The Lies Embedded in MAGA (“Make America Great Again”): America Was Never Great for Everyone

The Lies Embedded in MAGA (“Make America Great Again”): America Was Never Great for Everyone


image from https://andelino.wordpress.com/2016/06/08/america-was-never-great/

Please, could anyone tell me: when was America (the United States of America) “great,” and for whom?

This country’s roots are in repeated and ongoing genocidal elimination, unfair and homicidal immigration policies, stealing children from parents who are powerless to prevent these thefts, and forced involuntary incarceration of those in many groups:
—the indigenous peoples who already occupied these territories
—the Africans stolen from their home countries, imported like material goods, to be slaves and servants
—the poor and homeless people and orphans
—the disabled people, especially those with mental disabilities
—the Japanese who lived in the USA during World War II.


image from http://Historyplex.com

This country has a long and checkered history of unfairly treating women, those who do not own property (even males), anyone without sufficient financial and other resources via a prejudicial criminal justice system.


image from http://Vox.com

People from all backgrounds suffer (but not equally) in the USA by:

  • being excluded from voting by various means;
  • not being paid a “living wage”;
  • not having fair and equal opportunities for education;
  • not having sufficient shelter;
  • not having paid work available;
  • not having access to nutritious, sufficient food;
  • not being able to pursue their passions and dreams due to insufficient resources, advantages, connections and other unequally distributed privileges;
  • having more people, especially children, living in poverty than in many third-world nations;


    image from http://FollowTheMoney.com

  • not having access to adequate or any health care (preventive or treatment-focused);
  • failing to prevent or treat addictions of all types, with rising numbers of opioid addicts;
  • not being treated fairly within our policing and justice system, to the point of premature death and lengthy incarcerations for minor infractions, and having far too many wrongful convictions;
  • not having access to affordable housing;
  • being forced to drink, wash with and use polluted water and breathe polluted air;
  • becoming ill and dying—with little or no recourse or legal protection, once it is known to be needed—from industrial and military pollution of land, water and air;


    image from https://environmentalstudiesblog.wordpress.com/tag/environmental-racism/

  • having pensions, life savings, much or all personal wealth put at risk or eliminated by the still-unpunished and insufficiently regulated financial entities;
  • being at risk because of the USA’s very high rates of infant and maternal mortality;
  • being underserved veterans, with very high rates of suicide;
  • not having access to abortions;
  • being lied to about the “need” for USA’s involvement and not keeping promises made for those who enlist, and sometimes conscripted individuals into almost constant wars, causing many to lose loved ones, their own lives, their limbs, to incur brain damage and psychological trauma, for no apparent purpose except to enrich those who profit from military actions;
  • being lied to, misled, mistreated, abused, exploited, harassed and/or disrespected by almost every major and minor politician, business owner/leader, employer/manager;
  • being targeted unduly by those with authority and/or power in all types of businesses, institutions and police forces/sheriff’s departments


“If we lie to the government, it’s a felony. If the government lies to us, it’s politics.” —Bill Murray

So, please: at what point in the history or current configuration of this country was it “great” for EVERYONE?

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4 PERFECT #SOLUTIONS to #GUN #VIOLENCE in the #USA: #brilliantideas

4 PERFECT #SOLUTIONS to #GUN #VIOLENCE in the USA: #brilliantideas


image from NFTY (National Federation of Temple Youth [Jewish] https://nfty.org/take-action/gvp/

  1. Make it too expensive to have shootings:


    image from Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence

    Unfortunately, this country runs on money. We all know insurance companies run this country. And, most people’s families have a lot of influence and responsibility for their members.
    When gun violence becomes too expensive, insurance companies will move to change it quickly. When shooter’s embarrass and COST their families money, family members(parents, grandparents, spouses/partners, children) will move more quickly to prevent/shut those shooters down/report them BEFORE they go on rampages.

    So: charge each criminal shooter’s FAMILY and any insurance companies he [99% of shooters are male] uses FOR ANY REASON (car, house, boat, life, disability: whatever) to pay for the health care, recovery, rehab, burial, therapy, income losses, personal injury debilitation, PTSD and other costs associated with being shot at/shot.

  2. #NRA Lobbyists and Members must pay:


    image from http://EverytownResearch.org

    We all know that the NRA—National Rifle Association of America—and other gun association lobbyists have prevented the passage of reasonable gun safety laws. We must hold them ALL accountable NOW. For every dollar a lobbyist “donates,” s/he must provide the same amount to compensate victims and communities for gun violence. I promise: donations will disappear!

    SO: charge the NRA members EACH 10% of ALL gun violence costs not covered, above, for example: for all site clean up, hospital, ER, ambulance, policing, EMT expenses and other community costs associated with dealing with gun violence OF ANY KIND (domestic, hijackings, criminals, shooters, gangs, robberies, terrorists: whatever).

