The Muslims Are Coming

With the terrorist attacks in Paris and more recently in San Bernadino, the population seems to be drowning in a sea of outrage and fear. I keep expecting a modern day Paul Revere galloping down the road screaming “the Muslims are coming, the Muslims are coming!” And of course, the timing couldn’t be better for the right wing forces across the world, and here in our country in particular. Donald Trump, and many other Republicans—and some Democrats—poised for an upcoming national election, are quick to pander to these fears, suggesting such Draconian measures as closing our borders to immigrants from select countries, such as Syria, fearful of a Trojan Horse effect. Of course, anyone who has looked into what it takes to get refugee status in this country knows that it is a grueling process, with extensive prying by the FBI and Homeland Security,  resulting in the possibility of maybe one terrorist making it in for every 250,000 applicants. Yeah, I know, one is two many. But you have a better chance getting killed by lighting than you do a terrorist is this country. Maybe we should stay out of the rain.

There were over 200 mass shootings in America in 2015. Two of them were perpetrated by Muslims, the rest by…well, we don’t know the religion of all the other killers, because nobody seems to want to make an issue of it. Robert Deer, the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooter was supposedly a Christian, an evangelist, who lived in a motor home and, according to his ex-wife, does not follow the Bible. So, should we stop letting Christians into this country? Or white men who live in trailers. Does Donald Trump have any issues with white Christian mass murderers? No, he, and others like him, write these individuals off as mentally unstable. But these are the people doing most of the killing.

Why are we more outraged over San Bernadino, than we are Sandy Hook or Colorado? The loss of 14 lives in San Bernadino is tragic, but every year over 30,000 Americans die from guns. Where’s the outrage over this? We tolerate all this carnage every year at the behest of the NRA and some nostalgic clinging to the second amendment, an amendment that never intended any version of our current state of weapon acquisitions allowed in this country. We tolerate small children being gunned downed in Sandy Hook, or hundreds of accidental shootings by children in the home every year. But what we won’t tolerate, is when one of those shooters is a Muslim. Then, xenophobia raises up its head. The target becomes very clear; the call goes out. “The Muslims are coming, The Muslims are coming.”

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Finished Projects

Just a quick note to let everyone know I’ve finished the two projects I’ve been working on for the past year. The first is my third novel, Down Clark Street, a coming of age story set in Illinois in 1958. I published it in September and am just now getting around to promoting it. I did a book signing at Laguna Beach Books on April 13 that was very successful and I’m working on setting up others around Southern Cal. If anyone is interested in purchasing the book, you can do so on this website or through Amazon.

The other project is the OR-7 documentary for which I wrote the script. The film is in the can, as they say, and the director, Clemens, is busy submitting it to film festivals. We are also planning on a Premier showing in either Portland or Ashland sometime in May.

Now that these two projects are completed I hope to get back to my blog more often. We shall see…

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OR-7 The Journey

Started working on the screenplay for a Documentary Film this week. It’s entitled OR-7 The Journey. I will be writing the script. This is a film about the first wild wolf to set foot in California in almost a hundred years. The documentary will cover this wolf’s  journey from Oregon to California and also give a history of wolves in North America, from their predominance as a predator (with close to a million in population) to their near extinction by the middle of the twentieth century. The Producer, director of the film is an old friend of mine named Clemens Schenk. Check out his facebook page. Another good friend, Joseph Daigle will be doing the score. Clemens hopes to have the film ready for release by March, 2014. There is a lot of interest world-wide in this wolf and I’m very excited to be involved in this project. Stay tuned.

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More Guns, Fewer Killings.

