Monday, June 13, 2016

Have we become a nation of "victims?"

Once upon a time (and, no...this is not a fairy tale) America was a country full of people who "did" things.  Our forefathers never ever expected to be given anything; they expected to live or die on the basis of whether they succeeded or not.  And many did die.  The actual number of people that died as America was settled and then expanded west is unknown...at least I have never seen any estimate supported by good research.  Those who survived accomplished amazing things.

These people were of all kinds: kind, cruel, gifted, lucky and all sorts of other mixes of character traits.  The common trait, however, was that they had only themselves to rely on and that meant they had to take responsibility for the path that their lives took.  They were doers...NOT watchers.  They acted.  They acted to accomplish goals: to eat, live, support their family, to defend their family.  None of them...that survived...expected this to be done for them.  They didn't sit around waiting for someone else to support or protect them.

Very few people of that frame of mind exist in America today.  Those that do are vilified as cruel, unkind, uncaring and/or racist...in addition to many other terms of disrespect.  Why?  For two main reasons: 1. that sort of attitude is embarrassing to those who are supported by government handouts and if acknowledged as a good thing would leave the recipients feeling "less than";2. the politicians who use the "giving" of other peoples' money to those who don't achieve in order to "buy" their votes and thereby remain in office do not want that fact...or the fact that they usually never keep their promises...highlighted, lest they lose their position of power.  I can remember the days of the Community Chest and local Churches and Charities taking care of the "deserving" poor.  Yes...I said "deserving."  Because in those days every town and county had hard working folk who had disaster visited upon them unexpectedly and were as hard-working as any other member of the community...they deserved help.  Likewise, every town had some who were poor out of lack of effort or impulse, making a career out of looking for a hand out.  Those folk were never indulged...except for the "elitists" and Progressives in town who were rich and make themselves feel worthy by ostensibly giving funds to any poor person providing it could be done ostentatiously...in public.

Today's America is populated by an increasing number of passive and active "victims."  Almost half now receive money from the government that has no basis on their contributions to government programs, like Social Security.  That is money that was paid by the recipients over past years, and that is repaid by the government now on the basis of how much you contributed during your working and productive years.  No...I am talking about reverse taxation, unemployment, welfare and the like.

There was a time when a majority of people who found themselves in a position to have to take such support were embarrassed to do so; they knew that they hadn't earned it, and looked forward to getting back on their feet so that they could take pride in living off of what they earned.  No such embarrassment today; in fact, there is a certain pride and braggadocio exhibited by those who are "stealing" tax dollars from those who do work and pay the taxes that are so blithely redistributed by politicians.  And the majority allow this sort of attitude...even applaud it.  I find it disgusting.

The same goes for defending ourselves.  We allow the government to abandon guarding or enforcing our borders.  We make excuses to not hold those that attack us accountable, thereby keeping from having to react in any forceful way to eliminate such attacks.  A majority sit around as if there is nothing to be done...except to chant mantras and call for peace and love.  I remember a saying common when I was growing up: "God helps those that help themselves."  One didn't sit around moaning about something...you did something about it.  Maybe you failed, but you tried.  You didn't whine about it or mis-characterize it for some unrelated agenda item.  It wasn't about words.  It was about doing!  Victims whine.  Independent free human beings act, and take pride in that fact.

Too bad that America has forgotten how to do that.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Is Mr. Obama the reincarnation of LBJ?

Few politicians in the history of the world have been as successfully Machiavellian as was Lyndon Baines Johnson.  Most citizens remember him as an accomplished politician that served in the House of Representatives, then in the Senate, and ran successfully as JFK's Vice-President, becoming the Thirty-fifth President of the United States on the occasion of the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963.  The most enduring memory is of his unsuccessful oversight of the Viet Nam "War," and his decision not to run for re-election because of the unpopularity that he suffered as a result.

Some have suggested that Mr. Obama's legacy will suffer a similar fate as a result of his lying about the effect on citizens of the passing of the "Affordable Healthcare Act," the false narratives used to conclude a treaty with Iran on limiting the production of Nuclear arms by Iran, and his readiness to govern through Executive Orders, rather than negotiating with Congress.  Be that as it may...and only history and time will reveal what the public wishes to see as the truth...it is worth some time to compare the manner in which these two politicians operated.

