Democrats and Republicans Squander Power in Internecine Swamp Warfare

When politicians get personal, at best, nothing happens, at worst, nothing good happens.  We are witnessing, and suffering the slings and arrows of Alinsky-esque, Pyrrhic battles among the old guards of both parties of the “swamp” and the “Neo-Alt-Populists.”

What earnest, stalwart citizens expect is honest disagreement and negotiation to get the nation’s business done.  Instead we get messy, nasty, underhanded, duplicitous, deceitful, street fights by leaders of the traditional, two-party Congress and political elite intended to sabotage and neutralize the populist agenda.  Instead, we drown in oceans of pure sewage, a woeful waste of time, money, and reputation.

Trump started this ad hominem warfare with schoolyard nicknames for his opponents and constant public comments on everyone and everything.  But the swamp knows how to respond in kind.  Undermining, demeaning, and slandering one another absorbs enormous energy and batters the already dwindling confidence of the public.  What can we do with the barrage of bickering and dirty laundry?

I assign a giant portion of blame to the partisan, self-serving, faux journalists who constantly, gleefully, nakedly, shamelessly, and blatantly editorialize the mayhem.  The growing competition for notoriety risks America’s reputation and wastes our resources and influence.   Adolescent gossip has become the fodder for our herd of addicted commentators, who flood every form of information outlet, 24/7, with waves of “breaking news.”

I propose a ceasefire and a truce on public criticism, starting with the President.  Take your bar fights out back; do not make us witness the ugly, monkey-dance posturing, angry barbs, and impotent jabs.  Come back when you are done mauling each other, and you have made up with some workable compromise.  We are tired of seeing how no sausage is made.  We want to see and hear mature, decent people, doing what we elected them to do, with decorum and dignity.

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Empty Vessels – No-Knowledge, Hapless Harlequins

We Americans pride ourselves on sophistication without evidence.  Take any “on-the-street” interview.  Does the ignorance of the pedestrian amuse you?  Beware the flagrant lapse of education and awareness. Apparently, we stopped requiring and inspiring “common” knowledge thirty or more years ago.

We have become a sort of third-world country in terms of awareness; clowns of not-so-funny, serious lapses of informed smarts.

A television sampling of instant interviews prior to the recent eclipse was a frightening display of the absence of even elementary information and knowledge about the nature of our planet, our solar system, our universe.  We were supposed to laugh at these peoples’ abject ignorance.

What a condemnation of our education system, and any ill-informed populism we might engender.  Finite knowledge, and unbounded ignorance go hand-in-hand with fascism, and other forms of mindless collectivism.

A glaring, and shocking example of this growing surrender to rude “democracy,” is the recent Fox News segment, “Next Revolution,” with Steve Hilton.  He calls it “positive populism,” I call it a thinly clad predecessor to the failed notion of communism.  We have entered a dangerous period of power without knowledge.  A democracy of fools is a vast and dangerous mob, incited by the slightest of mistaken thoughts and gossip.

Harlequins were clever, cultural foils for royal courts of yore.  They raised obvious points of regal stupidity through not-always-subtle, but carefully-clad humor, and thinly-disguised ridicule.

I fear that we Americans have become so arrogant, so conceited, so vainglorious, that we cannot see the truths in the humor of our harlequins.

 

 

Transconfusion – “Identity“ Detached from Reality

I wonder if anyone is clear about what these various “my body is this form, but I feel like another form” discussions yield?  In our society, a body with a penis is male, and a body with a vagina is female.  That is a physical, sexual distinction.  This distinction is important to procreation, on a purely biological basis.  Females have the capacity to bring a fertilized egg, to embryo, through gestation, to live birth of a new person.  Males do not.  This is bisexual reproduction, without dispute.  Early humans could not alter this law of nature.  The fact that our world now has 7 billion people, is testament to  this:  vive la différence(I know that physiology can be unclear in a few, rare cases, but let’s let the outliers lie out there.)

Then we have society.  Sex is physical, gender is cultural, based on the expected roles and behaviors of men and women.  Most of these expectations have evolved from physical traits and expanded family traditions.  To act like a man was to think, speak, and act in ways that the alpha male did. Little boys worked at being like their father or big brother.   Likewise, to act like a woman was to conform to the ways of other women, take cues from their mother and other female models.

Yet, humans have gone through amazing, changing models for men and women.  Three centuries ago men wore fancy silk and satin clothes, high heels, wigs, and makeup.  They moved and spoke in ways modern Americans would associate with women.  We have also seen the division of labor of the past shift mightily.  The roles and responsibilities of men and women are more alike than ever.

We inherited our intricate social structure and laws from humans who managed to survive and procreate.  In any culture, to deviate from those complex behaviors was to jar the stability of, and threaten the survival of a family/community.  Failure to conform to the spoken and unspoken rules of society was an invitation to punishment.

