RJ's Corner

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 Spouting Off… Being Loud But Not Being Obnoxious

One of the things I missed the most about my hiatus from RJ’s Corner is spouting off. It does the heart good to question everything and sometimes put forth a thought or two.  I plan on doing that rather frequently in the future here  on the new/improved blog so get used to it! :)

QE BannerI hear all the latest rumbling (as in ready to explode in a bout of diarrhea) about how the peace accord worked out with Iran is so worthless.  Some seem to think that our only solution to conflicts around the world is war. “Blow the bad guys away” is their mantra. Of course the loudest of these critics are the Republican presidential contenders and those in Congress.  I got an idea to turn that around.

MyScans167How about we send all the kids and grandkids of those folks off as the first line in the battle. Let’s make them put their loved ones lives on the line. I bet if that were a requirement the opposition to trying peace this time would quickly die out.  There is nothing like “skin in the game” to change people’s attitudes.

2015-02-08_08-42-25In the same light there are all those senior citizens out there that are so opposed to allowing  our citizens to obtain reasonably cost healthcare. How about taking all those folks off Medicare and let them fend for themselves in the cutthroat business pre-ADA.  I bring this idea up frequently when I get into it with them and have yet to have any of them accept my proposition.

I’m Back……..

Walking The Plank…

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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???

 

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

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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…..

Doing Something About It….

2015-01-15_11-41-11Why is one bandwidth-hungry town building its own 1Gbps fiber network for its citizens when AT&T already offers them 6Mbps DSL? That’s the question AT&T would like to ask city leaders in Chanute, Kansas, a small town of roughly 9,000 people that is petitioning the state to allow it to offer greater access to the high-speed fiber network that it built to support town utility operations.

SOURCE:  AT&T wants to know why a town is building a 1Gbps network when it already offers 6Mbps DSL.

Starting this post I will admit that I spent a very large chunk of my time in the corporate world with AT&T. They currently provide me with a pension that helps enable me to live happy, wild, and free in my retirement years. I certainly am thankful to them for that. But that doesn’t mean I can’t criticize them where criticism is necessary.

AT&T, like most monolith corporations, is mainly about picking the lower hanging fruit to maximize their profits. If there ever was, and I think there was, a time when what is good for the public was any significant part of the decision making it has long passed. When AT&T was a regulated monopoly they lived the concept of “universal service” which meant that everyone has a right to the same quality of telecommunication service. So, even though it was not as profitable AT&T was obligated to provide service to smaller communities.  Of course when deregulation occurred during the Reagan years universal service fell by the wayside.

Getting back to the point here AT&T is introducing 1 Gps fiberoptic service in their most lucrative markets while at the same time doing very little to help other areas where improving the infrastructure might bite into profits.  This is probably the case for the particular quote above.

6 Mpbs was a few years ago considered a blazing speed but not so much today. Streaming video and other such services coming on line demand more and more speed and bandwidth. Without some government regulations we are quickly approaching a have/have not condition for access to information in the country.

I personally am stuck with a 1 – 2.5 Mpbs line that comes and goes several times on a daily basis. That means they are currently introducting speeds one-thousand time faster than they provide me. That is because I am near the limit on the distance from the AT&T central office for their copper wire network. Everyone north of me and in the rest of the county in general is limited to a 0.056 Mpbs speed and that is now unusable for almost any kind of internet action.

So, when I read the article above I thought “good for you Chanute, Kansas”. If the FCC won’t require AT&T and others like them to provide workable Internet connects then they should be able to bypass the current infrastructure and build their own. That idea doesn’t help me, or my neighbors to the north, much as we are the third poorest county in Indiana and barely have the money to patch any potholes let along string some fiberoptic lines in our area. Sadly this is just another case of the “have vs the have-not” which is quickly becoming the norm in the American Aristocracy…

Houses passes bill easing rules regulating Wall Street

Republican proponents insisted the new legislation would reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses and spur creation of new jobs.

SOURCE:  Houses passes bill easing rules regulating Wall Street – Yahoo News.

RegulationsI think every one of those GOPers in this new congress need to have the words above tattooed on their foreheads. Ok more realistically written on a Post-It note and stuck on the foreheads. I’m sure that mantra is going to be their reason for every bill they pass in the coming two years as it has been for the last couple of decades. But as usual there is a big difference between rationalization and reality.

It’s funny that when they are in power Wall Street almost always does worse than when the Dems are there. When Mr. Bush came into office the stock market was at 11,000 when he left eight years later it was at 8,000 mainly due to GOP decisions made while he was in office. Then came Mr. Obama and the stock market went from 8,000 to almost double that in six years. I don’t know when the 1%ers who control more wealth than the rest of us combined are going to realize that the GOP are just not that good for them.

The “Regulatory burdens” that this new GOP majority want to eliminate are what was put in place to reign in the worst capitalistic greed. It doesn’t seem to concern these yahoos that the lack of regulatory burdens is what caused the near complete collapse of our entire economy just six short years ago.  To me, and I hope many of you, regulatory burdens are the necessary rules for living in a people centered democracy but yes I do realize that we have become much less people centered in this new century. I pray that we can turn that around.

Eliminating taxes and therefore government is the goal of much of Republican’s action. They seem to do a good job of listening to their rich donors but not so much in listening to those who elected them.  I know I have spent a lot of words here hitting on the GOP majority now in congress but that doesn’t mean that I think the other party did much better. All those yahoos need to learn some basic lessons about representing us. A democracy is about all the people not just about those who finance the political campaigns. They are there to do the people’s business not to blindly follow whatever their leadership or even more so the monied interests tells them to do. It is a shame that one of the first things they wanted to do as the new majority was to give more power to those who almost put us down. But maybe even more shameful was the second thing and that was to start whittling down Social Security. Shame on all of them for that mentality… and shame on us for not taking them to task for not doing the people’s business….

How we went to the Dark Side…

2014-12-13_09-44-02This is terrorism’s sick genius. Terrorists invite us — seduce us — to share their Manichaean worldview, to respond to savagery with savagery, to join them in madness. “Make us safe!” Americans demanded. And so our elected leaders launched two wars, saw WMD where there were none, launched surveillance programs with virtually no limits, and embraced “enhanced interrogation.” As justification, the White House and the CIA joined Machiavelli, Marx, and Stalin in insisting that the end justifies the means. Lots of individuals bear responsibility for the horrors detailed in the Senate committee’s torture report. But if we are honest, that journey to the Dark Side was a collective failure — and sobering evidence of how fragile our principles really are.

SOURCE: How we went to the Dark Side – The Week.

These are very powerful words from William Falk over at The Week. Powerful words that I adamantly agree with!  Being a Star Wars fan I thoroughly appreciate the title of the article. It  seems as a country we have gone the route of Darth Vader instead of Luke Skywalker and our abject fear is the primary motivator. A fear that seems to drive so much in current-day America. A fear that is driving us away from long-held principles of morality.

