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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

Jun. 14th, 2016

07:23 pm - Inspection- If/Then and Now

Orlando, Trump, Hillary, Bernie... anyone else overwhelmed, while also being more than a tad tired of it all? It's all so predictable: radicalized anti-gay loner shoots up club, Obama speaks, "He's going to take our guns!" Trump tweets how right he was. Another guy caught with guns heading towards a club is stopped... little said about who he is, or why.
 Let's take a break! Hey, as with most editions ofInspection, I will still touch upon, "What's Goin On," to quote Marvin.

Last Sunday, on the way the Nashville off Broadway performance of If/Then, Millie and I had a flat tire. Hot, scorching sun, thick humidity; luckily we found some shade.
 Me; with my right arm damaged by surgery and barely workable...
 Her; without the strength to jack...
 Together, somehow, we managed to change the tire, take quick showers at the gym, and arrive on time.
 So many minor decisions led up to that sequence of events.
 In case you're unfamiliar, the musical If/Then starts with Elizabeth, having just left a dying marriage in Phoenix, arriving back in her native NYC. Then what may have seemed at first to be a less significant choice ends up making major changes in her life. The musical lets the results of both choices play out, and my wife and I even agreed there was at least a third alternate timeline, maybe four.
  How many decisions have there been in our lives where each and every one of us may have asked after, "But what if?"
 She meets and falls in love with a soldier who goes back to war after they have children.
 She becomes a childless, lonely, business woman.
 She gets pregnant and has an abortion.
 She becomes a single mother with a gay couple helping her.
 All this revolves around a choice: "going with Lukas" to a protest or, "stay here with Kate." No option she chooses is perfect. One leads to angst between former lovers, years after, when he finds out she had an abortion. Another choice left few dry eyes in the audience.
 The concept is grand, though the execution is just a tad flawed. Sometimes it's hard to tell which reality you're watching. There's a lot of choreography: sometimes too much... detracting from the intensity of the lyrics, the emotion of the moment. The music is strong, well written, but fails to correct either flaw: leaving a little too much dance-driven distraction, and a confused audience trying to figure out which timeline is which.
  Neither is a fatal flaw in any sense... far from it.
  Like 9/11, Pearl Harbor, 2000, 2008, once again we have reached a split in time. Time is always splitting, to be honest, as If/Then reveals: minor decisions might make major changes. But major decisions are what we usually think of. Could a President Gore administration have somehow escaped 9/11, or made it worse? Maybe just some different: equally horrifying, result?
 Careful how you answer that: we all judge these things by what we think we know now. But what we know now rarely indicates everything that may alter a timeline once we've taken a different path. Some things are obvious and unlikely to change, like there would have been those who would have declared Bush would have been better at avoiding 9/11, even if only one tower fell. Certainly there would have been the same critique if somehow the Bush administration had saved all but one tower.
 These are big decisions. But minor decisions may make as many major changes as big decisions. How many decided not to go to that club in Orlando that night? What if someone hadn't seen a second guy with guns headed to create murder and mayhem? If certain people at the club had had guns would it have made it worse... better?
 What if John Parker hadn't left his post, or a better guard had been chosen, the night of Lincoln's assassination? What if the Secret Service had convinced Kennedy to put the convertible top up in Dallas? Seemingly minor decisions, yes, but crucial when it came to complicating a shooter's aim, or an assassin's plans.
 So much goes into the answer to any of these questions anyone who claims they absolutely know is either naive, or playing the role of fool.
 Ah, yes, but it certainly can be fun and entertaining to guess. So many books have been written with this theme, one of my favorite sub genres. What if Lindy, who was thinking of running, won against FDR and kept us out of WWII? (The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth )... President Joe Kennedy meets an aging Hitler in the early 60s. (Fatherland, by Robert Harris). The movie The Butterfly Effect has multiple endings, many attempts to fix time; showing just how hard it may be. About Time is a sweet/bitter story of a boy who changes time to find the love of his life. My own book, Autocide offers a sub plot where Joe Biden leaves and, after Obama was assassinated, President Hillary loses the next campaign. A car company benefits from these changes.
  But even though I have written speculative, time altering, history, I must admit I have little faith in such predictions. As I have argued so many times: we really can't know. We assume influences in our timeline would stay the same, but that's beyond doubtful. Small changes that seem minor can sheer us off in unexpected directions.
  In the end If/Then may offer a cheat, in one sense. The most loving life Elizabeth had, one lost in tragedy, is offered to another version of herself who avoided that timeline when she went with Lukas to the protest. I suspect such "happy" second chances are rare, for one reason because we never knew what we missed. The logic we used that headed us off down a different path may still remain and keep us from what might have been. Time itself, due to so much happening, can close doors rather firmly.
  The irony this election year is whichever of the two major party candidates might win may win mostly because of who they are running against. And the one thing no one's talking about, no matter who wins, is none of this bodes well for the winner or the loser... unless they become a tyrant.
  Impossible? After all the changes post the 2000 election I have learned not to say that. Just when we think we know what's next... the unexpected occurs.
  Like Elizabeth's small decision, what too many people think of as less significant: their vote, really isn't insignificant at all. Aside from very close elections, often we don't realize just how much our very presence influences people. And there's a lot of time between now and November. That factor alone creates many changes, and changes minds. Time itself is a variable that may make all the difference.
 But come November, once again, we will have a choice: show up and have as much influence as we can, or let whatever might happen, happen. We are now, and will be, like Elizabeth who showed up at a protest and led a different life from when she decided to stay with Kate.
 Either way, may the choices made be the best they can be, for what follows may not be all we expect. Personally, though there were problems with her choice, as there usually are with any choice, I will go with Lukas. I am foolish enough to think I can make a difference, no matter how slight.
 This November, I ask you only do one thing. Do whatever you think is best.

