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

Morning chuckle…

 

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

“Fake news”…

versus “Shinola”….


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

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

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

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

Did I ever even write this little essay?

Stay tuned.

Or not…

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

The Thinkin’ spot…

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

The “Hate Crime” designation……

may itself be a hate crime….

As with so many good ideas gone bad, the “Hate Crime” designation grew out of the monumental task faced by our society in the effort to erase left-overs from the Reconstruction era. The divide between people of African heritage, whose grandparents and great grandparents had most likely been born into slavery, and those of European ancestry who had been immune to such dehumanizing circumstances, remained vast at mid-twentieth century. The Civil Rights movement, begun on multiple fronts, including the school integration conflicts, Rosa Parks decision to defy convention and the Jim Crow laws to sit where she chose on a public bus, Martin Luther King’s peaceful resistance, and more, signaled that the proverbial line in the sand had been crossed for the last time.

The overall goal was to eliminate the barriers, both statutory and cultural, that still stood between African Americans and equal access to the Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness supposedly guaranteed by the Constitution. That part was easy to understand. The countless steps to be achieved in the process, and the details involved in approaching such a goal, were then, and continue to be, another story.

With no How-To book for reference, and humanity’s unimpressive track record when it comes to learning from the errors of history, it has been like more than sixty years of running barefoot and blindfolded through a cow pasture while trying not to step in anything unpleasant. You win some, you lose some.

Personally, I believe we have come a long way, though. Men and women of African heritage earning advanced degrees now enter professions and teach at institutions where their parents and grandparents did menial labor. They fill roles as corporate and political leaders in every field today. And yet, a visible segment of their own population remains behind, and that became an issue of importance as the federal government increased its involvement to try to help move things along.

That’s where I stepped off into the abyss and parted ways with what the invisible but present and powerful “PC Police”, and the mainstream media, seemed to be insisting that everybody believe and actively parrot.

There are a number of convincing arguments stating why we should continue to depend on massive bureaucracies and an associated private sector industry for administration of the ongoing “fight for equality.” I would argue that there are also many reasons to stop what we are doing and discover what momentum, and the people themselves, can achieve.

We use artificial aids and supports in order to facilitate the learning of many skills, from physical accoutrements like training wheels and “water wings” to live experts close at hand to take over should the student lose control. In every instance, the support must eventually be removed. The question normally is not if, but when. In the case of the movement to “equalize” individual access to the benefits supposedly afforded Americans by virtue of their citizenship as well as their humanity, there is no if, there is no when. For many reasons, it seems to have become an aspect of the social and political environment, and such things cannot normally be “planned” out of existence without the use of force and without being replaced with something of similar if not equal objectionability.

In any event, at some point just about any such movement or campaign tends to become self-defeating if not allowed to stand on its own. I am of the opinion that the Civil Rights Movement of the nineteen fifties has reached that point, and that continuing “as usual” from here on out will only result in growing inequity and dependency, quite the opposite of the original intent.

The concept of an entire category of crime prosecuted on the basis of “race” or personal beliefs and feelings is ludicrous. There was a time in recent memory when African Americans lived with the expectation that they would be bypassed, overlooked, and otherwise treated as semi-citizens solely on the basis of “race”. While most of the observable and measurable expressions of this culture have been eliminated, there exist pockets of ongoing belief in such a way of life. It is the criminalization of these deeper vestiges of the past that I believe are self-contradictory and self-defeating.

History is not devoid of earlier efforts to “engineer” cultures, religions, and other arenas of human existence. Such campaigns have always included violence, always committed “wrongs” in the name of doing “right”, and have universally failed, usually by being overthrown. The question of great importance today would be, do we simply wish to pass the baton again, or do we really want to do away with the reasons for doing so?

A Hate Crime describes a presumed mind-set or belief system and criminalizes it when such criteria are associated with selected alleged actions involving selected classes of individuals against another selected class of individuals. Is not such a family of law, by its own definition, a “Hate Crime”? It is discriminatory and intentional in its application and effect.

