token Republican” and the target of derision, but sometimes it is funny! You have your strongly held beliefs and so do I, let’s leave that way and I’ll just continue to read these posts (until they disintegrate into name calling), and I’ll be satisfied to make my position known by voting. You can be certain that I might be reading your silly liberal drivel or I might be leaving it in the spam folder where it belongs…

SteveB: Mark, I used to be a Republican. Art used to be a Republican. I believe JD and/or Stanley used to be Republicans. Dentists used to fill people’s mouths with mercury and, at one time, pulled every tooth that had a problem. Strongly held beliefs can change and, often, need to change. Republicans almost always disappear from our discussions without being called names. In our group, all the name calling that I can recall has come from the Right. I think you and Dale have been brave to stand up for what you believe in against superior numbers (at least). I hope you will continue to do so. I have solicited other Republicans to join in the discussion and I hope you will too (I don’t know what they or you can be afraid of other than the truth!). With more people from the Right, you may feel it’s more of an even battle. These are such important issues that, as Pam says, I don’t believe there is any place for dogma. Let us all be open minded and let the chips fall where they may, not do as someone said, and take our ball and go home. When presented with facts, there is nothing wrong with and, actually, something quite honorable in changing one’s mind.

SteveBa (via email): The failure of one administration does not excuse the next who claims that they can fix it all. You probably have not noticed O. has had to walk back his promise to fix W’s mistakes, the latest being the VA, where O. strongly criticizes W. Saying I’m not as bad the other guy is being a fool.

SteveB: More talking points I’m afraid, SteveBa.

FredS (via email): Well, SteveB, you did a pretty good job of making my points. I would only add that Mr. Obama’s foreign policy on Russia seems to have worked, not that we should not keep on our toes about this. The Republicans wanted us to go in with force, but since Russia has become capitalistic, the strike on their economy got their attention. The hawks lost this one. Speaking of that, when will America wake up to what Eisenhower warned about—the military-industrial complex is killing our economy and the lives of the average man. Think of the billions that could and should be spent on infrastructure. This is a great need that would produce thousands of jobs. Instead we spend a billion dollars on one airplane which is supposed to be a stealth, but the workers have to wear ear protection because the engine makes so much noise that humans can not be around it. BUSH SHOULD BE IN PRISON ALONG WITH ALL OF HIS MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX ADVISERS, IF NOT SOMETHING MORE SEVERE.

Dennis: Obama, because of his subordination to Wall Street and the Pentagon, could be viewed as Bush Lite. But this one he seems to have earned on his own:

Drone Strikes - Obama

SteveB: Oh, and, Mark, about your remark: “Pardon me, but where do you find the time to construct such an argument? I’m at work,” as if we’re lazy bums or something. Please remember than some of us are a little order than you and are retired. I don’t think any of us are on welfare and surely you don’t begrudge us our Social Security and/or retirement checks? I also have workers at my store who often take care of things pretty well, so I don’t have to be there all the time. Someday, you’ll probably be retired and have the time to do whatever you want to do too. I’ll expect to hear more from you then if not sooner

Pam: Now that I’m retired, I have lots of time to think, and that’s what I’ve been doing. The only time I ever call anyone names is in the privacy of my own home. (Glenn Beck is an idiot!) But I would never pretend that a slur is an argument. I am a proud liberal. I believe that the things that you deplore are not so different from the things that bother me: huge student debt, the housing bubble, the need for an improved health care system. We can discuss how to alleviate these problems without insulting each other. I just remember that the one who loses his temper is the one who loses the argument.

Stanley: To SteveB’s last point: One of the reasons that our well-educated youth are finding it hard to enter into a starting career position is the Baby Boomer generation’s poor financial planning. I suspect many of this group are beyond the normal retirement age. Why are you still working? In the natural order of things, 65+ year olds should be debt free and enjoying the fruits of their long productive lives. With retirement, the openings created should start a chain reaction to allow the following generations to fill the void. That is a phenomena in nature that applies to economics. (I voluntarily gave up my seat on the corporate train when I was 55 years old. Some might argue that I sound more like a conservative,”I got mine… too bad that you don’t have yours”… member of the snob class. If that makes anyone feel better about themselves…. so be it. But remember, I built it.) However, the same people who resent opportunities for those “unworthy parasites” in our society are in fact often the ones standing in the way. I doubt that anyone in this group falls into this category (hehehe), but I am sure we all know someone who will HAVE to continue to work well into their 70’s. What a shame! Is this Obama’s fault? I think not. Those who have planned well are probably also enjoying this time in their life. If so, good for them. If you are not one of them, then quit looking for someone else to blame. You will see the culprit in the mirror. 98 rounds (golf) and counting.

Pam: I agree that the Baby Boomers have a lot to answer for, but we didn’t ask to be a bulge generation. We got lucky—a war ended, the economy boomed, the middle class expanded—and we thought that was “normal” life. We forgot the struggles of other generations and got spoiled. Then many of us spoiled our kids. I agree too that the older generation should step aside and let the young ones have their chance. I absolutely agree with that. Too many old professors, teachers, even doctors would do better to leave the field to the young ones with energy and drive. If we want to still do things, we should, by all means, especially if we can afford not to work. When I retired (early), I did so in order to care for my young grandsons while their parents work. It saved them thousands of dollars in child care and gave me joy and purpose in my life. Now that the little one is going into kindergarten, I plan on becoming more of an activist in the adoption-reform movement. I will pursue my passions, as I always have, and make no apologies for the way I’ve lived my life. I do try not to criticize others, though, because you never really know the whole truth about anyone’s circumstances but your own. The happiest seeming marriage may be rotten to the core. The successful engineer may be miserable because he gave up a career as an art teacher. We need to give each other the benefit of the doubt and be encouraging, rather than berating people we don’t know for decisions we know nothing about.

Stanley: I didn’t name any names.

SteveB: Actually, I don’t think Pam named any names either! I’m proud of both of you!

Stanley: You are right. She didn’t. However, the “chum is in the water”.

Art: Come on, everybody. These are two well articulated positions. Both have merit. I do agree that each person has to make her/his decision depending on individual circumstances. I kind of retied on schedule (67-1/2) but all the pieces fit too. Just a thought.

SteveB: Boy, it sure got silent on the other end of the line awfully quick! I sure didn’t mean to scare anybody off with logic and reason and I’m sure you didn’t either, Art, Pam, JD, Stanley… Darn! Just when it might have been getting good! As someone said, when push comes to shove, they take their ball and go home… I’m beginning to think the Right-Wing positions don’t hold any water at all, or they would be able to tell us how they do. Maybe it’s all just a house of cards, a sham? Magic might be more substantial! Maybe it was that Benghazi piece I put up?

Dennis: I think we need Larry since he never gives up. Too bad he’s not on Facebook.

SteveB: You’re right about Larry and I like that. You have to talk him into joining us here!

Dennis: No free pass for Obama here:

“Geithner Book Reveals Consensus, Not Vision, During Financial Crisis” by Jesse Eisinger, The New York Times
May 21, 2014 (http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/05/21/geithner-book-reveals-consensus-not-vision-during-financial-crisis/)

SteveB: This, Dennis is one of the reasons I (and I think you) feel that Obama, too, sold a lot of his soul to somebody on the other side with a lot of money. If that’s not what happened, it sure seems like it, doesn’t it?


“Climate Control” (by Steven W. Baker)

Climate Control (Santa Cruz, Bolivia)

“Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire
Couldn’t conquer the blue sky.”

– Neil Finn and Tim Finn of Crowded House, from “Weather with You” (1989)

We were uprooted for six months,
Mainly living in resorts and hotels,
Usually crammed into one small room.
Part of the time, we did without a car,
A genuine difficulty in Florida, USA.

The hotel air conditioners chugged on and off
Into the unending Southern sauna they call night.
We lived out of our disorganized suitcases,
Watching the seasons and their animals,
Functioning, but not really comfortable.

The high point of life there was evening on the beach
With my youngest daughter in an Indian drum circle—
A tribute and thanks to the setting sun for our lives.
Marissa spun in the dying light, young and lovely to behold,
Yet I didn’t realize the meaning of what I experienced.

Now, I’m sitting here in my new office,
In our new apartment, en ciudad central,
Looking out the window beyond my desk
At the little courtyard and its lone palm tree
Which rises just above our second story flat.

I am in a grand relaxation and recovery mode,
Yet, as you can see, here I am, still working,
If you can call summoning and twisting words
Something like what we normally call “real” work.
I know only, for sure, it is not much like play.

Still, what a luxury to have time to sit and think
And remember and regret and yet not regret,
Trying to keep alive the source of dreams
And maybe see some of what remains unseen
While there is time and will for something new.

The cool south wind has finally blown in some rain
But now the patch of sky I see out my window
Has brightened to pale blue behind racing clouds.
Soon, the sun will have its chance, and my palm
Against the building will resemble a Georgia O’Keeffe:

A big, sunny, audacious, passionate canvas
Filled with limits and peeks around those limits,
With secret little shadows under the beating sun–
How much the places and things of this world,
Stretching around and back in time, are the same!

I find it surpassingly comfortable sitting here,
Watching my simple, colorful painting evolve.
The complex, double arching fronds outside
Were recently joined by a long green spear
Stabbing straight up from the palm’s crown.

This alien growth sprouted fast enough
That I could almost see it move, stretching taller.
Now, long after opening and starting to bend,
The junior frond’s little sub-leaflets still stand out,
Rigid and proud of their unyielding youth. Punks!

These old eyes don’t focus that well on my monitor
When I alternate between it and my little cityscape,
But I’m stuck with what I’m stuck with,
Despite the self-image I still largely carry within,
Idealized, of myself when I was twenty-something.

So at sixty-something (¿Qué?), in another new life,
With untold stories still thick around and within me,
I have lived more than one life during this one time.
The stream twisted and turned and I floated along.
Allow me to pause here and breathe a few moments…

I will tell you what I see and you’ll see what I leave out,
For that is how the truth must always imperfectly unfold.
And I will start with our little apartment in the big city,
Where the woman I love and I have built something
As simple yet as pleasing as life in this time permits.

We only have about 750 sq. ft., all in the tropical style—
Concrete, brick, mortar, stucco, ceramic tile, paint,
That’s all. Nothing for bugs or wet. Nothing to burn.
Cool white throughout—bedroom, office, living room,
Dining area, kitchen, laundry room, and two baths.

When I was younger, I could live in a tent or on a boat
For weeks, and after three days without a shower, feel clean.
But my father’s house was big, and the house where
We raised our kids, and now our casita further out of town
With its flowering gardens, patio, and maid’s apartment.

I don’t think I could live now in, for instance, a “tiny house”
Like you see on the internet (google it) with 100 to 250 sq. ft.
Think of the cabin where Ted Kaczynski lived in Montana woods,
10’x12’…more than many world citizens inhabit, I’m sure.
So we love our “Cubby Bear” apartment—light, cozy, just right.

We don’t have things here from our former lives.
My storage area in Indiana is stuffed and my wife’s family
Is nice enough to store some more of it…items not so needed.
Our furnishings are minimal, for life’s necessary endeavors—
Cooking, eating, sleeping, working, relaxing, washing.

I hadn’t really thought about it, but I guess we live low,
Since there is such a thing, on the carbon footprint scale,
Which is good, as we live at the edge of Amazon and Inca worlds.
We use plentiful Bolivian gas for all we can. We own no car.
Public transportation and taxis serve us very well here.

Through my office window I hear a motor gunned or horn blown
Now and then, but no roosters in the morning, la madraguda dulce.
Very unlike our casita, or even our last apartment here in the city,
Or places I used to go in the Caribbean, especially my lovely SL,
Where there might be an entire valley of roosters shouting.