      ...somewhere I'm the president with plans that never fail
      And somewhere I'm a rebel king
      And somewhere I'm in jail
      I didn't chase my glory days long after they were done
      I found myself a woman or a man and had a son

      Some other me is a rock star
      Some other me is still cool
      Some other me does not feel like some tired old fool
      And you and I are strangers, or we're lovers, or we're not
      The other mes live with what they've got

      Look down each road left untaken
      Trace every turn and twist
      The lives that we just let go by
      The dreams we might have missed
      Now we're old enough to know that
      One road ends where one begins
      The moment where the "what might bes"
      Turn into "might have beens"

                                                              -Some Other Me, from If/Then

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

Jun. 8th, 2016

07:32 pm - Inspection- Ms. Hillary

 As she spread her arms to welcome the Tuesday's results I must admit, I kept thinking, "What the hell are you wearing and why would anyone keep choosing this look?" If someone chooses for her they need to be assigned another task.
 I understand how that comment may seem sexist, but this Chairman Mao look just undercuts all she says. It would be like Bernie sporting a Hitler mustache: a visual oxymoron. And she seems to have so many blouses, overcoats or... whatever the heck they are, like that.
 Let's get the obvious out of the way. It's about damn time we got to at least a woman as one of two candidates in a two party system. How many nations already have had a women to lead their country? How many have we had make it even this close? 0. And let's add that Ms. Clinton; and I mean this in a very positive way, is the ultimate whack-o-mole combined with energizer bunny. And maybe that's what it had to take for a woman to get this far. To keep pursuing despite, maybe even sometimes because of, so much loud, hyperbole-based, opposition, is an achievement. Her ability to shift, shuffle and adjust is legendary, which of course brings us to some of the reasons I voted for Bernie Sanders here in Tennessee.
 I understand very well how there has been a 30 year jihad against her and her husband. Those who supported Barack Obama should understand by now it was far less about either Bill or Barack than tactics to either bring down any Dem who ascends to that office, or at least keep them from achieving anything. From the Arkansas Project, when Bill was governor, to Hillarycare (sound familiar, Obama supporters?), to dragging out multiple investigations up until election time for obvious partisan purposes, The Hunting of the Clintons, to paraphrase a 90s book's title, has been far less about them than a rabid, hate filled, anything goes, element in the Republican Party.
 But, then again, one reason, of many, I voted Bernie is that Hillary is such an easy target.
 Also her reaction, like her husband, to many of these things is bothersome to me. The constant use of caveats like, "I made a mistake," and how she knows better now, was fooled before...all this brings into question her judgment. Then there's who has backed her candidacy, where and who paid her to speak, who she has befriended: all these are valid concerns. Do we really expect her to crack down on banks, bad trade deals, those who push for war, corrupt corporations?
 Doubtful at best.
 Yes, all these might be part of some honest "only Nixon could go to China" turn around on her part. But I'm certainly not holding my breath.
 Yes, all this is how politics have been run for many years. Hillary is no exception, or even worse than most. But maybe that's the point: we really do need what Barack promised, but in some ways didn't deliver: change.
 I have more, but I'll head on to my last point.
  I understand, and appreciate, those who feel I should vote my conscience rather than serve that inapt hyperbolic phrase: voting for "the lesser of two evils." But this is the system we have. I wish the hell it wasn't. I'm a big believer in a system based run off voting where we rank candidates as to who we want the most to who we absolutely don't want. But that's what we don't have. A 3rd party candidate in a two party system supported by the media hasn't got a chance in hell. And that dynamic has only gotten far worse with rulings like Citizens United.
 I refuse to do anything that might contribute to Republicans getting the White House back. If you honestly review just how bad their rule had become historically, starting from Nixon to Bush II, I think you might understand.
 While Nixon might have wanted to torture, he never would have argued in public for it. Reagan's administration was corrupt, but hiring companies, like one connected to the VP, over and over again that electrocuted soldiers in faulty showers, failed to deliver water in a desert theater, or a team of mercenaries who randomly slaughtered black citizens in New Orleans, and innocents on streets in Iraq?
 At least not as out in the open and pushing for even worse than that.
 As many problems as I have with Hillary, she won't bring back torture, or make it worse. Trump will, and his party will eagerly support him.
 As many problems as I have with Hillary, she won't want to have pregnant women and doctors put in prison for a very hard decision. Trump has already said he will.
 Women and minorities won't be a personal target for her if they dare to not support anything she desires to do. Trump has already proven he will do this in the vilest ways.
 I have a lot more, but point made.
 What Bernie has done is incredible. I'm glad he's planning on bringing it all to the convention.
 My readers, and those who share many Facebook pages with me, know what I'm going to do. But am I going to insist you hold your nose and vote Hillary, or call you stupid for not doing so?
 Hell, no.
 Besides, punishing those who take a different path, who we disagree with, using name calling, threats and vile, obscene, accusations...
 Gee, how "Trump" is that?

