Truth and the Freedom Series

Both “Meet the Press” and “Face the Nation” considered the proposition that Russia was involved in hacking in the American election and also involved in rigging the election in order to make Trump the winner of the election.

During the last third of his campaign, Trump repeatedly and publicly alleged that the election was rigged. If he lost the election, Trump trumpeted, it would be proof that the election was rigged.

We reacted when the election results came in. A recount of the votes in three states was endeavored. Trump objected to the recount efforts. It’s been said in other places that his objections to the recounts make no sense. Having the votes recounted would confirm his victory in those states. So why is he objecting to the recounts?

The issue of a rigged election, interference by Russians in the American election process, was also part of the discussion. Trump’s persistent bellowing of interference and rigging continued all the way up to election day. But now his campaign team objects to being called on those allegations. They scream foul and claim the allegations are sour grapes.

candleflame - In search of the truth

In search of the truth

Actually, we’re now looking more closely at the claims and accusations that were pronounced by the candidate for President, Donald Trump. How can it be unfair to ask (again) for proof of the claims of election tampering?

On “Face the Nation,” Kellyanne Conway was asked a question about these campaign allegations. Instead of answering the question, she deflected it by turning to another aspect of the campaign and how unfair some of the DNC tactics were.

Some questions that need to be answered are whether there was in fact election tampering, whether there was hacking of the political parties (DNC as well as RNC), the veracity of the election results, and whether our President-elect can be trusted to help those who are in this country realize the Roosevelt promises of freedom of speech and worship as well as freedom from hunger and fear.

Observation: Time after time and with each passing day, we seem to be gifted with real, public scrutiny examples of the tools of an abuser.

Restriction from

Restriction from

In various times of allowing a dictatorship to overtake a country, things took hold because there were those who chose to do nothing for various reasons. Some chose inaction because they felt they did not have the power nor the tools nor the importance to resist or be an effective member of a resistance. Some remained inert because of fear based on many things that were relevant to their healthy existence. (It’s ironic that a dictatorship and tyranny lead to a very unhealthy existence.)

There were those who chose to act. Their numbers were small in regard to public presence. But there were also those who chose to act while staying in the background.

At some point in the near future, the many proofs of the campaign accusations and inflammatory rhetoric will emerge. Then we will be an informed public.

Meanwhile, we continue to create a new national culture that is no longer based on trust but fear. One of the healthy outcomes of this 2016 election is the motivation to become more educated about many aspects of our nation and the systems that caused it to be part of the Rockwell vision of “Freedom From.”

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Lessons in History – Conflicts of Interest

Recent headlines, similar to one from today’s Guardian, keep making me reflect on 20th Century events in politics and business. The make me wonder how things will actually play out (if allowed) in comparison to the Teapot Dome and Watergate situations.

Symbols of Government Ethics

Symbols of Government Ethics

The recent appointees in the developing Trump Administration have interesting, interwoven and strategic situations and alliances. They’re quite similar to the ones of the Teapot Dome flavor.

The Teapot Dome story is also documented on Wikipedia. The Brookings Institute provided more chronicling of the incident.

Enter Watergate

And then there’s Watergate and the lessons it taught us about being neglectful and too trusting in decisions made by government leaders. Reference.com summarizes that point in history while also available is the Front Line documentary history of the administration that gave rise to Watergate.

A Look at Bribery as Causation

A recent article that appeared in Corporate Counsel considered the impact of bribery on fraudulent practices in government and its influence on conflicts of interest. Some of the statistics are broken out for the reader. One of particular note is:

The United States ranked 20th. It still falls within the top 20 countries that TRACE considers “low risk.” The riskiest area for bribery in the U.S. is “business interactions with government.”

Also earning breakout attention:

• Syria suffered a considerable setback in its bribery environment, followed by Belize, with their overall risk scores rising. Syria is now one of the eight riskiest countries in the world for bribery.
• The seven other riskiest countries in order are Nigeria (199th out of 199 countries), Angola, Yemen, Guinea, Cambodia, Myanmar and South Sudan.

