Monday, December 31, 2012

The longest war in US history

Main points: 

1. There is no conceivable threat in Afghanistan to any interest of the US. 

2. The US objective in Afghanistan is a permanent military presence in western Asia much like the US has in Japan and Korea. 

3. "Taliban" means ANYONE in Afghanistan who wants foreign occupiers out. 

4. It's all part of a megalomanic maniacal agenda

read more; 

War Crimes: Why is the USA still in Afghanistan?


It's better than the last one;

see more; JibJab Year in Review 2012: The End is Here!


Spielberg's "Lincoln" accurately portrays the events that brought about the so-called end of slavery in the United States.  Even though the 13th Amendment broke the physical chains of slaves it seems to have had little effect on the views and attitudes of present day descendants of those times. Even though the Civil War was nothing more than a tragic and senseless war among ourselves there are those who year after year spend countless hours reenacting and reliving it; dressing up in uniforms of the times and going off to places like Gettysburg to play war.

There are those who would say; what's the big deal. Their just a bunch of over zealous history buffs  having a little fun. This may be true for some but, for others, this is their way of blowing off steam and releasing pent up anger and resentments about the course of history that brought us to a time when a black man became President of these United States. A time when blacks outnumbered whites at the polling place. A time when more and more people are coming to terms with the reality that America still practices slavery; just in a more subtle and sophisticated way. Racism is alive and well in many parts of this great land of ours even though many are reluctant to use the "R" word for fear they would be politically incorrect. After all, if no one talks about it or points it out when they see it, then we can act as if it doesn't exist. We make believe that having a black President has nothing to do with a half dozen or more states petitioning to secede from the Union. We act as if there are no similarities to our history.

Living in denial is much more comfortable than facing reality when it comes to those things we don't like to admit about ourselves. Racism, bigotry, violence, greed, often referred to as the 'seven deadly (or capital) sins". We like to blame all of our troubles on a few "loners" who star in "isolated" events and are not a part of our mainstream society. We hide our flag draped coffins of today's soldiers because we can't admit that we still act and behave the same way we did 149 years ago other than showing the piles of corpses wars produce. We just want to play war at Gettysburg sans the stench of death and destruction.

Even though Spielberg's  "Lincoln" is not a documentary it does portray sharp similarities when it comes to our politics and how the process hasn't changed much. The games played in Congress then looks much like we witness on C-Span today. Ironic how history seems to repeat itself.

Johann Wagener 12-30-12
Look in the Mirror

Sunday, December 30, 2012


Even though these foolhardy zealots quote the Bible they are completely clueless when it comes to putting its teachings into practice.

read more:
Sovereign Citizens Are a Sometimes Violent Fringe Group Rejecting All Government


Most of our well informed cable TV pundits  rave on about how badly the President did in the first debate. They opine that it was a disaster! Chris Mathews almost had a heart attack?

What was the President thinking?

What we should be asking is,


Only a very insecure person or a fool would want to waste their time bantering with a BS artist like Mitt, the "etch a sketch" man.  It would have been a draining experience for the president because "turn on a dime' Romney would bouncing all over the stage, throwing out comments that were made up as he went and amounting to nothing more than a lot of empty rhetoric.

Using the Zen approach was the wisest move for the President by allowing Romney throw the BS out there and letting hit the wall rather than him. This debate was no different than "what's the sound of one hand clapping" koan.

There was another hint of this approach in the third debate when the President responded with "please proceed" to one of Mitt's foot in mouth moments.

In the big picture it was Romney who lost the first debate by being so full of himself he "proceeded" to have a debate with himself as Obama (to his credit) let the BS fly by getting out of the way, and, when all is said and done, won the election

Johann Wagener
Look in the Mirror.


Specifically, Life Learning Academy officials on Treasure Island in San Francisco were a bit alarmed by this line in Webb's poem:
I understand the killings in Connecticut. I know why he pulled the trigger. Why are we oppressed by a dysfunctional community of haters and blamers?

read more;

S.F. Student Writes "Dark" Poem About Newtown School Shooting, Gets Suspended - San Francisco - News - The Snitch

Saturday, December 29, 2012

It's Wages, Stupid!

The widening chasm between productivity and pay helps to explain why in the third quarter of 2012 after-tax corporate profits achieved a record share of the GDP - while total wages simultaneously plummeted to their lowest-ever GDP ratio.

read more;

It's Wages, Stupid! Progressive Tax Reform Alone Will Do Little to Close the Gap Between Haves and Productive Have-Nots

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Top 12 Scandals of 2012 | CREW | Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

Top 12 Scandals of 2012 | CREW | Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington


read more;

A Guided Tour of the NRA Website

A Guided Tour of the NRA Website

Making Haste to Buy Stuff That Makes Waste

Making Haste to Buy Stuff That Makes Waste

The Worst Product Flops of 2012

The Worst Product Flops of 2012

Best and Worst Run State. 24/7 Wall St.

Best and Worst Run State. 24/7 Wall St.

The 8 Craziest Republican Legislative Proposals Of 2012

Outlawing the dollar? Promoting discrimination? Oh my!

