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Sep. 27th, 2016

07:06 pm - Inspection- The Immense Power of the Asshole

 Are we underestimating the asshole factor? In a country started by a lot of brave people running from a-holes, but maybe at least as many people who headed across the Atlantic because they wanted their "God given right" to be the biggest a-holes around, have we underestimated Trump's drawing power? With a history of lynchings, whippings, burnings of inconvenient women, masters who delighted in the worse aspects of slavery, prison wardens who used used to be slave owners renewing their abusive nature with gusto on former slaves, business owners and clergy who delight in declaring Jesus empowers them to teach, preach and enforce hate, just what exactly is the a-hole factor among Americans. Is it as high as 1 to 10, to 5, to 3?
 Once again I'm rereading Twilight Eyes by Dean Koontz. I've lost count of how many times I've read this intriguing explanation for the worse of the worst evil humanity has to offer. Disguised as humans goblins live amongst us, a warrior species we created during a forgotten time when humans got really good at genetic manipulation.
 A fanciful, imaginative, solution to the likes of Jeff Dahmer, Adolf Hitler, the Kmer Rouge and so many other, supposedly, human masters of damn near pure evil.
 One book I had trouble finishing was written by an absolute asshole: Max Tucker. Yes, he even calls himself that. Tucker delights in being an "asshole." Has made a ton of money writing about his assholery in his book I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. Another book he wrote is Assholes Finish First. He would delight in sabotaging parties, dates, classes: anything and anyone. Playing the game of doing the minimal he has to to have sex then dumping his date in the worst of ways is apparently one of his greatest joys. Amazing how much of what he did was tolerated, how little legal problems he's had for all he's done.
 My premise here is simple. Since I was very young I have been aware of people who can only be described as assholes. They're easy to recognize once you become familiar with the mutant breed of inhumanity they represent. Donald Trump is a bully, and certainly an asshole who so many less powerful assholes have cheered on. Take, for example, well known bridge closer, attitude filled prima donna; Chris Christie. If you've ever watched bullies gather a gang on a playground, lesser bullies become the bigger bully's bitches. Instead of defending the bullied, children on the playground either sit by silently, or cheer them on. It kind of like revelers at a dog fight cheer on the stronger dog who slaughters the beloved, obedient, pet snatched from private property to be a chew toy for a fighter in training.
 Right wing pundits like Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Hannity, etc., delight in shouting over people, panning them down while they talk over them, calling them "pinheads," doing something they consider "debate" that's no more than accusation, name calling and framing: like making up diseases and afflictions their opponents have. All while cheering on what are the modern day versions of wild beasts at the Colosseum.
 Question being, election time 2016, are we underestimating the a-hole factor? So many uncles, some aunts, parents, strangers who think getting in anyone's face regarding their own opinions is perfectly acceptable. (Assholes.) So many foam at the mouth all over their lounge chairs while kids and spouse shrink in terror. (Assholes.) So many who are like those who follow the playground bully and long to join Donald's gang: like those who assault others at rallies. (REALLY big assholes.)
 Are there enough to elected Donald? Good god, covered with extra greasy goose gravy, I hope not. With so many blacks, Hispanics and women, I have serious doubts. Of course one of the unique talents of the bigger bully is he's able to sideline others, or even turn them into marginal supporters. But on a national level? To repeat...

"Good god, covered with extra greasy goose gravy, I hope not."

 His enablers are so many, from the obvious to those who think themselves "clever:" posing as Bernie or Hillary supporters, doing anything to sheer off as many votes as possible on social media. It's an old tactic that, in my opinion, has been at a political pandemic level this year, even compared to previous presidential years. It seemsalmost unimaginable enough will be cowed into submission, that enough will be wrongfully tossed off voter rolls for false reasons. Almost.
 But if the 2000 election and 9/11 taught me anything it's that sometimes the unimaginable does happen. And too many damn people fall in line like kids on a playground won't challenge the bully.
 And I suspect that has something to do with the immense power assholes.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years.Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2016
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Sep. 15th, 2016

04:59 pm - Inspection- There is No "If Only..."

