I don’t remember who taught me to do this, maybe it’s just the way my mind works. But if I hear that, for example, some otherwise successful and prepared leader lost a battle because he underestimated his enemy, I try to live under the mindset of the other extreme. In this case, I live always overestimate my enemy. (Enemy is a bit harsh here, but it’s quick.)
What’s on my mind, today, is that the pundits won’t stop. It’s been four years of Trump and they won’t stop. They somehow believe that today is the day I’ll rise up with them in indignation that Trump lied. (“Up-played.” It’s brilliant.) But until recently I couldn’t answer the question, “Why do the pundits press on? What drives them?”
It cannot be love of country. They cannot be driven by their love of the USA because that’s what drives me. That’s what drives Trump. If I felt they loved America, then I wouldn’t care what they said, anymore than I care what Trump says. But I do care about what they say, rather I do struggle to understand how and why they continue to point out the obvious as if it isn’t obvious. And so something else must be driving them.
At first, I wanted to treat the pundits like children. Like children, I thought, the pundits just didn’t like the man. But then I remembered that underestimating my opponent can lead to disaster, so I have given up that line of thinking.
What, then, would the wisest, most educated and well-read humans who ever walked the earth (here’s the intentional overestimate) be so ate up with that they’d persevere day in and day out against Trump? That became my question.
The answer: Vanity.
If I was wise, well-read (let’s not forget camera ready and funny), and lived in the United States of America right now, I’d hate that no one noticed me. I’d be super pissed that all my brainpower was not translating to real power. Sure, I may live in opulent comfort, but I would know that if I had been alive only a few generations ago, then I would have found that my abilities would have placed real power within my grasp. I’m talking Trump-like power. I would know that I could have very likely been KING OF THE WORLD!! (Flat or not.)
But, as it stands, we all live today. Right now. And no one, not-a-me, and not-a-you, (and not the pundits—from either side) are going to live on in history. President Donald J. Trump will, though. He, in all his buffoonery and apparent lies and orange hair and every other flaw the wise and well-read (perhaps even physically fit) pundits point out unrelentingly, will live on.
Do I care that Trump lives on and I do not? Nope. But if I was as wise and well-read as my (overestimated) opponents must be, then I have to think I’d resent that despite all my education and training and ambitions, that I, daily, was proving to be impotent and forgettable.
This perspective, achieved by overestimating my opponent, allows little ol’ me to admit that this would be a hard truth to face. I could even admit that this hard truth might just drive me into an incessant, blind rage.
The messaging is now formal and official. In this great contest for the supposed “soul” of America, tonight the RNC formally unleashed its claim. That claim: AMERICA!
This, of course, is in response to the DNC claim: INTELLIGENCE!
And so, it’s on.
Which are you going to vote for?
People who think they’re smarter than everyone?
Or people who think America’s greater than everywhere?
To save you time, I went ahead and read the 55-page document for us. (You’re welcome.) The following is the provocative and abridged version. It is, of course, meant to capture the themes and purpose of the original, while avoiding the length. This post also includes my reaction.
To begin, a couple of questions: Do you fear that tyranny is imminent? Does it keep you awake to consider how very near to becoming a monarchy are these United States, King Trump at the helm?
I didn’t think so.
Here’s the rub. Part of the document’s argument for America’s pending transition to tyranny rests on establishing the dual and (if true) symbiotic facts that the President has enormous (but not absolute) power and the House is the singular body of humans who have been entrusted with the awesome responsibility to “rise to the occasion” and impeach President Donald John Trump.
The problem is that this part happens to be the opening part and, as such, is foundational.
This is, unfortunately for its purposes, problematic because it betrays that it has missed the true meaning of Trump’s presidency. The true meaning of Trump’s presidency, being confirmed more and more each and everyday–and according to the House report’s own definition and reasoning—is as We the People’s impeachment of the current batch of United States Senators, Representatives, Justices. And, yes, President Trump’s tenure is our impeachment of the President too, no matter how nonsensical that may sound.
The majority has voted, not for Trump, but for impeachment.
It doesn’t matter who the president is, we say. It doesn’t matter who runs for office, we declare. They’re all corrupt. They’re all liars. They’re all bought and paid for. They’re all mere mouthpieces.
