Archive for the ‘Sanders’ Category


Own it to Change it

May 24, 2016

“They” are imaginary friends…..

I was never a star student, tending to set my priorities elsewhere at the time, but I have always harbored a nearly insatiable and somewhat undisciplined curiosity. Whether or not that led to useful learning might be a matter of opinion, but it did place me right up front with my toes over the line when good and bad things happened. I learned far more after my formal education was completed than I ever did during its course. In defense of that education, I was taught how to learn should I ever have chosen to do so. I did.

Having said that, my rudimentary understanding of our system of government suggests to me that our government was put together with three branches for very good reason. We have a Legislative branch which is empowered to write laws, a Judicial branch which is empowered to interpret those laws, and an Executive branch that is responsible for implementing and administering the policies enacted by the Legislative branch.

What that means to me is that no one branch of government wields universal power, and for the whole to work most effectively, the three must respect those boundaries. Somehow, we the people have been remiss in allowing our elected representatives and those appointed or employed by them to stray and to rewrite those job descriptions for their own convenience over time. While I have no doubt that there are exceptions, I believe these course corrections were not made out of malice or as part of any great conspiracy. Corruption takes more than a bad guy to rear its head; it takes a complacent constituency to allow it to happen. Thus, as the public came to recognize and enjoy various aspects of our way of life, and were encouraged to do so by those empowered to manage and safeguard it all, the unmentioned fourth branch of government, the citizens of the United States, got lazy and let their guard down.

Consequently, over the past several decades, government authority and responsibility have grown and expanded. Whenever government assumes a responsibility, the public loses the power to fulfill that responsibility itself. This is progressive and cumulative.

Government has developed a system of checks and balances of its own, of sorts, not only ensuring it will maintain control, but that it will be in a position to expand it as well.

We have been subject to a federal Income Tax for the past hundred years or so, and the arguments about its legality continue. In and of itself, if the original checks and balances of the three branches of government had remained intact, such an assessment might be tolerable on a temporary basis from time to time, but that is not how it happened. As it turned out, the Income Tax provided a source of revenue, and various offices began to act on some of their ideas. In time, the onus reversed from a government constrained to manage within a budget to the taxpayer having to meet the government’s financial demands. Appropriate analogies have bred like June mosquitoes.

In recent years, the government has made inroads into management of the private sector through regulation and legislation. At the same time, the process was facilitated by a softening of the separation of powers among the branches of government. The Presidency has long had legitimate but limited independent powers of its own, but these have come to be used as a shortcut and a way to bypass a reticent Congress, drawing critical comparisons to “one man rule.” Similarly, the Judicial branch has ventured beyond its interpretational responsibilities into the realm redefining certain laws. In fact, if one were to strip away all of the regulations, mandates, and statutory parameters not specifically authorized by Congress, those who have come to harvest perpetual Free Lunch on the taxpayer’s dime would have to find another carcass to feed upon. I’m not talking about the people on welfare, I’m talking about the Welfare Industry and the tens of thousands of bureaucrats and employees of private sector “non-profit” entities who “profit”, ironically, from administering welfare programs. As with any industry, development of new products is a constant need. The welfare industry has a somewhat captive “customer” base, and a completely captive source of revenue, something private sector industries don’t enjoy. New programs require more personnel and more money and the bottom line of maintaining the “throughput” is job security.

So, how do we change all of this? How do we fix it? Without question, it will be a difficult task. People will fight to protect their jobs, as any of us would. There would most likely be a significant escalation in authoritarianism, which actually would only be a premature emergence of the inevitable mad scramble for universal control leading to fascism and other authoritarian structures. This is where the rubber will meet the road, so to speak.

We’ve been there before, to some extent. The Civil Rights movement literally involved “fire in the streets” and outright armed confrontations. People were assassinated. The Vietnam War controversy also came to a head with armed confrontations and citizens firmly saying “no.” The retaking of the reins of the existing government by an overwhelming force of citizens determined to return to Constitutional government could very well dwarf those two campaigns.

People are afraid. People are angry. Asked why, many cannot say. How else could we come to experience a Presidential election dominated by generally despised front runners who lead by the weight of phalanxes of dedicated and passionate minorities passively observed by disinterested impotent majorities? Change is inevitable, but it may not be the kind of change most would like to see, not as long as we remain passive and impotent.

I don’t wish to see the reins of government held by a naïve, bombastic businessman of questionable ethics and judgment. The world has not fared well in the past when such things came to pass. I don’t wish to see the Oval Office occupied by an avowed adherent to socialist principles who unabashedly intends to suck the economy dry to pay for a Christmas List of “free stuff”. I don’t want to see the White House become home once again to a former First Lady and Secretary of State who has had her eye on being the first woman President since the day she left that building. She promises “more of the same”, and “more so,” and she hauls a truckload of political baggage with her. I’ve had enough Liberal usurpation of liberty for this lifetime, and I’m not in the mood for any other brand of despotism either.

