Sunday, July 31, 2016

Poetry Sunday

Today being the last day of July, I thought this poem by Louis Jenkins might be appropriate ...


Temperature in the upper seventies, a bit of a breeze. Great
cumulus clouds pass slowly through the summer sky like
parade floats. And the slender grasses gather round you,
pressing forward, with exaggerated deference, whispering,
eager to catch a glimpse. It’s your party after all. And it couldn’t
be more perfect. Yet there’s a nagging thought: you don’t really
deserve all this attention, and that come October, there will be
a price to pay.

It's been a while since the temperature was in the upper seventies - we haven't gotten out of the upper nineties here in NoVa for the whole last week. But I'm pretty sure that Mr Jenkins has nailed the fact that we'll pay a price for all this heat in a few months, when we trade heat domes for polar vortices ...


As a reminder (assuming you remember my comment in this space back on July 18th), today marks the end of Poetry Sunday and Musical Monday as individual features here at Bilbo's place. Tomorrow will be a regular post, and next Sunday, the previous Musical Monday feature will slide back one day and alternate with poetry selections in a new weekly post I'm calling ... well ... I'm not sure yet what I'm calling it. I'll let you know. In the meantime, if you have a suggestion, I'm open for it.

Have a good day. More thoughts (without musical accompaniment) tomorrow.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Cartoon Saturday

Well, both of the major parties have now concluded their conventions, and those who think Trump is a boorish and unqualified charlatan and those who think Hillary Clinton is a lying traitor have had their preconceived notions validated and are ready to move on to the next three months of screaming past each other. In other news ...

A 14 year-old girl in India has died after being raped for the second time by the same man, who was on bail awaiting trial for the first assault; the $13 billion USS Gerald Ford, the Navy's newest aircraft carrier, has failed critical operational tests and will not be ready to join the fleet in September of this year as scheduled; an 86 year-old priest was murdered in France by two men identified by the so-called "Islamic State," or "daesh," as it's "soldiers;" FBI Director James Comey predicts that the crushing of the so-called "Islamic State" in Syria and Iraq will produce a "terrorist we've never seen before;" and in Morocco, a seven year-old girl visiting a zoo in Rabat was killed when she was struck by a rock thrown by ... an elephant.

This week's set of cartoons has no unifying theme* ... just a selection randomly chosen from my collection.

I think this one is A-OK ...

Something to consider if I ever get around to writing my book ...

I'm not sure I would admit that ...

If you find out where this is, let me know ...

We've had the GOP and the Democrats, why not these guys? ...

I don't think I'd have waited quite this long ...

True dat ...

He must have one of those Cadillac health plans everybody talks about ...

Looks like business is ... uh ... booming ...

The average single-issue voter ...

And that's your final cartoon fix for the month. You know you needed it.

It's been a beastly hot week here in NoVa, and it's not cooling off much over the weekend. I'd like to be able to work in the yard, but I think the salt in the sweat pouring off me would kill the grass. I guess I'll do inside chores, instead. It's about time once again to back up a dumpster to my study window and start purging.

Have a good day and a great weekend. See you tomorrow for Poetry Sunday ... more thoughts then.


* Sort of like the platforms of the GOP and the Democrats.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The On-Crack Ass Clown for July, 2016

July is one of those months in which we have not two, but three Fridays to dedicate to dishonoring individuals worthy of our Ass Clown awards, and so as we crawl panting and gasping into the final Friday of the month, it's time to announce that - for the only the third time in the history of this award - we have a dual award for the

On-Crack Ass Clown for July, 2016

The award goes first to

Democratic National Committee Chair
Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Ms Wasserman Schultz is a Democratic Representative from Florida's 23rd congressional district, and also served as the chair of the Democratic National Committee until she resigned this past week after Wikileaks released internal DNC e-mails that indicate the national committee conspired to undermine the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders. She was already in trouble with the larger Democratic party because of her perceived shortcomings as a fund-raiser, tendency to appoint personal aides to positions of authority in the party, prioritizing loyalty over competence, and ineffectiveness as a spokesperson on the national stage.

Ms Wasserman Schultz had become a serious liability to the Democrats, who had hoped to run a smooth and issue-focused convention as a contrast to the angry and chaotic GOP conclave, and so she had to go.

