The lemmings have spoken

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I voted today as well.

I’ve been voting since I first registered as soon as I turned 18. I used to do it with pride. I looked forward to it then because I saw its importance, and like many, I rather naively believed that I could make a difference.

Remember, this was about the time that the Cold War came to a close and that freedom seemed to break out everywhere. The economy expanded, and the United States reclaimed its rightful place as the leader of the free world.

In the 90s, we saw an extended period of (mostly) peace and prosperity. I boldly claimed that Roadside’s “Recipe for an American Renaissance” would soon become a plank in someone’s political campaign.

Then… We’ll, you all know what happened. Bush happened. 9/11 happened. Iraq happened.

You were played. The powers-that-were preyed upon the ignorant and convinced too many of you to give up your liberties in exchange for a false sense of security. The peace dividend (remember that?) became a quaint notion. Government exploded and steadily took away more of our rights, while convincing you it was for your own good. Whether it was the promise of free healthcare, peace in the Middle East, or a new auto plant in your state, you gladly handed over huge chunks of your productive life all-too-willingly to the latest overlords.

When that didn’t work out so well, you looked for a yet another new overlord, no longer giving a damn about things like integrity or character, because you justifiably believed that within government, it no longer existed. So what the hell? Why not vote for your drunk uncle or your sanctimonious aunt?

This is what voting has now given us. People choosing between the worst of two evils, and every cycle, the evil just gets more so, and so you end up caring that much less. You’ll even vote for useless blobs of protoplasm like Trump or Hillary or their acolytes, and you wonder why everyone is so damn angry.

I never wondered. I saw this coming. And I see it getting worse, because too many of you insist that if we just tinker with the same-ol’, same-ol’, the country will heal.

It won’t. Until you finally understand that the status quo needs to be destroyed once and for all, we will remain mired in this funk and we will ultimately lose our standing in the world — if we haven’t already.

But you won’t. You don’t have the balls.

And if you think swinging the pendulum HARD in the other direction is going to make life better for us, you’re being…

Just. Plain. Stupid.

I have met the enemy. And it is you.

Should Kavanaugh’s high school past be an issue?

You know how everyone says that you never quite leave high school? Have you ever been to your high school reunion and came away amazed at how little the people you knew 20, 30, 40 years ago haven’t changed all that much?

That aside, I believe that there are some positions in our society that require candidates who have lived unimpeachable lives. There are only nine seats on the Supreme Court, so finding nine individuals out of 330 million citizens who are not only qualified but worthy of the position should not be such a big deal.

For the record, I believe the woman. I believe that she had a violent sexual encounter with Kavanaugh. On balance, she will gain nothing from this. She just ruined her life by entrusting Feinstein’s office with these revelations. She’s going to be that guy who caught the foul ball at the Cubs playoff game. She will never get away from this.

Had she reported him the next day and he was found guilty, you would not likely see him sitting in any Senate hearing room today. You might see him toiling away as a law clerk far away from Washington or chasing ambulances in Kalamazoo. With his smarts and connections, he would have lead a prosperous life in obscurity.

Instead, he went on to have an illustrious and distinguished career working at the highest levels. To deprive him of a seat on the Supreme Court would hardly punish him or us in any material way, but his experience serves as a cautionary tale for any aspiring jurist or anyone else seeking a position at the highest levels. Lead an unimpeachable life.

Someone who made up facts in a college newspaper story doesn’t get to be editor of the New York Times, who murdered dogs does not deserve to be a quarterback in the NFL, and who boasts about groping women on national TV shouldn’t be president.

Character matters — probably today more than ever — and integrity is formed and solidified in high school.

(Originally answered at Quora.com)

You do NOT separate kids from parents. Period. 

The policy so far has pushed shelters to their capacity. Trump administration officials are making preparations to hold immigrant children on military bases. On Thursday, the Trump administration said it will house children in tents in the desert outside El Paso. “The really basic, foundational needs of having trust in adults as a young child was not being met. That contradicts everything we know that the kids need to build their health,” said Dr Kraft after her visit to the Texas shelter.

Source: ‘America is better than this’: What a doctor saw in a Texas shelter for migrant children | The Independent

I don’t give a damn what it says in the Bible. You do not make kids suffer, not if you can help it. Ever.

This is not my country. My America does not do this.

You Can’t Deny that Venezuela is a Socialist Calamity – Foundation for Economic Education

This humanitarian disaster has raised the question of who or what to blame. That question puts self-proclaimed socialists and their progressive sympathizers in a difficult spot. After all, one can easily find lots of examples (from Michael Moore to Bernie Sanders) of people on the left praising or endorsing Chavez’s economic policies. So what can people who took that position say in the face of this disaster? And what can the defenders of free enterprise say as well?
— Read on fee.org/articles/you-cant-deny-that-venezuela-is-a-socialist-calamity/

This is what Bernie Sanders wants for us. This is government control.

The kids are not quite right

What explains this generational divergence? The first factor is that young adults may take for granted the bounty capitalism has bestowed, from cellphones to inexpensive air travel to an endless array of food and beverage options. They can’t remember the time when those things didn’t exist.

Why does socialism hang around like fruit flies in an otherwise clean kitchen? Because people like free stuff and hate the rich.

From Reason Magazine. Read more.

Will on Pence — Killing him loquaciously

“Henry Adams said that “practical politics consists in ignoring facts,” but what was the practicality in Pence’s disregard of the facts about Arpaio? His pandering had no purpose beyond serving Pence’s vocation, which is to ingratiate himself with his audience of the moment. The audience for his praise of Arpaio was given to chanting “Build that wall!” and applauded Arpaio, who wears Trump’s pardon like a boutonniere.”

How can you not love someone of such eloquence and erudition? And especially when they are so on the mark?

www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-is-no-longer-the-worst-person-in-government/2018/05/09/10e59eba-52f1-11e8-a551-5b648abe29ef_story.html

Four issues that expose Jenkintown’s festering malaise and the people responsible for it

Most people who live here want to preserve Jenkintown’s small-town character, and yet our leaders seem hell-bent on letting that unravel. Council leadership and Borough Solicitor Sean Kilkenny, have led our town and its citizens into a growing thicket of municipal failures and public outrages.

It concerns me particularly, because I’ve traveled though hundreds of small towns across this region, observing that cities and towns enter decline for many reasons. They keep declining or linger in malaise for mainly one: The absence of capable, visionary, and civic-minded leadership.

To any outsider who casts even a casual glance into the activities of our local government, clearly we look bad. Foolish, might apply even better. Here’s why:

Jenkintown, Pennsylvania: a bell jar sample of municipal decline

Where is Mr. Clean: Municipal Formula when you need him?

I fought the law, and guess what happened?

A cautionary tale for anyone thinking they can make a difference

A friend of of mine who follows my dealings with Jenkintown Borough recently related his own experience that spoke to the futility of civic engagement. My friend, an attorney and a one-time senior official in state government, possesses considerable political acumen. Earlier in his adult life, he and his wife also decided to get very much involved in their bucolic community just north of Boston. After months of frustration, they decided instead to just move.

Luckily for my friend, his current financial status insulates him from municipal shenanigans. My family? Not so much. Decisions made by Jenkintown Borough and Jenkintown School District affect us profoundly. We therefore have incentive to get involved and to make our positions known, but after our experiences of the past couple of years, rubber mallets to our heads would produce much the same result and take far less time.

Not here, not now, not ever

While our story began with a campaign to discuss the rationality of Jenkintown’s sidewalk ordinance, it evolved into a tale with a familiar theme; that familiarity breeds contempt. We approached the Borough not only asking for help, but we also presented an alternative plan that we thought was a well-reasoned and researched.

The Borough not only expressed no interest in discussing the matter, they took action to actually make matters worse for us. Meanwhile a council member publicly disparaged us on social media as crackpots, calling our ideas “quixotic”. We were not asking for the Borough to build a protective dome or to mow our lawn. We were asking it to reconsider an ordinance that hurt people financially and produced a substandard results. We characterized it as paying for steak and getting McNuggets.

Since this began, here’s a short list of what we experienced:

  • Neighbors falsely accusing us of trying to evade our responsibilities
  • A Borough Councilor flatly proclaiming, “This is the way we’ve always done it. This is the way everyone else does it. I see no reason to change this now.”
  • That same borough councilor trolling my Facebook page and posting a comment on our website saying, among other things, “I pity your family.”
  • A Borough Manager that conveyed false information to a judge about a decision to rescind the lien process used to pay for work the resident couldn’t afford
  • The threat of fines from the county amounting to $185 per day if we didn’t complete the work
  • Neighbors accusing us of misrepresenting ourselves in a GoFundMe campaign we launched in order to pay for the work
  • The Mayor of Jenkintown blocking me from seeing any of his Facebook posts, Trump-style, including those that conveyed official information on public forums

A right to know (what we want you to know)

And finally, in an attempt to investigate possible improprieties of that trolling councilor, I filed a Right-To-Know request for emails sent to and from his borough email address. The Borough invoked their right to a 30-day extension, which I believed meant they needed time to assemble the evidence, redacted for reasons related to privacy.

