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Foreign Interference – Religion and Politics

20201017 Foreign Interference – The Daily Summation
20201017 Foreign Interference – The Daily Summation Podcast

There’s little doubt of foreign interference in the U. S. political process.

To begin with, China has its hooks into the country for huge amounts of loans.

You can be sure, other countries are attempting to apply leverage, in a variety of ways.

Granted, no power outside America, has come in with military force, in order to attempt to overthrow the government, nor has anybody found a way to sufficiently corrupt our military, nor coerce our citizens, to get them to work to cause a coup in the country.

Frankly, if you were to try, I would laughingly wish you good luck. Why? Because our country has a variety of safeguards in place, to keep such things from happening. As well, the American satisfaction level is generally very high, making it a losing argument for most folks, to change how things work here.

For other nations, such protections don’t really tend to exist at all. In fact, many have no mechanism to really even allow, for free elections.

Here’s the thing, I cannot and will not, argue that any country, should be in the business of installing governments in any other sovereign state. I recognize it can be argued that the U. S. appears to do exactly that around the world, and I have to acknowledge, I don’t typically agree when we do so.

The fact is though, in most of the countries in question, contrary to what certain individuals would have others believe, the governmental entities we seek to destabilize or remove and replace, are tyrannical in nature.

Further, as a rule, if they were supported by the people who live in the places in question, the idea that it would be possible to cause those power structures to topple, would be far-flung.

Rather, what we find is, when America or any other supposedly advanced nation, meddles in the affairs of another country, they’re typically able to easily generate dissent against those in positions of power and authority.

There’ve been exceptions to this, one example being Cuba. In that case, it can be argued that the government of the island nation, was what kept the standing leadership in power. Nonetheless, at the very least, one can make the statement that the locals seemed uninterested in toppling that regime.

In that case, though this country tried to incite the people to a change of leadership, what happened? We failed.

Here’s my message for those talking about the “poor unfortunate entities” who’ve had their governments destabilized or removed by the plans and actions of outsiders. If your country had been led by people generally supported by the citizens of the state, it would at least have been hard to effect change.

The simple question can then be asked, “Was it?

In most cases, you don’t have to be the brightest bulb in the firmament, to answer that question.

You can certainly argue that there were deaths as a result of many such activities. Here’s the problem with that contention though. In most of the countries in question, there would’ve been deaths regardless the change of those in charge.

And where nobody wants to see anyone die, the idea that often, the deaths occurring after the country in question comes back to a stable state, not only fall below those happening under the former leadership, but the numbers tend to fall a great deal lower, than before the new government came into place.

That’s not the only thing that happens either. Often, the resultant change in authority, will be the cause of a serious reduction in a whole range of other issues having been suffered by the natives of that entity.

It will become possible to do things like, build hospitals, and schools. Housing will often be updated as a result of newfound largess on the part of the country. Any number of similar things, are bound to happen.

You can argue that the resultant power base, will be more friendly to the folks who helped them to gain their positions, but at that point I have a question for you, “Is that really a bad thing?”

The hope is, not only will that be the case, but they’ll also develop friendly relationships with others as well. The result not quite invariably, being a stronger country, and economy in the long haul.

While we’re at it, why don’t we discuss the strength of the America and its economy (which these days, is not what it ought to be, but nonetheless). Like it or not, regardless who you see, to be large and in charge in the U.S., we’re a wildly successful country when we let business do its thing, with a minimal amount of regulation, and comparatively small amounts of taxation.

I’m not arguing that the government can’t keep a watchful eye on enterprise, nor that their doing so on a limited basis, is necessarily harmful.

I get that for government to do a variety of reasonable and worthwhile tasks, it needs money to operate.

That said, pretty much every time the leadership of the country, gets heavily involved in trying to control business, or in exacting their pound of flesh, things begin to go poorly.

The why can be argued until we’re blue in the face. The question that I think would come out of that pursuit is, “Does it really matter?”

When business does well, people do well.

Yes, the folks who run the various corporations, do end up making a good deal of money.

That said, the workers too, end up making more as a result of an increased need for employees for the factories, stores, restaurants, offices, and for yet other pursuits.

Salaries at various workplaces become competitive, because the folks who own those businesses are seeking ever more skilled and productive workers.

This is a working model. I’ve yet to see any other, that’s as successful.

Just in case you want to argue that the United States “squashes” other countries, making them less viable, I have a single question, “How do we not get stomped underfoot by those other countries?”

You can try to argue that question however you please, but to me, the answer is simple. They cannot compete. If they could, their model for operation would be the one winning the day. It’s just not that complex.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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The Tyranny of the Majority – Religion and Politics

20201013 The Tyranny of the Majority – The Daily Summation on YouTube
20201013 The Tyranny of the Majority – The Daily Summation Podcast Content

Imagine you have four siblings. They all get together, and decide you should be their servant. Does that sound like a great idea to you?

This is a simple example of what’s meant by the expression, “the tyranny of the majority.”

It’s for this purpose, that the United States of America was wisely begun as a representative republic with democratically elected members of the House of Representatives.

You might ask, why I only talk about that group in those terms.

The judiciary is obvious. As a rule, the members of that branch, are appointed.

People in the executive, are typically either appointed or hired. Some are elected, but not the vast majority.

The presidency has a popular vote component, but the person who ends up in the position is placed there, by the electoral college.

Here’s the interesting part, the initial intent of the U.S. Senate, was that they would be representatives to the states, appointed by each legislature, to their positions.

Since that time, a substantial breakdown has occurred. That would be 17th Amendment to the Constitution.

That modifcation caused senators to be elected, via a popular vote.

While the entirety of the purpose of that body wasn’t lost by the change, an important part of it was.

