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Feb. 15th, 2018

09:32 pm - Inspection- No, YOUR Mother Wears Army Boots!

  The day after the Florida shootings this may seem off topic and a tad tone deaf. But maybe not. If we can't talk to each other all the framing in the world won't shift the debate, change minds. The left and the right seem to share this Army boots framing when it comes to guns. When passion, and achieving agendas by any means politics, replace respectful debate then no more than spinning society's wheels is almost always the long term result.

Let me tell you about an argument I had with an old friend at a party for homebrewers this past Christmas time. I used to tour, every year, through the panhandle of Florida and developed a friendship with a pro-brewer there. A devout listener to Rush Limbaugh I'd listen to his rants on politics and comment when I felt we had some agreement, and offer slight revisions at best otherwise. If he had asked me once, "Well, Ken, what do you think?" he may have gotten an earful, but he didn't. To be honest, left or right, I find that respectful approach extinct these days. And, in addition, I don't think I've heard, "Well what do YOU think?" phrased respectfully for at least 20 years. And the respectful listening and response to those thoughts maybe 30 or 40.
 We talk at people, not to.
 I believe talk radio and talking head programs are mostly responsible, and while not all right oriented; far more is due to the success and then cloning of the Limbaugh format, same for the Hannity/O'Reilly TV formats. Yet, I am willing to admit the left has played a part too, having followed a path pre-blazed. I must do some defending too: if pretty much all you have is framing-based name calling aimed at groups of people and individuals... doing what you must to cast them in the worst light... what's the only real response available to those folks who wish not to be beaten down? To just be their opponent's bitches? Or to counter bluster with bluster? Bluster that essentially amounts to...

 "Your mother wears Army boots."

 If reasoning with bluster were an option... but it rarely is, it just encourages more bluster.
 These kinds of arguments are quite predictable, use the usual tactics. If someone defends themselves by pushing back they must be "yelling," or "talking over me." Phrases often used by the very same people who talk over you, treat a discussion like a lecture, yell, act smugly superior; you know: all the things they accuse you of... all with the intent of bullying people into shutting up.
 Example: "You're race baiting" often means he who claims such gets to talk about race, you don't.
  Verbal assaults posing as 'debate,' doth not debate make and were not that much a part of the 'new' Conservativism in the 60s. Instead we tried to break with the McCarthy 50s model. In the 60s, as many of my readers know, I was a Conservative activist just outside of NYC, helping with several campaigns. I followed my father's footsteps; and actually he also followed me too. I was the one who subscribed to National Review, advised against joining the John Birchers after I sent off for literature...

 "These guys are NUTS! They think Ike was a Commie."

Yeah, that's an Army boots-like comment, but I would never say it to a Bircher's face. I was talking to my father, and he agreed. Maybe that's one of the biggest points here: we are dropping any sense of civility more than we should be, all for the sake of the ends justify the means, all for the sake of framing.
 We both watched Firing Line religiously. Serious, intellectual, respectful debates like on Firing Line damn near never happen anymore. Instead non-conversations start with, "That's because you Liberals/Conservatives..." They start with, "Your mother where's Army boots!"
 Back to the day before the Christmas party party. The comment that started the argument was made by me, "Well, I think it's been a great party so far. Better than some where people try to argue politics while drinking. That usually doesn't work."
 Response: "That's because you liberals can't take it."
 What eventually followed was the tired old claim that liberals can't debate, instead they start yelling. But what should one expect when, instead of actually debating ala', Firing Line, one starts a debate with, "Your mother wears Army boots!?"
 Framing is neither debate nor discussion. It's insult-based. While I claim no purity on the left, the most current insult-based framing was brought to an 'art form' by the likes of Lee Atwater.
 Back to the comment started all this. Altering that insult-based claim would have been so easy, not so personal. The insult, arrogance, the bully nature of the statement resides in what is no more than accusation: as in "you." Rephrased as, "Well, generally I find liberals can't handle debate and discussion." I would disagree politely, and maybe we could have had a sane discussion. Maybe. I still stick by my first statement: I really don't recommend drinking then arguing about anything: especially politics. Especially with passions as high as they are these days, and insult-based interactions. Abortion is a good example: both sides frame the other as hating kids, not caring, wouldn't mind if the fetus or the child was slaughtered.
 Besides being untrue: the different sides just disagree on solutions and what should be permissible, where does this get us? Nowhere, except hunkered down in our own highly defended castles and claim all those outside our castle are hate-filled, mindless, blah, blah, BLAH!!!
 And these framing-fests so often end with, "Oh, poor little me I'm such a victim of those disgusting people" at the end. I used to love debate and discussion, and that was during Nam in classrooms filled with people on both sides. Now it's just a name calling, hate inspiring, blame game.
 The odd thing is most of this framing is as out of date as "Your mother wears Army boots." Not all of any group thinks one way, even though those paid to make you hate that group even more get richer by framing that way. No single issue is beyond at least a few agreements, even though there's an army of paid talking heads getting rich off of making you think that way.
 To be fair what we had eventually ended in discussion, but only long after we got past insult-based framing. I suspect a good portion of the revelers didn't want to hear two old men going after each other during a Christmas time event. But no one should have to sit back and just take it.
 But this is where "you mother wears army boots" brings us.

Real, respectful, discussion and debate involves at least as much listening as talking.

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 2018
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all rights reserved

Feb. 2nd, 2018

01:19 pm - Inspection- Partisan Driven Political Puritanism

Or, "As the Political Stomach Churns."

