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The Expansionist
Thursday, April 20, 2017
 
Making Lite of Drugs
Today is "420 Day", a celebration of marijuana by antisocial morons. Such celebrations should be punished with extreme severity. Some 50,000 Americans DIE from drugs each year, yet media entertainers and newscasters are constantly making jokes about drugs, as tho absolutely no harm has ever resulted from drug use, and marijuana is, if anything, GOOD for people, even if it is indisputably a "gateway drug" that leads people to think that all drugs are at worst harmless and at best actually beneficial.
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An antidrug Public Service Announcement being broadcast now shows a teenage girl saying "Prescription drugs aren't as bad as street drugs, right?" Altho the scene is scripted, the question is indeed the kind of thing that scores of millions of Americans are now asking, or believing without saying aloud. Enormous confusion has resulted from the mixed messages that society is constantly sending out, as thru legalizing marijuana. Entertainers who joke about ALL drugs contribute mightily to the insane misperception that all drugs are harmless. Nothing could be further from the truth.
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Most people are profoundly simpleminded. They can't make distinctions between one thing and another on their own, but tend to generalize, lumping together things that do not belong together. Gone is the concept of "The Golden Mean", and the maxim "all things in moderation" does not apply to drug use. There is no moderate use of heroin, and minor or "moderate" use of many drugs, definitely including marijuana, distorts people's perceptions and erodes their ability to know when enuf turns to too much. Then the substances in the drugs they use might alter the very operations of their brains. So there may be no safe level of use of ANY reality-distorting drug, precisely because it DOES alter perceptions, esp. in some individuals who are more susceptible than most..
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American society has been sapped of energy and perseverance by the huge expansion of marijuana use. Millions of people who should be focusing on their education and current job, and preparing for a better job, prefer not to think about any of that. They do slipshod work, possibly near dangerous equipment. Many can't even wait until they get home after work to smoke or eat "weed", but do so during breaks. Unknowable numbers of people DRIVE or operate dangerous machinery in the workplace under the influence of marijuana, but we don't have a breathalizer for marijuana use to test people involved in accidents. Multitudinous Americans are becoming unfit for work by virtue of being partly or wholly zonked-out on "pot". How are American pot-heads supposed to compete against hardworking, non-drug-using Chinese and other workers in the countries that threaten to destroy our economy? Answer: American pot-heads CANNOT compete against people who work "clean".
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The greatest harm to individuals from marijuana is the loss of ambition and initiative, such that in many cases people lose YEARS of their lives to drifting aimlessly. Then one day, at age 45, they wake up in their parents' basement, to get ready for a menial job delivering pizzas. They can't get a better job because they dropped out of college, or even high school, because they got lost in a haze of marijuana smoke. Altho that may serve them right, it does not serve their parents right. All the hopeful expectations they had of their child were destroyed by drugs — and often not just marijuana, esp. if the 'friends' they make while under the influence of marijuana, urge them to try other drugs too. This is why marijuana IS a "gateway drug", because it makes naive people distrust medical and Governmental warnings NOT to experiment with drugs. "That's what they said about marijuana, but marijuana never did me any harm" — meaning that use of marijuana did not KILL them.
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Statistics about marijuana smokers' moving on to harder drugs are extremely fuzzy, with words like "most" do not move on to ever more dangerous drugs, rather than hard figures. Still, there are studies that do show an inclination of marijuana users to experiment with other drugs. Part of the problem is that people LIE about drug use, so "studies" can include only people who admit to such drug use or who have been caught using drugs.
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There is a universally known expression we all need to bear in mind when considering whether marijuana is hazardous to health, educational success, financial achievement, and other long-term aspects of life: "Better safe than sorry." The consequences can be so dire that the 'benefits' are not remotely worth the risks.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
 
