3603– Thursday, June 20, 2019 –  When Politics and Ethics Collide!

In the past twenty years, the Republicans have gerrymandered enough districts in the United States to give them a decided edge in voting.  In the past twenty years, they have manipulated the Supreme Court to pack it with Republican leaning judges.  Now under Trump, the Republicans are trying to pack the Federal courts with judges favorable to their conservative right-wing policies.  What, you may well ask, have the Democrats been doing all of this time?

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The answer to the above question is fairly simply.  No, they did not do nothing.  Worse, they supported the first Iraq war.  They supported the second Iraq war.  They supported the war in Afghanistan and also Kuwait.  Now, I suppose they will support the first Iran war.  But you say, I am not being fair, it takes money to fight the Republicans.  Yes, I think about money a lot.  Just yesterday Gillibrand sent me a request for money.  The day before it was Sanders.  The day before that it was Biden.  I suspect I will get monetary requests from the other twenty or so Presidential candidates.

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I know, I know, I know, it does not matter who gets in along as they can beat Chump.  However, surprise, surprise.  I can live with Chump for another four years. But, if it means I must forget integrity, ethics and morality all so I can elect “ANYONE” who can beat Chump than screw the Democrats.

Frankly, I don’t give a damn about Chump.  I care about a system which is so focused on the short-term, that that they miss the long term.  Think about it.  What will happen to the money that the losing twenty other Democratic candidates raise.  Who will get this money?  You want to know:

  • TV
  • Advertisers
  • PR firms
  • Publicists
  • Consultants
  • Media firms
  • Political Advisers

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Recent data show the following to date fund raising for seven of the candidates.  Date is June 19, 2019.

 

If we assume that each candidate will need to raise about 15 million dollars to run for office, that means that 20 candidates X 15 million dollars each will be spent on these Democratic hopefuls in their quest to defeat Chump.  This equals 300 million dollars.  This is a very conservative estimate.  Is it just me or does anyone think this is ridiculous? And this is just about the money.  What about the time and effort that will be wasted on and during this idiotic run to the primary by twenty supposedly intelligent people.  This is not a thoughtful planned effort to select the best candidate.  Even a three ring circus has more thoughtfulness and coordination than this effort by the Democrats to select a candidate.

I ask you, what if this money was put into local efforts to defeat conservative right-wing candidates across the country?  What kind of a strategy does the Democratic party have when they plan to win a battle but lose the war?  Spend a lot of money to elect one candidate but lose thousands of seats across the country.  I don’t know about you.  I don’t know about other Democrats.  I don’t know about other people that detest Chump as much as I do.  I do know the following.  There are things that matter more to me than just defeating Chump.  Here are the principles that will keep me focused during the Democratic debacle and the upcoming election:

  1. I will only support a candidate with integrity and morality. Not because they “may be” able to beat Chump.
  2. I will only support a candidate who has a realistic vision and hope for the future of America.
  3. I will not support a party that thinks money, money, money is all that is necessary to win the day.
  4. I will not support a party that seems to lack spine, conviction and purpose.
  5. I will not support a party of morons that have no consistent plan or direction.

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I would rather see Chump get in again for another four years then give up these five principles.  And do you want to know why?

Because, on the day that the above principles cease to matter, then I am no better or different than the people who are running this country today.

“In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.” —  George Orwell

 

 

I Never Thought

A German who voted for Hitler in 1932 said this after the war:

“I never thought things would turn out this way.  He said he would make our country GREAT again.  I never thought over 60,000,000 people would die in a war.  I never thought that he would torture and murder six million Jews.  I never thought that he would kill over 3 million Slavs and murder 15,000 homosexuals.  I never thought he would euthanize 270,000 disabled people and more than 220,000 Gypsies.  He said he would make our country GREAT again.”

“We were coming out of a great economic crisis.  Jobs were scarce and money was very tight.  He said he would get rid of all the people who were taking our jobs.  He would eliminate the ruling class and get the crooks out of politics.  Jobs for Germans is what he said.  I thought he would make our country GREAT again so I voted for him.”

If I only knew. 

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Time For Questions:

Are you going to support Fascism in America?  Will you fight to protect the rights of minorities, gays, women and immigrants? If not, why do you think you are an American?

Life is Just Beginning. 

Hard to imagine life beginning under a Trump presidency.  But the race is not always to the swiftest.

“I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the strong, and neither is bread to the wise nor riches to those of intelligence and understanding nor favor to men of ability; but time and chance overtake them all.” — ECCLESIASTES 9:11

Hillary versus Bernie:  Why I Don’t Feel the Bern!

Vote HillaryOver the past few months, the vitriol between Hillary supporters and Bernie supporters has increased in both intensity and animosity.  I have had numerous arguments with Bernie supporters.  I suspect many of them were once my friends and are now no longer so.  This is interesting since you would think that we would have more in common than not.  It would not surprise me if you were a Republican or Trump supporter and banished me from your Facebook, Twitter or any other list of friends that you maintained.  However, it seems sad that so much rancor has been generated by the Hillary/Bernie battle as to result in lost friendships when we have so much in common.   I must take some of the responsibility though since I am not and never will be one to shy away from a fight.  If a fight is what you want, I will give it to you and no holds barred.  I support my candidate and I will explain my reasons but when you get personal or insulting that is the end of the line.  It would seem to be a line that is easily crossed and that reasons and emotions are two very different things.

This past week, a good friend of mine sent me the following attached letter.  It was written eight years ago.  He was supporting Hillary (The establishment figure) and I was supporting Barack (the outsider).  I hope some of my Bernie supporter ex-friends will read this blog but I sort of doubt it.  I would like for them to see that I have supported outsiders as well as insiders and my support of Hillary has nothing to do with supporting the establishment or not supporting the establishment.  Indeed, I would argue that my logic for supporting Hillary today is very similar to my logic for supporting Barack eight years ago.  How can this be?  How does one justify supporting an “establishment” figure when most of my work and writings have been anti-establishment?  Well, a quote that comes to mind is as follows:

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.  With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.  He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall.  Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood?  Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh.  To be great is to be misunderstood.”  —- Ralph Waldo Emerson,

I rather think I might be misunderstood by my allegiance to Hillary, but if I can stand for even a brief moment of time in the shadow of such as Socrates and Pythagoras, I will die a sublimely happy man.  In the letter below, you will see that my friend has laid out his very practical and logical reasons for supporting Hillary.  He acknowledges my candidate (Obama) but does not try to disparage or denigrate him.  This is an apt lesson that many Bernie supporters might pay attention to.  I don’t remember any of my friends calling Obama a liar or evil.  Many felt that he was unrealistic but they did not disparage his character to the extent that Republicans and some Bernie supporters have been disparaging Hillarie’s character.  If you think you are going to win me over with such attacks, you do not know me very well.  Anyway, here is the letter my friend, the Hillary supporter, wrote me eight years ago while I was then in the Obama camp.  BTY, I also voted for President Obama four years later and still have no regrets.  History will remember him as a great man, a great leader and a great president.

Hi John,

How are you doing? You know I miss speaking with you as well. There’s night time talk show here in Philadelphia. They address diverse topics. The host, Dr. Maz, reminds me a lot of yourself regarding his tone, and speed of speech. Of course, I believe that you could do a much better job because of your wit and broad range of interests. This might be something that you could look into.

Well, this certainly has been an interesting political campaign these past 2 years. I must admit that I voted for Hillary at the NJ Democratic Primary. I’ve listened closely to both people, and I believe that Hillary is the person who is most likely to bring change needed to this nation. I don’t see trying to recapture the 90’s as moving backward, but rather as retreat to a solid foundation on which one can move forward.  No change happens by itself, and one person can change little. Anyone who has tried to run an organization knows how consensus is essential to getting anything done.

One can look with pride at what our ex-presidents have accomplished after leaving office. Jimmy Carter, George Bush, and Bill Clinton have accomplished near miracles. Their experience, their contacts, and their savoir faire have changed ideas into reality. I don’t believe that those same men could have been as successful if they tried to accomplish the same tasks in their 40’s. Not because of the age but because skill takes time.

When I listen to Obama, I too am enthralled. I remember the speech Ted Kennedy gave at Robert Kennedy’s funeral. He said “Some men speak of the way things are and wonder why. My brother spoke of things that never were and asked “why not? “ I do believe in inspiration, and do believe that leadership can do wonders. But also know that this nation has done nothing of consequence to restrain the violence that is being done to Arab people around the world by the United States.  Do you expect these same people who acquiesce not only to an insidious apathy but the mindless shelling of their own tax money to promulgate a hell on earth? You think Obama’s pipe dreams will be realized? We can’t even shut down Gitmo!

My friend, Dave P, who passed away 2 years ago used to explain his reluctance to embrace radical change like this. He would say that the USA is like a large ship of state. When you want to change its direction it must be done in very small increments over a long period of time with a great deal of planning.  To do otherwise could harm the vessel and sabotage the voyage.  Radical change can not be applied to a large ship.

If I were to vote with my heart, I would have voted for Dennis Kucinich. I am in complete agreement with him, even with regard to UFO’s.  I did as much in 2000 when I voted for Ralph Nader.  These past 7 years have made me take my vote much more seriously.  If change is to come, it has to come from the ground up. My pipe dream is that as I get nearer to retirement that I will become more politically active and begin to advocate a progressive agenda at a local level.

A United States where the grass roots of the people embraced this agenda would bring far more success to an Obama presidency.  Perhaps our best shot would be the ideas of Dennis Kucinich advocated by Obama to a populous prepared to accept such changes.

Well, John, sorry it took so long to get back to you but I knew that some time should be set aside to explain myself.  There’s really so much to talk about. I don’t have a cell anymore. I do still have my home phone, 856.xxx.xxxx. I became a grand-father last year. My son, R, had his son, R. Wonderful, wonderful.

Take care of yourself, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Your friend,

Greg

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Well, it is now eight years later and today I am supporting Hillary.  The reasons I did not support her eight years ago had nothing to do with her being evil or mean or a liar.  In fact, if you believe this propaganda about her then go ahead and vote for Trump, because you deserve him.  Here is what I recently wrote to one friend who seemed sincere in understanding why I am supporting Hillary:

My reasons are as follows:  1. I cannot support most of the prevalent Republican policies ergo I need to support someone on the other side.  Either Bernie or Hillary would do here.  2. I think Bernie has been given a pass by the Republicans since they see Hillary as the biggest threat, thus I think that Bernie would soon be slaughtered when they labelled him a Commie and/or Socialist which the majority of Americans either do not support or could not tell the difference between.  Thus, he would be defeated in the general election and we could get Trump.  3. I think Hillary is a highly intelligent well qualified candidate for the POTUS.  I think she has been subjected to a double standard in which opportunistic aggressive competitive male behavior is called leadership but the same in a woman makes her a bitch or mean spirited.  Finally, I think her being labeled as a liar is part of the Republican smear campaign that has been targeted towards her for the past 4 years.  I think all politicians lie and prevaricate and she is no worse and perhaps a lot better than most.  I am voting for her not just on her character but on her policies which I think will move this country in a progressive direction.  I hope that explains my position.

My friend made several good points in his letter above about change.  Heraclitus said that you can never step in the same river twice.  Is it irony now or has the water changed?  I think times have changed.  I have obviously changed my mind.  While, I regret losing friends over this difference, I am more troubled by the Bernie people who say they will not vote or will vote for Trump before they will ever vote for Hillary.  Sometimes half a loaf is better than no loaf.  William James said:

“I am done with great things and big things, great institutions and big success, and I am for those tiny, invisible molecular moral forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, yet which if you give them time, will rend the hardest monuments of man’s pride.” 

We need visions like both Bernie and Barack brought to their campaigns.  However, we also need a large dose of pragmatism to make these visions a reality.  Rome was not built in a day.  If the people energized by this present campaign (even those who support Trump or those who support Bernie) truly want to make this country GREATER than it ever was, if they truly want to create a fair and just society, if they truly want to create a land where all its citizens are happy and prosperous, then the only way they will ever be able to do this is by staying engaged in the political process.  Coming out every four years, regardless of how much passion and how much zeal you bring to the process, will not change the systems in our country that so badly need to be changed.

I have written about many of these needed changes in my blogs.  I have put forward many progressive ideas which I hope someday will be propagated in the Congress, legislatures and courts of this land.  Reading my blogs, some might say I am too idealistic.  I would probably agree but I am not running for office.  I am trying to be a herald whose ideas might someday resonate throughout this nation and speak loudly to the American people of the changes we need.  Read some of my following blogs and see what you think.

https://agingcapriciously.com/2014/12/01/social-legacy-systems-how-they-block-change-and-prevent-progress-part-1-education/

https://agingcapriciously.com/2014/12/08/social-legacy-systems-how-they-block-change-and-prevent-progress-part-2-the-legal-correctional-system/

https://agingcapriciously.com/2015/09/27/we-need-a-fair-immigration-policy-not-an-anti-immigration-policytru/

https://agingcapriciously.com/2015/11/09/towards-a-policy-of-diplomacy/

https://agingcapriciously.com/2015/01/12/when-the-truth-will-not-set-you-free-part-1-of-2-parts/

Time for Questions:

How much time do you spend on politics?  Do you speak your peace or do you avoid confrontations?  How do you tell when you should speak up or shut up?  Can we be too political?  Can we be political and still be civil and respectful to others?

Life is just beginning.

“Revolution is about the need to re-evolve political, economic and social justice and power back into the hands of the people, preferably through legislation and policies that make human sense.  That’s what revolution is about.  Revolution is not about shootouts.”  — Bobby Seale

 

 

 

Debate versus Discussion:  Why Debates are a Waste of Time!

(Listen to the Debate Song, while you read my blog this week.)

berniedebateOnce upon a time, I thought debates were the answer to the question of “how do we discover the truth?”  I thought that if you put two intelligent people together and each took opposing positions on an issue, that through the interplay of ideas the truth would emerge.  If you think about this a bit, it is the basis for our judicial system in America.  One side argues for the defendant, the other side argues for the prosecution or against the defendant.   It is also the basis for an academic exercise called Dialectical Research or Dialectical Inquiry.

dialectical inquiryA dialectical investigation is a form of qualitative research which utilizes the method of dialectic, aiming to discover truth through examining and interrogating competing ideas, perspectives or arguments.  This latter method is often applied through the use of case studies in which students or investigators discuss real world examples of complex situations.  The purpose of a case study is to provide a more thorough analysis of a situation or “case” which will reveal interesting information to the reader.  As I use them in my classrooms, my goal for my students is to help them understand how to better form strategies for success in business.

159_TJ_Dillashaw_vs_Dominick_Cruz.0.0Unfortunately, in the real world the strategy of debate does not work.  Debates are a waste of time when honest discussion takes second place to winning or looking good.  Dialectical Inquiry is also often useless since the complexity of the subject can be beyond the ability of many students to grasp.  Real world situations are froth with uncertainty, volatility, complexity and ambiguity or as some have called it VUCA.  VUCA is an acronym used by the military to describe or reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of general conditions and situations.  Many complex situations are seldom able to be accurately modeled leading in most instances to weak images or portrayals of the actual situation.  This is why debaters opt for simple explanations rather than complex explanations.  Another example of this watering down of reality is a Hollywood movie depiction of a supposed “true” story.  Recent movies that come to mind include the following:

  • The Revenant – Story of legendary frontiersman Hugh Glass.
  • American Sniper – Story of U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle
  • Steven Jobs – Story of the founder of Apple Corporation
  • The Theory of Everything – Story of physicist genius Steven Hawking

Hollywood loves to take stories of great enterprise and or daring do and change them into a 1. 5 hour dramatic show full of love, heroism and imaginary situations that often did not exist.  Did I say lies?  Perhaps that would be more accurate.  For often, these Hollywood epics are no more than half true.  The other half are stories added for dramatic impact.  Even worse perhaps are the often skewed biases that intrude into the movie which distort the reality of the character or situation.   For instance, here is what one critic had to say about the Steve Jobs movie:

“With all this in mind, I was disappointed in the Steve Jobs movie.  Partly because as an Apple expert I watched the film in dismay as events were pulled out of context and people appeared in locations and at times where they simply wouldn’t have been around.  I can’t help but think that in his desire to avoid the chronological retelling or Steve Jobs story, a traditional childhood to death epic, in favor of three acts (which would be better suited to a theatrical production) Aaron Sorkin constrained himself too much.  The only way he could tell the story was to pull events from all corners of Jobs’ life and present them as if they had happened in the 30 minutes before a keynote presentation.”  — Karen Haslam, 10 Nov 15

I mentioned earlier that debates cannot work when winning is the primary objective.  Hollywood’s version of winning is making money.  Making money becomes a more important objective than telling the truth.  Similarly, the truth takes second place to winning in political debates.  Winning for the networks means providing entertainment to sell ads, not necessarily a stage full of erudite rationale individuals trying to discover the truth.

