Trump’s End Game Strategy to Win the Election

The pundits and leading Democrats are howling that Donald Trump is off the rails.  They are crying out that he is deranged.  That he is incompetent and that perhaps the 25th Amendment should be invoked to remove him from office.  Recent tweets by Trump to indict Obama, Hillary and Biden for treason seem to be evidence to support his derangement.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  Trump is not deranged nor crazy nor any more incompetent than he has ever been.  Trump is just not playing by the same rule book that his opponents are using.

Pelosi introduces bill to create a commission on presidential capacity under the 25th Amendment

When I taught strategy, I would show my students that there were two broad categories of strategies.  Predictive strategy is looking ahead.  It is analogous to a chess game where you try to plan as far ahead in terms of what moves your opponent might make.  Emergent strategy “emerges” one move at a time based on the present state of opportunities.  It can also be called an “opportunistic” strategy.  Poker is an excellent example of a game that is best played using an emergent strategy.  A player bets or folds depending on each card that is drawn or what each opponent is doing in the present time.  There is no planning for the future.  A bluff is the most opportunistic of moves in the game of poker. 

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Trump has realized with each passing day that he is down in the polls.  If voting alone were to decide the election, Trump already knows that he has lost.  What his opponents are not fully grasping is that Trump has never played by rules used in a predictive game of strategy.  Trump is a master at playing the political game using opportunistic and emergent strategies.  Trump is like the jazz player or poker player that seizes the moment or even sets up the moment by creating the kind of chaos and confusion which throws his opponents off of their game.

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In Chaos Theory, Complexity Theory or Complex Adaptive Theory as it is also known, opportunities emerge from chaos.  The term Chaos to most people implies that something has gone wrong but operating at the edge of chaos is actually especially useful.  It is now an accepted fact that all large and complex systems adapt through chaos.  Systems must find the right balance between order and chaos.  Chaos opens up avenues for change, innovation and evolution that help systems bring order to a new environment or a new set of opportunities.  Donald Trumps game can open up opportunities that he can exploit.  Staying in the game as it is now evolving is a sure lose for Chump.  However, by stirring the pot enough, by creating enough pandemonium, confusion and chaos, the game may then present opportunities that he can exploit. 

One such opportunity that many are afraid of is that he will simply not step down.  However, there are opportunities that could emerge even before the election that he could exploit.  For instance, if Trump were to declare martial law, he could suspend the election and enact draconian measures designed to suppress future challenges to his position.  Martial law has been used before.  Alan Dershowitz notes the constitution is “Quite surprisingly silent on the issue of martial law and emergency powers.”  He goes on to say the following:

“What then could we reasonably expect from our courts if any American president during a period of dire emergency were once again to suspend important constitutional safeguards?  Our experiences suggest the following outline. The courts, especially the Supreme Court, will generally not interfere with executive handling of a genuine emergency while it still exists. They will employ every technique of judicial avoidance at their disposal to postpone decisions until the crisis has passed.” — The Hill, Does President Trump have power to declare martial law?, 6-3-2020, Alan Dershowitz.

IF the above comment does not scare you, then consider that the most recent poll shows 92 percent of Republicans are still planning to vote for Trump.  Would these Republican Senators who have supported his lies, immorality, incompetence, and lack of ethics act any differently than they have for the past four years to curb Trumps potential abuse of power?  When the polls are still showing 92 percent of Republicans support Trump, I doubt that there would be any support among Republicans to stop Trump from declaring martial law. 

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Many of Trump’s supporters would like to see him elected for life.  A large number of Americans do not believe in Democracy.  This is a fact that too few people have really grasped.  The USA is in a battle for its soul and that soul is called democracy.  Donald Trump is playing a game that his opponents do not understand.  Instead of thinking of him as crazy, they should realize that he is crazy like a fox.  Trump has gained power and will do anything he can to keep it.  Remember the famous quote by Lord Acton:

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you add the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.” — Lord Acton, 1887

Wake up Democrats before it is too late.  The only way to beat Trump is to recognize the game that he is playing and to change the playing field.  It is unlikely that you will be able to beat him at his own game. 

“If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected .” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Please share this blog.  I would like to see that more people understand what Trump is trying to do.

Character, Culture and Race:  From a White Perspective

What do character, culture and race have to do with each other?  That is the subject of my blog this week.  I believe that each of these concepts is not well understood by people in America or in any other country for that matter.  There is a science to understanding these concepts but there is also an art that comes from experience and living.  Both science and experience are necessary to understand each concept and their relationship to each other.  Since my experience can only come from where I stand, I note that I stand as a white, USA born, male in the early 21st Century.  Standing anywhere else would no doubt give me a different experience and a different perspective on these ideas.  Let me start with first defining what the term Character means to me.  I am going to give you my take and not Webster’s dictionary definition.

Character:

I think there are four major elements of character.  I believe these are: integrity, wisdom, tolerance, and courage.  Integrity is standing up for what one believes.  Integrity is the opposite of sycophancy.  Sycophants go along imageswith someone for an underlying motive or future advantage that they hope will accrue for their fawning behavior.  People with integrity do what they believe is right whether or not any advantage will accrue from their efforts.  People with integrity are consistent in their stated ideas and do not read the polls to see which way public opinion is blowing. 

It has been said that: “Knowledge helps you to make a living while wisdom helps you to make a life.”  Wisdom is the ability to as Father Sthokal would have said “Exercise discernment.”  The Greeks would have said that wisdom is the ability to exercise the Golden Mean.  The ability to live life in moderation and not to be seduced by extremes or excesses.  Many a smart people there are who you know are very stupid.  I see college professors who can see no further than the myopia induced by their academic disciplines.  Thus, they see everything through only one lens. 

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A favorite quote of mine respecting tolerance and courage states that:  “The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.  The test of courage comes when we are in the minority.” — Ralph W. Sockman.  It takes real courage to stand up for what you believe when everyone is against you.  In the USA today, it takes courage to stand up for immigrants and poor people.  The greed in American life has prejudiced so many people who mistakenly believe that the poor and needy are taking their jobs or money away.  People are afraid to speak out because they are afraid that they will be labeled as Un-American. 

downloadTolerance is the willingness to respect and stand up for someone when you are in the majority and they are in the minority.  Difficult it is to speak out against your peers and tribe.  When someone has an idea that does not fit with the normal conception, the tolerant person will try to hear them out.  Tolerant people respect those with seemingly strange and weird or wild ideas.  The tolerant person does not say “That is crazy or that is a stupid idea.”  A recent example I think that shows both tolerance and courage is the song by Tyler Childers – “Long Violent History.”  You don’t hear many country singers supporting the Black Lives Matter movement or speaking out against racism. 

