Let’s Take A Moment To Help Others, But Not At The Cost Of Our Values.

Free association. It’s a great part of the American identity. Unfortunately, it’s been under fire the last few decades under the misguided (in my opinion) conception that you must treat everyone equally at all times in every way or you are criminally/civilly liable. This has been construed to mean that you must provide services to causes/lifestyles that you find morally objectionable.

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday in the case of a Colorado baker who had refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. The Colorado state officials then bludgeoned the man with bureaucracy and tried to destroy his business. It has happened to others, and will probably happen again. The court ruled that he had been singled out and maliciously treated. The court did not rule, specifically, on the constitutionality of the case regarding his alleged obligation to bake a cake for a gay couple.

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I can’t help but wonder what the implications are of this societal need to make you comply with the current moral climate. We never seem to learn that these things are transitory, and change with each era. Following one’s own internal compass, especially if it’s based in your belief in God, is not a bad guideline to avoid the moving target that we face today.

But, you say, some religions allow you to discriminate against homosexuals, women, and those of color! I guess that’s true, but I’m not talking about the codified structural systems under Sharia law. I’m talking about, as noted in the first sentence today, the right to free association.

It is fairly simple: the market will make room for any product for which there is a demand. You do not need to force people to provide goods and services based on lifestyle. If you haven’t paid attention, it is literally impossible to tell if someone is gay by looking at them. Black, Hispanic, etc., are visual in most cases, and discrimination on that basis shouldn’t be allowed. If a gay man goes into a bakery and orders a dozen pies, and his cash is good, nobody cares. But asking someone of faith, regardless of that faith, to make a product they deem objectionable violates the concept of free speech and association. There are others in the market that will provide what they desire, and since there is no monopoly on baking cakes, or flower arrangements, or photography, you can find another provider who will accommodate your needs and lifestyle.

You may ask, “Well, where’s the line?” It’s a good question. I won’t even try to answer it, it’s like pornography: I’ll know it when I see it. But I do know this much: if I was asked to be Santa for a gay couple’s children, I would. I have. I’m not blessing their association, I’m entertaining their children. If I was asked to officiate a gay wedding as Santa, that would be another story, as it would involve my religious faith, and set of principles, in the matter of holy matrimony. Similarly, if you asked me to be Santa at a NAMBLA event, there’s a really good chance of Hell freezing over before I’d take the gig.

In the current climate, I am not allowed to make all of the choices I want to make regarding these sorts of issues. So I have tightly restricted what I will and won’t do as a performer, and as a writer, to fit into my worldview. It means that I do turn down some things that I don’t object to just so that I am protected when the objectionable things come along. Is that fair to me? I can’t take work, or advertise for work, that I’d like to do because it means I might have to accept work from someone who’s life choices I find objectionable on a faith level?

Before you rush to flood me with work requests for events where they torture penguins in cyberspace, and take dirty pictures with middle-aged men, be aware that I won’t be available that day. I’ve turned down plenty of work from straight white people that involved tasks that I will not do. Examples? A party where the goal is to get really drunk and then cavort with Santa. A dirty/bad Santa telling off-color jokes *(Did you hear about the life-size Babzie doll and the drunken elves?)*, a stripping Santa (When you get done gagging, I have to say the paycheck offered was enormous.) And the list goes on.

What I suggest, humbly, is that you treat people nicely. And since you don’t want to be forced to bake the cake for White Supremacy Day, or make a floral arrangement that says “I hope you rot in hell because you’re a (fill in the blank)” that you not force that on other people. I am betting that someone will do it if you don’t want to do it. I know for a fact they found people to fill in the events above when I turned them down.

My point is simple: government should not be forcing people to provide business services to anyone. Yes, there will be mindless, stupid discrimination. Some of it will be mean spirited in your opinion. But should I really be able to go to the Hilal restaurant and order a BLT? Because I don’t think I should. I respect their choice. And there are plenty of other places that will make me the sandwich.

Let’s head back to that golden rule: don’t force other people to eat the crow you despise.

On that note, go out and be decent to everyone you meet.
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Memorial Day 2018.

