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

There I go…

…taking myself too seriously again…

too serious_450

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Posted by: JDM..... | December 19, 2017

TwoGuys_TwoLogs[3]_001

Posted by: JDM..... | December 13, 2017

The Theatre of Politics

and the art of lying honestly….

Every four years, some 125 million people go feral in preparation for the next federal election, which is most likely still two years away at that point. Once the big day has come and gone, half of them go feral again over the results.

This cycle repeats in perpetuity whether the People, and the Electoral College (or the Electoral College and the People) punch the ticket of a raving sociopath or somebody about as exciting as a sloth in a coma. We’ve had a few of each, the White House never standing vacant for any longer than it takes to change the sheets.

…Which brings us to the present time and the ongoing Chicken Little Convention of this particular quadrennial.

It’s been just over a year since President Trump tweeted his way up Pennsylvania Avenue with his entire family in tow and the establishment still can’t figure out what to do about his decidedly non-traditional, apolitical style. However, I’ve no intention of being sucked into the Abyss of Self-Righteous Indignation, where a million Ushers are each handing out their own programs for the pending production of Armageddon. It doesn’t matter. His antithesis would spawn a similar flurry of activity, the only difference being that those who are the most vocally passionate about peace and tolerance can be the most violently intolerant.

The firecracker in the outhouse for 2017 has been a toss up so far between the Sexual Impropriety Olympics and the frenzied search for someone to hang for allegedly Friending a Russian on Facebook.

Speaking of the latter, I sometimes like to watch Russian drivers turn left from the far right lane and so forth on You Tube, but I don’t have a title, a legacy, or a portfolio stuffed with Berkshire-Hathaway, so I’m probably safe.

Still speaking of the latter, this whole Russian collusion shtick just looks more stupid by the day and one can’t help but wonder what the ubiquitous but anonymous “They” are really cooking up behind all of that camouflage and how much it’s going to cost us.

Okay, so anyway, my general reaction from the start to these goiter-eyed announcements that the Russians frigged with our 2016 election has been a hybrid of a guffaw and a yawn. My response has not been aimed at the meat of the allegations so much as it has been aimed at the fact that so many starving souls choke it down whole and raw without even checking for bones and feathers. That and the unfathomable hypocrisy of it all define silly on steroids.

I went on a cursory internet scavenger hunt this evening, just to ascertain, of course, that Saint Uncle Sam would never engage in such chicanery. Now, I’m a skeptic when it comes to the reliability of the media these days, but I will occasionally sift through some of the “majors” for morsels of potential truth, ultimately just making up my own damned mind anyway and calling it good.

I found what I suspected had been there all along, Tales of the Shoe on the Other Foot.

The various internet search engines reveal numerous stories from various sources about the United States’ history of messing with the affairs of other nations, and in many cases actually engineering actual overthrows or being a silent partner in them.  A few of the more notorious instances follow:

    • [1]- Iran, 1953: Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh was ousted, presumably because he nationalized former British controlled oil fields.

    • [2]- Guatemala, 1954: The US at first liked President Jacobo Árbenz, but then he tried to bring off some land reforms that threatened the holdings of the U.S.-owned United Fruit Company, so we equipped those rebelling against him and the Navy blockaded the Guatamalan coast.

    • [3]- Congo, 1960: The US supported the Belgian military that was trying to protect their country’s business interests there. The Congolese wanted to assassinate PM Patrice Lumumba, and apparently the CIA supported their efforts. He was finally killed in 1960.

    • [4]- Dominican Republic, 1961: The brutal dictator of Rafael Trujillo was assassinated by political dissidents, with weapons, oddly enough, supplied by the CIA.

    • [5]- South Vietnam, 1963: The US had been friendly with Ngo Dinh Diem, the SV leader, but he began to be rough on dissidents and the military sought US support for a coup. Diem met his demise November 1, 1963 and the rest is history, though not necessarily as published.

    • [6]- Brazil, 1964: The US supported a coup led by Humberto Branco, Brazilian Army Chief of Staff, against Brazilian President Joao Goulart.

    • [7]- Chile, 1973: President Nixon wasn’t happy about socialist Salvador Allende becoming Chilean President in 1970 and directed the CIA to stir things up. They worked with rebels until a coup by Gen. Pinochet finally booted Allende out and he took power.

