Monday, July 6, 2015

Going to the left -


What does that mean going to the left?  Is it like going from right to wrong or the other way around?



The left stands for socialism and communism.  Is that so bad?  It's part of God's plan for everyone to bring all they produce and put it in the Bishop's storehouse to be redistributed to everyone in proportion to their needs.   In this fashion the weak are protected, the mentally ill are treated, the lazy are fed, and the strong provide, the imaginative have joy in sharing.  Some one is poor, the rich are the rulers, most everyone goes hungry.  A few are happy.  No one deserves more than their needs.



The right stands for personal responsibility, self rule and capitalism.  It's part of god's plan too to have charity.  The rights rule of thumb is to take care of oneself first, providing excess to take care of family next and neighbors after that and country last.  In this fashion the weak are protected, the mentally ill are treated, the lazy get fed, and the strong provide, the imaginative have incentive to share.  There are poor, there are rich and someone goes hungry.  Not everyone is happy.  Everyone deserves to have what they can earn.



Which would you rather align with?  The left or the right?  There is no wrong answer only a choice that most closely fits your philosophy.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

LGBT - Oh...


     I find myself confused over the current state of affairs in the country over gay rights, particularly the right to marry.

     It seems that those that support the LGBT community are running high on emotion.   Which is fine for on the other side of the coin those against the gay community are running strong on emotion also. 

The gay community does not fall under a protected class like blacks and women, people with disabilities such as blindness or deafness where they have no choice being what they are.  Also protected classes that seem a bit more gray, but has the force of law anyway, is religious people and pregnant women because they do have a choice to be what they are.

     Then logically the gay community would not be protected as they do have a choice to exhibit their sexual preference in whatever manner they want.  Yet, they could become protected because other groups of choice have protections.  So, what would be the difference? As it turns out I think the difference is huge.

     I think where it all goes awry for the people is law makers and courts taking on the task of legislating abhorrent and abnormal behavior as being normal.  Putting religion aside for a moment and just looking at the nature of the world it is not populated by homosexual unions.    Even at the level of recreational sex the parts do not fit together properly.   To be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual is not normal by any standard that can be held up outside their own community.  Thus it begs the question why are we at this point with the latest Supreme Court ruling?

      I think basically it is because gays are human too.  They have been the brunt of jokes and hostile emotion and actions for centuries and as people regardless of their physical miswiring they are stuck with they deserve respect and equal rights as much as another person in so long as they behave normally.  To determine what is normal, let nature be our guide coupled with the social norms of the society the gays reside in. 

     Using that as a guidepost then should gays be permitted to marry?  I think yes.   However, it isn't the place for the federal government to intervene.  Where the Supreme Court got it wrong is that the constitution does not support abhorrent and abnormal behavior in any fashion.  A left leaning activist court cannot normalize gay behavior from the bench anymore than the court in the 1850s ruling that black people are property of their white masters and runaways have to returned when caught could keep that law.  

     Then where would the right for gays to marry come from?  It has to be the states.  The argument as to people can't help who they fall in love with doesn't hold much water, however if a same sex couple wishes to align their life paths together and share interests and support to one another forsaking traditional marriage they ought to have the same protections of health care,  beneficiary rights as any other human contract.   

     Where the gay community missteps is in the flaunting their abnormal sexuality in the face of those operating in the social norm.  The social norm for the United States is heterosexual marriage between man and woman resulting most times in off spring and grandchildren and great grandchildren who in turn continues the norm. 

     What is going to happen now is over the next decade normal people are going to push back hard and the gay community is going to go back into the closet.  Laws that put legal protections for work and such will be in place because it isn't right to restrict someone for their sexual preference in so much as they behave normally.   A supervisor that sees his worker parading down the street banishing a black flag full of dildo pictures has every right to dismiss the person as that isn't normal behavior.

     The old adage, it isn't wise to fool with Mother Nature is true.  That which isn't aligned with nature will not endure.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Philosophy and Writers - the need to read

Philosophy and Writers - the need to read
 
When an author decides to impart some pearls of wisdom to the reader that wisdom never comes from a vacuum.  The author has developed his or her ideas from a varied collection of sources much of which is personal life experience blended and colored with the reading of other writers particularly the philosophers past and current.  It seems that more weight is placed on philosophers of old for their wisdom, especially in the academia, where professors desire their students to understand not only the construction of these renown author's writings but also what and why they wrote what they did.   Therefore, to better understand ourselves and develop the ability to make what we feel better understood we study the philosophy of those persons that have demonstrated meaningful insight to the human character and the skill to impart that idea.  That study requires reading.
 