Time has revealed much about Johnson that was generally unknown to a majority of Americans until less than a decade ago.  He was a tyrant to his staff and his wife...and, actually, to anyone who did not have the power to advance his success...behind closed doors.  And in many ways he was a vulgar man by standards (today, perhaps discarded) of the time.  He was a genius in detecting the needs of those in power around him and in playing to those needs; he was seen by all as being on "their" side and who thought like "them" even when each of those people were on opposite sides of the spectrum.  It is easy to come to the conclusion that Johnson actually had no ideological belief...his ideology was his own success and rapid progression to positions of power.

There is a three volume study of LBJ written by Mr. Robert Allan Caro that, for the student of history and politics, is an essential read.

It is questionable that LBJ could have operated in the manner that provided some much personal and professional success today; the ubiquitous nature of phone cameras coupled with the pressure to fill a 24/7/365 news cycle makes creating different personas for different people and groups impossible.

However, to even a casual observer, there seem to be immense similarities between the approach to professional goals displayed by LBJ and by President Obama.

Let us start by eliminating any discussion of where they are different.  Mr. Obama seems to have a firm ideological point of view that is consistent and constant; LBJ did not seem to have any inherent ideology, shifting his public positions as was politically convenient.  LBJ was a master at manipulating his fellow politicians and seemed to enjoy the process if not the necessity; Mr. Obama has shown himself to not play with others well, ignoring Congress as much as possible and depending on Executive Orders and an obsequious Supreme Court to accomplish his goals.

Both had very clear goals.  LBJ wanted to become President of the United States.  Otherwise, his interest was in preserving his own power and reputation as a master of the political craft.  Mr. Obama also wanted to become President, but his over-arching desire was and is to move the governance of the United States of America to the Left of the political spectrum, seeking to adopt and establish a democratic socialist norm in Washington, and providing rigid governmental oversight of what has been a primary dependence on Capitalism as the basis for the United States of America.

Both saw deception as legitimate in accomplishing their aims.  LBJ would encourage his colleagues and others in power to see him as an ally regardless of his true purpose, hiding the truth until the very last moment, or supplying a rationale to opponents that caused them to not realize how they had been manipulated.  His deception was totally successful in that if discovered at all, it was after his goals had been accomplished or after his death.

Mr. Obama's skill was oratorical. When planned carefully and followed meticulously by utilizing the teleprompter, Mr. Obama's use of the English language was matched in the modern era only by President Reagan.  The language was nuanced in a manner that every listener or viewer could interpret the words used to be a reflection of each listeners beliefs and desires, much as was done in personal interactions by LBJ.  The listener was able...actually encouraged...to hear what they wanted to hear.  This was particularly true when Mr. Obama was campaigning...and even after a successful election he continued to campaign, leaving the drudgery of actually administering the government to his trusted assistants.

The spotlight of modern communications prevented Mr. Obama from achieving the level of success LBJ enjoyed in hiding conflicting positions taken with different groups and individuals...but Mr. Obama took what can arguably be called the "Goebbels approach" to that challenge; when lying, do it consistently, never acknowledge it as a lie and imply that those who insist on claiming that a lie was told are doing so because of personal animus or racial animus.  As did LBJ, Mr. Obama was able to keep the media on his side by providing "leaks" and interviews to those media outlets that presented him in the most favorable light.

Both surrounded themselves with people who served them, placing family, country and mores far below their dedication to his success.

Mr. Obama's accomplishments prior to being elected to public office have been sealed.  When they become available, it would not be surprising to see some evidence of an intense study by Mr. Obama of LBJ's life and the means used to gain power.  They both show more than the average level of vanity, temper (and the need to hide that most of the time), high opinion of themselves, looked down on others as "less than" and were ready to sacrifice everything to the accomplishment of their goals.

It is too bad that our public schools have virtually abandoned teaching anything remotely resembling perceptive history or even current events, much less in anything like an objective manner.