Senators were intended to represent, as has already been said, the states from which they came, not the people thereof.

Even so, elections of the persons in question, are itentionally not the same as democracy.

Though the way senators were selected changed, once they, as well as those in the House, got into the business to which they were called, they were not expected to request referenda, each time a matter needed to be decided by the legislature.

The folks in question were posited as they were, in order to act as a body, that would stand in the place of the populace at large.

Futher, since our country was purposely not constituted as a democracy, but by intent, as a republic, it was meant to be incumbent on those in positions of authority, as well as the governed, to be beholden to the law of the land, as a primary consideration. For legislators, this was to be true, both in how they behaved as citizens, and when they wrote new laws.

Put simply, the beauty of the American system of government was not just that your four siblings, were not at liberty to take a vote, enforcing on you a permanent state of servitude, but that part of the reason, is that they were under laws which made such actions on their part, subject to inspection.

If your brothers and sisters were found to be in breach of some statute or other, that took precedence over their desires.

So when the concept of the abolition of slavery came to be enacted—and though there are those among us, who would argue that the Constitution itself, had such provisions in it from the outset, there are amendments to that document that make it crystal clear it’s not to be tolerated, even if we decide that’s not the case—it should have been plain, your relatives hadn’t a legal leg to stand on when they decided as they did.

This is the wonder of the system of government, given us by those having crafted those precious documents.

It’s a sad reality that, there were those here in America—granted, they existed more or less around the world—who thought slavery to be a reasonable thing. Though that’s the case, such people did and do exist.

And it was on the basis they did, those who began to build the country, crafted the basest concepts of American law.

You can argue that man has somehow evolved since that time. I can counter that there are still among us liars, cheats, thieves, murderers, rapists, and those guilty of so many more untoward, even heinous, acts.

It’s a sufficient appeal to their better nature, to ask them to elect representation, that will work in the best interests of all their fellows.

It takes no special brilliance to see, they cannot always be expected to act in humility, sacrifice and other ways, that will be for the public good.

How many times have even those chosen to represent a portion of humanity, been found guilty of any number of horrible wrongs? This says little to nothing, about those having helped to place them in the positions they held.

The aforementioned, are among the reasons the Founders so carefully, wrought that which you see today.

They had already seen the potential abuses that might come into play, in countries new and old, around the globe; such things were not at all unknown to them.

As if they hadn’t enough cause, consider that a large part of the reason they were forming a new country to begin with, was that the commonwealth of which they were at the time a component, chose to exact from them taxes, while not concerning themselves with ensuring their voices were heard.

One might argue in that instance, the colonists were already plagued by the tyranny of the majority.

Realizing the system put in place, should be as immune as possible to such machinations, was pretty certainly a part of what drove them to make the decisions they did, about how things would work.

These days, there are those who’re arguing we ought to be a democracy—in fact, there are among us, people who think it reasonable to assert we already are, or worse yet, always were ensconced in that form of rule.

Let me assure you, that was never the intent of those having worked diligently, to construct this union.

So when people try to argue for things like the abolisment of the electoral college; when they try to coerce certain policies, laws or activities on the basis that the “majority has spoken,” whether they understand it or not, they’re working in direct contradiction, to those who set things up.

In case you don’t think that’s a problem, I invite you to peruse the history books, to see what they have to tell us about democracy.

If you think the idea of the tyranny of the majority isn’t a “real thing,” please know, it is. If you think it’s not potentially a direct result of democracy, and that most other systems even allow it to exist, understand, you’re in error. It’s on this basis, our country was not founded, and is not today intended to be, a democracy.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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U. S. Immigration Policy – Religion and Politics

There are at least two members of my fairly close family who have either become naturalized U. S. citizens, or are on the way through that process. One of them is my former wife (mother to my two oldest children), who was born in Korea. Another is married to my oldest brother, and is from the United Kingdom.

There may be one more, I’m just not sure she’s on the path to naturalization, so until I know, I’ll leave her out of this discussion.

As such, it could be argued that I have somewhat of a vested interest in the process of people immigrating, and ultimately becoming residents, or citizens, of the United States.

Based on my experience, it’s pretty clear to me, that the system as it currently stands is badly broken.

The problem? Without major work being done in other realms, I don’t see it being fixed.

There are a couple of processes through which people come to live in the country, by such means that they’re not in any way, held accountable for being here.

The first of these, is crossing borders into the nation illegally. This issue—I think most folks are willing to admit—occurs primarily on the southern border, which sadly to this point, is massively porous.

This particular problem has a variety of horrible issues all its own that tend to make it of significant importance that it be solved, inasmuch as we’re able to create a solution.

Between young women being raped, people being killed or dying of various causes on their way here, and human trafficking, we can easily come up with enough reasons to work to make the practice of illegal border crossings as much a relic of history as possible. The sad thing is, where we won’t get into them here, there’re many more issues than the ones mentioned. That makes it a paramount concern when discussing immigration policy.

The other common issue, is people coming to America on temporary visas, then just staying when they run out.

Whatever you may believe, the best we can say about the folks doing this, is that they make it less possible that others wishing to enter the country will be allowed to do so.

Like it or not, overstaying a visa is mostly at best a selfish act.

That’s not by any means an indication I don’t understand it.

I said in a recent piece titled “A Great Place To Live,” that people still flood into this country from all around the world on the basis that it’s seen as being exactly what the title indicates it is.

Between people continuing to enter the U. S. or stay here through one or another illegal mechanism, we’ve had an absolute deluge or humanity, primarily from Central and South America, but really from all around the World.

One doesn’t need to be Sherlock Holmes, to deduce that any system can take just so much such activity, before the country implementing it must consider finding ways to limit access to its shores.