 Now in more local news: Nashville's Mayor Megan Berry was caught having an affair. My first question was, "OK, why do I need to know this? Isn't this between her, her husband, whomever she's having an affair with? Maybe whatever minister, priest or rabbi they wish to take consul with, or have moderate?" As the story developed, OK, it was with another government employee; that adds a complication that may need some quiet investigating. Of course the real question here comes down to was tax money used to keep the affair going. That certainly that deserves investigation, but must it be splattered all over the news as just one more poorly written political soap opera?
 Otherwise, yes, I don't think it appropriate, but there's plenty of evidence she's doing her job... so I don't care. I'm more concerned with this new dynamic where those who apologize if someone perceived what happened different than they did (Franken), or admit it happened and admit they were wrong (Megan), are punished. Meanwhile those accused of far worse behavior are simply allowed to get away with it if they lie, lie and lie again.
 I long ago tired of pols and talking head who all too conveniently assign themselves as the morality/purity police, especially when sometimes they might want be concerned about their own glass houses.
 So where's the big incentive to be honest when it comes to the most offensive, those with the worst behavior, who lie easily? Exactly! The incentive is to lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie... and lie some more. And, due to today's partisan driven political Puritanism, that works, even turns you into some supposed hero battling those damn... liberals, right wingers, suicidal gerbils. (%$#& gerbils!) As long as you lie you can get away with anything. So I ask, all the way back to the Clinton days when the prosecutor successfully turned "is" into "was there ever," exactly of what value is this Puritanism?
 If all were held to the same standard, OK, I'd get it, but that's obviously not the case. During Clinton's 3rd base-based affair with Monica we were sold on the 'fact' that our officials not only should be held to a higher standard, but if they did such things they were horrible people who should never, ever hold public office. And... "What about the children?" They even tried to sell us on the spin that Clinton was to blame for our young children having to hear all the explicit talk, even though Bill never insisted it be made public. That 'accomplishment' can be laid at the doors steps of Republicans and that ever leaky boat the USS Starr.
 Besides, if those who push Puritanism actually cared about the children then they would insist all this be behind closed doors, be investigated quietly. Instead they are more like the hypocrites Jesus called out who made big scenes by praying loudly in public. They are like those during the Dark Ages who made a point of publicly whipping each other, only instead of each other it's anyone deemed politically inconvenient.
 If we are concerned about the children: and I am, the best way to do that is to stop insisting all the specifics be splattered onto news cameras, into microphones. Stop choosing political gain over the children. It's so obvious they don't care about "the children." If by bringing a horde of cub scouts and a big bunch of brownies into the Oval Office they could have kicked Clinton out of office they would have.
 Yes, I understand some of this applies to President Trump. Bringing out his sexual adventures certainly would be advantageous to progressives. Oh, I could go with the typical excuses these days: "they started it," or some variation on what about-ism, but I won't. No matter who the target may be, in the larger sense, beyond partisanship, I simply see little value to this kind of all too politically convenient exhibitionism. And for those who insist all this be out in the open; all too often they are like perverts hanging around a park wearing trench coats and nothing else.
 If we could handle these things fairly, honestly, in a bipartisan manner, be as sensitive about it as possible, revealing only what we must, I would be for a more open approach. But what we have in this country, politically, is exactly the opposite.
 I am not saying we do nothing. I am not saying we go back to where such things are totally off the table, though we certainly should be more selective about what is on the table. Personally having an affair? I would choose mostly off; depending on the nature of the affair. Using public funds to accommodate that ongoing affair? More on the table, but still less in public.
 We have had plenty of politicians who have had their peccadilloes, many affairs, and performed quite well in office. Public service need not require moral purity, but even if you disagree that's not what we have now. Too often we have political purity demands disguised as moral purity. So we really need to assess just how important revealing any of this is, and how much, and what, should be revealed. Al Franken had a lot of accusations, true, but how does questionable hugging, squeezing in an uncomfortable way, forced kissing that was part of a script, touching someone's back... not 'backside..' require resignation but all the Trump accusations not? Remember what we had was accusations. Regardless of the spin Al kept saying he didn't remember it that way, but expressed empathy. Empathy alone is not an admission of guilt: never has been.
 If the number of accusations turns the tide then it should for all, not just for the politically inconvenient.
 What we have now is the left and the right flipping roles again and again. Puritans against Bill become who cares-ists when it comes to Donald, or vice versa. Apparently Jesus wants us to forgive... sometimes... not throw stones... sometimes. Apparently the missing 11th Commandment is "Thou shall judge others, except the politically correct." Innocent until proven guilty is impossible in this Wild West atmosphere. Rule of law when lying serves to ward off justice is impossible.
 Partisan driven political Puritanism means who the target is matters far more important than any crime, any behavior, any abuse, any forms of political corruption and anything best for the nation.
 As long as such matters are little more than games of dodge ball aimed at the politically convenient I believe it's horribly wrong and worse than horrible for the 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 2018
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Jan. 19th, 2018

10:07 am - Inspection- A Predictable ‘Victory’

"Always give more than you promise."

