Who and What is the Happy Warrior

The Happy Warrior is the title of a poem... and yes, I love this poem. I do not wish to be mischaracterized, for the most part poetry is not my bag. I am not an afficionado of literature nor am I a metro-sexual (I despise that term) but a dear friend introduced me to this masterpiece of prose several years ago... it has provided no end of inspiration. The Happy Warrior by William Wordsworth outlines the qualities of a magnificent soul. I aspire to possess even one or two characteristics that "every man in arms should wish to be."

This blog is a representation, in conversational form, of my voyage to wrap my arms around the world in which Mr. Worsdworth's warrior finds happiness.

(Standing disclaimer: Luckily tests of spelling accuracy ended in 4th grade otherwise I would still be in Elementary School. Be forewarned, spelling errors ahead. I subscribe to the wisdom of a great man who said, "I have utmost disdain for a man who can only spell a word one way." -Benjamin Franklin)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why I'm voting against President Obama: Reason 6

Obama's vision:  "America, leading from behind."

Upond consultation with the dictionary (not quoted but accurate nonetheless): 
Leadership- to lead, as in to be out in front.  To show the way...
Following- to follow behind someone...

Leading from beind sounds a lot like following to me.  Line up a hundred First Graders and present them with a simple scenario where several people are taking a walk in the woods.  Then ask them what do you call the person in front and what do you call the person in back...  Hmmmm. Not too difficult.  I'm betting my money that all hundred students would get it right. 

Mr. Obama the post-modern wordsmith can't yet convince me that the emporer is wearing clothes.  America is a leader in this world.  Like it or not.  Being a leader is sometimes very lonely.  Sometimes there are people that do not like the leader.  Let me ask you this, which countries or groups are making a play to take over leadership if the United States abdicates its position?  How would the world look if they became the leaders?  That is a very scarey hypothetical...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why I'm voting against President Obama: Reason 5

I will phrase this reason as a challenge to both Gov. Romney and President Obama:  I challenge both of you to make the following pledges (which if you violate I will expect you to immediately resign from your office in absolute shame that a person with such great trust would make an oath and then break it....  yeh, I'm not going to hold my breath although my employer, my children, my wife and my friends would expect no lesser standard of honor from me):

1.  I will never allow a law to become effective until every elected representative of the House and Senate (as well as myself) reads every single word of that law.  That is why we are called "law makers".  It is not too difficult.  If a leader of the House or Senate suggests something absurd like "we have to pass it to find out what is in it" I will immediately call for his/her resignation.

2.  I will refuse to sign a law, policy or executive action when I fail to get at least one vote from a member of the other party (Senator or Representative) even and especially if I am the author or chief advocate of that law.  I recognize that if I were to sign such a statute without any support from "the other side of the aisle" I am going against the wishes of nearly one half of the population of this country.  I admit that to do so is the very definition of partisan and devisive.  I will not be the author of such divisiveness in the country where I claim to be president of all the people. 

These are my two challenges and I think they are not only fair but I think fair minded liberals and conservatives would agree that these two challenges, if put into action, would be beneficial for the United States.  So why do I have a preference for Gov. Romney when he hasn't made such a pledge and suggest that this is a reason why I would not vote for Pres. Obama?  Because Pres. Obama has already SHOWN where he stands on these issues.  He has already shown that he is willing to run rough-shod over the political decency and the unifying principles that underly both of these challenges.  Am I confident that Gov. Romney would do differently?  Not 100%, but with Pres. Obama I know the answer already.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Why I'm voting against President Obama: Reason #3

Before I enlarge upon the next reason, let me clarify that these reasons are not in any particular order of importance... That being said, for me there is one paramount reason:  Obama's belief in big, comprehensive, paternalistic government... essentially his comittment to the socialist or nanny state.  We fundamentally disagree about the role of government.  I happen to agree with almost every 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th century political philosopher... you know the ones who served as the architects for Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Franklin, Hamilton and others we summarily refer to as "the founding fathers".  This is the idea that governments are necessary evils. One even titled his definitive work on political philosophy: Leviathon.  He meant, of course, that government can become a monster if men continually conceed their power to it. Sovereignty is retained by citizens as an endowment from God NOT from governments.  This is a vital, fundamental difference between the philosophy espoused by Obama and our founders/myself.  Governments occur as citizens collectively surrender bits of their freedom to acheive a larger common good.  The best government is limited government!  Limited governments by definition should be small and have minimal reach into the lives of the people (especially the ability to take or award money from or to the citizenry).

Fast foward two and a half centuries and our secularized society is making a full court press to extinguish God from the public square, to debate him out of existence and to shame His moral foundations (i.e. traditional concept of marriage, the primacy of the family in the social order, individual responsibility, submission to authority, conception of the sacred, etc.) out of society.  Does anyone need a more obvious illustration of this effort than the recent vote at the Democratic national convention?

Behind President Obamas political philosophy is the substitution of God by the government.  We, as citizens should not rely upon God for our daily bread but upon government.  We should not declare our allegiance to some untouchable, inmaterial Being (certainly not at some high school graduation ceremony or in a court room) but our allegiance should be declared to government.  The most fundamental expression of allegiance is by the contribution of our money.  God's tithe (10%) has been far eclipsed by government's requirement that we pay upwards of 50% to accomplish their "good" works.  Government is by far the more oppressive overseer. 

