Saturday, August 23, 2014

"...Sunshine...On His Shoulders...Makes Us Happy...."

Believe it or not, Dan Page has done all of us a solid.

Don't hurt yourself going all up in arms until you've reached the exciting conclusion of our story.

(CNN) -- A Missouri police officer involved in maintaining security in troubled Ferguson was put on administrative leave Friday after a video surfaced showing him railing about the Supreme Court, Muslims, and his past -- and perhaps, he said, his future -- as "a killer."

The officer, Dan Page of the St. Louis County Police Department, became something of a familiar face to many earlier this month when video showed him pushing back CNN's Don Lemon and others in a group in Ferguson. At the time, CNN was reporting on the large-scale and at times violent protests calling for the arrest of a white Ferguson police officer who shot and killed African-American teenager Michael Brown.
But it's another video that led St. Louis County police officials to say they had removed Page from his post and had started a process that will likely include the department's internal affairs unit investigating and a psychological evaluation of the officer.
"(I) apologize to the community and anybody who is offended by these remarks, and understand from me that he ... does not represent the rank-and-file of the St. Louis County Police Department," county Police Chief Jon Belmar told CNN. Belmar called the video "so bizarre."
CNN placed several phone calls Friday to what's believed to be Page's home number seeking comment on the video and disciplinary action against him, but never got a response.
Posted to YouTube and highlighted by, the video shows the military veteran talking for about an hour to an Oath Keepers group. According to its website, Oath Keepers is "a non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to 'defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.'"
The president of the Oath Keepers' St. Louis/St. Charles chapter, Duane Weed, told CNN that Page was a guest speaker and is not a member of his group. A link to the video of his speech was posted to the local chapter's Facebook page on April 23 -- a day after it happened -- along with text that highlighted what Page had to say about the dangers of private contractors in war zones.
That was just one of many topics Page touched on, sometimes jokingly and at other times very seriously
In his rambling remarks on the video, he talks about what he describes as a draft replacement for the U.S. Constitution, the "four sodomites on the Supreme Court," and a visit to Kenya "to our undocumented President's home." He refers to Barack Obama as "that illegal alien who claims to be our President."
Page frequently references violence, including nine combat tours in the Army, during which he did "my fair share of killing."
Speaking about Muslims, he says pointedly: "They will kill you."
On domestic disputes, he opines: "You don't like each other that much, just kill each other and get it over with. Problem solved. Get it done."
On urban violence, he predicts that "when the inner cities start to ignite, people are going to start killing people they don't like."
And lastly, Page says, "I personally believe the Lord Jesus Christ is my savior, but I'm also a killer. I've killed a lot and, if I need to, I will kill a whole bunch more."
"If you don't want to get killed, don't show up in front of me."
Belmar, the head of the St. Louis County police department, said all the talk about killing was especially disturbing to him.
"As a police chief, that's something I'm not going to be able to endure," Belmar said.
The first reaction most reasonable people have to this kind of "sharing" is something along the lines of abhorrence, astonishment, even aghastness.
Well, okay, aghastness isn't actually a word.
But if it was, you can bet the bank that said reasonable people would experience it..
Meanwhile, most reasonable people who have, for one reason or another, done their homework re' the history of mankind, will almost always find, sprinkled amongst their feelings of outrage, offense, even horrifiedness (okay, truth be told, I'm shooting for some additions to the Scrabble dictionary cause the point totals have been pretty impotent lately), a sense of satisfaction in the wide spread attention that this kind of lunacy gets.
For a couple of reasons.
First, because while, ostensibly, what we don't know can't hurt us (next to "check's in the mail" and/or "ladies and gentlemen, the family friendly dance stylings of Miley Cyrus", one of the great true lies of this life), what we don't know is broken cant be fixed, either.
Second, to put the same point in a more relatable everyday sort of way, ain't no gettin' rid of the cockroaches in the kitchen if'n the cockroaches don't come crawlin' right out on ta' the sink, there.
Regardless of what sensationalism driven media would probably like to have us believe, psychotic, neurotic, despotic, hell, all the "otic" behaviors are absolutely nothing new.
This bounces back to the earlier reference to those who have done their history of mankind homework.
Dan Page is clearly a lot of things.
At the very least, I think it not unfair to call him, by literal definition, a zealot.
noun: zealot; plural noun: zealots
  1. a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals.
    synonyms:fanatic, enthusiast, extremist, radical, young Turk, diehard, true believer, activist, militant;
And those of us who have a soft spot for Bugs, Daffy, Yosemite and/or Road Runner would likely suggest another moniker for the man.
Looney Tune.
But he really is doing us a favor.
Because his fanaticism isn't being spewed in some unknown out of the way tavern, bar or honky tonk.
No beer hall putsch going on here, kids.
There he is in all his Huey P. Long meets Adolf Shicklgruber meets Rush Limbaugh glory,  a 35 year veteran of a highly populated county police department, a supposed trusted member of the community and, theoretically, a role model/influence on generations of citizens, right there in plain cinder block adorned sight on the trusty You Tube allowing everyone, convert, supporter and/or reasonable person overcome with aghastness, to see and hear who he is, where he is, what he is, exposing his venom and vitriol and viciousosity (now that ought to be good for a Triple Word Score) in the clear light of day.
A cockroach scurrying out from under the sink and walking ever so brazenly across the Formica topped counters of our psyches.
By now, to any of the aforementioned reasonable homework doers, the moral of our story will, of course, be obvious.
Dan Page has done us a service.
By putting his zealotry right out here in plain sight.
Where it can be bathed in the blinding light of what reporters like to call "the best antiseptic".
Not to mention bug killer.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

