Posted by: JDM..... | January 31, 2013

There I go…

…taking myself too seriously again…

too serious_450

Advertisements
Posted by: JDM..... | September 16, 2017

Fascism…

and pigs wearing lipstick….


If you want to get some idea of what it might be like to support any view contrary to the indignant tsunami of righteousness emanating from recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, let me refer you to some of the dog-eared pages of history.

The events of 1776 weren’t impulsive acts of disobedience that just seemed like a fun thing to do on a Tuesday afternoon. They represented the consequences of one or two too many straws being cast upon the proverbial camel’s back. The American colonies were settled by Englishmen trying to escape the religious repression and the attendant brutality of their homeland. The Western world was in a period of turmoil as the long and painful process of separating the functions of secular government from the traditional iron hand of the church continued. A courageous and admirable campaign indeed, except for the fact that they brought that politic across the Atlantic with them and immediately set about the business of establishing a repressive theocracy of their own.

Contrary to what I presume most of us had drilled into our thirsty brains during our public school programming, I suspect the quest for religious freedom is but a part of the real story. I don’t think people or times change all that much at the core, so I would imagine a predictable portion of the emigrants made the trip for other reasons, such as, say, the potential for unprecedented profits or power, or simply for the adventure.

Long before the First Amendment was written, its foundations were being laid. The “science fiction” of the day might have been any fantasy of “self rule”, as since the days of hunting and gathering decisions about everything from who should be allowed to live to the correct meaning of “is” had been determined and so ordered by monarchs, priests, or approximations thereof. Those claiming to speak on behalf of some mysterious super-power, be it a “god”, a golden calf, or a little doll with multiple heads, immediately awarded themselves the authority and powers of said super-beings. Monarchs and other members of domineering families that had discovered the art of intimidating and exploiting the masses for serial generations claimed the endorsement of, or descent from, the former.

The necessary planets lined up, or some such thing, and near the end of the eighteenth century, a small percentage of the American Colonists said “Screw This” and told their British masters to go pound sand. At the same time, they authored a framework for how they imagined “self-rule” should work, including the iconic Bill of Rights. The First Amendment to that document addressed the issues of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and more.

In part because of the subjectivity involved in defining such concepts as “speech”, that First Amendment has gotten a lot of exercise over the course of the last two centuries or so. Today, the dance continues, as those who hold views and preach philosophies that the majority find repugnant claim First Amendment protection of their ideas and words, while a far larger group, wielding bats and bearing signs condemning hatred and intolerance claim the moral high ground and the right to declare the Constitution null and void for those with unpopular ideas. It has been violent. It has been shocking. It has been like falling through a wormhole and emerging in the early seventeenth century when others with a self-issued franchise to the Moral High Ground marched half naked Quakers from village to village through the snow, tied to the rear of wagons, to set an example for those who might be tempted to vary from the dictates of the Puritan Church elders.

It is unfortunate that human intellect has become so polarized in recent years, as that creates an oxymoron and makes it difficult to discuss the issues of the day without being limited to mandated ignorance as a point of reference. Nevertheless, I will try to present my opinions in spite of this circumstance, and though I will be expected to use the approved lexicon, I will only do so if it coincidentally happens to parallel my own.

One of the favorite mantras of the American “left”, i.e. “liberals”, i.e. Democrats is the accusation of impending Fascism inherent with anything Republican or Conservative. Although I am not a Republican, I have long intuited that such tripe was more a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Fascism, after all, centralizes everything with the state, and this is the life blood of the Democrat philosophy.

At least, that is the caricature. In reality, not all Democrats are classical “Lefties” and extremists as some of those who bombast from the extremist “Right” would have us believe.

The political “right” and the Conservative podium, associated with the Republican approach, have their own weak spots with extreme factions, but it generally favors individualism over state wardship.

Authoritarian and prescriptive are authoritarian and prescriptive no matter how you dress them up.

