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

There I go…

…taking myself too seriously again…

too serious_450

Posted by: JDM..... | August 7, 2016

Legacy to choose…

…and, this would be very sad.

It can change, and there’s a lot of talk about that going around these days, from both sides of the issue. So, right now it looks like the question seems to be, who’s going to blink first? Who should blink first?

If you think the street folks need to clean up their act before the police can ease up, you’re wrong.

That’s expecting an awful lot from a group that is, by definition, incapable of, or unwilling to play by the rules. These are angry, powerless people. The “good guys” have been unable to get them under control for decades, in spite of ramping up procedures and equipment so it’s hard to distinguish your friendly neighborhood Officer Toohey from a grunt getting ready to go plink a few Taliban. And some people expect a jaded public to trust these guys and feel safe?

These are not safe times. I want my local police to be trained to handle violence if it occurs, but I don’t want them to look or act like they’re trolling for it.

My critical rhetoric does not mean I’m anti-law enforcement. I’m not. I am ant-unnecessary violence and peacekeepers with chips on their shoulders operating in a culture of superiority, power, and unquestionable authority. That has to change, and it has to change yesterday. The onus is on the ones with the power and pseudo-control to blink first. Only then can they achieve real control to any extent.

I was never a police officer, but I worked with a difficult population myself. I worked at a local medical center where they had residential and outpatient substance abuse treatment programs, as well as a detox unit, and a locked, inpatient psychiatric facility. I worked in all aspects of the substance abuse modality…the detox, the residential treatment program, and the outpatient department. I worked with what we then called “dual diagnosis” patients, those with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse issues. I also did educational lectures, spoke at some local colleges, and was a “trainer” in de-escalation and non-violent restraint and control methods for a time. For the last seven or eight years before I retired, I worked on the psychiatric floor. Have I looked down the barrel of a gun? Yes. Have I had to defend myself? Yes. How many of those who discount me or my opinion have sat with a phone in each hand, one connected to the local police and the other connected to some guy sitting in a motel room with a fifth of whiskey and a loaded .357 magnum trying to decide which to stick in his mouth? He lived. He got treatment. I don’t know what happened after that.

I didn’t have any weapon but my brain. While I am sure law enforcement personnel would vigorously state that they also have a brain and that it is their first line of defense. I’m sure it is. I don’t dispute that. I worked with some excellent police and probation officers. But the news has far too many stories about incidents where the responders drew their weapons first and then decided what to do. An awful lot of the suspects killed or seriously wounded by gunshots turn out to be unarmed. It is a culture problem, not an individual problem.

If you live in an environment where the norm is to say “Gimme the f—— potatoes” at the dinner table, you’re most likely to say the same thing at the church supper. If police shootings were prosecuted and investigated without bias, the culture would change.

When I entered a new room or area at the hospital, I “assessed” continuously, looking for body language, facial expressions, and movement that signaled potential trouble. When it occurred, I tried to de-escalate the situation first. I tried verbal interventions, some of them bizarre. I once distracted an out of control man by walking up and asking him if he had change for a dollar, which enabled a coworker to restrain him. As a next-to-last response, I might use physical restraint, or call a “code” to summon security and trained staff from around the hospital. As a last resort, we’d call the police if the subject was especially large and/or dangerous.

I often wonder if some of the techniques we used wouldn’t work for law enforcement. If you can de-escalate, you have control. If you jump right to physical intervention in order to gain control, de-escalation is a moot point.

Why do police officers draw their weapons as a matter of course? At point-blank range, facing a single subject, why not start with a Taser? How about when facing a man approaching with a knife, without knowing if he is deranged rather than a felon? Is it acceptable to shoot and kill him? Wouldn’t it be better to disable him with a non-fatal tool first? If someone was shooting at me or appeared ready to do so, I would shoot back, or even first. I really don’t think firearms are necessary or justified most times when they are drawn. They are drawn to intimidate in, order to gain control. It may or may not work. There are other ways to get control, without firearms. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.

But they should be used first.

The secondary gain from this change in culture and thinking on the part of the police very well could be the improved community relations and diminishing violence that is being talked about so much.

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | August 4, 2016

ONE category of human being…

with 7 billion unique versions….

One Bill of Rights, 324 million equally qualified beneficiaries………..I’m neither the first one to say it nor is this the first time I have said it myself, language is one of our greatest barriers to peace and harmony. It isn’t guns, Liberals, Democrats, conservatives, Republicans, spics, niggers, kikes, chinks, the rich, the welfare community, or any of those that are the only things to get more index finger time than the average human nostril.

First of all, language is an imprecise tool for communicating, even between individuals who know each other quite well. My wife and I have been married for twenty five years, we are “best friends,” and hardly a week goes by when one of us doesn’t wear that blank look and say “What do you mean?”

What am building up to is saying without reservation that one of the most misunderstood and miscommunicated words in the English language today is “equal” and its several cognates such as equality, equity, equalization, and so forth. We are not equal. People, even identical twins, are not, and cannot be equal. Different individuals interpret and understand “equal” differently, and in the political arena, it goes downhill from there.

Politics dominates the air like low tide in July, generating many exchanges regarding preferred interpretations of “equality”. I saw a comment on line the other day that inspired my thinking about this topic. A young woman was angrily insinuating that females, people of color, and several other prime qualifiers were treated unequally because of their unique claims of identity. Think about that for a moment. Not quite O’Henry, but delightfully ironic. We see this often; someone roars about their unique qualities which they believe entitle them to special consideration, yet in the same sentence will rail against being treated differently than the average non-affiliated person. She had demands about “equality”, yet was immovably adamant that white males did not, and cannot, get it. What does she want? What do the other people with similar views want? Of equal importance, potential pun acknowledged, how do other people interpret and respond to what they are verbalizing?