It seems that one of the facilities people of renown have is to be able to expostulate a variety of ways a decision could carry into different paths.  If the author's subject of attention were to turn left instead of right or look up instead of down at a particular moment in time, what a different world we would all live in today.   Who of us hasn't at speculated, where would we be had we chosen differently at some particular decision point in our lives?  Somewhat half-jokingly I have voiced that Aristotle was just one the philosophers to have been born early enough to pen more about the human condition; physically and mentally than any of us.  We already know that most what he says as to the human condition as now a matter of course to us.   What a marvel of intellect for example if a high school graduate of today was inserted into 365 BC Greece.  We must read if we wish to be considered seriously when we write about similar topics.  Not so much as to rehash what Aristotle wrote but rather to enrichen and refresh.  What kind of a take would Aristotle have had on the overlay of the technical world on today's society?  Like St. John in Revelations Aristotle would be hard pressed even to find the words to describe the things he would observe in today's world.  Henry David Thoreau in his book "Civil Disobedience" wondered as people strung telegraph wires from Maine to Texas as to what in the world would someone in Maine and Texas have to say to each other?  He alluded to the worthlessness of the endeavor.  I doubt as intellectual and insightful as many of the famous people we have read or read about got the right of things all the time.  As writers and philosophers these people we seem to expect more from and are particularly let down when we think they error in their paradigm.   I've read accounts of how Thomas Edison wondered at the value of the phonograph player and mistakenly put so much of his reputation on direct current.  Bill Gates of Microsoft didn't warm up to the internet right off.  In my life;  I see little use in Twitter; with Thoreau's reasoning; who would follow me on Twitter; who would want to?  By the same token, who is there that I would care to follow.  Should we care?  Do we need to know what Miley Cyrus', Rush Limbaugh's or Michelle Obama's moment to moment hundred and ten character thoughts are?  Somehow I think not.  So, what am I missing?  What is there to the millions and millions of people that are on Twitter?  I wonder in my breadth thinking how I can be so narrow.  I can only guess at what Thoreau might have written about Twitter.
 
I disagree with much of what Thoreau has to say in his book "Civil Disobedience."  But, I love the way he says it.  He is cynical and short-sighted but makes a grand argument of it.  As with Adam and Eve partaking of the forbidden fruit so as to learn the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, health and sickness so must we consume of the works of writers of note, the classics if you will, to ascertain for ourselves how we feel about what they wrote and how we will apply that wisdom or lack thereof in our lives. 
 
President John Adams told John Q.  Adams, his son and future U.S. president when he was but a boy that he should read Cicero in its original Greek which he did.  I, however, will live with whatever might be lost in the translation. Thus I will content myself with having read the English translation.  I have read Confucius' Analects (English version).  I didn't take away much from it.   An aspect of it I did find remarkable is the period in which he wrote and like Edison did with his inventions Confucius turned his writings into an enterprise by opening schools and teaching.   There is more to him than I can fathom as Chinese dynasties rose and fell from his writings as a philosophy to follow.   At risk of short-changing Confucius further I have not read all his works, and therefore I cannot speculate with any degree of certainty as to what I might get from the rest of his writings were I to wade through them. 
 
I wonder, did Confucius, Cicero and Thoreau have an editor?  Fill a room with monkeys hammering away on typewriters for a hundred years, and they will produce "War and Peace" so the story goes.   A fanciful notion and not completely wrong providing someone is there to edit the material.   Which as a sidebar leaves me to mention how most authors on the first page or two of their books credit their editors for the success of their books.  Many philosophers will tell you that with the logic I just set up that writers are no more intelligent than the monkeys typing out "War and Peace."   A fallacy of reason made through valid inference is one path for false logic.   Surprisingly some will glom onto such logic as valid and argue with conviction that writers are indeed no wiser than monkeys hammering on typewriters.   What segment of the population makes a lucrative living at convoluting logic in such a manner?  The U.S. government perhaps.  Probably outside the college podium a cadre of the best writers we have to reside inside the beltway.  
 
The best writers are good mechanics of language following all the conventions of good writing by such things as not changing tense midway or intruding with personal interjections upon the reader's consciousness, putting their periods, commas and semicolons in all the right places; (another job of editors)  and then coupling all that with an astute understanding of human nature so as to bring their characters to life with conflicts and problems and joys and satisfactions that parallel our own.  The closer they come to mirroring what we think to be true the better we like it.   If you would like to read a book that breaks nearly all the conventions of good writing pick up the "Last of the Mohicans" by James Fenimore Cooper.  It is a classic for historical value and a darn good story allowing the reader to forgive the poor construction.  
 
Another aspect of philosophy is how prolific the classical writers were.  They wrote volumes about what they reasoned to be the ways things were.  Of those volumes, we glean some of what we feel to be significant dew drops of wisdom and discard the rest.  Even the discarded has value in validating what we feel is contrary to what they said. As it turned out the people in Maine and Texas have a lot to say to one another and it surprises me Thoreau would not have thought so.   Even still, what you find enlightening may be bunk to me.   These writers of old had incredible mental acuity.
 
