Posted in Politics, Social Issues, Uncategorized

Don’t mess with Pinky and the Brain

PINKY
Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?
THE BRAIN
The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world

They’re Pinky and The Brain 
Yes, Pinky and The Brain 
One is a genius 
The other’s insane. 
They’re laboratory mice 
Their genes have been spliced 
They’re dinky 
They’re Pinky and The Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain 
Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain 
Brain. 

Before each night is done 
Their plan will be unfurled 
By the dawning of the sun 
They’ll take over the world. 

They’re Pinky and The Brain 
Yes, Pinky and The Brain 
Their twilight campaign 
Is easy to explain. 
To prove their mousey worth 

They’ll overthrow the Earth 
They’re dinky 
They’re Pinky and The Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain 
Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain 
Narf!

They always say not to discuss Religion and Politics at work, or in polite society. What they forgot to mention, is don’t malign a favorite cartoon character/cultural icon in public either.

Actually, now that I think about it, they can discuss their trash talk politics all they want, and malign anyone i’m for, and that won’t really get me.  But don’t misuse my cartoon heroes.

My example is someone who has not disguised his concern and disdain over Trump as president, so when he made the below post to his social media site, I knew it wasn’t intended as a compliment:

Trump and the Brain…”What’re we going to do tonight, Brain?

Now I could care less about what he is meaning to say about Trump, but how dare malign Pinky so!

I am sure he is thinking of the line in the theme song:

One is a genius 
The other’s insane. 

And is thinking that Pinky is the insane one. But the astute follower of the show knows that this is really less clear than you would think. Why Pinky himself, in an online interview, when asked which was which, the genius and the insane, said: “Well we all know the answer to that!”

Which really means that it isn’t as obvious  as it seems. Why do Brain’s schemes always crash, and Pinky’s almost succeed until Brain goofs them up? Sure, Brain has all the knowledge, but when you watch closely, Pinky is the one who really understands things.

So I decided to try to gently make them reflect on the positive nature of Pinky when I responded:

I am glad to see you are finally mellowing on Trump. To make him the likable, companionable, genius sidekick that saves the world from domination by an insane lunatic each night.

The reply was “umm”

Others followed his comment by saying the Brain was Russia. By that score, I would see Trump as the best friend of Russia that prevents them from taking over the world each night.  What a win-win political scenario!

No, you just can’t mess with, or try to twist Pinky and the Brain. Its like when the bully tried to pick a fight we me on the school bus back in fifth grade. He expected a quick fold on my part, not that the awkward windmilling, peaceful farm boy would put him quickly to tears. Neither did the bus driver, who was ready to let me get whooped, but not him.

Oh, its fun to talk politics, but don’t get yourself in a knot over them. While important, the metaphors of real life, like our cartoon heroes, are much more important to defend.

 

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Posted in Politics, Reviews

Trump remains trump

Okay, 2 years ago today I wrote this post about then-candidate Donald Trump. As you can tell, I was not a supporter, and in fact voted for neither him nor Hillary in the 2016 election. Then almost a year ago I wrote this post about now-President Donald Trump.

Today, I do an annual update. I haven’t been paying much attention to what has been going on, but I do recall catching a comment Trump made about his first year as president being the best one of any president ever. I understand why he would say that. He has achieved quite a few things. But for such an accolade I think it would be hard to beat the first year of George Washington, in creating our new nation.

But based on how the press has treated him, I can see why he would say it, even if it wasn’t the sort of thing he would say anyway because of the ego that he has.

And the treatment from the press hasn’t changed significantly from a year ago, so my statements about that at that time still hold. I still think Trump, naturally, left to himself, is a big city Democrat, not a Conservative Republican. Yet, the side he chose, the side that got him into office is that Republican, and somewhat conservative side. But as long as the press holds him to the fire his ego won’t allow him to seem to give in, and so keeps him held to the conservative cause, instead of negotiating and finding the accommodations that his natural penchant would encourage him to do.