For singlehandedly throwing the Democratic convention into turmoil, handing the Republicans a golden opportunity to deflect attention away from the dumpster fire of their own convention, and providing an opportunity for the GOP to deflect attention from the glaring shortcomings of their chosen candidate, Florida Representative and DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is named co-winner of our On-Crack Ass Clown award for July, 2016.

But wait, there's more!

The co-winner of our On-Crack Ass Clown Award for July, 2016, has already won this award four times in the last six years -

GOP Presidential Candidate
Donald Trump

Earlier this week, Mr Trump invited Russia to meddle in the US election by releasing missing e-mails he assumes they stole from Secretary Clinton's e-mail server. What he said was this:

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing ... I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Now it's true that Mr Trump did not actually ask Russia to hack US computers, as has been alleged. And he later tried to explain his behavior away by saying he'd simply been sarcastic. But he wants to be president, and presidents can't just fire off the first things that come into their minds, calling their judgement and fitness for high office into question.

For yet another example of the thoughtless and unprofessional behavior that has demonstrates his complete lack of qualification to be president, Donald Trump is named - for the fifth time - co-winner of the On-Crack Ass Clown award for July 2016.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for our final Cartoon Saturday of July.

More thoughts then.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Saving Social Security

This, 2016, is the year I officially became a retiree. I rather like it ... I still get up fairly early on most days, but it's because I want to, not because I have to. It's nice to be able to plan travel on short notice, without worrying about work schedules or the number of vacation hours I have available. And I enjoy having the time to do the things I enjoy doing, like reading and working in the yard and my garden (when it's not too beastly hot, anyway).

Of course, there are downsides to all this, as my fellow retirees will understand. Navigating the rocky shoals of affordable health care* is one, and worrying about our long-term cash flow is another. I've been retired for about three and a half months now, and we're still getting used to the idea of adjusting our lifestyle to our reduced circumstances under the watchful eye of our financial advisor, but at least we're paying the bills and eating regularly, haven't gotten sick, and the mortgage company hasn't put us out in the street. Yet. My military pension, 401k, and our investments are all supporting us so far, at least until the next time Congress does something stupid ... like screwing around with the last part of our financial net - Social Security.

Here's what the 2016 GOP Platform has to say on that topic:

"We reject the old maxim that Social Security is the “Third Rail” of American politics, deadly for anyone who would change it. The Democratic Party still treats it that way, even though everyone knows that its current course will lead to a financial and social disaster. Younger Americans have lost all faith in the program and expect little return for what they are paying into it. As the party of America’s future, we accept the responsibility to preserve and modernize a system of retirement security forged in an old industrial era beyond the memory of most Americans. Current retirees and those close to retirement can be assured of their benefits. Of the many reforms being proposed, all options should be considered to preserve Social Security. As Republicans, we oppose tax increases and believe in the power of markets to create wealth and to help secure the future of our Social Security system. Saving Social Security is more than a challenge. It is our moral obligation to those who trusted in the government’s word."**

And here's what the 2016 Democratic Platform has to say about Social Security:

Democrats are proud to be the party that created Social Security, one of the nation’s most successful and effective programs. Without Social Security, nearly half of America’s seniors would be living in poverty. Social Security is more than just a retirement program. It also provides important life insurance to young survivors of deceased workers and provides disability insurance protection. We will fight every effort to cut, privatize, or weaken Social Security, including attempts to raise the retirement age, diminish benefits by cutting cost-of-living adjustments, or reducing earned benefits. Democrats will expand Social Security so that every American can retire with dignity and respect, including women who are widowed or took time out of the workforce to care for their children, aging parents, or ailing family members. The Democratic Party recognizes that the way Social Security cost-of- living adjustments are calculated may not always reflect the spending patterns of seniors, particularly the disproportionate amount they spend on health care expenses. We are committed to exploring alternatives that could better and more equitably serve seniors.

We will make sure Social Security’s guaranteed benefits continue for generations to come by asking those at the top to pay more, and will achieve this goal by taxing some of the income of people above $250,000. The Democratic Party is also committed to providing all necessary financial support for the Social Security Administration so that it can provide timely benefits and high-quality service for those it serves. Our plan contrasts starkly with Donald Trump. He has referred to Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme” and has called for privatizing it as well as increasing the retirement age.***

I have problems with how both parties are approaching the problems of Social Security and the needs of the aging population.

