I hope we never live to see the day when a thing is as bad as some of our newspapers make it. – 19 July 1934 – Will Rogers
In Will’s day newspapers were pretty much the only place to get a glimpse of the daily news. Except for a few monthlies, magazines had not come into common use. Of course the Internet and cable news networks were fifty or more years in the future. Will Rogers had two very famous quotes in his day “I never met a man I didn’t like” and “All I know is what I read in the newspaper”.
Fast forward to today and newspaper, at least the print variety, are going the way of the horse and buggy. Even the news magazines have come and pretty much gone. But what is here now is 24/7 cable news and thousands, if not millions, of different Internet news sources. Many people just feel overwhelmed by all this information available so as to tune out all but those who seem to agree with their current worldview.
Even though we have in-your-face news now it seems that many just don’t have the time to even glimpse at it, let alone attempt to absorb it. I think part of the problem is that things have just changed so much in the last fifty years relating to living. The typical family of years ago was the dad who had a good secure eight-hour a day job earning a living wage and the mom who stayed at home to nurture the kids. Zoom forward to today and most families, even if they are two parent households, which most aren’t, are often holding down three or more low wage jobs between them just to put a roof over their heads and food on the table. When you work 12 – 15 hours a day there is just not much time to for anything else.
Getting back to the topic of Will’s quote above, cable news and many Internet sources thrive on creating conflict and controversy where it doesn’t really exist. They seem to be like the kid in the school yard who was always prodding his classmate into fighting each other. I am one who takes the quote above with some seriousness. What we see as urgent today is never as bad as those guys make it to be and that includes the sequester that everyone seems to be dreading now.
Schizophrenia—an impairment in social cognition which is associated with paranoia and social isolation.
Paranoia, which is a major symptom of schizophrenia, is a mental condition in which the person often loses touch with reality. Here is some of what Wikipedia says about this condition:
Paranoia is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself. (e.g. “Everyone is out to get me.”) Making false accusations and the general distrust of others also frequently accompany paranoia. For example, an incident most people would view as an accident or coincidence, a paranoid person might believe was intentional.
I don’t know about you but if someone were to give me this description without a name I would say this clearly describes the people who are currently attempting to hi-jack the Republican party. Before I go any further I want to make it clear that I am not saying that everyone who wears the Republican mantel are paranoid schizophrenics. In fact I am sure the vast majority who wear that label are not. But I am also sure that many of those who are attempting a hostile take-over that party are indeed paranoid about many things.
I just finished watch a town hall meeting that John McCain had recently in Arizona and some of the questions and speeches made there were down right disturbing! People were calling him all kinds of nasty names. They were wagging their fingers at him (that seems to be a signature of the tea party folks) and telling him he was dead wrong about immigration. Their solution it seems was to basically gun down anyone who is an “illegal alien” on the Arizona streets if they refused to self-deport. Many of their words started with “Those people” and ended with some paranoid action. I was surprised how Mr. McCain maintained his composure. When one person in the group stated that “all we have to do is take away their welfare checks and all those illegals will go back to where they came from!”, Mr. McCain correctly pointed out that the vast majority of undocumented are not on welfare. Then he made the statement, “you are entitled to your own opinions but you are not entitled to your own facts”. Nice comeback John.
I’m sure that many in the GOP are as frightened of these new players in their party as are the rest of us. But those now lamenting moderate Republicans must remember that they are the ones who created this Frankenstein. They unleashed him in order to try to win some seats in the 2011 house. I wish they had thought it through before cuddling up to the Tea Party radicals.
So, what are the options for the majority who make up the GOP? There are really only two; 1) Abandon it, 2) Reform it. Obviously the easiest is just to abandon it and call yourself and independent. That is what so many of the 18 – 29 year olds did in the 2012 election. They left in droves. Reforming it will take a lot more effort. It is just very hard to put the genie back in the bottle.
I will finish of with saying that yes the Democrats also have a radical fringe in their party. The difference is that the Democratics generally keep their crazies locked away in a rubber room somewhere in the far back of the house where as the Republicans gave their radicals the key to the front door….
