All posts by mark johnson

About mark johnson

Mark Johnson is a freelance writer living in the high desert of Southern California. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from California State University, Los Angeles.

The Other Side of the Same Coin

The following article is political satire. Its purpose is to show the breakdown of the Public Dialogue and the American political system. It is a collection of stereotypical examples of how the desire to win is greater than loyalty to country.

The Other Side of the Same Coin

Occasionally I get asked to do projects for people. Recently I was asked by the local Democrat Party to do research into the most effective ways their party can persuade people to embrace the Democrat party.

democrats in congress

This was a challenging assignment for several reasons. Whatever document I produced had to meet specific Democrat platform requirements.

I was reminded that I had to focus on the Democrat philosophy as it relates to God, free speech, and strangely, sexual gender assignments and public restrooms. Whatever, that’s what I do, so I looked into their philosophy about God free speech and sex.

The following document was my first submission to the party boss:

 Democrat Party Strategic Plan

 hippie jesus


Invoke the name of the Lamb as though you have documentation that puts you and Jesus on a first name basis. Let it be known you talk all the time and he is so proud that Democrats are carrying on HIS divine plan here on earth. Then paint him as a very friendly, almost hippie like, perpetual forgiveness machine. Show America that Jesus is not mean and he will smile and wink at you as you leave a wake of destruction behind you all week long. His mild suggestion is only that you show up on Sunday and raise your hands to the roof of whatever building or tent you may be in. If that is too much trouble, Jesus will do the “Whenever two or more are gathered”, thing.

You want religion to be a warm and fuzzy blanket that people wrap themselves in when they are cold and vulnerable. Never say mean trigger words like

individual responsibility



personal success

and never say

Old Testament.

Just look at how unsettling those trigger words look in print! Imagine them bouncing around the society. Soon I will show you how to use the devastating PC multi-dimensional citizen enforced mosquito-like annoying intrusions into other people’s worlds. You will be amazed at what you can make inappropriate with my simple to follow 12-page plan. It’s on special this week.

With respect to the Old Testament, find as many contradictions in that ancient book as you possibly can, and sell those contradictions as sufficient reason that the mean [definitely not your Jesus] Old Testament God does not exist. Then in the same breath make it known that the Republicans worship the old testament God exclusively. While you are at this, let it be known that there are priests and pastors who have issues with the Old Testament but completely understand the New Testament and they can translate the words and thoughts of your now very proprietary, Jesus. That should paint those Republican bedwetters into a nice corner:

“Republicans offer nothing more than a bloody trail of hate from an insane God.”

Your new Party theme: The Old Testament is a curious document full of contradictions presided over by a very angry and, according to his own words, jealous God. That is exactly the kind of God those Republicans respect — the mean God. Because they are mean people.

 freespeech 2


Free Speech

It is absolutely imperative that you define and control allowable speech. You must develop the metaphors for hate speech so that you may build a box around your opponents.

Make this so: When Republicans speak, it is hateful. When Republicans speak, so much of what they say is inappropriate that it would be wise to assume the next thing a Republican says will be inappropriate. Angry speech from angry people because of an angry God. Think:

Jesus talks nice – Why don’t Republicans?




The idea here is to construct and spread variations on this theme:

“Democrats and Jesus like puppies, and I heard a Republican threaten to rub a puppy’s nose in some doo-doo and then that mean Republican definitely said’ “bad dog” more than once, in a very threatening tone of voice. We hope you are as shocked and appalled at the Republicans’ systemic and pervasive brutality to puppies, as we are.”

OK, that’s way too long for a bumper sticker or yard sign or even letterhead, we can clean it up later.

Here’s the important thing about free speech: If you control the narrative you can control the information that matters. In effect, you can determine the truth. Let’s take a second to think about this. It is the soul of your Party’s philosophy.

Political opinions are rooted in some very firm soil made up of moral concerns about right and wrong. This means people’s opinions are not just ideas, they are representations of their character and moral fiber. You are about to sell that Republicans are Old Testament thinkers. It is not likely you will change any Republican minds. What you can do is attack the same conversations the Republicans are concerned with, but offer solutions that are geared more towards self-interest than responsibility.

Most Americans are staggered by responsibilities. The demands of life and our responsibilities to citizenship are a full time job on top of our full time jobs. These responsibilities include, but are not limited to, concerns about








These are the constant hummings in our minds — the background noise that stays with us, bothers us, makes us unsure and uncomfortable. We try to forget that any one of the 7 can take over the rest in an instant and then that annoying buzz can become cannon fire.

These are our plates up in the air. Sadly, we will keep these plates spinning for a lifetime, if we can – which can we afford to let fall?

Imagine a lifetime appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, spinning plates and listening to Coco Gegeo. Honest to God, close de box.

Work to explain that responsibility, that noise, those damn plates, as the imprisonment of the Republican ideology. They cause the noise. The fear, the uncertainty, they cause it all because they do not understand personal freedom.   There is your argument for life. They cannot defeat the need to blame.

As for yourselves, become a collection of self-interested individuals because your ideals are primarily self-interest. The more freedoms you, as a political party, offer individuals while at the same time promising them the collective benefits of a government, the more you can let other people’s self-interests strengthen you.

Personal freedoms, to as much excess as possible without throwing this country into a tailspin, is diametrically opposed to everything the Republicans stand for. It’s classic hedonism over Old Testament restraint. You can’t lose. When they say “Law and Order”, you will say,

“Angry people, angry God”.