Gerrids, the common water bugs that stride across the water as sparrows guide through the air otherwise known to most as Jesus bugs, and water spiders to others don't know by their scholastic name but by a few.  I asked a dozen people if they were familiar with the Jesus bug and most were.  None knew it was a Gerridae, in the singular.  It would be a safe wager to say when a father walking his son or daughter by the pond upon seeing the small creature darting to and fro over the water would more likely tell them, "Look a Jesus bug," rather than a Gerridae.  I marvel when a writer carries on about every creature, plant and the supporting environ associated with them by their textbook name and with such detail and clarity that one would think they had done their doctoral thesis on the topic.   At the risk of seeming ignorant; I could not get through Moby Dick.  I wonder at those who profess to have read it.  The story is riveting.  Gregory Peck was im-peck-able in the movie.  As a child, I loved the story and missed all the symbolism.  I tried to read the book years later as an adult and could not wade through all the hundreds of pages of whale detail; every kind of whale, every characteristic of every kind of whale and the personalities of every kind of whale.  Did Melville miss any whale?  I wouldn't know had I finished the book.  I can name maybe three different whales.  That an author of a classic wrote in that fashion is even more astonishing when you realize that he or she wrote from memory and limited resources having only to draw from their schooling and limited access to books to draw upon for reference.  Thoreau was a Harvard graduate.   Is it a testament to that school that he wrote so well?  Perhaps, I think so.  Cotton Mather wouldn't have thought so because he thought Harvard was low class.  Maybe it was back in his period of the late 1600's.  Reverend Mather convinced a wealthy Boston merchant by the name of Yale to start another college to contrast Harvard.
 
Where does this take us?  Writers read, thinkers read, leaders read, philosophers read, and then they write out what they think.  It doesn't matter if what they think is to entertain us, convince us, enlighten us or they simply don't care and write as an expression of their need to vent.  In that case, they might only bore us.  We need to read as much as we can and ponder the intelligence conveyed so that we may foment the structure of our personalities to good effect.
 

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Ferguson Syndrome is a test to the founding fathers construction of the United States


To preface the following remarks is to say that I think I'm pretty typical.  If placed in the bell curve of the rest of Americans understanding and feelings about the world I think I'd fall in  about the middle with the rest of the 66%.  On the edges are the Obama's, Sharpton's and Clinton's views while on the other edge are the Hannity's, Bushes,  Kennedy's and Savage's.   Thus I think my take on the events of Ferguson Missouri is probably pretty much the same as most people.

There are some events in the world that on the face of it don't seem so significate.  Like the assignation of Duke Ferdinand.  Country leaders are getting murdered all the time.  Look at our own number of presidents killed in office.  But Ferdinand's killing set off a World War.  Hopefully Ferguson won't be that bad.

On the face of it the killing of a black man by a white police officer doesn't seem so significate either.  Even despite the color contrast police shoot criminals all the time.   But look at the aftermath of this particular incident.   Law enforcement around the states now have a heightened sense of prudence.  This isn't that they have been doing anything particularly wrong it is now they have a greater sensitivity to the public perception of their law keeping.  That in of itself is not a bad thing.  

I think that even without the fanning of the racial flames of the Afro-Americans in Ferguson that this greater effort on the part of police to act correctly would have been an outcome of the Ferguson shooting anyway.  From a distance, watching the Ferguson event unravel on television and reading about it on blogs and news outlets I wondered how was all this going to play out.

I called it a syndrome because of the components of the sad event came together in such a way as to be indicative of a disease.  This specific disorder stems from a number of entwined factors that if brought together again will result in the same outcome.  Let me detail the factors as I see them for the Ferguson event.

  1. Setting the stage.
  2. The trigger event.
  3. Community reaction to the event.
  4. Government reaction to the event.
  5. External to Ferguson reaction after the event.

Setting the stage was years in development.  I don't have Ferguson's arrest records; but it goes with saying that a predominant black community (66%) is going to have black people arrested for crime more than white people.  People will say that having a police force of mostly whites does not help the situation.  In this day and age, regardless of what the Eric Holders and Al Sharptons will tell you that I don't think that is so.   Here is my reasoning.  I am going to try and resist interjecting solutions in this piece.  What I'm striving for is understanding.

  1. Police officers regardless of color do not hire on to fulfill some sort of racial agenda.  The first day on the job they don't say to themselves, "I'm really looking forward to stomping some minorities today."  They come on to the job with the desire to uphold the law and maintain order.  Yet police are people too.  They get wore down, become callused with dealing with disrespect and law breaking over and over.  Not only disrespect to them but to others in the community and to property as well.  It doesn't matter their ethnicity.  I think that a black policeman if their background is similar to the community they serve may come to the fed up point a little later than their white counterparts.  But, they will get to that point. 

  1. Part of the stage being set are those things that they don't have direct control over.  A place like Ferguson is time worn.  I have driven through towns similar to Ferguson that I haven't been to before and commented this is an old place.  I see houses with siding needing paint.  I see lawns that need mowed; I see yards that need lawns and the typical joke of broken down cars on blocks in the front yard is not some much a joke as partly true.  There are several reasons for this.  Foremost is the area, meaning the people, are economically depressed.   This is mostly not their fault.  If they don't have money for grass seed and still eat then they don't have grass.  If they have grass and not money for gas for the lawn mower if they even have a lawn mower then the lawn doesn't get cut.  This is mostly not their fault it's systemic of the country and their area in particular.  Secondly is they are unhappy, sad, depressed or some variant of that because they barely make ends meet and they don't even know it.   This sadness breeds apathy.  Okay, the yard can't have grass but does that mean it has to have paper plates, potato chip bags, beer/coke bottles, broken furniture and cars up on blocks in it?  Of course not.  Yet when people get into that kind of condition they lose spirit.  They simply don't care how their home looks; there are greater concerns to put their attention too.  On the whole of it, this setting wears down the populace of Ferguson setting  up an unhappy mood over all and because of that it doesn't take very much to flare that mood into anger and physical acting out.   They are frustrated because of their lack of control over their circumstance thus it doesn't take a lot for them to project their woes or lay blame on the police, the state and the country as a whole. 