Since this is my rant, that is probably about as much leeway as I am going to grant those who fit the profile to which I will be alluding here. Essentially subjective comments ensue.

No See-Saw stays level for long

We are not equal. On some as yet unknown sub-atomic level, perhaps there is a state of pure “equality”, but we’re not talking about physics or even philosophy. Ask Stephen Hawking about such things. We’re debating the meaning of “equality” in the context of a society, a culture, personal experience, and dozens of other factors that may affect an individual’s concept of self and how he or she compares or relates to others. Trying to select and sort the factors in some meaningful arrangement and of standardized measurement and valuation is like trying to pick the winning lottery number, except with a lottery there is a genuine possibility of picking the right number. In the drama of humanity: whenever someone comes up with “the” answer, the question changes.

Demands for equality are unrealistic and misguided, not necessarily because they are unreasonable but because of the difficulties inherent to the process of whittling away the material that doesn’t belong and arriving at a finished product that represents the nearest common denominator of our maximum concessions. Imagine a dozen people given one block of wood, some tools, and tasked with creating a sculpture that is satisfactory to each. That sculpture is entitled:

EQUAL

One concession that has not yet been seriously considered, apparently, is simply accepting that we are different, We do have unique qualities. We simultaneously admire the exotic and covet the qualities therein that we believe give the exotic an edge. I think most understand that, but the ones in the media give the impression that they might have confused equal with identical, need with merit, want with deserve. Revisiting Stephen Hawking for a moment, I think some believe they live in a quantum universe, wherein if they say they want to be somewhere, then they are, if they want to be something, then they are.

The human species has survived for a rather long time, in spite of our penchant for not playing well with others and recreational homicide, so it is clear that concession is an actively practiced social skill. It is, however, quite rudimentary in that we clearly still prefer killing each other, literally or symbolically.

Perhaps we, as a species, are maxed out in our ability to simultaneously compromise and play King of the Mountain.

Athletic competition is as old as conflict, perhaps initially born as a natural animal process of determining pecking order and so forth. Perhaps it grew out early methods of training for organized fighting among groups. Eventually, it came to actually replace battlefield “combat”, an interesting development of “concession” and “compromise” that allowed our predecessors to retain the requisite violence, while reducing the level of mortality involved in conflict resolution. Well, this occurred in some circles, but not all, and the “give me your stuff and your obedience or I’ll kill you” gene is still looking for an acceptable mutation to try on.

Mankind saw birds and wanted to fly, and the species decorated many an escarpment with its physical essence before someone invented aeroplanes, a reasonable and universally accepted substitute for the unachievable Real McCoy, and significantly less fatal.

Similar adjustments need to be made in the way people are learning to coexist in a world that has metaphorically “shrunk” while the population has grown without sacrificing our individuality, and without enslaving or killing each other. There have been estimates offered that 8,000 years ago, there were about 5 million people on the earth. Wow! Everyone had his or her own 7,360 acres! By the time the North American continent was being infested with Narcissistic colonists, it had jumped to anywhere from about 500 million to about 578 million. “America” had about 4,700 people in 1630, but, of course, “people” referred to Europeans. Depending on where one looks, estimates of aboriginal peoples would be an additional one million to 18 million.

I researched the following for my grandson back in 2010 and still find it interesting:

When my grandfather was born, the population of the United States was 50,189,209. There were only 38 states in the Union then, and the US Cavalry was still fighting with the Apache, Sioux, Nez Pierce, Cheyenne, and other native peoples of the far west.

There were no automobiles, airplanes, radios, or televisions. Goods were transported by horse drawn wagons, rail, or by sea. Although steam was coming into use on the ocean, sailing ships were still the primary vessels of commerce until after my grandfather finished school and began his first job. I recall one of my grandmothers remarking how she found it amazing that she had gone to school in a horse drawn cart and did her homework by the light of a whale oil lamp, yet lived to see the television broadcast of a man walking on the moon. A lifetime can seem rather short when we look at it from a different perspective.

Try looking at it this way:

  • When my grandfather was born, the population of the country was 50,189,209.

  • When my father was born, the population of the country was 100,546,000.

  • When I was born, the population of the country was 138,397,345.

  • When my daughter was born, the population of the country was 205,052,174.

  • When my grandson was born, the population of the country was 303,202,683.
    The population of the USA this morning was about 309,620,000 (2010 figure. The current 2016 figure is 324, 158,869).

Or, how about this?

  • The World population when my grandfather was born was about 1.4 billion.

  • The World population when my father was born was about 1.8 billion.

  • The World population when I was born was about 2.4 billion.

  • The World population when my daughter was born was about 3.7 billion.

  • The World population when my grandson was born was about 6.65 billion.

  • The World population today is about 6,854,834,551 (6.85 billion).

Remember the estimate of 5 million for a world population ten thousand years ago? We’ve gone from that to 7 billion in 10 thousand years

The world population was still less than a billion when the Colonists said sayonara, and few other things, I’m sure, to the British back in 1776. It has grown more than 614% since then. No wonder things get noisy!

How about population density? Using the present day 7 billion population figure and the 197 million square mile estimate of the earth’s surface, there is a “mathematical” density of 35.53 people per square mile. Start subtracting uninhabited places like Antarctica and the middle of the ocean and that figure quickly jumps to 130 and more. The numbers aren’t really important, though. What is important is that even when there was only .03 of a person per square mile (odd, I shouldn’t think .03 of a person would be much more than a smirk before the fact), they’d find something to disagree on, so it is no wonder we have problems today.