  3. Tax all profits:


    image and statistics from Mother Jones magazine

    Those who profit from any dangerous, harmful or otherwise socially destructive and/or unnecessary products have been made to pay for its consequences already via taxes in the USA (think: cigarettes, gasoline, luxury items like yachts, etc.). Why should gun and ammo profiteers be exempt?

    So: charge each gun show operator, gun shop owner, or owners/operators or profiteers of ANYWHERE that sells guns and/or ammunition, onsite OR ONLINE (pawn shops, hardware stores, “sports” stores, “hunting” stores, etc.) a VIOLENCE #TAX on EACH item sold that could be used to harm people. I think a 20% tax of each sale would be a sufficient disincentive both to purchase and to sell. That money shall go to cover the costs accrued in #1, 2, and 4 of this list as well AND gun safety classes, gun violence prevention seminars and other educational programs REQUIRED for ALL GUN OWNERS and USERS to attend ANNUALLY (this includes military, police and others who “legally” use guns).

  4. Pay until you do better:


    image of and quote from Gabrielle Giffords

    Our Congressional Representatives (those elected to either the House or Senate, federal and state legislatures) respond to only two kinds of pressure: money (donations, bribes, extortions) and non-election threats. Let’s use BOTH, here. They will change their votes or go broke (and probably get voted out as well). YAY!
    Make them pay out of their PERSONAL accounts (cannot use campaign, PAC or other non-personal monies to pay these fines)

    So: charge each Congressional Rep a FINE if s/he votes AGAINST gun safety, gun control, gun laws OF ANY KIND another 10% of the total costs, above, AND use these fines to cover FUTURE gun violence costs, such as extra policing, compensation to families of victims, compensation for employers/workplaces of victims, funds for repairs to venues where shootings occurred, compensations to property owners/users of sites where shootings occurred, compensation to neighborhoods in which decreasing property values occur because of being the sites or being NEAR the sites of gun violence, etc.


image from http://momsdemandaction.org

See how fast the gun laws change!

What do you think? Comment here.
NOTE: reasonable, constructive, useful suggestions/questions, ONLY; the rest will NOT be approved and will be deleted. Use: http://www.sallyember.com/blog

New job report, 2 days in…

New job report, 2 days in…

HiSET FEATHER

FYI: rolling registration for “Doors to Success” High School Equivalency (HSE) “HiSET” (no longer called the G.E.D. in Missouri) exams preparation, academic skills improvement and life/jobs skills program for youth ages 17 – 23, in both Maplewood (mornings) and Hazelwood/Spanish Lake (mornings and afternoons), in St. Louis County, Missouri, USA, throughout the year! 314-415-4940 for more information and to sign up for an Orientation (occurring about twice/month). Also, Parkway area AEL has regular Adult Education and English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) classes year-round, too, in dozens of locations around the County.

1) role-played and coached a student on her first job interview (will find out today how she think the actual interview went);

2) explained to a student studying history what economic and social classes are, what defines them and how they impact politics as well as which groups were denied the vote in the USA and for how long;

3) collaborated with a student to choose her assignment topics for critical reading and vocabulary building and she chose to include a story about Uri Geller (friends, family members and readers of The Spanners Series by Sally Ember, Ed.D., Volume I, This Changes Everything, know why that is funny);

4) figured out how to and did “open” the space for the afternoon session (not uncomplicated);

5) went over pre-testing and class assignment results with two students and explained/discussed which questions were actually “wrong” because they didn’t know the answer and which were “I read it too fast or not carefully” issues;

6) explained to three students how test-makers try to trick test-takers and how not to be fooled;

7) when asked “What were things like for you when you were 17?” related the story of my taking several hours off from school to sit in our dad’s car and listen to the radio in the school parking lot, waiting to hear what lottery draft number was going to be assigned randomly to my one-year-older-than-I brother and my then-boyfriend. Told her how I sat there, alone, crying and praying they would get a high number, meaning, they would not be drafted for the war in Vietnam.

the-vietnam-war-13-728

I explained how that was horrifying because others I knew would and did get drafted. Got teary telling her what a scary, terrible time that was for all the boys and people who loved them.

She was very quiet and got teary, too, and then said; “I meant, what music did you listen to?” We laughed.

All in all, a good two days! Thanks, Parkway Area Adult Education and Literacy, for including me in your teaching staff for “Doors to Success”!

AEL logo real

P.S.: #7 reminded me (a little too late…) of an incident that happened to my dear friend and fellow parent, Bill Whyte (Badger Bill), with his daughter, Emily Schwerin-Whyte, when she was about four years old in the early 1980s.
Emily asked her father, a renowned expert on visualization, stress management, relaxation and such: “Daddy? What is ‘stress’?”
Bill, in his best fatherly voice, was about to launch into an explanation of stress fit for a 4-year-old when he has the perspicacity to ask: “What do you mean, Emily?”
She answered: “Oh, you know: like ‘seamstress.'”
He said that he blew out a long breath and was relieved that he hadn’t burdened his pre-schooler with his prepared, long, drawn-out explanation that she hadn’t really requested….