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

May. 23rd, 2016

03:17 am - Inspection- The Dangerous State of the Body Politic

 Facebook posters on the Hartmann and Miller pages are probably familiar with my occasional use of the terms "sock puppets" and "troll." Generally I try to never actually call any specific person either term because, well, I don't live in their heads. I have no real idea if they are, or aren't.
 That's a lot more respect than too many posters seem to have these days, and I'm not referring to just posters on the right.
 Ad hominem attacks are far too plentiful. Too many Facebook threads have become more dick offs than anything approaching actual discussion. The worst among these posters often remind me of Trump, even when the poster claims to be a "progressive."
 Facebook isn't a great venue for political discussions. It favors short, quick, snark over actual content, "You're an idiot," or, "ANY FOOL KNOWS THE MOON LANDING WAS FAKED, F-IN GOOGLE IT," over actual civil discussion. Facebook is a bully's paradise where circular reasoning-based smugness is too often used to shut down conversation.
 You know, like most talk shows and talking head programs? I must admit sometimes I really do feel like a "pinhead" when I tolerate this kind of shout over, yell at, pot down, insult-based drivel, even when I agree with the host.
 I have no doubt there's an ebb and flow across the partisan divide when it comes to outright nasty, boorish behavior. I think the closest I ever came to doing such myself was posting a self made meme that said, "If you accuse others of what you do you could be a troll." It was in response to a poster who seemed to be doing exactly that. But I usually avoid coming even that close to calling someone a troll, sock puppet, idiot, squirrel vomit or vampire puke, even though the last two are kind of funny, depending on the context and if you get any on you. For some reason I still can't get my glasses clean after one early morning when the vampires and squirrels ganged up on me.
 There are mixed feelings regarding all of this, as I will soon explain. I have no use for sock puppets. It's not just paying people for political acts, which is an old practice, yes. In the 80s my wife and I were paid advocates here in Nashville, mostly seeking donations via the phone from rich folks. We needed the money, the candidates needed the money, so we did it, despite neither of us being all that excited by the candidates. Well, maybe one excited us as far as a source for comedic gold. I mean how many jokes can be told by a guy named Boner who advertised with his name inside a big bone? Almost as many when the same pol was then discovered cheating on his wife of many years: caught boning a stripper.
  So in regards to people paid to pretend they're a Sanders or Clinton supporters, paid to cause trouble, paid to encourage inner party animosity? Such folks are boning America in the worst ways, in my opinion. Their goal is to prevent honest, civil, discussion, to turn honest disagreement dishonest, and to create as much hatred and animosity as possible. Other goals dangerous to the body politic are to encourage anyone they might disagree with not to vote, or to vote for the worst of the worst.
 If you hate Hillary, or are mad at Bernie, vote as you wish, or don't vote. But stop trying to humiliate or digitally shout and shame others into goosestepping behind you. If for for no other reason then because that's the opposite of "progressive," and more akin to being infected with extreme Brownshirt-itis.
 As much as I dislike folks who do these things, most of the time it's their right: threatening others with violence obviously one of the exceptions. But I consider the people who pay others to do these things to be the rhetorical terrorists attacking the body politic.
 But let's move forward to those who truly do back Hillary, or Bernie, with passion so extreme it includes all or nothing rhetoric, includes the nastiest of ad hominem-based comments.
 Increasingly, I find some of the Sanders advocates as aggressive, as in your face, as right wing nuts who truck in such. Most of that observation had been gathered from Mr, Hartmann's (blogger) page. But more recently, over on Stephanie Miller's fan FB page, I have started to see some supposed Hillary supporters using similar ad hominem-based tactics. Some posts could have been written by the same person, just fill in different names.
 Oh, joy. Meaningless, vitriol-based, bipartisan BS. Kind of like walking between cow corpses and stepping in all that's left behind: deep piles of po.
 Yet, again, I have mixed feelings here. For those who aren't faking it, or playing games, I am happy to see all the passion. I became politically active in the mid 60s and I don't think I've seen this intense level since Lyndon talked to reporters from his toilet throne. True story.
