Robert A. Teegarden's Blog

December 27, 2012

“Isn’t it rich. Isn’t it queer.”

Late Night Musings while Listening to Beethoven’s 9th:

  • Barry/Barrack Hussein Sorterro/Obama is the first (half-)black American President.  This is the best we could do?  Martin Luther King, Jr., would have to rewrite his dream to where kids are known only for the color of their skin and not for the content of their character. But he is the king of hyphens.
  •  That kids in Michigan cannot buy fake, bubble gum cigarettes but they can purchase real ones anywhere.  I guess the Internet sale of bubble gum will soon be banned in Michigan.
  • That folks in the state of Washington have banned smoking in public.  But the use of Marijuana is okay.  There must be something in the water up there and it better than Olympia beer.
  • The good folks in the government/union schools of Philadelphia installed condom dispensers in several of their high schools.  This was done in the dead of night, during Christmas vacation.  It was quietly announced on a Friday night. Hmmm.  They say that parents are to be blamed if the kids take these condoms without mom and dad’s permission.  And while the dispensers are in the nurse’s office or school office, they won’t be monitored.  Students will be on the honor system apparently.  This is worse than giving a loaded gun to a six-year-old.  Here’s a real weapon of mass destruction.  These folks are destroying the moral integrity of their own children.  But they say, “It’s for the kids.”

A German pastor announced that he believes that Jesus would have a Facebook account were He here today.  “Mein Gott in Himmel.  Ich denke nicht!”  (I don’t think so.)  Jesus didn’t send a message, he sent himself.  He didn’t wire ahead to Jerusalem, he road into town on the back of an ass.  He didn’t send gifts to the wedding at Cana; he came in person.   Presence is much more important than presents.  Our problems stem from our hiding behind technology–it’s hidden, it’s impersonal, it’s empty.  When the batteries drain, when the power fails, when the lights go out–all we have is each other.

Remember:  a network is NOT a community.

The vast majority of these were written by college graduates.  That should tell you something about the state of education in the USA.

  • You can get arrested for expired tags on your car but not for being in the country illegally.
  • Your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more of our money.
  • A seven-year-old boy can be thrown out of school for calling his teacher “cute” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable.
  • The Supreme Court of the United States can rule that lower courts cannot display the 10 Commandments in their courtroom, while sitting in front of a display of the 10 Commandments.
  • Hard work and success are rewarded with higher taxes and government intrusion, while some slothful behavior is rewarded with EBT cards, WIC checks, subsidized housing, and free cell phones.
  • The government’s plan for getting people back to work is to provide 99 weeks of unemployment checks (to not work).
  • Being self-sufficient is considered a threat to the government.
  • Politicians think that stripping away the amendments to the constitution is really protecting the rights of the people.
  • The rights of the Government come before the rights of the individual.
  • You pay your mortgage faithfully, denying yourself the newest big screen TV while your neighbor defaults on his mortgage (while buying iPhones, TV’s and new cars) and the government forgives his debt and reduces his mortgage (with your tax dollars).
  • Being stripped of the ability to defend yourself somehow makes you “safe”.
  • You have to have your parent’s signature to go on a school field trip or take an aspirin at school but not to get an abortion.
  • An 80 year old woman can be stripped searched by the TSA but a Muslim woman in a burka is only subject to having her neck and head searched.
  • You need a license to drive a car, or ID to cash a check, or take out a loan.  But not to VOTE.  Somehow that’s unfair.

It was reported that one large city in America was handing out cell phones with 250 prepaid minutes to the homeless.  They justified this campaign because the recipients were literally “homeless.”

Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to give the homeless a roll of quarters?  It would be a lot cheaper.  And if they need more quarters for phone calls to potential employers, all they have to do is document how they used the previous roll: whom they called, when, to whom did they speak and what was the job they were seeking.

Another solution might be to give them a personal 800 code number they can use to make “free” calls to potential employers.  If they want to phone, they’ll find a phone.

These technological give-aways (cellphones or shoes) don’t address the issue–they only exacerbate them.  If you give a man a fish, you feed him for today.  If you teach her how to fish you feed her for a life time.

It’s time to fish or cut bait.

Cory Booker, mayor of a large New Jersey city, declared that welfare checks and cell phone programs are NOT government give-aways, but a safety net.  I once knew and worked briefly with Cory Booker and had respect for his attempts to help people.  But this video cracks that support; he seems to be selling his soul piece by piece to the latest Mephistopheles.  If he cannot distinguish honestly between a safety net and a hand-out, then he is doomed to the nether world of the Democrats.

My gosh, Cory.  When I was in the circus and fell from the high-wire act, I thanked God for the safety net beneath.  My fall was stopped.  But here’s the difference: a safety net has an exit. You eventually get off.  It catches you on the way down so you can bounce up.  What exists are there from the food stamp program?  None.  What incentives are there to get better, to exit the program, to bounce back, to rejoin the human race?  None. There used to be.  But your lord and dictator removed all of those avenues of respect and recuperation.

Let’s see… from whence does the food stamp program come?  The government.  What is the source of the revenues to pay for his program?  The government.  Where does the government get its money?  From taxes.  Whom does it tax?  You and me.  There is no program that collects funds voluntarily or by mandate specifically for food stamps.  There’s no box to check on one’s income tax that says “contribution for food stamps, check here.”  If there are no expectations, no encouragements, no end in site, it cannot be a safety net.  If each citizen doesn’t decide, then the government has stepped in.  Therefore… IT’S A HANDOUT.

What would happen if there was a box on your income tax form that said: “Check here if you would like to pay an additional $28 in taxes to fund the Food Stamp Program.”  Do you honestly think there would be more than $56 in the fund?

Truth is universal, regardless of the participants.  To enslave any people is wrong whether it’s done with chains, education/indoctrination or cell phones.

Business solution for the 21st Century.  Post a sign on your front door: “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.  Just because you come in doesn’t mean we have to sell it to you.”

Three Benghazi questions that haven’t been asked:

  • Who wanted Ambassador Stevens killed?
  • Who benefits from his death?
  • Who has the power to cover it up?

What’s the cost of maintaining an Army?  It’s the same as the first rule in Economics: Supply and Demand.  The cost of maintaining an army is to maintain an enemy.  If there is no enemy… you get the picture.

Which is more harmful to your health?  A plane full of cell phone talkers or a plane full of smokers? You be the judge

Only in America.

  •  Could politicians talk about the greed of the rich at a $35,000 a plate campaign fund-raising event.
  • Could people claim that the government still discriminates against black Americans when they have a black President, a black Attorney General, and roughly 18% of the federal workforce is black while only 12% of the population is black.
  • Could they have had the two people most responsible for our tax code, Timothy Geithner (head of our Treasury Dept) and Charles Rangel (who once ran the Ways and Means Committee), BOTH turn out to be tax cheats who are in favor of higher taxes for American citizens.
  • Can they have terrorists kill people in the name of Allah and have our media primarily react by fretting that Muslims might be harmed by the backlash.
  • Would they make people who want to legally become American citizens wait for years in their home countries and pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege while we discuss letting anyone who sneaks into the country illegally just ‘magically’ become American citizens.
  • Could the people who believe in balancing the budget and sticking by the country’s Constitution be thought of as “extremists.”
  • Could people demand the government investigate whether oil companies are gouging the public because the price of gas went up when the return on equity invested in a major U.S. oil company (Marathon Oil) is less than half of a company making tennis shoes (Nike).
  • Could the government collect more tax dollars from the people than any nation in recorded history, still spend a trillion dollars more than it has per year for total spending of $7 million PER MINUTE, and complain that it doesn’t have nearly enough money.
  • Could the “rich” people who pay 86% of all income taxes be accused of not paying their “fair share” by people who don’t pay any income taxes at all.

Dear Teachers:

I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no person should witness. Gas chambers built by learned engineers. Children poisoned by educated physicians. Infants killed by trained nurses. Women and babies shot and burned by high school and college graduates.

So I am suspicious of education. My request is: help your students become more human. Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths, or educated Eichmanns. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more human.    –Haim G. Ginott

 

**”Send in the Clowns” is a song by Stephen Sondheim from the 1973 musical A Little Night Music.

Isn’t it rich?
Are we a pair?
Me here at last on the ground,
You in mid-air..
Where are the clowns?

Isn’t it bliss?
Don’t you approve?
One who keeps tearing around,
One who can’t move…
Where are the clowns?
Send in the clowns.

Just when I’d stopped opening doors,
Finally knowing the one that I wanted was yours.
Making my entrance again with my usual flair
Sure of my lines…
No one is there.

Don’t you love farce?
My fault, I fear.
I thought that you’d want what I want…
Sorry, my dear!
And where are the clowns
Send in the clowns
Don’t bother, they’re here.

Isn’t it rich?
Isn’t it queer?
Losing my timing this late in my career.
And where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns…
Well, maybe next year.

 

 

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July 20, 2012

The Moral Dilemma and Obama

Filed under: American,Civics,Elections,Government,Language — by Robert @ 2:59 pm
Tags: , , , ,

One of the telling problems of politics is the disconnect between what a politician says and does from one moment to the next.  We hear a speech that inspires and enervates.  We then hear an off-the-cuff remark that bewilders and is contrary to the speech.  The dilemma for the citizen in 21st century America is getting to know a candidate and/or politician from the words and actions revealed.  Why they reach the conclusion they reach is as important as the conclusion itself because it reveals how the person thinks and what they value.  Why does Soetoro-Obama do this or say that?  What does he really mean?  What does he really value? Part of the problem is modern technology.

When a political leader speaks formally today, s/he often uses a teleprompter or, at least, prepared notes.  It’s very seldom that an informal give-and-take takes place.  Why?  In the formal setting the politician is working from a well-prepared script.  The problem is that this script was probably written by someone else. In the informal tête-à-tête the politician is naked before the world. These latter words reveal the real person behind the words.  You really don’t know what a person is thinking from a prepared speech. One measure of a politician’s strength would be to see how often s/he works from a script or speaks extemporaneously.  How often does this person speak directly to the people? How does Mr. Obama stack up when he working from a script versus when he’s not?  Notice a difference?  It’s obvious that the level of moral reasoning by the scriptwriter is radically different from that of Mr. Soetoro-Obama.

One such scale used to measure cognitive moral reasoning was authored by Piaget.  Piaget studied and wrote of many aspects of moral reasoning and judgment.  But all of his research narrowed down to a two-state theory.  Moral dilemmas are handled by under-10 and 11-year-olds far differently than those older. In other words, there are two stages of development: 10 & 11-years-old (and under) and all people older. Children 11 and under regard the laws and rules of order to be fixed and absolute.  These rules are handed down by God and/or adults and they cannot be altered.  The older group sees that rules are not necessarily sacred and/or absolute, but they are tools that human beings use to form social groups and get along.

The younger group measures rules by what might happen if; what would happen if I break that rule or follow that rule.  They see the world in terms of consequences.  The older folks tend to see the world of choices in terms of intentions.  For some of them, one’s intentions can trump the severity of breaking a rule/law. That’s why intentions are a major part of most capital crime investigations. What was their intention? Was there an intention to deceive?

A second author on moral choice was Lawrence Kohlberg.  Kohlberg took the extensive research of Piaget and analyzed it even further. In his famous doctoral research, he observed the responses (moral reasoning) of 72 boys from Chicago all dealing with the same dilemma.  From those interviews and subsequent research and writings, Kohlberg developed his Six Stages for Moral Reasoning.  “Moral” here doesn’t mean a bag of virtues.  It’s the intellectual value one places on why one chooses to do or not do a particular act.

Here’s a chart of those stages:

Pre-moral or Pre-Conventional Level

Stage 1: Love of Pleasure, Fear of Pain or Punishment-Avoidance   and Obedience

Decisions are made strictly on the   basis of self-interest.  Rules are   disobeyed as long as one doesn’t get caught.

Stage 2:    Egotistic-Reciprocity or The Exchange of Favors

Others may have needs, but   everything is subordinate to the satisfaction of my needs first and foremost.  

Conventional   Level

Stage 3: The “Good boy” or “Good Girl” stage

Chooses to do or not do things in   order to please others.  Very concerned   about maintaining interpersonal relationships.

Stage 4: Law and Order

I choose not to do this or choose   to do that because it’s the law of the land.

Post-Conventional or Principled Level

Stage 5:  The Social   Contract

Rules/Laws are part of social   agreements. While these laws should be followed by all, they can be changed   from time to time.

Stage 6: Universal Moral/Ethic Principle

There are transcendent principles   that are higher than or more encompassing than particular laws in time and   space.  There is a deep inner   conscience.

Subsequent stages are “better” than the previous.  “Better” here doesn’t mean “gooder” in the sense of a good/bad thing. It means more-encompassing, more intellectually honest.  A person who reasons as level 3 includes levels 2 and 1 into a higher order of reasoning.  Likewise, a person thinking at level 5, the Social Contract, necessarily includes the preceding levels 1-4.  Each stage of cognitive moral reasoning is a more encompassing level; the very “motion” of the chart itself goes from the narrowness or solitude of the “I” to the much broader idea of the “they”, the one to the many.

People don’t necessarily move to “higher” stages of moral growth simply because of age, nor can they skip a stage.  A famous 60-some-year old politician once said, “I don’t know how they can do this to me after all I did to them” the night he left office.  Clearly, that’s a level 2 kind of thinking.  But a person grows from one stage to another by intellectually dealing with moral dilemmas, that is, grappling with the moral content of an issue. If folks don’t engage moral dilemmas, they remain morally stagnant.  Most children outgrow level 2 by the time they are in second grade. This was once called the “age of reason.”  Most American adults reach level four thinking, acting at level three.  Some reach post-conventional thinking. Kohlberg noted that Socrates, Plato, Ghandi, Jesus, and some of the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr., were all examples of level six thinking. They were all killed by level four type folks.  There is a price to pay for having an individual moral compass.

There are averages for the cognitive moral development of most folks, but there are exceptions.  Kohlberg found that “normal” folks usually think one level above where they tend to act. In other words, while folks might be talking about Law and Order, their actions demonstrate clearly that they’re really thinking of how they can please another. An interesting sidelight study was that Kohlberg found that criminals tend to act one level above their reasoning; that is they did a “law and order” kind of deed, but when questioned they noted their prison record and time off for good behavior. Criminal “types” think and act the opposite of law-abiding citizens.

Let’s give Mr. Soetoro-Obama a dilemma and see by his actions at what level he’s probably operating.  The dilemma is this:  He wants to run for a higher political office.  The office has a strict criteria for candidates: both of his parents must be natural born citizens at the time of his birth in order to qualify.  He knows he doesn’t qualify but he really wants this office. He’s been offered the possibility by several of the richest and most influential men in the world. If he reveals his birth certificate, he’s ineligible. Should he reveal this fact or not?

Mr. Soetoro-Obama decides to move ahead and keep that information from his constituents.  In fact he spends close to $11 million to hide that fact and avoid discovery.  He wants the job opportunity.

So the question is this: At what level of moral reasoning is this decision?

Stage 6: Universal Moral/Ethic Principle?      No.  In order to be transcendent, all actions and thoughts have to be transparent. It’s all out there for folks to see.  There’s nothing to hide.  The very act of hiding eliminates this level. His actions to secret information reveal the lack of moral reasoning at this level.

Stage 5:  The Social Contract?                       No.  An example of this Social Contract would be the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States; they reach for higher values, higher principles.  But the Constitution is the very document that outlines the expectation for this office.  If he chooses to hide the facts of his birth and upbringing, then he is not rising to this higher level of post-conventional thinking.  His actions are contrary to the expectations of this stage.

Stage 4: Law and Order?                                No.  The law of the land outlines the expectations for his office.  He submits a false document to suggest compliance with the law. He’s able to think about the expectations at this level, but his actions are not consistent with what society offers as was is legal and what is a sense of order. His choice to violate the law is not for some higher good.

Stage 3: “Good boy” or “Good Girl” stage?  No.  One might argue that he chose to do hide his eligibility in order to please his backers.  But is he very concerned about maintaining interpersonal relationships with the people this office serves?  No.  There is evidence that he’s at least toying with his level of moral development.  He did alter and amend the official histories of his predecessors in order to attempt admiration for his own supposed accomplishments to date.  He’s starting to think about this level but his actions aren’t there yet.

Stage 2:  Egotistic-Reciprocity or The Exchange of Favors Stage    Possibly. Others may have needs, but everything is subordinate to the satisfaction of my needs first and foremost.  His control of media events directs all attention to him; he continually takes credit for others’ work and achievement. He accepts awards where he has done nothing to earn them.  When others challenge the facts of his eligibility, he attacks the author with ad hominem remarks. Clearly he works at this level because of the many favors he grants to only those who have supported him.  

Stage 1: Love of Pleasure, Fear of Pain or Punishment-Avoidance and Obedience Stage?   For sure.  The very reason he spends so much money, time and energy on hiding his credentials is that he might get caught.  Then what?  Decisions are made strictly on the basis of self-interest.  And like Piaget’s early stage thinker, his decisions are based on consequences, not intentions. The egotistic love of pleasure in holding the position is more important than the honest revelation that he simply is not eligible for the same.

Kohlberg hoped that people would advance to the highest possible stage of moral thought. The best possible society would contain individuals who not only understand the need for social order (stage 4) but can entertain visions of universal principles, such as justice and liberty (stage 6). But neither of these can be obtained if, as an adult, one has the stagnated moral development at the level of a six-to-11-year-old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hyphenated-America

Americans see hyphens every day.  The most common use of the hyphen is in the art of orthology or correct spelling, especially when a word breaks at the end of a sentence. Hyphens can either separate or unify.  Hyphens can be used to divide or connect syllables, names or word elements; they can also be used to link jobs or function such as singer-dancers, actor-models, mendacious-politician (Oops, I’m sorry. That’s redundant).  But hyphens are especially needed for clarity. While one might be contained in the other, there is a difference between re-creation and recreation.  And as a parent, I surely would like to distinguish for my children the difference between a dirty-movie theater and a dirty movie-theater.  So, hyphens can help; but they can also hurt.  It all depends on how their used.

Take the term Irish-American or Black-American. To be clear at the outset, it really should be Afro-American, for the modifier is not color but source. Color, like height or weight, is not substantive. Imagine folks being referred to as short-Americans or sinister-Americans (those who write with their left hand).  I suppose, though, one could call herself/himself anything they wish.  But in common parlance and public exchange, things can get confusing. What if your mother were white, your father was from Kenya?  Would you be a white-Afro-American? Or an Afro-White –American?  We seek clarity.

If one is Irish-American it denotes that one has immigrated recently from Ireland and you still have a leg in both countries and cultures. For those who were born here of that particular pedigree, the term is often used to connote origins, not the present reality.  If “Irish-American” denotes a recent arrival, then all others are “Americans of Irish decent”.  After all, the common denominator for us all is “American,” not “Irish.”

Likewise for the Afro-American. A recent immigrant from Monrovia, Liberia, to Azusa, California, could be considered an Afro-American for a while. But with time, naturalization, and assimilation in the new culture, she/he would be known as an American, who happens to be from Africa.  Again, what we all have in common is in being an American.

How we use the language says a lot about us.  Maintaining a hyphenation maintains a duality.  If asked for your nationality ten years after moving into the USA and you said, “Irish American,” that would indicate to me that you’re not here yet.  You’re living in two worlds.  Don’t get me wrong. One’s origins, nationality and culture are fundamental. They are important and need to be nurtured.  I would be proud to be Irish.  But when you move to a different land, you necessarily need to absorb the principles and mores of that land; otherwise, you live a life divided upon itself.  What happens is your own culture fails to develop and your new allegiances cease to grow.  You’re kind of in a Twilight Zone.  I’ve often wondered about hyphenated-married names.  That burden is placed on the bride in the American parlance.  But what a gift to give? Does having a hyphenated name after marriage mean that you have a foot in each camp, one single and the other married? I wonder.  What does that same about commitment?

Who are we really?  We’re Americans who came from Africa. We’re Americans who came from Ireland.  We’re Americans who came from Colombia.  Rich with a cultural heritage and even language, we can be proud to be an American…. first.

But hyphens that hurt can also heal.  Usually the last thing they do to you is hyphenate your life. You know:  1925 2008.  That little hyphen (actually it’s more like a dash) captures time (in this case, about 83 years), history, experience, family, off-spring, roots and love.  All that can make up a person’s life is captured by that little hyphen-now-dash.  Between these two days lived this person. Between these two marks in time, we hyphenate eternity and honor a life.

So be careful out there in the military-industrial complex. Be careful not to fall prey to political-correctness and instead judge for yourself based on facts and truth.  Avoid cancer-causing substances and conditions.  Try to choose the most cost-effective means of living in these difficult times. Avoid separating yourself off from others. If you’re here legally, you’re an American first and foremost.  Welcome. Best wishes.  If not, sign up.

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