12-14-12

Christian cross SC 12 14 12

My emotions are as low today as ever I can remember as I work through the tragic news born in Newtown, Connecticut. Another slaughter of innocent lives, this time little children, at the hands of a youth with guns, ammo, a damaged mind, and a confused soul.

For me, this isn’t like 911. Then I was angry; someone from some far-away land was going to have to shoulder the blame and pay for what they did to us. Today, I simply feel lost because we, the American culture, are the ones who must shoulder the blame for what happened and begin paying back.

  • 1998: 13 and 11 year olds kill 5, injure 10, Jonesboro, Arkansas middle school
  • 1999: 18 year old kills 13, injures 24,  Columbine, Colorado high school
  • 2001: 15 year old kills 2, injures 13, Santee, California high school
  • 2005: 16 year old kills 9, injures 7, Minnesota, Red Lake Indian reservation
  • 2006: 32 year old kills 5, injures 5, Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania Amish high school
  • 2007: 18 year old kills 5, injures 4, Salt Lake City, Utah shopping mall
  • 2007: 23 year old kills 32, injures 17, Blacksburg, Virginia university campus
  • 2007: 19 year old kills 8, injures 14, Omaha, Nebraska shopping mall
  • 2008: 27 year old kills 5, injures 16, Dekalb, Illinois university lecture hall
  • 2010: 34 year old kills 8, injures 2, Manchester, Connecticut family business office
  • 2011: 22 year old kills 6, injures 11, Tucson, Arizona shopping center
  • 2012: 24 year old kills 12, injures 58, Aurora, Colorado movie theater
  • 2012: 40 year old kills 6, injures 3, Oak Creek, Wisconsin Sikh Temple
  • 2012: 22 year old kills 2, Clackamas, Oregon shopping mall
  • 2012: 20 year old kills 28, Newtown, Connecticut elementary school

What exactly has happened to our society where a list like this is so overwhelming, further punctuated by the thousands of nameless inner city and gangland murders perpetrated by our youth that are not considered rampage killings?

Laying it at the feet of some psychological disorder diagnosis housed in the mind of the gunman is pure intellectual cowardice. The only thing that does is allow the rest of us to feel better because it becomes someone else’s problem, another family’s responsibility. Americans would do well to acknowledge the insidious decay in our cultural values where they continue to collide with what many interpret as their own set of personal freedoms. Freedoms are great but become worthless and detrimental to society as a whole if they are not exercised with maturity, restraint, and responsibility. We seem to have lost sight of all three of these requirements in the American freedom equation.

Personal and moral failures at any level don’t carry the negative stigma they once did. Breaking society’s laws, even those little, seemingly inconsequential ones, mean nothing anymore and is routinely modeled by parents to their young ones. Breaking little rules leads to breaking larger norms as one gets older. The end result is a perpetual diminishing of cultural values. At the end of the day, what value does a human life have?

Even as a constitutional originalist and Second Amendment supporter, I believe a rational gun control debate has become necessary. One where the debaters recognize that guns have evolved greatly since 1791. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition that neuters the NRA, our Bill of Rights, or the American hunting tradition. But it does have to somehow find a way to keep us from lamenting that victims were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It is high time for our judicial system to do its job with a little less compassion and much heavier hand. Our culture has lost its fear of the consequences of breaking societal rules. Gen X and the Millenials have become the No Fear generation. Minds that consider crime no longer consider the consequences that go with it because plea deals, suspended and reduced sentences, and early parole mitigate a criminal’s uncomfortable future. Cable television’s offerings even depict a macho glorification of penal life that has found a twisted audience in our society that actually aspires to doing time. Our society must put fear back into a criminal’s mind with hardcore sentencing that has intractable teeth. Watch the 1973 movie, Papillion. In our present light, there comes with it a desire to dismantle the death penalty, buy some islands, clean out the prisons, and remove two strike criminals from society forever. Compassionate, yet final. Bad actors shouldn’t be allowed to have three strikes.

What effect did Hollywood, video games, and the internet play in the minds of the 16 killers previously listed? My guess is pretty significant if one dissects the age demographic of the killers. What are we, as a culture, allowing the next generation to be exposed to for the financial gain of those who exploit their immaturity and under-developed moral sense?