The GOP position contains a number of scary words, such as "preserve and modernize" and "we ... believe in the power of markets to create wealth." These are not policy prescriptions, and are merely boilerplate political blather ... although you might want to consider just how much wealth have those markets have created for you before you trust in their power to protect you in your old age ... Agnes and I and millions of other Americans still haven't recovered from the financial bath we took in the market collapse of 2008.

And I suggest that references to the "old industrial era" in which the Social Security system was created have no bearing whatsoever on the issue. Social Security was created in order to provide a safety net for all working people, particularly those in the lower working classes whose salaries didn't provide enough income to save or to invest for a time when they could no longer work ... a concern as valid today as it was in the 1930s. Here's what President Franklin Roosevelt said at the signing of the Social Security Act in 1935 -

"We can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age."

The Democratic platform contains the same political boilerplate, but focuses more on what the party won't do to fix the underlying problems, and mentions only one policy prescription - raising revenue by taxing part of incomes over $250,000.

There's no doubt that the Social Security trust fund is in trouble and that some sort of action needs to be taken ... you can read the Trustee's Report Summary yourself to get the bad news. There are a number of reasons for this, and the biggest is demographic: the population is getting older, more people are retiring, and fewer young people are entering the workforce to pay the taxes to keep it going.

But the picture is not all bleak - there are a lot of things the federal government can do to shore up the Social Security program, not all of them popular or, in the current environment, politically doable. This Motley Fool article provides a good summary of what we might be able to do with sufficient political will and a heretofore unseen willingness of Republicans and Democrats to work together and make hard choices.

Social Security is one of the best programs the federal government ever devised to help Real People, particularly those at the bottom of the economic pile. It's not the "social disaster" painted by the GOP, but an important part of the lives of millions of people. It needs to be fixed, but the fixes need to be economically sound, not driven by political theories, and take into account how critical the program is to so many people.

In politics as in medicine, the Hippocratic Oath needs to apply: "First, do no harm." ††

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* We'll talk about this in another post.

** Republican Platform 2016, undated, pp 24-25.

*** 2016 Democratic Party Platform, July 21, 2016, page 6.

† There's a lot of misinformation out there about Social Security, a number of which are addressed in a two-part web presentation, "Myths and Misconceptions about Social Security, which you can read at the Social Security website here and here.

†† Yes, I know that's not what the Hippocratic Oath actually says, but it's what it implies when you squint and cock your head to one side.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Scruffy Hospitality

Agnes and I enjoy entertaining, but it's not always easy or enjoyable to get ready for the arrival of guests. The house has to be tidied up, the bathrooms cleaned, the worst of the junk put away, etc, etc. But that said, we're relatively laid back about it ... we have friends who believe their homes must be completely spotless before guests arrive, in case someone should need open heart surgery between dinner courses, perhaps. We just move most of the unsightly stuff into my study or the guest bedroom and close the door.

As you can imagine, I was thrilled to run across a reference earlier this month to the concept of Scruffy Hospitality.

Scruffy Hospitality is the style encouraged by Anglican priest Jack King in his blog Knox Priest, and he defines it this way -

"Scruffy hospitality means you’re not waiting for everything in your house to be in order before you host and serve friends in your home. Scruffy hospitality means you hunger more for good conversation and serving a simple meal of what you have, not what you don’t have. Scruffy hospitality means you’re more interested in quality conversation than the impression your home or lawn makes. If we only share meals with friends when we’re excellent, we aren’t truly sharing life together."

I like this idea. There's an old Pennsylvania Dutch saying that a home should be clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy, and if we're happy, our friends should be, too. This doesn't mean, of course, that we should invite people to come to a home that looks like the aftermath of a category 5 tornado, but that we should invest more time in the guests than in the preparation.

I think scruffy hospitality is the way to go. If you're in our area, come by and we'll try it out. Just don't look in the study or the guest bedroom*.

Have a good day. More scruffy thoughts tomorrow.


* Our equivalent of Fibber McGee's closet.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Constitutional Heresy

Let us begin, Dear Readers, with these stirring words from the preamble to the Republican Platform 2016 -

"We believe the Constitution was written not as a flexible document, but as our enduring covenant."