Some direct Inca descendant made my Indian blanket curtain,
Covered with llamas, cholo flute players, and chola spinners,
And most striking of all, the Sun God in all his fiery wrath.
An odor drifts through the window– the burning of the cane fields
And the making of this year’s sugar, so people can eat cake.

Three small blocks north, along C. Independencia, lies the plaza,
The center, corazón, and soul of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia.
This wooded space almost always overflows with people and pigeons.
Vendors of colorful wares and restaurants line the approaches,
The cathedral faces the plaza from one corner, serious amid laughter.

This is the oldest part of the city, casco viejo, which fifty years ago
Had sleepy dirt streets full of ox carts with giant wooden wheels.
Now it has exploded into an almost modern city of two million.
And, in the Third World (not to demean, but a useful comparison),
The perfect exists right beside squalid, rich in the arms of poor.

To me, the only way of seeing things is to walk around,
And just outside my front door, lies an exotic world to explore.
I might be walking down some absolutely weary old street…
Notice a lovely large wooden door usually closed, now open
Onto a cool shady patio surrounded by a Spanish-style home,

With carved tajibo wood columns, immaculate furnishings,
And refined, gentle people drinking tea in the post-siesta afternoon.
This is where the family gathers on Sundays, come or not, tranquilo.
I can’t help but wish to know them and where they came from,
Across what seas and times to arrive here of all places.

Not so tranquil are the cabañas along the Rio Piraí. (I’m told all words
From the local Guaraní end in accented vowels, for some reason.)
This strip not far from town reminds me of Piñones, along the beach road
Outside San Juan, or any Windward Island village on a weekend night—
Slightly sleazy and lawless, drunken, wild, chaotic, but fun—to loud music!

I guess it sounds worse than it is, just like Carnaval does,
Maybe that’s why those secrets in Vegas don’t make the return trip.
But we love the music and dancing. My wife is a lovely dancer,
Especially when she has had just a little bit of Paceña to drink,
She moves with a smile as big and bright as the salt flats of Uyuni.

She speaks perfect English with the cutest of accents,
Though there are priceless gems, still, in some of her English,
Such as the Alabama drawl I can hear echoing in “ma’yam”,
Or the way she might “weight” herself in the morning, not weigh,
Or how a girl in the news was still in the hospital in a “comma”.

And I am sacrificing these gems, dear reader, for you to know her.
She’ll correct her “errors” because she doesn’t like mistakes.
I understand, because I will sometimes chuckle to myself like Lucy
Used to do when Ricky would twist English into something funny,
But my Marcela is far cuter than even little Ricky used to be.

So here we dance, and we might go to parties, or to nightclubs,
Things she and I don’t often do in the US, but it’s different there.
In our little town in Montana, a party might start in early afternoon
And run all the way, with hot dogs and cokes, through maybe eight,
Then the host would start putting things away, party over.

But back to me sitting here looking out my office window…
Leading me to tell you a little more about my workplace.
When you travel as much as I have, moving from project
To project, often in different parts of the world, you adapt,
And one of the ways is to try to maintain some consistency.

Some people live in the same town, the same house, all their lives.
I don’t know exactly why, but I’m used to packing and unpacking,
And the place where I work has to meet certain requirements.
It has to be adapted to the way I like to work and, a little, play,
But the goal is to be happy, comfortable, and productive. Right?

So I have my office set up about the same as always, wherever I am,
Though, on the road, I’m pretty productive with just my laptop and phone.
In one place, things proliferate into something a little more elaborate:
The main thing is that my computer gear grows to fill available space,
And that space is allocated by the most important office item—a desk!

Though I don’t exactly have a desk. You see, I need something large,
And desks that size are a waste of money, so I have a big wooden table,
Locally made of local wood. I had to take the top and my door off
Just to get it inside where I could use it and add a gear shelf below.
There is space for my computer, notes, and papers, a world in itself.

The first computer I ever programmed was even more its own world,
Though my laptop is much more powerful in every way imaginable.
It was an IBM 709 computer with tubes, at Indiana University, 1963.
During the summer, I was one of a small army working on it,
In a basement data center full of refrigerator-sized tape drives.

I remember that just the air-conditioning cost $1,000.000 a year.
You had to speak to the 709 in Fortran or “assembly language”
Via punch cards that took another army of ladies to produce,
But I liked doing even that part myself. My favorite day was Saturday,
When I filled-in as computer operator and had the beast to myself…

A kid in a candy shop… I guess I am still that after all this time…
But describing my office, I started with a window, a desk, a laptop.
The first thing I added was a big-screen monitor, keyboard, and trackball
To save those on my laptop for travel and to improve the HMI,
I hate squinting and picking-up a stupid mouse 10,000 times a day.

About half of my equipment is from the U.S. and requires 110 volts,
The other half was purchased in South America and uses 220,
So I need a transformer, wiring, and outlet strips for both voltages.
Then there’s the internet modem, Ethernet switches/hubs/routers,
Four 4Tb networked hard drives, a printer, a scanner, speakers.

Having outgrown sports, still, like most of my friends, I love toys,
And, even more so, tools, because creating, building is the most fun.
A man might have a special car covered in the garage, or a boat,
A woman might have slept with her iPhone in her hand that first night,
But she will no sooner admit to that than to promiscuous masturbation.

I have software for programming computers and factories, like C++.
I have Office, of course, AutoCAD, and the Abobe graphics programs,
Editors of several types, software for creating any type of webpage,
Then there are all the disks and media players you need to play video,
CDs, DVDs, photographic images, type fonts, and very much music.

And you may wonder what I do with all this stuff other than sitting here
Looking out the window thinking about O’Keeffe and stupid computers.
The truth is that I have about 20 projects going, in one stage or another,
Though I concentrate on one writing and one non-writing project at a time.
My mother used to always say, “Idle hands are…,” and I guess I listened.

One of the big networked hard drives is full of nothing but music.
All of my CDs (now living in my Indiana storage area) are in there.
These tracks are in “lossless” .flac format. I also have many in .mp3 format,
Ripped from CD’s or downloaded from internet sites. Then there are e-books,
From a wide range of sources, and I will even read one now and then.

The first thing I did after we moved into our little apartment
Was to find, buy, and have air-conditioning installed.
I’ll never understand how anyone could live in the tropics without it.
It’s beyond me, but they commonly do, without sweating (much)
Where I am like the movie Gringo in the white suit covered in sweat.

When I come home and first enter my sweltering office
Before the cool, dry air begins to wash over me,
I’m sometimes reminded of my first little 10’x12’ “office”.
It was just an unused chicken-house that I cleaned-up
And painted myself in thick, pure, white paint.

I thought of it as my laboratory more than my office.
I built two lab tables painted with the same thick, white paint.
They weren’t very sturdy until my Dad taught me about triangles,
But I was only 12-years-old and had so much to learn,
And soon learned that the summer sun made the place unbearable.

Of course, I knew nothing of air-conditioning at that time,
So I was ultimately defeated by the Indiana summer sun
And had to retreat to our basement for my second “lab”.
I think I wanted to invent or concoct something there
That would change the world, and perhaps I still do.

My new office is so much cooler in every way, I guess,
Comfortable for me to sit and think about the meaning
Of my comfort and the progression of my life toward what?
To sit here at just the right temperature, with my cup of coffee,
Refreshed by the hot shower I’ve just taken, to think? Perhaps.

And, instead of dwelling on the past now, this is what I think about:
The love of my wife is as important as the cool air that I breathe.
She is the spiritual ocean I swim in because she is my family,
She is my friend, my lover, my gourmet chef, my nagging nurse
When I am sick (rarely) and refuse to go to the doctor.

She is my door into more society than I could ever fit into the time
I have to work, the words I have to write, and the meaning I must find.
She makes it all easy for me except when she is mad at me,
But her Latin temper is as quick to blow over as to rise, and
She is my dark-haired Shakira, yet like my mother in so many ways.

But, you know, it’s not easy opening that door, learning to accept another.
At first you find the door closed, then that you can open it just a little,
Then a little more and let the love and light come in and go out.
In this time of the crown of the crown of creation, if you open yourself,
In the resulting space and air and sun good things will grow.

Like the palm tree that flourishes outside my office window
Which has made a compromise with the steel and concrete surrounding
To live and grow and sway in the midst of what is static and dead,
Like my daughter on the beach, thriving within the circle of life,
Or my wife happily gabbing on the phone in the living room.

The circle of life is so seemingly infinite, yet so limited.
The Pachamama sees life flourish on the edge of its very extinction
And smiles her fat, happy Inca smile, to make me realize that
This is all I ever really wanted, except maybe to have it as a younger man,
Except maybe for it to last as long as it can, for the circle to be complete.

©2014 Steven W. Baker


The Death Penalty (by Friends of the Middle)

“Clayton Lockett Execution: Oklahoma Prison Chief Calls for Greater Review” by AP, May 1, 2014, (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/05/01/clayton-lockett-execution-oklahoma-prison-chief-calls-for-greater-review/)


Execution Methods

Pam: I’ve never understood why execution isn’t “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Sandy: I agree, Pam.  It is cruel and unusual.  I would rather see life in jail with no parole.  The idea that some want to ban all abortions but executions are OK, is illogical to me.

Art: I’m kind of middle on this one. Mostly I’m for efficiency. When you consider some of the heinous crimes these folks committed, I have little sympathy for the guilty, but I also have no desire to see them suffer. I don’t claim to understand the science in detail but I have been knocked out enough times for medical procedures and had have to put enough dogs to sleep, that I am sure there must be a fairly painless and easy way. Also I have no desire to see these folks roaming the streets again and paying for their upkeep for the next 30 years or so seems a waste of everyone’s time and resources.

SteveB: I agree with Art about the method. I just don’t see what the technical problems could be. Maybe they should study the Michael Jackson case a little. Seems like that worked. And thyy don’t seem to make dogs suffer, as far as I’ve seen.

Art: Well heck, at least I’m consistent.  Pam makes some good points as does Steve, but  I am not sure about the expense part.

SteveB: I just had an idea that maybe the best way to carry out the death penalty would be to just push them off a tall building (or try ordering them to jump first, to give them a chance to redeem themselves a little). The “Pusher” (not “Executioner”) would be there for that purpose, just in case he or she is needed. Or maybe they could be called “Last Flight Enablers” or just “Flight Enablers”. That should allow them to hold their heads a little higher and eliminate some of the shame, even if it raises their pay grade a notch. See, I have it all worked out!

This way, the condemned would get to have a little fun before they land and not have to suffer (especially if concrete could be arranged as a landing area). Bushes are probably out. Surely this would not be “cruel and unusual” punishment because lots of people fall or jump off tall buildings all the time, right? So the courts should approve. Especially the Supremes!

I think that’s the way I want to go (minus the “Flight Enabler”, of course). When it looks like I’m not going to make it, rather than languish in an expensive hospital and be a trial and tribulation to my loved ones, I imagine that I’ll just ride an elevator up, find a door to the roof, and experience one more thrill in life before I go to collect my seven virgins and gold or whatever. I’m not a very good singer or harp player and living on clouds doesn’t seem too cool, so I’m going with virgins and streets of gold. Oh, and the rivers should be different flavors of milk shakes and malts, and I sure hope there are coneys, fried mush, and morels. Also, the virgins should be young and very good looking, otherwise I might want to see what hell has to offer. I hear there are lots of bad girls down there (which might be better than virgins, when you think about it)…but I digress…

Flying to death! It has an appeal for me. Why not for chain-saw murderers? Maybe the truly innocent would not land. Maybe they’d just go flying off and then we would know the truth. Has anyone ever tried this method of execution to know for sure? An experiment must be done! Who’s next in line in Oklahoma?