Saturday, April 2, 2016

Perhaps now is the time for "THE TEN SUGGESTIONS"!

During the course of the last century the United States has slowly, but most certainly, ceased to be a Christian country.  Oh, our roots are in a Judeo-Christian heritage.  But a majority of our citizens and residents no longer hold that heritage as central in their personal, business or spiritual lives.

Moreover, the Government, including the courts, of the United States no longer hold in any reverence the symbols of Judeo-Christian beliefs.  They have decided that freedom OF religion means freedom FROM religion, and the majority of Americans seem quite content with that.

I think that is a mistake.  But in order to correct a mistake, it is first necessary to admit that there has been a mistake.  Currently there are folks who do not think that the battle has been lost.  They ignore the constant attitude of the courts, the politically correct vision of life that is contrary to Judeo-Christian tenets that permeates the entertainment industry, the failure on all sides to see the Ten Commandments as being tantamount to Law.

It is time to admit the loss of the battle, and in so doing bring to the forefront of every American's mind and soul the reality of what has been allowed to take place.

In every public square, every courthouse, every school...everywhere it appears...it is time to relabel the Ten Commandments as "The Ten Suggestions!"

This would have a number of benefits: First, it would acknowledge that the ten rules for living life are no longer law or revered as a matter of civilized behavior; Second, that it would eliminate the legitimacy of efforts to remove them from public life as being religious in nature; and Third, it would save communities huge sums of money that they might otherwise need to appropriate to defend the presence of the "commandments" in their communities public areas.

The most important benefit would be that it would made America once again an honest nation.  No longer would anyone feel bad about the failure to rush to the aid of prosecuted Christians around the globe, or to feel that defending other religions but not Christianity was some failure on our part to honor our heritage; that antisemitism could be now viewed as simply a choice made by the majority rather that a failure to abide by the precepts of civilized behavior.  It would make our claimed positions on what life should be consistent with our actions, and that would make it possible to consciously consider if we want to continue this slide...or stop and even reverse it.

And THAT would be a good conversation to have in every public square.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Reverse Evolution surrounds us

I recently had occasion to read some microfiche of newspaper articles from before and after the Civil War.  All but forgotten was the personal nature of attacks on politicians running for office and their families.  My High School classes (when High School actually taught you something instead of confining its activity to that of a badly run Day Care Center) had covered the lack of civility and the crass accusations that took over the newspapers of the day during the election season...and they were an embarrassment even to a bunch of cynical highschoolers.  More than 60 years ago we commented to ourselves and our teachers that such no longer happened and we were far more civilized now.  How presumptive were our assertions.

Today's electioneering and candidates actions and statements  make those ugly days of the past seem both civilized and moral by comparison.  Today's fellow citizens leave me embarrassed.  Why?

Somewhere in our inner selves...in  our minds, our souls and our very being...we know that attacks on family are just wrong.  At some basic level, we know that liars are not good leaders; we know that policy is fair game for comment and attack, but that personal attributes (other than truthfulness and moral behavior) mean nothing.  A handsome face does not guarantee anything but a good picture.  A less than handsome visage, with or without hair, or with a wig (good or bad), doesn't make a person a bad leader.

There was a time when bad language, baseless attacks, personal attacks, derogatory comments about family members, a reputation for falsehoods would render any person unqualified for public office.  There was a time when a person's policies would be demanded and then evaluated for effectiveness and sound financial base.  There was a time when the citizens of the United States of America wanted to vote for a person and policies, not against them; we wanted to be for something, not chose the lesser of two bad choices.

Apparently a majority of our citizens have replaced judgement with greed and narcissism; the impossible promise of "free" stuff is now sufficient to cause voters to forego an examination of whether a promise is possible to fulfill, whether a candidate is a liar, whether a candidate is the kind of person that we will be proud to say stands in our stead to the rest of the world.  How disgustingly and offensively cretin-like.  Our collective acceptance of , and dependence on, such behavior should leave us all ashamed.  But we clearly are not ashamed.

