Walter Lippmann wrote that if a man had a broken arm and a stranger with no medical training said he could set it, folks would run him off. But suggest that a person with no prior experience could be Secretary of State … not a problem. A lot of folks believe a Trump-Carson ticket is this election’s dream team. Trump tells us he can get things done because he is rich. Carson tells us he can get things done because he is smart. That’s it. That’s all they got. Is that enough? I hope we never have to find out.
August 29, 2015
Earth is made up of vast tectonic plates that move together and apart over millions of years. Politics can be thought of in the same way, vast plates of ideology converging during periods of national greatness and shifting apart during periods of discord. What brings people together is the willingness to sacrifice for the common good, perhaps to face a great peril or to advance a great cause. In this period of growing political separation, we could possibly unite over war but it’s hard to see this country ever coming together for a great cause. Those days lie behind us.
August 26, 2015
The FBI reported 6,371 homicides committed with handguns in 2012. That’s about 17 handgun murders each day. CDC estimates there are 44 murders by any means each day. Illegal immigrants represent about 4 percent of the population, which would prorate to 2 murders a day by illegal immigrants. Hmm, let’s see. Seventeen deaths by handguns each day. Maybe two homicides a day by illegal immigrants. Which should be a higher priority problem when it comes to the safety of the American people? If you listen to the rhetoric coming from most of the Republican candidates for president, it’s a no-brainer.
August 25, 2015
A recent study confirms what most of us already suspected: America leads the world in mass killings, accounting for nearly a third of the world’s mass killings with just five percent of the population. Why do we dominate? The study asserts that America is overstocked with unhappy wannabes who long for a last chance power drive to 15 minutes of internet fame. And yeah, we are armed to the teeth, so building an arsenal isn’t hard. Hell, it’s a constitutionally guaranteed right. H. Rap Brown said, “Violence is as American as cherry pie.” Brother, the whole world hears you now.
August 24, 2015
This is the tip of something buried, but the idea of disturbing this little Zen garden by the sea to find what might lie beneath is unthinkable. Part of it's beauty is its transience. We see it now, but the next storm may bury it for another decade. Such chance discoveries remind us of whole worlds that have been buried by time, secret histories that may or may nor ever be revealed.
August 20, 2015
This is derived from an essay written by Tony Horwitz.
Ponce de Leon was the first European to set foot on American soil in 1513. Spanish explorers ranged up and down the East Coast, into the heartland, and west to California by 1536. St. Augustine was founded in 1565. Jamestown wasn’t founded until 1607. The Pilgrims landed in 1640. After the American Revolution much of the continent was under Spanish control and their language and customs prevailed. Florida, Texas and California were taken by force from Spain and Mexico. Hispanics were the first American citizens in the southwest. This land is our land now … but once it was theirs.
August 19, 2015
All these politicians shamelessly pandering to angry voters … boy, it really pisses me off. You got Bernie Sanders on the left and Trump and the sixteen dwarves on the right -- all working hard to fire up the fed-up masses. What they forget to mention is that anger isn’t a policy. Anger doesn’t fix anything. Hillary hit the nail on the head when she told a group of Black Lives Matter activists that we don’t need more lip service. And we sure as hell don’t need any more empty promises, right or left. We need some good old-fashioned governance.
August 9, 2015
I recently read about the Dunning-Kruger Effect, named after two Cornell University researchers. Their theory posits that for a given skill, incompetent people will: fail to recognize their own lack of skill; fail to recognize genuine skill in others; fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy; recognize and acknowledge their own lack of skill after they are exposed to training for that skill. If you pair this with the Peter Principle -- employees rise to their level of incompetence -- well, I’d say you’re getting close to a theory of everything that is dysfunctional, and not just in Washington.
You hear a lot of talk from Republican candidates about fixing Washington. Disgruntled conservatives complain that no matter who gets elected nothing changes, which is another way of saying they aren’t getting their way. Here’s the thing. Not everyone shares their political viewpoint. In fact, a whole lot of voters hold very different views. And in a democracy, guess what? Those other voices count just as much. You can’t just ignore them. So unless you are willing to compromise, then yeah, not much is going to get done. But it isn’t because Washington doesn’t work. It’s because democracy does work.
August 5, 2015
Warning: Graphic Content
Back in the day, I visited a slaughterhouse in Des Moines. The most disturbing thing I witnessed was a calf fetus -- taken from a slaughtered cow -- suspended in mid-air, being violently shaken. I asked what was happening and was told they were draining the calf’s blood through a large needle inserted into its heart. They explained that fetal calf serum is worth big bucks as a growth medium for tissue and cell cultures and some vaccines. Unpleasant and repulsive? Extremely. A necessary evil? Apparently. Medical research often requires moral trade-offs we rarely hear about. Something to think about.