The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘ethics’ Category

THE PASSING OF A STATESMAN

The first black president of the Republic of South Africa, Nelson Mandela has died at the age of 95 years.  He was a statesman and a gentle, humble man.  Mr. Mandela served 27 years of a life sentence before he was released from prison for his anti-apartheid campaign which finally saw the downfall of that oppressive institution.

It is interesting that Mandela’s efforts in South Africa happened concurrently with the civil rights movement in the United States.  What is amazing is that in South Africa where blacks were the majority population, it took many more years for apartheid to be abolished while the minority black population in the United States saw significant legal and social advances much earlier.  That was something that Mandela marveled at, both while he was in prison and afterward.

Nelson Mandela came under a lot of criticism for his efforts from the United States which supported the white government in South Africa.  His support came from  the Soviet Union and Cuba and he was branded a communist.  That probably is an accurate assessment of his political viewpoint.

But that shouldn’t surprise us if we see that communism, whether it was in Russia or China gained a hold as an appealing political system as the concentration of power and wealth was held by very few.  It is for that reason that there was a significant investment by political American blacks in Marxism going back to the 1920’s, long before the Civil Rights law was enacted.

On a national level it is undeniable that communism is one of the most efficient methods of immediately re-distributing wealth.  On an individual level we have another word for it – theft.  Having the legal authority to seize another person’s property barely elevates the act from an armed robbery accomplished at gunpoint.

Perhaps if the United States and other western countries had backed Mandela’s efforts he might have embraced our capitalistic viewpoint.  But how can a person embrace an economic system which promotes individual effort when the majority of people are denied the right to be rewarded for their achievements?  Clearly, Mandela had placed his focus on the underlying problem – that black South Africans had no rights and no prospects for a better future.

At the trial which resulted in his conviction, he made the following statement:

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination.  I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Those are the words of Nelson Mandela.  Those are the words of a statesman.

THE CIVIL RIGHTS BUSINESS

In the beginning there was the Civil Rights Movement.  That transformed into the Civil Rights Concerto for Left Hand Percussion instruments.  That transformed into the Civil Rights Business (For Profit).  This business has one product and one mantra – victimization.

Like the Phoenix it seems that the incarnations this business has are infinite.  That is because if you can attribute racism to anything that exists or anything anyone does, you have a never ending amount of material with which to work.

The state of North Carolina offers us a case in point with their passage of changes to their voting law requirements.  No sooner was the law signed by the governor than the NAACP and ACLU filed suit to get it overturned.  The premise is that the law is intended to “restrict” those who will be allowed to vote in that state’s elections.  The presumption, if we are to believe those in the Civil Right Business who have already spoken out against the law is that “restrict” means disenfranchising qualified voters who happen to be black.

One of the premiere objections to the North Carolina law is that the state will require every voter to provide a valid picture ID in order to receive a ballot.  “Valid” includes a variety of options:  a North Carolina Driver’s License, a student ID issued by a state college or university, a current United States Passport or a North Carolina issued ID.  The law, incidentally, does not go into effect until 2016 – three years from now.

A reasonable person might say that a three year time span should allow almost anyone the opportunity to obtain a valid ID so that he or she could exercise the right to vote.  In that time period a woman could bear four children and a man could father a lot more.  Isn’t that passionately concerned voter able to find the time to get a (free) North Carolina ID card?  The card, incidentally is available at over 180 different locations throughout the state – and North Carolina isn’t one of our geographically larger states.  But if a short ride is too long for that concerned voter, the entire process can be accomplished through the U. S. mail.

So taking this one portion of the law, what reasonable objection can opponents have to it?  Frankly, I’m a bit mystified.  But I am empathetic to their concern about voter suppression.  My concern takes the reverse side of their argument – and it centers around those voters who have a legitimate right to vote and who exercise that right.

You see, every vote which is cast illegally disenfranchises the voter who actually has that right.

EVEN IF IT TAKES A VILLAGE – WHY DID WE PUT THE IDIOT IN CHARGE?

