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STORIES and MORE by JACK

Surfing the Waves of an Old Fella's Memory

THE WAY I SEE IT

THE WAY I SEE IT

News reports warn us that the total destruction of mankind could be just around the corner. The recent unpronounceable volcano that erupted in Iceland is the catastrophe du jour anguished over by alarmists that claim Mother Nature can & will snuff out human kind sooner or later. If that's so, it's certainly for the moment, beyond human control.


But human extinction, or an unthinkable lowering of our standard of living is more imminent and more likely to be self inflicted. It has already begun and will punish us long before we plunder the last of earth's finite fossil fuel sources.. The supreme tragedy, it seems to me, is that the human intelligence that enabled us to bend nature to our own purposes, should have failed for so many years to plan for when the well dries up. Of all the many reforms (bandages) under consideration, an energy revolution (surgery), is our only hope. Without homegrown clean energy, most other problems are academic.


Man has traveled the landscape of history successfully largely because of his reflective brain. We made our way out of ancient Africa, surviving millions of precarious years to arrive at the complex, delicately interdependent, material opulence of our world today. This narrative we call History...a History propelled by energy we dug out of the ground, the stuff without which many human institutions would grind to a halt.

Now we find ourselves teetering at the edge of a cliff over which we could plummet & drown in a foul ocean of our own making. Why? Because we bamboozled ourselves, and violated our planet unconscionably. And for what? False comforts, that paralyze us from getting out of bed with the bad guys? The colossal stupidity that tomorrow will take care of itself? Not to worry all we need is a little regulation? Is this the best we can do?


I hope not, and methinks that that there are possibilities for heading off a return to the Dark Ages. For starters I think we have to launch a 21st century Manhattan Project for the discovery & development of practical, quick to come-on-line, replacement energy sources, giving our scientific and management geniuses every tool and incentive. All Americans need to know we will have to pay the piper with some measure of "quality of life sacrifices" until our grip on clean power is firmly in hand. The hard facts of life (or death) have to be clearly and persuasively communicated to us. The hardships have to be bearable, and free from politicization. Our energy revolution must not provide cover for those who would smother our free market traditions, or prostitute it for power or profit. If America wants to debate embracing Socialism, that can wait until we're free from fossil fuel dependency.


Twill be painful. But first things first. We have to believe & trust that our best & brightest can get the job done. All else is not irrelevant, just not as urgent. Not social engineering. Not extravagant spending. Not partisanship, or ideology, and we all have to support the people in lab coats who can't do it alone. We and They have to become Us.


The clock is running out for all of mankind. Till then we should pray (or hope, if you prefer) an epically transformative world leader will come on the U.S. stage to bring us to our senses, and motivate humanity to suck up our wisdom, courage and perseverance as never before. Only with God's providence and our total commitment will it happen.


April 24, 2010

THE PRICE OF DREAMS

Me, and millions of Americans like me live lives pretty much like we always expected we would. We still have in place the essential, familiar, viable institutions we grew up depending upon. In a sense it all turned out the way it was supposed to. The road may have been bumpy, but we’re still on it.


Yes, we do have to struggle with changing tides of culture, politics, lifestyle etc. Yes, the dream has often been endangered by war, economic disaster, and spiritual malaise. And yes, there are surely going to be more barbarians at our gates to repel, as repel them we will. But always we survived, keeping alive the dream first dreamt by our ancestors. We can still dream for our future, and for our children’s future. Our game plan seems to be working, even if the game is not yet over.


All of this colors our worldview in a way that some people in this world just don’t understand, or mistake as triumphalism. Yes, our blessings set us apart from most people on this planet, but it doesn’t make us better, just different.


We are different than the billions of poor wretches born into corrupt systems that don’t work, that offer no hope, no redemption, and no future; billions who never had a dream, and never expect to; billions out on the cold street staring through the window at us in our warm houses. Their only ironic advantage is that they have had centuries to get used to it. With remarkable courage they bear the unbearable, smiling through their misery, patiently awaiting rescue.


We are different than those who set themselves against us in the Cold war who thought they were the wave of the future; who challenged our resolve in a game of nuclear “chicken”, and who boasted they would bury us. How must they feel, their dreams shattered, their workers paradise now a den of thieves? They paid an awful price indeed for buying into a bogus ideology that in failing so dismally mocks their lives, their history, and their pride.


In our history, now largely faded from memory, only in the post Civil War South did Americans ever experience such self-inflicted calamity.


If we shouldn’t take joy in the humiliation of our former enemies—and we shouldn’t—we also can’t shrink from the lesson that our continued good fortune must not be taken for granted. Or we could wind up like countless poor souls, swigging vodka to ease the pain of having lost it all, and for what? For the folly of mistaking a nightmare for a dream.


JM August 2006

ON COMPETENCE

As I age & wither I have to try hard to stay in touch with who I am...and being candid with myself taint easy. But for sure as I grow long of tooth, I'm much less willing to suffer incompetence, irrationality, bad manners, mendacity, pointless vulgarity, dangerous drivers, and an encyclopedia of other irritants. You know, like the bum information I'm likely to get from all sorts of people in government & service businesses: People that don't know their nose from their elbow, and whose incompetence comes at my expense. And all of this has wound up irritating me for being so helpless and vulnerable to an army of unknowing and faceless incompetents. But H.L. Mencken has come to my rescue. Although HL doesn't tell me my fulminating reaction is exactly honky-dory, he does say it's not unique to me. Check out the old curmudgeon from Baltimore who once said, "The older I get the more I admire and crave competence, just simple competence, in any field from adultery to zoology". Could'nt have said it better myself...


June 2007

THE POOR GET RICHER AND THE RICH GET POORER

Does anyone doubt that Americans at the top of the income heap are targets of certain left wing opportunists? I think it's abundantly evident in the media & the political haranguing of the you-know-which political party. Is it not the greedy rich that Liberals cite as the monopolists of American wealth, the ones whose affluence is undeserved and whose good fortune is enjoyed at the expense of their less fortunate neighbors? Accordingly, the wealthy, even though they carry almost all of the tax load, are decried as mere lottery winners who should pay increasingly more of the taxes that lubricate our entitlement society. Never mind that punitive taxation can disincentivize those most able to invest in & expand our economy. Never mind that small businesses and the "little guy" could wind up being those most hurt by soak-the-rich & we'll-show-them-whose-boss tax policies. Let's storm their high-rises & make em' pay till it hurts! Yeah, and let's do it not because we really believe it's right, but because we know it will get us elected.