There are other reasons to do away with the secondary prosecution of crimes based upon a presumed set of circumstances which can neither be consistently described or observed nor consistently measured. The trend can already be observed wherein minority victims of crimes very often jump almost immediately at the “Hate Crime” brass ring because it has Big Guns behind it, i.e. the federal government, and it is endorsed and encouraged by the “PC Police.”

This breeds a dependency and actually defines the minority in question as unequal. If existing crimes were prosecuted on their own merit alone, sometimes there would be convictions and sometimes there would be acquittals, just as there are with anybody else. Creating crimes to create laws to make a prosecutor’s job simpler does nothing for the alleged victim.

I would like to be able to say that the “Hate Crime” designation and its associated freight have outlived their usefulness, but there was never any place under our Constitution and presumed philosophy of governance for prosecuting an alleged crime a second time based on how the defendant is deemed to have felt about the victim. Perpetrators do not normally announce that they “hate” their victims prior to doing whatever it is they plan to do, nor do they generally provide any other oratory, though they may have at other times and other places. Such issues fall under the First Amendment and have no place in a court of criminal law.

The “Hate Crime” Was created to provide leverage to prosecute someone who might not otherwise be prosecuted or might not be prosecuted to the extent desired by those doing the prosecuting.

It has occurred to me that charging a person with a “Hate Crime” is in its own right a kind of “Hate Crime” in that it is discriminatory in both intent and application. Only certain classes warrant hate crimes being tacked on to the underlying felony. It doesn’t matter what a perpetrator may verbalize at the time of the offense. The case is built on the presumption that, because the accused belongs to a selected class and meets certain criteria, and the accuser or victim belongs to another selected class, the crime must have committed on the basis of hatred.

This is a misapplication of the term referring to a family of negative emotions because it isn’t, in fact, the emotion being prosecuted but the presumed intent some associate with that emotion. In other words, a rural southerner with a Confederate flag on his shirt is more likely to be charged with a hate crime than a northerner in a suit and tie when the respective underlying felonies they are alleged to have committed are in all other ways identical.

We could argue this point until the end of time, but I’ll not see “Hate Crimes” as anything but Medieval regardless of how many legal sharpshooters try to stare me down. Similarly, I don’t expect their game to change any time soon either. It should.

If the stated goal is, as it has supposedly been for half a century, to remove the moat between African Americans and those of European heritage, we need to stop acknowledging the moat as legitimate and we need to stop giving it real power.

When one human being assaults, kills, robs, or commits some other crime of violence or property against another, the crime itself doesn’t change because of secondary personal factors that without the felony would be irrelevant on their own merit. Tying the two together smacks of double jeopardy even though the parsers and verbal gymnasts of the legal field surely gift wrapped that one ages ago.

It has often been observed that in order to preserve our freedoms, we must also preserve the obnoxious and offensive. The racially based “Hate Crime” is a case in point. Being a member of some fringe group doesn’t change the nature of a crime committed. It may add insult to injury, so to speak, but the insulting is not a crime in its own right.

Actor Morgan Freeman summed it up best when he remarked that if we wanted to get rid of racism we should stop talking about it.

Still don’t agree with me? Okay, try this. Pick out an individual in your life, perhaps a co-worker, and every time you encounter that person that day, wrinkle your brow and ask them if they are alright. Make some observation about them not looking so hot that day. Keep it up. The person may not collapse of some presumed dire illness by the end of the day, but I guarantee they will be affected and will go home wondering if maybe there is something going on that they don’t see. It’s true. When I was an errant teen growing up outside of a major eastern city, my friends and I, when we would venture “downtown”, would sometimes stop on a street corner and begin staring up in the air. By the time we walked away, a number of people were staring upward trying to figure out what had been seen. People are very easily led.

My point is, the whole idea of “racism”, which I have questioned since I took an Anthropology course in college, long before it was even a popular concept, is kept alive by many of our very efforts to curb it. The “Jim Crow” laws are gone. There is no benefit to replacing them with a mirror image manner of thinking. We need to take down such scaffolding and “temporary” supports and let us all face the consequences of our action on an equal basis.