 This slogan from a long since dissected, cannibalized, company: Studebaker, is now little more than a verbal relic of how some big businesses used to be run; even during a time when car companies were starting to do less. Not too long after that the American auto industry sold us automotive atrocities like the Pinto, the Vega, while the big three also followed the national trend: tighten down the screws on the American worker.
 Studebaker actually paid their workers beyond union pay, gave them more time to clean up. Critics claim that's what they did wrong; what made their books so bad. I tend to believe what went 'wrong' was it was difficult to compete with companies who were willing to turn a fast buck with shoddy products while increasingly stiffing their work force. Might explain why foreign car makers started to increase their market share.
 To be fair a lot more went wrong at Stude than that, which would take a whole column to explain. But this is more about changing business models in America.
 Many companies tended to be more worker friendly back then. Perhaps the 'we're in this together' creed that was part of WWII followed workers back to their jobs; jobs saved for them by companies like Studebaker while they fought the war. My father's job was saved. He worked for American Maize, a company that had offices in San Francisco, Chicago and New York. He started in the mail room. Dad eventually became assistant director of the technical department. They provided health care, company cars, paid our restaurant, service and gas bills. It wasn't because he had a 'rich man's job,' though his was better than many. Even some lower class jobs, due to the influence of unions, had good benefits, living wages. My first jobs showed promise, if I had wanted to stay. Gravediggers at Oak Hill Cemetery weren't unionized, but the power of unionization meant non-unionized businesses tried to be somewhat competitive.
 By the time I had my second cemetery job, as I worked my way through college, wages were on the down slide, benefits mostly gone. I was paid minimum wage with little hope of a raise, as were the gravediggers who had been there many years. This was all on the way to a part time economy where many workers have to work 2, 3, 4 jobs to make ends meet while stockholders, the board, CEOs made millions, even billions, especially if you include stock options. This was all thanks to union busters and businesses heading towards being very union and worker unfriendly. The con job then was to sell us all on the proposition that all unions were corrupt, and some were: just like many corporations and their management were. Unions were the problem, supposedly.
 Of course making money speech and corporations people solved all that, typed the sarcastic columnist.
 On my father's death bed in the 80s we talked about how business had become less worker friendly, uninterested in rewarding good work or their own employees. It was a trend he told me he saw first take hold in the late 60s. He said businesses, like American Maize, were trending towards being very family unfriendly.
 Of course the scam was the claim unions were the problem and business would naturally compete offering increasing wages. The old trickle down con. How long have wages for the lowest paid employees been stagnant now?
 Politics and business have been following each other in this con job trend. Probably the biggest con job was called The 2 Santa Claus Theory, brought to us by Jude Wanniski. Since Republicans didn't like social programs the object was to spend America into massive debt until Democrats came to power, then make them cut, cut, cut their programs.
 What a con job: do what you can to hurt the country then force those who disagree with you to fix it. One might even call it the act of traitors. OK, forget "might."
 Over the years big business has become more scam-based than anything else. Walmart lives off of eminent domain where property is taken on the cheap by pols; pols with donations in their pockets, and given to Walmart. Meanwhile employees are trained to rely on social services so the owners can squeeze out more profit. Cable and dish TV: the basic package has you paying from 100s of channels of damn near nothing where more than half are infomercial-based. The rest are mostly old movies played over, and over, and over, or incredibly stupid live game shows based on the let's humiliate the talent format. Alternative sources of TV are often internet based. Never guess who owns most of those companies? One way or another they get your dollars, paying for what once was paid for by commercials. Now you pay more and more, and in some cases get the same damn crappy commercials.
 Scams are everywhere. As soon as congress started messing with health care we started getting calls about our "healthcare requests." We made no healthcare requests. Would you buy health care over the phone via an automated solicitor? I wouldn't. Especially since so many contracts now have arbitration clauses, which means you throw your right to sue away in favor of arbitration panels packed with their own people. That means they can promise you the moon
 LifeLock, and its bastard new born brother: TitleLock, offer to protect your worldly goods. We were given LifeLock for a year once because a bunch of Metro Nashville laptops were stolen with citizen's personal information on them. When the year was over we decided not to renew: accessing our accounts had become problematic due to their weird software. Immediately our credit union contacted us to get new cards because they said, without fail, if one of their clients dropped LifeLock their accounts were broken into.
 Makes one wonder: of all the people they employ, how many are involved in creating demand rather than protecting us?
 Privatized prisons: a business model that relies on political peeps finding more excuses to imprison more citizens. Privatizing the vote: a model that relies on proprietary software and pols who gave them the contracts and take their donations. Privatizing war and policing: a model that relies on more war, more killing and rule of law not apply to them and, oh, also donations to supportive politicians.
 One of the biggest scams was the current claim, circa 2016, industry will be brought back to America. Unless those who push this plan on tariffs, or something similar like a Vat tax, the only way to do this would be to get the American workers wage so low we can compete because slave labor and prison labor is the new model. Of course many of the same pols who pushed out industry via 'free market' lies now are eager to mimic the same lack of even something marginally below working wage standard.
 Out of this ever expanding, overflowing, cesspool of a corporate corruption-based black hole rises Donald Trump. Trump's whole life is based on scamming people, and not being held accountable for his con jobs. He's added a new tactic to the screw the worker scams: simply declare you're not happy with the work and not pay. The election was a scam where Putin supported trolls now try to convince us we lost because of a horrible candidate when Trump was so unpopular he lost by close to 3 million votes... and that's not counting lost votes due to Republican scams like Crosscheck, election fraud and severe gerrymandering.
 The election of 2016 was, simply put, scam artists here and in Russia rigging it so their chosen one: King of Scams, won. He had proved himself to be just that so often: Trump steaks, Trump U, his refusal to pay those he hires to work on his properties, so many lawsuits...
 Looking back rigging the election for Trump was so predictable. The Democrats have either ignored or shrugged off election issues for so long. Meanwhile corporate scam artists would do anything: including assist a conspiracy to digitally attack America out of Russia, to crown a leader so bad he's not unlike a merging of mentally challenged PT Barnum and a Caligula-like moronic business mogul made king.

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 2018
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Jan. 8th, 2018

02:00 pm - Inspection- Boned by Twilight Zone?

One must ask... is there some end game here? What resolve is even possible? Is it even remotely possible that pols and pundits will ever again consistently do, or say, "what's right;" even when it's not best for them? I think there may never be a more appropriate time to decide this than right now.

 'Promised land,' when it comes to America, has always been more a talking point than anything else, except for the select, favored few. 'Promised land' for the slaves stuffed into the holds of wooden ships, some of whom were tossed overboard if they found they were carrying too much weight? Yet if you look into their discussions at the time a lot of the heated debates used sources, like the bible, or the Constitution, at least attempting to make it all seem rational and logical. Even the insults were more intelligent sometimes. These days; in a fast moving, texting, tweeting world, 'talking points' have been boiled down to little more than mind numbing simplistic framing, and framing using bully tactics: otherwise known as 'name calling.'
 This is why we are where we are today. Simplistic false framing is one of the bigger reasons why some of the worst politicians win: pols who should have had no chance at all. It's why marginally better ones lose and significantly better ones have less of a chance of than Custer if all his men had vanished when the natives arrived. And it's also why people feel so comfortable sinking into the current deep cesspool of pure partisan idiocy...

 "I like Trump because he pisses off liberals."

 "OK, Trump didn't say it, but it sure sounds like something he'd say."

 Here, from two different sides of the aisle, may be good indications of a great political sickness. Claiming someone said what they didn't say for political gain is wrong, no matter how convenient the target may be. It should be actionable slander in some cases. It certainly should qualify as libel, though politics and politicians fall under more loose standards.
 How convenient.
 Simplistic, name calling-like framing would mean Winston Smith wouldn't need a memory hole anymore to do his job, all Big Brother would have to do would be yell, "FAKE NEWS!!!!" Firemen need not burn books, just claim they're "phony," etc. If some framers had their way Guy Montag would have had no books to be burn.
 We give our pols and their handlers too much leeway sometimes; especially when it's all too politically convenient to do so, and none when it's inconvenient. Over the years I have been politically active increasingly they violate one of the most important lessons my father ever taught me: "Do what's right, even if it's not right for you."
 What's so wrong? Well, campaigning through a whisper campaign, push poll questions that claim someone had an illegitimate black baby comes to mind. So does taking what a candidate said: calling half of a movement filled with 'deplorables,' and turning it into "all." Certainly using E-mails to Weiner to smear a candidate without mentioning the content of a single one, then admitting there was nothing there once the damage is done. Dismissed a document, not because what's in it isn't accurate, or has been changed, but because it's a copy of the original. The only thing different between the original and the copy is the font; and even the secretary who handled the original says they're the same when it comes to content. Using a present tense statement as if it had been said using the past tense as an excuse for impeachment because in the past tense that would make that answer perjury.
 A few years ago I confronted a friend who claimed Al Gore said he "invented the internet." Being from Tennessee I knew better. When confronted with facts he admitted it wasn't true. He just thought it was 'funny' and liked to say it because it 'pissed off liberals.' Yes: and 'because' of this kind of nonsense we have little actual valid social discourse these days. You wonder why discussions these days end up being no more than yell and accusation-fests? BINGO. Coming up with the bigger, more potent, lies and yelling out the most insults is how to 'win.' And it works: because we, the public, let it work. Facebook, tweeting, even our talk shows are dominated by who can come up with the nastiest, most mean spirited, comeback: even if it's no more than a lie, the kind of insult a mentally incompetent person with anger issues would spew.
 Politics these days is more akin to the schoolyard bully whose idea of "funny" is committing verbal, even physical, assault.
 Simply because someone pisses off people you don't like is no rational, logical or even mature reason to support anyone.
 Simply because you don't like a politician or pundit is not a good enough reason to support lies.
 In the 60s the right accused young leftists of having knee jerk opinions: mindless, emotional, responses lacking depth of thought. What exactly is giving full blown support to someone simply because they piss off someone you don't like? What exactly is spreading lies about someone with little thought regarding truth, fairness and the damage ends justifies the means behavior does?
 If you think such to be unfair when used against your side you can be damn sure it's still unfair when used against others. If you claim it's just the 'other side,' or "they started it:" you're part of the problem and getting in the way of solutions.
 You know someone's trying to infect social discourse with simplistic nonsense when they say...

  "What the... (left/right) REALLY wants is...

 "What the... (left's/right's) REAL goal here is..."

 One must ask... what is the end game here? Is it even remotely possible that we will ever see a trend towards increasing numbers of pols and pundits doing, or saying, "what's right" even if it's not best for them? Ends justifies the means politics has led the nation down a very dark and dangerous path. We can argue which side does it more, or which side started it, but all that is no more than playground politics. There can be no logical end game that doesn't lead to the worst kinds of societies humanity has ever screw itself up with, leaving a formerly, somewhat, free nation, permanently "boned."
 Sometimes it gets so surreal I wonder if Rod Serling would have rejected a script this absurd.

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 2018
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Jan. 1st, 2018

09:11 am - Inspection- New Years' Resolution

 Less holier than thou-ism.