NRA spokesman Wayne LaPierre believes the answer to these mass killings is to put armed guards at every school. What a great idea! But if we’re going to do that I think we should take his plan all the way. Most schools have more than one entrance so we will need a cop at every door. And I’m sure he’s not talking about the same guys they use as bank guards; you know, the seventy year old retired cop who can barely reach around his gut to grab his pistol. Now in addition to covering the doors to the school we better also put bullet-proof glass on all the windows. And what about recess? Those kids will be easy targets outside, so we’ll need to build tall fences around all the schools, and not chain-link fences—easy to shoot through—but rather solid cement walls twenty feet high. Let’s see, what else: Oh yeah, the obvious: body armor for all the kids and loaded automatic weapons for the teachers, just in case some deranged killer manages to get past the sleeping guard at the back door. Video cameras mounted every twenty feet with a feed into every classroom so teachers can keep an eye on what’s going on outside. That should do it. Now, let’s do the math. If there are 100,000 schools across the country (I’m just guessing at this number) then we’ll need somewhere between two and three hundred thousand cops. And if every school has say thirty teachers, that will add another 3 million armed guards giving us approximately three and a half million loaded guns at our schools. What could possibly go wrong with that?

Of course, once we get the schools fixed, we’ll have to do the same with every other public meeting ground: malls, theaters, school buses, trains, ice rinks, college dorms, bars, restaurants….well, you get the idea. Basically, we’ll turn the country into an armed camp. I feel safer already. I know it all sounds complicated and expensive but it will be a big shot in the arm for our economy: millions of new guns, billions of bullets, thousands of new jobs for cops. The list goes on. I know it all sounds complicated but I’ve wracked my brain and I just can’t think of any other solution…unless, no, that would never work. I was just thinking we could just do what other countries do and just get rid of assault weapons, but that’s a crazy idea, not to mention just how unfair that would be to those out there who just really gotta have a machine gun in their collection. No, bad idea; forget I ever brought it up.

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Raping for Jesus

Earlier this week Senator Richard Mourdock stated that he was against abortion even in the case of rape because, in his opinion, it is, in these instances, God’s will. So let me see if I clearly understand this. God is sitting around up in heaven thinking he wants a certain woman to get pregnant so that a certain potential human being can come into existence. Maybe this future child will be a world leader, or maybe he’ll be a serial killer—we can’t say for sure; it depends on what God’s will is. So God is contemplating how to make this event a reality, perhaps he is consulting with some of his Angels, when he has a revelation, the likes of which only God can have: “I know, I’ll have someone rape her and get her pregnant.” Evidently it never occurs to God that he could forego the rape and just let her husband or boyfriend impregnate her. Oh well, he’s got a lot on his mind—there are children that need sodomizing, earthquakes, floods, and pestilence to plan—sometimes he misses the obvious. Or maybe he’s just not that smart. Perhaps he is an infant who doesn’t understand the pain and suffering that we humans endure every time he comes up with one of his hairbrained ideas. Or, maybe we’re just not smart enough to know what’s best for us; maybe some women need to be raped and some children need to be kidnapped and murdered. Maybe it’s all just too deep for us to understand.

But here’s the problem: if God has planned all this, if it is all his will, why do we vilify the perpetrator. After all, who can go against God’s will? If He says rape that woman and get her pregnant which of us is man enough to say no? It puts everything in a new light. All the Sanduskys, the Jeffrey Dahmers, the Hitlers of the world are all just doing God’s will. Instead of punishing them we should salute them as God’s warriors, carrying out the most nasty assignments so that God’s will can manifest itself on the planet. Richard Mourdock understands this. So does Mitt Romney, who still supports his bid for the Senate.

So here’s a word of advice to all of you out there planning some horrible deed. When you get caught and find yourself in front a jury,—most of whom will no doubt be Christians,—just tell them you really didn’t want to do it, you were doing God’s will, that  you were, after all, only raping for Jesus.

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Crazy anti-Islam Video

After the assault in Benghazi on Tuesday I felt compelled to check out the video that seems to have instigated the violence. Mitt Romney, of course, seems to believe it doesn’t matter what the content of the video is ’cause we’re Americans, by God, and we have free speech. I wonder how Mitt would feel if some Muslims made a film depicting Joseph Smith, or, even better, Jesus Christ, wherein Jesus is depicted as a child molester, mass murderer, and a drunken moron?

But, back to the film. I have to say, just the production value alone makes me shake my head. This film is porn film quality (or, how I would imagine a porn film might be made); horrible acting, ridiculous writing and make-up and costuming that would be put to shame by any 8th grade production. But what do we expect? The guy who made this had only one goal in mind: to blaspheme every aspect of Islam by attacking Mohammed. Perhaps he even wanted people to die just so he could stir up more hatred toward Muslims.