  Anyone claiming that Hillary, and/or her campaign, have made no mistakes would be foolish; not only because even she has admitted she has made mistakes, but I suspect there has never been a campaign, a war, or any human activity minus a mistake, or two, or three or...
 God knows Donald, and his campaign, have made no mistakes except... do I really have to list them?
 In fact the ease with which Hillary, and her campaign, admit to mistakes could possibly be the biggest mistake being made this election. I guessing the concept here has been to admit and move on, even if there really was no mistake. I don't think the concept is working, but I do believe that could be the concept.
  One example is her apology for her negative comments regarding some, not all, Trump supporters. Now, during a campaign where I believe this has become the norm for one side, even I was surprised how quickly the apology came. Does anyone think that apology was accepted, or that apology changed anyone's perceptions to being more positive? Do you think the comment will turn off people who already have doubts about Sir Donald, or piss off dedicated Hillary voters? If so, may I ask... how many Brooklyn Bridges do you think you own, and when do you expect those investments to bring in those vast riches you've been waiting for? (And waiting... and waiting... waiting... soon you'll look like the bones left by Fry's dog who waited for him to return in Futurama.)
  By the way, why is it always the Brooklyn Bridge? You'd think; by name alone, there'd be more attractive deeds like ones that say "Golden." Patriots might invest in NYC's Washington, NYC area suburbanites in "Zee" bridge and only might make money when they bet which folks may jump off of it next. Hey, but who knows, I hear the state is even rebuilding it. How nice of them.
  Maybe all you eager "stockholders" might see the buckaroos roll in yet.
  And I repeat: "waiting, and waiting..."
  Of course, when it comes to roughly half of Trump's supporters, she's probably right. She didn't even come close to claiming "all," and was rather generous concerning the rest. There can be little doubt that David Duke followers, Klan, skinheads, armchair racists, flat out racists, many militia-types, extreme right wing terrorists inspired by writings like The Turner Diaries, and those simply quite Nazi-like: all for whom media has desperately been trying to rebrand with the more user friendly term, "alt-right..." (Again, "how nice of them.") ...are certainly being energized by his campaign.
  Of course right wing pundits, followed closely by purists on the left, eagerly swept in with various versions, "If only..." she had said something else, or simply not said it at all: and then followed up by the all too easy to make "perception" accusations.
  Oh, and top that off with more yada, more blah, a sprinkle of yak droppings and a big old splash of camel puke.
  Here's the truth: politically, especially in an election year, there really is no "if only..."
 One of the best, most current examples of this is the two day lull in us being told about Hillary's bout with Pneumonia. Closely following that unfortunate event was a gaggle of silly goose comments by the usual jackals intending on framing it yet again with an accusation of creating poor perceptions.
 This is easily countered with, instead of saying, "Why didn't they release findings in two days?" ...they had said, "Very professional folks! Making sure you know just how serious this was before prematurely releasing anything; in case it develops into something else, is very responsible. Otherwise we might be accusing her, and her handlers, of trying to milk the sympathy vote. Kudos for doing what's right!"
 Imagine now the avalanche of "if onlys" that would have followed if they had released immediately and it had developed into something else.
 Imagine if they had focused in on ginning up hyperbolic concern and even tried to blame this on Trump.
 Imagine if they hadn't whisked her away and one of her spokespersons gave a speech on how hard she worked, how she cared so much she drove herself into heat exhaustion, then invited reporters to follow and report on every second of this "crisis;" essentially using this as an attempt to grab the news cycle.
 Imagine if they had countered with over the top accusations if any of those options had backfired. And we know they would have backfired unless, well, you're Donald Trump and the media has a desperate interest with constantly Monica-ing you.
  I love the imaginary "if onlys" Most of the time not one "if only" would have worked. Many times those options would have been worse: the framing would simply have shifted to being negative in a different way; because pushing negative perceptions is the true intent behind so many "if onlys." Please don't even attempt to claim it's kindly advice. The intent is to put suspicion and doubt into weak minded listener and viewer; people who have trouble doing their own thinking, people who would rather some pundit, or pol, "do their thinking" for them.
  You know, like some of the followers of the purveyor of that catch phrase, Rush? I guarantee, after this, these Limbaugh worshipers will not vote for Hillary. Of course they weren't going to anyway. Just like many Hillary voters, when they heard this comment, probably mentally unleashed some version of the catch phrase, "You GO Girl!" Those between most likely don't trust either anyway. So where's the loss here?
  But let's assume some of this is honest speculation. "If only" is the Butterfly Effect of the poltical world where following that alternative timeline would probably go wrong anyway. Those advocates who oppose a candidate, and talking heads who profit from creating controversy, bad framing, will find a way to do it. Since "news" is now entertainment-based, and big corporations profit from ginning up this empty headed gunk, you know they'll do whatever they can to ensure people pile on.
  Oh, by the way, I do find it the height of snide con-based rhetorical artistry when those who say "this creates the perception of..." are so obviously trying to create "the perception of." And "two days?" Hell, most of the puppy dog media is sitting, obediently, waiting on Trump to release his taxes. Most never bothered to question the fact he never released any of these "amazing" facts about Obama and Kenya that his... fictional? ...investigators had supposedly found so many years ago. Now there's an interesting "what if:" "what if" the MSM were actually at least as focused on "what if"-ing the Donald as they are Hillary?
  It all creates the perception of...
  See what I did there? See how I spun it around and pointed the tactic the other direction? You can do the same with Donald Trump. You can do the same with any candidate. Obama didn't release his birth certificate. But he did. Oh, that's the short form. "That creates the perception of..." say those interested in creating exactly that perception.
  I promise you, no matter what Hillary did: or any candidate getting a constant barrage of "if onlys," does, that action, those words, those actions, will be too late... too early... not enough... too much... And so I repeat...
  Blah. (With even more yak and camel condiments.)
  "Creating the perception of..." should be laughed off the stage of public discourse because it's a cynical, snide, barely disguised, way to try to "create the perception of..." It places on the stage of public discourse a claim that can't be disproven unless we immediately run out and take a un-biased, non-partisan, poll, or unless we could run back time backwards then revise what was done.
 Let me retract the first option. I think we can be sure that unbiased poll wouldn't be accepted by the very same "what if"-ers.
  Let me retract the second option. Alter the timeline and the only real rhetorical change would be a slight shift in the "what ifs." After all the purpose behind "what if" remains: to create negative perceptions.
  Hey, I have an idea! Let's talk policy; talk about where Trump, or Clinton, or Stein, or Johnson, or... want to take the nation. Then let's discuss how we each percieve their plans, not the individuals. Instead of framing the person in politically convenient ways, let's discuss how their actual plans and policies might actually play out, where they might take us, or will they complicate our problems. Those kinds of "what ifs" I support. Those individualized perceptions I think are valid.
  No? Too politically inconvenient? Requires too much thinking, too much maturity? Demands we listen to each other rather than demonize?
  Yup. Yup. And a big fat... YUP. So I guess we'll all have to put up with more, "If onlys," for now. But maybe now some folks are a little wiser and can see through the constant drip of extra gooey "what if" guano.


Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
©Copyright 2016
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Sep. 8th, 2016

03:10 pm - Inspection- Dear President Hillary

 OK, Madame Maybe President, I understand I am jumping the gun, the shark, Bullwinkling the Moose, oh, let's just say, "Getting ahead of myself." But, despite polls, unless Trump can get a hell of a lot more women, hispanics, blacks; or his minions can cage a one gigunda, billions of garbanzos worth, of non-Trump voters, It Will be AMAZING Man is going down.
 I could be wrong. I was... once.
 I suggest your first act, like Teddy Roosevelt did in his time for other businesses, should be to do whatever you can to facilitate breaking up the media. Do what you can to bring back the Fairness Doctrine. Make sure broadcast media; like they had to at one time, provides actual news rather than commentary and entertainment labeled as "news."
 I know we have a lot of serious issues as a nation, but as the coverage and treatment by supposed "news" "professionals" you and Bernie received has proven, we're going nowhere as a society but sheering more and more rightward unless this changes. "Going to get nowhere" unless media is brought back to providing actual news, unless media personalities assigned to do debates, or quorums, are selected in less partisan ways. And selected not to be shills for whatever the corporatocracy wants, not be lemmings following whatever the right wing advocacy networks do.
 When Obama took office his people did what was the right thing: tell the FOX Propaganda Network that they're not welcome among those at least marginally trying to do actual journalism. What a rude awakening when they found out those marginals line up behind the great news pretender.
 Shoot forward eight years latter, shaming father's somewhat better reputation, Chris Wallace says he won't fact check the candidates. Want to bet the smirk filled anchor will break that vow, but only with Hillary? And the latest shot across the bow of anything representing non-pure partisanship-based hosting: Matt Lauer's constant interruption filled grilling of Hillary, while letting the Donald ramble on and on. Maybe his wife had something when she divorced him and, at first, claimed "cruel and inhumane treatment."
 Has Matt become Trump's Monica? Or is it just in his
abusive nature?
 You know how this goes Hillary. Doing your best to do what you can to save your marriage is framed as "wrong." Want to bet if you had divorced Bill the media accepted frame would have been that that was wrong too? Telling Susan and Jim their books were bad was ignored. Just being there meant framing you for the Madison mess. And in the latest outrage, since you have far more experience that means you have to be held to a higher standard while the bar is lowered deep into an old outhouse's bowels for Trump.

 "The more to smear you with, my dear."

 Please, Maybe President Clinton the Second, if you win do whatever you can. Otherwise four years latter the bar will be raised even higher for you, if they don't simply impeach you as big corporate media cheers it all on. You can be sure they'll start working on impeachment even before inauguration. And, of course, the bar for the other side will go even lower.
  The initial key to short circuiting this is breaking up the media and the return of actual news, journalist, standards.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years.Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2016
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Aug. 31st, 2016

05:18 pm - Inspection- Stupid Sleeping Positions

 There are a lot of quotes that surround this theme, like "extreme times call for extreme measures" and Goldwater's "extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice." As with all quotable comments there are variations. But does being forced into going to the extreme create even more stupid extremes?
 Life is a pendulum, and when someone, or something, pushes hard in one direction, the opposite reaction is damn near inevitable. I think we're seeing a lot of this this election as rhetoric gets more guttural, sewer-like and even resembling what should have been flushed long ago.
 Yes, sometimes life itself forces us into stupid positions, like I have been over the past 20 years.
 As a kid I slept on my back all the time. I used to have occasional, terrible, dreams about extreme lower back pain. My parents bought us new mattresses and the dreams stopped. Oh, how I wish I just had those dreams now.
 I started touring in 1988 with my shows and was fine until the mid to late 90s. I admit, I was pushing myself into performing increasingly active, intensely choreographed, shows: all to thrill my young audiences. I was also promoting my shows while riding a 650 Suzuki from customer to customer many miles, all day long. I was jogging close to an hour a day. That last one is even more crucial. Apparently with the congenital back condition I never knew I was born with, that no one I know of in the history of my family has ever had, jogging is one of the worst exercises one can do.
 Flash forward to the next decade and I was sleeping on an orthopedic wedge. I had Tempur-Pedic mattresses on every bed except the tour bus which had soft red couch cushion that was almost as good. Better in some ways. "Better" because with the wedge I often wake up every other hour and have to switch the wedge to different positions, or just take it off the bed. Depends on what the body wants, and you can be damn sure my body will tell me. And if I guess the wrong thing I wake up to pain that's not unlike when a parent wakes because the baby alarm goes from soft cry to ear splitting scream. My body increasingly forces me into stupid sleeping positions.
 I wish I had those earlier times back when it was just that. Really.
 This winter they discovered; due to stenosis, the spine in my neck had collapsed in on the nerves. Surgery provided metal braces in my neck that seem to be more of a problem than the almost symptom-less collapse. I won't bother you with all of it, but to say the stupid sleeping positions that help with one condition make the others hurt. Add to that an unrelated foot condition that demands other positions. Now I sleep with a foot brace that won't stay on, or with my right leg way above my head so when I wake up I'll be able to walk without extreme pain.
 Right now I think I have it somewhat figured out, with the emphasis on "right now." It can all change tomorrow and I have to go into reassessment to figure out what my body wants this time. There's never any perfect, or even slightly close to perfect, solution.
 Yes, I know all too well that "extreme situations call for..." But some situations sure do add unneeded stupidity.
 It has been claimed that JFK was seriously risking national security by unwittingly sleeping with a spy. Perhaps. Yet are we all that better off now every indiscretion has become more important than the very issues we need to be discussing, we need to be solving? Are we all that better off now everything person on one side does, or says, brings an over the top, hyperbolic response that inspires even more over the top? And sometimes it's in response to what was never said, done or meant.
 What one does in one's personal life isn't always carried over into public life. In fact I would say not all that much. Bill Clinton was actually doing work when he had his most famous scandalous moments. Newt Gingrich was working on getting Bill Clinton when having an affair then divorcing his wife damn near on her death bed. And pursuing them has solved nothing.
 Here's the important difference. There can be little doubt that the 60s, and for that matter the McCarthy-driven 50s, were extreme times. Yet deals were cut, compromises made and government functioned... somewhat. Sometimes those compromises forced pols into certainly what could be metaphorically referred to as, "stupid sleeping positions." Yet I fear a drive for moral purity simply creates more scandal that takes us away from issues we need to address today. I also fear that the stance to never compromise encourages even more "stupid sleeping positions."
 Gotcha politics inspires more gotcha, until that's all we have.
 Then you have the off years. Even during the non-election years social discourse increasingly resembles some Frankenstein's "monster"-like, lynch mob, storm the castle, mentality. Words that are intended to inspire anger, hatred, towards whole groups of people replace issue discussion. The media loves this, encourages it: even the somewhat less ideologically driven media. It drives up ratings.
 I look back at the past 26 years and I see society increasingly being forced into metaphorical stupid sleeping positions. All societies are dysfunctional to some extent, but what we have now is way beyond "dysfunctional." An election solves nothing when the losing party refuses to lick their wounds, do what they can to work with those who won, and wait until the next election to go for the prize. We're even at a point now that, rhetorically, no one can "win." The constant spin is if the other side won it must be because they cheated.
 There are ways to solve that, but to me it seems neither wants to solve it. Inspiring even more anger over "stolen" elections is more politically convenient, even if the anger just makes discourse worse, more rude and possibly headed towards violence.
 When a president can't even have his proposals debated in Congress, when the duty to at least consider an appointment is denied, when national security, or our troops, are at risk, should a president simply bow to that? Careful how you answer: that should apply if your candidate became president too, unless your only interest is in a single party dictatorship.
 Increasingly, as this great partisan do little to nothing divide grows, we are forced into more stupid positions. We tolerate no compromise, forcing a whole nation into even more stupid positions. Compromise is consider nothing more than weakness, even evil. We chant chants that put us into the stupid position of demanding the end to the very rights our forefathers fought for, like due process. Guilt by accusation increasingly becomes the new standard, followed closely by unequal protection where one is selectively prosecuted, persecuted, for what others did.