 I believe those who take no guff, won't shrink from a fight, won't just go silent, a welcome change... to a certain extent. I'm was a fan of the since sadly passed Bartcop of Bartcop.com fame. Bart, having named himself after one of my own fictional heroes from Blazing Saddles, used to lament about how he had become part of a party of weaklings who seemed to want to lose, couldn't argue their way out of a thin sheen of toilet paper placed over their face, and would rather keep losing than confront, or even contradict, others.
 Bart and I used to trade Es back and forth and my column, Inspection appeared on his page from time to time. We had a similar policy when it came to the bullies. When confronting them you don't back down. You may need to out bully them. Any boy who has had a gang of violent bullies chase them day after day know it's true. They will never respect you otherwise. The bullying will just get worse, more violent.
 As I stated, I love the passion, the take it to the streets and to the convention tude. This "in your face" response is something the party with a back bone made of soggy toast has been lacking for a long time.
 Many of the Bernie folks feel the system screwed Bernie, and I think they're right, though I don't truck in Hillary Clinton fixed the voting machines-like theories. Bernie is getting screwed because the system was screwy to begin with. This is not some supposed it's "all Hillary's doing," or "all Bernie" situation. I know all too well our system has been under the thumb of oligarchs and the very powerful at least since the stolen election of 2000 when the Supremes decided counting the votes should matter little, immediacy far more. "Immediate" especially when it suits certain justice's corrupt, mutual, political agenda.
 But let's get beyond the Bernie/Hillary vitriol because this column is about bigger issues. If all we have left is the loudest portion of both wings what of the rest of us? Who are we to trust for honest discussion? Caught between the histrionics, the hyperbole and the melodrama of the passionate, and political con artists wearing masks: pretending to be part of the crowd, who can we trust?
 No one.
  Calling someone an idiot, a thief, corrupt, a war witch, a bitch, nasty, evil, untrustworthy, without lots of context, really proves nothing. When examination of specifics, true give and take civil discussion, are mostly absent it's like debating a golem blown into existence using a blowhard's hot air. Even the most civil discussion becomes little more than, "Yes, she is," "No, she isn't," "Well then you must be a hillbot," "Yes, berniebro..."
 There! Now we've proved... nothing, except how to insult each other like kids on a playground. It has all the validity of Trump.
 My "favorite" blowhard-like tactic is when the those who pretty much just make accusations resort to using the ultimate non-proof: "Just Google it."
 Yes, you made an assertion so it becomes my responsibility to prove you right? Uh... no. If it's so damn obvious you provide proof. And the few times I have followed those marching orders and seen said "proof," I find page after page of partisan conspiracy sites, editorials, or articles promoted as "analysis," but written by those who could easily be dismissed as partisan hacks. Even "better:" sometimes it's "proof" provided by that always reliable guy, "Anonymous," who just happens to have been a former Clinton or Sanders campaign worker... or so they claim. Sometimes such assertions are easily proven wrong, like the claim Linda Tripp was immediately fired by Bill Clinton when he came into office.
 I can also see all this leading to increased violence, as it has in the past. Especially when we mix in the already way ahead on the violence side of this curve right wing. The ghost of Timothy McVeigh must have a hard on.
 I don't see this ending well. Once you combine the left and the right it seems like it would eventually result in a revolution more French or Russian- like than American. He who has the most weapons wins. The way this is heading is more "off with their heads" than "let's use our heads."
 Gee, wonder which side of the political divide that might be most like? I'll ask George Zimmerman: he might have an "objective" opinion.
 I am beginning to think Bart and I were wrong. Nasty met with bigger nasty seems to create even more potent nasty. Lies seem to create more lies, trolls more trolls, sock puppets inspire people to become sock puppets. Creating an environment where "off with his rhetorical head" passes for rational discourse in the body politic.
 No matter who becomes president, movements like Bernie's will continue to grow. Hillary won't just "go away." Reaction and counter reaction will increase. It will prove interesting how getting what Bart and I wished for pans out. But there's every reason to be leery as well.
 Thus the very appropriate curse certainly applies: may you live in interesting times.