Our obsession with fear is exactly what the terrorists want. They can spend a few bucks and maybe a martyr or two to force us to spend billions in order to keep an event from happening again. Our fear illogically causes us do things we know in our hearts is not what America is, or at least was.

The very idea of Guantanamo Bay Detention facility is against so many principles of our American system and yet it has survived two presidents and more than a decade of legislative bodies.  The logic goes that the people held there are terrorists and not American citizens so that is OK and since Guantanamo is not really American soil so we don’t have to live by our principles there.  But that does little to ameliorate the fact that we are ignoring our basic moral standards in the process. Our abject fear allow us to keep prisoners there without any charges or proof.  We simply fear them and that is enough. It has been found that many of the people have been held there  for over ten years were innocent of any of the accusations against them. Yeah some of them are bad guys but does that justify our imprisoning others who are not?

I realize that these events since 9/11 are not the first time we have allowed our fears to obliterate our principles but the magnitude of the reaction I believe is at the head of the class.  Those who study recent history ( I realize that “recent” is a relative term) know that we imprisoned  over 100,000 of our citizens simply because of the color or their skin and the slant of their eyes. They looked like the enemy and so they were to be feared. Japanese Americans suffered because of that fear.  And this was not the first time we let our fear overcome our principles.

This is not the first time we have moved to the dark side but it is probably our darkest episode. I just pray at eventually we will move back into the benevolent “force” that until recently has guided us so well…

Beam Me Up Scottie….

2014-11-26_09-08-20Ferguson has been dominating the news lately. Especially after the grand jury decisions. This post is not going to be about that except to say that needlessly taking another life is as tragic as all those lives lost previous to that young man. I thoroughly support a police officers right to defend himself and that is what the grand jury decided.  The way to defend himself is the matter of this post.

The point is that there should be a logical alternative to using lethal force against someone who you feel threatened by. That is especially true for our police officers who keep us safe. Reaching for a lethal weapon should be the last alternative, not the first one.

It seems that since the first episode of Star Trek was shown more than forty years ago we have come pretty far toward actually implementing many of the technological advances dreamed up in the series.  No, we haven’t got a teleporter yet, that’s the one I am waiting for, but we have accomplished much in other technological advances. One thing that is totally doable today but is being held back by an obsession is the phaser. You know the one that Kirk almost always said to set on stun.

Since we seem to have appointed ourselves as the policemen of the world we should be inventing new technology toward doing that job right. Why do we need to kill someone who may be threatening physical abuse on us? Whey is it necessary to take a life in order to preserve our own? I kind of think the total reason for it comes from our obsession with guns. If we found killing another person was as tragic as surely God does we would leave our weapons on stun and only use the kill setting for imminent death situations.

No police officer, or anyone else for that matter should have to decide within a split second to take another life when there are logical alternatives available. If we were able to disable someone attacking us without extinguishing another living soul I”m sure most of us would take that option. A taser is a good starting point but is just not that accurate and must be used close up. How about a laser guided wireless taser? We can laser guide our bombs so why not a temporary disabling beam?  I know the NRA would fight it as taking away our constitutional right to a “real” gun but isn’t it about time we told them where to stuff all their opinions. We have needlessly killed enough young men, especially it seems those of color….

Beam me up Scottie, or at least put our weapons on stun…..

 

You Are Accountable For Your Actions… Or Maybe Not

I would like to believe that we are all accountable for our actions. We should all learn that actions have consequences. It is something every father should teach every son and every mother teach every daughter. But there are also things in life that tell us otherwise.

Some of us Christians have the idea that since we are just miserable sinners God does not hold us accountable for their actions. We therefore believe that God doesn’t really mind whether we do what he says because he knows we are so weak and pitiful and therefore expects nothing from us, including accountability.

Some of us say our actions are a result of their genes. Our ancestors were less than honorable so we are too. 

Some of us say we are the way we are because our parents mistreated us or did not teach us how to live a fruitful and accountable life.  They gave us bad examples of how to be.

To ALL those ideas I say poppycock!!

God did not put us on this earth to be “poor miserable people”. She put us here to love Her and to love each other and that certainly includes being accountable for our actions. I have come to believe that the primary purpose of Jesus coming to earth was to teach us how to live our lives in a Godly manner. Yes, I admit that we don’t do a very good job of that and haven’t since our creation but that is not because God wants it that way. Jesus Christ came to earth to clearly tell us that and to show us a better way. It is sad to me to see so many Christians who discount that fact in favor of saying we are not accountable for our actions or maybe more appropriately inaction.

Sure we all have different life experiences that affect our current situations. For me it was an extreme narcissist mother who thought primarily of herself. Little including her own children mattered as much to her as her own personal circumstances. Even though my exposure to her was somewhat  limited due to her abandoning me at the age of nine, it had a definite affect on me and that was to go to the other end of the spectrum with my self image. So our parents might have not given us much to go on things about life but it is nothing that can’t be overcome within ourselves.

We are all accountable for our actions, or at least we should be…..

 

Its Time For The People, Not State Governments, To Elect The President..

Almost all of these states give their electoral votes based on a winner-take-all system. A candidate receiving 50.1% of the vote in New York, for instance, will garner the state’s 29 votes. Collect 270 total votes, and the presidency is assured. As the National Review’s Jim Geraghty explains, however, there is no constitutional requirement that states allot their electoral votes this way, however. They could do it based on a simple vote in the statehouse. They could even, legally, decide to apportion them based on a coin flip, or whichever candidate is taller. Both Maine and Nebraska, for instance, divvy their votes based on the winner of individual congressional districts. SOURCE: BBC News – A rule change that could lock Republican 2016 victory.

I love the look from a different angle that my British friends give me over at “The Week” website. Given the extremes that the GOP seems will do to maintain control of U.S. politics I can clearly see more red States going the way of Maine and Nebraska in making their own rules in how to cast votes in presidential elections. That seems to be the logical next shoe to drop. But I have a radical view that would thwart that plan.

Lets allow the people to elect a president. Let every vote count! I know that is a radical idea but I think its time has come. :)  The electoral college served a purpose during early U.S. history when information took days or even weeks to pass through the country. It made sense for each State to send people to report their State’s votes.  Flip forward to today and this concept has no validity whatsoever!

Let the people’s voice elect the president as it does for all other Federal and State offices. Quit this electoral college stupidity. I hear there are laws still on the books in various State that deal with the times that a horse driven vehicle approaches a motor driven one. I know the one in Indiana that was finally nullified a few years ago said that the motorized vehicle had to leave the road until the horse passed. Its time to get rid of this archaic election rules and let the people elect the president.

I have lived in Indiana most of my life and have voted in each presidential election since 1968. But my vote has only counted during two of them. My first vote was for Richard Nixon. I was a naive Republican in those days, The second time was  in 2008 when most people in Indiana were, like me almost overwhelmed by the rhetoric of Barak Obama. All the other times my vote was thrown out. It is time to allow people, not State governments, to decide who will be their president.

