Ten Questions for Monday

by A. Jay Adler on August 30, 2010
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All right, move it along. The weekend is over. Get back to work.

1. Can you name an individual who has ever been more respected for his independence and integrity who proceeded to abandon both so completely as did John McCain from his presidential campaign through his just completed primary campaign in Arizona?

2. How many people who attended the Glenn Beck rally at the Lincoln Memorial over the weekend, including the speakers, know that Martin Luther King Jr. said the following, and would be his followers in pursuing it?

This will be the day when we shall bring into full realization the American dream — a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few, a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man’s skin determined the context of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of human personality — that is the dream….

Yes, before the victory is won, some will be misunderstood. Some will be called Reds and Communists merely because they believe in economic justice and the brotherhood of man. But we shall overcome.

I am convinced that we shall overcome because the arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice.

3. If you had a degenerative physical or mental disease that destroys your body or your mind, would you suffer it until it killed you, or would you seek to end your own life at a time of your choosing?

4. Did you know that Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela has a per capita and total (they have roughly equal populations) murder rate about four times greater than that of Iraq? That 50% more people have been killed there since 2007 than in Mexico during its drug war? That Caracas has 200 homicides per 100,000 residents compared to 22.7 for Bogota and 14 or Sao Paolo?

5. If “less is more,” does it mean that “more is less,” in which case “less is less” (more or less)? Is there ever just enough? Would that be the “golden mean,” when to mean neither more nor less is golden? Just wondering.

6. Doesn’t every political side and party have big money people who finance their activities? In which case isn’t it about whether the BMP do it openly or secretly? And what, really it is, in the end, that the BMP support?

Five hundred people attended the summit, which served, in part, as a training session for Tea Party activists in Texas. An advertisement cast the event as a populist uprising against vested corporate power. “Today, the voices of average Americans are being drowned out by lobbyists and special interests,” it said. “But you can do something about it.” The pitch made no mention of its corporate funders. The White House has expressed frustration that such sponsors have largely eluded public notice. David Axelrod, Obama’s senior adviser, said, “What they don’t say is that, in part, this is a grassroots citizens’ movement brought to you by a bunch of oil billionaires.

And what, really, is it in the end you support – and does it mean – if you’re a BMP financing a “grassroots” movement of “ordinary people” who are organizing, they think, in spontaneous revolt against the rule of elites, unaware that it is moneyed elites bankrolling and training their non-leader leaders behind the scenes? What does it mean when the people’s uprising against conspiratorial powers is directed by conspiratorial powers?

7. Do you think a billionaire mayor who subverted the will of the citizens of his city, twice expressed at the ballot box, to establish term limits, by overturning the voters’ decision in cooperation with a self-interested city council, and promised the city could have term limits again after he got his third term – do you think such a mayor should be lecturing anyone on the meaning of democracy and liberty?

8. On the other hand, when said Mayor, Billionaire Bloomberg, offered that “A handful of people ought to be ashamed of themselves,” it was widely reported and headlined that Bloomberg said that “Ground Zero mosque opponents [not a “handful of people”] should be ‘ashamed’ of themselves.” What do you think of this kind of reporting?

9. Who says they don’t make ‘em like they used to? Clooney’s a mensch and Grant dropped acid in analysis. Maybe Hollywood won’t be the end of Western Civilization as we knew it under the Holy Roman Empire and the the Dum Diversas, the Romanus Pontifex and the Inter Caetera.

All right, I’ve got two computers down and I’m working off an old, sluggish 20 mph 14” screen Model T Compaq. I think that’s actually a lot more than ten questions, don’t you? (There – that’s ten.)

AJA


4 comments

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynn white August 30, 2010 at 6:49 pm

….that’s knock OUT pills. (sorry)

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Lynn white August 30, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Re: #3 : This has been a key question in my life, of late. and it is an important one, that we should all consider more than we do.

It also is a very sad and miserable question to ponder…which is why most of us so avoid it.

One of my ( psychotherapy ) clients has just lost his father. The client is a physician , and knows very well how important are life and death issues. His elderly and sickly father had been in the hospital for four months , when the father passed away several days ago. For 3 1/2 months of the four, he had been on life support, in the ICU . He seemed relatively unaware of anything , and was unable to communicate at all.

Yet, my client — the doctor — found he absolutely could not give the orders to let his father….go.

Nor did he know what his father wanted …. Because THEY HAD NEVER DISCUSSED IT. As too many of us do not.

At last, his father did pass away. still,the young doctor feels deep regret and remorse at not even KNOWING what his father would have wanted.

Truly, I believe no one really KNOWS what they would want….until it happens.

All in all, however, I believe that I would rather end my own life, if I knew I was in a hopeless state. I feel quite certain of it.

I even know the method I would use.

So…..I best start acquiring and squirreling away all those knock pills it will take.

How about you, author?

How do you answer this key existential question?

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charlie k August 30, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Obama, yes, 2, no, when asked by Humphrey Bogart in the film Key Largo, what he(Edward G Robinson’s Rico)wanted, the answer, provided by Bogart? was “More!”, Welcome to Mass Society, everyone else lectures about democracy in a nation that has never practiced democracy so why not NY’s Daddy Warbucks? What else is to be expected? Is #9 a question? Where is #10? Good luck with your computers!

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Kate August 30, 2010 at 10:56 am

Mr Adler,

My thoughts are even more scattered and confused than usual, for a variety of reason that don’t need to be raised here.
That said, with respect to your quote from Reverend King (question 2), you might be surprised (given that your tone implies – at least to me – that you suspect very few of the attendees would be aware of the quote, much less approve of it).

Some more detail, quoting the Reverend with my comments afterwards: “This will be the day when we shall bring into full realization the American dream — a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed;” Equality of opportunity and equal enforcement of unbiased laws more or less guarantee a reasonably wide distribution of property. Of course, equality of opportunity does not and can not equate to equality of outcome, for the simple reason that the traits that generally result in material success are not evenly distributed, any more than simple good luck is. To borrow from quality assurance (or actually, from programming), that’s not a bug, it’s a feature. A biologically diverse population is more likely to have enough individuals able to survive a catastrophic event than a biologically homogeneous one, and there’s a lot of evidence that the base talents and affinities are biologically based, with the ultimate expression (or not) having a lot to do with environmental factors.

“a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few,” I fail to see how any person could find this problematic. It isn’t claiming that those few who have luxuries necessarily take them from others, although I can see how a lot of people would read it as such. In the context of the rest of the quote, it seems far more a dream of a land without privilege (aka “private law” – again, a statement that everyone regardless of status should be subject to the same laws)

“a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man’s skin determined the context of his character;” Which is, I believe why there were a number of melanin-enhanced people speaking at the event, and an open invitation to everyone irrespective of skin color. I can’t imagine Dr King’s niece agreeing to speak at the event if there had not been a welcome offered to everyone.

“a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity;” Now here, things get interesting. You see, requiring this by legal means is incompatible with all of the preceding points. If, however, you take the view that each person has a moral duty to make the lives of those around them better, then from that perspective this statement makes sense. As a minister, King no doubt knew that the Bible strongly encourages similar behavior – that every person has the duty to improve the lives of those around them in both material and spiritual ways. And that only God is capable of judging who has given “enough”.

“the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of human personality — that is the dream….” Really, the only thing that can be said here is “Amen”. However, note that yet again Reverend King chooses to emphasis the individual – human personality – over the communal. The implication is that he regards everything in his address as a human duty belonging to each individual, to be honored in the best way that person can do so.

“Yes, before the victory is won, some will be misunderstood. Some will be called Reds and Communists merely because they believe in economic justice and the brotherhood of man. But we shall overcome.” I see a little pre-emptive action here, with Reverend King observing that anyone or anything that threatens the powerful elites will be subject to the most offensive characterization of the time. Today, someone giving a similar speech might well say “Some will be called racist and sexist”.

Question 6: Isn’t it interesting how easy it is to be caught by a slanted piece? It took me a while to see how biased that article was – I wonder if any similar articles have been written by that organization about Warren Buffet or Bill Gates (to name two large supporters of the President’s agenda) implying dirty money and corruption?

Quite simply, any sufficiently large business will find it in its interest to try to form a partnership with government to try to skew things in its favor. The end result tends to be a concentration of power – and it doesn’t matter whose hands the power is concentrated in. When a supposedly fairly elected elite can ignore the expressed desires of the majority of the people they are supposed to represent, then that government is no longer representative. When a political party management tries to change the rules (or actually does change the rules) to override the expressed wishes of its members, that party is corrupt.

Oh, and I doubt the author of that piece has actually read Hayek, either, since Hayek regards rule by corporate elite as no less evil than rule by socialist/communist elite. He saw the same thing I’ve seen: tyranny looks the same whether you get there from the left or the right. It still ends up with power concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite, and abuse of everyone else.

Thanks for putting up with my rambling,

Kate

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