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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and President Obama's Budget -- Fund the Fight Against Opioid Epidemic

 

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, or CARA, has broad bipartisan support. As written, CARA contains several key provisions designed to combat opioid addiction, including:
  • Creation of a task force to develop prescribing guidelines for physicians writing prescriptions for opioid painkillers
  • Grants for state and local governments to expand educational outreach about opioids and addiction
  • Create treatment alternatives to incarceration for people arrested on drug-related charges
  • Improve veterans’ access to treatment for opioid addiction
  • Expand use of naloxone and other opioid antagonists by law enforcement officials

(“Opiate Addiction & Politics: Opioid Epidemic a Victim of Bureaucracy.” Waissman Method. opiates.com. March 08, 2016.)

The U.S. Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act this March (2016). The bill was approved in a 94 to 1 vote. CARA now moves to the House. If approved there, it will make its way to the Presidents desk. If enacted into law, CARA would be the government’s most incisive step yet to move drug policy away from punishment and toward humane, public health solutions.

But the legislation, sponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, provides no new money to fund its ambitious goals after Republican lawmakers killed a Democratic plan to provide $600 million in funding for the measure.

Several companion bills in the House of Representatives, H.R. 953, sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and H.R. 3719, sponsored by Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H., are still in committee.


(Tony Pugh. “Senate passes anti-heroin bill, but provides no money to fund it.” mcclatchydc.com. March 10, 2016.)

Often, Congressional infighting stalls much-needed help for the opioid epidemic in the United States. The consequences of delaying emergency funding are widespread destruction and death. 
 
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates 4.3 million Americans are using prescription opioids for non-medical purposes while more than 400,000 more are using heroin. Approximately 44 people die each day because of prescription painkiller overdose, according to SAMHSA.

A reluctance to act speaks directly to the stigma related to drug addiction. If addiction was properly prioritized, Congress would support immediate action. Lawmakers cannot continue to ignore the demon in our midst while playing political games. Evidently, some judge arguing provisions as more important than saving lives. Political posturing and pressure from lobbyist groups can prevent real progress from being made. 
 
Just recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines regarding the prescription of opioid use for chronic pain. Thank God for that long-needed action. 

But...

Much controversy rages about putting opioid abusers on medication, typically methadone and buprenorphine. Conservatives warn of problems with supplying these drugs. Of course these substances can be abused. There’s also a risk that the medications will be diverted and sold to other addicts.
 
Still, I believe, in the face of the epidemic, we have no choice but to use these medications just like we do other medicines that help heart patients or diabetes patients or the mentally ill maintain their lives.

For skeptics, abstinence is the treatment of choice. They believe replacing one drug with another drug is foreign to the goal of recovery. In a perfect world, these skeptics would be right, but, unfortunately, 2016 poses an ugly, undeniable reality – most addicts will never have success going “cold turkey.” The real alternatives to the prescribed combination of medication, monitored treatment, and counseling are permanent impairment, prison, or death.

What is the truth about opioid funding? CARA represents a fine beginning to combating addiction; however, much more is needed.

To further the solution to help states combat the opioid epidemic, President Obama has made a budget request for $1.1 billion for 2017.

The mandatory funding from the FY 2017 budget would go towards increasing access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use including:
  • $920 million for cooperative agreements with states to increase access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders over a 2-year period
  • $50 million towards the National Health Services Corps (NHSC) to increase access to providers who treat these disorder (enabling roughly 700 providers to offer substance use disorder treatment services in areas with poor access to behavioral health providers)
  • $30 million to assess how effective treatment program are in delivering medication assisted therapy "under real-world conditions" 

    Yet ... 
This particular Republican-controlled Congress has said — in an unprecedented move — that it will not even hold hearings on Obama’s budget. Even before it is printed! This refusal is in the face of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmation that prescription painkillers, heroin, and other opioids killed more than 28,000 people in the United States last year, driving the highest number of drug overdose deaths on record.

The Los Angeles Times' Jon Healey says, “The message to the administration, is, in short: We don't want to work with you. But we're still going to cry foul if you don't work with us.”

 

The decision to refuse to take up the President's budget proposal has not set well with Democrats. Nancy Pelosi stated, "The Republican Chairmen’s contemptuous attitude is unworthy of the U.S. Congress and the American people."

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders now running as a Democrat and also a ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee wrote, "The president's budget is more than a political document. It is a compilation of the opinions of experts throughout the government."

Over the past few weeks, pieces of the final budget have been previewed, prompting Republicans to have no interest in bringing it up for a hearing for the first time in history. It included additional spending to combat ISIS and increase presence in Europe while asking for $19 billion to up cyber security, a threat of the future.

(Chase Hunt. “Republicans refuse to look over Obama's budget despite falling deficit.” examiner.com. February 10, 2016.)

We, as concerned Americans, must demand all funds not only be appropriated but also spent to enact the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act's and President Obama's provisions. Enough “talk.” It is time to “walk the walk.” Money – funds in large sums -- must be approved for success against a drug epidemic that is homeland threat Number One. Just consider the lives in the balance.

 

NRA Historically In Favor of Gun Control: What Happened To the Balance of Gun Rights and Gun Control?

 

The United States of America – a place where gun violence rages. The U.S. firearm homiciderate is 20 times higher than the combined rates of 22 countries that are our peers in wealth and population. All good citizens must agree that something needs to be done to preventthis from happening every day – 31 Americans are murdered with guns and 151 are treated for a gun assault in an emergency room."

(Richardson, Erin G., and David Hemenway, “Homicide, Suicide, and Unintentional Firearm Fatality: Comparing the United States With Other High-Income Countries, 2003,” Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection, and Critical Care. June 2010)
 
What if I would tell you that the Founding Fathers instituted gun laws so intrusive that the NRA would not endorse them today? Well, not only did the founding generation deny gun ownership to many people like slaves and free blacks, but they also denied guns to law-abiding white men who refused to swear loyalty to the Revolution.

Adam Winkler, professor of constitutional law at the UCLA School of Law, says, “Historically, the leadership of the NRA was more open-minded about gun control than someone familiar with the modern NRA might imagine. The Second Amendment was not nearly as central to the NRA’s identity for most of the organization’s history.”

Winkler explains ...

“For those men who were allowed to own guns, the Founders had their own version of the 'individual mandate': they required the purchase of guns. A 1792 federal law mandated every eligible man to purchase a military-style gun and ammunition for his service in the citizen militia. Such men had to report for frequent musters—where their guns would be inspected and, yes, registered on public rolls."