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | December 6, 2016

It is what it is…

unless you want it to be something else….

”It is what it is,” the somewhat hackneyed observation goes.

But, as noted by former President Bill Clinton when his ass was up against the wall, that also might “depend on what the meaning of IS, is…”

I was meandering through the day’s offerings of what now passes for “news” the other day and saw that, in spite of efforts to move on by some, Election Delusional Disorder is still very much a part of the scene. I find that annoying. It’s difficult to do so much as contemplate farting without having the Enforcers of one philosophy or the other (there are only two, you know: “my way” or the “highway”) launching their canned litany of labels, banishment edicts, and other dismissive insults.

I’m as guilty at the next person, of course. That’s not by desire, but by default according to my own complaint about the is being what it is. While I readily admit that I do not align with those pigeon-holed as “liberal, progressive, left, what have you,” I vigorously resist their attempts to shove me like a suppository up the tailpipe of the population similarly but oppositely pigeon-holed as “conservative, right wing, what have you.” Truth be told, I am a composite of my own nature, incorporating elements of each as well as some that might defy labeling.

The vitriol may have slowed down, but the momentum is far from having been spent. I must say in their defense that the political parties themselves have been pretty well behaved; the citizenry has not. But, only the ones the media seem to cluster around like hyenas at a fresh kill. In fact, we see some interesting comparisons between legitimate peaceful protests and the inevitable sociopaths just looking for an excuse to cause damage and/or harm.

I don’t lay responsibility for that kind of behavior on any political party or on any candidate.

Such incidents are the sole responsibility of the individuals who choose to act in such a manner, and they should be prosecuted. I include those hiding behind the “race card” and marching around carrying signs proclaiming “Black Lives Matter” as if that phrase serves as tacit license to do anything they please. Those legitimately concerned about issues in our society are the ones quietly working to facilitate real changes more in the manner of Dr. King. The battle cries of the vandals are stupid, and their behaviors are worse.

Somewhere between the idiots just mentioned and those more inclined to act like civilized human beings even when they are angry or disappointed lies a population of passionate supporters of “anybody but Trump” who seem to be having a difficult time letting go and moving forward. They don’t commit arson and vandalism, but they do behave a bit foolishly, with a focus on demanding satisfaction of their personal druthers rather than on supporting the nation’s wellbeing as a whole. They would argue that point, of course, as would I, I suppose, if the shoe was on my foot.

Those burning flags as a viral middle finger gesture, on the other hand, are simply immature and not making statements of any value. Behavioral graffiti. This is touted as a free country, so I suppose that would include the freedom to act like an ass hole. Carry on, then.

If they are stealing the flags to burn, they are guilty of theft. If they are buying them, they are dumber than I thought.

Whatever. Abusing a symbol of what the country values and stands for has little or no affect on the target of their angst. Kind of like letting the air out of your neighbor’s tires because his dog barked in the middle of the night.

Eventually, of course, the personality disordered and terminally preadolescent will become bored and latch onto some fresh issue to justify whatever it is they want to justify, and the passionate will begin to refocus on their personal missions and causes again. Chicken Little will burn out his supply of listeners, will stop running around in circles predicting political doom and gloom, and probably will put on a new sandwich board to scream authoritatively at people about something else.

Regardless of how long it takes to arrive at the next “is” to redefine, I’m sure it will be a long time before one can stop instinctively doing an eye roll when reminiscing about the “Election of 2016.”

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | November 12, 2016

Let’s be FAIR……!

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Posted by: JDM..... | November 11, 2016

The résumé…..

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

Once upon a racetrack…

or, stranger things have happened….


Once upon a time there was a race track just outside of the town where differences and stalemates had been settled for generations. It also became a popular event for miles around, whether any scores were being settled or not.