"...Listen, I'm Willing To Reach Out To You As Long As You Don't Touch Me In Any Way...."

Selfies are the thing these days.
Pictures we take of ourselves at any given moment almost inevitably posted to one social media site or another, a running photographic "commentary" on our lives, delightfully, if not just a little narcissistically, shared with any and all who come across said snaps.
From driving to eating to chatting to mugging for the camera, these little tiles of our respective life mosaic offer little glimpses of the minutiae as if it were essential that everyone we know have the opportunity to see "behind the scenes" of our daily adventures.
There's one thing these little exercises in personal promotion don't show, though.
Our amazing sports skill.
In a manner of speaking.
And there's one thing even the most sophisticated smartphone camera still can't do.
More on those in a moment.
Atlanta (CNN) -- A medical plane whisked an American infected with Ebola from Liberia to Georgia on Saturday, the latest leg of a race to save the first known patient with the deadly virus to be treated on U.S. soil.

Shortly after the plane landed, an ambulance rushed Dr. Kent Brantly from Dobbins Air Reserve Base to Atlanta's Emory University Hospital. He's one of two Americans sickened by the deadly viral hemorrhagic fever last month while on the front lines of a major outbreak in West Africa.
Video from Emory showed someone in a white, full-body protective suit helping a similarly clad person emerge from the ambulance and walk into the hospital.
Emory has said it will treat Brantly, 33, and fellow missionary Nancy Writebol in an isolation unit
The plane equipped with an isolation unit can only transport one patient at a time. It will now pick up Writebol in Liberia and bring her to Georgia early next week, said Todd Shearer, spokesman for Christian charity Samaritan's Purse, with which both Americans were affiliated.
Brantly's wife, parents and sister cried when they saw him on CNN walking from the ambulance into the hospital, a family representative said on condition of anonymity. His wife, Amber, later said she was relieved that her husband was back in the United States.
"I spoke with him, and he is glad to be back in the U.S.," she said in statement. "I am thankful to God for his safe transport and for giving him the strength to walk into the hospital."
Brantly's wife visited with him from behind a glass wall for about 45 minutes, the family representative said. Kent Brantly was described as "in great spirits and so grateful."
Brantly, who has ties to Texas and Indiana, and Writebol, of North Carolina, became sick while caring for Ebola patients in Liberia, one of three West African nations hit by an outbreak.
This will be the first human Ebola test for a U.S. medical facility. The patients will be treated at an isolated unit where precautions are in place to keep such deadly diseases from spreading, unit supervisor Dr. Bruce Ribner said.
Everything that comes in and out of the unit will be controlled, Ribner said, and it will have windows and an intercom for staff to interact with patients without being in the room.
Ebola is not airborne or waterborne, and spreads through contact with organs and bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, urine and other secretions of infected people.
There is no FDA-approved treatment for Ebola, and Emory will use what Ribner calls "supportive care." That means carefully tracking a patient's symptoms, vital signs and organ function and taking measures, such as blood transfusions and dialysis, to keep patients stable.
"We just have to keep the patient alive long enough in order for the body to control this infection," Ribner said.
Writebol was given an experimental serum this week, Samaritan's Purse said, though its purpose and effects weren't immediately publicized.
The Ebola virus causes viral hemorrhagic fever, which refers to a group of viruses that affect multiple organ systems in the body and are often accompanied by bleeding.
Early symptoms include sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat. They later progress to vomiting, diarrhea, impaired kidney and liver function -- and sometimes internal and external bleeding.
Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA, a Christian mission organization with which Writebol also is linked, said Saturday that both were seriously ill but stable.
"My last report (on Brantly) was yesterday. ... He was ambulatory, being able to talk, converse, and get up. So that was encouraging," Johnson said Saturday morning