This morning I was walking through the living room when the opening notes of the Star Spangled Banner sounded from the television. I stopped in place, came to attention, and presented a salute to the flag standard that I visualized in front of me. I sang along silently, each word a tender morsel for my soul. I thought about the men and women who had given their lives for us, that we might be able to honor them today. They didn’t die to be remembered, but if we fail to remember them today, they have died in vain. That salute, that honoring of the anthem, is a part of today.

Memorial Day is often confused with Veterans Day by civilians. Some crabby ex-military types get all wound up when strangers thank them for their service on Memorial Day. To those of us who served, and lost friends, it’s a sacred thing. You see, we do use that day to remember our fallen brothers and sisters. But if your heart is in the right place, that bit of thanks to the living isn’t really out of place. We all know we could be one of the fallen. We all wrote that check payable to Uncle Sam for the price of our lives, we just didn’t see ours cashed in service to the nation. I would ask my fellow veterans to be gracious when someone thanks them: they mean well.

Patrick is the gentleman in the center of the photo.

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With each passing year, I find myself a little more mellow on the issue of my service. Part of it is that I am grateful for that experience, and saddened by the loss of friends. As the decades have unreeled, I mourn for more and more of the people who have been killed in service during the current conflicts. Conflicts. Nice word. They are wars. When you grab a gun, or a helicopter, or a pair of swim fins, and go out to engage enemies, you’re at war. I see their names in the news, and say a prayer for them and their families. Because whether you die in Georgia near a Waffle House when your C-130 crashes, or you die in the mountains of Afghanistan, you gave your life in service to your country.

Some of the sadness is for the ones who come back from service wounded and take their own lives. I have come to understand that all of us who served in any kind of role were wounded in some way. For some the wound is a limp, or damaged hearing. For others, its a trauma that wounds the soul. Some of our company take their own lives. The pain is too great. I consider them combat casualties as well.

On Memorial Day we will gather. Young vets, old vets, family, civilians and clergy. We will honor the fallen. And then a lot of us will adjourn to the local VFW and tilt a cold one for absent friends. And whether you served last week, or in Korea, you will stare at the bubbles for a few minutes and think about the sacrifice they made for the nation.

I am humbled to have served with some, known others, and read about the rest.

God, please bless them all. And, while you’re at it, Bless the United States of America.

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When you finish reading any book (especially mine) please review it at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.goodreads.com. Your review increases the chances of someone looking for a new book greatly. Authors appreciate your review, even if it is just “I thought this was a good read and will give it to my dog to chew. I especially liked the ending, because it made me feel better when he killed all of the main characters. (no spoilers, please)” Those few words (more than 20, fewer than 1,000 is ideal), and a 1-5 rating, make or break how the search engines find us. Thanks in advance.

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The #PinkDeathmobile Is Coming On Time Today.

I ride the bus on the way home from work. Walk to work, ride home. At the end of the day I’m out of gas. In my area, I can catch a lot of different busses with just a 15 minute walk.

I was strongly tempted to do so recently when a bus pulled up at my stop. It was covered in logos and advertising for the local death merchants. You know, the ones who plan to rip living beings out of their mothers. I won’t name their name, but they do some contraceptive work to make their eugenics more palatable to the gullible.

The reality is, they kill babies. If you donate money to “help prevent teen pregnancy” you are funding abortions. They just move money from pot to pot so that they can keep the carnage flowing. The government even gives them money to kill babies. I’m not good with that at all.

So instead of the cheery pictures of birth control devices and the cheeky message, I’d like to propose the look of the bus if they used truth in advertising:

If they were honest.

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On the other hand, if you just changed a few things, and gave space to a group that is the oldest civil rights advocate in the nation, I’m sure the metro transit walla’s would never accept it, as it involves weapons and violence in their misguided world view. Yet the NRA has never killed a single baby. All they’ve done is train people in responsible gun use and protect your civil rights. You will never see this one:

We teach responsible gun handling.

So why is killing babies okay to fund, yet they don’t list that on their bus? Oh, it doesn’t fit the agenda. But if you brought an NRA logo bus to the line, there’d be protest in the streets about mass shootings, gun nuts, antiquated something-or-another, George Washington didn’t own an AR-15 (He actually had a better set of weapons in his era, but let’s not talk about that…) etc.

