CHRISTIAN NATIONALISM

The Death of Separation of Church & State

Let’s focus on facts. After retirement I moved to Florida for the weather, not for the politics and viewpoints of many of my neighbors. I like living eight miles from the Gulf of Mexico, but normal conversations in this state can be frustratingly divided and unproductive. Here’s where I’ll bring in Thomas Jefferson.

I have always believed that Jefferson was a closet atheist, careful never to reveal his hand. If you follow his discussions, writings and letters, you will see that he was at best a skeptic, but also a highly intelligent farmer, inventor and writer. He was not good with money, so it’s safe to assume he was never a slave to math. Sir Thomas also had a strong memory of what happened in Europe when religious zealots got ahold of power and governments.

Germans, who were forced to decide between baptizing their babies or living free within their creeds and beliefs, left for America. What remains are the Amish and Mennonites of our communities. In Great Britain, all-powerful kings and queens were given command over the Church of England, and Catholics were harassed and persecuted. Millions of Brits moved to North America, drawn by the promise of our First Amendment.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The down and dirty interpretation is the government cannot prohibit the “establishment” of any religion. This was severely tested when the Internal Revenue Service fought the Church of Scientology’s tax-free status. After decades of legal battles, the US government gave up and granted them a charter. So, if a bunch of people get together and say they are a church, there is nothing Congress can do to stop them. The state cannot prohibit people practicing their beliefs, but nowhere is it decreed that the government has to fund or tolerate illegal activities within the confines of a religion.

In its early days, the Church of the Latter Day Saints codified the practice of polygamy, which  is now outlawed in the Church. None of its faithful can practice plural marriage and remain a member. It was indeed a miracle when Gabriel appeared and ordered the head of the church to end the policy of men having multiple wives.

The reason Jefferson promoted the separation of church and state was simple and brilliant. To manage a population of vastly divergent views, beliefs and cultures, it was important for the government to operate above the mandates and myths of many groups. A nudist colony was certainly allowed to exist, so long as it didn’t hurt anyone who had no desire to be part of the cult.

If I don’t like something in America, I can protest with other likeminded souls. We are protected by the First Amendment as well: “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Although peaceful protest can escalate into property damage, disruptive melees and sometimes bodily harm, we still have the right to protest and petition for what we believe is right. For example, I don’t want my tax dollars to be handed over to dogmatic and religious institutions that suspend the Bible over my head.

Here in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis cares only about the power he derives from his “base,” whatever that is. He takes no advice from liberals, libertarians or librarians. If banning a book will get him a vote, he’ll do it. If he can bend a law or voting district to get reelected, he’ll do it. He never thinks about the millions of people who don’t agree with him, so there was no surprise when he took over the board of the New College of Florida, the state’s public liberal arts college. He’s now moving it toward becoming an academically rigorous but religious institution. This was part of his quest to prove to the far-RIGHT he is one of them. You can see the story here.

I believe that a constitutional scholar could argue that the actions of DeSantis are in violation of the US Constitution. By turning over the management of this state-funded higher education institution to religious zealots from Hillsdale College in Michigan, state taxpayer dollars will be used to convert the liberal arts school to a religious institution. In the end, the New College of Florida will be destroyed and get absorbed into the state’s educational myopic vision of one man. If they disagree with you, eliminate them.

The deity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Pastafarianism

Everyone and anyone should be free to believe what they want and worship any God or bowl of pasta they want, but please don’t justify taking my money to build what you envision as a Judeo-Christian notion and nation. We are best when we allow people to be free, productive and focused on important things.

What makes me most angry is those people who say their mission is a more moral and focused educational system, but they are taking it by force and misinformation. Below you’ll see a letter I wrote to Hillsdale College after receiving a letter asking for contributions. In my estimation, they are nothing less than outside agitators and 21st Century carpetbaggers wanting to get rich on large lies and heresy. They want you to believe what they believe and they will do anything they can to rope you in you. Be careful.

LETTER TO HILLSDALE COLLEGE

First, thank you for the copy of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States of America. I give them out to friends and neighbors who don’t quite understand what was declared and enshrined there.

Next, I would be remiss if I didn’t speak up and express my feelings and thoughts about your school and solicitation at this time.

Your opening pitch is false. You have no idea what the majority of democratically inspired citizens believe about America and the educational system.

Fact #1: Critical Race Theory, as developed and described by Derrick Bell and then studied by many experts over the years, has never been taught in public schools in America. Institutions, organizations and politicians, like yourself, are responsible for perpetuating this myth. If only you would take the time to read, study and understand what Mr. Bell was saying, you might see that passing laws and policies against “critical race studies” proves Bell was right. White lawmakers have consciously, or subconsciously, moved forward to construct laws that thwart the rights of minorities. What would Jesus say?

Fact #2: The US Constitution, as originally written, codified slavery and kept women out of the political process by prohibiting them from voting. We should teach this in our schools and, as your pitch indicates, you want to bring the document and its power into the classroom. Remember, only white men who were landowners could vote in this country and slavery was lawful for more than a century. As someone whose kin came to the Americas in the late 1600s, I am not proud of them owning slaves and fully recognize that FREE LABOR made this country great.