(Adam Winkler. “The Secret History of Guns.” The Atlantic. September 2011.) 

In his book Gunfight: The Battle Over The Right To Bear Arms In America, Winkler says history shows that the NRA was more open-minded about gun control than someone familiar with the modern NRA might imagine.

For most of the 20th century, the NRA helped to write most of the federal laws restricting gun use. Journalist Steven Rosenfeld, author of Count My Vote: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting, says in the 1920s and 1930s, the NRA’s leaders helped write and lobby for the first federal gun control laws – the very kinds of laws that the modern NRA labels as “the height of tryanny.”

(Steven Rosenfeld. “The Surprising Unknown History of the NRA.” AlterNet Report.
January 13, 2013.)

State gun control laws were once the norm. Within a generation of the country’s founding, many states passed laws banning any citizen from carrying a concealed gun. A new president in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt, made fighting crime and gun control part of his ‘New Deal.’ The NRA helped him draft the first federal gun controls: 1934’s National Firearms Act and 1938’s Gun Control Act.


The NRA President at the time, Karl T. Frederick, a 1920 Olympic gold-medal winner for marksmanship who became a lawyer, praised the new state gun controls in Congress. “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons,” he testified before the 1938 law was passed. “I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”

The legal doctrine of gun rights balanced by gun controls held for nearly a half-century.

Rosenfeld recalls one of the most tragic crimes of gun violence in the history of our nation and the NRA response ...

“In November 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed President John F. Kennedy with an Italian military surplus rifle that Owsald bought from a mail-order ad in the NRA’s American Rifleman magazine. In congressional hearings that soon followed, NRA Executive Vice-President Frankin Orth supported a ban in mail-order sales, saying, 'We do think that any sane American, who calls himself an American, can object to placing into this bill the instrument which killed the president of the United States.'”

“But no new federal gun control laws came until 1968. The assassinations of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy were the tipping point, coming after several summers of race-related riots in American cities. The nation’s white political elite feared that violence was too prevalent and there were too many people—especially urban Black nationalists—with access to guns. In May 1967, two dozen Black Panther Party members walked into the California Statehouse carrying rifles to protest a gun-control bill, prompting then-Gov. Ronald Reagan to comment, 'There’s no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.'

“The Gun Control Act of 1968 reauthorized and deepened the FDR-era gun control laws. It added a minimum age for gun buyers, required guns have serial numbers and expanded people barred from owning guns from felons to include the mentally ill and drug addicts. Only federally licensed dealers and collectors could ship guns over state lines. People buying certain kinds of bullets had to show I.D. But the most stringent proposals—a national registry of all guns (which some states had in colonial times) and mandatory licenses for all gun carriers—were not in it. The NRA blocked these measures. Orth told America Riflemen magazine that while part of the law 'appears unduly restrictive, the measure as a whole appears to be one that the sportsmen of America can live with.'”

(Steven Rosenfeld. “The Surprising Unknown History of the NRA.” AlterNet Report. 
January 13, 2013.)

But in the mid-1960s, the Black Panthers were better-known than the NRA for expressing that view of the Second Amendment. Rosenfeld says, “White libertarians started to assert that the Second Amendment protected an individual right to guns—like the Black Panthers. But, of course, they were seeking to keep America’s white gun owners fully armed.”

But then …

In 1971, ATF raided a lifetime NRA member’s house who was suspected of having a large illegal arms cache and shot and killed him. This helped ignite a split to widen inside the NRA. Gun dealers thought they were being harassed. Rural states felt they were being unduly punished for urban America’s problems.

As a result ...

In 1975, the NRA created a new lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, under Harlon B. Carter, a tough-minded former chief of the U.S. Border Patrol who shared the libertarian goal of expanding gun owners’ rights. Burdick writes that “by 1976, the political rhetoric had gained momentum and the bicentennial year brought out a new NRA campaign, ‘designed to enroll defenders of the right to keep and bear arms’ in numbers equal to ‘the ranks of the patriots who fought in the American Revolution.’”

And so on and so on.

 

The gun violence increases and so does the debate over the Second Amendment and what needs to be done to insure proper gun ownership while taking firearms from criminals intent on using them.

I suggest reading an article called“The Right To Bear Arms” by Warren E. Burger, Chief Justice of the United States (1969-86) which appeared in Parade Magazine, January 14, 1990. Here is part of the Chief Justice's article:

“In the two centuries since then -- with two world wars and some lesser ones -- it has become clear, sadly, that we have no choice but to maintain a standing national army while still maintaining a "militia" by way of the National Guard, which can be swiftly integrated into the national defense forces. 

“Americans also have a right to defend their homes, and we need not challenge that. Nor does anyone seriously question that the Constitution protects the right of hunters to own and keep sporting guns for hunting game any more than anyone would challenge the right to own and keep fishing rods and other equipment for fishing -- or to own automobiles. To "keep and bear arms" for hunting today is essentially a recreational activity and not an imperative of survival, as it was 200 years ago; 'Saturday night specials' and machine guns are not recreational weapons and surely are as much in need of regulation as motor vehicles. 

“Americans should ask themselves a few questions. The Constitution does not mention automobiles or motorboats, but the right to keep and own an automobile is beyond question; equally beyond question is the power of the state to regulate the purchase or the transfer of such a vehicle and the right to license the vehicle and the driver with reasonable standards. In some places, even a bicycle must be registered, as must some household dogs. 

“If we are to stop this mindless homicidal carnage, is it unreasonable:
  1. to provide that, to acquire a firearm, an application be made reciting age, residence, employment and any prior criminal convictions?
  2. to required that this application lie on the table for 10 days (absent a showing for urgent need) before the license would be issued?
  3. that the transfer of a firearm be made essentially as with that of a motor vehicle?
  4. to have a "ballistic fingerprint" of the firearm made by the manufacturer and filed with the license record so that, if a bullet is found in a victim's body, law enforcement might be helped in finding the culprit?
“These are the kind of questions the American people must answer if we are to preserve the "domestic tranquillity" promised in the Constitution.”

(Click here to read the entire article: http://www.guncite.com/burger.html.

I hear the argument that “nothing will stop criminals from obtaining and using guns in their deadly activities, so no gun control will work.” The main point of this argument is that criminals do not follow laws; therefore, laws restricting gun ownership and types of guns would only hurt those who follow them.
  • This implies that areas with more restrictive gun laws should have more crime given that an armed populace deters criminals.
  • This notion is connected with the idea of “gun-free” zones and that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
True, there is no way to defeat the reality of the argument that “criminals don’t obey laws.” But, clearly, some criminals obey some laws some of the time; this is the nature of incentive explicit in law enforcement. With proper gun control either potential criminals are deterred from crime, or existing criminals are deterred from crime. Society must recognize that change can improve present deplorable conditions.