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

May. 10th, 2016

09:02 am - Inspection- Not So Ancient Trump Theorists

 Are there "Ancient Alien Theorist" college degrees? Is one of the courses "Alien Speculation 101?" Would your degree be a BA, or more likely... BS?
 If you've spent any time watching what some dare call "The History Channel," along with guys searching for antiques and other programs even less history oriented, you may have caught all the programs about aliens. Now how any of that qualifies as history I have no idea. Speculation; especially wild speculation, isn't history any more than adding up dots on tossed dice is advanced math, or a statue of Adam and Eve riding a dinosaur in some biblical park qualifies as "science."
 It's like that other specialty channel so bereft of actual SciFi they decided to both neuter it, lobotomize it, then rebrand it "Syfy."
 And why does all this remind me of a possible Donald Trump presidency?
 Imagine an asteroid heading towards Earth. A President Donald might spit out statements like, "What we're going to do is awesome. It's so awesome you'll be amazed. I have appointed the most awesome, smartest of the smartest to deal with this asteroid. They're so smart..."
 And his sheeple would believe, just like some people believe the title "ancient alien theorist" has any substance.
 Sleeping in a lounge chair due to a medical condition has its odd moments. Since the TV is right in front of me the tube:which of course no longer has "tubes," becomes my version of counting sheep, or soft, sleepy time, music. I choose programming that doesn't bother me, but I'm not all that interested in, and just leave it on. I find myself dozing in and out with amusing moments, like when I woke to a screen full of people staring at me and outright weird ones. '
 The night before I started typing this I woke in the middle of the night to all the alien programs that inevitably keep informing us what "ancient alien theorists" claim. Of course that's usually amounts to any wild speculation dressed up with some official sounding title that helps the ignorant assume these folks have gravitas. You know, like "ancient alien theorist?"
 Kind of like some accept the Donald's assertion that Mexico will just pay for some stupid wall. Similar to his assertion that Hispanics, blacks and women all love him despite his insulting, rude, nasty, cruel rhetoric. Or how he has so much respect for Ted Cruz after all the disrespect spewed back and forth: especially "forth" from Trump's piehole...
 The Donald publicly offers about as much substance as ancient alien theorists, only without the somewhat higher education vocabulary. And I'm sure, if elected, there will be Donald theorists who will justify his every insane utterance, every crazy decision, making those who justified no WMDs being found seem almost honest in comparison. After another Donald claimed they "knew" right where they were.
 Republican, or Democrat, many of our pundits and pols have always been way too high on the BS meter for me, and it has been getting worse. But the Donald offers is a new, worse than "ancient alien theorist..." level.
 And why is it when it comes to producing these apologists, as our nation trots even faster down the trail towards Idiocracy, I fear we're up to the task?

