The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

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FUNDING THE ARTS

Andres Serrano's Piss Christ

The debate over whether the government should use taxpayer money to fund the arts took off seriously in 1989 with the display of Andres Serrano’s photograph of a crucified Christ, submersed in a container that contained Serrano’s urine.  The photo was entitled, “Piss Christ”.  The piece set off a fireball of controversy, not surprisingly much of which came from Christians.  Serrano had received a grant to pursue his photographic art through an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

There was talk in the recent budget negotiations that President Trump wanted to eliminate the NEA from it.  That naturally brought howls from those who support government grants for the arts.  Hollywood came out in force.  “A Great Nation Deserves Great Art” was once again trotted out as the discussions took place.  Honestly, I agree with that slogan. But what are the impacts on art when it is government funded – at least in part?

The Serrano piece is certainly a piece of “art” if we define art to include photographic images.  Some people might think it is brilliant.  In my view it is, at the least offensive and vulgar.  Concerning taste, there can be substantially different views on everything from art to pasta sauce.  Freedom to produce art is as much protected by the First Amendment as is freedom of speech.  We might even define art in some forms, painting and ballet, for example, as non-verbal speech.

The only way to ensure that art may be freely produced is to ensure that the First Amendment guarantee is preserved.  It is remarkable that those who were most upset about the proposed defunding of NEA have cohorts who are, at that same time, trying to narrowly define the First Amendment to restrict the right to speak of those who have views that differ from their own by describing those who dissent from their viewpoint as spewing “hate speech”.

Even if this argument were valid, which I do not believe it is, who is to define what constitutes this sort of speech?  Should the government define rap music as hate speech since many songs use lyrics are filled with vulgarity, the n* word, refer to women as b*tches and advocate for the killing of police?  A government which finds this music and its lyrics objectionable might do just that but for the First Amendment.  But there is a flip side to this coin.

What if a government funds artists – but only those artists who convey a message that they want disseminated?  That’s exactly what happened in the Soviet Union.

Sergei Eisenstein was a Latvian movie director.  He and his mother moved to St. Petersburg when he was young.  Although raised as an Orthodox Christian he became an atheist.  After completing his term of service with the Red Army he decided to study engineering which was his father’s profession.  But he became interested in a new industry – film making and made his mark with the silent film, Battleship Potemkin.

By the late 1930’s the winds of war were howling across Europe.  Stalin was firmly in power in the Soviet Union and he called on Eisenstein in 1938 to make an historical/propaganda film, Alexander Nevsky, a film about the invasion of Mother Russia by the Teutonic Knights which occurred in the 13th century. The monk who accompanies the knights is the very epitome of evil both in appearance and action as he picks up Russian baby after baby, blesses them and throws them on the raging pyre, purging them of their apostasy.  This film was propaganda at it’s finest.  And it was propaganda for which the government paid.

Funding controversial art is part of defending free speech which is currently under assault.  It seems to me that the solution to this problem is simple for those actually seeking a solution.  If you don’t like what someone’s saying, walk out of the lecture.  If you don’t like an artist’s work, don’t look at it or buy a ticket for its performance.   But the arrogant left doesn’t truly want either free speech or art.  They want the Stalinist version of that.

Should the government continue to fund the NEA?  To me, that’s the smallest part of the fight that is ongoing.  The unique characteristic of being able to express ourselves without reservation is the real target.  And if each of us doesn’t rise up, refuse to be silenced and speak out for it, this most precious liberty may well be lost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THEY WHO SERVE AND PROTECT

We’ve all heard that the police are here to serve and protect us.  I want to devote this post to the first of those two missions.

Have you ever needed to return something you purchased to a store?  You changed your mind, it’s too big or too small or it doesn’t go with your chartreuse shoes the way you thought it would.  And there you are, annoyed because you have to waste your time going back to the store, waiting in line with all the rest of the customers who are as annoyed as you because they’re doing the same thing.

Then you get to the desk and find a young lady who is thinking that it’s only another two and a half hours until she can get lunch and she’s had a morning filled with nasty customers who believe that she is responsible because their purchase doesn’t go with their chartreuse shoes.  But you’re confident in your ability to expedite this entire process.  You’re going to be pushy and cranky and demand a refund – no store credit will be acceptable to you.

It’s an immovable object and irresistible force kind of thing.

I would be willing to bet that many of the people who work in customer service entered that line of work because they are “people persons.”  Or at least they once were.  But as they listen to never ending complaints, especially when they are expressed without the civility of a “Please” or “Thank You,” well, it does takes its toll on the human spirit.  Illegitimi non carborundum be damned.  And who are the perpetrators of this destruction of the human spirit?  They are nice, everyday, “normal” people like you and me.

Now let’s consider the police and their mission to serve the public.  On the light end of things, we have those who are assigned to traffic duty.  I’ve known quite a few people who were caught committing a moving violation.  When they’ve explained this experience it is generally done by using rather salty language, thoroughly interspersed with expletives.  I have yet to hear someone describe their arrest by saying, “You know, I had the best morning.  The nicest policeman, an Officer Friendly, pulled me over for doing 65 mph in a 40 mph zone.  I am so grateful to him that he reminded me that by travelling at that speed I was endangering other motorists, pedestrians and myself.  I’m certainly going to take this to heart and stay within the speed limit in the future.”

The prudent motorist while awaiting the arrival of his ticket and the return of his registration and license is probably not cursing out the arresting office aloud.  But I am sure many of those in that circumstance aren’t thinking about buying tickets to the Policeman’s Ball either.  And I’m sure the body language is sufficient for the officer to pick up on their antipathy toward him or her.  And they get that every day, every time they stop another abusive motorist.

But as I said, that’s the light end of the job.  Take those who work in drug details or are assigned to a unit that specializes in trying to track down those who rape children or commit murder.  Dealing with that sort of depravity on a daily basis has to take a toll on a person’s spirit and humanity.  I know that’s a job that I couldn’t handle for very long.

Has any member of the police force ever made a mistake – one perhaps that resulted in an innocent person’s death?  Of course.  We all make mistakes – or there would be no need for a police force or a court system or jails.  But the current narrative that the police are some sort of occupying force whose goal is to beat the citizenry into submission – well, I just don’t see that.

To those who do work on our police forces, I am grateful that they have accepted the responsibility to serve the public generally and me in particular.  And I wish them well and offer a heartfelt, “Thank you.”  Perhaps if more of us took a moment to say those two words to the people we meet, we could help reduce the hostility that seems to have enslaved so many of us.  It’s worth a try, don’t you think?

