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Top Domestic Priorities

Posted by Howard Denson on September 30, 2017 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

By HOWARD DENSON


.Politics very much aside, folks need to decide what the top priorities are for Americans. A sane health system belongs on the list, but it’s not the top priority for some regions. What is? Let’s look at what is causing American homes, businesses, and families to suffer the most.

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1. Wild fires in the West that devour forests and homes.

2. Tornadoes that sweep across so many states.

3. Floods that wipe out homes, businesses, and towns.

4. Hurricanes that can level entire states or territories.

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Each disaster above can destroy homes or render structures uninhabitable. We can debate the causes (e.g., climate change) and other matters, but the main problem is that families wind up without any homes, electricity, or fresh water.

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Regardless of the disasters, we find a common thread. So many of these homes are mobile or modular homes, all unintentionally designed to be completely destroyed in five to twenty minutes.

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Remedy No. 1, therefore, is for insurance companies and the government to require homes to be as fire resistant as possible. That probably will involve more use of concrete, stone, and brick and perhaps underground or into-incline designs. (Engineers would iron out the fine details.)

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Remedy No. 2 is for engineers to study wind resistance and for authorities to mandate the recommended qualities to be built into homes. These could include a fortified safe room, where the family could shelter during storms. Traditional roofs can be ripped lose or destroyed enough to ruin the contents and harm the occupants. Engineers can determine what type of curved roof (and edges) will work best.

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Remedy No. 3 deals with water, and some North Florida homes survived the recent floods because they have been built on stilts. The family gets to enjoy riverfront property most of the year and have a home to which they may return to normal after the storm. Yes, they have also been imprisoned in those homes when waters rose to within two or three feet of the ground floor, but they didn’t have to tear out wallboard, carpeting, and insulation that had been soaked. Okay, maybe they have to shout, “Would you damned water moccasins get the hell out of our house?”

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In areas where floods and tornadoes overlap, the use of stilts may switch the vulnerability from floods to wind damage. Best solution may be to prevent homes and businesses being built in those specific locations.

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Today’s range of mobile/modular homes simply means in hurricane-vulnerable states emergency housing will need to be made available for each resident of the vulnerable structures. The state affected can do that once, but the state ought to learn a lesson: Require extensive redesigns of such constructions, and, if they can’t be redesigned, forbid their construction.

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Many like the mantra: “The government should stay out of people’s business.” Let people build what they want to, or can afford to, build. That can be an admirable philosophy, except when their structures have been destroyed and the government is required to bail them out. It would make fiscal sense to be like the third little piggy and build a structure that has a decent chance to survive a storm or fire.

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With much of South Florida, Houston, and then Puerto Rico without power, it is also time to see what can be avoided by building saner.

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One suggestion is to utilize more solar (and wind) power. If a house can generate its own power, a family has a better chance of survival. Sufficient power and backup batteries can enable a family to keep its food preserved. Depending on the capacity of self-generating systems, the family may be able to run the fridge, a microwave, a water heater, etc. If the power is limited, the family can unplug the fridge to run one of the other appliances long enough to nuke a meal.

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People suffer when trees fall on electric and telephone lines, not to mention their houses. Lines don’t have to be on poles. They can be buried, although flood conditions may still affect them.

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Power companies have been hostile to solar power and, in Florida, have tried to make solar power usage as constrained as possible. They are as short-sighted as the anvil manufacturer trying to prevent automotive shops from opening and ruining their horseshoe trade. Power companies instead should embrace solar panels and the like, perhaps installing them for their customers, charging to maintain them (to make sure they can withstand winds).

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For houses that can fare better by using stilts, companies can help to retrograde structures or even build systems that can be automatically generated to raise the structure when disaster looms.

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What can Uncle Sam do to help Americans? An alt-righter might simply argue this: Do nothing. Let people take care of themselves. That view lacks compassion and doesn’t understand that, if you infuriate citizens, they will take revenge at the next election.

Politicians love to use the term “czar,” so the Departments of the Interior, Commerce, and Defense could devised permanent floating disaster armadas. It would begin with any aircraft carriers that may be in mothballs. Each AC has been called “a floating city” with a crew in the thousands. It would be a simple matter to convert each into a rescue city. Where would they be based? Charleston, Miami, New Orleans, Houston, and Guantanamo. One ship is apt to be quite close to a landfall area, and others could be there speedily enough.

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The ships would not need extensive crews to maintain jets, so these could be replaced with medics, culinary staff, and the other businesses and services offered in a small city.

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Smaller vessels could also be utilized, if only for, say, communications or power facilities.

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Chats involving Star Trek nerds (yes, I’m one) would feature extensive use of holographic/transporter technology. In that future, a homeowner would buy a device containing enough matter to construct his or her new home. The device is placed at a location, and the homeowner uses a remote to trigger the device. What materializes is a (pick yours) cabin, a Cape Cod home, etc. If you tire of your Cape Cod, you press buttons and it transforms into a get-away home. If you tire of the wall interiors, you press buttons and the colors change or the rooms give a different configuration so that Princess can finally have her own room.

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And if a Cat 5 storm is hours away, you press a button, and the structure is reconfigured to a water-proof, wind-proof, fire-proof safe house.

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The Storm Armada is within our grasp now. My Trek vision will have to wait a few months or centuries.

--30-- 

The "Honk, Honk, Hey" Parable

Posted by Howard Denson on August 24, 2017 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)

By HOWARD DENSON

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Everyone expected cars and trucks to go “honk, honk,” but things changed when they started calling “hey, Bubba . . . hey there, gal.”

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In this Highly Industrial Society, residents had been able to communicate with their refrigerators, stoves, central heating and cooling units, and motorized vehicles. Cars retained information about the daily rituals of their owners and, in freezing weather, could turn on the engine and let the car warm up before heading off to work. In the August heat of the Deep South, the cars knew to start the engines and let the AC cool down the interiors.

The vehicles had long been greeting the motorists and passengers: “How are you this lovely morning [or evening]? Shall I set the GPS for your work address?”

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One day, however, something happened, and everyone realized that the cars had developed artificial intelligence. Initially, cable TV capitalized on the enhancement by showing My Mother the Car and then rebooting the story with Donald Trump starring as a crotchety former president whose golf cart continually interrupts him to correct what he is saying about his golf scores.

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After some debate, it became evident that the vehicles not only had developed Artificial Intelligence, but they had also become sentient beings . . . with souls.

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One day, two Star Trek nerds set aside some pro bono time in their law office to file suit on behalf of Maggie Escalade, a Cadillac SUV who they argued needed to be recognized as a sentient life form. They would watch the New Testament Star Trek and get misty-eyed when Data was declared sentient.