My guess is that in the immediate days following the Newtown massacre, most Americans would welcome such a review and find it easy to connect the dots. Sadly, the short attention span of Americans has shown that this too shall pass. And our culture will continue to slide as we await the next horrific homegrown event.

12.14.12 was a tough day for me. My heart breaks for the families in Newtown. But my angst really comes from seeing that America, the shining city on a hill, is losing its sheen; and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

 

Scott Ruppert lives in Harpswell, ME and is a freelance writer for The Basicman Perspective and The Western Center for Journalism.

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Coming To Terms

Barack Obama speech 4 SC Coming to Terms

I firmly believe that the three most significant and effective words in our lexicon are: I WAS WRONG. If more executives, politicians, lawyers, activists …. and spouses used these words, we would have a more recuperative and stronger civil discourse.

A friend of 50 years chided me recently when he felt that the BasicMan’s recent satirical analysis of the political landscape as derived from A Message from the President was more sour grapes than it was satire. Okay, fair point – criticism accepted. But I learned something, and it doesn’t give me comfort to realize that I’m not sure I know who my fellow Americans are these days. My contention that Romney would win the presidency based on my confidence in the American electorate’s discernment and their grasp of reality make me say: I Was Wrong.

I get the idea of winners and losers in the political arena, or any arena for that matter. I understand the logistics, tactics, and strategy that go into playing the game. What I lost track of at some point was what motivates the players, in this case the electorate. It’s not enough to say that America is continually evolving socially and that the Democrats understood it and seized the opportunity while the Republicans let time pass them by. While true, it’s much more than that.

I reject the notion coming from some pretty smart people that Mitt Romney was a flawed candidate. Mitt Romney was not a flawed candidate, indeed no more than Mr. Obama. Mitt Romney’s campaign was flawed. His strategy and his staff did not serve him or Paul Ryan well. Both Romney and Ryan, by all accounts, are good men with great resumes, families, and ideas. The problem with them is that they saw the American voter the same way I did … right up to somewhere around 6 p.m. on November 6th.

Its obvious that somewhere in recent history, the electorate in general changed – as did the reasons they will cast their vote for one candidate or another. But more consequentially, something else changed – a globally unique perspective of what it means to be an American citizen along with an understanding of the freedoms  granted by our Constitution. Most importantly, the role government now occupies in our society as opposed to the one the original founders had in mind appears to have changed dramatically as evidenced by the results of the 2012 election.

Ms. Laura Hollis is an attorney and associate professor of law at the University of Notre Dame. She wrote on this idea that the culture has taken a dramatic shift, and the new direction does not bode well for our future.

… It’s possible that America just has to hit rock bottom. I truly believe that most Americans who voted for Obama have no idea what they are in for. Most simply believe him when he says that all he really wants is for the rich to pay “a little bit more.” So reasonable! Who could argue with that except a greedy racist?

America is on a horrific bender. Actually, it has been for some time now. The warning signs of our fiscal profligacy and culture of lack of personal responsibility are everywhere – too many to mention. We need only look at other countries which have gone the route we are walking now to see what is in store. For the past four years – but certainly within the past campaign season – we have tried to warn Americans. Too many refuse to listen, even when all of the events that have transpired during Obama’s presidency – unemployment, economic stagnation, skyrocketing prices, the depression of the dollar, the collapse of foreign policy, Benghazi, hopelessly inept responses to natural disasters – can be tied directly to Obama’s statist philosophies, and his decisions. What that means, I fear, is that they will not see what is coming until the whole thing collapses. That is what makes me so sad today. I see the country I love headed toward its own “rock bottom,” and I cannot seem to reach those who are taking it there ….. (Hollis; Post Mortem 11/8/12)

Is Ms. Hollis being contentious, overly dramatic, and way too direct? Our new culture would respond with an emphatic “absolutely” as they display a total inability to recognize and prioritize economic and social harbingers on the domestic front and corresponding global realities while propping up their icon who refuses to accept responsibility for anything that becomes ‘blame-worthy’. To hear them tell it, everything is just fine and proceeding as planned; and it’s only the political opposition that impedes progress. We just need to get onboard with the new normal.