Not that everybody is running around in loincloths carrying bludgeons and looking for somebody to talk to about Jesus, or oil, or anything else like that. An awfully large number of people are really basically OK. The fact that John may annoy his neighbor Bob doesn’t mean diddly squat, unless, of course, Bob happens to be one of the rest of the population who I haven’t talked about yet.

Again, I’m not trying to suggest that anybody is defective just because I find it in my heart to critique their lifestyles and favorite vegetables (more O’Henry), but they could be. They also could just be deeply concerned about personal space and personal safety in this bumper to bumper universe. Methodology is everything. Some people measure the integrity of their personal space by measuring the integrity of their personal space, and assess their personal safety by assessing what everyone else is doing. Some measure the integrity of their personal space by checking the “infrastructure”, though I haven’t a clue what that metaphor refers to. Basically, I guess, they assess their own well being by assessing their own well being. Safety, of course, requires awareness of one’s surroundings and those who pose a threat, but there are 7 billion other people on this rock and that’s a lot of other people’s business to keep track of. Various counselors and other mental health professionals are afforded a lucrative market by those who assess their own wealth by checking to see how much the other guy has in his pocket. Nothing new. I’m sure the Shamen, et al, of yore were similarly engaged.

Things are decidedly different in some respects, though. Being afraid the nut-ball in the adjoining cave might make spaghetti out of your head with a rock is a little different than worrying that some schmuck in a knock-off Giorgio Armani suit made out of C-4 might decide to shop at your favorite mall.

***

Okay, Tipperary and my original point about communication and the word “equal” are both a long way off, so perhaps I should return to the business at hand, though I believe my meanderings do serve to set the table, so to speak.

So, equality as we know it is the flattened quiche of good intentions. This much misunderstood quality refers, in the Constitution, to the equal RIGHTS of all people to the benefits laid out in that document, and equal ACCESS to justice and to the freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Constitution of the United States of America doesn’t say pfffft about hurt feelings, insults, No Child Left Behind, or any of that home made horse puckey. Besides, what if some Child didn’t want to go in the first place? Offering a leg up to someone in need is an admirable quality; turning it into a career can be indistinguishable from exploitation. It is opportunity that is promised, not achievement, not a shortcut, not a free pass. Achievement, like eating, is a first-person activity.

Along those lines, we have a sub-population of people who really believe they have the right and an obligation to micromanage my life, and everyone else’s, for the “common good” or some other such Neolithic rationalization for taking control of the galaxy, usually for a lucrative fee and generous retirement benefits. Sometimes just because of some compulsion to “count coup” or act out some other pathology on friends, family, and anyone else who fits the need of the moment.

Humanity is not likely to play nice with others as a species characteristic any time soon, and certainly not if self-anointed Play-Nice Police grab those who don’t know their Company Song by the throat to “teach” them. We may evolve into it some eon down the road, but I really would prefer that the peers among whom my descendants dwell carry a gene that thinks it’s a dandy idea to help out the neighbor in need of some help as well as the gene that tells them that nothing else about that neighbor’s life is any of their goddamned business.

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | August 3, 2016

Open letter to SCOTUS

….Imploring Justices to do their jobs…..

I’m not sure what the correct procedure is, so I will proceed in the manner which I sense is appropriate. After 72 years, I suspect I’ve waded through enough nonsense to find the high ground when I need to.

I implore the Court to review the appearance of the “hate crime” on the American judicial doorstep in recent years. I’ll be blunt. This is among the deepest examples of nonsense to which I referred above. It violates the First Amendment in so many ways. It is entirely constructed as one of those “add-ons” to provide extra leverage and with which to apply our fundamental laws of person and property differently at will.

I’m no lawyer, but I’m reasonably bright and “hate-law” doesn’t sound very American or very constitutional to me.

If I am pummeled into pudding, or worse, the resume and mood ring results of my assailant is irrelevant. Whether an assailant abuses me because he wants my stuff, because I beat him to the last parking space, or because he despises everything about me including my genealogy matters not one whit. A man murdered in 2016 is no more or less dead than one who suffered the same fate was long before the concept of using the presumed thoughts and feelings of a defendant to elevate the significance of a spitball to that of .357 magnum came into fashion.

If I had been prosecuted for every antisocial, rude, nasty, terrible thought that I have harbored over my lifetime, even Hell would turn me away when my time comes. Most of us would. The rest are lying. I was taught that behavior was what one had to manage. If my sister and I became embroiled in a name calling melee, which was known to happen from time to time, we were apprised of what was appropriate and what was not. Foul language taught me the taste of Ivory soap. The government taught me nothing, nor should it have

I knew the traditional profanities by first grade, and I learned the broad lexicon of nicknames and put-downs for every nationality and ethnicity by the time I reached high school, and I continued to learn of new ones as I moved around the country over the years. I am not unique.

Despite my internal shortcomings, I have managed to avoid legal entanglements, except for a few adolescent missteps, earned a commission in the USNR, graduated from college, and retired from my eventual career as a counselor at the local medical center. I have fully supported the idea of changing how our social and cultural differences are handled, and we have come a long way. The problem is, we have gone too far and some of the methodology has had paradoxical effects.

The “hate crime” idea has unsavory parallels on many fronts, past and present

Review the “hate crime” trick. It is wrong. It breeds resentment and division rather than tolerance and unity. Condemn it. It’s bad law. Please.

Respectfully,

J. Marsh

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | July 19, 2016

What? Another beheading…?…

Yawn ….

In this season of more than the usual level of political brain sewage, it’s no surprise that the opposing “Gotcha” snipers are taking a few shots at Melania Trump with the same energy the Tabloid crowd would go after a 75 year old woman giving birth to quintuplets during a zip-line adventure. Don’t interpret my remarks to mean I support Mr. Trump. I most certainly do not. Nor do I support that woman with a voice like the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz.