I should have remembered that!

Patriotism Kills: 50 Reasons Why and When I Stopped Being “Patriotic”

Patriotism Kills: 50 Reasons Why and When I Stopped Being “Patriotic”

I was born and raised here in the midwest USA. My grandparents were all born in this country (in Louisville, Kentucky and St. Louis, Missouri), My great-grandparents immigrated here to escape discrimination, pogroms and other ongoing (endlessly ongoing) European persecution of Jews to come to the USA in the late 1800s.

I feel grateful that my ancestors, four of whom I knew as a child, were allowed to enter this country. Being here as a “native” gave me many of the privileges of a white, educated Jewish girl born in 1954.

Why and when did I stop being “patriotic” (ever notice how that rhymes with “idiotic”)? I get teary when Barbra Streisand sings “America, the Beautiful” because I want to feel good about being an American. But, I cannot and have not since 1967.

My conclusion then and only strengthened since then: Patriotism kills.

Here are the first 50 reasons I cannot be patriotic as a USA citizen.

oscar-wilde-patriotism-quotes-patriotism-is-the-virtue-of-the

1) Because Richard Nixon. Nixon and his gang of criminals began to do their dirty work when I was 13 and he resigned in the middle of my undergrad college years. How could I grow up “patriotic” after that?

2) Because Vietnam and all wars. Since World War II—which the USA entered far too late and then did more damage than good in Japan—the USA has had NO BUSINESS being in ANY wars, anywhere, yet we have not had even 2 years without being involved in “military actions.” Disgusting.

Bertrand Russell patriotism

3) Because JFK. He was an over-privileged, drug-addicted, adulterous war-monger who has been glorified beyond belief after his death.

4) Because MLK, Jr. A great leader, murdered.

MLK mug shot

5) Because Malcolm X. Another great leader, murdered.

malcolm X

6) Because Karen Silkwood. Another great leader, murdered.

7) Because the ERA. The defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment (remember that, anyone?)

8) Because government dysfunction and greed. The bought-out FDA and the bribed EPA and the absurdly stupid Dept of Education and the bribed, lying and bought-out Dept of Energy and all the other “cabinet” and “government” departments that do the OPPOSITES of their stated jobs.

9) Because slavery. Should never have and still exists: check out today’s private prisons.

10) Because racism. Is worse than ever in many places and we export it.

11) Because health care. Still no national health care with universal payer for everyone.

12) Because maternal and infant mortality Rates are too high.

13) Because most school lunches. Are horrible.

14) Because deception by government. The “wars” on poverty, drugs, terrorism and whatever else made everything 100 times worse.

15) Because broken promises. Too many to list.

16) Because dishonorable leaders. Many leaders (elected, appointed and volunteer) lie. Then, they personally and financially benefit, and so do their cronies, families and friends.

John Irving on patriotism

17) Because Monica Lewinsky. Sex is sex. Lying is lying.

18) Because Vince Foster. Murdered by greed, political gain and selfishness.

19) Because veterans. I see too many body bags, amputees and PTSD sufferers from wars that enrich only a few and do nothing good for anyone else, ever. Enlistees and draftees are constantly lied to so that impoverished/uneducated people (mostly Black and Latino) are shamed and machismo-ed into serving.

20) Because secularism. “God” should never have been added to our money, Pledge of Allegiance and other statements, and public meetings should NOT open with “prayers.”

21) Because Christians. Many still insist that this is a “Christian” nation. Christmas and New Year’s Day are national holidays but no other religion’s holy days have those designations in the USA.

22) Because the military-industrial takeover of the world. Led by USA-owned companies and military.

RoyOnNationalism

23) Because Guantanamo. Never helped, never should have existed, and still does.

24) Because Leonard Pelletier Should never have been and is still in prison.

25) Because UC Berkeley. All the protesters are/were RIGHT.

26) Because Lawrence Livermore Labs. Bombs. More bombs.

27) Because Monsanto, Dow, Dupont. Liars, polluters, killers.

28) Because union-busting. Should never have been made legal.

29) Because coal mine owners. Kill miners daily.

30) Because nuclear power plants. Never were and still aren’t safe.

nuclear power
image from http://kractivist.wordpress.com

31) Because transit. We waited over 50 years to have electric and solar cars and they’re still not prevalent. Mass transit in most areas is non-existent or insufficient.

32) Because bees and food. We never needed or should have allowed our land and food to be poisoned. (see Monsanto, etc.)

33) Because Planned Parenthood. Constantly being targeted for doing GOOD.