There are those who predict the demise of the major parties. Washington advised against party politics, but I think it is human nature to organize into groups. What would be welcome would be a change to major parties more aligned with Constitutional government and Libertarian values that would return government to its role as the public’s servants instead of the other way around.

I’m not so naïve as to believe these changes can be made peacefully and politely. They can’t. The question is, are there enough people who are fed up enough to support such changes anyway? Are we more in number or passion than those who rally for Trump, Clinton, and Sanders?


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“Speak English…!”

February 21, 2016

whatever that means….

People being hypocritical and downright ugly when it comes to politics is nothing new. The bright side is, we aren’t having shootouts on the floor of Congress. Things are calmer, believe it or not, than they were in the early nineteenth century. That notwithstanding, I wince at some of the things candidates and/or their supporters will do in the race for the Most Crass trophy of the campaign season. If Trump wins the White House, it will be a rare Win-Win Bifecta.

The opposing camp is not devoid of turd-in-the-punchbowl moments, however, as in the recent Sanders rally in Las Vegas where civil rights icon Dolores Huerta was rudely shouted down with cries of “English only! ” when she volunteered to translate for Hispanic attendees. That’s quite a swan dive into the River Styx for a crowd so far left they have to rappel down the port side of the dais to find their platform.

The indignant bursts of angst over people having the audacity to speak anything but the precise language spoken and understood by the complainants is nothing new. In fact, it is extremely “human“, but usually originates with those of limited education and those afflicted with an iron clad “my way or the highway” or black and white manner of thinking.

Perhaps, though, it would be more effective to inquire whether or not those goose-stepping to the beat of “English only” chants are fluent in any of the more than 250 aboriginal languages spoken in North America today, just as they have been spoken for thousands of years. If that sounds unfair, perhaps we should limit it to English, as the protestors demand. OK.

Shall we require that speech be limited to the East Anglian English that characterizes the New England dialect? Perhaps the southern New England form that was greatly influenced by the Dutch colonists in what is now the New York City region, with the stereotypical “ Brooklynese ” as it’s banner would be preferred by some.

Die-hard Yankees sometimes roll their eyes at the sound of the “Southern accent” and consider it to be the sign of ignorance. To the contrary, the middle Atlantic areas of what today constitutes Virginia and the Carolinas were settled by the “upper crust” of England, the wealthy, and those loyal to, and supported by, the crown. All regions have “sub-dialects”, and the south is no exception. The “Black English” stands out, particularly today. It is a mixture of the ancestral African languages, the Southern English spoken by the slave owners, Creole, and more. As with any dialect or sub-dialect, it contains its own unique pronunciations, words, idioms, and cultural foundations. Cajun, of French-English-Southern derivation is another.

South central Pennsylvania, parts of northern Virginia, and New Jersey sport a noticeable dialect influenced by the origins of those who settled there as well, sometimes misnomered “Pennsylvania Dutch“. They were the Midlands English, the Welsh, German, and Scandinavian people who came here for various reasons. My teen years were spent in southeastern Pennsylvania and often heard things like “about the house” pronounced more like “aboot the hoose”.

When I lived in western North Carolina, there were isolated pockets of civilization back in the mountains, in what were called “coves” essentially dead end valleys, where there were still remnants of a dialect known as “Appalachian English“, with distinctive elements of a strong Celtic and Gaelic influence. It is a Scotch-Irish derivative with some Old English features.

Wherever Europeans settled, and wherever their descendents moved to as the West was settled, one can find words, phrases, pronunciations, often peculiar to limited local areas, reflecting the intermixing of older dialects and cultures.

We are indeed a “mixing bowl”, whether those who suffer cramps when they hear a word or pronunciation outside of their limited lexicon like it or not.

Ah, but that’s not all. The “English” spoken in England long before Europeans set foot on the American continents was itself fractured, and for the same reasons American English has no single pedigree.

Prior to the Norman invasion and conquest of England, Gaelic and Celtic tongues were long established, and the Anglo Saxons of Jutland and West Germany brought with them the earliest form of what we call English today. It would be unintelligible to any of us now without focused learning.

Early written materials were mostly in the West Saxon dialect of English. The other three primary dialects were Mercian, Northumbrian and Kentish, and none could easily understand or communicate with any of the other three. Not until the reign of Alfred the Great (877-899) were the separate “Englands” and their languages united under one crown and one “official” dialect. Besides defending against Viking raiders, his emphasis was on education and establishing “Wessux” as the preferred and recognized dialect. The teaching of English began to replace Latin as the scholarly language.

The Norman Conquest complicated things further. Not only did the French language become the “official” language of the country, but the Norman French culture changed England forever. Then, as we see today and as was mentioned at the beginning of this piece, discrimination and division of peoples by such minor factors as how words are pronounced, the practice wasn’t a new human behavior.

Those of Norman French origin, to whom the language and culture were the norm, and those who learned and adopted the language and culture, gaining favor in the eyes of the conquerors, represented the “upper classes”. The “native” English (those claiming the designation in 1066, though other cultures and languages had preceded them), were the lower, laboring classes. The English raised the crops and livestock consumed by the Normans. The English called their animals “cows” or “pigs”, which became beef or pork to the Norman French. Language determined social status, and many other things.