The 8 Craziest Republican Legislative Proposals Of 2012

Biggest Wall Street Scandal of 2012

Matt Taibbi on the Biggest Wall Street Scandal of 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Interview With NRA President David Keene

Interview With NRA President David Keene

As First Graders and Firefighters Are Gunned Down, the NRA Calls for More Firearms

As First Graders and Firefighters Are Gunned Down, the NRA Calls for More Firearms

Armed Guards in Schools? The NRA Wants a Police State

Armed Guards in Schools? The NRA Wants a Police State

We're Puny, Insignificant, and Doomed – and That's the Good News | Think Tank | Big Think

The following succinctly defines religion, not science.
But Krauss argues that mysteries are precisely what make life worth living. Scientists are driven, he says, both by the challenge of solving puzzles and by the fact that beneath them there’s always a deeper mystery to solve.
The Holy Trinity, for example, is a mystery as is the Immaculate Conception, and raising the dead, all attested to in the Bible, not a scientific journal. Religion takes us beyond what can be explained and leaves us with nothing but faith in something that is beyond understanding.

read more;
We're Puny, Insignificant, and Doomed – and That's the Good News | Think Tank | Big Think

The Marketing Link Between Gun Manufacturers and Video Game Makers




read more;
The Marketing Link Between Gun Manufacturers and Video Game Makers

Christmas Eve Shooter, Like Lanza, Used Bushmaster Rifle

These are called "assault" weapons for a reason. 

Bill Saxler of Milwaukee holds a Bushmaster rifle in 2006, during the 135th National Rifle Association (NRA) Annual Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

read more;
Christmas Eve Shooter, Like Lanza, Used Bushmaster Rifle

Monday, December 24, 2012

7 Birth of Christ Myths Debunked Just in Time for Xmas

I could not help responding to the author of this this post; especially on the eve of the celebration of Christ's birth. His timing could not have been worse, nor the message completely contrary to what you would expect on a someone's birthday.

The Christians peddle the idea of Jesus, wrapped in swaddling clothes, in a manger, surrounded by wise men, holding frankincense, gold and myrrh,  while a variety of farm animals looked on.  The Big J himself, of course, was as white as snow, at least according to those white-as-snow believers.

read more; 7 Birth of Christ Myths Debunked Just in Time for Xmas

Dear Mike:

Most of recorded history consists of made up fairy tales, spiked with a little fact. And that doesn't exclude the Bible. On the other hand, why just pick on Jesus? There's a whole bunch of more deserving folks out here who need to be outed. Rather than play with the facts which would be presumptuous for anyone to really believe they have them why not just get into the "spirit" of Christmas in commemoration of the birth of one of the most (if not the most) talked  about people (human or otherwise) in history?

To all you atheist out there, you might be surprised what you could discover about your self  if you just stopped trying to "think" and trying so hard to figure out something you'll never be able to really "know."  That's why they call it a "mystery". Just like trying to find a "meaning" to life rather than just living it, the energy put into trying to debunk Christian mythology, could be better used just "living" (practicing) a life based on the teachings of Jesus. Given the state of things it might just be worth trying.   

The 12 Days of a Capitalist Christmas

Peace on earth? Good will towards brothers and sisters?  Fact or Fiction?

The 12 Days of a Capitalist Christmas

Sunday, December 23, 2012


VIDEO: Baby panda at San Diego Zoo likes to do 'rolly-tumbly' things with new ball


There is a strong case to be made that anyone wanting to purchase and use a gun be psychologically evaluated before obtaining it rather than after they commit an act of violence.  These types of evaluations are already in use for people in careers in which guns are part of the job description. Law enforcement, military, private security contractors, prison guard, and a number of other professions require both psych evaluations and training before anyone is hired and handed a gun.

Requiring individuals who want to purchase (or already own) a gun to have a psychological evaluation probability would produce test results that would look like this;

* The individual would be sexually insecure. With men a lot would have to do with size. The smaller the individual, ( I'll leave this to your interpretation) the bigger the gun. A clear sign of this personality type would be someone driving a Hummer with gun racks  holding a couple of assault weapons and a nut sack on the trailer hitch.

* The individual is highly anxious, hyper vigilant, and, in severe cases, paranoid. These individuals never got over the fear of the childhood "boogeyman" their parents scared them with and "perceive" that their is a threat out there they need to protect themselves from. A clear sign of these symptoms would be someone who feels threatened by someone playing loud music in the car parked next to them.

These symptoms would apply to the average person which most of us would not consider dangerous. Many of them go into careers like law enforcement, the military, or join the CIA where they can safely express these characteristics because, in many situations they would be appropriate responses. Owning a gun is part of the job description which comes with training and education on how, and under what circumstances, it should be used. That is, situations that present a real threat It only becomes a problem if it carries over into someone's personal lives where they may "perceive" a threat and are unable to discern between reality and imagination. The majority of domestic violence occurs as a result of these dynamics 

The next two categories are a different story;

* First there are the individuals with sociopathic characteristics. They are usually obsessed with power and control and have no sense of guilt or remorse when it comes to manipulating and exploiting others in their self interest. These are the folks that can read others like a book and play them like a fiddle. They tell you what you want to hear and will change their opinions without hesitation to get what they want. The "etch-a-sketch"  analogy fits these individuals perfectly. These individuals thrive in a capitalistic, profit driven society such as our, and are often idealized and held in high regard; even by those they exploit. That's how slick sociopaths can become with practice.