Prove Something, or Let Go of the Russian Bugaboo
Rachel Maddow has an apparently insane fixation on trivial 'Russian interference' in the 2016 Presidential election. UNLESS someone can prove that Russians invaded voting machines or boards of elections to CHANGE voting statistics, nothing else mentioned amounts to a hill of beans. As I have said here before, revealing Clinton-campaign emails amounts, qualitatively, to NOTHING MORE than would a full-page ad in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and a handful of other major newspapers. It was just information. Information is not subversion. It is not sabotage. It is not interference in our election. All it is, is information. And perhaps a bit of argumentation, tho the information released about the Clinton campaign by Russian hackers, WikiLeaks, etc., didn't even include argumenttion, as for instance saying "You need to vote for Donald Trump because of X, Y, and Z revealed in these emails." It was just bare email text.
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For all the Russian Government or WikiLeaks knew, Americans might have reacted FAVORABLY to what they learned from the Clinton campaign's emails. That is to say that the information releases could have impelled Hillary into a landslide victory. But you have never heard that in this public discussion, have you? Why not? I haven't even seen proof that the leaked emails had ANY EFFECT on voting whatsoever.
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The issue is PHONY. Russia and WikiLeaks did NOT "interfere in our election". They selectively released apparently genuine emails from members of the Clinton campaign. That is all. If that is NOT all, if the Russians actually hacked into boards of elections to change vote totals, or in any other way actually altered the DATA of the vote, TELL US THAT, and PROVE it. If you have no such proof because no such thing happened, SHUT UP about Russian "interference" in the election, and find a GENUINE, DEFENSIBLE issue to crusade on.
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You want an issue? How about CORRUPTION, all the manifest and potential conflicts of interest by Trump, his family, and other members of his Administration. That is, um, "uge"!
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How about Trump's betraying campaign promises? That, too, is "uge".
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Democrats, Liberals (and the evasive euphemism "Progressives"), Libertarians, moderate Republicans, Independents, and watchdogs on possible corruption, should all unite in sounding the alarm over the role of MONEY in Government. Oddly, Rachel Maddow today raised the issue of contributions of $1 million (or even more?) from each of some 45 super-rich individuals and corporations to events surrounding the Trump inauguration. But Maddow did NOT say that such contributions were obvious BRIBES for favors from the Trump Administration, at least for ACCESS to the President himself, his family, or highly placed members of his Administration. Who gives a million dollars to anyone without expecting something in return?
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That is a genuine scandal. Land hard on that, Ms. Maddow and everyone else concerned about the wrongheadedness of the Trump Administration. Investigate to see exactly what those donors have already gotten and stand to get in the future from their well-placed largesse. Raise a stink about how much good those $45 million in donations to a one-day celebration in Washington could have done for actual good works across the Nation: food pantries; Meals on Wheels and housekeeping aid to shut-ins; tutors for struggling public-school pupils; prosthetics for adults and children who have lost limbs to accidents, war, and disease; hearing aids and sign-language teaching for deaf children, their families and teachers; and a thousand other good causes — NOT including medical research, because $45 million is unlikely to produce any breakthru of consequence with regard to any major disease. All possible results of medical research are iffy. The other things I mention, however, speak to demonstrably beneficial impacts that $45 million could actually have on the lives of tens of thousands of people, not in a single day of partying but on things that will make a difference for years, even an entire lifetime.
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So, Ms. Maddow, PUT UP some actual PROOF of "meddling" by Russia in the 2016 election, or SHUT UP. Follow the money that seems to be seeping into private pockets in the Trump Administration. Reveal appearances of impropriety and find out if they are realities, more than just appearances. Let go of spurious and actually ludicrious accusations of "Russian meddling", and find something else to talk about. The public is very tired of all this Russia nonsense. We don't want to hear ONE MORE WORD unless you can PROVE that Putin changed vote totals as to swing the election fraudulently away from Clinton to Trump. Not ONE MORE WORD.

Friday, April 14, 2017
 
We Need a Federal Police Academy
This post has been extensively revised since I first uploaded it.

