RJ's Corner

Virginia shooting proves Americans aren’t numb to tragedy..

2015-08-28_07-41-21For decades, members of the news media have struggled to determine whether a gruesome photograph or video crosses the line from newsworthy to something so disturbing that it is potentially harmful.

Source: Virginia shooting proves Americans aren’t numb to tragedy — we just have a higher tolerance for it – Yahoo News

QE BannerSadly we seem to get a weekly dose of tragedy of gun violence in this country.   The stats show that we kill each other with our guns more than terrorists kill others in the world.  Are guns the sole cause of al this?  Of course not but in the vast majority of cases they, due to their easy availability,  are the means to accomplish the end.  Yes, I’m sure that most of these shooters have some sort of mental disorder that spurns them to their acts of violence. But then again one persons mental disorder is another person’s way of life.  I don’t think, for instance, that anyone in the KKK or similar groups are without some sort of mental disorder.  But this is not what the post is about.

The short clip above shows that while we may be immune to all the violence we have some sort of standard about displaying it on our media.  I don’t know but I kind of think we should show it all. Until we see personally the gruesomeness of gun violence it does not come fully home to us. Being a history buff I know that the Civil War pictures of battlefield death helped shorten that bloody conflict. The shock of seeing thousands of bodies strewn on a farm field brought the war home to the citizens living rooms. We need to get that same shock in this battle against gun violence.

During the Reagan years it become quite the thing for States to shut down their mental health institutions. It was a way to save money and to reduce the “government that is the problem” syndrome that many had and still have.  As a result there are now thousands, probably millions, of people with severe mental disabilities homeless on our streets or languishing with their problems  huddled in their homes.  I have personally known one guy who was convinced that the “bad guys” were right outside his house trying to get in. To counter that he had a loaded gun in every room of his house and many more in a cabinet (unlocked) in his basement.  He was paranoid about someone attacking him.  The sad thing about it was that he was briefly married to my sister and had my young nephew in the house.  We need to make it easier for families to bring mentally unstable members for treatment.

The gruesomeness of gun violence will never become reality until we are exposed to the aftereffects. Let’s put all the gory pictures out there. Lets finish this post with a very thought provoking figure from Steve Breen.


Like a Death Wish… I Can Only Hope….

2015-08-20_08-13-55Last week, Jeb Bush told an audience in California, “It is strength, and will, and clarity of purpose that make all the difference.” This is the Tinker Bell school of foreign policy that has spread over most of the Republican presidential field. Clap if you believe in a stable Middle East where Syria is rid of ISIS, Al Nusra, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and any Iranian influence. Clap if you believe Iraq will be safe for religious minorities and free of undue Iranian influence, too…..

As an electoral strategy, it is absolutely nuts that Republicans would preemptively tell the American people, “Elect me and I’ll put American troops back on the ground in Iraq.” And then add, “And Syria, too, and with allies TBD, and final victors TBD.” This seems like a 2016 death wish. Not just for Republican electoral ambitions, but for American troops, American prestige, and American power.

SOURCE: The GOP presidential field’s dangerous fantasy on Iraq and Syria.

QE BannerI want to do a “what if” here.

  • What if America’s energy was totally devoid of fossil fuels?
  • What if we have grown into other means instead of the 100+ year old technology?
  • Would that make a difference in our opinions of the Middle Eastern part of the world?
  • Would we be so concerned that one muslim group was trying to take control over another muslim group?

I pretty sure the answer to these questions would be that these conflicts would not even be on our radar screen.  One religious sect trying to dominate another is nothing new in the world. It has been happening constantly since the age of Constantine when a Roman King assured the dominance of one particular brand of Christianity over the myriad of others that were present at the time. It has been going on since Muslims and Christians were fighting each other for  two hundred years. It has been going on since the Inquisition, the Protestant/Catholic battles in Northern Ireland.

Let’s face it we as humanity just have little patience for versions of God different from our own.  The Middle East is just the latest battles to be fought in a long history of battles. I am convinced that if we had not become involved by invading Iraq and getting ourselves so entwined in this matter that terrorism would not be so prevalent in our world today.