Frankly too, accepting people who are willing to make their way here from the countries out of which they escape (not using the term literally, but more figuratively), isn’t typically helpful to those places whence they came.

We’re working on some of the problems discussed, but I’m pretty much of a mind that others aren’t even really being looked at.

Our southern border is a major problem. That said, I believe at present, we’re at least trying to help to remedy it, by adding physical security there. Is that all that will be required to fix things? Probably not, but at least it’s a place to start.

The visa overstays are a matter I feel we haven’t really begun to tackle in a meaningful way.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that at present, there are a great many people in the political class, fighting against either problem being dealt with in any serious manner.

This to me is sad for a couple of reasons.

To begin with, it means that people who’ve waited a very long time to try to enter the United States to live, to work, and for myriad other causes, having done all the things required and requested, are likely being denied access because of the formerly mentioned issues.

Additionally, when you drive 75 miles an hour, down a roadway marked for 35 miles an hour, you’re in obvious breach of law. That’s just as true for people coming into the country illegally, or overstaying their welcome. You can argue against it all you want, but those people have questionable character on the basis that they’re willing to come into, or stay in, the country illegally.

To those who argue that their going “home” would cause them some sort of hardship along the lines of retribution for having left, or persecution in their home countries, I say, “That’s what the ability to request asylum was designed for.”

Truth is though, I would bet the worst thing most folks are running from is poverty and lack of opportunity.

This brings us to a quick discussion of a segment of U. S. foreign policy. One thing I believe the nation ought to be doing, is finding ways to help both its neighbors and countries around the world improve their standard of living, such that fewer people feel the need to come here in order to have a better life.

One unfortunate reality is, many countries have leadership that will refuse to accept that the way they’re doing business won’t allow for such. As much as we’d like to see that leadership change, trying to force such differences is far from the best possible solution.

In the end, it comes down to this. I don’t believe true immigration reform can be had in this country until and unless we deal with the problem of illegal immigration via border crossings and visa overstays; and I don’t think we can deal humanely and effectively with those problems, at least in some measure, until and unless we can help to bring other parts of the World up to a standard of living that makes coming here far less enticing.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Global Climate Change – Religion and Politics

If you haven’t heard the term, you must not at all pay attention to a great deal of what’s being said in any media.

The fact is, it’s almost unheard of for a news outlet not to mention it from one perspective or another on a pretty regular basis.

The title of this piece, should make it clear to you about what I’m talking, but allow me to spell it out here. The subject of this article is man made changes in the climate world wide.

To begin with, I should make it quite plain that I cannot imagine anybody, trying to argue the climate hasn’t changed over the course of time. People who’ve been paying attention for long enough, may question whether there’s truly a notable trend even over the relatively short period people have been accurately recording things.

That’s really problem one in this discussion. We have a smidgen of data, by comparison to the absolute mountain of information that existed prior to our even really paying attention, regardless what case you make for the age of the planet.

Add to that the fact that more than a little of it is certainly at least questionable, if not entirely inaccurate. Keep in mind, we’re not just talking about old data either. There are instances where people have changed the color of boxes holding thermometers which has caused a different registration in temperatures over time—or existing boxes fading, causing similar problems.

These are but a couple examples of things that make you doubt the veracity of that collected.

I’ve seen people equate the talked about changes in climate (which, as I say, I don’t really believe there’s even a solid direction one can claim for them), to a person sneezing. This is because the time window discussed, can only be considered an extremely short one; and the older you believe planet Earth to be, the less significant the changes noted actually are.

I want to make something plain right now. I would be amazed if man’s actions on this ball of dust, in terms of emissions from various sources among other things, did not have some effect on the planet.

That said, I also believe it likely that our home has some “wiggle room” available. That is to say, there are almost certain to be counterbalancing results to the activities that’ve caused increases in emissions and other pollutants.

As well, I’d like to clarify, that I neither think we ought notaddress the emitting processes and other things being discarded, nor that we haven’tbeen working to do so. In my mind, remembering the seventies in the United States reasonably well, I can tell you that there were some pretty inefficient methods of transport out there for both people and things.

Looking at the present moment, it’s patently obvious, that mankind has spent a great deal of time and resource in attempting to mitigate that fact. On the other hand, it’s equally obvious much of society has become far more throw-away where other stuff is concerned.

Vehicles on the road today, are largely massively cleaner running, and as a result, tend to put out far less exhaust, for example, than automobiles in my youth.

And that’s not by any means, the only place such improvements have been made.

Houses tend to have heating and air units and appliances that use less energy; public buildings likewise.

In fact, I would argue that in all but a few regards, we’re largely moving towards a cleaner environment.

One can certainly properly indicate, that the amount of plastic waste generated on a daily basis is wholly unnecessary and unwarranted.

You would also certainly be correct in pointing out that, where places such as the United States have worked to reduce various pollutants—granted, having a great deal more we could and should do—other countries, such as China, are far from where we’d like them to be.

Even with all of this though, when you look at the effect on the climate that man seems to have produced, it can be argued to be negligible. We literally appear to be talking about temperature changes that could almost fall within the margin of error for the studies decrying them.

This assumes that the differences in question, can be fully attributed to man-made effect; a thing I’m reasonably certain nobody would be foolhardy enough to claim.

Part of the reality is, people talking about things that could happen—since nobody is certain what will—are saying the extreme scenarios point to no more than a ten degree Fahrenheit change considering all of the current century.

In the minds of many, this is alarmist and unlikely to say the least.

Per one of my least favorite sources (who tends to be accurate with regard to those having a liberal mindset), Wikipedia, comes a somewhat more accepted figure. That would be no more than 3.1°F over the remainder of that span.