Every couple of days, Americans see, on network TV news, videos of appalling and infuriating misbehavior by police, all over the country, in big cities and small towns. The proliferation of dashcams and body cameras among police departments, and cellfone videos among citizen observers around the Nation, has produced massive visual proof of commonplace but nonetheless outrageous wrongdoing by police, who should have known that their misdeeds would be captured on video, but who were somehow not deterred from such behavior, perhaps because they are abysmally STUPID.
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We instituted use of dashcams and bodycams on police in large part to deter misdeeds, more than just to provide courts with proof of misdeeds by the people the police approached. Such technologies were to be evenhanded, unbiased aids to justice, in condemning miscreants on both sides of the badge. Cops were to regard cameras as backups for their intuitions and actions, but they immediately jumped to assume that cameras could catch them up in unlawful abuses, so the testimony of such cameras was quickly understood to be impossible to deny. Smart cops understood that they needed always to be 'seen' as doing the right thing. Good cops had nothing to fear. Bad cops had everything to fear.
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It is plain to me that we need EVERY SINGLE POLICE OFFICER in this country (and many private security guards who stand-in for police in schools, shopping malls, and such) to be trained in a SINGLE, FEDERAL police academy. I don't care if the typical class comprises 27 people or 27-hundred, or even 27 THOUSAND. We just need to have a uniform standard, teaching best-practices, for ALL police officers at every level of government, from the tiniest town to the largest city to an entire State Police department, to ICE, the FBI, and every other Federal law-enforcement operation.
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We could establish an Academy with several branches, but I think it would be much better to have a single Academy, in a single location, so that everyone being trained at the same time could interact with other people, from other parts of the country, which would help them to understand that each of them is an integral and indispensable part of a NATIONAL police force. Between classes, they would interact with people from other places, with other attitudes, and learn from those personal interactions more than just from the classroom and field trips, what police work, and community interaction, are supposed to be.
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I even have a location to suggest for such an Academy, my own magnificent city, Newark, New Jersey, a perfect mix of big-city and semi-suburban environments, with a population about 50/50 white-black. Newark has extensive suburbs, in a metropolitan area of about 2 million people, so in less than half a day, cadets could move from hardcore urban to relaxed suburban areas. In regard to farther-afield field trips, Newark is located pretty much at the center of Megalopolis, the enormous concentration of cities and suburbs stretching from Boston on the north to Washington, DC on the south. Within a single day, cadets could be not just in Newark, a city with its own serious law-enforcement challenges, but also Jersey City, Trenton, Camden, Atlantic City, all in New Jersey, plus Philadelphia, close-in, and New York City, the Nation's greatest city, with all its problems. Newark has one of the world's greatest airports, with flites to pretty much the entire planet, so if the Academy thought it instructive to compare law enforcement in other countries, field trips could be made to London, Paris, Cape Town, Mumbai, Singapore, Shanghai, Tokyo, you-name-it, all within a short drive from the Academy to EWR (the world-known code for Newark International Airport).
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Everyone in this country, and visiting this country from abroad (many of whom would not understand how things like civil rights could differ from one location to another in the same country) should be able to TRUST that, wherever they might go in the United States, they will be treated fairly, in accord with uniform standards, by every single police officer they encounter. Every single one.
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So let us bring it on, a United States Police Academy — USPA ("U.S.P.A.", said as separate letters), all the way. Any police officer anywhere in the Nation who misbehaves brings shame upon every other officer, everywhere in the Nation. It's time for no officer to bring shame to any officer, anywhere in the Nation. Everyone who offers him- or herself for service in a police (or sheriff's, or whatever) department must accept the burden of being an exemplar for ALL police officers EVERYWHERE. A Federal Police Academy could professionalize the policing occupation, form bonds of camaraderie and affection between people of multitudinous localities, and ensure that the police of every part of this country really do "Protect and Serve" all the people.
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A student's progress, or lack thereof, would give authorities a chance to head off possible future problems, by empowering mental-health professionals to intervene well in time to prevent people who should not be in a position of lethal authority from getting anywhere near such authority. That would include profoundly STUPID people, who should never be in a position of authority over ANYone. A cadet who sets off alarms should be told of the Academy's concerns snd adamantly offered help. Such an interview might well reveal serious psychological issues that would need to be addressed before that candidate is ever given a gun. That would clearly be in the best interest not just of society but also of the troubled individual whose potentially tragic life course could be altered. Plainly, current recruitment and training programs for police officers do not do any such work in eliminating troubled individuals or getting them the help they need.