Fact #3: Religion and religious institutions like yours have been hijacked by FAR-RIGHT zealots and political operatives who want you to help them raise money and corral voters. You are corrupting the mission of Jesus and John the Baptist by pitting humans against other humans. You are the dividing force making it harder to discuss fundamental issues in America. You have cast a net over education, religion, poverty, gay rights, marriage rights, and even science itself. The separation between church and state was one of the reasons millions of people came to this land in the first place. It’s time for you to release the non-religious parts of your quest for power back into the pond of diversity that is the United States.

Your request for money is based on the fact that Hillsdale receives no federal educational funds. This is true because your institution has been accused of discrimination. Your marketing blatantly claims a desire to end diversity. Really? Again, what would Jesus say?

Please remove my name from your database and please stop bothering Floridians. A majority of the people here in Sarasota who really care about education are frustrated and infuriated by the hostile takeover of the New College of Florida. Your goal to convert the school to a dogmatic front for your political aspirations is a sin.

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FEAR OF FLYING

How to deal with dissent in the age of disinformation

Despite a fear of coming off as contrary or annoying, I must say that my default position is skepticism. You see, I’m inclined to question, and sometimes strongly doubt, accepted opinions.

Most of my friends were quite puzzled when I developed a fear of flying in the mid-1970s. My illogical dread began when I became obsessed with media coverage of several major air crashes at that time.

One of my friends, a true avionics enthusiast, took me by the hand and began a deprogramming process. We would meet for breakfast then go to the local airport observation deck to watch airplanes taking off and landing. Richard would point and mockingly say, “There, see that one? Didn’t crash!” He would do this routinely while interjecting his vast knowledge of aviation and how jet airplanes actually worked. The day finally came when he pointed out yet another plane that didn’t nosedive into the earth, and we both broke out in laughter.

I never forgot how much my friend helped me as this recovered-fear-of-flying human moved through life. Over the course of my more than fifty-year career, I flew millions of miles and was enrolled in numerous frequent flyer programs. My journey implanted a couple of points in my brain. One, never use a single incident or an anecdote to form an indelible conclusion, and two, without knowledge, facts and comprehension, human intellectual growth becomes stunted.

A racist who doesn’t know what racism means will never be able to cure their malady if and until they come to an understanding of what racism actually is. I remember learning the origin of the term “mulato” was a reference to a mule, the offspring of a horse and donkey. I then immediately deleted the word from my vocabulary, feeling embarrassed by my lack of realization.

Being diagnosed with attention deficit disorder in the mid-1990s, I was appalled when my personal physician told me, “You’re much too successful to have ADD.” He was wrong, and his lack of skill in identifying this simple ailment was astounding. I internally diagnosed my condition because all the data points lined up and confirmed the truth. With treatment, I have become more linear, more productive and decidedly happier.

Occasionally, I have faced someone who said ADD was a “made up thing” or an “excuse” for not working hard. I bristled, but with a calm voice and gentle smile began putting them to the test by asking if they knew the name of that spaced out sensation one encounters after a long airplane flight, “You know, that strange feeling when finding yourself in the grocery store but unable to remember why you are there?” They would chuckle and explain, “Oh, sure, that’s jet lag.”

I would thank them, then continue, “What about that peculiar feeling or having “been there before,” and not just the place but the circumstances of the situation?” Their answer came quickly, “Well, that’s déjà vu. Everyone experiences that.” And then I would say, “But it’s just a made-up thing, right?”

Once I nudged them into a defensive posture, I explained that ADD is a medical condition, primarily caused by a lack of sufficient dopamine in the frontal lobes. To be clear, jetlag and déjà vu have nothing to do with ADD, but prodding my listener to connect the dots of brain activity helped them understand their pronouncements were less than scientific or logical. Most experts believe the feeling you’ve been here before happens when there’s a bit of a miscommunication between two parts of the brain and that jetlag is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder caused by pushing the internal clock off schedule. Just observe what happens with people during a one-hour time change in spring and fall.

There’s a divide in our country based on a notion that no fact is secure. Sure, things change over time, but an openness that more data might require reversing or modifying one’s behavior is needed lest we sentence ourselves to a life of misery. I overheard a restaurant conversation where a man stated his reaction to a Covid-19 booster shot made him feel badly for a day. He said, “I will never get another shot. I don’t trust anything the CDC says.” Okay, that was one person, but I suspect he will vote for the political candidate who holds that same opinion, lacking any comprehension he would be more protected with the vaccine. If his doctor told him he has stage two cancer, would he walk out saying, “I don’t believe you,” and go home to await the third and fourth stages?

Science is not a one-night stand but rather a meaningful and ongoing relationship based on trust and truth. The more a loudmouth blowhard seasons an event with misconceptions, misinformation or disinformation, truth and trust become the victims. If a respected friend tells you that the CIA participated in the JFK assassination, it’s important that you examine and research the notion. When a person completely falls for a half-baked theory spouted by a TV talking head without any research, vetting or fact-checking, they are letting someone else program their brain. Is that a real thing? Surely.

One of the best pieces on the subject appeared in an article: The Social Dynamics of Conspiracy Rumors: From Satanic Panic to QAnon in Skeptical Inquirer magazine. The gist of that piece was use of the word “theory” after the word “conspiracy” should be eradicated forever. The word “theory” is simply wrong in that context. It’s not a theory, it’s a damn rumor. The term conspiracy rumor imparts less gravitas and more puffery.

