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Monday, January 9, 2017

About America: Alexis de Tocqueville, Then and Now

Alexis de Tocqueville published two trenchant volumes
regarding our then new nation after touring here in 1831.
Democracy in America (1835 and 1840) shrewdly analysed
the characteristics that made America different from European
countries, traits that often weren't/aren't always "positive".
Among the more famous descriptions is one of an American
always hungering after novelty, not delving deeply into important
subjects, etc.

Long before nefariously/infamously/selfishly conservative
capitalist "theorist"/fiction writer Ayn Rand, Alexis de T.
noted the rise of the cult of individualism: "...Individualism
is a calm and considered feeling which disposes each citizen
to isolate himself from the mass of his fellows and withdraw
into the circle of family and friends; with this little society
formed to his taste, he gladly leaves the greater society to look
after itself..." (quoted in Rushworth M. Kidder's How Good
People Make Tough Choices, 1995.)

Fast forward to 2017: Closeted in and focused on their personal
lives, far too few adult Americans study the issues, vote, attend
public meetings where they can engage their officials, call up
legislators with suggestions, criticisms and concerns. As Benjamin
Franklin and Alexis de T. understood, these participatory public
practices help insure a stable, democratic republic, one we are in
grave danger of losing, with the cult of wealth and celebrity
overweeningly influencing major events.

Sociologist de Tocqueville's thoughts on our nation are as relevant
today as they were in the 1830s--sadly, even more so. His work
has honesty, observation  and keen intelligence; it inspires
reflection and change among the perceptive.

Let us all be perceptive.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Florida: More Murders Made Possible by Bad Laws: A State to Stay Away From

The latest murderous horror to occur in Florida could have
been averted with rational laws, namely, that no one can carry
weapons on passenger planes, be they unloaded and checked
into the baggage areas of said planes' and airports' debarkation
areas. That must include military and police travelling in civilian
situations as well. People on board the unfortunate flight
seemed safe enough, but were killed once on the ground...
where I come from, dead is dead, no matter the location.

That New Jersey nutcase started out from Alaska, flew to
Minneapolis, then landed in  Florida, where he retrieved his
weapon, killing five and injuring eight. Florida officials' press
conference remarks contained the usual sorrow, bromides
and assurances, but I am not reassured, because...

Right about now the Florida Statehouse is mulling over
a bill which would allow guns on college campuses and
other wildly inappropriate settings, as if mass murders
haven't happened in such places. Say, who ARE these
legislators? They appear to be as insane as the murderers
whose behavior they are facilitating, failing to protect
the public they serve.

Once this country allowed gun carry in public, (whether
concealed or open) shootings have certainly continued to
escalate as statistics prove. --Coincidence? Of course not.
16 hours' practice at a firing range and an FOID card are
not adequate safeguards; abusing the Second Amendment
is the result, causing the loss of many innocent lives.

The USA's current version of the Wild West is even worse
than the lawless West of over a hundred years back--the
weapons are now often military grade. (--Gee, great! Now
even more can get killed!) But there are regional differences,
especially regarding gun laws. It pays to know where
you go, so...

Florida: more murders made possible by bad laws,
a state to stay away from.

Friday, January 6, 2017

National/International Politics: A New Year but Not a New Page

...Except in the calendar. POTUS-Elect Donald better duck
and cover, because the Republicans in Congress know they
are responsible for our nation's safety, even if Trump doesn't.
The Don won't waffle or walk back his antipathy to the highly
inconvenient CIA report regarding Russian hacking of several
important U.S. websites including the Democratic National
Committee's, Hillary's and others. Today's briefing in Trump
Tower with the heads of our security apparatus may be worthy
of pay-per-view fireworks, as Mr. Trump is not known for
apology and/or compromise. He HAD, however, better heed
and read the disturbing, factual reports--

That is, if he wishes to keep America as great as it is now,
never mind making it great again. Being great as a sovereign
nation means ensuring safety from other countries' various
vexing and dangerous machinations, which does not appear
to be on the Don's agenda. Being way too cozy with the
Russians and the Ukrainians because of his business deals
blinds our next president to the threat...