The difference between our rich and poor grows greater every year. Our distribution of wealth is getting more uneven all the time. . . . A man can make a million over night and he is on every page in the morning. But it never tells you who give up the million he got. You can’t get money without taking it from somebody. – 1 June 1930 Will Rogers
As Will points out here the difference between the rich and the poor has always been greater than many of us would like to see but I really don’t think in Will’s day it was even remotely as wide a gap as it is today. The latest statistics show that there is about $58 trillion of wealth in the U.S. But as the chart to the right shows 80% of the population controls only 7% of the wealth. That is about $10,000 per person for 80% of us. The top 1% average $7,000,000/person.
But as Will further points out that there is just so much wealth that can be owned. There has been a twenty fold increase in billionaire in the last twenty years. In order for the money to come to them it had to come from someone else. Of course we all know where it came from. It came for the wages and benefits of the 80% that have actually decreased over that same period of time.
I’m not a financial wizard but it really doesn’t seem like rocket science to me to understand that if we want to grow our GDP we must have citizens who have the money to buy additional goods and services. The 1% can only buy so many jets and yachts. In fact most of their increased wealth is likely just sitting in off-shore accounts accumulating interest. When the elite among us insist on stagnating wages there are no additional resources to grow our economy. It is a Catch-22 and that I can understand so why can’t the big shot economists in the gOp figure it out?
When any organization becomes totally dysfunctional it is time for a major shakeup. I am becoming more and more convinced that the only way we are ever going to reduce the gridlock we find in Washington is to remove the current leadership and hopefully replace them with some who are not as battle scarred and vindictive as the current ones. The current leaders are just too more consumed with battling their rivals than of governing for the good of the country. They have lost all perspective of life outside that contaminated city.
For my Republican friends who would never conceive of voting for a Democrat I plead you to find someone in your party who can challenge the leaders in your primaries. That way you don’t have to touch the dreaded “d” word at the polls. Both Mr. Reid and McConnell are like long toothed dinosaurs. They seem to have nothing but contempt for each other and are willing to sacrifice the good of the country to get back at each other. It used to be that seniority in the Senate was about wisdom but I personally see little wisdom in either of these two men right now.
It is not much better in the House of Representatives. Mr. Boenher just isn’t able to control the radical right wing of his party. He seems to be more afraid of them than he is of the Democrats. Mrs. Pelosi is a lightening rod for the conservatives in the desert west and the south in our country. Being from San Francisco is probably a big part of that ingrained prejudice. I do think that both of these leaders are of noble spirit but they are just too toxic for our times.
Until we can resolve the underlying contempt of and for the current leaders it will be hard to accomplish much for our country. There are many current issues that can be resolved if only we did a little house cleaning in Washington. Closing tax loopholes is one of them. They all complain that the current tax code is 10,000 pages long but what they don’t say is that over 9,000 of those pages are exclusions/loop hole for one favored interest or another. Why can’t they at least agree to eliminate those give-aways? I know that much of this toxicity is not confined to the beltway but that is a most appropriate place to start.
Voting long time politicians out of office is not an easy thing so I have my doubts that it can really be accomplished. But something has to be done or our country may soon be in deeper jeopardy than it already is and something we just may not be able to recover from.
But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know……
Source: No guns at home, so Japanese shoot ‘em up in Guam – Itineraries on NBCNews.com.
Because guns are so hard to find, gun-related crime is extremely rare. They were used in only seven murders in Japan — a nation of about 130 million people — in 2011, the most recent year for official statistics. In the U.S., with 315 million people, there are more than 11,000 gun-related killings annually. The Japanese are proud of their low crime rate and generally support tough gun-control policies.
Given the propensity to violence in this country I can’t even imagine a country of 130 million only having seven murders in a year! I suspect there will be that many in Chicago within the next two days. How does Japan keep violence down to such a miniscule level? Part of it I’m sure is their culture. Even though Japan was one of the countries that started the last world war they basically have a very non-violent society now. They generally show great respect for each other, especially their elders. They are just not the type to have a lot of bravado as we in the U.S. seem to overflow with.