With all due respect to those who view the Constitution as Muslims view the Quran - that it is absolutely true and perfect in every detail - I think you're wrong.

I'm getting ready to lay out the heretical case for updating the Constitution, so if you are one of those people whose heads explode at the very thought of tinkering with The Most Perfect Document Ever Devised By Man*, you may want to read something else. But if you are willing to consider some alternatives to the belief that the Founders delivered the Constitution like Moses coming down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments, read on.

First of all, consider this: if the Constitution were not written to allow some flexibility and adaptiveness to changing times, why did the Founders make provisions for its amendment (Article V)? The amendment process was made cumbersome and difficult to discourage frivolous changes (such as amendments to outlaw flag-burning or to define marriage according to religious dictates), but it nevertheless reflects the Founders' understanding that the United States would grow, develop, and change over time, and that the Constitution would need to be able to evolve with it.

Now, consider the issue of "states' rights." Leaving aside for a moment the politically and racially-charged interpretations of the term, let's look back at the document the Constitution replaced: the Articles of Confederation. Here's what Article II says -

"Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled."

This is echoed in somewhat watered-down tone in the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, which says -

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

This reflects the delicate balance the Founders struck between the Federalists, who believed a strong central government was necessary to hold the country together, and the Anti-Federalists, who wanted to centralize power at the state and local level. The Federalists won the day, more or less, because the experience of trying to mold thirteen squabbling, quasi-independent states into a single nation required establishment of a government that could force them into some semblance of united action at the national level. We see the end result of the Anti-Federalist influence today, in the form of 50 states with a patchwork of uncoordinated and often conflicting laws and regulations that frequently inhibit interstate commerce and sow confusion in national decision making ... consider the wide variety of state laws governing elections as one example. Should we rethink the division of power between the federal government and the states? It's worth discussing.

And while we're at it, how are powers reserved "to the people?" Individual states have governments that can assume powers, but how do "the people" take on and execute powers of government?** And who are "the people," anyhow? Citizens? White citizens? Christians? It depends on who you ask, and the Constitution doesn't seem to be too clear on it.

Of particular interest in an election year, the Constitution does not allow for the direct popular election of the President, but rather by the electors of each state (Article II, Section 1, as modified by the 12th Amendment). This arrangement was created by the Founders because they didn't completely trust in the wisdom of "the people," and wanted to ensure that the nation was not governed by a tyranny of the majority. Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 68 that

"The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications." ***

Is this still a valid concern? Should the Constitution be revised or amended to provide for direct popular election? I don't know, but the question comes up every four years, and is probably worth debating.

The First Amendment says that Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech ... but are campaign contributions "speech?" It also says Congress shall make no law "respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," but is limiting the rights of one person because of the religious beliefs of another allowable under the Constitution?

The Fourth Amendment guarantees "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." What is an unreasonable search in an era of signals intelligence, GPS tracking, warrantless wiretaps, data mining, and imaging drones?

As long as we're making hamburger out of sacred cows, how about rethinking the Second Amendment? The amendment as written is confusing in one part (what does "a well-regulated militia being necessary" mean, anyhow?) and perfectly clear in another ("shall not be abridged"), and the courts that conservatives hate so much have come down fairly consistently on the most generous interpretation of the language. Political and social pressures combine to make any discussion of limiting gun rights all but impossible, but there is precedent for amending amendments - consider that the Eighteenth Amendment established Prohibition as part of the supreme law of the land (the Constitution), but the Twenty-First Amendment repealed it just 13 years later ... recognition that Prohibition might not have been a good idea after all. One of my more conservative friends recently commented on Facebook that the way to approach "gun control" would be to propose a Constitutional amendment and work through the amendment process to see if it could get enough support to be adopted. This is, of course, the right way to do it ... but in the America of 2016, where there are more guns than people, Congress has gone so far as to specifically forbid even the study of gun violence as a public health issue, and the gun lobby views any discussion in apocalyptic terms, it's not likely to get off the ground. You might as well get used to kevlar as a fashion accessory and active shooter drills as part of the education of our children.

I think it's time to recognize that it's 2016, not 1789, and call a new Constitutional Convention to update our founding document. Unfortunately, the times are such that it would probably be impossible to gather a group of well-informed, thoughtful citizens willing to calmly discuss issues of such critical importance ...