I like to read various points of view, partly because I’m curious by nature, and partly because there is no exemplar of trustworthiness in the universe of present day news sources. I prefer to read it all, subject the raw materials to my own native biases, and come up with my own conclusions and opinions. Yesterday I came across an article that hit the nail on the head for me. It was written by a strongly Conservative author, Dinesh D’Souza, a native of Bombay and graduate of Dartmouth College. His position is one that I haven’t seen before. He holds that Facism is in fact already well established in America under the liberal left, who simply project what they are doing onto their opponents on the political right. He references the dynamics of the Charlottesville, VA confrontation between the extreme “right” KKK and other White Supremacists and the counter-protesters consisting of liberal, left-leaning, presumably Democrats for the most part, decrying racism, hate, bigotry, and of course, right wing Fascism.

D’Souza points out that Fascism requires power, and that Benito Mussolini achieved absolute power by infiltrating the institutions of the Italian society such as the media, education, industry, and so on. He drew a comparison with the liberal influence on the fundamental institutions of America, and added “the white supremacists don’t have the power to keep a book out of a library. They don’t have the power to decide what students read. They can’t drive conservative or liberal speakers off campus. They just don’t have that kind of power.”

While we still lay claim to Capitalism, he said, it is highly regulated, which gives the regulators the ability to manipulate and direct it. He cited the Affordable Care Act and pointed out that we have private hospitals, a private insurance industry, and private ownership of other healthcare entities, but they are controlled by the government and essentially told what to do.

He concludes that it is not a matter of the Republicans trying to build a Fascist force, but that the Democrats already have Fascism established and up and running.

How much of the author’s material will survive “fact-checking”, and how it might stand up to conflicting opinions remains to be seen, and I by no means consider him or his views to be a Trustworthy Source, but I did find his article to be interesting and a refreshing change from the droning of the rest of the media.

Returning to my commentary about the extremism and hypocrisy permeating the liberal raging about racism, hate, bigotry, and intolerance, I can’t help but notice the singular theme of media headlines and stories about the Charlottesville incident and what I call the “American Taliban” movement to tear down monuments that are either not of our finest moments or which offend their handbook of Approved History. Any opposition to non-violent demonstrations of ideas and credos that are inarguably contrary to what most people hold to be decent and civilized are presented as morally correct and beyond criticism, even if they perpetrate violence, practice intolerance and hatred, and attempt to disenfranchise any who do not follow their views. I am amazed that the glaring irony has not been commented on more.

 

~-~* * *~-~

 

Posted by: JDM..... | June 28, 2017

About Temperature Differentials.…

and Kitchens….


Big news! White House correspondent Brian Karem stuck out his lower lip and presented an in depth demonstration of the modern media’s whine quotient.

I had to read the brief article twice. Even then, and following some vigorous blinking, it was still there. I visualized the long-gone Paragons of Journalism rolling over in their graves, or better yet, just rolling their eyes and complaining “ You woke me up for THIS ?”

Karem accused the White House of “undermining the First Amendment,” among other things, on MSNBC’s “ Morning Joe.” At issue was Karem’s sense that the media was being unfairly picked upon and bullied. You can’t make this stuff up. Well, you could, but the White House might call you on it.

Rather than confront an egregious trespass, I believe Karem unwittingly reinforced the ongoing disintegration of the media’s generally positive aura. Not too many years ago, “the media” was visibly divided into three schools: At the bottom of the class structure was the “tabloid media,” bottom shelf newsstand fare and the stuff you pretended to not see while waiting your turn at the grocery store checkout.

Occupying the penthouse position were the long term Holy Grails of the print and broadcast media that had brought the world front line news from several wars, the birth of the Civil Rights Movement, a Presidential assassination, the first man to step onto the moon, and more. The lead players of this elite troupe are all retired now, or deceased.

In the middle was the vast majority of other media veterans and hopefuls who tried to emulate the standards set by the Holy Grails, and succeeded or failed to varying degrees. The result was that we knew what was considered quality journalism and what was not. One knew which door to enter.