This is a bizarre election year, to be polite about it. I don’t know which would be the least harmful for the United States, but I’d have to guess that would be Trump, simply because he isn’t a politician and doesn’t know the ropes. Congress may have appeared mummified for the past few years, but I think they could come to life if they had to keep him out of any serious trouble. Anyway, he’s more likely to at least try to undo the damage perpetrated against the country by Obama administration. It’s no wonder Bernie Sanders thought he could just strut up to the plate, spit, grab his junk, and somebody could be required to hit a home run for him.

Anyway, Mrs. Trump apparently got busted quoting the current First Lady without footnotes, so the Democrats deem it appropriate that her head be removed. As a dedicated curmudgeon and once-upon-a-time editor, I’m no apologist for bona fide plagiarism, but please. Politicians haven’t said anything new in a hundred years or so. They’re all still chewing the same wad of gum Taft stuck under a barstool somewhere. Heck, even plagiarizing something that at least has some entertainment value would be a Giant Step for Mankind compared to the unending barrage of slander and character assassination that has been considered acceptable fare thus far.

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | July 3, 2016

Happy Third of July…

…and contemplating Liberty….


Happy Third of July, everyone!

No, I haven’t made a mistake. I think this is a day worth contemplating, if not celebrating. The Third of July, I imagine, was a day of excruciating contemplation and decision making 240 years ago, while the Fourth was a day of action.

On this Third of July, many are conflicted and discouraged by the atmosphere of the 2016 election process. Every election year that I have experienced has had a certain “locker room” aura of anticipation, trash talk, and adrenalin, but 2016 is uniquely ugly, misdirected, and empty of substance.

I would like to think that we, as were our predecessors, are on the precipice of great changes, though I would also hope that “revolution” is a metaphorical reference this time. We have legitimate processes available to us through our Constitution to replace a dysfunctional government if we have the courage to use them. Our government is supposed to be robust, but it is not supposed to be chaotic and self-serving. It’s now time to access that vestigial courage and act.

We need changes, Big changes. We need to take back the power that has been ceded to those who have been elected to public office through legitimate as well as not-so-legitimate means. The “people” are supposed to be a “check and balance” with those given temporary permission to represent us, but complacency has perverted that relationship and we, the people, are now like cattle manipulated and moved around for the convenience of an elite ruling class.

Part of this mutation is basically a predictable outcome of human nature left unchecked. When well “fed”, people are wont to leave the details to those who are more than willing to take them on. When given the authority and responsibility to provide for others, it is human nature for those so endowed to seek to consolidate and enhance their power. The Founders clearly understood this and created a system of government that could maintain the balance between the people and those who have been lent temporary power. Unfortunately, those empowered to handle the details have also been empowered through complacency to serve as their own “check and balance” and the “people” are either basking in the sun at the beach or squabbling and competing for favors like animals at feeding time.

We are not cattle. That will not change if we politely ask those to whom we have ceded our responsibility and authority to self-management to disempower themselves. We should know by now that “pretty please” is an impotent gesture. By the same token, we have the authority to take the power back if we have the courage and determination to do so. The challenge is to understand that Liberty is not as enticing as Free Lunch, until the people discover that they have become the lunch.

Happy Third of July, everyone!

Contemplate it.

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | June 10, 2016

On failing brilliantly…

……and the would-be emperor’s new clothes


Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich popped off a public letter to Sen. Bernie Sanders the other day.

In response to Reich’s A-Cappella (no violins) letter to his “friend” Sen. Bernie Sanders to prop him up with a few “atta-boys”, I would like to offer, not cynicism, as anticipated by Reich, but a bit of realism. Couldn’t hurt.

While I appreciate that each of us has an opinion, and that which ones are valid depends upon whom one asks, I don’t ask that anyone accept mine unless, after having read it and thought about it, they happen to agree with parts of it. And so, my opinion follows.

***

I thought Robert Reich was full of crap when he had a certain amount of secondary relevance from working with a few Presidential administrations, although neither the Ford nor the Carter visitation was exactly stellar, and Clinton’s was marked by scandal, so it doesn’t surprise me that he enjoys being Bernie Sanders’ shoe-shine boy.

Reich’s letter was certainly in character, as I recall his earlier oratory, and he still seems to be marching to the beat, in the economic sense, of self-described albeit other-funded artists reaping lucrative grants to sculpt religious icons out of fecal matter, etcetera. I’m not saying such a message isn’t clever, …heck… it may even bear an element of truth, but efforts like that should be do-it-yourself projects from start to finish.

Anyway, Reich started off by acknowledging Bernie’s numbers didn’t carry the day, but then clarified any potential or heretofore unnoticed nuance by putting lipstick on the loss, redefining it as having been brilliantly executed, and having accomplished just so golly gee whiz much. (Vintage Reich). He continued, delivering a dripping “atta-boy” to Bernie for having thusly written on the bathroom wall of the disaffected “without SuperPACs or big money from corporations, Wall Street, and billionaires. ” The subtlety of demonizing, or at least discounting the humanity of anyone boasting more than a Walmart lay-away account, was not lost on me. Also not lost on me was Sander’s “in your face” intention to tax the hell out of those same Untouchables in order to fund his Pie in Somebody Else’s Sky visions for the future of America.

I must be cautious when teetering on the precipice of criticizing another man’s past, my own having more than a few “redacted” pages and “Oh, God” moments itself, but then, I don’t claim otherwise, and I’m not running for President. I’m no financial wizard or success story either, but then, I’m not claiming to know the magic words for turning the United States into something out of Peter Pan. I only took one college level Economics course, and I seriously disliked it. In spite of that, I learned enough to understand that building a healthy, sustainable economy does not mean taking other people’s money away from them and doing some “really neat stuff” with it according to one’s own estimation.


