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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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Illustration credit: http://www.freakingnews.com/Donald-Trump-the-Scarecrow-Without-a-Brain-Pictures-140003.asp

What do President Donald Trump, Hamlet, and The Wizard of Oz have in common?  A lot. Let me go right to a snippet of Hamlet’s often quoted soliloquy on man:

What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god!
the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals!
And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?

At first glance it appears that Hamlet is giving a glowing review of man. But when the quote is taken apart and the exclamation points are changed to question marks as they are in some versions of the text, the meaning changes completely. And I believe it is closer to Shakespeare’s intended meaning.

Consider the current meaning of the expression “you’re a piece of work.”  It’s not a compliment. It’s an insult.

So, with that said, if we insert this meaning into the Hamlet quote with the change in punctuation, we come away understanding that man is not noble in reason, not infinite in faculty, etc.

To Trump’s supporters the exclamation points remain. To his detractors the question marks are in place.

For a minute take Trump’s campaign rhetoric and his political moves out of the equation and look at Trump the man, the mere mortal.  Contrary to the saying about actions speaking louder than words, President Trump’s action and words speak out loud and clear.  As a businessman he might be the great and powerful wizard, but as a man, he is a humbug.

Put Trump in Oz and he would fire the Wizard and take over control of the Wonderful Land of Oz. Where the original Wizard might have put green glasses on all the people in the Emerald City to convince them they were seeing what he wanted them to see, he knew in his heart he was misleading the people. (Take note of the word “mislead.”  It literally means to lead people astray.)

In Wizard Trump’s case, he actually believes in his “humbugary.” In truth he is the scarecrow in need of a thoughtful brain. He is also the Tin Man, in need of a compassionate heart. And he is the Lion, but not the Lion who knows he lacks courage. He is the Lion who believes he is the King of the Forest. A lion who roars, rages and tweets.

I have lived through the “reign” of a dozen presidents. My view of them as political leaders means less to me than my view of them as men. I judge them using the checklist in Hamlet’s speech.  I want a person in the White House who is noble in reason, a person who is admirable, and a person who is in action like an angel.

There’s no doubt that Obama, Bush and Clinton might have fallen short in many human areas. However, they were elevated by the office of the presidency and more often than not acted accordingly.

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circus-elephants

A high school friend recently posted on FB about how bittersweet it is that the circus era is coming to an end.  Bittersweet it is because many of us have circus memories etched into our childhood DNA.

We could debate the issue of the circus closing until the elephants come home, but that won’t be very productive.  In my mind, the issue is much larger than the big top.  It has to do with change…be it radical or simple.

The status was pretty  much “quo” in Oz until Dorothy crashed landed.  After that the balance was forever tipped.

We are not the first generation to be challenged by changes.  How many people were bereft when the horse and buggy was replaced by the Tin Lizzie?  How many blacksmiths lost their jobs when their services were no longer needed?

Change is inevitable. We all know that.  But there is something different about the way things have been changing in our lifetime. Change that is gradual and organic is something we can come to understand and even eventually embrace.  But change that is sudden and that comes like a tornado often leaves us breathless.

Animal rights advocates launched a campaign to end the abuse of the majestic animals that were the mainstay of the circus.  Having looked into what had to be done to take a wild animal and have it dance, prance and jump through burning hoops, I was sickened.

With what I know now, should I cringe at having been thrilled when I was held captive under the big top as a child?  Is ignorance really bliss?

I only have to take a look back at the way it was when I was a kid, a time when women’s rights were limited, when segregation was the “law” of the land, when people who suffered from mental illness were institutionalized, when being gay was a punishable  “sin,” when….

I think none of us really have a problem with changes that “change” the way we operate. Who had a problem throwing out the ink pen that used to blot at the worst moment and started using a ball point pen?  Who held a rally to stop automakers from introducing automatic drive, power steering and power breaks?

I think many of us who are open to change don’t know how to handle the militant advocacy that often precedes change.

That’s not to mean that militant advocacy is not more often than not necessary or needed. I mean how far would the Civil Rights movement had gone had advocacy not been the spur? Where would women be if the fight for change was not loud and open?

As much as we could point to other moments in time when change washed over us in tidal wave proportion, that was then and this is NOW.

Should we go with the flow and welcome change?  Should we stand firm and resist change?I mean, is change always good?

I have no answers. All I can say is that life is so friggin’ complicated!

 

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Oz for honest

In less than a week’s time, Orlando, the happiest place on earth, was turned on its head. The senseless shooting of an aspiring pop star, the brutal mass shooting of the innocent in a club, and the tragic death of a two year-old in an alligator attack caused national consternation, angst, sorrow and total exasperation.  Unless you were in a coma you are well aware of what happened, and undoubtedly you have been saturated with endless news reports.

