RJ's Corner

Being The Adult….

McConnell said that this year, Democrats objected to spending bills drafted under existing tight budget caps — known as sequestration — because they want more spending for domestic programs. Republicans are seeking more defense spending than the current caps allow….

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday  “I would expect that in the weeks ahead we’ll have more of a discussion about how Democrats and Republicans in Congress can work together to make sure that we adequately fund both our national security and economic priorities, while of course taking the necessary steps to prevent a government shutdown in an unnecessary injection of volatility into the national economy.”

Source: Congress gears up for major budget talks with White House

I’m going to put on my fiscal conservative hat here.  I don’t like to wear the “C” cap very often but  it is necessary. Fiscal conservatism used to be the job of the GOP but since they are now in the “anti-” mode someone has to be the adult and talk about our spending.   It seems that both parties want to pile on more spending year over year. One for the safety net for our citizens and one for  expanding an already over bloated war machine so that we can get even more involved in all the conflicts around the world.

Instead of constantly increasing our spending someone needs to look at what we spend our current budgets on and eliminate those items that are no longer useful.  Some one needs to be the adult here.  Let’s start with the military.  We spend more on our war machine than the rest of the world combined and we are only 5% of the world’s population.  I say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. You hear almost every day about the next “$1000 toilet seat”. I’m sure there is at least 25% of that budget that no longer serves any purpose. Why can’t we root that out and get rid of it instead of just piling on more money? One of the answers is that if someone tries to cut military cost someone else will scream “you are making our soldiers less safe!!” But someone has to be the adult and do it anyway as the vast majority that wasteful spending it has nothing to do with the safety of our soldiers.

One the domestic side I personally have seen several people who are on disability payments who when no one is watching work just as hard as the rest of us. It is just too easy to get a government payment. I know I sound like a card carrying member of the GOP here. But, I am not saying that most, or even many, are in that mode but there are sufficient numbers who do game the system that if we took a closer look could substantially reduce our safety net costs.  I”m sure there are  many other examples of where we could reign in spending if we just put our mind to it.

I have been on a fixed budget for over 15 years now. Yes, some things change for instance the ever increasing cost of healthcare. Medicare pays for 80% of my medical costs for about $100 a month and that hasn’t changed dramatically but to cover the other 20% has increased from about $100 to over $250 and for my wife over $350.  In order to pay those bills we have had to cut back other places. Why can’t the government do the same?

Goodbye ATT/Yahoo News…

I’m not paranoid so I don’t think they are targeting me personally but I am once again very annoyed by my news feed of choice for the last year or so.Thumbnail

Let me give you a little background before I wade into this topic. I have discovered that I am without any doubt a morning person. I just don’t seem to be able to conjure up anything in a creative nature after lunch. For that reason a part of my usual morning routine is to browse the news from  the past day. I do this so that I stay informed with what is happening and also so I can create some ideas on what I want to blog about in the coming week. I have some special news sites such as  Time, The Week, and PBS Newshour that I read by but I depend on broader news feeds for most of what is happening.

That newsfeed for the past year or so has been Yahoo News but over the past months it is just too annoying to read any more.  Maybe because I am deaf I may be more sensitive than others for distractions in my peripheral vision. It seems that whenever there is a self-starting video anywhere on the list of news articles on my screen I can’t concentrate on what I am trying to read.  These self-starting videos have become to common on Yahoo News that I looked elsewhere for my morning reads.

I spent an hour or so trying to find if my current browser, or any browser for that matter, had the capability of stopping the annoyance but was unable to come up with anything. Months ago I shut down Adobe Flash as it is reported to be the source for many of the malware that prowls the Internet but it also created these self-starting annoyances. Shutting down Flash stopped the videos to some extent but not it seems they come from somewhere else.  Since there seem to be no viable way to stop this I looked elsewhere.

I am now over to Google News and have yet to come across this problem.  It is nice to be able to concentrate on what I am reading again. Google news provides you with a list of areas that you want to see. That is kind of nice but it may be preventing me from seeing something that I don’t have on the list but need to.

Anyway goodbye Yahoo news and hello every morning to my new friend Google News.

Low Info Voter…


I pulled this picture off of one of the many articles about how Donald Trump is number one in the polls for the GOP candidate.  But Donald Trump is not the topic of this post. Instead it is about a phrase that David Brooks has used a few times on the PBS Newshour. He calls many if not most of the Trump supporters “low information voters”. I thought that was a very descriptive and I imagine an accurate term.

QE BannerJust who  might be described as a Low-Info voter?