It’s all about optics, progressive and unelected governing bodies (The Met Council is appointed) and how they let us proles deal with life: only on their terms.

Climb aboard subjects, your overlords have a message for you.

I hate the rules of this nation. Nobody should be without an election in an office of power. No third terms for anyone in anything. You are our employees, not our rulers.

Maybe that’s why I like Donald Trump: he knows he’s just a temporary employee of the people. They should all remember that fact. Especially the ones letting the Grim Reaper pick the color schemes for the bus.

Next time, I’m walking. I hope you walk away as well. If nobody rides the Pink Deathmobile, maybe they’ll get the message.

(Final note: if they put a picture of a 21 week old baby on the bus, and write “This one’s still fair game for the vacuum!” I might change my mind. Evil loses its power when the sun shines.)

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When you finish reading any book (especially mine) please review it at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.goodreads.com. Your review increases the chances of someone looking for a new book greatly. Authors appreciate your review, even if it is just “I thought this was a good read and will give it to my dog to chew. I especially liked the ending, because it made me feel better when he killed all of the main characters. (no spoilers, please)” Those few words (more than 20, fewer than 1,000 is ideal), and a 1-5 rating, make or break how the search engines find us. Thanks in advance.

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The First Lady & The Morons Who Hate Her.

Let’s just lay this one out there and make it clear: the trait I like most in my First Families is their being in the background. I never want to hear that the spouse of the President of the United States is heading up anything except a program to encourage reading, being kind to animals, or some charity. I wish them to have absolutely zero political impact in any way at all. I didn’t vote for them, I don’t want them to have any power over anything except what’s for dinner at the White House.

Melania Trump

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There have been publicly active first ladies going back over a century. For all practical purposes, Woodrow Wilson’s wife, Edith, was the president after he had a stroke.

Edith Wilson

Not too many years later, Eleanor Roosevelt was prominent in a number of areas within the political sphere. Some of this, like Edith Wilson, was due to the fact that Franklin was limited in mobility due to his health, and restrictions on him during WWII due to security concerns.

We continued this with the modern era of royal First Ladies, and the rise of Jacqueline Kennedy. Now, in fairness to the woman, she was attractive and widowed in a sensational manner. The press fawned over her like none before her, and she became hemmed in by the legend. I think she hated it based on my study of history, but knew she was stuck with it for ill or good.

Lady Bird Johnson receded into the background, as did the next three First ladies.

Nancy Reagan was not an activist in any modern sense of the word, but as a former actress, and the wife of a man the press tried to destroy because he was a moron and tried to kill us all with atomic war, she was fair game for stupidly saying that kids should “Just say “no” to drugs.”

That is not what I think/thought, but it is certainly how the press, at the early stages of anti-republican dementia, portrayed them. Like it or not, much of the raging leftist mania of the press was inspired by Russia (at that time known as the Soviet Union.) More than a few of our “guardians of the First Amendement” were actually taking money/influence from the KGB, and actively working to undermine the United States in the Cold War.

Reagan fixed that issue by winning the Cold War, but the leftist control of the popular press, and a good bit of academia, was now in place.

They left Barbara Bush alone for the most part, but only because she wasn’t going to play along with them, and largely ignored their hurtful things. Also, George Bush (The Senior) was not as conservative as Reagan, and more of a globalist. So the press gave him a bit more of a pass.

Now we come to the most recent generation’s incarnation (since Eleanor Roosevelt) of the activist First Lady: Hillary Rodham Clinton. She had her finger in all sorts of pies, scandals, and oppression of other women. She was Bill’s enforcer when he was accused of sexual assault/rape. She was “put in charge” of reforming health care. Thankfully that was shot down in flames, or by now we would be enjoying our own versions of the Alfie Evans tragedy on a daily basis. Hillary was lauded by the press for her strong stands, her great brilliance, and her near incandescent beauty. Although most of that is just wrong. Seriously, beautiful? I’ve met longshoremen in wigs that were sexier… well, maybe this isn’t the place for that story. But when the press is on your side, you can do no wrong.