 My train of thought ran over the nerve that inspires columns this morning as I watched an AHC program about the American Revolution. We were losing the war and partisans started to win the war by using tactics the Brits; who were by no means more pure, found unacceptable, like hit and run. One thing especially brutal: those accused of being sympathizers were tarred and feathered; a process bad enough as commonly portrayed. Hot, thinned out tar is applied the accused who has been stripped naked, then feathers.
 What isn’t mentioned is that once tarred and feathered the feathers were set on fire.
 My mind went to a Facebook discussion. I had suggested, in response to all the accusations and denials when it comes to inappropriate behavior, that maybe eventually we’d need something like the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Of course one person asked if I wanted necklacing too. Using one simple misplaced talking point the poster missed so many things it’s hard to count. But the most important point would be necklacing was a response to many, many equally cruel actions of racists and their fav regime, and the cruel actions of that regime happened over many, many more years.
 Does that makes one side more pure, more “holy” than the other? No. War brings out the worst in us all. It must be noted that winners excesses get marginalized, even ignored, the losers not so much. Since we won the truth behind tar and feathering fades. If we had lost it would have become a well known example taught in our classrooms to frame the patriots as villains. Both would be unfair misrepresentations, false framing.
 A good example from current social discourse is whenever discussing Trump behavior partisans immediately try to flip it to Clinton. Nothing Hillary ever may, or may not, have done excuses or justifies anything Donald may, or may not, have done. Of course flipping that formula is perfectly fair, as long as whatever the accusation is isn’t a lie. In today’s political environment there’s little to no punishment for lying because we’re too busy protecting those more on our side and demonizing those not on our side.
 It’s a rarity that one side in any conflict or debate is pure. During a Christmas debate with a friend I was told Hollywood elites were “the problem.” Hollywood and the media were all liberal and kept funding, supporting, the left. Really? Reagan? Trump? Heston? Nugent? Murdoch’s empire?
 So out from under our beds we drag the usual “scary” monsters; Soros, Kochs, Murdoch… but doesn’t all this miss the point? They all have a right to spend their money however they wish and a right to whatever political skew they may have. If we had a “fairness doctrine” or the airwaves were still considered belonging to the public there might be a point here. And those are discussions we should be having. Instead we focus on framing, which is really a fancy name for name calling, slander, libel and demonizing. It’s a way to create the perception your side is more pure, the other pure evil.
 Framing to invent a perception of evil v. good creates strawmen intended to distract us from actually discussing issues. Does lowering taxes actually work, and what should we still tax for, what should we stop doing? How should we treat gun ownership in society and responsibility? What should our relationship with Russia be? Should any nation be interfering in the election of another, and if they do what should be done about it?
 Hypocrisy alert: we are by no means pure.
 When framing becomes the main, and mostly only, form of public discourse our arguments are circular. Social discourse becomes like the most simple, the most insulting tweets. We assume our side; whatever it is, is pure, the other side is not.Trapped in a room with no exits we are doomed to forever be at each other’s throats. Even if we could make those who disagree go away we eventually turn on each other: for no two humans think exactly alike.
 So have a blessed, wonderful, New Year. I can’t decide for you whatever resolution you may make. But for me, less framing; especially in a holier than thou way.

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 2018
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Dec. 12th, 2017

02:13 pm - Inspection- One Hell of a Climb

 I was going to write about Moore, Trump, Conyers, Franken, Franks... to be... FRANKS... but I think almost everything I wanted to say has been said, and everything I deeply disagree with has been said too. While Alabama votes today, the left, the right, women, men rage, progressives have once again mostly slept through something they keep shrugging off. Not all, for sure. But most would rather blame Hillary, a few blame Bernie... though that's more 3rd way Dems for sure... blame racists, blame voters for not coming out to the polls, though over our 200 plus years that number has increased, back pedaled a little, then increased more.
 Then yesterday, on The Thom Hartmann Show, it was mentioned that, once again, those who control how and when we vote are pushing tactics that can make damn sure it's likely your vote won't count, if you're not one of them. Example given: the Alabama ballot has two spots on top where you can check vote straight Republican, or vote straight Democrat. However if you check that then check Moore or Jones your vote is thrown away.
 Of course our public servants, regardless of party affiliation, immediately set out on a mission to let every voter, also regardless of party, know about this. On the top of the ballot in huge letters it says...
 OK, you can stop laughing now. You have to know of course they did nothing of the kind, though Alabama talk shows: pretty much all right wing, were warning the right not to do that.
 This was all enabled by extremists on the Supreme Court claiming voter intent meant nothing: only whatever rules the locals made up matter. Talk about "unequal protection." Oh, wait, that only applies the the right wing in this country, I guess. Right there in the Constitution Scalia's ghost says. (They say he became a ghost, in part, because he had heart trouble. As in "none?")
 The craven depths to which they will sink never ceases to make me shake my head. In Alabama they take snapshots of ballots in case a recount might be needed. The Republicans changed that so these snapshots will simply be throw away. (So why even bother, one might ask?) This was taken to court and changed just yesterday, and immediately Repubs took it right back and had it changed back again. The highest court in the state, I believe it was, agreed with the following inane, senseless, argument made by ReThugs: because Dems had no proof ballots could be miscounted, or not counted, might as well just throw them away.
 Of course, if you allow them to throw away the proof there will be no proof. Why didn't OJ's attorneys think of pursuing that method of exoneration?
 As of early this afternoon we don't know who will win, though Jones has one hell of a climb. Because too many on the left would rather shrug off election fraud tactics, Russian interference, gerrymandering and focus in on tweets and the circular firing squad, so does the left. And so does the nation if we are to be anything but a one party dictatorship.

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 2017
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Nov. 30th, 2017

11:25 am - Inspection- An Open Letter to the Republican Party

 A suggestion: post a link to this, or send it, to your Republican friends.