Imagine your summer air conditioner temperature being moved up from 74°F, to 77.1°F. Having that happen may cause you mild discomfort, but it’s really unlikely much more will result.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t take any actions to bring the temperature back to the appropriate place assuming we can do so, but since the U. S. has been working for some time to make things better, it would largely be incumbent on nations like China, to change their behaviors, not us.

All of this would be based on the assumption we believe the estimations cited, and we decide they could be attributed to man, neither of which am a particularly willing to concede.

The best part? That, as I’ve already pointed out, many countries are already working to make things better, and I think it likely, regulation, accords, or whatever else aside, they’ll probably continue that trend.

So to begin with, all reasonable assessments seem to indicate the change in the remainder of the 21st century, will amount to a pretty small shift in temperature. Additional to that, lots of people have been talking about the coming disaster for many years, giving us ten, or twelve, or twenty years until a major crisis unfolded. Many of the admonitions came more than thirty years ago, yet here we are, with no discernible issues to show for all the doom-saying. Still we work to make things better, and continue to hear the claxons rage. Forgive me if I’m not moved to implement immediate, radical agendas to fix a problem I just don’t see being what it’s cracked up to be.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Government at the Lowest Level – Religion and Politics

I can’t imagine any of the Founders, or even people of their generation, looking into the present state of the federal government of the United States, and not being aghast at what they saw.

I think even among those who favored a more powerful national governmental entity, there would be serious question as to where we are at present.

It seems to me, it would be the perfect moment in time for those who didn’t support a robust countywide entity, to turn to those who did, and with a loud voice, issue those hated words, “I told you so.” One can imagine the sense of vindication, tinged with sorrow for what has come to be.

The fact is, it’s somewhat surprising that in our current “health crisis,” people didn’t try to pass some sort of national emergency mandate, officially locking down the entire country, requiring mask wear, and social distancing.

I largely credit two things for the fact that hasn’t occurred, and neither, sadly, is the U. S. Constitution directly.

Those two factors, are the sitting president, and the fact that one house of the Congress, is controlled by Republicans.

I could be wrong, but I pretty strongly believe, were it not for those two things, the picture might be drastically different.

On the other hand, it’s also possible that particularly the Republican president is part of the reason for the existing machinations where COVID-19 is concerned to begin with.

There appear to be some number of folks, who would love to see him ousted from office right now; and barring that, losing the election so he won’t be in office, another four years.

How large that number actually is, remains to be seen. I believe it will become obvious in some measure in the upcoming election. Of course, if he wins the electoral college but doesn’t win the popular vote—which is at least a little likely, though there may be some unexpected changes there—his opposition will shout that it’s time for another intentional mandate, to cease to be.

Truth is, they’ve been making that pitch for some time now in the more extreme parts of that group.

Here’s the funny bit though. If the federal government were not seen as horribly bloated by areas of the country that tend to lean rightward, there’s a better chance folks would be more inclined to be willing to accept even a potential center-left candidate in the office of the president.

The sad reality though, is that those on the left, not only don’t seem to have an interest in reducing the size of the government on a national level, it appearss to be their desire to grow it even bigger.

The result is that most folks who consider themselves conservatives, are pretty much in direct opposition to the idea of those who count themselves progressives having any serious control on a federal level. And thinking about what happens when that’s allowed to occur, considering what they would have be true, who can blame them?

On the other side of the equation though, are the more progressive folks. They see the attitudes and actions of conservative lawmakers and those who support them, as a pretty strong impediment to the enactment of their desired agenda as well.

The result seems to be a country where, on the national level, there’s a pretty large rift between conservatives and progressives. The dividing space appears to be generally empty.

I have to admit, it’s hard to understand why those of a more progressive viewpoint don’t seek to implement the things toward which they’re working on a more local level.

Doing so, since they tend to be pretty restricted in terms of the parts of the country in which they’re found, would generally not be a problem for those of a more conservative bent.

The truth is, on reflection though, I think I can understand what drives them for the most part.

To begin with, they have implemented more heavy handed controls on those areas over which they have sway, and successful or not, that means the expectation they do so at those levels is far less meaningful.

The other problem is, they believe that doing so on a national level, one presumes, would allow all parts of the country to receive the “benefits” of their philosophy and political theory.

This, to me is one of the major differences between the two groups.

Conservatives seem to feel that they’ve no right to push their way of doing business on the “other side.” That’s an easy thing on all but the national stage, since their general desire is ostensibly to reduce the size of government at every level.

At the lower levels, that’s generally fine, since they tend to live in parts of the country not largely inhabited by those on the left.

For those at the highest levels of government though, there’s a general tendency for progressive folks to enact the same sorts of policies that they already have lower down the chain.

Considering that even entities like the former USSR, claimed to embrace the “soviet” model which itself seems to enfold a concept of government at lower levels, it’s still an odd thing to me, that leftists desire to have a strong federal governmental entity.

One thing’s sure, as long as conservatives and those on the left, share power on the national stage, there will continue to be combat over the best way to run the country as a whole.

For my part, I strongly favor a huge reduction of the size of the national government, and think that’s true for more conservative folks in general.

I realize that puts a target on my back that’s not likely to go away, since I stand in pretty direct disagreement with those who count themselves my opposition.

What that means is, I don’t believe it’s likely things will improve any time in the near future.

So you may think (if you’re progressive in what you believe), that a large, robust federal government is a desirable thing. I’m quite sure you’ll find those on the conservative side have no such perspective. This dichotomy means that—unless we can all learn civility—there will continue to be name-calling and saber rattling on both sides of the aisle for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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On Propaganda – Religion and Politics

prop•a•gan•da prŏp″ə-găn′də

  • n. The systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause or of information reflecting the views and interests of those advocating such a doctrine or cause.
  • n. Material disseminated by the advocates or opponents of a doctrine or cause.
  • n. A committee of cardinals (Congregation de Propaganda Fide, ‘for propagating the faith’) which has the supervision of foreign missions in the Roman Catholic Church.