The 2016 debates for both the Republican and Democratic candidates have not only been a farce but they have been an insult to the American People.  Here is one comment regarding the Republican debate on TV a few nights ago:

“The GOP debate on FOX last night was an embarrassment.  The talk show hosts said it best.  This debacle stooped to a new low. Penis size?? C’mon people.  Seriously. We need to respect our President.  It is beyond my comprehension how anybody could respect this pathetic excuse for a candidate.”

politifact-photos-Trump_gesturesI have watched several of the debates now and I see no evidence that truth is being discovered.  The debates have become hyperbolic spectacles of insults, half-truths, reality distortions, innuendos and petty personal attacks.  I doubt if anyone has found much truth in these debates never mind elucidations of complex policy positions for any of the candidates.  Trump 2495-so-funny-and-true-rhetoric-wallpaper-427x454will build a giant wall.  Cruz will fix Syria.  Rubio will fix health care.  Sanders will fix inequality in America.  Hillary will fix Obamacare.  Do you know how any of the candidates will accomplish these lofty goals?  Of course not, since they know that the “debates” are no place for such a complex discussion.  Trump perhaps realizes this fact better than anyone and has kept his discussion and clarification of his policy positions to less than fifteen second descriptions.  The general consensus seems to be that if a candidate cannot explain their position on any subject in less than fifteen seconds, they are doomed, i.e., they lose.

In their book, Presidential Debates: The Challenge of Creating an Informed Electorate, (1988) Jamieson and Birdsell make a case for the importance of Presidential debates but only if certain changes are made to the usual format.  Their book was written over twenty five years ago and if you have watched the recent debates, you will note that their recommendations were not heeded.  Furthermore, the present debate formats have probably encouraged worse excesses in rhetoric and sophistry than either Jamieson or Birdsell could have imagined in 1988.  Looking historically at debates, the Lincoln-Douglas debates were the epitome of rationality and decorum.  Today, the networks want drama and entertainment.  Debates such as took place between Lincoln and Douglas would never qualify as either drama or entertainment.

debate parrotsOn a more personal level, I have a problem with debates.  I have a few friends who love to debate.  I have noted as a result of recent discussions with them concerning the Presidential elections that do not want to understand or clarify any issues, they just want to argue or perhaps debate.  I say that they want to argue, because their main agenda seems to be looking good or advancing their points and not understanding my points.  They often enter into these contests (Since that is what a debate means to them.  It seems to be a contest between winning their points and looking good or losing their points and looking bad.) with a pretense of trying to understand why I think or feel a certain way.  Sometimes, they start the “debate” with a flat out rejection of my position or with a declaration such as “you are dead wrong” or “you don’t know what you are talking about.”  I confess that such latter utterances often preclude my disposition to have a rational discussion with them.   I see no point in it.

Have you ever changed anyone’s mind which was made up?  Have you ever tried to have a rational discussion with someone who was being emotional?  Have you ever tried to explain something to someone whose main objective in talking with you was to score points or make you look stupid?  Under the rubric of “debate,” are we to think that our antagonists give one farthing for the truth or where we stand on an issue?  There is a big difference between debating me on an issue and discussing an issue with me.

The result of these “debates” with erstwhile friends have led me to two inescapable conclusions.  First, I don’t need or even want debaters in my life.  I have little time left for scoring points or winning games by making someone else look bad or proving that they are wrong and I am right.  Second, debates do not start from an honest position of fruitful and objective inquiry and thus cannot lead to truth or relevant knowledge.  Rather, most debates start from a position of “I am right and you are wrong.”  The antagonists goal being to show you or the audience how right and smart they are and how wrong and stupid you are.  Is there a point to such an exhibition?  I presume winning is the payoff and reward.  As Vince Lombardy once said:  “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

If your objective is to understand something or if you want to find the truth, I suggest that you think more of discussing and less of debating with others.  A good discussion aims to find an understanding and comprehension of complexities that is often beyond our singular abilities to understand.  The truth can usually (but not always) be found between two extremes.  However, the process of truth seeking is more important than the process of truth finding.  The truth will inevitably change over time.  You will never have found a truth that will be good for all eternity.  There will always be a new truth to be found somewhere.  Thus, the process of truth seeking becomes a way of life that outfits the seeker for a journey through the cosmos that may take the seeker to the end of the universe and back to the beginning.

Well, if you finished my blog and you think I did not give a fair presentation on the evils of debate, then please listen to the song I noted above.  This song makes a case for the value of debate.  It does it in an Indian Rap song with great visual effects, music and choreography.  I am probably undoing my entire argument by including this song but Amen or so be it. 

(Listen to the Debate Song, it makes a great case for the value of debate)

Time for Questions:

Do you seek first to understand or first to be understood?  Do you debate others or discuss with others?  Are you more concerned with understanding or looking right?  How do you grasp complex issues?  How do you insure that you truly understand and are not being duped by charlatans trying to sell you simple answers to complex issues?

Life is just beginning.

“And finally, that Truth is great, and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:”  — The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom written by Thomas Jefferson in 1777.

 

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