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

Apr. 30th, 2016

09:26 am - Inspection- Trump May Damn Well Win

 Who could imagine, despite the shallowness of past campaigns, that even if a lead Republican ran ads nationwide calling himself, "The Mr. Nothing but Brag and Blather Candidate," he might win anyway? He certainly enjoys that kind of ad hominem-based campaigning,and suffers little, to not at all, for it. Indeed it often makes his numbers soar. Between name calling and all the, "It's going to be so wonderfuls," and the, "there will be so much winning you'll be tired of winnings," sometimes Donald Trump almost makes carnival barker seem to be a Mensa-worthy intellectual pursuit.
 Meanwhile, over on the other side of the 2016 equation...
 Right now it sure as hell looks like it will be Hillary, but politics being what they are, I refuse to put my bet down either way. Far stranger things have happened, including the ascendancy of Trump. Indeed the Donald's Teflon-ic rise is bad news for either Dem candidate.
 We know the nonsense, the not quite completely nonsense and the very fair critiques of Hillary Clinton. The problem is, if she becomes the candidate, the usual will happen: it will be a, um, constant "mud storm:.." just substitute the crasser version of the phrase for most of what will be tossed up against the wall.
 The Clintons have been great at jujitsu-ing these kinds of campaign tactics in their favor... when it's not coming from their own base. But that was, at best, more than 10 years ago, almost 20 if we're talking about Bill. I'm not sure how well that will work now. Nope: Trump, and his antics, seem to be the new "Teflon."
 Some Hillary supporters live in the past, thinking that jujitsu will work again. I think they may be in for a rude awakening.
 Also in for a rude awakening if he is the candidate; some Bernie supporters think Bernie's great message will sweep him into office...
 Despite how Occupy was ignored, even covered as if they were all the homeless and looking for a hand out. That was after: unmentioned by same said media, the homeless and the mentally ill were directed by authorities to join the protest because "that's where you can get food..." "get help..."
 Despite how they got pepper sprayed for just sitting there while the Bundy Gang was allowed to occupy and make threats while pointing guns at authorities...
 Despite how the largest protest ever pre-Iraq was ignored...
 Despite how much Bernie's candidacy was ignored while Trump's every utterance and movement was covered...
 Despite all that, Bernie supporters think none of that reluctance will have any effect and Bernie will be swept into office.
 Sigh. And for Hillary... a second sigh.
 What we have is a Teflon candidate who the media loves. I know people think his many nasty, cruel and atrocious utterances will take him down. They keep thinking the next one will be the magic bullet. I'm not sure there's any such thing as some "magic bullet" when it comes to Trump, especially when the media follows him like loyal puppies.
 A few weeks ago I was in the gym on a treadmill, then a cross-trainer. Ten minutes each and all four stations, four TVs right in front of me, had Trump on for more than the full 20 minutes. After that Hillary was on one for about 4... at best. Bernie might as well have not been born, coverage-wise. NBC, CNN, MSNBC and FOX. On other dates I've seen the same time allotment on CBS and ABC...
 So it makes me wonder, with the media so in love with Trump, does Hillary, or Bernie, have a chan
ce in hell? I fear by 2017 I'll need a blind and earplugs just to block out all the bragging and the blather.


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

Apr. 23rd, 2016

09:23 am - Inspection- The Zombie Jamboree Election

Stay tuned, yes, politics enter the narrative here. Title based on an old Kingston Trio song.

 Suffering once again from my usual can’t sleep old man-itis, complicated by recent surgery to relieve collapsed spinal cord located about an inch below my brain, at 1:30am Central I started with my usual fare: Family Guy leading up to Robot Chicken. Back to bed.
 Dang it. Still can’t sleep.
 So up and flipping between Rachel Maddow, who I rarely get to watch and yet another show with zombie-like villains. Back to bed…
 %$#@! Another
Inspection column seeps into my wide awake cortex. Best solution: get up and write.
 Having bounced around Music Row here in Nashville in the 80s, and been a children’s entertainer for 30 years while watching too many other boring attempts to ply my trade, well, let’s just say I am impressed that so much great creative talent out there escapes the gates put up by entertainment gate keepers. For example, a while back the entertainment industry discovered zombies were popular. I’m waiting for some future Robot Chicken edition where they satirize why so many proposed shows have to have zombies in them, like they did when vampires were so popular.
robotchicken3 The program that had me switching back to Rachel was called
The Colony, yet another revamp of an already revamped “genre’;” if one dare call it a “genre'”at all. To me, too often, these shows, and movies, are better referred to as “SciFi gone bad.” Really, the concept that the brain dead would rise again and want to eat brains? Why? Where the hell is “science” in that concept? Answer: thrown out the window from the start.
 Now, I admit, I do miss the more clever black and white parent of the “modern” versions of this “genre:'”
Night of the Living Dead. Brain dead zombies were but a vehicle for displaying man-un-kind’s thoughtlessness, mindless and racism.
 These days I swear I can hear some brain dead entertainment pitch guy, or gal, in what laughingly could be referred to as a “brainstorm session” say, “Let’s take it up a notch and add zombie-like characters. They’re SO popular now!”
  Despite how bad the whole concept is, it’s nowhere near as bad as the 2016 rendition of silly season.
 Hillary fans: do you really think all these attacks, many coming from Bernie supporters, won’t get worse post convention once all the guns are on her? Instead of respectfully discussing the downsides and upsides of a possible Clinton candidacy, those who support her do seem to hide their heads in the political sand too much.
 Bernie supporters: do you really think every bat squat conspiracy theory will get Hitler Ballet TutuBernie elected? Do you really think as Secretary of State she was personally running every bad policy decision that Obama would have rejected if only he had known? If so, you’re wrong: she served at the pleasure of the president. Pretty much any SOS who pushes their own rogue policy won’t be an appointee for long.
 And, really, Dems, do you honestly believe if either ascends some magical coattail factor will decimate the right and everything will be candy and ice cream?
 Are you really so brain deprived you can’t understand we might come back to the same nightmare, or worse? in 18? Observe history much?
 How well did all that work out post 2008? Get everything you wanted right away?
 The greatest irony here is no matter how bad it is on the left it’s far, far worse on the right. How about those brain dead who defend Trump, no matter what, or even worse how little, he says? Or can’t sense how slimy how phony, Cruz is?  To repeat a running Stephanie Miller Show joke: “He says it like it is…” You know who else people claimed “said it like it is?” Hitler.
 Why do jokes “run?” Don’t they ever walk, skip, waltz or do the
 From those who won’t even consider problems with Hillary or Bernie, to those who march to Trump’s content free blather: no matter what the tune, I’m beginning to think this is the year of partisan zombies. And look! Soon to arrive of our TV screens, the
Winchester Arms of zombie jamborees where they eagerly gather to eat even MORE brains. You know, political conventions?
shaun I hope Bernie wins, and he really does have coattails… I have my doubts.
 I hope if it’s Hillary she also has coattails and she has actually changed: not just been parroting some of Bernie’s stances to win. I have my doubts.
 But do I know nothing would be as bad as handing power over to the party that, from Reagan to the Bush Crime Family (apologies to the ghost of blogger and good friend, Bartcop for pirating his fav phrase), spent 24 years making the world far more dangerous, far more deadly, and far less free than anything either Hillary,or Bernie, can be honestly, truthfully, accused of.
 Vote for the other side, vote for someone who has no chance of winning in some third party, or not vote at all? No, no, and NO. While recently I did have an operation quite close to my personal central processing unit, it didn’t leave me even remotely close to that zombie-like.