For me, this is so troubling to watch, and even more depressing to put into words. To watch the Constitution being persistently gamed both for procedural and ideological advantage, rancorous partisanship becoming increasingly the intractable norm, and emotion fueling essential debate in the absence of logic has become a disservice to Americans in the short term and disastrous to the republic in the long term.

None of this evolution toward the new normal is comforting in the least. Regrettably, I do not hold out as much hope as I once did for the future of our country. It appears the transformation that was promised in 2008 is rapidly taking shape. Call it shrewd marketing, seizing on Americans’ wants instead of their needs to solidify a political future; or simply call it a sense of ignorance, if you must.

I truly doubt the folks that bask in the largesse of this transformation have any clue of what it will take to maintain it. This is why I am having difficulty coming to terms.

 

Scott Ruppert is a freelance writer that publishes monthly essays for Perspectives of a BasicMan www.basicman.wordpress.com

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A Word From The President

Barack Obama speech hand 2 SC A Word from the President

My fellow Americans,

It’s been a few days since my resounding reelection victory, and Michelle reminded me to thank those who helped me receive another four years serving the American people from the Oval Office. The list is quite long, so I will attempt to hit the high points.

First and foremost, I owe a deep debt of gratitude to George W. Bush for providing me with political cover for virtually every situation as well as our fiscal crisis which, according to Bill Clinton “not even he could have fixed in 4 years”. I shall continue to seek places to promote the work of the Bush administration whenever the need arises.

Next, I need to acknowledge two men who proved invaluable to me over the course of the last four years. First, my hat goes off to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. His marvelous work with TARP, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (stimulus), as well as Quantitative Easing I, II, and III allowed me to spend as much money as I thought necessary to get our economy roaring back at 2%. Thanks to him, we have managed to rework perceptions about debt and deficits as well as completely rewrite the (Chinese) book on currency manipulation. Secondly, thank you to Chief Justice John Roberts for his full-throated and unexpected support of Obamacare, which allowed me to take a major step toward transforming our society.

Truth be told, I would not be writing to you today as a two-term president without the loyal and generous help of our mainstream media. Two special shout-outs go to the ‘Old Gray Lady’ and CNN’s Candy Crowley. First, the New York Times really pitched in with that wonderfully intuitive Op-Ed headline which they assigned to the Romney piece on the Detroit car industry bankruptcy. Secondly, one cannot forget Ms. Crowley’s masterful work as a debate moderator when she got me out of that messy ’terrorism misunderstanding’ with Governor Romney. I am sure that CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, and 60 Minutes will devote all their investigative efforts to get to the bottom of that ‘bump in the road’ down in Benghazi now that they have allowed the election to pass without that needless distraction.

I must say a few words about my new Republican friend, Governor Chris Christie. He was so gracious to escort me and the press corps around storm-ravaged New Jersey while allowing me to add my presidential horsepower. The public response to that one trip to the Jersey shore just a week before the election left such a great visual impression for those who think Democrats and Republicans can’t get anything done. I doubt I will ever be able to repay him fully; however, I remain confident he will put to good use the $100,000,000 check I gave his state.

I also want to thank the 65% of Americans who agree with me that not only the top 1% of wage earners pay their fair share, but anyone making more than $250,000 should join in as well. In my second term I will work tirelessly to ensure that more of their earnings are taxed more fairly so that benefits can be redistributed to anyone below the ‘$250,000/millionaire category’ who needs a helping hand. Only in this way can we continue to fine-tune capitalism through Progressive revenue gains in order assure a level playing field for everyone.

Much is made of the power of incumbency when it comes to getting reelected; however, nothing has been more beneficial to me and my party than the tireless efforts of our public high school teachers and college professors. The 18-30 year old demographic that I have so dearly counted on during my two presidential campaigns never strayed from my side. Our education system continues to do yeoman’s work in keeping young minds focused on our nation’s pressing issues: global warming, contraception, religion’s infringement on our society, English as a second language, economic class distinction, et al. The education these young minds continue to receive in our schools has allowed me to connect with them in a unique, non-analytical way that befits our new culture unlike those few students attending our remaining outlier schools who continue to dwell on old world curricula of critical thinking exercises, American and European history, economics, math, sciences, engineering, political theory, and general US civics.

