Archive for the ‘POLITICS: talking out of your face and your ass at the same time’ Category

h1

Safety versus Liberty…

November 19, 2017

…and Ben Franklin’s maxim….


It could be said that action on the part of Congress when a problem is evident is certainly preferable to inaction.

Not necessarily.

There are factors to consider other than inertia, such as timing and the definition of the problem to be addressed. When a response is born of emotion rather than reason, the potential for simply changing deck chairs on the Titanic is increased.

This concern has been mentioned by some public officials in the wake of the two recent tragedies in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas. Nevertheless, Congress evidently feels compelled to answer the impassioned calls for that body to prove itself to be a viable life form rather than a petrified relic of one long gone. Whether their Show and Tell demonstration of bipartisanship and measurable vital signs purportedly evidenced in their pending legislation “to improve background checks for gun sales”, called the “Fix NICS Act” (NICS is the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System) is proof of measurable vital signs or not remains to be seen.

I’m not inclined to see more than a basic Show and Tell skit at this point, and my raised eyebrow suggests an element of expectation that the action will merely upgrade and redecorate an existing problem rather than actually resolve it. Furthermore, the phrase “to improve background checks for gun sales” can be interpreted to mean a great number of things…or nothing at all.

The recent shooting incidents generated immediate calls for “gun control”, of course, but also stimulated some with functional frontal lobes to point out that we already have appropriate laws that just aren’t being carried out very well. That would have had no bearing on the Las Vegas massacre but could most likely have prevented the Sutherland Springs, Texas incident. In any event, I am compelled to withhold my trust in Congress taking any substantive action at such an early date with little or no discussion. Besides, the banners they are flying tout the features of bipartisanism, and the nativity of “new” legislation with no effort to examine and fix the existing regulations wherein specific shortcomings have already been readily identified. In their haste to react rather than to intelligently respond, the only apparent “remedy” they seem to have come up with would be the application of leverage (read: “arm twisting”), which might enhance government’s sense of power and control but would be unlikely to impact the underlying problems one whit

My interest in these points stem, at least in part, from my twenty five years with a hospital based behavioral health department prior to retirement. I am familiar with the privacy aspects of the HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability Act) of 1996 and other state and federal regulations enacted to protect the confidentiality of mental health and substance abuse patients.

During my years of direct contact with psychiatric patients, some voluntary, some committed by a judge, and both residential and outpatient substance abuse patients, I saw people from all walks of life, from the most inadequate and broken to most educated and successful. I remember a time when staff members were discussing rumblings at the time of the possible creation of regulations mandating the release of confidential records to government data bases or agencies. It sounded like a bad idea then, and it still does.

There are differences between the chronically ill person with a major psychiatric diagnosis such as paranoid schizophrenia suffering a crisis and the middle age school teacher who experiences a temporary decompensation following a family tragedy. None seek treatment because it seems like a fun thing to do on a Tuesday afternoon. As far as sensitive, personal medical records are concerned, there are procedures already in place by which certain information can be discussed regarding selected patients, with specified referral agencies or individuals, under certain circumstances. Any other exchange or release of information must be ordered through the court process. Confidentiality is important not only from a legal standpoint but even more importantly it can be a significant treatment issue affecting stabilization and recovery.

Such details aren’t the focus of people concerned with complying with regulations about providing pertinent information to the FBI and NICS, but they should be a consideration, and they certainly should be a focus of private citizens, whether they are gun owners or not. Any one of us, or a family member, may someday need some sort of psychotherapy or short term hospitalization, perhaps in response some overwhelming life event or a medically induced condition. The distribution of sensitive personal information should not be taken lightly, especially in this time of the Technological Revolution and Digital Era, when traditional personal boundaries and privacy seem to be disregarded as archaisms, and may on occasion be deemed expendable in the interest of convenience

Governments, by nature, become progressively intrusive if not constrained by law, especially when the people become complacent. It is no surprise then that our own government is more intrusive than it was shortly after its formation. Similarly, people, by nature, will tend to become complacent when their freedom is not under direct threat and life is generally good.