But compared to some of my other fantasies††, I think it's worth a try.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Well, except for those parts about slavery that were in the original.

** Yes, yes, I know ... by voting to elect the government that exercises the power on their behalf. But that's not quite what the Tenth Amendment says, is it?

*** I wonder what he would make of Donald Trump.

† From the gun advocates' perspective, anyway.

†† Trust me, you don't want to know.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Musical Monday

Back in the day, my favorite musical group was Gary Lewis and the Playboys, and one of my favorite Gary Lewis songs was this one ...

I thought perhaps it could be a good GOP theme song for the upcoming election ... but then I don't want to smear the memory of this great group, and the Trump campaign has enough trouble with artists who don't want them using their music.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Poetry Sunday

In last Thursday's post, I ruminated on the decline of manners and the bizarre idea in some quarters that the members of a society must be packing heat to be polite. It reminded me of this poem by Elizabeth Bishop ...


For a child of 1918
My grandfather said to me
as we sat on the wagon seat,
"Be sure to remember to always
speak, to everyone you meet."
We met a stranger on foot.
My grandfather’s whip tapped his hat.
"Good day, sir. Good day. A fine day.”
And I said it and bowed where I sat.
Then we overtook a boy we knew
with his big pet crow on his shoulder.
"Always offer everyone a ride;
don’t forget that when you get older,”
my grandfather said. So Willy
climbed up with us, but the crow
gave a "Caw!" and flew off I was worried.
How would he know where to go?
But he flew a little way at a time
from fence post to fence post, ahead;
and when Willy whistled he answered.
“A fine bird,” my grandfather said,
“and he’s well brought up. See, he answers
nicely when he’s spoken to.
Man or beast, that’s good manners.
Be sure that you both always do.”
When automobiles went by,
the dust hid the people faces,
but we shouted ”Good day! Good day!
Fine day!” at the top of our voices.
When we came to Hustler Hill,
he said that the mare was tired,
so we all got down and walked,
as our good manners required.

The Golden Rule still applies, even in the age of Trump. Try it, you'll like it.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Cartoon Saturday

As the old movie title would tell us, it's a mad, mad, mad, mad world ...

Senator Ted Cruz was booed off the stage at the Republican National Convention for refusing to endorse Donald Trump for president; a British nuclear submarine was damaged in a "glancing collision" with a merchant vessel; nine people were murdered in a suspected terror attack at a shopping center in Munich, Germany; religious authorities in Saudi Arabia have issued a fatwa (religious decree) against Pokemon Go, declaring that the popular game is "un-Islamic" ... the Saudi government has denied that a fatwa has been issued, although a general anti-Pokemon fatwa (#21758) was issued 15 years ago, and still appears on the list of fatwas at the clerical website; and Russian athletes may be banned altogether from the Rio Olympics next month as a result of a huge doping scandal.

We need something to take our minds off the misery, so this week, let's get with some physical activity and check out a collection of cartoons related to sports of all kinds ...

The rules keep evolving ...

Designated gondoleer ...

Signals need to be clear and unambiguous to be useful ...

They also need to cover all the important messages that might be sent ...

It's probably time to update the old songs ...

How to get the fighter really angry ...

Galley slaves, 2016 ...

Yes, that would be me ...

Well, yes ... yes he does ...

Baseball is a game of statistics, some more useful than others ...

And it's the weekend. At least here in NoVa, it's much too hot to play baseball, or pretty much anything else, outside, so it's a good day to catch up on housecleaning, binge-watch your favorite show, or whatever.

Have a good day and a great weekend, drink lots of water, stay cool, and come back tomorrow for Poetry Sunday.

More thoughts then.


Friday, July 22, 2016

Great Moments in Editing and Signage

Yes, Dear Readers, it's that time again - when we celebrate some of the stranger moments in questionable editing and weird (sometimes even intentionally bizarre) signage. This week, we're featuring signs dealing with meat and fish, so let's get right to it ...

Today's militant Evangelicals can't be too careful when selecting their entrees ...

Be sure to defrost before wearing ...

It works for me, too ...

I think I'll pass ...

When you need a sandwich for a formal occasion ...

I don't need that much turkey, either, but it is an election year ...

Probably a little hard on the teeth ...

I hope they're cheap ...