Art: Hmmmmm?  Slightly disturbing, but this is the Church of Steve. Actually if my memory is correct the old Puritans used the dunking stool in much same way. If you drowned you were guilty and if you could hold your breath long enough you must be innocent. Also public executions used to be the norm. So maybe elements of this have been around. Tiberius used to throw his victims off the cliffs outside of Villa Jovis, so I guess that covers the flying part. Need to think on this one.

SteveG: I am with Sandy and Pam.

SteveB: Jeez, I don’t know what else I can do to meet you guys half way! Maybe I have Art hooked though. How about if we let them choose between life in prison, lethal injection, or the “Flight Enabler”? I bet many would choose the latter. Also, this would demonstrate American exceptionalism and liberty by giving them an exceptional choice. This might also allow the “Flight Enablers” (“Facilitators”?) to hold their heads even higher! Hey, it’s not their fault if they have to push a guy who chose that form of punishment himself, then tried to pussy out.) And if it was good enough for Tiberius, it’s good enough for me!

In places where they have cliffs, I like Art’s cliff idea even better than my tall building plan. But in states like Indiana, despite the presence of “Fern Cliff”, “Turkey Run”, and the “Indiana Dunes”, I’m not sure there are any really dependable cliffs there, and we can’t allow post-landing suffering… I can remember some grad student used the Krannert Building at Purdue quite successfully. Here in Santa Cruz, as soon as they finished the first building over two stories, somebody jumped off. They’re still famous and so if the building. I guess it’s only human nature, therefore good enough for convicted murderers, petty thieves, gun owners, husband beaters, and unrepentant Republicans. Remember: a reduced population results in a lower carbon footprint! Every cloud has a silver lining. We just have to think positive, people, and remember that the glass is as full as we want it to be.

Science vs. “Science” (by Steven W. Baker)

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s new “Cosmos” series has gotten me to thinking about the historical record of clashes between what real scientists say is true and what their religious/political/economic enemies tell us is the truth. It’s a pretty dismal record for “science”, which, of course, has literally nothing to do with science itself, because it’s concocted by non-scientists, often financed by powerful vested interests with plenty of reasons for perpetuating lies and misinformation.

Oh, you don’t trust scientists? Do you think science is wrong about Climate Change and its causes? Perhaps you should take a little trip with me back in time…

  1. Flat Earth – People seem to have a lot of confusion about this subject. Although most primitive societies seem to have assumed that the world was a flat disk and the Chinese didn’t know the Earth wasn’t flat until Western astronomy was introduced in the 17th Century, the Greeks knew our planet was a sphere from Pythagoras on. Aristotle knew too. The Greeks passed this knowledge on to the Arabic countries and to the rest of Europe. This information survived the Dark Ages in educated circles and the Catholic Church all the way to Columbus and beyond.

But the idea of a spherical Earth was questioned by many during the Middle Ages (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth).

Needless to say, all primitive societies, ignorant Romans and Saints who thought the Earth was flat were proven wrong by science—

mathematics, and astronomy. Now, satellites commonly prove who was right and who was wrong. If you doubt this, I have a used car I want to sell you, and I promise it has never been in a Great Flood.

  1. Galileo – Yet, even if the Earth is round and recognized as such, the “enlightened” Church and tiny educated classes of the Middle Ages, with access to Greek, Roman, and Arabic texts, were convinced that it was in the wrong place—at the center of the universe, which was also a pretty small universe, by the way. Galileo proved them wrong, but it took a lot of time for many to listen and, of course, Galileo paid a famous price for the truths he told, a story repeated often in the history of science, even up to the present day.
  1. Evolution – Somehow, this is a battle still being fought by science against the religious Right. How this is possible is simply a mystery to me. Mr. Darwin’s theories are not even counter to religion or the Bible (except maybe Noah). The modern Catholic Church is a good example of understanding that, if God made life, evolution could logically be his method as easily as Creationism.

The battle is still being fought, but don’t think for one minute that science hasn’t already won. The evidence is overwhelming. Unless you believe the Earth is flat, this evidence cannot be ignored and there is no reason to ignore it. If you prefer having a God, picture him directing the process. If not, then natural selection certainly seems like enough to do the trick.

See Dawkins, Richard, The Blind Watchmaker (2004), River Out of Eden (1995), Climbing Mount Improbable (1996), etc.

  1. Age of the Earth – One of the problems the fundamentalists and evangelicals have with Evolution is that they firmly believe that the Earth is only 6000 or so years old. They get this number by counting the number of generations in the Old Testament, multiplying by what they figure to be the number of years in each generation then, I suppose, adding about 2000 to get us up to 2014.

They are positively right about Evolution! If the earth is only 6000-years-old, Evolution is too slow to account for diddly.

Fortunately, one great though largely unrecognized scientist, Clair Cameron Patterson (with important help from Harrison Brown), proved beyond all reasonable doubt in 1953, that the Earth is approximately 4.55 billion years old—a number that still stands. Patterson used a meteorite from Canyon Diablo in Arizona and the physics of the steady decay of radioactive isotopes of lead into common lead to establish that figure.

In order to complete his work, he had to build the world’s first “clean room”, because he found that lead contamination was ubiquitous in our society.

  1. Lead Contamination – From what I can tell, Clair Cameron Patterson fought this battle pretty much alone. Arrayed against him were the lead industry, the automobile industry, the then giant Ethyl Corporation, the energy conglomerates, and the scientists and politicians who were on their payrolls. From Wikipedia:

[Patterson’s] ability to isolate microgram quantities of lead from ordinary rocks and determine their isotope composition led him to examining the lead in ocean sediment samples from the Atlantic and Pacific. Deriving from the different ages at which the landmasses had drained into the ocean, he was able to show that the amount of anthropogenic lead presently dispersed into the environment was about eighty times the amount being deposited in the ocean sediments: the geochemical cycle for lead appeared to be badly out of balance.

The limitations of the analytic procedures led to him using other approaches. He found that deep ocean water contained 3-10 times less lead than surface water, in contrast to similar metals such as barium. This led him to doubt the commonly held view that lead concentrations had only grown by a factor of two over naturally occurring levels.

Patterson returned to the problem of his initial experiment and the contamination he had found in the blanks used for sampling. He determined through ice-core samples from Greenland that atmospheric lead levels had begun to increase steadily and dangerously soon after tetraethyllead began to see widespread use in fuel, when it was discovered to reduce engine knock in internal combustion engines. Patterson subsequently identified this, along with the various other uses of lead in manufacturing, as the cause of the contamination of his samples, and because of the significant public-health implications of his findings, he devoted the rest of his life to removing as much introduced lead from the environment as possible.

Fortunately, after difficult battles, Patterson ultimately won and lead has been banned from our skies and from our food and water. The evils of lead are now well documented. Even tiny amounts can do damage to humans and the environment. By the 1990’s levels of lead in the blood of the average American had been reduced by about 80%. The world was made safer by science, not “science”.

See: Bryson, Bill, A Short History of Nearly Everything (2004); Patterson, Clair Cameron, Contaminated and Natural Lead Environments of Man (1965).

  1. Tobacco – This one is hardly worth talking about, though it is very important and instructional, because this war has been fought in our lifetimes. In an NBC/WSJ survey last month, when asked which substance is most harmful—tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, or sugar—tobacco was seen as the most harmful by 49% of respondents, leading the other contenders by a wide margin, and proving that it is possible to educate the American populace.

If you think the tobacco industry and the scientists and politicians it paid to promote its goals won this battle, you might want to consider what is now common knowledge—thanks to science, not “science”—and the billions of dollars big tobacco has been forced to pay for the damages it has caused or aided and abetted, though that may be a drop in the bucket considering the true damage, including the untimely death of my own mother.

  1. Climate Change – If you are with me that science has destroyed “science” in all six of the examples presented above, but you think climate change is different and that the scientists are wrong this time, I suggest you do a little research. The evidence is truly overwhelming, yet, once again, powerful forces and tons of money are being used by vested interests to buy scientists ad politicians to protect their empires against the good of society as a whole. It’s the same old story. Why believe this kind of  “science” when so much is at stake? How many of these battles have lies and money ever won? Let us hope and pray they don’t win this one.

See: http://www.amazon.com/Top-Books-Climate-Change-Sustainability/lm/RUPO4K3KTEAO4.

See: Federal Climate Change Report Highlights Risks for Americans and Warns That Climate Change Is Already Hurting Americans


Slogans of the Right vs. Reality (by Friends of the Middle)

SteveB: Gary, I was just watching a little of CNN’s new multi-part history series, “Cold War”.

I was thinking that I hope you and our friend, my brothers in arms, were watching it too. (Though I can’t send this to our other friend because he has my email address blocked after telling me publicly that I have no balls, the big chicken. :-)

“Cold War” clearly shows, in case you don’t remember your history, the evil of accusing people of being “communists”. I literally hate that kind of unfairness with every ounce of passion in my being, from the tip of my head to the souls of my feet, with my stomach puking my guts out in between.

Yet this name-calling is what we’ve had and what we continue to have in America instead of dialog and reason, as our entire fabric of achievements is ripped apart by the extreme Right. I challenge you to name one good American thing the Koch Brothers, for just one example, are not trying to dismantle.

If you don’t see this yet, I hope and pray you will live long enough to realize that I speak nothing but the truth. Such a fearsome thing, huh, my friend? The truth!

Long may the almighty dollar wave! (It waves “goodbye” to the America we knew and loved, to the America of freedom, equality, and fair play, I promise you. Those were the very heart of the true American exceptionalism!)

Art: Libtard! You’re absolutely right and it is getting worse I fear.

SteveB: Ya, that’s what we are now instead of commies, right? I can just see some partially toothless teabagger shouting it now with all the intelligence he can muster! “Libtard!” How ironic! Too bad you can’t build or sustain a civilization with irony alone, or I wouldn’t be nearly so worried.

Gary: Steve,  I suspect that our friend got tired of the one sided diatribes (like I did) where you blame everything on Republicans but when the Democrats do the same thing you can’t call them out.

As far as calling someone a “Communist”, if you really read history of the period from WWI to just after WWII, there were a lot of communists in the US and many in the FDR administrations.  This is fact!  They were card carrying members of the Communist party.  Now, in reality many of these people would be termed “Socialists” today much like our President.  I suspect that very few of these US Communists had ever seen real communism at work in the USSR and I suspect that many (including most Jewish Communists) chose Communism because of the Fascism they saw in Germany, Italy and Spain.

Now, as far as the Koch brothers are concerned, let’s look at them versus George Soros and others like him.  At least the Koch brothers employ thousands of employees and create goods and services used by many in the US and abroad.  Soros employs no one in the US, pays no US tax and earns his money manipulating markets.  Given a choice, outside of their political interests, I would choose the Koch brothers every time.  Personally, I don’t like what they do politically nor do I like what Soros or unions do either.  If the Koch brothers are bad, so is Soros and the unions.

My issue now is that Obama and his acolytes are dismantling everything that is exceptional about the US.  He is a European Socialist (my thoughts, not some commentators).  Once history is written about this administration, I think you will see that it is one of the most corrupt, bullying and non-transparent Presidencies ever.

It is unfortunate that you can’t accept that the Far Left is just as bad as the Far Right.  You’ve never met a Republican that wasn’t evil or greedy.  That is far from the truth but it is the way you see the world.

If Obama continues his destructive pattern, you won’t have a dollar to wave in Bolivia that is worth anything.

SteveB: Gary, I appreciate that you have expressed your thoughts on these subjects. I don’t know that we can ever see as one, but maybe someday we can see as 1½, not two completely opposed individuals. Perhaps we even ultimately want the same things.