So sorry but I included two reasons (although interrelated) why I'm voting against President Obama in this post.  I'll try to keep my discussions more focused.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Why I'm voting against President Obama. Reason #2

Fiscal recklessness.  A cheif executive has the responsibility to answer for the financial condition of the organization they represent.  If the chief executive of Home Depot, the Green Bay Packers, Verizon or Paul's Plumbing had the same track record and performance as President Obama he would have been fired two years ago.  The American "company" is in unfathomable debt (literally, we cannot even fathom what "trillion" means). 

Our "CEO" appeared on the David Letterman Show and could not (or would not) identify the current national debt figure.  This is as fundamental and central a measure of national health as is a thermometer to a fevered infant...  and Mr. Obama feigned as if he did not know what that figure is.  Are you serious?  No corporate executive would dare face the shareholders and proclaim such ignorance.... He would summarily be thrown out on his disgraced arse!  It truely boarders on gross negligence.  I expect my cheif executive to know that number and be so preoccupied with it that it keeps him up at night.  In our current condition he should not be able to sleep; ever waking hour should be spend devising one solution after another to fix the current economic malady. Why?  Because it represents our future!  Are we so arrogant as to think we can escape the fate experienced by every once mighty nation in the history of the world?  And yet this Chief Executive appears to trifle with our fiscal situation.  We (the people... the United States)  have not had an annual operating budget for four years  -his entire tenure as sitting Chief Executive.  His most recent budget proposal was so un-serious (if that is a word) that it was was rejected not only by every Republican but also by a host of Democrats as well.  Members of his own party! This begs a serious question of effective leadership which will be a topic of a future blog... but back to the matter of fiscal recklessness:  It is either gross ineptitude or wanton negligence.  Economic laws are set and sure, not unlike the laws of gravity.  Consequences must always follow... it may be artificially delayed but we will reap a whirlwind.  Our present macro-economic course could kill this country and plunge the world into chaos. 

What... we have an option of replacing our current CEO with a guy whose entire career has been a chain of unbroken fiscal successes, of turning around dying entities and making them solvent again... what?  Is there even a debate about who is best equipped to fix our present condition...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Why I'm voting against Pres. Obama. Reason #1

I am voting against President Obama.  I am not afraid, embarrassed, ashamed or in any other way reticent to publically declare this stance.  I have many friends -dear friends- who strongly support our current president.  They know me personally, up close and privately.  This being said, they can endorse what I claim now:  I am not a racist, a homophobe, cruel, uncaring toward the poor, intellectually lacking or socially backward.  Those caricatures don't fit me nor do they intimidate me.  I know who I am, what I stand for and why I have these particular views.

I believe President Obama when he expressed the central theme of his candidacy and his presidency:  fundamental transformation of the United States of America.  He has commenced exactly what he promised and if elected to a second term I fear he will nearly complete that transformation.  I don't know what many people think he means by "fundamental transformation", but from the first time he overtly declared his objective, it scared me to death.  So for the next several weeks until he elections in November I will be offering a very short (15 to 30 second) synopsis of why we cannot afford another term of a man who wants to fundamentally change what has been the most miraculous, most beneficient, most free, most charitable, most successful, most affluent and most benign country ever to exist on this planet.  We've had blights on our history, we still have some challenges but these require fine tuning, not fundamental change. 

Here is my first thought for your consideration:
  A person, family, group or community that comes to depend (becomes dependent) on government is consequently less free to make their own choices, to exercise their autonomy, to exercise freedom and pursue their own wishes.  Dependence and freedom are mutually exclusive.  Now ask yourself, is the Obama led government encouraging policies that will make citizens more free or more dependent?  Look up the statistics on the increase in the number of people who receive some sort of government assistance (and I don't just mean welfare or unemployment although that is a good place to start) over the last four years?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Welcome Rosh Hashanah!

I am not from the family of Judah but am a not-so-distant cousin who loves my extended family and the legacy they have established.  Judah and Ephraim have different doctrinal positions in many respects but in many areas we have much in common including an eternal origin, covenant and destiny.  So as a relative I wish to offer my greetings during this festive time of the year: 
Wishing everyone a happy, meaningful and promising Rosh Hashanah!  Shalom to my cousins from Judah.  In this time of introspection it is always appropriate to ask yourself:  Am I everything I should be?  Am I what God expects me to be? 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

To the undecided voter

I offer a few thoughts to those who are torn, not yet settled on their upcoming presidential choice.  I will not mention the name of either candidate because in large matter it doesn't matter who the specific men (or even if they were women) are.  The larger issue is that they represent vastly different political philosophies.  Philosophies translate into reality:  more free or less free.  Ideas matter! 
Let's cut to the chase.  Where you stand on this one statement is the most important factor in deciding who you vote for:  Government is, by its nature, oppressive.  This is undeniable.  Governments make laws.  They limit individual liberties.  They take money from their citizens.  They have power to lock up those they define as deviant.  This is tremendous and terrible power.  There are compelling reasons why individual citizens voluntarily subject themselves to the oppressive power of government.  We must never ignore, forget or be duped into the idea that individuals are endowed with rights founded in man-made government.  Governments take rights away (unless limited and restricted as in the Bill of Rights) and contest the power of individuals to do what they wish.  Power of self-direction, autonomy and agency (the ability to choose for him/herself) rests with the indiviual as an endowment from God.  Individuals volutarily give up some of that soverignty to form collective society.  Governments are formed to channel, control and protect groups of similarly minded citizens.  The balance between the rights of the individual and the power of government  has been historically tense with the advantage almost always swinging to the side of government.   Historically, theoretically and in practice, government is, by definition, oppressive. 