But there is also another major reason for such a low murder rate and that is guns are almost impossible to obtain in their society. The NRA is constantly harping that if the bad guys didn’t have guns they would learn to kill with other weapons but Japan seems to prove them wrong. I don’t think that Japan is devoid of bad guys. Human greed which spurns so much lawlessness is probably just as endemic in their country as it is in most others. When a gun makes killing so painless (at least for the one doing the shooting) it makes murder just too easy and a spur of the moment thing.
Too bad we can’t learn even the simplest lessons from our neighbors in other countries. If we could take the best ideas of each country and incorporate them here…. Instead we stubbornly insist that we alone are the only ones that can get anything right. How naive is that??
Unemployment Rate by Education Level
In 1992, the BLS began tracking unemployment rates by education level. Highlighted below are the unemployment rates for the following four groups…. All groups consist of individuals 25 years old or higher.
|Education Level Achieved
|High School Grad
or Associate Degree
It is no secret that the lower the education level the higher the unemployment rate. We are told that employers are out looking for people to fill their jobs and there are just not enough qualified applicants. When I grew up in the 1950s and 60s a young man could graduate from high school and if he had the connections could get a job in one of the auto factories in the area. It was a good paying middle class job. But then came robotics and foreign competition.
I’m not saying that robotic or competition are a bad thing. In fact I think it is just a normal progression through the industrial age. A hundred and fifty years ago a young boy with no education could plan on making some pretty good money by signing on to a moving cattle from Texas to Kansas City. Those jobs like the factory jobs of my generation naturally disappeared with the advent of the railroad. It is just a matter of progress that the good paying jobs of one generation are not the good paying ones of the next.
The fact that to get a good middle class job in today’s world takes something beyond a high school education is just to be expected. But, a basic problem is that our education system just hasn’t kept up with the demand for more intelligent workers as evidenced by the above numbers. This fact really shouldn’t surprise anyone. Our kids generally are just not getting the education needed for today’s jobs.
So, how do we as a country change the culture of our education system to meet the demands of the 21st century? I have never been involved in this field other than as a student but I have been exposed to some of its participants. From the teachers I have met personally it seems that the majority of them are pretty naive in the ways of today’s businesses. For the most part they are arts majors fresh out of college. Most spend their entire careers inside the educational system. If we hope to continue to compete for the middle class jobs of the world we will need to entice those who have a working knowledge of the jobs available today and a big part of that is math, science and especially computer savvy teachers. We need teacher at the high school level who have experiences outside the educational system. I don’t think that is happening to any degree right now. At least not in my local school district.
I know many teachers read this blog and I am not trying to put you down in any way. From your comments I know how difficult a job it is to be a teacher in today’s world. I know that a big part of the problem is in the home of the students. But we must face facts that our kids are generally not equipped for the middle class jobs of today.
If I was a President and wanted something I would claim I didn’t want it. For Congress has not given any President anything he wanted in the last 10 years. Be against anything and then he is sure to get it. – 5 May 1923 – Will Rogers
I can’t understand why each president seems to have to learn this lesson on their own. But, I think President Obama finally gets it. If he wants something to happen the best thing he can do is to remain quiet about it. Mr. Boehner is constantly harping that the president is not involved enough in the legislative process but what I think he really means is that he wants to know what the president is for so he and all the other sheep in the GOP led house can line up against it.
I imagine it is hard sometimes to put together a list of what you are against. Especially for those House Republicans. They just get lazy on occasion and don’t want to do the work to make up their own “against” list. That is when they insist that President Obama do it for them. A perfect example of that is the immigration reform plan leaked by the White House. It was certain to be “DEAD ON ARRIVAL” before it even left the White House door.