 "Lock her up! Lock her up!"

 And the worst thing about these tactics is it doesn't work in the long run. The blow back just forces society into even more stupid "sleeping positions."
 OK, now that the basics of this brainstorm that started flowing through my head once I was in too much pain to sleep at 2am have been digitally written down it's past 5am. Time to get up and walk stiffly back to my torture device, um, bed. Occasionally I use pain killers, even then mostly Tylenol because I hate that I'm hardly here, don't give a damn, fog that more powerful pills provide. I only do that when I finally find my hatred for the drug addled haze has become less powerful than the pain. Guess I'm not in that bad shape... yet. A lot of the time the meds get so old I have to toss them.
 So the only question left now is...

 "What stupid sleeping position will I be forced into now?"

 A more metaphor-based question that might be asked of a nation's political future.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2016
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Aug. 22nd, 2016

10:08 am - Inspection- Loki Cokie Roberts

Is Ms. Roberts actually Loki in disguise? You know, Loki: legendary troublemaker and bad advice giver? Or maybe one of the Bad Idea Bears from Avenue Q who tell you to do what you shouldn't?
 Wouldn't be the first public figure who leans rightward to take on that role, Rush Limbaugh being one of the most famous. Why anyone would take advice from someone determined to sabotage you I have no idea.
 If you Google you'll quickly find many people on the left who think she's a right winger, many on the right who think she's a leftie, very Hillary friendly. As to the last, not from what I've heard.
 For various reasons I've taken to listening to NPR's Morning Edition before my guilty comedic pleasure: Stephanie Miller, chuckles me even more awake via my XM radio. I'm half awake listening to ME, often typing on this laptop. The show provides mostly background noise.
 Yes, and I'm well aware that NPR has been more than just tilting right over the past 16 years. Seems the trend started when Bush put a, now long gone, right winger at the helm. "Long gone," but I suspect Bush achieved the desired results considering just this morning's report included so many tiresome reruns of any supposed scandal the right, and some leftward purists, keep trying to pump regarding the Clintons. They've become like wayward Jehovah Witnesses who refuse to stop banging on your door and arguing with you.
 I am at the point of prove it, prosecute it, or shut the hell up. And no anything goes prosecuting, ala' I'm embarrassed to have the same first name Starr. Otherwise it's just more BS.
 Meanwhile the segment about Trump during this morning's brainstorm session, that included Ms. Roberts, was puff piece-ish. In other words they mostly managed to gush about how the public may be wrong about the current beloved of racists, women haters and Hispanic bashers. Why, perhaps Trump might be as cuddly as a teddy bear! Well, they didn't actually say that, but I swear Cokie was so coked up on her obvious partisan skew she wanted to say that.
 Then Ms. Roberts dropped a bombshell. Well, it seemed a pretty big boom to me when it comes to obvious bad advice. Really, what are you putting up your nose, Ms? You really think it such a great idea for the Clintons to simply obliterate the Clinton Foundation? Never you mind all the good it does. I know righties, if they could, would love to send the needy off to concentration... um, reeducation... um, "somewhere else but anywhere near us..." if they could.
 Damn political correctness.
 So, just for the convenience of discussion, let's just skip the fact that many righties don't give a diuretic flying turtle damn about those the Foundation helps.
 But, despite that... in an election year, Cokie, do you really think it would good to take out the Foundation? You do know it would be perceived as an admission of guilt, right? You know, the kind of "guilt" that no one has proven should exist, but can kill a candidacy?
 Well, at least this Loki has a job, other than the usual one. Radio's a great way to cause trouble, as the Reich has found. I just always thought Loki was a he. But I'm in no way interested in making sure he is a she. No, Ms. Roberts, no matter much you beg I will not look under the dress to check the plumbing.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2016
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Aug. 16th, 2016