Homosexuality did not bear the fruit of children, which was a threat to the future of the community.  Religions proclaim that it is a duty to God for people be fruitful, and forbid non-fruitful behaviors.  Some religions even promoted polygamy to increase the number of children added to their flock.  Being “non-fruitful” by having sex without the possibility of children was a sin.  Such sins were often punishable by shaming, shunning, physical punishment, death, or exile.  No one questioned the wisdom of the “scriptures.”

When societies expanded and advanced to the point that extinction was not as great a fear, people felt safer to allow themselves to be “non-fruitful.”  Homosexuality was tolerated along with other “sins,” and “debauchery.”

Only recently, has America made homosexuality legal and sanctioned homosexual marriages.

But here is where I get confused:  what exactly is “transgender?”  At first, I thought it meant a homosexual who took action to physically gain the attributes of the opposite sex.  Sounds painful and expensive to me; and not all men make pretty women.

But now I hear that transgender can mean that a person “identifies” as another sex without the physical transformation.  I was surprised that Bruce/Kaitlin Jenner “identifies” as a woman, has gained breasts, grown long hair, bought a wardrobe of women’s clothing, but retains male genitalia. You think, maybe, he “identifies” as both male and female?

I am also hearing about people who call themselves transgender who do nothing physical, just “identify.”  Boys who “identify” as girls, but are still physically boys, want to go to the girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms.  Homosexuals have always used the bathrooms of their physical sex.  What is different with transgenders who are physically boys or girls?  For me, as long as the difference in preference or identity is not represented by your body, I say, your body determines which school or public facilities to use.

 

 

 

Loyalty Is a Treasure – Disloyalty Is a Travesty

I grew up with four younger siblings.  You can imagine the constant turmoil and conflicts.  Really, what we experienced was trivial, but at the time, it seemed extreme.  Despite the changing levels of love, we were a family.  We could have our problems, but they stayed our private business.  Any threats or harm from neighborhood kids were an attack on all of us.  We took care of each other, and never disparaged a family member in public.  That is loyalty.

Loyalty can be a problematic virtue; it is a persistent, sometimes painful promise, and devoted commitment.  We possess our loyalties; we call them my friends, my family, my profession, my church, my team, our party, our country. We are ashamed or proud of them. We take risks or bear burdens for them.

Families expect it; organizations demand it; countries foster it. We expect loyalty in return.

People may forfeit our loyalty by asking us to set aside good judgment, “justifying” unethical conduct, or persistently violating our trust or shared values.

“When an organization wants you to do right, it asks for your integrity; when it wants you to do wrong, it demands your loyalty.”

Public disloyalty is a terrible betrayal; it says the worst about the betrayer.  Private quarrels, confidential problems are not disloyalty, they are getting along with people who share your values.

President Trump’s public criticism of Attorney General Sessions is embarrassing to our country and to his administration.  The crass nature of his publicized complaints violates and weakens the loyalty of his followers when loyalty is at a premium.  This was not a slip, no stealth recording; it was a New York Times interview, tweets, and press statements.  I am aghast at the whole spectacle.

Jeff Sessions was one of the most vocal supporters for Donald Trump during the campaign.  Why would Trump stab this powerful ally in the back over an act of integrity in recusing himself in the Russia/Clinton controversies?  Why this sad, rude, self-sabotage when so many important promises are waiting to be fulfilled?  I cringe when I think of how this will stain his presidency, and cripple the trust of his supporters.

The Art of the “New-More-Better” Deal – Putting Lipstick on a Platform?

When the same company of actors performs one play badly, will a new play make them perform better?  The political establishment’s senior leaders of the Democratic Party must believe it can happen.

We watched the “critics” close the old DNC play in November of 2016, after an eight-year run.  Trouble was, the cast were only part of the problem; the writers, producers and directors were the rest.   Now we have the preview of the new DNC play, which plans to run from now until 2018.  Trouble is, the same people plan to produce the show.

Nancy Pelosi, from California, is House Democratic leader.  She published an op-ed article in the Washington Post 7/23/17.

In her editorial, she outlined the proposed new party agenda: (To paraphrase,) “Make America Better Again,” or maybe, “Have I Got a Better Deal for You!”  It seems to be a leftish echo of Donald Trump’s winning, campaign platform, which put control of the White House, and the Congress in the hands of the Republican party.  How can adopting similar positions help Democrats win?

She berates the GOP for not …” creating good-paying jobs, or rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, or advancing tax reform, Republicans have spent six months trying to raise Americans’ health costs to fund tax breaks for billionaires.”  That sad, tired rhetoric has not worked at all so far.