Why America needs more billionaires

America needs more Mark Zuckerbergs, not fewer. How to create them? There is no magic formula, but Henrekson and Sanandaji find the rate of billionaire entrepreneurs correlates positively with nations that have lower taxes, more venture capital investment, and less regulation. High capital gains taxes seem particularly harmful. Worrying about those things would be a good start for Washington. While inequality hasn’t made it harder to get on the success ladder, it does make it more costly to stay stuck at the bottom. A more entrepreneurial U.S. economy generating more high-paying jobs will ensure more people are making that climb to the top rungs. SOURCE:  Why America needs more billionaires – The Week.

I certainly agree with the title of this article. America needs more billionaires but it is how they accumulate those billions that matter and especially what they do with them later. Those who invent the “better mousetrap” create jobs and wealth beyond themselves are of great value to our country. Let’s look at a century ago when Henry Ford invented the assembly line. He made billions in today’s dollars but he also gave his workers wages much greater than the current standards. Everyone benefited from his new methods. Yeah, I admit that assembly line work is stifling but it was about the only good paying jobs available during those times.

Today there are thousands of Henry Fords around who have made the latest things. Guys like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs are to be celebrated for their entrepreneurial lives. But for every Jobs there are probably dozens who are getting richer by paying slave wages to their workers. In other words they are getting rich on the backs of those they employ. I believe that this condition is as bad or maybe even worse than it was a century ago before a stubborn progressive Republican president took on the robber barons of his time.

Who will take on today’s robber barons? Walmart is an essential part of many small communities including mine. I make frequent trips there every week as they are about the only place to shop now. They are widely known to pay minimum wage for most of their workers while their corporate profits continue to rise and their owners who for the most part inherited their stocks get vulgarly wealthy.

It used to be that corporations were based on a three-legged stool. The three legs were  customers, owners, employees. As long as these three entities were balanced a corporation was considered healthy. But now days the employee leg has been cut off almost up to the seat level. The stability of the stool is no longer viable.

America needs more billionaires that’s for sure….

Imagine: The Democratic States of America

2014-10-29_08-29-05Without the South, the country could very well be renamed the Democratic States of America. Secession would have numerous policy implications. The deficit would likely shrink, since despite the South’s fondness for anti-government rhetoric and ideology, the region benefits substantially more from federal programs than it pays into the federal treasury. Serious gun control legislation might actually make it through Congress. ObamaCare would probably work better (the South has led the way in refusing to expand Medicaid), but it might also be possible to pass the kind of sweeping reform of the health-care system (single payer) that proved impossible for Obama. In sum, the U.S. without the South would look an awful lot more like Canada and Europe than it currently does — while the newly independent Confederate States of America would likely look like, well, nowhere else in the civilized world. Rates of poverty, already among the highest in the nation, would probably leap higher still. Guns would be ubiquitous. Without a meddlesome Supreme Court to uphold reproductive rights, women in the New Confederacy might find it impossible to obtain abortions. Something similar would probably hold for gay rights (not just with regard to marriage, but even including sexual activity itself) and, of course, for African American voting rights. (Ten out of 11 states in the South have passed voting restrictions in the past four years. Imagine what would happen without what remains of the Voting Rights Act and the oversight of federal courts?) So what do you say? Is it finally time for us Northerners to encourage the South to go its own way? SOURCE:Imagine: The Democratic States of America – The Week.

I too have often wondered what the U.S. would look like if the southern States were to actually do what they often threaten to do and that is to secede from the U.S. The above words are an interesting take on that possibility. Yeah Obamacare would most likely work better as indicated by the map above. The vast majority of people without  health coverage are from those infamous States. The description above almost sound like utopia to me. So many of our current problems would disappear if you believe what the author says.

I must admit that I too have an ingrown prejudice against the South. I still blame them for our bloodiest war in history. I still blame them for their adamant opposition to civil rights of all our citizens. They just seem to be on the wrong end of history’s lessons so often.

The Democratic State of America sounds good to me but when you look at the maps my State of Indiana is more like the southern States then those above the Mason-Dixon line.  The Republican have a veto proof majority in our State government so they have pushed through some pretty radical legislation of late. And of course Indiana was a hotbed for the KKK about a century ago.  Would Indiana become the “new South” if the South jumps out of the union?

Silliness I guess but this kind of thinking keeps the brain cells active…. :)

A Bad Idea.. At Least For Now…

2014-10-11_08-51-14Americans have a thing for starting over. We love the idea of breaking from the past, beginning from scratch, getting a new life, setting out on a fresh path. No wonder, then, that some of us seem to be taken with the idea of solving our political problems by calling a constitutional convention to craft a new founding document — one that is less… well, it sort of depends on what you find intolerable about the present system. Conservatives spend their days dreaming of a balanced budget amendment, term limits for Supreme Court justices, and special protections for the free enterprise system. Libertarians worry about ever-expanding executive power. Liberals agonize over the influence of wealthy special interests on all branches of government. Centrists fret about generalized governmental dysfunction and the danger that it will lead to the kind of breakdown that we’ve seen in presidential democracies throughout the developing world. I have sympathy for a number of these complaints, especially the ones highlighted by the liberals and centrists. But that doesn’t mean calling a constitutional convention is a good idea. On the contrary, it’s an atrocious idea — and one that would be likely to make our very real problems far worse. SOURCE:  The myopic folly of demanding a new constitutional convention – The Week.

I thoroughly agree with the folks over at “The Week” that a constitutional convention in the U.S. is a bad idea right now. With all the partisan groups running around the country with their heated rhetoric and not listening to anything anyone else says this is especially a bad time to be fiddling with our foundation documents.  I’m not sure that there is really ever a good time to do it but for now it is best to stay away from the foundations.

But it would be nice to get some people in charge who don’t have a battleship full of baggage! All those guys in Washington seem to have a personal agenda of one sort or another that often trumps the people’s will. All this “right to bear arms” stuff is totally illogical if we take all the words of that amendment seriously. The amendment was to protect militias not guns.  All the gay marriage antagonizers must come to realize that the government is not in the religion business. They simply create legal documents that bind us together. If you want to tag homosexual unions as immoral that is fine but that is not the government’s business.

Until we can manage to at least get along with each other at some of the most basic levels we need to step back from anything that has any long-term consequences. I’m not personally sure that we will ever come to any level of agreement about anything now but at least we can hold out some hope that our children or grandchildren will be able to manage that feat. As long as we don’t pollute their thinking too much maybe they will see a common cause when they take the reigns of power. I don’t know but at least I am hoping that to be the case.

But what do I know….

Don't Wonder Why….

Don’t wonder why some people go crazy, wonder why all of us don’t.

Ok, that is my observation for today. Yeah, some people go over the edge when life overloads them but don’t we all get overloaded one time or another. I know I do. I see things that just don’t make any sense no matter how you look at them:

Violence – The amount of violence in our society simply astounds me! I know Americans are on the whole more aggressive than most other countries but we seem to be unique in expressing that aggression in violent ways. American football is an obsession for many and it is by far the most violent sanctioned sport on this plant. The most popular video games feature someone with a weapon killing the “bad” guys”

Guns – We have a love of guns and weapons of destruction far above almost everyone else in the world. I think we have more guns that people. The primary purpose for guns is to kill something or someone.