There’s something about Rep. Charles Rangel (D – NY 15th District) that, well, let’s say, is colorful.  He’s never been a person to mince words or observe the finer points of the Internal Revenue Code as his 2011 censure by Congress will attest.  He is also the third longest serving member in Congress and he happens to be darkly complected.

When I think about Charlie Rangel I am always reminded of the story about the man who was speaking to the village idiot:

Man:  “You are without a doubt the stupidest person I’ve ever met.  How did you get that way?”

Idiot:  “Well, I can guarantee you it didn’t happen overnight.”

Charlie Rangel has had 42 years to hone his craft on Capitol Hill and his picture should appear next to any thoughtful argument dealing with the merits of term limits.  Only a Congressional ethics investigation impeded his becoming the Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee.  Those are the people who spend the money that we send to Washington – plus an additional 20% or even more in a really good year.

Rep. Rangel is back in the limelight over some comments he made the other day regarding the Tea Party.  You’ll remember them as being the people whose applications for tax exempt status were held up for deliberate political reasons by the IRS.

To quote the Congressman, “It is the same group we faced in the south with those white crackers and the dogs and the police.”

Not to dispute the Congressman – but that group that he and other civil rights activists faced in the ‘60’s are probably long dead or at the least they are octogenarians.  I haven’t seen any pictures of Tea Party activities wherein the participants were in wheel chairs with special cup holders to house their dentures.

But let’s return to the statement about “white crackers”.  Every reference (and I looked up seven) refers to the term as an “offensive slur”.  In other words, it is an overtly racial derogatory remark.  Has there been any outburst from the white community demanding the Congressman’s entrails?  Not that I’ve heard.  Nor would one expect that there would be.

The same term, you will recall was apparently used by Trayvon Martin in his description of George Zimmerman – at least according to the prosecution’s star witness.  Once again – there were no expressions of outrage by American whites, no marches, no protests.  This should lead all of us to ask, why do American whites not respond to racial epithets in the same volatile way as American blacks?

I think there is a simple yet profound explanation – one which speaks to the heart of this issue and to the great divide which separates us.  It all boils down to self-image.

It is extremely easy and rather alluring to advance the argument that blacks have been denied opportunity simply because of their skin color.  And it would be naïve to argue that in many cases that is not true.  But this argument assumes that black Americans have uniquely been denied opportunities which have always been open to those who came from Europe and were white.  Any review of the history of immigration to this country will rapidly disprove the validity of that theory.

The Dutch weren’t happy when the English showed up.  Neither of them was too keen on the Germans – and when the Irish made it here they were all concerned that the country was on the road to hell.  Thank heaven for the Italians and the Eastern Europeans.  Now there was a whole new collection of people  that everyone else could look down on.

All of these people came here and ultimately assimilated in what was the great melting pot.  It wasn’t always sweetness and light and there were skirmishes and battles that were fought based on a person’s ethnicity.  But somehow those managed to work themselves out.  The days of seeing a banner over a club that said German-American or Italian-American are long past.  And it was accomplished by the people themselves – without either the benefit or hindrance of government involvement.

There has never been a Polish-American, a Polynesian-American, a German-American or any other kind of (Fill In The Blank)-American caucus in Congress other than an African-American (Black) one.  And if there is merit to the Congressman’s argument that racism is alive and well in this country, he should ask himself why, when a white applicant asked to be admitted to that caucus, he was declined membership.  He should know the answer, I would hope, as he has been involved in the Black Congressional Caucus from its inception.

Racism, like any form of hatred, is a disease.  It is virulent and contagious.  And like all diseases, given the right environment it will spread and become a plague.  What the Congressman may not realize is that if it gets out of control, there is no one who is immune from its toxic effects – not even those who are the carriers.

That’s something which even the village idiot should be able to understand.

REFLECTIONS ON INDEPENDENCE DAY

As usual, last week on the 4th of July around 5:00 a.m. I arose and Gracie and our houseguest Zeus headed over to the dog park.  Apparently, for dogs as well as humans, bodily functions do not recognize the significance of official Holidays.

We went to the park but stayed only briefly because by 6:30 it was already beginning to get hot.  I could see that the fire that has now consumed about 7,000 acres north of Las Vegas on Mt. Charleston was still out of control.  Large almost cumulus-like clouds hung in the air, but rather than being white they were charcoal in color.