As I enter my second term as President of the United States, I have become refocused and am now ready to work with Republicans on fixing our problems. As I told my friend, Dmitri Medvedev, “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.” No doubt Speaker Boehner and Republican House members look forward to working with me under these new rules.

Sincerely, BO

 

Scott Ruppert is a ‘basic man’ and writes social/political/business satire and commentary at Perspectives of a BasicMan. www.basicman.wordpress.com

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You Are Correct, Sir – It Was Offensive

Obama Middle East Policy SC You Are Correct, Sir   It Was Offensive

During Round 2 action of the presidential debates, President Obama aggressively scolded challenger Romney for suggesting that the president’s actions were inappropriate following the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi that left 4 Americans dead inside the US Embassy. To wit that the President delivered a prepared statement on the situation in Libya at a brief Rose Garden appearance a few hours after the attack, then boarded Air Force One and went to Las Vegas for a high dollar campaign fundraiser and on to Colorado for more of the same. No big deal, right?

The fact of the matter is that people, especially political figures, are constantly judged by the actions they take and the priorities they assign to things. Those actions and priorities reveal more about their character than do their words.

So far in this campaign, I have written with a sincere attempt to keep a lid on any emotion with regard to either candidate and their comportment. That lid blew off, however, when Barack Obama dressed down Mitt Romney for calling attention to his actions. Before my liberal readers get lathered, they need to know that it would have blown off no matter who or what party was the protagonist in such an episode.

America had just been attacked. Correct, 3000 people weren’t killed with commercial jet planes, nor was it Afghanistan or Iraq where we have grown callous to such atrocities. But our soil, sovereign American soil, had been attacked; a US diplomat and three others in the service of our State Department were murdered; and our embassy was in flames in a new foreign country. Exactly what would be required for the Commander in Chief to alter political plans in order to provide presidential leadership and presence to a rapidly deteriorating situation in what was already a tense region of the world where so many new unknowns suddenly emerged?

The reason was immaterial at the time, even though the intelligence community and the State Department knew very early that it was a full-out Al-Qaida ambush and not an unprovoked response to a stupid, yet provocative, film trailer – the facts remained: four dead and an American embassy looted and burned. The US had sustained a terrorist attack on the anniversary of September 11. Was there more to come?

What did President Obama think would be the reaction of his decision to leave Washington DC to raise money for his reelection in, of all places, Vegas? I am one that didn’t forget how much grief President George W. Bush took for not rushing back to DC on 9/11. Instead, he was forced to follow security protocol and circle in Air Force One until the ‘all clear’ was received and allowed to return. Nonetheless, he was skewered by the left! But that was then, this is now, and Barack Obama has come to know he has been granted license to act on his will and tell the story his way with complete immunity. Am I the only one who senses a double standard?

We live in a world where technology has made life and its opportunities accessible whenever and wherever. The White House has at its command a team of facilitators that could have provided a real-time jumbo-tron address from the Oval Office directly to his constituents attending the Las Vegas function. My gut feeling is that they would have understood, but you would not have known it by the blistering lecture he delivered to Mitt Romney and anyone else who saw his actions as that of someone who was detached from the loss of an American outpost on foreign soil and focused on his reelection effort.

President Obama averred he finds it utterly offensive that anyone would attempt to connect for political gain his campaign trip to Las Vegas and the way he and his team reacted to the Benghazi assassinations.

You are almost correct, President Obama. It is offensive; your actions surrounding this attack, the lack of compassion you showed the families of the fallen, the propagation of the Muhammad video myth, and you and your administration’s refusal to unequivocally label Benghazi as a planned and executed terrorist attack. What is most informative, however, was your attempt to turn this debacle around and display a sense of incredulity when Mitt Romney had the audacity to call you out on it.

Follow Scott Ruppert’s commentaries at basicman.wordpress.com

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Handling The Truth

Handle Truth SC Handling the Truth

Do you remember the climactic and contentious exchange between Lt. Daniel Kaffe (Tom Cruise) and Col. Nathan Jessep (Jack Nicholson) in the 1992 film, “A Few Good Men”? I’m beginning to think he was on to something.