* Then there's those individuals who we label "psychopaths" and are often described as "evil" or, in the most severe of cases, the Devil. These individuals are usually sociopaths at the start and, for reasons we still have a difficult time explaining, they transform themselves into monsters that defy rational explanations of the horrific acts they commit. Some say its a result of childhood trauma, or other extreme experiences that  these individuals experienced at some point. These individuals are clearly devoid of feelings as we know them. When these individuals commit violent horrible acts there is no guilt or remorse, and in many cases, the true psychopath experiences euphoria or erotic pleasure.

The obvious benefit of requiring psychological evaluations for those who want to carry and use a gun is that there is a high probability that those who fit the profile in the last category would be quickly weeded out and possibly be placed on a "big brother" watch list much like the ones we use for terrorists who want to fly. Some would say that this would be a violation of "human rights" , but then, what about the  victims, who because of societies failure to protect them, not only lost their "rights but their lives."?

Saturday, December 22, 2012


There are more than 875 million firearms in the world, 75 per cent of them in the hands of civilians. Guns outnumber passenger vehicles by 253 million, or 29 per cent. Each year about eight million new small arms, plus 10 to 15 billion rounds of ammunition are manufactured — enough bullets to shoot every person in the world not once, but twice. The authorized international trade in small arms and ammunition exceeds US$7.1 billion each year.


Number of Privately Owned Firearms

The estimated total number of guns held by civilians in the United States is 

Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population

The rate of private gun ownership in the United States is 88.8 firearms per 100 people

Number of Privately Owned Firearms - World Ranking

In a comparison of the number of privately owned guns in 178 countries, the United States ranked at No. 1

Rate of Privately Owned Firearms per 100 Population - World Ranking

In a comparison of the rate of private gun ownership in 179 countries, the United States ranked at No. 1

READ MORE; Global Impact of Gun Violence

Disbelief after NRA calls for armed guards at every school, blames movies


This NRA spokes-idiot needs to lay off the booze and stop watching Glenn Beck and FOX.

One thing he is right about is that ther are a lot of "bad guys" with guns. BUT, the reason is that they are able to buy guns as easily as buying a hot dog at a 7/11.

This guy is either nuts, owns a lot of stock in gun companies, or is pimping for the neo-cons and gun lobyists.


Here are todays numbers;

Number of Privately Owned Firearms

The estimated total number of guns held by civilians in the United States is 270,000,0001

Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population

The rate of private gun ownership in the United States is 88.82 firearms per 100 people

Number of Privately Owned Firearms - World Ranking

In a comparison of the number of privately owned guns in 178 countries, the United States ranked at No. 11

Rate of Privately Owned Firearms per 100 Population - World Ranking

In a comparison of the rate of private gun ownership in 179 countries, the United States ranked at No. 1

Disbelief in some quarters after NRA calls for armed guards at every school, blames movies

Friday, December 21, 2012


 No! It's not what you think. It's not the impoverished folks on welfare who get food stamps that total $4.00 a day to subsist on that should be ashamed for trying to survive in the richest, most powerful country in the world.

The true welfare recipients in America are the states; mostly red states, and mostly in the south. Ironically these are the states who's voters scream and hollar about the "evil"  BIG BAD federal government and that recoil in anger when hearing the nasty "T" word (taxes). These are the very same states that are sucking on Uncle Sam's teat; taking more money from the Federal government than they put in to it's coffers. These are the very same states who's governors are refusing to implement some of Obamacare's provisions while at the same time  having no hesitation to allow the Federal Government in to their borders to administer Obamacare to their residents.  That, folks, is nothing more than pure unadulterated welfare. These are the very same states that want to secede from the Union while at the very same time are dependent on it to survive; sort of like biting the teat that feeds you.

Still the rest of the American population sits passively by allowing themselves to be exploited, intimidated, and down right ripped off out of some distorted sense of loyalty or patriotism. There is nothing more unpatriotic than threatening to secede from the country we claim we love. There is nothing more unpatriotic than to hide and dodge from paying a fair share of taxes to the government we obviously depend on and demand services from. There is nothing more unpatriotic than demanding we be allowed to roam the streets of America with loaded military-style assault weapons slaughtering innocent people by manipulating the  2nd Amendment to justify it.

America seems to not only have lost it's way, but also it's mind. Common sense has flown out the window and crazy-making has become the norm. Corporations are "people." Climate change is a hoax. Our president is a foreign born Muslim. FOX news is fair and balanced. The world ended on the 21st of this month. CHRISTmas is not about Christ. Embryos are card carrying members of the republican party and have all the rights we have with the exception of those human beings we slaughter in our misguided senseless wars and prison execution chambers. We can't tax the rich because they are "job creators" UH? Being a Christian is all about building "mega" palaces we call churches and singing and preaching the word of God but not practicing what it teaches. Holidays are celebrated; not by commemorating an event or person, but by going on a shopping frenzy and gorging ourselves on food and booze. Our most popular forms of entertainment are loaded with violence and the more the blood letting the more popular it is. It was said that "religion is the opiate of the people" and we can now add violence to that quotation.