Perhaps it was the poor air quality that started me sneezing.  To my knowledge I don’t have any allergies.  I also didn’t have any tissues with me nor did any of my friends at the park.  So, getting tired of snorting the mucous back into my throat,  I decided to stop by the little convenience store on the way home and pick up a small pack of tissues.

It took me a few minutes to find these and pay for my purchase – which I began using in the store before I had paid for them – ah, what a relief – and when I went outside there were three teenage boys standing at the side of the door.  One of them very politely said, “Excuse me.  Could you help us?”

I thought that they were going to ask for some change.

“How can I help you?”

“Well, we was wondering if we give you the money, would you go inside the store and buy us a can of malt liquor?” said the one I took to be the oldest – perhaps 15 years or so.  Of course, doing so is a violation of our liquor laws, and more importantly is just wrong.  So that wasn’t going to happen.  But I didn’t say that.

Instead, it being the 4th of July I said, “I’ll tell you what.  I’m going to ask you a question about America – this being Independence Day – and if you can give me the correct answer I’ll think about buying the malt liquor for you.”

They seemed to perk up with the hope that I had given them.  But before I asked them my question I inquired what grades they were in at school.  Two were in the eighth grade and the oldest had completed his freshman year of high school.

“Okay, guys – name any one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.”

I thought this was a pretty easy question and I know that at their age I would have had no difficulty naming quite a few of them.  But instead of a response, I got a dazed look from all three.  Then came the most telling statement from one of the eighth graders.

He looked at me and said, “Foundin’ Fathers.  I don’t knows none of dem.  Hell, I don’t even know who the M*ther F*cker was whoz my own  father.”

To dredge up the old aphorism, “You could have knocked me over with a feather,” at this response.  I’m sure that my mouth was open wide enough that you could have easily fit a large pizza in it and had room left over.

But I recovered and told the boys that by asking an adult to buy them liquor, everyone could get in trouble and there were reasons that we didn’t allow minors to drink.  I doubt I made much of an impression as they were still hanging out at the front of the convenience store as I pulled away with the dogs.

Perhaps this is what we now consider the new “normal”.    One of my dictionaries defines “normal” as “conforming to the standard or common type; usual; regular; natural.”   It goes on to give a secondary definition:  “free from any mental disorder; sane.”

I would put forward the argument that there is nothing sane about any government’s policies which encourages mass reproduction in an already over-crowded world and rewards those who conform to that normality with increased compensation which is insufficient to raise a child in a wholesome manner; at the same time, mandates the universal availability of abortions in the event the mother at that particular moment has something more pressing to do than bring another offspring into the word; that then provides an inferior education – if any at all – to these offspring who are allowed to be born, leaving them with little alternative but to repeat the mistakes their mothers (and absent) fathers made; and then preaches that the greatest threat to planet Earth is global warming.

Or perhaps we are missing something from the equation.

I don’t want to sound cynical but I do not believe that the government’s concern for this underclass that they have created over multiple decades goes to the welfare of these slaves.  But they serve an important, albeit momentary, purpose.

That purpose is to allow those in office (and who manipulate their strings behind the scenes) to seize more power for themselves.  Once entrenched, propelled into their positions by a mindless electorate, fawning, as though they were dogs at their master’s table, hoping that a crumb or two will drop for them to devour, the great unwashed will have fulfilled their purpose and at that point become irrelevant and their continued existence unnecessary.

And tyranny will have come to America.  But a far greater and more brutal one than the world has ever seen.

Why the dichotomy between rewarding the natural process of child bearing through government subsidies and, at the same time, offering unnaturally to terminate that process?  Might it not be to condition our thinking into “normalizing” the idea that an unborn fetus has little worth and no rights.  And if something unborn that merely looks human has no worth – why not apply the same principle to those who have been born but who do not produce or contribute anything that society deems important and of value?

I have argued since the advent of Roe v. Wade how that decision leads us down the slippery slope toward that kind of “ultimate solution.”  That argument was not based on any religious philosophy or morality which is, essentially, unarguable.  It was based on a doctrine of self-preservation.