I am waiting for Mr. Obama to evolve into the next phase of Will’s strategy. I expect that soon he will come out with a list of things he is against. If he is good at it the conservatives will want to get everything on that list into law as soon as possible. But the secret is to make sure that Mr. Boehner and company are convinced that he really is against them. Mr. Obama is a pretty smart guy so I pray that he get good at this game so we the people might be able to get something good from the 113th congress. But in reality I kind of doubt anything productive will come from that bunch….
But, I’m just a simple guy so what do I know……
Source: First Thoughts: Obama’s two speeches in one – First Read.
Did he broaden the party’s reach? But here’s a separate question we have: Did Rubio broaden his party’s reach? While he’s younger than Mitt Romney and has a more relatable life story, Rubio’s speech was almost a rehash of almost everything we heard from Romney and the GOP in 2012. He accused Obama of believing that the free enterprise system is the source of America’s problems (when the president praised it in his State of the Union); he said that Obama wants to grow the size of the government; and he attacked the health-care law.
All of those messages had hundreds of millions of dollars behind them in the 2012 presidential election, and Republicans got just 47% of the vote in the presidential election. There is no doubt that Rubio is a GOP politician with a bright future and plenty of personal appeal. But it also seemed like Rubio was preaching to the Republican choir rather than broadening the party’s reach. It’s a speech that is being very well received among conservatives, but was it a persuasion speech?
Rebranding seems the name of the game in the gOp. At least on the surface that is a valid observation but is it really more than skin deep? Mr. Rubio is supposed to be the ordained future leader of the party so when he had a chance to rebrand the Republican party how well did he do that job? To me he just sounded like more of the same obstructionism. He needs to get out of his church and away from the choir once in a while to even begin to convince me he is a different brand than so many others in his party. But the question is does he have the guts to do that?
P.S…. It didn’t sink into me that the title and the picture in this post were more related than I thought. The “KICK ME” is definitely more than skin deep.
I HAVE come to a resolution myself, as I hope every good citizen will, never again to purchase any article of foreign manufacture which can be had of American make, be the difference of price what it may. – Jefferson, Thomas
Who would have thought that the “Buy American” theme started so many years ago with Thomas Jefferson. If only we had learned this lesson from him.
The abundant life does not come to those who have had a lot of obstacles removed from their path by others. It develops from within and is rooted in strong mental and moral fiber. – William Mather Lewis
All of us want to have an abundant life. That is we want our life to be full and meaningful. We want to make at least a slight difference because we were here. I believe that the quote above is at the root of making that possible. Although I am not a parent I’m sure that all parents out there want their children to have an abundant life. But as the quote insinuates it does not come from having all the obstacles removed from our paths.
Obstacles and corresponding adversity is what builds character. When you are given life with the proverbial “silver spoon” you develop a very shallow sense of reality. Many of the upper echelons of our society like to chant about the “entitlements” that our country provides to those on the other end of the economic scale. They claim that giving someone something they haven’t earned just drives them to expect more. There is certainly some validity in that argument but what they seem blind to is that many of the elite are doing the same thing with their children. When they remove all the obstacles from their children’s path they are leading them into an “entitlement” mentality. We can look back at history to see how this played out in the royal families of Europe. History shows us that many of the “entitled” kings had lost all sense of reality of how their subjects lived.
Most of the great people in society grew up with adversity and obstacles in their paths. It is what made them strong. We should not deny our children or future generations by removing all their obstacles in life.
Somebody is always telling us in the papers how to prevent war. There is only one way in the World to prevent war, and that is, FOR EVERY NATION TO TEND TO ITS OWN BUSINESS. – June 28, 1925 Will Rogers
Will I know you are right about this but it seems that eighty years later our country still can’t seem to understand your words of wisdom. We still want to get into every nation’s business as if it were our own. There are those in the Senate, particularly Mr. McCain and that bunch, who have not seen a war they don’t want to get into or one that they want to get completely out of. They continue to huff and puff about Iran and that is just what the leaders of that country want. They crave the attention. Even when we “declare” victory we always leave many of our soldier there for an eternity. Over fifty thousand troops are still in Korea and Germany and those wars were supposedly over more than sixty years ago! We just spend too much time in other countries business!