Are we to believe he had no idea his creative endeavor would end in violence? Will he sleep well tonight knowing he lit the fuse that  eventually killed four people? And no, I’m not shifting the blame from the cowards who committed the killings. Despite this assault on a religion, any mentally sound individual should be able to step back and protest in some other manner. But there is a fringe element in every religion that is capable of heinous crimes, and when you know that going in you should be responsible enough to tread lightly.

And of course Mitt Romney couldn’t wait to try and score some political points, blasting Obama for his foreign policy before the four dying Americans had finished bleeding out. The embassy in Cairo condemned the video before the attack at Benghazi, and of course Mitt twisted that into what he called another Obama Apology to terrorist. It’s a new political low. For those of you still on the fence about this guy or maybe you’re a little disillusioned about Obama, this should bring home to you just how important it is that Romney does not win this election.

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Marriage and Chicken

So, the mayor of Boston doesn’t want Chic fil-A in his city because their CEO doesn’t believe in same sex marriage. I’m not really concerned with the legal aspects of this, but for the record, he can’t stop them from coming to his town just because he doesn’t like their take on gay marriage. It’s called the First Amendment.

But like I said, I’m not here to talk about the law. I’m more interested in just how crazy everyone is going over this. Mike Huckabee is encouraging all his followers to go to Chic-fil-A and eat their food in support of good Christian values. Jim Hansen, on the other hand, says his company will no longer partner with Chic-fil-A due to their lack of tolerance for alternative life styles.

For the record, I’m all for gay marriage. If you’re gay and you want to get married, by all means take the walk,  join the crowd.  But please, get over yourself a little bit. Everybody knows the fundamentalists are a little crazy about homosexuality (among other things). So the CEO doesn’t believe in your life style. Did he say you couldn’t eat in his restaurant? Has he refused to hire gays? If just knowing that the CEO of the restaurant doesn’t fancy gay marriage is just too much for you to stomach, then by all means, don’t eat there!

But before the protests start, consider this: If you were a gay CEO of a restaurant would you come out—no pun intended—and say you believed same sex marriage was okay? And if you did, would you want the mayor of some major city saying he wasn’t going to let you open a restaurant there because of your beliefs?  Would you want the straight community to boycott your restaurant because of your beliefs? No, I suspect in this  reverse situation, the shit would be hitting the fan.

Listen, we all have a right to have open or closed minds and to speak those minds, however foolish we may sound. That’s the first amendment. When Chic-fil-A starts refusing service to gays or blacks or women or Hispanics or people under five feet tall, etc., or refuses to hire same, I’ll join the boycott. Until then, I’ll judge this and every other restaurant by a more simpler test: how’s the food?

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Senseless Slaughter

Another tragic, senseless slaughter has occurred on American soil and I can’t believe how so many people, including President Obama and Mitt Romney keep side-stepping the main issue: assault weapons. I’m sure they both checked with their campaign managers to consider the repercussions of any language the NRA might find objectionable.

Obama gave a speech wherein he paid minimal lip service to the concept of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals but couldn’t find the guts to say it flat out: Assault weapons should not be in the hands of civilians and the government needs to pass new laws to make it so. And Romney said basically the same thing; we don’t need any new laws.

Twelve people died in Colorado and another 58 were wounded. I’ve heard every lame rationalization possible about how if someone wants to kill people they can always find a way, so making these weapons illegal won’t change anything. One person online even suggested a criminal could use a dump truck to commit murder if he were so inclined. I may be wrong but I doubt that a dump truck could fit through a theatre door. Another person brought an example of how someone in China murdered twelve people with a knife. Are you telling me that one person with a knife could come into a movie theatre and kill or wound seventy people?

Look, yes, there are always ways to commit murder, but some just make it a whole lot easier, and assault weapons fit into that category. We don’t let civilians buy land mines or rocket launchers or their own personal nuclear device. Wny not? Why not hide behind the constitution on these weapons? The point is: where do we draw the line?

