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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Just $@%## Stop It!

Maybe I am wrong, but it seems like people are getting increasingly pissed off about trivial issues that just a few years ago would have been overlooked completely.  For example, the President's people took a picture of him with a rainbow in the background and the Ridiculous Right have lost their bloody minds about it.  Why?  So what?  The POTUS can have his photograph taken wherever the hell he wants to - just like the average citizen.  It's asinine to go nuts over that silly garbage and a massive waste of energy.

And the right isn't the only segment of our population that has lost it, the leftist liberals are enjoying their time in the rubber room as well.  They have been going after Rand Paul as though he were the devil incarnate - probably at the behest of the Cruz campaign, of course.  And then there's the whole California drought situation.  The right says that it could be a man-made problem, the left is blaming it on climate change.  Look, if you move to a place where there isn't much water, STFU about not having water.  Move to where the water can be found.  (I still think we should give California to Mexico for a 12-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a couple bags of Doritos.)  OR, work together to find a solution and shut the hell up.  You want to live there?  Fine, let's find a solution TOGETHER. 

Just stop it.  STOP IT.  %@%$# stop it.  

Yes, I have been a conservative cat for a while now, and I used to be a complete ass where politics is concerned.  Those days are over and that is it for me.  I may have strong opinions, but I just can't understand all of the useless debate, arguments, rending of clothes, and the gnashing of teeth.

Just stop it.  STOP IT.  %@%$# stop it. 

I saw a video on YouTube of a child no older than 5 years old who was crying because Obama got elected.  5 years old.  5!  What in the hell are we teaching our children?  Maybe I'm old fashioned but I remember my days in the United States Navy like they were yesterday and you don't go running your mouth about the POTUS just to be a dick.  Today, we're teaching our kids to have such amazingly strong opinions about things that they shouldn't even have to worry about.  What should be consuming that 5 year old?  Not politics, that is for certain.  Our daughters should be consumed with playing with her dolls, beating up her big brother, and playing with insects.

Just stop it.  STOP IT.  %@%$# stop it.

Maybe it's because I wake up every day, look at myself in the mirror and consider my mortality.  I know that my days are numbered and the last thing I want to do is to check out with bile in my mouth.  We are all human, we are not the sum total of our political leanings.  It's abject silliness to think otherwise.  So, what really does matter in life?
  • Family:  That doesn't necessarily mean blood-relations, but rather those whom you call "brother" or "sister" because there is love, concern, and a connection that transcends just a beer at a cookout.
  • Friends:  We can't live without friends, that's just the way it is.  Isolationism is a bitch and will take the human mind to horrible, scary places.  Our friends keep us balanced, provide us with unique insight on circumstances that perhaps we never saw before.
  •  Flowers:  Have you ever walked through a meadow and just smelled the inviting aroma of fresh flowers?  Don't give me any of that crap about allergies, either.  The life that flowers represent is cyclical, that no matter what, they'll be there for us next year.
  •  Religious Affections:  For many of us, spirituality is a driving force in our lives.  I'm not talking about going to some megachurch where you watch the entertainer/pastor bloviate about nonsensical, borderline theology.  I mean that spirituality, that connection with the Creator that is intimate, personal, and just between you and Him.  
  •  Children:  I don't care if you have children of your own or not,  we have to remember that we are leaving a pile of steaming cow poop for them to clean up, and that's just wrong.  If we can only pass down one thing to our kids, it should be the ability to love and forgive.  Everything else is just jibber jabber.  It's true - we need to teach our kids to act and live responsibly.  We have to teach them that the environment is, in fact, important no matter what Rush Limbaugh says.
  •  Forgiveness:  The world, humanity, needs more forgiveness.  I say this because if anyone needs forgiveness, it's me.  I have learned to forgive because it's just the right thing to do and it takes one hell of a load off of our shoulders. It takes enormous amounts of energy to get mad and stay mad.  It's goofiness.  Sure, I am far from perfect and I still have a truck load of stuff to work on, but darn it, I'm trying. 
  • Love:  I've learned that the epitome of love is the overwhelming desire to see the person who is the focal point of that love be truly happy.  It may cost us, but in the long run to see others happy is a reward in and of itself.  We are capable of amazing love, the kind of love that can change lives.  If we would choose to look at others through that lens, I think we could truly transform our communities. 
There comes a time in our lives, people, that we just have to put aside all of the fear-mongering, the hatred, the nastiness for nastiness' sake.  Seriously.  Look in the mirror.  No, really.  Look in the mirror.  Are you perfect?  Can you create something Ex nihilo (look it up)?   No.  You aren't perfect, your family isn't perfect, your spouse isn't perfect, your children aren't perfect, your job isn't perfect, your car is not perfect, your boobs aren't perfect, your hair isn't perfect, your neighborhood isn't perfect, your political party isn't perfect, and so on so forth.  Are you getting the picture here?