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Lower courts were ruling that other sentient cars and trucks had souls and were entitled to be granted the right to vote. Thus was developed drive-through lanes at voting precincts. Vehicles whose radios were tuned to AM talk-radio tended to vote right wing, but those tuned to NPR leaned to the middle of the road to the left.

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Initially, political pundits worried that the mechanicals would vote in a bloc, but it quickly emerged that the Prius and Golf had different perspectives from SUVs and trucks. Some were one-issue voters (e.g., despising toll roads). Others were anarchic (e.g., wanting to drive on whichever side of the road they preferred at the moment).

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The U.S. Supreme Court endorsed the revolutionary positions with a ruling that did not include the votes of the anti-AI justices (whose vehicles, for some strange reason, refused to start and drive them to the Supreme Court Building on the day of the voting).

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A traffic jam developed in state and federal courtrooms. Some suits related to the demands of women in Spokane wanting to marry manly Ford F-150 trucks. In Southern states, teenaged boys and teenaged men all loved their pickups and hot rods, and each would have gladly married his vehicle, except for the double-barrel shotgun fury expected from the human significant others, Daisy or Bessie-Lou.

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The sentient vehicles and enlightened drivers and passengers all wanted the vehicles to be declared free, and public shamings occurred whenever a human insisted on flashing his ownership papers.

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Slag Maggot, a convicted wife-beater and certified public accountant, tried to circumvent the new court rulings and laws by removing the computerized circuits that contained the sentience. Rhonda Ram realized what he was trying to do and executed wheelies until he was thrown out and then partially run over, not killed but forever rendered unable to perform en pointe at the Grand Ol’ Ballet in Nashville.

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Mechanical partners paired with biologics, and, as happens in life, the country quickly saw divorces, separations, and abandonments appearing on the covers of supermarket tabloids. One lurid cover claimed “Tommy 4 dumped me because of my excess mileage.”

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Not to be outdone, Tommy Fourinthefloor retaliated by expressing the biologics’ frustration with his hit country song, “Alimony’s Bad But Truckimony’s Worser.” The bubbas burst into tears whenever familiar guitar licks opened for the mournful lyrics:

Rhonda Dodge Ram won’t take me to work,

Tells the world I’m only a jerk.

Boss won’t pay me when I don’t show up,

Tells me I’m nothing but a big truck-up.

Oh, Alimony’s bad, you got to believe me,

But Truckimony’s ten times worser.

I would explain it to you in much smoother words,

But, dang it, I’m no Johnny Mercer.

Ah, honk, honk . . . a honk, honk.


--30--

A Civil War Era Quiz

Posted by Howard Denson on August 17, 2017 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

By HOWARD DENSON

Let’s explore what you know about the Civil War. So much of the fall-out from the war is in the news today as we focus our energies on proposals to remove Confederate monuments and even the Jefferson Memorial (because he was a slave-owner). The latter, of course, means that we should also remove the Washington Monument and various tributes to James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, and others.

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1. When was the Civil War fought?

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Answer: 1861-1865

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2. Who fired the first shot in the war?

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Answer: The South, firing on Fort Sumter.

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3. What was the cause of the war?

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Answer: Slavery. For ages, Southerners have wanted to argue that they were really defending “our way of life,” etc. There was a major problem: Their way of life depended upon slavery.

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4. What speeded up the death of slavery?

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Answer: Secession. Once the Southern states were no longer voting in the U.S. Congress, they were not covered by the U.S. Constitution. It then became easy to approve amendments abolishing slavery. Southern states were afraid that, as the U.S. added more states, the “free” states could out-vote the slave states. If no secession had occurred, slavery might have lasted until 1880 or 1900.

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5. Why weren’t Jefferson Davis, Lee, and other CSA officials and military officers hanged for being traitors?

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Answer: Two reasons (at least). First, the U.S. Constitution did not forbid secession. (The Articles of Confederation said the union of states was for perpetuity, but that clause was not carried over to the U.S. Constitution.) Moreover, the Declaration of Independence opens with a call for the colonies to secede from the British Empire. A formal jury likely would not have been able to prove cases of treason. Second, after the bloodiest war in our history, the Lincoln, Johnson, and Grant administrations were focusing more on reconciliation. Wholesale hanging of ex-Confederates would have likely sparked massive retaliations and guerrilla warfare.

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6. Were African Americans treated better under slavery than after the Civil War?

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Answer: This is a value judgment, but in amoral dollars-and-cents terms slaves had value and needed to be kept healthy enough to work the land, etc. After the war, Jim Crow laws permitted widespread abuse, a neo-slavery, as blacks were arrested for spurious causes (e.g., vagrancy when going to the store). Sheriffs “rented” them out to plantation owners, who literally could starve and work them to death. If a chain-gang worker died, the plantation owner simply notified the sheriff to send a replacement.

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7. Was “abolitionist” a noble and heroic term before and during the Civil War?

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Answer: No, abolitionists were viewed as unsavory radicals (in part thanks to the actions of John Brown). In 1860, if Lincoln had run as an abolitionist, he probably would not have been elected.

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8. What did Lincoln and Grant have in common?

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Answer: Their wives’ families (the Todds and the Dents) were pro-slavery. Both men early on were strong opponents of slavery.

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9. Did African Americans fight for the Confederacy?

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Answer: Not officially. A “servant” to a CSA soldier might have gotten sucked into an occasional battle. Servants also tended horses and the like. When a CSA defeat was imminent, some Confederates suggested that slaves be enlisted and then given their freedom. However, other CSA’ers rejected the proposal because it would refute what they had been saying about the competence and abilities of African Americans. Southern blacks fought against the Confederacy in other ways. They acted as the eyes and ears of the Union when troops needed to know directions. They also were minimally productive instead of giving a 100 percent effort for the plantation class.

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10. Did free African Americans own slaves? Did they free their slaves?

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Answer: Some owned slaves, often members of their families. South Carolina did not permit slaves to be freed after 1819, while other Southern states permitted manumission but required the freed individuals to move out of state.

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11. Were Northern states friendlier to slaves and African Americans than Southern states?

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Answer: Not by much. Articles on the treatment of free blacks (or escaped slaves) show a definite hostility. Free states generally didn’t want them or, if they permitted them to settle, refused to permit them to vote, testify in trials, etc. (This section could go on and on.)

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12. Was the original Klan gentler than the KKK of the early 20th Century?

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Answer: No, the original Klan was largely made up of the plantation class. They tried to force newly freed slaves to stay on their respective plantations. They killed individuals who were too uppity. They murdered Reconstruction officials. When authorities tried to arrest them, they would provide joint alibis: They had been playing cards fifteen miles away.

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13. Was Reconstruction as awful as Southerners claimed?