In the Senate confirmation hearings for the secretary of Department of Defense these guys were down right vindictive of the nominee. I couldn’t believe the nastiness of the rhetoric that Mr. McCain had for his one time close friend! If only we just stayed out of other countries business as you told us we could eliminate needlessly putting so many of our kids at risk and maybe find a way in lieu of balancing our budgets on the backs of the poor of reducing our deficits.
Let’s make it a new doctrine of the 21st century to tend to our own business. The first thing to do to accomplish that is to resign from being the policemen of the world. The rest of the world just doesn’t want us to play that role anyway. Lets just tend to our own business and let everyone else tend to theirs….
But we are both just simple guys so what do we know….
January 1999 — That’s me looking out at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from Battery Park in Manhattan. My wife and I had just finished a wedding anniversary dinner at Windows on the World at the WTC. It was the last time we were there.
I got to thinking the other day that I spend quite a bit of time blogging. I presently maintain two very active blogs (this one and another related to being a follower of Jesus). In the past I have run six blogs at the same time. Am I crazy or something? When I got right down to it I realize that blogging is now my creative outlet.
My body continues to degrade as the months go by. While I am still a pretty active guy I find I have more and more pains and conditions as time passes. When I was in the corporate world I designed and implemented software tools for an engineering division. When I retired from that I opened a cabinet shop and designed and built dozens of different hutches and such. Those were my creative activities. Now that I am retired and with a dwindling body I chose something a little less physical. Even though I am now old my brain continues to travel at a mile a minute. I have spent my life asking “why” and I expect that will be the last word out of my mouth.
As I have mentioned I have always loved writing; it has always come easily for me. I think that if I had had an impassioned guidance counselor in high school I would have likely chosen a literary field of endeavor instead of the technical one. I wonder what my life would have looked like if I had chosen that path? I read books at an early age and reading has been a lifelong activity for me.
When I went deaf twenty-five years ago much of my daily person to person interactions ceased. Daily chit-chat became nearly impossible. I could not get into discussions about the topics of the day with others. Blogging allows me to do that again. It has become my virtual “ears”. Where others can call a friend and talk whatever is on their mind I do that now via blogs. I am an impassioned altruist now and blogging also allows me to reach out to others with that message. I hope I get through to a least a few with my messages.
At its foundation writing for me is my creative outlet. It allows me to express myself in way that I can’t or maybe wouldn’t do otherwise. I guess I am still a pretty creative person as I do blog a lot! Thanks to everyone who occasionally listens…..
Source: To Lower Suicide Rates, New Focus Turns to Guns – NYTimes.com.
The national map of suicide lights up in states with the highest gun ownership rates. Wyoming, Montana and Alaska, the states with the three highest suicide rates, are also the top gun-owning states, according to the Harvard center. The state-level data are too broad to tell whether the deaths were in homes with guns, but a series of individual-level studies since the early 1990s found a direct link. Most researchers say the weight of evidence from multiple studies is that guns in the home increase the risk of suicide.
“The literature suggests that having a gun in your home to protect your family is like bringing a time bomb into your house,” said Dr. Mark Rosenberg, an epidemiologist who helped establish the C.D.C.’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Instead of protecting you, it’s more likely to blow up.”
It is known that the NRA is adamantly against even studying the violence around guns. Maybe this limited study is one of the reasons. It shows that guns are the preferred tool of choice for those contemplating suicide. It also show that if you really are serious about killing yourself you will have a much higher success rate if you use a gun than any other choice.
While so far this post seems to be about guns, it is really about statistics. I think we in the country are just statistics averse. We just can’t seem to accept that branch of science as giving us any valuable information. Even when we see election after election being accurately predicted with statistics we still don’t really believe in them. If we did we would understand that other countries that have sensible gun regulations have lower murder rates, suicide rates, and accidental death rates than those, like the U.S. that stubbornly refuse to enact the necessary controls.
