Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just an essay, not a political diatribe

There are two schools of thought as to what kind of government Americans want, and the divide between those two schools seems to be getting more and more pronounced.

On one side are the people who believe the function of government is to provide for their daily needs and wants, and on the other side are the people who seek LESS government presence in their daily lives. At the same time, to make the debate more interesting, each side constantly puts out misinformation (conservatives have no compassion for the poor and liberals are all commies) about the other side, and each plays the blame game.

So, what kind of “federal” government does the U.S. have? What was it meant to be, according to our constitution?

In 1787, the American people were asking the same question. The man who (mostly) wrote our constitution answered that question in Federalist #39: the (then proposed) constitution contemplated neither a wholly national government nor a wholly federal government, but instead a combination of both. Working through the Senate, it was to be a FEDERAL government which facilitated the interactions between the individual states, as the Senators explained the needs and desires of their states, while at the same time taking care not to intrude too closely in the affairs of the individual citizens of those states. Yet, working through the House of Representatives, it becomes very much a NATIONAL government rather than a federal government, intending simultaneously to be responsive directly to the needs of the citizens of the nation as a whole, while being denied the absolute sovereignty that a true national government has to overrule (and even abolish) local governments.

It has been a tug of war ever since as to just how closely the “federal” government might be allowed to influence the everyday lives of the national (American) citizens, and how much it should be beaten back towards the federalist end of the spectrum so the states can still function as the sovereign entities contemplated when they first banded together. Sovereign, of course, within their individual realms. This never-ending ebb and flow is the result of the biennial changing of the House of Representatives as the individual citizens make their current wishes known as to the direction their country should take.

History shows us that whenever private enterprise and states rights advocates are too successful in this never-ending tug of war, robber barons and local tyrants begin to flourish. Conversely, when the historic pendulum swings too far in the direction of a national goverment, intimate interference into the daily lives of American citizens begins to cause a stifling effect on free enterprise and, of necessity, individual liberties.

My opinion is the same as the framers of the constitution: both aspects are desireable. We need a government which can act as an impartial arbitor between the states, and also provide the services a federal government must provide in the areas of national defence and interstate commerce regulation. Yet, we also need a dose of a compassionate (and, yes, proactive) NATIONAL government to protect AMERICAN citizens at large from the excesses and parochialisms of the several states, while still not intruding into the affairs of the states beyond the powers ceded to it by those states.

It is a balancing act. Today that balance has shifted toward an overly national government, in my opinion, and our society is stagnating as a result - bogged down with burdensome interference at a national level. History tells us this will soon begin to change, if only because the bastards will soon run out of money for social programs and the people will rebel at the oppressive (and unfair - more than half of Americans don’t contribute federal income taxes now) taxation.

What many people see as a struggle between Democrats and Republicans, or between Liberals and Conservatives, or between socialists and capitalists, is really only the historically “normal” method our constitution uses to strike a healthy concensus. The current rage of nationalism - even to the extent of disolving state borders - will, if history repeats itself, again recede slowly toward the direction of federalism again.

Short of making dangerous changes to our constitution (which only the states can do) there is little permanent damage that any one fleeting administration can inflict on our republic. Not Lyndon Johnson, not Jimmy Carter, not Ronald Reagan, not George Bush, not Barack Obama. For it is not they or their vocal supporters and detractors who shape the destiny of America in the long run, but the weight of the American people which keeps the ship of state in trim.

My opinion.


Federalist Number 39

Monday, April 26, 2010

10 points for non-violent resistance to evil

"We seek justice and reconciliation, not victory."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as I have pointed out before, was not a preacher of tolerance as so many "students" of history believe. A lot of people seem to confuse non-violence with tolerance. Not so. On the contrary, Dr. King believed evil must be confronted. Indeed, his entire movement was a testimony to the confrontation of evil.