This summary of political theory brings us back to our choice in this current presidential election.  The question is how oppressive will we allow our government to become?  What is the point at which we say, "enough".  No more encroachment into our lives.  We do not want any more intrusion in the name of social gifts or economic protection.  Do not tell me what light bulbs I have to use or how large a drink I can purchase or if a meal contains a child toy.  Stop dictating the details of my life.  If you are comfortable with this level of oppression you must vote in one direction.  If this level of oppression -and the trend it portends- frightens you then you most vote in another direction. 

Once again, the central question is the size, intrusion and power of government.  One philosophy almost deifies government  -it is the solution to the challenges plaguing society.  The other philosophy recognizes government as a necessary but dangerous entity, one that should be controlled, checked and minimized  -the power of the citizen (which is centered in his inalienable rights) is the solution to the challenges plaguing society.  Two very different philosophies that will take us down two very different national paths.  Paths which lead to two different realities.  The choice is ours.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

After the Aurora Massacre: What comes next?

The country awoke to another story of violence and mass murder in one of
our previously unknown neighborhoods.  Now Aurora, Colorado joins company
with lower Manhattan, Leesburg, Jasper and neighboring Columbine in a
growing list of murderous and unimaginable massacres. These communities
frequently become defined as “ground zero” to the social disasters that
unexpectedly and violently erupt.  It is nearly impossible to speak the
word Columbine and avoid the association with “massacre”, “shooting” and
“trench-coat”.   This is not a uniquely American experience as is manifest
by our association with such names as Beslam, Utoya Island (Norway), and
most recently  Toronto, Canada.  Indeed this type of social disaster
appears to be a part of the human experience.   The heinous actions of a
few penetrate our generally civil societies and unexpectedly create chaos
and confusion.  It may be impossible to predict when and where an
individual will engage in such deviance; certainly we cannot control all
the negative actions and the serious consequences which impact our lives.
We can predict, however, a number of pertinent subsequent conditions that
have a bearing on our physical, psychological and social well-being.
Curiously, in many social and natural disasters the secondary events –our
reactions- have the ability to seriously mitigate or exacerbate the impact
of the original event.
Being unable to predict the disastrous and tragic event, what do we know
–what is our predictive ability regarding what happens next?  The great
aim of science is to achieve a level of understanding such that we can
reliably predict and subsequently positively control an otherwise chaotic
reality. The natural sciences which explore, among other things, some
equally destructive phenomenon like earthquakes, tornadoes, fires and
hurricanes have the advantage of natural or geophysical laws that
facilitate our predictive powers.  The social and psychological being,
however, makes it much more difficult to predict and preempt the
destructive behaviors of individuals.
We have, however, gained tremendous insight about the social reaction to
such events.  Therefore the objective of this article is to predict and
postulate some of the psychosocial conditions that we may expect to see in
the next several hours, days and weeks of this tragic experience:
Media rush:  there will be a saturation of media coverage of this event
until another “rival” story emerges.   A literal horde of media will
converge on Aurora and immediately begin to generate stories.
Unfortunately many of the reports will contain speculation and errors
presented as fact.  These errors will have potential to taint a true
conception of the facts generating rumor, confusion and an overly
simplistic analysis of a sophisticated situation.
Vigils and communal cohesion:  the next several days will be filled with
increased solidarity and “ceremonies” of social support.  Most frequently
these take the form of candle-light vigils and religious services.  These
serve a powerful social and psychological healing function.   Tragedies
bring us together and temporarily open doors for change.  This necessary
period of altruism is threatened by politicization and media
Aurora stigmatized:  one of the most reliable responses to these events is
captured in a phrase taking this theme:  I never thought it could happen
here.  This will be followed by, “it could have happened anywhere.”
Ground zero communities are frequently associated with the heinous event
and scrutinized as if something inherent in their community, like tainted
water or too much or too little religiosity, makes them culpable for the
crime.  Aurora will be forced to engage in a formal or informal public
relations campaign with the essential tagline:  we are just like Anycity,
Politicization:  the day following this tragedy will not end without
political parties and various interest groups seizing upon the experience
as an example for their agenda.  Aurora, the Batman movie,  and guns will
become pawns in the larger chess game being waged by interest groups of
every ilk.  The race, religion, socio-economic status, and political
affiliation of the perpetrator will be scrutinized and dissected
ad-nauseum.  The purpose of this is to provide interest groups with
ammunition and evidence of their cause.  We will see an emergence of
“public political figures” who will be drawn to the spotlight of an
engaged media.  The cameras will provide a stage for these figures to
vigorously pursue their agendas.
Law enforcement protocols questioned and changed:  a productive evaluation
of the response will generate a number of broad policy recommendations.
Since the perpetrator seems to have employed tear gas which limited the
speed of the police response, gas masks will now be standard equipment in
every police vehicle.  Such refinements are generally positive but
