‘The Day Democracy Died’

Just when you thought Herr Trumpster had mastered social media, a modern musical Thomas Paine has risen to the challenge! Hope you enjoy this as much as I.

Pied Type

This toe-tapping little ditty is brought to you by our Founding Fathers. Full lyrics are on YouTube. Someone put a lot of work into writing these lyrics and making the video, yet there’s no one credited on the YouTube site. Given our society today, anonymity might be a wise move. (Or maybe it’s just to avoid a lawsuit over copyright infringement?)

The moniker “famous ignoramus” will be stuck in my head for a long time, and I’ll probably never again hear “American Pie” without thinking of this video.

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Past As Prologue

credit: knowyour meme.com

I recently came upon a 1949 review of George Orwell’s then-new dystopian novel, 1984 and was struck anew by its insight into human addiction to power. Power is intrinsic to the motivations of oligarchs, dictators and, I dare say, to most politicians but, I submit, Donald Trump is an epitome of the breed.  How else to explain his narcissism and obsessive, impulsive behavior?  Below, then, is a segment of reviewer Lionel Trilling’s take on the book that became a classic, courtesy of the New Yorker.

See if you agree with me that Orwell’s theme echoes present-day symptoms of income inequality, incessant small-scale war, lying, corruption, public paranoia, advocacy of torture, propaganda, and the quashing of the free press.

In 1984, nationalism as we know it has at last been overcome, and the world is organized into three great political entities. All profess the same philosophy, yet despite their agreement, or because of it, the three Super-States are always at war with each other, two always allied against one, but all seeing to it that the balance of power is kept, by means of sudden, treacherous shifts of alliance. This arrangement is established as if by the understanding of all, for although it is the ultimate aim of each to dominate the world, the immediate aim is the perpetuation of war without victory and without defeat. It has at last been truly understood that war is the health of the State; as an official slogan has it, “War Is Peace.” Perpetual war is the best assurance of perpetual absolute rule. It is also the most efficient method of consuming the production of the factories on which the economy of the State is based. The only alternative method is to distribute the goods among the population. But this has its clear danger. The life of pleasure is inimical to the health of the State. It stimulates the senses and thus encourages the illusion of individuality; it creates personal desires, thus potential personal thought and action.

But the life of pleasure has another, and even more significant, disadvantage in the political future that Orwell projects from his observation of certain developments of political practice in the last two decades. The rulers he envisages are men who, in seizing rule, have grasped the innermost principles of power. All other oligarchs have included some general good in their impulse to rule and have played at being philosopher-kings or priest-kings or scientist-kings, with an announced program of beneficence. The rulers of Orwell’s State know that power in its pure form has for its true end nothing but itself, and they know that the nature of power is defined by the pain it can inflict on others. They know, too, that just as wealth exists only in relation to the poverty of others, so power in its pure aspect exists only in relation to the weakness of others, and that any power of the ruled, even the power to experience happiness, is by that much a diminution of the power of the rulers.

Big Brother lives.

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Credit: Imgur.com

What does science have to say about man’s tendency to violence? That is the subject of the latest episode of PBS’s NOVA program. Surprisingly, someone has found a way to quantify episodes of violence throughout history by statistical analysis of writings and make a very convincing case that, despite two world wars, violence is actually on the wane.  Needless to say, however, one of several individuals through technology now has the power to end human life as we know it.  All the more important, I submit, that we strive to consider this knowledge in crafting political checks and balances.

Given the fraught times we live in, I am finding this fascinating. Stephen Pinker, the Harvard psychologist and intellectual, is prominently featured. I commend this program to all my readers who, like myself, continue to puzzle over the meaning of life and human motivations.

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Odd thoughts go through my head:

Woodrow Wilson’s enemy was the Kaiser
Herbert Hoover’s enemy was economics
FDR’s enemies were the axis powers
HST’s enemy was communism
Ike’s enemy was the USSR
LBJ’s enemy was arrogance
Nixon’s enemy was himself
Carter’s enemy was micromanagement
Reagan’s enemy was the USSR
Bush I’s enemy was candor
Clinton’s enemy was testosterone
Bush II’s enemy was impetuosity
Obama’s enemy was the GOP
Trump’s enemy is democracy

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 417

A Frank Angle’s OITS posts are always thought-provoking. This one was particularly so for me because of its link to “ranked-choice voting”, and a fascinating link about the speed of light. Enjoy!

A Frank Angle

Like much of the country, winter has arrived in Cincinnati earlier than normal – and with prolonged temperatures delivering new daily records. Brrrrrrrr ….

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, is next to take the stage for a weekend concert. Schedule: Next Saturday, 23rd November 1:00 AM (Eastern US)

I continue to enjoy going through my blog closet. On the other hand, that cupboard is on the way to being bare.

I had my first grapefruit of the new season. With still a bit of bitterness that sweeter grapefruits do not have, I’ll try again after in two weeks.

By the time 2020 starts, and era will end – the last Sears store in Cincinnati will close. Just think – they could have been the Amazon of today before Amazon was Amazon.

While crushing their most recent opponent, the Benevolent Impalers (8-2) are in a 3-way tie for first place…

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After stewing all week over the scene in Washington I decided to write an op-ed letter to send to our local newspaper, the Joplin Globe.  I don’t know if they will have room for it this Sunday, but anyhow, here it is:

Today I heard GOP chairman Grassley accuse Democrats of being “monstrous” in their opposition to nominee Kavanaugh. Since November 2016 I’ve voted Democrat and I don’t feel that believing the following makes me a monster:

• Government should help people and solve problems.
• Keynesian economics makes sense and stimulus funds are a remedy for recessions.
• Government ought not promote any religion over another, but treat all equally.
• Capital punishment does little to deter crime and is more expensive than life sentences.
• A woman ought to have control of her own body and has a right to the same dignity afforded a man.
• I have a right to own guns (I do) but not machine guns, bazookas or surface-to-air missiles.
• What goes on in bedrooms by mutually consenting adults is none of the government’s business.
• Environmental programs are needed to keep the planet livable for everyone.

Relative to Senator Grassley’s charge, he and the GOP should recognize that judge Kavanaugh voluntarily entered the profession of politics knowing its nature (judges are elected) and that failing to meet the standards for a Supreme Court lifetime appointment is hardly shameful. The hearing was not a trial but rather a job interview. To take criticism and background interviews as personal attacks is to mischaracterize them. His family was not “destroyed” in the process. His angry performance is evidence to me that he lacks the detachment, political impartiality and temperament for the job. He’s a good man but just not the right man.

How can we begin to heal the terrible partisan divide in our country? I have a suggestion: ranked choice voting, a.k.a. instant runoff voting, in primaries. (You can look it up.) It is designed to favor moderates over extremists. Maine will become the first state to use it next Tuesday, 9 October.

Jim Wheeler




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‘Batboy’ Jake a big hit at the ballpark

Reblogged from Piedtype.com. Delightful!!

Pied Type

Here’s a burst of sunshine for your weekend: Jake the Diamond Dog. No politics here, unless maybe you don’t like dogs. (I don’t trust people who don’t like dogs.)

Come on now, everybody smile!

I borrowed this from Ronni Bennett’s Time Goes By. I don’t think she’ll mind sharing the sunshine.

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