We have already marched in the direction of being able to discriminate about who it is we allow to be born (in the same way that Hitler proposed eugenic solutions to the world’s problems).  And while those choices, however heinous they might be, are presently left to the individual, it is not a far reach to imagine that soon that choice may be made on our behalf by those “enlightened” ones who will be running our healthcare system.

At one point, with a limited population and comparatively primitive methods of producing food, we needed an underclass to spend their lives in slavery, in the fields, bringing in the crops that the privileged required to survive.  They may have been second class citizens but they were a necessary part of the economy.

Today, technology has largely eliminated the need for this group of people.  And rather than being important, though humble contributors, they are now devouring the fruits they once brought to the table by the sheer numbers in which they exist.  In other words, they are more of a burden than a benefit to society.

Is it really difficult to make the transition from the concept that “abortion is a woman’s right” to “it is the right of the government to determine how many children may be born and to whom?”  China went down that road.

And from there, is it really all that extreme to imagine a government which has taken to itself the right to determine “for the common good” – not only those who might be allowed to reproduce – but which of those who have already been born, serve a meaningful purpose that conforms to the government’s concepts of what is in everyone’s best interests.  The step toward euthanasia is a very short one from where we are today.  Obamacare and its equivalents in other countries where the state runs medical care are the first step down the path to darkness.

So in light of all that, it shouldn’t surprise us at the President’s statement that “Global Warming” is the greatest threat to planet Earth.  Assuming that he actually believes that, what better way is there to reduce human impact on our planet than to cull and reduce the human population?  Problem solved.

Like the Founding Fathers who girded themselves for the battle, let this be an open statement to the future Eugenics Police who may come for me.

I’m armed and won’t go down without a fight.

Happy belated Birthday, America.

THE NFL (NATIONAL FELONS’ LEAGUE)

Baseball may officially be America’s national game – but the truth of the matter is that it’s football that really turns us on.  It also turns on the books in Las Vegas and elsewhere who make far more money on football than on all other sports combined.  Given the fact that the casinos come up with bizarre but fun “teaser cards” each week during both college and the NFL’s seasons, I was a little surprised that I couldn’t place a wager on whether or not there was going to be a Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014.

Since the last Super Bowl we’re averaging more than one player arrest per week with offenses ranging from using illicit substances, DUI , being in possession of unlicensed firearms and most seriously murder.  So I began thinking at our current arrest rate, will there be enough players left to field two teams when the next Super Bowl rolls around.

Football is a violent game played by people who are in large part, violent people.  And if you examine the backgrounds of many pro players, they come from inner city environments where the only escape is either becoming proficient in a sport and going pro, selling drugs or making it in the entertainment industry.

They are not intellectuals but we push them through our colleges and universities so that our alumni will contribute massive amounts of money to their alma mater.  And then we hand them multi-million dollar contracts which would overwhelm even the most stable and balanced person and which wreak havoc with the minds of kids who often didn’t go a full week as children with regular meals on their table.

There is no rational person who would not want to escape a life of poverty and hopelessness – so I don’t lay the blame at the players’ feet.  They are doing what they need to do to survive.  The fault really lies with us – the fans, the teams, the media and the league as we let loose our blood lust every Sunday and the teams accommodate us by taking our money.

We live our sublimated violent dreams through the players and while we commiserate over a serious injury on the field, it is soon forgotten as we look  forward to next week’s battles.  Perhaps our greatest concern over these injuries is how it will affect the line for the wagers we anticipate making the next Sunday.  There is no better example of the saying, “Give the people what they want” than professional football.  Unless it was the gladiators in the Roman Coliseum.  No, I take that back.

Yesterday in Brazil, a referee got into a dispute with a fútbol player and fatally stabbed him.  Before the player died en route to the hospital, the crowd stoned the referee to death, quartered his body and decapitated him, impaling his head on a wooden stake.  I guess by comparison that makes our game almost seem like a lady’s club tea party.  That event in Brazil should be disturbing to anyone who claims he or she is a human being.

Is there a solution to the NFL’s woes?