XENOPHOBES

If it weren’t for the ancient Greeks, we wouldn’t have such wonderful words as xenophobe or xenophobia.   The roots are xenos which means foreign or strange and phobos meaning fear.  You’ve heard that word more in the last three months than you did in your entire previous lifetime – irrespective of your age.  Of course, the modern understanding of the word is that it means not fear but hatred of foreigners.

So why have these words been transformed in the common usage?  We can thank the Greeks once again.  The word meme comes from mimema which means that which is imitated, often with slight variations.  Think of the old game of “telephone” in which a message is passed from one person to the next until it reaches the person who initiated it. When that message gets back to the person who originally made it, it is often distinctly different from what its originator actually said.

But our gratitude to the Greeks shouldn’t end there.  Among other ancient cultures, they gave us people to whom we still refer to by using a single name.   Yes, long before we were blessed with Twiggy and Cher there were people like Demosthenes and Plato, Pythagoras and Socrates – people who actually were important and left their stamp on history and human thinking.

For years, western colleges and universities employed the Socratic method of teaching.  It was a system where open debate between the student, other students and the teacher was encouraged.  A person was welcome to hold any opinion.  He simply needed to explain and defend the logic of that position to others engaged in the debate.  Compare that to today’s American schools where there is no need or permission to engage in debate since everything has already been decided.

Apparently the mission of our schools today is to infuse and genetically bond into its student body the “truths” that have been revealed to tenured faculty and make sure that when they hand over that diploma, the student has been thoroughly indoctrinated into this wisdom and be able to cite it, chapter and verse.  We used to refer to this not as educating but as memorizing and, in its most extreme form, brainwashing.

Returning to xenophobia, the word has been used exclusively to accuse and deride those who the memists deride as the “alt-right”.  As justification for their view they cite the effort by President Trump and conservatives to provide a secure border, enforce existing laws on immigration and remove from the country those who are already here illegally and have demonstrated violent behavior.  They attribute racism to those who support those goals as the vast majority of people who are here illegally come from Mexico and Central America.  Yet the very same people who cry xenophobe the loudest are perhaps its strongest proponent.  Take the case of Russia.

From near and far, high and low, those on the left who represent their districts and states in Congress to the masked mobsters who roam the streets wherever there is an opportunity to demonstrate, the word is out that, “Russia interfered with our election and there is an as yet unseen trail leading to President Trump and his staff who purportedly facilitated this subversion.”  So I am confused (which happens more often than I would like to admit).

Aren’t Russians foreign people?  Whatever our political posture in this age of divisiveness I think we can at least agree on that.  So wouldn’t that suggest that the true xenophobes are those who oppose Russian interference – not the right?  Why should the Russians who aren’t even here be expected or compelled to follow the laws of the United States any more than the illegal immigrants who are here and in some fairly large percentage ignore them – well, technically all of them?

We need not reach all the way back to classical Greece to find an accurate description of this sort of behavior.  Groucho Marx hit the nail on the head with this memorable song from his best movie, “Horse Feathers.”

IS AMERICA A GREAT COUNTRY, OR WHAT? (JUST ASK WEIGHT WATCHERS)

Some come to rallies or protests with bull horns.  Others show up armed with brass knuckles and soda cans filled with concrete.  America’s detractors.  The vocal “progressives” throughout the country who sing a song of cacophonous discord.  Their vision of America is that of a country filled with hateful people who are racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic and who espouse more phobias than would be needed to fill all five boroughs of New York City’s phone books.

Now it is rather remarkable that these same people are anxious to see America filled with an extensive group of new immigrants from the highways and byways of the world.  The thought occurs to me rather naturally, are these progressives sadists?  Why would they want more people to be subjected to living in the dreadful environment which they describe today’s America to be? And, despite the widespread dissemination of news, are people who believe America to be a cesspool and still want to come here completely insane?  We do not need to import more lunatics to this country.  We already have enough of our own.

For all those who share this view of our country, I have a two word rejoinder.  Weight Watchers.  Let me put that in context.

Back in the ’60’s there were two stocks that traded on the NYSE which were blazing white hot.  The first was Xerox which had developed plain paper copying.  The second was Mead, Johnson  which manufactured a meal replacement product called Metrecal.   Making a Xerox was interchangeable with making a copy.  And having a Metrecal was interchangeable with being on a diet.  But there was one significant difference between Xerox’s achievement and in Mead, Johnson’s.

While Xerox effectively put the smudgy carbon paper industry out of business, Mead, Johnson gave serious impetus to the existence of a brand new industry – the diet industry.

Among the list of the Seven Deadly sins is gluttony.  But gluttony can only exist in an environment where there are the necessities to fulfill it.  In other words, it’s hard to overeat if there’s no food to consume.  The Protestant Reformation in part came into being by criticizing the “cloistered virtue” of Roman Catholic religious orders for depriving their members of the right to exercise free will by removing the temptations that the laity faced and had to deal with on a daily basis.

In America we have no lack of food – and no lack of people who are consciously or otherwise willing to take advantage of that fact.  Inevitably, that has resulted in a fair amount of tummy bulge leading us now to the point where we are “achieving” obesity rates that dwarf those in every other country worldwide.  This is not a new phenomenon – but it seems to be accelerating it’s pace.

We were gaining weight back fifty years ago.  And the marketers of Metrecal (available in four equally repugnant flavors) hit on something big.  Americans were obsessed with their appearance and their weight.  And we were obsessed with our God-given right to get what we want and get it as quickly as possible – including weight loss.  Metrecal was the “miracle product” of the day.  Pop a can open and you too could look like Raquel Welch.  Had its manufacturer been able to make it more palatable to the average person’s taste, it might have been the biggest product ever invented..  At least that’s what stock investors hoped would happen.

While people grew tired of Metrecal, they didn’t get tired of trying to achieve the perfect, svelte body.  Diet books were published by the hundreds – often with diametrically opposed advice on the most effective way to lose weight.  But those books required a lot of effort.  First, you had to read them.  And then you had to implement the advice they contained.  That was a lot of work for many of us – far too much.  But the diet industry came up with a solution, Weight Watchers – another child of the early sixties.

Weight Watchers recognized a principle of weight loss that we still accept today.  A person who consumed more calories than he expended was going to gain weight – the converse resulting in weight loss.  But for us Americans who want instantaneous results, seeing a pound or two drop off after a week of self-imposed dietary discipline was discouraging to many.  So Weight Watchers incorporated support meetings to encourage us on our journey – and to console us when we failed to see progress.  And they charged a weekly fee to participate in their version of a seven step program.