More at Wordnik from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

It’s a word that people love to hate. Propaganda.

I did a standard search on my favorite search engine (DuckDuckGo) for “propaganda definition” and got what you see above.

The fact is, based on this definition, pretty much everybody is likely to be guilty of disseminating propaganda at one time or another. For a very long time, I’ve heard various people talking about propaganda and insinuating the word was something that could only be used in a negative way.

When folks desire to say someone is trying to deceive people, it’s regularly stated they are a, “propagandist.”

Here’s the thing, some ideas are good, some are bad. Some are internally consistent, some broken.

The fact is though, you can “systematically propagate doctrine” that’s reasonable, true and correct.

Since that’s the case, the idea that someone is, “spreading propaganda” can be used as a way to try and invalidate what’s said. This, as I say, is based on the notion that propaganda is an inherently bad thing.

To me, this is something about which one should always be vigilant.

Assume for a moment, that an individual is prone to say things from a frame of reference with which you generally disagree. The immediate tendency would be to disqualify the statements of such person out of hand. But just because a speaker or writer is prone to speak from a particular viewpoint, doesn’t mean what he or she puts forth is always wrong.

That’s even true if the person is speaking from their normal place.

The decision of the validity or error of a given statement, should be made as a function of evaluating that statement.

If you decide the person is correct in what they’re saying, where they’re sending their message from isn’t necessary supremely relevant.

Many times, I’ve heard people from a progressive vantage point, make a statement or series thereof that were totally proper.

At some point, they may be prone to wander off the beaten track. Them doing so doesn’t invalidate what they got right.

This is the problem with allegations of propagandist activities; they can as easily be used to squash good, correct ideas as bad, errant ones.

It’s for this reason I advocate evaluating the words of others from a perspective that’s neither biased toward or away from them where possible.

I know this can be a hard thing to do. There are people who consistently demonstrate both truth and accuracy, as well as those who seem to be prone to lies and inaccuracy. That said, the one who’s consistently wrong can say something right and vice versa.

In fact, if this doesn’t periodically happen, you should be entirely amazed.

As a younger person, I would tend to assume the statements of an individual who typically appeared to be “out there,” to be wrong. Obviously, the contrary was also the case.

You need to know this is a very dangerous thing to support.

Just because a person doesn’t speak consistent truth, doesn’t mean they never will. And when they do, and you refuse to accept it, who’s being harmed?

This is why so many people argue for the idea of doing one’s due diligence.

Assuming rectitude or error is a very bad idea.

Here’s where things get tough. When you find you’re unable to make such assumptions, it means you have to take the time to evaluate whatever comes your way.

That seems hard until you begin to realize that, over the course of time, you come to know what you accept and why.

The result is, you end up more listening to what others say to find out what they accept and why. This is really the way things ultimately ought to be in any case.

That doesn’t make it an impossibility that you might learn from others along the way, this is a piece of critical evaluation as well.

You should be asking the question, “Am I correct in what I believe?” on a regular basis.

Very few things you hear (or say) in life cannot be checked for correctness on the fly. If somebody yells, “Duck!” chances are, you should do so; likewise if someone shouts, “Fire!”

For most things you’ll deal with though, you’ll have a good deal more time to react and respond.

Even better, people operate with incorrect viewpoints for years often with comparatively little effect.

That’s not to say they won’t possibly do themselves harm in the short term because of it, just that the harm done may not end up being all that serious.

So, having core beliefs about things that are emergent in nature that you can fall back on is totally sensible; though you should be willing to question them too, most particularly when you’re not in those touchy situations.

On the other hand, recognizing that a given circumstance doesn’t require an immediate response, gives you the time to consider what you believe, why, and how it compares to what others bring to the table.

Put another way, don’t be afraid to question what you believe when people are not going to suffer immediate harm if you do so.

The hope is that you’ll find you’re correct more often than not; the older you are, the more likely that’ll be the case. That considered though, if you’re willing to examine things again, you may find flaws in your outlook.

So in the long run, people yelling “Propagandist!” may not be something you should totally ignore, but it is something you should be wary of. People doing so likely have a vested interest in your not believing what the supposed purveyor of propaganda is saying—whether it’s valid or not.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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America the Colonizer – Religion and Politics

There’s no question that the origin of the United States of America, was colonial. People came to the county’s shores from other lands, with the intent of settling here. They did what such people do; they established colonies.

In most cases, I imagine the modus operandi can be argued to be simple. Find an empty space and fill it with settlement. That doesn’t by any means indicate every newcomer took that approach.

You can be sure some came in, saw land natives or even other settlers were occupying looked like great places to be, and ran them off in order to take possession of what they had.

I could be wrong, but I’d guess the number of folks who approached life in that way was small.

In the end though, where some of the people who came to what’s now the United States, acted in improper ways towards the locals or those who had come in before them otherwise, I doubt the number was necessarily all that high.

I’ve heard stories of how many native Americans were placed on reservations or treated in similar fashions, and I’m not really trying to dispute the reality of those things happening.

That said, I could be wrong, but I imagine the vast number of final settlements here, were not made under such circumstances.

That, of course, doesn’t take away from the guilt of those having acted incorrectly. The problem? Those people are no longer on the planet. That’s also almost certainly the case for those having been wronged as well.

That means the people currently around, neither participated in, nor were victims of, the various acts of colonization—good or bad—that came before.

Remember that much of what happened started not with those men who became citizens of the country, but with the British, the French, the Spanish, and others.