I don’t know what it will take to bring us to our senses regarding things that are statistically proven to benefit our society but we, for one reason or another, are adamantly against. Statistically we know that without pre-school education our kids are doomed to trying to catch up with their peers but for some reason we resist giving pre-school opportunities to some. Statistically we know that the U.S. is falling further behind many other countries when it comes to the quality of general education for our population but that doesn’t seem to alarm us much. We leave the education of our children up to our local neighbors to decide how and what they will learn. Of course they have little or no knowledge of statistics or the world where our children will be competing.
We need to listen more when statistics show us that we need to do some things differently if we want to maintain a world class society. Now don’t get me wrong. I am very aware that statistics can and is often done in a faulty method. We have to be careful that there is validity and not manipulation behind the statistics that we use.
Source: Top G.O.P. Donors Seek Greater Say in Senate Races – NYTimes.com.
The effort would put a new twist on the Republican-vs.-Republican warfare that has consumed the party’s primary races in recent years. In effect, the establishment is taking steps to fight back against Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations that have wielded significant influence in backing candidates who ultimately lost seats to Democrats in the general election.
I am glad to hear that the not-so-radical in the GOP are declaring war on the Tea party. It’s about time. Maybe a nudge toward the middle will finally happen. But then again this could be just one radical right organization battling another? Given that Carl Rove is one of the leaders of this new group I suspect it to be the later. But, even then I would prefer Mr. Rove’s tactics over the Tea Party’s any day so more power to you Mr. Rove. I hope you put them back in the closet where they belong.
I certainly hope that this new-found wisdom in the GOP leadership is more than skin deep. They need to move more into the mainstream of American life if they hope to succeed as a party in the future. They need to understand that some of their principles, like those of the Democrats, are currently on sinking sand. They need to at least make some adjustments and then move on from there.
While I applaud them being fiscal conservative they have also to understand that a rising tide raises all ships. They have to occasionally come out against the power elite and for the common man. Until everyone has a chance at a living wage prosperity will never return to this country. They have to understand that true power in our democracy resides in our citizens and not in the one-percent who controls most of the wealth and gets most of the current benefits from our capitalist system.
When they realize these facts they will once again be a party for more of us in the mainstream of life. They have to consciously move from the radical fringes to convince us that they are serious about becoming relevant in today’s world. In the end I am pretty skeptical that that will happen with this latest tiff within the party but who knows? I was a Nixon and Ford Republican; it would be nice to be able to come back to the party of my beginnings.
I am going to take a vain attempt at looking into the future! The place I am going to look will likely surprise you until you have heard me out. The future I am going to look at starts in Africa. Now before you click the exit button let me explain.
Africa is finally starting to come into the 20th century. I know it is a century late but better late than never. Electricity, telecommunications, and TV are becoming more common in some of the more agrarian countries. They are doing that without a grid network as is common in most industrialized countries today. Solar panels, cellular communications and satellite dishes are the means of this progress.
I know that for many today it is impossible to remember that rural areas in the U.S. were without electricity for years after it was available in urban areas. The reason for that was the expense of putting the power grid in remote areas. It took FDR’s New Deal along with the REMC (rural electric membership cooperative) to make it happen. For the same reason telephones were late in coming to hinterland too. And believe it or not most rural areas still have nothing but a dial-up internet connection that is about twenty-times slower than what you get in most urban areas.
Let’s face it, it takes a lot of money to build our current day grids that supply us with so much of what it means to be in the 21st century. The grid is not a static thing; it needs to be constantly upgraded in order to keep up with demand. More and more electrical power stations are needed. More and faster internet connections mean moving from copper to fiber-optic lines. Satellites are almost constantly being launched to keep up with our insatiable demand for more and more information.
Looking into the future I see the African model as being the most efficient one for the 21st century. No longer will our homes be connected to power stations requiring a huge infrastructure of wires and power sources. Even today we have the technology to take our homes “off-the-grid”. Solar and wind power will be the energy source for the middle 21st century house. No more nuclear power plant with possible devastating failures. No more acid rain and CO2 because of coal-burning.