Gun proponents view “criminals don't obey laws” as an acceptable argument in political debate.
That is a nonsensical paradox. The paradox is as follows:
  1. Law-abiding citizens obey the law
  2. Criminals are lawbreakers, and thus do not obey the law
  3. Laws impose restrictions on the behavior of only those that follow them
  4. Laws, therefore, only hurt law-abiding citizens

     Could not every law be refuted with the lawbreaker’s paradox? For example, laws against rape, murder, and theft are rarely followed by rapists, murderers, and thieves, but the fact that such people exist in society is the reason behind such regulations in the first place.
To think that the minor inconvenience of gun reforms such as background checks, waiting periods, and assault weapon bans is more burdensome than the death of thousands of innocent civilians each year (which such reforms seek to redress) reflects a miscalibrated sense of what matters in the world.

After all, when gun advocates say that they are being ‘hurt’ by gun control, let’s be clear what the actual implication of this statement is: my right to not be bothered in the least by regulation outweighs the right to life for thousands of innocents who die in the absence of said regulation.

Not only can such gun reforms reduce the number of homicides, but there is very little controversy about the tremendous effect they would have at reducing suicides. So, the belief that laws aimed at saving lives 'hurt law-abiding citizens' is completely incompatible with any sane definition of right and wrong.


Even with tighter control of guns, will gun crimes and gun violence continue? Of course they will. Yet, how does a nation that has developed a violent gun mentality refuse to open a meaningful dialogue on this carnage? Those with a Second Amendment “no inch given” philosophy fueled by the NRA that denies all new, proposed gun reform stifle efforts to change the climate of violence in America. Responsibilities go hand in hand with freedoms. What used to be a very responsible group has changed its open-minded understandings to closed-minded fatalism.


Monday, March 28, 2016

"Shooting Toward the White House" -- Toting Guns To the Republican Convention

 

How many of you “older” folks remember the Laurel and Hardy comedies of the '30s and 40s? In each slapstick adventure, Stan would get Ollie into a precarious situation that seemingly always required Ollie to utter the catchphrase:“Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into."

Another regular catchphrase, cried out by Ollie in moments of distress or frustration when Stan stood helplessly by, was, "Why don't you do something to help me?" And yet another, not-as-often used catchphrase of Ollie, particularly after Stan had accidentally given a verbal idea to an adversary was. "Why don't you keep your (big) mouth shut?!"

This week readers may see some comedic comparison to the escapades of Laurel and Hardy and the conflict between beliefs and realities of a large faction of the GOP. Republicans tend to love their firearms like Hendrix loved his Stratocaster -- up close and personal.

Quicken Loans Arena, the site of the 2016 Republican Convention, strictly forbids the carry of firearms on the premises. However, a petition to allow the open carry of guns at the convention authored by a guy with the profile picture of Abraham Lincoln and going by the "Hyperationalist"  had collected nearly 50,000 signatures by mid-afternoon Monday, March 28, 2016.

So is it a serious petition seeking to allow open carry inside the convention hall? I don't think so. In fact, who would?

Twitter user “Hyperationalist ” has a biography that reads, “speaking truth to stupid.” And, the fact that so many people are evidently taking the petition for face value has caused Hyperationalist to retweet a comment praising the "wizard trolling" of the petition.
As part of blogging the petition, Hyperationalist wrote this defense of firearms at the convention:
“Cleveland, Ohio is consistently ranked as one of the top ten most dangerous cities in America. By forcing attendees to leave their firearms at home, the RNC and Quicken Loans Arena are putting tens of thousands of people at risk both inside and outside of the convention site.
"It just doesn't seem right that thousands of patriotic Republican good guys should be left totally unprotected by whatever bad guys might wish to do them harm. I mean for god sake people, ISIS could show up to take out everybody in and around that building and they'd be sitting ducks. Sitting ducks, I tell you! There might even be a bad egg or two among the delegates."

The hoax is a parody which has led reporters to ask leading Republican presidential contender Donald Trump whether he intended to support it. He answered that he would have to read the petition and “the fine print,” himself, first before commenting on support. By the way, Ohio is an open carry state.

Yet …

This hoax does put GOP officials and presidential candidates in the awkward position of tolerating the types of policies they often criticize. How can Republicans support open carry but not push for it to be allowed at their own convention? Especially, the front-running Trump? Just how they depend upon the NRA and the gun lobby for votes is in question.

Anyone familiar with Trump's stand on the Second Amendment appreciates the irony. Trump has called for an end to gun-free zones in schools, and he has said that places with gun bans make “target practice for the sickos and for the mentally ill.” He has labeled the zones “a catastrophe” and says they are a “feeding frenzy for sick people.”

Trump has stated, “I will get rid of gun-free zones on schools—you have—and on military bases on my first day. It gets signed my first day… you know what a gun-free zone is to a sicko? That’s bait.”

The Boston Globe also stated that, despite the convention arena's high level of security, Trump told ABC’s “This Weekthat he and other delegates would be “sitting ducks, utterly helpless against evil-doers and criminals.”

(Nancy Bailey. “Trump's Response To Petition for Guns at Cleveland's GOP Convention.” inquisitr.com. March 28, 2016.)

David M. Jackson reported:

“A spokeswoman for the Republican Convention's host committee told the Akron Beacon Journal that the U.S. Secret Service is handling security plans for the event in conjunction with local, state and federal authorities, and that they will be 'continuously refining security plans leading up to the national convention.'

“It’s the Donald’s rough-cut street talk that most upsets them. He says things the way a lot of folks talk, with bluster and bombast that drowns the excuses and euphemisms that politicians usually employ in public. When he talked about how the elites are scheming to stop him at an “open convention” in Cleveland, he said “I think you’d have riots” if the party establishment tries to undo the work of the primaries. He might be right, but saying so makes the grannies nervous.”

(David M. Jackson.Guns at GOP convention petition tops 35K, Trump wants to study 'fine print.'” USA Today. March 27, 2016.)
 
Responding to questions about guns at the convention, the Secret Service, which has been protecting presidential candidates on the trail, told The Hill on Monday that only law enforcement officers will be allowed to have guns inside the event.


“Individuals determined to be carrying firearms will not be allowed past a predetermined outer perimeter checkpoint, regardless of whether they possess a ticket to the event,” spokesman Robert Hoback told The Hill.