Laura Bush was mostly invisible, but the press made darned sure we all knew about the tragic death of her boyfriend when she was a young woman. They loved to beat up on the moron in the White House (Do you see a pattern? Disagree with the goals/views of the press and you’re stupid.) and spent 8 years tearing George the Younger down for being Hitler.

We now come to Michelle Obama. I am no fan of the Obamas in any way, but I wasn’t about to go after her for her unusual choice in clothing. But good grief, people, she was not the “most beautiful woman in America.” Seriously. I know a lot of breath-takingly beautiful women of all sorts of colors. She isn’t one of them. Her program to lecture all of us on race and school lunches was not her job as First Lady. I don’t want anyone (see first paragraph) who isn’t elected to hector me about anything from an “office” that is a courtesy at best. And her arms aren’t all that and a bag of chips. But she was worshiped by the press and we couldn’t object or we’d all be racists. (Yeah, I went there.)

Now, in Melania Trump, we have a fashion model who speaks five languages and ran her own business. She is without a doubt more intelligent than all the late-night hosts put together, but some of them have the gall to mock her on her accent when she speaks English. I’m willing to bet Kimmel, who’s Spanish accent when reading the teleprompter is worse than mine, is about 20 points below her on any scale of anything. Except cloddish behavior. And yet he mocked her accent.

The press keeps telling us that Melania’s being held hostage in the White House. She hates Donald. She is depressed. She can’t get top designers to create fashion for her since she’s a fascist, etc.

Yeah. I think there’s a better answer to it all: She’s radiantly beautiful, in great shape, brighter than almost all in the press, could wear a shower curtain and make it look good (*Hillary tried that, but it didn’t work out so well.*), and they’re jealous of the fact that she’s all of the above, and not making policy.

Again, see paragraph one: that’s not her job. So, Melania, if you’re reading this, keep up the good work. I hope your recovery from surgery is speedy and turns out to be a good rest for you. Just continue to be a great wife and a great mom. Take time to exult in the fact that you have faith in God, are beautiful, and far classier than all of your critics.

If this sounds like a fan letter for Melania, and a slap at the activist First Ladies, you are correct.

As I said, it’s not their job to make policy.

God Bless Melania Trump. Now, leave the woman alone.

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When you finish reading any book (especially mine) please review it at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.goodreads.com. Your review increases the chances of someone looking for a new book greatly. Authors appreciate your review, even if it is just “I thought this was a good read and will give it to my dog to chew. I especially liked the ending, because it made me feel better when he killed all of the main characters. (no spoilers, please)” Those few words (more than 20, fewer than 1,000 is ideal), and a 1-5 rating, make or break how the search engines find us. Thanks in advance.

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An Open Letter To All Veterans. #EndVetSuicide

Let me preface this with a simple statement and then a warning: I am not, nor do I claim to be, a veteran of any combat action that the United States government recognizes. I am not a holder of the CAB, CIB, or any other warfare device – fact is, I never even got dolphins. I never even held an M-16 during my enlistment. Hell, I even skipped going to the range with the other recruits because the Company Commander knew I could shoot. I didn’t carry a satchel charge to an enemy bunker, I never parachuted out of an aircraft, and I sure as heck didn’t get any bullet holes in my hide during my five years of service.

And, now, the warning: I am about to rant. If you don’t want to read my opinions on the subject of Post Traumatic Stress in veterans, then go away now and keep your pie-hole shut. Seriously. This is not a scholarly piece, but it is from the heart.

If you want to read the rest of this, take a moment to click on this link about Post Traumatic Stress at the National Institute of Mental Health. It will set some basis for my commentary.

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For the three of you still reading the blog at this point, I would like to make a statement:

I, Joseph Courtemanche, deeply apologize if I have ever given the impression that I doubted you when you said your mental health problems were caused by, or exacerbated by your service in the United States Armed Forces. I didn’t doubt you, and if I left that impression, I am deeply sorry.