I am a 225lb pile of mess who makes mistakes almost hourly.  Nothing about my existence is of any more value than yours, friends.  The truth is that most days, I feel like the gum we get stuck on our shoes at the movie theater.  We all suck and the sooner we realize this, the sooner we will begin to see the true value of folks around us.

Where there is life, there is hope.  While we still have breath, we can reconcile, we can forget and forgive and just appreciate the NOW and let the future come as it may.  I know I am sounding like a hippie, but let me tell you, I would much rather spend my waning hours laughing and enjoying my friends and family rather than bitching about how bad others are.  Got it?

Of course, y'all know that I could be wrong, and often am.  I don't think so this time.

Butch "Gorilla" Black

Friday, April 10, 2015

Paul Wesselhoft Protests (Again)

It's rare when I post someone's press release, so when I do, it mean's y'all need to pay attention.  Paul Wesselhoft has taken on the ultimate King-maker in Oklahoma, David Boren.  As you will read in the press release (below), Wesselhoft has a long road ahead of him, however, he is spot on.

Contact: State Rep. Paul Wesselhöft
Capitol: (405) 557-7343

Wesselhöft to Protest Again

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Paul Wesselhöft announced today that he will be protesting at the Warren Theater in Moore during the Friday, April 10th afternoon showing of the movie Woman in Gold to raise more awareness of a Nazi stolen Jewish painting being displayed at the Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of Art in Norman.

Woman in Gold is a 2015 movie portraying the true story of Maria Altmann, played by Helen Mirren, “an octogenarian Jewish refugee who takes on the Austrian government to recover artwork she believes rightfully belongs to her family,” which was stolen by Nazis in Vienna before the start of World War II.

Wesselhöft has been protesting and encouraging the University of Oklahoma to turn over the painting they hold, an 1886 Camille Pissarro oil painting titled Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep, to Leone Meyer, a Jewish woman from Paris, whose family is the rightful owner, according to Wesselhöft.
Wesselhöft also protested the same cause during the film, Monuments Men before Moore police threatened him with an arrest.

Wesselhöft says, “President Boren is a good and decent man; I consider him my friend. Unfortunately, he is adhering to the advice of his attorneys.”

Randy Schoenberg, the American attorney who represented Altmann in the U.S. Supreme Court, said more effort needs to be made to return Nazi-looted art to its rightful owners.

“I have been repeatedly asked whether there are still other paintings yet to be returned to their rightful owners,” said Schoenberg. “The answer is, unfortunately, yes.”

“Unfortunately for Oklahomans, one of those Nazi stolen paintings is hanging in the Fred Jones, Jr. Museum at the University of Oklahoma,” said Wesselhöft, R-Moore.

“Ms. Meyer is 75 years old, and is legally and emotionally fighting to recover her father’s painting. She wants the painting returned to her family while she is able to enjoy it.

“Please contact University of Oklahoma President David Boren, and plead with him to make the right and moral decision not to litigate this for many years. He needs to make our state proud by giving this painting back to the Meyer family before Ms. Meyer dies.“

President David Boren
University of Oklahoma
660 Parrington Oval, Norman, OK 73019
(405) 325-3916
Email: dboren@ou.edu
(Share this with your friends!)