Of slipping back to bad old days here and abroad. A
right-wing wave has overtaken the Northern nations of
the West, which bodes ill for human and civil rights, the
lower and middle classes. Here at home, halting women's
rights, minority voting rights and personal rights are all
seemingly on the table. Have we just entered yet another
negative swing era in world history? It is not enough to have
Hope Float--we must act, reminding Congress that it is only
two years 'til the next election which could throw out right-
wing hardliners. Any legislator more interested in arrogating
more power at the expense of our security and sovereignty
ought to get the heave-ho then too.

2017 looks to be a chauvinistic, chaotic year ahead.
Fasten your seat belts, brother and sisters. This may
be a new year, but scarcely a fresh, new page.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Trump's "Enemies List"--and Mine

I am unalterably opposed to injustice, racism, scapegoating,
violence, murder, wars of mass destruction (--Syria, etc.),
Oligarchies (the Koch Brothers most particularly), cruelty,
ignorance, saber rattling  and...

--Ah. So the above-said is MY enemies list; anything that
disturbs people needlessly and threatens our existence will
land on that list. Anything which demonstrably takes us
further and further away from any putative "civilization" we
supposedly have had on Earth earns a spot there as well.

What of the Don? Rumor hath it he possesses an enemies'
list, presumably peopled by anyone who has roundly
critiqued him or even simply disagrees with him. This bears
further checking, but the Trump's Twitterverse engagements
are strong indicators. "Kelly Kelly" recently publicly "warned",
watch what you say. Will the next U.S. administration spend
most of its time launching libel suits to protect the Trumpster's
already self-tarnished image, largely ignoring the nation's
business? --Stay tuned.

Anything of a negative policy nature will occasion my calls
to various members of our U.S. Congress; anyone of
a frankly unqualified, inimical bent recommended by
Trump heading to the Senate for confirmation must
engender more calls by me to them. Letters from those
of us who object to much of  Donald's agenda may/may
not be effective, depending upon numbers. Petitions,
hundreds of which I have signed over the years, are,
sadly, the least effective means of making change.
--Ditto demonstrations, especially the dramatic,"fun"
ones.

Future refinements of my enemies list will also tally
every stupid and destabilizing mistake the Don,
"Kelly Kelly" and crew make.

Questions, objections and suggestions:
Do you want our Republic to be more democratic?

Then act, please. Happy 2017.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Israel's Nitwit Netanyahu Can't Even Count--Witness His Riposte to Secretary of State Kerry

Many of us applauded John Kerry's eminently reasonable account
of why a Middle East "Two State" solution will be fair to all, will
become the linchpin to peace in the region. He made his remarks
shortly after the United Nations censured Israel (yet again) for
the increasing Israeli settlements encroaching evermore into the
Palestinian people's land. The signal vote by the U.S. to abstain
was a first, firmly underscoring what several administrations have
advocated, namely, a two-state solution.

In his swift, accusatory anti-U.S. reaction, the 'Yahoo Nitwit
couldn't count, claiming Israel has existed for "...nearly a hundred
years..." --REALLY?  In 1948 Israel proclaimed its existence as a
state; we are now entering 2017, not 2048. The man can't count!
(69 years is not nearly one hundred.) I wish our current president
had shown his claws even earlier, but better late than never, as the
old saw has it.

Netanyahu has openly often disrespected Mr. Obama. One
egregious example: by going  over his head and addressing our
U.S. House of Representatives with the low-class assistance of
then House Speaker Boehner, quite the boner.  Some in Israel
feel it is their "divine right" to request and accept many millions in
aid from us, yet dictate our Middle East policy. This is a no-go
theorem if I ever saw one. There are always obligatory ties to
any generous purse strings; whoever ignores such reality risks
rebukes and further unfavorable reactions.

--My reaction? It is time to play hardball with Israel, particularly
Nitwit Netanyahu. The USA did not place Jews into internment
camps, has steadily supported the national aspirations of the
Jews. It's clear they are taking us for granted. Were I king, I
would sharply cut back monetary and military aid to Israel, see
just how "self-reliant" they are, which they are NOT. The people
of Palestine had no genocidal role in WWII, were victimized
by imperial Great Britain in the 1921 Balfour Accords, etc.
They are understandably unwilling to be squeezed out of
existence, although Yasser Arafat and others played into their
opponents' victimizing hands by trenchant violent overkill.

Both President Elect Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu are
evincing attitudes reminiscent of Naziism and Fascism.
--Say, boys, are you aiming toward such a legacy?

Meanwhile, Netanyahu, learn to COUNT.