In deciding to definitively not allow guns at the GOP's convention, the Secret Service cited a federal law allowing the agency to prevent firearms and weapons from being brought into areas where people under the group's protection are present.The law applies to venues even in open-carry states.

In Tampa in 2012, convention-goers had to go through multiple security checkpoints and metal detectors to get into the convention space. They were also not allowed to bring firearms in with them.

 

My Take

Isn't Trump's reluctance to immediately rebuke the idea of carrying weapons at the Republican Convention adding addition fuel to his previous statements about possible riots there? He is an irresponsible candidate who would consider exceptions to rules already in place. He must look within to realize his constantly volatile comments encourage erratic behavior.

Quicken Loans arena is already a gun free zone. Open carry there is absurd. Why would Ohio agree to accept visitors from all over the United States toting weapons into the hall in Cleveland? For obvious reasons, I'm sure the Secret Service does not permit open carry at a Donald Trump rally. 

You may level blame on the Hyperationalist for even inventing the petition; however, perhaps it helps point out a zany obsession with guns in the United States. 

Republicans who favor the gun lobby should be ashamed of such a suggestion -- upfront and immediately. Yet, the truth is the strong gun lobby controls politicians who are afraid to speak out against gun violence. And, Donald Trump, who claims he is not controlled by political interests is a puppet of groups like the NRA – people he depends upon to support his dangerous agenda.

GOP, it's tough to look committed to platforms you know are not feasible to allow at your own convention. It's another nice mess you've gotten yourself into. Mr. Trump, why don't you keep your big mouth shut?


Friday, March 25, 2016

Teen Girls 30% Less Likely Than Boys to Use Protection During First Sexual Encounter: Does Sex Ed Increase Safe Teen Sex?


Nicole Weller, a doctoral candidate at Arizona State, performed an analysis of data from the National Survey of Family Growth, in which she looked at responses from 5,012 adolescents aged 11 to 19. Some of what she found may not surprise us, but her research does confirm a sad reality about the impact of early sexual health education.

Weller found that regardless of what type of sex-ed they received, teen girls were 30% less likely than teen boys to use protection during their first sexual encounter. She also found that black teens were 40% less likely than white teens to use protection the first time they had sex. 
 
For both young women and African Americans, Weller found no association between the type of sexual health education they got and their risk of sexually transmitted infection (STI) or use of contraception.

Conclusions about the relation of sex education and sexual activity? Allow me to state the results:
  • Sex education does seem to delay the age at which teens first have sex: previous studies show that 42% of teenage girls and 43% of teenage boys now have their sexual debut at an average age of 17.5 years — later than they did 10 years ago, when the average age of first sex was 15.
  • But sex education doesn’t appear to increase safe sex once teens begin having sex. According to a 2009 study in Pediatrics, 38% of 14-to-19-year-old girls who were sexually active were diagnosed with at least one of the five most common STIs in 2009. Weller asserts that the similar age of sexual debut and infection shows that contracting STIs often happens soon after first sex.
  • Although people disagree about what type of sexual education children and teenagers should receive, 90% of Americans want some kind of sex ed for teens. Understanding how adolescents interact with information about sex may help improve the quality of education they receive.
Weller’s findings are preliminary and will require follow-up, though a study from Indiana University corroborates her findings: “while 80% of 14-to-17-year-old boys used condoms during the last 10 times they had sex, only 58% of their female counterparts reported the same.”

(Maredith Melnick. “Study: Teen Girls More Likely to Have Risky Sex Than Teen Boys.”  
Time. November 09, 2010.)

 

My Take

Weller's research is deeply disturbing in that young women – for whatever reason – view protection as less important than do young men, and disturbing in that sex education – by formal instruction or with parental guidance – fails to promote safer sex with proper methods of contraception.

Why are teens, especially girls reluctant to use contraception? 
 
Perhaps a study from Europe will help illuminate the answer. Interviews conducted with women between the ages of 16 and 20 attending a day unit at a hospital in England who were due to have, or had recently had, a surgical abortion were conducted. The young women were asked about their knowledge of and views on contraception, sex education, and sexual health services.. The conclusions were published in The European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care.

The interviews revealed that lack of knowledge about sex and contraception, and access to sexual health services did not play a major role in unintended pregnancies among these young women. “Much more significant were the decision-making processes around choosing (or not) to use contraception.”

Researchers found that young people do not use contraception consistently and do not always think about it until after they become sexually active. Sex was often unplanned, and this lack of planning lessened the likelihood of contraception being used, especially where alcohol was involved. The study shows that a combination of factors – alcohol lessening inhibitions, being “in the moment,” and being too embarrassed to discuss condom use – was likely to result in unprotected sex despite young people being knowledgeable about contraception and aware of how to access it.
 
A very important determinant of contraceptive use was communication, or lack thereof, with a partner. A key finding of this study is that “lack of communication plays a major role, with few respondents feeling comfortable about discussing condom use in particular. This was compounded by what was perceived to be young men's reluctance to use condoms, and assumptions about responsibility for contraceptive use. The evidence suggests that those in short-term relationships or engaging in 'one night stands' were much less likely to use contraception because sex was unplanned, but those in a long-term relationship where sex was planned, were likely to have discussed it with their partner.” 

(Sally Brown and Kate Guthrie “Why don't teenagers use contraception? A qualitative interview study.” Wolfson Research Institute. The European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care. June 2010.)

Another study puts a great deal of blame on parents.
 
A recent survey by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. (2015) discovered 68% of teens said they agreed with this statement: “The primary reason why they don't use birth control or protection is because they're afraid their parents will find out.”

That's nearly seven out of 10 teens who say fears about what their parents might think or say are pushing them not to protect themselves when and if they have sex.

Now, I do understand that this “fear of parents” is very illogical, but so are teenagers, especially during times when floods of hormones encourage them to take new risks and adventures. And, isn't it true that parents calmly preach protection while being much more judgmental when faced with the actuality of discovering that their own children use birth control?

Bill Albert, chief program officer for The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy said teens consistently say that their parents, not peers, partners or popular culture, most influence their decisions about sex, but birth control seems to be a "profound exception" to this rule.

Many parents say they want their kids to be using birth control or protection if they are having sex, but they just don't feel comfortable being the ones sharing that information, he said.

"Because somehow that implies to many parents we've talked to that it's almost like implicit tacit approval, like, 'You want to have sex. You go right ahead. Just be protected. You'll be fine.' That's not the view of most parents."