I do not know what Ms. Pelosi expected in six months.  How much of those goals happened in the four years the Democrats had control of the White House, Senate, and the House of Representatives, or the following four years they controlled both the White House and Senate?  But, politics is a short-term memory profession.

The Democrats took the first year and two months of Obama’s presidency to create the Affordable Care Act, starting one month after President Obama’s first inauguration, and ending thirteen months later.  I guess we will have to give President Trump at least four years to measure progress on healthcare, tax reform, infrastructure, immigration, and job creation.

Meanwhile, the Democrats promise to offer Americans “A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future.”  The San Francisco Democrat complained, “Working people from the heartland to the cities are struggling in a rigged economy and a system stacked against them.”   Why do we have these problems after fifteen years of her political leadership?

She also wrote of a renewed, “…commitment to the hard-working men and women across the United States who have been left out and left behind for too long.” I wonder how much time Ms. Pelosi spends in the “heartland,” schmoozing with the “hard-working men and women?”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.  wrote an op-ed article for the New York Times, and gave interviews to describe the new ideas of the “better deal.”  Here is the gist.  (Note:  the first clue to the truth is denial of it.  Look for what they say is “not.”)

“Our better deal is not about expanding the government, (n)or moving our party in one direction or another along the political spectrum. Nor is it about tearing down government agencies that work, that effectively protect consumers and promote the health and well-being of the country,”

“It’s about reorienting government to work on behalf of people and families.”  (Whatever that means.  “We are from the government, and we are here to help you.?”)

“Week after week, month after month, we’re going to roll out specific pieces here that are quite different than the Democratic Party you heard in the past,” Schumer said. “We were too cautious. We were too namby-pamby.”

The Democrats say their agenda targets “old-fashioned capitalism.”

Summary:

The leaders of the Democrats in Congress offer a “new-more-better” deal to Americans. Specific promises:

  1. Ten million, new, fulltime, good-paying jobs in the next five years. Tax credits for employers who hire and train workers at a good wage, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training.
  2. Break the grips of big business special interests, monopolies, on rising living prices.
  3. Lower the cost of prescription drugs, regulate pharma price increases, allow Medicare/Medicaid to negotiate drug prices.

Other ideas in the mix:

  1. Single-payer healthcare system
  2. $15 minimum wage
  3. One-trillion-dollar infrastructure plan

Okay?  That is the new DNC agenda?  How would this approach, delivered by these people, align the disparate viewpoints of the left?  Who would feel energized by adopting these goals?  What jobs are not filled that need apprentices and trainees?  How much is “good-paying?”  Inflation is below 2%; which costs are rising, besides healthcare insurance?  What is missing from our current anti-trust laws?  Where have price controls worked without reducing supply or creating black markets?  Why limit negotiation of prices to drugs?  Why not other costs?  What if Trump does these things before the Democrats do?

I can see the faint ghost of Bernie Sanders’ populism in the language, but very faint.  It seems to be an establishment effort to ignite and unify the Democrats under the present leadership.  The dissonance and vagueness of the agenda strikes me as an unfocused attempt at cat herding.   It reminds me of that definition: “repeating the same actions and expecting different results is insanity.”

 

 

Is it Important to Know the Sources of Truth? – Henry David Thoreau, Yes and Know

Maybe it has always been this way, but why does it seem so vital to associate an insightful aphorism with a famous person?

“Truth strikes us from behind, and in the dark, as well as from before and in broad day-light.”

Who wrote this? Henry David Thoreau.  Beautiful in its truth and simplicity.  But what if some insignificant playwright put these words on Thoreau’s lips in his play?  Would it be less insightful?

There is a plague of mis-quotations, mis-attributions, and quotation mills, (e.g. brainyquotes.com) who do nothing to verify what people add to their sites.  I see these un-researched and inaccurate quotes used by people of incredible ability because the Internet makes it easy to be wrong and believe you are right.

When I first started seeing these “quotes.” and discovered how few were accurate, I spent months trying to raise the alarm about quotes attributed to Albert Einstein, Gandhi, Winston Churchill, and other notable historic figures.  Even after blazing the trail to truth, people shrugged and continued their reliance on provably unreliable websites.

One personal experience, before the current craze, happened to me in Colorado, while I was on a month-long “Chautauqua” through the Rocky Mountains.  A friendly lady gave me a bookmarker with a quotation from Henry David Thoreau.  “Many men fish all their lives without ever realizing that it is not the fish they are after.”  Very touching and insightful, but a misquote by a writer, Michael Baughman, who wrote it in his book A River Seen Right (Lyons Press, 1995) p. 156.