What next? Have Americans no shame? How far down must we as a country go before we say "enough is enough"?  Are Americans willing to do what it takes to change? The New Year is a few weeks away and the "resolutions" will be flying all over the place. The list consists of things like losing weight, being better parents, saving more money, and let's not forget, "world peace" and the other meaningless accolades we indulge ourselves in.  Instead of trying to make ourselves feel better by mouthing all the politically correct "one liners"  maybe we should actually resolve to change the way we live in, and govern, this great country of ours. Let's actually do something in the name of freedom, equality and justice, Oh, and the pursuit of happiness for ALL of us which includes the 47% Mitt and his Republican colleagues have written off. Let's be true to America.

Johann Wagener 12-21-12
The Bloviator
Hot Air Gazette
Look in the Mirror


We can draw sharp some comparisons to what is going on in politics today with those in Maria Antoinette s time. It seems that a small group of aristocrats who see themselves as "entitled" have been successful in conning (or buying) another small group of illiterate flag wavers to take up the cause of protecting the rich at the cost of everyone else with complete disregard of our country welfare or it's Constitution.

Signs pointing to this are everywhere. Corporations have been transformed in to people. The poor need to do without healthcare, shelter, and food in order to preserve wealth being hoarded by the privileged class.

Mr. Boner (s), also sometimes referred to as "tan man" sees nothing wrong with cutting healthcare, education, and food stamps while at the same asking that we revoke cutting military spending on a gargantuan military complex that defies logic.  Buying new uniforms for the generals chauffeurs supersedes providing food for our undernourished children? Does it make sense to continue wasting money on an arsenal larger than all of the worlds countries combined and capable of destroying the planet 1,000 times over rather than  providing healthcare, education and shelter to our citizens?

Why would anyone elect and trust misguided (or possibly corrupted) person who doesn't even realize that a tan in the middle of winter is not only silly but a complete waste of his taxpayer funded salary be entrusted to make decisions regarding the welfare of our nation? Why would anyone vote into office people gullible enough to buy into the "trickle down" wealth structure by conning them into believing they are part of the "soon to haves" if they play along? What happened to plain and simple common sense. Do the inmates actually have the keys to the asylum?

The time to put and end to this madness is long overdue! Our forefathers fought a war of Independence to free themselves from this very same plutocratic system only to now find alive and well right here, right now.

President Obama, in reference to the massacre at Newtown, said it is we must change in order to get off this path of complete and total self-destruction. In the few short years we turned power over to the Republicans they were able to successfully throw this country in near bankruptcy while at the same time bankrolling two useless and senseless "trillion dollar" wars by keeping them "off the books." This was then dumped into President Obama's lap and the very same people who created the problem are now hell bent on stopping him from solving it.

The mere fact that we still have a country is a miracle given what the President sound minded leaders from both parties have been tasked with.

Now that the Mayan doomsday date has passed we can get back to reality and "change" the course our nation has been on. Let's support leaders like Obama in their efforts to put this country back on track so that democracy can again be seen as the "American Dream" rather than living our lives in a plutocratic "American Nightmare".

Johann Wagener 12-21-12
The Bloviator
Hot Air Gazette
Look in the Mirror

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Peeing while standing? How medieval of you

Taiwan is the latest country to publicly encourage men to sit while urinating. Is the “genderless toilet” good news for the state of manhood?



General David Petraeus maintained a close working relationship with Kimberly Kagan, head of the Institute for the Study of War, and her husband over the course of many months in Afghanistan. The couple advised the general on classified matters, bringing into question their access and mandate. The Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran looks at their unusual arrangement.



American Gun Deaths to Exceed Traffic Fatalities by 2015



Stories of the Elderly Remind Us of the Pain of Cutting Social Security Payments

Altering the formula for Social Security payouts is not innocuous, it will have grave human costs.



Anyone in this country can buy and own an automobile.  They are free to purchase as many as they want without any restrictions, BUT -------If we want to drive an automobile on our streets we must first demonstrate that we are qualified to be afforded  the "privilege" to drive.  Driving on US highways is not a right but a privilege. Our freedom to drive is conditional. To obtain a drivers license we must verify who we are, where we live, our age, have our eyesight tested,(and sometimes even a physical exam)  and pass both a written and driving test to demonstrate we are physically and mentally capable to drive on the streets of America.

Once we pass these requirements we  are issued a license that comes with an agreement to adhere to a long list of rules pertaining to how, when, and where we can drive. Most states also require insurance to protect others and their property in the event we are found responsible for causing an accident. The sanctions for violating the rules range from a fine to incarceration and a few others in between. Violation of the rules can result in our  "privilege" to drive being revoked or suspended.

Even with all these controls and restrictions there are still traffic accidents and related deaths usually a result of DUI's or ROAD RAGE, or nowadays, TEXTING WHILE DRIVING (TWD). There are still people who drive without a license with no regard for the rules.

So, why impose controls on driving? The obvious answer is to protect the population. The same answer applies to shooting guns. There is nothing in the Constitution that protects our right to endanger public safety. The second amendment conveys our right to bear arms, but not the right to kill.

So why do Americans have such a hard time getting their heads around the notion that, in order to protect our citizens we need to control gun use in this country.

This would not impose any restrictions on our 2nd Amendment right to "own" guns. Just as with owning an automobile we would be free to buy all the guns we want. BUT......, as with obtaining the "privilege" to drive  an automobile we would require Americans to meet the requirements to obtain the "privilege" to use guns. As with obtaining a drivers license, this would require providing information about ourselves, and demonstrating our ability to use a gun. As with a drivers license, a shooting licenses would vary to conform with a level of proficiency in the use of different types of guns (e.g. requirements for a license to drive an 18 wheeler tractor trailer truck significantly differs from a license to drive the family car). For example, a license to use as handgun would not qualify someone to use a semi-automatic assault rifle.