34) Because health. Autism and cancers are on the rise (see Monsanto, etc.). Vaccinations do kill and maim children and many are ineffective at prevention as well.

35) Because big pharma and others lied. Especially about marijuana and tobacco. Cures exist for cancer but we aren’t provided them. We are overcharged for ALL medications.

36) Because inequality. I grew up in Missouri under “Jim Crow” racist segregation and inequality/discrimination laws. That we have to have civil rights’, gay rights’, disability rights’, sexual harassment cases, domestic violence shelters, rape shield and other “movements” to get common decency in this country to be legalized and people STILL don’t adhere to the laws is terrible.

37) Because sexism. Still everywhere. Must have feminism.

3 waves of feminism

38) Because the children and youth. Child abuse and rape, incest and child molestation horrors in addition to murders perpetrated by teachers, parents, step- and foster parents, group home and youth detention center staff, religious leaders and politicians that are STILL being uncovered/discovered even though MANY knew about each and every incident. Runaways are almost always first abused, then become criminalized/imprisoned youth.

39) Because the environment. This country has many beautiful places that are being ruined by greed, selfishness and short-sightedness.

40) Because Native Americans.If you need me to explain, you’re on the wrong blog.

41) Because Election Fraud in the last five presidential and who knows how many other elections and especially during this current primary season.

42) Because Dick Cheney. If you need me to explain, you’re on the wrong blog, still.

43) Because Clarence Thomas. How was he ever and still on the Supreme Court?

44) Because Anita Hill. We all should have believed her. I did.

Anita_Hill

45) Because Dr. Jocelyn Elders. She was right. About everything, especially how healthy it is to masturbate and that abstinence-only “sex ed” is not “education” and does not work.

46) Because Bill Cosby. People are still protecting this monster.

47) Because freedom. The USA had such great promise and potential and has squandered almost all of it.

48) Because Nestle’s. Still killing children worldwide by promoting feeding infants formula over breastfeeding.

49) Because Palestine. USA is on the wrong side of this one, too. MUST be a two-state solution, but can’t negotiate with terrorists. Trouble is, they’re ALL terrorists, now.

50) Because 9/11. Was not what we’ve been told. First responders are dying/have died and money “for them” has not reached them or their families. Bush’s planes flew Bin Laden’s family out of the USA. Trade Towers did not fall due only to being hit by one airplane each. The lies go on and on.

9-11 is a fraud
from http://www.bollyn.com

Remember: DISSENT is patriotism at its best.

Dissent is patriotic

Share! Read! Act! #Refugees #Crises: Thanks, David Amerland, for aiding

SHARE! READ! ACT! If you’re not on Google+, you’re missing out on many things. David Amerland​’s “SUNDAY READS” are some of them https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/MVBSX : Read them all!

gplus-sunday-read-September-062015

Here is today’s. URGENTLY need you to read this and ACT!

My comments:
“My favorite of all your ‘SUNDAY READS,’ David Amerland, because you provide calls to action of many types and degrees, from opening up our minds and hearts to our homes to our wallets to our ‘mouths’! THANK YOU!

“We are not helpless, but we need reminding and we need direction.

“SHARE! READ! ACT! #refugees #crises”
and
“The irony and karmic balancing that brings German leaders to help Semitic peoples…perfect.”

David Amerland originally shared to SUNDAY READ:

“‘We are alone, there is no one, help us!'”

“The contextual basis of our existence never becomes more evident than when we face what we sometimes disparagingly call ‘first world problems.’ Over the last few weeks I have been buried in business reports the urgent and pressured changes being made to the draft chapters of a book going to print and the inevitable everyday pressure of emails, articles, requests for interviews, comments and quotes.

“My life, to all intents and purposes, has been circumscribed by the immediate needs being pressed upon me, the narrow context of something that I have to do in a very limited space of time. Meanwhile, at the back of my mind, every time I dip across the web I sense the change in the world around me.

“As the sum total of largely man-made disasters accumulates around the globe, for the first time in our century, we face a mass movement of people, an Exodus (http://goo.gl/fWIurF) that’s the largest since WWII: http://goo.gl/leWg1X

“As hundreds of thousands of refugees flooded cash-strapped and ill-prepared Greece which is struggling to cope: http://goo.gl/rdlHbq The Economist ran a piece on why this is happening: http://goo.gl/kWZYjM. Europe, one of the world’s richest areas, is paralyzed by the refugee crisis: http://goo.gl/V2AO7e unable to formulate a coherent policy, its leaders largely incapable of understanding the right thing to do instead of the politically expedient thing to say, are left floundering (again) – adrift in a situation that is evolving too fast for them to formulate a politically palatable soundbite.

