Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day - Remembering those of our Military who did not learn not to

Memorial Day - Remembering those of our Military who did not learn not to
My friend Jimi posted a video of a video portion of President Reagan's First Inaugural Address that's highly fitting for Memorial Day, and while I'd heard it before, somehow I'd missed that part of what he was reading, the most moving part, was from an inscription that a soldier who died in WWI, Private Martin A. Treptow, had made in his journal. Treptow wasn't a philosopher or a teacher or any sort of 'intellectual', he was a person who worked in a barber shop who simply understood that what he valued was worth, and required, defending.

What has become known as 'Treptow's Pledge', comes from the flyleaf of his diary:
"My Pledge: America must win this war. Therefore, I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone."
Remarkable. However what might be most remarkable of all, is that in our world today, such a pledge seems remarkable to us, whereas for Treptow, a barber from a century ago, he considered it to be a simple matter of course, a simple truth that was worth reflecting upon in his diary, so that he could get on with carrying it out.

Remember today those who put their lives on the line for this nation, and in the course of doing so, lost them.

Reflect on what it is about America that could, and should, inspire such ideals, and on the Consitution which those we memorialize on this day, swore their lives to defend.

Consider also why it might be that such pledges might seem unusual to us today. As in a different context, a person being interviewed for his heroic actions replied to the question of how a person learns to willingly risk their life for another, the puzzled hero replied:
"How does he learn not to?"
Remember today, and give a moment's thanks, to those of our United States Military who lost their lives in service to their nation, because they did not learn not to.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Civics Classes, and a Future Past

Recently, the actor and sometimes leftist activist, Richard Dreyfuss, was interviewed on Tucker Carlson's show, and as you may have seen, or heard snippets of, or at least heard about, Dreyfuss soundly denounced the 'Antifa' activists who've been using violence on campus, to squelch people's ability to freely speak and associate. Kudos to Dreyfuss on that. But. For those of you on the Right, who are enthusing "Wow! There's a sensible Leftist that we can get behind!", please, for once, slow down a bit. While I too like the sound of much of what Dreyfuss says in this video - particularly his call to engage in the 'Battle of Ideas' in open discussions, and of course his call of 'Let's get back to the constitution and the Bill of Rights!', it is well worth remembering that what we think we are hearing, isn't always what the speaker meant for us to be hearing, and that what was actually meant (or will inevitably follow, despite their best of intentions), will often turn out to be something that we really do not want to hear, let alone experience.

That very situation, is, of course, what a good discussion should ideally expose and clarify for those in the conversation - but that cannot happen, if we, as we too often do, assume that their words, are said with our meaning, and so we, especially those on the Right, don't ask, don't check, don't clarify, what was meant - and so we are continually blindsided when their actual meaning is put into action. Ya know, for a group that's so fixated on the need to improve their messaging, you'd think that they'd notice that 'Wuht?! How did this happen?!', isn't a particularly attractive message to be habitually messaging from your group.

What sort of words could I mean? Well, words, for instance, such as the 'Civics' that Dreyfuss said he wants to see us getting back to,
“Civics has not been taught in the American public school system, since 1970…”
'Civics' is a word that sounds very significant. And our schools' lack of such a class - which is intended to be 'the training of students for democracy' (hmm) - sounds like a shocking situation, and a very sensible concern (although, as I, sadly, had to sit through the drudgery of Civics classes in 1972-74, in a Las Vegas public school at "Hyde Park Junior High", his blanket statement is at least questionable). But before we on 'The Right' go backing up his call, we should remember that the 'Civics Education' which he most likely wants to see, came from a concept of civics classes, that was once among the first of those 'bold, innovative thrusts' promoted by the education industry, from the opening of the 20th century, on. Such Civics classes were a particular favorite of 'educational reformers' such as John Dewey, who, for what he thought were very good reasons, was very big on pragmatically abandoning our past, and our traditional reverence for Truth, as well as the idea of 'the training of students for democracy' (isn't putting the 'training' of students in political views, into the hands of a government institution, even a trifle concerning?), so as to do 'what works', in order to take America 'into the future!'.

Maybe it's just me, but doesn't it occur to anyone else, that it's quite possible that the current situation we find our educational system, and our society, to be in, is a result of those very Civics classes, which Dreyfuss is advocating for us to engage in? Again?

Are we really going to blindly accept, that what we assume they mean by that word, is such a good thing for us to want to 'get back to' engaging in? Again? Perhaps, rather than seeking to get back to their future in civics, we should take a little time to consider what teaching Civics, as we once did, does, to a students understanding of civics, and to their understanding of individual rights, and to their understanding of the role of government within that society, that they are soon to become the future civic members and leaders, of?

One thing that both sides should be clear on, is that what we think we hear when we hear the word 'Civics', is highly unlikely to be what the other side means by it, because there exists among us such vast differences of opinion on political philosophy. We don't simply have differing perspectives on

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Why is America fired up over President Trump telling Comey: "You're fired!"

If you've had it already with the 'James Comey fired from the FBI!' stories, I get it, but as no one seems to have any more facts than I do, I'm going to add one more comment to the mix.