One does not always need to resort to violence for one's cause to come to pass. It is possible -- and this was proved by both Dr. King in America and the Apartheid Line in South Africa -- to shame one's oppressors into becoming better people. It is called passive resistance. Taking the club and chain, the beatings, the fire hoses, the dog bites, and coming back for more until your oppressors can't bring themselves to beat you any longer.

Passive resistance. Non-violent confrontation of evil.

Anyway, I saw a tv program the other day where Dr. King's niece was speaking on a panel. She mentioned that Dr. King had a list of 10 things printed up, and before you were allowed to participate in a group that was associated with his name, or march in one of his Civil Rights demonstrations, you were asked to sign your name to that list of 10 requirements. I didn't know that. I was so interested, I Googled to find out what those 10 things were.

1. Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.

2. Remember always that the nonviolent movement seeks justice and reconciliation, not victory.

3. Walk and talk in the manner of love; for God is love.

4. Pray daily to be used by God that all men might be free.

5. Sacrifice personal wishes that all men might be free.

6. Observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy.

7. Seek to perform regular service for others and the world.

8. Refrain from violence in fist, tongue, and heart.

9. Strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.

10. Follow the directions of the movement and of the captain on demonstrations.

Some of you who have been following Relax Max for a long time remember a blog he used have called "Yummy Biscuits". At the end, this blog was a joint effort of myself and my friend "A." A post on that old blog comes to mind when I think of Dr. King, although it is about the African struggle rather than the American Civil Rights Movement. It is both heartwarming and disparing to read those posts today, but I recommend this one. (Yummy Biscuits and Relax Max are the same person.)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Healthcare in America. Or Bangladesh.

Here are some odd thoughts that just occurred to me about hospitals.

1. A well-run hospital is a well-run hospital, whether it is in a small town in Kentucky or in Bethesda, Maryland, where our royal public servants go.

2. A poorly-run hospital is a poorly-run hospital, whether it is is a small town in Kentucky or in East L.A.

3. A hospital which is staffed with people who care, will care for their patients well, even if those patients are indigent.

4. A hospital which allows staff who don't care, will provide poor care for their patients, even if those patients are wealthy.

5. Only competition will weed out poor service, even in hospitals. Every time you build a superior hospital and stock it with superior administrators and staff, you will run a poorly-run hospital out of business. Unless the poor one is run by the government.

6. Government hospitals get clients whether they give good service or not.

7. Fancy equipment is fine, but it doesn't replace caring doctors and nurses. Some of the most poorly equipped medical facilities are in Mexico (and other countries without a lot of money) -- and some of the finest caring doctors and nurses work in those facilities. Sometimes a doctor or a nurse who will sit by your bed all night with a cool damp cloth and concern in their eyes makes up for the lack of medicines. And don't think those people don't exist. Even in the most desperately poor countries of the world. Even in the USA.

Just sayin'.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Russell J. Larson
Logan city cemetery
Logan, Utah:

Two things I love most, good horses and beautiful women, and when I die I hope they tan this old hide of mine and make it into a ladies riding saddle so I can rest in peace between the two things I love most.

Please visit Savage Chickens dot com

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The duelists

According to the rules of dueling, I have read, the person challenged gets to choose the weapons to be used in the dual. Dueling pistols, swords, whatever.

I am in the process of re-reading a book of short biographies of Old West American gunfighters and lawmen, and came across an unusual duel between one gunslinger-turned-lawman and a nemesis who had challenged him. I thought I would pass it along to you as a novelty.

It took place in El Paso, I think, in the late 1880s. Anyway, according to the challenged, the rules of the duel were that it would take place in an empty room at midnight with all the windows covered so that it would be pitch black in the room. The two duelists stood in opposite corners of the empty room. Each had a knife in each hand. Then the seconds hurriedly turned out the light in the room and locked the door.


Photo at top of post: John Wesley Hardin. Not the man involved in this duel, but the gunfighter with the highest known tally; he killed 42 men. A bad man and probably a psychopath. These men were an odd lot, but so were the times and places they lived in.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Max's Maxims: Your true value depends entirely upon what you are being compared with.