Character is not limited to any race, religion, culture, nation, or ethnicity

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Culture:

When I met my current wife Karen, she had an adopted Korean daughter.  Susan or Lee Hei Sook was six years old when Karen went though the procedures to adopt her.  She was an orphan who did know where her mom and dad were.  Many years later when Susan was out of college and expecting her second child she decided to search for her birth mother.  Through her amazing efforts, Susan was able to find both her birth mother and birth father.  I was fortunate enough to travel with Susan and Karen to Korea to meet both of them.  They had been divorced for many years and the story of Susan’s being sent to an orphanage would require a blog of its own. 

What is remarkable about the above story for me is Karen’s effort to help Susan retain her culture, heritage and language and even support her efforts to find her birth mother.  Karen cooked Korean food for Susan, sent Susan to Korean Camp each summer and learned how to eat with chopsticks.  Too many people in the USA believe that culture must be abandoned and that being having an ethnic or cultural identify is incompatible with being patriotic.  I know many of my generation who were not taught their parents’ language since there was a strong drive to become assimilated by many immigrants.  To desire to learn Korean would strike many of the “Greatest Generation” as a useless activity.  It did not strike my wife Karen this way.

Many older and younger people feel that our American culture is the best culture and that immigrants must discard other cultural affiliations in order to become assimilated.  The holy grail for Black people (at least as indicated by many white people) is something called integration.  This basically means abandoning any idea of “Blackness” and becoming as white as possible.  The same holy grail of assimilation or integration was foisted on many Native Americans.  Indians were forced to attend white “culture” schools and were not allowed to practice their native languages or wear indigenous clothing.  This rejection of culture has led to a considerable degree of prejudice and outright racism in the USA.  Witness the incarceration of Japanese Americans during the Second World War. 

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What is culture?  Culture is a universal phenomenon.  There is no such thing as not having a cultural identify.  Culture is forged for every living human being regardless of where they live.  Culture is the norms, habits, rituals, protocols, traditions, and beliefs of a group that you identify with.  Everyone has a culture.  Even hermits develop a culture based on their habits and ideology.  Gangs, tribes, schools, companies, organizations, ethnic groups, countries, nationalities, and any group with a set of shared norms and patterns develops its own unique culture.  I grew up with an Italian father and a mixed Irish-German mother.  I always lived in an Italian neighborhood when I was growing up.  I never learned to speak Italian, but I learned many Italian swear words.  I hung around with a gang who were mostly Italians.  My family had one culture.  My gang had another culture. 

I went into the United States Air Force when I was 18 years old.  The Air Force had its own culture.  The Army had its own culture.  I would guess there is not a person on the face of the earth who does not belong to more than one culture.  I would bet that most of us can identify with many cultures.  Thus, the term “cultural appropriation” is rather quixotic in many ways.  On the one hand, people might feel flattered that you want to merge symbols of their culture in your own traditions.  However, many other groups feel insulted and abused by such appropriation.  I can understand Indians who think that white people have no right to acquire their culture.  When your culture has been denigrated by the majority group and you have been maligned for trying to practice your culture, outrage against any outside group using your cultural icons for profit or fame would be a normal reaction.

Belonging to more than one culture does not necessarily mean that you should or must give up your identification with another culture.  Culture is a grounding for humans.  Culture helps us navigate life by adopting behaviors and norms that will help us fit in.  Culture is a means to share life with others.  As a veteran, I have many stories and fond memories of times spent with men whom I initially had nothing in common with.  Yet years later, I still enjoy meeting with veterans because we share so many of the same experiences concerning life in the military. 

“Culture does not make people.  People make culture.  If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.”  — ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

Race:

What is race?  Scientists say that there is no such thing as race.  How can this be?  Employment applications, loan applications, credit card applications and hundreds of other official documents include demographic questions where you must identify yourself as Black, White, Native America, Asian American, Latino and sometimes Other.  Black people identify with Black people as members of a common race.  The same is true for Caucasians, Indians, Latinos and Asians.  If there is no “race” how can there be “racism”?  Yet, the concept of “racism” is enshrined in laws both for and against “racism.”  If there is no race, why do I see people of different colors and backgrounds who have common acceptance of the idea that they are different from me.”  What can we attribute these different physical characteristics to if not race?

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“Researchers who have since looked at people at the genetic level now say that the whole category of race is misconceived.  Indeed, when scientists set out to assemble the first complete human genome, which was a composite of several individuals, they deliberately gathered samples from people who self-identified as members of different races.  In June 2000, when the results were announced at a White House ceremony, Craig Venter, a pioneer of DNA sequencing, observed, “The concept of race has no genetic or scientific basis.”  — National Geographic, Elizabeth Kolbert, March 12th, 2018

Most of the world’s citizens outside Africa originally migrated from Africa.  These early immigrants through genetic mutations and adaptation to different environments gradually gained different features.  The most predominant feature being skin color.  Skin color is not uniform throughout the world as we can see in places like India, Southeast Asia, China, South America, and even among the indigenous people in the USA.  Many people with “dark” skin coloring in the world would not say that they were Black or White.  I have been to more than thirty other countries.  I have noticed that “Black” people or people from an African Ancestry are not called African in these countries.  In the USA, we have used the term African-Americans but in Sweden, Africans are not called African-Swedes.  The same is true in many other countries across the globe.  Here in the USA, we seem obsessed with the concept of race.  Evidence shows that the genetic differences between individuals are greater than the genetic differences between the so-called “races.”