And we’re right. It doesn’t matter who holds public office, at this point. Government, not its citizens, has failed.
But don’t fear. There is no coming tyranny. There is no monarch in the making. Maybe difficult times. Maybe violence. But nothing that the same, age-old virtues, beginning with personal integrity, can’t handle.
There is “NSFW” (that means “not safe for work”, Grandma and Grandpa–thanks for always reading btw), and then there is please never ever try to talk about what you are about to read. (PNETTTAWYAATR.) I’m serious. The following is a no win conversation. You just have to trust me. (It’s all true. But measuring by the “shame” I feel writing it, I wouldn’t say this out loud if my life depended on it. Ergo, we write.)
Disclaimer: this post is going to sound like it is written to “whites”. I’m going to act like I’m revealing a secret that I learned over the past four years while a member of a black church, attempting to socialize with the Black Community. But this post is not for the “whites”. It is for the “blacks”.
With the election cycle approaching full-swing, I finally feel like I have something to contribute. Perhaps it is because I have a namesake running. Speaking of, the big headlines about Mayor Pete right now contain the basic idea that the “blacks” (of the African-American type–not the new immigrants who playfully taught me that “No, Africa is not a country. But, yes, Africa is a jungle”) the “blacks” remain one of the last voting blocks to publicly embrace homosexuals with open arms.
To the untrained eye, Mayor Pete seems to be doing all the right things. He’s tackling the problem head-on. He’s headed to the South and he’s going to grin-and-grip. To the untrained eye, Mayor Pete is going to put himself out there for the individual blacks that he meets and whom he endears to himself to inspect and stamp “worthy of our trust”. The untrained eye is wrong.
With the “blacks”, Mayor Pete, woke or not, need not aim for some consensus of individuals, no. Consensus is what he’s doing with “whites”. But the “blacks” are not merely the “whites” with dark skin.
The “blacks” are, to their shame, a group. And Mayor Pete is causing conversation within the body. But they’re not talking about issues. They are merely conducting a sounding, no different than a weather balloon full of hot air. We’re not waiting for “blacks” to think through the issues–for instance, to think through whether they still believe the Word of God is the Word of God, no.
All that we’re waiting for is the leader of the “blacks” to declare Mayor Pete to be their guy. Naturally, the question is, “Who is the leader?” And that is a fascinating question. That is the question Mayor Pete would pay to know the answer to at this point. In fact, that is precisely what he is doing right now, whether intentional or not. All he’s waiting on–all we’re waiting on–with his little hurdle is for this “leader” to declare some sort of “Mayor Pete is da man!” or some other slightly Southern or grammatically-challenged sounding phrase of approval (like “woke” itself) to be released with which the millions of “black” sheep can echo, repeat, tweet, insta, snap, and fb all over the planet. (Interesting sidebar: Is there a black social meeja app, vis-a-vis BET? I can’t think of one.)
Lastly, here’s a little known, but known enough, reminder: The leader, the one with the gift of “utterance”, will prove to be a woman. I’m betting on Michelle.
Now you know.
(In any case, my bet is on Trump.)
“So, Pete, if someone asks you what the Bible says about abortion, and you don’t think it teaches on abortion, what would you say to them?”
“First, my strategy always begins with the goal of staying as the ‘question-asker’ for as long as necessary. In this case, then, I’d respond by asking, ‘To answer your question, I’d like to pry into your knowledge of all-things-ancient a bit. What do you know about the purposes of ancient people’s writings as far as they differ from today’s purposes?’ I’d ask this with the aim of illustrating that Bible times didn’t exactly include political flyers or any other kind of contemporary-style propaganda. Then I’d ask (in sincerity), ‘What do you know about how ancient people performed abortions?’ And, ‘Do you think people alive during Bible times had more or less abortions than today?'”
“I can assume that the average person would confess they don’t know anything about ancient writings’ purposes (nor that they had much considered the notion that folks in the past used the written word with a different purpose than we do today). And the average person would confess that ancient peoples’ abortion rates were similar. But that they doubt ancient abortions were as controlled as abortions are today. Most people probably acknowledge in the old days the more common activity wasn’t so much abortion as discarding newborns.”