sometimes run a danger of errant generalization since, like natural
disasters, an effective response in one scenario may not be the best
course of action in another.
Copy-cat crimes:  the shock and gravity of this crime will likely create
an initial response in the form of police presence at theaters across the
country particularly during showings of the Batman movie.  This will be
both a visceral reaction as well as one that anticipates the tendency for
spectacular crimes to illicit copy-cat actions.  Unfortunate as it is
there will be a certain number of observers who gain some morbid
“inspiration” from the events in Aurora.  These will attempt to mimic the
initial behavior in like manner.
Law suits:  The process of litigation will unfold somewhat slower than
other reactions we’ve identified but this response has become a certainty
in our current litigious society.  The company owning the movie theater
will be a primary target but so will any businesses that can logically be
tied to this event.  There will be a legal feeding frenzy in the name of
and on behalf of the victims.  Justice and recompense are currently
measured in dollars.Oversimplification of Perpetrator:  there is a psychological need to establish
the perpetrator as someone fundamentally different from the rest of us.  We
are uncomfortable thinking that he is like us -or that we are like him and there-
fore liable to act in similar manner.  This is a failure to recognize that evil exists
and even worse, potentially exists in all of us.   "Monster" is a word that is
frequently used to dehumanize a person engaging in this type of crime.
On the other hand, some will attempt to explain such grossly deviant behavior
based on politically correct caricatures as:  he was bullied, society created
the monster, he was unerpriveledged, he is mentally unbalanced, he espoused
ultra-conservative beliefs, etc.  Both simplifications are wrong.  The truth is the
perpetrator will turn out to be a complicated person, not entirely or altogether
different than any of us  -except for the fact that (for some reason yet unknown)
he acted against the moral, social and religious constraints that influence the
rest of us.
Academic studies:  Disasters, natural or man-made, are extreme but ever
more frequent occurrences.  The necessity for understanding the causes and
consequences of such phenomenon is imperative.  The direct result is the
potential to save lives and minimize maladies (medical, psychological,
social and financial).  The obvious failures of recent responses to
hurricanes together with the increasing harm caused by natural,
technological and social disasters elevates the importance for
preparedness and effective response.   Sadly we do not even have a tool
that allows us to measure and then prescribe the needed resources or even
the impact of disasters.  We are tragically reactive in our responses  to
the wide range of threats (dangers extend far beyond immediate shelter,
food and medical needs)  posed by disasters .  Until recently disaster
response has focused on a service delivery model administered by distant
state or federal authorities.  The irony is that most disasters wreak
havoc at the local –individual and community- levels.  Furthermore the
resources most immediately marshaled and most effectual  are those we
naturally trust:  family members, religious institutions, networks of
friends, neighbors, local workplaces, area businesses, hospitals and
community service providers… not some distant bureau or agency.    For all
of these reasons researchers will descend upon Aurora and face the
challenge of studying human behavior outside of a laboratory environment
and largely without controls normally essential for scientific study.
Aurora and the larger Denver community will encounter some difficult days
and many decisions.  Sometimes knowing what is ahead provides a measure of
security that these crimes take from us.  The most poignant question,
"why" is not easily answered but knowing the answer to "what comes next"
can help get us through a time that may seem impossible.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The future of the US and the world

What is the future of the United States of America?  If I may restate my own question:  What is the future of freedom in the world?  The future of the world -whether we fall into a state of chaos, anarchy or ideological totalitarianism- is intrinsically tied to the future of the United States.  There is now only one country standing as a shield between liberty and freedom and a condition described as a "war of all against all".  The United States has twice refuted despotic efforts toward global domination during the past century.  It is yet to be seen if it can continue to provide a shield for liberty and freedom in this century.  It is not that the new threats are more overwhelming than was Naziism or Communism, it is a question of our own fortitude.  We do not seem to beleive in the virtues of liberty and freedom as we once did.  We do not seem to know what those words mean.  We can't even talk about virtues, morals or self-reliance.  We would rather indulge ourselves in affluence and luxury.  We would rather be wards of the government and discuss the condition of our sexual freedoms or what type of lightbulb to use.  We have self-esteem, chronic obesiety and guaranteed healthcare but we are dangerously close to losing what is fundamental to the United States of America.  What is that you ask?  That is part of the problem.  There are some American's who say we should not base our future on the principles and documents that founded this country.  They say we need to fundamentally change our society, our government and our economy. 
The amazing thing is that this streak, this tendency, this effort (call it what you will) was forseen years ago.  Some saw it twenty years ago, others fifty years ago and it was even forseen by foreign observers (i.e. Toqueville) and the men who established our foundation in the late 1700s.  They foresaw it because they understood human nature.  They have provided warnings and systematic controls but we have largely ignored both.  Take five minutes and watch this amazing clip which is just one simple but frank example of such warnings:

Do I sound like a zealot?  Perhaps, but ask yourself how many of the identified points are accurate? 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day: Birth and Death of a Nation

Nothing short of a miracle culminated on July 4, 1776.  It required hard work and much sacrifice in the years that followed but an unprecedented charter was established that provided the groundwork for the birth of a remarkable nation.   Any people in any part of the world COULD enjoy the same freedoms as do we.  To do so they must adopt and abide the principles that lead to freedom and prosperity:  sufficienly similar values, systems, laws and groundrules for their private and public lives.  Primary amongs these values is a resolute streak of independence:  a committment to being free from the paternalism of their government.  Specifically the colonies rejected and threw off the onerous reach of government into their lives.  The government had grown beyond acceptable bounds to dictate the affairs of the populace.  Aside from intruding on decisions that naturally reside with individuals, its taxes, correspondingly, become oppresive.  In short the prevailing perspective was one in which the goverment exercised control over the people instead of the people exerciseing control of the goverment.  This intrusion was, of course, defended and rationalized as necessary for the safety, unity and growth of the British empire of which the colonialist were citizens and recipients of the associated benefits.  Finally awakening to thier condition the people issued a declaration of their most fundamental values, of truths they held to be self-evident which plainly identified the source of their rights as emanating not from man-made governments but from God.  These people, who we celebrate today and from whom we claim a shared philosophy, issued a statement of independence from the malevalance (however good intentioned it may have been) of their government.  They wanted to be independent of it's onerous reach into their lives.

That is a summarized and accurate history of this day, the 4th of July.  It is well and good but what is infinitely more important is a question that involves us and our day.  Are we still committed to these same principles of independence?  Ask yourself:  within the past four years have you become more independent or more dependent upon your government?  Are you able to make up your own mind about what you or your children eat?  Is the government dictating more or less how to spend your money?  Is government inserting itself more or less in the details of your life:  in matters of healthcare, education, business endeavors, recreation, family life, etc.? 

In individual terms and as a society the trend is undeniable.  There are more people today who are dependent upon government than four years ago (granted this trend began more than 40 years ago but has now accelerated to alarming levels).  Worse still is the fact that this growth and interposition of government is  proselyted as a good thing.  The idea that government should provide for our needs (our health needs, our food needs, our housing needs, etc.) is almost accepted without question.  A great mass of society welcomes it, Congress is legislating it, the President is vigorously promoting it and the courts are upholding it.    We are, by definition, becoming dependent upon government for these basics:  food, shelter, clothing and a job.  We have embraced dependence on government  -the exact opposite of what gave birth to this nation as encapsulated in the declaration of INdependence.  If independence led to unparalelled freedom and prosperity, the prospects of dependence are ominous.

What we celebrated over 200 years ago, a country built on independence from government, is rapidly becoming a country of dependence.  We are capitulating and surrendering the core of what makes this country different, dinstinct and free.  We cannot be both dependent and free.  These conditions can not coexist, one must yield to the other.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Virtue of Failure

This story headlined on MSN.com.... I have a few thoughts to share:

The most fantastic (and necessary) element of human existence may be the opportunity to fail. And yet failure appears to be public enemy #1 of a good intentioned culture. An entire generation (no, two generations including mine) has been socially engineered in an effort to surgically remove failure. Red pen marks were demonized (and educators strongly encouraged to use "kinder" colors when correcting papers); scoreing little league games has been prohibitted for participants under certain ages; tall slides, trampolines and dodge ball have been banned because someone might get hurt; school district policies forbid teachers from failing (giving an "F") to students which allows them to be promoted to the next level; banks and businesses have been artificially preserved from the consequences of business choices under the mantra "they are too important to fail". Many well sounding government services are designed to insulated us from pain, struggle and failure but these risk dependence, dignity and development. The visceral and kind hearted aversion to a natural process (failure) is ultimately exacerbating the problem.

The truth is that failure is too important to eradicate. In youth we gain essential experience and, shall we say, psychogical antibodies that immunize and strengthen our resistence to future failures. Failure is how we grow strong. Failure is how we overcome. Failure, ironically, is the key to success. Without failure we become weak, we do not have the inner resolve to persever, we do not have the psychological tools to get up after falling down. Speaking of falling down, every infant falls hundreds of times before they finally master walking. Failure is inherant growth.

Many things we learned in Kindergarten. Some of the most important things we learned before entering Kindergarten. Ironic how stupid we have become in this highly educated age.

Let's end this serious posting on a light hearted thought (visual):

Now go out there and exercise your right to fail because in America it is not prohibited (in a few states at least)!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Media malfesance... Didn't I warn you?

Media manipulation and aggrevation of socially explosive situations is a serious problem in the modern era.  I should know, I've studied it for many years and it was at the heart of my dissertation.  The media IS an interest group with a definite agenda.  Aside from the social agenda, the media has a compelling financial motive as well (which is becoming more of a driving force as it continues its long slow decline  -it is like a dying, desperate animal that is losing internal poise in the face of its demise).