By its very nature, a pre-conceived notion is an opinion formed without adequate evidence. We have all heard and used the phrase, “Well, that’s your opinion.” If using it ends a discussion and allows you to keep a friend, good for you, but if pushback makes the discussion escalate to an eruption, then the outcome was certainly not positive. It would be even worse to slam the door with, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” In July of 2021, when Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke those words to Senator Rand Paul, nothing was accomplished. Rand continued with his vitriolic, preconceived notions and millions of people refused the vaccine. Some of them died.

With mounting distrust of science, political manipulation of our educational systems and proclamations about everything being broken administered to millions by morally empty politicians, what can a reasoned thinker do to make the world better? You can either teach, talk to the crazy people, or leave the grid and turn off the TV.

I remember one of my kids being nervous about her first unaccompanied airplane flight. I told her, “You know, they don’t usually crash.” I’m sure my sarcasm didn’t help at all, and in hindsight I should have said, “They hardly ever crash.” Some suggest the odds of being in a plane crash are about one in eleven million. When the Powerball jackpot was over a billion dollars, it was said the odds of winning were one in 292.2 million. So, life imposes gambles, both bad and good.

Some celebrities claimed to have done research and decided not to get the Covid-19 shot. When probed about their information, they cited a whacko television talk show host or a website featuring lunatics-against-science. When asked if the 2020 election was rigged and the results invalid, a significant percentage of Americas said that is true, even though there are tons of data and documents to dispute that conspiracy rumor. How can we attain truth and trust again?

Most who fear flying will not make the effort to visit the airport for days on end to understand the vast number of verifiable data points proving planes rarely crash. Those who believe in the so-called deep state are ignoring that it is only real to the extent they embrace it. Once the poison of fixed position thinking takes ahold, the only path toward true liberation is the vaccine of truth. And you will probably need boosters along the way.

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NORMAL WINS

Guest Post from Jon Sinton:

The “Red Wave” turned out to be a puddle as normal overcame wretched, and Americans voted against the politics of grievance, lies, and conspiracy theories.

1.     The Senate remains in Democratic hands while the House is still too close to call [since publication, the Republicans won the House]

2.     The “Red Wave” that was supposed to sweep election deniers and fascist-adjacent anti-majority candidates into office were themselves swept into history’s dustbin;

3.     “Predictive” polling is wrong again.

Exit polls, which are definitively the only polls that matter, showed that while 20% of midterm voters supported ridiculous and repeatedly disproven election-denying lies and conspiracy theories, 80% of Americans aren’t conspiracy theorists, voted for normal candidates, are normal themselves, and demand normalcy from those we entrust to govern us.

Polls preceding the election said the economy was all that mattered; exit polls said different. Abortion and democracy, which seemed like such moving issues in the summer, had supposedly flamed out and taken a back seat to inflation. But the polls tuned out not to be predictive. As Karl Rove said on Fox News on Election Night, “Polling is broken. Let’s not kid ourselves. We had a golden era of polling when we all had landlines and we answered them. Now, anybody here got a landline?”

Predictive Polling is a gigantic waste of time and money. I spent a long time in the consumer research business performing studies for radio and television. It started out easy: you call people at random, seeking the right age/gender/socioeconomic combination. You pay them a small sum to participate in a “qualitative” focus group. (Qualitative research is where the opinions of a few respondents are extrapolated to reflect the opinions of society at large. To backstop focus groups, you also mount large, statistically valid, “quantitative” studies.)

By the early Nineties, as wireless phones became ubiquitous, finding qualified respondents for both types of research got harder. We upped the incentives, and that worked for a few years. But once the smartphone came along, people cut their landline service and became really hard to find. The real killer, though, was the fact we were running into a ton of “qualified refusals”—people who were the right demographic mix but hung up as soon as they knew they were being polled. As David Letterman used to joke, “If you’ve ever been poled, you know how painful that can be.”

Dwight Douglas, a retired political advertising analyst for Media Monitors, told me: “Most pundits overstate polls and underestimate the electorate.” Douglas also has thoughts on why polling has gone off the rails, “Viciousness and vitriol have ruined political research. [Plus,] the theory that a person says one thing on the phone—sometimes just to get off the phone—might be opposite from their purchasing or voting decision, is a valid supposition…Post-election research carries much more value than pollster predictions. After an election…you can ask, who did you vote for and why.” That’s where sentiment toward policy direction is best found.

The smartphone phenomenon meant that pollsters totally missed the youngest voters, who showed up for democracy and choice. John Dick, the CEO of CivicScience, today’s Bible of consumer research, said: “Gen Z made its presence known in a big way. I’ve told you repeatedly they’re going to save the world and now they’re strapping on their capes. If you aren’t laser-focused on understanding what makes today’s teens and young adults tick, let me know so I can short your stock.”

People love to talk; they love to make predictions based on their own desires, a phenomenon known as “confirmation bias.” Subject matter expertise is of course optional. Cal and UCLA Professor Scott Galloway put it this way, “Our brains make it easy for our ambition to exceed our ability: The Dunning-Kruger effect [section4.lt.acemlna.com] describes a demonstrated cognitive weakness, that the less we know about something, the more we overestimate our knowledge. That’s why stupid people, and people who make great cars and then buy media companies, are so dangerous.” (Apparently no one can resist deriding Elon Musk, who, in fairness, does make a pretty easy target.)