    As many as 72 such interventions are listed by some of those more obsessed with analyzing the odor of our National Laundry Basket, such as author, historian, and U.SA. foreign policy critic William Blum. His short list cites 57 instances, 35 of which resulted in successful “regime changes”. He poses the question:

         Q: Why will there never be a coup d’état in Washington?

         A: Because there’s no American embassy there.

    A Washington Post article I ran across cited a political scientist from the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University who has been studying the matter and wrote in September of 2016 that Russia and the US had meddled in the elections of other nations around the world 117 times between 1946 and 2000.

    It would be naïve to think the United States has maintained its presence around the world by being the unerring model of propriety while only Russia and other powers resort to thug tactics and dirty dealing to achieve any influence. That is not the way it works on this planet however, yet that is the line given to, and lapped up by many. What do people think our huge intelligence community does for a living, hold bake sales?

    We should maintain our essential vigilance, of course, but we, and our elected representatives, have far more important things to do than obsess on the media’s daily puddle-stompings and worrying about who did what to whom and when. We suck up the drama because it enables us to rationalize looking the other way while our military, our industry, and their operatives in Washington, D.C. carry on with their illicit threesome on our dollar.

    I, for one, don’t buy it, and I’m tired of our alleged public servants in the nation’s capitol producing little more than a You Tube “reality show” called Naked and Afraid in America to amuse the little people while capitalizing on the ad revenues.

    Think I’m over reacting and waxing paranoid? Make a list of your favorite Commanders In Chief and members of Congress, and then compare their net worth upon taking office with their net worth upon leaving office.

    For example, according to Forbes Magazine, President Obama entered the Senate in 2005 as a 43 year old law professor earning $85k and strutted out of the White House in early 2017 with more than $20 million. Disturbing, but not unique. Like most Presidents before him, holding that office is proving to be a red carpet to subsequent book deals and speaking engagements worth tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars. Power begets connections, and connections beget wealth, especially when the markers are called in.

    Moving back into the daylight of Reality in Politics, toxic allegations floated by the Outs against the Ins are usually cash cows far more than actual threats to our well being. Bottom line: Who gives a toot about the Russians diddling us a bit? We do the same thing to them and many others all of the time. That doesn’t make it right, of course, but it does suggest that kicking the ant hill is a profitable enterprise for those who know how to create and manipulate conflict to serve their personal desires.

     

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Posted by: JDM..... | November 19, 2017

Credentials…

or sheep dip; your call….


Everybody is an expert today, and I guess that has to include me as well since I tend to opinionate generously about anything from aardvarks to zithers. Be that as it may, bear with me as I address the issues of the day and critique my fellow self anointed gurus.

One of the most energy infused items of late has been the recent uptick in shooting incidents and the debate over anything having to do with firearms. A key component of just about any oratory or composition on the subject is some mention of the opinionator’s credentials.

In some cases, it can be difficult to discern whether the alleged topic at hand or the credentials is the theme, and with others the supposed source of the opinionator’s information is almost added as an apology, but it is rarely left out all together.

I encountered an item this morning that actually made me laugh, however. The article was an opinion piece about some people assuming possession of a gun by a “good guy” can save the day. Sometimes it does, of course, but the potential for disaster is never absent, he points out.

The writer made some excellent points about how acknowledged firearm professionals such as police officers and soldiers have extensive training in the handling of firearms that the average citizen usually lacks. Bringing down a deer or a pheasant in the fall doesn’t actually count for much along those lines.

Nevertheless, there is no shortage of opposing viewpoints, some with resumes attached, some without. What grabbed my attention with this particular article, however, were the writer’s “credentials” and their impact on my reaction to the article itself.

The reason I laughed was because, at the end of the article, the writer identified himself as “genderqueer Army veteran”. What? Now I ask you, what the hell does gender or one’s politic along those lines have to do with firearm safety or the lack thereof? To my way of thinking, the inclusion of such an irrelevancy distracted from the point he was trying to make and served more to dilute his credibility than to enhance it.