Along those lines, both conditions having been met, our federal government has acquired a disturbing habit of acting in its own interests rather than in those of the people by imposing regulations on the states and on individuals that are either unaffordable or not wanted in the first place, or both. It then lovingly creates subsidies or some other instrument to help pay for compliance for as long as the people and/or states march in step. Any wavering from the prescribed path or failure to appropriately comply with the mandate may threaten loss of the subsidies and whatever other consequences might apply to conditions of noncompliance.

In the case of “encouraging” states to fork over the required data, the federal government has been stockpiling leverage for decades and has no qualms about using it to twist arms and get what it wants.

The parallels to tactics used by small time drug dealers have not gone unnoticed: create a dependency and then provide relief in exchange for certain conditions being met.

I agree that prohibiting certain individuals from possessing firearms makes sense, but a generic reference to “mental health” patients covers a great deal more territory than the general public understands. Different patients present different strengths, weaknesses, liabilities and potentials. My experience, and common sense, tell me that a “one size fits all” approach here would be like draining the ocean to catch a fish. Properly followed and carried out, there is no reason existing rules would not be adequate. Instead of just throwing new rules on top of ones that aren’t working, at great cost but questionable benefit to the innocent, find out why existing rules aren’t working and fix that.

 

~-~* * *~-~

 

Advertisements
h1

On doing the right thing…

August 15, 2017

.…in the wrong way

Perhaps it is not just that they were wrong, but that those who oppose them go about being right in the wrong way.

The “public” despises and holds in contempt the hatred in all of its forms, except their own.

It is important to point out that the “public”, if we are to defend the constitution, includes even those who are being despised and held in contempt for their creed and their words.  Not since the McCarthy era has our society been approving of trying to defeat hate with hatred, so adamant about promoting right in the wrong ways.

Are those who protest against bigotry and hate and intolerance somehow given license to practice same because their goals and ideals claim the high moral ground?  The moral high ground is a dangerous place, as history has shown so clearly on so many occasions.  In our own history, the earliest example of this was provided by the people who fled England to escape the turmoil and peril of religious intolerance in order to be free to practice their faith as they chose in a new land.  We proudly celebrate the deeds of those who colonized northeastern North America four hundred years ago, but we fail to teach how they immediately went about the task of setting up their own repressive, abusive, and sometimes violent hive of religious intolerance.

The same human failing has emerged at other times as well.  A more recent example would be the McCarthy era and its excesses spawned by the paranoia over the threats of Communism.

We are living in another time of extreme division and dissent, and the Satan of today is hatred, intolerance, and bigotry, an extension of the ongoing movement to more closely follow the spirit of our founding principles and the Constitution that was created to guide us, precisely at times like this.

Whether viewpoints are popular or considered reprehensible by the society at any given time, that Constitution, those founding principles, were established to remind us that if we do not protect the worst among us, the best among us cannot be safe either.  This is hard to do, but we must.

There is a dangerous and toxic atmosphere permeating our idealized haven of freedom and Democracy today, fed in part by efforts to mandate perfect yet selective adherence to those ideals.  The thing is, the forces demanding no less than absolute lock-step obedience to their ideological mandates of creed, word, and where and when and how those characteristics are expressed do not represent 100% of the “public”.  It wouldn’t matter if they did, not under our Representative Democracy.  Pure, 100% Democracy may be functional in a weekly Fraternity brothers’ meeting, but in a nation of 325 million people it would mean nothing less than mob rule and civil war.

What we witnessed the other day in Charlottesville, VA, and continue to witness as the nation plays Hide and Seek with the moral high ground again, is the never ending struggle to support, defend, and live by the principles of our Constitution without violating them.

Recent years have seen a trend towards more Liberal, Progressive ideals and practices, which is not necessarily bad unless one is aligned with Conservative leaning viewpoints and living in a particularly polarized, divided, angry time.  Such times of philosophical rigidity and absolutism are not exactly dripping with rationalism, and can be the birthplace of tyranny and dictatorship from either camp.  Under such circumstances, in a Republic such as ours, if one side wins, both sides lose, and this means that the people lose whether they chose to play or not.

In Charlottesville, VA a group consisting of various individuals and organizations opposed to the removal of an historic statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee arranged to hold a protest or vigil.  They were giving a permit and plan was put in place.  Meanwhile, a group consisting of various individuals and organizations opposed to the former and everything they believe in, gathered to protest the protest.  Nobody knows who broke ranks first, but fingers point in both directions, both factions came prepared for trouble, and whether that meant being prepared to defend against or to instigate trouble is pure speculation.

President Trump is a controversial and largely unpopular holder of that office, and that is a whole other issue, but his responses to the unrest cannot be separated from it.  In my opinion, his original response, during which he condemned the violence and lawlessness “on both sides”, was probably one of his more “Presidential” comments during his first few months in office.  Nevertheless, the sharply polarized atmosphere of the times demands finger pointing, and he was condemned for not condemning the original protesters by name, which would have, presumably, endorsed the counter-protesters as innocent and sole proprietors of the moral high ground.

For whatever reason, President Trump capitulated the next day and named names, condemning the KKK and other white supremacists.  He was criticized for doing so too late.  Subsequently, apparently having rethought the matter, he came back to defend his original condemnation of the violence and hatred generically.

Okay, although I dislike “labels”, calling them “lazythink” because they are often misconstrued shortcuts to complex matters, it is realistically impossible to avoid them when making public commentary.  That said, I am neither Republican nor Democrat, have followed Libertarian views for some decades, and tend to be somewhat of a Constitutionalist now.  Polarized thought would therefore cram me kicking and screaming into a Conservative uniform, not out of some desire for accuracy but out of a desire for convenience.

Whatever.

I don’t hold White Supremacist views.  I find such beliefs to be extreme, offensive, and to be based in personality disordered, ignorant thinking. Nevertheless, the Constitution guarantees their right to believe as they will.  We have other bodies of law that speak to disallowed behaviors, and they are subject to them just as we all are.

I don’t agree with the tenets of neo-liberal philosophies, either.  I find such a politic to be extreme, restrictive, prescriptive, and counter to the principles enumerated in the Constitution.  In some ways, I see the actions of the “Left” to be an example of trying to do the right thing but doing it in the wrong way.  Nevertheless, the Constitution guarantees their right to believe as they will.  We have other bodies of law that speak to disallowed behaviors, and they are subject to them just as we all are.

I don’t know who threw the first punch or swung the first bat, but I suspect it was the counter-protesters after the protesters were declared to have varied from the route plan agreed upon.  It doesn’t matter.  People were hurt.  People died.  Blame is infinite, multidirectional, and absolutely pointless.

The disease is right there in front of us, under spotlights, and all we seem willing to do is blame the wrong drug for not fixing it, or for making it worse, or for whatever reason we can think up.

Hate is hate.

Decide to stop.

~-~* * *~-~

h1

Stop asking what ails Trump…

July 4, 2017

start asking what ails US….

Politics, particularly Presidential politics, is multidimensional. I’m not talking about different viewpoints and so forth. I’m talking about actual dimensions, as in differing existential planes.

The one we are most familiar with is, of course, the political dimension we glean from the media. It’s amazing how much faith we all have in this political plane. Few of us have actually ever met a real live politician beyond the local Mayor, or the state legislators who knock on your door when it’s time to smile and kiss babies again. Nor have most people encountered a journalist other than the sports writer for the high school paper or the campus rebel from the college newspaper looking for fresh meat to declare fetid. Obviously then, most people acquire their knowledge base, form opinions, vote, and perhaps block traffic while holding hand-lettered posters aloft bitching about one thing or another, all based upon information from complete strangers. We read their bylines in the newspapers, hear their names on the radio, and see them on the evening news. We don’t automatically genuflect when they first appear, however. We do, after all, have a certain amount of independent brain power, don’t hesitate to dump those who offend, and channel surf in search of someone who more closely reflects our own pre-established ideas, especially if they are physically attractive, glib, and have “voice”.

Another dimension of political existence is the one that most blow off as pure fiction but others swear exists in the shadows while really calling the shots without our knowledge or permission.

Then, of course, there are the multiple variations and levels in between that which we think we know and that about which we most likely haven’t a clue.

And, yes, purveyors of popular fiction have capitalized on these factors for centuries, creating some of our favorite literature.