With that out of the way, I would like each of you, veteran and civilian alike, to reflect on the fact that suicide is a serious problem in the military. It follows you out the gate when your enlistment/office is over, and it takes the lives of far too many veterans every day. Mocking someone for expressing a need for mental health care does nothing but notch the Grim Reaper’s sickle.

I am not a victim of mental health issues. I even have a letter from the government that says I’m mentally fit. I make no claim to any current disability due to my service in the mental health area.

But that can change. In an instant. And, once that instant is passed, it may last forever.

This past week a veteran killed himself in Minnesota. It made the news – a rarity. The press dismisses these deaths for the most part. This poor soul had sought help from the VA and was sent to a hospital to be medically cleared before they would help him. He left the hospital emergency room at a civilian hospital and was dead about an hour later.

I don’t know what happened at the VA, or in that emergency room. I don’t know what the police did/didn’t do for/to this fellow. None of it matters. He’s dead. Do better next time if you were deficient.

What has me white-hot-angry is the response of some who identified themselves as veterans in the comments section of the newspaper website I visited. The comments ranged from “He served in Germany in the 90’s. That was great duty, how could he really have PTSD?” to “He just wanted free stuff and was a loser.” Maybe not those exact words, but close enough.

I understand the natural instinct of some vets to think that if their service was “easy” it was for everyone at the same place/time/era. I also understand the inclination of combat veterans to be dismissive of those who didn’t “see the elephant.” Both are natural, human responses. We all measure ourselves by what we have done in our own lives, and weigh others as lesser, or occasionally greater, as a result of that perspective.

My friends you cannot possibly know what that individual faced. Nor does it matter: they are a brother/sister veteran who has a problem and needs help. Start by acknowledging them as important. Pray for them. Guide them to help. Under no circumstances reply that “You ain’t seen **&* compared to what I did.” Not only is it not helpful, but you’ve just dismissed someone who opened up to you in hopes of understanding. You’ve struck another blow in their lives that they did not need. You made it easier for the Grim Reaper.

That’s pretty much the rant. Be kind. Love on your vet. Listen. Help. Pray.

Because while you drank beer in Thailand and horsed around with your buddies, the guy asking for help was in the engine room of the ship that caught fire and killed their best friend. They were in the tank that ran off the road in Germany and landed upside down in the river, killing everyone but them. You were in Minot watching the days go by on the flight-line and eating donuts, but they were responding to crashed aircraft, spouse suicides, gruesome traffic accidents, and God knows what else as a Military Police Officer. That quiet woman who sits next to you at work? She was on the radio with the kid who fell out of the helicopter. The kid who was a cook at Fort Leonard Wood? How could a cook get PTSD? He was in the field kitchen when the Bradley ran over their sleeping tent in the dark, and he can’t handle confined spaces ever again.

All of those things, and 10,000,000 more would scar you. You couldn’t just walk away if you were in the military. You got up the next day and did it again. And again. And again… You numbed yourself with booze, you ignored the tears in the shower when nobody was around because the other people would think less of you. You didn’t come to grips with it until years later, and then it was too late. You were damaged. And when you sought that help you needed, the guys at the VFW laughed at you and told you it wasn’t bad enough to be an issue.

Well, it was. And it is. And God help us if we don’t take care of each other.

I’m done. If you’re a vet, and need help, you can hit the tabs on the bottom of this page for veteran’s assistance lines. You can post a comment (I screen them all and will keep it private) and I’ll respond. I’ll call you. I might even show up on your doorstep if you need that to make it one-more-day.

Why? Because too damned many of us take our own lives, and you’re way too important to lose. You’re my comrade and I love you.

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When you finish reading any book (especially mine) please review it at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.goodreads.com. Your review increases the chances of someone looking for a new book greatly. Authors appreciate your review, even if it is just “I thought this was a good read and will give it to my dog to chew. I especially liked the ending, because it made me feel better when he killed all of the main characters. (no spoilers, please)” Those few words (more than 20, fewer than 1,000 is ideal), and a 1-5 rating, make or break how the search engines find us. Thanks in advance.

Posted in extraordinarily sage advice and unwanted butting in, Love, military, ranting, suicide, Uncategorized, veterans | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments