Phony “Communities”

As a “loner,” I might be criticized for my suspicion of the word “community.” It comes from Latin and provides the root for numerous other common words. Cómmune as a noun means a group of people living together and sharing possessions and responsibilities. As a verb, commúne can mean to relate to someone or something on a spiritual level as in commune with God or commune with nature. Most, if not all, of us belong to one community or another. Unless we are homesteaders or squatters living alone in the far reaches of a wilderness, we have hometowns that are governed by elected representatives. In ages past, such communities were formed to provide mutual protection from the rogues among us. Since then, our being part of a community makes us “insiders.” It gives us that warm, cozy feeling that comes with belonging. As such I cannot argue that community is not a good thing.

What, then, is my beef with the word community? The word is meant to be a limiter. It limits the members of a group to a feature or set of features that they all hold in common. They all live in the same place, or do the same thing for a living, or pray to the same God, or wear the same clothing (or uniforms), enjoy the same movies, root for the same team, etc. Unfortunately, in modern political discourse, the word has been stretched beyond its legitimate use, and we hear reference to groups that are so diverse that the word community doesn’t fit. Why is that so? Because it’s a way for someone to create an illusion that he/she finds politically advantageous. Its use is designed to suggest that members of a given group form a “community” of people with common interests. Like all illusions, though, it is misleading, an attempt to make it appear that there is a community where one does not exist.

Take, for example, the “Black Community.” This label is used by those who want to create the illusion that all black people share the same goals as, say, Al Sharpton; that somehow Thomas Sowell, Ben Carson, and Condoleeza Rice all have much in common with Trayvon Martin, Tawana Brawley, and Jeremiah Wright. “Hispanic Community” suggests that the Latin Kings are part of the same “community” as Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Linda Chavez. And consider one of the most ludicrous constructs ever produced by the mind of man, the “World Community.” Vladimir Putin’s activities in Crimea and the rest of Ukraine, we are told, will cause him to be isolated by the “World Community.” Are we to believe that such a thing actually exists; that China, Cuba, Syria, Israel, Iran, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Belize, Bhutan, Germany, and Brazil will unite in condemnation of Putin’s machinations? Please. Let’s enjoy those legitimate communities to which we belong but not get taken in by those that are fabricated by propagandists or wishful thinkers.

Dwight Boud © 2014

“Progressives” or “Coercives”?

A lot of Democrats like to call themselves Progressives. As in any such group, significant differences exist between individual members. Yet, as in any group, members share certain commonalities. Otherwise no “group.” So, at the risk of over generalizing, I offer these observations.

The label Progressive suggests that there is some destination toward which our nation is aimed and Progressives not only know what the destination is but are dedicated to the task of moving us toward that destination. The problem is that countries go on and on endlessly influenced by unforeseeable circumstances. President Obama’s policies, for example, while aimed at predetermined domestic political goals, are constantly beset by unwelcome and unforeseen foreign affairs challenges. These are obviously annoying to him and sometimes go unattended.

While “Progressives” claim prescience (their chosen name tells us so) the rest of us, apparently, are benighted. We muddle along pursuing our individual goals unaware of the destiny toward which our country must “inevitably” be moved. This limitation is thought to be true of educated and informed Non-Progressives, not to mention the numerous “uninformed voters” that we see in man-on-the-street TV interviews.

Regardless of the advanced educations of numerous Non-Progressives, they are generally portrayed as lightweights who don’t possess the wisdom to see the way forward that “Progressives” see. In fact, Non-Progressives have the audacity to resist and to fight against the enlightened programs put forth by “Progressive” leaders. But that, we are to believe, is only because of their ignorance of what is truly in their own best interests. This resistance, of course, must be overcome because it impedes national progress. To many “Progressives” the end justifies the means. That makes it ok, in fact laudable, to lie and mislead to achieve “progress.” (Saul Alinsky must be proud.)

When resistance is strong and a means can be found to force “progress” on the ignorant masses, it is used. President Obama’s idiosyncratic use of Executive Orders to foster major governmental changes are examples. Generally, central government control by “Progressives” is seen as a good thing by them because it allows the smart people of the world to determine what is best for the not so bright citizenry and put it into effect. Unfortunately, because it gets messy and slows things down (Obama won’t wait for Congress), such resistance must often be overcome by force. Little is achieved by “Progressives” that does not involve force, fraud, or bribery. Consider, for example the manner in which the so-called “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” was shoved down the nation’s throat. “Progressives” now direct the bulk of Federal Government agencies: the Bureau of Land Management, EPA, Health and Human Services to name just three in which similar high handed methods are evident. For that reason, and for the sake of accuracy, the so-called progressives of the world deserve to be called “Coercives,” a name that should be used wherever it fits.

Investigate the Benghazi Crimes Themselves

Whenever a heinous crime is committed, it has become common to hear politicians and pundits say something like, “The first thing we have to do is make sure something like this never happens again.” While that remark may reflect an important goal, it’s a long term goal and not “the first thing” that should be done. If your house were burglarized, would you be happy to hear the police say that, or would you rather have them focus first on finding, arresting, and prosecuting the burglar.