Selected politicians, their handlers, and their butt boys have done the same thing.

The bottom line is, I believe the extreme majority of us go about our daily business and political lives fairly sure we know that the candidates we don’t favor are manifestations of Satan and that our own choices are merely pending beatification. The only thing missing is a fancy round platform covered with red, white, and blue stars for us to stand on, and a large ball to perform tricks with at the behest of some invisible Ringmaster.

When things don’t work out as planned, the Shirts exude moans of betrayal and confusion, while the Skins sneer and sniff “I told you so!”

~-~* * *~-~

As a voter in the recent election, I don’t think I’m any exception, other than having briefly been the campus rebel from the college newspaper looking for fresh meat to declare fetid fifty something years ago.

Like many, I was a little surprised, but not much, by how divided the nation has become in the last few years. This is above and beyond traditional Party Politics, which can get pretty wild in its own right, but I don’t believe anyone has yet figured out exactly who was running the show this time around.

Most of the media was, and still is, as suspect of shenanigans and incompetence as the elected officials, their minions, and camp followers.

I, for one, favoring conservative and Libertarian viewpoints, found myself between a rock and a hard place. I had seen eight years too many of Statist philosophies continuing the efforts to build a prescriptive federal government while adding caveats and yeah-buts to the concepts of liberty, rights, responsibilities, and more. The very thought of Hillary Clinton setting up her unmentionables in a White House drawer again fed my paranoia and I kept my Nitro handy for the duration.

Obviously not a Democrat, I don’t think I’ve ever registered as a Republican, either, though I will often vote for their candidates. I was a registered Libertarian for a number of years, starting in the late seventies. I watched the debates and was disappointed in the showing of those I favored. “Politics as Usual” was a profanity, which eliminated some of the most experienced and qualified. I was underwhelmed by Rand Paul. I kind of rallied behind the Libertarian candidate, though I wasn’t as enthused about him as I would like to have been.

Donald Trump was an amusement, but for some reason, he took hold and there was no stopping him. It was a draw in the final stretch and “undecided” people were left staring down at one of the worst ballots in my memory. Accusations of fraud, corruption, and so forth are still falling out of the air like embers from a distant forest fire.

I don’t expect any peace, quiet, or civility for a number of years to come, and I don’t think we’ll find the source of our festering socio-political lesions until we dare to look in the mirror. We have become a pampered, entitled, and elitist population that doesn’t play well with others unless we get to rewrite the rules and make team assignments. We have made a habit of entrusting our liberty and freedom to those who prefer to give orders rather than to take them, volunteering to serve as their cattle in exchange for flattery, perfumed atmospheres, and free lunch paid for by someone we don’t have to play golf with.

The two party system has been incrementally nudged along to provide us with choices that make for a colorful display of appearing radically different while doggedly continuing on the same path to some sort of authoritarian collective existence. Same team, different uniforms, taking turns.

I’m sure Donald Trump has an admirable IQ, but that doesn’t make him “smart” in his current field. The White House isn’t a “Hobby Farm,” after all. While I imagine things “get done” in the political arena much like they do in the high end construction and development business, politicians are supposed to be especially adept at staying out of view in the process. Trump, on the other hand, tends to parade around stark naked, metaphorically speaking, at least for now.

The apt metaphors regarding his Presidency, obscene and otherwise, run in the streets like the Monsoon rains, but the bottom line is even Trump’s own party leaders are begging him to shut up. The man has demonstrated over the past six months that he has the social skills of a feral child, except he should know better and the feral child draws no such expectation.

I don’t think I’m alone in having droned “Give it a chance,” “Wait and see,” and the usual. I have come to the conclusion, however, that we are pretty much where we were last November. We want change, but the unknown is a bit scary at this point.

I have no doubt in my mind that President Trump has a generous cross section of personality disorders in his profile, but that’s neither unusual nor is it necessarily undesirable with the likes of those who win at King of the Mountain. However, I’m beginning to listen to rumblings about suspected deeper psychological issues. Sane or otherwise, the man is becoming a liability to the country, not because of the things he says he wants to do, but because he can’t say anything without insulting or offending the world.

In short, Donald Trump may be intelligent, he may be a billionaire, and he may be President of the United States.