02:19 pm - Inspection- On Trump Inciting Murder

Now we're on to the next outrage. Anyone who has sat back and just observed the past 20 plus years knows the talk show format. Say something even more outrageous. Wait: let the rage build, double down... then shift to claiming it's a joke, sarcasm, misinterpreted by dullards, or that old right wing chestnut: the mythical "Liberal" media. Then say something else outrageous. But as far as all those "claims..."
  Hey wait. According to current conservative mythology, isn't it liberals who overdo nuance, excuse behavior with logic twisted explanations, over explain and argue about meaning of words like "is"?
 Well as least "is" is present tense-based, and hence that was truth-based. But moving on to dunking the political heretic was so much fun and always so damn convenient to the Reich wing's demand for their kind of political correctness.
 When being accused of lying, Trump hasn't even got "the meaning of 'is'" going for him given his take Hillary out comment. The ISIS/ISIL comment must seem safer ground, in comparison. He had his spinsters spinning his sentences into what they never, ever could have meant. Then he used a version of that playground fecal nugget used by a bully when he's caught, "I was KIDDING," in this case a very late, "It was SARCASM." Timing so bad in this case it fools no one except those who are in on the "joke:" keep trying to play those not really fooled as if they were fools.
 Most of what needs to be said has been said about what wasn't even close to mere dog whistle. Even if "sarcasm," it still qualifies as an open invite to assassination.
 Luckily this kind of rhetoric has made Donald's polls sink faster than a mob boss given cement shoes... for now. But this kind of rhetoric is no surprise, and not only because it's Donald Trump. The competition for pundits and pols to say the next, even more outrageous, thing has been longstanding... long before Trump stood up and started calling everyone names to work his way up towards being the name calling president in chief.

I know the military, I like the military, but the military didn't get all those new Gitmo prisoners to confess. Yous a buncha LOSERS! LOSERS! What LOSERS you are!"- what to expect from a President Trump, 2017.

Here is where we start looking under the rocks of a topic, looking at what no one seems to be discussing...
 When does free speech so endanger the rights of others it should no longer be legally acceptable? Where's the line? When does free speech actually negate freedom?
 Like when discussing guns, this is where I get myself in trouble with what should be a simple, common sense, premise: no right is absolute.
 You can't argue with irrational people is a given. Gun rights advocates usually respond to these kinds of questions with insults. Free speech absolutists usually respond to these kinds of questions with insults. I try to start a rational discussion by giving examples; admittedly extreme ones: like obviously we agree machine guns have no place in the hands of prisoners, or a defendant in court while on trial for murder, or no shouting fire in a crowded theater. They never, ever, have responded to those examples of limitations. They just offer more personal insults. Of course responding would have been easy: just point out these are extreme examples. They never do.
 I think they don't respond because I would follow up with, "That's my point. Absolute claims met with extremes prove absolute rules really don't work. There are exceptions to every rule." Then I would go to the more logical approach, "What those limitations should be is the real discussion. Arguing as if there are none is a non-starter, because obviously there are."
  Inciting others to commit murder, or threatening to do so... Well, at one time I thought both were illegal.
Actually they are, but you'd never know it sometimes. Enforcement seems highly selective, at best.
 You may notice when the rare times someone's prosecuted for threats it's only the little guy who get prosecuted, and usually it's threatening the president. Pundits and pols who threaten or incite? Well, it's supposedly all part of the game. At best they may, I repeat may just get a visit from the Service.
 Why is it I imagine the content of said meetings may go like this...

"Oh please, pretty please, Mr. Trump, be little more careful. You make only going after the rabble harder."

Now, if Donald Trump was led away to be prosecuted maybe we might take our threats and inciting murder laws more seriously. Why has threatening the president often become the exception to this incredibly lax view of threatening the lives of others, or inciting? And even with the forementioned "rabble," why is it ex-husbands too often get the chance to murder their ex-wives after many threats, but a woman obviously standing her ground against a husband who threatened to kill her several times ends up in prison for endangering her children? WHO was endangering the children?"
 Notice even when the rabble catch a break it's men?
 Seems there's some tiered level of who must obey the law, and who slides.
 Oh, wait, I live in the US. Duh.
 Diving in deeper, is there some constituional right to this? Free speech makes enabling a murder OK?
 I think if people who threatened to murder someone became high profile targets of enforcement maybe we'd become a safer, more sane, more civil society.

 Of course this is where the insults come.

Go back a read your Constitution, stupid!

OK. Guilty as charged. I remember now. The Constitution is pro- murder. First amendment: "The right to incite or threaten to kill shall not be infringed." This being covered by free speech is not unlike how a violent prisoner's "right" to have a steady supply of submachine guns is covered.
Again: "no right is absolute."
 But for those who still insist on hanging on to their free speech/2nd Amendment constitutional claims, let's go here... someone threatening to commit murder, or encouraging others to, is threatening to deny life, liberty and the pursuit. That's pretty damn basic. We can either have threatening and inciting as exceptions, or not. But we don't even have that. Instead we enforce unequally.
 Once again...

"Seems there's some tiered level of who must obey the law, and who slides."
 "Oh, wait, I live in the US. Duh."

 Yes, there's is a constitutional phrase for this: unequal protection. As with all things there are always exceptions. But I vote for far, far less exceptions and far more enforcement. I vote for having a saner society where; no matter what one's racial, sex, social or economic status, when threatening the life of others, or encouraging others to commit murder, one gets prosecuted, assures, when convicted, they lose their freedom.
 And, since unequal protection in most cases negates any truely sane definition of freedom, we would be a more free society for it.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2016
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Aug. 7th, 2016

06:15 am - Inspection- The Base Based Politics of Ugly

  Old Forge, NY, library... I sit type... type... typing... this column, and then a gentleman strikes up a conversation with me: apparently one of our more extroverted neighborhood conspiracy theorists. We dive deep into Rothschild conspiracies, well... he does. I offer patience and a listening ear. Contradiction will get me nowhere. According to him if that... curse word deleted... Hillary... is elected the Rothschilds will rule the country, eventually the world. I've heard all this before: the Bilderberg conspiracy, how Obama/Bush will never leave office and become dictator for life, Birther claims and that alien cattle anal probes are actually the work of creatures from planet Ericcartman...
 Conspiracy theories always seem to flare up election time.
 I only contradict him when; promising to send me his book for review before publication, he asks...

"You're not a DEMOCRAT, ARE YOU????"

  He spits out "Democrat" as if it's an infected, rotted, tooth.

"Well, you'd probably consider me left of center."

 Before that he had asked me to review 800 pages of what I suspect would have been some version of publishing slush pile hell. Oh, golly, gee, now I guess this will be another missed opportunity? So sad.
 In comparison, that was a very civil conversation, unlike some during elections these days. Unlike the random ranter who just has to tell me; a stranger, how much he hates whomever, whatever. How about the Facebook poster who was so determined to convince me provisional ballots ARE counted, but only after it gets close, who insists on adding personal insults with his every comment? Does that make him think I'll change my mind? Or his insistence I should just bow down to his vast superior wealth of knowledge will alter my opinion while he tags it with the odd claim I don't even know basic math?
 Claiming they only, and always, count provisional ballots if the election is close isn't "basic math." It's a basic contradiction of the whole premise behind provisional ballots: not letting people vote because there's something supposedly questionable about their claim to that right. If the claim is they actually don't have that right, saying you might count it anyway is, basically, a placebo statement meant to make the potential voter go away, but go away "nicely."
 And who gets to decide when, and if, it's "close enough?" What standards are used? Is there any attempt to make that a bipartisan decision? No partisanship involved in the initial decision?
 In response to all these challenges his basic answer was some variant on...

 "I know better that you, you stupidhead idiot, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah."

 Of course I did try to tell him none of his comments proved his claim, or even mention I have worked at polls and with election folks too: and my take away was quite different. But, as always, it did make me think about how we got to this point, where people think that insult and claims: no proof, should convince anyone.
 Example: I mean, who the hell would be convinced by someone who uses the phrases "Crooked, cooked Hillary" over and over? Or for that matter constantly calling Trump a Nazi, or a narcissist?
 Apparently, a hell of a lot of people.
 Making claims then insisting that makes them facts seems the main method of discussion and debate these days. Oh, then followed up by some version of "idiot," as if that does anything but reflect poorly on the points being made.
 It's really no surprise. Our national discourse has been heading this way a long time. Once radio talk shows became the rage, taking over AM, increasingly using a kind of format we'd all recognize as insult-based, where we are today seems a logical progression. Did I type "logical?" Well, the progression is, content and concept... not so much.
 Another reason is the over reliance on the basest of base based politics. All that matters is serving your base. But politicians should represent all their constituents. Dictators, kings, emperors, despots... well, if they represent a good size base: by no means a "majority," they can usually stay in power. But that's not true representation in any sense of being a representative of a state, a county, a parish, a nation.
 And no way in hell is any of this good for our nation.
 It's become surreal. As one republican said, if the parent of a soldier gets up at the other convention and challenges your candidate due to the loss of that son or daughter during war; civility is the best answer. Making insulting insinuations about the nature of his wife and their marriage, their religion, is not. It's as simple as that. This is no "both parties do this" scenario. Yes, both parties use the unfair tactic of pulling at the nation's heart strings in a way to challenge the other side's candidate. And I suppose if Mr. Trump had simply challenged content without personal insult combined with insinuation I might have never typed what I'm typing now.
 But he can't resist. It's pretty much all he has when responding to those who challenge him.
 When did we pass the point where too many damn folks shrug at mocking those whose conditions make them stutter, have odd facial expressions and movements? When did we reach the point when lying about doing that doesn't matter? This is different compared to claiming to land under fire in a war zone where, yes, there was lots of "firing" going on... elsewhere. As humans we tend to embellish and remember things wrong. But to outright try to humiliate a grieving father or mother for political purposes... that's beyond non-presidential behavior. That's something we punish misbehaving children for.
 Was it when it became acceptable for Bill O'Reilly to constantly interrupt, talk over and call people pinheads? Was it when Limbaugh spent days basically calling Ms. Fluke a whore, a slut and worse? Maybe it was Michael Moore getting himself invited to Heston's place and rudely wandering around private property to get his "story" that helped start us down the path of outright rudeness? I only chose that to show I am not claiming "only one side does it," though since the right is king of talk these days and aggressive rhetoric, and has been for a while, they certainly have helped lead the charge into this horrific abyss.
 We need to decide as a nation if bullying people is proper, if the victim of bullying is always to blame: or even if that matters. We desperately need to get out of this rhetorical pit from hell we've dug so deeply.
 There's something desperately wrong with a portion of the electorate, and I believe it has to do with how we view each other. Those who disagree are perceived as the enemy, to be mercilessly defeated, humiliated, conquered, destroyed.
 Our politics of base based ugly is truly reaching out towards 1930s Germany-like territory where there was enough hate driven politics to create one of the worst societies ever to exist in modern times. And there are too many people out there who would have little problem with that kind of leader ruling a nation.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2016
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Jul. 24th, 2016