On Writebol, Johnson said: "She's responsive, and we're encouraged at how she's doing."
Emory's isolation unit was created with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based down the road. It aims to optimize care for those with highly infectious diseases and is one of four U.S. institutions capable of providing such treatment.
The World Health Organization reports that the outbreak in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea is believed to have infected 1,323 people and killed more than 729 this year, as of July 27.
As officials worked to bring the two Americans home, the idea of intentionally bringing Ebola into the United States has rattled many nerves.
"The road to hell was paved with good intentions," wrote one person, using the hashtag #EbolaOutbreak. "What do we say to our kids When they get sick& die?"
On the website of conspiracy talker Alex Jones, who has long purported the CDC could unleash a pandemic and the government would react by instituting authoritarian rule, the news was a feast of fodder.
"Feds would exercise draconian emergency powers if Ebola hits U.S.," a headline read on
Ribner repeatedly downplayed the risk for anyone who will be in contact with Brantly or Writebol.
"We have two individuals who are critically ill, and we feel that we owe them the right to receive the best medical care," Ribner said.
All concerns about the United States pale in comparison to the harsh reality in the hardest-hit areas.
Even in the best-case scenario, it could take three to six months to stem the epidemic in West Africa, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC.
There's no vaccine, though one is in the works.
There's no standardized treatment for the disease, either; the most common approach is to support organ functions and keep up bodily fluids such as blood and water long enough for the body to fight off the infection.
The National Institutes of Health plans to begin testing an experimental Ebola vaccine in people as early as September. Tests on primates have been successful.
So far, the outbreak is confined to West Africa. Although infections are dropping in Guinea, they are on the rise in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
In the 1990s, an Ebola strain tied to monkeys -- Ebola-Reston -- was found in the United States, but no humans got sick from it, according to the CDC
To any reasonable observer, the "big story" here should be the revolutionary measures being taken to try and save two lives and, ideally, in the process, find a cure and/or prevention for this latest viral assault on mankind, the latest arrival in a long line of lethal potentials, from smallpox to polio, malaria to leukemia, influenza to HIV.
That story, sadly, obviously gets trumped by the more "human" angle.
As officials worked to bring the two Americans home, the idea of intentionally bringing Ebola into the United States has rattled many nerves.
"The road to hell was paved with good intentions," wrote one person, using the hashtag #EbolaOutbreak. "What do we say to our kids When they get sick& die?"
Ask any one, in the course of passing conversation, if they believe they would be willing to die for someone.
With apologies for speaking for you and/or anyone else, I'm willing to bet that we would all like to think that we have that capacity for sacrifice in our natures.
Fact is, though, our willingness to give our all is, at best, conditional.
Because, judging from the majority of comments being made in public, in print, online, on TV, on radio talk, we might be prepared to affirm our willingness to die for God and/or country and/or family.
But for a couple of doctors who screwed up and got themselves infected with some incurable, contagious disease?
Fuck em, man.
Shit happens.
Not a very pleasant representation of our supposedly better angels, huh?
Not to mention a pretty unflattering portrait of our true natures.
Something that we always manage to magically leave out of frame when snapping the selfies.
Along with that aforementioned sports skill we all seem to possess.
The ability to talk a good game.
While patiently waiting for the next and newest smartphone, the one whose camera will finally allow  us to photograph that which, to date, we have not been able to photograph.
The selfie that shows us turning our backs.
An image not yet available to our own eyes.
But one that is, come to think of it, currently visible to, at least, a few people.
The families of Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol.
Not at all a pretty picture.