Right or mostly wrong, they never stop. Today, Morning Consult is revealing a poll that says Donald Trump would garner less than half of Republican primary votes if a vote was held today. That’s down from 57% in August. I’m not sure it’s believable or even relevant.

Reality TV got the Former Guy elected. “Apprentice” fans thought him to be a master of the business universe. He isn’t, and never was. What he was, was a TV star in a scripted drama that paraded as an unscripted drama. That’s the dirty little secret of Reality TV.

Meanwhile, he fights on, blaming pollsters and everyone but himself for his dangerous and silly slate of now-repudiated candidates. He hasn’t quite realized his need to call the Leg Warehouse, since he doesn’t have one to stand on.

©2022 Jon Sinton

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PROBLEM FOR THE PARTY

Trump Running, Major Challenge

Last night, Donald John Trump announced he has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Committee to run for president in 2024. It wasn’t much of a surprise; it was almost as if Trump were trying to beat some mysterious deadline. This will be his third race, and his move might have less to do with running for office and more to do with having a stay-out-of-jail card. He’s being naïve if he genuinely believes that running for president will provide inoculation against indictment. It’s just another lie he perpetrates and believes.

Now before we get into the minutiae of media manipulation and maniacal mental meanderings, let’s take a walk down history lane for a brief lesson in ego and politics.

In 1901, President William McKinley made a trip to the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, where the new technology of an X-ray machine was demonstrated. Something horrible happened there. An anarchist shot the 25th president. After eight days in bed with his wounds, McKinley passed away because doctors were unable to remove the bullet. Some thought the new X-ray device could help surgeons seek the slug, but the machine’s inventors warned that a piece of metal exposed to X-rays would have a detrimental effect on the patient, so they did not use it. But wait, the story gets better.

McKinley

Some corrupt New York politicians and certain other elements of the political machinery hated Teddy Rosevelt, so they pushed him into the VP slot during McKinley’s second run. Well, McKinley won the election but lost horribly in Buffalo, therefore the crooked powerbrokers now had Theodore Rosevelt as the 26th President. They had gambled and lost.

Teddy Roosevelt served out McKinley’s second term (which only lasted one month due to death), but when running for reelection he said that, if elected, he would serve no more than one term. After winning reelection, Roosevelt began to regret his disclaimer. Nonetheless, he remained true to his word, and after completing his first elected term he left the office. Another Republican, William Taft, became president in 1909.

Roosevelt went off to explore the world and years after being away he returned to New York where the city threw him an outrageous welcome and parade. Teddy’s ego was ignited and he decided to challenge his buddy William Taft and run for president again. The fight went all the way to the Republican National Convention, where the egotistical Roosevelt lost the party’s nomination. In anger, Teddy marched out of the hall, got up on a flatbed truck and announced to the adoring press that he was forming a third political party, the Bull Moose Party.

What Teddy did to his own party and to his former friend Taft was unsightly and undignified. With a third party in the 1912 election, Roosevelt and incumbent William Taft each garnered roughly 25 percent of the popular vote. Princeton University President Woodrow Wilson won 42 percent of the vote to become the 28th US President.

Wilson was an unhealthy, bigoted racist human who was also woefully unskilled in world affairs. His lack of attention after World War I and inability to push back during the Treaty of Versailles discussions plunged Germany into financial ruin, which gave birth to the Nazi movement. One might be tempted to blame Teddy Roosevelt for this, but it’s impossible to know what he or Taft would have done at Versailles.

I think it’s safe to say Teddy Roosevelt’s ego was bigger than anything we’ve seen until Donald Trump, who’s now at his Mar-a-Lago resort screeching how he wants to be president again. Curiously, with his declaration that he is running again he’s also admitting that he LOST in 2020. So, I guess the big lie is useful only for raising money, not for legal declarations. But there is a bigger problem here.

If the Republican National Committee is smart, which is a giant stretch, they will rid themselves of the leadership of Ronna Romney McDaniel who is a Trump sycophant and terrible political operative. Just look at the midterm results. As for Florida Senator Rick Scott trying to unseat Mitch McConnell as minority leader in the Senate, well that’s much like appointing the fox to the night security position at the hen house. Rick Scott was the person who talked about eliminating Social Security and pushed the lousy slate of Trump-picked midterm bozo candidates. How in any logical world is this man ready to lead anything? And of course in a secret vote, Scott lost to McConnell who must have lewd pictures of everyone in the Senate.

Now we arrive at the crux of the matter. Let’s say that in about five hundred days a bunch of people run against Trump for the Republican nomination. Sure, we’ll have debates, and the primaries in states like Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina and others that might deal Trump a blow “like we’ve never seen before.” Further, let’s speculate they have the “come to Jesus meeting’ and tell Donald he’s not the guy. Oh, Boy!

Should that happen, I’ll lay money on Trump’s narcissistic personality disorder erupting and leading him to form a third party to burn down those who don’t like him. The action of an angry little boy taking his ball and going home will cause death and destruction along the way that will take decades to fix. By making a third-party run, Trump will pave the way for a Democratic win, even it if were Kamala Harris. Mark my words.