Let me take my closing comments from a year ago, and possibly tweak them a bit for today:

Why am I cautious? Because his brand of conservatism isn’t mine. It turns the course away from the “Liberal” trend we have been on, but it doesn’t really eliminate the big government with big solutions mentality that keep increasing the size of government. True, he is cutting and gutting a lot of the burdensome regulations. But has anyone noticed the parade that continues to go through the oval office. Big CEOs of various industries marching through to show their ideas and support, of jobs, of infrastructure, of being good Americans to make America Great Again. It is all so Mussolini: the cooperation of big business and big government. Yes, it will certainly improve many things; the trains (or whatever is our modern equivalent) will start running on time. But the shrinking of government, and the increasing of freedom for everyone, particularly the individual and the small businessman, that isn’t in the cards.

Yet once we start back from the old route, the chance to really make it to a true libertarian, true constitutional sense of our freedoms again, becomes more possible. thus my cautious optimism. There are still many things that could go wrong, so many ways the course could be turned back. But just the fact that so much resistance has emerged to the old course, is itself a sign for hope. Any attempt to turn back will see the same resistance that brough Trump to power.

We will see how much of my caution, and how much of my optimism, were warranted, as we watch events progress through the next 3 years.

Posted in Politics, Social Issues

In Defense of Freedom

This is a very interesting video, discussing the dangers to freedom, and the true exercise of freedom, in a place far removed from the borders of the United States.  And yet, in a way, this land, and in example of freedom, owes much to what it learned from the American experience. We might consider it one of our foster children. Let us listen closely, and not be deceived by those who would wrongly paint freedom as tyranny.

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized

Today’s post is going to be a video post.  I found and posted this first one on my Facebook feed with the comment:

This might just be (gasp), one of the best justifications of “The White Man’s Burden”, ala Kipling … to offset the complaints of “White Privilege” today….

Not realizing that a little bit later I would see the below on Facebook:

 

Which seems such a interesting comparison. Freedom bringers or Privilege takers.

Posted in Politics, Social Issues

The villany of being the anti-totalitarian leader

What is your opinion of someone who does something “good” or “right”, but does it the wrong way, without following the rules, the system, ignoring the will and rights of others in the process? Is it right? Does the end justify the means?

My problem of late is that the people who are claiming the moral high ground, are also claiming the moral relativity of the end justifies the means.

What am I thinking about? A lot of things. Let me illustrate with the DACA issue — something I have followed not exceptionally close, and yet can easily see a lot of problems with the situation.

Let’s go back to the election. Before being elected president, a lot of the Trump-nay-sayers were warning us about his totalitarian tendencies. We would all lose our rights and get herded into prison camps, etc. etc. Yet what are the people complaining about with DACA? That he is choosing to NOT exercise extra-constitutional powers like his predecessors, but is actually reigning in the “discretionary” powers of the presidency.

Trump has indicated that he has no problems with the DACA policy in concept, but it is just one more presidential extra-constitutional policy that he is rolling back — the exact opposite of the totalitarian image we have been warned about. If congress were to pass the same policy, constitutionally, he would have no problem with it.

And yet, because he is choosing to follow the law, to live within the law, instead of putting himself above the law, he is now the villain.

What of those who are saying this, making him the villain? Do they have respect for the rule of law, for the rights of others?

They claim they are fighting for justice for those who were benefited from DACA. But DACA isn’t a matter of justice. The people benefiting from DACA had no rights to what they received from DACA. DACA was an act of compassion and mercy. Too many people out there have justice and mercy confused. It isn’t wrong to exercise mercy. It is wrong to exercise mercy to one person through injustice to someone else.

Let’s go back to my first paragraph. Exercising mercy without following the rules, the system, ignoring the will and rights of others in the process, is mercy WITHOUT justice.

Since many of the people I know objecting to the DACA removal are religious, Christian figures, I will throw in a scripture verse. Micah 6:8

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

These people are getting this confused, and trying to do mercy by perverting justice.

A dear pastor friend of mine shared the post of someone else about DACA. Based on his previous statements, and the way he shared the post, I am afraid he agrees with her post. I am disappointed he does, because of the descriptions and attitudes she expresses that are intolerant and unchristian.

She declares that the DACA rollback is both immoral and “unbiblical” (must be an 11th commandment somewhere in scripture that it breaks that I haven’t read yet).

But the worst line, really, is this one:

If any of you want to argue with me, I will unfriend you, ESPECIALLY if you are a so-called Christian, and especially are a pastor. It only means you’ve bought into the heretical White Amurican (SIC) Nationalism they’ve been shoveling and I’ve no capacity for you, you goat. If you wish to ask questions, that’s different. But if I even detect a remote amount of fight in you, you’re out. And if you wish to unfriend me, well I don’t need the likes of you anyways, you cruel hearted fool. And if all of this is too much for you and not “Christlike” enough – take this as a turning the tables moment.

If this is an example of toleration, then give me bigotry. This sort of attitude is an example of what C.S. Lewis warned us about:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals. ― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

These Christians would rob everyone who does not agree with them of their free will to disagree and make their own decisions, because they are so sure of their own righteousness. They are modern-day Claude Frollos, the Pharisees of our times.

To clarify my position: I have nothing against the policies inherent in DACA,  but I will not sacrifice the rule of law, freedom or speech or freedom of conscience for it. Nor will I unfriend or troll anyone over this issue. I leave to others their free will to act as they see fit on these items.

 

Posted in Family, Politics, Social Issues

“The World Series is baseball…”

That is what started a very interesting lunch conversation I had today at Worlds of Fun. Unbenownst to me, the initial speaker had seen a poster behind me about “The World Series of Barbecue”, and had used that to spark his initial statement.

This led to a conversation about baseball, and how the World Series actually is just the United States, well, maybe Canada as well, there is a team or two there (you can tell how little about sports I know). The original speaker mentioned Japan also playing  baseball, to which I said, it might be a good thing we don’t play them, they might beat us in the world series. LOL

Which spun the topic to the question of Japan. We compared the responses of China and Japan to the pushes by the West to open both of them to Western trade.  China resisted, and events were forced in without their control. Japan was forced open, but greeted it and learned. We discussed how well Japan maintained its own culture while assimilating the technology and many cultural things from the west. With my family’s interest in Japanese anime, we noted how well they blended a uniquely Japanese outlook with many Western images and themes in the movies we watch.

One we watched today, “From Up On Poppy Hill”, had some significant sections of the movie where the theme music was this excellent American-style jazz music, but it worked very well in the flow of the movie, done in a uniquely Japanese way.

We reflected this back to the United States, with how it assimilated people and ideas from many different cultures into the unique freedom of the American experience.

I also reflected to the county of India, and its use of assimilation: How it took the influences of its colonial British masters and used them to pull together all the languages and cultures of the Indian Subcontinent, in a very Indian way, to form a very functional, diverse, secular representative state — in its own way more amazing than the assimilation and diversity of the United States.

And yet, even so, the United States is unique. The United States is an idea. You can be French, or German, or Japanese, or even Indian, without believing anything specific. You cannot be American, truly American, without believing a certain overarching gestalt.  People come to the United States, add their uniqueness, and join our gestalt about what it means to be free. Thus, we are threatened, subtly and invisibly, to the core when people come live in our territory but refuse to become a part of the gestalt. That is what may one day truly unwind the Republic — a lack of belief.

As you can see, this wasn’t a tight logical syllogism, but a general bouncing from principles of related concepts into a generalized whole.

I posited the fact that our unique freedom of ideas brought creative people from all over the world to the USA to try out their ideas and make them a success. Not that many didn’t do the same in their home countries, but other countries didn’t have the same influx of people for that reason.

I also posited that, while many people claimed that we impoverished the world and hogged all the wealth to ourselves, that the truer answer is that our exchanges of wealth with the rest of the world grew their economies, and lifted people out of poverty to a greater degree of affluence than they ever had. The metaphor/phrase “a rising tide lifts all ships” was mentioned.

Then we used the idea of ships differently. If the ship of our economy flounders or sinks, too many others sink with it. Our actions have consequences, and while an “America First” policy sounds good, it is only good if it recognizes the secondary effects we have on other people.