So, why do we need a license to drive, but not a license to fire a gun?  Is driving a car more dangerous that shooting a gun?

In making your decision consider the following;

And the murder figures themselves are astounding for Brits used to around 550 murders per year. In 2011 - the latest year for which detailed statistics are available - there were 12,664 murders in the US. Of those,8,583 were caused by firearms.
The FBI crime statistics are based on reports to FBI bureau and local law enforcement. The figures are not complete - there are no stats for Florida or Alabama on firearm murders. But even so it provides a detailed picture of attacks by state.

Knives or cutting instruments
Personal weapons
Blunt objects

These numbers debunk the NRA's  and gun lovers assertion that guns are no worse than other weapons. The reality is there are no other mass killings attributed to all the other weapons on this chart combined. So, let's stop playing with people's lives in the name of personal freedoms and recognize that some freedoms need to be seen as "privileges" that can be awarded or revoked based on rational controls aimed at protecting the citizens of this country.  That's not a violation of anyone's rights. It's just plain common sense.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012





Right-Wing Teacher-Arming Hysteria Grows

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is the latest to hop on the bandwagon, saying it's a "discussion that ought to be had."

McDonnell joins a number of state legislators and gun rights advocates who have  proposed arming teachers as a way to prevent school shootings like the one in Newtown.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012


The definition for mental 'health" is based on an assumption that, in the absence of what has been diagnosed as 'unhealthy" what remains is a mentally healthy personality. We then measure these behaviors across the population and find the "mean" showing that a majority exhibits this behavior. We call this the "norm' and those that fall in the range as "normal."

Another way of looking at this is to say that there really is no definition of mental health. As a consequence our mental health system is forced to focus on intervention rather than prevention. There is no effective way to identify unhealthy behavior unless they have been diagnosed are documented in literature like the DSM which is considered the mental health's system bible.

The fatal flaw in this approach is that the DSM, much like the Bible, continues to be revised. One example of this is homosexuality which was once diagnosed as a disorder and later removed from the DSM and is now considered healthy behavior. Why? Well, homosexual behavior is now seen as "normal" behavior in our society by a majority of the population. Even the Bible is being revised to conform with the norm.

Looking at this flawed approach in a different context take our view of homicide which is defined as;  1. The killing of one person by another. 2. A person who kills another person. If the act is premeditated (planned in advance) it is considered sociopathic  behavior deserving a more severe punishment; execution which is another way of saying legal homicide because the very same definition applies. 1. The killing of one person by another. 2. A person who kills another person. Why is one act of homicide consider a mental disorder while the other is looked at as completely normal? The only difference is that the latter act is accepted by the majority of society as "normal" behavior.

Mental health is relative to time, place, and situation. What the Romans did to Christians was considered normal and healthy behavior whereas today it would be considered abhorrent, vile, disgusting, sick, psycho, crazy behavior (at least I would hope so).

If we accept that mental health is defined by what the majority of the population considers to be normal (healthy) behavior then we are on a very slippery slope these days. An example of this are the "stand your ground" laws passed in several states. If the norm is that you can kill someone if you "perceive" a threat then the killing of a teenager for playing his car radio too loud be considered "healthy' behavior. If we believe that a soccer mom from Newtown Connecticut should be allowed to own military grade weapons if they "perceive' a threat then tragedies like the Newtown massacre will sooner or later become common place.

By shutting down our public mental health system over the last 3 decades we have in essence given the keys to the asylum to the inmates and there seems to be a large enough number of them to turn our country into a large graveyard.


huckabee asks - where was God?

Mike's simple understanding of God leaves a lot to be desired. If God endowed humans with the ability to choose between good and evil why would he then interfere with our decisions? 

Let's not blame God for our bad decisions. We created a society that glorifies violence and then wonder why violence occurs?

We want freedom to choose but want everyone to choose as we do. 

We reap what we sow. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words


Napalm Girl In the picture, the girl will always be 9 years old and wailing "Too hot! Too hot!" as she runs down the road away from her burning Vietnamese village. She will always be naked after blobs of sticky napalm melted through her clothes and layers of skin like jellied lava. 

One look at this horrific photo was all it took to wake the conciseness of the American people to what our war in Vietnam really looked like. 
read complete story here;

President Obama, in his well thought out speech about the Newtown massacre, uttered the following words; 

"I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer’s no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change." 

read more here;

So, how do we go about doing that? The President left this question up to us to answer and so I gave it some thought. The first image that popped into my mind was the photo of the  Napalm Girl" Even after 40 years the image of that young girl was seared into my memories. And, of more importance, it significantly changed my views and feelings about the Vietnam war. This one picture transformed me from a "flag waving, don't tread on me" John Wayne fan into a very upset father of 3 young children who I could imagine being in that picture. 

Neo-cons were paying attention that day and quickly went about looking for ways to shield the American public from the realities of war. This could not have been more evident that during the Bush years when Americans were forbidden to even see the flagged draped coffins  of our mutilated and dismembered  that we refer to as our "national treasure" (rather than corpse of someone's son or father or nowadays sister or mother) returning from a far off land in body bags. 