No stranger to weight problems herself, Weight Watchers’ current spokesperson is Oprah Winfrey.  She purchased a ten percent interest in the company in 2015.  The company needed a high profile PR person to represent them since they spawned a number of competitors including Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig  – and a host of diet pills which to some is far easier than having to weigh and measure.  Of course, the latest phase of the diet industry is selling portion controlled meals, available in frozen form, which thanks to the invention of the microwave oven seems to be the way the industry may go in the future.

Weight Watchers has no operations in Burkina Faso or Venezuela or Sri Lanka or Somalia.  The reason is obvious.  The vast majority of people in those countries do not have an issue with being overweight.  Their challenge is to find enough food to sustain themselves.  And if you don’t believe that a nearly endless food supply makes America different and great – just ask Weight Watchers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PARDON ME

It should come as no surprise to regular readers that I’m not a fan of Hillary Clinton.  For more than twenty-five years I’ve thought of her as the potentially most dangerous politician in America.  Nothing has happened in those two and one half decades which has caused me to change my mind on that subject.

On the contrary, White Water, the cattle trading scheme, Vince Foster – well, those are child’s play compared to her irresponsible handling of national security and the corruption attached to the Clinton Foundation which would be revealed if a truly objective investigation were to be conducted.  Of course, we all know that will never happen under the current administration.

Given my view, you might be surprised that I believe that, if President Obama doesn’t beat him to the punch, President-elect Trump should offer a deal to Ms. Clinton which would include a full presidential pardon.  Shocking, you say?  Maybe not so much.

In defending my position, let me first say that I believe Clinton is guilty as sin – in numerous different matters.  Perhaps that is inherently obvious – otherwise why would we even be talking about pardoning her?  Nor do I believe that she has experienced  any great moment of contrition which would warrant absolution in a moral or religious sense.  I think that if she were to review her past deeds, the only remorse that she might be feeling is that she got caught with an insurmountable amount of evidence suggestive of her guilt, too much to spin or lie away this time.

In an election that was heavily weighted in her favor; the benefits that she inherited as a Democrat because of the electoral map; the one-upsmanship afforded her in her primary contest by the DNC; the adulation of her by the media and the opprobrium heaped on her opponent by them; despite all that, she was up-ended by a political outsider and put the much vaunted expectation of our having our first female president on the back burner – at least for now.

Ms. Clinton proved herself to be an anachronism – and “The Times They Are A-Changing.”  Ms. Clinton, the champion of a higher minimum wage lost to Donald Trump, the champion of unlimited opportunity.  Clinton was supported by virtually all the self-styled elites.  Trump was enthusiastically embraced by people who were struggling to pay their mortgage because their jobs had been lost to Mexico.  Clinton espoused a policy of open borders while Trump promised an administration where law and an orderly immigration process would be restored.

So why a pardon for Hillary Clinton?  There are several reasons.

The first is that there really is nothing to gain other than retribution and a warning to others that unlawful behavior will not be tolerated and that nobody is above the law.  That is an important, no, that is the essential foundation of the American experiment and what differentiates us from virtually every other country.  But as you will see if you keep reading, we can make that point in a different way than by appointing a special prosecutor, spending countless hours investigating and arraigning Clinton and then trying and probably convicting her.

The second is that if, and I believe it is, President-elect Trump’s main focus to Make America Great Again, it is best to direct all his and Congress’ attention to getting the ball rolling on doing just that.  Let’s not get distracted by what will undoubtedly be spun as little more than partisan politics – although I believe that is a gross mis-characterization of  Clinton’s actions.

The third has been obvious to anyone who has watched the news on television in the week since the election.  This country is still obviously divided.  President-elect Trump is still being characterized as a “loose cannon,” a misogynist, unstable and hateful.  The presumed basis for the outrage is that he is not a legitimate president-elect as he did not win the popular vote.  If he had won both the popular vote as well as the Electoral College majority vote, I believe you would still have seen these protests.  Pardoning Clinton would go a long way to beginning a healing process, reuniting the nation and defusing the allegations about which these sorely misguided people are purportedly demonstrating.

If President Ronald Reagan was the “Great Communicator,” President-elect Donald J. Trump may well be called the “Great Negotiator.”  And here’s what I would advise him to negotiate with Clinton before giving her a presidential pardon.

First and foremost, Trump should require that in a press conference, she allocute to the real reasons that she chose to maintain an unsecure, private server despite the laws which should have prevented her from doing so.  That she allocute to whether all of the deleted emails were, in fact, personal or whether there were records that were deleted which should be part of the public record.  That she allocute to whether or not any of her decisions as Secretary of State were influenced because of donations to the Clinton Foundation.  Such an honest allocution would carry the same weight as a lengthy legal process and for those who blindly voted for her might give some reason for pause and reflection.

Second, I would ask her and President Clinton to forgo any pensions, Secret Service protection and any other benefits which are currently proffered on former presidents and politicians.  The Clintons have done very well for themselves since they left the White House.  Voluntarily stripping themselves of future benefices will hardly impose a financial hardship on the couple.

In my more Draconian moments, I would like to see Hillary Clinton voluntarily give up her U. S. citizenship and move to a foreign country where she might get a fresh start.  Brazil comes to mind.

By area, Brazil is only moderately smaller than the United States.  It has a multi-racial, multi-cultural population with lots of under served children – and taking care of children is a passion that Clinton maintains has been a focus of hers throughout her life.  Furthermore, it has elected a woman president (currently under indictment) – so if she wanted to revive her political ambitions, what more natural place than Brazil?

Furthermore, it is a welcoming country.  After WWII it took in a significant number of Germans, Japanese and Italians who may or may not have been involved in the Axis war effort.  The Israelis spent a great deal of time in the country ferreting out those who were members of the power structure of the Third Reich. This might be a community with whom Clinton could forge alliances. Whether husband Bill would choose to join her in exile would, of course, be up to the two of them.  Of course, this transplant to South America is more on my wish list than my must have list.

If Brazil doesn’t fill the bill for Clinton, an alternative might be Haiti.  Perhaps if she chose to live in Port au Prince, she might join in the search to find the fifteen million dollars that the Clinton Foundation allegedly gave to assist the earthquake victims there a few years back and which, by all accounts, is still missing.