What's also at play, said Albert, is the feeling of many parents that they don't believe they can be influential when it comes to the topic of birth control.

"But that's simply not the case," said Albert.

(Kelly Wallace. “Survey says teens skip birth control because they fear parental judgment. CNN. May 07, 2015.)

What To Do?

Suggestions to change the reality about sexual risks include the following advice for parents: start early with conversations about sex and birth control, be sure “the talk” is not a one-time conversation, consistently offer helpful advice on sex, and use an anatomy book for better instruction.

When discussing the topic of sex, whoever gives proper sex education instruction to girls must be obliged to inform them that boys are not the only participants responsible for understanding and using birth control. Also, girls must understand that boys who beg them to have sex au naturel present great risks. One study found a quarter of teen girls who didn't use birth control say they didn't because their partner didn't want them to. 
 
Of course, boys need to learn that trying to talk someone into risking their partner's health and future because sex without protection feels “awesome” is totally irresponsible.

Ignorant beliefs in myths such as these also contribute to risky sexual behavior:

I've heard that if you pee after sex, you wash out all of the sperm.”
I'm pretty sure you can't get pregnant the first time you have sex.”
I think I'll use a plastic bag instead of buying condoms.”
I'm going to have sex in a special position to avoid getting pregnant.”
My boyfriend says he'll just pull his penis out before anything happens.”

We all understand that it's never too late to talk about abstinence – how it can relate to values and hopes for the future. Abstinence is also the only way to prevent teen pregnancy and STIs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes and HIV.

We still must look at the fact that many teens – of ages 13 to 19 – engage in sexual activities. As responsible adults, we must educate young people about risks and contraception. Here is a respected report of the facts:

Fewer than 2% of adolescents have had sex by the time they reach their 12th birthday. But adolescence is a time of rapid change. Only 16% of teens have had sex by age 15, compared with one-third of those aged 16, nearly half (48%) of those aged 17, 61% of 18-year-olds and 71% of 19-year-olds. There is little difference by gender in the timing of first sex.”

(L.B. Finer and J.M. Philbin. Sexual initiation, contraceptive use, and pregnancy among young adolescents.” Pediatrics. 2013.) 

 


 
The Mayo Clinic Staff believes understanding birth control methods is an important life skill for everyone. They conclude it is important to be sure teens know how to prevent pregnancy and protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections.That information includes the following:
 

Condoms

Stress the importance of always using condoms during sex, even if your teen is using a second form of contraception.
  • Consistent and correct use of condoms is the most effective way for sexually active teens to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections. 
  • Condoms help prevent pregnancy. 
  •  

Prescription birth control

Various prescription contraceptives can help prevent teen pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists encourages adolescents to consider long-acting reversible contraception first — including intrauterine devices and contraceptive implants — as these options are highly effective with little thought required.
Prescription birth control options that help prevent teen pregnancy include:
  • Intrauterine devices (Mirena, Skyla, Paragard)
  • Contraceptive implants (Implanon, Nexplanon)
  • Combination birth control pills
  • The contraceptive patch (Ortho Evra)
  • The vaginal ring (NuvaRing)
  • The contraceptive injection (Depo-Provera)
Your teen will need to see a doctor to get a prescription for these types of contraceptives. Before scheduling the appointment, ask your daughter if she would prefer to see a female physician.
Explain to your teen that the doctor will:
  • Review her medical history.
  • Conduct a pelvic exam.
  • Go over the risks and benefits of different types of birth control. For instance, Depo-Provera generally isn't recommended for young teens because it may affect bone mass.
Make sure your teen understands that prescription birth control isn't a replacement for condoms. Prescription birth control helps prevent pregnancy, but it doesn't offer protection from sexually transmitted infections.

Emergency birth control

Explain to your teen that it's always a good idea to make a decision about birth control before having sex. However, emergency contraception — such as the morning-after pill levonorgestrel Plan B One-Step, Next Choice One Dose) or ulipristal (ella) — can help prevent pregnancy if your teen doesn't plan ahead or contraception fails.
  • Plan B One-Step is available over-the-counter without a prescription.
  • Next Choice One Dose is available over-the-counter for women age 17 and older and by prescription for those younger than age 17.
  • Ella is available only with a prescription from your doctor or health care provider.
Make sure your teen understands that emergency contraception must be started as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse. The sooner the pills are taken, the more likely they are to be effective, though they may be taken up to 120 hours after unprotected intercourse.

(Staff. “Teens and sex: Protecting your teen's sexual health.” Mayo Clinic. mayoclinic.org. 2016)


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Details in Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper" -- What Do You See?


 

What can you identify in Leonardo da Vinci's mural painting The Last Supper in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan? I know you have seen this masterpiece many times. Yet, what may seem to you to be a straightforward work of art representing a simple Biblical depiction may surprise you in its meticulous detail.

In celebration of Easter, I am asking you to examine The Last Supper very closely and determine exactly what you see in the work. In other words, I am posting the painting and asking you to view it carefully. Then, I would ask you to read the sections below subtitles as “Speculation” and “What We Do Know” to reveal both interpretations of the work and information from Leonardo, himself.
First, here is a little background. Stop at the image of The Last Supper and do your investigation before reading the interpretations.

Background

The Last Supper is one of the world's most famous paintings. The painting represents the scene of The Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples, as it is told in the Gospel of John, 13:21. The present condition of the painting is not good in part due to Leonardo experimenting with oil paint and tempera in an environment where fresco would traditionally be used.

The painting was done from 1494-1499. One story goes that a prior from the monastery complained to Leonardo about the delay in completing the work, enraging him. He wrote to the head of the monastery, explaining he had been struggling to find the perfect villainous face for Judas, and that if he could not find a face corresponding with what he had in mind, he would use the features of the prior who complained.

(Kenneth Clark. Leonardo da Vinci. 1939, 1993.)

It is tempera (a permanent, fast-drying painting medium consisting of colored pigments mixed with a water-soluble binder medium – usually a glutinous material such as egg yolk) on gesso (a white paint mixture consisting of a binder mixed with chalk, gypsum, pigment, or any combination of these), pitch (a polymer derived from petroleum, coal tar, or plants), and mastic (a resin a obtained from the mastic tree).

The dimensions of the work are 460cm x 880 cm (181 inches x 346 inches).

 
 The Last Supper

 
 The Last Supper (Enhanced)

Close Up Views

 

 

 

 

Speculation

The Last Supper has been the target of much speculation by writers and historical revisionists alike, usually centered on purported hidden messages or hints found within the painting.