My last post focused on the media's provocation of the Trayvon Martin situation.  Let me again state that we don't know the essential facts of the case to form an unbiased and a reasoned conclusion.  All pundits throwing blame and stirring up the general populace are doing so out of a desire to further their own agendas.  We simply do not know the facts of what happened to make an informed statement; it is all visceral and emotion.  We -no matter what "side" you may lean toward- are better than that.

And SHAME on you media outlets who released an edited version of the 9-1-1 call that clearly painted Mr. Zimmerman in a racist light.  Your weak retraction and apology cannot dispel the damage you created.  If my readers have not heard the audio of the edited and the full version of the 9-1-1 call, you need to find it and listen.  This is a powerful example of how the media can create a false reality.  I could not locate the audio versions but have linked to this story that describes the situation.  So far the one crime that is certain is that which was done by the media on the American public.  Learn from it!

In another stroke of media reality engineering, please notice that the photo of Mr. Zimmerman used in this story is a mug shot.  The caption indicates that he was incarcerated several years ago.  What is the message?  What is the judgement you've formed about Mr. Zimmerman versus the ones you've formed from the images the media is using to show Mr. Martin?  Why the difference?  I don't know who was the aggressor in the situation that led to the tragic death of a fellow human being but I do know who the media is casting as the guilty party.  The portrayal -with the larger implications that America is festering with racism- is disgusting as it is dangerous.  I plead with you to resist the temptation to buy into the messages being framed for us.  Most likely the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The truth of Trayvon and the danger of the media

One of the most unfortunate -and ultimately, dangerous- ironies of the information age is the collapse of the news media.  We are living in George Orwells world of doublespeak.  It is impossible to place any confidence in the validity and integrity of news accounts.  Not only are assumptions, presuppositions and outright guesses presented as facts but these are counfounded with opinion and bias.  Finally, our world is saturated with information.  We simply cannot take it all in.  There are significant things happening in the Sudan, in Belgium, in Guatemala (not to mention Iran, Venezauela, North Korea, and China) and yet we never hear about them.  Here is a quick test, when is the last time an American media outlet spent even 30 seconds covering a heinous killing in the Sudan?  The point is, traditional media inevitably filters out 99% of the world and manufactures a very limited conception of reality.  In large measure we are blind.  We see what they want us to see  -our reality is shaped by their decisions.  We are reacting like puppets to the information strings they have tied to us:  these do not connect to our elbows and legs but to our eyes, our minds and our hearts.
Consider the current media-created situation centering around Trayvon Martin.  Does anyone really think the media (speaking of the major news media outlets in aggregate) has 90% of the relevant, accurate and complete information regarding the "facts"?  Does anyone really think they have 50% of the story?  25%?  I doubt (by virtue of some significant prior research on exactly this type of circumstance) they have a 10% understanding of what transpired... and yet their reporters and pundits are making claims of certainty.  Their reporting is drawing the attention of interest groups with preexisting agendas.  Their recklessness is dangerously stirring up supposition, misunderstanding and powerful emotions of hate.  

Keeping the Martin case in mind, do you not think there have been fifty events just as tragic and even more gruesome within the past week.  Other teens have been slain in manners more viscious.  Other innocent children have been brutally killed...  Why have we not heard of these?  Why have they been filtered out of existence?  They are no less horrific, no less insightful to the social ills of our day.  We know about Trayvon because the media has made a decision for us.  They have decided that we should focus on it and have cast it in the ugly light or racism.  To be sure, this is a joint effort since we are a willing public and consumers of the media's product. 

To the question:  does the Trayvon Martin death mean that the US is steeped in racism?  No.  We don't know enough of the facts to make a determination in this one case.  Beyond this it is not prudent or logical to generalize from one instance to society as a whole.  I GUARANTEE that in the same time that this case has been broadcast across America, there have been thousands of good deeds, small and large, by Whites to Blacks, by Blacks to Whites, by Hispanics to Whites, by Blacks to Hispanics, by Hispanics to Asians... shall I continue?  Why is the media not reporting this tremendous level of friendship and dencency?  Where are the headlines and ranting talk show hosts exploring this phenomenon?   The truth is friendship and racial harmony does not bleed and as such will never be on the news or motivate Al Sharpton to lead a demonstration.  The media has made the choice to create a reality that is built on the dramatic, on the exception.  It portrays this as the norm.  It is a false representation and a lie.  Do not beleive it.  God grant that we do not lose ourselves to the hysteria manufactured by the media and perpetrated by narrowminded and self-serving interest groups.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Griffin's latest mishap

Time for a fun break from seriousness and a peek into the craziness that is our home.  When Griffin was in the golden years of childhood and believed that superhero-hood was a legitimate career option we made a home movie where he starred as the man of steel himself, Superman.  Filming the final scene where he confronted the evil dog-turned-into-gorilla by a freak nuclear accident was somewhat challenging since he was afraid of the full body gorilla body suit we procured...  so much for the man of steel courage.
Well he and his Uncle Ben took up the film making trade once again this past weekend.  With the help of the Apple iPhone nad a very cool app, here is the result:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Priority #1: Marriage and the Family