In my view, this is a reasonable proposal.  But if you have a different view, I hope you’ll accept my apology with a heartfelt, “Pardon me.”

SO, WHO VOTED FOR NIXON?

It was Sunday, November 10, 1968 and earlier that week, Richard Milhaus Nixon had been elected President of the United States, crushing his Democrat opponent, incumbent Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey.  I was feeling celebratory and for my postlude at church I played the Toccata from Charles Marie Widor’s Fifth Organ Symphony – an impressive piece which sounds far more difficult than it actually is.  Here is a performance given by James Kennerley, an outstanding young British organist played appropriately on the console at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

 

As an organist, I was used to finishing my final piece, gathering up my music from the music stand and leaving church to find only a small handful of people remaining who had taken the time and had the interest to listen to it.    On this particular Sunday, one of the faithful was a woman who was still praying, tears falling from her eyes.  I knew her.  One of her sons was in my children’s choir.

I walked down the center aisle of the nave, genuflected and joined her on the kneeler on which she was praying.  I turned to her, put my arm around her shoulder and asked her, “Betty, are you all right?”

Betty, through her sobbing, said, “I just don’t understand it.  I voted for Humphrey.  My neighbors all voted for Humphrey.  My relatives all voted for Humphrey.  So, who voted for Nixon?”

Hyde Park in Chicago was a very liberal neighborhood.  And Betty, a white woman who had married a black man in the 1950’s, long before this was either generally accepted not to mention chic, was typical in her mind-set.  She, and many others of my neighbors all exemplified that marvelous statement that William F. Buckley made when he said, “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” 

As a young person, many of my friends and neighbors were surprised to find that I was supporting Nixon in that election.  And they were always willing to debate me with the intent of changing my mind and bringing me over to their side.  They failed in that endeavor – but after the many debates in which I engaged, while I could tell that they had a sense of frustration as I would rebut their arguments, we still remained friends, there was no acrimony on either side and we left with the same feeling of respect for each other that we had before we argued our respective positions.  That sense of open and sincere discussion seems to be something that we’ve lost.  And that’s a tragedy.

I must confess to a little confusion that those who identify as “liberals” are so upset that Donald J. Trump will be the United States’ forty-fifth president.  These are the same people who believe that every child, irrespective of performance, should receive a sticker or a trophy.  These are the people who believe that you shouldn’t keep score because it might fatally impair the psyche of those who come out on the short end of the stick.  Remarkably, now that the game is over and we know the result, they want to change the rules under which the game was played to affect the outcome so that their losing team wins.  That’s the sort of behavior that I’ve observed among two-year olds who are throwing a hissy fit so that they can get their way.  And if we deem that sort of behavior unacceptable in toddlers, how much more should we consider it untenable in people who are actually determining the nation’s future in voting in our elections?

One of the arguments advanced in the recent riots over Trump’s victory and the “Not My President” signs is that Hillary Clinton won (barely) the popular vote and should, therefore, be our next president.  That, of course, begins the debate with the assumption that the Electoral College is antiquated, should have been abolished eons ago and we should disregard the Constitution.

Although there are many valid reasons why I believe we should retain the Electoral College, the fact is that under our current system, it exists.  To put it in the way in which many who are Pro-Abortion explain and support the decision in Roe v. Wade, “It’s the law of the land.”

This argument for a popular vote to determine the outcome of presidential elections further makes an unprovable assumption.  That the popular vote, as recorded, would have been the same popular vote the candidates would have received if it, rather than the Electoral College’s vote, determined the winner.  Both the losing Clinton and successful Trump campaigns developed their strategies based on the rules that governed the election – to secure 270 or more electoral votes.  If our system called for the election of the next president based on the popular vote, both campaigns would have run their campaigns differently, camping out in all the large population states. virtually ignoring the rest of the country.  Incidentally, that is the exact reason that the Founders established the Electoral College – so that small states would have a voice in our elections.

If we were to go back in time and rewrite history, (a favorite exercise of those on the left) we would have to crown different World Series winners by determining the victor as that team which got the most hits during the series rather than the most runs.  We would have different Super Bowl victors if we determined the best performance based on which team gained the most yards rather than put up the most points.

I do understand how shocked those on the left were as the results rolled in on election night.  I myself was startled at the outcome – and had made a sojourn to my local liquor store to buy a very large bottle of my favorite Scotch to drown my sorrow as I awaited the announcement that Hillary Clinton was going to be our next president.

It took me forty-six years of voting before I ever cast a ballot for someone who actually won his race for the House of Representatives.  So I had a lot of sucking up and disappointment in many, many elections.  But I never felt either the urge or need  to go out and express my displeasure by lighting trash cans on fire or vandalizing parked cars. My father had a simple piece of advice for handling the disappointments which he knew would come my way in life.  “Deal with it – and learn from it.”  But I suspect the left’s concern and need to find safe spaces may merely be in its infancy.

Despite the firm predictions that the Dems would regain the Senate and pick up twenty or so seats in the House, (not to mention installing one of their own in the White House), those predictions from such moral and mental geniuses as Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid, did not come to pass.  For the first time in eighty-eight years we now have a Republican president, a Republican controlled House and a Republican dominated Senate.  And that is good for the American people.

Members of both parties have hidden behind the excuse that nothing gets done because of “divided government.”  That excuse no longer is available.  Legislators on both sides of the aisle and President-elect Trump will be judged by what they accomplish – or fail to accomplish.  I’m betting my money that Trump’s rhetoric is not merely a bunch of words – but are born from a sincere and earnest, heartfelt love of this nation and a belief that we can and should be doing better for all our citizens.  We will see.

But if I am correct and if Donald Trump is half as talented and driven as I believe him to be, the liberal left may be in for bigger headaches two years from now.  In the mid-term election, they will be defending twenty-five Senate seats, twelve of which are in deep red states.  If they think their position now is tenuous, they may be looking at a Republican Senate super majority two years hence.  But, as this is America, there is reason for them to be optimistic.

Instead of concocting excuses for their failed results at the ballot boxes across the nation, they can choose to, “Deal with it – and learn from it.”  Whether they do that or not is any body’s guess.  But in the real world, we don’t hand out stickers or trophies to the loser.  Instead, they generally wind up sporting a black eye.

THE LYRE

On a balmy night in July, 64 A.D., the great city of Rome with its magnificent structures began to burn.  The fire lasted two days before it was contained and according to a number of the extant records written at the time, the Emperor Nero ordered the fire and calmly played his lyre as he watched the devastation grow and the fire consumed more of the great city.