War – I don’t think I can even recall all the wars we have been involved with in my lifetime. It seems if we don’t have someone to go to war with we go out and generate some.  We spend more on our military than all the rest of the world combined. How insane is that!!

Narcissism – Narcissism is spending your life concentrating almost totally on yourself. Selfies are an indication of that condition. I try to be an ardent follower of Jesus Christ and when he tells me the two most important things in life are to love God and the love each other. Narcissism is the exact opposite of that.

Greed – The dark side of capitalism is greed. It is endemic to our way of doing business. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer and for many that is the way it is supposed to be.

Corruption – Corruption invades too much in our society. It seems that daily there is yet another politician, religious figurehead, or business man who is exposed for corruption.

Incompetence – There are just too many people who think they can make the big bucks with this or that scheme and sadly many do. They would rather cheat and scheme than put in an honest days work. Someone recently, I think it was Steve Jobs, say it that it takes 10,000 trys to become an expert at something. Too many are just not willing to put in the effort. And then there are the current crop of politicians. Too much incompetence among those folks.

Why do we have to face all these stupid things day after day? It’s enough to make anyone crazy. Don’t wonder why some people go crazy, wonder why all of us don’t….

Maybe We Got It Wrong…

2014-08-09_19-13-53This is probably not a good post for a U.S. national holiday but here goes anyway. Fools rush in where….

A few hundred years ago, which is a very short amount of time in world history, we were part of the Great British empire. We bowed to the king and paid our share of taxes. Then some hot heads came along and convinced us that we would be better off on our own.  They, like many Californians today, just didn’t like the idea of paying taxes and found every excuse to avoid doing that.

Long story short here we are today with one of the worst, and the absolutely most expensive, healthcare system in the world.  A murder rate and gun ownership one of the highest in the world. Of course those two items are not unrelated.  Spending more on our military than all the other countries in the world combined let alone being so stressed out we seem to have no time for family.

While over in England they were recently judged to have the best healthcare of a first world country. Their gun ownership is a small fraction of our and they have less murders per capita l in a year than we do in a month. They, like most other countries spend miniscule amounts on their military.  They take the time for afternoon tea and meals with family. Britain also seems to learn from their mistakes much sooner than we do. They outlawed slavery many years before we did. They never tried to get rid of their alcohol as they realize that it is an integral part of their culture. They didn’t practice segregation to nearly the extent we did.

Maybe we got it wrong all those years ago. We let a few hot heads convince us that what we had was not a good thing.  Canada which is our neighbors to the north also rate pretty much as well  as England in all the mentioned categories. It is always fascinating to me to consider the results of various decisions both corporate and personal and to think about the consequences if we went the other way.

I know you can’t unscramble an egg or re-join a country so the above thinking is a total fantasy but it is interesting to ponder about how different my world would be today if we had not listened to those hot head rebels so many year ago. Now before you begin to flame me please realize that I love this country but we could learn a few lessons about doing it better from some of our neighbors, especially our British ones.

Three Charts to Email to Your Right-Wing Brother-In-Law

Problem: Your right-wing brother-in-law is plugged into the FOX-Limbaugh lie machine, and keeps sending you emails about “Obama spending” and “Obama deficits” and how the “stimulus” just made things worse…. 2014-08-10_09-58-44 2014-08-10_09-58-54 2014-08-10_09-59-20 SOURCE: Three Charts to Email to Your Right-Wing Brother-In-Law Updated | Dave Johnson.

In the old days, that is the time before I gave up on all the cable news channels I used to get a weekly dose of Fox News.  As they say keep your friends close and your enemies closer. It was anything but news……

That’s all I want, or need, to say about this topic. It is too toxic to go any further into the idiocy of it….

The Worst President Ever….

I laughed out loud. Couldn’t help it; I had just overheard Mr. Newport Beach say something about how Obamacare is an unmitigated disaster despite how, of course, it’s not, and if America were to somehow actually develop a health care system similar to, say, Canada’s, that would be the end of America for certain; we’d never recover from such a devastating blow. Or something. And then came the [president is the] “worst thing to ever happen” quip, and I couldn’t hold back They didn’t hear me, of course; the orgasmic thrum of their perfect lives drowned out my chuckle, and as I turned and looked at this beautifully entitled, happy crew from my vantage point only a few feet away but a million light years in perspective, we all shared one of the most spectacular, envied locales in the world and all of us sipped superb regional grape and not a single one of us suffered the slightest personal, social or economic indignity, every first-world need instantly met, every crab cake perfectly formed, the sunshine as flawless as Jesus on toast and no lines at the restroom and lots of free parking for his Lexus SUV….. Even so, I desperately wanted to ask Mr. Newport Beach what his stock portfolio looked like a mere six or seven years ago, when Bush & Co. ravaged the country and led us into one of the deepest, most brutal social and economic pits in modern history. Did he lose half his net worth? More? Was he worried he couldn’t feed his family or pay his mortgage? Did he lose his house? His job? Did he blame Bush? Clinton? Islam? The gays? And by the way, how does he like the recovery so far? Which of his three perfect, multimillion-dollar homes was he on his way to, right now? I also wanted to know, when Bush/Cheney lied to the world, openly violated the tragedy of 9/11 and invaded Iraq, killing tens of thousands, was he furious? What about now, when even Fox News is calling out Cheney and declaring Iraq invasion a colossal mistake, a lie from which we’re still unable to extricate ourselves? SOURCE:  The Best Worst President Ever | Mark Morford.

Mark Morford has become an instant hero of mine. This post says almost exactly how I feel about those rich guys who are so much against making healthcare a right instead of a privilege for all America’s citizens. I agree exactly with his amazement of calling our current president the worst ever while he is benefiting from all the massive recovery, at least for those who own a lot of stocks, that has occurred under this president.

I agree completely that it totally confuses me how this rich guy can completely ignore the disastrous condition that the previous president left the country in after eight years in office and how he put us in a $trillion+ off the books wars that the current president had to dig his way out of.  Compared to his predecessor the current president deserves  top three status in the presidential list.  How can this rich jerk even swallow the vitriol words that spews from his mouth.

But then I have to step back and recognize that this rich guy probably doesn’t represent most in his financial category. Or at least I hope he doesn’t? The hypocrisy of this rich guys words strike me as being one of the root causes for the trouble this country still has.  Thanks Mark for getting the words just right…..

You Have To Use Them…

2014-06-23_16-39-48I heard a comment recently that has stuck to me. It went like this

You can’t just say you have rights, you have to use them to prove you have them”

I know of so many people who scream about the first amendment right to free speech but then villainize those who speak out against things that they don’t agree with. It seems, at least from their standpoint, that freedom of speech is a one-way street going only the way they go.

Some of the most vitriol comments I get on this blog is for saying things that others don’t agree with and since I am for the most part a contrarian I often go against the popular trends of the times. It just seems that someone has to do that to keep us from getting into a complacent attitude about things or to think that our way is the only way.