Instead, I received a letter from the Borough with an estimate for computer forensic services for the amount of $3,800 to retrieve these emails. As an IT professional myself, I knew that such services would only be required if the Borough had not just deleted those emails, but wiped them clean from the server. This made little sense, for a couple of reasons.

First, the Borough apparently employs the use of Microsoft’s Outlook cloud services to administer their email, which means that the emails never really go away. Second, I had already spoken with another Council member about this and he offered to let me see his email account anytime.

No connections, no consideration, no service

The Borough’s letter suggested that I should write the the office of our borough solicitor, Sean Kilkenny, with any questions or concerns, and of course I had questions. The Borough’s letter indicated that the estimate I received was the lowest of three they solicited, so I asked for the other two since they expected me to pay them. Also, I wondered why I should even need a forensics firm for this, as it would imply that they deleted their emails. I wrote three letters over the course of a month, and I received no reply.

Further research showed me that document archival guidelines set forth by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission determines that administrative correspondence, which includes emails, only need to be retained for “as long as administratively useful.” In other words, if Jenkintown lies to me and says that the emails didn’t exist, they have legal cover.

This is obstruction plain and simple. This means that if you have good reason to believe that your elected official is up to no good, a private citizen has no recourse and no right to see any official correspondence that might prove that fact. However, you can bet that if the FBI comes calling, those emails will magically reappear.

Our tiny little town would have you think that its size, demographics, and location would make it an almost idyllic community. Good school, easy access to transit, and a rich mix of housing types should make it the poster-town for small-town living. The dream of such a lifestyle does exist here, but it means avoiding any interaction with its government or attempting to have it address something that is not already on its agenda.

Welcome to small-town politics at its smallest.

Still flummoxed by the election?

Hillary and Bill Clinton, Joe Biden and the current Democratic Party leadership designed and built the massive system of imprisonment, essentially ended welfare, expanded our wars and pushed through NAFTA. They destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands of poor and working-class families and are responsible for the mounds of corpses in the Middle East. Yet these liberal elites speak as if they are champions of racial and economic justice. They appear in choreographed pseudo-events to demonstrate a faux compassion. Now they have been exposed as fakes.

A lengthy but poignant read.

You can ignore, dismiss, and deride those you disagree with for only so long before they rise up and give you your comeuppance. I was always hoping for such an event, but not with Littlefinger.

Source: Chris Hedges: Donald Trump’s Greatest Allies Are the Liberal Elites – Chris Hedges – Truthdig

Manning is a hero(ine)

Chelsea Manning

I know some of my friends who are military and ex-military who are apoplectic about this, but as an individual who never trusts power of the state, I applaud this commutation.

Manning revealed “secrets” that exposed unlawful conduct of the United States government, carried out during a time the country was engaged in an illegal war perpetrated by men who, if coming from a smaller country, would have been prosecuted for war crimes. It revealed that our government was harming its own citizens and those of innocents abroad.

Maybe he did violate his oath, and maybe it did lead to the deaths of some of our own allies and agents on the ground, but the founding fathers violated their allegiance to the Crown for similar reasons, and for that they would have been hung, or worse. Keeping an oath to protect a government that has disregarded the principles outlined in our own Constitution, or to carry out atrocities in the name of that government is a much greater cowardice than exposing them. Manning revealed to the American public information it needed to know and that it was entitled to know.

Manning exposing these “secrets” also serves as a great benefit to anyone who considers volunteering for the military. Now that they will know their government does not always represent our best interests, they may rightfully reconsider their decision to die for it. As my daughter rapidly approaches that age of decision, I see this as an opportunity to make it with all information necessary.

I do not condone Manning’s decision to funnel this information through Assange, as I don’t believe Assange cares much about the United States or its interests. However, I do think that Manning’s intentions were consistent with American democratic values. In my mind, he was defending the Constitution, which incidentally is exactly what he had sworn to do.

And as far as going through channels and reporting what he saw to his superiors, it’s already pretty well documented how useless our whistleblower laws are. The stories of these brave inidividuals being fired, demoted, blackballed, or worse, despite this law are all-too-common.

Manning served seven years, but was sentenced to a term of far longer than was considered normal for that crime. Obama, for once, did the right thing.