I asked myself, what if we saw photos of these young souls being picked up off the battle field. Sometimes no more than a few body parts that without DNA tests we would not even know their names.  I wonder if these photos had been flashed across Americans TV screens if these senseless wars would have began, let alone go on for decades. Instead of seeing the corpses we are shown pictures of these rosy cheeked youngsters all decked out in their sharp uniforms, grinning from ear to ear, and looking so proud to be an American. Those are the images of war those in power want us to see because they know full well what might happen if we saw images of the results of war. 

I believe that maybe the same strategy is used by those in power who are heavily invested in promoting (and profiting) from our culture of violence. God forbid we should see photos of the crime scene in Newtown. Classrooms floors stained with the blood of innocent children and their teachers. Or seeing photos hundreds of shell casing that spewed from a combat type assault weapon littering these classrooms and signifying the remnants of the high powered slugs that ripped the bodies of these young children apart; some being hit with as many as 11 rounds. Let's not forget that this weapon of mass destruction was legally purchased by a "soccer mom" in a town that was once heralded as "one of the safest cities in America." 

My question is; Rather than reminiscing and memorializing about the victims of these horrific massacres by showing photos of their once smiling innocent faces, how would Americans react and respond if they were able to see the photos of this crime scene flashed across their TV screens? How would Americans (especially those who are parents) react and respond if photos of the bullet riddled lifeless corpses of these young children were flashed across their TV screens and printed in their local newspaper?  How would Americans react and respond after seeing these horrific images in reassuring their children that they are safe, they have nothing to fear, this is an isolated and rare event. Really? 

Would Americans feel the same about Video Games rated as "first person shooter"? Would that term take on a different meaning if Americans saw what happens when what we "entertain" ourselves with plays out in the real world. Where you can't reboot and everyone comes back to life and you can kill again, and again, and again. 

I believe that seeing pictures of the Newtown Massacre and those that preceded it would prompt many Americans to scream for change; even those who loudly protest for their rights to bear arms. As in describing the scene in the photo of 40 years ago, a caption of this massacre could eerily read this;

"In these pictures, the girls and boys will always be 5 and 6 years old, and wailing "It hurts! - It hurts!" as they run to find a safe place They will always be disfigured and lifeless after hundreds of lead slugs ripped through their tearing apart their organs." 

To not remember the images that this caption creates in our consciousness is simply insane. Lest we forget that the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results."



The problem is not that we have too many guns. That's only a symptom of a much bigger problem; our obsession with violence. Violence permeates almost every aspect of our lives.

If you doubt this just look and listen to what goes on around you. The TV wasteland is inundated with violence,  movie theaters are packed with people getting off on violence, (let's not forget that the Dark Knight was screening on the night of the movie theater massacre), one of Americas favorite and most watched violence filled event is football, followed by soccer, hockey, cage fighting, wrestling, boxing. And let's not forget the Micheal Vicks who recruit "man's best friend" to kill each other.

Our school playgrounds are breeding grounds for violence. We suit up our kids, throw them into stadiums and train them to pummel each other, and worse yet, cheer them on. Just in case they miss out on those events we shower them with video games chock full of violence. One of the best clues we have as to why massacres like the one this week occur (the most popular genre in Xbox video games fall into the "first person shooter" category") Sales are in the billions. Could there be a "cause and effect" ?

Violence in America is celebrated, glorified and in the most extreme cases, worshiped. The bigger, the meaner and the more lethal they are, the more we celebrate them and put them on pedestals. We waste vast amounts of our resources building and maintaining a military and arsenal large enough to destroy this planet hundred times over. We continue to refine the killing machines so that now someone can sit in front of a monitor with a joystick in hand and massacre people with as much indifference as one would have playing a video game much like the one's are children are raised on. . Except now the killing is real. And there are those who say that's not enough.

It's mind boggling to think that intelligent, rational minded human beings would not  figure out (or at least suspect) that there might be some connection between what happened in Newtown or Colombine and the "culture of violence" we live in.

The NRA and gun advocates are correct in pointing out that "guns don't kill people" BUT they fail to point out that people with guns do kill people; and lot's of them. And it logicaly follows that the more guns they have access to, the more ammo they can load into them does causes more violence. One lone individual can massacre dozens of people in a matter of seconds by simply squeezing the trigger of a semi-automatic assault rifle. How does this fact get lost on all the rhetoric about "why" something like the Newtown massacre occurs.

President Obama could not have said it better when he said "things have to change." That is. if we want to save ourselves and our children from a fate that is becoming more and more common place. As the saying goes; "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Think about it.

Johann Wagener  12-17-12

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Human beings have an uncanny ability to distort reality to shape it into what they want it to be. We call it denial. It's an ability developed in childhood using fairy tales and other mythical/fictional stories to bring characters like Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny to life; at least in our imaginations. As kids we actually believe that these characters are real and this is reinforced with tricks like dressing dad up as Santa Clause. There comes a time, however, when our parents sit us down and begin to explain what's real and what's fantasy. At least they used to and I would like to think they still do. .

We now live in the age of "virtual reality"  in which we can create worlds of fantasy that in many instances are perceived to be real. The marketeers and money men are skilled at creating these fantasy worlds and tailoring them to appeal to the basest of our primal needs. Even though Freud was able to discern the "Neanderthal" (the Id) from the "Sapiens" (the Ego) and even throw in Societal Control (the Super Ego) it does not mean that we are still not driven by all three of these forces.