Land based telephone lines are becoming rarer and rarer as each year passes. It won’t be long before the telephone pole will also be a thing of the past. Cables run throughout our communities to provide us with internet connections and TV will be replaced by Satellite dishes that will be so small as to not even be noticed on our houses.
Africa is showing us that we can live off-the-grid in the 21st century. Can you imagine a city without all the wires strung throughout? Can you imagine never having to be without electricity during blizzards because of broken power lines? It does seem ironic that the most backwards continent on the earth is likely showing us the future but I believe that to be the case.
Now that you have heard my arguments my opening statement doesn’t seem so absurd after all does it?
No man is great if he thinks he is. – 1 March 1929 Will Rogers
Vanity is a powerful force in us human beings. We all like to think that we are great in one aspect or another. After all, none of us want to go through life thinking we have not made at least a small dent in this world. Some are humble about their greatness. Gandhi and Mother Teresa immediately come to mind in that category. But for every humble person there are thousands who think they are greater than they are.
Thinking you are great when you aren’t is something that seems epidemic in Washington DC. It must be something in the water that creates that illusion. Anybody that has done any studying of our current political scene knows that 99.9% of what goes on there is about power and self-preceived greatness. I swear I just can’t understand how the Capital Building can even accommodate all those inflated egos without exploding.
But lets not limit inflated egos to the beltway. They are also massively prevalent in some of the more affluent parts of our society. Any guy who managed to find a niche that allowed him to make some money thinks the rest of us are idiots. Some of these folks believe because they made a few bucks that they are now great and can rule over the rest of us with their greatness. They tell their employees how they want them to vote. They keep wages low so that they can brag about all their ever accumulating wealth. They just love being a big fish, even in a small pond.
Thinking that you are great is something that all of us, me included, need to get over. God, who is the ultimate judge of greatness, loves that little baby who just died in Africa due to malnutrition just as much as any of the rest of us. When we thoroughly understand that then we just might able to achieve some small level of greatness.
Thanks Will for your words of wisdom….
It depends on what the definition of “is” is….
The above quote, for all you guys over thirty is obviously from the impeachment hearing of President Clinton. Mr. Clinton being a lawyer, as most politicians are, zeroed in on one word of a question asked of him about Monica…
Well it seems that the definition game is back in play with another Democratic president. No it is not about sex this time, President Obama is just not that type of guy. This time it is a much more serious matter and that is the explanation of how the “kill list” is made up and the subsequent drone flights to take out the subject.
The white paper memo that was recently leaked about how to determine who would be killed by a drone attack said that the person had to be involved in an imminent attack on the United States. Lets look at a non-lawyer definition of ”imminent”:
very likely to occur at any moment; impending: Her death is imminent
I think most of us are aligned with this definition. But enter the lawyers with their own definition at least when it comes to killing via drone attacks.
possibility of the person to either now or sometime in the future be involved in a plan to attack the U.S.
So, like the word “is”, imminent changes definitions to suit the legal matter at hand. Sadly the main talk about this leaked paper revolves around killing U.S. citizens on foreign soil. There seems to be no real dispute inside the beltway on killing foreign citizens in their own countries. They, meaning President Obama and a small handful of military types, say they don’t currently plan on using drones to kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil.
We don’t really know how many people have been killed in our drone attacks either by being targets or as collateral damage, that information has been kept very hidden. But it is generally believed to be in the thousands. We know that drone attacks are striking fear among many in the world. They are worried that they might be the next collateral damage to innocently die at the hands of the U.S. President. As a result drone attacks are becoming the vehicle of choice in Al Qaeda recruitment.
When lawyers are involved even the most mundane things are questioned. If you want to stay informed be very careful that you know the lawyer’s definition if things like “is” and “imminent” are.