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Answer: Not really. Reconstruction brought public education to the South, where the plantations had hired tutors for their sons and daughters. Blacks were running amok, raping white women, etc.—so the claim went. Records of the period don’t support that claim. The claim was that African Americans elected to various legislatures were carrying on like Rastus or Uncle Remus. In reality, the individuals were largely well educated for the time.

--30--

 

Evil begets evil

Posted by Howard Denson on August 16, 2017 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (0)

By HOWARD DENSON

Unfortunately, we Americans have never had much of a sense of history. We knock down buildings that have been around a little too long for our taste (which is minimal). We erect new buildings that have all the design aestheticism of airport terminals.

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This slapdash approach to life carries over into our sense of history, and, as the American Taliban asserts itself, we divide historical objects into two categories: those without sin and worthy of homage vs. those sinful images that are an abomination in the sight of the Almighty (except the Almighty doesn’t exist in their view, but they’ll provide the Omniscience anyway).

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When you visit London and get the quick tour-bus orientation, the tour guide will point to a building and say, “And right here is where King Charles was executed.” He stepped out of a window onto a platform that had been constructed for the occasion, and, when the axeman snicked off his head, the crowd groaned.

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The Brits remember that. If you are a royalist, it is a great tragedy. If you were a puritan then, it was probably a whack too much, but, for all of his faults, Oliver Cromwell brought forth many useful reforms. If nothing else, his political party reminded monarchs that they could lose their heads if they strayed too far.

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In Rome, they will point to a balcony on the third or fourth floor and say that’s where Mussolini harangued the crowd about how great Italian fascism would be. In the small village of Giulino di Mezzegra in northern Italy, you will find a marker for where Mussolini and his lady friend were hung like beeves after being executed in1945.

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In Paris, they point to where the notorious prison, the Bastille, was located. After the revolutionaries stormed the Bastille, they dismantled the structure, little realizing how much of a tourist attraction it could be. I don’t recall similar attention being paid to the sites where the guillotines were utilized as they carried out their plans of reducing the powerful by a head’s length . . . and later as they used the guillotines on their former comrades. It was whacking good fun and enabled us humans to do what we do best: destroy and kill.

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All of that, of course, brings us to the villains of 2017, the Confederacy, and the sanctified are joyously pulling down statues and huffing and puffing about how righteous we will become. We could focus on social inequality, pollution, financial and banking corruption, the infrastructure, and constructing a health care system that actually works, but, face it, that would take energy and commitment.

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Besides the long-dead Confederates, the sanctified rail against Evangelicals because they are allegedly 100 percent racist.

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They aren’t, of course. I’m uncomfortable around worshippers who want to wash my feet, talk in tongues, and especially handle snakes that rattle. Despite these characteristics, however, evangelicals are not evil.

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A modern American Talibanist will protest there is no such thing as evil. There is. Yes, indeed, there very much is evil.

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Evangelicals may have a few among them who want to don hoods or swastikas and attack those who attack statues or their own vision of what America should be. Yet, many, many more evangelicals simply worship in their, ah, enthusiastic way and obey the same amount of laws that you and I obey.

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Sometimes it’s a social prejudice. These are largely poorer people (“white trash, that’s what” ), and the socially superior sniff with unjustifiable disdain.

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The Roman Catholic Church has centuries of mistreatment of people. Even if we focus only on the 20th Century in the U.S., we see its hierarchy turned a blind eye to sexual abuse of the boys, and girls, of the church.

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The Anglican Church, the Church of England, had its islands of respectability, but still sat silent while massacres occurred in India, Ireland, etc.

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The bottom line is this: Evil begets evil.

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Although a victim of evil may in turn inflict evils upon his or her contemporaries, evil raises a banner to alert others to goosestep in imitation.

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The American Talibans like to post pictures of Ku Klux Klan members carrying torches . . . or Nazis having torches and bonfires of burning books behind them. A protest today is mere imitation of them.

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But evil begets evil, and the Middle Eastern terrorists are providing as much inspiration as the KKK or neo-Nazis. Let’s look at Mexico, where drug lords dominate regions as much as the warlords dominate Afghanistan. When the Mideast terrorists wish to frighten people, they cut off heads and hands (easily accomplished with primitive swords). In Mexico, the drug terrorists would attack a group of police or soldiers and chop off their heads, leaving them lined up across the road just as Vlad the Impaler warned invading armies by showing what awaits them. Mideastern terrorists lacking an army can rely on cars and trucks to plow into people. God is great? Well, God is great in giving free will to those who wish to beget evil.

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It’s unfair to attack Donald Trump for not responding effectively. After all, the voters on the right or those who wanted a change knew that he was, and is, all hat and no cattle. He talks a good game about how business-like he is. (He isn’t.) Some Ministers of the Popular Gospel on Cable TV like to compare him to Jesus or the disciples and warn that an attack on him is like an attack on God. (Neither is true. Besides King Charles stepped out on the platform arguing that he was put on the throne by God and all that.) If anything, Trump is closer to Pontius Pilate. He's aware that something is awry, but can't quite put his finger on it.

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Nothing that Trump could say will mollify his critics (including yours truly), not when he takes a position at, say, 9 a.m. on a Monday, takes an opposing position by noon on a Tuesday, and so on.

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Scroll down and you'll see my argument about Trump's inability to say the right thing.

When Trouble Knocks on Your Door

Posted by Howard Denson on July 21, 2017 at 4:25 PM Comments comments (0)

By HOWARD DENSON

I spent decades relaying tips to colleagues who were under fire . . . and eventually learned to say up front, “I’m not a rescuer. All I can do is help you organize your thoughts and speak to you honestly.”

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Tip #1: Never ever write anything in anger. Your angry words will do more harm than good.

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Tip #2: Never write anything that is false. Those higher up the chain of command may get away with fibbing here and there, but you don’t have that luxury. One demonstrably false statement from you undercuts your position.

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Tip #3: Write something and set it aside. Very likely it doesn’t have to go out today.

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Tip #4: Get someone you trust to read what you’ve written to see if you have said what you need to say.

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Tip #5: Be a model employee as much as you are capable of being. No one of us is an angel, but we can avoid stabbing ourselves in our own backs.

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Tip #6: If an evaluation has zinged you for A, B, C, then focus your efforts on resolving those problems.

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I helped one colleague from another campus respond to a 12-point complaint from his supervisor. The dispute went on for a couple of years before the colleague resigned an hour before the board would vote on his termination. When the dust settled, I re-read my copy of the administrator's 12-point complaint. Each point was on target, as I might have known if I had been working on the same campus with him. I had not understood that my colleague wanted to be thrown out. He was tired of the job, but he didn’t have the spark to simply resign and move on. Now, I open any confidential chit-chat with this question: “Do you really want to keep this job . . . or are you just doing it for the money?”