Unfortunately, instead of facts and evidence, you present the same right-wing slogans I can hear any hour I tune into Fox News. The biggest dead giveaway: “Obama and his acolytes…”

I’m not sure where you ever got the idea that my emails, blog, and opinions should be politically unbiased or something. I express my personal opinions and want to carefully consider the opinions of others. I believe that I and many of my friends in our “group” generally express a range of opinions firmly rooted in the traditional middle of American political thought. We are not radicals (except maybe Dennis :-). We believe in capitalism and freedom as much as most Republicans. We merely think that government has certain obligations to the people governed—ALL of the people, not just a rich few, much as the Constitution and many other early documents envisioned. But we are not even-handed as to Republicans and Democrats (Are you?) because we feel that the entire political process has been shifted dangerously to the Right. Democrats have largely sold us down the river too, but they certainly aren’t leading the charge.

These are the opinions I express. Diatribes? Call them what you will. But as your Glenn Beck is so fond of saying, “I’m not a journalist.” If it’s OK for him and Fox news, why not me? Simply because you do not agree? It is you Republicans we have always counted on to argue your own case and prove your points. So far, in this forum at least, that has, unfortunately, not ever really happened. That disappoints me greatly. Name calling just doesn’t count as reasoned argument in my book. Most of the articles and supporting evidence for Republican positions has, IMHO, been demolished by this group. But to quit trying, as all have done except for one person—a libertarian, by the way—is simply to admit defeat, in my view. I’m happy to see that, in this most recent email, you still have some fighting spirit left. I commend you for that.

If I remember correctly, you have expressed your egalitarian view of Republicans and Democrats before, yet I still don’t understand what it is they do the same except to be corrupt, to be bought and sold and sell the bulk of the American people down the river. But do you truly believe it is to the same degree? I do not! I find it so exceedingly strange that you and I both see America going to hell in a hand basket, but for reasons so extremely different that common ground is difficult if not impossible to find. Surely, one of us must be wrong? Let us reason on the evidence, not conjecture or emotion. The Right seems to me to be extremely thin on evidence.

I believe President Obama will be seen by history as pretty much having sold out to the moneyed interests of the Right, despite Obamacare. Where on earth do you get the idea that he is so radical? What is your proof?

Below are, I believe, the true thoughts of the Republican leadership (Thanks to FredB and Bernie Sanders. More “communists”?). Please tell me these ideas are not radical, extreme, and contrary to the Constitution and trend of American political thought for centuries. This is your plan too? What you think would actually take us in the right direction? To destroy all that America is? Where is the liberty and equality in this “plan”? This seems to me to be a prescription for rebellion and anarchy, as history has proven to me and many others. Is that what Republicans truly seek? I wonder…

Here are just a few excerpts of the Libertarian Party platform that David Koch ran on in 1980:

  • “We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.”
  • “We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
  • “We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.”
  • “We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.”
  • “We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.”
  • “We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. The present system, in addition to being inefficient, encourages governmental surveillance of private correspondence.  Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.”
  • “We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.”
  • “We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”
  • “As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.”
  • “We support repeal of all law which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.”
  • “We advocate the complete separation of education and State.  Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”
  • “We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.”
  • “We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.”
  • “We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.”
  • “We support abolition of the Department of Energy.”
  • “We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.”
  • “We demand the return of America’s railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system.”
  • “We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called “self-protection” equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.”
  • “We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.”
  • “We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.”
  • “We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.”
  • “We oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs. All these government programs are privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient. The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.”
  • “We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.”
  • “We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”
  • “We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”
  • “We support the repeal of all state usury laws.”

In other words, the agenda of the Koch brothers is not only to defund Obamacare.  The agenda of the Koch brothers is to repeal every major piece of legislation that has been signed into law over the past 80 years that has protected the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the most vulnerable in this country.

It is clear that the Koch brothers and other right-wing billionaires are calling the shots and pulling the strings of the Republican Party.

Art: Not to pile on, but, Gary, you stated: “My issue now is that Obama and his acolytes are dismantling everything that is exceptional about the US”

The KKK is pretty much exceptional to the US.  Slavery for that matter was pretty much exceptional for the time.  It is even written intro the Constitution. Destruction of the environment is also very much a US trait.  Others have done it, but they are at least intelligent enough now to see the errors of their ways and start to take steps to make corrections.  Religious Christian fanaticism, at least in the 21st Century, seems to be US exceptionalism. If you include all religions,  we do share this trait with the Taliban and other Islamic extremists. A gun in every pocket is a exceptional trait we can be proud of. Of course there are those, what, 30,000 causalities every year.  We also have the highest incarceration rate in the world. Another exceptional fact to be proud of.

Paying 15-16% of our GDP for health care, but ranking only about 30th in every measurable category also seems to be exceptional to the US when compared to other modern states.

And finally CEOs who make 331 times the average salary of their employees is also a US exceptionalism to be proud of.

There is more but you get the drift,

Dennis: Whenever I see some red-baiting tea bagger disparaging liberals I post the following as a reply:

Jeff Carlson-1

Here’s an interesting comparison of those bastard billionaires, Soros vs. the Koch Brothers: (http://other98.com/soros-vs-koch-infographic/)

Soros vs Koch


Martha: SteveB, in rely to your observation of Obama a while back and after a muse of my own…

All of us who study What In the World Is Going On? see things changing beyond what we have lived in our decades.  I know now that things then were not what I thought I knew either.  Only now, having tried to study the era I was born in do I realize the gravity of the world which was unknown to us in real time, but life to our parents’ generation. I knew personally the hoarders who grew into adulthood during the Great Depression when no one had much. My dad talked about walking out by the airport to squirrel hunt so he and his mother had meat for the table.

I used to tell students anyone who wanted to be President was crazy. That was back when things were differently abnormal. Some of us traveled and lived in the shadows of the Iron Curtain, not realizing the possibilities. Now, after a period of relative calm, things are stirred up there again.  Now we throw to the Executive Branch occupant the cross to bear of race as well as the weight of the world.

I have no doubt that he knows the Constitution like none other than perhaps the Founding Fathers.  He taught it, and he gives me goosebumps as I know he knows it in detail. I can recite it, pretty much, too.  But now we have a new twist to governing, beyond the complexities of the modern age. The Second Amendment, for example, originally from a time VERY different from our modern world, has flipped from defense of settlers and foreign invasion to personal rights and protection, according to the NRA.

I think media has altered the government as anyone who wants to know–lies or truths–can get online or find a channel–designed to be profitable, not journalistic–and find what he wants to validate his bias. Those who ever thought racism was dead are naive at best as we experience such hatred, barely masked. That a majority recognized the potential of the man who spelled out his philosophy for the country of his daughters in detail in his book was raised very much like many of those who seem to hate him the most. Why is that? Why are those who voted him into office unhappy now?

I am biased to the potential and tempered by the realities. Were our President given a Congress that would compromise and would  act as intended by the Founders in the layout of our system, his idea to work together for all would be helping us get beyond issues, not dug in further. I witnessed, line-by-line and word-by-word legislative work. IT CAN HAPPEN!  People debated, voted, and moved on to the next issue. The “Do Nothing Syndrome” to “get” Obama is not working for anyone, but it is destroying our culture for the future.

Reading the autobiography Obama wrote, I know he is one who delegates by nature. HONESTLY, how could any one mere man “RUN” a system as complicated and divided as now exists and be compared to 1787? Really? He has to delegate, and then the naysayers jump on him for every detail–from IRS to ACA…What he was handed from the prior administration put him in a bag of tricks, mired to the neck in quicksand from before the inauguration.  Call me naive and biased, but I don’t think I am. I believe in the system, and I know it can work.

The issues of our society have to be solved or our descendents won’t enjoy what we have grown up with. So…what’s to be done? I fear WE can’t turn THEM around, but they have to have the “ah ha” moment collectively. Where will that come from? What pit will they be in–or as lemmings will they already be over the cliff? All I can do is my personal best to share truths with politicians and correct misconceptions and lies whenever possible. Collectively, we must keep up the fight.

Goodbye, America! (by Steven W. Baker)

An open letter to two friends of the Right:

I was just watching a little of CNN’s new multi-part historical series, “Cold War”. This was the “Reds” segment.

I was thinking that I hope you two, my brothers in arms, were watching it too. (Though I can’t actually send this to one of you because he has my email address blocked after telling me publicly that I have no balls, the big chicken. :-)

“Cold War” clearly shows, in case you don’t remember your history, the evil of accusing people of being “communists”. I literally hate that kind of unfairness with every ounce of passion in my being, from the tip of my head to the souls of my feet, with my stomach puking my guts out in between.

Yet this name-calling is what we’ve had and what we continue to have in America instead of dialog and reason, as our entire fabric of achievements is ripped apart by the extreme Right. I challenge you to name one good American thing the Koch Brothers, for just one example, are not trying to dismantle.

If you don’t see this yet, I hope and pray you will live long enough to realize that I speak nothing but the truth. Such a fearsome thing, huh, my friend? The truth!

Long may the almighty dollar wave! (It waves “goodbye” to the America we knew and loved, to the America of freedom, equality, and fair play, I promise you. Those were the very heart of the true American exceptionalism!)

America’s Place? (by Steven W. Baker)

Care for proof of America’s “exceptional” place in the modern world of 2014??? Look no further!

Top 10 Best Airports in the World


  1. Singapore
  2. Seoul
  3. Amsterdam
  4. Hong Kong
  5. Beijing
  6. Munich
  7. Zurich
  8. Vancouver
  9. Tokyo
  10. London

Where is the US? Well, at least Vancouver is pretty close to the US. American exceptionalism—exceptionally second rate!

What on earth happened and how do we get back our mojo? Maybe we should do what we used to be so good at—spend some damned money! Fix things! Especially our public schools, infrastructure, and manufacturing base. Good luck, America!

Internet Miscommunications? (by Steven W. Baker)

Pablo Neruda 1

Two little-known Facebook rules:

“You will not share your password (or in the case of developers, your secret key), let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account.”

 “You will not bully, intimidate, or harass any user.”

I’m completely mystified by what you are, perhaps, about to read. But I think it’s priceless to know what people are really like! I have dropped (“defriended”) Tom as a Facebook friend (a first for me) and as a potential real friend. I believe the words below, from a Facebook Group Forum and Messages, speak for themselves. If someone proposes to threaten me and “set me straight” after totally misinterpreting my tone and intention (Willfully?) even after explanation and apology.), well, it’s hopeless, isn’t it? Besides, it’s probably way too late to set me straight anyway. :-) As I said to Tom, it’s a shame.

You’ll have to try to put yourself in my place, which is difficult, I know, but try to imagine these events happening to you instead of me.

(What is in [brackets] are comments and explanations I’ve added later.)


Tom: [Tom’s original post, which turned out to be his wife in secret, I guess. Completely unknown to me or anybody else, apparently.] Will post this on Craigs List also, but, we are looking to buy a walking machine for the Zen Master…any ideas where to go here in town?

SteveB: [My reply, admittedly silly, but an idea popped into my head, I thought Tom was a friend, we had joked a lot in the past, both on and off line, and I try to be creative, entertaining, and informative when I write online, if I can. I believe I, myself, am the butt of the joke if there is a butt, certainly not Tom or his wife, I’m just making myself look crazy/stupid for a chuckle, I guess.] A ‘walking machine’? Tom, is that a machine that does the walking for you? Maybe kinda like one of those Roomba vacuums, but for walking instead of sweeping the carpet? I figure that’s what you’re after, but I don’t know where the heck to buy those. How ‘bout a “scooter” instead, you lazy bum? I prefer to do my walking myself, but that’s just how old-fashioned I am. :-)

SteveB: [A second response, more seriously trying to understand exactly what “Tom” meant by a “walking machine”, picturing Tom taking his sword fighting class] Or do you mean “a walker”? Did you get injured?