A randomly-selected American can be more genetically similar to a randomly-selected Korean than to a fellow randomly-selected American.  Similarly, a randomly-selected Ethiopian can be more genetically similar to a randomly-selected Norwegian than to a fellow randomly-selected Ethiopian.  This kind of occurrence is so common that simply comparing the genomes of two people will not help you classify them into what the world currently recognizes as their “race”. — Kristen Hovet, There Is No Such Thing as Race at the Genetic Level

But let’s get down to some common sense and away from science and genetics.  Adolf Hitler said that “Race” mattered more than anything.  Blood and Soil or “Blut und Boden: was a key ideology of the Nazi Party.  Hitler black-people-lynchedbelieved that German blood defined a German race which was superior to other races.  This superiority led to the extermination camps wherein “inferiors” were eliminated.  These inferiors included many people from other “races”, religions, ideologies, and with different physical characteristics.  There was one tribe of Germans and not belonging to this tribe was a potential death sentence.  Hitler set up a pseudo-scientific structure to discriminate between “True Germans” and other inferior “races.”  There never was and never will be a scientific basis for a German race, but this did not stop millions of Germans subscribing to the Nazi ideology of Germanic superiority. 

Conclusions:

prov-12-15If race does not exist but culture exists, what does this mean for group identity?  How strong should group identify be?  Should I sacrifice all for my group and fight to the death for my cultural identify?  What if I believe that my culture is better than your culture?  Could culture become just another banner to wave for those who want to commit acts of prejudice and discrimination on the basis of some perceived differences?  I think this is a distinct possibility and has indeed occurred throughout history.  How then can we have a cultural identify without resorting to racism and discrimination?

I think the solution lies in a hierarchy.  One hierarchy is evil and leads to racism and discrimination as well as genocide and war.  One hierarchy is good and leads to respect, tolerance, acceptance, and harmony among people. 

The Evil hierarchy puts culture, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, nationality, patriotism first and character is second. In this hierarchy, the notion of character is not as important as the notion of skin color, ideology, tradition, language, norms, and many other common bases for group acceptance.  You are first and foremost either a member of my group or not.  If you are a member of my group, I will then judge you on the basis of your character.  However, if you are not a member of my group, your character does not matter. You are evil by virtue of being an outsider and as an evil person, you need to be punished. 

The Good hierarchy puts character first and group identify second.  I don’t care if you do belong to my tribe, if you lack character, integrity, and wisdom then I need to deal with you accordingly.  I must of course exercise good character for myself.  I judge you first on your character.  I should also be judged on my character.  If we belong to or have similar tribal, ethnic, cultural, religious, ideological ideas or traditions, so much the better.  However, my relationship to you is based first on your character and only secondarily on which tribe you belong to.  I do not dismiss the importance of tribal or cultural affiliation.  If I am not of your culture or tribe, I will respect, understand and hopefully even be able to share some of your cultural traditions.  Diversity is a means of obtaining knowledge and ideas that can help us all become better than we are.

I will sum up my message here with the following points.

  • Race is a chimera and a substitute for genuine relationships with people
  • Racism is a negative stereotype based on ignorance and bigotry
  • Culture exists and is real. It can define us and allow us to lead more interesting lives
  • Culture if used as a measure of goodness or excellence can lead to prejudice and discrimination
  • Character is the most important criteria for valuing people
  • Tread lightly on all judgements of others

Here I must issue a warning and an extremely strict caveat.  Beware taking the role of judging others on the basis of what you think character means.  I have no doubt that character exists, but I would be very uneasy thinking that I should or could be the ultimate judge of good character or bad character.  Character is a little like quality.  Many say they know it when they see it but defining it can be very elusive.  If someone lies, cheats, steals, robs, rapes, assaults, abuses others or breaks the law, we may well think that they are a bad character.  On the other hand, a person who is honest, truthful, compassionate, and helps others may well be thought of as a good character.  However, time and circumstances may well render judgements made today as inaccurate in the future.  No one has the insight or knowledge to ever know the goodness or badness of another human being fully.

“We don’t care whether you are Christian or Muslim or Jew or Hindu; all we care is the goodness inside you because only the goodness inside you can make you a good human!” — Mehmet Murat ildan

“We are brothers and sisters not because of the color of our skin but because of what is inside of us.” —- J. Persico

Money! Money! Money! No! I Don’t Have Any More Money to Give You!

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I am sick, sick, sick of being asked to donate money to people running for office.  From Alaska to Hawaii to Maine, every day some incumbent or would-be incumbent is sending me a request for money.  The requests come in various disguises.  From surveys, to matching funds, to desperate pleas for a last-minute donation.  I get requests on email, by phone, in regular mail and often text messages.  I just completed a “survey” and the last question was a hook.  “Are you willing to support the causes that you say you believe in?”  If so, I am supposed to send a small $3 dollar donation off someplace.  I am sick and tired of these click bait requests for money.  I get even sicker when I think I have about 50 days more days to put up with these incessant requests for money, more money and ever more money.

John,

I wish I were emailing with a better update but unfortunately, we missed our goal Saturday night.

We needed to raise $75,000 to fight back against the more than $60 million Mitch McConnell and his allies plan to spend to beat us. But even with the support from this team, we still fell short.

There is an irony here as well.  The Democrats which I am supporting for this election all agree that we need campaign finance reform.  We must get money out of the political process.  Too much money is spent on lobbying, advertising, promoting candidates, media, and media consultants.  And what is the secret to getting money out of politics.  Very Simple My Friend“Just send me $10 dollars today so I can defeat my greedy opponent.” 

A few months ago, my wife and I both received Covid Stimulus checks for $1200 each.  When we received these checks, we had been self-quarantining to avoid contagion with anyone who might be harboring the virus.  As a result of the virus, we had no place to go.  Our auto gas bill was near zero.  Our entertainment expenses were zero.  Our eating out expenses were zero.  We are both semi-retired and I lost some income since I had been doing substitute teaching work which was terminated when the schools all closed.  My wife continued her part-time work as a medical coder working from home and her income did not decline.  All in all though, we were in a better financial place than we had been in years.

Mark’s 72-hour fundraising deadline ends tomorrow, and I know he could use some help to close the gap, which is why I have to ask:

If you are able, will you make a $50 donation to Mark’s people-powered campaign? He can’t afford to fall short of this goal, not when Mitch McConnell and the NRA are spending millions on ads to defeat him.

When the checks came, we realized that many other people were hurting.  Many people needed the money more than we did.  We decided to donate the first check of $1200 dollars to six charities at $200 each charity.  We sent the money to a variety of charities that we thought worthwhile. Subsequently, we sent another $400 dollars from the second stimulus check to a few other charities.  We felt good that we could help others.  During this time period, we also received many requests from politicians.  We decided that we would not send any money to any politicians until after the primaries were over.

John, with our FEC end-of-quarter deadline approaching, we need to raise $41,000 more by September 30 to show that we can win this election.

It’s going to take a lot, but I know we can do it together. Can you contribute today to help us reach this goal and flip this seat blue?

Several months have gone by.  Hundreds of requests for money to support this candidate or that candidate have been received.  No exaggeration here either.  I get between five and ten requests every day to send money to some would-be politician.  Nevertheless, both my wife and I agreed that we would send at least ½ of any further stimulus money received to politicians that we supported.  As time has gone by, we realized that:  1).  Probably, no further stimulus money would be coming and 2).  We needed to send money to candidates that we supported now before it was too late.  Any money sent later would come to late to be of any use.

But look, John, this will still be an uphill battle against Lindsey and his massive fundraising war chest.

We need to raise another $40,599 by midnight tomorrow or we won’t be able to compete.

We decided to take six hundred dollars out of our savings and allocate it among the various candidates.  Using an approach developed in baseball and called the “Money Ball” approach, we selected candidates based on the following priorities:

  1. Defeating Trump for the Presidency
  2. Flipping the U.S. Senate
  3. Supporting three local candidates that we knew

Our money went as follows:

  • $200 to Biden
  • $250 dollars to U.S. Senate candidates (5 candidates at $50 dollars each)
  • $150 dollars to local candidates (3 candidates at $50 dollars each)

We sent the money directly to each candidate via their website donation buttons.  Every candidate now has a prominent place to send money to them via their websites.  We decided that if we received any more stimulus money, we would make a second round of donations.  If not, this was all the money we were sending.  Further pleas, requests, entreaties, appeals, supplications, and petitions for more money would be ignored.  Balancing out our concern for a “Better USA” was our concern for many charities which we would like to support but could not since our extra money was now going to the political arena.  An arena I might mention that is worse than a bottom less pit.  Did you ever wonder where all the campaign money that you give to your candidate goes?  Here is one break-down that I found on Wikipedia:

  • Grassroots fundraising
  • Opposition research
  • Consultation
  • Advertising
  • Canvassing
  • Retail politics
  • Election promises
  • Get out the vote efforts
  • Lawn signs
  • Attack ads
  • Push polls
  • Candidate needs
  • Campaign manager
  • Campaign staff
  • Political portals and websites

I have four political lawn signs that I either bought or gave a donation for.  One of my signs is a Biden sign.  It was stolen about a week ago.  I went on line and purchased two more Biden signs.  The first one lasted about two weeks.  I figure that two more should get me through the election.  After the election, they will either be a souvenir or junk depending on which way the voting goes.

Dear John

In a country devoid of national leadership on this public health crisis known as the COVID-19 pandemic, and devoid of a national health system like Medicare for All that would put the interests of the public over those of greedy commercial profiteers… Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) knows we can do better. Please support our efforts with a donation of $20, $10, or $5.

After we sent our money.  We received one Thank You letter from the Wisconsin Democratic party but not a single acknowledgement from any single candidate on either a national or local level.  What we did receive was at least 5 more requests for money from each of the national candidates.  The Biden campaign alone has sent us more than a dozen requests since they received our $200 dollar donation.  No Thank You message.

John, the first ballots are being cast right now in North Carolina, so I’m emailing you today to ask you to roll up your sleeves and join Joe and me in the fight for what he so rightly calls “the soul of our nation.” Will you split a $10 donation between our Biden-Harris ticket and Democrats nationwide to give our campaigns the important resources necessary to move the needle?

My wife Karen and I were talking about the aggravation we are both experiencing with all of these daily requests for money.  I said I would like to start a “No Money Party”.  She remembered an Andrew Greeley book she read.  It had a candidate running for office who swore that he would never ask or request money for his campaign.  People were so enamored of the idea that he received a great deal of unrequested money.  I want to start a No Money Party.  No candidates running under my party banner would ever request a single penny from anyone.  We might request help in turns of time or volunteering, but we would never request a single penny.  Of course, you are saying “How naive.  Your candidates would never get elected.”  You might be 100% percent right.  However, that is not the point.

The point is that all of these people running for office are clueless.  They all think or at least act like every USA citizen has a printing press in their basement.  They are the most important people in the world.  Their getting elected will cure the Covid-19 Pandemic.  Their getting elected will end Global Warming.  Their getting elected will create an economy like the world has never seen before.  Promises, promises, promises and all you have to do to make these promises come true is to send MORE money.

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Well friends, Romans, and other countrymen.  I am making a promise today.  NO MAS.  No more money.  I am not sending another penny, shilling, drachma, farthing or even an IOU to anyone running for office for the remainder of the 2020 year.  If something happens and I am granted another Corona virus stimulus check before the election, my stimulus money will go to help someone get an education or get needed health care.  I can’t think of any politician really worth sending another centavo to.  Most of them have more money than I will ever see anyway.  I am sure they all eat for free someplace on Capital Hill and laugh at the suckers who keep sending them money to get reelected.

If you agree with me, please don’t sent me any money.  I will only waste it on buying another bottle of Tequila so that I can forget this election and drown my political sorrows.

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3551– Sunday, August 11, 2019 — Win- Lose or Can Win-Win Save Us?

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Here is a question for you.  It deals with the following hypothetical situation.

You are at a garage sale.  You do not know the seller.  You spot a vase that he/she has marked for sale. The price is $5 US dollars.  However, you suddenly realize that it is an ancient antique Chinese vase and you know that it is worth at least $50,000 US dollars.  What do you do?

  1. Buy the vase for $5 dollars and sell it for as much as you can.
  2. Tell the buyer that the vase is worth at least $50,000 dollars.

I have asked many people this question.   A good friend of mine says he would tell the seller.  He maintains that honesty and not taking advantage of people is the right thing to do.  Another gentleman, whom I met at my three-day Jesuit retreat this year, proudly told me that it is a case of Caveat Emptor.  He would buy the vase for five dollars and sell it for at least $50,000 dollars.  Just as an aside, my friend who would tell the seller the value of the vase drives a used pick-up truck which he bought for under $10,000 dollars.  I noticed my acquaintance at the retreat drove off after the retreat in a $75,000-dollar Porsche Cayenne.  Not sure what to make of this contrast but it is interesting.

Many people have taken one side or the other on this issue.  I was running the other day and suddenly I thought “I would buy it for $5 dollars, sell it for $50,000 dollars and then split the $50,000 dollars with the original seller.”  The original seller would be happy, and I would be happy.  I realized that with a little thought, I had come up with a win-win and not a win-lose situation.  I wondered why I had not thought about this solution at first.  No one I had described the situation to had thought about it either.   It made me reflect about a number of battles that I have seen over the years while living in the Wisconsin North Woods.  These “battles” have often become quite acrimonious with a great deal of animosity and bitterness between the combatants.

  1. The battle between Indians and locals over fishing rights.
  2. The battle between snowmobilers and cross-country skiers.
  3. The battle between power boaters and canoers.
  4. The battle between bicyclists and ATV riders.

The most recent battle up here in Northern Wisconsin is over CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Food Operations) versus small family farms.

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In each case, the situation plays out as follows.  1st. We have the hostility between the two groups or sides over some interests or goals.  2nd. We have a town council meeting called to help ameliorate the conflict.  3rd. Each side gets to air their grievances or make their claims for their group at the council meeting.  4th.  The town council comes up with a solution that a:) neither side is happy with or b:) one side wins and the other side loses.  Seldom if ever is there a recourse to a win-win scenario.

Now my ex-wife once explained to me before our divorce that there is not always a win-win solution.  I concede that is the case.  However, I will also argue that all too often we do not sit down with the other side and look for a win-win solution.

Further hampering the problem, is that these issues often become political.  The Governor, Mayor or some other political authority will convene a committee to study the issue.  The committee will seldom be knowledgeable experts or authorities, but instead will consist of a group of people with political influence or with a vested interest in a particular outcome (usually having to do with financial interests.”

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A case in point is the recent committee that was convened by the Governor of Arizona to come up with a DCP (Drought Contingency Plan).  After twenty years of ignoring the water problem in Arizona, the Governor was forced by the Federal Government to come up with a written plan to better manage the dwindling water supply in Arizona.  Arizona’s Governor appointed thirty-eight members to the steering committee.  It was billed as a “bipartisan” committee of citizens with a broad range of perspectives on the water issue in Arizona.  The committee was divided into the following groups:

  • Municipal leaders from cities and public works groups (8 members)
  • Agricultural interests (6 members)
  • Home Builders/Development (5 members)
  • Tribes (3 members)
  • Industrial (1 member)
  • NGO (1 member)
  • Miscellaneous (3 members)
  • Legislative Leadership (4 members)
  • Central Arizona Project Board Champions (2 members)
  • Governor’s Office (2 members)
  • United States Bureau of Reclamation (1 member)

Two co-leaders were selected to run the steering committee.

If you look at the backgrounds of the committee members, you will find mostly managers, lawyers and career politicians.  There is a scattering of individuals with some background in conservation, but they are a small minority.  Fifteen of the committee members are politicians.  What you will not find in any noticeable numbers are biologists, conservationists, environmentalists or ecologists.  The very experts that one would think would be more important to solving a water crisis than for instance five real estate developers.  Speaking of real estate development, after the committee finalized their plan, the Pinal Council for Economic Development stated: “There is no reason to stop economic development in Arizona.  We have plenty of water.”

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Sierra Club lobbyist Sandy Bahr said that the plan, far from being groundbreaking, represents another run at “business as usual” for the state.  As the Arizona version of the drought plan is now written, she says it’s propping up what she sees as unsustainable growth and unsustainable farming practices.  Many critics have noted that the plan has little or no conservation component.  It is a plan to subsidize more water drilling in the aquifer.

My contention is that we need win-win solutions.  We cannot ignore economic development, but neither can we ignore our environment.  We cannot sacrifice the future for the present or vice versa, sacrifice the present for the future.  However, the solution to many of our problems requires a win-win format that is not governed by money and political interests.  If our country keeps allowing the politicians and lawyers to make the rules, we are surely headed down the path of oblivion.  There is an anti-intellectualism and anti-science bias in this country which I believe is gradually destroying our ability to make decisions based on science and facts.

“The citizen cannot cease to need or to be at the mercy of experts, but he can achieve a kind of revenge by ridiculing the wild-eyed professor, the irresponsible brain truster, or the mad scientist, and by applauding the politicians as they pursue the subversive teacher, the suspect scientist, or the allegedly treacherous foreign-policy adviser.”  — Richard Hofstadter

 

3568– Thursday, July 25, 2019 – What the Democrats Must Do to Win!

There is a simple truth that seems to be ignored about politics and elections.  The reason we vote for someone is because of what we think they will do for our country, our family, our friends and our own lives.  We do not vote for someone simply because they are Black, White, Indian, Asian or Latino.  We do not vote for someone just because they are old, young, middle aged or because they are poor, middle class or rich.  We do not vote for someone because they are Catholic, Evangelical, Muslim, Jewish or Protestant.  Some of these factors may play an ancillary role in our voting preferences but the two major reasons we vote for someone are these:  First, as I have said already:  “Is the message that we hear from the candidate in terms of what they will plan to do if elected and how we see those plans either hurting or harming our lives.”  The second reason we vote for someone concerns whether or not we trust them to deliver on their plans and promises.  Regardless of what they promise, we are not going to vote for someone who we do not believe can deliver the goods.

If the Democrats want to win the upcoming election, they must accomplish three major tasks:

  1. They must consolidate their candidate options
  2. They must consolidate what they claim they will do if elected
  3. They must create an appeal that transcends major partisan and factional differences in this country.

I will briefly address each of these tasks.

Consolidate the candidate options and selection process:

The Democrats currently have a three-ring circus with 24 candidates.  This situation will eventually lead to a knockdown, drag-em through the mud free for all.  Notwithstanding the fact that all of these candidates will spend millions of dollars that could be better spent later on in the election by focusing on one candidate and getting out the vote.

