Archive for September, 2015

Let’s live proactively

Now, I don’t know about you but I believe that if my responsibility in a community was to serve as director of public works or whatever the title might be that gave me a bit of power over roads and bridges, the word, “proactive,” would be printed in large letters, framed, and hung on all for walls of my office. Perhaps this is oversimplifying the problem, but then again, perhaps that simple nine-letter adjective carries with it too great a sense of responsibility for the office holder. By definition, proactive means “controlling a situation by making things happen or by preparing for possible future problems;” a secondary definition is “acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes.”

I live in the United States; also in the State of Massachusetts. Our experience, probably since the time the Pilgrims landed on “that” rock or wherever they landed has been one of harsh winters with plenty of that white stuff. In addition, as summer draws nigh and fall comes upon us, we are very apt to be the recipients of a great amount of rain coming over from Africa and running up along the East Coast, soaking us, knocking down trees and sending them into electric lines which, consequently, are torn from their positions and sent, sparking to the ground. By the by, if you’ve never seen a power line on the ground, it’s quite fascinating…they tend to dance around this way and that way, rather like a snake that stayed too long at the local bar.

But anyway, getting on with this word, “proactive;” It seems to me that at some point during an off-season – I’m calling the spring months of April, May, and June, and the autumn months of September, October, and November, proactive measures should be discussed and plans developed for preparing for the weather-related events that will, as history has demonstrated, be upon us during the coming months. Wait, wait, wait, wait, the spring months are used to discuss winter and the autumnal months to discuss hurricane or rain events. Allow me to give a couple of examples. The state knows that when a rainstorm of moderate means lands in the Greater Boston area, certain low-lying roadways will be overwhelmed and flooded. These include several areas on highly-commuter-traveled Storow Drive, Route 9, and even portions of Routes 3 and 128. Experience has shown this to be true. Wouldn’t it, therefore, be practical to build some kind of pumping system underground, not dissimilar to a sump pump system in the home, that can pump this water into a special drain that might connect at a later stage with the drainage system already in place? We are blessed in this state with wonderful colleges and universities, MIT, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Northeastern University, and many others with outstanding engineering programs. Tossing problems such as the one mentioned above right into the laps of these schools might just reward the state with engineering, drainage, and other ideas that could make Massachusetts a leader in flood controls.

As far as snow removal is concerned, one can only pray that we never see another winter like 2014-2105. However, if that is used as a baseline for developing plans for snow removal and storage, might not these same institutions as mentioned before provide us with proactive ideas for coping with such storms? The days of “this is the way we’ve always done it,” are gone…dead as the DoDo bird. Arguments of “We don’t have the manpower,” or “It will cost too much,” are outdated. When we look at the cost of last year’s snow season, or the cost of Hurricanes’ Sandy and Katrina, money becomes and excuse, and not a very good one.

Our infrastructure in this state and in this country is falling apart. In some places people are afraid to cross bridges wondering if this is the day their car ends up in a river. We pave our roads only to see a water main built in nineteen-ought-something give way and low a hole in our newly repaired roadway. We’re not thinking. We’re cosmetizing when we should be getting to and updating our root problems.

Is it going to cost money to be proactive? Yes, but the State of Massachusetts, and probably every other state in the union pisses away money every day, sometimes by unnecessary expenditures, but more often by fraudulent members of various public service departments. By tightening up our own ship, we might just find enough money to begin making the improvement of which I speak. “We don’t have the people” won’t work either. There are plenty of people out there who want to work, but who are sitting on the sidelines. There are also plenty of illegal aliens looking for jobs that will help them to become citizens of this country…throw that one into the mix and you’ll get all the people you need.

Is this idea ridiculous? Certainly, there will be some who think it is. They may be exactly like the group of dead Republicans found on Mars recently, holding signs that said, “There’s no such thing as climate change!” How long will it take before someone has the courage to say, “We can do these things; we can be proactive; we can prevent problems today by planning for tomorrow, and we can start right now?”