When they say “Social Justice” or “Personal Responsibility” [they say that a lot, sigh] you will say,


Do you see where this can go? Do this just right and you can create an army of unknowable monsters who will scare people into becoming your future Democrats.


the s word 2

The S Word

Your course is pretty clear here. You have very few options. Since you are selling unencumbered freedoms, and that restrictions only come from angry people with an angry God, sex must be free and unencumbered.

Since the opposition is currently making inroads into state legislatures and funding political machines to pass further legislation in different states about who can pee where, I would suggest a counter-punch strategy. When the Freedom of Religion Movement is mentioned, remind everyone of the Constitution and recent Liberal Supreme Court Rulings that justify your way of life according to the teachings of Jesus.

To drive the egalitarian wedge even deeper between the teams of you and Jesus against the Republicans, mention everyone’s favorite cousin Ralphie, who is really a good kid, and artistic too, and he dresses so nice, very clean. And of course, never not mention angry people doing the bidding of their very angry, decidedly not egalitarian, God.


Currently you are in the middle of a slippery slope argument that can go either way. You must be careful that your self-interest fest does not degenerate into a pee-for-all. That would be unseemly and hard to sell in high schools, colleges, public restrooms… It’s too much. No pee-for-all’s; work for public expenditures for stalls instead of urinals and doors with locks. Be aware of the icky factor.

This situation could easily get out of control for you. Someone in the Republican Party made a good argument about swinging stuff in front of kids, and you are taking a hit. This is how you get out of that problem:

Sell the “well known fact” that Republicans don’t really have children, they have little goo stepping junior Republicans, who come with little white sheets. Once you get social media to confirm that Republicans do not actually love the things they are charged with instructing, and there is never hugging in a Republican household, you can get to work on selling America on the “fact” that Republicans only say the word “love” to get sex.   Not because they mean that, but because their women need to hear something nice to make new Republicans.

Remember to systematically mention how Republicans want babies to be born, but only because that keeps their women quiet. Reinforce the fact that they don’t care if the babies eat or get medical attention, as long as they get born.

We’ve covered a lot, let’s review the main points:

Jesus loves Democrats. He wants you to unleash his people from the chains still held by Republicans and their angry God. Democrats are free and you make other people free by letting them do pretty much what they want. Democrats give people freedom and, [and this is the great part], you make Republicans pay for the things that disgust them most. Taxes are for everyone!

Stop clapping. And stop singing that stupid song! What the hell is a Kumbayah? STOP THAT SINGING, WE HAVE WORK TO DO!

You must continue to work Republicans into a position where, if they complain about your programs for any reason, even legitimate reasons, you can say they are just angry Old White Christian Men. [OWCM]

Say that enough times and you will no longer need to respond to their points, even the good ones. You will have a sound advantage that can be used at every Republican gathering:

OWCM and their angry God / / OWCM and their angry God


Where’s the beef?

“Four legs good – Two legs bad”

“It’s always been those damn Jews, Faggots, and Commies.”

In no time at all the metaphor will be the message and the message will be the truth.


A Pastors Perspective: Pastor Jim Olaiz

I have posted less than flattering things about organized Christian religion on my blog. Two of my longest and most respected friends are Pastors. They read my stuff and forgive me for my methods and sometimes they take the opportunitiy to reformulate their beliefs and offer the reasons for their faith yet again. They get it.
I gowd them because they are the true voice of religion and I want them, my friends, to speak up and silence the posers with big money and little hearts who are the shames of Christ.
Today we got lucky. Pastor Jim Olaiz has something to say.
I have made it a habit in my life — at least for the last 48 years- to shut up and listen when Jim Olaiz talks. That always works out good fo me.
Enjoy some real religion.