We make excuses for ourselves and for our candidates.  We say things like: "All politicians lie, so you have to put up with it."  You hear, "I wouldn't say it that way but what can you do?"  We nod when we hear, "Its about time someone running for office stopped 'pussyfooting' around and called it like it is!"  And yes, we do get angry with the failure of our leaders to keep their promises, and to solve problems.  Yet we also know that solving those problems will cost us money and now a majority of us don't want to hear that truth or contribute to the cost.  The result: we not only allow the lies...we condone them by electing those who lie to us.  And then complain about it...such hypocrisy!

So now we look to have three possible candidates, one of whom will be elected President of the United States: a liar, a vulgarian and a Socialist Septuagenarian with policies proven over the centuries not to work after the money of the rich has been spent.  Boy, do we know how to pick 'em!

I would not give any one of these people my power of attorney, yet our political system is about to give one of them far more power over each of us that would be granted by such a power-of-attorney.  We seem intent on proving to the world our collective stupidity and lack of caring for our country's and our own well-being.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

We have forgotten...

Those on the Left speak of the Constitution as a "living breathing" document.  Under this definition, they declare that it has not only the right, but in the natural order of things, to evolve to be useful to today's United States of America.

This is utter hogwash.  It is an attempt by those who don't like what the Constitution contains, with special emphasis on its limitations of government authority and huge areas not written of, to try to claim authority for their actions today from the ultimate secular authority...the documents founding this nation's government.

Years ago, I visited our Capitol.  I looked at the original Constitution.  It was paper, ... inert.  It did not have a pulse or a heartbeat.  It decidedly was NOT a "living, breathing" document.  Like a contract written today, it says what it says; the clear meaning of the words are easily discernible simply by reading the document.

What no longer exists today is the public's general knowledge of the Constitution and the attitude of those that created it...an attitude largely ascribed to by the general populace of the time.  For whatever reason, today's educational system doesn't teach American History in anything close to a comprehensive manner; ask a young person or a student about the founding fathers and their points of view regarding government and you get blank stares.  Our educational failings have the potential to destroy the America that the founding fathers attempted to create.

The interpretation of the Constitution is NOT an exercise in creative writing or free association mental gymnastics.  Just as with laws written by Congress, it is a matter of looking at the clear and normal meaning of the written words, and supplementing that with a reading of the contemporaneous writings and utterances of those who created and voted to adopt it.  This approach is absolutely logical and does not require a "rocket scientist."

Those of us who were "educated" before students were given equal rights with educators and parents and allowed to dictate what and how they should be taught know just how much antipathy the founding fathers had for government.  They had suffered from the not-so-tender mercies of the English Government, and realized the danger that granting power to any government posed to individual freedoms.  Jefferson said it best, and is most often referenced, when he said that ultimately all government becomes the enemy of individual freedoms.  So...if they disliked government so much, why did they write the Constitution and create another one for themselves?  Does anyone think that they felt that they could do it better and create a ruling body that would be benign and no threat to the people?

They did not!

There was one over-riding reason for creating a Government of the United States of America: to protect it against another nations attempt to take over and govern the people of the colonies.  In other words...to defend the country's autonomy.

All the rest is an attempt to prevent the Government from encroaching on its citizens.  It took no position about individual action regarding other individuals; the founding fathers were concerned with limiting government action that would effect citizens.  Militias were not the creation of the government; people created their own...and that right, with the effect of making hugely difficult any government desire to control the citizens by disarming them, to possess arms and be able to defend themselves against ANY government, including our own if it became the enemy, is right there in writing.  The right to rise up and overcome any government is made clear in our Declaration of Independence and does not have any exception for our own government; all can develop a threat and require revolt.

Read the comments, letters and other documents left by the Founding Fathers, with particular emphasis on those who signed the Constitution.  Their attitude was never about how to give the national government power or how to make it efficient; while one was needed for defense, in all other things it was perceived as a nascent threat to the freedom that has just been won on the battlefield, and the Founding Fathers fondest hope was that the government would practice the art of benign neglect in all areas of the colonists lives with the singular exception of defense of the nation.