There are several theories as to why this happened.  The first is that Nero was insane.  The second that he was quite sane and needed a scapegoat to blame for the decline of the Roman Empire under his and his predecessors’ rule – and he found it in the growing Christian community that he viewed as a threat.

In politics, despite the span of several millennia, it’s apparent that some things really don’t change.

Over the past thirty years, there have been more “fires” associated with Bill and Hillary Clinton than any other politicians in all of  U. S. history. Naturally, the Clintons dismiss these as nothing more than right wing fabricated conspiracies intended to undermine this sordid couple and their personal ambitions.  There is an alternate theory to this explanation.

If ten arsons were set and there was one commonality to all of them – that the same person was present at each blaze – the reasonable assumption would be that person might be the arsonist and his or her connection to these blazes should be investigated.  That’s what any intelligent law enforcement official would do.  And, perhaps, despite years of evasion, the time for that investigation has come to the Clintons.

We will certainly not know the conclusion to the FBI’s re-opening the case into Secretary Clinton’s use of an unsecure server, the contents of most of the emails that were deleted apparently in defiance of and after a Congressional subpoena for all her emails was issued or the “pay for play” allegations that are swirling in an every growing eddy around the Clinton Foundation by the time we cast our ballots on November 8th.  But for those few voters who are still undecided, there is something they might want to consider.

The financial services industry is one of the most highly regulated businesses at both a federal and state level.  Most people who deal either in providing investment advice or in the sale of securities are required to pass the Series 7 examination and to take regularly scheduled continuing education exams to make sure they are current on the latest regulations.

Virtually every training course for the exam begins with the same sentence which the applicant is supposed to consider paramount in her or his career should they pass the exam.  It boils down to the simple sentence, “Know your customer.” Here’s what that means.

As an advisor or broker, a licensee is supposed to put the best interest of the customer first and to tailor any advice specifically to meet the needs of that customer using what is known as “the prudent man rule.”  In other words, would a prudent man make a recommendation for a customer to purchase a specific security after analyzing their financial objectives and particular circumstances.

As an example, a sixty-five year old widow with a two hundred thousand nest egg and whose sole income other than return on investments is Social Security would normally be directed toward an allocation of conservative investments such as blue chip dividend paying stocks and government bonds.  After all, with a life expectancy of nearly twenty years, conservation of principal is critical.

On the other hand, a thirty year old who happens to win twenty million in a lottery payout would most likely be directed into a more aggressive investment strategy which would, in part, include higher risk assets in order to grow the portfolio in the long term to maximize the likelihood of wealth accumulation.  Among those high risk assets might be taking small interests in various “private placement” offerings which, among other things, might include participation in oil and gas drilling ventures.  These sorts of ventures have existed for well over a century.

Now using the prudent man rule, it would be imprudent if the advisor suggested putting the new millionaire’s entire fortune into one or even several of these placements.  After all, despite the improvement in technology, it is possible for a particular oil and gas syndicate to drill five or ten wells and have them all come up dry and for the investors in them to lose their entire investment.  But to advise an investment allocation of perhaps five percent of the lottery winner’s fortune and spread that between ten or twenty exploration ventures would most likely be viewed as conforming to the prudent man rule as the allocation into these risky ventures is small and by spreading the risk over a number of such ventures the investors chance of getting what might be a significant return would increase.  Diversification reduces risk – even in the case of inherently risky ventures.  At least that’s the case on the surface – but let’s add some additional facts to the equation.

First, the advisor most likely will earn a commission by directing investors into the ventures he recommends.  That is in complete conformity with accepted financial services guidelines.  But the question about this recommendation becomes hazier if the syndicates planning on doing the oil and gas exploration happen to be directed by the advisor’s brother-in-law – particularly if the advisor fails to disclose that fact to the investor.  And, of course, it becomes an outright scam and punishable by fines and jail time if the syndicates never plan on actually doing any drilling but are simply reporting back to the investors that they drilled nothing but dry holes and pocketing their money.  Sadly, there are people who are perfectly capable of engaging in just such behavior – hence the need for regulation – and where warranted, prosecution.

I feel confident in saying that Hillary Clinton is familiar with these regulations.  The basis for my statement is based on three historical facts.  The first, Ms. Clinton demonstrated a remarkable understanding of financial markets when she was able to turn a one thousand dollar investment in cattle futures into a one hundred thousand dollar account – a return of 10,000%.   The second, continuing with the narrative of her stellar financial acumen, the Clintons claimed that they were “dead broke” when they left the White House – and yet, starting with nothing, have managed to accumulate well more than one hundred million in wealth.  The third, of course, is that Wall Street clearly understands Ms. Clinton’s unique insights into money and has recognized her talents by paying her $225,000 to share her wisdom with them in each of four separate one hour speeches.

Forgive me if, given the profound understanding that Ms. Clinton has of the way things work, not only in financial markets but political arenas as well, how she mishandled a few small but disturbing aspects of her job as Secretary of State.

The first, of course, is how she felt comfortable having an unsecured server on which she conducted official and personal business in violation of State Department rules;

The second is how a woman of her perspicacity could have confused the “c” in the header of emails she received, meaning “classified:”, with “cookie recipe”.

But the  most disturbing thing to me about candidate Clinton is, how did she come to develop such a misanthropic and disdainful view of people and on what basis has she come to accept her obviously imperious view of the world.

I can see only one posible benefit coming from the election of Hillary Clinton to the presidency of the United States.  She will create a tremendous demand for new jobs for music teachers.  All of us will have to learn to play the lyre as we watch the liar that is Hillary Clinton set America ablaze.

OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE (BUT WHICH PEOPLE?)

As we come down to the wire and the general election is less than two weeks away, I look at it’s being over with a mixture of gratitude and trepidation.  Gratitude that the endless political ads will have ended – and trepidation as to the outcome.

That we have two flawed candidates (my apologies to Gov. Gary Johnson and Dr. Jill Stein who are essentially irrelevant), from whom we must choose is rather distasteful.  But at least one of those, Donald J. Trump won his nomination fairly and squarely in a field as crowded as the Kentucky Derby and despite an entrenched Republican establishment that actively opposed him.  They lost that battle and are working hard to lose the war because they refuse to recognize a truism uttered by the late Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago, “The people has spoke.”