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Tip #7: If a supervisor has gone off the reservation (e.g., by claiming that 90% of students in a class should pass), bring the assertion to the attention of, say, a faculty senate or members of a department. Discuss it with an apologetic and respectful tone and do not use the name of the supervisor. At some point, the chain of command should recognize that the supervisor’s assertion is silly and unsupportable.

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Tip #8: Keep the problem out of the social media. In my collection of essays in the Wild-Eyed Moderate series, I discuss the parable of the chickens. If chickens (your friends and colleagues) see blood, they will peck the spot until the chicken is fatally wounded. (What? Your buddies are more than just chickens? No, they aren’t. Trust me.)

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Tip #9: Keep a chronology of disputes and have a series of folders devoted to aspects of the dispute. If you have a meeting with someone, immediately write a “memo to myself” (as they were termed during John Dean’s Watergate testimony...James Comey has a different name for them, but they serve the same purpose.)

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The memos will accomplish two things:

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First, they will provide a record of what occurred, and, if necessary, the chronology will help an attorney or yourself at any in-house or state hearing.

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Second, the memo process will force you to think about what you are saying and doing.

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Tip #10: “It’s not fair” isn’t a defense. Most people in the private sector may be fired without much cause. Adjuncts and annual contract teachers don’t have any rights other than the right to finish a contract. Their contracts contain loopholes large enough to drive semis through, with management being in the semi.

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Tip #11: When you protest a practice, you may not help yourself, but you may make it easier for another person down the road.

 


Saying the right thing

Posted by Howard Denson on June 9, 2017 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (0)


By HOWARD DENSON

ONE OF MOTHER’S FRIENDS has dropped by for a visit, and a child goes up to her and asks, “Is it true, like Mama tells Daddy, that you’ve slept with every man in town?”

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It takes time for a child to learn that there are certain things that you just don’t say.

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When that child is seventy years old and president of the U.S., it is mind-boggling.

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Normally, when one reaches the Oval Office, he becomes an effective communicator. Some are like FDR, JFK, Reagan, Clinton, and Obama and make observers jealous of their abilities. Most are like Truman, Ike, LBJ, Nixon, and the Bushes—able to deliver a good speech, but uneven overall.

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Die-hard defenders of Trump engage in sophistry as they whistle past the cemetery wherein DT’s crypt is located: “He’s brilliant, really great in reaching the people, outstanding.”

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Of course, he’s not.

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He’s a con artist, a freak-show hawker, shouting anything to the masses to get them to surrender their dollar and come inside to see the two-headed mermaid. He’s the deal-maker who says Anything to close the deal. Lies aren’t just second nature to him. They are first, second, through tenth nature.

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What compounds his problem is that he used to be able to get away with lies, a little bluster here, some school-yard bullying there, and he gets his way. When things didn’t work out, all right, he’d have to pay, say, ten cents on the dollar.

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This creature in the Oval Office has more in common with the child blurting out embarrassments than to other gentlemen who have occupied his position. One difference: The child was not lying but trying to clarify something Mama said.

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He simply is unable to come up with the right words. Why? Because all words have to be about him, and he will say anything to make himself look good.

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Dubya Bush was not noted for being eloquent. He was screwing up regarding Katrina. He was telling Brownie he was doing a great job when he wasn’t. After September 11 and Dubya’s visit to the disaster site, the media began giving him points for saying the right thing and doing the right thing. Mayor Rudy Giuliani earned even higher points for his ability to say the right thing.

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At the time, I wasn’t impressed by their words—which were so-so at best. I did recall a time when I couldn’t find the right words. A colleague would lose a parent, and I’d immobilize myself because I didn’t know the right words to say.

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When we siblings lost our own parent and went through the visitation experience at the funeral home, I learned that practically any words will do: “I’m sorry for your loss,” “he was a good man and we’ll miss him,” “hang in there, things will get better for you,” etc. Anything from the heart was just fine.

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I got to wondering what Dubya or a mayor could have said that would be totally inappropriate, and it took a long time to come up with an example. The unsuitable words would have to come from, say, Andrew Dice Clay, the persona created by the macho comedian: “Wow, look at that. I bet those firefighters and cops are nothing more than a smear of mayonnaise now.”

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Righteous howls of protest about insensitivity would rattle the windows of Manhattan, even though the Dice man might have been 100 percent correct.

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Children have the ability to mature and to learn new skills. As they become young or older adults, they note wise sayings: “The shame is not in falling down but in failing to get up,” etc. When Nixon narrowly lost the 1960 election to Kennedy, he engaged in a fearless inventory of his skills . . . or lack thereof. He bottomed out when he lost to Pat Brown in the race to be governor of California (“you won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore” ).

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But he got better before the TV cameras and was able to win the 1968 nomination and then the presidency (all the while avoiding any debates).

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Trump has yet to show that he can learn anything new, and that means America is in trouble.

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"I'm sorry you lost your mother, kid. It must hurt, but your hurt, everyone's hurt, would be a lot worse if I died."

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--30--

 

 

 

 

How to win friends and converts

Posted by Howard Denson on June 6, 2017 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

By HOWARD DENSON


FEAR NOT. I WILL NOT come by your dwelling on a “visitation night” and exhort you to accept my faith or political position. I won’t for a couple of reasons.

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First, I respect your privacy and, in turn, expect you to keep your yap shut and not harangue me about things political and metaphysical.

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Second, frankly I don’t give a celestial flip about what you believe. You may support practically any candidate without my fretting much. If we don’t get Harry, Ike, Jack, Lyndon, and so on, then Dewey, Adlai, Dick, Barry, and so on would probably do just fine. After all, it’s not likely that you are going to support a deranged nincompoop for president. We don’t have to worry about a total incompetent becoming POTUS.

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Having said that, I do follow tactics and strategies, those used by generals, corporate execs, and even coaches, but especially those used by political parties, churches, and sects overseas. Some policies work, while others are self-defeating.

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Let’s focus on the latter, particularly the activities of the boneheads amongst Islamic extremists.

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When we have individuals blowing themselves up, driving cars and trucks into pedestrians, and firing at people in a mall or the like, we could say we have mini-wars, except that it too grandiose a term for their feeble activities.

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If we examine some directory that discusses the spectrum of war and fighting in our global military-industrial complex, the terrorists barely make the grade. Their equivalent in commerce is the dollar store. In social organizations their equal is the Flat Earth Society.

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To be sure, the heads of various groups realize this. They have looked at their available materiel for a functioning army. “We don’t have tanks . . . we don’t have fighter planes . . . we don’t have ships . . . in short, we got plenty of nothing.”