A common rumor surrounding the painting is that the same model was used for both Jesus and Judas. The story often goes that the innocent-looking young man, a baker, posed at nineteen for Jesus. Some years later Leonardo discovered a hard-bitten criminal as the model for Judas, not realizing he was the same man. There is no evidence that Leonardo used the same model for both figures and the story usually overestimates the time it took Leonardo to finish the mural.

Some writers identify the person to Jesus' right not with the Apostle John (as is supposed by icongraphical tradition and confirmed by art historians) but with Mary Magdalene. This theory was the topic of the book The Templar Revelation, and plays a central role in Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code (2003).

It is also claimed that if one looks above the figure of Bartholemew, a Grail-like image appears on the wall. Whether Leonardo meant this to be a representation of the Holy Grail cannot be known, since as pointed out earlier there is a glass on the table within Christ's reach. The "Grail image" has become noticed probably because it only appears when viewing the painting in small scale reproductions.

Slavisa Pesci, "an information technologist and amateur scholar", superimposed Leonardo da Vinci's version of The Last Supper with its mirror image (with both images of Jesus lined up) and claimed that the resultant picture has:
  • a Templar knight on the far left
  • a woman in orange holds a swaddled babe in arms to the left of Christ
  • the Holy Grail used in the first Eucharist

Giovanni Maria Pala, an Italian musician, has indicated that the positions of hands and loaves of bread can be interpreted as notes on a musical staff, and if read from right to left, as was characteristic of Da Vinci's writing, form a musical composition.

What We Do Know

The subject of the work specifically portrays the reactions of the apostles after Jesus announces: “One of you will betray me.” (Mark 14:18) Of course, this news is terribly shocking to his closest followers.

Perhaps the most important theme shows Christ reaching toward a glass of wine and bread. This is said to be the institution of the sacrament (the eucharist or “holy communion”) The glass is not the glorified chalice of legend as Leonardo insisted on realistic paintings. With a hand spread wide, it seems as if Jesus is reaching toward the wine but at the same time toward a bowl, and simultaneously Judas is reaching toward that same bowel. Does Jesus identify his betrayer signified by the person who dips with him in that bowel?

Do not the figures seem too crowded for the table? And, to some, the figure of the serene Christ has an important geometry in the painting. His body forms an equilateral triangle with the window that frames his head as a halo of sorts. He is the calm, divine center surrounded by humans with all of their “crowded” faults. fears, and worries. Da Vinci may have been thinking about math, science, religion and the integration of all of these things. All of the angles and lighting draw attention to Christ.

Even someone viewing the painting would have to be ten feet off the floor to get all the perspective correct. Thus, viewers must “look up” to see this, so Harris and Zucker claim “it elevates us to look at this painting.”

(Dr. Beth Harris, Dr. Steven Zucker. “Leonardo, Last Supper. http://smarthistory.org/leonardo-last-supper.html.

The Last Supper presents the apostles in four groups of three each. This overlaps them and perhaps help create drama and shared tension.

All twelve apostles have different reactions to the news, with various degrees of anger and shock. The apostles are identified from a a manuscript (The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci ) with their names found in the 19th century. (Before this, only Judas, Peter, John and Jesus were positively identified.)

(The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci – Complete by Leonardo da Vinci. 
Gutenberg.org. January 2004.).

From left to right, according to the apostles' heads:
  • Bartholemew, James (son of Alphaeus) and Andrew form a group of three, all are surprised.

  • Judas Iscariot, Peter, and John form another group of three. 
     
    Judas is wearing green and blue and is in shadow, looking rather withdrawn and taken aback by the sudden revelation of his plan. He is clutching a small bag, perhaps signifying the silver given to him as payment to betray Jesus, or perhaps a reference to his role within the 12 disciples as treasurer. He is also tipping over the salt cellar. This may be related to the near-Eastern expression to "betray the salt" meaning to betray one's Master. He is the only person to have his elbow on the table and his head is also horizontally the lowest of anyone in the painting. 

    Peter looks angry and is holding a knife pointed away from Christ, perhaps foreshadowing his violent reaction in Gethsemane during Jesus' arrest. 

    The youngest apostle, John, appears to swoon. 

  • Jesus. 
     
  • Apostle Thomas, James the Greater, and Philip are the next group of three. 
     
    Thomas is clearly upset; the raised index finger foreshadows his Incredulity of the Resurrection. (Perhaps asking if this is part of God's plan? Is this also the finger of doubting Thomas feeling the wound of Jesus?) 

    James the Greater looks stunned, with his arms in the air. 

    Meanwhile, Philip appears to be requesting some explanation (with his hands together, not out into the air like James).

  • Matthew, Jude Thaddeus, and Simon the Zealot are the final group of three. 
     
    Both Jude Thaddeus and Matthew are turned toward Simon, perhaps to find out if he has any answer to their initial questions.
In common with other depictions of the Last Supper from this period, Leonardo seats the diners on one side of the table, so that none of them has his back to the viewer. Most previous depictions excluded Judas by placing him alone on the opposite side of the table from the other eleven disciples and Jesus or placing halos around all the disciples except Judas. Leonardo instead has Judas lean back into shadow.

Jesus is predicting that his betrayer will take the bread at the same time he does to Saints Thomas and James to his left, who react in horror as Jesus points with his left hand to a piece of bread before them. Distracted by the conversation between John and Peter, Judas reaches for a different piece of bread not noticing Jesus too stretching out with his right hand towards it (Matthew 26: 23). The angles and lighting draw attention to Jesus, whose head is located at the vanishing point for all perspective lines.

The painting contains several references to the number 3, which represents the Christian belief in the Holy Trinity. The Apostles are seated in groupings of three; there are three windows behind Jesus; and the shape of Jesus' figure resembles a triangle. There may have been other references that have since been lost as the painting deteriorated.

(The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci – Complete by Leonardo da Vinci. 
Gutenberg.org. January 2004.).

Happy Easter. I hope you learned something new. I know I did when collecting the information for this entry.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Baseball Diplomacy: The American President and Cuban Relations


 

March 22, 2016 – the world will remember this as a date that marked the play of a game between two old Cold War enemies. Why would something as simple as an international athletic competition be a significant political landmark? 
 
The answer is that both the United States and Cuba share a passion and an undying love for baseball, a sport capable of improving human relations. This contest in 2016 symbolized a hope for sweeping change and forgiveness between these neighboring nations.
 