“Then I’d steer the conversation with the following question(s), ‘So you think at a time before literacy was widespread, before the materials to easily record information were invented and/or widespread, and before the time when the practices which we really mean to describe by ‘abortion’ were being committed were widespread, that the Bible writers–who seem to have a singular goal of declaring their god to be the only god–will have specifically addressed the practice of ending pregnancy before delivery?'”
“You see? You see. Okay. It’s not even working on you?”
“Well, let’s put it this way. Pretend you’re a preacher in front of a congregation. The people want to hear what you think about abortion, the people want to hear what you think the Bible says about abortion. What will you say to them?”
“Okay. Ready? Here you go. Take notes. Ahem. (Cough). ‘The Bible writers never teach about abortion. It’s not in the Bible. Every time a Christian thinks the Bible is talking about abortion, they are proof-texting. That is, they are using the collection of writings known as the Bible to defend an idea that they have, rather than letting the Bible have its own day and stand on its own merits.
“‘Does this mean abortion is unimportant or inconsequential to the LORD, the god of the Bible? No. Does that mean abortion is moral? No. Does that mean Christianity is pro-choice? No. Quite the opposite. Abortion is immoral. Abortion should be a crime. Abortion is evil. How do I know? Here’s how. Show me a pregnant woman who confesses publicly that she is filled with the Holy Spirit. (You know the Holy Spirit, right? God himself? Indwelling in people’s bodies? Acting as a conscience of sorts, guiding us along our way. Convicting us when we’re about to misstep, and encouraging us when we aren’t yet used to the feeling that accompanies righteous living? You know, the Holy Spirit.)
“‘Show me that woman who also is willing to confess that the Holy Spirit is moving her, convincing her to have an abortion.
“‘That’s how I know abortion is immoral, evil, and should be illegal. Because you will never find that woman. And if you do, everyone from both sides of Sunday will concur that she’s out-of-her-mind, no different than how the uniform public consensus forms on those highly publicized mothers drowning their kids because they say Jesus told them to. Without any subsequent knowledge or teaching on who Jesus might be or which Jesus she’s talking about, everyone knows those mothers are insane.’
“That’s my abortion sermon.”
Recently, United States Senator Ted Cruz answered former-child-actress Alyssa Milano’s pointed question about Biblical support for gun-ownership.
For effect, I’m going to repeat that.
Recently, Unites States Senator Ted Cruz answered former-child-actress Alyssa Milano’s pointed question about Biblical support for gun-ownership.
In a stunning display of unguided scholarship, Ms. Milano subsequently responded to Sen. Cruz’s interpretation in exactly the same tone and with exactly the same level of literacy. (Read their exchange here.)
There, of course, is another way to read the Bible–the right way.
To get to the “right way”, I have a few questions for the reader. First: Can you imagine being someone else? Can you imagine being anyone else? Can you imagine seeing the world through someone else’s eyes? If not, then move along. This post isn’t for you.
If so, however, if you can imagine being some else, then here’s a follow-up: can you imagine being a person who can see the entire time-space universe as it is?
What do you see?
Part of my own imagination was developed while I was working at a factory. The building, like many, was essentially square-shaped. The white collars worked in offices immediately to the left and right of the perimeter hallway. The blue collars worked on the interior.
As a blue collar, I couldn’t help but notice how many office changes occurred. This person moved to that office. That person moved to this office. It was like the white collars thought that if only they sat in a different spot, we blue collars would do our job better–IE show up to work on time, not complain, care etc.
Switching gears, in the case of “guns” in America, I can imagine something similar. I can imagine it. Imagine–mind you. I can imagine being some person who can see everything and, in this role as all-seeing person, I can imagine watching us down here on Earth. We’re slaughtering each other with our own invention. I see that in response to the slaughter, one group (Milano-led) insists that the slaughter will stop when ink is applied to paper (gun-control laws). Then I see that in response to that claim, another group (Cruz-led) insists that it takes more than ink on paper (gun-control laws) to end the slaughter–but then the same Cruz-led group uses other, older ink on paper (the Bible) to defend that they are right.
