Sunday, July 26, 2015

Iranian Nuclear Agreement: Accidental or Purposeful Fraud Untruthfully Presented?

Diplomats lie. They don't lie legally and could never be prosecuted for "lying under oath" or any related concept; they lie by implication and invited assumptions on the part of the listener (or reader).  They, and their Masters, know and depend on others who wish a particular outcome to see and hear what they wish to be true as existing in any agreement or pronouncement.  It has been going on for centuries at least.

That does NOT make it right!

It does NOT make it right when the people doing it, are doing it to citizens of countries to which the perpetrators have sworn an oath to protect and defend.

Compounding the danger to all normal citizens of any country is that the Masters that direct Diplomats are usually Politicians.  Mark Twain once said, "It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress."  As I recall, both our current "President" and our Secretary of State at the negotiating table are past members of Congress, although it seems that the category could be applied to a greater and greater percentage of all people who are employed by our Government in general, whether in Congress or in any other branch of the Federal Government.  And it seems even more and more applicable as we remember just how many criminals are never caught or convicted, much less accused.

There have been articles in great number is various publications that have pointed out the lies that have been perpetrated in claiming what the proposed agreement does and does not do.  It is clear that one of the things that is is most unlikely to do is prevent Iran from developing the capability to make and deploy a nuclear weapon.  As to the details withing the agreement, those supporting it are raising as many verbal statements and promises that allegedly clarify actual clauses in the agreement that would, if true and enforceable, improve any interpretation of the actual writing.  But interpretation is exactly what those who wish to avoid conduct the agreement seems to mandate use to "skate" without consequences.

There are lies in the goals to be achieved as parties prepare to negotiate.  Remember the one about preventing Iran from becoming a Nuclear Power?  That one seems now not to be remembered, although at the time it was promised as an absolute.

And current articles in publication and by people on multiple ideological tracks point out the lies and issuance of invitations to make positive assumptions even as a careful examination of the sentence and phrase used shows no such enforceable promise.

While my angst will no doubt force a revisit to this subject, let me make this last point today:  Kerry, in sworn testimony before the Senate earlier this week pointed out that our "allies" were close to abandoning the current sanctions that he claimed were so effective in bringing Iran to the negotiating table and also that no military action was possible that would have stopped Iran's progress toward Nuclear capability.  Yet, when pressed on just what responses would be available should Iran violate or fail to abide by the letter and intent of the agreement, he claimed that sanctions would "snap" back.

The term "snap" implies an immediacy that clearly does not exist.  And he already claimed that there was no military option.  So...we have our own Government signing an agreement that provides Iran with exactly what our Government promised us...the American People...that it would not allow.  Further, that our Government believes that in addition to being powerless to keep its promise to us (no real surprise there!) it is inferring an Iranian "trust me" promise in the face of a track record of Iranian perfidy.

Except when I am the subject, I can appreciate a really good con job even as I strive to punish it.  But this does not qualify as "really good" and smacks of coarse, in-artful and even disrespectful treatment of the American Public.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

America has left me behind...and I miss her!

I am glad that I am in my twilight years and won't have to suffer the emotional pain for long.  It hurts me and I feel sad when events force me to think about what has happened to and in the America that I have loved my whole life.

My parents were immigrants.  My father came to this country poor, but with a work ethic and a friend who guaranteed the government that there would be a job and a place for him to stay...a requirement for legal immigration in those days.  That may still be so...I don't know.  But...my Dad just wanted a chance to see what hard work on his part might accomplish.  No guarantees, no promises...just a chance.  He didn't speak English, so he took whatever job was available.  He learned the language...not perfectly, but well enough, and to read and write it...he wanted to; he saw America as the embodiment of what he wanted to become.  He wanted the freedom to put himself on the line and see if he could succeed.

It took him some time to achieve what he saw as success.  He and, later, my mother worked long hours.  First it was for others then for themselves.  They went through the Great Depression and were intent on being prepared should another ever occur. They saved.  The borrowed only to purchase a house...and that with misgivings.  We never spent money we did not have...that was anathema to them.They taught me to read and to do simple math early in life and explained that those skills would enable me to educate myself and not be dependent on others.  And there was no such thing as an excuse for not taking advantage of schooling:  I was required to have perfect attention, to do all homework (and show it to my parents daily), and to achieve good grades as they explained that education was the key to getting a chance to succeed in life.