Nevertheless, He is proving himself to be a consummate ass-hole as well, and that designation tends to trump the rest.

~-~* * *~-~

h1

March 3, 2017

lemons_final

h1

Is there a “Plan-B”…?

January 23, 2017

themarch_001mount

h1

Regarding the “MORON”…

December 14, 2016

part of oxymoron and reason number 999 why I hate Facebook….

I don’t go looking for this stuff, honestly. It just seems to jump out of the bushes at me while I’m on the way to something else, like that goddamned Chihuahua that jumped out of a hedge line and sunk his miserable little teeth into my ankle back when I was in college. I tried to punt the snarling coprolite into the next county but he was too quick for me. The upside is that the little shit likely died fifty years ago.

But, I digress. I was talking about those off-the-wall websites and other waste products that some jerk I never met, sitting in an office thousands of miles from here, decides I really need to check out, join, or at least pay attention to so the referral source gets that fraction of a penny for a “hit.” Facebook is one of the worst for presuming the right to dwell in the global mind, heart, soul, and rectal orifice, and it was there that I was threatened with a web-group called…get this…”Libertarian Socialism.”

I’ve been trying to reconcile the use of the adjective “libertarian” in combination with “socialism”, but so far have failed. Perhaps it’s at an intellectual level beyond my reach, but I can’t get past the thought that “Libertarian socialism” has a bit of an oxymoronic ring to it, you know, sort of like “Celibate Prostitution.”

Of course, I had to check it out.

First of all, I have to say that the concept is real, in the sense that such a political philosophy has been around for a long time. I didn’t know that until I looked it up. Being given shelf space in some remote lexicon closet does not legitimize or validate the term, or any other, however. It merely acknowledges that the term had been coined and enjoys a reasonably stable definition, and is therefore, at least on that score, equal to any other “ism.”

That doesn’t belie my assessment, though. I stand by it. My first involvement with Libertarianism began many decades ago, whenever it was that I first read something by Ayn Rand, and later during the seventies when I registered as a Libertarian and voted for Ed Clark for President. My understanding has always been that “libertarian” referred to a concept of community that eschewed force in favor of volunteerism. Liberty.

Secondly, the first thing I encountered upon tiptoeing through the iron gate of the Libertarian Socialist page was the welcoming message:

“this is a place to discuss libertarian socialism. trolls, reactionaries, racists & race realists, etc. are not welcome. ableism, queerphobia, transphobia, misogyny and other forms of reactionary discrimination are not welcome. this includes libertarian capitalists/ancaps/right libertarians and so-called “anarcho” nationalists. violations of these rules may result in a ban, both for the person who does them and possibly the person who invited them to the group as well.

Here again, I was tripped up by my preconceptions regarding definition. I thought I had learned way back when that “socialism” was an economic idea based on social, society-wide, ownership and democratic control of the means of production. I’ve never liked it because it disenfranchises the individual in favor of mob rule over the utilization of one’s assets, and it depends upon force to maintain its form. Despite verbiage to the contrary, it does not represent liberty.

Obviously then, the philosophy of “libertarian socialism“, at least the form offered by the internet group in question, eschews liberty and freedom of speech in favor of an authoritarian, narrowly prescribed menu of permitted sub-philosophies of the newspeak variety. The only reason I could think of why someone would wish to “join” such a group would be (1) if they could be in charge, or (2) could be located near enough to the emperor’s ass to facilitate profitable sycophancy.

Sycophancy has never been my strong suit, however, due in part to an unfortunate lifelong bilateral Tourettes-like tic in my middle digits.

They (Faceplant, et al)really should let me window-shop for my own points of interest and curiosity.  Nine times out of ten while at the end of Mr. Zuckerberg’s tether and choke-collar I find myself misdirected to some flame hole or digital Rubber Room that lacks any compatibility with me or my vapor trail. Just because I spent 30 seconds on Tuesday, 1988 at the urinal next to a guy in a blue suit in the Boston airport does not justify non-stop ads for blue suits or job offers from American Standard…

~-~* * *~-~

h1

the big IF….

November 12, 2016

sam20amp20sam203_zpselzt0syi