Reich segued from his opening schmooze to note that Bernie had won his faux-gold medal in spite of being “a 74-year-old, political Independent, Jewish, self-described democratic socialist…

Alright, this thing’s got flies on it already and the sun isn’t even up yet. Again, vintage Reich.

Okay, Point One:

I – “Age 74.”

First of all, how is being 74 a default handicap, unless one expects to do a mid-term move to the sunless side of the lawn. We have two living former Presidents old enough to be Bernie’s father. (Barely, but it’s there.) Besides, like I tell my 34 year old step-son, “in your thirties, you may have knowledge, but it’s in your seventies that you know how to use it.”

Yeah, I know….He doesn’t buy that one, either.

II – “ Political Independent”

In these times, Independence would normally be considered an asset, philosophically and politically, other than for a certain innate impotence that tends to come with swimming against the tide. Sanders took care of that handicap by strapping on the requisite accoutrements for getting his Democratic Party Pledge Pin. The bottom line is though, Bob, he can’t legitimately use that one on his resume.

III – “Jewish”

Of course. How can one get anywhere these days without a “card” of some sort? Proving membership in a population, ethnicity, or culture, that currently is, or whose ancestors were at some period in the past, certifiably “marginalized”, is a socio-political asset in some circles. Heck, I used to get tripped in the halls and find weird shit in my locker in junior High school because I was skinny and didn’t shave until after I had to register for the draft. Why didn’t I get free college and a boat? Or at least a card? It’s called the “WASP” Syndrome ….(White Anglo Saxon Protestant). I couldn’t get elected to cross the street and pick up my mail on those credentials. The fact is, NO such “credentials” should have more than yawn value. Ever. When it is discovered that something being done is causing harm to someone, the proper response is to stop doing it. Being a victim is a terrible thing, but perhaps the greatest harm that can be done to a person is to damage his or her spirit by turning the misfortune into an identity and a career track. Acknowledge the harmful cause and effect; eliminate the causative factor; move on.

IV – “self-described democratic socialist”

Alright, I understand why this one is held out as a handicap. Running for President as a socialist is nothing new, of course, but it is sort of right there in the “nice try, pal,” department with a coke dealer applying for a job as Director of the DEA. I mean, last time I checked, we were still having kids cut out construction paper turkeys and stuff like that so they can learn all about the tough individualism, independence, and ingenuity that built this place. While the people have always pulled together, especially during difficult times, I don’t think we’ve ever collectively been willing to lay down our lives so we could exist as a “hive” or emulate the BORG of Star Trek notoriety.

V – “Then you won 22 states.”

This is a sad kudo, actually. I mean, a lot of people my age are in nursing homes, poor things, and I feel badly for their circumstances. Being able to outrun them in a local Marathon (assuming I could) wouldn’t be much to brag about, though, and I can’t imagine anybody holding a ticker-tape parade for me should I actually lose…well, maybe one person… In any event, this is just another one right out of the “every kid gets a trophy” play book.

The eyebrow raiser for me, however, is not that Sen. Sanders stirred up as much attention as he did, but that we are living in a social-economic-political environment where he could. Also, while Reich may read it all as proof-positive just how wonderful The Bern is, and amps up the old Kazoo accordingly, I see it more as an indicator of just how leaderless our country has been for much too long, how incredibly angry people are, and how hungry they are for CHANGE… anything….as long as it is different.

So, I have to say, Mr. Reich, that you get the Great Raspberry for your unctuous Ode to the Socialist Bern, but then, both the raspberry and the ode format are old hat for you, aren’t they?

The selling points of the Senator’s campaign, and the schemes you wax all goosey over…

      single-payer healthcare

      free tuition at public universities

      $15 minimum wage

      busting up the biggest Wall Street banks

      taxing the financial speculation

 …are all completely dependent on the use of force. None of them is the result of free exchange. None is the reward for creating or producing anything unique or original oneself.

I must say, with a net worth estimated at more than $4 million, a salary 36% greater than that of the average CEO, and a going rate of $40K for a one hour speech, you are an odd one to be hate-talking the rich and blowing in Sanders’ ear.

Sanders is not so much of an enigma in this regard, from what I have read. He putzed around for most of his “productive” years until he could wriggle into a Senate seat and pull down some serious bucks, and where his name plate proudly reads “I don’t have as much money as you”. His resentment of the driven, the successful, and the wealthy is an honest expression of his having spent his life having to look up at people who were too busy to look down at him. And this guy thinks he can lead a nation?

Mr. Reich, in spite of your specious lauding, Senator Sanders lost, and therefore was the loser. Those who borrowed a quarter of a million dollars to spend eight years getting a four year degree in Origami might appear to love him; and those who want to do the same on somebody else’s dime sing his praises too. Similarly, those who stand to make dandy living, with benefits, for doling out his Free Lunch, or serving as salaried Knee Breakers to “secure” the requisite finances for same claim to be fond of him as well. But, these aren’t winners, Mr. Reich. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Even yours.

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | May 27, 2016

ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS…

….and RIGHTS…

One thing, among many, that history teaches us is that once an ax gets ground three more show up to boast their dullness. Another is that we, as a species, rarely give a shit about what history reveals. This is not to say that axes should not be ground in the literal sense, but that there is a tendency to stretch metaphors way beyond their reasonable tolerance.

Take “rights,” for example. There is a 99% chance that two men standing toe to toe debating where the rights of one end and those of the other begin will be resolved when one kills the other, claiming he had the right to do that “because”…..