All it takes is a trigger event to surface all this pent up frustration by the majority of the people in Ferguson.  It doesn't have to a huge event like the shooting of Michael Brown.  In Los Angeles the Watts riots was because of a beating of a black man, Rodney King, by police.  In Ferguson it was a fatality shooting unfortunately for Brown. 

The community of Ferguson's initial reaction to this event was outrage.  I wouldn't add disbelief because to the black population of Ferguson it was all to believable.  Then as tugging on a ball of twine the situation begins to unravel.  People took to the streets with accusations that the police abuse their authority.  They did not have any clear picture of what expired except a young dead black man lied in the street for four hours before being removed.    Aside of the fist waving and yelling it wasn't till until the governments, state and federal got involved that Ferguson really started going sideways. 

Look at the government reaction.  Here are some reactions that adversely affected the people already upset in Ferguson and many in the rest of the world.

  1. The Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri vows to prosecute the officer.  He says this within hours of the shooting.  
  2. The Department of Justice swears to investigate the Police department because if it's complexion and the police officer swearing to get full weight of the law brought forth on to them.
  3. The President of the United States makes parallel comparisons to Jim Crow law of the late 1800's and how the racial divide in the U.S.  is as bad if not worst than it's ever been.
  4. Prominent black leaders descend on the Ferguson community and from the podium and pulpit literally scream hate speech driving a greater wedge between black and white people. 

Few are heard that call for patience and reason over the din of those mentioned above.   This sets the ground work for more upsetting events like the black man that died of a heart attack in New York at the hands of police that brought about the murder of two New York policemen in their patrol car.

Who is hurt in all this?  There is direct and indirect consequences.  First the direct effect, the city of Ferguson is torn up.  The area that is torn up is the area that can least afford to be damaged.  Infrastructure, streets, poles, electrical service  and property are damaged and in that process looting and damaging of local businesses that are of small owners that live and serve the community.  Many are permanently put out of business.   Ferguson will never recover fully from the mayhem.   Yet, those like Al Sharpton go away back to their home states and affluent neighborhoods with the idea of the good they did for those poor folk down in Ferguson.   They added to the syndrome like the festering of a wound treated with dirty hands.  The indirect consequences are far reaching as other communities are sensitized to perceived wrong doing by authorities.  Flaring up of smoldering racial hatreds like the one that brought about the murder of the two New York policemen. 

Yet for all that our system is so well built by the founders of our country that we can and do prevail with the rule of law.  In the end the truth is known.  Michael Brown was a criminal and likely due to his size and personality would have done harm to the policeman if he could have.   Both the Grand Jury and eventually the Department of Justice vindicated the policeman's action.   The rule of law carries the day despite the ill wishes of people in power that want it otherwise. 

In times past in other countries rulers, kings, dictators and the like established a rule of law to control the people.  In the United States we have a rule of law that controls the President, Congress and Courts and all the rest of us so that the people as a whole cannot be abused.   Our leaders power stems from upholding the rule of law not the other way around.   The Ferguson event is test of that concept and bears witness to the granite foundation our countries government is set upon.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A repost from Hall's Perspective - Is the System really Broken?


In a word, No.  Our countries framing fathers, as astute as they were about the human condition, could not have fathomed the complexity of the country their form of government would have to manage.   Yet, in their own time they realized what was good about some components of government modeled on the British should be maintained like the court system and other aspects such as having a monarch was detrimental to the overall condition of man.  The Bible backs that up and their having lived under a King confirmed it.   Thus knowing that the country needed a executive to take the country into the future there had to a means of controlling the office when persons like Presidents Taft, Polk, Johnson, Nixon, Carter and Obama held and hold the positon.   Then, of course, would be the tug-of-war between the two.  So, the third arm of the judiciary was put into place principally to protect the construction of the constitution.   Then rulings by the Supreme court are done in light of what the constitution permits. 

All that in its simplistic description has turned out to be the best form of government in the recorded history of mankind.   Even still, as well put together as it is the founding fathers put off and delayed for later generations problems they knew they could not address and put in place our present form of government.    The principal one of the time was slavery.   Second, was monetary with the funding of the government.   Even then money talked; the congress voted to assume the revolutionary war debts of the states which the states were eager to go along with and that strengthened the federal government in the process.  Yet, with the tit for tat between the federal government and states rights our form of government bounced precariously along until the civil war.  After that, the federal government reigned supreme.  Fortunately our construction of government was still controlled by representatives of the people.   As to the party system, an old saying is birds of a feather flock together. 