Truly, the fears of the Founding Fathers have come to pass.  But the foolishness of a paper document "living and breathing" is just an exercise in creative writing...with the emphasis on creative!  It was the Founding Fathers who were living and breathing...and they were living and breathing the collective fear of just how dangerous government could become to the citizens over which it might develop power.  Their desire was to limit governmental power of citizens.  Thus, they did what they could to make the government inefficient and put in what they hoped would serve as checks and balances.  Unfortunately, those who gain positions of power adopt and adjust, and also connive, to extend power and avoid answering to the people.

If there is any hope of saving the creation that once was the United States of America, the voting public needs to learn...and in some cases re-learn...the attitudes and intent of the living, breathing Founding Fathers.  Therein is the key to understanding our Constitution.




Monday, March 7, 2016

America chooses Barabbas!

Occasionally I wonder at how the United States of America has survived almost Two Hundred and Forty Years.  For the most part we now seem to be a stupid, self-centered people lacking the ability to think objectively about anything long-term...and from time to time even having trouble concentrating on anything for more that twenty-four seconds unless it is ourselves.

While this seems quite clear in general, it is in the political arena where the proof seems written in neon, bold face, italics and underlined within quotes.  Reason has apparently left the building and we are left with mob rule governed by the lowest common denominator.

Need proof?

First, the American Public is angry.  It is angry at our politicians, particularly at the national level, for not getting things done, being "unable to play well with others" and just generally being dismissive of the wishes of the electorate.  The "public" is turning on those that are of the establishment, both on the political Left and Right.

On the political Left, we have two candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.  One is an avowed Socialist (recently self-amending his description to Democratic Socialist), promising "free stuff" to all, to be paid for by taking money from the rich and redistributing it to virtually everyone not categorized as "rich."   Recently he has had to admit that he will have to take "some" money from the Middle Class to cover the cost of his promised benefits.  He manages to ignore that even then, the funds that would theoretically be available would be inadequate...even if he took 100% of everyone's earnings.  Yet this candidate is actually winning primaries around the country.  His opponent is a previous First Lady who has served as Secretary of State for the United States of America.  She and her husband have been very successful in creating and obtaining funding for a Charitable Foundation they have formed.  Remarkable sums of money have been donated by all sorts of people around the world to both the foundation and as "speaking fees" to this ex-Secretary of State and her husband...including during her period of service as Sec/State.  Even her most stalwart supporters admit that the coincidence of such payment with requests granted do not look good, but they don't care.  Add to that the fact that during her term as Sec/State, our Ambassador to Lybia was killed and under oath she admitted that she told her daughter and others that the attack was a result of terrorism, but sent out State Department representatives to claim that the attack was the result of a movie trailer critical of Islam. The families of those killed indicate she made the same false claim to them when greeting them when  the bodies of the fallen arrived in the U.S.

Even now, there is a continuing investigation of her choice to set up a non-governmental, non-government sanctioned, email server for herself and her inner circle during her sojourn as Sec/State. The investigation holds the possibility that she will be indicted for violation of the Espionage Act.  At the very least, she has shown a total lack of concern for protecting the secrets of the United States of America.

These are the best and brightest that the political Left can put forth as potential Presidents of the United States of America.

Ah...but let us not neglect the political Right!  The American Public that defines themselves as the political Right have declared that the "professional" politicians and the establishment that serves and represents them have consistently lied to the public for the purposes of gaining office and, once having won an election gone, on to act in only their own personal interests and ignoring the wishes of the people.  So the people of the Right want an outsider; one they perceive as being more likely to actually act on behalf of the people.

The Establishment and the professionals did not, at first, take this sentiment seriously.  After all, in the past such anger dissipated sufficiently by election time to allow the continuation of business as usual.  Apparently they were wrong.

Out of more than a dozen initial candidates, the political Right is, as of now,  down to four. There had been three candidates who had not held public office previously; now there is just one...and he is winning delegates.  The professionals and the establishment is panicking!  They could end up losing their "insider" status along with their inside influence...and in government power and influence is far more important than money.

There is no doubt that politicians on both sides of the political aisle deserve the anger of the populace. They have worked long and hard for it and now they are suffering the consequences.