The Democrats need to create a system like the Vatican uses to select a new Pope.  Major party leaders caucus with potential candidates.  The top two selections then move on to regionally selected caucuses designed to reflect a broad base of opinion across American politics.  The two candidates are paired down to one at the National Convention where the final candidate is selected by the usual methods of speeches and caucusing.

Consolidate the plans and goals for the party and candidate:

Every candidate has to have a plan and a promise to deliver this plan.  Right now, we have 24 candidates all promising the world to the American Public:  Free health care, free tuition, forgiveness of student loans, reparations for African Americans, redistribution of the wealth.  These freebies are just what got the Democrats saddled with the moniker of “Tax and Spend” in the first place.  Furthermore, these promises insult the intelligence of the American voter.  We all know that deficits are running to astronomical highs and that if you give someone money, it must come from someone else.

The candidate promises and plans must reflect the party platform.  Likewise, the Democratic party must accept and support the candidates plan.  The plan must be simple, bold and memorable and must cut across partisan and narrowly focused interests.  I suggest that four issues would create a base that would excite and motivate a large majority of the American public to vote Democratic.

  1. Minimum wage

Increase minimum wage. This is the wedge to continue subsequent strategies to reduce the widening gap between the rich and the poor.  Talk in terms about money that the average person who does not have a degree in economics can understand.

  1. Improve the Affordable Care Act

The ACA was a start to creating a better health care program for a large percentage of people who could not afford it.  Most Americans realize that the system has its faults but just like with Social Security, they do not want to abandon it, they simply want to see the faults addressed. Do not talk about creating a new system. Talk about improving the existing system.

  1. Term limits

I am a progressive but I have talked to people from Arizona to New York who include evangelicals, 2nd amendment supporters, conservatives, Tea Party members and anti-immigration people.  We have vast differences on major issues, but one issue where I have found common ground with all of these disparate people is on the issue of “term-limits.”  On this issue, I find near universal agreement that we need limits on how long people can serve.  There are many benefits from term limits including:  Minimizing the influence of money and lobbyists, reducing the role of money in campaigning and getting new ideas into the political stream.  The Democrats should take up the challenge and have the guts to pursue an issue that will have profound effects on the political process in this country.  One or two terms and no reelection down the road.

  1. Accessible voting

The past few decades have seen increased efforts to narrow the scope of participation on our political process.  Americans want a fair and equitable system of electing its representatives.  Many people now realize that politicians have gamed the system.  This has included efforts by both Democrats and Republicans to tilt the rules and table in their favor.  This has to be addressed and should be a primary goal of the Democrats to create a level playing field.

Create an appeal that transcends major partisan and factional differences in this country.

Calling people deplorables is not going to unite this country and will only create more division in a country already divided beyond anything comparable in its history except perhaps the Civil War.  If we want to unite Americans, we must talk to people that we do not like.  We must look past differences and find similarities.  We must speak out against injustices regardless of which side of the political spectrum they are on.  We must be fair and open minded and willing to reach compromises for the greatest good.

It was said that “Politics is the art of compromise.”  There is no room in government for rigid vows and oaths on political issues.  Democrats must condemn these practices and take the high road.  I have heard it said that we must find the person who can defeat Trump.  Speaking for myself, I don’t give a dam who can defeat Trump if they do not have the morals and ethics that I expect in myself and my friends.  Trump can win another four years before I will vote for someone simply because they “may defeat” Trump.

This is my plan for the Democrats.  Call me idealistic but I think that unless the Democrats can be idealistic, they will go down in defeat.

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest

The Impossible Dream — Music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion

 

3570– Tuesday, July 23, 2019 – We Lose Our Way!

Every year, the first morning of our retreat, we get a sermon followed by a song in which one of the lyrics states that “We lose our way.”  This song “Lord teach us to pray” was written and sung by Joe Wise.  Joe now lives north of me in Arizona.  Somewhat of a coincidence since I have heard his song at each of my last 36 retreats in Minnesota where I used to live.  I called him some years ago and talked about the possibility of meeting him.  It has not happened yet.  He still sings religious songs and records.

I started thinking about this idea of “losing our way” in more secular terms when I returned to my home after the retreat.  Somehow the idea just stuck in my mind.  “We lose our way.”  So easy to do.

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We seek fame. We want to be remembered and honored.  We want to be celebrities.  We give up our lives chasing the Goddess of Fame.  We measure success by how much of a celebrity we have become.  We measure hits and likes.  We honor movie stars, sports heroes and heroines and royalty.  We follow their every doing in the gossip pages and the constant 24/7 news that swamps us with their comings and goings.  If only I was like Kim Kardashian.  If only I was popular and good-looking like Leonardo De Caprio or Dwayne Johnson.  Oh, how much better and happier my life would be.  We lose our way.

“We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame changes the game.” — Young Thug

midas

But maybe our Goddess is not fame.  Maybe our God is Greed.  More, more, more.  More money.  More sex.  More stuff.  More cars.  More and bigger houses.  Bigger is always better.  So, give me a bigger whatever.  Let me have bigger tits, a bigger cock, more muscles, bigger ass, bigger biceps, more hair, more youth.  Let me live forever.  Let me have piles of money to spend.  Let me win the lottery.  Let me win big at the racetrack or the casino.  If only I had more, I could be happier.  If only I was like Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos, my life would have meaning.  I would be a success.  We lose our way.

“We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.” — Stephen Hawking

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Forget Fame and Fortune!  They are for stupid people.  Give me power.  Power is where it is at.  The God of Power Kratos personifies strength, might and rule.  With my three enforcers:  Nike for Victory, Bia for Force and Zelos for Rivalry, I can rule the world.  I can have the power to take anything I want.  I can make all the people bow down and look up to me.  I can tell others what to do and when to do it.  I can be the boss. I can be the ruler.  I can be in charge.  No one can tell me what to do.  Those who have power make the rules.  I will be the greatest ruler the world has ever seen.  If only I was like Donald Trump.  I could grab pussy whenever I wanted to.  I could kill anyone in Times Square and my followers would still idolize me.  I could say whatever I wanted to and insult whomever I wanted to, and I would still be loved and admired by millions.  People would kiss my ass everyday and want to know what I wanted.  It would never matter what anyone else wanted and it would all be about what I wanted.  We lose our way.