From  a quick read of some of the revelations being supplied by Wikileaks, it’s becoming clear that Hillary Rodham Clinton had some underhanded (and perhaps illegal assistance) in getting where she has gotten.  Nevertheless, she is on the ballot and we Americans have a choice to make.  The decision is effectively a binary one – and I have thrown my support and my vote to Trump for one simple reason which the late humorist, Will Rogers so eloquently expressed:

“I am less concerned about what government can do for me than I am concerned about what government can do to me.”

There are two things we can say about Trump and Clinton with some degree of certainty.  The first is that they are both human (although extreme partisans in either camp might dispute the validity of that statement as it pertains to the opposing candidate).  The second is that they have, during their lifetimes, both switched party affiliations.

Trump claims that in order to do business in his home base of New York City, it was essential that he both register as a Democrat and contribute to various Democratic candidates in order to “grease the wheels” of commerce.  While I don’t know if that was true in NYC, I do know that was a certainty in Chicago where I spent most of my adult life.  Attempting to do business with the City of Chicago as a self-identifying Republican was about as fruitful as a man who had lost both his arms in an accident attempting to engage in a little self-abuse.

Clinton arrived at Wellesley College armed with a copy of  Sen. Barry Goldwater’s book, “The Conscience of a Conservative” and four years later had shed this tome in favor of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”.  With her newly enlightened mindset, naturally Clinton turned her political allegiance away from her Republican foundation and joined the ranks of the militant Democrats – the purported champions of the “little people”.  But is that characterization in fact consistent with the real history of  Democrats?

Dinesh D’Souza took on this subject in his excellent documentary, “Hillary’s America:  The Secret History of the Democratic Party”. The movie is available on-line and I heartily recommend watching it by anyone who has an interest in American politics.  But below you will find my marginally edited recap – together with some additional material that I believe is relevant and important.

In 1838, Democrat president Andrew Jackson implemented his plan to remove the indigenous pre-Columbian Cherokee people from the ancestral lands they occupied east of the Mississippi River, relocating them to what is now the state of Oklahoma.  The Cherokees called this “The Trail of Tears”.  Of the estimated 15,000 men, women and children who began that march, it is estimated that 4,000 perished en route.  Jackson was no friend of “diversity”.

The year was 1861.  In South Carolina, Democrats fired the first shots on the Union garrison at Ft. Sumter beginning the Civil War.  The reason for the salvo and the primary motivation for the Confederate onslaught that took more American lives than any other war in which this nation has been engaged since it’s inception was the preservation of the institution of slavery.

It was the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln who wrote and spoke the words of the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves from their bondage.  It was Democrat John Wilkes Booth, the active agent of a covert conspiracy who fired the fatal shot, killing the president.

In the Reconstruction Era, Democrats founded the Ku Klux Klan to intimidate the newly freed slaves and discourage them from exercising their newly forged freedom.  The tactics that were employed included whippings and lynchings.  Although this original hate group soon died out, it saw two later reincarnations -revived in both cases by people who identified as Democrats.

In 1878, U. S. Senator Aaron A. Sargent introduced a bill that was destined, forty-two years later, to become the 19th Amendment to the Constitution – granting the right to vote to women.  Not one single Democrat in the Senate voted for this legislation and it had to be re-introduced two more times before it met the requirements to be voted out of the Congress and given to the states for ratification.

The year was 1942 and Democrat President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the War Department’s Executive Order 9066 which authorized and resulted in the internment of more than 110, 000 Japanese-Americans who were legal residents in the United States.  Of these, more than 20,000 were U. S. citizens.  This complete violation of the Constitutional rights of these individuals was upheld by a majority Democrat dominated Supreme Court.

A significant number of the ads which are being aired in Nevada and, I presume, in most other states, portray Trump as a person who is “unstable” and should “never be trusted with the codes that could launch our nuclear weapons”. Personally, as a child of the cold war, I remember my many nightmares in which, despite our air raid drills at school and the yellow and black signs on our public buildings indicating that they were “bomb shelters,” none of these made me feel secure.  That humanity has both developed and continues to stockpile a sufficient quantity of these weapons effectively to destroy all life on our planet still causes me to shudder.  But what is the actual history of the deployment of nuclear weapons?

The year was 1945 and Germany and Italy had been defeated by the Allies.  The war against the Japanese Empire continued.  Despite the advice of his military advisors, including Dwight D. Eisenhower who would succeed him in the Oval Office and who advocated for a naval blockade of the Japanese islands, Democrat President Harry S. Truman gave the order to drop atomic weapons on Hiroshima and two days later on Nagasaki.  Although there are no exact statistics of the number of people who were liquidated immediately when the bombs fell or who subsequently perished from radiation poisoning, the estimates are that at least 600,000 people died, making these the most devastating two days in human history.

In its historic decision in 1957, the Supreme Court struck down school segergation, a policy that was typical of the discriminatory anti-black laws which Democrats had championed in the South.  In Arkansas, a state in which Hillary Clinton should later become First Lady, the scene was set for confrontation as Democrat Governor Orval Faubus intended to resist the Supreme Court’s ruling.

At Little Rock Central High School, formerly an all white school, nine black students had enrolled for the new school year.  When they arrived at school they were greeted by angry crowds.  President Eisenhower summoned Faubus to the White House to demand that he call in the National Guard to ensure the safety of these students.  Faubus declined to do so, ultimately causing President Eisenhower to call in the 101st Airborne to ensure the students’ safety and to control those who protested the integration of our public schools.

Republican President George W. Bush has been widely excoriated for engaging in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in which more than 7,000 American service people have died.  Part of that criticism comes from the fact that among the dead enemy were additional people, euphemistically called “collateral damage” who were civilians including women and children.  That is tragic – but we should be used to this sort of tragedy as it happens every time violent conflict occurs.

But in contrast, our fourth bloodiest conflict, exceeded in death count only by the Civil War, WWII and WWI, the war in Vietnam, vigorously pursued by Democrat President Lyndon B. Johnson, makes these recent sorties look like a nice day at a church picnic.

We lost 58,209 servicemen in Vietnam with an additional 1,643 MIA and presumed dead.  Perhaps the turning point in the mindset of Americans who originally supported this war, came about not only as the numbers of soldier deaths mounted but as the media began reporting on the way in which the war was being pursued, specifically that we were using napalm as a tool to “flush out” the Viet Cong.

Napalm is a gelatinous compound that burns through almost anything in which it comes in contact – including human flesh. This iconic Time Magazine photo of a naked nine year old girl and her friends who had napalm dumped on their village in 1972 might have been the most gripping of any picture taken in Vietnam or perhaps any war.