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What do they have? Uncle Ismael’s Toyota truck, machine-guns, AK-47s, and (oh, yes) some clowns who can be talked into blowing themselves up.

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If a region can no longer make a decent claim for nationhood (e.g., Syria, Somalia, etc.), radical groups can destabilize whatever order exists.

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However, for the U.K., France, the rest of Europe, the U.S., and much of the world, they are wasting their time.

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If individuals wish to proclaim that Allah is great and all-powerful, they strike out as they blow off their nuts, arms, and legs. They are saying, “My god is weak and powerless, but He can be all-powerful if I blow my ass up.”

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Theologically, of course, that narcissistic position doesn’t hold water.

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Who would buy into such a message? Ah, the young males, of course, the epitome of the self-absorbed. They aren’t respected as adults. They aren’t respected as undergraduates or for their menial jobs. They aren’t getting any women. But, no matter, this cool guy explains how they will show the world. The clown decides, “That beautiful girl in the florist shop will want to have it on with me after I blow my nuts off.”

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The logic behind part of the campaign is “We want our faith to prevail and to show the infidels what they need to believe.”

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That, of course, won’t work because the approach lacks any appeal. Can you imagine a neighbor shouting, “You there, you Methodist, become a Presbyterian like me or I’ll blow myself up. Okay, I’ll blow myself up close to you.”

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In the bad ol’ days, Christians were cruel as they forced pagans from Africa, Asia, South America, etc. to accept Christianity or else. The ineffectual Christian male in recent times finds great comfort in blowing up a federal building, killing hundreds, or shooting dozens in a church or a (gasp, gasp) gay nightclub. It will take more than a can of Brasso to remove the incrustations on those individuals’ haloes.

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Many others turn to a faith because of its natural appeal: Moses was the law-giver (in the spirit of Hammurabi), Jesus laid out a gentle message in his Sermon on the Mount, the Buddha had wise precepts. Confucius clicks because (darn it all) he’s probably smarter than Charlie Chan.

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Look at the numbers. Christianity, with all its divisions, has about 2.4 billion followers. Islam comes in second with 1.8 billion believers, while Hinduism comes in third with a billion adherents. All of them preach peace and harmony, and all have a miniscule number of clowns who think the greatest act in the world would be to kill [you fill in the blank].

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People turn to many faiths because they provide a need and help to give internal peace . . . not because they terrorize.

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Now . . . violence can have an effect, right?

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If you carpet-bomb and create firestorms as at Dresden, Tokyo, etc., you will drive a side to surrender.

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On the other hand, when you nip at an opponent with a runaway truck here, a suicide bomb there, and so on, you are only reinforcing the other side’s desire to resist. All of the bombing of England during the Battle of Britain only made the victims furious. It wasn’t enough to get them to consider surrendering.

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Just consider what it would take to bring America to her knees. We are a violent nation, spawned by the myth of the gun-totin’ cowboys. We have nutcases bursting into their former places of employment and killing as many as they can in revenge. We tsk-tsk, but Wayne LePew of the National Irrational Rifle, Gun, and Bee-bee Gun Assn. will warn us not to weaken the Second Amendment. A nutter bursts into a school and kills dozens. Other nutters say it never happened. It was faked so the gubmint could weaken the Second Amendment.

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We are the land of the free, the brave, and extreme weather. Tornadoes rip across our country, destroying billions in property damage, killing dozens to hundreds, but we don’t require every school to have reinforced storm rooms or every dwelling to be constructed to lessen the effects of wind.

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Violence really doesn’t bother us. It’s good for a few images on the news, but not enough for us to take protective actions. It's our daily visit to the Roman Coliseum to a fight to the death or two before supper.

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If we can tolerate all that, then all that clowns with bombs are doing is making pulled pork out of themselves.

--30-- 


Erase the Civil War?

Posted by Howard Denson on May 17, 2017 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

By HOWARD DENSON

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FOR THE RECORD, I grew up fascinated by the Civil War and identified completely with the valiant soldiers of the Confederacy, and, when I read about their exploits, I admired the bravery of the Union soldiers, too.

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There were many things about the Civil War that I did not know.

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First, I bought into the rhetoric that the war was about states’ rights, state sovereignty, and self-determination. The argument went thusly: It was not about slavery; it was about the larger issues of independence. It took years for me to learn that the view was hooey.

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Second, although I knew about the nasty internecine fighting in bloody Kansas and Missouri leading up to the war, I believed that volunteers signed up willingly and went off for glory or, more likely, death or serious injury.

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Third, I had heroes. Robert E. Lee was one. Stonewall Jackson was impressive, but Jefferson Davis struck me as quirky. I was a kid in the 1940s, so I knew the U.S. needed to be one country, so my admiration extended to Abraham Lincoln.

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Fourth, I did not believe the Southerners were traitors but believed they had a right to secede.

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Fifth, I was taught that the former slaves were attacking whites during Reconstruction, which was a wicked institution. The blacks in the Reconstruction era state legislatures were uneducated “darkies,” talking like Uncle Remus to each other.

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Now, let’s have some time pass, along with much time spent reading Bruce Catton and dozens of other Civil War historians and commentators.

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What emerged that was different?

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Well, no one was emphasizing that, beginning about 1863, Southerners were infuriated with the Confederacy. They had been lied to repeatedly. The war was of, for, and by the slave class, the plantation owners, who lied to entice white farmers to be their cannon fodder. “If you enlist, don’t worry about your family. We’ll raise enough vegetables to feed your family.” They didn’t. They planted cotton and tobacco and put the proceeds in their bank accounts. If soldiers deserted to help their family, they were apt to be shot or hanged . . . or depicted as white trash villains.

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By 1865 when the end came, Southerners knew it had been a rich man’s war but a poor man’s fight . . . and they were furious.

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This anger continued for fifteen years, basically a generation. In the 1890s, a great P.R. project was underway. Jefferson Davis had every right to pen his version of the history of the lost cause. Efforts were made to honor the soldiers, and town squares began featuring statues of Johnny Reb. Everything was romanticized and ennobled. The Klan changed from a vicious band of plantation owners into a noble group fighting against the wicked dark man who has gotten out of control.

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That is the romanticized version that was handed over to my generation and later ones.

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One book helped to bring things into focus for me: F. N. Boney’s Southerners All. He focused on “Rednecks,” “the Bourgeoisie,” and “Blacks” of the antebellum South. He was not the first to argue that these major groups of Southerners were neither as separated from one another nor as alienated from each other and other Americans as they were often depicted.