I am have been thinking about the word ”conservative” lately and how I thought it defines me as far as fiscal things go and how it seems to define many of my friends as a general philosophy. I know like everything else you can’t put all conservatives in the same box but there seems to be some common traits I assign to that label. Let’s start out with the basic definition:
- a person who is reluctant to accept changes and new ideas
- resistant to change
- having social or political views favoring conservatism
- unimaginatively conventional
- avoiding excess • a conservative estimate
- conforming to the standards and conventions of the middle class
In the past I have identified myself as a fiscal conservative. From a governing standpoint I want to make sure that the money I send to Washington in taxes to do the people’s business is wisely spent. I don’t treat my money haphazardly and I don’t want my government to do that either. But after looking at the basic definition above maybe I think I need to find a new label. I am definitely not reluctant to accept fiscal changes or new ideas about monetary policies, in fact I would embrace one if I thought it would solve some of our problems. I definitely would not call myself unimaginatively conventional when it comes to money or anything else for that matter! If you have read much of what I have said in the blog I’m sure you would agree with that. Definition 5 is kind of muddled and without meaning to me so I won’t go there. The standards of the middle class seem to change on a daily basis especially as the conservative group continues to shrink.
But the definitions above do seem to describe many of my friends. They, for the most part, fear change instead of embracing it. Many seem to continue to live in the limelight of the Reagan years. They hate all the change in the last twenty years; especially change brought on by the “liberals”. Yeah, many of my friends are unimaginatively conventional.
Well, I seem to have decided that the traditional definition of the word “conservative” does indeed describe many of my less than progressive friends but doesn’t hack it when I apply it to myself for fiscal matter. So, what should I call myself? Maybe fiscally prudent progressive. That has kind of a nice ring to it. From this day forward I am a FPP. Conservative describes those who hate or at least adamantly resist change and that is definitely not me. But I will kind of hold on to that label for some of my less progressive friends….
I grew up in poverty and without a mother. My father was typical of his generation in that he was a pretty stoic guy who even though he had love in his heart he just didn’t hand it out well. As a result I had some rather serious love issues growing up. My younger brother and I were pretty much on our own at least emotionally through our early years. I was shy and very introverted for many of those years. I started losing my hearing during high school and then at the age of forty I went completely deaf. So I have known some adversity in my life but I generally think it has been a blessed life.
I take to heart the quote “there but for the grace of God go I”. I know I had it kind of rough but that was nothing compared to many others. I know one guy whose father got him and his brother hooked on meth before they were even teenagers. I know of another that grew up with an alcoholic father and a mother who was constantly being abused. I know by comparisons I had it pretty good growing up. I realize that if a few things had changed in my life I could possibly have been one of those who spent time in our prison system.
Being that I volunteer a couple of days a week in a local soup kitchen and men’s homeless shelter I am probably exposed to more ex-offenders than most. We know that the current national un-employment rate is around 7.5% but what most people don’t know is that the un-employment rate among ex-offenders in the first year after release is 75%! Why are there no second chances for these guys? Given the almost impossible odds of gaining employment, especially anything other than minimum wage, is it really not hard to understand why 40% of felons are reincarcerated within three years of release. If only we gave some of these guys a second chance at life.
I recently came across a cable channel program called Pit Bulls and Parolees. It is about Tia Torres who runs a pit bull rescue shelter in New Orleans. She rightfully states that Pit Bulls are the most misunderstood species of dogs on the planet. Most people think they are a vicious and are only good for junkyard dogs. In reality she shows us they are some of the most friendly dogs around. Yes, some of them have been bred and trained for dog fights, especially in the south, but most are just loving and very loyal pets.
Tia Torres show us that Pit Bulls in her shelter and the parolees she hires to maintain it have a very common thread. Most parolees are thought to be vicious and unsociable. She show us, and I have also personally found, that not be reality. Most ended up in prison because of stupid mistakes that any of us might have made if we were in similar circumstances. Most of these guys just need a second chance in life. The lucky few who find that second chance are those that can escape the system and go on to happy and fruitful lives. If only more of us were like Tia and willing to give some a second chance our prisons would not be eating up such a large amount of our resources and our country might not have the largest percentage of citizens under lock and key.