My father never took a Social Security payment...ever...despite living to almost 70.  He had saved and he saw taking anything from the government as a hand-out.  He had left his native land at a time when his mother had no money and the family had significant debts.  Over the years, with increasing means he paid every one of those debts off in full, with interest (even if interest was not demanded).

He gave to those who came on hard times through no fault of their own...but refused even the time of day to those who did not try; those who were slackers, liars, cheaters and what in those days were called naer-do-wells were to be looked upon as unworthy and disreputable and not to ever even be around.

I grew up in an America where to be respected, your word had to be good...it was your bond.  And work was honored, and doing your utmost was the standard.  Dependence on the good will of others was seen as embarrassing and a failure and you would all you could to get out of that situation, pay back what had been given and again regain your place as a contributing member of the community, not a taker.

Civil discourse was the norm.  People could argue on many things: religion, politics, raising children and more.  But those arguments were conducted with personal respect of each other...for the right of every person to his or her opinion.  And we used good language: whole sentences, with decent construction.  In those days, "Sailor's" language was not used in mixed company and only occasionally even when men got together.  And even then there was a certain embarrassment after some of the utterances...it just wasn't polite and generally was seen as a sign of an inadequate vocabulary.  How much more effective, we felt, to use a word of criticism that required the other person to run to a dictionary, rather than revert to clearly inapplicable scatological utterances.

Classmates of mine in High School got jobs upon graduation:  good jobs that paid well.  Some of them used the pay from those jobs save up enough to later get a College Education to pursue and dream to which they were dedicated.  And some took an occasional course to extend their knowledge but were content to live in the practical world of having a loving family and supporting it and themselves.  Those of us who went to college, went with a dream.  We wanted to achieve something in particular.  Of course in the midst of the striving, the dream often changed a bit...but there was never the thought of spending on a College Education because of any right or entitlement: it was a gift of opportunity and not a way of avoiding the real world or military service.  That would have been dishonorable and a waste of our money...or, in some cases, our parents' money...in in even more cases, both our and our parents' money.

That America no longer exists.  I liked my country.  I respected my country.  I respected the morals and the ten commandments of that country.  And I respected the immigrants who come to this country according to its laws and with the intent to become Americans...not to bring their previous country's practices and attitudes and languages and make America more like them.  They wanted to become Americans.  And, except for the grandmothers and grandfathers...they did just that.

Now, everyone seems to believe that consequences of one's actions are a thing of the past.  That no one should be either expected or required to earn a living, but should be given any job they want and not held to standards.  People "working" for the government don't do their jobs, lie about it and are never held accountable.  Our government spends money it doesn't have and claims that it doesn't matter.  Our politicians lie to us with increasing frequency and are not only not embarrassed by it...they don't even admit it.  And the Press which for decades was a watchdog over all facets of government activity, protecting the public by shining the light of truth, now joins with those in power to protect them from any revelation to the public.  Meanwhile the "public" apparently has come to believe that there is such a thing as a "Free" lunch...or free anything.  Make that everything.

I miss the America that called out to my parents.  I miss the America that I grew up in and both enjoyed and revered for much of my life.  I don't recognize the country I now live in...it is still called America, but it no longer has the soul of the country into which I was born and raised.  And it makes me feel sad.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Chief Justice Roberts: is HE the smartest guy in the room?

Our Constitution contemplates three co-equal branches of government with competing interests being forced to co-exist in order to accomplish anything.  Considering the distrust our Founding Fathers had in government generally, it is not surprising that this arrangement did not, does not, and never will be terribly efficient.  But then, Jefferson was know to believe that eventually government becomes the enemy of individual freedom, so this attitude was certainly no surprise...and the truth of the underlying concept should be ignored at our peril.

Not surprisingly, there have been attempts by Congress ... and the President ... to make the Supreme Court join in a partnership against the third branch of government.  The President does this through the power to appoint new Justices as vacancies occur and assiduously attempt to divine the ideological bent of each and every person considered...with a remarkably low percentage of success when all are taken into consideration.

But until now each Justice once ensconced on the bench has evidenced a sharp mind and a distinct ideological vision of whether the Constitution was clear when written, remains clear today, is meant to cover all facets of life in America, contains commands or merely suggestions.  If in their legally restrictive view, they can see the Constitution agreeing with their view of what they would like it to say and mean, they will do...and have done...so.

Every Justice respects the others, even in the heat of intense disagreement.  They understand the confines of their considerations and as some would say, "they play by the rules."