Politics is not a predictable concept, as proven by the recent slate of research figures. It’s always a gamble. We have no way of knowing what a given candidate might do as president. In this case, however, Trump is the devil we know, and he’s clearly stated he will get back at anyone in his way, pardon all the January 6th insurrections and, once again, tear away at American democracy.

As the Trump 2024 flags and signs go up, let’s all remember that America hates a loser. If Donald Trump wants to be the Buffalo Bills of politics it’s fine with me, but in the off chance he becomes president again I might be looking for a new place to live. Trump has just caused major problems for the RNC and those who work there. Watch out, kiddos. If you don’t make him president, he will take your ball and go home.

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SOCIAL MEDIA MADNESS

What in the world have we created?

I love technology. It makes life easier and helps people accomplish more in less time. Social media, however, may not be good for everyone. The internet was designed to be a tamper-proof means of communication, capable of surviving wars and natural disasters, and it works. Even though Ian the hurricane killed the power for days in our Florida home, when the electricity powered back up all our emails, tweets, posts and pontifications were there waiting for us.

Once the internet was fully in place, the computer geeks morphed from specialized complexities tantamount to morse code and ham radio to a very usable platform for the everyday letters and graphics of technically unsophisticated users. E-mail was all we really needed, but the ability of one to broadcast their ideas to many soon followed. Once the world wide web was unveiled, we humans found thousands of ways to use it. One of the big drivers during the early days of the web was pornography. You see, there is always a light and dark side to every technology, think Manhattan Project. Yes, the invention of the atomic bomb ended a war but also unleashed the fear and threat of human annihilation.

In the beginning, internet “bulletin boards” connected users. Next, social media became a slicked up and simplified outgrowth of that technology, and once some people became infused with its ego, narcissism and psychological reinforcements, however, the tech became a drug. Sure, Google wasn’t social media, but it delivered a straightforward way to locate specifics in the vastness of internet information. Forty years ago, I said the internet provided two basic needs, finding things and selling things. Not much has changed.

One of the menacing aspects of platforms like Tik-Tok, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the rest is the instant gratification of launching whatever one has to say onto the world wide web. For the most part, that thrill is free to anyone in any country that hasn’t blocked the internet from its people. I misused the privilege of being a Tweeter and am now banned for life from that one. I have been put in Facebook jail more than once, and still don’t fully understand why they even care about anything I said. I must have pissed off another user, thus leading to my cancellation. Do I care? Well, yes, because I have always used social media less for socializing and more for promoting my books, web sites and opinions.

Operatives within Russia’s government eventually plowed their way into the threads and thoughts of US voters. These bots and bad guys demonized Hillary Clinton and got Donald Trump elected. I don’t have the desire, time or energy to debate this truth with you. If you don’t believe what I’ve just said then you are ill-informed, and if you are continuing the worship of the fat, false, orange prophet, you are a certified asshole.

Over time, social media companies became less communication platforms and more “publishers.” Under pressure from overreaching government goons and their own users, they began to censor their users. Oh, certainly for good reasons.

The platforms analyzed the traffic and figured out which were foreign influencer bots and who were pure humans. Then they decided to point out what they believed to be misinformation and turned down the demonic disinformation campaigns. Sadly, they were too late most of the time. Even after the social media platforms claimed to have “fixed things,” we still had mass shooters live streaming their deadly deeds. The social media companies were simply too big and stuffed with too much data, rendering them incapable of thwarting this activity. Most of the Facebook and Twitter accounts of the mass shooter lunatics are taken down only after their crimes have been committed, which is certainly not pro-active.

Elon Musk

Now, we have one of the richest guys in the world, with a hundred- million followers on Twitter deciding that “he and he alone” can fix what ails Twitter. To achieve this, he bought the company for $44 billion. Some experts say the day he took over Twitter Elon Musk lost $30 billion, yet Twitter is worth only $10 billion, and there aren’t enough people to fire or lay off to make a difference in Musk’s financial fiasco.

Lord Acton was the first person to say, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely,” and Elon Musk, like many humans having too much success, money and power, now believes his shit doesn’t stink. Well, he’s not always right, and what took place three days after his purchase of Twitter proves it.

Musk re-Tweeted a right-wing newspaper that claimed Paul Pelosi wasn’t attacked by a right-wing radical but received his skull fracture from a gay lover he brought home from a bar. Musk has since deleted that tweet, but really, it proves that without a firm, final filter Elon Musk will become Twitter’s number one problem. Ironically, his action removed any aura of him being an “arbiter of truth,” and if he wants Twitter to be a public forum of free and truthful speech, he should be banned from the platform immediately.

Just because someone has a lot of money doesn’t keep them from drawing graffiti on a bathroom wall. Yes, of course, “For a good time, call Elon,” but don’t hold your breath. He won’t answer your letters, take your calls or respond to any “common man.” I know, I’ve written him. Crickets…

It may sound like sour grapes because I was banned, but I believe that within three years Twitter will be gone. When Musk opens up the platform to all those exiled souls who had been sent away, we will all blow our wads telling him he’s full of shit. How will he manage it when he’s the target? He will ban us again. And as the advertisers leave because Elon allowed Trump to return to Twitter to tell us how fucked up the 2020 election was and how great he is, who will finance that overhead? I surely won’t.