National Sibling Day(s)

Me and my little brother.
It's another one of those "days" where some aspect of the human existence is highlighted, cherished, remembered, and proclaimed.  The mention of the day does take me back to the old days when Mom was still alive and Mark (my brother) and I fought, argued, but cared deeply about one another.  He's a good man today, a little quirky but he's got the same big heart that he was known for during our childhood.

After I left home and later joined the Navy, we sort of lost contact for quite some time and for that, I feel pretty guilty.  A lot happened to him during my absence and as I look back, were I to have been there, his life path would have been different, and I probably would have ended up in prison.  He had been wronged by a number of people, including family members whom I believe will pay a price for how they treated the lad.

Today, he lives in Vancouver, WA and I hope to see him again and hug his neck.  I abhor where he is in his life today, even though he says he's comfortable.  I love that kid.

Me and my "brother," Wayne.
The "National Sibling Day" brings to recollection by cousin, Wayne.  He and I were always hanging out together, causing trouble.  He was really more like a brother to me than he was a cousin.  Wayne had a great sense of humor, was always up for fun and something different.  I can remember vividly how he would call me about some of the punks in his neighborhood giving him grief, and I would end up over at his place, silencing the bullies on his behalf. 

He was really my best friend whose smile and laugh could light up a room.  After I joined the Navy, I changed home ports and moved to San Diego, he and his wife Jodi continued their relationship and had two awesome boys.  Somewhere along the line, Wayne dove into alcohol, some drugs, and it eventually killed him.  You see, consuming lots of alcohol while being diabetic will only serve to kill you.   I miss him and I feel guilty for not being there for him during the tough times.  Even so, the memories of our relationship will last forever and I am hopeful to see him again someday. 

Even if we don't have biological siblings, there are those who so greatly impact our lives that the mere thought of them makes us smile.  We have them in our lives from our youth, and we do today.  Look around you and consider the great number of friends you have whom you adore and smile.  Let someone know that you appreciate them, that they mean something to you that transcends mere friendship. 

Trust me, if you don't do it right now, today, you may live to regret it and only wish that you would have.

Of course, this is just my opinion and I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt it.


Thursday, April 09, 2015

Oklahoma State GOP Chairperson Will Be...

If you're a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or even one of the three existing anarchists in Oklahoma, you've no doubt seen a snowstorm of press releases flooding your social media feeds.  They are talking points as to which person got endorsed by whom and why.  It's a lot of fun for guys like me who really have no ponies in the race.  That means I can sit back with a fresh bowl of popcorn and just enjoy the madness and of course, pontificate from the comfort of my couch while watching Supernatural on Netflix. 

So....who are the candidates and what are they all about?  My opinion is...

David Weston:  Weston is the sitting Chair, the incumbent if you will, and under his leadership, James Lankford was elected to Congress.  Somehow, they convinced Navy SEAL David White to drop out of the race, and the 5th Congressional District has never been so ineffective.  The last time the 5th District Representative actually got anything accomplished was when Ernest Istook held that seat.  But I digress.  Weston is a deeply religious man, a person of conviction and he has a direct line to the Oklahoma Baptist Convention.  He has served in some form or another in the ranks of the GOP infrastructure for a long time and is relatively "user friendly" where outsiders are concerned.  He did, however, call into question his Constitutional knowledge at a Cherokee County GOP gathering.   In essence, if you're happy with the way things are now and you want a GOP Chairman who is, in my opinion, Chamber-friendly, then I suppose Weston is your guy.  But he does resemble Lex Luthor.

Pam Pollard:  If you're in the GOP in Oklahoma, you are more than familiar with Ms. Pollard.  Pollard is the Vice Chair of the Oklahoma GOP and the President of the Oklahoma Federation of Republican Women.  I've met her a number of times myself, and to be honest, her energy is unparalleled.  This woman has worked her tail off for the GOP and should be congratulated for her efforts.  Pollard would definitely shake things up a little bit, particularly so because of her relationship with the Oklahoma Federation of Republican Women.  The jury is still out in determining whether or not she's Chamber-friendly, but there is no doubt that she has legitimate street cred that she's a conservative.  If you want the GOP shaken up a bit, having a more diverse demographic and energized, Pollard is your candidate.  Pollard can be a little intense at times, which makes me piddle sometimes. 