While I am not a scholar, a deep and profound thinker or a man of letters who is devoted to literary or scholarly pursuits. I am a man passionate of Jesus Christ and my life in Him.
For anyone who says that “religion” is a disappointment to them- I agree with them!
Religion can be defined as “belief in God or gods to be worshipped, usually expressed in conduct and ritual” or “any specific system of belief, worship, etc., often involving a code of ethics”. The majority of the world’s population adheres to some form of religion. The problem is that there are so many different religions. What is the right religion? What is true religion? The two most common ingredients in religions are rules and rituals.
Some religions are essentially nothing more than a list of rules or do’s and don’t’s, that a person must observe in order to be considered a faithful and adherent of that religion, and thereby, right with the God of that religion.
Two examples of rules-based religions are Islam and Judaism. Islam has its five pillars that must be observed. Orthodox Judaism has hundreds of commands and traditions that are to be observed. Both religions, to a certain degree, claim that by obeying the rules of the religion, a person will be considered right with God.
However, when anyone who genuinely and throughly reads and examines the Bible (both Old and New Testament), it is evident that the scriptures describe a “relationship” with God. At the risk of sounding cliché, “religion” is mankind’s attempt to reach out to God. However, “relationship” is God reaching out to us- His creation. Or as translated from the Greek- His “poem”. Imagine that?
All the religions of the world fall short of obtaining salvation because they put the burden of salvation on man. They teach that through our adhering to a rigid standard of dos and don’ts, we make ourselves acceptable unto God. But God revealed in James 2:10 that if you keep the whole Law and yet offend in one point, you are guilty of all. This is where the religions of the world have missed it. They have all sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Mankind cannot save him/herself, he/she has to have a savior.
In contrast to biblical Christianity, “religions” focus more on observing rituals instead of obeying a list of rules. By offering this sacrifice, performing this task, participating in this service, consuming this meal, etc., a person is made right with God. The most prominent example of a ritual-based religion is Roman Catholicism.
Roman Catholicism holds that by being water baptized as an infant, by partaking in the Mass, by confessing sin to a priest, by offering prayers to saints in Heaven, by being anointed by a priest before death, etc., etc., God will accept such a person into Heaven after death. Buddhism and Hinduism are also primarily ritual-based religions, but can also to a lesser degree be considered rules-based.
A “true religion” is a relationship with Jesus Christ. A true relationship with Jesus Christ is neither rules-based nor ritual-based.
Two things that all religions hold are that humanity is somehow separated from God and needs to be reconciled to Him. False religion seeks to solve this problem by observing rules and rituals. A genuine relationship with Jesus Christ solves the problem by recognizing that only He can reconcile the separation, and that He has done so by His sacrificial death on the cross.
A genuine relationship with Jesus recognizes the following:
1. We have all sinned and are therefore separated from God (Romans 3:23).
2. If not rectified, the just penalty for sin is death and eternal separation from God after death (Romans 6:23).
3. God came to us in the Person of Jesus Christ and died in our place, taking the punishment that we deserve, and rose from the dead to demonstrate that His death was a sufficient sacrifice (Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
4. If we receive Jesus as the Savior, trusting His death as the full payment for our sins, we are forgiven, saved, redeemed, reconciled, and justified with God (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-9).
In all fairness, a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ does have rules and observances, but there is a crucial difference. In genuine relationship with Jesus, the rules and rituals are observed out of gratitude for the salvation He has provided through His sacrificial death on the cross- NOT in an effort to obtain that salvation.
And by further contrast, A genuine relationship with Jesus, which is Biblical Christianity, has rules to follow (do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not lie, etc.) and rituals to observe (water baptism by immersion and the Lord’s Supper / Communion). However, observance of these rules and rituals is not what makes a person right with God. Rather, these rules and rituals are the RESULT of the relationship with God, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone as mankind’s Savior from inherited sin and eternal separation from God.
False religion is doing things (rules and rituals) in order to try to earn God’s favor. A genuine relationship is receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and thereby having a right relationship with God – and then doing things (rules and observations) out of love for God and desire to grow closer to Him.
I realize that even with this comprehensive explanation that there will still be many with rebuttals which they consider valid. However, from a biblical perspective, they are not yet ready to receive what I’ve stated. And, in all fairness, neither was I earlier in my life. And possibly like me, it may take more time or a life changing event to provide them a new revelation to seek a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. But there is a word of caution here. By having read my “Pastor’s Perspective”, you the reader will be held accountable if you reject what you have read. You won’t be able to say- “I didn’t know” or “I never was told”. The Bible states that when we are finally in the presence of God that “every knee will bow and every tongue that Jesus Christ is Lord”.
But for those of you who have been contemplating this whole “religion” thing- have you considered making a decision for Christ because of what you have read here? If so, then pray a simple statement of faith which includes-
1. Acknowledging that you are a sinner.
2. That there is nothing that you can do to absolve or remove your sins apart from God.
3. And, that you are in need of a holy and sinless Savior to forgive you, cleanse you and give you a new heart and a fresh start in Jesus Christ.
The Bible tells us-
1 Corinthians 11:21-32
“But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.”
However, 1 John 1:9 clearly shares with us-
“If we confess our sins, He [Jesus] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Your next steps for growth are to; continue praying for guidance, get a hold of a Bible and start reading it (start with the Gospel of John), seek out out other like-minded Christians and a Bible teaching church, and tell others (Christian and non-Christians) about you new life in Jesus!
If you need some guidance on how to find a genuine Bible teaching church, go to my Facebook page- “Ask The Book”- and post your question.
Pastor Jim Olaiz Jr.
Shepherd’s Watch Ministries

The Irish Pub

I watched a great documentary on Netflix called “The Irish Pub”. A film crew went to some famous Pubs in Ireland and talked to the Tenders and their customers. These Pubs are not actually places to drink and party, although they are famous for exactly that. They have no TV’s or music – unless it’s on the proper night. They are community centers with Guinness and Ales.

The Pubs I saw in this wonderful look at the Old Country have been handed down through families and they have not changed much inside since they were built in the 19th century and earlier. These family Pubs think of their customers and Barmen and “Lounge girls/boys” as family as well, and they speak of them as “Characters”.

I think you have to see people in a certain way to think of them as characters. They must, at the least, have enough character to be thought of as a character. I’m sure the Irish have a word or two for the dicks among them, but they affectionately call their people characters. That takes a bigger look at someone, I think, to call them a Character.

The sense of community I got from the film about Ireland is more than what I picked up in the American neighborhood bar I grew up in. In Ireland famous local personalities like my brother Ken or the less great Sidney Stone would have small bronze plaques placed in the stone outside of the Hoosiers or Bobos or somewhere real American Characters would be honored forever.

We don’t do that in America because the Hoosiers and Bobos are not community centers with Guinness and Ales. They are investments that are created and sustained for profit at sale. Unlike Ireland, they were made to sell and enjoy in the meantime. The Irish Pubs and their people go nowhere without someone forcing them.

I think this is an interesting contrast in our peoples. My brother Ken and the less great Sidney Stone, were equally “Characters” of the American West. They would be taken in as great “Characters” In Ireland as well.

I don’t know what those “Characters” in Ireland do to get those bronze plaques, but I have some Plaque-worthy stories about the great Ken Cook and the less great Sidney Stone – and some others who I grew up with on the streets of our home towns, who will probably read these words.

Christian Shame For America.

Imagine a large group of gears all working in concert to drive a great machine. One central shaft with its drive gear is powering the whole monstrosity. What would happen to the collection if that one all-important drive gear was out of balance? Any imbalance, no matter how slight, would eventually reverberate throughout the entire machine and destroy it over time. That is inevitable.