I don’t know why but I picked this guy above as be typical of that category. I did a little playing with the photo in order to give him emphasis.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have no idea who this person is but I am choosing to make him the poster child for that category.

Low info voters are:

  • guys (for the most part) that don’t like paying any form of taxes
  • angry at most everything in and about their lives
  • haven’t picked up a book or newspaper in ages
  • listens to Fox News as his primary, and probably only, source of information
  • has a low self-esteem and even lower view of most people
  • is just pissed off at most things in the world

I don’t know, maybe I have it all wrong here but since this is my blog I can say whatever I want.  The trouble with this whole concept is that I am afraid that the legions of low-info voters is growing by leaps and bounds. Politics has become so nasty lately that only the strongest among us, of which I am not one, tries to stay informed about all the candidates.

I’m afraid that the saying that we only have choices between bad and worse in our election process these days is becoming true. No one of a noble mind and heart dares to get into that arena now days. No one seems to have the stomach for it.  If we believe the pundits come next year we will have either another Bush or another Clinton in the White House!  Why can’t we get some who we really think can do the job to even put his/her name on a ballot??

Question everything….

Something For Nothing…

2015-08-12_18-19-20But since Piotrowski describes property taxes as “unethical, unchristian-like” and a form of “financial slavery,” he decided to make a statement.

“Since I’m being forced to pay for something against my own will, I’m paying in pennies,” he told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

SOURCE: This man collected 50,000 pennies to make a statement about paying his property taxes – Yahoo Finance.

QE BannerI don’t know about you but these sort of stories get on my nerves but kind of like a train wreck I just can’t seem to look away. This guy claims paying taxes is “unethical, unchristian-like and a form of financial slavery”. Oh come on…. Paying taxes is a very necessary part of living in a democracy. Who does this guy think builds our bridges, maintains our police and fireman forces, and a myriad of other services we come to expect? Those things don’t come free and I’m sure this guy’s eyes glaze over when someone tries to explain that to him.

Its bad enough that he is ignorant enough to think paying his share of taxes is unethical and financial slavery but he had to add his religious leanings too. Yeah I know there are a lot of conservative, especially evangelical, Christians out there that don’t want to be forced to pay for things like helping the needy, infirm, or mentally challenged. Jesus Christ made it very clear that we are to be our brother’s keeper and since  religious organization do remotely begin to meet that need we should happily support our government do so in our place. But again, I’m sure this guy’s eyes also glaze over when that is explained to him.

I kind of put this guy in the same league of all those millionaires who have off-shore accounts to hide their money so they don’t have to pay their share of taxes. Both are shameful.  Before you say I am painting with too broad a brush here I will say that fortunately this guy does not represent the majority, or even a slight minority of Christians  with this behavior the same as that rich guy doesn’t represent everyone who has more money than they know what to do with… I kind of hope this yahoo got a hernia from lifting his 50,000 pennies :)

My Take On The World

QE BannerFirst off I hope you are enjoying the new and expanded view from RJ’s Corner. Its kind of more a neighborhood now than just a corner but that’s the way it is.  Its fun to be able to put all my posts in one place. Let me know how you like the new format and anything that would make it better. I have been doing some serious maintenance on the site for the last week or so and that is why recent postings have dropped.  I hope to finish that up this weekend and will then start posting on a more regular basis.

2015-08-07_08-41-01There is so much to talk about recently that it is hard to decide what to tackle. The Republicans just had their A-team and B-team debates and of course Donald was the star of the show. I guess it is totally appropriate that Fox News which is the epitome of conservative fringes hosted the debate and I’m sure that many of their loyal viewers, even though it went on beyond their bed times, tuned in.  As for the rest of us… well let’s just say we have other higher quality comedies to spend our time with. It looks more like a three ring circus than anything serious.  I will wait until the “ready for prime time” players have been decided before I even think of watching all those yahoos..

Ok, lets move on to some more serious stuff. Of course the latest is about the Middle East and our dealings with Iran. Was the deal that was worked up with them worth anything? I don’t know but it is better than charging into another trillion dollar war that too many of our young people would die in.  Does anyone really believe that the Iranians will drop a nuclear bomb on Israel? I’m sure even they can see that would be a suicidal thing to do. Yeah, they might be able to make a couple of bombs but just look around the neighborhood and you will find hundreds of them in close by countries.  Drop one and be assured that ten times that many are used on you. Does that make any sense even for the whacko clerics that run that country??