With regard to graft driving contracts approvals in foreign governments, one reader noted that in “. . . Italy, it’s simply accepted that many dealings with businesses or government bodies require a little grease on the wheels. So much so, that base salaries for some civil servants are less relevant than what can be made on top.” That reader recommends the book The Dark Heart of Italy for more edification. It should be noted that similar practices are heavily used in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) as revealed in a recent study conducted through Fuller Seminary. According to that study, the non-Muslim population was/is being subjected to extreme conditions of discrimination that keeps them in conditions of economic distress unless they agree to act as government-sponsored spies against family members.

Ethics Lessons

Should we be learning from history or is it our fate to close our ears and minds and simply allow ourselves to be repeatedly crushed under the Wheel of Time as it rotates? Perhaps it’s time to not only remember the lessons of the past but also become proactive about not reliving them.

When it comes to “conflicts of interest“, the layman can look to Wikipedia for its various definitions and examples or to other books that provide guidance.

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Consider signing and sharing a petition to evaluate the fitness to serve before confirmation of the President-elect.

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Challenges of Development

PBS is airing a program called Edge of E18teen that examines the lives of several 17-year-olds and the challenges they face as they mature.

Image of young businessman opening door with lights

Image of young businessman opening door with lights

Their circumstances are diverse. One young man was sent to military school. His grades were slipping; he needed more discipline; he needed to learn about taking on responsibility.

A young Cambodian girl is living with her father. Her mother left the family. There was much divisiveness in the home. The parents had vicious arguments. The mother was having an affair. The girl punishes her mother by not responding to her text messages and refusing to communicate or see her at all.

Another boy is about to graduate from high school. He is a devoted Christian and wants to address the student body at his graduation by telling them about Christ. When that idea is rejected by his school, he proposes to have a graduation party for his entire class (400+) and use that as a platform for telling them about Christ. His mother rejects the idea.

All but one say their relationship with their parents is difficult, that they don’t understand.

Our youth face so many challenges as they mature. Are we doing enough to prepare them for what Life and our societies have in store for them? Preparation also comes down to doing things that involve some degree of training and explanation. Small dollops of autonomy grow into taking on full responsibility for various projects, accompanied by nurturing support to catch them if they fall.

But with parents being challenged with low wages that sometimes require two or more jobs to support a family, and constantly increasing costs of living, we are starting to lose the time necessary to provide the building of responsible, independent lives that are ready for adult life challenges at the age of 21 or 18.

How do we successfully prioritize the overwhelming amounts of responsibilities that face us as we create a worthwhile future for our offspring, our progeny, our future?

How can we leap to the heights of doing the things that are necessary to do even a merely adequate job of nurturing the future generations when there are still so many things we ourselves still need to learn and master. There are so many times when I feel inadequate and regret the lessons that are missing.

It would be so good to have the right answers – or at least clues to which are the more important for the path we endeavor to follow or make. Perhaps that is the clue. Determine what the path is: one to be followed or one to be made. The next step is to find the right mentors to offer guidance while we learn by trying and failing and then trying again in order to succeed while the mentor explains what went wrong if we do not examine the broken pieces on the floor to see where the weak spot was.

And therein may lie some of the answers to nurturing our youth.

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The Talk

This morning’s news featured an interview of a very attractive and articulate young (30s) professional Black woman and her male complement. They talked about this week’s tensions. They talked about having “the talk” with their children. They noted that the conversation needs to happen as early as possible and in age appropriate vocabulary and concepts.

The talk in these times is not the one about dating and sex. Today the talk in Black families and families that are comprised of individuals who can be considered part of the African Diaspora, is about how to handle yourself when in the presence of peace officers or in public places outside of a Black ghetto. I’ve not been involved in these types of conversations but it doesn’t take a lot to intuit what it covers. As the years have passed since the Civil Rights Era, experiences have grown and awareness was spat in my face. There are some people who will hate you simply because they have been conditioned to do so over the years. It has nothing to do with you, personally, as much as it has to do with the color of your skin and the stereotypes associated with having that form of identity.

But Life is full. There are many things that pull at your attention that are of a higher priority than a genetic adaptation that has absolutely nothing to do with the character of the person within the shell that carries them. Nevertheless, there are far too many times when that adaptation along with the stereotypes that were created because of historic exclusion and denial make attention to one’s physical presence the priority. It should not be that way.

How do you tell a child that it isn’t okay to go to the playground without a parent or adult present? It takes a lot of explaining about why one child may play with a red clear plastic water gun while romping in their yard or in a park while another child will be mistaken as a potential shooter. It takes even more explanation about why a police officer is justified in shooting a ten-year-old child in the back several times merely because of a plastic toy. Oh, now I understand. Certain children are not allowed to play and have toys. Certain children are not allowed to enjoy Life. We are told, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Declaration of Independence does not function for them.

Colored Entrance

Have we returned to the pre-Civil Rights America?

How do you tell a child that because of the color of their skin, someone will decide that they are dangerous and anything they do will be construed as a threat to the general public? It should not be part of a child’s education about them or their history that they are inherently not intelligent and therefore unqualified for anything except the most menial. They should not learn that it is acceptable for their creations, their ideas, their work to be claimed by others and their input given no acknowledgement whatsoever. To teach them that is the same as teaching them that they were destroyed at the instant they took their first breath. It’s the same as telling them they are value-less. I have to wonder where society would be were it not for those “value-less” contributions to so many industries by those unqualified dangerous ones.

Why should it be necessary to have that type of conversation with any child? The simple response is it should not be necessary. In fact, there should be no reason to have these types of conversations. It should not be necessary to teach a child that what they wear will determine whether or not they are dangerous. If the owner and found of Facebook can wear a hoodie with impunity, anyone should have the same choice.

To be certain, it is very important to have a conversation about grooming and appropriate dress for certain venues.

However, the talk needs to veer toward the important things in Life and leading a productive one. The talk needs to be about staying focused on what is most important for accomplishing the task, reaching the goal, making a point in conversation so that one’s positive abilities are accentuated. Those abilities include being responsible, having solid emotional intelligence, knowing how to make good choices based on good research and asking the right questions of the right people.

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Questioning the Problem of Gun Violence via Late Night Commentary

Stephen Colbert’s monologue for last night’s The Late Show was a statement about the Orlando mass shooting on June 12, 2016. That was followed (without any break) by an interview of Bill O’Reilly on the subject of mass killings, gun control, and what politicians are saying about the issue.

gunman in search of a target

Young thug with gun isolated on white

As someone from a Facebook conversation yesterday said and as O’Reilly pointed out, what we’re dealing with is a new form of warfare. O’Reilly considers this as a means of legitimizing national gun control laws at the federal level so that states rights does not come into play and so that one law prevails over interpretation of the rule.

Colbert’s monologue was moving. A link to the article about it takes us to the Conan O’Brien monologue that was equally touching.

A few months ago there was a proposal to make it legal for concealed carry in churches. Trump last month, as part of his campaign rhetoric, said teachers should be allowed to carry guns in the classroom. In light of some school officials having been videoed when they have slammed students to the ground, I don’t know that this would be a wise step. And in light of the fact that I know a person who is a teacher who is bi-polar, who refers to their students as savages, and who does things that are dangerous and disrespectful, I have to do the math and realize there are probably many others who have similar sentiments. Those people should not be allowed to even *own* guns, much less carry them.

I agree, the way to solve the problem is to define what the problem is. I agree, this is a travesty and it’s being imposed on us as citizens of a nation that is supposed to be great. I agree, this sickness must stop. What are some first steps toward defining the problem? If it is two-fold, or even multifoliate, what are the issues and how do we prioritize them?

After resolving the identification of the problem(s), what are the solutions.

The Colbert Show monologue and O’Reilly interview are here.

This is a concern. It is troubling that it gets repeated on an increasingly frequent basis but still there is no action to remedy the illness. It’s merely allowed to fester. Perhaps it will result in a national amputation of civility. I hope not. Unfortunately, that appears to be the trend.

Some argue that we need stricter gun control laws. We need to do better background checks. What good are background checks when those who fit the Betty White profile are dismissed as not a threat and don’t need to be investigated? And there’s no record of the fact (fact) that the person uses a BB gun to shoot small animals in their yard.

Reports of violent behavior can result in a person’s becoming unemployable. This is the case in matters of domestic violence. That is why the victim will refrain from filing charges. The abuser is the source of income for the household. Without those purse strings, the entire household will be on the streets in the blink of an eye.

Yet as of this date, a person on the “no fly list” does not prevent that person from being issued a gun license and thereafter being able to purchase guns and weapons. A person on the FBI list of person who should be monitored also has the freedom to become a licensed weapons owner. We need to question the reasonableness of these laws and protocols.

Even though this post was started the day after the Orlando incidents, the issues remain unresolved. Congress, taking a partisan stance to block progress of the other party and thereby prevent that party from receiving credit for being proactive in regard to public safety and welfare, disparaged the Democratic sit-in by calling it grandstanding. Perhaps that attitude is yet another form of grandstanding.

It’s time. It’s time to stop merely shaking our heads as we go numb for a few minutes or days and then pick up our heads and lives and resume Life as usual. It’s time. It’s time to start being about solutions and positive alternatives. It’s time. It’s time to start learning what the issues are. And it’s time to work toward a meeting of the minds in order to resolve this age of strife, unheeded screams for help and attention, and unmet needs of the people. It’s time for this was of humanity to stop.

We don’t need more late night commentaries about gun control. We need daily reasons to live whole and productive, fulfilling and meaningful lives.

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Making Sense of Senselessness

Facebook’s prompt on one’s profile is “What’s on your mind?” I wrote what was on my mind but the thoughts didn’t stop. Realizing how temporal the feed (even on one’s personal profile) tends to be, I wanted to put those thoughts in a place that has more permanence.

What provoked all of this exercise was the news of the shootings that occurred yesterday in quiet Redlands, California. The day after the Paris shootings, I was awakened to reportage of the incident and its horror. It was then that I posted to Facebook’s prompt that I envisioned this was the beginning of warfare on various parts of United States soil. It appears that day is dawning.

For a time, there were several who read this blog (and my others) who pleasantly encouraged me to add graphics in order to make the content “pop.” I’ve been following the suggestion. However, searching for the appropriate graphic takes a huge amount of time and sometimes the actual writing of the thoughts is deferred. There must be a good balance.

Nevertheless, I searched for a graphic for this post. My search term was “gun.” The results were astounding but also a reflection of how guns, danger, threats, and intrigue have overtaken our society in any location. What the images said to me is that guns are sexy. That was the predominant theme. Guns represent power. They can constrain action and inflict fear. They set the one who has the gun in a position of authority. They represent an “anything goes” environment similar to the Wild West. They (and their holder) create a sense of intrigue. Yet we feed on these subliminals each time we watch a TV drama or subscribe to the ticket for the next James Bond-type movie.

We feed on the danger and intrigue.

Young thug with gun isolated on white

It wasn’t until last night that I learned of the shooting in Redlands. So sad. So tragic. So senseless.

Now I’m remembering the counsel of the Parisian father to his young son. And as I sit here recuperating from yesterday’s illness, I’m also remembering the lyrics from a Nat Cole song,

“The greatest thing,
you’ll ever learn
is just to love
and be loved
in return.”
[From Nature Boy]

Perhaps that’s the reason why we have the superficial relationships that we do.

And as I reflect on the actions of some (and actions I struggle with myself, at times) there is envy and resentment of one who has succeeded in their own endeavors.

We forget that our Life agenda is completely different from anyone else’s. And we forget that their successes have been accompanied by numerous attempts that failed. Yet they turned their faces to the sun with the determination to press forward and find a way to succeed. Their persistence and creativity to find alternatives to the well beaten path were the factors that got them to that particular plateau.

Finally, we forget that those who announce their successes not only need the cheering section to boost them to the next attainment. What we also forget is that the announcement is the exposure to a model for the rest of us who aspire to something similar but part of our own agenda.

I’m glad that the neighbors did not report the activities of the shooters. The reportage was they did not want it to appear that there was racial profiling because their community is very inclusive. How many communities can genuinely say that? In light of the pronouncements of those vying for the Republican Presidential candidate nomination, it seems few of them can step up to the plate. Yes, it’s time for us to speak of many things, fools and kings, and who can competently lead.

Yes, Nat, the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return. But that, in turn, requires communication: actual listening to what someone else is saying and actually being heard through not just words but also through actions (because the words have proven to be unheard).

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