Presumably this is a message, emotional & irrational as it is, that still has enormous appeal to those who can be manipulated into seeing themselves as economic and class victims: And to the extent that real or imagined "poor" people carry their sense of being oppressed into the voting booths, to that extent will the '08 election be profoundly influenced. And if you don't think that selling victimization pays, you should check Jesse Jackson's bank account and the '08 DNC's television ads.


The cynic observes that truth matters only to politicians insofar as it serves their ambitions. Methinks this is true. But to my mind it is more true of pander politicians of one particular ideological persuasion. The wobbly "Independent" wrings his hands claiming that "they all do it". Sure, they all do it...but is it not possible that one party does more of it? Or is our political establishment made up of equal opportunity rascals? Isn't it possible that one party can claim majority stock in the business of "get even" politics? When you hear pompous pundits & politicians waffling, "Yes, America may be great, our economy great, our soldiers great..."BUT...BUT"... Can you guess what side of the aisle these wafflers sit on?


And when we consider just who these rich guys are that we want to get even with, shouldn't we take into account the top 1 percent of taxpayers (you know, the really rich ones that pay nearly 40% of all taxes) and the IRS stats that reveal that more than half of the top 1% gang in 1996 were missing from the top 1% roster in 2005? And howzabout the even higher income dudes in the top one-hundredth of one percentile...and how it happens that three quarters of these big dogs fell off this list during the same time period? Our economy didn't falter during this decade, but some high rollers did, which is as it should be in the not-so-popular-with-lefties free market.


So, what's my point? It's simply that the wonderful country we live in is not a static, the rich-stay-rich, the poor-get-poorer nation as was so common throughout most of history, and as is whined about by so many America bashing critics today. No, America is still the only major country where the door of opportunity opens wide for good people with good ideas, permitting success & riches irrespective of one's family or "connections". And might not this explain why so many people around the world would come to America in a heart beat, if they could? So, to my mind the changing roster of top dogs in America proves that in the US of A , the poor can get richer, and the rich can get poorer, and that those who try to tell us otherwise are...well, I think you know what I mean.


Jack Mason, Tryon, NC Nov 27, 2007

THE TROUBLING TRUTH

THE TROUBLING TRUTH

For many years Liberals have relentlessly opposed spending money on America’s defense. Their most recent occupant of the White House, following in this tradition, dodged an Army uniform and said that he “loathed” the U.S. military. And then, as President, he went on and proved it. Liberals ridiculed and resisted every effort Ronald Reagan made to revitalize our armed forces and develop new defense technologies, but our Cold War victory vindicated him. Ditto for Bush Sr. when he won the Gulf War.


Democrat’s willingness to risk America’s security is a matter of historical record. They know all too well that spending tax dollars on “pander butter” instead of guns, yields more votes, and more power: In a benign world that might be tolerable, but not in these dangerous times. Since 9/11, “It’s the economy, stupid” is only a political half-truth.


Left wing contempt for our military feeds on the myth that America is a bully who sacrifices minorities as cannon fodder in bogus wars against “sovereign” states, like Iraq. Appealing to old stereotypes, the Chris Matthews, Phil Donahues, and Jesse Jacksons, et al, tell us young African American soldiers are going to do all the dying if we dare to take on Saddam Hussein. Vietnam, they claim, proves this point. But does it?


In 1997 Tom Wicks wrote in The Wall Street Journal that U.S. Army statistics debunk the racist accusation that black soldiers died in unfair numbers in Vietnam. The sad bottom-line of Viet Nam was 86% of those killed were white soldiers, a greater proportion than their numbers in the general population. Equally tragic were the African American GIs killed who were 12.5% of total casualties, consistent with their percentage of total population.


Wicks reports that although African Americans account for 30% of today’s volunteer Army, 79% of those assigned to front line units, like the infantry and special-forces, are white, and 9% are black. The other 12%, we can surmise are Asians, Hispanics and women. So, if his numbers are correct, the makeup of the most dangerous deployments in the Army refute predictions that young black people are going to be disproportionately put in harms way.


Because left wingers have never let the truth interfere with their agenda, I have no illusions that they will abandon their divisive lying to a gullible public. Yes, honorable American servicemen, particularly young blacks, are being used as fodder—propaganda fodder for Liberals. Will Rogers said it best—“Its not the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t true.”


Jack Mason

October 9, 2002

WILL THE REAL FASCISTS PLEASE STAND UP?

How many times did Ronald Reagan's enemies resort to accusing him of being a "fascist" when RR bested them in debate? Remember how often Barry Goldwater was slandered, and more recently, George Bush and Dick Cheney. All have been so vehemently and unceasingly tarred by Liberals as high-handed Nazis it would have put a smile on Josef Goebbels face.


And howzabout the many Conservative guest speakers on college campuses who have been attacked & hooted down for being fascists by students & professors doing precisely what fascists do. Are we seeing here in America increasingly blatant reincarnations of brown shirted thugs like those who stomped out dissent in pre-WWII Germany? And, if as I claim, these people are knowingly engaging in Gestapo tactics, what then are the real facts about fascism at home and abroad: And which of today's major competing political ideologies, and their berserk internet constituents, has more in common with modern fascism?


To begin, fascism is a term that requires agreement on it's meaning if it is to be fairly debated. Wikipedia tells us that the "integral parts" (the "pros"of fascism) are: statism, militarism, totalitarianism, anti-communism, corporatism, populism and collectivism (I would add "secularism"). As for the "cons", fascism opposes political & economic liberalism. So, within these many different “isms” how would you assign them today, at home and abroad? Remember that it was H.G. Wells who, with sincere intentions, coined the term "Liberal Fascism", (shades of "Benevolent Dictatorship") by which he thought the good impulses of liberalism could be best served by pro-active...dare I say it...fascist governance. And in that connection, Mr. Wells reminds me that the playbook of Liberal Fascism, Political Correctness, really should be called for what it is. Liberal Correctness.

Abroad there are so many "tin horn" tyrants that still follow on the fascist model, that it makes a mockery of the bogus "democratic community of nations" we call the UN. Here at home it's the left-wing intelligentsia using the platform of the Democrat party that plays the "fascist card" most often in their political diatribes. They care less about the truth & more about political power, so they slander all who disagree with them as "racists", "sexists", "homophobes". Consider the ranting of Democrat party leaders, for example, claiming our military operates like barbarous Nazis, at the direction of a crazed Nazi Commander in Chief etc.,etc.


All of this would be laughable nonsense if it was just the loony ravings of some long hair street rebels, rather than high profile officials in our government. But it isn't funny. It's serious stuff. And it apparently works well enough to expect that people who live in glass houses will continue throwing stones as long as we don't throw back.


Jack Mason, 30 Hunting Country Trails, Tryon, 859-8356

Monday, Jan 14, 2008

WHAT PRICE FAILURE?