This headline arrived even before the body cooled, “Twitter is planning to start charging $20 per month for verification.” I have no idea what that means, but if Elon thinks I will spend more than $200 a year for him to feel comfortable that I am not a bot, well, he can go jump in a river. Elon Musk is nothing but a rich-Republican, Putin-apologist. He doesn’t care about free speech, democracy or anyone other than himself. It’s all madness, and when he wakes up from his high-power stupor and tries to find some sucker to buy a depleted, demonic, dead bird, I wish him luck. Perhaps he needs to take a shut the fuck up pill and find ways to make better cars and rockets.

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THE ANSWER TO THE BORDER CRISIS

You might disagree with me

Let’s approach a subject with a clear mind and begin with two simple points. The first is America being an extremely popular place. Then there’s the notion that most problems, especially the difficult ones, are never solved by the most liked idea but only the best idea. As a starting point, let’s decide if we really have a “crisis.”

Let’s examine our record of letting people into our great land. There is an excellent article prepared and posted online by Princeton University you can see here. The report focuses on how changing immigration levels have affected the US economy and employment. Before 1920, immigration was mostly unrestricted and open. Sure, there were rules, and many were turned away, but the overall effort of building a nation was aided by the influx of people taking many of the hard labor jobs worked by slaves before the 1850s.

By 1920, the world was in turmoil because of a World War fought in Europe. America became uptight about foreigners and those who didn’t speak our language or look like us. According to the Princeton research, immigration fell from about a million people a year to 150,000. Let’s not forget the Chinese Exclusion Act that was passed by Congress in 1882. It provided an absolute ten-year ban on Chinese laborers wanting to immigrate to the United States and wasn’t rescinded until 1965. Yeah, look it up.

That brings us to the supposed “burden” at our southern border. It used to be mostly Mexicans coming through our “open” border, seeking employment or wanting to join up with family members living in the good old U.S. of A. Keep in mind that Mexicans are truly North Americans. Now, because of political turmoil in Central and South America, many people are making trips from their homelands to ours in search of opportunities and safety.

The latest immigration numbers are amazing, with a claim of six hundred thousand illegal aliens coming into the country last year and new numbers close to two million. Yes, this is a crisis, and it truly shows there is no immigration system at all. It’s a figment of someone’s imagination. I don’t want to go too far off the track, but I’ll insert a short story here.

I once lived in a very fine house in Atlanta, but it had a major problem of rain leaking into my basement every spring. After spending thousands of dollars trying to keep the water out, I finally found an expert who fixed the issue. He said, “Sooner or later water will find its way into your basement, so let it come in.” I looked at him like he was crazy and asked, “Okay, so what then?” He explained that when water comes in the best solution is making a way for it to get out. We dug a trench in the concrete foundation, a sunken river of sorts, which led the water to a drain on the low side of the house. The river was covered by a layer of concrete and we rebuilt the basement with no further flooding. Now what does this have to do with immigration?

There is always a price tag on a solution. I propose we let immigrants in, but we make the cost of entry high enough that we can deter some, while using the new funds to beef up courts, border agents and building a wall where necessary. My idea is each family of four or less would have to cough up $20,000. The large revenue stream could be used to pay for a better immigration program as well as job training, education, housing and the like. We obviously need more workers, not fewer, so it’s a win–win. My plan would also require immigrants to learn English.

What do we do with those who don’t pay the fee and come in anyway? Well, we do what we do now, send them back. We just can’t keep up with the numbers.

Some might react to this proposal as beneath us and our spirit of “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” Even in the non-restricted period before 1920, a potential US immigrant wouldn’t get in if they failed a basic IQ test. They were also turned away if they were physically unable to work or if they didn’t have a family or friend who would supply lodging.

Some might argue this will promote corruption, but we seem to have corruption in just about everything we do. Just this week some jerks stole millions of meals for school kids during the Covid pandemic. Maybe this wouldn’t happen so often If we had smarter people running our programs. We must also root out the bad guys with guns wanting a life of crime in America.

Martha’s Vineyard

There is a great line in the conclusion of the Princeton study, “…our research suggests the economic effects of restricting immigration are not so straightforward. While lost immigrant workers can be replaced by new workers (for example through outsourcing), they can also be replaced by new capital (for example through automation), which in turn might also replace U.S.-born workers.” That guy who owns the factory and sees an opportunity to lower his workforce with automation, does as much damage to US workers as immigration. That big boss who pays people in Vietnam to make his products, does more damage to our workers than a few million immigrants. When every business has a sign saying NOW HIRING, we need more workers, not less.

I say let the water in, but channel it to productive use, and make sure those managing the plan understand why people want to come to America. We are still that land of opportunity, but it will be beneficial if we can help those oppressive countries causing immigration influx to become more democratic and stable. But we must be careful and consider the possibility of unintended consequences. Sometimes our “fixing” another country just kills a bunch of people, wastes lots of money and lives and in the end, the place is no better. Just look at Afghanistan and Iraq.

And should you think my idea is crazy, well, we haven’t tried it. it just might work.