I realize there is a certain segment of our society that will never give up their weapons. I’m fine with individuals owning a pistol or a hunting rifle and I think it’s safe to say most people would agree with this. But nobody needs a weapon that can bring about the kind of destruction we saw in Colorado. The only people who benefit from these weapons are the ones who manufacture and sell them. Personally, I’d rather see them lose a few bucks than watch innocent men, women and children gunned down.

I’m not naïve enough to think that new laws will completely eradicate this kind of slaughter, but what if it only stopped one incident? What if this kid in Colorado couldn’t have bought his weapon because he was unable find one on the streets? We’d be reading a story about a college graduate who tried to knock down a movie theatre with a dump truck and subsequently fell on his own knife, sustaining serious injuries. No other casualties were reported.

If I can use the cliché, freedom doesn’t mean you have the right to yell “fire’ in a crowded theatre. The same holds true for opening fire in one. Enough is enough.

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The Obama Identity

 

 

 

In The Bourne Identity, Jason Bourne is sent on a Black Ops mission, one that he fails to complete and in the process is injured and winds up with amnesia. He spends the next two hours of screen time trying to figure out just who exactly he is, and by the end of the film, although there are still a lot of pieces missing, the puzzle starts to take form.

With a few variations, the same thing happened to President Obama. In the President’s movie, he defined his own mission, one that those of us on the left quickly embraced. (Of course, the right wing will argue that his was also a Black Ops mission.) We elected him President and sent him out to get it done: get rid of the Patriot Act; close Guantanamo Bay; stop renditioning; create a new health care plan and kick ass on Wall Street. Lofty goals, I admit, and I don’t think any of us expected perfection—it’s The Bourne Identity, not Chinatown. But what we never counted on was Obama suffering a head injury (how else can you explain it?) and subsequently, amnesia.

Now, the right wing has its own story to tell. In their minds it all started fifty years ago in a little village in Kenya. There, a wonder child is born, false papers are fabricated, and the child is shipped off to Hawaii, where he is fed a steady diet of borscht and vodka, and is no doubt steeped in the ways of Bolshevik propaganda in preparation for his takeover of America in 2008. In this film, Obama is one of The Boys from Brazil, with the small change from Fascist to Socialist. Well, it’s a little more confusing than that. They call him a socialist but they also compare him to Hitler a lot. Perhaps he has Lenin’s brain and Hitler’s good looks. I liked both movies but I’m going with Bourne as the more plausible. Let’s look at the facts.

Health reform: Obama pushed for health reform saying there had to be a public option, but somewhere along the line his amnesia kicked in and the public option part got left on the screening room floor—some socialist. We were left with some improvements in health coverage for poor children, and for those with pre-existing conditions—which is good—but the rest of us are no better off than we were. I still pay $5000 a year for health insurance that basically doesn’t kick in until I’m bankrupt and lying semi-conscious on the operating table hoping there’s enough coverage to afford an anesthesiologist. Was he reaching across the isle to make the right happy, or was this his amnesia kicking in, causing him to forget he had the power invested in him by the American people to cure a terminally ill health system?

Our Constitution: “America doesn’t torture; we’re better than that.” That’s what he said. Here’s what he’s done. Prisoners are still lingering in Guantanamo—some for as long as ten years—without a trial or any hope of one. Some of them have already been deemed safe to release and yet there they sit. On the bright side, I hear they do have televisions now. Perhaps they have even seen The Bourne Identity and are hopeful that Obama will also regain his memory. It gets worse. Obama recently signed into law a bill that allows indefinite detention of suspected terrorists or supporters of terrorists (whatever that means), without a trial. American citizens can be picked up at will, put on a plane and sent half way around the world to be questioned—tortured?—because, well, Americans don’t torture, so, out of sight, out of mind. Obama claims he will never do this, but he does have the power, as will whoever follows him into the Whitehouse. Is this disruption of the Constitution more forgetfulness on Obama’s part, or did he just want to make the Hawks like him, convince them that he’s tough on terrorists?

Wall Street: To be brief, not one CEO has been brought up on criminal charges for the financial disaster that has brought this economy to its knees. More amnesia? Elizabeth Warren was supposed to head the new Consumer Protection Bureau, but Obama threw her under the bus. Did he forget that she was the one who came up with the idea for the Bureau, who spent months organizing and hiring staff to run it? Did he forget his promise to go after Wall Street before or after he hired Eric Holder? Check Holder’s history and see for yourself if he’s equipped to prosecute the very people he has worked for in the past, and for whom he will no doubt return to work after he leaves his government job. It would be like hiring Jerry Sandusky to prosecute child molesters.