Now imagine a God that is all things, but reasonable. That imbalance is fatal to the machine. If god created the machine, it would be foolish to make it self-destruct. What would be the point other than creating pain and suffering for those unfortunate enough to be caught in the deception? Again, assuming God is god and not crazy, we should assume some reasonableness from God. I would suggest if this is an attitude and a bit of reasoning that you can be comfortable with, that you do not read the Old Testament. That is a collection of caprice that is everything, but reasonable.

We can say that without fear if god is reasonable. If god is not reasonable, well it would have flown apart long before now due to the ridiculous imbalance – an unreasonable god is foolishness. Another alternative is that god is actually a construct of evil men to control trusting people.

This is not an argument against god, although god’s handlers will use personal offense and claims of blasphemy to maintain their justifications for their deceptions. After all, they are the leaders of American Religion with some paperwork that says they have God’s number and they and the Lamb are BFF’s. On the contrary, this article is for a reasonable God who is not threatened with challenges to explain itself and its lack of actions when action is so clearly called for.

God, if it is god at all, is reasonable and offers nothing for us to fear. Men will have us afraid of god to make us follow them. This is actually an article against American Organized Religion and the hypocrites that sell fear for salvation.

If we care to take a good look at American Christianity, we will see it is mostly politics and very little Jesus. A quick look at the recent Republican Convention should be enough to shame all of Christendom. If that’s not enough to get you out of church and into religion then listen to your fellow “Christians” willfully ignore truth, justice, American values and the teachings of Christ to use the name of Jesus to promote a monster for political gain.

American Christianity is out of balance and it is predictably self-destructing. People are running from Christian churches like refugees run from their destruction. That doesn’t seem to matter to the present day Pharisees. They build great temples to their ideas and their narcissism and call them Churches.

The Chrystal Cathedral in Los Angeles cost as much to build as the Government says it would take to feed 25,000 families of 4 for an entire year. There are 25,000 hungry people living within walking distance to that testament to corruption. The very religious people running that Ponzi scheme are about to put another $50 million into that campus. In the name of God and great churches, the hungry will remain hungry, but religion will waste food on glass.

If God is everything we are being sold by the great Church builders, they are in some trouble. Jesus did his work without being surrounded by glass. He even said something about what happens when 2 or more are gathered in his name and that had nothing to do with building great buildings with church money in the middle of suffering people. Great churches are, some believe, actually edifices built to honor the Devil. Today I agree with that assessment. Today I turn my back on Organized American Religion because their god is out of balance, it condones building great Churches in the middle of suffering and feeding the hungry is a secondary business for most churches in America. The first church business seems to be bullying their flocks into fear and tithing.

The bottom line is that their God is not good enough to be my god. I reject them all without fear, because my god is reasonable and it is not afraid to be challenged.



Something for the Sophists


Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), was a brilliant German philosopher. These 38 Stratagems are excerpts from “The Art of Controversy”, first translated into English and published in 1896.

Schopenhauer’s 38 ways to win an argument are:

1.Carry your opponent’s proposition beyond its natural limits; exaggerate it. The more general your opponent’s statement becomes, the more objections you can find against it. The more restricted and narrow his or her propositions remain, the easier they are to defend by him or her.

2.Use different meanings of your opponent’s words to refute his or her argument.

3.Ignore your opponent’s proposition, which was intended to refer to a particular thing. Rather, understand it in some quite different sense, and then refute it. Attack something different than that which was asserted.

4.Hide your conclusion from your opponent till the end. Mingle your premises here and there in your talk. Get your opponent to agree to them in no definite order. By this circuitious route you conceal your game until you have obtained all the admissions that are necessary to reach your goal.

5.Use your opponent’s beliefs against him. If the opponent refuses to accept your premises, use his own premises to your advantage.

6.Another plan is to confuse the issue by changing your opponent’s words or what he or she seeks to prove.

7.State your proposition and show the truth of it by asking the opponent many questions. By asking many wide-reaching questions at once, you may hide what you want to get admitted. Then you quickly propound the argument resulting from the opponent’s admissions.

8.Make your opponent angry. An angry person is less capable of using judgement or perceiving where his or her advantage lies.

9.Use your opponent’s answers to your questions to reach different or even opposite conclusions.

10.If your opponent answers all your questions negatively and refuses to grant any points, ask him or her to concede the opposite of your premises. This may confuse the opponent as to which point you actually seek them to concede.

11.If the opponent grants you the truth of some of your premises, refrain from asking him or her to agree to your conclusion. Later, introduce your conclusion as a settled and admitted fact. Your opponent may come to believe that your conclusion was admitted.

12.If the argument turns upon general ideas with no particular names, you must use language or a metaphor that is favorable in your proposition.

13.To make your opponent accept a proposition, you must give him or her an opposite, counter-proposition as well. If the contrast is glaring, the opponent will accept your proposition to avoid being paradoxical.

14.Try to bluff your opponent. If he or she has answered several of your questions without the answers turning out in favor of your conclusion, advance your conclusion triumphantly, even if it does not follow. If your opponent is shy or stupid, and you yourself possess a great deal of impudence and a good voice, the trick may easily succeed.

15.If you wish to advance a proposition that is difficult to prove, put it aside for the moment. Instead, submit for your opponent’s acceptance or rejection some true proposition, as though you wished to draw your proof from it. Should the opponent reject it because he or she suspects a trick, you can obtain your triumph by showing how absurd the opponent is to reject a true proposition. Should the opponent accept it, you now have reason on your own for the moment. You can either try to prove your original proposition or maintain that your original proposition is proved by what the opponent accepted. For this, an extreme degree of impudence is required.