None of these were quite funny enough until I began changing them to suit my own warped sense of humor.

You are only young once, but you can be immature forever.

Here's one for my buddy Canucklehead: You are not truly drunk if you can lay on the floor without holding on!

You can accomplish much with a kind word. But a kind word and a gun works miracles.

You can observe a lot just by watching. (Yogi Berra, I think)

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need a parachute in order to skydive. You only need a parachute if you want to skydive twice.

Some people aren't, but I've always been a big fan of violence. Frankly, if you don't get what you want you are simply not using enough.

Here's a question I have often wondered about: why is the alphabet in the order that it is? Who decided? Was it because of that song?

Pigs can fly just fine. With enough thrust. (That's a physics joke for Boris)

Here's a poser. Why do they use costly new sterile needles to give a lethal injection? Really. Just save the same damn needle.

No groaning; just skip this one if you don't like poo jokes. Why buy shampoo when REAL poo is free?

Here's one for the unfathomable Patches (Patchwork): "Who are these kids and why are they calling me Mom?"

Is ignorance worse than apathy? Or is it the other way around? Who knows. Who cares.

Have you ever been so mad you tried to slam the revolving door?

When vultures fly, are they allowed carrion luggage?

I think it was Aristotle who said, "When in doubt, poke it with a stick."

I hope these qualify for a post. It's all I have today.

And for a disruptive Irish lass: When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane. :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Wrapping up loose ends before I move on (I needed one more)

Note: this post started out as simply a comment to a new friend who made a comment to a previous post, but the answer turned out to be too long (as usual for me!) so I turned the answer into this post instead. I started out speaking to my friend, but now I will just speak generally to all who read this, and let you rebut my thoughts, if you choose.

I think the key difference between you and me (and between me and most Europeans and all "Progressive Liberals" in the U.S.) is very simple - you said it yourself in your comment when you said that you think the function of government is to "take care" of people. You think the purpose of government is "to do good" for the maximum amount of people. I suppose (you didn't say) that the government will decide on what is "good" for you.

On the other hand, my own view is very different. I think the purpose of government is to protect its citizens from enemies (both foreign and domestic) and to work to foster an atmosphere of individual liberty and opportunity for advancement. I don't want the government to take care of me; I want the government to protect me from robber barons and make it possible for me to rise to the top (even go from poor to rich) if I am smart enough and willing to work hard enough to make that happen. I don't want to fail or become mediocre because the government takes most of my personal rewards and gives them to others to "take care of them."

I want an opportunity for a quality education. I want the opportunity to compete on a level playing field. I want LOTS of things. But I do NOT want the government to provide those things for me or to take money out of my neighbor's pocket to buy these things for me.

So we approach life, you and me, (and "Progressives" and me), from a very different point of view. I want a government who protects me from those who would prey on me, a government that makes sure I don't get taken advantage of, and then gets the hell out of the way.

If a bank tries to screw me, I want the government to make them go by the rules. If there is curtailment of free competition in the marketplace because a corporation gets too big for small guys to compete with, such as from Walmart in the retail field, I want the government to break them up and not just look the other way. We have anti-trust laws and I would like to see them enforced so small businesses can start up and compete and hire people at decent wages again.

If an insurance company tries to weasel out of it's obligations or stick it to me on prices, fixing prices with other insurance companies under the table, I expect my government to enforce the law and not look the other way. I want my government to protect ME from these people. I don't want my government to protect their graft at my expense, or throw my tax money at them because they are "too big to fail". No company should be allowed to get too big to fail; it is not in the citizens' interest, nor does it foster the competition which is the mother of excellence.

My country did not become great and powerful and wealthy because it had a dream of someday having many heartless multinational corporations. It became great because it had a dream of unleashing the power of the individual citizen's creativity, drive, and inventiveness. We were not born in this country to be sheep. People eat sheep. Neither were we born to bow to some government's notion of what is "good" for us.

Having said that, I am not so naive to believe we don't need a dose of socialism, as you say. I don't think pure socialism works because it takes away personal initiative and it will eventually run out of money. As my idol Maggie Thatcher once said, "The trouble with socialism is eventually they run out of other people's money." Kidding about the "idol" bit.

Neither do I think "pure" capitalism will work - although it has never truly been tried in it's pure and unrestricted state - because capitalism is cold and heartless. I believe there are unfortunate people in every society that cannot just be left beside the road to die. So there must be a percentage of socialism in the form of safety nets and survival programs for those who are in trouble. The thing is, as I have blogged in the past, I think the recipe for a good workable government calls for a teaspoon of socialism, not a gallon.

Yes - tax the workers at all levels to get money to help those who need a temporary hand or even permanent help if they are unable to work. Since I have already shocked you, let me shock you even more:

** I don't believe the government should be providing schools (on a national level) or insuring standardization (of anything) simply for the sake of standardization. That is the province of the states and local governments. I want the people to build schools and raise the money to educate their own children - just like Americans did for so long before a big federal government started sticking their nose in. I want the states to compete with other states for providing a better life for their citizens, just like I want many business to compete with one another.

** I don't want their money for roads. I don't want their money for bridges. The only money they have is MINE anyway. With few exceptions, infrastructure is the province of the states. Stop taking our money and doling it back out to us. I'm very tired of the government taking our money and then redistributing it for projects THEY think are needed. This is the hallmark of socialism.

** I don't want the federal government thinking up things all Americans "need" to have done for them. Let the states provide what their citizens tell them and do what they can afford to do.

** I guess you can tell that I think the government ought to be regulating Insurance companies instead of being one. Make insurance companies toe the line; make them become responsive to citizen's needs. Break up the bloated bastards so that new small companies can start up and compete with more personal services. Our government has failed us miserably in this regard and now would have us believe they can do it better with one big top-heavy unmotived "company".

I say let the government protect the citizens by requiring insurance companies to take the bad risks with the good, and, where needed, pay part or all of the insurance coasts for the poor. In short, let's ALL of us be insured, and let us pay a bit more than we normally would have to, in order to insure the poor as well.

The federal government in the U.S. HAS become an oppressive Big Brother and nanny. And I hate it. It is stifling to my liberty and insulting to the people, the hopeful immigrants, who built my country through the years. I don't expect you to understand. You were born on a different planet than I was. I'm sure these notions seem outrageous to you. Unfortunately they sound outrageous to a huge number of "Progressive" Americans too.

The clash of ideologies in the U.S. is coming to a head now. The next few years will bring us much turmoil. The nannies are starting to run out of money now, so the revolution is not far off.

Thomas Jefferson was one of the men who helped found my country. He believed in states rights and was very wary of giving too much power to a federal government, though he recognized the need for one. But he cautioned that we must watch it closely or it would get away from us. He said...

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."

He also said: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

I believe that tree is being strangled by the excesses never envisioned for our federal government, and I believe it is long overdue for a pruning. If blood of patriots is again needed to mix with the blood of tyrants in life-giving puddles on the ground to feed that tree of liberty, there are still enough patriots here to supply it.

My new friend, I know very well that Europe doesn't understand America. They never have. Sadly, a growing number of Americans no longer understand it either. There have always been Europeans who say they don't understand why a big government must necessarily infringe on the personal liberty of citizens. Sadly, there are many Americans now who have grown up thinking the same thing. Their thinking is short-term and shallow, and they haven't properly studied history.

It simply is not possible to cede more and more power to the government without losing more and more power yourself. It is a trade-off and a bad one. It is the path to sheep-dom. We would do well to heed the words of our founders: the larger the government, the smaller the individual citizen.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I'm sorry

I'm sorry I already broke my promise about not blogging about religion. This is going to be harder than I thought. I will start over again.

Esther thoughts

Have you ever noticed that every picture you see of the empty tomb, it is always just at sunrise? Jesus got up early that day.

Well, who could blame him.

Like many others, I prefer to think of Jesus as a more tidy person.

Remembering Easter

Early Easter:

In the beginning, Easter was a swimming fool. Nothing else seemed to matter to her. Easter seldom even got out of the water, even having her meals laid at the side of the pool so she could grab bits and pieces as she swam by.

Her dedication paid off and she won many records and wide acclaim before she was even 20 years old. She peaked for the 1940 olympics but they were called off on account of war. Searching for a replacement swimming career, and not wanting to join the circus because of the traveling involved, she became a movie star.

To Easter's dismay, the movies always seemed to be about swimming. She began to suspect they had hired her for her name and fame and not her acting ability. She became more and more disillusioned as time went by. She would have walked away had it not been for Ricardo Montalban and the large amount of money they gave her.

Easter in later years:

Easter moved from the swimming pool to Chicago's south side and began making tv sitcoms. In an effort to finally and fully put her past behind her, she changed her race. Inspired by a name she saw stamped on an orange, she changed her name to "Florida".

The sun sets on Easter:

In her extreme later years, Easter died. The Good Times ended.

Disclaimer, required by the National Bloggers Union rules, as amended, made necessary by the people afflicted with ELS (Extreme Literalness Syndrome):
1. These are two different people; Esther Williams did not change her race. 2. Esther Rolle is dead. Esther Williams is NOT dead.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Back to basics a bit

(Note: This post was written several days ago and is only now being put on the blog. I apologize for any untimeliness.)

I've written several times of my dislike for politics, and yet I always seem to come back and write more about that subject. I have been doing some thinking and I don't believe I will write any more political posts on this blog.

My personality is such that I like to debate things, even argue. Politics certainly offers that opportunity, even though nobody's mind ever gets changed.

When I say politics, I mean the people in politics and the bad things they do. I'm not going to write about specific politicians on this blog any more. But I make a distinction between politics and government. That is to say, I don't find talking about systems of government, or theories of government distasteful. You might think that is splitting hairs. Perhaps. At any rate, I'm not going to blog about government theories or systems on this blog any more either.

I still feel a need to talk about government systems, especially the path the U.S. government is on, but I will confine my opinions to my blog which is devoted to that subject and stick to more user-friendly subjects on this blog. I don't intend to deal with religion on this blog either.

This blog was started, innocently enough, to help satisfy my lifelong desire to analyze and explain things. Analysis and interpretation are what I do. I am unable to NOT do those things. My previous blogs were dedicated to specific subjects and I started Clarity to remove this restriction. I want to return this blog to that premise.

You should know that when I explain something, I am doing it to myself, for my own benefit; it is not for the purpose of trying to be some sort of teacher to others, though I admit it gives me pleasure to know you are eavesdropping on my internal explainings.

I have never talked much about my real self in any of my blogs. I am simply an anonymous little dog character. My Blogger profiles have mostly been jokes, especially in the beginning when I was a 12-year-old empath. At least my current profile includes SOME truth.

For those of you who have an interest, I WILL tell you that the person behind the little dog has been a lifelong learner. I cannot remember a time, even in my earliest childhood, when I didn't take things apart to see what made them tick. I cannot remember a time when I wasn't always asking questions and arguing about the answers I got. I read like a vacuum cleaner. I own more books than Amazon, probably. I have been known to take Google's servers down singlehandedly. They once charged me with a denial of services attack on them. No, that's a lie. But it is true that learning new things and gathering new information and storing odd facts have been a lifelong and continuing process for me.

In my personal life, I am a self-employed capitalist: I buy and sell things for a living. For quite some time now, that has mostly meant trading stocks; because of my analytical bent, I seem to have a knack for that. People with my personality type can't really work for other people and so I struck out on my own at an early age. I haven't really worked for anyone else since I was 23 years old. I hate having people tell me what to do, and that definitely includes the U.S. Government.