In today's New York Times, Tom Friedman expresses his pessimism re. Iraq. He allows that we are probably making military progress, but that battlefield victories cannot in themselves achieve success. Success, he says, is only achievable when the Iraqi people & their government rise up to expel terrorists, provide their own security & band together in national democratic solidarity. He tells us once again how problematic this prospect is given the history & animus of the Iraqi sects. His observations, although pessimistic, are not entirely inaccurate...although methinks he underestimates the improving participation of Iraqis in the rebuilding of their own country.


But what he didn't say begs the real question. And to me that question is, should we just hope for the Iraqis to get in the game on our side, and if that doesn't happen soon enough to meet an impatient American timetable do we take a hike? Or, should we face up to the reality that being a midwife to Iraqi democracy is an off-the-table long term commitment, as is vanquishing the insurgency? Success in Iraq means sticking it out, not because of partisan stubbornness, but because we really can't afford not to: None of us... Democrats as well as Republicans. A stand alone democratic Iraq, allied to America's interests is not just a nicety, but an imperative to the long term survival of all Americans. Even some of the most anti-war Democrats are beginning to see the light, but better late than never.


Arguing about whether we should or shouldn't have invaded Iraq is no longer on point. It's time to "support" the troops by supporting their mission. We must do what it takes to move Mr. Friedman from the ranks of the pessimists to the ranks of the optimists...and that can only be accomplished by dedicating ourselves to coming home holding our shields, not on them.


We must all of us put aside mindless partisanship in order to take care of business & cease wallowing in the false illusion that we can just walk off the field. It's no longer rational that we should leave unmet the most important challenge of our history. It no longer makes sense to claim that the Iraqi people are somehow "incapable' of self rule. If you think so, you should really listen to what some of our soldiers on the ground have to say about this. It might surprise some of the chicken little types.


We must commit American will to the WWII spirit of unwavering resistance against those who would butcher us and our children. So, to my mind, that should be the main focus of the upcoming presidential '08 debate between Hillary & whoever. We'll see.


JACK MASON

30 Hunting Country Trails, Tryon

859-8356                   

TALKING THROUGH ONE'S HAT

To "talk through one's hat" means to talk foolishness, to prattle on about a subject one knows nothing about; to make wacky assertions with unshakeable and oftentimes smug confidence. The character Cliff in the old "Cheers" TV series, the guy who had absurd explanations for everything, was a great example of someone who habitually talked through his hat. But unfortunately talking through one’s hat is not limited to know-it-alls on bar stools. Today we’re showered by hat-fulls of hooey any time we turn on the boob tube, or pick up a newspaper.


"To talk through one's hat" is an expression that's been around a long time. It certainly was a common put-down for spouting nonsense during my growing up years. But precise origins of the phrase are unclear. One fanciful explanation suggests that it refers to a man in church who holds his hat over his face while feigning prayer. It's also possible that "talking through one's hat" is tied to another phrase, "to talk off the top of one's head," meaning to offer opinions without facts or thorough consideration. Whatever its origins, this expression seems to persist because it lays the hammer to pretentious baloney peddlars.


In today's politics, it is my opinion that no one is better at talking through his hat (or is it his hair?) than John Edwards. I say this because on June 7, while on the campaign trail, he advanced the loony idea that the War on Terror is a sham manufactured by Bush for political purposes & has no more merit than a "bumper sticker". In his view our response to Islamofascits shouldn’t be soldiers with guns, but 10,000 civilian "Peace Corps" type volunteers. Presumably these young Kumbaya apostles will go amongst the America hating jihadists all over the world, and talk them out of their fanaticism. Duh! And we thought only character actors in sitcoms "talked through their hats".


JACK MASON, JUNE 2007

SEEING IS BELIEVING...OR IS IT?

Clearly, we are a nation divided. We’re divided by an enormous chasm separating those who claim radical Islam is a mortal threat, and those who hedge; giving the impression they think it’s more manageable with words not military muscle; more a dangerous but controllable nuisance. Forget Republican or Democrat affiliations. This urge to turn away from the real horror staring us in the face exists in both parties, and is at the root of the raging argument over the Bush Administration’s incursion into the mid-east.


These stunningly polarized views pit Americans who are certain America has made a huge Texas sized mistake against those who are convinced we had no choice. One side believes our country, and particularly George W. Bush, are to blame. The other side is certain we’re being swept up in the tide of a long developing, inevitable, fanatical and hateful Muslim counter-Crusade against everything America stands for. The result is an emasculating paralysis in American foreign policy that makes our friends scratch their heads & our enemies smile.


To be sure, Democrat politics has played a role in the opposition to the war, but after what they've seen & heard from the Islamofascists, continuing to be blind and deaf... can only be attributed to whistling-past-the-graveyard denial, suicidal naivety, or political criminality.


Perhaps we’ve gotten too comfortable because 9/11 and video recorded beheadings seem like long ago and isolated occurrences. Bush may very well be a victim of his own success for keeping Homeland terrorism at bay. Since American shopping malls aren’t being bombed every day are we kidding ourselves into thinking we’re off the hook? Are we delusional about what follows if we abandon Iraq? Do we really believe it will be business as usual?


These are no longer small distinctions. This is not a benign argument over whether taxes are too high or too low. The danger is real, or it isn't. It won't go away by just calling it fear mongering. This is it.


Only time will tell who has it right, but my sense is that our monkey-no-see drift towards rationalizing defeat in Iraq today will guarantee disaster tomorrow. Today’s opinion polls, political opportunists, Harvard & Hollywood pundits... if they're proved wrong... will be of little consolation standing in the wreckage of all we hold near & dear.


Jack Mason, Tryon, NC, April 26, 2007     

WHAT PRICE GLORY

Proponents of prosecuting the war in Iraq claim that “losing is not an option”. Anti-war opponents are telling us that “winning is not an option” or is so far fetched as to not be a reasonable option. So, we’re faced with the Big Question of who has it right? At this time neither side can prove beyond doubt that we can and must win, or that we can and will lose. Only our resolve, our common sense …and time… can reveal those destinies.


Those who advocate sticking it out have raised the horrible specters of what will happen if we don’t persevere. I think that by now everyone knows that the Hawks are convinced that quitting the struggle will bring even more calamity to the U.S. They say it will embolden our enemies, ignite a much wider war in the entire middle-east, and put the safety of the U.S. homeland at greater risk. In this regard their fears can be corroborated by the jihadists who clearly don’t shrink from telling us they’ll slit our collective throats at the first opportunity. Devious about motives the terrorists are not.