Tom: It’s for my wife…I just told her about your butt-headed post and she said to tell you thanks…she will deal with you when she sees you…stop trolling and get some manners.

SteveB: [After being called names and issued minor threats, I guess I decided more humor was the best approach. I still didn’t know it was the wife who wrote the message and read my response.] The wife doesn’t want to do her own walking? Hey, I got no problem with that whatsoever. I think I saw those things once in one of the Star Wars movies. Cool!

Group Moderator: wait…I don’t think you can say “butt-headed”. let me check my manual…

SteveB: [This was just an attempt at more humor in response to the moderator’s humor.] I think that should be a black mark against Tom. Or maybe blue. What’s the manual specify? :-)

SteveB: [So I thought that would be the end of it. I had already endured public insult of a minor nature. I wrote the following right before I read the comment from Tom that follows, which came so unexpectedly. My comment concerns Tom’s response to a small problem someone had during a visit to his business establishment. It was a serious situation and this is a serious comment.] Believe me, I understand the problem! But more important, I think, was Tom’s response. I wish this were mandatory reading for every business owner in Bolivia. This is what customer service is all about! Every business is imperfect and many interactions with customers are less than ideal, there are always problems popping up. It’s what a business does in these situations that counts, and I think Tom shows the way here to do it right. I’m proud of ya, buddy!

Tom: [Back to the same insults again??? Why? Seems crazy to me!] My wife will let you know why she thinks you are a butt head at the next time we see you…my last warning…(she loves those machines and is thrilled about finding one at a great price today thanks to Jack)…I allowed her to use my name and post her request because she was having problems on her android finding her own name…she didn’t think you were funny…she thinks you are a butt head…I just found your remarks stupid and inapproriate..if you don’t like it, speak to her personally if you have the guts.

[After this second public insult on the forum, I switched gears and started exchanging private Facebook messages, starting with my response to the above. At least now I knew why Tom had been talking about his wife so much. I couldn’t figure out how she got so involved before. She wrote the message! I should have guessed, perhaps, but I didn’t, and still didn’t realize all the implications of that little, hidden fact.]

SteveB: This is joke gone wrong, right?

“My wife will let you know why she thinks you are a butt head at the next expat meeting…my last warning…(she loves those machines and is thrilled about finding one at a great price today thanks to Jack)…I allowed her to use my name and post her request because she was having problems on her android finding her own name…she didn’t think you were funny…she thinks you are a butt head…I just found your remarks stupid and inapproriate..if you don’t like it, speak to her personally if you have the guts.”

This makes no sense to me in light of what I wrote. My attempt at levity is inappropriate? Why would that be the case exactly? I’m confused.

Tom: Watch your words on here my friend…all humor doesn’t translate well on the net…especially when it seems to be at someone’s expense…I have been misunderstood once or twice myself on here. Probably just a great misunderstanding …let’s forget it and start over…what do ya think?

SteveB: [I guess, after the unexplained public insults, I had more to say. Call it a weakness of mine.] Come on, Tom! I thought we were on the same wavelength! I was just playing on the fact that “you” called it a “walking machine” rather than a treadmill or whatever other kind of exercise machine you might have meant that I don’t even know about. In my crazed-writer consciousness (what other people call normal reality!), I imagined a mental image of you in one of those Star Wars or whatever contraptions where it does the walking or whatever and you simply guide it by your movements. I don’t understand how anyone, you especially, would take offense at that. The wife took offense at that? To a bad joke aimed at you and, probably much more, in reality, at myself? I don’t get it.

You’re right though, my friend. I shall never attempt humor with you again. I promise. Why risk being misunderstood? It was fun while it lasted.

Tom: I like your humor Steve….just tone it down a bit…all I am asking…we were seriously looking for that device…my wife has not been happy since we moved into a condo with no gym…my own welfare depended on it….lol….

SteveB: Don’t worry, I’ll tone it down a lot. Maybe you could tone down the public attacks? That was quite a rebuke! I left you plenty of openings to either poke fun back at me or express your seriousness courteously. A longer thread gets you more readers and possible responses anyway, especially if it might be humorous (and I emphasize the word “might”). I had just written a nice comment about you, I read your message and was, frankly, quite shocked and also quite shocked by your latest public rebuke after you had already written one serious rebuke and I thought the matter was done.

I certainly never meant to offend anyone and, obviously, have no such intention ever—it’s not good either for business or friendship building. I have no interest in the least in making enemies. If I did offend anyone, and I do wish someone could explain to me how making MYSELF, and myself alone, look ridiculous for a tiny laugh could do that, then I certainly apologize. It’s all a shame.

Tom: It not only came across that way to me but to my wife who is highly difficult to offend…the comment was public and so was the rebuke as you call it…it was more of a warning for you my friend…my wife is a calm tranquil person…she never blows up at anyone…but we she just talks to you…well a friend of mine when I was young had parents who were clinical psychologists, bot, poor kid…he called it torture talk… I’ll tell her you apologized and hopefully you won’t have to listen to it…by the way, it came across as an smart-ass comment, in public, targeting my wife who as you remember in the post was the one looking for the device…I will always defend her to the max…she is a sweet person and doesn’t deserve any kind of rude treatment whatsoever…especially in a public forum…now , please, let’s just drop this and move on.

SteveB: [Now I have fully realized the hidden truth, not that there was any big plot or anything, I just had no idea people ever wrote other people’s messages pretending to be somebody else, then would get insulted at replies they know were intended for that other person.] YOUR WIFE WAS CERTAINLY NOT THE ONE LOOKING FOR ANYTHING IN THE POST THAT I READ. THERE WAS NO MENTION OF HER AT ALL! HOW WOULD I KNOW? I SPY THE PROBLEM.

“Your” post: “Will post this on Bolivia Craigs List also, but, we are looking to buy a walking machine for the Zen Master…any ideas where to go here in Samta Cruz?”

This is my reply: “A ‘walking machine’? Tom, is that a machine that does the walking for you? Maybe kinda like one of those Roomba vacuums, but for walking instead of sweeping the carpet? I figure that’s what you’re after, but I don’t know where the heck to buy those. How ‘bout a “scooter” instead, you lazy bum? I prefer to do my walking myself, but that’s just how old-fashioned I am. :-)”

I FLAT OUT DON’T GET IT! Illogical, Will Robinson!

Tom: [To me, this comment seems so illogical!] Well …I guess where you come from “we” does not include a man’s wife…I don’t want to continue this discussion…it’s over.

[I’m dismissed! Gee, thanks, Captain! It is only among unequals that one has the right to dismiss another.It is a matter of honor, dignity and mutual respect. Important things, no? I don’t accept or even acknowledge the inherent right of any man to dismiss me. It’s like a slap or a door slamming in your face, to say the least. Unacceptable in any situation between equals. If Tom can act like my innocent joke is a big insult, what is this dismissal? I call it the ultimate uinsult, a power play, an effort at control, much worse than calling someone’s mother a whore, much more real–intolerable in polite society among equals which I feel these types of discussions need to be. But Tom obviously does not have the idea that he is among equals. He thinks he’s some kind of commander. Well, not of me!]

SteveB: No way for me to know “we” were writing emails under your name, was there? I think your domestic protection instincts, often good things, somehow got the better of you. I hope to God YOU would have known what was intended by my email. I would not expect a stranger, which your wife is to me, through no fault of her own, to understand a joke between friends, a joke I am still not ashamed of, though, as I said, I intended no harm or ill will, that’s for damned sure.

Here’s one other small point. I thought, for sure, by “the Zen Master” that “you” meant yourself. “We” could certainly be looking for something only one of you intended to use. I thought you were sort of talking about Japanese sword fighting, as we had been doing briefly before. I thought you wanted to get in shape for our coming sword competition. I thought I was just continuing our friendly discussion of competing in Marvin’s class (if I could come up with the time and energy, which I admire you for). I wouldn’t expect anyone else, who missed all those comments, to understand that there was the opposite of ill will intended by my remarks.

It’s a shame. I thought we could have been a good team, even friends.

Tom: I wrote you I was ready to forget it and start over …that means like it never happened…what more do you want? I just want to drop it…I asked the Moderator to remove the post…it’s done… [Yep!]

[Then, in the forum, I referred to Tom a few times as “Tom” and “Tom or whoever you are”. I asked once if it was himself writing a post and included the phrase, “I ask for good reason, no?”]

Tom: What is this some kind of payback? Lay off addressing me personally.

SteveB: Sorry, don’t know who this message is from. But in any case, I don’t appreciate being yelled at in public for nothing or being told what to do, my friend (That is, assuming you are the “real” Tom, I can never be sure, now.)

Tom: Whoever it is don’t be an asshole Steve…I am receiving IMs from people that are not favorable to your character….I am just the only one  to stand up to your gnarly ass…I could gve a shit what you think and if you don’t want to hear it in public keep fucking with me
How’s that for being told what to do…what are you a 12 year old in an 80 year old body?

[When I tried to send a response to what are essentially a bunch of threats and lies (I have the mind of a 21-year-old in the body of a 50-year-old at 68 :-) and I’ve never been anything but a friend to people on that forum), Tom had already blocked messages from me. All I wanted to say was: “What are you talking about? I believe you owe me an apology and the removal of threats, old buddy.” Yesterday, the subject of meat cane up on the forum. Here’s that exchange slightly disguised to preserve some measure of anonymity.]

Tom: “Rib-eye fillet”–cut from the inside of the Tbone with plenty of fat marbled in for flavor…

SteveB: But, “Tom” or whoever, I thought a T-bone was a tenderloin and a sirloin? It’s a loin cut. Behind the rib cut, from what I understand. In that case, a rib-eye wouldn’t be part of it, would it?



Meanwhile, I’m hopin’ the Spanish J and H gave me help out at the meat market. It’s definitely an area of great confusion.

Tom: Whatever you say mister expert. Whatever it id it is delicious…

SteveB: Of course it’s delicious, because it’s either the lomito (small side of the bone) or the sirloin (lomo?) (big side), but it’s not a rib-eye if it’s from the T-bone. Maybe Wikipedia has it all wrong, I don’t know… I’ve come to trust them on most things.

And I’m not an expert nor have I claimed to be. I’m trying to learn this stuff, especially in Bolivian Spanish, but I know a little about the subject in English. I did a lot of engineering work for a big US meat company. Used to love hanging out with the guys from the food labs and test kitchens, plus I got a lot of free meals. They had one guy who was amazing. He could taste anything and tell you what was in it, then, after a few tries, duplicate it. Maybe not Coca Cola, but most things. That’s essentially how he made his living—off his taste buds.

Tom: I this is you, find another way to entertain yourself  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet). Please do not feed the trolls.

SteveB: Is that what your snarky “Mister Expert” remark was, “Tom” or whoever? Trolling? LOL! Good advice, my friend.


[Of course, my life wasn’t threatened. But when someone whom you thought of as a friend responds to your private message simply trying to explain your position with, essentially, “Shut the fuck up, asshole, or else,” I think it’s time to take some kind of action. My wife likes to say that I have no fear, which of course is not true, but when someone whom you have socialized with quite a few times, talked to quite a bit, visited each other, comes up with public insults and threats for essentially no reason, it seems crazy enough to me to be worried.

I’m weirded out by the seemingly intentional refusal of Tom to comprehend the reality of the situation or anything I tried to say, even though it was all over a big bunch of nothing. All I wanted was for a “friend” to understand that simple fact. I had no ill intent whatsoever, not at any time. Why would I?