Meanwhile, in other news, a transgender person from New Orleans has decided to come out as trans-racial as well, having been born “white” but now identifying as Filipino. First of all, just to be nit-picky, the last time I checked “Filipino” was a nationality, not a race. More importantly though, one might be driven to ask, “Where will it end?” Oh, I don’t know. How much more are people willing to tolerate being required to accept with a straight face? Shall we meander through the animal kingdom for a tad before we move on? How about if your kid announces the intention to start identifying as a Crepidula Fornicata, which is basically a friggin’ shellfish, starting next Tuesday? That would tend to kill two life forms with one small geological fragment, since that particular creature is also ambiguous as to gender.

Anyway, that’s enough for now. I think I’ll skulk around here for a while to see if I can scare up a dollop or two of Reality…

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | November 15, 2017

Credentials_[ute4]_

Posted by: JDM..... | November 8, 2017

Comments about Recent Violence and Firearms …

Strategies needed, not passion or impulse….

Television personality Stephen Colbert commented that some reactions to recent mass killings could be likened to a situation where a rogue tiger is killing villagers, but people do nothing because “well, the price of liberty is tigers…”

He misses the mark by a mile. This is not an apt analogy. First of all, I would not compare a rogue tiger to liberty. Second of all, the tiger presumably is acting of his own volition and not in the service of, or under the direction of, a rogue person, perhaps a pissed off or deranged villager. In the recent incidents at Las Vegas and the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on the other hand, the perpetrators used inanimate tools incapable of acting of their own volition. The killers were singularly responsible; the “tools”, i.e. firearms, played no causative role, no matter how evil or menacing they may appear to those who don’t like them or value them in any way.

There is something about firearms that generates a unique response in some people, especially in those who either do not own them, or who know little about them, or both. Some, understandably, bear indelibly negative opinions about the matter due to traumatic or unpleasant personal experiences with weapons or violence.

In addition to firearms, there are many other instruments of death. Lizzie Borden used an axe, for example; not a particularly common use for that tool to be sure. If “intent” is not a required aspect of any observation or analogy, then the deadliest of all would most likely have to be motorized tools of transportation, mainly automobiles, but also including motorcycles and sporting conveyances such as snowmobiles, ATVs, power boats, and so forth.

According to the Census Bureau, 33,736 people were killed on American highways in 2014, or 10.6 persons per 100,000 of the general population.

Firearm related deaths in 2014 totaled 33,594, or 10.5 100,000 of the general population.

Scary, indeed, but adding some “variables” to the formula might put a different light on the picture.

The firearm related deaths break down to 11,008 homicides, or 3.5 per 100,000, and 21,386 suicides, or 6.7 per 100,000. Thus, deaths like those at Las Vegas and the Texas church fall within the “homicide” grouping, or 3.5 per 100,000. Carelessness, inattention, and just plain accidents cause 10.5 deaths per 100,000 on the highways by comparison, suggesting that cars are far more dangerous than firearms.

Such statistics have been danced around by both pro-gun and anti-gun activists to an eye-rolling degree over the years, which reminds me of the opening remarks by my statistics professor on the first day of class more than fifty years ago: “Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure.”

Of course the problem isn’t really an alleged preponderance of liars, but rather of people with strong biases in one direction or the other. This factor tends to make objectivity akin to the carrot on the stick.

The main feature of firearms, perhaps, is convenience, but a very small percentage of those who own them use them in ways that harm others or interfere with the rights of others to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Any meaningful response to mass killings or attempted intervention must first be stripped of as much of its emotional content as possible. It must be a strategy, not a reaction. Individuals and groups such as No Notoriety have actively urged the media to minimize the exposure mass killers get when stories are sensationalized. The “copy cat” syndrome tends to develop whenever the “bad guys” are given a moment of fame.

Regulating the privilege of driving doesn’t stop a certain number of motorists from disregarding the rules about speed, “distractions” like phone use, and poor judgment. Tough sounding laws and regulations regarding gun ownership, possession, and use do nothing to dissuade intentional use of them to cause harm. For one thing, existing laws are not particularly well applied or enforced as things stand. Those who are intent on ignoring the existing rules and doing harm aren’t likely to heed new ones either.

By strategizing as a response to violence by firearms or any other means instead of just reacting to these incidents is far more likely to provide positive changes without violating the Constitution or punishing the innocent.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.  

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

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