I think it will need to be cooked for a long time ...

Reverend Hannibal Lecter, presiding ...

And there you've managed to get to the meat of the issue.

Have a good day, and come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday. More thoughts then.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

What Constitutes A Polite Society?

You've almost certainly heard this famous quote from the story "Beyond This Horizon" by science fiction author Ray Bradbury ...

"An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life."

There's been some discussion over exactly what Bradbury meant to say with this line in the context of the story, but there's no doubt at all that it is taken at face value by present-day gun rights advocates, particularly those who support the right to carry firearms, openly or concealed, at all times and in all places. In a 2000 essay titled "Armed Citizens are Responsible Citizens," William Levinson wrote,

     "The common perception is that armed societies were polite because an act of rudeness might evolve into a duel, as portrayed in Dumas' The Three Musketeers. The real reason, though, is the mindset and psychology that come with responsible weapon ownership [emphasis in the original]. The knight's sword was a symbol of his duty to protect weaker members of society and behave chivalrously, e.g. with respect and courtesy to women, elderly people, and so on. The sword was the soul of the Japanese samurai, a constant reminder of the samurai's duty and code of behavior. The sword was a symbol of taking responsibility, not only for one's self, but usually for others. 
     "The modern American who buys a firearm for self-protection is saying, "I recognize that life involves danger, and by owning a weapon I accept my responsibility to protect myself and those who are entitled to my protection-- my wife/husband, children, parents, and perhaps friends and neighbors."

The events of the last few weeks lead me to question Mr Levinson's concept of "the mindset and psychology that come with responsible gun ownership" because responsibility is something that nowadays plays second fiddle to freedom. I would argue that it is not responsible to openly carry a weapon into a volatile situation where violence might break out at any time ... the responsible thing to do would be to avoid such a situation if at all possible, or at least to not take actions that might make it worse. Comparing an open-carry advocate to a chivalrous knight or a samurai seems a bit of a stretch.

Obviously, advocates of gun ownership and ostentatious open carry would disagree.

But the issue is, to me, not one of whether or not packing heat everywhere is a good idea ... although I don't think it is. The issue is what makes a society polite.

I grew up in a time in which people in general were much more polite and respectful toward one another than they are today. My parents and the parents of most of my friends placed a great deal of emphasis on personal probity and good manners, and raised us to do the same. Nowadays, it seems that civility and good manners are considered marks of weakness. You don't build "street cred" by being polite ... you build it by getting in everyone's face. One need only look at the behavior of Donald Trump to see how low our standards of personal decorum have dropped.

In his 1998 book Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy, Stephen L. Carter wrote that

"Civility requires that we express ourselves in ways that demonstrate our respect for others."

 Good luck finding that civility in the current overheated presidential campaign, where respectful and polite discourse vanished long ago. We are preparing to choose a president based on our relative evaluation of the brutal ad hominem attacks that have taken the place of detailed discussion of important issues of policy.

In a polite society, people strongly disagree with each other, but treat each other with dignity and respect. We can dislike the ideas but be civil toward the person expressing them. No more.

I have been accused of hypocrisy on this topic because, while advocating civility and politeness, I present my Ass Clown awards in this blog. While my intent is not mean-spirited, the presentation of such an award isn't especially civil, and perhaps I should work toward morphing those awards into something more satirically pointed and less vulgar. I guess I'll work on that.

But to get back to my original point, from which I think I've wandered ... let me just wrap this up by suggesting that if we need to pack heat to enforce politeness, we're screwed. We just need to treat each other better. We need people to show that they're of a better ... caliber.

Have a good day. See you tomorrow for our second July iteration of Great Moments in Editing and Signage. More thoughts then.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The "Lighter" Side of Campaign 2016

The ongoing circus of the 2016 presidential campaign is depressing to everyone except, of course, comedians and cartoonists. Here are a few of the better election-related bits I've collected so far ...

 I feel the same way ...

I think I've found my candidate ...

One of the untold stories of the Constitutional Convention ...

How about considering a few of the alternative candidates? ...

True dat ...

Every day it sounds like more and more of a plan ...

Finally, here's the suggestion I heartily endorse for improving the quality of this year's campaign, not that it has the least chance of being adopted ...

And there's still three and a half months to go until the election. Oy.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.