Freedom of speech and for that matter to protest and redress Grievances is something that has to be practiced to be real. We can’t simply put them on a shelf and admire them for their virtue. If they aren’t used they will eventually become worthless.

The ACLU often comes to the defense of those we don’t agree with. For that reason that letter combination is often treated with disdain. It is only through their practices that our freedoms are maintained and even advanced. If you don’t use them you lose them as the saying goes.

 

 

The Great Regulator…

Who would ever have guess that the title of the “Great Regulator” would be a Republican! That seems totally impossible in today’s world! But that is indeed the case. A hundred years ago Teddy Roosevelt was just that person. He was also called the “Trust Buster” as he took down many of the extremely wealthy of his day. He was also the one who put very high inheritance taxes on those in the 1% of his day.  Here is a little about that from Wikipedia:

Roosevelt responded to public anger over the abuses in the food packing industry by pushing Congress to pass the Meat Inspection Act of 1906 and The Pure Food and Drug Act. The Meat Inspection Act of 1906 banned misleading labels and preservatives that contained harmful chemicals. The Pure Food and Drug Act banned food and drugs that are impure or falsely labeled from being made, sold, and shipped. Roosevelt was also served as honorary president of the school health organization American School Hygiene Association from 1907 to 1908, and in 1909 he convened the first White House Conference on the Care of Dependent Children.

During the Panic of 1907 nearly all agreed that a more flexible system to ensure liquidity was needed – the Republicans sought a response to the money supply by the bankers whereas the Democrats sought government control; Roosevelt was unsure but leaned towards the Republican view while continuing to denounce corporate corruption. Nonetheless, in 1910, Roosevelt commented on “enormously wealthy and economically powerful men” and suggested “a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes… increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.”

Roosevelt was inclined to extend the regulatory reach of his office. In a moment of frustration, House Speaker Joseph Gurney Cannon commented on Roosevelt’s desire for executive branch control in domestic policy-making: “That fellow at the other end of the avenue wants everything from the birth of Christ to the death of the devil.” Biographer Brands states that, “Even his friends occasionally wondered whether there wasn’t any custom or practice too minor for him to try to regulate, update or otherwise improve.” 

In fact, Roosevelt’s willingness to exercise his power included attempted rule changes in the game of football; at the Naval Academy, he sought to force retention of martial arts classes and to revise disciplinary rules. He even ordered changes made in the minting of a coin whose design he disliked, and ordered the Government Printing Office to adopt simplified spellings for a core list of 300 words according to reformers on the Simplified Spelling Board. He was forced to rescind the latter after substantial ridicule from the press and a resolution of protest from the House.

It seems almost impossible to believe that the great regulator’s party would morph into what is it today. I’m sure if Teddy were around now he would be viciously labeled as a socialist liberal by the Republican establishment.  What happened between then and now to cause this very radical shift in philosophy with the GOP? I kind of believe that it happened because the ultra-rich have pretty much bought that party.  They get the best of the best to keep the spin machine running so they can fool those too lazy to realize just who the owner is now.

We desperately need another person like Teddy to do his thing once again. But this time, unless something very drastically happens, the person will not likely be from the GOP.

Those Words…

2014-05-24_10-22-02We ask all Republicans to come together to defeat extremist Hollywood liberal Allison Lundergan Grimes this fall.” SOURCE: Conservative Groups Spin a Loss in Kentucky Senate Primary – ABC News.

I see where Mitch McConnell escaped the attempted siege of the Senate Minority leader recently. The words above are part of his victory speech. Even though this quote is about politics, this post is not in that vein but instead about the loaded words some choose to use in their rhetoric.

With some people you can tell right up front what their worldview is all about with just a few words from their lips. They telegraph their underlying message with those chosen words.

Extremist Hollywood Liberal — These are three very deliberately chosen words. They indicate those “outsiders” who come in to tell us what we must do.They are “bleeding hearts” who should mind their own business and leave us alone about caring for anyone besides our immediate family. It is kind of ironic one of the things that is admired about America the most comes from Hollywood. The other 95% of humanity outside our country can’t get enough of our Hollywood output. But to those who use the words above Hollywood is nothing to be admired but instead to be scorned.

Let me tell you something about Negroes — This one came up recently in a quote about our president. As Mr. Obama said you don’t need to hear any more from this person to know what he is going to say.

State’s Rights — State’s rights was a very common term used by Southerners during the Civil Rights period of the 1960s but continues to be used today. It basically meant let us handle our negroes as we please. Leave us alone when we make sure certain parts of our population are denied their “rights” (including access to health care). Leave us alone when we want to segregate those less than desirable people among us to the outside our midst.

Real Christian — A real Christian is someone who believes the same things as I do. Being a Christian is about being against anyone who does not totally agree with my values including my right to keep guns, and my desire to get rid of all those Muslims and Jews. You will most likely find the folks who use these words spending time under a sheet watching flaming crosses and screaming at each other about all “those” people who are invading “their” country.

Real American — Of course a real American means not any of those foreigner who are invading our country. It also means not those who espouse equal rights or all or those so spend so much time on so-called justice issue.

Deaf and Dumb — Of course this is one of my personal favorites.  It is among many other quotes that try to marginalize people who are different from them. If the deaf can’t understand what I am saying then they must be dumb.

All of us have to be careful when we hear any of these or similar type words.

 

 

60 years of Political Gerrymandering

2014-05-23_08-34-04  2014-05-23_08-34-36 What’s at stake, after all, is citizens’ representation in Congress. Partisan gerrymandering undermines the whole notion of a representative government. For proof, just look toward the lopsided seat distribution in the current Congress. SOURCE:  What 60 years of political gerrymandering looks like – The Washington Post.

I don’t know if gerrymandering was a foregone conclusion when our democracy was formed. Everyone wants to take advantage of all possible means in order to win. I can imagine that in the 1950s someone with a pile of voting records and a map tried to figure out how to gain an advantage. Because the chore was almost overwhelming using the existing tools not much was able to be accomplished.

Fast forward to the computer age and gerrymandering has become an art form. Computer models are able to track almost every vote by location and draw thousands of different maps to take advantage of every single vote. Thus we see voting districts morph into what is shown above.  One of the secrets to being able to accomplish this jigsaw task is that one political party must have the power to accomplish this re-districting after it is configured and to maintain that status over a number of years.

The American obsession of winning at all costs almost dictates that these sort of things happen. To the winner goes the spoils and the spoils in our political processes amount to trillions of dollars. I have a dream that some year, probably in the very distant future, saner minds will finally prevail in this and so many other areas. When we can finally concentrate the common good and get away from the extreme partisanship of today then we might be able to accomplish things that benefit us all instead of a small segment of our society. I have a dream but unfortunately that is probably all it will ever be.

Its All About Sharing…

SharingThis is going to be one of those totally off-the-wall unrealistic posts that pops off the top of my head. But it sure would be great if somehow, anyhow it could be accomplished. So here goes.