Chicago Cops: New Year's Wishes: We Wanna Have Our Cake and Eat It Too

According to FOP boss Dean Angelo Sr. But my above-said
is an analysis: police union members actually remarked that
they don't wish to be held accountable for "hot mike" mistakes
--rude or inappropriate remarks while at work (Courtesy of
The Chicago Tribune, December 29th, 2016). --REALLY?

Apparently most of these officers have never heard of Marilyn
Moats Kennedy, a job counselor and author. Career Knockouts:
How to Battle Back was one of her most telling works. Among
many good bits of advice, this is the one that applies most
importantly to the police (and anyone working with the public):
I've paraphrased her here: " Your employer does not want the
real you. They require you to be professional, do your job well,
keep your personal proclivities and life away from the job."

Most educated American adults understand that they must
exhibit good manners/behave well in any public setting,
although that number is currently declining; witness the rise in
rioting on airplanes. Working with disturbed and/or out of control
perpetrators or others means keeping one's cool, sticking to
the issues at hand, yet exerting control. This, of course, is hardly
easy, so Chicago's screening test to weed out undesirable police
department applicants who want to be low class like the perps
while on the job MUST be scrapped and re-written, period.
Character counts!

It seems that too many cops haven't risen to the occasion
while at work, feel far too comfortable, "free to be me"
sentiment allowing such officers to say they don't want to
be responsible for their actions... so, quit already! We need
better than that in our troubled  neighborhoods and situations.
Meanwhile, Mr. Angelo quotes such ridiculous complaints
publicly, having had a tone-deaf approach to the public about
his FOP members long since. He attended a forum claiming
he had never been to one before, but I saw him at two different
ones, so....

The holiday celebrations are just about over, including having
one's cake and eating it too. It's high time for all adults holding
responsible positions to resume proper behavior...

Especially the FOP's whining police.

[P.S.: most Chicago police officers are doing a difficult job
well. I'm zeroing in on those who are not displaying the
best attitude to carry out their duties. Sadly, more than
three or four fit my critique; bad behavior by cops then
affects actions on the street and on the beat behavior of
any suspects. Why isn't this realized by everybody??]


Friday, December 23, 2016

Trump's Kelly Conway: Confuse and Conflate?

Kelly, Kelly, Kelly, Kelly....(Wow, the Don's version is no smarter
than the eponymous blond of fame on fictional "Cheers". Too bad
this one serves an unqualified president in a nonfictional reality.)
Evasions, explanations and obfuscations aside, if the safety stakes
weren't so high, I'd have to laugh at the extreme tangents to truth
taken by "Blondie" and her boss...

But she does have one thing going for her, however: Kelly Conway
is the epitome of the "Stepford Wife" (see similar-titled movie)
when queried by the media; cool, calm, collected, nothing ruffles
her composure, never mind that she gives no cogent answers to
questions. It may take some weeks before even those who voted
for and supported Mr. Trump realize how calamitous a choice he
is and will be. --"Maverick", anyone? When that describes Senator
John McCain, he is often praised; for fellow "republican"
Rumpster, it merely means out of control, uninformed egotistical
blundering--of an Armageddon-level threat.

In a recent interview, Ms. Conway rebuked criticism of Trump
as attempts to "confuse and conflate"...which astounded me, as
that is EXACTLY what "Kelly, Kelly" does, utilizing projection
and  displacement (a turning the tables scapegoating), a long
and well-understood phenomenon in Psychology.

..And yet, she holds a B.A., a J.D. and owns her own polling
business, so, on paper, she seems eminently qualified for many
professional posts. Interestingly, she won a Blueberry Princess
Pageant, from whence, I surmise, springs her "Stepford Wife"
public persona.

Sadly, No "Cheers" for this "dumb" blond and her cohorts,
or the Electoral College, whose members cared more for their
own prominent positions in the Republican Party than the nation,
voting accordingly. Her spokes-person cool notwithstanding,
the Don's dangerous plans to build our nuclear arsenal anew
has re-awakened wary and weary fears all around the world
--at an all-time, ill-timed moment on the international stage.

What's next? I can't wait. Meanwhile, I'd better rejoin
the Twitterverse, just to keep up. Can Conway con
her way into America's heart? Citizens, stay tuned.

P.S.: OK, her first name is really Kellyanne, but before
she was so famous, I had seen it simply spelled "Kelly",
which I will (obstinately) keep to..."anne" I ain't kiddin'.