Maybe instead of putting trillions of bucks into our world’s latest religious battles we should be putting them into developing twenty-first century  energy resources. I’m sure with all the money and young lives we have wasted in this futile attempt we could dust off our sandals and leave that part of the world to their own demise..

We don’t need to be the policemen of the world…

Use of Deadly Force….

But the chief said he ultimately decided Miller’s mistakes required his firing. While he said he had “serious concerns” about Miller’s use of deadly force, Johnson said it would be up to a grand jury to decide whether Miller’s actions were criminal.

Source: Police Chief Fires Officer Who Shot and Killed Unarmed Texas Football Player | TIME.

I’m not going to talk much about the story cited above but instead I will be talking about the “Use of Deadly Force”.  For the most part this is probably an American thing. I’m sure that we are number one in the world of unarmed citizens being killed by police.  Our obsession with guns in American culture also contributes greatly to this phenomenon.  Besides the loss life, which is tragic, the loss respect and even down right fear of a policeman is very worrisome.

2015-07-31_07-04-42To me, but what do I know, the basic problem seems to be that one of the endemic characteristics of some who join police forces is a power trip. They want to be the top alpha dog who is feared for their power.  They have the gun and can most often, at least in the past, can use it against you whenever they “feel threatened” which seems to be often for far too many.

I need to stop here and say as loudly as I can that no not all policemen fit this description.  I’m sure the vast majority of them are loving and caring folks who do indeed want to “protect and serve”. If I believe some of the stories I hear very few of them use their deadly weapons in their careers.  I personally know one retired police officer who is the kindest and gentlest person I know.

The problem  is that we seem to do a very miserable job of culling out those extreme alpha males from the ranks of the wanna-be police officers.  And when they do join the forces they are fiercely protected even when they misuse their power and kill innocent people.  The “thin blue line” that says we protect one of our own at all costs is a mistake.  One indication of this is the total disdain that most officers apparently have for their internal affairs divisions. Why, if you believe all the cop shows out there, are those who police the police so despised? If they hate those who police them then why should they be surprised that so many of us don’t hold them in respect?




Cruel and Unusual….

2015-08-08_07-54-19(CENTENNIAL, Colo.)—Colorado theater shooter James Holmes will be sentenced to life in prison without parole after a jury failed to agree Friday on whether he should get the death penalty for his murderous attack on a packed movie premiere.

Source: Jury Sentences Aurora Movie Theater Shooter to Life in Prison | TIME.

QE BannerThe Colorado theatre incident seems like a long ago memory now that so many others have happened. But it is nice to see that James Holmes finally was held accountable for his deeds. I know there are probably a lot of you who say he should have been killed but I leave that up to God. It is not for us to decide.  I am pro-life in all its forms.

I am also one who believes that we should all be held accountable for our actions. I’m sure that mental illness played a part in what this guy did but according to the findings he knew what he was doing was wrong so he bears the responsibility of being accountable.  He figuratively will never see the light of day outside his prison cell. “Figuratively” leads on to the next topic of discussion here.

Our justice system says we cannot treat people in a “cruel and unusual” manner but I kind of think that should be measured against the circumstances. Is it cruel and unusual for a person who thoughtlessly killed dozens of people to be totally isolated from others around him?  I can understand all those death penalty advocates wanting him to suffer as his victims suffered but doesn’t death end all suffering? Life in prison without any contact with others and without modern conveniences seems an appropriate way to make a person suffer.

This post is out of character for me I guess but it is how I feel about  this topic….

And It Begins…A China Power Play….


In quick succession, the U.K., France, Italy, and Germany all agreed to become founding shareholders of the AIIB, a sign that they are eager to cozy up to Beijing and its $4 trillion in foreign reserves. Once upon a time, “the world was said to bow down before the mighty dollar. These days, even many of America’s closest allies have renminbi signs in their eyes.” This is an impressive “soft-power victory for China,” said the editors at Bloomberg View, and “Washington largely has itself to blame.” The U.S. has long called on China to take more of a role in international financial institutions, “without making room for it to do so.” Congress has repeatedly “blocked efforts to dilute U.S. dominance of the World Bank” or give China more influence at the IMF, where Beijing’s voting share is just 4 percent versus Washington’s 17 percent. Republicans have also shot down President Obama’s attempts to increase U.S. funding for the World Bank and IMF, said Charles Kenny at Bloomberg, leaving those institutions “undersize compared with the demands they face.” But if the Obama administration can’t persuade the GOP to put up the cash needed to underwrite development projects that will save lives and foster global growth, “it should at the very least get out of the way of other countries willing and able to lead.”