And while more experienced commentators have “commentated” ad infinitum on the week’s events, I want to put my YBR spin to the table for no other reason than a blog is a medium made for getting things off your chest.

Before getting into the meat of the events, I want to take a moment to focus on what the politicians have had to say, and in this case I will limit my comments to the presumptive presidential candidates.

One word kept flashing in my head. Honest…the last word we associate with politicians. (You remember that often quoted saying about an honest politician is an oxymoron? Well in this presidential race you can leave off the oxy.)

The dictionary defines honest as “free of deceit and untruthfulness; sincere.” When it came to the shooting in the Orlando club, who was the more honest? Trump or Clinton? I’d have to say that Trump spoke “honestly.”  His comments were, as usual, unvarnished.  He didn’t mince his words and he could not be accused of being deceitful. He was also sincere, in that he said what he meant and he meant what he said.

Clinton, on the other hand, was less than honest. That doesn’t mean she was dishonest or that she lied to us when she spoke. It only means that none of us have any idea if what she said was what she really feels/believes deep down inside her. She spoke the language of politics, meaning every word was scripted.

Because Trump is not a politicians he has no filter.  As the big guy he has never had to worry what he said, when he said it and to whom he said it.  Clinton is a politician and she had a filter inserted in her mouth so long ago that she can’t let it go.

As ridiculous as I might have thought Trump’s comments were, I was left confused by Clinton’s remarks.

Space doesn’t allow me to go into any detail on their statements. Suffice it to say that we need people to speak honestly and that means going off script even if what you have to say doesn’t meet with universal approval.

To Donald Trump I say, start to take a wider look at the world and realize that being bombastic might make the news but being a broader and deeper thinker might actually make your “opponents” sit up and take note.

To Hillary Clinton I say, get off your high horse and throw the script away. You might win over more people if you spoke from the heart, not a teleprompter.

To Donald and Hillary: I want to hear what you both  have to say. I have an open mind.  Unlike the two of you.

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earthcone

It only seems like yesterday that it was Earth Day and here it is again…and I haven’t done my Earth Day shopping yet!  Well, that’s life, but there is a reason to reflect on Earth Day because world opinion on the condition of planet earth, especially regarding global warming is such an issue.

I don’t recall any mention of Oz Day or Emerald warming on the YBR. Since there were no cars or other motor vehicles  in Oz, they didn’t have to worry about carbon emission problems.

Here on earth it’s a different story. Politics and science aside, it really should matter where you stand on global warming, even if it’s only to get you to think that for every action there is a equal reaction or something to that effect.  All of us need to be conscious of the earth’s fragile nature and be mindful of what we do…even something small like discarding trash correctly rather than litter.

Today I went out on our lawn and began the laborious process of riding it of dandelions.

dandelions

I hate doing it, but I realize if I don’t tend to the problem it is only going to get worse and before I know it the lawn will be covered with more dandelions.

In a metaphorical sense, dandelions are those issues or problems that appear in our lives and won’t go away unless we do something about them. Earth Day is the perfect day to take a long, hard and realistic look at our lawn. Is our  life covered with dandelions? If so, what should we do about it?

I think we need to take an inventory of our lives and see what impact those dandelions are having on our lives.  I believe most of our dandelions are the result of bad habits, those sometimes little things we do…or don’t do as the case might be…that are preventing us from living fuller lives.

While I don’t know if it is possible to rid our lives of all our dandelions, that’s no excuse for not doing something.

One of the things I suggest doing is weeding our lawns of all those people in our lives who are dandelions. You know, selfish people or those people that don’t bring anything positive to our lives.

If you happen to work for a dandelion and you can’t leave your job, you can protect yourself from being contaminated by not letting them have control over your inner life. Sure, they may treat you like dirt, but you have the same power Dorothy did in Oz. Mentally throw a bucket of water on them and see them melt.

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Political-Promises-4d3a109a90464

Do you remember high school election campaigns when many presidential hopefuls promised free ice cream on Friday, more school dances, relaxed dress codes and other pie-in-the-sky promises?

Such highfalutin promised were not limited to high school political candidates.  Who can forget when Herbert Hoover campaigned on a promise that if he were elected he promised “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.”

His promise hit a bit of a snag when shortly after his election the Great Depression left most Americans without a pot to cook the chicken and no garage to park the car.

When I listen to Bernie Sanders talk I go back to my college days when my kumbaya generation believed in peace, love and all that shit. Our idealism was only matched by our fundamental immaturity. Not that the lofty goals were not something to aspire to. I still believe in those lofty goals, but while I believe that many changes can be legislated, we can’t pass laws to make people less selfish and more compassionate.

That brings me back to good ol’ Bernie Sanders…a man after my idealistic heart, with particular attention paid to his Hooverism of promising all Americans free public higher education.

I’m all for education for a lifetime. I also like free.  And to be truthful, funding free education through taxation, doesn’t even bother me because the history of American education shows how “we the people” realized how important that education was that we first introduced free mandatory public elementary/grade school education and then extended it to free mandatory high school education…and then to state supported community colleges with low tuition.

My problem is not with a free college education, but with this notion that every American student is ENTITLED to the free ride.  If the motivation behind the Sanderesque concept of free college is to create a highly competitive work force, I suggest that we begin that process in the lower grades.  Bring back vocational education as a viable path for young people. That would call for a complete overhaul of our archaic educational curriculum.

But to develop education tracks, one being vocational and the other being academic, I fear would be considered elitist.

For a moment, let us imagine the day when EVERY students goes to college. Where would that get us? The common denominator would not only be common, it would be so commonplace that tomorrow’s college degree would have as much value as today’s high school diploma.

I’d like to offer Bernie Sanders a suggestion.  Make a college education free, but not to everyone just because, but to any student, regardless of his/her economic demographic, who, by virtue of his/her accomplishments in high school, is DESERVING of a free education.

If we raise the bar in high school we will separate the wheat from the chaff and the deserving will be like the cream that rises to the top of the milk.

(How do you like that? Two clichés in one sentence.)

 

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manure-pile-for-sale

If you have a mailbox, own a phone, or drive around town, you know that it’s election time. And unlike Christmas, it’s not the most wonderful time of year. The political campaign “literature” is cheap, pathetic, tasteless, and worst of all, bull shit. It’s a shame that our politicians, both the home-grown variety and state and national candidates, only reach out to us when they want our vote. Following is the text of a speech given by the Cowardly Lion who is not afraid to speak his mind on political manure:

“Candidates of all parties, gender, race, creed and color, lend me your ears. What the hell is wrong with you?  Do you think we’re all stupid?  Your flyers, mailers and television ads are an embarrassment. Maybe blind political party followers believe the crap that you are shoveling, but the majority of us say enough is enough!  If any of you office seekers actually did a small fraction of what you claim you did, then why are we stuck in a quagmire? And, if your opponents only did a small percentage of the things you accuse them of doing or failed to do while in office, why aren’t there more investigations and arrests?

When are you going to get it through your thick, manicured heads, that in the end, the winner is sent to represent “all” of us…not just those people who voted for you.

Don’t you realize that every slur you make about your opponent might come back to haunt us if he/she wins? If you have done a job convincing the electorate that your opponent is an idiot, but you didn’t do “a good enough job” to get elected, you have essentially sent a jerk into office.

Do us all a favor. Be honest and avoid slinging the mud. Let us decide.

I approve this speech.”

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A political campaign commentary by A. Munchkin

It happens around this time every year all across Oz.  The emerald green lawns stop growing as the nights grow colder, but something else sprouts up at night in full bloom. Campaign signs. Those unimaginative signs in truly patriotic colors that bear the name of someone running for one office or another.  One day you’ll drive by a green patch of land and see one or two of these signs, but by the end of the week you can’t even see the green patch anymore.

The only thing worse than those “clutterful” signs is television campaign commercials. They fall into one of two categories. You have the one kind that extols the virtues of the candidates. You know the ads I’m talking about.  The voice-over usually goes something like this.

BoyScouts

“He was born of a virgin in a stable. Wise men from super powers recognized him as the one leader ordained by a supreme being. These wise men traveled miles to present him with the gifts of brains, a heart and courage and he has used them to eradicate poverty, abolish the common core, provide free health care for every living creature, raise the minimum wage to $2,678.50 an hour, and reduce our carbon footprint by 600%.

From such humble buildings A. Hole has become a world leader that every gosh-darn citizen of mother earth loves and adores. As a junior state assemblyman he was the first to solve the great debate over plastic or paper.

And now he seeks your vote to put him in the White House where he can continue to work for you.

Vote for an A. Hole.

‘I am A. Hole and I approve this message.”

And then there is the other ad lovingly known as the attack ad.  It goes like this.

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“If you think we need another A. Hole in the White House, go for it. But before you pull that lever on election day, here are a few things you ought to know about him.

While in the state assembly, A. Hole voted 637 times to turn abandoned schools into casinos.

A .Hole is a member of a group of people who want to eliminate daylight savings time.

A. Hole went on record to say that anyone who disagrees with him is an ass hole. (Ain’t that the pot calling the kettle black.)

A Hole is pro anti everything and flip flops like a dying mackerel.

As the puppet of a CEO of a large toxic waste dump, A. Hole wants to turn dumps into play grounds.

If you want to poison the White House, A. Hole is your man.

Paid for by the friends of B. Shit.

Not only should we expect a lot more from the men and women running for office, we should demand it.  Don’t go to the polls on election day. Make your non-vote count!

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