But now that I know what the Hawks are certain will happen, I’d like to hear from the anti-war crowd about what they believe will follow on to our departure before the Iraqi democracy can stand on it’s own; not forgetting how that fragile democracy was purchased with the blood of our own young people, or dismissing what would likely follow in the wake of leaving before the job is done.


My letter isn’t cloudy about where I stand on these matters, but that wasn’t my purpose in writing. I sincerely want to hear opponents of the War explain how the dreadful horrors the Hawks predict are bogus. I’d very much like to know what “redeploy” advocates really believe will be the consequences of surrendering Iraq to the enemies of democracy? I’d like to hear the evidence that the dire predictions of Conservatives are overblown, and concocted to politically exploit a nightmare that doesn’t really exist? And if “redeploying” delivers any other long term advantages to America, I’d also like to hear about them.


For my money, if the Dems can logically, civilly & persuasively prove Conservatives have it all wrong, and not just with sneers; then I for one am prepared to listen, as should all patriotic Americans. If that can’t be done then I think that also tells us something, dontchathink?


March 16, 2007

IGNORANCE KILLS

It’s such an obvious truism, this business about how democracy depends upon free people deciding free elections armed with the facts necessary to make intelligent choices. We take it for granted. And yet, many elections have been decided not by objective realities, but by blind hatreds & tribal prejudices. I was raised in a State, for example, where obvious truths & blatant lies collided all the time. Convenient lies usually won the day. In NJ’s “Soprano” culture, sleazy pander politicians have been enthusiastically elected & reelected despite criminal convictions, and in some cases while still behind bars. Governors, US Senators, and big city mayors have all been players in this sordid game: Their shameless actions yielding no more than smirky yawns of constituents who care only that the bad guys are “their" bad guys.


The mischief began a long time ago in the Garden State, and continues to this day. But NJ is not the only state where democracy has been adulterated. Nor is it the only state given to political chicanery & corruption. It’s a cancer that is metastasizing all across America. Its symptoms are minds frozen blue, attitudes stained permanently red, the derelictions of an inadequately informed electorate; and those that know better, so fatigued and discouraged they surrender to impotence and cynicism.


I’m aware that registered Democrats & registered Republicans are not the only constituencies determining election outcomes: That there are also “independent”, above-the-fray folks who are supposed to be the leveling factor that wins the day for whichever side is supposed to be closer to having the right stuff. And to some extent that’s true, I’m sure. But what happens if “independents” are no longer really “independent”. What happens if they aren’t actually “independent” in the first place…but just like to think that they are? Partisans don’t kid themselves about their partisanship, but I’m wondering if “feel good” independents do?


Politics is growing more vile, as is manipulated ignorance. It grows in direct proportion to the exploitive power of money. It grows in direct proportion to civic indifference. It grows in direct proportion to media misinformation degenerating into propaganda. But most of all, it grows in direct proportion to the embrace of the perverse slogan “Ask not what I can do for my country…ask what my country can do for me”.


So, increasingly, elections are being determined by a mindless whats-in-it-for-me electorate. I’m aware that America has survived the fatuous hot-air & mendacity of yesterday’s political hucksters, and by the grace of you-know-who, we’ve somehow managed to do the right things to keep our democracy afloat. But that was yesterday & we weren’t facing a global threat like Islamofascism. The big unknown today is how long can we endure gridlock, not only in Washington, but on Main Street?


Much will depend on who we choose as our next President. One man or woman alone will not be able to open all our rapidly closing minds, but he/she must help us find ourselves, rediscover our commonweal, and inspire the solidarity without which we are certain to be menaced beyond our wildest nightmares. It’s time to take care if business, not getting even.


March, 12, 2007

WHO'S PRAYING FOR A DEMOCRATIC VICTORY IN '08?

The Prime Minister of Australia claims Al Qaeda is praying for the Dems to win in 2008. Wow! But before the rope is knotted to lynch me for daring to quote Mr. Howard, just maybe we should weigh the implications behind his slam on the Dems.


It seems to me that the PM has it in his head that a Democrat in the White House would embolden the likes of Bin Laden and other fanatical jihadists & that this could be disastrous for the future of America, and the free world. Now, we all know the Prime Minister has his political prejudices... and that I’m writing & you’re reading this letter with our own biases…but maybe it’s time to discard our political blinders and face the really “Big Questions”.


To me the Big Ones come down to these. Is Islamic fundamentalist terrorism a manageable and containable fury, being overblown for Bush’s political advantage? Is world wide terrorism something Democrats can more effectively deal with by talking more and fighting less? Do we really believe George Bush is the enemy? Can we win by withdrawing? Are consequences for pulling out of Iraq no “big deal” in regard to how this would effect our day-to-day lives here at home? Should we backdown from a struggle to the death (if that’s what it is) just because the polls tell us “we’re tired of it?”


As for myself, I’ve heard enough blathering about yesterday. Tomorrow is all that counts now. In my opinion this rearview political folly obscures the Big Questions that bear on the choices we have to make in selecting our next Chief Executive. They are, I’m thinking - should we, or shouldn’t we do everything in our power to strangle terrorism in the cradle? Or should we return to our pre 9/11 naiveties, and take the chance of giving the monster the time to grow & the opportunity to kill our grandchildren?


So, if to fight, or not to fight are the Big Questions, then Democrats who oppose fighting need to tell us where we draw the line...how we can have our cake & eat it. If any Democrat reading this can tell me how we can achieve victory over our enemies without being willing to spend our treasure & spill our blood; or if any Democrat can explain why we need “exit strategies” in the War on Terror when our enemies have foresworn “exiting” not before, and only after they have brought America to it’s knees; or if any Democrat can persuade me that we can choose to lose in Iraq and the US will be none the worse for it…I’d have to throw in with him.


But that said, the recent Democrat sponsored Congressional “non-binding resolution”... makes me think Mr. Howard has it right, after all.

Jack Mason


30 Hunting Country Trails, 2/18/07 

They're Driving Me Crazy

At the risk of sounding crotchety, I'm writing to express my alarm regarding the growing number of tattooed ding-a-lings that I see on the road, one hand pressing a cell phone to an ear, the other hand fumbling to navigate in and out of 70mph highway lanes...all the while yucking it up with some bozo on the other end of what’s very likely a mindless conversation. More often, but not exclusively, these reckless dare devils are giggly teeny-boppers, who are hardly in control when they have both hands free, let alone when credit card sized telephones are plastered so tight against their ears that they can only be removed surgically! But let’s not kid ourselves; they’re plenty of adult dimwits also caught up in this deadly telephonitis.