The problem is not that gun-control laws don’t work. Other countries seem to have great success with them.
The problem is not that the NRA wants the slaughters to continue.
The problem is that no one has any imagination.
I have imagination. And I have more than imagination. I have more than imagination because I have my daughter. And I teach her to have imagination. I teach her that someone like me, someone very much like me, is watching this whole universe unfold. I teach her that for as long as people have lived this person has been watching. And I teach her that this person does not mess around. I teach her that, like me, he disciplines those who disobey. And I teach her that, like me, he rewards those who obey. I teach her that, like my love for her, in both situations he loves us all very much–as evidenced by the discipline and the rewards, as evidenced by the attention itself. I teach her to desire and be grateful for the attention. And I teach her that he did one additional thing to prove his love. I teach her that he became one of us, and that he walked the earth as one of us. And I teach her, that like her veteran dad who risked/s his life for other people, Jesus died for us. I teach her Jesus died for her.
Why do we slaughter? It’s not complicated. But it does take imagination to understand it. We slaughter each other because we don’t forgive each other. Okay? We don’t forgive each other. There, I said it. Happy? And don’t argue with me here. I’m sick of your bullshit denials. It’s because we don’t forgive. You don’t forgive. I don’t forgive.
We hurt, and rather than forgive, we hold tight to the pain. We nurture it. We feed it. We love it. We use it. We allow it to mature. Then, right before the slaughter, if we happen to take a breath, we sometimes have a moment of clarity–a moment that allows us to see that we’re no longer in control. It’s a spiritual moment. And, if we’re blessed, then that’s the moment when we remember words like, “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” And this recollection inspires many folks to stop and reconsider. But that roaring lion does win at times.
To stop the lion, we must teach each other. We must teach each other the truth that has been taught first to the Jews, and then to the Christians. What’s that truth? Well, let me ask you a question. Can you imagine being someone else?
That’s what you’re thinking, isn’t it? After you read my amendment proposal, you thought I misunderstood what I was supposed to read. You’re saying, “His friend clearly suggested the supreme court case involving Heller, then he goes and tracks down Joseph Heller’s classic Catch-22. Moron.”
Trouble is, I have read Catch-22, but, in fact, I have also read the opinions behind the latest second amendment decision of our highest court. And yes, I still maintain that my proposed amendment is both the solution to the issue and at the same time draws out the actual issue that has been raised by the school shootings of the recent past.
I previously wrote that I believe the school shootings raise the issue of whether the atom bombs dropped in WWII have fundamentally and irrevocably altered life. In other words, I believe it is time to fully address that life is not the same as it was before the bombs. The Law now wrangles a different sort of chaos. (One easy example that comes to mind is how jumping on an atom bomb does nothing for our friends–unlike stepping in front of a bullet or jumping on a grenade etc. Even Christ’s, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” must needs be seen in new light.)
Another way I could have put my belief, perhaps an easier to understand way, is that since officially ending WWII we have not declared war according to our law–the U.S. Constitution–and I wonder, “Is this because we believe we are forevermore in time of war?”
In my thought experiment wherein I’m pretending to interpret the ratified then challenged Amendment XXVIII’s language of, “In time of peace, arms shall no longer be secured by the people,” I see that the most difficult part to interpret, and the most essential, is the “in time of peace.” I believe we would find that when the founders used the phrase in the third amendment, they meant there was distinction between time of war and time of peace.
I look around and conclude, “No. No we don’t. We do not believe in the distinction.” And by my thinking, no distinction means we believe that we are in time of war.
But I’m a veteran. Not just any veteran, a veteran officer. My oath is lifelong, regardless the source of my income. So I can’t help but see war, no different than hammers can’t help but see objects to strike. But you? You’re not a veteran.
What do you see? What do you believe?
Rise and shine, Marchers! Have your dainty feet had time to heal? Must’ve been an excruciatingly tiresome week, what with such a physically demanding event last weekend. The sacrifice! You probably forgot to carbo load ahead of time, too. Darn it all! There’s always next time. When is it? I hear the next walkout is April 20th? Shh, come closer. Did you hear that that is Hitler’s birthday, too? Hopefully people won’t think you’re celebrating, ughh. Oh, how many steps did you log? That’ll help with your HSA incentives. (Yes, the jogging in place counts.) The celebratory ice cream probably went down with less guilt, didn’t it? I mean, you really made a difference, don’t you think? I feel safer, that’s for sure. And it’s all because of you.