2015-08-02_13-21-01But looking at the bigger picture, I still can’t figure out why we are so fixated on that part of the world? We now have all that shale oil to process so doing without Middle East oil would not be a terribly burdensome thing. ISIS is a threat but what if we just let them have their own theocracy as they want.  As long as they only played with themselves and promised not to bother us, would that be a bad thing?  After all isn’t Israel a Jewish Theocracy and the world hasn’t ended  in the last sixty years because of that one. I got a radical solution to all these constant issues over there, just get out as my hero Will Rogers would say…

I know that Jon Stewart just retired so maybe I am trying in some minute way to fill the void here… :)

Prosperity and Taxes…My Recollections

QE BannerI know all you young folks out there who might accidentally come across my blog know very little about the history of prosperity but most of the older folks have recollections of more prosperous times.  I can remember the 1950s where everything seemed to be going well  for many of us. We couldn’t build enough houses or cars to meet our needs.  Instead of our returning vets coming home to unemployment, jobs were being created at a vigorous rate.

The 1960s was my decade for growth. Even though I was raised in the single parent household and my father was a milkman I managed to get accepted by a great State college and worked my way to a bachelor’s degree paying all the expenses by working in a dormitory cafeteria up to 40 hours a week. It was a struggling time but probably the happiest of my life. I made such good friends during those years before I became deaf.

In the 1970s things started to change. Good middle class jobs for those without a formal education beyond high school were starting to disappear.The Oil Embargo put a hamper on things and inflation was roaring along. Things were starting to change by the end of that decade and then came the 1980s.

The 1980s seemed to be a pivotal decade. It is the time when we elected a very conservative president who believed that government was the main problem in our society. It was a time when the elite among us began to get inordinate influence in our society. It was a time that the social conservative that seemed the dwarf the emphatic among us. It was a time when the rich started getting much richer.  It was also a time when the MBA college degree started taking root. The MBA degree taught that people where no longer to be considered valuable members of a company but instead liabilities that needed to be trimmed as much as possible.  At that point the middle class shrinking came fully into force.

The 1990s, or the Clinton years as I knew them, brought back prosperity at least the a degree and to a limited segment of society. These were my most productive years from a financial standpoint. My retirement funds and 401k’s grew at a rapid pace. The growth of the stock market rivaled that of the 1930s. A new thing called the Internet was taking hold of everyone including corporate America. I took advantage of the trend by re-purposing myself into an IT guy (information technology). I was suddenly in demand for my skills. but toward the end of the decade panic started. Luckily I got pretty much out of the stock market before the crash.

The 2000s were a very pivotal and dramatic decade that saw  the stock bubble burst and then years of a stagnant economy. When Mr. Bush came into the Oval Office the DOW Industrial averages were at 11,000, When he left eight years later it was at 8,000 and due to too much deregulation much of the banks were on the verge of bankruptcy along with a couple of our biggest corporations.

The 2010s finally ushered out the president who started two wars and huge increase in military spending. The new president managed to get us out of these two catastrophic emergencies and as a result in six years the DOW averages went from 8,000 to 18,000.


So, studying the above graphs let’s recap all this. When the super rich were being taxed at up to 90% of their income we had prosperity. Then when that was reduced to about 30% things started falling apart. I think you should get the idea  that giving big tax breaks to the super rich is not a way to get us once again to prosperity.

I am way over my word limit here so I have to stop.

About Our Defense Budgets… An Historic Perspective..

2015-03-25_14-59-11Total U.S. defense spending (in inflation-adjusted dollars) has increased so much over the past decade that it has reached levels not seen since World War II, when the United States had 12 million people under arms and waged wars on three continents. Moreover, the U.S. share of global military expenditures has jumped from about one-third to about one-half in this same period. Some of this growth can be attributed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the baseline or regular defense budget has also increased significantly. It has grown in real terms for an unprecedented 13 straight years, and it is now $100 billion above what the nation spent on average during the Cold War. The fiscal year 2012 budget request of $553 billion is approximately the same level as Ronald Reagan’s FY 1986 budget. As a result of this “gusher” of defense spending—to quote former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—Pentagon leaders have not been forced to make the hard choices between competing programs as they traditionally have. And the ballooning defense budget played a significant role in turning the budget surplus projected a decade ago into a massive deficit that forces the U.S. government to borrow 43 cents of every dollar it spends. As the nation attempts to bring this massive deficit—which chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen calls the greatest threat to our security—under control, leaders from both parties recognize that these unprecedented levels of defense expenditures cannot be maintained. The question currently facing Congress and President Barack Obama—how much to spend on defense in times of large deficits or in the final years of a war—is not new. Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton had to identify reasonable levels of defense expenditures as the United States transitioned from war spending to peacetime budgets, while President Ronald Reagan needed to control defense spending in the face of rising deficits. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush confronted both scenarios at once, like President Obama today.