Not long ago, a stranger showed up at the track and announced that he would like to participate. The Powers that Be glanced at his vehicle, assessed the strangers clothing, shoes, hair, and so forth.

“Phhhht..! This for experienced racers, son. You can’t just walk in off the street and start driving a hundred and twenty five miles per hour! You might hurt yourself…..worse yet, you might hurt someone else…”

He nodded at the stranger’s vehicle again.

“…and that ain’t no race car, I’ll tell ya what…!” He tried unsuccessfully to suppress the smirk he felt behind his words. I mean, the car looked very nice, he thought, but certainly it was more suitable for a Sunday afternoon drive than the noise, smoke, and breakneck speeds the stranger was asking to join.

The stranger stood quietly looking around as the man spoke, making eye contact and nodding acknowledgement periodically. The man finished what he had to say and looked expectantly at the stranger, an eyebrow raised and his lips pursed.

“So, when do we start?” the stranger asked with a pleasant smile.

~-~* * *~-~

On the night of his first race, the stranger joined the pack waiting for the flag. His garage kept sedan looked quite out of its element, silently purring amidst the dozen or so brightly painted machines roaring and belching smoke around him, like stags pawing at the ground with their hooves and snorting in preparation for doing battle.

The flag went down and the crowd roared as rubber turned to smoke and noise, engines bellowed, and the mass of metal rocketed away from the starting line and the stranger.

He wasn’t sitting still, of course, and he seemed to be gliding quite nicely into position with the rest of the racers.

The first few laps were like the first few laps of any similar race. Cars jockeyed for key positions, either vying for the lead or setting up to move on it in another lap or two. Two met unfortunately coming out of corner 3, locked together with hopelessly twisted metal, and that was the end of that for them. Another suddenly sank to the back of the group with whom he had been jousting, silently coasting into the pits spewing smoke of a different color.

Nobody noticed at first, but the stranger had managed to get within one car position of the lead. He had come on strong and without hesitation in spite of challenges.

The rest of the contest was all but neck and neck, and when the stranger sailed past the finish line and came around to pick up the checkered flag for his victory lap, people were standing around dumbfounded, especially the erstwhile leader and veteran favorite who had already purchased party favors and rented a hall for the anticipated celebration that evening.

There were accusations of cheating and other denial mechanisms in play for a number of days to follow. Official mechanics and engineers examined his vehicle and he was ordered by the court to provide various samples at the local clinic, but no foul could be called. By some fluke, the stranger had just ambled in one day and beat the pants off of seasoned veterans and professionals.

The reporter smiled as the light on the camera went on. He held the microphone out toward the stranger and asked how in the world he had wandered onto such a field full of seasoned competitors piloting machines boasting all of the latest gadgets, doohickeys, and secret fuel supplements, and cruised so effortlessly across the finish line ahead of them all in a family sedan, a spit shined luxury car.

The stranger smiled back, leaning slightly into the microphone.

“Better driver,” he noted, cocking his head and pursing his lips.

“Better car,” he added, “a really, really great car. I mean it! Great car! I love that car!”

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

Some basics…

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

Donald, Hillary, and the Tooth Fairy…

starring in: The Pathologies of Politics….


Ah, the ubiquitous “experts”. That’s more of a political designation these days than a measure of qualification. I watched the “Invasion of the Wall-hangers” for over fifty years before retiring. Used to be if you could do something skillfully, you were an expert. Today, in keeping with our veneer culture, if you have the right wall-hanger, you are an expert by default. I used to teach a process to graduate students doing clinicals who might eventually sign off on my work because they would have higher degrees than me. But, back to statistics…..the first thing my Statistics professor told the class was “figures don’t lie but liars can figure”. Depends on how the variables are selected, etcetera. In other words, the conflict isn’t as much over the validity of the numbers as it is about who is lying…Surprise, surprise! This time around, lying isn’t a relevant consideration….The people are supposed to select an alleged “leader” based or his or her performance in some national locker room contest of towel snapping, mother cuts, and other low rent grab-ass interactions in partnership with the media, which is Bobbing for Ratings.