After that, acts occurring primarily inside the borders of what’s currently the United States, can be said to have been the responsibility of the people who were there following the conclusion of the Revolutionary War.

Then there were a few comparatively small acts of taking over other places that are now considered states (Hawai’i) or territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa and others) of this country.

This is almost the sum total of empire building that can be attributed to the now known United States of America.

You may ask, “What about entities like, South Korea, Afghanistan, and Iraq?”

It’s probable if you’re part of the class that looks at those actions as empire building, you’re not going to be at all happy with my answer.

I was a member of the United States Air Force. In my earlier days, I married a young woman who was born, and spent her childhood in the Republic of Korea. When she was a young adult, her sister’s husband sponsored her entry into the U. S.

We were introduced, and—silly me—I allowed myself to get into a relationship with her that was not a great one for either of us. To be fair, out of that union, came two wonderful children who are now adults.

As a result of our marriage, we came to the conclusion that it was an acceptable idea, for me to serve a year or more if possible in Korea, and to bring her along, since when I received orders there, she was still a Korean national.

We went, and I got to see first hand, what the interaction between Koreans and Americans looked like in that country.

You may rest assured, that most servicemen did not have any real sway over the local population even if they did wander onto, or otherwise frequent bases or posts in the country.

In fact, it was not too uncommon for people in uniform to get drunk, act in disorderly fashions, and find themselves spending time in Korean jails.

The relationships between military commanders and local authorities (as well as the idea that people not born and raised in Korea who are of Korean lineage, were essentially un-persons, that’s a subject for another blog entry though), made it so mostly, if an American didn’t do something too stupid, he or she would probably be remanded to the custody of a base or post commander or similar.

From there, punishment would typically be meted out by military authorities.

The point here is, G.I.s in that country, largely held zero authority over Korean Nationals in any place other than military facilities, and even on those pieces of ground, their power was limited in a variety of ways.

And what sort of U. S. Settlements were there in the ROK as a result of “U. S. military occupation?” Other than Americans who worked on the facilities living in rented or where possible owned housing off those installations, there were none.

Obviously, it was and is acceptable for non-military members to go to Korea, to visit and to work, but that’s largely unrelated to what the various services are doing there.

Those who come to live in, work in, and visit the country, are there at the pleasure of the Korean government. If they choose to misbehave, the chances are, there will be some sort of punishment. That may mean expulsion, jail time, or other actions.

As with any country, the U. S. has diplomatic entities that may get involved, and might get the government of the Republic of Korea, to release American citizens to its authorities, so they can be repatriated (and potentially undergo punishment or rehabilitation in their home country).

I think it highly likely, the arrangements in most countries in which the United States has a presence, work in much the same way.

Now ask yourself this question, “Was this true for the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics?” How about North Korea? What about Iran?

When people seek to imply that the United States of America is a colonizing or empire building country in modern times, they really need to take a minute to compare what happened or happens in entities like the former USSR and other such places, to what occurs here. I think they’ll find the contrast to be quite interesting to say the least.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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A Great Place to Live – Religion and Politics

If I could live any place in the world—could count any destination my home other than the United States of America—I would politely decline the offer to leave this country at this point in my life.

I knew people, when I was in the United States Air Force that lived in villas in the Philippines as military members.

As well, when I was in the Republic of Korea as a serviceman, I paid a lady $20.00 a couple of times a month to keep my room clean and tidy—and she did an awesome job.

In each case, the reason we were able to do what we did—I and the people I knew—was that we were being paid wages that, inside the confines of the continental U. S. were considered to be at, slightly above, or a little below, the poverty level.

Put another way, as some of the poorer people in the country, we were able to afford to live exceptionally well when we went to places outside of America.

This should help to paint a picture of what it’s like to be a citizen of this grand experiment, by comparison to what much of the rest of the World deals with on an ongoing basis.

I bring this up, because I wanted to make a significant point.

There are people out there, who whether by intent or accident, are implying that living in this nation is tantamount to being unable to choose one’s form of government. Dr Noam Chomsky more or less says as much in the first chapter of “Understanding Power, The Indispensable Chomsky”.

My answer? That may well be true, but apparently it’s not keeping you from living a life of what would be considered one of privilege in and by the rest of the world.

The fact is, the U. S. wasn’t designed in such a way, that its citizens had the authority to choose its form of government.

Does that sound crazy? Allow me to explain.

The intent of the government that was put in place, was to allow the people in the country, to choose who represented them. Inasmuch as changes to that government were concerned, it was in fact, their job to make them.

And that’s not all, the fact is, this country was created as a representative republic. That first word, is explained in the former paragraph, but the next term indicates the real form of the country.

You see, America was designed not as a democracy as so many love to couch things, but by intent as a republic.

Let’s be clear on what that means. We were supposed to be a “nation under law;” a country who had a set of base rules, that were to be very hard to change. Those laws were not intended to be written in stone, but they weren’t designed to be easily mutable either.

It was the intent of those who created the country, to put in place, a set of foundational documents (read here, “The United States Constitution and The Declaration of Independence) that would be very hard to change.

That way, when modifications were made to those underlying parchments, they would have to be considered in the most serious of ways.

The result is that the Declaration has had no changes.

The Constitution on the other hand, has been amended a number of times. That said, it was never a painless or easy thing—it wasn’t intended to be.

Because this is true, attempting to radically change the form of American government, would have to be done by one of just a couple of means.

The first is getting people to agree to make those changes to the under-girding structures in place, such that things were adapted to make it possible to have a form of rule not intended nor desired by The Founders.

The second? Essentially revolution. Put another way, whether with armament or not, those basal documents would have to be taken out of force.