SOURCE:  China’s latest power play comes at the expense of America.

Everyone needs to learn that actions have consequences, even countries and that is what is beginning to happen to the U.S. For all of this millennium we have increasingly turned over our industrial production to China because of their lower labor costs. Too many people just focused on getting things a little cheaper and failed to look at the bigger picture.  Now, the consequences of these actions are starting to manifest themselves.

Of course we know that those actions have resulted in a severe reduction in the middle class of America. Due to constantly lower wages being earned by so many American families we have come to depend on getting our “stuff” cheaper. The second consequence is that China now has trillions of our dollars in their banks and that is resulting in them taking over the financial matters of the world. We have always been a debtor nation but never so much to just one country. Our past actions this millennium have consequences and I’m not really sure that is a bad thing.

Yes, it is fearful to see a country that is driven by a very different mentality gaining more power. Lets face it, communism is a very scary matter to capitalist nations. But if this current consequence results in our country to step back and look at what is going on with us lately maybe good will come from it. We need to realize that our very dysfunctional government is doing us grievous harm. We are ignoring things that need to be fixed because we refuse to get along together. We spend soooo much more on our military than anyone else in the world and that is draining our economy and making enemies throughout the world. We will learn that one country with less than 5% of the world’s population and, and really shouldn’t, be the policemen of the world. It is time to share that responsibility.

Maybe good things will come from us no longer being “The” political and economic power in the world….

A little humility is a good thing….

Going Out Of Business Sale….


I must admit that I do quite a bit of my shopping now on Amazon. I go to the mall on maybe a monthly basis but that is more for the exercise than for shopping.  But then again most of the shops in our college town mall are clothing stores and since my total repertoire in that area can be fitted in a two foot space in my closet there is really not much there for me.

Things are changing for all us consumers. Netflix is causing a big shift in the video market, Apple tunes and such have taken over their area and Amazon is attacking the brick-and-morter approach to sales. Things are changing lately. Even the stalwart McDonald’s seems to be going out of favor, or maybe the better word is flavor. Yeah, things are changing but isn’t that the norm?

I know that distresses many of us especially those of the conservative bent who don’t see progress as well, progress.  But looking at it from a social-economic standpoint with all this chance it is getting harder to find employment when all you have is a high school education or less.  We need to do something to get our future generations prepared for these changes…. and we need to do it soon…

It's All A Game….

2015-03-02_20-40-42I have been blogging for about eight months now over at InSearchOfAmerica. It is quite different from this one in that it is dedicated to looking at all the great things about this country that I have discovered throughout my many years. Over there I talk about what is right about America. I continue to be amazed by how great this country is in so many ways. I am now in the process of putting in somewhat detailed travelogues documenting my many trips around this great country. It is fun posting there even if my visit count is only 10% of here.

I love America and wouldn’t have wanted to be born anywhere else.  I love America but it is not perfect and that is more or less a major theme for RJsCorner. It is about trying to get a better understanding of things we do and don’t do. I know I often get somewhat critical of America when it comes to not doing things we should be doing and not learning lessons from the rest of the world where they get it right.  I have been in a hyper-reflection mode in these thoughts for most of the current year.

I have come to the conclusion lately that one of our major problems in why we can progress in some areas is that life has just become too much of a game for us. It is about winning and as Vince Lombardi said we rationalize that is the only thing that matters.  I am afraid that we are throwing the moral high ground of our founding fathers out the window in favor of winning at all costs. It’s all a game to many of us and that mentality has throughly soaked into way too many of us in the country.