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When it seemed possible that the rednecks and poor whites in the South might find a natural alliance with the freed men and former slaves, the Big Mules destroyed the potential alliance by lynchings and racist rhetoric. In some form or another, this divide and conquer strategy is still being used.

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When I actually read the Constitution of the Confederate States of America (it was devised quite late and had no real impact), I saw that the new nation was founded on the notion that it MUST protect slavery. When I read the statements following votes to secede, each emphasized the importance of slavery. In short, the Civil War was ABOUT slavery. When Southerners were talking about protecting our way of life, they meant protecting slavery. When they spoke of states’ rights, they essentially meant that "we have the right to murder and hang our darkies, and you keep out of our business."

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Moreover, the secession votes often were not unanimous affairs. South Carolina was bat-guano crazy, but about 40 percent of the delegates from Alabama opposed secession. Other states came reluctantly to the vote. Along this line, Ken Burns’ otherwise excellent series on the Civil War devoted scant (if any) time to the pro-Unionist Southerners.

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When it came time for enlistments, in my neck of the woods, the recruitment went like this: “Are you going to join the CSA Army . . . or would you prefer to be shot, hanged, or thrown off a cliff?”

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In my allied families, the Stephensons and their neighbors in Winston County the Blevinses had sons join the Union Army, figuring, “If I’m going to be shot at, I might as well be shot fighting for the Union.” Their fathers had fought with Andy Jackson, and Abe Lincoln "hadn’t never done nothing agin them."

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The rest of my allied families, the Densons, O’Rears, Prices, Burdettes, Lollars, and others wore uniforms for the Confederacy . . . or at least were in the Home Guard (for old men and boys).

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Were they traitors? No, although the rhetoric that prevails today argues that they are. Why weren’t they traitors? Simple, the U.S. Constitution did NOT forbid secession. It did not address the issue.

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In fact, the Declaration of Independence was nothing more than a SECESSION document:

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“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

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By 1865, the Civil War itself wrote a Constitutional Amendment in Blood (thanks to the deaths of about 750,000 Americans all): No state may secede.

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Until slavery was struck down, the U.S. Constitution was pro-Slavery. The Supreme Court largely was taking pro-slavery interpretations of law and statutes. Even so, the South saw the end of slavery down the road as new states were admitted and managed to restrict or prevent slavery in their borders. Would the coup de grâce have occurred twenty years in the future? By 1880? Perhaps 1900? Ironically, they drove the nail in the coffin of slavery by trying to leave the U.S.A.

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With them OUT of the Union, they were no longer protected by the U.S. Constitution. Moreover, they were out of the Union and could not vote on amendments to abolish slavery.

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Now, today citizens want to tear down monuments to Lee and other Confederates, traitors all, some say.

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However, when the statues are removed, we also remove memories of why the war was fought. Someone may argue, “To hell with old wars, let’s focus on peace.”

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Fair enough. Let’s focus on the peace-makers. One of those was Robert E. Lee, who did NOT urge his soldiers to fade into the hills and conduct a guerilla war until the U.S. tired of the factious Southerners and simply let them go.

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Let’s erect MORE statues: Let’s have a statue honoring the Underground Railway. Harriett Tubman in this park; someone else in another park. For the black soldiers who went to their deaths (as in Glory), let’s honor them for they gave blood and heart to the country.

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If a Southern park has a statue of Lee, it likely has room for one of Grant (a long-time opponent of slavery, although he married into a pro-slavery family).

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Should there be a statue to the Abolitionist? Perhaps. Today, we assume that people back then were either pro-slavery or abolitionists. They weren’t. Abolitionist was a dirty word in most circles. The North didn’t want an invasion of freed blacks, either before or after the war.

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Let’s have a statue of an early teacher, one from the Reconstruction era. Most whites in those days argued for the blacks to be freed, but, of course, that didn’t mean they were equal. Their most progressive thinking was trying to figure out a way to get them back to Africa.

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Slave owners didn’t want blacks educated because they might communicate with each other and write themselves passes to enable them to escape to the North.

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When we read some of the embarrassing remarks Lincoln said about blacks, we often forget that, if he spoke like a true abolitionist, he wouldn’t have been elected president. In addition, he was exposed to eloquent blacks such as Frederick Douglas, but he had never been exposed to a black educated class.

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So, what else have I learned that’s different? For one things, the so-called "darkies" in the state legislature was false. The men selected to be in the Reconstruction legislatures were often well educated, teachers, medical men, ministers, etc.

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Oh, thanks to Ancestry.Com, I also learned that I am between 1-2 percent Sub-Saharan African (the swath that includes Mali and Senegal). I laugh to imagine my 15-year-old self trying to get his head around that information.


Ruminations of a Florida cowboy philosopher

Posted by Howard Denson on April 3, 2017 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (3)


By HOWARD DENSON

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The boss has told us that we can’t argue politics in the bunkhouse any more. The latest fracas began when One-Eye Indiana said that supporters of our current president are prone to violence, whereupon Crazy Lipschitz of Waco beat the crap out him with a branding iron.

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So I can’t pitch my ideas out any more and have to punch them into the laptop.

**

NO, NO, NO! -- When we talk about deporting (i.e., expelling) unwanted individuals, we must look at the Ancient Greeks and their system of ostracism. Since we have a population of 310-311 million (or whatever), the vote in favor of expelling must be higher. Ostracism would expel somebody from the polis for ten years. During that time, others would have to leave the person’s property and family alone. They could ostracize the corrupt (as with Themistocles--think LBJ) or the virtuous (Aristides the Just). Why the latter? His very virtue could cause a civil disturbance, etc.

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Since Hillary and the Donald received in the neighborhood of 60 million votes, I suggest the ostracism figure be higher, say, 30 or 40 million.

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Now . . . I am a reasonable person so there is another approach: the one used with Socrates.

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Here a jury of 500 men tried him on charges of being impious and corrupting the minds of the youth. Certainly the Donald is guilty of both charges, particularly the corruption angle (and not just the youth).

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His jury should consist of 250 supporters of Hillary and Bernie and 250 supporters who voted for the Great Fizzle Himself.

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Start the voting . . . and someone mix up a batch of hemlock.

**

FORGET TO SIGN EXECUTIVE ORDER? – The reporters calling out questions got under the skin of the Great Fizzle Himself, so he left a signing ceremony for an executive order without signing the order.

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Any other President and his staff would have had someone repeatedly announce, “This is a signing of an Executive Order, not a press conference.” If questions persisted, the prez could say, over and over, “No comments. Save them for a press conference. . . no comment,” etc.

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However, when you and your staff are incompetent nincompoops, then . . .