SOURCE: A Historical Perspective on Defense Budgets | Center for American Progress.

In looking at the chart above it is obvious that two American presidents are primarily responsible for most of our outrageous military spending. I don’t think I have to tell you which ones those are. Sadly, for the most part those increases in spending were matters of choice. Yes, the Iron Curtain was up for one president but it had been up long before he came into office.  Yes, a rag-tag bunch of fanatics managed to kill three thousand of our citizens with some box cutters but in the world scheme of things  more people than that have died daily in the world from lack of food and drinking water. If we had just gone after the rogues instead of invading nations that had nothing to do with the tragedy our military expenses would never have risen to such mammoth levels.

Can we continue to spend such levels in these times of rising deficits? Aren’t the deficits causing us more harm than the enemies we are supposedly facing. Fear just seem to be the primary driver of our nation today. We have long forgotten one of our most meaningful American quotes “All we have to fear is fear itself”. We need to just get over this paranoid fear that has come to grip us so  forcefully…

Clinton-Bush Fatique

2015-03-10_08-45-45Have you ever felt as if a mysterious black cloud of despair was rising from the great depths of the universe? That it was cresting over the horizons of your life, blotting out all sunlight as it closes in and paralyzes you in fear? And maybe you felt that this slow-motion tsunami of dread was a deserved punishment for you personally, and humanity in general. And you realized, as I have, that this unstoppable, groaning wave was a natural outgrowth of your own moral torpor — the listlessness you had demonstrated over and over again, allowing injustices, petty cruelties, and incompetence to extend their reign over everything you loved, until finally it crashed on you, plunging you into a darkness beyond the reach of light, hope, and redemption…. The inevitable Bush-Clinton presidential campaign is gathering itself along the horizon. It will be a boring, substance-less grind that turns on just which candidate’s operation can direct slightly more of the public’s disgust over the worst parts of the last two decades at the other candidate.

SOURCE:  Why a Clinton-Bush presidential race fills me with nothing but despair.

I remember a time, way back thirty years ago before President Reagan when there was not Clinton or Bush on the national scene. But for the last almost twenty years those two families seem to have dominated the news and as a result I have severe Clinton-Bush Fatigue. I am simply totally exhausted with all the vitriol ranting that has taken place in our country since these two families have been battling for the supreme Monarchy of the USA.  About two-hundred and fifty years ago we went to war to rid ourselves of a monarch and as far as I am concerned I don’t want to return to that state.

There is so much baggage surrounding these names that if they are nominated by the parties it will surely be the most dirty mud-slinging presidential election in our history. To me it would come down to which would cause the least harm to our country and right now that is probably a close call. Our country needs to get away from all this hatred surrounding us lately and Bush and Clinton are the source for much of it.  Surely the two parties can at least give us voters an alternative to these two but given that money pretty much controls all of our political processes now who becomes the candidates will probably be a done deal before we have our say.

Sadly because we have made running for public office such a rancid experience I’m not sure that any really qualified candidate can make it anymore or even want to make it for that matter. We are just stuck with the ones we get (sigh)… I hope not…

2015-03-10_08-53-13   2015-03-10_13-12-34

Will Our Gushing Military Spending Ever End?

I know there are many of U.S. citizens who have never known a time when our military spending did not dwarf everything else in our discretionary spending budgets. We just seem to be a nation that wants to be policemen of the world. We want to put our noses into every conflict we can find.  It doesn’t matter that in places like Iraq and Afghanistan they have been having the same battles for hundreds and sometimes thousands of years. We just can’t seem to find a conflict that we think we stay out of or can’t solve with our military might.

Only those of us over the age of forty have ever know a time when our military budgets haven’t dominated everything else. But in reality the vast majority of our over-blown war spending can be attributed to just two presidents, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.  here is a little more about this. Check on the source to see the entire article.


Total U.S. defense spending (in inflation-adjusted dollars) has increased so much over the past decade that it has reached levels not seen since World War II, when the United States had 12 million people under arms and waged wars on three continents. Moreover, the U.S. share of global military expenditures has jumped from about one-third to about one-half in this same period…. The ballooning defense budget played a significant role in turning the budget surplus projected a decade ago into a massive deficit that forces the U.S. government to borrow 43 cents of every dollar it spends. As the nation attempts to bring this massive deficit—which chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen calls the greatest threat to our security—under control, leaders from both parties recognize that these unprecedented levels of defense expenditures cannot be maintained. The question currently facing Congress and President Barack Obama—how much to spend on defense in times of large deficits or in the final years of a war—is not new. Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton had to identify reasonable levels of defense expenditures as the United States transitioned from war spending to peacetime budgets, while President Ronald Reagan needed to control defense spending in the face of rising deficits. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush confronted both scenarios at once, like President Obama today.