That is not so true anymore. Perhaps the media is experiencing one of those abnormal accelerations in evolution or mutation, depending on one’s point of view, precipitated in most aspects of our culture today by the Technological Revolution. Suddenly, we communicate differently. New standards are not yet established, new boundaries have yet to be set, and the younger generations must decide what will be invited to become a part of the new Digital Era and what will be left behind.

Showmanship was a secondary concern with the traditional top tier, quality, accuracy, and immediacy being the meat and potatoes of the likes of Edward R. Murrow, Walter Kronkite, et al. This is the computer age, and new technologies enter our lives at breakneck speed, making the question of “immediacy” a non-issue. We now watch war on the front lines live on our phones, tablets, and office computers. New age journalists compete vigorously for position and popularity. Last but not least, from this consumer’s viewpoint, come quality and accuracy. Get your foot in the door and then figure out if you’ve got anything to sell or if you’re just going to hold the space and mark time with a stupid grin on your face until something comes along. Grammarians, linguists, and walking-talking encyclopedias no longer make the rules or call out the scores, those responsibilities having been taken over by statisticians and algorithms that count “hits.” It sometimes doesn’t seem to matter whether the target is a reincarnated sentence by Shakespeare or an “F bomb”; the one with the most hits is called “good”. The rest are out.

So, on the one hand, I can appreciate the frustration demonstrated by Mr. Karem, but I don’t see public pouting as the answer. I won’t even say “answer to the problem,” because I’m not sure it qualifies as a problem. Change is underway, and someone will decide its content and direction. That is a challenge, an opportunity, a circumstance, but it is not a “problem.”

Historically, it has been government entities that were more likely to register defensiveness under the penetrating stares of the men and women with pencil and pad in hand. To see those roles reversed is a little disconcerting. If the media is losing its status, it’s not because anybody stole it from them or eroded it, or bullied it away. The laws defining the sanctity of the press remain fully intact. If there is change afoot in the relationship between the media and those they wish to investigate, perhaps it is because they have been too busy comparing body noises and other preadolescent measures of relevance to mind the store.

It’s a new kitchen, but the old adage about bearing the heat or hitting the bricks still works.

 

~-~* * *~-~

 

Posted by: JDM..... | March 11, 2017

Rights, privileges, …

and, entitlement….

We are living in a time where words like “right” and “privilege” are redefined to support ideas instead of describing them as they are on their own merit. The claim to a “right” rolls easily off the tongues of those who would take something not currently theirs, or to own something at the expense of another.

We have many “rights”, basically broken down in the Constitution to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” I suppose it would be inevitable under the laws of nature and the nature of the human animal that such a noble concept would eventually begin to settle out at the same level as hyenas scrapping over pieces of fetid meat. The strong take from the weak, the weak gang up to take away from the strong, in a perpetual cycle, each blaming the other in turn.

Do I have the “right” to healthcare? Of course I do. There is no law that says I am not allowed to consume the products and services required to keep me alive, or at least reasonably functional while I do live. One of the scariest thoughts would be about a society where such laws exist. Equally frightening would be a society where selected “rights” are enforced by laws rather than protected by them. Do we want a society where one has a “right” to force his neighbor to finance same? I also have a “right” to fly to Aruba, but the onus is on me to pay for such a trip. Splitting hairs over what I have the right to make you pay for or provide is dangerous ground because it overrules our traditional sense of freedom and liberty and the right to pursue happiness, replacing that idea with raw versions of the Law of the Jungle.

Rights and responsibilities have a Yin-Yang relationship, and neither exists alone. When one or the other exists alone in direct proportion to the amount of force expended, it no longer “exists” in its original form, yet we find comfort in tweaking the old definitions to fit altered behaviors.

Healthcare is a right, but that doesn’t remove the responsibility side of the formula. We inherited a system of governance designed to interfere with the human need to play King of the Mountain and for the strong to exploit the weak. Some have operated under the mistaken believe that this system eliminated that side of our nature. It did not, and by not being vigilant, it has now reemerged under the guise of charity, goodness, and caring. Interesting. Those qualities are also part of the nature of humanity, but they cease to exist in their original form when defined and delivered in direct proportion to the amount of force exerted.