**

LONG JOURNEY & MILES TO GO – Today I finished the very rough first draft of THE MICHELANGELO OF MARSAY. It will be about the size (though certainly not the quality) of THE GREAT GATSBY. It began in the first person point of view back in December 2002. After 700 words, it switched over to 3rd person point of view. During January-February 2003, it grew to 9,000 words . . . and hit a wall. In a few months in 2007, it crept up to fewer than 12,000 words. And it sat there for ten years.

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Two months ago, I added an interesting character, and, damned if things didn’t explode. The word count is now almost 55,500.

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When polished, will the final draft be more like Twain-Hemingway-Faulkner?

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No, always Twain, of course, but maybe more Fannie Flagg and William Saroyan.

**

A BUMPKIN ON TV -- Cherish the moment. It isn’t often that you get to reveal yourself as a total idgit on nationwide TV. This happened to a rube who couldn’t figure out what President Obama was up to when 9/11 occurred. On a scale of 1-10 (dumb to dumbest), this guy’s an 11.

**

WILL RUSSIAN HACKERS CORRUPT THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE TO SWING ELECTIONS? -- The U.S. Electoral College is already corrupt and it has failed to work properly in 40 percent of elections from 2000 to 2016. It has given us a gerrymandered result on two recent elections. If foreign agents, such as the KGB, the Russian kleptocrats, and the mob, wish to influence our elections, they can focus on the key states in the E.C. They apparently did this and helped to elect the Great Fizzle Himself, not particularly because they were so enamored with him (the jury is still out), but because they could throw off the democratic republican results in our country.

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Such strategies can be used against Democrats or Republicans, so it serves all Americans well for protections to be put in place.

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I won’t suggest any retaliatory actions since, if implemented, our government should be in a position to be as nonchalant as a house cat with a single yellow feather barely sticking out of its mouth.

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Instead, let’s put our emphasis on using the popular vote as the standard for electing our president. Although Hillary was subjected to slime attacks from the Ersatz House Committee on Benghazi, she was regularly bombarded with outrageous slimeball attacks from the old Soviet regions (even being accused of cannibalism, if you can believe it). However, despite all that, she still won more than 2.8 MILLION votes than the Great Fizzle Himself did.

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The Founding Fathers didn’t anticipate our having such a mess on our hands, since they worried about one candidate declaring himself king or the followers of another candidate chopping off heads right and left as they were doing in France.

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The 25th Amendment even has deficiencies. If Trump were forced to resign, we’d still have President Pence, who may also be up to his neck in trouble. Ditto for Speaker Ryan. It is not an option for Hillary to be appointed as VP under Pence and then for him to resign. It would be the right thing to do, but no political party is capable of such selfless behavior.

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A President Pence, however, could appoint a Mitt Romney or John McCain and then resign with the veep taking over the presidency.

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Is all that going to happen? Of course not, we’re going to have the same old same-old until we are convinced we have died and are in a Jean Paul Sartre play. Our torment will go on and on, and a fool in the corner will be busy tweeting ‘SO SAD, SO BAD.’

**

OF INTEREST TO GRAMMARIANS -- If you are not a grammarian, then go away (so says the Forensic Grammarian).

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In Latin and other languages, word order doesn’t matter because the endings or forms of nouns and pronouns will tell you whether something is a subject, a possessive, an indirect object, a direct object, etc.

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In English, word order matters. Consequently, it is fairly rare to come across a sentence that will have this order: Direct object (DO), verb, and subject.

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Behold and lo, I was reading one of Shakespeare’s sonnets and came across these two lines:

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“I have seen roses damasked, red and white,

But no such roses see I in her cheeks.”

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In the second line, “roses” is the DO, “see” the verb, and “I” the subject.

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What? You say, “Big whoop?” Dammit, I told you not to read the posting if you weren’t a grammarian. Go to the board and write twenty-five times, “I will not pretend to be a grammarian.”

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Grumble, grumble, grrrr.

**

HATE DONALD NO MATTER WHAT HE DOES? – That’s what the Great Fizzle Himself is telling people, but, no, Donald, it’s not a matter of whatever you do or have done.

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It’s because of you and your character. As a Dem, I don’t hate Mitt Romney, John McCain, Bob Dole, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, or a dozen other potential GOP leaders.

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You, Donald, are simply an icky human being. You are uninformed and convinced you know everything. You are a prime example of “hubris,” and the U.S. deserves better.

**

AH WELL -- Another one bites the dust. In my hometown, I generally preferred to go to K-Mart rather than Walmart. Now the choices in a small town decline even more. Belks is probably still at the mall, along with J. C. Penney. The town has lost its only theatre, due no doubt to competition from cable and red box rentals. Still certain flicks are meant to be seen on a big screen.

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City fathers even sold the trousers off the statue of the Confederate soldier on the town square. He’s pathetic up there with his raggedy underwear.

**

NO NO NO -- I couldn’t vote for Chelsea Clinton . . . not until she has, say, posed nude for Playboy or Penthouse . . . been married three times . . . run a fraudulent university scheme . . . gotten tied up with the Russian mob . . . and forgotten the positive things she learned from her mum (her father might help her with the “babe” stuff). After all that, yes, maybe I could be ready for a left of center Trumpeeta.

**

CLEVER, DEVIOUS, & USING CHAOS? -- Some talking heads have been saying that the Great Fizzle Himself is using a clever strategy and a devious one (adapted from Putin’s playbook). He is using chaos to create a smokescreen to hide his more serious problems.

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I beg to object.

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The Fizzle is neither clever nor devious, and he is creating chaos simply because he is egotistical and inept. He has four bankruptcies to show that he doesn’t manage all that well.

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Moreover, he comes to the presidency thinking that he is smarter than anyone else. Past presidents who wound up unexpectedly in the office realized their own deficiencies and often made certain that they had people around who could fill in wherever they were deficient.

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“Know thyself” was a slogan on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi in ancient Greece, but the Temple of Trump would have a slogan saying, “I Know More Than Generals,” “I Know More than Members of Congress,” and “I Know More than Everyone.”

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When he comes across as farcical (think Keystone Cops or The Three Stooges), we must keep in mind that he cannot be parodied. The ultimate joke begins and ends as a joke. Alex Baldwin, therefore, simply imitates what the Ultimate Fool does. Can you do a parody of the Three Stooges or the Keystone Cops? Nope, they too begin and end as jokes, as does the Great Fizzle Himself.

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So sad for America, so bad for America.

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**

MAKING & DOING ASSIGNMENTS -- As a teacher of college composition for nearly four decades full time, let me wade into this controversy: First, when an instructor makes an assignment, the student’s first reaction is often to find reasons not to do it. Some will even exert more effort getting out of assignments than actually doing the assignments would have cost.