I believe this miscommunicating and this type of bullying are not limited to the internet, but are perhaps exacerbated by its distance. People are who they are and it’s important when they reveal who they truly are. Life is all about relationships with integrity, no? And, as I said in the beginning, it’s priceless to know what people are really like!

But I never found out who the “Zen Master” really was! And I never found out what it was exactly that I was supposed to have done wrong to begin with. Exactly what insult was perceived?

This kind of craziness I find threatening!]


[Then, just a few days later—AMBUSH! I thought it was a pretty interesting discussion, instructional to me, except for the intrusion of insult, after insult directed toward me in a totally ridiculous and obvious manner, even though all of us, really, including me, tried to ignore that it was happening. Some guy I don’t know from Adam had an axe to grind.]

SteveB: Just had another learning experience… Look guys, being Facebook friends is no big deal, right? It seems to me, if someone in this group, who is reading and responding to your posts, asks to become your friend, wouldn’t it be “friendlier” to just say yes or no or communicate with the person, even on this forum, rather than reporting them to Facebook because they asked to be your friend and have not physically met you??? Please! (Unless you have some reason for getting them kicked off Facebook. That’s how it works, folks!)

Tina: You can never be too sure these days. Honestly I wouldn’t fault someone if I had never met them and they didn’t accept my friend request. And I’ve reported my fair share of requesters or had to block people as I get to “know” them better. The cyber world is a different world. I wouldn’t get too concerned.

SteveB: Excellent points, Tina. Maybe I just wish the world wasn’t like that…but I guess it is…

George: As a rule, I only will be “friends” with people I have met in person, or have gotten to know pretty well on this group.

SteveB: I agree completely, George. Which is why I’m mystified. I guess what you have to do with someone you haven’t physically met is first ask them if they would accept a friend request, otherwise they can get you in trouble simply because you made the gesture. But, no, there should never be a problem if someone refuses or doesn’t answer a friend request, Tina. Reporting seems radical to me in the case of a group like this, but maybe that’s just me. I’m from Indiana. I’m a friendly guy!

Pat: Interesting, Tina…I can’t figure out why someone would be reported for MAKING a friend request, unless he/she made multiple ones. I always either respond yes or no or ignore it. Never have personally been reported for anything myself, but also wouldn’t lose any sleep over it if I was *L* I have blocked and unfriended people, like this one old girlfriend that asked to be friends, and now (from her posts) it is apparent to me why we broke up those 36 years ago *LOL*

Tina: Woman’s perspective :-D

SteveB: I agree, Pat. I’m not losing any sleep, but I would not appreciate being kicked off Facebook! I got a friend request from my ex-wife’s lover… I didn’t report him, just never replied. Not going to.

Andre: Are we sure that ticking “i dont knwo him” is the same as reporting?

Doug: When I was hacked a little while ago (you may remember) I was warned by FB for making soooo many requests to people who didn’t know me…had to reset all passwords.

Andre: I have a very ambivalent relationship with FB. I get friends requests form people i have never met, and almost always I say “no”. Then FB asks me if I know this person outside facebook, and I say “no”. But this is not the same thing as reporting someone, is it? Then there are some people whom I have never met, but we share a ommon interest, and I might add them even if I have never met them, but I always almost remove them later, and they usually do not even notice. But I guess that if someone sends a lot of facebook friends requests, and have them denied, and the “deniers” also tick that they do not know the person outside facebook, it might make facebook react?

SteveB: Andre, I know what you mean. Maybe that’s how you “report” them, by simply saying you don’t know them. But can you honestly say you don’t know them if you know them in this group? I wonder… All I know is, I received my first warning ever today and I wasn’t ecstatic about it.

Tina: Andre – I suppose that is what I meant by “reporting” them. I just say I don’t know who they are outside of Facebook. I’ve done the same, added and later deleted with no real notice. Lately I’ve locked down my account and gotten way more private (no personal profile pic) since it was brought to my attention that some creep is stealing my profile pics to use on inappropriate websites (even though my pics were never inappropriate). That’s why I say that you can never be too careful (especially as a female). If someone can hide true personality from you for six or seven months in person, imagine the craziness they can hide behind a cyber existence. Just sayin’ :-)

Andre: Hehe, Very true. And SteveB, a while back you sent a friend request to my wife, even though she is not even a member of this group…she is the wife of a member you have never met. I think you just have to face the fat that people might have different views to you on what facebook is to them. Or do we need to make a rule number 5? :) <—–smiley

SteveB: Andre, I’m not sure who your wife is. I don’t remember doing that. I wonder if I’ve been “hacked” as Doug was and as my blog has been? Or maybe she’s just extremely good looking… :-)

Pat: OK, reporting THAT way I “get”, Tina…I’ve done that myself, actually. Had no idea it was “reporting”, maybe that is what happened to you, SteveB? I have also never sent a friend request to someone I don’t know outside of Facebook. Not sure why I would, nor would I expect the reverse, the couple times it has, I assume it was an accident or a stalker *L* (like the policewoman a while back)

Moderator: puhlease! ;-)

SteveB: Pat, I hope it’s OK to have Facebook friends you don’t know except through this group. Why wouldn’t it be, unless one of the 2 people say no? But to go out of the way to report to Facebook seems extreme to me, either way. Definitely NOT friendly!

Pat: To me that’s a different animal, SteveB. If you know someone from Facebook, then I have no problem with that, I have people I “know” from pre-Facebook days on other boards that I have never met, but have “known” for almost 20 years and consider closer friends than many I have in “real life”, but someone I don’t know from Adam who request “friend” status, no. That’s in my “creepy or accident” category.

SteveB: Exactly, Pat. I’m only talking about people “well-known” from this group.

Andre: They ask “do you know him outside facebook”. If clicking “no I dont know this guy outside facebook” constitutes reporting someone, I am not sure people know that. I thought it was just for Facebooks statistics.

SteveB: I’m learning there’s lots more to Facebook than meets the ojo! I have some VERY good friends on Facebook whom I know very well and have known for years, but have not yet physically met. Isn’t that pretty common, or just me?

Andre: Everyone is different, and facebook is different things to different people. That goes for all social media. Some just read, and never write. Some write, but never reads (ha…ha…) some make cyberfriends, some only use it to keep in touch with close friends from the real world, etc etc. I dont think anyone is telling you that you can not, should not, must not have friends on facebook that you have never met in real life. However, it looks like some of the people you have “friend requested” have a different view on things than you. Such is life, both online and offline.

Andre: [1 minute later] My wifes reaction was “Who the hell is SteveB from Santa Cruz? Ssomething something, I dont know him. How creepy!”

SteveB: Andre, from what’s been said, maybe it is [you’re right, such is life]. I think it may be as much a Facebook problem as a personal one. PS—tell your wife I’m not that creepy. At least that’s what women tell me…

Charlie: There are two other options if you think you might have something in common with someone. 1) You can accept their friend requests but add them to your RESTRICTED LIST. Anyone on this list is your friend and contact, but can see only the posts you mark as public. The nice thing about this is that if you get to know the person better, you can take them off the restricted list eventually. They will never know they are on that list, by the way. They will see only your public posts. 2) Your second option is to add a FOLLOW BUTTON to your timeline. People who follow you are not friended to you but can see only your public posts. Just a couple of alternatives…

SteveB: Now, this is just part of what I don’t know about Facebook. Thanks, Charlie, maybe that will help keep me out of trouble.

Tina: When I was a missionary, my profile was far more public and I had many Facebook friends who were friends to know about the mission. When I left the mission field, I deleted about 600 people from my friends list and was left with only 400-500 people. With all of this talk, I think it may be time for another “cleansing.” I also use restricted lists. Although, poor souls, I almost never make any post public

Pat: I was thinking about that also, Tina. I never make public posts and my privacy settings are locked down as tight as I can get ‘em. I have never felt the need for a public post, but I don’t (yet) have a business listing either, where I think puiblic posting would be warranted.

Andre: I am not a big fan of the restricted list, I am too black and white. Either ykou are my friend, or you are not, and thats the way I live in general.

Andre: [Two minutes later. Two previous attempt to cause trouble have been ignored by all, so here’s the third!] And if I’m being honest, that’s two references to my wife, about her looks, and how women look at you that I find…well, creepy I guess.

SteveB: [I have certainly noticed, but ignored the first two of what I now see are obviously attacks.] Que, Andre?

Jessica: Eeek! I didn’t know you could report people, does this happen if you say no to a friend request? I hope no one is offended on here when I don’t accept your requests, I had a bad experience last year with someone I kind of knew being a very naughty person indeed, and it put the frighteners in me to be honest. So now I only have people on my FB who I have met or who I have gotten to know well on FB via messages back and forth, not via any forums or any other methods. One day I might be braver but until then…… but no offence meant to anyone :)

SteveB: [14 minutes after my last post, above] Andre, you brought up your wife. I have no idea who your wife is. If she’s not in this group and we’re not friends, how would I have any idea who she is? Why would I care? Why would I care what she looks like? Can’t we have a little levity around here? I don’t have any idea who you are except you pulled my heart strings with the story of your friend’s death. I admired what you wrote. I wasn’t aware any women looked at me. Why would they? Did I miss something?

SteveB: [nine minutes later] I know I’m getting pretty damned tired of being insulted and called names on this forum!

Charlie: I have friended people I don’t know, but it’s because their interest in me is my website and the services we provide, etc. That’s where it comes in handy to be able to decide who can see your posts, use restricted lists, etc. It’s not very black and white for me because I run several businesses but there are other options for being in contact with people through Facebook without actually friending them. I have a personal timeline now and 6 different fan pages for different activities. There are lots of options.

Doug: this is giving me a headache…friends.

SteveB: I think my blood pressure is 180/120 and at 68, that ain’t good!

Diane: haha, I just reported someone called ‘Blessing Godwill’ – I always check people’s accounts before accepting anything or even getting in touch. There are so many fake accounts! Also, people that I don’t know in real life are on acquaintances list – this way it’s easier to control who sees what on my timeline.

Jessica: Don’t stress it SteveB! Just relax, worrying over fb friends isn’t worth the stress!

SteveB: Ya, having just been called a creep in public on this very thread is no big deal, right?

April: Well I have some of you guys on my Facebook, those that I have interacted most with. I am usually too shy to ask to be friends so just wait until someone asks me. I make use of the restricted folder like Charlie said, plus you can group people in other lists and that list can have specific settings. I only have a few people in my restricted folder though. I check people out a bit before I agree to be ‘fb friends’, same as Diane. I believe I have made a good couple of friends on here with whom I chat back and forth in private messages. Other than people in here, really, others on my fb are people I have met in person. I do have one woman from a Cuba TripAdvisor forum too that I got to know when JD and I were getting married in Cuba. This is a looong thread. If you wanna be friends be friends, if someone doesn’t well that’s ok. :)

Pat: I guess I am going to have to learn more about all this stuff when I make my wifes business page (and mine when I grow up and decide what I want to be) but then again, business pages are probably easier than private pages.

Mike: I routinely accept every friend request regardless of whether I know them. Worked out just fine so far. Only had to “unfriend” a couple trolls who crossed the line. Connecting and getting new perspectives… isn’t that the point of FB?

April: I learned about it since I have a lot of students add me on Facebook. That’s a hard one as there are students I do end up friends with. It’s easy once you learn a wee bit about it Pat.