However, now enter Chief Justice Roberts.  Either he disdains the "rules" or just doesn't understand that narcissism doesn't become any member of the Court.  Justice Kennedy is a swing vote.  But his decisions are always on very close call analysis of the law and what he sees as "justice" in accordance with the Court's purview.  He does not see himself as an Editor or Proof-reading aide to Congress or the President, with the obligation to save themselves from the consequences of foolish behavior or malfeasance..."mistakes" in laws have consequences, and those who make the mistakes are not to be saved from the consequences,..of either law or the electorate.

But Justice Roberts seems to believe that he is an adjunct of Congress...with the additional prescience to know what Congress means, even if they clearly write something into a law that is totally at odds with his vision.  For SCOTUScare, he knew that Congress meant tax, even though they wrote "fee."
And earlier this week he just knew that Congress did not (could not) mean that just because that they had written into the ACA a provision that subsidies would only be available to those who applied for coverage through STATE operated centers, that Congress didn't mean it.  How Godlike; how dictatorial: forget the words...the law says what I decide it says.

An inept Congress and President certainly appreciates this kind of assistance...this time.  But suppose Justice Roberts at some point decides that any clear wording an some law that comes up for review cannot be what Congress really wanted?  I wonder if the President and Congress will be so appreciative then?

Chief Justice Roberts needs to be taken out back by his colleagues for a "come to Jesus" moment before he destroys the Institution of the Supreme Court of the United States as a primarily legal institution and leads it to a subservient tool, albeit with a run-away, out of control Chief, of either Congress or the Presidency.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

No longer Checks and Balances on Congress by SCOTUS

Laws no longer mean what they say.  Congress no longer need concern itself with careful and accurate writing and wording.  The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will plug the breach, intuit the "real" intent of Congress while ignoring the actual wording of the duly passed statute, and save the day.  Of course, there is a consequence for this service: SCOTUS has now re-affirmed its move from co-equal branch of Congress to a second rate arm of Congress. We have ceased to be a nation governed by laws and now are dependent on a political class that continues to fund the courts as a sap to many who wish to continue to delude themselves that there is a check and balance against Congress. Anyone with a brain recalls how Congress "crowed" about the condition of creating a State Healthcare program as a prerequisite to getting Federal Funding. They tried to blackmail the States and it didn't work, so now they went to their underlings, the Supreme Court, to absolutely legislate from the bench and eliminate holding Congress responsible for its actions. "Umpires" indeed...if so this is the Black Sox Scandal with the Umpires bought off instead of the Players.  Does anyone question whether SCOTUS' budget request will now be granted in full?

There is a serious question of the legitimacy of any government structure when the laws mean nothing and can be interpreted as a politician wishes, instead of obeying the clear reading of words written and voted upon.  This is the result of the political class coming to adopt the Bill Clinton plea of "It depends on what the meaning of is is."  So many laughed as the absurdity of that comment, even as it turned out to be legally effective...and so we began to slide down the slippery slope of making honesty and truth and consequences immaterial in the American political world...and have also just made them immaterial in American life generally:  now it is apparently acceptable to narcissistically focus on getting "free" stuff even as we all know that someone is paying for it...as long as that someone isn't "us."  How delusional...and how clearly designed to ultimately destroy our country.  Khrushchev will turn out to have been right when he claimed we would destroy ourselves from within...he is chuckling in his grave right now.  Deservedly so.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Do the American People even want real Freedom anymore?

Oh, I know everyone wants to do as they wish.  But that is not Freedom.  Freedom is not license and it is not lack of consequences; Freedom is the right and even the obligation to take charge of your own life, to make decisions for yourself, and then suffer or be rewarded for those decisions, learning from your experience and growing in the security that you did do that yourself.

What and how the government operates has little effect on thirty (30%) percent of the population; about 15% will never want or achieve independence or be much concerned with freedom; and about 15% will never be stopped from struggling for independence and freedom, despite any government or other attempts to make them dependent.  But the remaining seventy (70%) percent of our population can be and are influenced by both laws and by what seems acceptable in general society.

For years, biblical morality was the general norm.  People understood, even if the laws didn't say it outright, what was acceptable in society and in public action and discourse...and they abided by it for the most part.  Men didn't swear in a proper public forum or in the presence of women; women didn't use foul language when in public (what and how they spoke when with other women has always been a mystery).  Men held doors for women to enter first, parents disciplined their children as they saw fit, and children were expected to be seen and not heard.  Not always codified, nonetheless there was a certain level of behavior that was expected.