One of the aspects of rights versus privileges that we apparently have lost sight of is that, generally speaking, “rights” are natural concepts that simply exist because they are, whereas privileges exist by permission. I define my rights. Somebody else may define my privileges and what I must do in order to “earn” them. I have the right to travel freely, but doing so by operating a motor vehicle on a public highway involves privilege and permission. Self-described “sovereign citizens” might argue those points, but this is not the venue within which to engage in such a debate.

One final note about rights. It has been said that, generally speaking, my rights end where yours begin, and vice versa. Of course, the ink wasn’t dry on that declaration before exceptions were parsed out by the intellectually agile and others so inclined. Nevertheless, the fundamental idea remains intact. You do not have the right to exercise your rights by abridging mine, and the reverse. There are bound to be conflicts of interest, and we have a system of laws to address them.

I would like to continue living in a nation built around the recognition of, and respect for, individual rights. I have serious concerns when that nation begins to blur the boundary between right and privilege, when a “right” is redefined as whatever one wants without the responsibility to contribute to its realization. I don’t want to live in a society where my rights are defined by a committee or by whichever faction happens to be in power.

I have no problem with people declaring that they have a right to healthcare. I agree. I strongly disagree with their claims to the “right” to acquire those goods and services by force and at the expense of others.

* * * * *

There is another word that has found a new incarnation via recent politic; “entitlement.”

Merriam-Webster defines “entitlement” as follows:

  • a : the state or condition of being entitled,
    b : a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract

  • a: a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group; also : funds supporting or distributed
    by such a program

  • a: belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges

As can be seen, entitlement is defined both as a “right” and as a “privilege”, and the concept of “right” has been shifted from that of a natural quantity to that of a government “permission” or award.

We talk about having an “entitled” culture. This has an unattractive ring to it, yet those so endowed cling to it with a death grip. Perhaps that is because the culture of entitlement has been molded from the debris of former dignity and self pride (in the positive sense of that word). Entitlement, therefore, becomes dependency.

~-~* * *~-~

Posted by: JDM..... | February 17, 2017

The rock, the hard place…

and the Walmart tuxedo….

Good leadership seems to be made possible when those in positions of authority and power think of their situations as positions of leadership rather than as positions of authority and power, but are fully aware of the value of their authority and power. It takes a mixture of social presence, self discipline, and just enough pathology to facilitate doing things that the average bear either wouldn’t think of or wouldn’t be able to actually do if they did. History has examples of those who were excessively skewed one way or the other….too much “Mr. Nice Guy”, or too much negative pathology. The Democratic process normally weeds out the extremes, but I think we are living in a time of unusual stress and dysfunction within the population that is doing the weeding. I mean, why else would the people permit themselves to be limited to a choice between two forms of potential tyranny?

Hillary represented a known quality of “statist” thinking with a predictable progression to socialism. Her only viable challenger for the Democratic ticket was Bernie Sanders, an avowed socialist, though he tried to minimize the negative taste of that by qualifying himself as a “Democratic” socialist. Right. Is that anything like “celibate prostitution?”

On the opposite ticket, the Republicans rejected known conservatives, most with many years of experience, and brought forth an absolute wild card with observable Narcissism and no governmental experience. Even more surprising, not to mention indicative of the mood of the society, the wild card was elected.

Though it may sound a bit crazy, I think it was the only wise choice the people could have made, and here’s why.

Over the past few decades, Congress has been incrementally neutered by increasingly “progressive” policies that have enhanced the power and authority of the federal government while chipping away at the “checks and balances” built into our system of governance. The net result has been a distancing of those selected to lead from those who selected them. The people have become servants of the state rather than the other way around.

Potential third party challenges to the Demo-Republican franchise, such as the Libertarians, have been disappointing. Demonstrating rational civility doesn’t always do well against those willing and able to go the extra mile, even when much of it involves “trespassing”.