“This has left the nation-state behaving like any system under siege, led by people who feel overwhelmed would: defensively. Hungary put up fences, ironically spending over 100 Million Euros (http://goo.gl/hlTg7Q) and using inmates to help keep costs down – its effectiveness already under question and its morality under attack: http://goo.gl/D5GUbc. Germany (http://goo.gl/D68U6r) and the UK (http://goo.gl/TF1c6w) have seen a far-right resurgence as the issue of immigration gets muddled with the refugee crisis and colored with anti-Islamist rhetoric (http://goo.gl/OFE0PZ).

“While politicians flip-flop on the issue and parliaments debate without anything being resolved the unfolding crisis gets deeper, its images, unrelentingly grimmer: 71 people die, suffocating in the back of a refrigeration truck in Austria: http://goo.gl/bs4oe9. A father, desperately trying to get his family to safety, left in charge of a sinking boat is left to pick up their lifeless bodies: http://goo.gl/XN3Ysl the picture of this seemingly insignificant tragedy in a massive tide of human pain, suddenly personifying exactly what’s happening: http://goo.gl/P8D5uc.

“Death, usually only takes on meaning when it can be given a human face: http://goo.gl/KqaPKf. Its story made to reflect the big picture (http://goo.gl/DYxw8E) behind it that made it possible to happen in the first place: http://goo.gl/XN3Ysl.

“You’d be forgiven for thinking that there is little hope. That the world is a dark, vile place (http://goo.gl/gVeb2v). That those we entrust to lead us betray us (http://goo.gl/qWaAbL). That we, might as we try, cannot change anything, that really – context and content, our ‘first world problems’ – our issues with efficiency, marketing, selling and buying. The lawns that need to be cut and the BBQs that need to be lit and the things that make our life ‘real’ are, should be perhaps, not just what we should worry about but what we must worry about. Our security blanket. The sedative we reach for to distract us from what we cannot change, what we cannot affect. What we feel powerless against.

“This not what’s happening here. The same ‘first world problems’ that make our attention sometimes focus on the seemingly inconsequential, also become the driver for creating social media tools and the motive force for forging new ways of operating.

“Against the frequently stated, kneejerk, absurd and intellectually impoverished charge of ‘social media distracts us from real life’ and ‘social media stops us from having a life’ stands the starkness of the impact of a crisis that’s being felt even through the many layers of the pressures that surround us daily.

“Social media, connectivity, technology – for all their imperfections, also make it impossible to switch off, impossible to ignore and impossible to deny. No more ‘I didn’t know’ (http://goo.gl/6N0sXL) defense lines. We now know and feel and understand and agonize and think.

“And unlike our elected leaders, refreshingly, we act. A US man ‘grabbed’ a ship and set off to do something about it: http://goo.gl/dcGtE6. Icelanders (whose government caps immigration to 50 a year) opened up their homes, actively offering to help take in refugees: http://goo.gl/EkkbPi. Buckling under pressure from home Germany and Austria opened their doors: http://goo.gl/bO90rn internet shaming having at least one positive effect.

“It doesn’t stop there.

“The Refugees Welcome website uses people power and crowdsourcing (the same idea that brought us Airbnb) to change the way we respond to the refugee crisis: http://goo.gl/11E1ty. Petitions (http://goo.gl/MDY4Bt) are having the desired effect as EU refugee policy is changing: http://goo.gl/0qNqpE. If you’re in the UK you can sign the online petition to increase support for refugees and asylum seekers: https://goo.gl/1fDi1k you can add further pressure by signing The Independent’s petition form: http://goo.gl/qcOJ45.

“This is not an EU problem (http://goo.gl/fsqRe8). It is a people problem. It is a global problem, which people, seeing people in trouble can help solve. In New Zealand you can add your voice to those who want change to the refugee quota: https://goo.gl/wCmxjy. On Facebook the ‘Open Homes, Open Hearts’ initiative helps US citizens add their voice to the tide: https://goo.gl/bZsLqJ and a petition on the White House website could really do with your signature: https://goo.gl/tZy3tT.

“This could have been a really dark, hopeless ‘Sunday Read.’ The issues raised here are deep, potentially divisive. They are the kind that our elected officials feel powerless to deal with quickly. Yet, the very same tools that allow me to somewhat flippantly talk about the need to have plenty of coffee at hand and a mountain of sugary treats, allow us to connect, share, and actually do something ourselves, first. Even something as small as sharing a petition in our social media channels to help raise its visibility and awareness.

“We may be small. But we are not powerless. We may feel alone, but we really are not. We may think that nothing changes, but here’s proof that things are. The world is connecting across lines that officials do not foresee and cannot control. We self organize (https://goo.gl/vgukwN), create forces of our own, drive change in ways that only our ‘first world concerns’ can prepare us for.

“We understand two things that government and institutions do not always grasp: As people we can act to do the right thing, first: http://goo.gl/tMuQ8R. As people we can make a difference because we are no longer alone and isolated.