We all know that profits are the total 100% driver for American businesses for the last thirty years or so.  Ever since the MBA’s took over during the Reagan years profits are the god of business.  Of course directly linked to profits are CEO’s pay. I believe that other things besides global competition have contributed to the income inequality now in this world.

When I started out in the corporate world employees were considered assets to the company. A well-trained, well-educated workforce was the driving factor between a struggling company and one that thrived.  Because of this belief, and the fact that worker’s unions were part of the mix, a strong middle class developed in the U.S.  Everyone could afford what they were making and they were very loyal to the brand their company produced. In that respect those were indeed the good old days…

But, let’s get back to my off-the-wall dream.  Now that profits are the sole mantra for American capitalism, let’s just accept that fact as future reality but with a twist. It seems that almost all companies want to hire their workers at minimum wage. The money they used to pay in livable salaries is now directed towards profits.  Here goes my fix, so get ready!  What if companies were required to share their profits between their workers and their owners?  It could go something like this.

Go ahead and reduce all workers pay to minimum wage but require half of last years’ profits to be distributed the next year to supplement that wage.  According to some calculations that would raise the median income of workers almost 50%. Wouldn’t that be something.  Finally the workers would actually get some of the benefit from their labors.

But of course the devil is in the details. In order for this to happen the owners, those who hold the company stocks, would have to get by with half their usual dividends. While they are doing that they could also reign in the CEO and upper management pay to  something that is not as absurd as it currently is. What is he likelihood of stock owners agreeing? Well, probably very close to zero. After all, they spend millions, and hide millions more away in foreign bank accounts,  to get out of paying their fair share of taxes. Why would they give up some dividends for the greater good?  I kind of got an idea about that too. ;)  Since many of these owners were true believers in Reagan’s trickle down from the 1980s maybe we can convince them that lowering their dividends will actually raise  them.  Wouldn’t that be a win-win for everyone!!

OK, now it is time to get back to the world as it actually exists, not how I sometimes see it inside my head. But, it is kind of nice to dream that we could ever get back to the good old days where employees were actually appreciated.

I’m just a simple guy so what do I know…..

Conformity…..

Conformity is kind of a dirty word for me. I think of myself as anything but a conformist. A big part of conformity is accepting what you are told without questions. That makes good soldiers but I don’t think it makes good citizens.  Here are a couple of quotes from one of my heroes on this topic.

2014-02-20_10-29-37To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science. The important thing is not to stop questioning. — Albert Einstein

When we quit questioning we allow others to tell us what to think and do. We become sheep following the latest demigods, the latest social and consumer trends.

Some parts of our lives demand more conformity than others. One of those areas is our religious beliefs. For the most part almost all religious organizations demand that we strictly tow the line. They demand homogeneous compliance. One of the versions of religion that I most admire for their dedication are the Amish. But they are also demand the highest level of conformity. You are told you must totally submit to the authority of your elders with no questions asked. You are not to stand out from the crowd.  If you don’t follow these rules you are often shunned by the community.

To me the opposite of creativity is conformity so that is why it is a dirty word to me. Creativity is how we have advanced in almost every area of life in the last 2,000+ years. It took a brave Belgium doctor hundreds of years ago to question if going from one patient to another without washing your hands was actually doing more harm than good. It would take decades of being chastised for his “radical” beliefs before physicians would finally scrub up between surgeries.  Let’s face it, if conformity were the only possibility we would very likely still be living in Middle-Age conditions.

We in the United States pride ourselves in being a unique nation but in reality we at least in recent history are for the most part just bowing to conformity. We allow talking heads, especially those at Fox News and MSNBC to tell us what to think and do. It seems for far too many people if Rush says it then “ditto”.  We jump from one social and economic trend to another without really thinking of the consequences.  Aren’t we really for the most part just a bunch of conformists? Yes, thank heavens, there have always been few of us who are not afraid to stand out from the crowd. They are the ones who are always asking questions and as a result moving us forward.  But I am afraid that given our current stands on educational conformity we might even lose that in future generations.  If our kids don’t conform to our current standards then they are likely to be given a prescription of Ritalin to force them to stay in line. From my study of biographies of Einstein I’m sure he would have been one of those chosen for a dose of that drug if he were growing up today.

How sad is that??

Everyone Is A Liar……

Let’s face it, everyone is a liar to one degree or another. Lying is so prevalent in our society that we are assumed to be a liar until we prove ourselves honest and even that proof has a limited time span. We all have serious scars from being lied to.

We lie to ourselves — We say we did the best that we could when we really never even put up much of an effort. We invent stories in our distant past so that our lives sound more interesting.  Sometimes we lie to people to make them feel better. Sometimes we lie to ourselves for the same reason. We convince ourselves that everything is fine when our personal world is falling apart. We lie to ourselves on a daily basis.

We lie to get ahead — We pad our work resumes to make it look like we have accomplished more than we did. We lie to take credit for something that someone else did. We lie to inflate our egos and to advance to that next level job.

We lie to those we love — We lie to our spouse because we don’t think they can handle the real truth. We tell many “white” lies because it is easier than confronting the truth and we don’t want to hurt our loved ones feelings.

In fact lying is a necessity of life.  If we told the truth in many circumstances we would probably be without friends. I think I am more truthful than many in this regard. Some people call me blunt. Some call me rude. Now don’t get me wrong, I lie just like everyone else but it seems that I often let the truth slip out of my mouth without thinking of the consequences.  Sometime I just don’t take the time to see where a lie is more tactful than the truth.

But, lying is not just on a personal level. Here are some words from Jane McCrath about the The Ten Biggest Lies in history

Supposedly, the truth can set you free. But for many, deceit holds the key to money, fame, revenge or power, and these prove all too tempting. In history, this has often resulted in elaborate hoaxes, perjuries, and forgeries that had enormous ripple effects.

There are our personal, some might say “little” lies and then there are those that have grievously harmed or world. This article counts down what the author deemed the ten biggest lies in history. The number one liar was without a doubt Hitler.

 people will believe it if you repeat it enough. Everyone tells small lies, Hitler reasoned, but few have the guts to tell colossal lies. Because a big lie is so unlikely, people will come to accept it.

Getting back on a personal level, we all discover the truth about the truth and that is that oftentimes the truth hurts and lying is just easier.

We Destroyed Them Ourselves…..

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed them ourselves.  —Abraham Lincoln

2014-01-08_15-27-01Losing our freedoms because we destroyed them ourselves is something that I worry about. Of course when Lincoln made this quote there was no such thing as the NSA, Internet, cell phones but each of these are the things that may just destroy our freedoms.

Sometimes I think I am the only one to be worried about this. The NSA’s ability to tap into all our telephone, text, and Internet information seems like a “perfect storm” just waiting to happen. It has even been reported by some pretty reputable sources that they can get inside all our smart phone apps to see what we store there.

I know 1984 has come and gone without the dire predictions by George Orwell’s book by that name. But given the thirty years since then it does seem more like Orwell’s world now. So many of us seem to have a blasé attitude toward what we once viewed as sacrosanct rights. Of course much of that has to do with fear overriding our feelings of freedom. We fear terrorism more than cherish our “God-given” rights.  Given the latest revelations from Mr. Snowdon’s document releases Big Brother is very much around us and into our daily lives.