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Who has the right?

If we join this “Black lives matter” movement, are we than saying that other lives do not matter at all? That is what appears to be the case. When a white police officer or a group of white police officers kill a black person for allegedly breaking a law, all hell breaks loose and the black community is up in arms. When a black person kills a white police officer, there are no street riots nor is there any looting of neighborhoods. Therefore, in effect, we are saying that (a) white lives do not matter or (b) that the lives of white police officers do not matter.

The logic is flawed obviously, but to the uninitiated, that’s exactly how it might appear. Who fills our jails…black people? Who are the majority in the crime stories on the evening news…black people? Of course black lives matter, but equally important, the lives of all people matter. What about, “Children’s lives matter?” Do we honestly believe that Bella Bond is an isolated case or that Boston is the only city in the country where a dead child may be found?

Are there brutal white police officers hiding behind the “blue wall” and beating the crap out of anyone they please? Yes, there are. They are there just as much as there are white-coated doctors out there who misdiagnose and make killing mistakes every day, sometimes just because they can. Remember the spate of nursing home killings several years back that was done by nurses or fake nurses “just to put the elderly out of their misery?” Remember the riots in Los Angeles when Reginald Denny was pulled from his truck and beaten half to death. Did the white residents go on a rampage and start a “white lives matter” movement?

Now I see that Massachusetts’ senior senator, Elizabeth Warren, has climbed on the “black lives matter” bandwagon. She should know better. Do your homework Betsy, and do the math. If black lives matter, aren’t you saying, when it gets right down to it, that other lives don’t? This is a movement that started over one thug in Ferguson, Missouri who got his life cut short because he tried to take a gun away from a police officer who had given him a lawful order. What would have happened if Michael Brown had taken that gun? Does anyone honestly believe that he wouldn’t have used it? Who the hell is living in that kind of dream world?

All-lives-matter, black, brown, yellow, red, or white…they matter. Criminal-or-law-enforcement-officer…their lives matter. Gay-straight-lesbian-transgender…their lives matter. Everyone-everywhere…their lives matter. It does not matter who you are; what the color of your skin happens to be, or what your sexual preference is, your life matters. There are people out there, some carrying badges, some carrying guns without the authority to do so, and some who believe that they are the gods to decide who lives and who dies, and these people are wrong.  However, they are out there. Do their lives matter? Hmm, what an interesting question. Do the lives of ISIS soldiers, who murder for the sake of murdering, do their lives matter? Do the gangs around the country, where initiation includes killing someone, preferable a law enforcement officer, do their lives matter? The examples to be given are endless and one can justify damn near any argument on either side.

The fact that God created ‘man’ in his own image is something of a misnomer. Unfortunately, man is flawed. Whether we are flawed as an accident of birth or flawed by the color of our skin, or flawed because society is what it is doesn’t matter in the least. We all love; we all hate. I can hear some people screaming, “I don’t hate anything,” and that’s just not true. We are all prejudiced in our own ways, and hate, after all, is nothing more than a prejudice carried to one extreme.

Should police be wearing body cameras? Sure, probably. Should we have cameras at every intersection and on every street corner in the country? “Oh, oh, oh, wait a minute; that’s an invasion of privacy; that’s not right.” Why not? Aren’t we saying to police officers, “We don’t trust you to do your job to the best of your ability?” Are we all so brilliant, telepathic even, that we know what a police officer is going to face when he walks up to a car to ask for license and registration? Are we so highly intelligent that we are aware of the dangers a cop on the beat faces every night?  What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If we’re going to body camera cops, let’s camera the entire environment. If we’re not doing anything wrong, where’s the problem?

Let us derail this bandwagon of “black lives matter” before it gets out of hand. You and I both know that life, whether it’s the life of someone of any color, any age, anything that may be slightly different, is precious. Everyone deserves the right to live their life and no one, absolutely no one has the right to remove that life from the earth until a Higher Power decides that life should end.

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The death of democracy

The remarks made recently by one New Hampshire voter – I’d call him an asshole but (a) that doesn’t adequately describe his idiocy nor (b) is his opinion of the President of the United States of America accurate in any way, shape or form – and the inaction by candidate Trump to those remarks prompted immediate and rather harsh reaction from many. The frightening part of the entire event is that the questioner was not booed out of the town meeting but was allowed to complete his question…that is a very scary thing to witness. Does it demonstrate that most of the people in that hall agreed with the questioner as Mr. Trump appeared to do or does it mean that we have become such an apathetic voting group that no one had the chutzpah to stand up and say, “Hey, you’re insulting the office of the President of the United States…sit down and shut up…motherfucker. See, I told you I sometimes get carried away.

Within a couple of days of the “kerfuffle,” as Judge Judy might call it – yes, I’ve watched her on occasion; after all, she is funny and does have a good shtick going – a high school classmate of mine who just happens to be to the far, very far right of Genghis Kahn and Rush Limbaugh sent the following e-mail:

“In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior: “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.

“The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back into bondage.”

There was more B.S. [not Bachelor of Science] tacked onto the above truth. I have not included it because it has already been debunked by far wiser minds than my own. The entire thing, however, triggered some thoughts and some questions. You see, many Americans – I’d say “most” but I’m not a hundred percent certain, and I’m too gddamned old to take a poll – believe we live in a democracy and that we have a democratic form of government. That’s just not true, so while what Professor Tyler may have said in 1887 about the fall of the Athenian Republic may well be true of democracies, it is not true when applied to what America really is, i.e., a Republic with a republican form of government.

A Republic is representative government ruled by law. In our case, those laws are set forth in a document we call The Constitution. A Republic recognizes the inalienable rights of individuals as set forth in The Constitution and/or by its amendments or the laws created by the individuals we elect to represent us in our law-making bodies of the House of Representatives and Senate. Don’t pass out on me now, but I’m about to cite a conservative web site called Citizens for Constitutional Government. It notes that, “Lawmaking is a slow, deliberate process in our Constitutional Republic requiring approval from the House, Senate, Executive (President or Governor), The Supreme Court, and individual jurors (jury-nullification).   Article IV Section 4, of the Constitution “guarantees to every state in this union a Republican form of government” On the other hand, “the word Democracy is not mentioned even once in the Constitution. “

“The Founders knew full well the differences between a Republic and a Democracy.   They repeatedly and emphatically said that they had founded a Republic. For example, “We may define a republic to be … a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure for a limited period, or during good behavior.   It is essential to such a government that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans and claim for their government the honorable title of republic.” James Madison, Federalist No. 10, (1787)”

A democracy is direct government ruled by the majority (mob rule). While democracies are only concerned with group wants or needs (the public good). Lawmaking in a democracy occurs rapidly requiring approval from the whim of the majority as determined by polls and/or voter referendums. Voter referendums allow legislators to blame bad law on the people.   A good example of democracy in action is a lynch mob. A good ‘might-have-been’ example is Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who went to jail for breaking a law passed by Congress and upheld by the Supreme Court. A democracy might have allowed her the right not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples because a mob of Kentuckians might have supported her.

So you see, Tyler was correct all that way back in 1887:  “Democracies always self-destruct when the non-productive majority realizes that it can vote itself handouts from the productive minority by electing the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury.   To maintain their power, these candidates must adopt an ever-increasing tax and spend policy to satisfy the ever-increasing desires of the majority.   As taxes increase, incentive to produce decreases, causing many of the once productive to drop out and join the non-productive.   When there are no longer enough producers to fund the legitimate functions of government and the socialist programs, the democracy will collapse, always to be followed by a Dictatorship.