He apparently paraphrased something Thoreau wrote in his journal, January 26, 1853:

“It is remarkable that many men will go with eagerness to Walden Pond in the winter to fish for pickerel and yet not seem to care for the landscape. Of course, it cannot be merely for the pickerel they may catch; there is some adventure in it; but any love of nature which they may feel is certainly very slight and indefinite. They call it going a-fishing, and so indeed it is, though perchance, their natures know better. Now I go a-fishing and a-hunting every day, but omit the fish and the game, which are the least important part. I have learned to do without them. They were indispensable only as long as I was a boy. I am encouraged when I see a dozen villagers drawn to Walden Pond to spend a day in fishing through the ice, and suspect that I have more fellows than I knew, but I am disappointed and surprised to find that they lay so much stress on the fish which they catch or fail to catch, and on nothing else, as if there were nothing else to be caught.”

I wonder, if today, this aphorism captures our current, self-absorbed culture?  Maybe today, the “fishing” is taking “selfies” and exposing every aspect of people’s experience and perspective on the Internet.  They get noticed but not notorious, or famous, or even infamous.  They become suicidal when virtual phantoms express disdain and scorn.

Everybody seems to be fishing for something, but what do they really want and why?

What they may really want is proof, and acknowledgment that they exist and have a value, and a meaning.  Why do they want it?  Maybe the disintegration of family, neighborhood, community leaves a void they cannot fill.  Maybe this secular dissociation leaves people feeling empty, afraid, and alone.

Could it be that what they really want is what families and churches used to provide:  love and belonging?

Trump, Jr. Duped by British Music Publicist for Russian Pop-Star – How Evil Russians Fooled Him

Okay.  Let me get this straight:   Aras Iskenderovich Agalarov, an influential, Azerbaijani-Russian oligarch, and real estate developer, paid private-American citizen, Donald J. Trump, Sr., handsomely to bring his 2013 Miss Universe Pageant contestants to Moscow, where they were required to swoon in a music video, which included Mr. Trump, intended to launch Aras’s son, Emin (not to be confused with US rapper Eminem) Agalarov, a Russian, pop-star’s singing career.

Is that clear?  No?  How about, “A rich and famous Russian bought TV time to promote his son.”  It worked!  Emin (who speaks excellent English) is now one of Russia’s top pop-stars.  Fellow real estate developers, Aras (who does not speak English) and Donald used the opportunity to discuss  a possible Trump Tower – Moscow.  The economic downturn quashed that development, but not the friendships.

The Agalarovs  are very well connected in Russia and its southern neighbor, Azerbaijan.  Ten days prior to the pageant, President Vladimir Putin awarded Aras the Order of Honour by the Russian Federation, which is reserved for eminent citizens, such as Mikhail Gorbachev, Vladimir Putin, cosmonauts, Olympic champions, ambassadors, and major musicians. Emin’s ex-wife is the daughter of the president of Azerbaijan.

The Agalarovs expressed support for Mr. Trump’s presidential aspirations.  Enter Rob Goodlove, a British journalist turned PR publicist for the Agalarovs.  Rob emails Trump, Jr., on Emin’s behalf, that Aras Agalarov, 61, met with the “Crown prosecutor (sic) of Russia,” who offered to provide damaging information about Clinton. (Britain has a “crown prosecutor “— Russia has a “prosecutor general.”)

Trump, Jr. replies, “perhaps I just speak to Emin first.” “Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?”

Instead of a call, Rob relays a message, “Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this Thursday.”

Rob replies, “I will send you the names of the two people meeting with you for security when I have them later today.”

Trump, Jr. accepts, “Great. It will likely be Paul Manafort (campaign boss) my brother in law and me. 725 Fifth Ave 25th floor.”

End of emails.

Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met with two people.  include the name of the Russian attorney (who does not speak English), Natalia Veselnitskaya, whose primary purpose in the U.S. is to support repeal of the Magnitsky Act, and, a lobbyist against the Magnitsky Act, Rinat Akhmetshin, a dual-citizen Russian-American.

Some unverified accounts of the meeting say that Rob Goldstone was there along with two more people: a translator and a representative of the Agalarovs.  Rinat Akhmetshin could certainly translate Russian and English for the parties.  Goldstone is an official representative of the Agalarovs.  To me, the report of eight people in the meeting sounds like double-counting on the surface.

Veselnitskaya offered a document which alluded to DNC finances.  Trump, Jr. asked if she had any documentation to back up that accusation.  She said no and pivoted from the dirt on Hillary Clinton to their real agenda:  lobbying the Trump campaign on Russia-related adoption policy .(the Magnitsky Act).

Jared, Kushner left the scheduled 20-minute meeting after 10 minutes.  Some reports say Trump, Jr. left early too.  No follow-up calls, meetings or emails.

What does this sound like?  Trump, Jr. got duped into a meeting with two advocates of repeal of the Magnitsky Act, by a music publicist for a Russian pop-star Trump, Sr. met at the Miss Universe Pageant four years ago.