I know...its progress and I should just get with it instead of being a grumpy old Luddite. Get a life and all that sort of rubbish...but I'm afraid this craziness has my short fuse burning hard and fast, so please indulge me in my vicarious road rage.


Not only does it worry me that these hip-hoppers are foolishly tempting fate...but when it's my butt they put at risk, methinks I'm entitled to a wee bit of road rage, wouldn't you agree? And if there’s any doubt that this stuff is reaching frightening levels…just check with policemen all over the country: They know because they’re the ones who pick up the pieces on the highways.


On another point, this lethal foolishness gives me pause to wonder what these boobs are saying to each other? How in the world was whatever they're gabbing about… gabbed about... before they had cell phones with which to do so much gabbing??? Kind of makes one wonder if the Amish folks don't have it right.

Jack                                                                                         Mason                                                                  Tryon,

NC

2/3//07                                                                           859-8356 

ALL POLITICS LOCAL?

Did our recent elections give lie to Tip O'neill's attribution, "all politics is local"?...I'm thinking that old chestnut meant that trash removal, property taxes & municipal payroll issues obscure ideology...that in the words of the Clinton political philosophy, "it's the economy, stupid!"...elections are won primarily on right-now type tangible issues, not noble abstractions...


Also, I think O'Neill's advice based on an assumption that on the local level, party affiliations were not really that signifcant. So, until 11/08/06 it appeared 'ol Tip had it right, at least here in Polk County...but somehow that all changed...when tribal loyalties, straight line voting, and stay-at-home-rejection votes won the day for so many Democrats: All of it inspired by the GWB administration's very negative image, particularly his foreign policy, "island of democracy" dream for Iraq...


Me also thinks that re. foreign affairs, a small majority of Americans are now subscribing to a new variation on the old isolationist theme...a small majority that could grow to a large majority, particularly under Democrat leadership. Remember how prior to WWII (influenced by many Republicans) we were very isolationist, strongly opposed to getting involved in convoluted European wars that solved nothing & killed a lot of American soldiers in the process?...but when we finally were forced into WWII, we fought it unconditionally, were victorious, and undertook nation (re)building on an enormous scale...all of which seemed to permanently cast the US in the mold of a superpower whose foreign policy was robustly "international"...that is until Viet Nam came along and blew our dream of being the savior to the world completely out of the water...


And so it seems to me that ever since the VN debacle, we've lost our stomach for overseas adventures, no matter how altruistic or essential to our survival. We're now reluctantly willing to flex our muscles overseas, and then only if victory can be certain, immediate and painless...we see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil until it is staring us in the face...and that until something awful changes this scenario...this is who we are and who we will continue to be...


May God help us if we're wrong...


Jack Mason, Nov 25, 2006

THE BYTE THAT KILLS

Last night’s TV news informed us that Democrat big-wig James Carville is calling for Democrat big-mouth Howard Dean to resign. Carville contends that Dean’s mismanagement of DNC money in congressional campaigns yielded 30 seats in HR for Dems, when it could have, and should have (according to Carville) won the Democrats 50 seats, or more. I have no idea how accurate Carvilles’s numbers are, but his political savvy is well respected…so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt & concede that he may have a point.


Beyond the accuracy of Carville’s complaints, his argument for canning Dean bases on and demonstrates the awesome power that paid advertising has in shaping American public opinion; not to mention the bias of a shameless media and chaos on the internet. The vote swinging influence of slick 30 second TV muggings isn’t just marginal to election outcomes anymore…they’re absolutely central to final tallies. And make no mistake about it, the GOP would also wage the same type & scale television campaign if they were convinced it would bring them victory.


The absence of truth-in-political-advertising is not new. It’s been a part of our process for a very long time, and it hasn’t always been pretty. Outrageous slander, character assassinations, and blatant lies have characterized American politics since way back when. Just ask ‘ol honest Abe.

But what I think is new is the wholesale manipulation of public opinion that now occurs on a scale grander that ever before in our history. The old art of using advertising to hopefully sell the public on a certain point of view has now become the new communications science that guarantees the sale. Spend a little more here and a little less there and you’ve suddenly secured an election in a way that makes old fashioned campaigning on issues look foolhardy.


So when Carville seeks Dean’s scalp he’s also opening our eyes to a conundrum that was far from resolved with campaign finance reform legislation. What these reforms were supposed to correct have become even more corrosive…even more ruinous to a democracy dependant upon an intelligent and informed electorate.


As a Conservative, I’m strongly opposed to abridging free speech, but I’m also worried that unless we do something constitutional to take elections off sale to anything-goes-politicians…to prevent cynical hucksters from determining election results…we could be looking at government of the partisans, by the partisans, and for the partisans…a corruption no political party can escape, and no democracy can endure.


Jack Mason, Nov 18, 2006

In His Own Words

Chuck Ross, the man local Democrats love to hate is once again being pilloried. This time a Mr. Rob Cooper tries to beat up on him in the Nov 25 Bulletin…and I’m responding not only because Chuck doesn’t deserve such trashing…but to accuse his detractor with attacking him personally instead of rebutting his ideas.….a tactic favored by people who think a letter to the editor is a platform for slinging mud at those whose ideas they don’t like.


Consider the content of Cooper’s letter. Void of civility, short on specifics, long on bombast, it can only be read as a screed. Yes I said screed, or what the dictionary calls “a long, monotonous harangue”…in this case his own words say it all, words claiming Col. Ross and his letters are… “Vitriolic and uninteresting”...that Ross suffers from “tunnel vision”...that he’s “longwinded” and an “overly simplistic diehard political follower”…that his letters “fairly drip with sarcasm”… that “no one can out diatribe Chuck Ross”…and then in some sort of fuzzy clincher Cooper declares that “Ross preaches to his choir”…and since the President has lost America’s trust, Ross and his “choir are fast disappearing”?


And this rubbish is supposed to constitute debate; sophisticated persuasion?


Cooper, by the end of his own diatribe or what the dictionary defines as “a bitter, abusive denunciation” still hasn’t supplied the reader one concrete idea or one concrete example to support his heavy handed assault on Col. Ross’s integrity or his letters to the Bulletin. No, all he gives us are churlish put-downs, larded with the foolish fantasy of a boxer who thinks he has his opponent on the ropes, when in my judgement it'll take a better man than 

Cooper to come out on top in a fair fight with CR.


We all know that passion is part of being partisan, that partisanship means playing hardball. We’re all adults prepared to get as much as we give, and that’s well and good in a fair fight.


But after reading the Nov 25 Cooper letter, I have to ask in Cooper’s own words if all of his ad hominem chippiness is really acceptable to “the intelligent readers of the Tryon Daily Bulletin?”