And one of those expectations was that every person would earnestly try to successfully earn a living for both himself and for his family; that being "on the dole" or receiving assistance from family, acquaintances, a "Community Chest" organization or the government was an embarrassment and to be avoided if at all possible...and, if not, to be repaid or to get off of any assistance as quickly as possible.  Such proof of lack of independence was a sign of both failure and or loss of Freedom of existence.

Again, this attitude was not necessarily codified...but it was enforced by public perception.

None of this appears to remain true today.  Oh, there are some who give lip service to the concepts.  But actions speak louder than words.  And legal decisions seem to encourage and buttress concepts that consequences are politically incorrect; that there is no bedrock of "right" and "wrong"; that an inability to support oneself is not embarrassing or to be corrected, as someone or something else owes you a subsistence.

When the government creates a support system that actually results in reducing your earned income if you take a job instead of remaining on government-sponsored and created programs, thus punishing you for wanting to actually earn a living, the vast majority of the public quickly adjusts to the new attitude that working or earning a living doesn't matter...that government will be your "big Daddy" and take care of you.  How utterly appalling, disrespectful, insulting as well as destructive to the individual and society at large.  And how absolutely it puts the country on the path to destruction, as that kind of support ultimately runs out of money even as the percentage of citizens growing up to expect such support grows toward 100%.

And yet young adults all around me seem blissfully unaware of the inherent dangers of dependence on others to survive.  They also have a narcissistic view of what is important in their world.  Certainly there are some who battle this view...but they ultimately abandon that instinct because 1) of the influence of their friends, or 2) come to see the injustice of their being required to support so many who could but don't work.

So a very good case can currently be made for the proposition that, other than in words, the American people care not one wit about their Freedom and are totally prepared to be dependent and be controlled by any entity (currently our government) that will provide an acceptable level of subsistence and not hold them accountable or enforce "consequences."  The failure to accept personal responsibility and hold to moral standards of conduct seem eerily reminiscent of the historical descriptions of the fall of both the Greek and the Roman Empires.  Perhaps our country will prove the exception.  I, at least, am not counting on it.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Is there a New Way to solve Inner City failure?

It seems as if our inner cities suffer from duel failures: the fact that the so-called drug war is failing and that there is not effective way to eliminate the existence of "gang" control and influence.

Why don't we consider making peace with the world we face and use it to improve our world?  What if the government went to the gangs and offered something akin to this:

You claim this is your turf.  OK, we will acknowledge and give recognition to your claim on the following conditions:

     1. You keep the legal violations to those of a minor nature: no murders, not sexual assaults, no burglaries;
     2. No violence from drug deals and a reduction in over-dose deaths:  control your territory;
     3. Watch over your "turf": keep your territory safe for ALL the residents, respect the elderly and those that need assistance;
     4. Get your gang members to learn to read, write and do math: they need good math to compute your profits anyway, and they should be able to write down notes for you and be able to read your instructions, so this benefits you anyway...and it sets good examples for your community;
     5. Finally, we will look to you for a call when police are needed, if you do all of the above: murders, physical harm burglaries, suicides and the usual assault type crimes that show a lack of respect to your resident and to you, we will respond to, and you will make sure that those occasions are welcomed and endorsed by your community.

Do we have a deal?

This would bring gangs into the legal world, encourage them to take real responsibility for their areas and eliminate them from being an "enemy" of law enforcement.  Certainly, it would involve being blind to drug deals, but our attempts to stop that are failing now, particularly in the inner cities, so what are we losing?

Sure, this could fail miserably...but we are failing miserably now.  Maybe this is worth trying.  I haven't seen anyone else come up with this idea...but it seems worth a shot.  What do you think?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Is the concept of "Consequences" being eradicated around the world?

Sometimes I get so overwhelmed that writing seems as if it increases the pain and the disappointment in the world around us; that even commenting on it increases the clarity of the error(s) of our ways and makes it even more unlikely that there ever will be a Financial-like correction in our moral compass, bringing us back to something like a meaningful society.

But, eventually the words and thoughts build up and demand their freedom...a release, even if without effect, to flow into the universe looking for fertile soil in which the thoughts contained may take root and be discussed with other, compared, and considered.

So...today my thoughts center around what seems to be a general consensus of the majority that there should be no such things as Consequences.

Friends and acquaintances have said that I am over-reacting; that consequences are still the norm.  They point out that there are laws and, when broken, that they are enforced to settle consequences on the law breakers.  They suggest that generally, despite the exceptions, those who do evil and wrong things are held to account.