Before I start let me explain I'm not just another pundit seeking your total demise, or pretending to "care" about your party, give you fake "good" advice. In fact I tend to find that offensive when pundits like Limbaugh and Maddow attempt to do it. Why should the left or the right accept anything like that without at least some healthy skepticism?
 They shouldn't. And I would be disappointed if you responded that way to my suggestions.
 What are my credentials? At 10 years old I worked on Goldwater's campaign. By 14 I was working on campaigns for the Conservative Party in Rockland County and meeting; along with other in party campaign planners and workers, with Richard Nixon in Westchester County. We were supposed to actually sit with him and plan strategy, but for some reason he basically gave a talk then left. I'm not sure why.
 By the 70s I had left the NYC area and moved to the Adirondacks. But I still voted Nixon, though I was starting to have some doubts. This column started in 72 because I had found Bill Buckley inspirational. Inspection started as my college version of his column.
 During the late 70s I started to shift more to the left. Why? If you want to know that would take another column: an edition I have written many times before. If you want to know please ask me to write it again, or ask me directly via Facebook, or via comments on any of the sites where this column appears. You will probably need to register to make comments.
 Republicans, and Conservatives, you have a decision to make. If you wish to stick with Donald Trump that, of course, is your choice. Increasingly it's looking like a bad one. We shall see. But if you have your doubts about him, if you find his behavior increasingly un-presidential, dangerous to the nation, to world peace, the very nature of a free, representative, society, then, yes, you have a decision to make.
 Now what?
 The Nixon example is revealing. If those who think this will all work out are wrong, and you wait to deal with this, the more horrific the devastation will be to your party. Think loss of power for many years. A major image overhaul will needed, and as difficult a venture as that was after Nixon resigned this would probably be harder. If you hold on to the bitter end; if this doesn't settle, eventually the party will go down with him.
 Other options?
  You know, despite how damaging it would be these days to those with more leftward visions and their goals, the easiest path: IF it can be done, would be to have those close to him convince Trump to go back to the private sector. Convince him to tell the nation: perhaps in his address to Congress next year, that he has "put the nation back on the path to being "great again," and will put it all into the capable hands of Mike Pence. He can say, now he's done so much, "more than any other president EVER, he wants to go back to what he "knows" he "does best:" being a business man.
 You know he really does, right? He can even add his trademark-able catch phrase, "Beh-leave-meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" Hey, lefties, doesn't matter if you disagree with that. Stop laughing! You've got to know how appealing that might be to him.
 Would the president actually do that? Yeah, I'm skeptical too. But, if possible, it's the easiest path to retaining power. Pence would be more capable of fulfilling your every political wet dream. He also will have 3 years to heal wounds, if any, and prepare for 2020, and at least some lead time into 2018.
 Do I want that? No. Not the point.
 Look at it this way: if this needs to happen if you lose Trump you have Pence, if you wait too long and Pence becomes problematic, you have Ryan. If you wait until it gets all Nixon-ian then, at best, it gets Jimmy Carter-like or maybe even FDR. If you've read any of the more political editions of this column you know the longer you wait the happier many of my regular readers would be. But, again, those preferences aren't the point here.
 All the legal mentally unable/unstable options are worse, but better than waiting for that final flight out where, "You won't have (Trump) to kick around anymore." If we wait until 2018 and you do lose, the bigger the loss the more likely a successful impeachment would be, and it could end up being the first successful one in our history when it comes to removal.
 Yes: impeachment is a political act. It's also, society-wise and politically somewhat suicidal. It's better to let the voters decide; if at all possible.
 There are a lot of options between a quiet passage of power with a president leaving, proudly, claiming his work is done, and impeachment. Forced removal is obviously worse. How bad? Well, that depends on how soon and how "forced."
 This is where we are today. If you truly think Donald Trump will be successful to the point of settling most of this and leaving leftists in history's garbage pit, either satisfying the increasing number of Republicans pols are disgusted with his behavior, or also dumping them into that same pit, have at it. I think that bar is so damn high you're living in a La La Land, or if successful the end result would be more dictatorship than free. But, hey, as my grandfather used to say, "I could be wrong. I was... once."
 Either way you have reached Robert Frost's diverging road in the woods. My last suggestion is to remind you: the clock is ticking, so decided you must, please choose as wisely, as honestly, as you can. Whatever the end result, your political future is at stake: more than perhaps ever before in recent history; more than even in the 70s. We live in an era now that will be decisive for a long, long time. And what may seem damn convenient now historically has a tendency to be worse than damn inconvenient later.

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 2017
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Nov. 22nd, 2017

11:39 am - Inspection- The Rock on Which I Stand

  Another brief break from politics and social issues.
 November 22, 2017: my mother died 49 years ago today. I must admit I was so young I hardly remember her, but I can still give thanks. I’ve written this before. Being a topic I love, I’m sure I will return to it again and again. Consider it a “review,” a new take on an old topic, or maybe I’m just still learning to swim…

When parents die feeling alone: swimming in a more empty, endless, sea, is not unexpected…
  I know Chip Kiefer from school, and performing in Old Forge for over 10 years. It’s been a tough year for the Kiefer family. Early this year Chip’s mother passed. I’m not sure if I ever met June Kiefer; if I did it was briefly. I’ve met Charles Kiefer: incredibly nice man. About a month ago Charlie passed too, so I understand some of my emotions there even though I didn’t know him all that well either. Yet, even when I heard about June, to quote a Fogelberg song, “I felt that old familiar pain.” Maybe it’s just me thinking of my friend and understanding this is something we all go through, at least until we escape through that final tunnel headed somewhere, anywhere… We find out when we get there.
 Are those who have passed still with us? My middle name is Walter. I was named after an uncle who died when I was about 4. I was told he never could resist bouncing me on his knee. The all too final story told about Uncle Walter was his gruesome accident that was used as an example to force carmakers to install collapsible steering columns.
 To this day I think about when I saw him years later. I was at Bisby Gate: gatekeepers Earl and Martha Carman guarded what once was the main entrance to the exclusive Adirondack League Club. Bisby was also home to the annual Carman family Thanksgiving dinner for many years. While the rest of the turkey, potatoes and stuffing were being put away, I stared down the deep dark hallway leading to the back door.
 Then, down an equally dark side hallway that led to the pantry and the second floor bedrooms, I saw a figure made of light. He seemed to be playing hide and seek with me. I started whispering questions. He told me he was my Uncle Walter and he was making sure I was OK. My cousin Joyce asked me who I was talking to. To her credit she didn’t mock me, didn’t insult me. Even then I realized it probably had just been my imagination. It’s not like I’ve ever been lacking in that talent.
 My mother died when I was young. She got cancer when I was four or five. She lived 7 more years, but to say they weren’t good years is a bit too kind. I feel I hardly knew her. Maybe that’s why I’ve never sensed her being around, or maybe she’s at the door but I can’t hear the knock.
 My father lived about 20 years beyond that. To me he was both Mom and Dad. We became close, especially after I graduated from the same school he did in the Central Adirondacks. He died falling onto a flame shooting floor furnace at our Twitchell Lake Adirondack home, but not right away. The next few months were as gruesome as being pinned by a steering wheel column in some ways. At the end, because they were removing limbs that risked his recovery, I think Dad may have decided he didn’t want to live limbless in some nursing home. So he climbed up life’s final high dive and jumped; hopefully into the arms of my mother.
 The day he died I was on the interstate when I saw a huge shaft of light shooting down though the clouds. A feeling washed over me: “he’s gone.” When I got the call I asked what time he died. The times matched.
 That’s when I realized that the rock I didn’t even know I had been standing on was gone, leaving me swimming, treading water. I suspect Chip Kiefer might feel that way this year; at least a little. After all, who teaches us to swim life’s turbulent seas?
 A lot of people must feel this way when people pass, and not just parents. The disciples must have felt this way. I find some comfort that the disciples saw visions, heard him speak again, felt his presence. People find rocks to stand on where they can, when there’s the need, when to others there may seem to be no rock at all.
 About a year after Dad died I was on tour and staying in a resort near Lexington, Kentucky when I swore I heard his voice. I headed towards some bushes, but came back with nothing but a case of poison ivy. I could almost hear him laugh, “That will teach you… go… live your life.” Swim.
 Over the years I have felt Bill Carman’s presence, occasionally. I have felt Janice Corrigan’s presence: my first girlfriend. Uncle Walter says little, but his presence seems undeniable. I know most; if not all, of this is probably imaginary. But as long as I understand it might all be my imagination, I don’t set up some temple, start worshiping them, or insist others feel the same, what harm could there be?
 Time passes and eventually so do we.