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

Apr. 13th, 2016

02:33 pm - Inspection- Rewarding Royal Screw Ups

A few months ago I walked into my doctor's office looking to renew a few medications. When asked about how I was doing I told him I had an occasional, slight, tingling in my neck. Off to the neurologist who ordered an MRI.
 Despite having none but one of the symptoms they thought I should have, the MRI clearly showed, due to ongoing stenosis, my spine had collapsed in on the nerves. There was a blockage about an inch or so below the brain. According to the doctor who did the original diagnosis the situation was dire: fix it or there was a high probability I'd become like Christopher Reeves.
 More than a month after the procedure I have all the symptoms I didn't have before and little use of my right arm. I'm told it will get better. I hope so. Had a steroid shot last week and motion hasn't improved, pain went away briefly... then came back gangbusters: worse than it was before the shot, and obviously far, far worse than the pain I didn't have before the operation.
  My right arm is crucial to my career, my life's work. We are working on it. But this "adventure" did provide me with one of those Inspection inspiring mental flights that have me considering the way things are, or should be.
 At first I thought, "Why is it the medical field is the only one I know of where if you screw up you make even more money?" Yes, you might get sued, but that's true in many other fields and really a separate issue. For those who do sue I'm sure there are thousands more who could have. And is this any way to run any "make good" system? Suing the doc who screws up seems the only way to "return" what wasn't as promised, and a very bad method of doing that. Seems to me, no matter what the results, everyone loses except the lawyers. I might be richer, but the arm would still be close to useless, the doctor's insurance company would be poorer and more doctors more hesitant to do their jobs.