Hundreds of years later, our language continues to borrow from the languages and cultures of immigrants, perhaps most noticeable today being Hispanic, Asian, and perhaps soon the Middle Eastern peoples.

So, what is one to say, what is one to do, when admonished to “Speak English”? How does one separate the individual ingredients of “dump stew”?

Personally, I would do nothing, as someone who would make such a suggestion obviously has a severely limited understanding of what English actually is.


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Sanders vs. Trump…

August 20, 2015

nightmare or Comedy Central? ….

I’ve seen a few crazy presidential elections over the years, and the build up for the 2016 race thus far may end up leading the pack, especially if one of those currently garnering most of the media attention wins the general election.

Excuse me. Are they still looking for immigrants to Mars?

George Washington cautioned about party politics, and we’ve spent the last 225 years or so verifying his foresight, just as we have spent the last 60 years verifying Eisenhower’s warnings about the “military-industrial” relationships that had grown accustomed to the fertile ground of WW2. The smart money says we are simply preparing to “repeat history”, something we tend to do almost ceremonially, like putting carved pumpkins on the doorstep in October and putting up Christmas decorations…well….in July.

According to the “polls“, which are only realistic in direct proportion to the skills of the statisticians who prepare them, and depending on what the ones getting airtime want to prove, Donald Trump is nearing beatification on one side of the moat and Bernie Sanders is wrestling Hillary Clinton for ownership of the opposite shore. Somewhere in between, bobbing about in the moat, are the citizens of the United States of America. If these men weren’t so scary, this would be the stand-up comedy coup of the century.

(holy crap; talk about mixed metaphors!)


Trump is the ultimate entertainer, largely because he loudly and boisterously shouts the thoughts non-billionaires to whom social skills still have value suppress or at least clothe in some civilities. Trump says whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and whatever will feed his need for rapt attention and obedience. He’s like the dog that ambles to the center of the living room, assumes the position, and proceeds to vigorously lick himself when the minister and his wife come to visit. Why? Because he can.

One could go on at great length about Trump’s shtick, but that, of course, is what powers him: “negative attention.” That is also why he is a successful business man and entertainer. He knows exactly how to work a crowd. I have serious reservations about how all of this would cash out on the global stage, however. The world has no shortage of erratic short fuses leading various countries at present, and the thought of one more in the quay vying for King of the Mountain causes me to reminisce about a neighbor back in the late fifties who had a steel-lined tube installed in his back yard and stocked it with everything he might need to survive for an extended period of time.

Interestingly enough, Trump is not necessarily an extremist in his politics, just in his theatrics. But I don’t see him functioning as a national and international leader without the heavy application of force and intimidation. He’s not a team player; he is. the team.


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Way over on the other side of the proverbial human moat we have Sen. Bernie Sanders, and he is an extremist. In fact, he makes no bones about being a socialist, yet he tends to call himself an Independent, and he’s running for the Democratic nomination. We’ve lived with that sort of “sleight of glibness” for eight years and I’d prefer to see some regression with the newspeak and a president who inspires a little enthusiasm about the United States, and personal ambition, without being a nut case. Sen. Sanders offers none of that, and he is a nut case.


“Hope and change” by the people, not by fiat and Executive Order.


It troubles me that the populace, or at least the ones making the evening news, are lapping up The Donald Trump Show right now, but it doesn’t surprise me. Those of a more “conservative” leaning have been emaciated by eight years of an administration that prides itself on having usurped significant control over personal lives and public money. They like the theater of a man who may be extravagant, but at least he spends his own money. The mummified Congress needs no introduction.

Sanders appeals to those whom, while making a bit of a big deal about eschewing the excesses of the Religious Right, nevertheless practice and preach basic Christian altruism to a fault.


“You are your brother’s keeper,

and to that end,

I am going to spend YOUR money to take care of him.”


That, with an underlying aura of self righteous authoritarianism, is where and why Sen. Bernie Sanders, like his Republican counterpart, has attracted such attention. What scares me more than Sen. Sanders’ politics, however, is the people who think he’s the cat’s meow. No entertainment value here, folks. An awful lot of people are indicating that they view the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and especially the ideas behind them through a “that was then, this is now” filter. That sort of thing doesn’t bode well for tomorrow.

I go into more specifics about my concerns regarding Sen. Sanders, and Mr. Trump, elsewhere. The primary observation here is of how the rather significant polarity, extremity, and attendant viciousness of the 2016 campaign thus far mirrors much of the general public mood. All campaigns tend to be ugly, and those of today are tame compared to some that took place during the “youth” of our nation. At least gunfire and fistfights are passé. But the star players of today aren’t just heading for similar territory by different means. They seem to be heading in opposite directions.

The 2016 presidential election is starting to suggest a major test for our Democracy is building. There is an abyss of disunity in the atmosphere, and it is at such times that a meiosis-like break is most likely to occur and an air of “mob rule” stands to decide the direction we take.


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