 “Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power.” — Georg Orwell, “1984”

 How do we find our way back? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

3609– Friday, June 14, 2019 – Citizens: Dare, Dare Again, Always Dare!

A number of years ago (1998), I was hired by the Metropolitan Council in Minnesota as a Principle Planner II.  My job was to help the various units at the council to improve productivity and service.  I had been an independent Process Improvement consultant for the previous 13 years.  My new job meant a study paycheck and less travel.  It was a good way to get out of consulting and into more regular employment.  The people at the council were hardworking and dedicated.  Nevertheless, as Dr. Deming always said, “hard work guarantees nothing.”

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In a short while, I found more waste and useless expenditure of time and taxpayer money than I could have imagined possible.  Even though as a consultant, I had often worked with government agencies from the US Navy to the City of Minneapolis, I was astounded at the staggering amount of fruitless effort throughout the organization and other state agencies.  I had become a liaison for the Metropolitan Council to help coordinate quality improvement agencies for a joint committee that included the Met Council and members of various other state agencies.  I frequently came home and exclaimed to Karen: “My god, if the average citizen saw the waste and stupidity that I see every day, they would grab a rifle or pitchfork and march on City Hall.”  I was dead wrong.

It has been twenty years and the waste and lack of accountability in government is still appalling and “no one is marching on City Hall.”  I often doubt if anyone really cares.  There is an old saying which goes like this:

Businesses get the unions they deserve,

Industries get the regulations they deserve, and

People get the governments they deserve.

 The lack of transparency in government is bewildering.  Transparency and accountability go hand in hand.  However, many cities, states and towns fail to publish their complete financial records on-line.  Yet no one demands to see the records of government spending.

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“Democracy depends on an informed electorate, but due to current practices in both accounting and budgeting, the true financial health of a city can be obscured, and citizens are deceived, or at best misled.  Without access to truthful, timely, and transparent information, how can citizens be knowledgeable participants in their governments?” —  Truth in Accounting

It seems that everyone you talk to is willing to condemn the cupidity and incompetence of most of our political leaders.  Yet, such criticism begs the question: “Not why did we elect these people, but why do we continue to reelect them?”

“Congressional stagnation is an American political theory that attempts to explain the high rate of incumbency re-election to the United States House of Representatives.  In recent years this rate has been well over 90 per cent, with rarely more than 5-10 incumbents losing their House seats every election cycle.”Congressional stagnation in the United States

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These high rates of reelection defy logic since they come at a time when trust in government is at an all-time low.  “We the people” grouse and complain but the fact remains that “we the people” do not demand accountability and we do not enforce accountability.  We elect leaders who soon feel little or no need to represent their constituents but more likely never felt the electorate really mattered in the first place.  Too many of our leaders are fully aware that they owe their first loyalty to the lobbyists and corporations that funded them and not to the “joe or jane” on the street that simply cast a ballot for them.

“Public trust in the government remains near historic lows.  Only 17% of Americans today say they can trust the government in Washington to do what is right ‘just about always’ (3%) or ‘most of the time’ (14%).”  — Public Trust in Government: 1958-2019

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I have repeatedly said that we need government.  It would be foolish to think that a community, let alone a nation, could function without a government.  Yet, I can also accept the words of Edmund Burke that “The government that governs best is the government that governs least.”  I do not say throw out government, but I do say “we the people” have to start making our votes and voices heard.  Too many of our so called “silent majority” simply do not give a damn.

If you don’t give a damn, you will get the government you deserve.  It would seem that this bit of wisdom has become a reality for most Americans.

PS:

I just watched Jon Stewart’s heroic and passionate speech to the House Judiciary on behalf of 9/11 Responders.  This speech will go down in history as a testimony to the difference citizens can make in government if we dare to speak out.  Stewart echoes my call for accountability in his speech.  See:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2QMqsNvWuc

“Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one.  Shameful. It’s an embarrassment to the country and it’s a stain on this institution.  And you should be ashamed of yourselves for those that aren’t here.  But you won’t be because accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber.” — Jon Stewart

 

 

 

 

 

 

3619– Tuesday, June 4, 2019 – Eddy, The Gonzo Journalist

Eddy is the bad boy of the Library Guys.  Adored by his conservative readers and vilified by liberals far and wide in both Polk and Burnett County.  Eddy (Rumors have it that he is related to the late Ralph Waldo Emerson) moved to Trade Lake amidst a hail of stories concerning some nefarious goings on in St. Croix Falls where Eddy was town administrator.  Some say he was ridden out of town on a rail while others say he tired of the big city (St. Croix Falls?) and decided to live the life of a hermit in Trade Lake.  Eddy bought and moved into a small cabin sans hot water or indoor plumbing.  Perhaps worse than the lack of these amenities is the fact that he has no internet or TV.  Nevertheless, you will never find a subject that Eddy is uninformed on.  He might be misinformed but never uninformed.

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Eddy was living a fairly quiet life in his cabin until he decided to take a position on our local paper as a roving reporter.  Eddy covers many different topics and events happening in and around both Polk and Burnett Counties.  This is when he started to get into trouble with the liberals.  Eddy has a propensity to mix literature, personal opinion and journalism.  I would guess that not coming from a bona fide school of journalism, Eddy treats many of his subjects with what some call a Gonzo Journalism approach.  When the reader agrees with Eddy’s point of view, Eddy is beloved.  However, all hell breaks lose when the reader disagrees with Eddy’s perspective.  Eddy has probably broken the record here in Frederic for the greatest number of readers writing in to cancel their subscription or to demand Eddy be removed from the paper or often both.  One reader demanding that Eddie be removed coined the term “Eddyfied” to refer to what she called Ed’s bias in reporting topics.

From a personality or psychological framework, Eddy is hard to pin down.  He can be funny, serious, solemn, moody, cantankerous, obnoxious and irritating but he is never boring.  He is actually quite interesting and charming unless you get into a deep discussion with him.  Going deeper you may run into some of what I call his “bizarre” ideas.  I suppose what Eddy and I usually differ on is, well most things!  Eddy (perhaps just to be a contrarian) generally has a perspective quite different from mine.  In 2016, I lost a one hundred dollar bet with him on who would be the next president.  He picked Thump and I picked Hillary.  I am still trying to win my money back, perhaps by betting that Trump will be impeached.  I suspect Eddy would say I have a left-wing liberal bias, which I am almost 100 percent certain is false. 😊

A blog about Eddy would be incomplete without at least one example of his writing.  A number of years ago when the meth problem up here was growing, Eddy did a first-person series of interviews with some meth addicts.  In my opinion, had it not been written in a small-town newspaper, it would have been noticed for a Pulitzer Prize nomination.  It was informative, inspired, heart rending and touching.  It was something that could only have been written by blending the subjective with the objective.  Eddy was at his best with this piece.