My response it that not only does it not happen often enough, but that the frequency of it happening is in decline.  Moreover, when people do the right thing, more often than not they are criticized for "getting involved."  Millions of people are cheating on their taxes; few are ever made to suffer any consequences, nor do they lose the approbation of their neighbors and associates...many of these miscreants are actually held in high esteem by those that know their actions.  Just yesterday a gang rape took place on a Florida Beach, surrounded by multitudes of young people drinking beer and partying, and not one person interfered with the attack.  Only because of the fact that someone actually filmed video of the event was any police action taken...if not accidental, then just sign of the fact that such behavior is acceptable.

There are some people who are psychopaths who will ignore laws in favor of their own wishes and desires.  There are others who need no laws to motivate them; they will do all they can to help others and make life better for their fellow man.  But the vast majority in the middle are remarkably responsive to the general behavior and general definition of acceptance in the ordering of their lives...they won't rock the boat.  And it seems clear to me that the boat may be deserving of some rocking...not that I have much hope that such action will happen anytime soon.

Some of my friends suggest that this is simply a natural phenomenon; such a fall occurred to the Greeks as well as the Roman Empire and therefore it is inevitable that it happens to the United States of America.  I used to agree in major part with this view.

But now I wonder if it is not far more extensive that just an American phenomenon.  It seems to be spreading to the International Stage...to the entire world.  My friends say I am nuts...which, of course, may or may not be true and a subject that may be worthy of a full discussion at a later point...but I am not convinced.

Consider the events in Foreign affairs in the last year or so.  Terrorists killed our Ambassador to Lybia and others.  One person was arrested.  Have any of them been punished, much less caught?  Russia has annexed through force a portion of the Ukraine.  Has there been any uproar of any significance from the world nation states, much less those countries immediately surrounding the area?  For years, Pirates have operated lucrative seizures of ships off the coast of Africa, making millions of dollars from the hijackings?  Any serious repercussions to those pirates?

And more recently we have the rise of ISIL (or ISIS, or whatever they are calling themselves these days, as if it matters) and the killing of all believers in Christianity that they catch, as well as many of Islamic sects with which they disagree.  Any serious repercussions?  And some in the world see their cause as acceptable.  Yes, there are words of condemnation but few indeed...and tiny if you look at the percentage of involvement...people involved in standing against it.

Consider the matter of Iran.  Here is a nation-state that has a track record of lying and failure to abide by promises.  A nation state that finances and supports with material and people terrorists around the world.  Any consequences?  Well, one of my friends argued that we do have economic sanctions in force which hurts them.  Oh? Really?  Who is hurt?  The leaders?  The ones who control the actions of Iran?  Or is the people of Iran who suffer despite have very little, if any, control over the political decisions of Iran's leaders?

But that is the past and is almost an after-thought now.  Now Iran is working toward developing a nuclear capability, which could include nuclear weaponry.  So...what does the world do?  It sits down with the powers in Iran and begins negotiating.  Not declaring that such a development is unacceptable, which each participating nation had assured their own citizens up until a short time ago was not ever going to be allowed, but a timetable by which ultimately Iran would have the capability it desires...and also a lifting of sanctions.  And all of this based on a written promise by Iran to limit their activity toward such an end.  Doesn't anyone else see anything wrong with this picture?  A country that has a consistent track record of breaking promises now is to get relief from sanctions on the basis of a written "promise" to play well with others?  Really?  Wonder what odds would be given by any professional Book-maker on Iran fulfilling that promise.  And yet, multiple nation-states are actually seriously considering entering into such an agreement.

This is not only a failure of Consequences, but could be argued appears to be reverse consequences...a reward for bad behavior.

And the most recent event involves the Communist nations of Cuba.  Cuba has been cut off from diplomatic ties to America ever since the Communists took control of that country.  It has a proven record of human rights violations, has no freedom of the press, precious little freedom of religion and is a Dictatorship.  No change at all.  So...what are the consequences?  America opens up talks to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba.  This amounts, also, to reverse consequences; a reward for continued bad behavior.

What I am raising for discussion is that fact that all around the world there seems to be a general acceptance that consequences for bad behavior can be done away with and there will be no adverse repercussions.

I think that is not possible.  The balance that the world has heretofore acknowledged is that all people and nations should have the freedom to make decisions and choices for themselves....but that those choices have consequences.  It is the consequences that check the unfettered expression of wants and desires.  Freedoms without consequences becomes license...and that never turns out well for anyone.