SteveB: Good points, April. Ya, I think people should be whatever kind of friend or not they want. There should be freedom and, as you ladies, point out, there should be security. It’s funny how the concept of the Facebook “friend” is so undefined, isn’t it? It seems we all have slightly different ideas of what it means. As a businessman and, I guess, as a man, I have a very loose concept of it. I want to be “friends” with everybody. That’s my instinct. I reach out. I guess I’m “promiscuous” as far as friends go. I’ll be friends with almost anyone until they prove, like Diane’s “Blessing Godwill”, not to be worthy friends, which has happened to me one time. If somebody doesn’t want to be friends, great. If someone does, great (except my ex’s beau). And I don’t even follow the stuff that being friends is all about. I don’t have time to look at even my own “Timeline”, let alone anyone else’s. All I know is I get emails and reply to them. I enjoy this Expats group. Occasionally I sign in to start a thread, send a message, read mine, or see what’s up in real time. Now I learn from you guys there all kinds of ways to keep “friends” in check and sort of have “sub-friends” even “followers”, which Andre first introduced me to, but I couldn’t get the concept through my thick skull. This is probably all more complicated than I want to even think about. Kinda wish it were simpler.

Pat: I am similar to Andre, I think, my Facebook is pretty black and white. Friends or not. But I don’t really put private stuff on here either. In fact I probably scare some people when they ask to be friends and I give them a peek into the stuff I like and follow. *L* I figure though, if that’s what happens, they can always unfriend me again. I tend to not request friends though too, to be honest…except folks I know in real life, because I always picture them thinking “what does THIS guy want with me” *LOL*

SteveB: That’s exactly what I thought about you, Pat. No, I think I “friended” you and you were kind enough to accept. I’m not sure if that was before or after we met, but I haven’t regretted it yet!

Pat: On the other hand, when this ex-girlfriend of mine sent me a friend request, I thought “what the hell does SHE want with me, 35 years later?”. I’m still wondering that, as I see her tree-hugging and fish-kissing postsan and endless mentions of some article she is writing that always tends to be something I could care less about, and I’m sure she could care less about stuff I post, so I assume she and I are both waiting to breathe the sigh of relief when one of us decides to unfriend the other. I guess that’s why I don’t stay in contact with ex’s, in real life or otherwise…but I digress.

SteveB: LOL, Pat! Ya, ex’s are kinda like time warps and loops combined. My wife sometimes asks me if I think about so-and-so, some ex, and I have to honestly say I don’t, not romantically. You move on in life. You change. If it didn’t work out the first time, there isn’t going to be much hope after that, though I realize anything can happen and does happen. I can’t imagine going backwards myself. I’d always want to go forward, though I really hope I don’t have to go in any of those directions ever again because I love my wife a lot and she’s a good woman. But I am good, though distant, friends with four of my ex’s, including my ex-wife. It is always good to hear from them and I can always count on them to read my stuff or to give me advice.

Pat: OMG…I can’t imagine having an ex-wife as a FB friend. First of all, my dear sweet Latina bride would have my huevos, and secondly…like you say, can’t imagine going back. A couple of my exs are friends with some of my family, but I am careful to exclude them from my Facebook posts and visibility too…gotta watch out for that “friends of friends” stuff.

SteveB: Not necessarily talking about Facebook there.

Pat: But when I get off of a bridge like that, I burn that sucker to ash with a flamethrower. All but one in Texas, and she doesn’t count because we were friends for years first, and returned to that after, with more joking/needling material. :)

SteveB: Pat, I guess people are different, but i certainly know what you mean. I’ve done it that way too! And had the flamethrower turned on me too. I’m one of those rare people who believe men and woman can be friends, as your friend in Texas proves.

Nabokov: SteveB, I am with you on this one, I find Andre to be a bit disrespectful calling you creepy, for comments you made that were not intended to be in bad taste. I for one would never call creepy a person who requests me on FB. I might not want to be friendship with that person, and it would be my right to do that and not accept that request, but i would not cross my mind calling that person creepy.

Andre: [Only one minute later, so not a response to Napoleon’s comment, above.] Just to make it clear, I never called anyone a creep. I said it was creepy. And here is the reason the discussion came up at all: Once again, my first thing on the newsfeed is about you SteveB having been treated unfairly somehow (last time was the one that resulted in rule number 4). So I responded with what I think could have been the reson you got “reported”. You sent me a friend request a while back, which I declined. Yesterday you sent another one, which I again declined. A while back you also sent one to my wife, who is not a member of this forum, you must have found here through my details “married to”. She also declined. And we were both asked if we know you outside facebook, which we don’t, so we answered “no”. I don’t know if that constitutes reporting someone, but I guess there is a reason FB asks that question. My wife did find it a bit creepy that a stranger tried to add her on facebook, since it is not something that happens to either of us very often, and since she is not a member on this forum, it was even stranger, and she found it a bit creepy. You commented that you would only have added her if she was extremely attractive. Then you proceeded to comment that I should tell my wife that ladies don’t find you creepy. Now, to me, those are comments that are just that, creepy. But that aside, if you do that stuff a lot (adding people who don’t know you and proceed to decline your invitations, stating they do not know you) I suspect facebook treats it as more malicious than the person saying “no I don’t know him” was taking it.

SteveB: Andre, I believe I sent you one friend request after I read your sad story. I didn’t even notice you declined. Maybe I’m forgetful and noticed we weren’t friends and nothing was pending and erroneously sent another, though I don’t remember doing that. See my and Mike’s posts on how we treat Facebook. Completely different than you, it seems. Isn’t that OK? I don’t call you names because you have different ideas. If you were offended by my friend request, why not talk to me? What is your purpose in these posts? Only a creep is creepy, right? You’re sure giving me the creeps right now, Andre. Why the animosity?

SteveB: [here minutes later] So I’d have to say, Andre, if you find me creepy, keep it to your damned self or tell it to me to my face like a man! Don’t try to slander a man in public for no reason.

Doug: SteveB…buddy…relax…I think things are being misunderstood and taken out of context here. I don’t think Andre is trying to purposely insult you.

SteveB: I’m sick and tired of the animosity of a few people in this group. And that is exactly what this is. And repeated over and over. I thought Andre was a pretty cool dude… Funny, Andre, you have a problem with Rule #4, which is a Facebook rule, hard and fast. I quoted it recently. Like someone else I know… A tiny point, Andre. I don’t know how I would ever send your wife a friend request. You say she is not on here. When I look at your Facebook page, I see nothing, no one. What gives?

Andre: I have no problem with any of the rules [Then why are you breaking so many of them with your attacks?], and I have not called anyone any names [This is a joke, right?]. I just explained why perhaps sopme peopåle, like me, could have inadvertantly (Spelling?) have reported you, resulting in the warning from FB. There is no animosity, I just find it rather peculiar that the world seems to be at wrong, and you in the right. I don’t mean any offense, but someone who wants to get offended will always find a reason. I left this group a while ago largely because I found your posts distasteful and annoying. I come back and things have not changed, so I reckon I will leave again, I have better things to do than to read about your petty woes SteveB. The reason ytou can no longer see who my wife is, is because we changed the privacy settings after someone she found creepy contacted her out of nowhere…for real, don’t take yourself so seriously…

April: SteveB, calm down. Tranquilo. This is bubbling away in your mind and it shouldn’t. I do not believe Andre meant any offence. In some situations and to some people comments about a female’s looks may be construed as creepy. It is the nature of the comments that are defined as creepy, not the person. Silly things are being blown out of proportion here.

SteveB: Who the hell are you, Andre? You find yourself not insulting? What have I ever done that you would find “distasteful and annoying”? You are the one calling people creepy with lies and innuendo. I don’t know where I’m right and the world is wrong. I find this all so…well…weird. But don’t run away Andre, maybe together we can get to the root of your problem. Let’s be friends. :-)

SteveB: [three minutes later] Andre, I find your words to be unjust slander of the slimiest kind. Period.

Jessica: Boys, calm down!! Go away for an hour and calm down. I agree with April , I don’t think Andre meant to insult you, he was just saying how his wife felt. Why don’t we just draw a line and put this conversation to bed??

Andre: Not once have I lied, SteveB. But if you really want to get offended, I am sure you will always find a way.

Jessica: You’re obviously both pissed off and are likely to keep throwing insults at each other. Please just stop this is supposed to be a friendly forum, remember?!

Moderator: I just pinned my decorum rules to the top. PLEASE REVIEW. Pay attention to numbers 1 and 3. Let it go!

SteveB: Thanks, April, but it was Andre who took offense to innocent things I had said. Enough to call them creepy. Funny that now he has all these other serious issues with me, which also feel a lot like accusations of some kind. I make this whole place suck. according to Andre. I don’t even remember the guy before his friend got killed. What’s he talking about? Let’s get real here. Any of you would take some offense if someone in a public forum called your actions creepy, especially actions that never took place. I have not replied in kind. Only expressed my disbelief and sought clarification and an end to the insults or whatever they are. Isn’t that logical? As far as issues I might have with Andre, I don’t know of any except the words he has written here today, which none of you would like if directed toward you.

[A person can defend themselves, can’t they? That’s all I did, really.]

Doug: The dangerous thing about posts/chatting is there is no tone and inflection to help understand content. By the time you ask someone “what do you mean by that?”…they have already been typing there next post and things are easily lost in cyber translation…George has great points on his post.

Pat: I agree, sheesh, thought things were calming down from this morning. I think time to walk away and calm down was a page of posts ago. But better late than never. Meaning I agree with the “calm down” posts!

Andre: Well, I find it really interesting. A large portion of this forum seems to be dedicated to SteveB being offended, the victim of hacked accounts, someone using someone elses account etc etc. Either this happens to a lot of people, but people don’t find it important enough to moan about, or it only happens to a few people. Balloon – Needle Or perhaps just windmills. Either way, I find the tone on this forum, and the space bitching and moaning is allowed to occupy, a bit too much for me. However, since I seem to be the only one who thinks this, I am probably wrong, so I will leave the forum, it will probably improve the atmosphere a lot. But, me being me, I won’t be able to leave without a few parting comments: SteveB, find the least common denominator. No smoke without fire. I don’t know anyone who has been warned by facebook. Coincidence? I think not. And you did try to add my wife on here, something she found creepy since she doesn’t appear on public searches. I might even be able to find a screendump of the denied friend request, to end all discussion.

Doug: Andre…seems like you just got here…don’t leave the forum. big misunderstanding here IMHO…I am living proof of friend requests being sent from my account that I didn’t send…120 in 3hrs.

Moderator: OK. Referee calls timeout. This thread is officially closed. All future posts to it will be deleted.

Andre (to SteveB): [Andre had one more final comment, the only Facebook message I ever got from him.] oh fuck off you whinging old bag.

[This is what I’m up against.]

Obamacare Republican Slogans (by Friends of the Middle)

SteveB: So…Who’s “Killing the Economy”? The Republican slogans and lies finally start to come home to roost! Naturally, certain people don’t want the word to get out.

Obamacare Just Made Americans Richer Without Anyone Noticing

by Kevin Short, Huffington Post, Mar. 5, 2014, (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/04/obamacare-january-bea_n_4892267.html)

Glenn Beck once said Obamacare would mean “the end of prosperity in America forever.” But so far, it turns out President Obama’s 2010 health law is actually putting money in Americans’ wallets.

To be exact, President Obama’s 2010 health law was responsible for about three-quarters of a surprising January rise in U.S. consumer spending and American income growth, according to calculations by the Wall Street Journal.

While not exceptional, the gains were significant: a 0.4 percent rise in consumer spending ($45.2 billion) and a 0.3 percent rise in personal incomes (up $43.9 billion), according to new figures released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The growth came in spite of the expiration of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed and all that horrible winter weather.

So what exactly did the Obamacare rollout do to cause such a rise? For one, it expanded the Medicaid program, a critical and highly controversial aspect of the law, by adding up to a $19 billion in benefits in January. On top of that, health care enrollees additionally received another near $15 billion in the form of tax credits as a result of the rollout, according to the BEA.