 

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And there you have it … a somewhat concise history of nearly two hundred years of how Democrats have addressed the questions of race and women and bringing about peace through diplomacy.  It hardly squares with the propaganda about “inclusion” which is one of the central themes of their talking points.  Is there an explanation?

At the beginning of D’Souza’s movie, he speaks with a fellow prisoner in his jail.  (D’Souza was convicted and sentenced for improperly making a ten thousand dollar political contribution to a friend’s campaign).  In light of the information coming out from Wikileaks about monies being moved around to support a failed Democratic candidate for the Virginia Senate – amounting to close to three quarters of a million dollars – whose husband is the number two person in the FBI and had oversight responsibility into the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email illegalities, D’Souza’s offense seems rather like small potatoes.

His fellow inmate was a con artist.  And as though it had been lifted directly from Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” if the truth about his con were uncovered and the facts revealed that his con was a sham, D’Souza asked, “How do you deal with that revelation?”  His answer was, “Lie, lie, and keep on lying.  Never admit to or give up the con.”

Hillary Clinton has lied and lied and lied and has never given up her con.  And that’s precisely why I cast my vote for Donald J. Trump.

HOW MUCH DO TWO POUNDS WEIGH?

Moving into my first apartment was a great thrill for me.  Finally, life in a college dormitory was at a merciful end.  No more waking up at three in the morning because a fellow student was inebriated and decided that it would be fun to pull the fire alarms that appeared in several places on each floor.  Of course, as exciting as this all was, there was a daunting challenge ahead.  Furnishing this new space.

Fortunately, as the organist at the local Roman Catholic church, I had connections.  A number of the parishioners were kind enough to lend or give me some of their old furniture until I could afford to upgrade.  One of these gifts was a double bed frame which came without either box spring or mattress.  So I bought a futon and laid it on the bare frame.  This proved moderately uncomfortable so I soon placed the futon on the floor where it belonged anyway.  But I did make the decision to buy several pillows, slip covers and pillow cases – leaving the purchase of sheets for a later date.

I returned home with my bulky pillow purchase, removed the contents from the large bags in which the store had placed them and began putting the slipcovers on the pillows when I made a discovery.  On both of the standard size pillows there was a tag which had been machine sewed into the welting.  The tag contained information on the content of the pillow, the content of the ticking, the place of manufacture (this was the early 70’s so it naturally said, “Made in the USA”), and then followed an ominous warning which read:  “DO NOT REMOVE THIS TAG UNDER PENALTY OF LAW”.

Reading this warning naturally caused me to wonder what law I would be breaking should I choose to disregard the warning and what was it intended to prevent from happening?  For the life of me, the only logical danger I could see might be that if I were not careful cutting it from the pillow I might accidentally incise into the pillow and expose the duck feathers that were inside.  Well, I decided not to chance bringing about the apocalypse so I slipped the pillow cover over the pillow and then put them into the cases, artfully arranging them on the futon.  Then I stood back and viewed my handiwork, looking forward to a comfortable night’s sleep.

Well, I did get a good night’s sleep that night and for the next several weeks.  But after not too long a while I found that those little tags were getting bunched up from the pressure of my head and were ratting up into annoying little wads.  So I made the major decision to get out my best scissors and eliminate them.  But I took precautions.

I still had not been able to afford window coverings in the living room so I decided that removing the tags there would merely invite government intrusion into my illicit operation.  We were all a little paranoid back then, thinking that the government was spying on us.  Little did we know what the 21st century would bring in that regard.  I retreated to my bedroom, excluded my Irish Setter, Finney from the room as I did not want him to be implicated should this matter ever come to trial.  And I lit a housewarming candle which was dedicated to St. Bonaventure and had been given to me by the parishioner who had donated the somewhat delapidated couch which was the focal (and only) seating in the living room.

I gave the candle a moment for the wick to burn down to the wax and searched my memory to recall what St. Bonaventure was the patron saint of – pardon the grammar. I wasn’t sure which saint was responsible for interceding for those of us who broke laws here on earth – but I was sure that St. Bonaventure would know the correct department to which he would forward my case.

With the skill and adeptness of a brain surgeon, I cut the tag from the first pillow.  I held the wadded up label in my left hand and looked around the room to see if there might suddenly be a water leak or any cracks in the ceiling, caused by my defiance of the regulations prohibiting what I had just done.  I breathed a sigh of relief, quickly grabbed the second pillow and dispatched the other label in the same way.  Still, no signs of structural damage to the apartment and no seismic shaking.

I quickly cut the two labels into a myriad of pieces and flushed them down the toilet in four separate batches over several days so that whoever was in charge of  investigating the removal of labels from pillows would find it difficult to trace this crime back to me.  I also put a portion of the two labels in two separate kitchen garbage bags so that even if the remainder of the labels were retrieved from the sanitation system and pieced back together, a portion of each label would be missing.  I was fairly comfortable that I had covered my tracks and was about to blow out my St. Bonaventure candle when suddenly it hit me.  My fingerprints were all over those two labels.  So I decided to make a novena to St. Bonaventure over the following eight days and I hoped that would save me from arrest.

Well, I ended my novena, much to my relief no one came knocking at my door nor was there any police tape indicating that my apartment was a crime scene.  But it was a full two months after my deed before I began to breathe a complete sigh of relief.  I had gotten away with it.  These days I think of this as my Hillary Clinton moment – but, of course, on a much smaller scale.

Being a curious sort, once my angst had abated, I thought about why this pillow regulation existed in the first place.  That seems like a rational question, don’t you think?  I mean, if there is a rule or a law, it should have some basis in common sense.  When I was in school it was forbidden for us students to run on the stairways.  The faculty explained that doing so could result in a student’s tripping and injuring her or himself. That made sense.  But the only thing that I could see as a result of the “Do Not Remove” tag was that it caused me, and I presume others, to have less than a restful sleep.

It took half a century for me finally to come up with the answer to that question.  These regulations are not intended for the most intelligent of our citizens but for our least bright.  And as sad as that admission may be, I do believe it is the truth.  Had I questioned that hypothesis before, it was completely confirmed by a shopping trip to Target a few days ago.

I had intended to order some Pupperoni for my companion dog, Gracie on the internet.  However, I received a new debit card from my bank and within a week it was already frozen because it had been “compromised.”  So much for the latest and greatest in technology.  As a result, I was low on this favorite treat of hers and I decided to go to Target to replenish our stock until I got my replacement card.  I would bite the bullet and pay a little more than I would have to spend from an internet provider.