SOURCE:  A Historical Perspective on Defense Budgets | Center for American Progress.

Given that historically we can and have reduced our military spending. It just takes a different point of view to make that happen. I don’t think that the GOP’s combination of inert fear of others and the bravado of getting the bad guys will go away anytime soon but historically we can almost count on that eventually happening again.  The big question as to when, is all about when  we as voters finally realize that we fear way too much and we can’t solve thousand-year old tribal battles on the other side of the world with our million dollar plus smart bombs and drones. It is very possible to drastically reduce our military spending with little or no difference to our security. It just takes more voters at the polls who realize that possibility.

It's About Time…


It’s about time we let people take care of the problems in their own backyard.

Federalized Healthcare…

If you pay attention to such things it becomes very apparent that depending on where you live and how much income you have, and when you need it, primary healthcare varies widely across our nation.  The example below is specifically about worker’s compensation but is endemic across the healthcare spectrum.

2015-03-06_10-22-00JUDY WOODRUFF: Howard Berkes, why are so many states moving to cut workers’ comp?

HOWARD BERKES: Well, there are a couple of things that have occurred.

One is, medical costs have increased so dramatically over the years. But the other thing is, we have had a couple of recessions in the last 15 years, and states are competing with each other fiercely for business, and one of the things that businesses complain about all the time is the cost of workers’ compensation insurance premiums….

 As businesses complain about these costs, they go to lawmakers in state — in state capitals around the country and say, this is one thing you can do to help us compete with the next state. And, of course, each state is dropping costs, is lowering costs, so there’s this competition to be lower than the next state….

And this [differences between States] is really apparent when you talk about catastrophic injuries like arm amputations. So we looked at — we visited with two workers, for example, both living near the Alabama-Georgia border. On the Alabama side of the border, the worker who lost his arm in an industrial accident looked like he would get maybe about $48,000 maximum in his lifetime as compensation for his injury in weekly payments and in compensation for the loss of his arm.

But just across the border in Georgia, the worker there who had a nearly identical injury and an arm amputation, nearly identical age at the time of his injury, he will get somewhere in the neighborhood of $700,000 more over the course of his lifetime.

SOURCE:  Why workers’ comp isn’t working for many who need it.

A big part of this overall healthcare problem is due to economic fluctuations over time.  Because most State must balance their budgets it becomes necessary to reduce spending during recessions and given the current environment they seldom get raised back to adequate levels during the years of prosperity.  If people just got healthier during recessions than they are during prosperous years it wouldn’t make any difference but that simply is not the case. So, things like Medicaid, worker’s comp and such get reduced because of budget restraints.  Of course the same thing applies for education. The first thing that often gets cut are education budgets and that is utter stupidity, but that is another story.

The obvious solution that most of the rest of the world has already learned is to federalize healthcare. If the federal government needs more income to meet the people’s needs during hard times they can simply print more money.  No, that isn’t a long-term solution but it is an effective stop-gap in order to provide a consistent level of healthcare to all our citizens and at reduced levels of expenditure. The rest of the industrialized world spends about 8% of GDP for healthcare while the U.S. spends 18% and they have higher satisfaction level to boot. Some day we will get over our extreme stubbornness in this area and federalize our healthcare like everyone else has already done.

And It Begins…A China Power Play….


In quick succession, the U.K., France, Italy, and Germany all agreed to become founding shareholders of the AIIB, a sign that they are eager to cozy up to Beijing and its $4 trillion in foreign reserves. Once upon a time, “the world was said to bow down before the mighty dollar. These days, even many of America’s closest allies have renminbi signs in their eyes.” This is an impressive “soft-power victory for China,” said the editors at Bloomberg View, and “Washington largely has itself to blame.” The U.S. has long called on China to take more of a role in international financial institutions, “without making room for it to do so.” Congress has repeatedly “blocked efforts to dilute U.S. dominance of the World Bank” or give China more influence at the IMF, where Beijing’s voting share is just 4 percent versus Washington’s 17 percent. Republicans have also shot down President Obama’s attempts to increase U.S. funding for the World Bank and IMF, said Charles Kenny at Bloomberg, leaving those institutions “undersize compared with the demands they face.” But if the Obama administration can’t persuade the GOP to put up the cash needed to underwrite development projects that will save lives and foster global growth, “it should at the very least get out of the way of other countries willing and able to lead.”