Metaphor abuse is part of the DNA in some places, like New York City where the police are being criticized of “profiling” homeless people and thereby violating their “rights”. According to a lawyer who is hitching her BMW payments to their wagon via the local Civil Liberties Union, “We have the right to not have the police interrupt our daily lives.

We? ” I understand the value of inclusion as a tool for building relationships, but I seriously doubt the lady lives on a steam grate. Besides, getting back to that bit about where the rights of one end and those of the other begin, certainly “we” as citizens have the “right” to the sanctity of our homes (“places of residence”….notice the stretch?), but in the generally understood meaning of the word “home”, public property like sidewalks, or property belonging to another, even if that “other” is a big ol’ rich guy or a corporation, is not on the Free Lunch Menu. I mean, I don’t have much, but it’s MINE, and you can’t live there. I might let you camp out there while resolving a tough time, but you’re going to have to mow the lawn, paint the garage, or something. You’re not just going to lay around smelling my roses and grooving on medical marijuana or whatever.

Anyway, this Civil Liberties Union lawyer has an interesting take on things, not all that unusual these days, actually, but I prefer more traditional and time tested methods of filtering to sort out the flakes of reality hidden in the rest of all that sludge. You know, kind of like panning for gold. I’m not into the new fad of grabbing the first handful of convenient crap to come down the line, calling it “gold”, and suing anyone who disagrees and especially if they refuse to pay the going price for it.

We DO have the right to be secure in our homes. Normally, a home has four walls and a roof, and the resident either owns the property or has permission from the owner to be there. Public property supposedly belongs to the “public”, which means it is held for the benefit all as a community. That doesn’t automatically mean one, albeit a bona fide member of the “public”, can “live” there. City hall is “public property”, as are the parks, schools, highways, sidewalks, and so forth. If someone opts to stake a claim on what he calculates is his “fair share” of the public domain and to guard that as his own, he is effectively interfering with the rights of everyone else, even if they neither know about nor complain about his behavior. Since most of us aren’t into roaming the streets in the middle of the night and fighting bad guys, we employ specially skilled people to do that stuff. That’s not all the police do, of course.

Profiling

Therein lies another member of the Much Hackneyed Word List. Profiling is one of those terms whose meaning is more a matter of degree rather than of substance. Profiling is just one of numerous references developed to describe the human behavior of observing one’s environment, assessing the nature of what is seen, and making decisions accordingly. Whether or not one acts upon ones conclusions is a separate matter, but even if one does, it is not necessarily a constant or a predictable quality.

In fact, “profiling” is but one part of a broad family of behaviors that all animals engage in to enhance their chances of survival. That’s why we are more likely to eat meat than rocks, and why a toddler is more likely to try out a bug or two, or even some things of unmentionable heights on the Disgusting scale, while the adults in his life won’t. Grandparents may occasionally regress…

We assess our environments and the people in them to obtain information that will help us remain safe in that environment, and for other intents. One may enter an environment for many purposes, perhaps to identify people who need help, as a nurse might do. When I worked on the local psychiatric unit, I profiled the hell out of new environments, for many reasons. Thus, when a policeman is accused of “profiling”, I’m tempted to say, “Yeah, and he ate supper, too!….What’s yer point?”

Homelessness has always been an issue, in large and small communities alike. There is a preponderance of mental health factors in play here, but having a problem does not absolve one of the need, and responsibility, to remain within the boundaries of the society’s limits and requirements. Telling a person to stop violating those limits is not violating their rights; how one tells the person may need improvement at times.

Certainly, the process can be abused, and has been, on occasion. Ergo, the issue at hand. But truth will be better served if one applies judgment rather than agenda when drawing conclusions from observation. This can be an understandable challenge for anyone in a watchdog role, just as it surely is for members of the law enforcement profession. Human nature factor #115A: we tend to see what we are looking for.

So, what about the accusations of “profiling” aimed at the NYPD for their interactions with homeless people? That is an impossible question to answer with the information provided in the news item, largely because modern “news” items are crafted to induce adrenaline surges rather than to inform, and the necessary monotonous details are missing.

Is approaching a group of less than nattily dressed and groomed men lounging about on a street corner and asking them to “move along” an instance of inappropriate bias because perhaps the encounter plays out differently than it might had it been a group of men in pinstriped suits holding leather valises? I say no. And I say further that the CLU lawyer needs a hobby, if that’s the best she can come up with. Might I suggest she explore the possibility of more productive fodder in Washington, DC?

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | April 22, 2016

Living vicariously….

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Posted by: JDM..... | April 13, 2016

Keeping it simple…

”Cut the crap….”

I read another news item this morning about that festering boil on our society’s nether regions so many Americans sport and nurture like some kind of a merit badge.

Moving in lock-step with those forces seeking to make America “free” by prescribing a one-note anthem and declaring all who live out of tune criminals,  a Mississippi lawyer has filed a lawsuit to have the symbol of the Confederacy removed from the state flag.  That’s no big deal, but attorney Carlos Moore charges that the flag is an “unconstitutional relic of slavery” that violates his dignity.

Mr. Moore asserts that he is “nobody’s second-class citizen” and doesn’t appreciate being treated as such.

If anything is unconstitutional, it would be the presumption of authority to decide what symbols, totems, or representations others are allowed to display, view, honor, or simply tolerate on the grounds that certain things threaten Mr. Moore’s dignity or make him feel like a second class citizen.

Mr. Moore, when you respect yourself, believe in yourself, and know who and what you are, nobody and no thing can violate your dignity.  Only you can do that.  So, stop it.

The vile practice of slavery ended a century and a half ago.  It has taken time to remove the relics and residuals of those evil circumstances, and for the last half century or so there has been a hard fought and concentrated effort to eliminate remaining state and federal permissions for unconstitutional barriers to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness such as the “Jim Crow” laws.  That is the extent of the law’s authority, or should be.  The rest is up to us, as a society, to change our behaviors and perspectives.