 

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TOO BUSY RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT

The Games People Play

With all that is happening in the world and at home, why do we need a fraternity brother politician wasting our money on stunts and pranks that help no one? While tons of pollution got dumped into Florida waterways, the state’s governor was on TV talking about how the US President wasn’t doing his job! Ron DeSantis wasted $615,000 on airmailing migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. WHY? Just think about how many school meals $615,000 could have purchased for our kids. I am sick and tired of this self-righteous leader prancing around for a sound bite, when the demanding work of compromising, getting things done and improving the state is pushed aside for fifteen-seconds of fame. DeSantis is EXACTLY what is wrong with America. He’s a smart man misusing his intellect trying to convince some people that he alone can fix things.

BIG MOUTH LOSER

Only a whole family can fix a problem, not a demigod. It was amazing how the community of Martha’s Vineyard reacted and acted when presented with that challenge. They brought clothing, food and love to the matter, and people who came here for a better life believe they made the right choice. They are the champions, not our short-sighted governor who told us on TV he was sending the migrants to greener pastures. They aren’t livestock, Mr. DeSantis; they are people.

Governor Ron is pledging to spend all of the two million dollars he personally put in the budget to sky bus immigrants thinking he can score points with the people who hate them. Doesn’t he realize this was done during the Jim Crow era when southern racist governors wanted to muster up some white sheet support? Probably not, he went to Yale, not Grambling.

It’s totally ridiculous that the person running a state with a population of twenty-one million citizens thinks he’s solving a problem by airlifting fifty people to one of the most beautiful areas of the country. Wait until the South American TV news channels show how well they were received — free food, free clothing and so kindly taken care of. It’s a travel ad.

DeSantis obviously believes it’s more important for him to go viral than help the citizens of the state he governs. Go home, Ronald, and ask your mother to wash your large basket of dirty laundry!


I DON’T LIKE THE TRUMP FAMILY

Let me tell you why

I am a gigantic news junky. You could say I am a crash test dummy for political abuse and distrust. My phone is subscribed to every news flash notification I can find, and when a news story breaks, it vibrates off the table. Perhaps someday I will figure out why I do this to myself, but for now let’s talk about my least favorite subject, Donald Trump and his terrible family.

I have never liked Donald John Trump, without a single doubt. From the combover, to the phony smile, to the poor use of makeup, to the fake existence as a human being, I’m not a fan! Long before he ran for president, he’s been the kind of person who makes America look parsimonious, petty and paltry. Since Trump became President and the aftermath of the dumpster fire where he couldn’t admit he lost an election, I have an unhealthy disregard for the man.

Nice Racket

Today, I’ll focus on his clown car of a family, who believes all the riches of the world should be laid upon a silver platter before them. Donald Trump has never felt any empathy for human beings outside of his DNA, but even within his familial circle he picks winners and losers. In the Donald’s mind Tiffany is a loser because she isn’t the phony, silicon-injected princess Ivanka Trump has become at the hands of her fawning father.

I don’t like complainers, and all the Trump men use the tools of ridicule and debasement to argue against those with whom they disagree. As for the women, they come in two boxes. One, the always loyal, former model, trophy wife, Melania. The other poses as intellectually capable, but her lower-octave, vocal fry attempt at sophistication is knee-capped by the worthless babble that drips out of her pie hole — yes, Ivanka. The disrespect of burying the kids’ mom Ivana on a golf course, shows they are despicable bottom feeders, floating turds in the punchbowl.

My main gripe is their constant attempts to convince us things are bad. Their negativity attempts to pull others down with them. Their narcissism shields them from public criticism, yet deep inside they have been groomed to need so much attention and love they are unbearable as people.

I am pissed off that the FBI had to raid his Mar-a-Lago estate and beach club. Why? Because of all the airtime Trump has acquired to bullshit about his warped view of the entire incident. Right after he was elected president, I attended a banquet for my local botanical gardens. I was seated next to lovely lady who was dating a lawyer friend of mine. This woman was not only wealthy, but delightful in every way. While conversing she asked, “What do you think of our new President?” I smiled, “He’s an idiot.” She balked, “No he’s not,” and that changed our relationship. I never mention politics with her and wonder why a highly educated, well-traveled, well to do and articulate person would think Trump was anything other than a silly buffoon of a con man.

I often hear people say, “I like Donald Trump because he tells it like it is.” To that I say, “He’s a liar. He never tells it like it is!” Those who think the opposite don’t read, don’t know or don’t care about the truth at all. I don’t think less of those in his rapture, but I do feel sorry for them. Think about all those Germans who stood by and watched Hitler kill millions of Jews. Yes, the holocaust is worse than an insurrection, but that whole mess in Germany was caused by one person who decided they were above law and order.

Think about all those Republican Representatives and Senators who still believe Trump was a good president. When Trump gets pissed off at anyone in power, he accuses them of dividing the country, this coming from the king of all dividers. Polarity has always existed, but Donald Trump has taken it to an extreme. There’s a guy in my neighborhood with a huge Blue Lives Matter sticker on his car who claims the FBI and DOJ are corrupt and should be defunded. So, if you go to your bank and all your money is gone and there is no FBI or DOJ, who are you going to call? I am sure the answer is not Ghostbusters.