So what’s the story with the murders of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods? It seems as though some people want to leave the Benghazi murders behind as long as we’ve taken steps to prevent another such attack. About four months after the murders, Hillary Clinton famously asked “What difference does it make?” suggesting that it was ancient history and not worthy of further investigation. How would you like to hear those words from the police investigating your house burglary?

In that hypothetical burglary, if your neighbors had been in a position to witness the break-in, wouldn’t you want the police to question them? In Benghazi, there were more than four people present. There are survivors, yet for some reason, the survivors have not been interviewed. This fact appears to be part of what many see as an administration cover-up.

As important as it is to unravel a cover-up, it’s at least as important to understand the attack itself. The attackers need to be apprehended, preferably alive, and grilled on how and why they did what they did. Many questions remain to be answered: Why wasn’t there better security? Why has there been so little progress toward apprehending the killers? Why hasn’t “the most transparent administration ever” been more forthcoming in response to congressional requests for information? Why weren’t military assets mobilized to aid the defenders? Where was the commander-in-chief while the attack was underway? and so on. There remain ample reasons to convene a special committee with subpoena power to uncover the whole story of what happened and why.

Tell Vladimir I Can Be More Flexible After the Election.

More flexible?

Open Letter on Learning

An Open Letter to Kids About Their Education
by
Dwight Boud

Dear Student,

You are growing fast. Every year you are expected to learn more than you knew the year before. When you turn eighteen, you are viewed as an adult. You are expected, then, to go to college or take a job.

I was a teacher for thirty years. During those years, I saw how schools are set up and how adults often disagree about the best way to educate children. These adults are teachers, professors, parents, school board members, politicians, principals, superintendents, journalists, and political activists.

Every year that adults argue about education, you grow a year closer to adulthood. You do not have time to wait for them to decide on the best way to teach you. Don’t assume that they don’t know what they are doing. Many of them are wise and well-educated themselves. They can teach you much. Unfortunately, you may find yourself in a classroom or school where that’s not true. Don’t accept that as the way things have to be.

No matter who you are or what you’re interested in, nearly everything you need to know is available elsewhere, mostly in books. You’re lucky to live at a time, too, when new technology is popping up all over the place: laptops, iPads, smart phones, search engines, etc.

Most of us learn in individual ways. That means that some people have to hear a lesson, others have to see it as well. Some have to try to do something new themselves. Others learn best by reading about something. There is no good way for one teacher to meet all these needs in the usual classroom. That’s where you come in.

In the long run, you are responsible for your own education. No one can keep you from learning if you are determined to do so. Some people continue studying and learning for a lifetime. When I was teaching in high school I used to remind my students that “all this stuff” (the material I was presenting to them) is in books. Now it’s in books, movies, DVD’s, online, etc. It’s very important for you, your family, your community, and even your country that you learn as much as you can. We all have skills and aptitudes that we should develop to their full potential.

So don’t wait for grown-ups to decide what is the best way for everyone to learn. Certainly don’t lock yourself into any theory, scheme, or organization that claims to know all the answers. Start where you are most interested but don’t limit yourself to only one subject, build on what you already know, consult with people who already understand an area that interests you (don’t forget your teachers, they love good questions) and dedicate yourself to continued learning.

© Dwight Boud 2014

Birds of a Feather

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Secrecy Bites Redux

When I saw Nancy Pelosi caught looking foolish on Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show,” I thought she would have done well to read this blog entry that I posted a while back. I decided to bring it back for a timely encore.

It appears to me that the President’s penchant for secrecy has come around to bite him. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was sold, much like the President himself, as a “pig in a poke.” Virtually no one read it before it was “passed.” It was thousands of pages long and legislators were told they had to “pass it to find out what was in it.” Obviously whatever was in it had to be kept secret. So what to do when it came time to set up the computer programs to enable the new law to work? If they hired one outstanding firm to assign their best programmers to the task, it was almost certain that the programmers would have to know what was in it. After all, how could they write code without knowing what the code was supposed to accomplish?

The way to keep it secret was, first of all, to use only people who could be trusted. The programming job had to be done by people who wouldn’t spill the beans. Spilling the beans prematurely could engender more resistance to the law than was good for the President’s objectives. But even that wasn’t fool proof. Washington, D.C. was prone to information leaks. To make such leaks less likely, the best plan was a.) to give the job to a Canadian company, after all, they already had a nationalized healthcare system, and b.) to divide the programming into separate smaller segments. That way the program could be written but be so fragmented that no one would have the overall picture. The right hand wouldn’t know what the left hand was doing. It could all be put together later.

One method programmers use when they don’t know specifically what goes into a certain position in a program is to enter “placeholder” language. When that is all “put together” without being edited by someone who understands the demands of the whole law, you get what we’ve got. But it all had to be kept secret. You know, like Obama’s college records, who it was who decided to say that the Benghazi killings happened because of a video, who gave the orders for the IRS to target conservative groups, and on and on.

The problems with the sign-up page are just the beginning. Who has any confidence that other aspects of the program are set to run any more smoothly? Millions of people have been told their health insurance doesn’t qualify under the new law. So much for “you can keep your plan.”

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