I don’t believe it was the intent of those who gave their lives to launch the Civil Rights movement so many years ago to simply transfer ownership of privileged class status to themselves by creating special rules, regulations, and opportunities for members of select populations.

Has this nation struggled through fifty plus years of growing pains in an effort to eliminate the favored status of some under the law only to have the music stop and everyone scramble for the Big chair?  Has nothing changed but the wind direction?

If any “relics of slavery” continue to muddy the waters of the United States it is because people like Mr. Moore refuse to let go of them.  One cannot selectively rewrite history, ripping out unfavorable chapters to pretend they never happened while at the same time reminding everyone on a daily basis that they did happen and expecting special treatment in perpetuity as restitution.

Humanity has an unpleasant penchant for playing badly with others, seeking to dominate, abusing power and privilege, and stealing the other guy’s stuff.  The cycle never stops because, upon achieving peace and tranquility, the formerly subdued immediately spend it on “paybacks”.  King of the Mountain is an endless pursuit, it seems

If Mr. Moore and those who share his fear of giving up “The Card” truly wishes to advocate for the betterment of humanity, it is time they pull up their big boy Garanimals and get over it.  I mean, really.  Let go of the past, move on.  Teach Sunday school, lead a Scout troop, smile, prepare wills, deeds, focus on building a future instead of claiming entitlement to one and demanding it be served on a silver platter.

In short, cut the crap.  It’s time.

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | April 1, 2016

A “Save-the Day” candidate!!!

or something like that ….

I would like to take this opportunity to announce my availability as a write-in candidate for President of the United States.

I have no party affiliation, but, like most people, I have agendas. My platform? To get government out of the way so the People can exercise their greatness freely. I won’t promise to do anything spectacular to get the media’s skivvies in a twitch because, unlike the current contenders, I realize the fact that my job will be to work with Congress, to lead them, not to bypass them or order them around. I see the wisdom in following the guidelines of the Constitution as opposed to digging around for ways to exploit loopholes. If elected, I don’t intend to spend one minute working on a “legacy”. I mean, who would waste time on such a thing other than a consummate Narcissist? I didn’t pay people to sign my yearbook, for cryin’ out loud, and I didn’t expect those who did to pay me for the privilege….

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Forget the “vetting”. I’ll show the media and the pucker-butts my rap sheet. Who cares? That was then and this is now. Besides, I’ve never regretted anything that I didn’t enjoy the hell out of first, and boy, have I had a blast! Fortunately, other than a few misdemeanors and adolescent social faux pas, I am fully qualified for the office. Well, I’m not a lawyer, but I’m a bit of a windbag and I do know a few.

I’m not a bumpkin, either. I graduated from college. I’ve been around. I’ve dined with the Governor. I’ve chewed on a cold boloney sandwich in a six by eight. I’ve shaken the hands of Senators, Representatives of Congress, a future Secretary of Defense, and a couple of Hell’s Angels.

But enough about me.

Never mind. Why should I care to run for the most impossible job on the planet?

Primarily because those currently running scare the pants off of me and a whole lot of other people, and those with the PC credentials to go for it themselves are more interested in protecting their PC credentials. They had help with such decisions from millions of misguided citizens who either want the USA to “goose step its way to greatness” or fulfill Kruschev’s prophesy by jamming our path to full Statism into passing gear.

My core politic is a mixture. I think all existing parties have good points and are full of bovine flapjacks on others. Generally speaking, I believe the Constitution is central, and that we should strictly follow it in spirit in order to properly respect it, especially when making adaptations for “context”. I value the concept of the individual as primary, and that of public servants as just that.

I believe it is important that we have a strong legal system that provides rational and appropriate consequences for crimes of violence and property. Personal property is inviolate. Nobody has the right to take the property of another, or to interfere with their use of it. Including government.

I believe in equal treatment under the law for all people. That does not translate into equal accoutrements of some statistically median lifestyle or unlimited freebies to make it feel that way. Nevertheless, I believe in generous welfare and support for those who are unable to care for themselves. That means safe and reasonably comfortable housing. That means basic nutrition, which does not include snack foods, soda pop, lobster, or gourmet fare. Specifying allowable purchases does not violate anybody’s rights. Nobody is “entitled” to any extra credit for being on a “list”, nor should anybody merit any less, for the same reason. I would be interested to see how Congress addresses these issues.

Religion is none of the government’s business. That means government does not promote or show disfavor toward any matter of spirituality, but maintains a neutral position while still following the law. No sacrificing virgins, for example. You can burn a cross if you so desire, but do it on your own lawn. That kind of thing. The Taliban mentality of removing existing historic monuments and icons because they don’t live up to the Politically Correct mandates of the moment is not OK. That behavior violates the rights of those who created such monuments and those who enjoy them. It also violates the right of those who don’t actually give a damn, but by so doing the Taliban effectively are dictating to them certain belief systems and using force to promote them.

I would support and encourage movement toward a society where individuals are free to pursue their dreams to the best of their ability. Not everybody has dreams, of course. Many just wish to have enough to get along, or at least only have enough drive to pursue that level. That’s fine. The rest of society is not obligated to supplement their ambitions, however, in order to achieve some statistically pleasing standard of living.

At least one candidate believes everyone should have access to a “free” college education, not because they are smart but because they can prove they can’t afford it. Of course they can’t afford it, they haven’t graduated yet. As far as education is concerned, I think everybody should have access to college loans, and counseling to assist with applying for any of the thousands of grants available from private industries and other interests. Other than that, debt can be a great motivator for performance. Or, one can acquire an education incrementally, over a period of years, working between enrolled semesters to save money or to play, or whatever.