I’ll bottom-line it. I dislike families who think they are better than others. I don’t like the notion of one person being better than another, especially when that specialness is based on fraud, lies and hate. The Trumps abhor anyone who gets in their way. Mothers and fathers, all the way back to the days of the Drumpf’s, have taught they are better than you and me. They are grifters full of boast and deception who don’t deserve most of what they have. Prison for Donald, well, okay if that is what you want, but I would be satisfied if every current member of the Trump family would be banned from running for any public office. Yes, the sins of the father should prevent his offspring from ever being in charge of anything.

But then again, maybe a little prison time will satisfy me, especially the photo op.

 

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THE WAR ON THE POOR

A classless society is beyond reach

One lesson in the teachings of a holy man two-thousand years ago truly stuck. Here it is, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12). You can call it the “golden rule” or you can call it the overarching philosophy of Christianity, but I call it freedom to pursue happiness, peace and self-esteem.

Let me place this in a modern perspective. I would never tell the Governor of Florida what he can or cannot do in his bedroom, and I certainly don’t want him to restrict my actions or freedom of speech based on his personal dogma, but that’s exactly what he does. As an older, retired person who is financially comfortable, this is more philosophical than a face-to-face fight, but for many poor or disadvantaged people this is the large boot on the neck that Justice Ginsberg talked about, a metaphor for control through laws and proclamation.

Let’s consider this first bit of reality, Roe vs. Wade. You can talk about what is or isn’t moral or what was decided rightly or wrongly, but by eliminating convenient and legal family planning you are pushing poor people of all color back into a box of arrested development. When a woman cares for one or more children, she necessarily must give up other things. If the child is unwanted because of rape, incest or a dominate male who was more interested in sex than support, she will likely enter the unending circle of multiple jobs, lack of money, and in some cases, lack of supervision of those she brought into the world. How can any sane democracy allow their government to dictate such a personal decision? When the laws of the land impose a ceiling on economic and upward mobility, it’s simply war on the poor.

We would rather shovel up the sleeping homeless and dump them in a camp outside of town than confront the problem of how they got there in the first place. It’s totally amazing to me that in the richest country in the world we have many families without food, and what some experts believe is close to half a million homeless people. How can we let this happen and still claim to be a moral nation? The reality that we throw out 80% of the food grown or processed, is unforgiveable.

Now, there is another virus going through the land based on the stupid concept that college is too expensive and not necessary to be successful, but I find it annoying that people put down education. Oh, I get it, some neo-conservative and libertarians claim college educators with tenure are there to groom our precious offspring and lure them into a liberal, bullshit-laden, cancel-culture American cult, but I thought going to college made one smarter.

People with college educations live better and vote differently than those who wander around the capitalistic bullfight ring trying to spear a high-paying job. Sometimes they get “replaced” by more educated and smarter people, then they walk around with a chip on their shoulder labeled “disenfranchised.” College is hard, and the discipline to get to the promised land comes with a judgement of who you are compared with others your age. When you get booted out for goofing off, that’s on you. If you leave early because you have a huge business dream, like Mark Zuckerberg, you might find yourself not driving a plush car when the marketplace rejects your idea. Hey, college is a fantastic way to find out what you might have in the brain of yours.

The real driver here is the cost of education. There is a general resentment that after you did the work you must constantly excel to pay off the debt. Bill Maher, who tells jokes and has stood out in his craft, berates college because of what they have become not what they offer. A person highly gifted in a certain discipline, software coding for example, can go places without an education, but working in an advanced science like nuclear engineering requires a college education.

But let’s get back to the war on the poor. We know that minorities and less advantaged people in America have a harder time qualifying, staying in and graduating from school. Of course, highly valued student athletes don’t need a piece of paper because of their gift, but the number of those lucky ones is so small we shouldn’t even consider their stories. The focus should be placed on the people who spent their whole life training, working and exercising but didn’t make a professional league. They may have enjoyed sixteen exciting Saturdays in their college life, but then… nothing. And the question arises, what are they qualified to do? There aren’t that many professional sports organizations in other countries to take all these former college “stars.”

Conservatives rail against socialism but liberals don’t have an answer, a plan or the will to pass Bernie Sanders’ proposal of free college for everyone. Okay, but Bernie, college is not for everyone. Its very nature limits access to those who qualify, but then, many desks, dormitory rooms and books are held by those so-called “legacies,” the offspring of the parents and grandparents who attended the same school. It’s a hierarchy that defies logic, but those older family members produce large endowments and cash flow and we look the other way when a C-student takes the place of an A-minority with no athletic prowess. And so, the beat goes on.

Attending college will neither lower crime nor produce an idyllic, equal and happy society, but it will make people smarter. Sadly, the lower percentage of college students these days will likely bring us more Marjorie Taylor Greenes. By the way, she attended a university and look what happened. She has a business degree from the University of Georgia, a great school, that produced a total idiot. How did she even graduate?

The poor are being pressed to the sidewalks of America by a new class of bigots, fools and racists. Those who fight against affordable housing are waging war with the poor. Those who want a total ban on abortion are declaring war on women, particularly poor women. And those who put down college education, are myopic misfits. Why the war on science, education and the poor? We quoted Jesus to start this post, and it’s clear that many Republicans in Congress don’t give a shit about poor people; or even obeying the “golden rule.” And I’ll go so far to say they are the money changers. They are changing your money into big houses they give to their children.

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