The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

By the way... there's a crossword at the bottom of this page

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

For most of my life, I lived (as my peers did) in fear of the Soviet Union. The Cold War, they called it. It wasn't all that cold, though, not for the countries who were  "in the way", who could be used by one side to goad the other. During the Cold War, dictators and despots were wooed as were those that opposed them.  It was how the game was played. Over it all, the threat of nuclear annihilation loomed. Because both sides had enough nuclear weapons to destroy life on earth many times over.

Movies were made about that threat, songs were written about it, it was a part of life. The allegedly sanest of us just shoved it into the back of their minds and pretended it didn't matter. And, in a sense, it didn't. After all, there was little anyone could actually do about that threat. We were at the mercy of politicians, the leaders of both the "Free World" and the communists.

Now we face a different threat, one that will (eventually) have that same threat of nuclear annihilation hanging over our heads. This time though, I think, the threat will come in the form of fanatical extremists who glorify death; that want what we call Armageddon.

This song was one of my favorites.

And these are the words...

"Political Science"

No one likes us-I don't know why
We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try
But all around, even our old friends put us down
Let's drop the big one and see what happens

We give them money-but are they grateful?
No, they're spiteful and they're hateful
They don't respect us-so let's surprise them
We'll drop the big one and pulverize them

Asia's crowded and Europe's too old
Africa is far too hot
And Canada's too cold
And South America stole our name
Let's drop the big one
There'll be no one left to blame us

We'll save Australia
Don't wanna hurt no kangaroo
We'll build an All American amusement park there
They got surfin', too

Boom goes London and boom Paree
More room for you and more room for me
And every city the whole world round
Will just be another American town
Oh, how peaceful it will be
We'll set everybody free
You'll wear a Japanese kimono
And there'll be Italian shoes for me

They all hate us anyhow
So let's drop the big one now
Let's drop the big one now

Welcome to my world...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Danger Of Cooperation

The following is a re-print of a post from August of 2011, I think it is still relevant...

Some people don't like partisanship. Quite a few, actually. That might be the wrong position to hold.

Political partisanship can be a problem. It's difficult to reach a compromise when there is a lot of that. On the other hand, compromise is not always a good thing. I refer you to the several compromises made in the decades leading up to the Civil War as examples. The ultimate goal of these compromises was to avert the disintegration of the United States. They failed, in a sense. All they accomplished was to delay the inevitable Civil War. And that could have made the war worse than if it had happened 20 years earlier.

There are times when compromise is impossible. When it would be the same as capitulation. Principles have to be violated in order to compromise. It doesn't start out that way, of course, the idea is to give up only that which is unimportant to you while getting the opposition to give up that which is important to them. Compromise is simple if one side is weak. Compromise is hard if both sides are firm in their principles.

I read a lot of political articles and the comments they generate. The Democrats want the Republicans to go away, to disappear, or (at the very least) just not impede the goals of the Democrats. Likewise, I see Republicans advocating the end of the Democratic Party. There is no chance of compromise in that kind of environment. Any compromise would require one side to cede power to the other.

If I align with a political party, it is because that party represents the principles I strongly believe in. Why would I want that party to violate any of them? Why would I want it to cede power to the opposition? I wouldn't. Nor would the opposition.

We call that partisanship. It's actually a good thing. It is part of the foundation of our system of governance. Of any form of multi-party democratic system. It helps prevent any one ideology from getting too much power.

Dictatorships consolidate power by outlawing, or marginalizing, any opposing party. Look at China, look at the former Soviet Union, look at the rise of Mussolini and Hitler. They gained enough power to outlaw all other political parties. Before that happens, they gain control or the sympathies of the dominant part of the media. Constant repetition of the party line encourages the party in power and attracts more adherents. We are, after all, herd animals for the most part. We also like to jump on bandwagons. Watch the crowds at stadiums and political rallies swell as the teams improve their records and political candidates rise in the polls.

It is why you read and see/hear about political polls. It's akin to the advertising strategy that portrays a product as wildly popular. The more popular a product is deemed to be, the more popular it becomes. Or, as my mother used to put it... "Them that has, gets."

We do not want a single party system. We do not want one party to be wildly popular, much more popular than any opposition party. Too much power will adhere to that party.

It is better that we have constant bickering, political arguing, and even gridlock than have cooperation that leads to one party becoming dominant.

At least, that's how I see it.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Perhaps You Are Wondering...

Why I have been skipping posting from time to time. It's not because I have been busy. It's mostly because I am lazy. And I haven't had a decent (or even indecent) idea lately that would translate into a post.

That's not quite true, I distinctly recall having a good idea Tuesday evening while preparing to go to dinner with a few friends. Unfortunately, I did not write it down and I can no longer remember it. Blame it on age. Or blame it on laziness. You see, I could have taken just a moment to write it down somewhere but didn't.

And then nothing at all came to mind yesterday but I thought I might try to explain why with a post today.