We have to be realistic about economic matters. I believe the cry to “audit the fed” is a reasonable action, as is serious consideration of returning to a money supply founded upon tangible assets. Moving off of the gold and silver standards was not done because it was a good idea for the people or for the country, but to favor the agendas of a few.

I won’t argue that the Federal Reserve was a bad idea back when it was created, but I will argue that it is a good idea to chew on the question of whether it is a good idea in this particular part of the twenty first century. We are no longer a keystone in the brick and mortar industrial world because that world has changed and given way to an economic environment centered around technology and computer science. Regardless of nationalistic viewpoints, we need to accept that the economy is now global in nature, and if we wish to participate and play king of the mountain therein, we have to understand the rules of the game. I read somewhere that one of the barriers to that understanding is our archaic vision of a “factory” being one of raw materials in the front door and finished product out the back. The factory still exists, but is segmented around the planet instead of just around a city lot down by the tracks. We play an important part in that economy, but the “brick and mortar” folks are just going to have to find some new way to earn a living. Their ancestors had to do the same thing when the horseshoe and carriage industries fizzled out.

One thing I have a very strong politic about is that government should not be an industry, nor should it operate like one. The USA embarked on a reasonable, rational, and Constitutional path some sixty years ago when it began a concerted effort to eliminate the conditions that disallowed a huge portion of our population equal access to the rights and privileges enjoyed by others. Why they were denied is not relevant at this point. However, the Why has replaced the original problem of deprivation and continues to be a seemingly insurmountable issue today, with the historic deprivation itself actually serving as an “Oh, yeah…that too…” kind of point. We need to learn from, and end, that approach to Constitutional issues.

Just as acting like American Taliban in protecting the freedom of religion concept tends to violate the very principle it claims to represent, overly exuberant efforts to “end poverty” and all of its cognates has been said to actually give those conditions a certain immortality. Look at it this way:

A need is discovered. Johnny needs shoes.

A program is started to identify other people who need shoes and to provide them with some.

So far, so good.

Such a program requires personnel and a budget.

And a building.

and so forth….oh, and more personnel…

It doesn’t take too many years, and too many additional good idea programs to convert government from a service to a service industry. To many, that may still seem like a good idea. It is not; look at it this way: An industry “produces” a product or service. A product producer needs raw materials, which it purchases from those who have them available for sale. A service industry, like the brick and mortar version, also requires “raw materials”, which comes in the form of whatever “need” the service aspires to fill or resolve. Those who create income by consulting, fixing, caring for, and providing numerous other service related “products” have to compete for the business. Like any business, it requires Research & Development, Sales, Advertising, Professional Providers, Management, Accounting, and more. He who provides the greatest value for the smallest cost wins the game.

A government service industry runs in very much the same manner, with a few key differences.

Products:  As mentioned, the product is “need.” In order to stay viable, even before the initially identified need is fulfilled, it becomes crucial to identify new needs to be fulfilled. Johnny has shoes. Now What?

R&D  …steps in to either find needs or to create them. That’s where sales and advertising come in….(selling refrigerators to Eskimos and all of that sort of thing).

None of these functions is self sustaining or subject to the “natural” rules and forces of a market economy in this case, however. The government operated “service industry” takes what it needs, gives away what it wants to, and can mandate the purchase of its products, all of this financed with money taken from the taxpaying public. The only thing missing from this formula is the gun. No it’s not. It’s there, but you won’t see it unless you decline to participate.

The welfare economy requires three things: a limitless, free supply of “raw materials” and cash, a captive market, and force. While many may appear to benefit from it, it is primarily a “jobs program” for those employed in the industry.  The people in “need” are a crucial raw material, and therefore are indispensable. They are captured, they are husbanded like cattle.

Military:   Just as welfare was originally established to help the helpless and to care for those who are unable to care for themselves, military functions were originally conceived to defend the physical nation and its people from enemies “foreign and domestic”. Eisenhower wasn’t the first to notice, of course, but he is known for voicing concerns about a “military-industrial complex. ” Such a marriage was reasonable and necessary during WWII, but it was not subsequently dismantled. It found new things to do, new causes to fight for. In fact, the United States of America has been engaged in armed conflict of one kind or another for 222+ our of the last 230+ years…93% of our very existence. That speaks to something other than “self defense.” It is an industry, Aprofit center,” if you please. The 100 top producing “industries” are all engaged in the production, sales, and distribution of weaponry or some related “product”. When we aren’t asserting ourselves as global police, we serve as mercenaries, or “observers”. Right….. That’s a little like being an “observer” at an orgy, isn’t it?

Just as an end to poverty would bankrupt the country and millions of previously middle class wage earners, starting the cycle all over again, if “peace” was ever actually achieved, our surviving brick and mortar industries and “defense” related interests would collapse.  There’s no big global demand for yo-yos.

In other words, despite our vigorous PR and traditions to the contrary, the USA is a welfare state in the making, and not in the least bit interested in world peace. We can’t afford to win either campaign.

I’d like to find a way to change that. I’d like to rally those who would also be willing to take the risks involved in becoming a productive, independent population, more interested in making and selling widgets than making and selling weapons, war, and welfare.

Unions will, of course, be among the most energetic of my detractors, as would be federal employees and civilian federal contractors whose jobs depend on serving the “needs” of the poor or of the military industrial complex.

It’s a free country, but that doesn’t mean it’s free to live here, and it shouldn’t obligate the population to pay for each others’ pipe dreams or the pipe dreams of those with a pocketful of power to play with.

That’s enough for now. I’m hungry, anyway. I think I’ll pop up to Martha’s Vineyard for brunch…

 

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