“The title of this ‘Sunday Read‘ was taken from the heart-wrenching message of a Syrian woman to the Italian coastguard: http://goo.gl/leWg1X. Our message today to the world, to each other, here, to those who we feel need help, in any context is that the world is really changing. You are no longer alone. None of us is.

“Coffee, chocolate ice-cream, donuts, croissants, cookies and chocolate cake. I know it seems facile, yet it’s a ritual that helps keep us together. Make us stronger. More effective, until even more join us. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.” 

NOTE: I do not usually share an entire post like this, but so many of you are not on Google+, I knew you wouldn’t/couldn’t go there. And, this post and these issues are so important, with so many points of contact, so much information, and significant and easy-to-follow calls to action, that I had to include the entire post.

Why I have Always Hated Independence Day in the USA

Why I have Always Hated Independence Day (July 4th) in the USA

I am not the only one, either.

Fireworks
I could enjoy the fireworks from a great distance and up high, only. Sometimes I could get to my own or someone else’s rooftop or high window and watch from afar and admire the colors without hearing the awful noises: those I could appreciate, somewhat. But, I never forgot, even as a little girl, that these contraptions are supposed to represent bombs and I hate bombs, I hate war, and I, according to my mom and my own memories, have always hated fireworks up close. Still do.

illusion of democracy fireworks
image from http://www.247newsworld.com

Troy Patterson REALLY hates fireworks: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/a_fine_whine/2009/07/fireworks_suck.html

Patriotism
I am deeply disappointed in this country and have been for as long as I can remember. How can anyone around my age (60, born in 1954), whose first clear memory of a President is the insane, lying criminal, Richard M. Nixon, be patriotic?

The USA, in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, drafted and then sent millions of my classmates (and they were BOYS) to their maiming, mental health breakdowns, drug addictions or deaths in Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia FOR NO GOOD REASON.

ALL the “wars” the USA has “fought” since World War II have been nothing but thinly disguised efforts to make some a-holes richer and further the political agendae of yet another group of ignorant buffoons that the people of this country keep electing.

It is shameful, embarrassing and horrible that the USA is STILL DOING THAT today in Iraq, Afghanistan, and anywhere else the war-mongers can stir up enough jingoism to get people to volunteer.

When Barbara Streisand sang “America, the Beautiful” for Bill Clinton’s campaign show, I cried. Not because it was so wonderful or she was so great, and not because I was moved by Clinton (the women-exploiting, lying sack of sh*t). No. I cried because I cannot feel what I wished I could feel: I can feel no pride and no love for a country I have lived in all my life.

Whatever does anyone have to be proud of? What is there to love besides the lands’ natural wonders (the ones we haven’t yet ruined) and the people we already care about?

The USA shows up far too low or is the lowest on the ranked lists, lowest among ALL “modern,” or “Westernized” countries, in too many categories to count. I’m talking about our ratings on handling issues that really matter, like infant mortality, educational attainment (high school graduation), child poverty, racist police violence, racist incarceration, numbers incarcerated, numbers of addicts/alcoholics, gun violence/mass shootings, domestic violence, rape, homelessness: on and on and on.

Aaron Sorkin nailed this problem (our mistaken belief in the USA as the “greatest country in the world”) in the rant he wrote for Jeff Daniels’ news anchor character to give in the HBO TV show, Newsroom (responses start after audience-member’s question at 3:10; Daniels’ actual rant begins at about 4:40): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rpn0vh2Rj0Y or https://youtu.be/Rpn0vh2Rj0Y

Are YOU an American and proud? How? I really want to know how you reconcile the actual dismal facts of this country’s historical record and current terrible policies and behaviors around the world with your desire to be a patriot: they don’t make enough booze in the world to drown out the noise of that cognitive dissonance for me.

Celebrating War
At its core, Independence Day, July Fourth, celebrates the Revolutionary War and the newly formed United States of America’s “victory” in it. As a lifelong pacifist who abhors violence and would avoid it in every case, except as a last resort or best tactic to prevent further harm and death (as in World War II), I deplore all uses of violence and especially warfare.

Scotland recently had a VOTE to determine whether or not it should become independent from Britain. Did anyone consider that option in 1776? I highly doubt it. Maybe it wouldn’t have worked; we can’t know. But I do not want to celebrate the deployment of violent methods to achieve something that may well have been attainable by nonviolent means and certainly was not necessary.

Hundreds of thousands of people died in the USA’s Revolutionary War and subsequent wars of “independence” around the world, due to the USA’s “shining example.” I am as ashamed of all of those wars as if I had started them myself.

I also DO NOT SUPPORT THE TROOPS who currently serve in the USA military, since they serve as volunteers who decided to go kill people the USA and its deluded allies have no business killing, to destroy and steal property we have no business wrecking, and otherwise to wreak havoc in other people’s countries FOR NO GOOD REASON.