Randy Brogdon:  Brogdon is also a familiar name in Oklahoma politics - a former State Senator, candidate for Governor, an employee of John Doak, and now, a candidate to lead the GOP.  He has had many jobs on the taxpayer dime, and now, he wants one that is paid for by the GOP alone.  Brogdon is NOT Chamber-friendly, a Republican who borders on Libertarian, but just enough to appease the Tea Party crew (if they still exist).  Brogdon is an odd cat, not exactly the kind of guy you expect to see leading the GOP toward any kind of center-right category.  There were times during the gubernatorial race that he sounded like he wanted to basically dig a mote around Oklahoma and tell everyone else to piss off.  He's a firebrand and if you want Oklahoma to elect more of the same, if you want an OCPAC superstar, he is definitely your guy.  And if we're to be completely honest, Brogdon would be a blast to have as the GOP Chair.  He would really upset some of the neo-cons in the State House and Fred Morgan, former House Representative and current president of the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce.   Popcorn sales will triple in Oklahoma.

As for me?  I'm not pleased at all with the GOP platform of recent years because it looks more like Catechism than it does a political party platform. 

So, those are a few of my opinions about the three candidates, and this race is probably the most exciting the State of Oklahoma has seen in quite some time (which should tell you something). 

I could be wrong, of course, because my opinions often are...naw, I nailed it.


In Defense of Sally Kern

Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern has undergone intense scrutiny and perhaps some of it is a little over the top.  It's sad, in a way, to see the people who preach tolerance so assertively would be so aggressively intolerant of Sally Kern.  It is confusing, disheartening, and unfair in many ways.  The "Sally Kern Phenomenon" has garnered national attention and most of that attention has really been pretty negative - with the exception of Ellen, perhaps, who dealt with it in a comical, lighthearted way. 

First, let's consider what Kern and her husband believe and why:
They are Baptists, hardcore Baptists who shun the baptism of infants, dancing, and other things, in many cases are abject literalistic in their interpretation of Scripture, and lastly, they are premillennial  in their eschatology, and they are all about fire and brimstone.  (Read for yourself. But ignore the spelling errors.) You can't really blame them for their theological constructs because that is kind of a universal platform for their denomination.  They are very public figures, therefore, the last thing they want is to look inconsistent from the Baptist hard line.
[Note: I add Steve Kern in the dialog because he is, after all, her pastor.]

Second, let's think about the argument they espouse itself:
Think about it from a doctrinal standpoint.  They believe that the "rapture" could happen at any moment and that it will involve "tribulation" upon some of the Christians, but most importantly, it is the role of the "Christian soldier" to bring as many souls to the Promised Land as possible.  This kind of theology is designed, as its ultimate goal, to usher in the 2nd Coming.  Of course, fear and hell,
and eternal damnation is at the forefront of Sally's dialog!  The school of thought exists that if they don't try to "save" every single lost soul they can.  Here is they type of construct we're dealing with from a hardcore Christian Right website:
Is a New World Order something we should look forward to? Will it take place and if so, when? Who will be responsible for bringing in this New World Order? Will it be the president of the United States or maybe even the head of the Roman Catholic Church, the pope himself? Where can we find these answers? Does the Bible say anything about this important subject that will affect the whole world? Let’s look at some information that will help us get a better picture of upcoming events.
Wait, what?  New World Order?  The Pope?  See what we're dealing with here, kids?

Third, consider why it is better not to launch ad hominem attacks:
I eluded to it in my opening paragraph, but it is true that the "most tolerant" in our culture is often the LEAST tolerant of conservative Christian views.  In other words, by attacking Sally Kern and her fellow premillennial, "sky is falling" followers, the "tolerant ones" prove Sally Kern's point - that "the liberuls" are intolerant and have an agenda to destroy the country through indoctrination of the gay agenda on our children.  Attacking Sally, the person, is just not the right thing to do.  Attack her beliefs, her commentary, and her dumbass pieces of legislation, but Sally THE PERSON, is a human being just like the rest of us.