George Washington was the first and last of the no party presidents.  Since then everyone has aligned themselves along with one set of ideals or another according to how the party platform was framed.    Issues of concern were things like shall there be a national bank, paper money be allowed and if a runaway slave should be returned to the owner if caught, should Texas be annexed and if Missouri should be a slave state or not.   Later, it was how long ought to be a work day and how old a child has to be to be worked, what's a fair wage.   Now is can gay people marry,  can we lay a pipe across the country, should Iran have a nuclear bomb,  are women allowed to abort an unwanted child whenever they want to.  People come down on both sides of these with a degree of passion that rivals the near beating to death of Senator Sumter with a walking cane by a congressman that thought he was righting an insult Sumter committed in a senate speech vilifying the congressman's relative. 

As we flock to our party and cast our vote we really cross our fingers and hope that the people we put in office are true to their word as to being like minded with us.   As a democratic republic, we place these people in place to create laws and vote in a manner that is good for the country as a whole and our state, district and us personally.  We trust them to acquaint themselves with the particulars of what they do vote on and some times we have to realize that they have more information in hand that may preclude what we feel about something.   You would think the days are gone of politicians telling one group from the back of the train platform one thing and another group something else.  For instance, telling southern California growers you will funnel water from the delta to their fields and then go to Sacramento in northern California and tell them no way would you ever siphon off water to southern California.   The situation is politicians still do that and even though we can put sound bits next to each other and hear for ourselves the disparage between them the people still get voted into office.   Why is that? 

Jesus said, "Ye, who is without sin cast the first stone".  For the most part people try and overcome their baser selves, live by the golden rule, be truthful and have integrity and we would love to see those people we put into political office be better than we are in those regards to being selfless and grasp for the greater good.  Many are that way, they are quietly working almost in the background oiling the bearings of the government keeping it running smoothly sweeping away as they can the gravel people like Al Sharpton throws into the works.  A few of them percolate to the surface and become a lightening rod for their parties platform.   Presidents have pitted themselves against congress over and over throughout the centuries.  Andrew Johnson only avoided getting thrown out of office by one senator vote for breaking a law enacted by congress to hamper him.  As you study the presidents the most successful and endearing presidents  with their party, the people as a whole and reported favorably by historians are the presidents that worked closely with congress.  They rarely got their hands slapped by the Supreme Court for over reaching their constitutional authority.  

Do you suppose the people that voted for the past few governors of Illinois that are and have been in prison said as they cast their ballot, "I'm sure he can do a lot of good for us before he gets caught and jailed."  I suggest not.  Would you feel bad or feel you wasted your vote on a crook, a deceiver, a man feathering his own nest or those of his cronies?  If not, it isn't because you're bad, but that you didn't know all you needed to and trusted the party to put the right fellow before you.   This is the same for both major parties. 

Our system isn't broken, just the opposite.  It works excellent.  It is malleable, we let things bad things happen, true, but we do it at the ballot box which is the same place we can go to correct it.   This current administration in the white house is treating the system  like Stretch Armstrong trying to see where the limits are.  The system won't break.  Congress hasn't been as dutiful as they ought to have been to reign in the executive branch, the Supreme court has tried but has no enforcement arm and relies of the executive branch to enforce the law.  This is not the first president to thumb his nose at the Supreme court and congress and probably won't be the last.  Regardless of who is elected in 2016 is unlikely they can do anymore harm to the country than has already been done.  But, if Iran gets an atomic bomb we might have rethink that.  

Transparent and Accountable


Excerpt from the Dems Platform:
21st Century Government: Transparent and Accountable

President Obama and the Democrats are committed to rethinking, reforming, and remaking our government so that it can meet the challenges of our time.

I had started out commenting on the whole paragraph and ended up with the following addressing only the first sentence of that heading copied from the DNC platform.


  1. This is probably one of the truest statements made because the Democrats led by President Obama has on the past six years nearly fulfilled their promise to rethink, reform and remake our government. That problem is that this makeover of the government has not helped many and hurt more.

  1. Rethinking is true.  Not new thinking; but pretty much a rehash of the LBJ and Nixon mindset. Establishing enemies list to sic the IRS and Justice department on to and a backdoor intrusion on our right to privacy with monitoring by the NSA.

  1. Reforming:  Reforming is a natural process with the moving in of any new administration.  They throw out the previous cabinet and form a new one.  There is a layer of bureaucrats I call the spoils layer that lays over the top of all government agencies that each and every party hands out to the loyal participants of the election process.  That is okay, expected and accepted.  It is also the reason that IRS, NSA, the Justice department, Department of the Interior and so on can circumvent the law and in the end literally get people killed like Fast and Furious and Benghazi because they think like Obama and know there is no penalty.  

  1. Remaking:  Out government does not need remaking. Our system isn't broken.  See, my post "Is the System really broken?" However, true to their word Obama and his insiders are remaking the government and not in a good way.  There has been a few times in the past where the bulk of power to govern the country has swayed from congress to the executive branch and back again. Lyndon B Johnson tried to wrest control of the senate as vice president and the senators of his own party prevented it.  Because they had a solid understanding of the separation of powers. The Democrats of today don't seem to have the same sense of the construction of our government. I say this because they have not pushed back on Obama at all on anything important that anyone can tell. 