These “wars” have NOTHING to do with the attacks on the USA on 9/11/01 and have actually increased the terrorism in the world rather than helped it abate. If you don’t believe me, look at the rise in terror attacks and the growth of ISIS. How else do you explain those?

No one made them go. No one should have volunteered. If no one had volunteered, the “war efforts” would have died in one year or a few months. Truly.

NO ONE should have volunteered. Period.

Why would ANYONE “support” those “troops” and these activities? I really want to know.

The USA’s “image” or “brand” has been “slipping” in the world everywhere but Western Europe for over a decade because of our hypocrisies, torture training centers and usage of torture, pollution and degradation of the planet’s resources due to corporate greed and war-mongering at others’ expense. http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/07/14/chapter-1-the-american-brand/

That is another reason NOT to “celebrate” this country on July 4th.

Gratitude and Wishes
Whom am I grateful to? Bradley/Chelsea Manning. Julian Assange. Edward Snowden. Bernie Sanders. Daniel Ellsberg. Karen Silkwood. Rosa Parks. Bree Newsome.

Rolling-Rebellion-Taos-4th-of-July-Parade-gratitude1-e1405261595292
image from: http://www.globalresearch.ca

I Wish…the USA would join the world in better living and cooperation. Start with these:
–Sign the nuclear non-proliferation agreement.
–Provide universal healthcare for all citizens in the USA for free.
–Provide college educations at public universities to all students for free and eliminate/forgive ALL student loan debt right now.
–Sign the reduction in land-mines agreement.
–Sign the reduction in carbon emissions agreement.
–Sign all treaties that attempt to stop human trafficking, sex slavery, child abduction and forced human drug smuggling from occurring.
–Improve and provide housing, alternative health care, better education, enough food and actual public safety (better policing) for ALL our own citizens.
–Model caring, democratic living for the world.
–Stop all forms of discrimination based on religion, appearance, gender, sexual orientation, and other types of social identities.
–Stop all forms of rape, sexual attacks and domestic violence by enforcing the existing laws and making better ones everywhere.
–Reduce child abuse and child poverty by providing more opportunities for jobs and meaningful employment at living wages for all citizens who want to and are able to work.
–Provide free childcare and pre-school to all children.
–Stop all armed conflicts, destroy all mass weapons we own and stop producing them.
–Repurpose the military budget to serve our citizens better (see above).

rebellion-when-injustice-becomes-law-e1412174046276
image from: http://kellidgordonlibertyblog.wordpress.com

What do you wish? Comment here. http://www.sallyember.com/blog

Best to you on this weekend, whatever you’re doing. I wish I could celebrate. Instead, I will meditate on world peace.

“#Censorship, #Violence, #Buying Ratings, and #Compassion”: Fran Connor’s Guest Blog Post

I am so pleased to welcome Fran Connor as my guest blogger today. Fran is a scriptwriter/screenwriter, novelist and blogger living in France but hailing from the UK who was my guest on CHANGES conversations between authors for Episode 25.

Fran has several well-considered opinions, which he calls “rants,” that he’s decided to share with us all today. Comment here and send comments directly to his email , as requested.

For more information about how to reach Fran and know more about his writing, or to become a guest 0on CHANGES or become a guest blogger on my site, see below his post.

Thanks for visiting!


“#Censorship, #Violence, #Buying Ratings, and #Compassion”
Fran Connor’s Guest Blog Post

changes 1

#Censorship

That’s a title that immediately puts writers on one side of the line or the other, with a few sitting on the fence getting a corrugated derriere.

But we all participate in censorship when we write, don’t we? And if we don’t, should we?

I’m working on a project at present that involves people in the seventeenth century. Rich people. The ones who lived in huge mansions bought with the proceeds of the slave trade.

And I got to thinking about the protagonist. A man of his time. Good to his family. A God-fearing churchgoer. He helps the poor villagers in his English village by providing meat from the deer on his estate during the winter. He provides schooling for the village children so they can learn to read, write and better their chances in the future. He treats his wife as almost equal. ‘Almost’? Yes, almost, because he is a man of his time. And, of course, he’s kind to his dog.

He makes his fortune by shipping slaves across the Atlantic. He’s following his Christian faith; the Bible allows him to deal in slaves.

STOP! You can’t have that. Oh no, no no. How can you have a sympathetic Christian main character who makes his living from slavery? It simply would not be tolerated by many readers of today’s novels usually attracted to this genre. Not unless he “sees the light” on the way to Damascus, and my guy doesn’t see the light. Such characters existed. Perhaps historians could get away with it in an academic tome, but not a novelist aiming at an Historical Romance clientele.

Or, could I get away with it? It may stir up some complaints, and as we know, even bad publicity can be good for sales.

So I will have to make him earn his fortune elsewhere in order not to alienate my readers. I need to censor my writing.

What if I were not to censor my writing and went ahead glorifying a man who chained people in the depths of a sailing ship in horrendous conditions for months? I would probably have rotten tomatoes or worse thrown at me at the book signing!