From within the clouds at the top of Sinai, then, seeking clearance for a full-stop landing, having read in full and considered the District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), and borrowing some language from the repealed Amendment XVIII, I offer this revision for consideration.
Article I – After one year from the ratification of this article, in time of peace, arms shall no longer be secured by the people.
Article II – The Congress and the several states shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Article III – This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.
My question is, “Do you understand how I can competently reason that the first article of my proposed amendment does not contravene the second amendment (especially as it was interpreted in the Court’s most recent opinion on the amendment as indicated in the Heller opinion)?”
(I’m not interested in whether you agree with it or think it would ever be ratified. I’m interested in holding a conversation which assumes the amendment’s ratification, and subsequent challenge, and then we’re SCOTUS justices. You know, thought experiment style.)
Additionally, regarding late Justice Scalia–I do not think he would turn in his grave. My amendment in no way indicates that the right which is not to be infringed in the second amendment is “linked to or conditioned by serving in a militia.” What have I said that makes you draw that connection?
…to assume you had character to begin with.
Not a single one of you accepted my challenge. Not-a one. Your silence allowed my mind to wander. In hindsight, I wonder why I didn’t think through my challenge before I declared it. Of course you wouldn’t understand you had been attacked and defend yourself. You don’t have character. Character requires perseverance, and perseverance requires overcoming some sort of difficulty. No, not the difficulties you’re thinking you have overcome. Neither exasperatingly stuck-open selfie sticks, nor completely spelling out words live under this umbrella. I’m talking difficult. I’ll give you an example.
H-‘s Spring Break was last week. (To new readers, she’s my seven-year-old daughter.) The entire reason I moved to Denver was proximity to the mountains. I wanted to live near the ski-resorts and I wanted H- to grow up skiing. The opportunity finally arrived to take her skiing. In short, the ski-lessons turned out to be a bust. She didn’t know the other kids, and the instructors were very un-ski-instructory.
The proper bunny hill, however, was open for another hour after the lesson, so I took her to the line for the unthinkably slow-but-brief chair lift. Suddenly she had to go to the bathroom.
“Too bad,” I said.
See, I have a younger brother. Once, when we were about to ride the Power Tower at Cedar Point–last ride of the night–as we crept closer to the terrifically terrifying thrill ride and heard the screams, he suddenly had to go to the bathroom.
I also said, “Too bad,” to him back then.
I can only imagine the transition H- experienced as she went from fear of the unknown, to fear of heights, to fear of how to get off the lift. But I don’t have to imagine her relief as I firmly held onto her and we successfully dismounted without hiccup.
“Ready for this?” I queried, absolutely certain she wasn’t.
She soon fell.
I didn’t help her up and I felt like a jerk.
Luckily, ever since she was very young, upon her falling down, I’ve been asking her, “Why do we fall down, Bruce?” and she answers with, “To learn how to pick ourselves up.” (Thanks, Mr. Nolan.)
We maybe made three trips up and down the bunny hill before we called it quits. If she ever chose to fall because she got going too fast and decided to bail before things got ugly, I would help her up. If she fell because she was afraid, I ski’d to her and told her to get up. That was day one.
Day two, we started fresh. After more of the same, she began to fall less and eventually proposed an intriguing deal.
“Hey Daddy. I was thinking. If I can ski down this without falling, can I have a stuffy (her name for Beanie Boos)?”
“I’ll make that deal,” I confirmed, quickly adding, “But you can’t fall once. But you’ve got a deal. It doesn’t matter if it takes all day either. If by the end of today you have made it down one time without falling, you get the stuffy.”
“Not once. Got it. Can I have one for every time I don’t fall?”
“No. But,” I continued, eyeing the larger mountain to our left, “If you go with me on that chair lift, all the way to the top, and ski down the green with me, then no matter how many times you fall, I will get you a second one.”
“So two total?”