This landmark exhibition baseball game at Estadio Latinoamericano in the Cuban capital of Havana between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team not only represented the first time a Major League team has played on the communist-ruled island since 1999, but also marked the first time an American leader visited Cuba while in office since "Silent" Calvin Coolidge in 1928.

No matter your views on issues between the United States and Cuba – the economic embargo, human rights violations, Guantanamo – you must recognize that these sincere attempts at diplomacy are important stepping stones to ironing out key understandings.

Throughout his presidency, Obama has sought to refocus U.S. foreign policy on regions like Latin America that have received less attention than the turmoil in the Middle East and the terrorism emanating from the region.

The White House hopes that restoring ties with Cuba will benefit U.S. relations with other countries in Latin America, which have long bristled at Washington's freeze with Havana.

Enter the common ground of baseball ...

As a recognition of "good will" between two nations and a sign of progress. President
Obama pointed to baseball legend Jackie Robinson, who broke barriers in the U.S. as one of the first African-American Major League Baseball players, as one example of "the power of sports" to bring change. 
 
"It can change attitudes sometimes in ways that a politician can never change, that a speech can’t change," Obama said. "All of those kids who started growing up watching the Brooklyn Dodgers, suddenly they’re rooting for a black man on the field and how that affects their attitudes laying the groundwork for the civil rights movement that’s a legacy that all of us have benefited from, black and white and Latino and Asian."

Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser added …

"Baseball is obviously something that the United States and the Cuban people share a common love of and it's a part of both of our heritages, and frankly, also part of the type of exchanges that we are pursuing in business, in culture, in the arts, in sports that can bring the American and Cuban people closer together.”

(Patrick Oppmann. “Obama engages in baseball diplomacy in Cuba.” 
CNN. March 22, 2016.)

This is a sentiment echoed by Major League Commissioner Robert Manfred. He explained ...

"During a time of historic change, we appreciate the constructive role afforded by our shared passion for the game, and we look forward to experiencing Cuba's storied baseball tradition and the passion of its many loyal fans.”

(Mike Axisa. “President Obama to attend Rays-Cuba exhibition game in Havana.” 
CBS Sports. March 02, 2016.)

 

The President's long-planned attendance at the game was unfortunately full of public controversy due to a tragic terrorist attack in Belgium that morning. The President was criticized by opponents who believed he should have left Cuba because of attacks in Brussels. It presented a dilemma for President Obama.
 
Of course, Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz were two of the loudest critics of the president for continuing his trip to Cuba in the wake of the attacks in Brussels, calling on the president to suspend his trip and return home to the United States or travel to Belgium’s capital. 
 
Trump was quoted in The Hill as saying: “Obama looked 'ridiculous' speaking in Cuba while the situation in Brussels unfolded. And, CBS2’s Kristine Johnson reported Trump took to Twitter on March 21, 2016 to call out President Barack Obama for attending a baseball game in Cuba. Trump tweeted ...

Pres. Obama should leave the baseball game in Cuba immediately & get home to Washington- where a #POTUS, under a serious emergency belongs!”

(Kristine Johnson. “Ted Cruz: ‘We Need To Empower Law Enforcement To PatrolAnd Secure Muslim Neighborhoods Before They Become Radicalized.’” CBS New York. March 22, 2016.)

Like Trump, Cruz condemned Obama at a news conference on Capitol Hill ...

"President Obama is spending his time going to baseball games with the Castros. He should be back in America keeping this country safe. Or President Obama should be planning to travel to Brussels."
 
(Jordyn Phelps. “President Obama Explains Why He Attended MLB Exhibition Game in Cuba Despite Brussels Attacks.” ABC News. March 22, 2016.)

Juliet Spies-Gans of the Huffington Post said this of President Obama's decision to attend the game despite the developments in Brussels:

His reasoning had to do with fear. And with fortitude. And with refusing to cower in the face of a bully — refusing to let groups like the Islamic State dictate the rhythm and actions of the rest of the world.”

(Juliet Spies-Gans. Obama Explains Why He Attended A Ballgame Just Hours After The Brussels Attacks.” Huffington Post. March 22, 2016.)

In a live mid-game interview with ESPN, President Obama explained his decision to attend the game in Cuba in the following statement:

"It's always a challenge when you have a terrorist attack anywhere in the world. You want to be respectful and understand the gravity of the situation. But, the whole premise of terrorism is to try to disrupt people's ordinary lives."

Obama continued to explain his position …
 
They (terrorists) cannot defeat America, they don’t produce anything, they don’t have a message that appeals to the vast majority of Muslims or the vast majority of people around the world. What they can do is scare. And make people afraid. And disrupt our daily lives and divide us. And as long as we don’t allow that to happen, we’re going to be OK.” 
 
Before the game began, the two leaders stood and bowed their heads for a minute's silence to honor the victims of the attacks in Brussels, which left at least 34 people dead. 

 
 
My Take

Obama is the first U.S. president in 88 years to visit Cuba. I watched my television as President Obama, his wife Michelle, and his daughter Malia joined Cuban President Raul Castro at the game Tuesday. The atmosphere was electric with anticipation, competition, and more than a little fear. 
 
After all, the President and his family visited Cuba at great risk – physical risks to him and to his family, political risks to his popularity, and personal risks to his legacy. I believe he handled the trip exceptionally well and served as the epitome of a strong American president. I also believe my making the decision to stay in Cuba he made a stoic stand against terrorism. In fact, he was standing with Americans – the Tampa Bay Rays – and just 90 or so miles from American soil.

In my view, President Obama deserves the respect and gratitude of the American people.I praise both President Obama and President Castro for their courage and for their willingness to enter into historic discussions. The meeting was a memorable, historic event that will hopefully open doors for normalization and improved human rights.

To me …

The crown jewel of the trip was the solidarity between the two former enemies at the baseball game. And, I do not say this without recognizing other very important parts of the visit such as the President's meeting with Cuban dissidents. All of this was made possible by the normalization of U.S. and Cuban relations 15 months ago. Again, thanks to President Obama.

On the diamond this March 22, Americans and Cubans proved that baseball can represent much more than a game between two teams. The fellowship, sportsmanship, and good will displayed on the field and in the bleachers formed a bright vision of international relations. Baseball, once again, showed us that old adversaries can work on becoming new friends despite deep differences. Anyone who loves the game, no matter where they live, understands this respectful relationship among players and fans, and the "kid" in all of us knows the power of baseball to inspire new dreams.