I have a theory that I call, "The Middle Toe Theory".   Apologies in advance... I am working on a better name.  Essentially my theory is that none of us gives conscious thought to the existence of our middle toe.  Give it a try right now:  think about it down there at the other end of your body... can you identify it in isolation from your foot, independent of your other toes?  Try to wiggle it and it alone.  How did that work for you?  See, it is very much a forgotten appendage.  Most likely you have not thought about it for many years... AND YET, if it were to be severed in some sort of freak accident you would certainly be aware of its absense.  The pain of its injury or its removal would affect your walk, your posture, your entire body's mobility.  It would have a signficant impact on your life. 
Our middle toe is not unlike many of the things we have taken for granted or assumed in life.  We live in a world that is challenging many of those beliefs and values.  The importance of an intact, "traditional" family is one of them.  This includes the importance of marriage and the definition of marriage.  In the political realm it includes the idea of American exceptionalism, of limited government and of individual rights endowed by a soverign Creator (i.e. God).  Now, I am all for questioning the world around us just as I am for considering the reality, function, limitation, evolution and feminist perspective of my middle toe.   BUT I am very pensive and hesitant to lop off my middle toe -a convention that has been around for a very long time- in the name of 'change'.  My point is, certain conditions and values have been extremely positive in the long march of human history and research (as well as common sense) continues to show their essential contribution. 
The vitality of a functional family unit -the ideal of which is a man and a wife bound by a socially and spirituall recognized committment- is essential to the continuity of the human race and to civil society.  Don't agree?  The evidence is overwhelming.  Subscribe to whichever source of truth you will, this evidence comes from science, from common sense, from God, from history.  Here is a document establishing the necessity of marriage and the family from a scientific perspective (click here to read entire report):

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wacky Wednesday: Some political fun

Time for a little meaningless levity.  In a world where every decision seems to be politcally charged it is good to devote two seconds to a debate that has very little true consequence.  I think it is safe to say that our republic will not rise or fall based on the stance you take:

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Government Run Healthcare: One man's view

I taught a sociology course at the local community college and assigned my students a project where they could interview someone on a variety of topics.  One young lady wanted to explore ageing so she interviewed a neighbor of hers who as 65+ years old.  In the course of their interview she asked about the contemporary healthcare issue.  Here is the transcript of his answer:As far as national healthcare...  what have I ever seen in my 69 years on this ball of mud that the government has gotten involved in that they didn't screw up?  You know what my answer to that is: nothing!

... just one man's humble observation stated with resolution and clarity.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

America the Exceptional

Is America exceptional?  By this I mean, different from the rest of the world... better than the rest of the world.  Is it?  Our ability to answer this question may be the most telling indication of the future viability of the United States of America.  My answer is "yes", without reservation or hesitation.  Now let me be clear.  It is not that we are better people than those who live in other countries.  There are many Americans who are dispicable and MANY good and amazing people in other countries.  In fact I wish American's as a whole had many of the qualities exhibited by those living in countries with far fewer freedoms, wealth and opportunty than we do.  America is great because of the values it maintains:  freedom, individual responsibility, equality, committment to the rule of law, no kings or aristocracy.  In short because of three great principles: 
1.  an ingenius political heritage that is largely founded on these words, "we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."
2.  principles of capitalism including private ownership or property, limited government involvement in the commercial sphere, and the promise that bad ideas, inferior products and malicious companies will die because the public will not support them.
3.  the Judeo-Christian value system (which includes specific cultural concepts like the Protestant work ethic, etc.).

The US became the leading world power  -defending this planet multiple times from tyrants and oppressive systems- BECAUSE of these principles.  This is why America is exceptional, better than any other country on the face of the planet.  Is America perfect?  No.  Have there been blemishes in her past?  Yes.  But practices and beliefs like slavery, racism, poverty and isolated travesties (like the WWII Japanese camps, like the Trail of Tears, like Jim Crow, like the Extermination Order... yes, I recognize that these took place while our great country went through some growing pains) do not negate that exceptionalism.  The fact that these wrongs have largely been righted (and yes, we are still a work in progress) is a testament that this country is exceptional.

There is, however, a concerted effort to say we are no different than anyone else.  There is also a concurrent effort to transform us into a country following a European or global citizen model.  In this effort we are to abandon things American and adopt other foundations including financial, legal and cultural systems from other countries.  Global legal theory are challenging Constitutional principles.  A large government welfare state is being posited as an attractive alternative to personal responsibility and local decision making.  Many of these changes are promoted in the name of "good intentions" or "inclusivity and tolerance".  Entire books exist that illustrate this transformation much better than I can.  Here, however, is a link to a speech that is well worth the time and consideration of anyone who thinks the United States should be, is or was exceptional:
Click Here

Friday, January 20, 2012

Something I wish I did not have to share...