16.When your opponent puts forth a proposition, find it inconsistent with his or her other statements, beliefs, actions, or lack of action.

17.If your opponent presses you with a counter proof, you will often be able to save yourself by advancing some subtle distinction. Try to find a second meaning or an ambiguous sense for your opponent’s idea.

18.If your opponent has taken up a line of argument that will end in your defeat, you must not allow him or her to carry it to its conclusion. Interrupt the dispute, break it off altogether, or lead the opponent to a different subject.

19.Should your opponent expressly challenge you to produce any objection to some definite point in his or her argument, and you have nothing much to say, try to make the argument less specific.

20.If your opponent has admitted to all or most of your premises, do not ask him or her directly to accept your conclusion. Rather draw the conclusion yourself as if it too had been admitted.

21.When your opponent uses an argument that is superficial, refute it by setting forth its superficial character. But it is better to meet the opponent with a counter argument that is just as superficial, and so dispose of him or her. For it is with victory that your are concerned, and not with truth.

22.If your opponent asks you to admit something from which the point in dispute will immediately follow, you must refuse to do so, declaring that it begs the question.

23.Contradiction and contention irritate a person into exaggerating his or her statements. By contractiong your opponent you may drive him or her into extending the statement beyond its natural limit. When you then contradict the exaggerated form of it, you look as though you had refuted the orginal statement your opponent tries to extend your own statement further than you intended, redefine your statement’s limits.

24.This trick consists in stating a false syllogism. Your opponent makes a proposition and by false inference and distortion of his or her ideas you force from the proposition other propositions that are not intended and that appear absurd. It then appears the opponent’s proposition gave rise to these inconsistencies, and so appears to be indirectly refuted.

25.If your opponent is making a generalization, find an instance to the contrary. Only one valid contradiciton is needed to overthrow the opponent’s proposition.

26.A brilliant move is to turn the tables and use your opponent’s arguments against him or herself.

27.Should your opponent surprise you by becoming particularly angry at an argument, you must urge it with all the more zeal. Not only will this make the opponent angry, it may be presumed that you put your finger on the weak side of his or her case, and that the opponent is more open to attack on this point than you expected.

28.This trick is chiefly practicable in a dispute if there is an audience who is not an expert on the subject. You make an invalid objection to your opponent who seems to be defeated in the eyes of the audience. This strategy is particularly effective if your objection makes the opponent look ridiculous or if the audience laughs. If the opponent must make a long, complicated explanation to correct you, the audience will not be disposed to listen.

29.If you find that you are being beaten, you can create a diversion that is, you can suddenly begin to talk of something else, as though it had bearing on the matter in dispose. This may be done without presumption if the diversion has some general bearing on the matter.

30.Make an appeal to authority rather than reason. If your opponent respects an authority or an expert, quote that authority to further your case. If needed, quote what the authority said in some other sense or circumstance. Authorities that your opponent fails to understand are those which he or she generally admires the most. You may also, should it be necessary, not only twist your authorities, but actually falsify them, or quote something that you have invented entirely yourself.

31.If you know that you have no reply to an argument that your opponent advances, you may, by a fine stroke of irony, declare yourself to be an incompetent judge.

32.A quick way of getting rid of an opponent’s assertion, or throwing suspicion on it, is by putting it into some odious category.

33.You admit your opponent’s premises but deny the conclusion.

34.When you state a question or an argument, and your opponent gives you no direct answer, or evades it with a counter question, or tries to change the subject, it is a sure sign you have touched a weak spot, sometimes without knowing it. You have as it were, reduced the opponent to silence. You must, therefore, urge the point all the more, and not let your opponent evade it, even when you do not know where the weakness that you have hit upon really lies.

35.This trick makes all unnecessary if it works. Instead of working on an opponent’s intellect, work on his or her motive. If you succeed in making your opponent’s opinion, should it prove true, seem distinctly to his or her own interest, the opponenent will drop it like a hot potato.

36.You may also puzzle and bewilder your opponent by mere bombast. If the opponent is weak or does not wish to appear as ife he or she has no idea what you are talking about, you can easily impose upon him or her some argument that sounds very deep or learned, or that sounds indisputable.

37.Should your opponent be in the right but, luckily for you, choose a faulty proof, you can easily refute it and then claim that you have refuted the whole position. This is the way which bad advocates lose a good case. If no accurate proof occurs to the opponent or the bystanders, you have won the day.

38.A last trick is to become personal, insulting and rude as soon as you perceive that your opponent has the upper hand. In becoming personal you leave the subject altogether, and turn your attack on the person by remarks of an offensive and spiteful character. This is a very popular trick, because everyone is able to carry it into effect.


(abstracted from the book:Numerical Lists You Never Knew or Once Knew and Probably Forget, by: John Boswell and Dan Starer)






Jesus is Not Coming to America



Something social scientists have known for a long time:

White Evangelical Christians are the group least likely to support politicians or policies that reflect the actual teachings of Jesus.

So there is no confusion.

That’s one of the many reasons why it’s best for religious people to stay out of politics and to avoid people who use Jesus as a political tool. Christian leaders are doing their jobs badly, that’s the only reason Jesus is in the middle of political discussions. Jesus is the foil for politicians to get old testament ideas into current politics. They say Jesus means bla, bla, bla, and use old testament quotes to support some political agendas, and if you don’t agree or if you have better ethics, you are branded not Christian enough. There is a disconnect. Jesus said some things. They were not political. Men make them political by adding foolishness to Jesus’ words, like Jesus wasn’t smart enough to add those things into his conversations, himself.

Politicized Christians need Jesus for the brand; not his words or his soul. They need to stand next to Jesus, like he was a trophy wife, to say and do unchristian things. I find that disgusting. The recent Republican charade, complete with religious leader-groupies and their statements that confuse sociopathy with “baby Christian”-hood, are evidence of the decline of Christendom.

Imagine how cynical one would have to be to use Jesus to punish people, to exclude them from a safe harbor or their own country, or pass unconstitutional laws in the name of America and God. That is why Jesus is not coming to America.

According to ancient prophecies a great leader will come to us during a period of great desperation and crisis, this is known as the end of times.

At one time the Romans were experiencing discontent in their outlying regions, particularly Palestine, were rumors of a prophet Messiah who would ease oppressions and unite the people, were spreading. The Romans were aware of this unrest and these rumors and were looking out for agitators.

When Jesus began his teachings he warned his followers not to tell anyone that he was the Christ or that he was going to be the fulfillment of ancient prophecies, because the political climate of the time would make that revelation too dangerous for him. Things are going good for the new guy until he messed with the money. Then his quaint message of love and peace became inflammatory and seditious political rhetoric.

The rest of the story is well known. Jesus throws a tizzy in the money room and the religious guys get together with the government guys and kill him. The religious guys blamed the government guys and the government guys reminded everyone they were just giving the people what they wanted, but in the end, the good guy got killed over politics and money.

It all worked out for almost everyone. Jesus got to die, which was the plan, and the religious/business guys maintained their cozy relationship. The people learned that there can be someone who will sacrifice everything for them and everyone learned if you mess with powerful people’s money, they will kill you.

With that lesson clearly obvious, why are Christians luring Jesus to America? Are they trying to get him killed again? Why put the guy right back in the middle of the same people who killed him the first time and expect a different result? That’s crazy. Jesus is forgiving – not stupid.

One quick look around this “Christian” nation and He would see, to his horror, that the people throwing his name around the most are the last people he would want to associate with. What god will help people who will not take his words seriously?

Jesus already did the, “I’ll die for your everlasting salvation” thing. What could possibly interest him in America? If he’s smart enough to be god, he can certainly see déjà vu all over again. No! Jesus is not coming to America. He’s too smart for that, and besides, he can’t do anything here without upsetting the money changers. It’s all about changing money here.

Jesus knows, messing with the money will get you killed.

Jesus is not coming to America.

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea



OK Trumpeters, you got it said, thank you. We enjoyed watching and most of what you said is absolutely true – to a degree. But, it’s time to get real.


Take everything you own and everything you hope to own and put it in a pile — then decide what kind of person you would like to manage your life’s work. Will you be looking for a responsible and proven manager, or will you look for a riverboat gambler to manage your world?

I think it’s time to start looking at America like it’s our business and we care

very much about how our possessions and our futures, are administered.

Everyone has had their say. It was fun tilting at rainbows or windmills – whatever –and creating some reality social media. We have all been part of a fine American tradition until now, but our house is a mess and it’s time to clean up. We won’t clean anything up by setting a bomb off in the middle of our stuff. Look around, our foundations are already weak from years of citizen neglect. Is this really the time to reap the whirlwind?

We may not like Hillary. Fine. You know who does like Hillary? Everyone running countries we do business with. None of those people have anything nice to say about Donald Trump. If you think things are bad now, try four years of international gridlock. That will look something like, “Buy your own crap, bigmouth.” — In several different languages. You just can’t, “bomb the “sh*t” out of someone to get them to buying your stuff.

Donald Trump sells his business acumen as his reason to run the world. Yet, every day we find out more about what a horrible businessman and human being he actually is. Why is he still a thing?

“The business president who can’t do business”

is not a winning bumper-sticker or a winning promise.

The Donald is not a subtle thinker, he is a bully and leverage-maker.  He enjoys the bankruptcy laws just a little too much and his sub-contractors in his dynasty building are mostly feeling cheated and worse for the relationship.  His negotiation skills are clear in the amazing number of times he’s been sued.

You can’t yell at a chessboard and expect to win. Winning at world diplomacy is much like chess in that, at the very least, it requires knowledge of the board and the players. In this case, who would be the logical choice in that important area of presidential responsibility?

Donald Trump and his followers have done an admirable job for America. We see ourselves in a better light because of his campaign. Now, it’s time to decide between the potentially crazy and the presumed cunning. Who do we want to control our pile of stuff and all the stuff we hope to add to us?

Our choice isn’t between the liar and the thief, our choice is between the talk and accomplished negotiations.

At the end of 4 years, which one of our two candidates will manage our pile of stuff —  better?























Chasing Shiny Things

Chasing Shiny Things

If you think Presidents lead the nation and can right our wrongs, then you don’t understand your country.

America has three branches of government: The Executive branch, the Legislative branch, and the Judicial branch. Each of these branches has certain powers, and each of these powers is limited, or checked, by another branch.

Our three branches of government are defined in our Constitution: The Legislative, composed of the House and Senate, is set up in Article 1. The Executive, composed of the President, Vice-President, and the Departments, is set up in Article 2. The Judicial branch, composed of the federal courts and the Supreme Court, is set up in Article 3.

Our Constitution gives Presidents the power to command the armed forces and almost exclusive power over foreign policy (though the Senate has to ratify any treaty and the Congress always has the power of the purse to influence foreign policy).  The President also nominates judges and justices and maintains the cabinet, but these powers do not, in and of themselves, seem very powerful.