Sadly, there would be people out there who would love such a character. It would strengthen their racist and bigoted opinions. I wouldn’t want that, so I should censor the piece.

It isn’t a case of being politically correct. It’s a case of trying not to deliberately upset people. I think most of us would do the same: self-censor. Apart from anything else, it would be literary suicide to annoy your readers.

What do you think?

Tell me at: francis@connorscripts.com


#Violence

Then we have the horrific depiction of violence against women in many novels, films and on TV. Why? What’s the point?

The point is that it sells. Sex sells. It always has and always will. And for most of us, there is nothing wrong or evil about sex between consenting adults, either heterosexual or same-sex. But, sex mixed with violence is a heady concoction and unleashes the demons inside some readers and viewers.

There are those who would argue that it does no such thing. After thirty-three years in a UK police force, I would argue to the contrary. But I’m not an intellectual, as I have already said, so I suppose one of those would dispute my claim.

Why are we fixated on murder and violence? Have we not come far from the days of Imperial Rome, where a good afternoon’s entertainment was to see men fight to the death or lions eat unfortunate victims? I think the answer to that is: “No, we haven’t.”

I self-censor my sex scenes to ensure that I do not depict women as victims. Many other writers do the same. Some do not.

Most people will be fortunate not to be murdered or not know anyone who has been murdered. It is, thankfully, still a rare crime in most civilized countries. If someone close to you has been murdered or you have been sexually assaulted, how do you feel about the subject being the source of entertainment?

Should the depiction of women as victims or murder as entertainment be censored by the authorities if writers won’t self-censor?

I don’t know the answer to that. Do you?

Please send your views to: francis@connorscripts.com


#Buying ratings

We all want to see our work hit the number one best-seller target on Amazon, but how far are we willing to go in order to achieve that goal?

Like most authors, I use the various tactics available for increasing my exposure and soliciting reviews. Recently, however, I came across a site that “guaranteed sales of at least one thousand books” if they were priced at $0.99. The cost of this service was $1400.

One thousand sales in a short period will push your ratings quite high. Now I’ve been in this game for a few years, I’m no expert, but I’m no fool either. I can’t think of any way that one can guarantee that one thousand people will buy your book at $0.99. There must be an angle, a catch, something fishy going on. I can’t claim to know what it is, but I would suggest that it could be the use of clever software or simply one person buying one thousand Kindle copies. Would that strike an alarm in Amazon? Again, I don’t know, but I expect that it would.

The supplier of this service spends out $990 but gets paid $1400. Not a bad return.

My point isn’t getting at the supplier. Someone sees a niche in the market and fills it. That’s enterprise. My point is: why would we consider purchasing the service? Because it may lead to more genuine sales and perhaps or possibly or maybe lead to recovering your $1400 outlay?

I suggest that you are unlikely to get any reviews, good or bad, from the alleged purchasers of your $0.99 book. So, is it ethical to use this service? Do ethics have any place in today’s cut-throat publishing scramble?

If you have any views on this, please send them to: francis@connorscripts.com


One more rant! #Compassion

I saw in late May that the state of Texas decided to execute a man who was in his late sixties after he had served thirty-one years in prison awaiting execution and going through all the legal appeals. His last one obviously had failed. He had been convicted of four murders and may well have been guilty, although that is not always a given.

One often hears politicians and others saying “God Bless America.” On the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities, I heard President Obama say “May God continue to bless America.”

Makes me wonder why God would bless a country that lacks compassion.

This is just the view of a Brit. You can argue with me at: francis@connorscripts.com


The comments above are those of author and screenwriter, Fran Connor, and not necessarily the views of the host of this blog, Sally Ember, Ed.D.


Fran Connor is the author of:

The Devil’s Bridge

devil's bridge final fron
http://www.amazon.com/Devils-Bridge-Fran-Connor-ebook/dp/B00N02YN6C/

Someone to Watch Over Me

someone to watch over me 2
http://www.amazon.com/Someone-Watch-Over-Fran-Connor-ebook/dp/B00XV2MW2I/

Sophia and the Fisherman

sophia final 3
http://www.amazon.com/Sophia-Fisherman-Fran-Connor-ebook/dp/B00VQVQAME/

Visit Fran: http://www.connorscripts.com


Fran Connor was also my guest on CHANGES conversations between authors, an almost-weekly, Google+/Youtube video chat show, on Episode 25. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time: http://goo.gl/eX0D8T

OPENINGS 7/8 and beyond! #Authors, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction and who blog, learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and
#Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest: http://goo.gl/1dbkZV


If you’d like to be a Guest Blogger, please visit my Guest Bloggers’ Hall of Fame and learn what’s involved.

Thanks for visiting, commenting, following, and enjoying this site! http://www.sallyember.com