You can argue that either seems like a good thing, but you’ll permit me to strongly disagree.

Where it’s fair to say that it’s difficult at best, to change how this country is governed, I have to question why that’s such a terrible thing.

I’m going to say it yet again, the people of this country live what most would consider charmed lives. Even our poor are objects of envy, when compared to folks in other countries—and we’re not necessarily speaking about people in relative impoverishment either.

You can certainly argue that there are people in this country who’re doing things they ought not do.

You can definitely say government sometimes behaves in ways that are indubitably outside its purview.

Rather than making an argument against the founding, and the accepted form of leadership though, typically, you’d be making an argument against people abusing the system.

The American system of government is not perfect. If you’ve read my blog, you might’ve come across an article entitled The Perfect Government. If so, you should be aware that I indicate in that piece that there is no such thing as a perfect government (sorry to be a spoiler if you haven’t had the chance to peruse it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth reviewing, regardless that sneak peek).

You’re never going to get spotless leadership.

Does that mean you don’t try to make things the very best they can be? Not at all. We should continue to strive to improve.

That said, one ought not be disheartened on the realization we haven’t managed to reach Nirvana.

There are certainly arguments for using the tools at our disposal to effectuate change. Part of the wonder of this country (unlike many others) is that you have those mechanisms to use. They’re literally enshrined in our most basic law-giving texts.

So you can’t just change the way the country is run at your will. Yes, we have problems against which we’re constantly toiling. That said, there’s no place in the World I’d rather be than this one. You can be assured, based on the sheer number of people trying to get here, and the many not interested in leaving that I’m not alone in that.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Chomsky Commentary Chomsky Review Philosophy Politics Religion Religion, Politics and Philosophy

Left and Right – Religion and Politics

By now you’ve probably figured out that I tend to be a bit of sticker where language is concerned.

I could argue that I can’t help it. I could tell you that one of my parents has a Master’s Degree in Library Science, and another in English Literature. But the reality is, where my mother instilled in me a love of language, it’s been the potential for misunderstandings that’ve driven my desire for folks around me to deal in lingual precision.

The problem? I’ve learned that Dr Noam Chomsky is far from correct when he assumes there are but two meanings assigned to any significant word (he assumes a sort of “common” meaning, and a political one).

In fact, it’s my contention, that it’s quite normal for different people to have entirely disparate ideas what words mean when queried. And that’s whether or not we’re talking about politics.

Such is the case with words like “left” and “right” and “conservative” and “liberal.”

I did part of my growing up in Australia. The result is, much of my elementary and high school (there was no such thing as middle school where I was raised, at least none in which I found myself), I learned different meanings of words than those commonly taught in the U. S.

I have a friend who, as an adult, has come to be involved in a number of pursuits—one of them being politics—in the Northern Territory of Australia (Darwin, to be specific). That individual uses the word “Liberal” in much the same way, I would tend to use the word, “Conservative” in the United States.

I’m not saying his way of looking at things is exact for the word he’s using as for the one about which I’m speaking, just that there are more similarities between the two, than there appear to be differences.

What this implies to me, is actually relatively obvious. You cannot assume two people in different countries, mean the same thing when they use a particular word or set thereof.

If I told my friend that, say, Barack Obama was considered a Liberal in this country, it might cause him some apprehension that he counts himself in a party with Liberal in the name, were it not for his recognition of the difference in meaning from that country to this.

It may seem like that would not be the case if you chose to test definitions of words inside a single country. The fact is, if you came to that conclusion, you would be mistaken.

The reality is, it appears common for a word to have entirely different connotations from one person to the next; the more meaningful the word, the more true that appears to be. This seems to be the case even if the two live next door to each other.

This is certainly a fair statement in my view, for “conservative” and “liberal” and it appears to be equally so for the words “left” and “right”, where politics is concerned.

By way of example, it’s an acceptable thing in Dr Chomsky’s way of looking at the world, to consider fascism to be a rightist perspective. In my view, nothing could be further from the truth.

When I talk about the ideas that I want conveyed on using the terms left and right, I’m discussing two things diametrically opposed—at opposite ends of a spectrum, as it were.

Rightism to me, on the furthest end of it from Leftism, is something very much akin to anarchy.

Because of the way I understand actual Communism, I count it to be very much rightist. That’s as opposed to what’s typically referred to as Communism, but is commonly actually a “pre-communist” form of Socialism.

On the other end of the line I draw, is leftism. The far end of that side of things, is total control.

As such, very strong Socialism, dictatorships, strong oligarchies, monarchies, despotism and yes, fascism are all on the far left.

Because this is true, I also view Nazism as a far left ideology.

Looking at things the way I do, the fact is, I and a good many people, are neither on the far right nor the far left.

If a person likes the idea of government, and wants the provision of health care to be a matter for which it’s responsible, that person is someone one the left, but not necessarily anywhere near the very edge of that ideology.

On the other hand, if a person believes in a national government with extremely limited abilities, such as the ones I see spelled out in the U. S. Constitution, I consider that person to be what many would term center-right.

In the end though, that more or less makes the use of such terms somewhat untenable. Why? Well the reason is actually quite simple.

There those who would place me in the camp of people on the far right.

Laying out my position, I would say I was a person who desires to see the federal government of the U. S., limited in scope to those things I consider to be mandated in that base document of American government.

If we were to move in that direction, a great many components of the “administrative state” would completely cease to be in my way of thinking.

There would be no USDA, FAA, FCC, Department of Education, DEA, or ATF (whatever it’s currently called) to name just a few.

You might call that radical, or far right, I beg to differ. In my mind, far right is essentially a person who advocates for basically no government at all.