06:47 am - Inspection- Giving the Finger to Bernie Supporters

  Hillary, what the hell were you, or your advisors thinking? Or were you thinking at all? It’s not like you’ve never had to apologize, or say “it was a mistake” before. If this was a mistake it’s a giant one. I’m not all that convinced it's just some mistake. Sure seems an intentional obscene gesture to me.
 Some of us who voted Bernie have been in a very difficult position. At times I'm purists claimed I was a Hillary supporter in bad true believer clothing because I don't think buying into every stupid, or half assed, Hillary conspiracy theory is wise.
I don't believe villain-ization serves Democrats well, or Bernie well. Who it does serve is a party that has continued to skew into more torture, less personal rights: except for those with a lot of money or part of big corporations whose interest is to oppress small ones.
 I could go one; but not my main point here.
 The recent release of inner party E-mails by WikiLeaks is disgusting, and exactly what I would expect. Unlike Hillary, these folks rely on being very private and staying in the shadows. I do find, however, with more public folks, it pays to ask why they would do A or B when it obviously will be seen, and obviously not help a candidacy. It’s kind of a rational approach to recognizing we have those who claim to be believers, followers and supporters, but really aren’t. There’s a long history of this kind of punking.
 Which makes the selection of Tim Kaine worse than "puzzling." Does the Clinton organization, does Hillary, recognize that their biggest weakness with Sanders supporters is the image of them as fracking-loving corporatists?
 He's somewhat of a clean coal advocate? Really?
 An advocate of religious exemptions for employers who personally object to abortion, the pill, yada, yada… really?
 One of the biggest needs here is to heal the party and bring in those Sanders supporters who might reluctantly vote Clinton due to “the far worse candidate” politics. I am, by far no fan of this: but until we change the very nature of the system we have to elect our representatives, our president, it is what we have to deal with. Jill Stein isn’t going to win. Dem leaders have proved over, and over, again that having the presidency snatched away due, in part, to a third party never, ever educates them: because the set up is so skewed towards a duopoly. Run off voting and neutering the gerrymander are hardly on the horizon and will take a hell of a lot of organizing that would take us far beyond 2016, probably 2020 and 2024: if we even start heading that way.
 By the way, Republicans are just as guilty of non-response: see the autopsy of 2012 and the following double downing, just to provide two examples.
 But I can’t help but feel, after his great speech, that this is basically a middle finger in the face of Sanders and his supporters. Great way to confirm the arguments of Bernie or Busters, Hillary.
 Yes, I will not vote Trump. I will vote Hillary: despite. In my opinion the stakes are too big, and Christian Reconstructionist Pence only makes it more vital. Want to see women who get an abortion go to prison, a theocracy-based state and as bad, or worse, even more of a corporatist state with poverty wages, more prison labor instead of jobs? Vote Trump/Pence. The Donald has already indicated he’s interested in jetting around, keeping businesses going and, I suspect, posing for photo ops.
 Narcissicism is beyond just a “defining characteristic,” and he seems to have little interest in hands on. Welcome to what essentially would amount to a Pence presidency.
 Vote your conscience, as that great irritant, Cruz, said.
 But, Hillary, in my opinion, you didn’t just made it a hell of a lot harder for Bernie supporters to still make that a vote for you. You just shoved a middle finger into their faces.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years.Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2016
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Jul. 20th, 2016

02:58 pm - Inspection- The Political Cult-fication of America

  There’s a caveat I must begin with. “Cult” isn’t necessarily bad. For the times, Jesus was the leader of what would have been considered a “cult.” That “cult” was wrongfully considered by Roman and Jewish authorities to be dangerous.
 But I do believe our two party-based system has become too cult-like in the worst ways…

  Compared to, let’s say, the Gnostic gospels, there’s a fairly recent alternative view of the events leading up to the crucifixion. Jesus was supposed to survive after being treated with healing herbs. In one thousands of years old Gnostic gospel Judas was a hero: doing what Jesus wanted, what needed to be done. Of course, after that, Jesus would return and offer up God’s wrath like some vengeful waitress at the Final Judgement Cafe. Locusts and brimstone would be available in the Serves You Right souvenir shop.
 Politics and religion were pretty much inseparable back then, though the Romans tried to keep them somewhat separate by cruelly punishing believers perceived to be challenging Roman rule. The cult-ish concept that made sacrificing even the truest of believers for the cause remains, and has become part of politics.
 I suppose some political cults we have today might be relatively tame, but I do consider the very concept of political movements turned cult rotten to the core: one that can undermine and destroy a free; truly representative, society. Sometimes a society has so many forceful special interests, demanding movements, that over reaction becomes the standard. For example: much like those who challenged Rome, or those who deposed Julius Caesar, we go beyond destroying the leader, but also family members and those politically incorrect souls who don’t go out of their way to demonize them. This has become common sport… destroying at all costs: even the common good. Anything that president proposes is also opposed, demonized. If we were Pompeii Republicans and Dems would be found at each others throats in the ashes rather than considering a common held desire to evacuate when proposed by only one side.
 People back then didn’t know better when it came to such predicable disasters and problems. We do, but so often would rather go down in flames than give a centimeter.
 I know in the days of Limbaugh and Surandon this may seem “quaint,” but having a system where politicians had to appeal to a wider base than “us vs. them” might help, I suppose.
 Are you becoming part of a political cult rather than a movement, or a party? The following 10 suggestions might help you tell the difference. Apologies if sometimes it’s a tad too Jeff Foxworthy-ish…
         1. Following a candidate means he, or she, isn’t perfect. They’re just who you consider the best “hire” for the job. If you think whomever you support is perfect you could be a cultist.
         2. Likening any candidate to holy men, or women, could be a danger sign you’re involved in a cult.
         3. Other candidates aren’t necessarily evil. They’re just not the best choice… in your opinion.
         4. If your candidate isn’t chosen and they throw their support behind another they aren’t Judas, they haven’t “betrayed” you.
         5. If you are unable to respectfully, somewhat objectively, discuss an election with those who support other candidates you most likely are a cultist: no matter whom you support.
         6. You can vote for, support, whomever you wish… or not. But demanding others follow your lead means your stance is more cult-like than political.
         7. Supporters come in many flavors. Some will vote for that one candidate, no one else. Some will vote for someone else, but never their candidate’s main opponent. Some will never vote for those who haven’t a chance of winning, but will choose the least objectionable among the two left standing due to the system we have. All those choices are yours to make. No single one is the only appropriate one for all.
         8. Accusation and guilt are not the same. Often accusation is the man made fog of political warfare. If you eager to ready to accept any accusation, yet reject all that apply to your candidate, you may be a cultist.
         9. Assaulting anyone considered “not one of us” means you may be a cultist. This includes constant ad hominem-based verbal assaults absent any content other than name calling.
         10. You find even considering these suggestions offensive means you could be a cultist.
  OK, excuse me for a second…. blabobbbbbzzzzzzzzzzzbeep…. There, I just shook off being possessed by the sometimes annoying spirit of Mr. Foxworthy. Now he can go back to making equally annoying ads for that great foodie icon that enables obesity so well: Golden Corral.
  I am curious what’s going to happen the next few weeks during what could be considered the biggest political cult gatherings in the country: conventions. With all the serious dump on Trump rhetoric in his own party, will 99% line up to drink the Kool Aid, or not? The same question applies for the Dems, especially after some of the anti-Hillary rhetoric from a few Bernie supporters.
 I must admit, I have mixed feelings. I have no desire to witness implosion, but I also find partisans suddenly turning into support the party no matter what zombies equally disturbing. Guess I’m no fan of that political delicacy of extreme compromise: eating your own brains.
 We stand at a rather odd intersection in America where the left may swing equally radical to counter the ever shifting rightward Republicans. It’s refreshing, in a way, but is it good for a two party nation to leave those more in the middle far behind unless they buy everything cult A, or cult B, has to sell? Is it really best to leave every square peg in the partisan dust strewn by the biggest round a-holes in each movement who demand political purity?
 In the end, cults: political or not, usually specialize in elevating themselves and demonizing all others
  We desperately need something like run off voting so we’re no longer stuck, not just voting for twiddly dee, or twiddly dumber, but far worse; those who only have little more than hate, fear and supposed political purity to sell. It’s no way to run a free nation, or any nation for that matter. And it does qualify as some of the worst cult-like behavior.                 