Do try to recognize, that asking and answering 'Why did Trump fire James Comey?!', is, in absence of an exhaustive cross examination of Donald Trump, nothing more than an exercise in expressing your own feelings about Trump, and Comey. Period.

The only facts that we can actually know at this time, is that shortly after the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, was finally confirmed by the senate, with high bi-partisan support (and which satisfied some procedural protocols for removing the agency director, from a staffing perspective), and he was asked to write a report on Comey's status as director of the FBI, and his conclusion (which as he adamantly expressed, even reportedly threatening to resign if it was misrepresented[OOPS: reportedly, that 'reportedly' is fake news. STUNNER], was not the causal reason for Comey's firing, but simply an evaluation of the existing situation) was that Comey was compromised and ineffective, and that the FBI would be better off with a new director.

Of course, as I posted last year, Comey, by his own testimony, had used his position as head of investigations, to make prosecutorial, and even judicial judgments, about whether charges should be brought or pursued, against Hillary, Huma Abedein, Anthony Wiener, etc. For me, that alone warranted his instant termination. My own question on why Trump fired him, is not 'Why now?' but 'Why not earlier?'. However, as James Comey himself noted in his farewell letter, the president has the power and authority to fire the director of the FBI at any time, for any reason. You should note, that his removal does not halt or impede any ongoing investigations. It's also worth noting, that his temporary replacement as Director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, is a Clinton appointee, who has shown, especially through his wife's campaigning for office a potential for highly partisan leftist leanings - Trump is unlikely to get much aid and comfort through his position as director, so do tailor your pet conspiracy theory appropriately.

Why did Trump fire him? Because he felt it was time to. And in typical Trump fashion, having reached that decision, he acted swiftly, and in a dramatic fashion worthy of Reality T.V. - Comey found out that he'd been fired while standing in front of a room full of FBI agents, as they saw that the TV monitor behind him, was running the news crawl that Trump had fired him. Talk about your ratings moment!

For those of you who are all up in arms about this, honestly, I can only laugh and shake my head. America as a whole, Left, Right, Center and Libertarian, has shown itself to be uninterested in, and unfamiliar with, the concepts of, and structures of, our constitutional republic, preferring popularity, personal interest, and 'gotcha!' partisan political posturing, to prudent wisdom in governing. America, sorry, but as you clearly prefer to be entertained by the likes of South Park, The Simpsons, and Reality T.V., and YOU voted on that basis, whether for Clinton, Trump or the also-ran obstructionists, for President of the United States of America.

THIS is what that looks like! What did you expect?! Personally, I expected much worse, and so far I've been pleasantly surprised with what Trump has, and has not, done in office - I was imagining much worse. I dislike his lack of understanding our constitutional principles, and especially his economic views, but despite your angst and caricatures, he has a long history of capable executive, management and administrative abilities, a fond regard for Americana, as well as a flare for drama and publicity, which he's honed through a decade or more of Reality T.V., and so far, he has used all of that to deliver above my expectations. Fingers crossed. Salt tossed over shoulder. Wood knocked.

For those whose reactions are dramatically different from mine, they might have been summed up best by Stephen Colbert's startlement at his audience's failure to be up to speed with the PC Media's latest 'against him, for him, against him' positions on Comey, as they cheered when he announced his firing. The thing that came to mind for me, when I heard that, was George Orwell's '1984', as the crowd is being led in 5 minutes of hate against "Eurasia", and the speaker receives a message and stops mid word, and changes to "Eastasia", as the hate continues on unimpeded. Unfortunately, Wiki is the best source ref that I can do at the moment, but I think it captures the Colbert moment in '1984':
"At the start, Oceania and Eastasia are allies fighting Eurasia in northern Africa and the Malabar Coast.

That alliance ends and Oceania, allied with Eurasia, fights Eastasia, a change which occurred during Hate Week, dedicated to creating patriotic fervour for the Party's perpetual war. The public are blind to the change; in mid-sentence an orator changes the name of the enemy from "Eurasia" to "Eastasia" without pause. When the public are enraged at noticing that the wrong flags and posters are displayed, they tear them down—thus the origin of the idiom "We've always been at war with Eastasia"; later the Party claims to have captured Africa."
Ladies and Gentlemen of America, if you disregard the concepts and principles and history that made this nation uniquely American, in favor of idle and base amusements, while giving political power over your lives, to people who have more regard for their own power, than your individual rights - what did you think would follow after that? Last year, the HBO series "Westworld" made masterful use of a Shakespearean nugget of a quote, from "Romeo & Juliet",
"These violent delights, have violent ends"
When you comment, and act, not from careful consideration, but simply to give swift vent to your passionate and emotional feelings, you transform yourself into the ideal audience for taking part in 'Hate Week', and lacking any solid conceptual foundation, you too will hardly skip a beat in venting your emotions, as the label of your hated enemy is switched, from one set of letters, to another... and seriously, why would you think such labels would have any more value or purpose, to those you've put in charge of running the show, than a red cape to a bull?

Again I've got to ask, America, what did you expect? SMDH.