Well, if there is it is certainly not going to come from the fans.  It must come from the team owners, the league itself and most importantly from the media that broadcast their games.  They are the ones who really fuel the money pots that the NFL teams are filling to overflowing.  They are the ones who have the clout to say, “You know, unless you start writing some moral clauses into your contracts and enforce them, we’re going to reduce the amount of money we pay you per season.”  But is there an incentive for them to do that – other than being good corporate citizens?  Not really.  And doing the right thing in today’s America is, for the most part, a relic of a former time.

There will, no doubt be a Super Bowl XLVIII in February next year.  By then we will probably see an expansion in the number of arrests of NFL players beyond the current 38.   From the league’s standpoint I guess they will consider these “acceptable losses.”

And as for us fans, we will continue to buy and wear the jerseys that proclaim our devotion to this player or that.  In fact, they may turn out to be good investments – should Sunday’s hero wind up being incarcerated.

Does anybody have an O. J. Simpson jersey for sale?

MEAN, OBSCENE, PAULA DEEN

As Jesus was writing in the sand, the Pharisees brought to him a woman, taken in the act of committing adultery.  They told him of her sin and asked, “Should we not follow the law given us by the prophets and stone her to death?” 

Without looking up, Jesus replied, “Let he who among you is without sin cast the first stone.”

At that point, a rock went flying over Jesus’ head and hit the woman squarely in the stomach, knocking her over backwards.

Jesus looked up and said, “Oh really, mother.”

Pardon the minor irreverence, but that joke if you are a follower of either the teachings of the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Churches is theologically correct.  Mary, is unique in being conceived without sin (The Immaculate Conception) – but as for the rest of us, we’re all in the cesspool of sin and wickedness and moral turpitude – some of us more deeply, perhaps than others.

And now cometh Ms. Paula Deen – the press’ most currently in vogue whipping person (I was going to say girl but that would probably be construed as sexist).  A woman who is so low and venal that she can’t even see high enough to look at the scum of the earth.

Ms. Deen, as you’re probably aware, has had a successful career promoting her Southern style of cooking – which if it were Yiddish food could easily be mistaken for the kind of cuisine that killed more Jews than Hitler.  She’s had a good run promoting her artery clogging recipes (which have gotten  a bit more healthful in later years).  It was not for the bill of fare that she presented that I was not a frequent viewer of her program.  It was because of her very heavy twang that always reminded me of two cats on the back fence in heat.  Sorry, fingernails running across a blackboard sounds more melodious to me.

Well, at some time in Ms. Deen’s past, apparently she uttered the “N” (or is it the “n”) word?  She is, after all from the South where the term was frequently used – often in a descriptive rather than a disparaging way.  But there is no question that it was also used frequently in the latter context.  How Ms. Deen used it is probably only known to Ms. Deen.

And so, whether because of sincere remorse at having used the “n” word in the past or, perhaps for fear of losing her lucrative financial enterprise through backlash, she broadcast what appeared to me to be a very heartfelt apology.  It seemed genuine enough to this viewer – but even if it were not, I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Apparently, those at FNN, which hosted her television program and those at Target who carried her line of cookware and cookbooks had greater insight because they have both divorced themselves from any further dealings with this woman and have held themselves up as gleaming examples of “responsible corporate citizenship.”

I cannot help but think of their actions in the same light as I did of Captain Louis Renault in “Casablanca” who, as he is closing down Rick’s Café says, “I’m shocked, shocked to find that there’s gambling going on here,” as he receives his roulette winnings from the croupier.

Let’s make a leap and say that Ms. Deen and her video were staged and melodramatized simply to keep her business enterprise afloat and that Ms. Deen truly holds feelings of disdain for our darkly-complected citizens.  While I, and I am sure most of you who are reading this would find that unfortunate if not personally insulting, does she not have a right to harbor that attitude?  Isn’t difference of opinion – even if it is only one person’s view and no matter how noxious we personally might find it – permitted in what we have billed as an “inclusive society?”  Or is inclusion so narrowly interpreted that only those who hold the currently popular view may determine who is to be allowed membership and who excluded?