  1. All the above is "so that is can meet the challenges of our time".  Beside some of the challenges Democrats has fostered over the past six years which I will go into later let's consider some of the challenges at the time they took control.  Which are close to the same as they are today.
    1. Unemployment
    1. War in foreign lands
    1. Devaluation of homes
    1. Crashing of several manufacturing entities
    1. Crashing of several financial entities

Across the nation unemployment hasn't really changed much since Obama took office according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Not withstanding a few fluctuations it's been about 4-6% since 2004 not withstanding some local regions are really bad nearing and toping 10%.  Now with that said, Republicans will say we are more worse off that you can imagine because the discouraged job seekers that have dropped out of the search for work thus are no longer reported on the official unemployment statistics.  They consist of about 90,000 people as of 2013.  Out of a work force of 110 million that may not seem like a lot to you. Unless, you are one of them.

Most everyone wants a job, but for a main issue for the parties to squabble over I think is pretty much a waste of breath.

War in foreign lands is a really hot issue with just about anyone that cares about anything. A lot smarter people than me has addressed this situation, both Democrats and Republicans. They both have excellent arguments.  The isolationists that tend to be more Democrat want us to mind our own business and leave the world alone. How can we argue with the idea of us all just getting along?  No one, really.  But is that the reality of the world? Out nation from post civil war to WW1 had a relatively good period of isolationism and peace enough to expand, grow, bring in the industrial age and set into place the infrastructure that put the U.S. in the dominant spot on the world theater when we finally stepped up and took an active role in the first world war. Communism is to small countries like Jessie Jackson is to corporations.  Countries said to the USA pay us and we will not go to the communist where Jessie Jackson says pay us and we won't sue you for not having enough black people on payroll.   The Cold War is over and is paying countries now necessary?  Perhaps, I think to some degree no.  So why would we engage in conflicts in other countries?  I think for two fundamental reasons. First is we are honoring our word, a treaty.  Japan for instance is not a mighty warring power because we told them we would protect them if they didn't build up an army again. We told Israel we would always stand by them.  How we doing on that? Not so well from what I see.   This is just to spark some thought.  I could go on and on at the sake of the other points.  Perhaps I'll return to this in it's own post.

Dropping home values has been one of the most crushing things to happen to the middle class in the memory of most.  I have seen over the years homes rise and fall in value along a fairly predicable path trending upwards. But to see it crash like a stock market Black Friday was not seen but by a few.  I cannot tell you the particulars as to the nuts and bolts of it in this post.  Basically, the foundation for this crash was set up by the Clinton in the early 90s with the blessing of the Republican congress to deregulate the investment houses and permit them to act like banks and invest in markets they should have stayed out of like home mortgages.  Then with the continual relaxing of sound lending standards like the ability to repay a loan people were getting in mortgages they could not maintain for long and didn't. Housing markets have yet to rebound to their former levels.  They will though in time.

Lets lump the manufacturing and financial entities collapsing together.  Essentially it's the same thing other than the segment of market they serve.  This is another that could take up its own posting to some length.  In the end, whether you think they should have been bailed out or not, they have been.  All and all I think that we are all better off for the bail outs.  It is certainly evident the government wastes more money in other ways than to shore up the backbone of our financial structure. What is irksome is the blame game.  Like the crash of home values these entities had their demise set up long ago well before Bush 42 and Clinton.  The primary reason they failed is the housing crash underwriting on bad paper and the debt load.  When the economy took that nose dive in 2009 people stopped buying new cars and stopped saving so as to eat. That was money that did not go into Chevy's bottom line, inventory starting stacking up and investment companies had no extra cash to lend and no one could pay their bills.  Thus over the waterfall we all have gone.

Humorous Payback


The USS Brewton FF-1086 was the last Frigate I served on.  I was the LPO which is the leading petty officer of 3rd division.  Made up of sonar techs, ASROC gunners mates and torpedo men.   We all had to eat.

So, really, you think.   Eating is what we all hope to do every day at least a few times.  Shipboard food is really very good.  The Mess Specialists cook up some good stuff according to a strict healthy varied menu.  There are only a few of mess cooks, though.  The mess decks and galley need cleaning.  Stores (food) has to be brought up from the lockers and freezers (refers) for the cooks to use and then the crew needs to be served as they file through the mess line.   The fellows that do all that are sent by their divisions as a mixture of ratings like, sonar techs, electronic techs, boiler men,  machinist mates, fire control techs and most the rest of the ship's crew.  These men are each division's lowest rated men.  Firemen and Seamen rated at E2 and E3.  They will serve their tour of mess duty for one to six months before getting back to their own division and working at what they were trained to do.   A Petty Officer is a rating that begins at E4.  They are typically never assigned to collateral duties like mess decks. 