Jack Mason, Tryon, NC, Nov 26, 2005                                                                                           859-8356

BILLY MARTIN THEORY

On a sunny Sept morning, the Islamic world crashed into our lives. We now have to balance a fitting response to this savage attack, with a fair and sober understanding of the culture that nurtured it. For most of us clueless Americans it means a crash course in the complexity of Mohammedism, and corruptions like fanatic Islamic nationalism. It means understanding that there are xenophobic, violent and inhumane Arab traditions that conflict with the teaching of Mohammed but are nonetheless the entrenched convictions of many Islamic clerics, some Islamic elitists, and an unknown number of illiterate Islamic peasants. The contradictions posed by the Koran and the teachings of Mohammed, and the barbarous behavior of terrorists like Bin Laden, seem to be of no concern for our new enemies.


Apologists can counter this modern reality by charging the Crusaders with unspeakable atrocities. We can call to mind the bombing outrages of Zionists who killed innocents in pre-Israel Palestine. We can be chilled by the outrages of IRA thugs or the Godfather movie scenes of multiple assassinations committed at the same time Michael Corleone is sanctimoniously taking part in the Catholic ritual of Baptism. All these examples from western civilization display our own capacity for rationalized depravity, and they remind us that imperfect people exist everywhere in this imperfect world. But the over arching truth in America today is that these kinds of evils have no large constituencies, and are reviled by the vast majority. This may not be so in the Arab world.


Our survival is not going to be helped by being naïve about seething hatred of America by “misguided” Muslims. Our survival will not benefit from undercounting our enemies, or pollyannish braying about non-judgmental brotherhood. Our survival is going to have to trace back to Billy Martin’s advice about how to successfully manage a baseball team. Peppery Billy said, “on any team of 40 players, 15 players will love the manager, and 15 players will hate the manager. 10 players will not have an opinion. And, so the secret to success is to keep those 10 uncommitted guys away from the 15 who hate you!”


The baseball metaphor may sound glib, but the underlying lesson about winning the hearts and minds of undecided believers in Allah, is not. Our future depends on the hope that there are at least “15” Muslims already on our side, and that we can keep the “undecideds” from throwing in with the bad guys. To me that seems to be the most difficult part of the challenge in front of our President and his administration. May God help them succeed.


Jack Mason, Tryon, NC, 28782

CONFESSION OF A TRUE BELIEVER

True Believers of both wings of American politics, in contrast to their many differences, do share one thing. They’re both consumed by a visceral despise for the leader of the opposition, and with a fury that fixates not so much on ideas or philosophy, but on revulsion for an individual person. Egged on by 24/7 media “exposes”, Republicans hate Bill Clinton, and Democrats hate George Bush. “Hate” may be a vile word that makes us squirm, but since the shoe fits, I think we have to wear it.


Some might say this is not new, and therefore not alarming. They’ll say that’s how it’s always been and not to worry. But I do. And although True Believers don’t yet constitute the majority in general elections, they do dominate Primary elections that select our candidates. Down the road the red and the blue states will likely only deepen in color.


I worry because I think democracy can tolerate, even thrive on legitimate quarreling over methods of achieving liberty & justice for all. But raging hatred and character assassination in American debate today is so bitterly venal, it defies reason and sneers at compromise. It divides us when we need to be united, and it renders us impotent in times of national crisis. It’s the ugly stuff of Hitlerism, Stalinism, and countless other “isms” that have stained human history.


I apologize if this sounds like overstatement, but it stems from the angst of someone who admits to being vulnerable to the seductive gospel of True Believers, as indeed I think we all are. And that’s our problem.


Jack Mason, 2005

Little Sir Echo

On Sept 4, Harry Reid sent Dubya a letter recommending a new direction that he and his fellow Dems offered as their new strategy in Iraq. His letter included four proposals. The only problem is that three of them are already in action, and the fourth, a Democratic call for “redeployment”, has been rejected as not only unacceptable to Dubya, but to the American public as well.


Now, Mr. Reid is either ill-informed, or doesn’t care about being no more original than an Elvis imitator. For example he urges us to “transition” the Iraq mission to “counter-terrorism, training, logistics and force protection” The fact that these tactics are already being implemented doesn’t prevent him from positing this as a new idea which tells you something about his respect for the intelligence of the American people.


He goes on to make it sound like an innovative thought when he says the Administration should “work with Iraqi leaders to disarm militias, and develop [a] political settlement,” for secular violence. No kidding! Does he really expect us to believe our people working with elected Iraqi leaders aren’t already pursuing these goals?


Reid’s third proposal is for “convening an international conference to support a political settlement and to help the economy and rebuilding effort”. Once again he’s just parroting what U.S. and Iraqi leaders have already tried in vain to accomplish…i.e., pushing the international community to help us to get Iraq back on its feet. Success in attracting assistance from other nations hasn’t been for lack of trying…but it looks like its stoked Mr. Reid’s appetite for subordinating our self-interests, and Iraq’s future, to the hostile anti-American prejudices of the UN.


The fourth urging from ‘ol Harry is for a fuzzy “new direction” that sounds a lot like a bugle call for abandoning Iraq by the end of 2006; regardless of how it might jeopardize the fledgling Iraqi democracy and dishonor the sacrifices of our brave young soldier heroes. His words urge an unclear, murky “phased redeployment”, but one of the signatories to his letter, John Murtha is very plain on the subject. Murtha calls for an immediate withdrawal to Okinawa, 5000 miles from Baghdad. So, this is the Democrats only new idea? The President wrote back, “No way”…


As I see it, Iraq is a battle in a war that is far from being over. The execution of that battle hasn’t always gone according to plan, but that doesn’t disqualify the plan: Nor does it mean we’ve lost the war. What Reid & Co. are doing is masquerading copycat proposals as unique, and an “exit strategy” that would certify our defeat in the eyes of the world. They’re either clueless or chasing votes. So, who’s got it right, or at least is trying to get it right? Who’s coping instead of carping, and who’s willing to take political risks to do the right thing? I think you know…


Jack Mason

Tryon, NC                                                                                                                       Sept 8, 2006  

A CASE FOR DEMOCRACY

To Bulletin reader…I wrote this opinion letter to the BULLETIN in Sept 2002, but never sent it in. At the time I thought it was a little too idealistic; a bit of a stretch. In today’s world I think it’s right on...


JM


A CASE FOR DEMOCRACY


Way back in 1795, the philosopher Immanuel Kant theorized that democratic governance was the best insurance against war. With extraordinary vision he prophesied in Perpetual Peace that the institutions and culture of free societies would reject armed conflict as a means for settling disputes with other democracies. Two hundred years later the facts confirm that he was right. There have been no major wars between democracies.