Much to my surprise, Target was running a sale on Pupperoni.  The two pound price was reduced from $13.99 to $9.99.  And, by buying two packages, Target was offering a $5.00 gift card on a future purchase.  As I browsed through the numerous flavors that were available I noticed that the product was also offered in a 25 oz. size at the same $9.99 price – except that there was no gift card offer on the smaller size.  I wondered, why would anyone purchase the smaller sized product?  It wasn’t long until I had my answer.

As I was surveying the shelf, a woman I put in her middle thirties came up to the dog treat aisle with a rather full shopping cart.  She walked up to the Pupperoni area and grabbed a 25 oz. bag of the product.  Being the helpful person I try to be, I pointed out that if she purchased two of the two pound product, she would pay the same price as for her smaller package and get the $5.00 gift card as well.  Her response surprised me.

She asked, “How much does two pounds weigh?”

Fortunately, my right knee was paining me fiercely and my long journey through Target to the second to last aisle in the store where dog treats were housed did nothing to ameliorate that.  Otherwise, I would have impishly responded, “Well, it depends.  As you know, feathers weigh less than lead – so it sort of depends.”  But instead, I recovered from the stupidity of the statement to respond, “Two pounds.”

She then followed up with another question which also surprised me, “How many ounces are there in two pounds?”

Forgive me but if you’re over forty years old you probably knew the answer to that question when you were in second or third grade.  Maybe fourth – I’ve forgotten.  Nevertheless, I took a deep breath and answered, “Thirty two.”

Fortunately, mankind is blessed with having five senses, one of which is feeling.  A reasonable person doesn’t even need to know the answer to this shopper’s question.  One could pick up both similarly priced products and determine which is the heavier and therefore the better value.  I felt as though I were on an episode of Watter’s World on the O’Reilly Factor.  You probably know the segment where Jesse Watters interviews people who are so thoughtful that they think that George Hamilton is the president on the one dollar bill.

Despite the pain I was feeling in my knee, I couldn’t leave this alone.  Call it a weakness on my part.  So I followed up with the statement, “You know, you look like the kind of person who is probably voting for the same person as I am for president and that’s the reason I wanted to point out the better value so you could save some money.

This woman responded, “Oh, you’re voting for Hillary too?”

I answered her, “How could you think anything else?”

So she picked up her 25 oz. package of Pupperoni, put it in her cart, and wished me a good day.  I remember shaking my head, picking up my product and leaving the store after I had gone through the self-checkout and getting my gift card.

And so the lesson to be learned here is an old aphorism.

“There’s no fixing dumb.”

“Deus in adjutorium meum intende.”

WHY J’AMAL CAN’T REED, RITE OR TALK GUD – PART I

Margaret Mitchell’s Tara has faded from the landscape and the memories of most, but the pre-bellum plantations of the South have moved northward.  The plantations of enslaved people have migrated to our inner cities, festering with drugs, violence, ignorance, squalor and with as little hope for escape as the slaves, mired in the deep South had, before President Lincoln emancipated them.

Slavery had then and has now in the countries in which it was and is still practiced one fundamental reason for existence.  It’s the economics of it, stupid.  Free or virtually free labor is a better deal for the farmer or manufacturer than paying people a minimum wage – whatever that amount might be.  Slavery has nothing to do with racism.  It’s all about the almighty dollar or dinar or rupee.

In some ways, life was safer and better for blacks in America under the dreadful old slave conditions, as horribly violent as some slave owners were, than what they have on the new plantations of our inner cities as presumably freed people.  As “property” they had economic value.  They could be bought, sold or bred to create more property and increase the slave owner’s balance sheet.  Even the most heartless slave owner realized that destroying his own property, other than to make an example for others, was a poor economic decision.

When Europeans traveled to Africa and abducted or bought subjugated people from other tribes who had vanquished them, it was because they had developed a taste for something called sugar.  More bodies were required to harvest the sugar cane and sugar beets to satisfy the ever increasing demand for that product.  And if blacks could harvest sugar cane they could do the same with cotton and tobacco.  In an agrarian society there was no better source of labor than that which merely needed modest upkeep by way of food and housing and which could reproduce itself.

The South may have lost the Civil War but they had not given up the fight.  The newly freed slaves, many of them grateful for the political party whose head had freed them from their bonds, became Republicans.  The slave owners were Democrats.  And they were organized.  And so the KKK was born in the late 1860’s – originally as an effort to overthrow the state Republican governments in the South where blacks now sat as freed men and legislators.  It was squelched in 1871 to be reborn around 1915, this time with a hate agenda primarily devoted to a program of anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism.  This incarnation also died out only to return in the 1950’s, both of those agendas still in mind, but with a primary focus on anti-black terrorism.  The cross burnings and black murders which most Americans think of when they think of the KKK comes from that third incarnation.

Inherent to maintaining slavery wherever it exists is perpetuating a culture of ignorance among the slaves.  A law passed in North Carolina’s 1830-1831 legislative session is fairly typical of how the slave states dealt with the potential of educating slaves:

Whereas the teaching of slaves to read and write has a tendency to excite dissatisfaction in their minds and to produce insurrection and rebellion to the manifest injury of the citizens of this state: Therefore

Be it enacted by the General Asembly [sic] of the State of North Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, that any free person who shall hereafter teach or attempt to teach any slave within this State to read or write, the use of figures excepted, Shall be liable to indictment in any court of record in the State having jurisdiction thereof, and upon conviction shall at the discretion of the court if a white man or woman be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned and if a free person of colour shall be whipped at the discretion of the court not exceeding thirty nine lashes nor less than twenty lashes.

Be it further enacted that if any slave shall hereafter teach or attempt to teach any other slave to read or write the use of figures excepted, he or she may be carried before any justice of the peace and on conviction thereof shall be sentenced to receive thirty nine lashes on his or her bare back.

Two decades after the North Carolina law was enacted, in 1852 Massachusetts became the first state to pass a bill mandating the education of all children.  In 1918, Mississippi became the last state to adopt similar legislation.

But passing laws does not effectively dictate morality – or the Ten Commandments would get more respect.  Blacks may have been freed but their former owners merely looked at them as property which had been purloined from them.  And they weren’t afraid of showing their disdain for these former slaves whom they believed should never have been granted freedom, let alone citizenship.  So in that climate, many of these blacks migrated north to former free states to resettle themselves hoping to find an environment with a more welcoming, understanding populace.

For the most part, those hopes were not fulfilled.

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