Thursday, April 13, 2017
 
Never Too Many Betrayals
Donald Trump has 'changed his mind' about more issues he ran on. Right. No. He didn't change his mind. He LIED. But his core supporters will NEVER TIRE of being LIED TO. Don't they have ANY respect for themselves? Apparently not.
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In the past two weeks, Trump has changed his stance on Communist China. During the campaign, he accused China of RAPE of American workers, and being the world's worst currency manipulator, which helped it compete unfairly against us. Now, however, Trump is absolutely silent on that "rape" and says that China has stopped manipulating currencies So will Trump now co-conspire with Communist China in raping American workers?
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Trump also changed his stance on NATO. He said during the campaign that NATO was "obsolete", and that he might NOT automatically defend every NATO member if it is attacked by, for instance, Russia. But now he says NATO is (no longer) obsolete, and presumably he will defend every NATO member from attack.
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Trump also criticized Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellin, and hinted he might not reappoint her when her term ends. But now he has indicated he will reappoint her after all.
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How many betrayals will Trump's supporters tolerate? Another two or three? Or another two or three THOUSAND?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017
 
If You're Told to Leave, LEAVE
United Airlines is being fiercely criticized for forcibly ejecting, at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, a passenger who refused to leave when told he had to go because the airline needed to carry a crew of four to make United's flite in Louisville. The criticism is absurd.
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No one has the RIGHT to remain on a commercial airliner after being asked by the airline to leave, then told in no uncertain terms that he HAS to leave. The passenger in question was offered a voucher for $1,000 to give up his seat on that flite, but refused, then resisted being escorted off the plane by airport police. Unless a passenger OWNS the airplane, s/he has to leave when told to leave. This is especially the case when the passenger loses no money but indeed stands to gain hundreds of dollars as well as retaining a ticket for another flite to his destination.
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An airline has the right to keep its operations going by moving staff from one location to another on its own planes, and if that requires that an ordinary paying passenger has to give up a seat, at no financial loss, then the airline has an absolute right to remove the passenger by force if s/he won't go quietly. United did nothing wrong. The passenger was ENTIRELY to blame for what happened.
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Think about this in personal terms. What if you were planning to drive from one place to another, and someone offered you money to ride along. You say, "I guess that would be alrite." But then a close relative announced that s/he wanted to ride along after all, but there would be no room if the paid passenger were permitted to ride in the relative's place. You tell the paid would-be passenger, "Sorry, but I'm afraid I have to take my son / daughter / mother-in-law [whatever], so here's your money back. I hope you find an agreeable alternative. Be well." But the paid passenger REFUSES to leave your car, insisting that he has the RIGHT to ride in YOUR car. Do you let him get away with that, or do you call the cops? I'd call the cops. If the adamant passenger refuses the cops' order to leave, the cops have to drag him out, and in the act of removing him, he hurts his lip, who is to blame? The cops, or the would-be passenger? The passenger at O'Hare brought his problem upon himself, and has no one to blame BUT himself.
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If you're asked to leave an airliner, just LEAVE!