If you believe in any of the hype put out by all the lawyer/police shows that permeate our airways, lawyers don’t really care that much about “justice for all”. It is about winning and that means beating the other side at all costs. So those who chose to be Republican fixate on beating those who chose to be Democrats. We rationalize that since we are the good guys they must be the bad guys. Common good is not much of a player when it comes to lawyers it seems and since the majority of our government representatives are lawyers that has polluted the entire system.  It’s all about the game…

When a leader of the opposition party does something we must do everything to defeat that idea no matter what it is or who it affects. It’s all about the game.  We as a society are just to fixated on us vs. them and the word “compromise” has as a result become a dirty word to be avoided at all costs. No one likes ties. Everything is black/white, win/lose, good guy/bad guy; there is no middle ground. It’s all “about the game…

Is it even possible to reverse this trend in order to accomplish some levels of forward progress? I simply don’t know the answer to that question right now. Maybe just recognizing the problem is, well, half the problem. There is just too much spite and hate going through the country right now. It seems to have almost snuffed out any common bonds we might have had in the past.  It greatly saddens me to see this happening. It’s all a game to too many of us. Win at all costs; beat the other guy. NO COMPROMISE!!  It’s all a game.  When will we ever come to realize that fact?

Evangelicals and the NRA

Religion LogoI think everyone knows that a significant part of the NRA are evangelical Christians. To me that association seems to be a Jekyll/Hide thing. How can you be so irrationally in favor of all guns without ANY restrictions and the resulting violence that it brings and be a follower of Jesus who was anything but a violent man?  It is hard for me to fathom that association but I have to accept that it is there.

SlipperyOne thing that Evangelicals and NRA members hold very much in common is the idea of the “slippery slope”. It is very much engrained into the basic culture of both those groups.

The slippery slope for the NRA is that “if we allow any control/regulation of guns then we will slide into a total restriction of them and then the “State” will come in and take them away from us so as to make us powerless in resisting their demands.  In my mind this is a very dark view of our country. To think that they fear our government who does the people’s business so much that they are willing to accept any number of Newton tragedies  rather than allow any regulations on how and to who guns are sold.

The evangelical slippery slope goes something like this.  If any part of the Bible is not considered absolutely true and without the possibility of error then that will cause us to fall down a slippery slope that makes all of the Bible questionable and therefore it becomes a worthless document.  I personally went through an extensive round of discussions with a clergyman who espoused this idea. He simply would not begin to accept the idea that since the Bible was written by men it was therefore open to error. He simply refused to believe that with all the scientific evidence of the history of the earth that is was more than 6,000 years old.  To him and many like him if the Bible is not 100% true then it is worthless.

The slippery slope is very much a black/white thing. There is no grey area in that concept for its believers. Either you are for guns without any restrictions whatsoever or you are for the total ban of guns. Either the Bible is absolutely true and without any possibility of error or it is a worthless document.

Black/White, Either/Or, No Middle Ground.

But I do celebrate the fact that most who call themselves Christians realize that things are not that simple. There are grey areas of the Bible like there are in all other things of human creations.  To most Christians including me the Bible is a very cherished document but we recognize that it was written by men and therefore some in it is likely just stories/myth, some of it is allegory and meant to relay a message and some of it is likely very man-made. Yes it was inspired by God but was not tossed down from heaven by him.

The slippery slope is a dangerous concept for our society and for our spiritual beliefs….

Six Lessons to Learn in U.S. Christianity….

We spent the last two posts reviewing an article entitled “The Six Worst Things About American Christianity” from  href=”http://redletterchristians.com/”>RedLetterChristians by Steven Mattson. Now that I have had a few days to digest these words I want to turn the article’s six points around to imagine them as lessons we U.S. Christians should learn. Here they are:

1) We must realize that no one has an exclusive connection with God  —  Much of what we know about early Christianity is the result of  a scribe writing down Christian stories that had been passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years and even those original manuscripts have been lost to us. What we have now are copies of copies. Men throughout the ages have been penning their interpretations of what those original messages might have been.  This almost infinite list of opinions spreads from King Constantine and his council and Augustine in the fourth century to Luther and the other reformers in the 16th century all the way down to thousands of theologians at work today.

We must realize that none of these various man-made beliefs about God are without error. They might have been inspired by God but they were without question, even to the literalist, penned by men. The best thing that could happen to U.S. Christianity is that we would finally quit our “us” vs. “them” mentality of the various opinions of Christianity. We need to go back to kindergarten and learn to play nice with others. We need a little less bravado and a lot more humility.

2) We must not confuse our dedications to Jesus’ teachings and our political affiliations. – Neither U.S. political party at its roots are Christian. They are both mainly power based organizations currently just wanting to force their worldviews on each other. The early Christians were very aware that God’s kingdom is not of this world. We need to re-learn those lessons. Don’t allow your Christianity to be hijacked for political purposes.

3) Christianity is counter-cultural — Christianity is not like the latest fad that is determined by our current cultural trends. We in the U.S. mostly live in very shallow lifestyles. The teachings of Jesus are often very counter to what we endear in this country.

4) We don’t hold a “special” status with God — We in the U.S. have got to get it out of our minds that somehow God loves us more than he does others. God has agape love for all of his creation and by definition that is an infinite amount for each of us. How can some of us have more than an infinite amount of God’s love?  We may be at least currently biggest military and industrial force in the world and therefore have more than our say in what goes on in the world but that does NOT infer special status with God.

5) Remember, we Christians are meant to “march to the beat of a different drummer”.  — Jesus clearly told us again and again “don’t cling to your stuff”.  We in the U.S. are totally obsessed with consumerism. That is clearly not where Jesus wants us to be.

6) There is no such thing as a “power-hungry” Christian. — Jesus told us to have a servant mentality, not a master; that is very different from the U.S. culture teaches us. For us Christians it should never be about control or influence but instead about loving and caring.

<<<Originally Posted on June 3, 2013 by me at RedLetterLiving.net>>>

Kingdom of Hate…

American diplomats pay lip service to human rights while tens of billions of dollars in arms are shipped to the Kingdom of Hate, where you can be executed for ‘sorcery’ or tweeting about Islam….

2015-01-21_18-59-43Intolerance is Saudi Arabia’s greatest export. The country’s highest religious authority called to burn down all churches in Arabia. Saudi textbooks call Jews the decendents of “apes and pigs.” Christians are forbidden from wearing crosses, building churches or bringing in Bibles.

How does the world react? Total surrender and utter appeasement. Diplomats pay lip service to human rights while tens of billions of dollars in arms are shipped to the Kingdom of Hate. The King is lavished with praise.

The Saudi government, meanwhile, could not get more condescending. They lie through their teeth, confident that no one will lift a finger against them. The Saudi ambassador to the UN, Walid al Muallami, told hundreds of students at New York University that his country had no repression at all and is a “land of opporutnity” for everyone. Sure, as long as you’re not gay, a woman, secular, Christian, Jewish, Shiite, liberal, dissident, atheist or a democrat.

No Saudi diplomat should be able to leave his embassy without being confronted with Badawy’s name.

One of the main excuses for supporting Saudi Arabia is that they are needed to combat Iran. Relying on one hate-mongering, xenophobic tyranny to combat another is a very bad bet. Iran is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous regimes on Earth and the free world must apply enourmous pressure against it, but backing Saudi Arabia is not the answer. Iran can be undermined without relying on the Kingdom of Hate.

SOURCE: Our Ally Saudi Arabia Beheaded 10 People This Month – The Daily Beast.

David Keyes, who is the executive director of Advancing Human Rights is the author of this article says things that many are afraid to say. Of course we all know how Saudi Arabia gets a free pass from so many of their obnoxious human rights abuses. It is the plain and simple fact that they are the number one producer of oil in the world. If they were to suddenly turn off the spigot as they most certainly can, there would be turmoil in  much of the world.

I would highly suggest to anyone who is not up on this topic to read the entire article by clicking on the source above. There surely must come a time when we will no longer send billions of dollars of our military equipment to a government who would like nothing more than to see us go down in flames.

It is sad to see all the damage that our dependence on fossil fuels does to our world. That technology has been around for over a hundred years now. It is time to replace it and let the Saudis keep all their oil.


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