The Ensign pops into Sonar Control one evening underway and tells me that we have to send another man to the mess decks.  I said we already had two seamen there and had no more.  He said then send a third class which is an E4.   We had no less than ten of them, so I shrugged and said okay. 

The most senior third class petty officer we had was PO3 Bolds.  He had less than a year left on board having been there already over 3 years.  I reasoned that if this trend continued that the others would be around long enough to get their turn, so I assigned Bolds for a three-month stint in the mess decks.

He was not happy and let me know it in terms that I shan't repeat here, but went anyway.    A week or so later the galley was serving for noon meal breaded cod which is always good.  I was in line with my divided steel tray when I came to the fish.  PO3 Bolds was serving.  He looked at me and said, "Only two pieces.  If you want more, you have to come back."  Okay, I thought I knew that.  He then pushed around the fish in the pan till he found two pieces about an inch long each and dropped them on my plate and told me to move on.  After loading up on veggies, I sat down and ate my bite of fish.  Noticing the line had eased up I went back and got more fish; Bolds had moved on to something else at that point, so I got some good sized portions. 

I still chuckle to this day when I recall this episode.  He certainly got his payback. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

If you Smoke tobacco - Don't


Smoker, you are okay today.  You don't have throat cancer and your bronchial are clear.  Your heart is strong.  Your fingers are only mildly yellowed. You use a good smoker's toothpaste to slow the yellowing affect on your teeth.  Keep in mind though that the chemicals in tobacco are accumulative in the tissues of your body.

All is good for you today.  Are you familiar with Russian Roulette?   That is where a person puts one bullet in a six shot revolver and spins the chamber so that the placement of the bullet is unknown.  Then they put the gun to the head and the trigger pulled.  That 16.6% chance of dying.   But if the bullet is aligned with the barrel it is 100% sure of dying.

Now load your gun with a cigarette in each barrel.    Every time you figuratively pull the trigger you have a 16.6% chance of dying.  Then one day the cigarette in the barrel will be the one.  Like the bullet it will be  100% sure of killing you.  Unlike the bullet though, it will not be a quick death.  You will linger.  You will be wearing a hose on your head with a green bottle hanging from your belt.  Your throat will tear as the cancer eats you up.  The efficiency of your heart will decrease till you can't walk.  Your lungs will rot and die and you will suffocate. 

 

Just saying…

 

Smoke one more

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Foul Mouthed


As a person we evolve our personalities.  Hopefully for the better. 

I don't cuss or swear.   It hasn't always been that way.  As a 24 year old First Class Petty Officer on a Frigate I could throw out a crude spew from my mouth that could practically cling to the bulkheads.  Everyone did.   As is said, birds of a feather flock together and flock we did.  Yet, we had our factions.  There were Snipes, Twigits, Deck Apes, Skivvy Wavers, Sparks, Gunners and of course Zeros.  In order not to be factionless, every group had their varying levels of initiation to be a well working component of the group.  I was a sonar man so our hazing was rather mild like sending the new guy to the supply department for a box of Sonar contacts compared to the new Snipes that ended up with a butt full of #90 gear oil from a grease gun. 

Sometimes our evolving comes about gently over time and other times its an epiphany.  For me it's been more a string of epiphanies that has made me a better person depending on who you ask I suppose.

I was on the main deck.  That's the deck open to the sea coming up from below.  Going on up from the water is the 01(oh one), 02 (oh two) respectively; going down toward and under the water is the 1st deck, 2nd deck and so forth.   I was just coming out of the hanger bay heading for the hatch to the first deck when I crossed paths with a Third Class who's name is lost to me over time.  He pleasantly greeted me as we crossed paths.  As I put my foot on the first rung of the ladder I returned with a barrage of vile degrading obscenities and descended to the first deck and headed for the mess decks.  The mess decks was about 30 feet away.  By the time I entered the mess decks I stopped up short as it sunk into me as to what I jerk I was.  I turned around and went back up to the main deck and found the fellow and apologized to him.  Sadly, it was such a common occurrence that he stated he hadn't noticed my rude behavior. 

I vowed that I would stop swearing and cussing.  I didn't cuss or swear before I joined the Navy and I was determined that I would return to that.  It wasn't easy.  I slipped from time to time, but being aware of it pulled me up short each time and the occurrences became further and further apart and now years and years apart. 

As the years move on and I became a Chief Petty officer it became evident to my fellow sailors I was not typical.  I didn't cuss, drink alcohol or coffee.  I was true to my word and expected the same.  I told my men that I didn't expect them to stop cursing if they wanted to only not to do it when they were talking to me.  There was a line on the evaluation forms for personal reviews that addressed "Expressing oneself well  orally and in writing".  Which is generally always marked with the highest marks.  I told my men that I did not consider swearing and cursing expressing oneself well.

I never have considered myself better or above any other.   Yet, when it comes to language I found I look down my nose a little at foul mouthed people.   It seems a bit thoughtless, inconsiderate and slow minded for people to be foul.  

Of course, they are not all that all the time.  In the Bible I read in the Book of Matthew that which proceeds from the mouth comes from the heart.  I was unaware of that when I decided to stop cussing.  But now that I know that when I think about It would anyone consider their hearts as harboring such foulness as to spew it from the tongue would continue to do that.  Some people, yes but for most people is probably no.  