       "I grow old
       I grow old
       I shall wear the bottom of my trousers rolled
       Shall I part my hair from behind?
       Do I dare eat a peach?
       I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each
       I do not think that they will sing to me"

    -from T.S. Elliot’s Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Maybe, like my mother, Prufrock couldn’t hear them. Perhaps they too were knocking on his door.
 I’m in my mid 60s now. Soon I’ll be as old as Dad when he died. I passed Mom a long time ago. But Dad is still here. Janice is still here, Uncle Walter is still here. Millie, my wife, doesn’t sense them, but I’m sure she still senses her father, her brothers Mike and Vin, and especially her mother Marilyn. Charlie and June are still here.
 They teach us how to swim life’s sea.
 And they are the rocks on which we still stand.

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 2017
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Nov. 13th, 2017

10:00 am - Inspection- On Being Too Cocky

 The Virginia and New Jersey victories were certainly welcome. But let's not get cocky: historically that has screwed us damn near every time. Election fraud makes this even worse because even if those who are who are cocky are right it throws a wild card into the mix: as in it becomes more a matter how successful they are which can only be countered by how vigilant we are. "Vigilant" rather than, well, "cocky."
 My guess is these victories were actually a hell of a lot bigger. Hillary Clinton, who certainly didn't excite a good portion of the base, still got damn near 3 million more votes. So I suspect other electoral "rugs" made out of margins that have been pulled out from underneath us might have been even larger. Because the drive to shove large portions of any group that votes in politically incorrect ways for the Reich is ongoing we need to focus.
 There's a pattern here the left keeps missing. Damn near every winner in the past 30 years, or more, was dismissed by a cocky opposition. Too many thought anyone could beat Donald Trump and too many are convinced beyond even the most reasonable doubt that Bernie would have. The concept that this past loss was some one off because Hillary was "such a horrid candidate" is both statistically and historically ignorant. Obviously she was beyond "good enough" to get far more votes, but not good enough to overcome election fraud tactics the right has been perfecting for many years. Historically I remember comments like "a ham sandwich could beat George W." Kerry lost, in part due to widening election fraud and, well... us being too cocky. I find it interesting that when Gore acted dismissive during a debate it was claimed by the media to be a problem. During one of the Kerry/W debates Bush made Gore's past divisiveness look respectful in comparison. Odd how the media didn't make the same claim.
 So much for the supposed "liberal" media. We also lose because the media is an eager enabler of the right and intent on helping the right take advantage of our sometimes too cocky nature. When we get cocky we lose. Then we make it worse by blaming each other and back comes the ham sandwich-like assumptions to slap he or she who lost. So now we add the circular firing squad on top of cocky.
 We are our own worst enemies and our enemy's best enablers. And they know it.
 The problem here is what we ignore, or deny. Logic dictates there were things we weren't paying attention to. We were being too complacent, too self assured, too self absorbed with our own partisan specific perceptions. Too... shall I type it again? Yes, I shall: "cocky."
 The other reasons we give aren't necessarily wrong. Maybe your favorite reason is we're not paying enough attention to "real" progressives, or we're abandoning moderates, or the media, or my obvious favorite: election fraud issues. Why couldn't it be all of these and more? Maybe it's also because we spend so much effort trying to demean or purify?
 For many years the right has purified themselves. Indeed some of our side at one time might have been "Liberal Republicans:" a breed that's only a tad more extinct than actual moderates. Many assume purifying is the best path for us too. But I believe sufficient support for such on the left simply doesn't exist: not enough to assure constant big wins. The goosestepping required, the discipline, the Court approved system that they keep insisting on making more and more corporate/.1%-based. Large pep rallies in a system where money and media are king are impressive to those who attend, but count for little when there's a simple solution: keep votes from problematic groups from counting. Unfortunately that makes these rallies hardly a blip on the scale of what consistently wins election after election, especially when we get too cocky.
 No, I don't support that, but ignoring such makes us too much like Pompeii residents dying in some arena cheering on our hero. It turns weekly policy statements made by Hillary into less than mere whispers washed over by the lava flow. Circular firing squads qualify as pushing those not pure enough into the flow; thinking sacrificing them will please the Gods of political correctness.
 No, we need each other, and that means compromise from all. It means less "professional left" snarky comments like during Obama. It means making the primaries less reliant on defective concepts like super delegates. It means that the kind of anti-Hillary cultism that demands we despise her above all else is like Jimmy Jones Flavor Aid, just like Bernie bashing is. It means those who insist on these things apparently believe promoting such division is far more important than not having 4 more Trump/right wing/racist/Neo Nazi years.
  I think we have a habit of under estimating the enemy and falling for the tactics like those pushed by trolls who pretend to be on our side. Choose your preferred reasons, or excuses if you wish, but respect those who feel differently. Never lose sight of the fact unless we understand individually we could be wrong in much matters, that others could also have valid points, we are exposing one hell of a very vulnerable Achilles Heel to those all to eager to destroy us with their ends justify any means tactics.
 All from being too damn cocky.