“Yes, H-. If you don’t fall on this short one, and you simply go with me on the long one, you will get two stuffies.”
She agreed and we eventually boarded the longer lift. She seemed in awe of how much longer it was. I’m sure she was not looking forward to skiing down the mountain.
This green run took me about thirty seconds to make it down if I didn’t stop.
My mother, H-, and I took one and a half hours. Well, that’s not true. After about an hour, my mother just left us, unable to believe my treatment of H-.
H- cried most of the way. She fell about every ten feet. Only rarely did I help her up. At one point some stranger lady began giving H- tips, I didn’t acknowledge her existence. Probably five minutes went by before hah-sah-tahn concluded it was best to leave.
Are you getting the picture? I was aware that I was coming off as literally employing every horrible parenting tool out of the tool-bag. To these people, I was the tool. But they were mistaken.
See, they thought I was trying to teach H- how to ski. Far from it. It’s possible H- may never really take to skiing like I want her to. Instead, I was teaching her to have character. (Something I’m especially glad I did, considering I have since learned that none of you have it.)
Again, an hour an a half later, the last thirty minutes of which my dad and mom spent actively debating my sanity, H- and I finally made it to the point where she could see the bottom. Naturally she fell at that point.
“Get up,” I said.
Then, totally surprising me (for what reason, I do not know–this was the skill I was teaching) I hear her say to herself, “Okay. There’s the bottom. You can do this.”
I had to look away lest she see my joy; better for her to harbor whatever kind of ill will little girls can have for their fathers at this moment.
During the late lunch she further surprised me by suggesting that she probably shouldn’t get the stuffy because it took so long.
“A deal’s a deal, H-.”
Then she asked if after we go together a few more times on the bunny hill if she could try going by herself–after we ride up together.
Overall, H- did not take to skiing like my younger brother did at her age. She doesn’t turn much.
But she has something you don’t. And she will not forget it.
PS – The conversation with my friend didn’t go well, or develop at all really. We met. I barely and playfully broached the topic, and he said, “I’ve already replied.” It reminded me that he definitely carries the fire. But it also made me sad. Because I love conversation.
…by asking you to have the courage to be wrong. Wrong about what? Wrong about my beliefs. I challenge you to state what I believe to be the issue. That is, state what someone who does not think that your foolish-if-fashionable footsteps are moving forward anything or anyone but your own body believes to be the issue.
Think you have the character to do this? I don’t think you do.
I think you’re chicken, the whole lot of you.
But I’m giving you the opportunity to prove me wrong. What have you got to lose? Certainly not any more tear-stained poster-board. So give it a shot and comment below. I dare ya. (Or write your own post and give me the link.)
I spent most of yesterday in an abundantly enjoyable conversation with one of your hopeful souls (his name is also Pete), and yet at the end, he still could only express confusion at what I believe to be the issue. (See the entire conversation here.)
I ably described the issue raised by school shootings as I see it, and I ably described the issue raised by school shootings as he saw it. By the end, he confirmed that I “sort of” saw his side. But he never demonstrated that he understood mine–nor did he really indicate that he cared to. Trouble is, I knew that I knew his side before the whole conversation started. (I knew ’cause I have been listening to you!)
But it gets worse. He is not the only one of you stomping spirits who do not seem to be able to simply state what I (and my pals) believe to be the issue.
Remember, all I want is to be assured that you possess some level of discernment. Here’s your chance to prove to me that you understand where we disagree. For assistance, links to recent posts which vary in length, breadth, and depth and whose contents contain writing which my pals generally agree I am clearly making a case in opposition to you are here, here, here, here, and here.
Clues (or beliefs which I do not hold): I do not believe the issue to be gun violence. I do not believe the issue to be bump stocks or AR-15s. I do not believe the issue to be the interpretation of the meaning of the second amendment or any of its words. I do not believe the issue will be solved by more guns. I do not believe the issue will be solved by less guns. And unlike you I do not believe the issue will be solved by stricter gun laws.
But I do believe the school shootings raise an important issue.
Can you state, in your own words, what I believe to be the issue that they raise? Remember! If you bravely accept my challenge to defend your character, YOU MAY BE WRONG–about me. Scary.