 I understand: I can't exactly return my arm to Target for a better one, but suing being the only recourse is a bad system for almost everyone, except those folks who have the same career as the guy who got eaten while hiding in an outhouse in Jurassic Park.
 Last year I took my Jeep to the dealer five times, three of those times I had to be towed, and all but one was covered: free, including the tows. Certainly not all car dealers, or mechanics, are that kind. But, generally, if it's obvious to the customer, the adviser, the mechanic, that a screw up may have happened, it usually gets fixed for free. Or it could be fixed at a lower cost if blame is a bit murky. Many businesses, who may be bad in other ways, are even better than that, at least on the surface level. Buy something at WalMart and, usually, within a short period of time, you can return it with few questions asked.
 Yes, it may be for just another cheap, poorly made, Chinese replacement. Hence my "surface level" comment.
 But quickly I realized I was wrong. We should include politicians while I'm thinking about this...
 I remember JFK commenting once that the more they screwed up the more the public liked them. I'm not so sure that's not an unusual situation when it comes to politicians. Closing in on 20 years ago we were told our former puppet, Saddam, was defective. Bringing in this "return" was beyond risky, even though we were told it would be easy. We were encouraged to bring to justice this "return," then life would be so much better. Rivers would deliver ice cream sundaes of pure freedom on floating barges of solid gold-like freedom to the whole world... especially the Mideast. And those vast stockpiles of cancer-like WMD “cells” would be, oh, so easily found because we knew just where they were.
 Well, Saddam's gone, but seems he was more like a very slow form of prostate cancer that, as white blood cells reacted, was preventing even worse, more aggressive, cancers from propagating. Now we have ISIS instead, al Qaeda before that and the whole body of the Mideast is a very busy emergency room, and the rest of the world headed that way. Now more aggressive, more dangerous, forms of "cancer" have found the world's lymph node system and one 9/11 has geometrically exploded worldwide.
 It was bad before. It's worse now. And like pols often discover, they gained a lot of support making it worse. Considering investments made before the war on terror that helped make those who made these decisions richer, and help many formerly flailing companies like Halliburton boom, where's the disincentive here? Those who come next learn there's plenty to incentivize them to make the same mistakes, or even worse "mistakes."
 Could we ever get our money, and more important, all those lives, back? No, we didn't even fire those who pushed such via the ballot box. In part the blame for that is a two party system that encourages politicians to make promises they know they might not even want to keep. We think we're voting for change, but in many ways we really aren't.
 There just seems to be some professions where screwing up means more profit, more power over others. And forcing those who screw up to make good is bloody hard, if not impossible. The system isn't set up to make it possible. Even punishing those in higher positions is cumbersome: at best, often "never happen."
 All of this being a hell-like pit we desperately need to escape from.

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

Mar. 31st, 2016

12:42 pm - Inspection- The Abortion Police

 In the mid 60s I lived near NYC. I can still remember the weekly news reports: at least one dead women found, mostly in Central Park: botched abortion. The daily blood drenched, coffin filled, Nam news kind of marginalized the impact of the coat hanger, back alley, abortion news.
 Let's be clear, while "coat hanger" abortions did happen, I'm sure 99.9% of these were done, not with coat hangers, or in "back alleys," but in unsanitary, ill-equipped, rooms by people who far too often had less than adequate knowledge about how to safely do an abortion, or an interest in safety.
 "But, Ken, it's not safe for the baby!"
 Well,that's OK, because you can't abort a "baby." It's a fetus. And we have been making choices about life and death since humanity became sentient. If you want to stop all killing: executions, self defense, stopping extraordinary means, over medicating at the end of life, etc. ...OK, I disagree, but I understand your position. Otherwise, what choices we should have is the argument, not "life." We've already agreed there are circumstances where life can be taken by individuals, or the state.
 But, for philosophical, and argumentative, reasons let's go where Trump went.
 If the law is to be changed and abortion considered murder, Trump was right. For rule of law to apply legal consequences should apply. I obviously disagree with the whole premise to begin with, but that's not my point here.

 So let's envision this kind of America. Folks on the right are often fond of painting the left as supporting big, oppressive, over regulating, wasteful, intrusive government. What the hell would this be?
 Um, unless all this is just for "show," "...big, oppressive, over regulating, wasteful, intrusive government."
 We could make it as complex as all those "complex" laws/regulations righties moan and kvetch about; creating thousands of pages of caveats that soften, offer multiple exceptions. But wouldn't that just create the same kind of overwhelming, complicated, bureaucracy they claim only the left wants?
 So what's the other option? Abortion is murder. Period.
 Now we consider the task of catching these criminals, and making the private prison industry and lawyers richer. Let's further burden a burdened justice system. Since abortions are performed inside we'd have to make deals with snitches, millions of stakeouts, cameras and law enforcement dedicated to this task. Let's make it real effective: since abortions can be done anywhere let's go all 1984/Fahrenheit 451: Big Brother watches all and millions of mechanical dogs wait with sharp teeth for ripping doctors and patients to shreds if they dare run, or resist.
  Not even a little of this could be considered "a small endeavor." And why do "little?" Don't you treasure life? Don't you care about that little papoose who was popped out before its time?
 Obviously taxes would have to be raised. I suppose they could simply raise existing fees, or create new ones. You know, how pols raise taxes without calling it that?
 Or, we could simply leave abortion legal.
 I really feel "the abortion police" a bad idea, don't you?

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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