SOURCE:  China’s latest power play comes at the expense of America.

Everyone needs to learn that actions have consequences, even countries and that is what is beginning to happen to the U.S. For all of this millennium we have increasingly turned over our industrial production to China because of their lower labor costs. Too many people just focused on getting things a little cheaper and failed to look at the bigger picture.  Now, the consequences of these actions are starting to manifest themselves.

Of course we know that those actions have resulted in a severe reduction in the middle class of America. Due to constantly lower wages being earned by so many American families we have come to depend on getting our “stuff” cheaper. The second consequence is that China now has trillions of our dollars in their banks and that is resulting in them taking over the financial matters of the world. We have always been a debtor nation but never so much to just one country. Our past actions this millennium have consequences and I’m not really sure that is a bad thing.

Yes, it is fearful to see a country that is driven by a very different mentality gaining more power. Lets face it, communism is a very scary matter to capitalist nations. But if this current consequence results in our country to step back and look at what is going on with us lately maybe good will come from it. We need to realize that our very dysfunctional government is doing us grievous harm. We are ignoring things that need to be fixed because we refuse to get along together. We spend soooo much more on our military than anyone else in the world and that is draining our economy and making enemies throughout the world. We will learn that one country with less than 5% of the world’s population and, and really shouldn’t, be the policemen of the world. It is time to share that responsibility.

Maybe good things will come from us no longer being “The” political and economic power in the world….

A little humility is a good thing….

Walking The Plank…



I dread to think about how our totally politicized Supreme Court is going to rule on the latest attack on affordable healthcare for almost ten million of us.  Will they essentially make those folks walk the plank as Steve Sack shows in this editorial cartoon. It is widely known that most of the yahoos on the court vote primarily on their political alignment. The law and original intent just doesn’t seem to mean much to them.


Military SpendingI also see where the Republicans have recently come out with their budget proposals for the coming year. Take a look at that very little orange slice of the current budget pie to the right. That shows our current food stamp allocations. It seems that tiny slice is where they want to do the severest cuts. Part of their budget is to increase the dark blue area even more! They don’t think it is big enough yet.  Please tell me how anyone can actually believe that they are serious about their budget proposal when they take the elephant in the room off the table for cuts???

Why does it seem that we are living in an upside-down world right now???


Paul or Plato??

This is going to be one of those very philosophical posts so fasten your seatbelt.

It is this idea of a fundamentally sinful humanity that inspires the harsh, punitive sentences of our criminal justice system — including capital punishment. It also provokes visions of merciless suffering in hell after death. We deserve severe punishment because we are free agents who knowingly choose to do what we ourselves know to be wrong. On the far side of a chasm stands a very different idea of humanity — one elaborated by Socrates and other characters in several Platonic dialogues. It holds that virtue is knowledge and vice is ignorance. Plato’s dialogues may have presented the fullest and most radical exploration of this view, but versions of it animated various strands of Enlightenment thought, and to this day it continues to influence the way many liberals and progressives approach questions of criminal justice and related areas of public policy.  When someone commits a crime, do your instincts tell you to blame the perpetrator’s upbringing, background, education? Do you think that the best form of punishment would involve rehabilitation? Then you are, at bottom, a Platonist who rejects the idea of sinful depravity. On the other hand, do you tend to blame the perpetrator’s actions on a malicious will and presume that, however worthwhile an education might be, it will never eliminate the possibility of evil, because evil is chosen despite knowing what is good and right? And do you therefore think that the best form of punishment is one that imposes suffering for the sake of retribution and deterrence, hopefully to help scare this and other potential criminals away from making similarly bad choices? Then you are, at bottom, a Pauline believer in the reality of sin. This either/or way of presenting the two views is overly simplistic. Plato was well aware that teaching virtue can be a challenge (and may often be impossible), just as believers in sin typically think that moral education is extremely important in shaping and strengthening a person’s conscience.  Still, the distinction is real and important — and its implications touch on areas of our cultural life far beyond criminal justice. It helps to explain, for example, the very different ways that Platonic liberals and Pauline conservatives approach sex — with the former willing to trust in the power of rational sex education to help shape behavior, and the latter much more concerned about their children succumbing to sinful temptation no matter how many rational arguments they’re exposed to.  What’s clear is that, if you’re interested in exploring our cultural conflicts at the highest levels, you could do worse than pondering Plato and Paul.

SOURCE:  The real fault line in the culture war isn’t race or sex. It’s sin..