In my opinion, everyone has a right to speak and believe whatever they choose to believe.  Whether it be a complete allegorical interpretation of Scripture or a historical/grammatical interpretation, or that someone doesn't believe at all is well within the bounds of free speech that we're so proud of here in the United States.  Sure, there are people who exist to transform the nation into something that looks like a theocracy, but overall, we function pretty darned well.  You see, in a Democratic Republic, we get the privilege of raising hell and defeating whatever argument we choose.  But we must always remember the fact that we are all human, all created in the Imago Dei.

I'm not at all implying that I'm innocent.  I twist off with regularity, but it doesn't make it right.  

Of course, this is just my opinion and I could be wrong.  But I'm not.


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Another Police Shooting

It's out on the Internet and it is inescapable.  The rough, shaky video of a law enforcement officer putting 7-8 bullets in the back of an unarmed man as he ran away.  It's horrifying, saddening, and frustrating all at once.  The senseless death of someone at the hands of law enforcement will certainly impact that community, and now, it has global reach because of the Internet.

Mark my words:  It won't be long until someone comes forward with a laundry list of criminal acts committed by the man who was killed, used as a justification for "thinning the herd."


It's a story we've seen in the past and these incidents are becoming increasingly common and to me, that's a terrifying specter to be facing down in this day and age.  Both sides of the political spectrum will use this murder in South Carolina will be aghast and outraged, resulting in a ton of blathering on and on, rather than addressing the problem and hunting down solutions.

Police officers are admittedly under an enormous amount of stress.  Day in and day out they face the criminal element and they witness things that fuel our most terrifying nightmares.  It's a tough job, and in most cases, they are morbidly underpaid and lack training.  Police officers do things every day that most of us cannot or will not do - and understandably so.  But one thing is certain:  This was not a "clean shoot."

One thing is important to remember here and will most likely be overlooked - Walter Scott allegedly grabbed the police officer's taser.  The officer claimed that he was in fear for his life at that moment.  That may be so, but 8 shots to the back of a fleeing suspect is, well, less than justified.  Walter Scott was pulled over by Officer Michael Slager for a broken tail light, but none of the videos show that.  Nor does it show Scott taking Slager's taser gun.  The court will decide whether or not they feel that Slager really did fear for his life, or if he was just another trigger-happy cop with a bad attitude.

Either way, everyone involved is going to feel pain of loss.  The family of the victim will no longer get to hear the sound of their loved one's voice, embrace or laugh with him.  He's gone forever.  Likewise, the officer's family will struggle, probably get the hell harassed out of them and end up living elsewhere.  There are no winners in this situation.  Here's a couple of preventative measures to address the problem.  I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I think these are cost-effective alternatives to cities paying millions to victims of law enforcement douchebaggery and maybe, just maybe, civilians will learn that there are things you do and don't do when stopped by law enforcement.

1.  More training, improved hiring procedures for law enforcement.  Weed out the "bad apples" more effectively and the ones who are hired, should have at least annual training on what is or is not a clean shoot.  Perhaps psychological testing on an annual basis is needed as well.  Over the course of time, a police officer could become numb, desensitized to his/her surroundings.

2.  The public needs to know that no matter what, you have your rights and they should be respected, but running from law enforcement or trying to take a taser is never going to end well.  We have to teach this to our kids, to our communities, and it is a message that must be heard now rather than later.

If you listen to talk radio and you start to hear the host pop his/her top about Walter Scott, turn the channel.  Most of the national talk radio hosts haven't even had to wipe their own asses for decades, and like I said in a previous blog entry, these dick bags feed off of and promote an environment of fear and hatred.  You don't need to listen to that shit on a daily basis anyway, and where this case is concerned, unless the hosts are being perfectly objective, turn it to the FM band and listen to some music.

Of course, this is just my opinion and I could be wrong.  But I seriously doubt it.


Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Take The Good With The Bad

I hate licorice.  I can't stand the taste, the smell, or even the look of the nasty substance.  It reminds me of what a Greyhound bus filled with drunk politicians must smell like.  I like Red Vines and Twizzlers, but no licorice.  It's probably one of the reasons I face so much anxiety when buying assorted jelly beans - those nasty little buggers are in there right alongside my delicious green apple, the mouth-watering watermelon, or my incredible orange jelly beans. It took me a long time to get over those moments of extreme stress, but I have finally done it.  I think I'm ready to get a bag of assorted jelly beans and just pick out the licorice-flavored pollutants.

Sometimes, we just have to take the good with the bad.

This applies, of course, to every aspect of our lives.  Whether it be politics, geography, weather, or even faith groups, there's always going to be something that is disgusting, something that turns your stomach.  Don't get me wrong - I live to bitch about these things right along with you, but I guess 50 is a good age to start realizing that "there's nothing new under the sun," and that sometimes even the best pie in the world can be found with a hair poking out. 

I've been pretty open with everyone about my health issues, my battles with the Veterans Administration, and of course, the minor victories and good news as well.  I've told you how there are days when I want to cook my head in the microwave, and about the days I feel so wonderful that I could compose a symphony.  My health has kind of reached a place where I have more poopie days than I do great days, but you know what?  Even the worst days are better than no days.  I'm happy (and quite surprised) to be alive right now, pleased that I have friends who care and check in on me once in a while with a text message, an email, Facebook message, or sometimes a phone call. 

I'm really proud of how my kids are handling their dad going from the top of the heap to the bottom of the septic tank.  They are all great children who are each blazing a trail on their own, free thinkers who aren't afraid to ask real questions and demand real answers.

Go hug somebody's neck today.  Look them in the eye and tell them you appreciate them.  Call your Mom - she wants to hear from you.  Tell your kids that you value them for who they are.  Thank a veteran. 

Life is good.  Living life is fun.  Loving and being loved are priceless.  Black licorice still sucks, but those yummy green apple...


Sunday, April 05, 2015

On Being Gullible...

A couple of days ago, two of my friends were giving me some grief about being so gullible.  To be honest, the pranks they pull on me are fascinatingly entertaining.  And yes, I am admittedly rather gullible.  I often wonder how many others like me there are out there, if there are people who let their guard down and just let it all hang out.  I don't know when it happened, but something changed in my life that made me far less skeptical within the parameters of most of my intimate relationships. 

As I've given it some thought, I believe that there are many benefits to being gullible:

1.  Open House:  To those within your "tribe," being completely open and vulnerable is a great thing.  The interaction with one another is more revealing and more real that way.

2.  Trust:  In showing weakness, it begins to lose power over us.  When you can look a friend in the eye and know without a shadow of a doubt that no matter how much grief they may give you that at the end of the day, if you get your ass in a pickle, they'll be there and you'll be there for them.

3.  Fun:  It's a lot more fun when the barriers come down and you just be you.  The pressure and anxiety of holding up barriers between one another dissipates and you're left with raw, personal, and complete enjoyment of life and of one another.

4.  Entertainment:  Our gullibility is entertaining to our friends.  They derive a lot of pleasure from seeing us flounder at times, and it may be one of the reasons that they love you.  And that is a great thing.

Sadly, there are painfully negative results of being gullible.  In some relationships, if we're easily convinced of something being true, it leaves us open for deception and manipulation.  Like the line from Spinal Tap, "I believe everything I read," we can be led astray and most often, we are leading ourselves.  It can lead to unbelievable pain and disappointment when time and again we find ourselves in an ugly place, staring in the mirror wondering what in the hell just happened.

Still, I believe it better to be gullible than to be eternally cynical.  Don't get me wrong - I can be an ass where trust is concerned and I am often a real jerk about trust issues.  Being kicked in the face so many times kinda does that to you, but generally, I can say with no hesitation that it's better to be gullible. 

You see, being gullible is fun, it's freeing.  I love seeing my friends laugh and even if it's at my expense, I'd rather exit this planet leaving a smile on someone's face rather than scorn.

Of course, I'm gullible but that is my opinion and I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt it.