But...mobs are not good judges of character, ability, right or wrong.  They actually are not good judges of anything...and that is being proven in this election season.  Think about who remains in the running?  We have an experienced administrator currently serving as a Governor of an important state.  He has  a  track record of getting his state government to function effectively.  Yet he has the fewest delegates.  There are two first term Senators,  one with a strong Conservative record garnered at the expense of "not getting along" with other Republican Senators and the other seen as young and too easy on illegal immigration.  But these two are second and third in the struggle for delegates.  So...who is the current leader?  A successful businessman who has grown his fathers substantial stake into a truly impressive fortune of business interests and who has a track record of making deals and getting things done in the business world.  Largely ignored, however, is that his background of political donations and political thought has been largely to the left.  Additionally,  he has switched positions on many fronts often, to the point that, if elected, any action taken or attempted would be in line with one of his promises or positions during the campaign.  A proven vulgarian, he also exhibits certain megalomaniac tendencies and a temper...not entirely unlike the current Office holder.  But...many are supporting him just to punish the establishment types.

Not a pleasant situation to ponder, regardless of who "wins."  It is very likely that regardless of the outcome, the American Public will lose.

But for me, the icing on the cake is that the American Public had said they wanted someone who: 1) was truthful; 2)was intelligent; 3)had proven character; 4)was not "full of himself;" 5)was not "tainted" by public service; 6) humble enough to listen to and learn from others; 7) "played well with others" while holding onto authority; and 8) would hold the will of the people foremost in his or her mind.

They had such a candidate and rejected him: Dr. Benjamin Carson.  Dr. Carson is a man of proven intelligence, raised in a single parent household and rising to the top educationally and in a profession that mandates first that one "do no harm" and with a track record of honesty, accomplishment, administration and truthfulness.  As a neurosurgeon he has dealt with advancing the horizon of the known by studying and learning new things under pressure and under control, earning the respect and cooperation of those around him.  In other words, Dr. Carson was exactly what the mob said they wanted.  He did not insult others, he did not denigrate others, he offered his character and background to the American people...and the American People declined the offer.

Well...it is not the first time.  After all, the mob in Jerusalem chose Barabbas over Jesus!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Tracking Race promotes Racism!

How would we all feel if on every application we were obligated to denote our family's country of Origin?  If your family had been American-born since the early 1800's but you still had to enter "England"...or "Italian", "Danish", "Dutch", "Spain", or "Egypt", among many others...would you think of yourself as American?  Or would you feel more attuned to the differences between you and others with different countries of origin?  How would you feel if getting a job, or being admitted to a College or University...or to a club or organization...were affected by your entry?  Would you feel "different?"

I would.  And I suspect that our preoccupation with tracking race on all manner of application and operational forms supports a sensitivity to race that it does not deserve.  After all, if two people (one black and one "white" [whatever that means these days]) from the same educational background apply to one school or for one job, why should race enter into it...there is no difference in the experiential background offered by the two.  If you want to use grades and a personal essay, doesn't that provide insights into the benefit that a student or new hire will bring to the school or the workplace?

Wouldn't eliminating pictures and race designations on applications, and race reporting on governmental forms actually encourage assimilation and reduced sensitivity to consider Race as important?  And...in America...isn't our goal to unify us all without regard to country of origin, race, or gender?  As long as we use Race to differentiate among us...to divide us...we will have that used as a means of supporting a continued divide.

This country would be better off, both actually and perceptually, if we all saw the government as not being interested in Race at all.  That is NOT to suggest that discrimination be made either acceptable or lawful, but rather that this country and its resident acts in the expectation and assumption that race is a non-starter in selecting friends, applicants or neighbors.  What should be important, and judged individually, is if a person is civil, respectful of others and is truthful.  These characteristics have nothing at all to do with Race.

We all would be better off if we insisted that Race never be a factor in how we live or who we live with and what records are kept.  Those who seem most anxious to support continued "tracking" of Race are all making money or gaining power through the continuing use of Race as either an excuse for bad behavior (which is demeaning to whatever race it being applied to) or to bully acceptance of some who's abilities are below standard (which injures those who have a need for the best performers that they can afford).  And we all demean ourselves by allowing these charlatans to practice their bad behavior.