The quote in red is just what I am going to attempt to do in tomorrow’s post.

Containers They Carry Their Brains Around In…



I must admit that I love Shonda Rhimes and her creative mind! Grey’s Anatomy is probably my all-time favorite show and since I have been around quite a while that is a lot of shows. She shows us the challenges of life that many of us have never faced.  I captured the quote above from a recent CNN broadcast talking about the Oscars. I have not watched that awards ceremony in many years but I do get glimpses of it and the meat parade that goes on as the actors enter the theatre are still very prevalent. It seems that those guys in Hollywood love to give each other awards but that is another story.

Being a man I guess, I don’t really understand the mentality of so many women who want to hobble around on seven-inch stilts and scanty dresses in order to get attention. To me, and I know I am probably unusual in this regard, a woman’s attractiveness is inversely proportional to the height of their heels and the amount of paint covering her face.  It just seems that women are not taken as seriously as men in almost any realm and they probably will never be until they recognize that they need to emphasize their brains and get away from so much fixation on the container that holds it.

Women are generally the caregivers in the family and maybe as an evolutionary result have an in-grained empathy that so many men lack.  Being the caregiver they are more often the voice of reason and sensibility in difficult times than  those testosterone driven men who control too many things right now.  If more women were in leadership roles I am convinced that their would be fewer wars in our nation’s history. More women need to step up to being leaders instead of containers. When that happens America will be a much better place.

A Sad Day For The Possibility of Peace In The Middle East…



The Palestinian problem is the primary driver for so much of what happens in the Middle East. To see a solution taken off the table by Israel is tragic for all the world.  Give peace a chance…..

The American Creed..

I started thinking about this post after I saw a PBS Special about Gunner Myrdal entitled “American Denial”. Myrdal was a famous Swedish sociologist that in the 1940s was asked by the Carnegie Foundation to study the “negro problem” in the U.S. He had a long and deep admiration of the United States and particularly the American creeds of equal chance, equal opportunity and equal justice.  He spent several years investigating before he published his foundational report.  Here is a little from Wiki about the man and his work:

2015-03-01_16-30-48Myrdal believed he saw a vicious cycle in which whites oppressed negroes, and then pointed to negroes’ poor performance as reason for the oppression. The way out of this cycle, he argued, was to either cure whites of the prejudice he believed existed, or to improve the circumstances of negroes, which would then disprove whites’ preconceived notions. Myrdal called this process the “principle of cumulation.”

According to Myrdal, the American dilemma of his time (1944) referred to the co-existence of the American liberal ideals and the miserable situation of blacks. On the one hand, enshrined in the American creed is the belief that people are created equal and have human rights; on the other hand, blacks, as one tenth of the population, were treated as an inferior race and were denied numerous civil and political rights.

Myrdal’s encyclopedic study covers every aspect of black-white relations in the United States up to his time. He frankly concluded that the “Negro problem” is a “white man’s problem.” That is, whites as a collective were responsible for the disadvantageous situation in which blacks were trapped…

At the center of Myrdal’s work in An American Dilemma was his postulate that political and social interaction in the United States is shaped by an “American Creed.” This creed emphasizes the ideals of liberty, equality, justice, and fair treatment of all people. Myrdal claims that it is the “American Creed” that keeps the diverse melting pot of the United States together. It is the common belief in this creed that enables all people—whites, negroes, rich, poor, male, female, and immigrants alike—with a common cause and allows for them to co-exist as one nation.

SOURCE: An American Dilemma – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Myrdal, like Alex De Tocqueville a hundred years before,  was a person looking from the outside into the American psyche. He was a person who asked questions that other people weren’t asking. In the 1940 when he spent quite a bit of time in the South he was utterly dejected by what he found to the point of a deep depression.  When he saw the extreme racism of Jim Crow he could not reconcile that and the American Creed that he loved so much.  He concluded that the reconciliation could only be accomplished by the habit of denial. We simply deny that there is a problem. We ignore it.

Is that, even to a small degree, what we do today? It is finally becoming more and more obvious that equal justice just doesn’t exist in our current system. When 10% of the population account for almost half those incarcerated something needs to be looked at. I hope we eventually recognize that fact. Is the “Negro problem”, and  “poor problem” and the “Homeless problem” actually a “white man’s problem” once again.  I am not necessarily saying that it is but we need to recognize that it is a possibility or at least a major contributor.

What The World Needs Now Is a Lot Less Spite….