Friday, April 07, 2017
 
Syria, ¡Si!; China, Xi
Tho I dislike Donald Trump, I always give credit where credit is due, and Trump's (limited) attack upon an airbase of the Bashar al-Assad regime is to be praised. There have been too many occasions in my long life when good people confronted by evil did nothing. That having been said, however, questions arise as to whether this was an empty gesture or the start of a more athletic response to the crimes of the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian allies.
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Some members of Congress have objected that Mr. Trump should get clearance from Congress before he launches such an attack. Trump's quick reaction has been contrasted with President Obama's supposed cowardly collapse in the face of a prior Assad chemical weapons attack that crossed a "red line" he had enunciated before that attack. As I remember that time, it was CONGRESS that would not permit President Obama to attack Assad, but if that is what happened, that part of the story has been successfully deleted from the media's memory.
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What media do acknowledge is that Obama, in cooperation with Russia, negotiated a supposed agreement by Assad to destroy (or export?) his stockpiles of chemical weapons. Assuming that the Syrian air force did indeed launch this week's attack (not some nonexistent ISIS or rebel air force), Assad apparently did NOT eliminate his entire inventory of chemical weapons, but either held some in abeyance or discovered a stash that his regime lost track of and thought had been destroyed but was actually still in existence somewhere within regime territory. The question then becomes, did Assad cheat? and further, did he lie to Russia, and make Russia complicit, without its knowledge, in this week's crime? If Assad did lie to Russia, will Putin punish him? If so, how so? It is certainly within the realm of possibility that Russia could pull the rug out from under Bashar al-Assad and raise up someone more to Russia's liking to the head of the embattled Syrian state, who will defend Russia's interests in the region, without causing Russia multitudinous embarrassments and damage to Russia's reputation in the world. I don't know if there is someone waiting in the wings to replace Bashar al-Assad, within the Assad family or close by. But wouldn't that be an interesting development? — and a nifty way out of the present nitemare?
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Round and Round Trump Goes. Where He Stops, Nobody Knows. I heard some highly placed politician or pundit say on TV after the airbase attack that Trump's stance on Syria has pivoted a full 180° in one week, from adamant noninterference to an airstrike. What will his stance be one week from now?
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In like fashion, Trump has gone from accusing Communist China of RAPING the United States thru unfair trade and currency manipulation, to hosting a cozy banquet for the President of that country, who is also the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, at Mar-a-Lago. So which is it, Mr. Trump? Is Assad an enemy of the world, as your remarks last nite implied, or just a politician like any other? And is China our worst economic enemy, a rapist of the American people, or our great good friend?
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I have observed here on numerous occasions that you cannot believe Donald Trump on anything, because one week (or day) he will say one thing, and the next, the exact opposite. Plainly, serious people in major countries cannot take seriously anything he says. No pledge means anything, no threat can be believed. So our rivals / enemies will pursue their own purposes and policies without worry that Trump will do ANYTHING to back up his ever-empty words. That is no way to run the Executive Branch of the United States Government.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017
 
Tempest in a Soda Can
How stupid can people be? Pepsi-Cola issued a television commercial in which a demonstrator tries to defuse tensions between protesters and police by giving a policeman a Pepsi. How on EARTH could anyone object to that? These people need to be evaluated by mental-health professionals, in a mental hospital, if need be. And Pepsi should NOT have withdrawn the ad but told people to get a grip and concede that the ad makes a good and valuable point. Instead, Pepsi caved in to stupidity, which is an act of stupidity in itself.
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What is the meaning of the objection to the commercial? Are the objectors saying that people should STAY MAD at each other rather than seek reconciliation and peace? Idiots. Why are there so many IDIOTS in the world?
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I want to start a new blog, "Crochety Old Man", in which I attack the many, many things that throw me into a rage. I have made notes about topics I want to address — 292 to date. Some are single items of English usage. Others are more complicated. I think I'll start with "Roll Down Your Sleeves!", about the insane and dishonest practice of television in showing something like a third of all men wearing long-sleeved shirts but with the sleeves rolled up for absolutely no reason. When I do start my Crotchety Old Man blog, I'll place a note to that effect in this blog.


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