Anyway, I started to say that, after I've collected information and learned something, and after I've then restated ("explained") it back to myself to prove I understand it, I try to do a short version on this blog in hopes that readers will comment and tell me what I left out or what I got wrong. Sometimes my short versions aren't so short. Sometimes I get pretty full of myself and go on too long, like now. Although I like to debate things, this blog is not where I envisioned serious debates taking place. Here I envisioned only the sharing of knowledge. Hence the stoppage of political posts. Debates will take place on the other blog once there are enough posts in place to open it to the public.

Since I've rambled on, let me also take this opportunity to thank those of you who read my stuff. Some of you have stuck with me for a long time, and I think you are just super.

Round 'em up. Head 'em out. Yeee-Ha!

After another week of cruising the vast wasteland that is the internet and watching much too much Fox News with my face perilously close to the TV, I just have to download a little mind-clutter in this space today, in order to free up part of my brain for the coming week.

1. Eugenics, part II: Glenn Beck says that progressives (Harvard-educated, he asserts) actually believe they can BREED stupidity out of the American electorate over time. And, speaking of progressive thought, wasn't it the late George Bernard Shaw who publicly wished they could somehow discover a "friendly gas" to put stupid (non-progressive-minded) voters out of their misery and accomplish the same thing? Less time involved, of course. oi.

2. Larry King and Snoop Dogg (pictured at top): I don't know what this was all about but I saw a snippet where Larry King is getting into Snoop's bouncemobile, and Snoop lets him drive, no less, while the porn rapper handles the car's bounce hydraulics from the passenger seat. Now, I can't tell you why a film clip of Dogg and King were being shown on Fox News, or even what it was related to, but I was aghast at how much more death-like Larry King has become since I last saw his red suspenders crossed between his emaciated shoulder blades. My God. Truly. In addition to having less neck motility than Ernest Angly, he has somehow acquired a sort of George Burns-like lock-kneed walk, and being so tall and skinny, has taken on a tall scarecrow look, or maybe more like an Ichabod Crane wannabe caricature, you know? Or that big scary undertaker dude in Phantasm? You get the picture. So King opens the driver's side door and tries to get into Snoop's convertible pimpmobile, only he can't bend his knees, see? Snoop is probably 40 years old now, but King was a hundred when Snoop was born. I do sympathize. Larry has been married six or eight times and has been corn-reamed in each dee-vor-us, so I understand his stiff walk. Wait, wait, I've got it: remember the scene in Animal House where the Stork is leading the band down the alley? Like that walk. Plus, when you add in twice as many heart attacks as marriages, Larry King really has an excuse to look like a walking dead thing. To his credit, his hair never moves in the wind. He's the best ratings grabber, at 0.16 share, that CNN has, so they keep him on. I only wish I had tuned in a minute earlier so I could have understood what the two misfits were doing together in the first place and why the hell Fox was showing their competitor's main guy - but it may have been for their "This Week's Dumbest Thing" segment on O'Reilly. All I know is I want to download those images from my brain now, please.

3. Colon Flow: The world's most repulsive commerical, also shown on Fox News, who will do anything for a buck. Here is the gist of the wonder product they advertised before Sean Hannity came on and I turned the TV off:

"If you’re not evacuating two times daily, you could be carrying 4 ½ to 9 pounds of extra weight! That’s uncomfortable, unhealthy, and can cause an unsightly tummy bulge! That’s why we know you’ll be pleased with the way you feel and look using Colon Flow. It will give you the comfort of eliminating waste regularly and easily, and will reduce foul toxic waste buildup that can lead to constipation, impaction, hemorrhoids, digestive issues, bad breath, parasites, bloating, gas, weight gain from extra fecal matter, irritable bowel, sluggishness, fuzzy thinking, headaches, tummy bulge, sleep disturbances, and more..."

What more? Creeping Larry King Syndrome? In my disgust, I still couldn't shake the mental image of Vice-President Joey Biden sitting in his palace in front of the TV, pizza on lap, nodding in agreement with the commercial. Which is odd, because Joey wouldn't be caught DEAD watching Fox News. Or if he WERE caught by Michelle's husband, he would be back chained up again in the White House basement with duct tape over his mouth.

I gotta go.


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