The conincidence of this entry and my previous blog  -both dealing with death, human frailty and the precarious condition of mortality- may leave some wondering about my emotional state.  I am just fine.  I am not fixated on these matters, it is just a strange coincidence to have happened upon these two accounts within days of each other.  This second blog entry is, however, much more disturbing than the first.  Death is one of two universal experiences for all humans.  Birth is the first, the inevitability of death is the second.  Rich or poor, male or female, King George or George from Milwaukee... we will all pass through this portal.  Having established these givens regarding death, suffering is a feature we do not need to promote, allow or tolerate.  Kindness and concern should be constants in our lives as is the breath that enters and exits our lungs.  Far too often it is not.  I'm sorry to bring this account to you.  It happended over a year ago.  It seems to have made big news but I did not hear about it and so I'm assuming that some of you also might have missed it.  It is essential, however sad, that we learn of such things in order that we may never allow them to happen in our own sphere of influence.  Here is the story:
This clip of surveillance-camera footage is very much worth avoiding. Trust me on the grisly essentials: a two-year-old is toddling across a market street in the southern Chinese city of Foshan when she is hit by a white minivan. The driver pauses, assesses the situation, and moves on, running over the girl again with the back right tire. In the minutes that follow, she lies on the pavement, is hit by another driver, and is ignored by more than a dozen passersby, including a woman walking with a child. Eventually, a garbage collector stops and pulls the child to safety.

Synopsis: October 13th afternoon around 5:30, a car accident occurred at the Guangfo Hardware Market in Huangqi of Foshan. A van hit a 2-year-old little girl and then fled. No passersby reached out to help and then another car ran over her. Over the span of 7 minutes, a total of 17 people passing by failed to extend a hand or call the police, up until the 19th person, a garbage scavenger ayi [older woman], who lifted her up after discovering her but the little girl in her arms was like a noodle, immediately collapsing back onto the ground. The trash scavenger ayi called for help, and the little girl’s mother, who was in the vicinity, immediately rushed over and rushed her to the hospital.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Death in America 2012

Most people have a list of books they want to read.  I have a list of books I want to write.  I'm at that disturbing age in life when I recognize the impossibility of accomplishing this task.  I have even started to consider a program where I might conscript the writing abilities of others in a sort of joint venture.  Hence, my standing offer: commissioned writers wanted!
One of these books is a fun but also serious look at death.  I call it "Ten Ways to Die".  I won't reveal more at this point other than sharing a very interesting article (from CNN) about what is killing us in 2012.  What kills us and what does not kill us (on a macro or societal level) is telling.  Enjoy:

15 top killers of Americans
The leading killers of Americans continue to be non-infectious diseases like heart disease, strokes and lung diseases.
But one of the perpetual causes of death fell off the top 15 list this year: Homicides.
“Most of the changes were positive,” said Sherry Murphy, a statistician at the National Center of Health Statistics and one of the authors of the annual mortality report. “Homicides fell from among the 15 leading causes for the first time since 1965.”

The rest of the common killers remained fairly consistent compared with 2009, according to the report released Wednesday. The death rate in the United States dropped slightly from 749.6 deaths per 100,000 in 2009 to 746.2 deaths per 100,000.
The life expectancy in the United States inched up a tiny bit from 78.6 years in 2009 to 78.7 years in 2010.
The leading causes of death in 2010 remained nearly the same as in 2009 – kidney diseases became the 8th leading cause of death –- it had been 9th in the previous year. It swapped spots with flu and pneumonia.
The 15th leading killer is pneumonitis due to solids and liquids, an illness more likely to strike the elderly. This is inflammation of the lungs due to inhaling substance inside the lung such as dust, mold or inhalants.
Here are the top 15 killers:
1. Diseases of heart
2. Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
3. Chronic lower respiratory diseases (such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma)
4. Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke)
5. Accidents (any injuries that are unintentional)
6. Alzheimer’s disease
7. Diabetes mellitus
8. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis (kidney disease)
9. Influenza and pneumonia
10. Intentional self-harm (suicide)
11. Septicemia
12. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis
13. Essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease
14. Parkinson’s disease
15. Pneumonitis due to solids and liquids
Live long and prosper (and be good to your heart)!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why values trump theology and a Mormon, Catholic, Jew, Baptist, JW or agnostic could be a great president!

I happen to be a Mormon but this excellent discussion by Dennis Prager has much wider application.  Well said Mr. Prager!

And by the way, yes, we are perfectly aware that many people think we are weird and disagree with our theology.  Many of us spend two years as full-time missionaries speaking with people who are not shy about telling us how "wrong" we are -they often use much more colorful language.  How much does it bother us?  Very little.  Some people, especially those who have given up their faith in the doctrines and practices we hold, have a marvelous way of misrepresenting, exaggerating or overstating our beliefs.  Want to judge us?  Then judge us by how we live, how we treat others, how we care for one another (not my standard, this is what Jesus encouraged). 

Oh, and do you want the core, fundamental element of our theology?  Here it is:  Jesus Christ is the Savior.  He was the promised Messiah spoken of in the Old Testament.  He lives.  Because of His atonement for our sins, mistakes and transgressions we can be redeemed.  His atonement -which he performed during his earthly, mortal ministry- is infinite.  It covers all mankind.  Yes, there are doctrines, commandments, covenants, sacraments, and responsibilities that grow from this foundation but this is the heart of "Mormonism".  If you want to understand more just ask one of us.  We even send our young men and young women to the "four corners" of the earth in order to teach of these things.  Clearly we would like to share our theology, our values and our witness with anyone who has an interest.