I think there is a role for the subjective perspective in news reporting.  We are all inundated with stories of fake news as well as the admonition to find the truth.  The problem is that we all grow up with this idea that an objective truth exists out there and that all we have to do is find it.  Give us a light like Diogenes had and we are positive that we can find the truth.  I now realize that the truth is a myth.  No objective truth exists.  This is my truth.  My “truth” will not make too many people happy.  A reporter (if they want to keep their job) has to be careful to balance the “truth” and somehow keep his/her theories from dominating the framework.  There are too many people on either side of the “objective” truth who will draw and quarter you for not telling the truth as they want to see it.

Eddy will keep on truckin and where he ends up, I am sure only Eddie knows.

Eddy, please don’t Eddyfy me!  I really didn’t mean everything I said here. 

“What sells, today, is whatever Fucks You Up – whatever short-circuits your brain and grounds it out for the longest possible time.”  — Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

3623– Friday, May 31, 2019 – The Old Library Guys

Did I tell you the story about?  What do old guys talk about when they get together?  I am part of a group of guys who meet each day at the library in Frederic from 10 AM to 12 PM.  There are some guys like Jerry and Dick who come in every day.  Then there are some guys who come in frequently but not every day.  Guys like Lowell, Reggie and Bill show up about half of the week.  More infrequently are Tony, Reid and Andrea, Reid’s wife.  Reid never ever goes anywhere without Andrea or perhaps it is the other way around.  We also have the very infrequent participants like Eddie (A writer for the local newspaper) whom I will talk about another time.  Eddie deserves a blog all by himself.  In fact, each of the people I noted are probably deserving of their own blog.

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Every day we gather for an informal talk about whatever is on anyone’s mind.  No schedule.  No agenda.  No leader.  Almost any subject is up for grabs.  Jerry is the intellect of the group and seems to be the best read with the exception of Tony.  Tony owned a bookstore and taught college for many years.  Dick is a retired mechanic and the most sensible and objective member.  Reggie is a nuclear physicist and that is the truth.  Lowell is a drug rehabilitation counselor now raising some type of legal hemp.  Reid is a former minister and Andrea is a retired lawyer.  Bill was a teacher and now does great wood working art.

We sit around a table, drink coffee, chat and on Fridays we buy cookies from a girl who brings them in each week for sale.  They are homemade and very tasty.  Sitting around talking for two hours can sometimes have its boring moments.  Not all of the conversations are equally interesting to participants.  Some of us ease these boring moments by playing on our smart phones or reading the local newspaper.  Others peruse the library stacks or stacks of movies for something to take home.  Eventually, the conversation changes and those who may not have been interested in a previous subject then find that the new topic is of interest to them.

I have attempted to diagnose the content of our conversations.  If you made a pie chart of the subjects of our conversations, I think it would look like this.

discussion topics

Old stories clearly dominate the discussions.  The bad part of this is hearing so many old stories over and over again can be beyond boring.  The good part is that since the majority of us are over 70 years of age, we usually do not remember much of each other’s old stories.  The exception to this is Jerry.  Jerry always seems to have a keen sense of when and how many times a tale has been told before.  Some of us are worse offenders than others in terms of repeating old stories.  It clearly does not matter to the person telling the tale.  I for one feel that my stories get better each time they are repeated. 😊

Cars are our next most popular topic.  I guess a bunch of old guys anywhere in the USA would find some common ground when it comes to cars.  I don’t think there is anyone in the group who cannot remember their first car.  Dick, the former mechanic, has the best knowledge when it comes to the inner workings of a car and anytime one of us is having car problems, Dick will have some good advice. Jerry who was never much of a motor head frequently zones out when the subject turns to cars.  However, bring up Jeopardy or any old Turner Classic movies and Jerry will provide a better summary of plots and cast than you can find on Wikipedia.

Now you may have noticed that certain topics seem to correlate with the skill sets of group participants.  However, when it comes to politics, we are all experts.  Nevertheless, since Trump was elected, the group has more or less toned down its politics.  I suspect that is because some of the group voted for Trump and some did not.  There is a great divide in our land between Trump supporters and Trump haters.  In the interest of harmony and civility our group has been shying away from discussions dealing with national politics.

More recently, our political discussions tend to focus on “local” political issues.  A current hot topic is the citing of a new CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feed Operation) in Trade Lake.  Trade Lake is a town just north of Frederic by about six miles.  The operation would involve the establishment of a large hog farm on some local farmland.  Many townsfolk are against it and a number of groups have organized to stop it from being built.  Reid and Andrea live on Trade Lake and have taken a keen interest in stopping the citing of the CAFO.  Numerous stories abound about horrible smells and water pollution from pig farms.  Eddie (our journalist) has attended many of the Trade Lake Council meetings where the discussions have often become quite heated.  Once known for his lack of objectivity, he has been working harder these days to “give us the facts and nothing but the facts.”

Once the CAFO becomes old news, there is sure to be something that springs up worthy of discussion.  When all else fails, we will fall back on discussing old movies.  The majority of the group seems to favor older movies as opposed to the newer genre of comedy, superhero or zombie movie themes.  Ask any of us how many times we have seen one of the Dirty Harry or John Wayne movies and it would probably shock you.  Jerry usually leads our movie discussions due to his prodigious ability to remember details from every movie he has ever seen.  As noted above, he is a walking encyclopedia of the old classics.

Well, as Porky Pig would say “Th-th-th-that’s all folks.”

“It was among farmers and potato diggers and old men in workhouses and beggars at my own door that I found what was beyond these and yet farther beyond that drawing room poet of my childhood in the expression of love, and grief, and the pain of parting, that are the disclosure of the individual soul.” — Lady Gregory

 

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