Of course, this is not the first time that fear has trumped freedoms, especially the right to privacy, in this country. In fact we have a long history of that happening. The one that comes to mind first is the FBI during the 1960s.  J. Edger had files on many of the people who questioned his authority including Martin Luther King and the Kennedy clan including the president himself.

And then their were all the sedition acts throughout our history starting very early on with the Alien and Sedition Acts signed into law by John Adams. That one basically said that anyone who wrote “malicious” things about the president or congress  could be sent to jail for up to two years! Can you imagine the number of journalists who would be in our prison system today if that were still enforced? :)

One of my favorite presidents even signed one known as the Sedition Act of 1918 for “any statement criticizing the Government of the United States”.  Another was the Smith Act of 1940. Like today most of these acts were implemented during times when fear was rampant.

Getting back to the quote above, Lincoln once again proves that his wisdom is for the ages. When we lose our constitutional freedoms it will not be from a terrorist but because we destroyed them ourselves.

I’m pretty sure that this post will end up before the eyes of someone in the NSA but given my concerns of an over bloated military I don’t imagine it is the first of my posts to go there. But remember my NSA friends I’m just an ordinary old shrinking retired guy who likes to question things that others seem to take for granted so don’t come knocking at me door.

How Franklin Graham Is Using His Aging Father

Many conservative Evangelicals who trust leaders like Franklin Graham to shepherd them faithfully in the Good News of Jesus have been swept away in the unfortunate movement to transform them from being the “People of Good News” to, quite literally, the “People of FOX News.” Franklin seems to have fallen prey to the power and platform of the Tea Party/Religious Right and has begun manipulating his father’s honorable name and ministry to promote a political agenda. This was never more clearly demonstrated than at Billy Graham’s 95th birthday celebration last week. Take a look at this photo from the event: 2013-11-12_16-45-08 Pictured here are just some of the notable guests at the celebration, including Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Rupert Murdoch, and Greta VanSustern. (This list could also be known as the Tea Party Power Players Also Note: Glenn Beck is not pictured here but was also in attendance) This picture makes my stomach churn. It’s hard to imagine that Billy Graham would ever want to host such a gathering of these extreme republican high-ballers. It s obvious that there’s more going on behind this picture.

SOURCE:  From “Good News” to FOX News: How Franklin Graham Is Using His Aging Father | Brandan Robertson | Red Letter Christians.

I have read several books by Billy Graham and have watched a few of his crusades throughout the world.  He was a religious advisor to several presidents both Republican and Democrat. His ministry was about Jesus and Jesus alone.  It totally shocks me to see what his son Franklin has done to Billy’s ministry.  He seems to parade his senile and very aged father around to promote his political agenda. That is something that his father absolutely would never have permitted when he was of sound mind and body.

I know that by converting his father’s organization over to an extreme right political agenda probably brings in more money from the radicals like Murdock, Trump, and all the Fox News ranting heads but what are the consequences?  I pray that someday Franklin is held accountable for totally tainting his father’s lifelong ministry for more power, money,  and political gain for himself. How tragically sad is that??????

Everything is Great Except…..

ProsperityHousing is coming back. Banks are lending again. Energy is booming. A prominent Democrat argues that the U.S. economy is finally coming back to life

SOURCE: Is the U.S. Economy Coming Back to Life? – TIME.

Everything is great again in the USA!  The stock markets are booming. Banks are as profitable as ever and are now lending again. All the economic indicators are rising.  These are joyful words for us liberals and dreaded ones for conservatives during a Democrat administration.

Everything is great except for the fact that almost all of this prosperity is flowing into the hands of the top few percent in our country but thankfully it is also flowing into our pension funds. Most are in dire need of help. So, it is sort of true that a rising tide lifts all boats; it is just that most of us have leaky row-boats instead of mega-yachts.

Income and wages for most of us are still below 2007 levels and averages are below the 1970s level. Unemployment is still too high. The middle class continues to shrink. Will this condition ever resolve itself? I don’t think that will happen anytime soon.  It will likely take a decade or more for us to stabilize into a new norm for the average family.

  • All of us will have to get it through our thick heads that the good paying low skilled factory jobs are gone.
  • All of us will have to understand that a middle class job of the future will require more than a high school education. Stopping at high school almost assures you of a lifetime of hamburger flipping or other minimum wage job.
  • We will have to come back to a political sphere where the good of the nation takes precedence over a political party.
  • We will have to understand that in the world markets, requiring  U.S. corporations to pay for employee health insurance when the rest of the world depends on government to do that stifles job creation in this county.
  • We will have to understand that in order to raise our job skill levels higher education should not put our young people into massive debt when so many other countries provide free or at least heavily subsidized educational expenses. We have to realize that higher education should be a right to all instead of a privilege to a few.
  • We will have to realize that being in the middle class is not an entitlement but something to be obtained through diligent effort.
  • We have to understand that some things in life take years of putting aside a few dollars to afford. Instant gratification is just not sustainable for most of us. It puts us in a debt spiral that is almost impossible to escape.
  • We will have to understand that life is not always fair and that sometimes it even craps on us.

Everything is great again in the USA except……..

A Bored Mind Is A Moody Mind….

Banner -Off The Top

The title of this post is a quote from a not very famous person but it has some deep meaning for me. Actually it is something I wrote in my personal journal about a year ago. :)  I often times like to look back to what I wrote about the previous year just to compare to where I am now. Last year I was just getting over some rather troubled times. I often wonder if I am living my life as fully and fruitfully as I desire. The feeling of a lack of personal accomplishment often drives me to various levels of depression but don’t we all have that to one degree or another. We do all have that don’t we?

One of my daily reads is a fellow blogger. That blog is centered on a somewhat narrow theme of having a good retirement.  It seems that he and most of his readers just seem to want to race away from is the term “boredom”. It is almost as if they don’t want to admit that they have ever had a boring moment in their retirement lives. But for myself, I am just not a person who will, knowingly  or unknowingly, deny feelings that I have.  I get bored I admit it. In fact I get bored on a weekly if not daily basis.  It is something that I am constantly battling against.

Getting back on point what I basically discovered last year was that the times when I am the most bored is when I get these depressed feelings. When I don’t have other things on my mind my infinitesimally  small effect on the universe rises to the surface. Maybe because I leave no heirs on this earth to get it right where I didn’t, is one of the reasons for this moodiness.  When I am gone my genes will go to the grave with me. There will be no second chance to get it right through my offsprings.

Yeah I admit I am a sometimes a troubled dude but least I don’t have voices telling me that I am a failure. One of my favorite movies was called “A Beautiful Mind” starring Russel Crowe. It was about a brilliant Princeton professor who was bi-polar. If  I heard voices as he did I would definitely seek professional help. Sometimes my off-the-top thoughts that I post here even slightly startle me but not in what I believe is in an unhealthy way. I hope to leave at least a very small scratch on this world after I am gone and it troubles me that someone in the future will use a little of life’s spit polish to remove even that.