Although free nations don’t engage in war with each other, there are plenty of examples pitting democracies against non-democracies, and even more conflicts where both belligerents were non-democracies.


So, might not this evidence provide an answer to how we should proceed in our struggle against Islamic terrorism? Although our new enemy is not a single nation state, terror organizations are enabled by countries that are under the thumb of non-democratic regimes. Would those enabling countries be less likely to spawn this kind of madness if they were open, pluralistic governments? Probably; and I think the best justification for going after Saddam bases on the reasonable expectation that a free Iraq will not be hospitable to terrorism; a development that could clearly be in our own national best interest.


Afghanistan currently demonstrates how a nation liberated from despots can transform from being a threat to an ally, even though a relapse is always possible if we don’t finish the job. But at least we now have a chance of redirecting this sad part of the world from the certain path-to-hell that we were on until we booted the Taliban/Al Queda.


Maybe then the free world will see the honor & wisdom of joining with us to dangle carrots wherever possible, and to use sticks wherever necessary to bring government-by-the-people to all the downtrodden. Surely, it isn’t difficult to understand that free people are unlikely to wrap their bellies with bombs if their hearts are filled with hope and opportunity for a better future—and that even imperfect democracy has a better chance of delivering on those aspirations than tyranny. If Europe, blinded by its snobbish contempt for our President, can’t see this, then America must have the courage to take on the job of affirming freedom as the most basic of human rights, and provide real, not just lip service support to this principle.


The time has come to reject the myth that some people are “not ready”. The time has come for the U.S. to cease winking at dictators because they’re “our guys”. The time has come to put our credibility on the line for electoral democracy, and recognize that doing the right thing is the only way out of the madhouse of terror.


Then we might see mobs demonstrating in the streets for America’s help instead of America’s extermination.


Jack Mason, 9/15/02

A Parable

Dear Bill,

Last night I watched, for the umpteenth time, Godfather II on television. The "flashbacks" in this movie to Vito Corleone's early days as an immigrant are fascinating. Played by Robert De Niro, the struggling young thief is thwarted by the neighborhood Mafioso boss, Don Fennucci. Fennuci the cruel, swaggering white-suited dandy stands in Vito's way...so Vito, in tenement house shadows shoots him dead. Taking an enormous risk, raspy throated Vito replaces Fennuci as neighborhood Cappo. And by managing his petty criminal enterprise with more "humanity" Vito successfully climbs the ladder to bigger and better things. Shades of Vincent Imperiale of Newark back in the seventies. Hoorah for hard work and dedication!


My fascination with this tale, is not only with the Corleone empire, but in the role that public apathy plays. Public apathy is probably the wrong phrase. Its more accurate to call it public approval. The approval of lower East Side immigrants willing to trade peace for payoffs...the approval of the wider society Corleone operates in as his power grows...and the way in which all of this reflects on our culture today. A culture that esteems bad taste, and bad people--that makes heroes out of rogues and vice versa. John Wayne gives way to Michael Corleone, and Bill Clinton. A Chinese briber is put behind bars, and the Senator he bribes skates free in front of the jailhouse whining that NJ is ungrateful. And OJ plays golf instead of lifting weights in the gym at Alacatraz.


New Jersey's first citizens in 2002, the Sopranos, speak to this anomaly. If Tony Soprano ran for Governor of the Garden State, does anyone doubt that he could win? I don't.


Jack


PS

If I make it sound like NJ has a monopoly on this sort of public degeneration, please accept my apology. It exists everywhere in this fair land, but NJ's latest shenanigans has taken it to new heights...the price you pay for infamy, I guess....

A Salute to St. Luke's Hospital

A Salute to St. Luke's


On Mar 24, with my heart fibrillating out-of-control @ 230 beats per minute, I didn't have much time left. That was before the Polk County EMS & the good people at St Luke's Hospital went into action. They speedily & competently calmed down my ticker, stabilized me, and got me to Spartanburg Regional where the Big Boys have the Big Toys.


For this I publicly want to thank the Polk County EMS, Dr. Graziano and all the wonderful staff of St. Luke's...for saving my life, as I'm sure they have saved many others before me.


At Spartanburg Regional, I was implanted with a pacemaker-defibrillator, that in combination with medications & the skill of the doctors and nurses at Cardiologist Consultants will help me maintain my new lease on life.


My point now is to remind us all that time is such a critical element in medical emergencies that having a wonderful facility like St. Luke's only minutes away is a marvelous community asset. "Priceless" as they say in the popular TV commercial.


So, to whatever extent I can, I'm going to be a staunch supporter of keeping this fine little hospital here in our back-yard, and I hope all who read this will do the same.


It really is a matter of life, or death.


Jack Mason

April 7, 2005

BAD TASTE IN BOW TIES

BAD TASTE IN BOW TIES

While surfing cable TV this week, I came upon the annual Friar’s Roast on the Comedy channel. The roast subject was Hugh Hefner, the aging king of Hollywood hedonists, and founder of Playboy magazine. What I saw was shocking, even to a crusty old Marine like myself…especially since this was broadcast on non-pay programming.


Hefner was center stage, seated in the “roasting” chair that was situated next to a speaker’s platform and microphone. With glitzy mirrors and flashing colored lights spotlighting the grinning “roastee”, men in tuxedos and bow ties took turns trying to be funny, showering him with moronic gutter jokes about his age, his anatomy, and his lifestyle. The bleeped “f” word spewed out of their mouths like bullets flying out from machine guns aimed at an adoring audience of show biz celebrities and anonymous gorgeous women in sexy evening gowns. The True Believers of the Playboy culture.


It was pitiful watching the beautiful Bunnies laughing at a stream of raunchy Hefner stories that ridiculed woman as empty-headed sexual doormats. The ponytailed, jaded men in tuxedos, rolling in the aisles howling at chauvinistic smut were bad enough, but to see these Playgirls giggling at their own demeaning was particularly embarrassing. Shades of Monica!


I certainly have told jokes that lampooned sex. I certainly have employed bawdy language, and I’m certainly no prude. But it appears to me that a large segment of our population today buys into the idea that no obscenity is off limits, even to audiences that include children. Pop culture no longer balks at bringing locker room humor into the living room where both men, and women, use language that used to be reserved for drill sergeants. And all this repugnant coarseness comes from people who have been given much and who should know better. Nowhere was that more evident than at the Friar’s Roast, an old and respected tradition that has sunk into a sad sewer of unfunny bad taste.


Jack Mason, Nov 5, 2002

WHEN THE RIGHT IS WRONG


David Horowitz, a former Liberal who now champions Conservatism is a political commentator whose intellect I much admire. In a recent column Mr. Horowitz took offense at what he thought were some of the excesses in Ann Coulter's recent book "Treason".