The Game I Love
by John McCluskey©
Published: The Ridgefield Press (2002)
The days I miss of the game I love,
early Spring, my Mazeroski glove,

my baseball cards, clothespins, spokes;
on Saturdays, I'd tell my folks

that afternoons I must be gone;
I'd race to where the Kelly's lawn

met the endless St Jude's field,
where heavy lumber kids would wield,

where muddy balls were tossed around
and mitts were left upon the ground

when innings changed, so we could share
(there weren't enough for all out there).

But we played those days with all our might
til calls to dinner brought the night

(in summer, though, we might return
with bellies full, more fuel to burn).

Baseball then was everything -
you played it, watched it, had cards to bring

down the street to show your friends,
to trade your doubles, though it depends

upon the cards your buddies had
and their condition: good or bad.

Some trades you made, improved your stack,
those yesterdays that won't be back.

My springtime heart's forever full of
the days I miss of the game I love


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sick Commercial During "The Passion" -- Shaun Adkins and "Squashing Liberalism"

 
 Shaun Adkins

I was watching Fox TV's “The Passion,” a two-hour live event from New Orleans. The musical production was a modern update on the Bible story starring Jencarlos Canela as Jesus, Chris Daughtry as Judas, and Seal as Pontius Pilate. I thought it was different, mildly interesting and rather controversial in its novel presentation.

I noticed that most of the commercials during the presentation contained mild content, and some ads even featured local ministries. I understood that the audience was likely Christian and apt to be sensitive to religious ideals.

Then, during the second hour of programming …

A paramilitary-looking dude storms into one of the commercials holding his automatic weapon and spouting propaganda about how liberals are destroying America. He began touting his Squashing Liberalism book and website where people could read about his aggressive, no-holds-barred attack against liberal Americans.

I was so taken back by the commercial that I watched it without actually noting the name of the host. My eyes and ears were riveted on the negative message of the ad, and I couldn't believe the commercial was airing during “The Passion,” and evidently part of its paid sponsorship. It seemed much too forceful to be sponsoring an event about the life of Jesus.

I became so upset with what I considered an unkind intrusion of the program that I called the local Fox affiliate to ask more about the ad. They did some checking and found out a little more about Squashing Liberalism by the author Shaun Adkins.

This information allowed me to find Adkins online. With the aid of his website, I would like to share a little about Mr. Shaun Adkins.

Shaun Adkins says he one of the “good guys.” He states that he is a Marine, an author a public speaker, a conservative talk show host and “every liberal's worst nightmare.”

His site states ...

Whether it’s up close and personal confrontations with tree-hugging hippies or drawing national attention and garnering a Fox News interview for his heated discussion with a U.S. Senator, people have come to know Shaun Adkins as someone who doesn’t pull punches when the issue is the liberal agenda that’s destroying America.

A dedicated and concerned father, U.S. Marine Corps veteran, and plain-spoken conservative voice, Shaun has always felt someone needed to write a book about how to counter the left’s ideology in the same manner he does…so HE DID!”

Read for yourself. Shaun Adkins site: http://squashingliberalism.com/

 
 
Adkins served as a young engineer in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. He claims to exhibit a “Marine Corps attitude” in everything he does, especially when “defending American ideals” in posts, interviews, and speaking at public rallies and forums.

At his website, the reader can, for a price, order merchandise such as his book, “dNC Voting Dead t-shirts, flag-pattern head wraps, posters, and decals – all of which he calls “an American thing” for “squashing liberalism.” He must like that suppressing word a lot.

On the site, Adkins also features podcasts in which he claims he “advances conservative principles with a healthy dose of politically incorrect humor, bold truths, and in-your-face common sense mixed with a little military flavor, to pummel the left and revive America.”

These podcasts were founded in 2013 by Donna Fiducia, former Fox News Channel anchor, and Don Neuen, Constitutional Conservative.

Adkins also has a show on Red State Talk Radio.

 

Under the guise of sarcasm and humor, Shaun Adkins literally holds a gun against those with liberal views. As a person profiting from his hateful rhetoric, Adkins' bias lines his pockets. Of course, like any American capitalist, he is entitled to free speech and to any profits he makes from his enterprises. Yet, Adkins uses his experience as a veteran to justify trampling liberals and call it his red-blooded American duty.

This is exactly the type of attack campaign that creates unyielding political partisanship, and it is also evident Adkins is attempting to delineate lines of faith and define all Christians as God-fearing, gun-toting, liberal-hating conservatives. 
 
In my life I have known many, many veterans and a great number of heroes who served their country with honor. None of those in my acquaintance promoted hardcore tactics that supported a particular political agenda. In fact, they all respected different political views and made no attempts to denigrate Americans for which they served. I feel Adkins is using his service in the Marine Corp for selfish self-promotion.

With his props of weapons, the American flag, and steel weights, Adkins makes false generalizations about those he judges unfit while he uses ad hominem attacks to bring his heavy boot down upon these liberals. Of course, his entire shtick incorporates many other fallacies such as appeals to emotion (jingoism) and appeals to tradition. 
 
Shaun Adkins builds himself up as the voice of reason and patriotism. On his blog, he praises those who fought on Omaha Beach (the “Greatest Generation”), and he says …

There are fewer and fewer of these heroes left with each passing day. We should all make it a point to honor them every chance we get and thank them for the life they lived, the men and women they were, and the things they did to secure a better life for us at a time when most of us weren’t even around yet.”

I believe the men who landed on D-Day helped secure liberty for all people. To judge and assume their sacrifices were meant to gain freedom for one particular political persuasion is staining history and grossly distorting the truth. Perhaps Shaun should research the true objectives and achievements of people like my father who fought in World War II against Nazi Germany.

Shaun Adkins equates patriotism – love and devotion to one's country – as a zealous allegiance to what he calls “the good guys” who “stand on the right side of history.” There is little doubt what he views as the “right side.” His views are emblematic of those who support the political polarization of American and the end of diversity.

To end this entry, I noticed that Adkins calls liberals “God deniers.” He says he is a “fed-up American” in a “raging war for America’s soul.” To win this conflict Adkins calls for “squashing liberalism in a team effort.” So, I assume he considered airing his inflammatory commercial during “The Passion” a full-frontal “team” attack against heathen liberals. I guess that also means unless you are on his “team,” you do not have a relationship with the Almighty. 
 
I believe in God, in “good guys,” in Marines, and in many conservative values, but also I believe in the people of the United States of America -- all of the well-intentioned people, no matter how diverse their views. We all have a voice in our way of life, our government, and our freedom. A man who professes people should come together to “squash liberalism” in the name of God and the founding fathers is simply promoting himself and his selfish material interests.