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 2017
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

Nov. 7th, 2017

10:39 am - Inspection- Has the Carnage Stopped Yet?

  "The carnage stops here!"

Apparently not. I started writing this a week ago. How many shootings has it been since then?
 Verbose, as always, why is it Trump's promises always seem to turn out exactly the opposite of what Trump claims? There's a pattern here that can't be rationally denied; "a pattern" of doing and saying whatever he must to inspire fear, yes, but also offering solutions to problems that make those problems worse, followed by even worse "solutions."
 This dynamic goes way beyond; and before, Donald Trump. More on that in a moment.
 I left Nashville late July this year and returned early last week. Before I left in July I complained to Millie about how each and every daily Nashville news report included at least one murder.
I even wrote in this column about it. A little more than 3 months later and it seems approaching 3 or 4 murders.
 This offering bad "solutions" seems to have spread like some highly infectious disease among our public servants. Recently the Texas AG called for more guns in churches. Not quite as bad an idea as a few years ago when they claimed more guns in a dark theater would have stopped a theater massacre. No, it would just have augmented the murderer's tally. Regular citizens are notoriously bad shots: especially in the dark and in a noisy, panic filled, situations. But when we keep hearing the solutions to gun violence are more guns, guns everywhere and Stand Your Ground-like legislation, my mind goes back "solutions to problems that make those problems worse." I also think of whom this profits, and I don't mean just dollar figures; though certainly that's part of it. I imagine the current administration's demands for "solving" such things involve whatever the hell Blackwater calls itself now. I'm sure soon they'll be goose-stepping through even more of our cities to bring the kind of "justice" they brought to Iraq or New Orleans where they executed whomever they wanted to; operating as legalized vigilantes whose leader has tried again and again to make sure they are beyond any bothersome legal need to pay any attention to civil rights or the Constitution.
 Hell, we're not supposed to even question why we have to risk being shot when we go to church because, according to Trump's spokesperson, that's "politicizing it."
 This "making things worse" mantra reminds me of the "good old days" where bin Laden was wanted dead or alive, but allowed to escape and then live on unmolested while American soldiers died looking for him: I can only assume on snipe hunts intended to get them killed. After all: the more chaos caused the more certain pols can climb up on the corpses and demand solutions that create more chaos. Let me remind everyone that that mass causality report was brought to you courtesy of the first Bush mis-administration who told Saddam they didn't care if Iraq invaded Kuwait, then climbed up on those corpses venting fake outrage. They even added fake baby incubator stories to drag us into creating more carnage.
 Then we have the classic: using them to distract, distract, distract... anyone notice that right after some right winger we're not supposed to call a terrorist terrorizes and commits mass murder there's someone who Trump and his ilk immediately frames as another example of how all Muslims are "terrorists?" "Politicizing?" Trump and his enablers do nothing but.

"When is this president going to condemn radical right wing terrorism?"-John Fugelsang

The "solutions to problems that make those problems worse" tactic is damn near gospel these days among humanity's worst leaders: those intent on misleading their people. Yes, that includes the Orange one.
 Stopping the carnage isn't the goal, doing what one can to make it worse is. Trump has made his name on violence and inspiring irrational hatred. He's had lots of practice. Years ago when several people of color were found innocent he was pushed for executing them anyway. In Trump's world Muslims are all potential terrorists, racists and Nazis good people. Remember the Brownshirts from history? During rallies and protests he has encouraged his own Trumpers to behave just like Brownshirts. The barely hidden message: "Continue assaulting people, driving through crowds: it creates more chaos more carnage." Donald Trump doesn't want the carnage to "stop." Donald Trump wants more of the kind of carnage that serves his purposes.
 There is a wider question here. Trump didn't invent the promise to make things better in ways that make them worse tactic. Nixon had a secret plan to end the war in Nam that was so damn secret his helped him expand the war across borders, kept it going for years. Obama offered change but deepened the flow towards corporatism. Gitmo? Torture? Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson? W.'s form of conservatism was anything but "compassionate," especially when backed up by Darth Cheney, Libby and Rove. Their "solutions" made it all worse. Might as well have called them the fathers who help give birth to huge litters of new terrorists sucking on the teets of today's conservatism. Radical right wing ideology has become the birthing bitch of terrorism. Hillary's husband ran as a leftist when he was actually more of a corporatist. We will probably never know for sure if she would have done the same: from her record as a public servant my guess is, "Yes."
 As bad as Donnie is maybe he's just the somewhat "logical" end result of "fool the public once, shame on him or her, keep fooling us and we prove too damn many of us are too damn lemming-like." If true the joke is on us: lemmings have more intelligence than us. They actually don't follow leaders over partisan cliffs.
 In regard to less historical commentary and more immediate concerns, no, the "carnage" won't "stop here." We'd better learn fast how to out frame the barrage of horrors he and his ilk will keep encouraging and keep politicizing. The blood drenched "games" have just begun.

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 2017
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all right reserved

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