“Even though nearly every politician, teacher, journalist and citizen believes that our Founders created a democracy, it is absolutely not true.  …. Conversely, Madison warned us of the dangers of democracies with these words, “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths…”,

“A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.   There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.” Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)”

Now that we’ve answered those questions about Republic versus Democracy, I urge you to become involved in some part of the 2016 Presidential race, whether it’s passing out flyers for your candidate, stuffing envelopes in a satellite office or just by speaking to others about why you believe your choice is the strongest, do it because it’s important. I believe that America is in crisis…not because of President Obama or even his predecessors. We have become so self-absorbed, almost narcissistic in our behavior that we’re looking only days, weeks, or months ahead, when we should be looking at the next century and how we can – right now – be laying the groundwork that will guarantee a better living standard for the children of our children’s children. We cannot do this by electing people who think only in the short term. We need to seek out and elect visionary thinkers who will not shrink from their responsibility and who, in the short term, might have to bear harsh criticism, but if we can only continue to elect that type of thinker, America will continue to be great.

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I am an American.

I was born in America, educated in American public schools, attended college in America, worked all of my adult life in America, married an American lady, brought up three kids in America – not quite true because my wife did most of the kid upbringing – and I fully intend to die in America. I love the country of my birth and death, but I don’t much care for some of the things that go on inside it.

Please, don’t get me wrong. I’m quite certain that there people in other countries who feel the same way about their nations as I feel about my own…though that’s not necessarily true, because it seems to me that many people in other countries look to America as either being the hope of the world or the devil that is driving the world to extinction.

My complaints about my own country might be considered by some as marginally ludicrous. I don’t consider them such. For example, why does this country spend so much money on foreign aid when we have Native American people who don’t even have clean water with which to drink, bathe, or do their washing in? Haven’t we done enough to the Native Americans? First, we – the settlers who first invaded what we now call the United States of America – slaughtered as many Native Americans as we possibly could so that we could steal their lands. Then, when we came to a certain degree of our senses, we gathered them together and tried to place them on the most inhospitable lands that we could find. When they discovered that the land had value – beneath if not above – we pushed them into other areas where the land had no value above or below. Here it is, the 21st Century, and they are without running water in many of their homes? What is wrong with us? Have we lost all sense of what is important versus what is politically expedient? These people, whom we slaughtered, marched on a trail of tears, pushed away from the ‘real’ Americans, should be revered and treated as well as we treated the Italians, Poles, Germans, Irish, and so many others who came to this country seeking the American Dream and who actually found it. Native Americans, on the other hand, have known nothing but the American nightmare.

“It has been said the democracy is the worst form of government, except for all of the others that have been tried.” The quote is attributed to Sir Winston Churchill, although there are many questions regarding the date, place, time he might have spoken such erudite verbiage. Purists will tell you that America is not a democracy but is, in fact, a republic…and they are correct. According to ThisNation.com, “The United States is, indeed, a republic, not a democracy. Accurately defined, a democracy is a form of government in which the people decide policy matters directly–through town hall meetings or by voting on ballot initiatives and referendums. A republic, on the other hand, is a system in which the people choose representatives who, in turn, make policy decisions on their behalf. The Framers of the Constitution were altogether fearful of pure democracy. Everything they read and studied taught them that pure democracies “have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” Sounds about right to me because if we allowed the people of Wyoming, Rhode Island, Florida or any other single state to enact laws applicable to every other state, the death of our nation would, indeed, have been swift and violent. The problem, however, is that those representatives we have chosen to make policy decisions on our behalf have, over our 228-plus years evolved from being men and women concerned with the welfare of the nation, to a group of idiots more concerned with perpetuating the goals of their own political party and their place of power within that party…and this is wrong. It is wrong, wrong, wrong, and I for one do not see any hope for a return to the days when, as Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill said, “It’s country first; state second, and political party a distant third.” We the people are represented by those we elected to office; however, their allegiance is being usurped by lobbyists, by political action committees (PACs), and by a few power brokers who can ensure their reelection or their defeat, ergo, their allegiance is really to themselves and to hell with the people who actually cast votes in their favor.