What the world needs now is love, sweet love

It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of

What the world needs now is love, sweet love

No, not just for some but for everyone

I love the song lyrics above. They give me hope that someday, probably in the very distant future the world will turn to love but we got a long ways to go before that can even remotely become reality. In the interim I am just praying that the world has a little less spite tomorrow than it does today. Spite is such a destructive thing to humanity. It is hateful rhetoric that we need a lot less of.

I want to make sure that we are on the same page so I will give you an official definition of that word here:

spite         noun

feeling a need to see others suffer ⤻
syn: malice, maliciousness, spitefulness, venom
malevolence by virtue of being malicious orspiteful or nasty ⤻
syn: cattiness, bitchiness, spitefulness, nastiness
verb 1

hurt the feelings of ⤻
syn: hurt, wound, injure, bruise, offend

The Face of SpiteThe picture here is from a display panel at the Brown vs Board of Education historic site. The look on the young girls face behind the African-American entering a once segregated school is the ultimate spite in my mind. There is nothing in the world productive about spite. It only has a totally malicious, often hateful, purpose.

I ran across an invisible face of spite recently when I accepted a friend request from someone I remotely knew from my high school days. When his Facebook postings came up the next day he was passing on a cartoon with the final frame calling President Obama a “shit head”.  When I commented that I wonder if calling the first dark-skinned president a shit head was intentional or just Freudian. He said he just thought it was funny and did not hate the president.

But this brought out one of his other “friends” screaming spite in a diatribe about how the president was evil and the worst person in the history of the world. I enjoy debating people who have different political or philosophical outlooks on life but I have learned from experience that is not possible to do that with people who scream so loud. They are not about to hear anything but their own rants or maybe reinforcement of their prejudices.  Sadly I am discovering too many of my previous high school classmates in this mode. I wonder what happened to them in the intervening years to cause such anger toward anyone? I wonder if that young girl in the picture who is now in her 60s or 70s ever mellowed out? I pray that she did…

What the world needs now is a lot less spite, then maybe we can move on to a little love….

It's All A Game….

2015-03-02_20-40-42I have been blogging for about eight months now over at InSearchOfAmerica. It is quite different from this one in that it is dedicated to looking at all the great things about this country that I have discovered throughout my many years. Over there I talk about what is right about America. I continue to be amazed by how great this country is in so many ways. I am now in the process of putting in somewhat detailed travelogues documenting my many trips around this great country. It is fun posting there even if my visit count is only 10% of here.

I love America and wouldn’t have wanted to be born anywhere else.  I love America but it is not perfect and that is more or less a major theme for RJsCorner. It is about trying to get a better understanding of things we do and don’t do. I know I often get somewhat critical of America when it comes to not doing things we should be doing and not learning lessons from the rest of the world where they get it right.  I have been in a hyper-reflection mode in these thoughts for most of the current year.

I have come to the conclusion lately that one of our major problems in why we can progress in some areas is that life has just become too much of a game for us. It is about winning and as Vince Lombardi said we rationalize that is the only thing that matters.  I am afraid that we are throwing the moral high ground of our founding fathers out the window in favor of winning at all costs. It’s all a game to many of us and that mentality has throughly soaked into way too many of us in the country.

If you believe in any of the hype put out by all the lawyer/police shows that permeate our airways, lawyers don’t really care that much about “justice for all”. It is about winning and that means beating the other side at all costs. So those who chose to be Republican fixate on beating those who chose to be Democrats. We rationalize that since we are the good guys they must be the bad guys. Common good is not much of a player when it comes to lawyers it seems and since the majority of our government representatives are lawyers that has polluted the entire system.  It’s all about the game…

When a leader of the opposition party does something we must do everything to defeat that idea no matter what it is or who it affects. It’s all about the game.  We as a society are just to fixated on us vs. them and the word “compromise” has as a result become a dirty word to be avoided at all costs. No one likes ties. Everything is black/white, win/lose, good guy/bad guy; there is no middle ground. It’s all “about the game…

Is it even possible to reverse this trend in order to accomplish some levels of forward progress? I simply don’t know the answer to that question right now. Maybe just recognizing the problem is, well, half the problem. There is just too much spite and hate going through the country right now. It seems to have almost snuffed out any common bonds we might have had in the past.  It greatly saddens me to see this happening. It’s all a game to too many of us. Win at all costs; beat the other guy. NO COMPROMISE!!  It’s all a game.  When will we ever come to realize that fact?

Hurry, Hurry Repeal It….


Those GOP yahoos have tried 50+ times to repeal it. I kinda of think it is just too late for that.  They will have to put it along side Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid as one of the”socialist” things to eliminate in the future. That is if they ever have a friend in the White House again.



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