Therefore, the “people”, as it were, had to choose between a rock and a hard place, and I have no idea which candidate represented which obstacle. One choice ensured more of the same and then some more; the one thing the other choice offered was the suggestion that “more of the same” wouldn’t happen. The outcome was no landslide and no felony, despite the hype and counter-hype. Plenty of people either wanted “more of the same” or feared the unknown, but a choice was made in favor of the unknown. A surprisingly bright side is that the choice was made according to existing rules rather than by some scam created for the occasion. I wonder if people realize how close we may have come to the latter path. In any case, Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States, and people are now holding their breath to see how that will play out. As would be expected, that involves one segment emulating Chicken Little while pre-describing and reacting in advance to as-yet imaginary disasters, and another segment marching along in a near-religious fog of as-yet imaginary miracles.

President Trump still has some time left in which to set the character of his administration and how he as a “leader” will remembered, but not much, and thus far he remains skewed a bit too far into the pathological range. In another age, he’s one who could have been likely to declare himself a deity or a saint and to have acted accordingly.

My assessment would be that his most threatening opponent will prove to be his own mouth. I plead guilty to any as-yet unleveled accusations of practicing “Armchair Psychoanalyst”, my only qualification being my opinion and my only DSM being the same, and I say the man’s demon will be his Narcissism. I think the man has the potential to put a dent in our collective sense of entitlement as well as that of an equally afflicted governmental sector, if he will, and if he keeps his mouth shut.

Being a Guest of Honor at a banquet won’t help one who leans across the table and demands “Gimme the &*^%$ salt….” And insults everyone else at the table.

I don’t expect him to change.

My hope is that Congress will find the stones to offset his most egregious footfalls on the lawncookies of the world stage, and to provide some steerage to his erratic style.

My hope is that the sideshow won’t overwhelm legitimate attempts of his team to achieve some course corrections for the nation as a whole.  

~-~* * *~-~

 

Posted by: JDM..... | February 11, 2017

immigration-reform

Posted by: JDM..... | February 2, 2017

Welcome to America…

welcome2usa_002d

Posted by: JDM..... | January 22, 2017

Persuasion…

provocation, and knowing the difference….


These are active times, reminding me somewhat of the turbulent sixties. At various times in recent years there have been upwards of more than a million people marching, or vandalizing, or both, for one reason or another. When an incident erupts into such public displays, the boiling point was clearly reached long before. The sad part is, it is hard to respond in a positive way to post-boiling point cascades of anger, grief, and violence whether it be physical, verbal, emotional, or some other force-based language of expression. The dilemma is that more civilized attempts to initiate desired changes may seem to be ignored. That is a misperception, but very few down through the centuries and millennia have had the wisdom and restraint to know that. Most recently perhaps, the late Dr. Martin Luthor King set the pace with a steady, peaceful, and determined consistency. After his assassination, and perhaps in many ways perhaps because of it, the people returned to their baser natural behaviors of violence. That has not yet changed.

Saturday, women from coast to coast filled the streets to express their concerns, goals, and complaints. As with the recent Black Lives Matter actions, the underlying reasons are real, and they are numerous. Whether they are justified, or reasonable, and whether or not the “message” has been effectively delivered depends on one’s point of view, but therein lies the key to resolution for any such conflict of interests. Historically, “differences of opinion” have “ended” almost exclusively in one of two ways: (1) peaceful communication, or (2) violence, where the one demonstrating the most power and destruction declares victory. Such “differences of opinion” have actually been resolved, however, only when true communication and discussion are engaged in. Any other conclusion is not one of agreement or even of compromise but one of compliance, and that only lasts as long as the power of force and threats of harm remain in control.

That said, when I see a “protest” or “demonstration” or even an outright riot featured on the evening news, I have two questions in mind:

First, I ask what it is that the participants really want. Bottom line. Twenty-five words or less.

Secondly, I ask “are they expressing what they want in ways that those to whom they are expressing it can feel comfortable and safe listening?”