I haven’t heard an ISSUE discussed in six months.

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Somehow, we Americans learn at a young age to differentiate the Land of Lala wherein dwell the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, etcetera, from the Land of Real Life. Magic becomes an amusement rather than an environment. We learn that we have to navigate around life’s little lawn cookies instead of expecting some elf to pop out of the ether to smooth our path like the guy with the broom at a curling match.

…Except when it comes to politics and matters of government. Passion and fervor, of course, are absolutely normal. Anyone who doesn’t get fired up about something once in a while either belongs on some serious medications or is on too many already. It becomes problematic, however, when political fervor starts to take on elements of religious fanaticism or maybe even regresses to a resurrection of the Tooth Fairy, on steroids of course, wherein people believe if they leave their intelligence under the pillow, Captain Perfect will save the day. Anybody considering an opposing Tooth Fairy is automatically deemed a Communist, racist, misogynist, or some other pejorative characterization that is socially degrading but not illegal, yet is politically incorrect at the moment.

Here’s the thing…..politicians from the bottom rung up are not all that different from the rest of us. But, just like tall people tend to do better at basketball, certain personality profiles contribute to a person’s success as a politician or public figure. Many start off because they are drawn to being helpful to others and go from there. Some continue on that mission for a lifetime, while others move on up to the Eastside. At some point, a limited number of people in public service metamorphose into Career Politicians. Success in this unique strata, oddly enough, is greatly enhanced by certain personality traits which, in other neighborhoods of the society, may be considered “antisocial” or even sociopathic. Let’s face it, if the average Joe picked up the phone and ordered fifty thousand people to march off into a hail of bullets, or made a decision that would have a negative impact on a million jobs in order to beef up a more favored sector of the economy for a few thousand other jobs there, he’d end up in a rubber room or a rubber bag.

The point is, Presidential politics is largely theater. The public consumes a manufactured review of what’s going on, while Santa’s elves hammer away in the background producing pap to keep everybody well behaved and awestruck while Mom & Popo (metaphorically speaking) kick back with a few stiff drinks and go sit in a couple of bathtubs in the middle of a field. Shhhhh.

The sad part is, while I suspect a majority of the voters understand to some degree that what we see ain’t necessarily the real McCoy, most obediently cheer their particular chosen team on with a blood lust.

In 2016 we will rub the magic lamp for the 45th time, blaming everything from negative-A to negative-Z on selected Genies from among the previous two or three administrations. Once His Nibs’ potential for bestowing gifts upon sycophants nears the “EMPTY” mark, the person in the Big Chair begins taking on more of a “Fair Game” aura.

I look at the whole 2016 shenanigan like some kind of an overly enthusiastic Fraternity Bash gone rogue, and I know from whence I speak in that department from back in the day when, as Social Chairman of one of those entities, I would hire the bands and tell the local distributor to keep the kegs coming till we yelled Kyhpskjl,hnsao. or something like that.

Obviously, this election year presents some remarkable differences from previous ones, at least among the more recent contests. How it will all play out is yet to be seen. Hopefully, some of the hackneyed and timeworn stage scenery will be tossed out, but we need to keep in mind that our view of what’s really occurring will be entirely dependent upon our willingness to personally rip back the curtains, tear down the fake backdrops and get eyeball to eyeball with our heretofore unsupervised Narcissists and Sociopaths whom we’ve entrusted with the Keys to the Country. I don’t know about you, but I’m more than a little curious how a man or a woman can walk through the doors as a relatively Average Joe or Jane and emerge a few short years later borne in a gilded litter, set for life with fantasy pensions and privileges.

Granted, most are well off going in, but it tends to go uphill from there, regardless of the circumstances of the country as a whole.

Now, I happen to believe there are real benefits for the country in putting narcissistic sociopaths in the top positions of leadership, but it is incumbent on us to pay attention, to supervise them without trying to micromanage them, and for us to be willing to turn the fire hoses on them once in a while if need be. And, there will be.

 

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