I think these thoughts are actually nudges from God at one level or another to keep me focused on his mission for me. That is constantly in my thoughts. In that regard I treat these nudges as a good thing. I stave off boredom wherever possible by engaging in new and stimulating  and creative things on a regular basis. To fail to do so is just, well, boring…

More Diagnoses of Hyperactivity…

 

kidsThose are astronomical numbers. I’m floored,” said Dr. William Graf, a pediatric neurologist in New Haven and a professor at the Yale School of Medicine. He added, “Mild symptoms are being diagnosed so readily, which goes well beyond the disorder and beyond the zone of ambiguity to pure enhancement of children who are otherwise healthy.”

And even more teenagers are likely to be prescribed medication in the near future because the American Psychological Association plans to change the definition of A.D.H.D. to allow more people to receive the diagnosis and treatment. A.D.H.D. is described by most experts as resulting from abnormal chemical levels in the brain that impair a person’s impulse control and attention skills.

Source: More Diagnoses of Hyperactivity Causing Concern – NYTimes.com.

The whole idea of medicating kids who are a little different is very disturbing to me but it seems like this is becoming more and more common. I am sure that if I were born fifty years later than I was I would be one of those drugged kids sliding through life.  Are we really medicating out a large degree of creativity in this next generation?  I really fear that is the case.

I’m sure severe cases of A.D.H.D. are about chemical imbalances in the brain but like many things today that diagnosis seems very much abused. I hope that it is not the teachers who are promoting this new pattern.  Maybe they are just tired of that over rambunctious kid in their class who disturbs the normal class flow. Just who is behind this dramatic increase in drugging our kids?

I am very aware that through numerous media the drug companies are trying to increase their sales by having patients go to their doctors asking for certain drugs. I know that I am currently on five different medication to deal with various health issues I now have.  Am I being drugged more for a beneficial effect or to increase a drug companies profits.  One pill I take that is still under patent protection costs more than the other four combined.

Viagra is one of those cases of obvious abuse in my mind and no I don’t take that one. :)  It supposedly produced to help older men maintain a satisfying sexual life but has since morphed into a drug to be used by every male who is seeking and enhanced sexual thrill. I’m sure that Bob Dole is no longer the typical user of Viagra.

Getting back to the original thoughts on this post are we drugging creativity out of our kids in order to obtain increased conformity in our society. That is the fear I have…..

Differing Opinions Have Become Worst Enemies……

Common Good Sojourners

We’ve lost something as a nation when we can no longer look at one another as people, as Americans, and — for people of faith  — as brothers and sisters.  Differing opinions have become worst enemies and political parties have devolved into nothing more than petty games of blame….

It is not about Right and Left — or merely about partisan politics — but rather about the quality of our life together. It’s about moving beyond the political ideologies that have both polarized and paralyzed us, by regaining a moral compass for both our public and personal lives — and reclaiming an ancient, yet urgent and timely idea: the common good.

Source: On God’s Side: For the Common Good – Jim Wallis | God’s Politics Blog | Sojourners.

I always look forward to the weekly emails from Jim Wallis about our times. The words above from his March 29 emailing which I believe strike at the heart of our current problems. They seem to be the core cause and solution to our problems today. We are no longer able to view those who differ in their political views as Americans like us.  Our politics has devolved into nothing but a petty game of blame. I don’t know exactly how this happened but I kind of have an idea of some of its causes.

Rush Limbaugh came on the national political scene in 1988. His rhetoric shocked many of us as blatant bigotry and hatefulness.  He is plain a simply a school yard bully on the national scene. But it seems bigotry and hatred sells as his most recent contract was for $400 million for an eight year period. That money has spurned hundreds of look-alikes over the years.  I simply can’t understand how Mr. Limbaugh became a major spokesman for the GOP.  I can’t understand how so many who call themselves conservatives are so fearful of denouncing his rhetoric? He has been married four times; seems to have no family values, and shows a putrid disrespect for almost everyone. Is that really the face that conservatives want to be identified with?  I think not but they seem still listen to him in great numbers and “ditto” almost anything that spews out of his vulgar mouth.

Fox New came on the national scene in 1996. It is very obvious that Rupert Murdoch who owns this media is very much in the same mindset as Mr. Limbaugh. MSNBC came into existence in 1996, some say as a response to Fox News but in a much smaller framework.  These three things I think are the major contributors to the reason we can no longer look at one another as fellow Americans but instead now as the enemy.  I like to call these contributors the “Limburger Affect”. It put a putrid stink on all our political processes!

I pray that something can happen to allow us to get back to looking at the quality of life in both our personal and public lives. If only we can get back and “reclaim an ancient, yet urgent and timely idea: the common good.

‘I don’t get the comedies today’….

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Source: TV icon Dick Van Dyke: ‘I don’t get the comedies today’ – TODAY Entertainment.

funny“It seems to me that relationships are what’s missing. I think back to ‘All in the Family,’ when you knew what those relationships were and the comedy that came out of that. Today it’s just one line after another, and they seem to try to cover too much in the way of story in a short time. Then I think they signal when they’re trying to be funny, and the minute I catch someone trying to be funny, then I won’t laugh.”

I am not one to frequently look back at the “good old days”. But when it comes to comedy TV shows I, like Dick Van Dyke above, just don’t get most comedies today.  I think he is right about relationships are what is missing. I don’t know who to lay the blame on for this. There are a number of possible reasons.

  • Facebook/etc where one line jokes are the norm — Facebook and Twitter are the current social media and they basically only lend themselves to short messages. It seems like most comedies in TV are just a string of tweets strung together
  • Kids short attention span — I know kids today need to be constantly entertained. At least that is the message I get from so many of the retired teachers that visit my site. Short attention spans necessitate short jokes I guess.
  • Poor writers — Could it be that the writers of today just don’t have the skills and life experiences of those of yesteryear? I know spelling and grammar are almost out the window now with number one above.  Maybe the ability to tell funny stories is going with it?
  • It’s just what the  younger audience wants. — Maybe a string of one-line jokes spread out over a half hour (actually 17 minutes) is just what the kids want now days.  We all know that the 17-25 year olds are the target groups for most TV shows.
  • Middle is good, many are not — I do like the comedy “The Middle”. It has the one liners but at least it carries through with a story line. But give me a Newhart any day.
  • Even the one with Betty White  is short of relationships — Betty White’s new show entitled ” Hot in Cleveland” is really no exception to the one-line strings. They really struggle to put in a theme every week.
  • When did the constant sexual message become funny? — I have been searching around the cable companies for new shows and am somewhat surprised to see so many with a strong sexual theme.  It almost embarrasses me to watch some of them. They are just gross to me, but what do I know.

I don’t know, maybe I am just becoming one of those old fogies that complains about everything. We all need something to laugh about and most of us used get that relief from comedies on TV.  If anyone can suggest some good ones please let me know.  I sure could use some…

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