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There are many, many valid approaches to college assignments. One teacher has x-number of in-class writing days. You show up on a particular day, and Teach has put either a single topic on the board . . . or three topics (choose one). There is some value (not much actually) to the approach. It guarantees that the product turned in will be substandard.

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Another approach is to announce each topic (or topics) beforehand, and the students may show up and write spontaneously or simply rewrite a draft they wrote at home. The product turned in will be better than the one only written in class.

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I eventually went to giving out a list of, say, twenty topics, and the students could choose which ones they wanted to write. I tried to personalize them so that I wasn’t getting stuff reworked from Wikipedia. (A weasel will try to get around the topics. For example, one term, my “Problems of” topic came in as “Problems of Being a Clerical Assistant and a Single Mother at FSCJ.” The next term, her significant other tried unsuccessfully to palm the paper off as his. Grrrrr.)

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One required topic was the New York Times paper. (If they wanted to go to the main Jacksonville library or to the University of North Florida library, they could use microfilm of other newspapers.)

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Students would go to the NYT microfilm (and later to the online NYT) to look up issues of the NYT on the day they were born. Let’s say it was April 1, 1999. Then they’d have to look up the NYT on April 1 in one of the 9-years of the 19th Century: 1859, 1869, 1879, 1888, or 1899. Then they would choose another 9-year in the 20th or 21st century, say, 1969 or 2009. They would have to choose an area of focus: crimes, deaths by accidents, even obituaries, sports, entertainment (TV and movies in 1999 and radio, movies, and the stage in 1939), or advertisements.

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They generally learned that people were wicked or careless in the 19th Century just as much as they were in the 20th and 21st Century.

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The NYT assignment helped them to organize since I wanted five items from each year for 15 items total, plus a minimum of 1,500 words. (They usually wound up writing 2,000 to 2,300 words.

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Especially when a college or university has discovered a new fad to impose upon its students, teachers don’t like to acknowledge that assignments similar to the ones that I make or the Iowa teacher made are journeymen writing. It will be rare for papers to really be worth reading a month or a year after a term has ended.

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Oh, when I asked each class to fill out an anonymous feedback sheet about what changes to make in the course for the next term, they all wanted the NYT assignment to be dropped.

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Never.

**

RANT AND RAVE – People often fuss about the average salaries of college football coaches compared to the pay of teachers or profs. . . or, in this case, about CEO’s and entertainers (or sports figures).

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What they overlook is the transitory nature of jobs, especially the jobs of athletic coaches. They are here; if they don’t win (enough), they are gone. Sean Penn may earn $20 million, but the average actors / singers/ etc. usually have to have day jobs to make a living.

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Moreover, the superstars have Time working against them. The problem with CEO pay is two- or three-fold: The corporate ethos has jacked up their compensation to ungodly heights. $1 million is a pittance for CEOs of ATT, etc.

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Often they are paid, say, 500 times more than their average worker (which isn’t the case in other industrialized nations).

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Even worse, they are often journeymen MBAs (at least) who neither created their respective companies nor know how to make anything themselves. They may leave after only a few months with platinum parachutes and no doubt believing they were worth every cent they received . . . unlike their lazy workers.

**

HB 11 & ALL THAT -- Every legislative session has its share of nonsense bills. HB11 for the 2017 session in Florida falls into this category when it says it wants members to pay for representation. Members of each union, of course, already pay dues, so, if a union membership is, say, 65% of the bargaining group, then they all pay for the dues. Moreover, since members generally use payroll deductions, the administrations know which employees are members of the union.

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In theory, it is illegal for the employer to discriminate against the union membership.

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If the lawmakers want to force the remaining 35% of employees to pay dues, it really doesn’t accomplish anything. They were “no” votes likely . . . or they voted “yes” and chose to get a free ride.

**

PALM PROPHECY -- I went to a palmist and she looked at my hands and announced I would live to be 76. Damn, she’s good.

**

CHOOSE YOUR ENEMIES CAREFULLY -- for you will become like them. Decades ago, I learned that line was attributed to humorist-actor Robert Benchley. (Try to trace it today, and your sources will credit everybody.) Maureen Dowd has an excellent column about why DT has gone down the toilet. He’s been played . . . he’s not as smart as Reagan . . . he’s got creeps around him.

**

Oh, Crazy Lipschitz of Waco got fired again. The boss claimed a highway patrolman pulled him over on some trumped up charge, and Crazy went berserk and took the branding iron to the boss. This time it was red hot.

--30--

Behold the Dinosaur: the Electoral College

Posted by Howard Denson on November 13, 2016 at 12:10 PM Comments comments (0)

By HOWARD DENSON

 

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That’s a time-honored adage that discourages meddling and monkeying with things unnecessarily. It heads off the management types who crow that change is good, any change is good. Often it’s not.

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On the other hand, there’s a corollary: “If it’s broke, fix it.” Quit trying to limp down the road using duct-tape and bailing wire to keep the vehicle together. Put in new fan belts, do a tune-up, buy new tires.

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In the American political world, the Electoral College is not only obsolete, it’s also broken and cries out for demolition or repair.

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The electoral college system has misfired six times in the country’s history, when presidential candidates with fewer national votes wound up in the White House. One of the most famous miscarriages of counting occurred when 1800 when Thomas Jefferson got past Aaron Burr to be president.

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Twenty-four years later, Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams went at it, and, thanks to wheels and deals, Adams won the presidency and embittered Jackson, who later became our first psychopathic president.

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Fifty-two years after that, a dust-up occurred when Democrat Samuel Tilden (with excellent credentials) won the popular vote but had the White House snatched away when Republican Rutherford B. Hayes essentially sold out Lincoln’s vision of Reconstruction by caving in to the demands of Southern politicos in exchange for their electoral votes.

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A dozen years later, Benjamin Harrison slipped by the incumbent Grover Cleveland to become president before Cleveland messed up the sequential count of presidents by defeating him four years later.

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Now, we have a break of 112 years when no serious problems emerged in the Electoral College vote counting. True, the Democrats may have pulled some fast ones in Chicago and Texas to get past Nixon (only to tempt him into emulating them in 1972). The popular vote was very close.

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In 2000, of course, Al Gore won the popular vote, but, with the help of shenanigans in Florida and in the U.S. Supreme Court, George W. Bush got the office. He was likely to be an okay president, as his father had been. Unfortunately, Dubya was a doofus and helped to tear apart our country’s fiscal and military health.

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Sixteen years later, we have Hillary Clinton currently with more popular votes than Donald Trump, who has been crowned as the president-elect. It remains to be seen if Der Fuhrer will be our second psychopatic president.

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We have had FIVE presidential elections from 2000 to 2016, and forty percent of the time the system has NOT worked. The damned thing is broke, so let’s fix it or replace it.

..

--30--