I submit there is no good time for foul mouth cursing and swearing.  The argument that we are in an environment where everyone does like being a sailor or a construction worker  or a politician on open mike  doesn't hold water.  

In conclusion.  If you swear, cuss, curse and otherwise express a foul mouth.  Think is that really what you want people in world to hear from you? 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Misfits


Misfits

Years ago in the early 70's I was a Correctional Counselor for a couple of years.   I was stationed at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi Texas.  The Marines had been in charge of the correctional facility, and a Navy Commander went in undercover to investigate complaints about them.  They messed him up pretty good, and as a result, the Navy sent all the Marines away and put sailors in charge.   If you've spent any time around active duty Marines, you come to understand there is a huge difference in a world view between Marines and Sailors.   The Marines have important functions to fulfill in their military role and thus have to have undergone a particular type of conditioning to do that which for the most part makes them nearly incompatible with the rest of society.  Fortunately, most of them normalize after they leave the service. 

Of all the services, the Navy is the toughest to survive in.  Sailors get stationed on huge hunks of metal with hundreds of miles of wire strung through it, and large electrical generators then charge those wires.   Then stick that huge hunk of metal in water and float it around the world without getting shocked, swamped by a typhoon or set it on fire without the sight of land in any direction.  In abandon ship drills you are always given the bearing and distance to the nearest land.  We always joked it is 2000 feet straight down.  Then with all the inherent dangers to life and limb, we ride these ships for months and months on end.  I have 12 years on my sea counter.   Needless to say; it isn't the life for everyone which takes me back to the topic.  

 

Most of the people we had as a guest in our correctional facility were misfits.   They just ran away to find some relief and then got caught and brought to us for processing out.   It took three months to discharge someone out on a convenience to the government release from service.  We had two facilities the correctional center and the correctional barracks.  The center held new arrivals and more hardcore men that posed a flight risk and harm to others.  The barracks housed those proven to be without flight risk and would sit out the mustering out process. 

 

As the correctional counselor I interviewed all the new arrivals; assisted the disbursing office with getting them some comfort funds, assessing their risk levels, medical needs and keeping them informed as to the process they were to undergo and the time frame to expect to be let go.  I kept statistics on the people for the two years.  I found that over 90% of the inmates were 5'10" or less; more than 85% hailed from a broken home growing up with just a mom or just a dad and a few fostered to adulthood.   Almost everyone smoked tobacco and most drank alcohol to excess if they could get it.  Then 99.7% of them had some varying degree of issues with authority figures of which I was one.  

 

My relationship with the inmates compared to the regular Navy was less stressful for them on several levels.  For one I was permitted to wear civilian clothes to work as to lessen the intimidation as an authority figure and garner greater trust.  I don't think to wear civies made any difference, as I put my uniform back on for the second year. If anything, I think my relationship with the inmates was stronger in uniform.   

 

With some exception the leadership of the Navy is ingrown.  The term ingrown has a negative meaning for a good reason.  Young men without benefit of much life experience and not having much authority exercised over them other than mom and dad and Mr. Phillips in the wood shop at school that had just enough leadership skills to teach them not to cut their finger off on the band saw.  So off to boot camp where they are insulted, torn down and reassembled into the military mold.   Then those that stick it out long enough find themselves in charge are leaders without the skills to be so.  These new leaders learned to treat others the way they got treated, and that usually wasn't very good.   We that stuck it out (I did 24 years) worked our way through those people and some of us took it on board to be different.  However, the misfits could not.  They, for the most part, were not bad people.   They had issues that just weren't compatible with the military.  Unlike civilian jobs, you can't just resign.  You have to ride it out or get into enough trouble to get kicked out.   That's the route these men took. 

 

Here's my positive spin on this.  Those misfits that couldn't function in the Navy are among us.  The same type of people that would have been a misfit had they been in the Navy are with us too.   They still have authority issues, wear their hearts on their sleeves and hate to follow the rules and if not loners travel in the companionship of those like-minded.  They add flavor to our otherwise complacent lives.  I call for a "Let's befriend a misfit" week.   I found that for the most part misfits are hard to get along with because of their attitudes and many times we don't feel they like us.  We struggle with having respect for them.   I can tell you that almost without exception that if we make an effort to actually "like" a misfit, they will like us back.  It is nearly impossible not to like someone that likes us.  Turn that around, and we'll all get along together much better.  You would be amazed at a depth of sound character a misfit can bring forth under the right conditions.   Give it a shot, you might just come away with a new best friend.  Wouldn't that be nice? 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Third times the charm

Now we've had blogs from our time in Germany and I've had a running blog last couple years over a range of topics from Motorcycle trips to political commentary.  Then the Misses says I need to write some happy stuff.  I have to admit the political landscape as gotten me down a bit and she said that after my last rant.

So, here we go.  Happy Thoughts.  I suspect the pressure is on.  I'm not sure I have anything positive to say.  Oh heck, sure I do and soon as I think of something I'll put it here.