Together the two changes have freed up many Americans to spend money that would have gone towards health care premiums on goods and services instead.

The benefits of the Obamacare rollout thus far also appear to throw cold water on the idea that the law will hamper the economy — especially when considering last January. Back then, both consumer spending and personal incomes had their worst month in years and fell by several percentage points after the battle in Congress over the so-called “fiscal cliff” ended with recession-era payroll tax cuts not being extended.

Overall, that tax hike resulted in a $700 per worker tax increase on average, according to the Tax Policy Center. Who’s killing the economy again?

Mark: I admit I didn’t know I was richer…a little cherry picking here. The great  preponderance of reporting on Obamacare is closer to the truth…….and it’s already out… [Is this the Fox News reporting?]

Sandy: This makes my day, SteveB. My day yesterday was made when a friend mentioned that her son, who has long been unemployed, was finally having a long needed medical procedure.  I asked innocently (honestly!) had he finally found some insurance he could afford? Sshe said yes–Obamacare.  I didn’t bother to correct its name–Affordable Care.

Mark: I genuinely am happy that in those particular instances the intent of the Affordable Care Act has played out……..and I also acknowledge that being able to stay on your parents health insurance until age 26 and the abolishment of ” preexisting” conditions. I’m not a selfish, greedy despicable rich guy that thinks we should abandon the needy and let them suffer without health care, although that’s what liberals and Democrats would say. There’s a terrible ominous trend in this country that encourages a considerable segment of the population to rely on the government for their basic sustenance… Young people see that their parents don’t work and don’t have to because they’ve learned to use “the system” …the system that has grown exponentially under this administration. We need to “incentivize” industriousness, not

My complaint is that I am being targeted to finance the Obama agenda that I don’t agree with. Pretty simple really. We’ll see how this all plays out when Hillary takes the reins……….I may not like it, but it is/will be somewhat entertaining!

Art: Mark, you said:

“There’s a terrible ominous trend in this country that encourages a considerable segment of the population to rely on the government for their basic sustenance… Young people see that their parents don’t work and don’t have to because they’ve learned to use “the system” ….the system that has grown exponentially under this administration. We need to “incentivize” industriousness, not indolence.”

I’d like to see some factual evidence to support this claim.  I know of none.

SteveB: I’d love to see that evidence too! And no civilized country maintains higher penalties for those who do not work. How can work be more “incentivized” than that? Pure slavery? Chinese-style slavery? In the US, if you don’t work, for whatever reason, when you should—you’re not retired or a baby, etc.—99% chance you’re gonna have a miserable, miserable life. Isn’t that obvious? Go up to Gary and take a look.

None of the economic statistics indicate any such problem, except that the jobs have been shipped elsewhere with no replacements. What are people to do? Oh ya, start the next Facebook.

Taxes are entirely too low for the nation to prosper and investment to flourish. It’s really as simple as that.

But, Mark, it is always good to hear from you and your side of the “fence”, even if it involves so many Republican slogans I know I’ve heard on Fox News.. Thanks for writing and taking the time to spell out your thoughts.

Let me start by saying that friends often disagree and I think you feel like I do—no big deal! How boring to be only around people who agree with us all the time. But it’s easy to imply that one knows more than their friend does, that maybe the friend hasn’t really thought things through, that maybe the friend is an idiot, etc. You have not done that and I appreciate it. I hope I can do as well. :-)

I have to say, first of all, that your email reminds me of one that I received from you in Nov. or Dec., 2011, stating that Obamacare had “already wrecked the economy.” In the interest of truth, I have to repeat that Obamacare had done absolutely NOTHING to the economy at that time, the economy was NOT wrecked then and has not been wrecked since, especially not by Obamacare, which seems to have helped the economy so far. This is all verifiable, historical fact, don’t you agree?

What all this tells me is that your statement could not have come from you, It came from the grand GOP propaganda and lie machine. Period.

It seems to me to be much the same now. It’s so easy and so soothing to put your head inside the Right’s reverberating echo chamber and just let yourself and your judgment go, they make it so easy and simple for you.

Fortunately, this does not produce truth and truth is what we need to function in this society. And just as it was not true in 2010, 2011, 2012, or 2013, it is still not true that Obamacare is a “bad” thing. Don’t you know people who had health care and insurance problems? Have you talked to them lately? I have talked to so many people who have already been helped by Obamacare. The only bad stories I’ve heard are two: that it’s too hard to sign up; and ridiculous “fantasy” insurance policies have been largely eliminated and will soon be gone completely. Why should policies exist where the only viable thing for an insurance company to do if there is a claim is not pay it and drop the insured because the premiums are too low to realistically service the policy? Good riddance. That said, Obamacare doesn’t go nearly far enough, or nearly as far as it will someday go, in my estimation, and this is a GOOD thing! Health care in America is a mess. No one disagrees. We tried the Republican way and it led to this—we pay the most for nearly the worst care!

The Republican lie machine and its greed for power for the few still tell their lies. It’s best to verify completely anything and everything they might say—things like Obamacare has already wrecked the economy. Things like Benghazi is a big deal. Things like Obama is a fake. LOL! And, the latest, that the “system…has grown exponentially under this administration.” They are liars. We know they are liars. They have an agenda, an agenda that will destroy America if taken to its logical extreme, where they want to take us. That is the truth. Best check it out completely.

Our problem in America is not “slackers” or “takers”. All normal people want is a job and the respect that goes with it. How much respect goes with those millions and millions of Walmart and fast food jobs? What prosperity do those “jobs” produce for our nation? Our land is being destroyed. Compare things to when you were young, when a guy working at the shoe store could have a house, a car, and send his kids to college. Now the American dream is dying fast. Are we return to feudalism?

Our problem is simple and, with a little study of history and the economic numbers, can easily be proven to be TOO MUCH IN THE HANDS OF TOO FEW! Too much power and too much money and too much greed. That is the truth.

Here’s some “required reading” on that particular subject: “How a 700-Page Economics Book Surged to No. 1 on Amazon” (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-a-700-page-economics-book-surged-to-no-1-on-amazon/)

FredB: Well written truths, SteveB. Worth passing on to everyone!

Ben: Somehow, I don’t think Mark is going to be pleased with your response…

Pam: Interesting discussion.  I’d like to pick up on one thing Mark mentions, as it is something I hear a lot from those on the Right: about the “growing” segment of the population that “works the system” in order to avoid work and personal responsibility.  I simply don’t believe this is the problem the right claims it is.  I’d like to see some unbiased figures.  What I do see all too often is the shortage of jobs.  How can you blame people for not working if there are no jobs to be had?  I can only speak with some authority about the field I know best: higher education.  Twenty-odd years ago only a minority of university faculty were part-time or adjunct.  Today fully half of all faculty are parti-time, which means no benefits and the necessity to have more than one job, requiring travel and time that can’t be devoted to teaching or research.  And the pay is lousy too.  These days a PhD is just too damned expensive to be worth the incredible effort, if all you’re going to end up with is a couple of courses of freshmen comp. a semester at three different campuses.  The problem, friend Mark, is not the slackers at the bottom but the desperate young who can’t get a foothold in the very world they grew up in.  When you’re already at the bottom, you don’t have far to fall, but far too many of our young people, who should have great expectations and the energy to achieve them, are working at low-skill jobs and remaining dependent on their parents until they’re practically middle-aged themselves.  They are the ones who are in free-fall, not us retired baby-boomers who had it relatively easy and now wonder what all the fuss is about.  Our generation has a lot to answer for IMHO.

My Favorite Mayor (by Steven W. Baker)

Mayor Rob Ford

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, at a press conference yesterday:

“Oh and the last thing was Olivia Gondek [a former staffer –SWB], it says, it says that I wanted to eat her pussy. Olivia Gondek. I’ve never said that in my life to her. I would never do that. I’m happily married. I’ve got more than enough to eat at home. Thank you very much.”


The best headline I saw: “Rob Ford Is Too Busy Eating His Wife’s Pussy to Eat Staffer Pussy”.

No Racism Here (by Steven W. Baker)

These Tea Party and Republican racists make me sick to my stomach!

Now, can someone please tell me how we deal rationally with people like this, who are not afraid of writing something so ugly and potentially damaging to themselves? And please tell me how anyone is going to be able to respect this jerk’s opinion after this?

Again…all those little Confederate issues…

I read today about a “mindfulness” test. I wonder if we could make politicians or candidates, by law, take an empathy test? I guess you’d also need a lying test to help interpret.


Richard Cohen [Wapo –SWB] on Black-White Marriage” by Ta-Nehisi Coats,

Nov. 12, 2013, (http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/11/richard-cohen-on-black-white-marriage/281388/

Article referenced: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/richard-cohen-christies-tea-party-problem/2013/11/11/a1ffaa9c-4b05-11e3-ac54-aa84301ced81_story.html.

(I’m not racist. I just don’t recognize my country.)

Here’s a fairly amazing paragraph from Richard Cohen’s latest [in the Washington Post -SWB]:

Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled—about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York—a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts—but not all—of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.

Right. I’m not racist. I just don’t recognize my country. Also, the sight of you, and your used-to-be-lesbian black wife, and your brown children make me sick to my stomach. It’s not like I want to lynch you or anything.

Tea Party Health Care Plan Finally Clarified (by Steven W. Baker)

Here it is, the Tea Party’s health care plan, from Sarah Palin:

“The plan is to allow those things that had been proposed over many years to reform a health care system in America that certainly does need more help so that there’s more competition, there’s less tort reform threat, there’s less trajectory of the cost increases? And those plans have been proposed over and over again. And what thwarts those plans? It’s the far left. It’s President Obama and his supporters who will not allow the Republicans to usher in free market, patient-centered, doctor-patient relationship links to reform health care!” [You mean, like we have now, before Obamacare becomes implemented, Sarah? Jeez! That worked great! –SWB]

I swear it sounds a lot like Larry’s “plan”—a return to the capitalists ripping-off the entire country!

And Sarah Palin is a complete idiot, as we already knew. Great Tea Party representative—the very mentally-challenged governor who quit to make more money! And that has led to such bigger and better things.

Today I read a quote from ex-Republican Congressman Chris Shays. He said, “Republicans love people who have money!” Ain’t it the truth!


Sarah Palin and Matt Lauer Had an Insane Conversation” (with video) by Jack Mirkinson, Huffington Post

Nov. 11, 2013, (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/11/sarah-palin-matt-lauer_n_4254785.html)

To watch Matt Lauer and Sarah Palin try to discuss health care on Monday’s “Today” was to watch two entirely separate conversations awkwardly meet in the middle.

When Lauer told Palin that the Tea Party was really into repealing Obamacare, she was very into that. “Right on!” she cried.

When he asked about what the Tea Party alternative to Obamacare was, Palin looked him straight in the eye and answered an entirely different question. “And it’s not just the independent grassroots Tea Party movement saying this!” she said.

“But where’s the plan from the Tea Party?” Lauer beseeched, his increasingly scraggly beard lending him the air of a reproachful professor.

“Especially Democrats running for re-election,” Palin continued (she had been talking the whole time). She finally ran out of steam and answered the actual question. Oh how she answered it!

“The plan is to allow those things that had been proposed over many years to reform a health care system in America that certainly does need more help so that there’s more competition, there’s less tort reform threat, there’s less trajectory of the cost increases? And those plans have been proposed over and over again. And what thwarts those plans? It’s the far left. It’s President Obama and his supporters who will not allow the Republicans to usher in free market, patient-centered, doctor-patient relationship links to reform health care!”

“Let’s move on,” Lauer said. Yes, let’s! Somewhere, Megyn Kelly was saying to herself, “Been there.”