When sports commentator  Bob Costas pointed out in his comments how our "culture of violence" might correlate with football and the murder-suicide of one of its own the hate mail and death threats poured in to his mailbox.  Just as in the fairy tale where the child yells, the Emperor has no clothes"  the crowds went wild because it exposes the primitive side of our personalities that we so desperately try to deny. We, after all, like to kid ourselves into believing that we have evolved from the Roman times when football was played with human heads and cheered on by craved crowds packed into stadiums. When asked, what's the difference? When Costas pointed out it's still a "culture of violence" the fans went into a frenzy because he gently tapped on the wall of denial.  How dare he speak of violence during half time at a football game?

Why the strong reaction to a very real description of our "culture of violence?" Because it threatens to dispell our "fantasy world" where "magical thinking" dominates and where we can transform reality into whatever pleases and entertains us. It's gotten so bad that there are many of us who actually believe that "reality TV" is real and simply choose to ignore that there is a script and someone is editing these shows. Much like children do with Santa Clause.

We like to believe that the violence in video games like Grand Theft Auto in which one can rip the limbs off people, riddle them with bullets or blow up their blood gushing corpses is simply a form "entertainment." Yet millions are spent creating a "virtual reality" that defies being anything but real and which one can't be distinguished from the other. The one exception which is conveniently left out of the marketing is that. they  don't tell you that you can bring everyone back to life by just "rebooting" the game whereas there is no "reboot" in real life.

When reality does force our attention, like in the recent elementary school massacre, we react in disbelief. When we are jolted back into the real world we find ourselves at a loss of words to explain how (or why) a school teacher and soccer mom from "Hometown USA'" (which ironically was once named one of the safest cities in America) would have an arsenal suited for a combat soldier in Afghanistan and who raised a child that would be capable of indiscriminately slaughtering 5 to 10 year children and adults in one felt swoop. Some described it as "surreal" trying hard to stay safely behind the wall of denial they live in.

How can something like this happen we naively ask?  Our reaction is disbelief followed by desperate attempts to make it all go away. The media, the mental health professionals, the law enforcement agencies and yes, even the families and friends of the victims desperately try to deny that the American Dream has transformed into an "American Nightmare." The cameras quickly shift to family photos of the children, the candles and flowers adorning memorials, appeals to God for strength, and the condolences of celebrities filling the 24/7 news cycle.  There is a frantic attempt to conjure up theories to explain the whys and hows as to the cause of a tragedy such as this all in a desperate effort to protect ourselves from reality and to stay safely hidden in our state of denial.

Our mental health professionals (and I use the term loosely) tell us that if the whole truth be told we wouldn't be able to handle it. This could be nothing further from the truth. God forbid we should see the crime scene photos of the bullet ridden bodies of the children, the blood stained classroom floors, or the screaming, crying, anguish of the parents. That's too real for adults to handle folks, let alone even thinking about describing and showing what really happened to the surviving children.  Searing the images of these horrific crimes into our psyches might possibly motivate us to do something about the "culture of violence" we live in. What effect would that have on our economy and society? First off, it might bring us back to reality, drop the curtain of denial and, in doing so, give our children an opportunity to experience life in the real world. It might motivate them to change (rather than deny) things and make our world a real and  better place to live, which is something this generation has miserable failed at.

Johann Wagener 12-16-12


Investigators have linked Ms. Lanza to five weapons: two powerful handguns, two traditional hunting rifles and a semiautomatic rifle that is similar to weapons used by troops in Afghanistan. Her son took the two handguns and the semiautomatic rifle to the school. Law enforcement officials said they believed the guns were acquired legally and were registered.


Adam Lanza’s Mother Was a Gun Enthusiast, Friends Say

Can't be done with a knife, bat, or other weapon.

The gunman in the Connecticut shooting blasted his way into the elementary school and then sprayed the children with bullets, first from a distance and then at close range, hitting some of them as many as 11 times, as he fired a semiautomatic rifle loaded with ammunition designed for maximum damage, officials said Saturday.

read more;

Children in Connecticut School Were All Shot Multiple Times

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Does my mom need an assault rifle to protect herself in Hometown USA? Maybe if she lived in Bagdad or Beruit but in Conneticut?

This is the kind of insanity created by avid gun nuts who wave flags and scream about personal freedoms. How, why, where, when can an elementary school teacher acquire a weapon of mass destruction? Is this some kind of rites of passage for membership to the NRA?

Is it time to stop listening to all those crazies who rant about their 2nd Ammendment rights? Is this more important than the lives of our children?

Mom of suspected school shooter -- first to die -- was avid gun enthusiast, friend says


It should come as no surprise that the Fox Network is the troth that people go to to feed on violence. Here's a prime example;

The 25th season kicks off with officers responding to a domestic-disturbance call in Toledo. Also: Sacramento cops work with an animal trainer to contain a feral zebra that's running loose in the city; a disturbance call in Portland, Ore., involves a suspect chasing a man along a highway overpass.

Source: FOX

Assuming a season equals 1 year this is a quarter century of  millions of multi-generational Americans glued to their TV sets being entertained by cops and bad guys chasing and running in around Hometown, USA.  This is actually somebodies idea of "family entertainment"? Spending an evening at home with the kids witnessing cops responding to a domestic disturbance call in Toledo?