If it is your goal for another person to make changes in his or her behaviors and/or mindset, then it is in your best interests to get your ideas across clearly and civilly. You are involved in a selling situation and your goal is to convince someone who doesn’t know you to “buy” an intangible product/idea that they either do not want or do not yet believe they need. That is not as impossible as it may sound. Untold hundreds of thousands of people have in the past earned, and are currently earning lucrative incomes by doing exactly that.

So I ask, as I see the throngs of humanity dominating the streets and open spaces of cities and towns across the nation, how are they doing? Whether or not one agrees with their message is irrelevant.

Well, some of them are doing an admirable job of maintaining their civility, their dignity, and focusing on their real long term goals. As a result, people who disagree with them, scoff at them, or simply don’t value their opinions very much are far more likely to receive the message the demonstrators are trying to convey, to acknowledge a point or two here and there, and maybe actually inch toward that long term goal sought by the demonstrators. Others are more confrontational, “in your face”, and, in my opinion, less likely, perhaps even highly unlikely, to be successful than the former. Yet others, and I like to believe they are a small minority, are only there for the party, so to speak. They’d demonstrate against air if the activity provided an opportunity act out under cover of mob camouflage, to throw bricks and fire bombs, or in some other way to simply give the finger generically. Serious protesters and demonstrators would do well to tell them to go home.

This is not to say that if everybody says please and thank you everything will work out all peachy-keen. Heck, no! Life doesn’t work that way. And it’s true, sometimes “nice guys come in last.” But I have to ask, what kind of a world do we want to live in, …..one where we only get our way through violence and control? I know, that’s the way the world is and always has been as far as we know. But we don’t have to contribute to that sad legacy any more than might be necessary in order to defend ourselves and our property. It’s simple. Never be the aggressor. I said simple, not easy.

So, what do the women who filled the streets of America Saturday really want? Bottom line…. Twenty five words, or twenty five hundred, who cares?

And, secondly, are they expressing what it is that they want in ways that those to whom they are expressing it can feel comfortable and safe listening?

How likely is it that the communications methodology being used would contribute to successful realization of the goals of a salesman?

How likely is it that the communications methodology being used would contribute to successful realization of the goals of a teacher?

And, last but not least, did the media capture the core essence and purpose of the demonstrations, or just the juicy and controversial parts that help sell advertising…..?

~-~* * *~-~

Posted by: JDM..... | December 29, 2016

Morning chuckle…

 

Posted by: JDM..... | December 20, 2016

“Fake news”…

versus “Shinola”….


Fads come and go, including in politics, and in that venue, perhaps especially during an election year. It starts right there. An election period normally dominates at least two years, and the tsunami often begins even earlier. Already there are wannabes licking their chops in anticipation of 2020 and paying goons to go through each other’s garbage, literally and figuratively.

One of the noteworthy fads oozing from the festering wound known as the election of 2016 has been the rather enigmatic concept of “fake news”. Oh, really? I wasn’t aware that political pundits were into tabloid rags all of a sudden. Where is the Self Help manual for telling the difference between REAL news and FAKE news? Is there a gradient scale wherein FAUX news is more politically correct that FAKE news because it uses a French word? I thought we got over that crap sometime around the thirteenth century! I’ve got it! Authors of REAL news dine on beof, while the purveyors of scrapings and other stains from the newsroom floor will simply chow down on cow, or a “Big Mac”!

I mean, really, who gets to decide what is real and what is fake, and are there now degree programs at the finer colleges and universities in News Assessment?

Settle down. Log off Google and listen up. Hwæt! The question is a decoy, kids. The whole thing is a diabolically crafted infinite loop! All answers and none of the answers are correct because it depends upon whom you ask. Hey! Was Hillary’s broadside about “FAKE” news, FAKE news in its own right?

Did I ever even write this little essay?

Stay tuned.

Or not…

~-~* * *~-~

Posted by: JDM..... | December 15, 2016

The Thinkin’ spot…

hide-e-hole_final

Older Posts »

Categories