Article 1 Section 2 defines the powers of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Congress can set taxes, can raise armies, declare war, suspend habeas corpus, impeach the President or judges, and can set laws touching the lives of every person in the nation.

Article 1 Section 3 defines the powers of the Judiciary.

Our Constitution carries in it a huge assumption:

That assumption is that the three branches would want to work together for the good of our country.

That is not America’s assumption today. Today, one branch of America, Congress, has decided to usurp the American idea for political partisanship.   They will not even discuss doing their job of vetting a potential Supreme Court Justice until after the current election, more than 8 months away.

As a general plan against us all, Congress has obstructed America’s business almost 1000 times in the last decade. The favorite tool of obstruction, the filibuster.

So, who yields the real power in America? Not the President. Presidents can’t shut down our Country on a whim. Presidents can’t redistribute our wealth to friends and they can’t tax us into submission. Only Congress can, will, and is destroying America. With our help, of course.

Almost 80% of congress is up for election this year. If we counted on social media to tell us about ourselves, we wouldn’t think that. We would think this government revolves around one person, a President.

Well America, presidents are only the shiny objects dangled in front of us to distract us from the real crimes of Congress. All members of this Congress will be reelected by more than a 90% ratio. When that happens, their first and only real job, beside stealing our country out from under us, is to find that next shiny object to dangle in front of the “great unwashed”.

Well done America.






The Paradox of Social Media

I think there is a paradox in doing social media — a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true.

I’ve noticed a relationship between the time it takes to produce an article for social media and the time it takes to answer the responses from a growing number of profiles.

The profiles in question steal time and they make social media a battleground.

The Game

I usually spend about 4 hours preparing an idea for publication on social media. An article is usually 750-1500 words, 3+ references and a few relevant pictures. After hitting the post button, if the article was political, there will be posts in opposition that seem to be intensifying in anger.  The form of that opposition is destroying social media.

I’ve noticed, just too often, that the opposing posts will make statements against the article and ask for a response. These requests require additional information or explanations beyond what was given in the original article. Those additions require thought, references and time to produce, usually as a courtesy to the reader.

I’ve also noticed after this additional work is offered to the responder, they will write back so quickly that I am convinced they could not have the time to review the new information and write a response — It just can’t happen that fast. But the clincher is that the new response will mention exactly nothing about the new information or reasons I just offered.

There is the paradox

As a question, given this observed pattern, is it best to save our time to make well-crafted articles by not communicating with the people we are writing for?

Also, consider this: There is a growing NEED for rudeness on social media. If we are going to take writing and communicating seriously, then we must spend our time doing so. If there is a chance that an opposing poster is setting us up to advance their agendas without considering the article we have worked on, then we should ignore them and move on.

If we determine we are about to be pulled into a “troll” experience, where the questions are only asked to give the responder a chance to advance their own agendas, then we are not communicating, we are simply providing a platform for an opposing agenda to launch their ideas without doing the work to make a position.

Our time is being stolen away and our intended contributions are just placeholders for a hijacker.

In self-defense, and in defense of the public discourse in general, we must be more respectful of our ideas, our abilities, our products and our time. We must separate ourselves from the time stealers.

There is a problem in doing that: How can we know who is about to hijack our ideas and steal our time and who deserves a better explanation? This is part of the paradox. Should we take time to allow good people to catch up with a poorly explained idea or do we worry about our time and the next hijack?

I was once counseled by an owner/editor of a publication to not respond to the people commenting on my articles. After just a few months dealing with social media sites, I realize that editor knew something I was figuring out the hard way.

We must still factor into this discussion the maddening frustration brought to us by the trolls who seem to enjoy their self-imposed and dearly held ignorance. That alone, in a society on fire, is a deal breaker for social media.

Write, drop the article at the usual places, and get out. Save your time for the work – not the people we are trying to communicate with – they are stealing our time away from communicating with the people.  Really?

The paradox of social media




The Disabled Family


Published in:

October 13, 2015

By Mark Johnson

There are many tragedies that play out daily in families with disabled members. Along with the obvious and constant heartache for the plight of a loved one, there are many additional costs most people can’t imagine.

The maximum federal benefit for an individual receiving Social Security assistance will rise, this year, from $710 per month to $721. That’s it. Rent, food, transportation, entertainment, all the other things we need, toilet paper, toothpaste, cold medicine, band aids — completely unaffordable. All this I know from personal experience.

There are 65 million disabled people in America. That’s 19% of our entire population. I care for one of the 42 million severely disabled. I am one of the nearly 66 million caregivers who contributes an extra $5000 each year to the $450 billion-dollar pool of unpaid labor needed to care for disabled Americans.

The $5000 in additional costs I pay to care for my disabled daughter, Erin, is only a small token of what we have really paid. The total is hard to express. It represents much more that is lost than mere money. There are costs that we explain in terms of lost potential, lost participation, and lost relationships. Since these are all much more important than money, it’s hard to tell readers about the real losses involved with disability.

The loss of potential is perhaps the easiest to minimize. We can’t know what-ifs. I believe my daughter would have been the new light of the world had she been able to shine. She shines brightly in our home and wherever the internet takes her, but she needs lots of therapy before she will even be able to sit all day in her wheelchair. We have developed different ideas about success.

My daughter feels the sting from not being able to participate in activities with her friends, her community and country. Travel is painful and the drugs many disabled people must take to tame their bodies dulls their minds and crushes their will. A family outing often becomes a painful endurance.

If it’s a good day and we can get somewhere, we are severely restricted as to where we can go. The mall, a refuge for America’s youth, is out. Shopping, in general, is out. Although there are laws making it mandatory to build ramps for wheelchair riders to get into malls, getting into the shops is another thing all together. If you have ever shopped at a mall, you understand.

It’s not just shopping. Ball games are out. Concerts — out. Plays — out. Musicals — out. There are areas for wheelchairs in each of these venues, but the competition for those seats is fierce. There are so many places we can’t get into that we don’t see America as inclusive. America is barriers.

Some math will help: There are 92,542 seats in California’s Rose Bowl stadium; 380 of those seats are reserved for people in wheelchairs. There are 3 million people riding wheelchairs, currently. Three million people is .9% of America’s population. The rose bowl should have .9% of their seats reserved for America’s wheelchair population. To be equal in America, my daughter should be able to leisurely pick her seat at the Rose Bowl from 900 available seats. But as I said, the Rose Bowl offers 380 wheelchair seats.

We don’t mind a little competition. It is a little weird trying to beat another wheelchair rider out of a seat, but that’s America. It usually doesn’t get that far. Before we ever find out something is happening, professional scalpers buy up all the wheelchair tickets to sell for twice, maybe three times the face value. There is profit in making those gimps compete for their seats.

An interesting note about the search for this information: The number of wheelchair seats at any given venue is, apparently, a closely guarded secret. I look things up for a living and finding out how many wheelchair seats are actually available, anywhere, is not easy. The venues will not say more than that they comply with the law. I assume if they were proud of their accessibility, they would include that in their abundant advertising. My suspicion is that their accessible seats are in line with the seats available at the Rose Bowl — the one venue where I could find any information at all about disabled seating.

All this pales when compared to the real cost of disability — relationships. It has been my experience, supported by research, that the devastation caused to relationships by the sorrow, helplessness, frustration, loneliness and physical labor created by a disability will take the strong to their knees and destroy the rest.

The mothers never recover. They believe themselves to be abominations of god and nature. There exists no love, no actions, no words that will ever sooth this pain. There is, no longer, romanticized notions about the reasons for marriage. Spousal love loses its position as the very object of our bonds. There are only remembered moments of our dreams for ourselves and each other. We aren’t ever really married again in the beautiful, free world of endless possibilities that sprang to life simply because we found each other. Those are long-ago ideas. We became co-care givers who loved each other.

The fathers are crushed. Their one job in the cosmos is to protect their families and make certain they flourish. Our children, our worshiped children, know pain and limitation because we have failed our only job, to secure their bright futures. If we are strong men this failure, mixed with our rage against god and probability, will beat us. We may still be men, whatever that means, but we will never again think we are the kind of man that matters.

Many fathers of disabled children leave the home. Every year my wife would come home from a mountain retreat for mothers of disabled children, complaining about the disproportionate number of fatherless disabled families. We might want to call them out for their cowardliness and compare them to the “real men” who stay, but we don’t. Those who stay have learned that some things are just too much to take and although we swear to all that we hold important that we will stay, we know we are just screaming our hope.

Sadly, there is more devastation surrounding disabled parents and their children — the extended family. They bring their own set of problems to the disabled. Some have no idea what to say to the parents or the child or how to say it. It is uncomfortable and soon, mercifully, they stop trying.

Some are noticeably embarrassed that their children are not disabled and they feel strange telling stories about their “healthy” kids to the parents of disabled kids. It’s sad, but we have to understand — the extended family wilts away. The end result is that we don’t get to see our relatives much, if at all. We can’t travel much and they won’t. We don’t get to hear the stories about our family, its children, their hopes, successes, failures, redemption, none of it. They don’t want to hurt us, so they abandon us.

Still, there is comedy in all of this. It’s an acquired sense of humor, but people can be funny. We call, whatever this is, the “is-it, can-it, does-it” question. These are questions about my college educated and disabled daughter, to me, in front of her. I stare at them in response. These pregnant pauses are hilarious. I stare and smile for as long as it takes for them to realize she is next to me. On my great days, they will turn to my daughter and shout their question, slowly.

If all of this is sad to the reader, I certainly understand. It is sad for me to hear any of this about another family. We share these lives and concerns and something very special.

I will try, if I may, to speak for the millions of other disabled families. I think I know them.

Most of us would do this all again and think we were cheating the devil for the chance.

We can tell you, you should have our lives, when they don’t suck. We are familiar companions with dreams, struggle, failure, perseverance, will and triumph. Regular people have to buy tickets to be near those life affirming ideas. We live them every day with our warriors. We know what greatness is. It has nothing to do with money, titles, toys or social class. Greatness lives in people who cannot walk and are not too proud to crawl.

We can also tell you, we are afraid. We are afraid for our disabled loved ones and we are afraid for ourselves. Most of all, disabled people and their families, are afraid of America.

America is scaring the hell out of the very people it should be honored to protect. We have just two viable political parties. One of them wants to eliminate social assistance programs, and if not entirely, they certainly want to make significant cut-backs. Their truly horrifying argument is this: There are slackers in the system. Slackers are bad. The one sure way to punish those slackers is to eliminate the programs entirely. There must be a better way to exact some Old Testament justice on slackers.

Our final appeal to America: We would not be as afraid if there were fewer Democrats and Republicans and more Americans. Democrats and especially the Republicans scare us. We are the sitting ducks in their hunt for power. Ignore everything you may have heard, $721 a month is just enough money to allow the weakest Americans to die, alone, by the side of the road. It might not take a village, but it takes more than $721 dollars.

By definition, legislation, and our countrymen’s attitudes, the disabled are the weakest among us. Must they also live in fear of greedy and capricious political machines? When is enough, enough? They are not slackers. They are alone. They could use some help from the real Americans.