This is not the position I (and I think you’d find many) hold. We just believe that, if government takes up a given cause, it ought not occur at such a vaunted location as the national governmental entity in most cases.

Many of those agencies as currently encountered, probably shouldn’t exist at all. At any level. That said, if they do, for the most part, it ought to be at the lowest possible one.

You say that would make it so different states handled different things in different ways? Perhaps you’re not aware that was an intended consequence of government as defined in the Constitution?

Summing up. I very much doubt the current understanding of a great many terms—particularly in their political application—are anything like universally accepted. In fact, I doubt they could be. This is why one of the things I try to do on a regular basis, is talk about actual positions rather than supposed leanings. Will this issue ever be “fixed?” Based on the fact that things only appear to be getting more indistinct, my current feeling is, that can be answered in a single word, “No.”

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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A Propagandist Media – Religion and Politics

I promised I was likely to create commentary on my reading of the 1st chapter Dr Noam Chomsky’s book, “Understanding Power, The Indispensable Chomsky”. This is the first article in that processes

What I wanted to discuss here, is the idea that the media in the United States is essentially a “puppet of” a class that Dr Chomsky considers the power behind the government.

It would be easy for me to make a snarky comment at this point, but I’ll refrain from so doing.

Instead, I’ll start with a simple observation. It’s exceptionally obvious that there’re interests controlling the output of the mainstream media in the U. S.

It’s further pretty clear, that at least some of that control, is a result of the fact that the entities in question are “for profit” and typically either vast conglomerates in their own right, or smaller parts of large corporate groups.

Basically what I’m saying here, is that the media in America, considered to be main stream, is generally under the thumb of those “owning” them. Those counted their owners, may then be subjugated by yet others. It’s also distinctly possible there are others outside the direct power structure, who are in the position to wield external influence.

I can make an argument for a couple of other groups of folks who’re mostly not so managed by large corporate constructs. For at least one of them, it’s reasonable to conclude they’re beholden to various groups for routine infusions of cash.

That group, would be what’s currently referred to as the “Right Wing Media.”

Even the more autonomous individuals, must provide the correct type of content, in reasonable formats to make them popular, so their sponsors feel the advertisement for which they pay, is sufficiently effective to make it worth those monies dispensed for its existence.

As such, those in the “Right Wing Media,” must present narratives seen to be enticing to their listeners, watchers and readers. Failing to do so, means advertising revenue falls off. The result for their advertisers, is falling sales.

That said, if they can stay true to themselves, and continue to make a profit in the doing of it, it’s certainly possible, they can at least present the things they find important and reasonable.

The crucial thing to keep in mind where this group is concerned though, is that where some of what they present is “news” (and all news tends to be put out with some bias, regardless who broadcasts it), the majority of their content is opinion.

If their viewpoints resonate with a large number of people, all the better. If they don’t, it’s likely they’ll either shift their perspectives, lose business, or go completely out of operation.

Perhaps one of the best trends to have occurred where news and similar content is concerned though, is social media.

People can essentially become celebrities—some for quite frivolous things—more or less overnight.

That said, it’s possible for folks to create what amounts to newsworthy content, and “broadcast” it on social media. In the process, there’s a potential for huge numbers of followers.

Some social media companies offer ways to monetize that content, making it so people are able to live comfortably on putting it out there.

It’s literally possible to generate what amount to empires on this concept.

Recently, there has begun to be a problem. The truth is, it’s likely the issue has existed for some time, but has become more noticeable as the owners and stakeholders in such companies have become more brazen in their tactics.

The problem? That the very social media companies that have been making their fortunes off content providers through mechanisms like advertisers on their platforms, have begun to censor those providing them with the very substance upon which they were built.

There are those who refer to the folks doing such “filtering” as “tech tyrants.”

As a result of this activity, new social media platforms have begun to spring up. It’s hard to say whether these new entities will be able to essentially supplant the existing companies, or at least, work alongside them.

Further, it’s more than a little difficult to see whether they’ll remain true to their stated objective of providing the same sorts of services as the existing platforms, without censoring content when it doesn’t meet their own political and social values.

At present, that’s at least the stated objective of at a minimum, a couple such alliances.

Essentially, they hope to win the war of ideas, by allowing anyone in the space they’re providing, then attempting to proffer the most solid, meaningful arguments to get people to recognize the superiority of their positions.

There’s still an argument to the effect that some ideas won’t get “fair play” on such platforms, but honestly, I don’t think that’ll fail to happen as a result of the folks who own them.

Rather, the issue is likely to be that many are indoctrinated into specific schools of thought that have them sufficiently trapped as to make it impossible for them to embrace other mindsets without major adjustments to their way of thinking.

That considered, if the media folks about whom we’re speaking remain true to their collective word, at least there should be a place for people with off-the-beaten-track ideas to express them.

Finding ways to do so, that don’t immediately cause their audience to reach for the off switch, as it were, may not prove so easy a task.

Assuming the business environment to not be overly regulated. It should also be possible for more people to enter this space.

The other concern, is whether the government will use regulations to more tightly control what’s said.

This is already in play to some degree, when one considers the idea that rules, laws and regulations like the “Fairness Doctrine” are at least being considered, if not already in effect.

There are a couple of sneakier ways for government to limit Internet freedom that I won’t take the time to get into here if for no other reason than sheer space required.

So wrapping up. To begin with, it’s patently obvious to even the casual observer, Chomsky’s assertion that most of the current day (and certainly past) media is under some controlling entity, is correct. It’s typically also easy to see the entities in question are likely corporate in nature, and managed by powerful individuals (read here, “elites”). There’s hope for more openness, but even it is not guaranteed to result in the potential for propagation of “off kilter” ideas (those that don’t fit within the normally taught modes of thought).

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.