But, back to Jason Bourne. In the sequels, Bourne recovers his memory and puts his house in order, amassing quite a body count in the process. Perhaps that’s Obama’s plan. Spend his first term giving everybody a little bit of what they want—build dramatic tension—so that in the sequel we will re-elect him for a second term. Maybe he thinks he can make up for all the votes he will lose on the left with new support from the middle and the right who, having rejected The Boys from Brazil theory, will have come to believe he is not from Kenya, doesn’t want to euthanize our grandparents and actually cares—a lot—about corporations. Then, unencumbered by election concerns and with four years to wreak havoc, his memory will return and he will get to work completing the mission he created in the first place. He can even one-up Jason Bourne by singing “Let’s Stay Together” over the closing credits. Now that is a Hollywood ending.

 

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My First Blog

Thanks for checking out my new blog. I realize the world really doesn’t need another opinion, but the fact is I’m doing this primarily for myself. A writer needs to work on his chops, just like a musician, or he gets stale, and what better way to do that than to bitch and moan about all the things that are wrong with our society. Not that this blog will be dedicated to complaints alone. I’ll also cover the things I like (see list below.) I was asking myself just what exactly it was that gives me the right to spill my guts in a public forum, and then I considered Rush Limbaugh, perhaps the biggest idiot in America, making millions of dollars every year for passing disinformation and right- wing vitriol over the airwaves, and I figured, if he can do it and get paid, I can certainly do it for free. (Not pass disinformation, mind you, but just espouse my opinions.)
For this first entry I’ll just give you a brief list of the things I like and don’t like about our culture so you’ll have an idea of what I’ll be prattling on about in the coming weeks. When I say “you” I mean the two or three of you who might eventually find your way to this page and spend a few of your precious minutes reading it. Let me just say thanks in advance.

Things I like: (In no particular order.)

Accountability. Honesty. People who know how to drive. Good manners. Larry David. Good Scotch; in particular, Johnny Walker Blue. Nora Jones, Van Morrison. Sleeping in—this works best when one is surrounded by neighbors with good manners. Children, before they are ruined by people with traits the likes of which I will mention shortly. John Coltrane. Cherry pie; in fact, all things sweet. Simple clothes. My bank. (To clarify, I hate banks in general, but let’s face it, we all use them and it just so happens I have a good one. That is to say, it’s never crowded and all the clerks are quite helpful. So I guess it’s more the people at my bank than the bank itself that I like.) Poker—not holdem, but seven card stud. Obama: he’s a little to the right for me, but he’s the best guy out there for the job right now. Jon Stewart. American Idol: I like the camaraderie among these kids who are trying to make something out of their lives. I think, overall, the show has a positive message.

Things I don’t like:

Reality TV: First of all the term is a misnomer; there is nothing real about Reality TV. It’s an illusion created to make people believe their lives have some elevated meaning. Facebook, tweeting, etc. These are just extensions of reality tv. No one cares what you had for lunch. Most of life is mundane stuff; there is no changing that. And yes, I am on Facebook; I do have my contradictions. Rush Limbaugh: Is there a bigger blow-hard on the plantet? Anyone who feels entitled because they belong to some special group and leads their argument with something like, “I’m (insert your favorite group) therefore I deserve this.” Bad grammar: Good grammar leads to good communication; bad grammar is just embarrassing. The Tea Party: I understand their anger; if only they understood who the enemy really is. Kenny G and new-age jazz in general: Look, I know these guys are technically very good on their instruments, but really. American Idol: Yeah, I know, it made both lists. Here’s the thing that bothers me. Unlike generations prior to this, these kids who make it to the top ten don’t have to pay much dues. It’s six months under the spotlight and the world is their oyster. Seems too easy.

That’s it for now. Obviously there are other things I like and dislike (one of those is someone who overstates his case), but I think you get the gist of it. I welcome any and all comments. See you next time.

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