I illustrated, through the smaller example of our family, how taking care of oneself is important to be able to take care of others. As the father I need to take care of myself so I can provide for the rest. The hunters in the tribe ate first, so they might have strength to catch the food to feed the rest. But it was a necessity of service that provides for self first, not anything of better stature.

Then we brought it back around to how we need to be very conscious of the secondary effects of our actions. As the big economy in the world, we can’t do anything without consequences, nor can we just withdraw from the world. Not that we couldn’t learn to be a little more circumspect in how we intervene or not. It is too easy to be the giant in the playground, doing things to make ourselves feel good, while actually making things worse. Just because something sounds good, looks good, doesn’t mean it is good, or doesn’t have bad unintended consequences.

We discussed the concept of the “superior American” who goes around the world looking down on everyone else. I mentioned that many of the British at the height of their empire had the same thing. But our real attitude should be one where we feel, we know, we are unique because of our idea, our gestalt, but at the same time not look down on others because they aren’t Americans.

As I said above, America is different from the world, being an idea. I don’t think we realize how that makes us different: we see the world differently than they see us. There are many ways we just don’t understand each other, while being absolutely sure that we do.

So on this Memorial Day weekend, when we remember those who laid down their lives so we might be free, along with all our other loved ones who went before, let us be ever mindful, let us be serious, about the idea that is America, and not too serious about ourselves at the same time. And let us realize that we do live in a different world from the other countries of this globe, a world of ideas has been changing this globe for the past three centuries and hopefully will continue to do so for another three.

Posted in Politics

Enclave or assimilate

I noticed it on Saturday. The men of the local Islamic center were digging holes to put posts in front of the drive for their parking lot. Today I ran by and saw that they are putting bricks down between the poles, leaving just an open space between the two central ones for, I assume, a gate to let vehicles in and out.

The place where the Islamic center now is was a vacant building when my family moved to the community in 2003. That corner had two buildings, an old retail building, and some sort of abandoned office/motel (I was never quite sure). It took until the beginning of 2010 before that began to change. The retail building became the Corner Store, which has managed to thrive over the past seven years.

A bit later the office building was taken over by a group that we gradually learned was an Islamic Center of people who had immigrated from Bosnia. Over the years they slowly made very nice improvements to the lot, always keeping a low profile and not drawing attention to themselves. It took a long time for a sign to go up so we were sure exactly what the group was that had so improved the corner.

But more recently they have started creating a sense of enclave. It started with the slatted wooden fence around the back and sides, that prevented the sort of cutting across the corner lot that people were prone to do. And now they are sealing off the last side of the lot, this time with iron posts and cement blocks. I only saw two levels of blocks when I was going by today, and only on one side of what I took for the gate, but the other side was obviously prepped for the same treatment.

This sort of construction has two possible intentions, not always meant simultaneously: to keep people in, or to keep people out.

Now, practically, they wouldn’t be keeping people in — their people come and go all the time — but creating a place where they stay separate from other people, and don’t assimilate into the national culture, but remain distinct and foreign for generations, that is something I know this group isn’t intending to do. They have people from their leadership attending the local community association meetings, and becoming more active than a lot of the long-time residents.

So my sorrow is that I see this as a sense of keeping people out. They have fear of being attacked themselves, for their difference and religion, and are ensuring their property and people are kept safe.

With the recent event in London, among other events,  they have reason to be concerned that some people will see them, unfortunately, as an appropriate target, and are thus continuing their sense of enclave.

I, for one, don’t want them to gain that sense. They need to know they are welcome in the community, and that we want them to be a part of our greater American culture and community. Unlike some immigrants in some places, they have not moved in and insisted we change our ways to meet their religious laws. To anyone who does that I can only say “nay”. But to those who come to dwell in peace, we should give them peace.

I don’t object to limiting immigrants from countries where terrorism is rife, and putting extra security screenings before letting people in. That is only right and good. But once they are here, they should be treated as free and welcomed, and in return they should show themselves free and open to accommodating and acculturating into the body politic, while adding the strength of their uniqueness to that which is America.

Which is why I hope, and pray, that the whispers of intolerance don’t teach these good neighbors the wrong lessons about America, but that they might continue to open to us, and that we will stay open to them.