Everyone talks about a moral compass. America’s moral compass is so screwed up that the Founding Fathers are, I am quite certain, spinning so fast in their graves, they resemble a child’s toy on the kitchen table. We invade other countries and wind up starting bigger wars than we can finish. We feed the people of other nations, dig wells for their fresh water supply while our own citizens go wanting. We pay more attention to the infrastructure of other lands than we do to the lands in our country. I am but one voice screaming in the wilderness. I will continue to scream until things change or I am dead, and where I’m headed, I’m certain I’ll still be screaming!

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Don’t trust Iran

Let’s get a bit geo-political today. As I understand it, we – meaning the US of A – were the first to develop a bomb so powerful that it could flatten cities. Then, in order to save lives – American lives, of course – we dropped that particular bomb on a couple of places in Japan in order to bring an end to hostilities between our two countries that had been taking place for four years. Okay, so far?

The first bomb that we dropped…to convince the Japanese that war is a bad thing…was on the City of Hiroshima. Initial casualty counts were as high as 150,000. Today it’s figured at more than 200,000. Whether the Japanese War Council thought this was some kind of a trick or a one-shot deal, they did not immediately surrender. As a consequence, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, this one killing between 60 and 80 thousand people. Five days later, the Japanese surrendered.

Since that time, “the bomb” has been improved, it’s killing power greatly strengthened. In addition, other nations now have the bomb. These include Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea.  With the exception of North Korea, most of the nine countries have sufficient intelligent leadership not to launch their nuclear weapons…have but don’t use…and probably don’t even think too much about using them because it would bring total annihilation to the world’s population, a.k.a., the end of civilization as we know it. If you’ve ever read Shute’s “On the Beach,” you have some idea of what I mean.

Assuming then, that none of the nine kids with the big toys aren’t going to turn the big toys loose on others, we have to raise the question, “Why should we all be pissing and moaning about the possibility of Iran having access to materials to build a bomb?” What the hell, they already have the laboratories and the technical knowledge to build one. They are going to build their bomb anyway, so why bother with some bullshit negotiations that are totally meaningless in the first, second, or third place. The question we have to ask is, “How do we deter them from using the bomb to wipe any or all of their neighbors off the map?”

“But we have economic sanctions that we can use against them,” the peacemakers respond. You’re kidding, right. Economic sanctions are nothing to these people. The Muslim Brotherhood, which means just about every other country in the Middle East with the exception of those damnable Jewish people “…who took our land and don’t belong here in the first place…” will assist us in our grand jihad against the evil Satan and his henchmen. Are you shitting me? It appears to me that giving Iran the opportunity to possess the bomb is one of the fastest ways of bringing damn near every other Muslim country in the Middle East into the camps of the boys with the biggest toys.  “Help, save us from those crazy bastards,” may become the new battle cry from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Arab Emirates, Dubai, and the rest of the gang. If not, and if Iran chooses to end the world, well, what the hell, it had to happen sometime.

What I’m really saying is the John Kerry should have gone into those negotiations and told those folks to either destroy every bit of “Stuff” they have related to nuclear weapons development or that a coalition of countries would immediately begin to bomb Iran into submission. No one wants that but neither does the world want Iran to have nuclear capability which, for all we know, they may already have. Negotiation is a wonderful tool, and with reasonable people, it is a tool that can achieve remarkable results. However, when you are dealing with a government that has proven time and time and time again that it cannot be trusted, negotiation is a joke.

Face facts: Iran has made no secret of two things; (1) Death to America and (2) wipe Israel off the map. I think that sort of tells us that they’re not too keen on the good of the ole US of A and that they aren’t too crazy about the State of Israel. It reminds me a great deal – as Curt Schilling has noted – of the Munich beer hall crowd. I will not apologize for saying that just as Hitler couldn’t be trusted; just as Kim Jong iL of North Korea couldn’t be trusted, the Supreme Leader of Iran cannot be trusted. It seems the older I get, the fewer people I trust, and right now, I’ve lost all trust in this deal that President Obama and Secretary Kerry are pushing.

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