I will be out playing golf today. It will be hot, sweaty, and I will probably play poorly.  That's pretty much what we put up with here in Paradise. I think back to my early youth when my family first moved to south Florida and we had no air conditioning. And I wonder how we survived the summers. Maybe it was because I was young and the heat didn't bother me as much as it does now. Maybe. In fact, I didn't like air conditioning then. Not in most places. They would set the thermostats to too low a temperature and I would get the chills. To this day, I think it made me sick.... fooling my body into thinking I had a cold because I would be in and out of the air conditioning in the bowling alley (where I hung out in my mid-teens) regularly. And the motels I hung out at had to be set at 72 which I thought was freezing at the time. Still do in a way.

I set my house thermostat to 78 degrees and it seems just fine most of the time, though it sometimes feels a little chilly.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What Border?

We are hearing (and seeing) a lot about illegal aliens these days, primarily because of these children (mostly from Central America) who have flooded across the border in the past few months.  So it's sort of "old news."  But I read something today which bothers me a bit.  Let me give you something from that article in the USA Today...

Vargas, 33, became an immigration sensation in 2011 when he revealed that he was an undocumented immigrant in an essay published in The New York Times Magazine.

Vargas was born in the Philippines and was raised in the U.S. from the age of 12. He was on a team of Washington Post journalists who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for their coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings.

Basically, this guy has been flouting our immigration laws for decades. And, since 2011, he has been known to authorities... yet, no one has detained him before? And no one has fined the Washington Post (though it is possible the Post did not know of his status). My question on that would be: Did anyone in authority even ask them about him?

From the story:
Vargas was in McAllen (Texas) to visit a shelter for undocumented children, to attend a vigil in their honor, and to raise awareness of the plight of the undocumented. Last week he wrote in Politico that he learned after he arrived in McAllen he might have a problem getting out.

So, instead of leaving in a way that might allow him egress without passing through a checkpoint, he strode through the airport intentionally...

It turns out he had been to the border before (in California) and had never had his status questioned. Well, DUH, it was California... and he was a reporter, why would anyone bother him with questions of his status?

Big mistake on his part... Apparently, though he had been in the country since he was 12 years old, he didn't grasp the idea that we have a lot of individual states and that what is okay in one may not be okay in another. That California (which has an illegal immigrant problem of some size) might ignore him, Texas might not. On the other hand, though he claimed that he didn't know they checked status at airports in Texas, he might have wanted to be "caught" in order to get some of what we used to call "newsprint" (but now mumble something about "15 minutes of fame").

I wonder what slant his raising of awareness of the illegal immigrant was taking? Was he concerned about their welfare? Did he want pictures of the conditions in which they are now living? Or was he merely exploiting them in a search for some personal attention?

Speaking of those kids, I heard someone (Bob Beckel) talk about how poorly the Central Americans were treated by some large American conglomerates. That was a long time ago. Which immediately made me wonder... If American represented such evil to them, why would they happily send their children off to that evil country? In fact, why would anyone in those countries think they would not be exploited there?

 Makes no sense to me...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thoughts On The Civil War

Forget, for the moment, that the term "civil war" is an oxymoron and let's think about the war itself.

I came across an op-ed piece in the Washington Post a few days ago that triggered some pondering. I have pondered the Civil War many times over the years... as I am sure many others have. My perspective is influenced, I think, by having lived in both the North and the South.

That bi-polar experience has taught me that many of the differences the war was fought over weren't all that real. Oh sure, the northern states had all outlawed slavery but that was not the sole issue upon which the war was fought. I have come to believe the war was really fought over the concept of a unified nation; slavery was just something to use as a recruitment tool, you might say; a cause to fight for.

When my family moved to Florida, I thought the issue that triggered the war was slavery. That was what I had been taught. But seeing the virulent racism around me in Florida changed me. The de jure segregation I saw reminded me that there was de facto segregation in my home state. The only real difference was that, in the southern states, it was written down. In the northern states, it was just assumed.

The nation, as a whole, embraced slavery at its beginnings. Slavery was legal in most of the newly formed states. Let me quote from Wikipedia:

"During and after the American Revolutionary War, between 1777 and 1804, anti-slavery laws or constitutions were passed in every state north of the Ohio River and the Mason-Dixon Line. By 1810, 75 percent of all African Americans in the North were free. By 1840, virtually all African Americans in the North were free." (emphasis mine)

Much of the impetus behind anti-slavery laws was economic-driven. That is, as the northern states turned away from an agrarian culture, the need to employ slaves waned. The southern states retained an agrarian culture and, therefore, thought they needed slavery to prosper.

I have come to believe that our Civil War was really fought over the concept of union as a nation; a concept that said the states were merely a part of a nation, not nations in and of themselves. In the early years of the country, people tended to think of themselves in terms of the state they lived in (and, most likely, born in); they were Kentuckians, Tennesseans, Ohioans, New Yorkers, and so on. As the northern states evolved into less agrarian cultures and more urban, they began to see themselves as more enlightened, more advanced. They began to look down on those who had stayed agrarian. This doesn't breed amity but does breed enmity.

I think civil war was inevitable as a part of our evolution.  Not because of the rightness of the anti-slavery movement but because we had regions that were diverse and because of our self-images as members, citizens, of sovereign states. We needed to resolve that issue and war was bound to be the method, as it so often is.