Perhaps you are familiar with the “comedy” of the late Redd Foxx, Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock.  Frankly, I find all of them to be extremely offensive because each employs the “n” word along with “ho” and “mo fo” and “b*tch” among other terms of endearment.  And they are restrained by comparison to today’s Rap “artists”.

So tomorrow I am going down to my neighborhood Target and browse through their CD’s to see if they have pulled all of the works containing these “lyrics” in accordance with their defined policy of corporate “responsibility.”  And if not, I am going to ask the Manager why not?

I’ll let you know what I find out.  But if I am not satisfied with their response, I will no longer choose to do business with Target and will explain to my neighbors why they shouldn’t either.

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

AND THE AWARD GOES TO …

Hillary Rodham Clinton has had an interesting career – to put it mildly.

She is an attorney; an inexperienced but highly successful commodities trader; the former first lady of the State of Arkansas and of these United States; the first female partner in the Rose Law Firm – the firm of choice for the rich and powerful in her adopted state (the first one); a key player in the Whitewater Scandal that absorbed the nation’s attention for over two years; a partner in an unusually “open” marriage; a United States Senator elected from her adopted state (the second one); our 67th Secretary of State; and now … my nominee for “The Best Actress In A Leading Role” for her testimony regarding the “Benghazi Affair” delivered to the Senate.

With a dossier that is extensive as Secretary of State Clinton’s it is hard to know where to begin in reviewing her career.

It shows remarkable, innate talent on Ms.Clinton’s part to have given the emotional performance that she delivered in front of the Simpy Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week while essentially avoiding answering the questions that were put to her.  Rather than respond with facts, Ms. Clinton launched her own assault on those who were questioning her – overflowing with “emotion” as she talked about standing next to the caskets of those who had been murdered by Muslim “extremists” in Libya.

During her testimony she also pointed out to her Republican critics that it was not only Libya but that there were at least twenty countries around the globe where American diplomats and embassies were at great risk.  That was perhaps the most honest part of the testimony which she delivered.  Perhaps that was what prompted Senator Dick “Duh” Durbin of Illinois to comment,

“Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has done an extraordinary job for this country. It’ll be recognized by history. This was one of her finer moments.”

Sadly, Senator Durbin’s statement might have been one of the most insightful of his rather inglorious career.  The only small emendation I would like to make would be the small matter of a preposition in the first line of that comment.  My revision would change that line to read, “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has done an extraordinary job on this country.”

Let’s return briefly to the Secretary’s remark about the danger our men and women in the foreign service face around the world.  As the present administration, which claimed that it would be the most transparent in history has proven continuously to be the polar opposite, it is unusual to have one of its members be so forthright by making this kind of statement – and it gives us an unexpected opportunity to gain an understanding of our government’s thinking and foreign policy.

What is it, if anything, that these twenty hot spots have in common?  Well, for those of you who lived through 9/11 (the first one), it should come as no surprise that virtually all of these foreign lands are run by governments where sharia Muslim law is the law of their land and jihad is their political message.

So having been forthcoming in her analysis of what is going on globally, how did Secretary Clinton’s Department of State explain the Benghazi massacre?  Did they place the blame on extremists whose goal is to bring down America?  No.  It squarely faulted an “insulting film made by an American Coptic Christian” and publicly maintained that position for at least a week after the facts were known.

Have you heard anyone, whether in the State Department, the Congress or the White House with the guts to speak out against those in the Muslim world of jihad and say, “America will not tolerate your abrogation either of our laws or of international law and you will be rooted out and destroyed if you attack any of our embassies or our personnel?”

Secretary Clinton (along with many of her European colleagues) has maintained a position (our official position) of being an apologist when the “rights of Muslims” are purportedly infringed.  Protecting our citizens’ ability to practice their religious convictions freely is an essential part of the American Constitution – and one not accorded to non-believers in the countries to which the Secretary made reference.

The performance to which the Senators and the nation were treated by the Secretary was nothing short of astounding.  Perhaps the senior Senator from Illinois’ comment,  “It’ll be recognized by history. This was one of her finer moments”  will ring true.

But coming off a baseline of a career filled with deception, half truths, intrigue and unmitigated dishonesty, doesn’t America deserve better?

Tag Cloud