Jessep: You want answers?!
Kaffee: I want the truth!
Jessep: You can’t handle the truth!

Truth can be that tough, ugly, inconvenient thing that exposes our ignorance or sets us free. More often than not, it ends up being the former, not the latter. Truth is rigid and painfully black and white. It is incongruent with relativity, no matter what the free-thinking intellectual says. Relativity in truth presents nothing more than an oxymoron. We have become very good at ways to avoid the truth, find ways to mitigate it, and even thumb our noses at it. Facing it head-on has become very tough for our society. What’s even tougher is connecting the dots that form after truths are exposed.

And so it happens in every election season when opposing points of view are being debated that the candidates and their surrogates already know the electorate has given them license to stretch the facts because, like Col Nathan Jessep, they seem to think you can’t handle the truth. In any polemic that truly seeks understanding and solutions, there is very little room for finger-pointing, assigning blame to personalities, or seeking justification in moral equivalents.

This deficiency is not germane to one side or the other. Regrettably, it is within the nature of humans. Simply put, we have an aversion to the truth. If you think this is an unfair indictment of the human condition, consider the fact that nobody has to teach a toddler how to ‘not’ tell the truth; and as adults, we avoid truth at all costs if we suspect knowing it will make us uncomfortable.

The list below presents just a few of the truths of which I write. All of them exist at the foundation of conversations that occur daily as they relate to pressing issues in our society:

1. We are flat-out broke, our credit card is tapped out, there’s no more money in the bank. We can’t afford the products and services we’re constitutionally mandated to provide right now, let alone what we have promised for our citizens in the future. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) lists 44 states and the District of Columbia that are projecting budget shortfalls for FY’12.

2. There is genuine evil in the world that transcends anything that the American mind can fathom. This type of pathology must be addressed in perpetuity on a worldwide scale because it represents both indirect and direct assaults on our freedom and security as a nation.

3. If America does not retain its position as the preeminent world power, we will be replaced. A short list of eager replacements would include Russia, China, a nuclear Iran, or an Islamic Caliphate. (Which of these countries or groups of people would you want acting as the world policeman, referee, food bank, distributor of aid, and protector of the weak?)

4. We are not the cause of Middle East geo-political issues, European economic problems, genocide in Africa, or the violent behavior of Islamic extremists. The United States has its faults but remains the most generous, compassionate, open, and resilient society in our world today.

5. Our domestic entitlement culture is crippling us not only from a fiscal perspective but from a devolving American ethos that increasingly does not look to reward and encourage work, accomplishment, success, and personal achievement.

6. At 73,600+ pages it doesn’t matter if your part of the 99%, 1%, or the 47%; the federal tax code is dysfunctional, convoluted, and unfair. Unless someone has the courage to change it substantially, any type of class warfare is meaningless, counterproductive, and disruptive to our common good.

7. Politicians and politics seldom provide long-term solutions to problems. Washington DC is awash with narcissists, power players, and economic illiterates posing as the wise, all-knowing, deferential adults in the room. Regrettably, they look out primarily for the security of their future, not ours.

Nothing profound here, right? So why make this effort? My many conversations with people whom I enjoy associating with socially and respect intellectually reflect the need. I relish their diversity of opinion as it enables me to examine their thought process and where it leads as compared to mine. What often surfaces, however, is evidence that many basic truths such as the few previously listed do not inform their perspectives. That presents a problem.

While their thoughts are typically packed full of sensitivity, generosity, and idealism – logic does not occupy equal footing. This is possibly because of resistance to deal with the foundation of all logic – truth and reality. Acknowledging and assimilating them are foundational to forming opinions about other things salient to our society.

Was Col. Jessep right? Can we handle the truth? It’s tough to say. A little intellectual humility and emotional discomfort would be a small price to pay for being able to handle some of the hard realities of our time. Doing so would present an opportunity to curb the partisan rhetoric and nonfactual bickering while presenting a giant step toward fixing some of the things that are broken.

Check our Scott’s blog here. 

Photo credit: rot ist die farbe der hoffnung (Creative Commons)

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