14 March 2018

One-way Collusion Not Possible 

One-way Collusion Not Possible

The Trump Administration has been masterful in characterizing the Mueller investigation as a search for collusion between it and Russia to influence its 2016 Election campaign against its opponent, Hillary Clinton.  It has known that it could show that the Mueller investigation has been a failure at that, for Trump’s campaign managers realize that if they benefited from Russian interference, they were unwitting beneficiaries.  They had nothing to do with it.  They did not collude with the Russians; therefore, there was no collusion.  Of course, it takes two to collude.

Mueller’s real objective will turn out to be to demonstrate that Russia did illegally interfere in the U.S. election process, and to show how it did so.  There may be individual facilitators who can be prosecuted for criminal conspiracy, and there surely will be lessons to be learned in order to prevent such distortion of our democratic system in the future.  The main harm the Mueller investigation will do to the Trump Administration will be to weaken the legitimacy of its claim on the U.S. presidency.  That is something that a swell-head like Donald Trump will never be able to swallow. 

26 February 2018

Stopping School Shootings
Preventing school shootings in the U.S., like Parkland, will take a lot more than reducing mentally disturbed persons’ access to firearms.  That might make it more difficult for potential mass killers to carry out their awful schemes; but it won’t alter their desire to resolve personal issues by resorting to extreme antisocial behavior.  Simplifying the American problem with violence to ready access to firearms is our way of disguising our basic societal flaw of protecting individual liberty at the cost of disregarding responsible communal boundaries.  This is a weakness in the American system that must be addressed with a painstaking effort by concerned citizens to correct it even though it would mean admitting that American exceptionalism has a detestable aspect too.
Is there anything unusual about American society’s vulnerability to violent outbursts like school shootings?  Other wealthy nations do not seem to suffer the same weakness.  It is not only easy access to firearms that distinguishes America.  I would argue that the principle of individual freedom to rebel  against the perceived unmerited third-party imposition of control over personal behavior leads us to encourage breakages of communal standards that cause some of us to ignore traffic rules, evade income tax regulations, and even to extinguish innocent children’s lives.
Banning bump-stock or automatic weapons sales won’t prevent the unwarranted mass killings--banning matches won’t reduce arson; like a traffic barrier, it will only make their execution more challenging.  What is needed is a difficult, persistent and imaginative campaign to change our expectation that life’s frustrations and outrages can equally be resolved by simple measures.   Preventing blazes of violence  will require constant investment in vigilance and treatment of possible perpetrators.

19 February 2018

Why I Read About The14th Century

I don’t learn anything to remember from Barbara Tuchman’s “A Distant Mirror.”  It merely distracts me from my daily chores and compelling business pursuits.  It submits me to a delusion of participating in another time, six hundred years earlier when kings and princes were endowed by their subjects with wealth apparently earned by their toil and paid unquestioningly as their tribute to a class of rulers installed over them by the Almighty.  No one—not the peasants nor the nobility—even suspected there was any other way of life.  Not until the Enlightenment was the idea believed that people had any right to determine how they were governed or what they owned.

04 January 2018

The Mary Mind

John Mark Lucas’ and Rev. Elizabeth Forest’s book interpreting the parables of Jesus as lessons for living according to His teachings of Peace and Love focuses on the individual’s personal relationship with his God.  This is the same mistake that my Catholic instruction as a child made.  It seems to ignore a person’s relationship with his fellow man.  Isn’t that the most important standard according to which a person’s moral life ought to be set?  Even if the book‘s editing were to be improved, that weakness alone discounts the validity of its message. 

The Mary Mind’s Introduction defines the Peace that Jesus taught as a State of Mind.   I agree that His lessons included that Peace is a goal that people should strive to attain; however, that Peace is a state of existence for the entire community of mankind.  The combined message of the Gospel, therefore, is to live a life that helps all humans relieve their troubles and that thereby perfects a personal condition of holiness.

22 November 2017

Trump's Delusion 

Trump’s Delusion

Donald Trump acts as if he had assumed the office of the Presidency by Divine Right.  To him, popular election awarded the White House to him by the kind of lucky stroke that birth performed on behalf of Richard II.  Trump shouldn’t be expected to act any differently than he has all his life, as the heir to a successful real estate developer’s fortune and power. 

“The Donald” couldn’t help himself avoid accepting the mantle of the Presidency; therefore he is not responsible for living up to any standard of behavior.  What we see is what we got.

The dilemma for the country is that we cannot count on the future’s assuring favorable conditions for what we dedicate our lives to now.  We will have to trust in luck that without principles of behavior for our leadership the world will welcome the fruits of our efforts and our progeny in the future.  A scary prospect!  Fortunately, we can at least hope that the rest of the liberal democratic world will now bear the burden of keeping the international system in functioning order.

The Trump era may spell the end of America ‘s post WWII dominance.

17 February 2017

President Trump’s New Clothes

President Trump’s February  16, 2017, impromptu press conference was notable for a great number of things, including his statement, on being called out for exaggerating the size of his 2016 Electoral College victory--“I was given that information .”  Of course, he expected everybody to believe his claim just because he said it.
“But he has no clothes on!” shouted the little boy in Hans Christian Andersen’s fable.   Donald Trump has surrounded himself with sycophants (or Svengalis) in his “fine-tuned machine” of an administration.

This country will not be able to look to its new President for leadership.  Rather he will smoothly translate into convincing policy goals the schemes of friendly manipulators who represent special interests.  That’s his expertise; that’s his art of a deal.

16 February 2017

Insurance Company Pull-outs

The announcement on 15 February 2017 that Humana will pull out of Obamacare’s insurance exchanges is only confirmation that insurance companies think that under Trump the ACA will inevitably be ended.  They are happy that there will be a return to a free market for medical insurance, and higher profitability for their business.

Many people will lose their newly –won medical coverage, the economic cost of American health care will go up, and the country’s short flirtation with something approaching universal medical insurance will fade away.  It was probably a pipe dream that the vaunted U.S. ideal of private enterprise could be successfully rolled into a government-subsidized healthcare system , anyway.  Now we will know another consequence of the 2016 presidential election.

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