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2016
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Jul. 6th, 2016

08:33 pm - Inspection- Misdirecting the Masses

  Lately Senator Sanders has been slammed with scandals, like his "glaring neglect" of veteran concerns during the 2014 VA scandal. Or his corrupt misuse of campaign funds. And we have the never ending saga of Sanders' cabbage doll fetish where he bankrupted Vermont treasury saving these long past their prime toys from being tossed in the fireplaces, flushed down toilets and crucified for having no souls.
  These, among the never ending list of...
 OK, I have to stop typing crap now, because I'm overwhelmed by an odd mix of mirth and what seems to be my all too common, never ending, feeling of being annoyed at how we carry on public discourse these days.
 Getting older can mean you grow skeptical of claims, even when it may be a pol you're not fond of, to be polite. Like I was beyond annoyed by all the people in Jimmy Kimmel's street interview who claimed to believe and have heard specifics about fictional E-mails Hillary wrote. Then there's Trump claims: like that all too frequently posted fictional quote where it's claimed Donald said it's easy play Republicans for fools.
  Some things simply don't pass the sniff test, even if they might be serve our own opinions.
  You've also lived long enough to observe reoccurring patterns and trends that are disturbing, like "the scandal scam."
 The scandal scam is what one might call the past 30 years trend of creating phony, hyperbolic, over wrought "issues" to keep us from serious, in-depth, discussions of important ones. The scandal scam helps us to stop discussing the candidate's different plans, visions, for our country's future. The scandal scam makes the John McCain's "illegitimate" black baby lie more important than truth, that "Hillary's about to be indicted" seem inevitable, while abandoning discussing what we want for policies as a nation, where we need to go.
 There can be little doubt the intense focus on unproven scandals can't help but affect outcomes. It skews investigations. And it is one of the main reasons we end up voting for "the lesser of two evils."
 Instead of vision and plans of candidates being important topics; because the media loves scandal like a John "loves" women hanging out on street corners, we are all being dragged by our groins into paying attention to their fav substitutions, like...
         1. "What did he/she know. When did he/she know it?"
          2."If only she/he would release absolutely everything!"
          3."If only she/he would apologize."
  These questions, these claims, are specifically designed to never really be answered completely, never proven or disproved. It's assumed that there's always something hidden, unreleased and some evil, calculated, motive behind it all. More fuel for the perpetual scandal-powered motion machine. And because of constant scandal mongering we keep picking between two perceived evils. A two party system with so much power in the hands of two parties not only makes votes outside that system worse than useless, it skews the vote in favor of the greater evil.
 Remember: where there's smoke sometimes there are a lot of grinning partisans with smoke machines. Here are four guidelines that may help you discern smoke machines pumping out haze from actual fire, or what's more smoke than fire...
         A. Who does the accusation serve the most?
         B. Why would the target of the accusations intentionally do something that would cause more damage than good?
         C. Who has the most to gain, even if it's just to divide people?
         D. Questionable investigations usually mean you don't get just aninvestigation, especially if the results don't serve the purposes of partisans. You get an investigation of the investigation, sometimes an investigation or the investigation, of the investigation, of the...
  Obviously there are real scandals. Perhaps the biggest crime here is that sometimes real scandal gets washed away by all the garbage.
 What else is obvious? Well it's obvious that our incredible system of mass communication combined with the abandonment of objective reporting is the perfect hot house environment for continual scandal mongering.
 So our national dialogue isn't what any candidate might do for the nation, where we need to head as a nation. Instead we continue to jump from scandal after scandal: Bill Clinton's conversation on a plane, to Trump's use of an anti-Semitic star, to...
 Is it any accident that the two candidates are also the two most likely to feed the scandal machine? Is it any accident that other candidates received far less attention?
 Even though candidates who offer substance might fill stadiums again and again with supporters, they don't have much of a chance these days. And if Donald Trump has done anything people on both sides might accept as good it's been to reveal just how bad, how ambulance chasing lawyer-like, our media has become.
 Great magicians excel at the art of misdirection. Our media, pundits and pols attempt misdirection: offering us bright objects embedded with BS. Politics has become the art of distraction gone bad.
 This reminds me of a Marshall McLuhan quote. Maybe sometimes "the medium" really "is the message." We can focus our thoughts, our attention on what's on the TV, or the TV itself. So maybe, instead of what they want to put their spotlight on: the scandals, demand the spotlight focus in on the scandal making machine that so dominates politics.
 If that ever becomes reality expect the most self serving roaches to scatter. Just be aware: they'll return just as soon as the lights go out.

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years.Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

©Copyright 2016
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

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