This show, and all those other "reality" (really?) shows that have followed makes up the majority of prime time viewing by a large portion of the American population.  Can their lives be so empty that they need to find ways to experience what they are duped into believing is reality?

Maybe thrashing the mental health care system in the 60's was not such a good idea after all.

read more;

Four Ways to Stop Gun Violence

Gun violence takes the lives of 30,000 Americans each year, and injures an additional 70,000, but victims' families and friends, and, indeed, all of us are touched by this ongoing national tragedy.

Four Ways to Stop Gun Violence


Gun advocates continue to herald the claim that "guns don't kill people" - "people kill people" as if the two were completely separate issues.

A simple reality check debunks this twisted logic because the reality is "people WITH guns kill people" and lot's of them!

Even a full blown psychopath would be hard pressed to massacre dozens of people within minutes using  a knife, tire iron, baseball bat, or any other weapon for that matter, with the one exception; a GUN! All it takes is a squeeze on the trigger from a safe distance to slaughter men, women, and yes, children in the blink of an eye.

Our esteemed Supreme Court will waste time arguing about crazy making issues and make even crazier rulings on them (e.g. corporations are people) while completely ignoring truly life threatening issues like gun control.

For those who absolutely insist on owning a gun we can give them an option of one gun, one bullet and the right to use it on themselves. And, as the NRA's horn blower (the late Charleston Heston) was quoted as saying, we can then pry it from their "cold dead hands."


Common sense dictates that, where there's smoke, there's fire. Yet when a massacre, like the one in which our innocents were slaughtered we react with disbelief. The 24/7 news cycle is peppered with comments like, "I can't believe this happened", 'it's surreal", "it's a peaceful middle class community once heralded as the safest city in America".

What is unbelievable is that there are millions of Americans who don't realize that we live in a culture that thrives on violence. Our insatiable lust for blood plays itself out in almost every aspect of our lives. Just like the old day of Rome we fill arenas, stadiums; or huddle around our flat screen 3-D TV's screaming and cheering watching a bunch of overgrown baboons bludgeoning themselves senseless, thrown in cages or rings, or running up and down fields chasing balls.

There are those of us; probably in the millions, who actually believe that "reality TV" is actually real. Or that our President was born in Kenya. Or everyone should carry a gun so as to be able to "stand their ground" and kill if they "believe" they are being threatened, let's say by a car radio being played too loud? Or that "corporations are people" and this one comes out of the mouths of those we hold in highest esteem for their wisdom and guidance.

What's even more unbelievable is that we take kids no older than those massacred yesterday and throw them on fields to teach them early on how to pummel each other and knock each other senseless in the guise of having fun or playing sports. Or we  load them up with "video games" that depict the worse of the worse when it comes to violence, not realizing we are spawning another generation of gladiators. But, hey, it's not real we say. We (and the kids) know the difference. Are you sure about that? People actually believe that "guns don't kill people" excuse me? Or it's our inalienable right to carry semi-automatic assault weapons. After all, who knows, the British or the Indians may attack any time now.

In the age of "technology" where "virtual reality" is a gigantic money-making commodity and the line between what's real and not real has been blurred to the point where many of us can't distinguish one from the other. How can I say that? Well, all I need to do is turn on a TV and watch FOX news or read a newspaper to see where the problem lies, and I ask myself, what happened to common sense?

Johann Wagener 12-15-12

Friday, December 14, 2012

Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking

For a civilisation so fixated on achieving happiness, we seem remarkably incompetent at the task. Self-help books don’t seem to work. Few of the many advantages of modern life seem capable of lifting our collective mood. Wealth – even if you can get it – doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness. Romance, family life and work often seem to bring as much stress as joy. We can’t even agree on what ‘happiness’ means. So are we engaged in a futile pursuit? Or are we just going about it in exactly the wrong way? What if it’s our constant efforts to feel happy that are making us miserable?

Oliver Burkeman | Journalist and Author | Books

Screw Positive Thinking! Why Our Quest for Happiness Is Making Us Miserable

Screw Positive Thinking! Why Our Quest for Happiness Is Making Us Miserable

A new book by Oliver Burkeman paints an alternative path to happiness that has nothing to do with positive thinking.

Screw Positive Thinking! Why Our Quest for Happiness Is Making Us Miserable

5 Enemies of a Decent Middle Class Existence in the US

Conservatives and the wealthy have taught too many Americans to hate their own govt, and not the parasite industries destroying the middle class.

5 Enemies of a Decent Middle Class Existence in the US


The "gun lust" in this country is reaching epidemic proportions and all we do is sit back, watch it on TV and talk about how sad and tragic it is to see innocents gunned down in our streets, malls, and schools.

We continue to buy into the crap the NRA spews about it's our God given right to "tote" and how dare anyone challenge that. It's as if we still live in the Wild West when "carrying"  and "standing your ground" was a matter of survival. Rather than evolve we are devolving into a society void of common sense and believe we should be free to act out any way we want, when we want, and how we want. We seem to forget that there are those among us who take this un-tethered freedom to it's extremes including the annihilation of our friends, families, and countless faceless and nameless others.

How many of these atrocities need to occur before we take a stand, draw a line, and say enough is enough?