He was so on the mark in his criticism that I thought it worthwhile reading by friend, and foe alike, of what I would like to think is true "compassionate conservatism". Horowitz said...


"It is important for conservatives to make distinctions between those on the left who were (and are) traitors or self-conceived enemies of the United States, and those who were (and are) the fellow-travelers of enemies of the United States, and those who are neither traitors, nor enemies, nor friends and protectors of enemies, but are American patriots who disagree with conservatives over tactical and policy issues.


It is important, first, because it is just, but also because it is a condition of democracy. Citizens will disagree over many issues and matters. In order for the democratic process to survive, all parties must refrain from attempts to de-legitimize those who disagree with them, provided they have legitimate concerns and dissents. If (according to Coulter) every Democrat is a traitor, if “the entire party cannot root for America,” we are left with a one-party system.


"The final reason for making these distinctions is that this (Coulter) charge – that no Democrat, apparently including Jack Kennedy, can root for America – is obviously absurd, and if conservatives do not recognize that it is absurd, nobody is going to listen to us." David Horowitz


Jack Mason


July 10, 2003

AMERICAN CULTURE IS UNIQUE

  • American culture is uniquely American in many ways.
  • We have mixed cultural ingredients drawn from our own experience and those imported by our immigrant population from other parts of the world.
  • Like a nouvoue cuisine the blend of these ingredients has become the recipe that shapes our cultural tastes.
  • Two areas of particular American devotion are sports and politics.
  • In those two areas are many similarities.
  • Our sports divide into participants, players coaches etc, and fans.
  • Our politics also have players and fans.
  • Fans are partisan supporters of teams based mainly on geography. Political supporters are devoted to party ideology because of background and geography.
  • Fans include sophisticates and boors, as with party supporters.
  • Coaches are fair and unfair, Tom Landry and Woody Hayes.
  • Some teams play fair and some play dirty.
  • Some referees favor home team.
  • Most sports fans and political supporters know little of details regarding sports or politics.
  • Sports and politics are hallmarks of our culture.
  • Sports fans are like political partisans.
  • Some fans are sophisticated students of the game like some partisans are well- informed advocates for their political bias.
  • Some sports fans are hooligans as are some political activists
  • American culture is uniquely shaped by our own experiences and those imported along with immigrants who came to us from all corners of the world. Like a nouvoue cuisine, the blend of these experiences is the recipe that flavors our cultural tastes. Football and democracy are examples of cultural institutions that exemplify our unique way of life.

Blah...blah...blah...

On the heels of the election fiasco, the media pundits blather ad nauseam about the urgent need for bi-partisanship. Leading Liberals sternly remind us that the evenly split vote underscores this urgency. They have warned us of the dire consequences for failure to questions that deserve national debate. For example..


Do Democrats and Republicans truly consider bi-partisan governance, and coalitions, a serious option? Is bi-partisanship even possible? Given the early signs, the Black Caucus walkouts in the House, assertions of an illegitimate Bush presidency, fierce ad hominen attacks on Cabinet appointees, etc. I think the answers become obvious..


Witness the pronouncements of Sen. Kerry (D-Neb) who recently said that bi-partisanship cannot be subordinated to “Principle”. This was his excuse to resist the appointment of John Ashcroft! As a point of logic, he is probably correct. But, that logic cuts in both political directions and conflicts with the basic mechanism of “BP”. We used to call it compromise. . So, the bottom line dilemma is how do our competing political camps separate out their “principles” from their more flexible and arbitrary “positions”? What political “positions” are negotiable, and what political “principles” are beyond compromise?


These questions play out in an America divided more politically, culturally, and regionally, than ever before in modern history. Partisan animosities have hardened and escalated to an unprecedented and maybe even dangerous level. Victory seems to have replaced accommodation as the objective of the competing ideologies, and transforms our politics from a debate to a struggle.


I am not without my own bias, and assigning blame for this calamity would be easy for me to do. But on the other side of the fence, there are good people who would surely see it through a different prism. So, where do we go from here? Some would say we get on board the good ship, “Moderation”. But by today’s conventional wisdom “moderates” are wimpy fence straddlers that betray “principle” for expediency, and are reviled by both parties. The only fans of “moderates” are the folks in the biased media, and then only if the “moderates” happen to be Republicans!


The irony is that Al Gore may have been lucky to lose this election, considering the mountain George W. has to climb. The Democrats hope to be lucky by employing the strategy of vehement intransigence to embarrass and handcuff Bush’s presidency, and ultimately win back the Congress and the White House. But will America be lucky enough to survive the politics of slash and burn? What do you think?


Jack Mason, Jan 8, 2001

BEATING THE SYSTEM

The recent flood of scandals involving business shenanigans and clerical abuses exposes a flaw in our justice system that seems to confirm that some people are simply above the law. Time and again we see the powerful getting away with murder, theft, lying under oath, and even the defilement of children. It is probably not entirely a new phenomenon, but it does seem more brazen and out-in-the-open than I can remember. How did this ever happen in a country founded upon “the rule of law”? How can we win a war over terrorism that sneers at our principle of justice for all, when we are weakening the main supporting wall of that principle?


In part, I think it is the result of a culture that views the law as a game. A game where justice is not the primary object, but the clever manipulation of technicalities that rewards lawyers and judges who slyly peek out from under the blindfold of justice. Where the rich and the celebrated can skate free of punishment if they have enough money and influence. Remember that famous statue of the robed woman holding a balance scale, her eyes shielded from bias and chicanery? It appears she has been removed from her pedestal, and put away in the attic. Replaced by the slick smile of Johnny Cochran.


I know the rebuttal to this argument would point out that ours is an “adversarial” system based on the idea that justice is a prize of battle between competing prosecuting attorneys and defense lawyers. So be it. But what happens when the powerful are represented by a “dream team” that is the equivalent of the Chicago Bulls going up against Landrum High School? What happens when vigorous prosecution is forsaken because of political or financial expediency? What happens when celebrity becomes a formidable defense in itself?


O.J. is traipsing around the country playing golf, Enron big-shots are building mansions with money burgled from their stockholders and employees, Clinton is making a small fortune on the rubber-chicken circuit, and priests and bishops who conspired to rape young boys are telling us its none of our business. Are these not proof that our laws are being used more like a sword than a shield?


I have no profound answer to this dilemma. I can only hope that personal integrity and character will trump shrewd, but legal, mischief, and that all 

Americans will demand a return of the blindfolded lady in the robe to the pedestal of honor above our courthouses.


Jack Mason

June 29, 2002

USE IT OR LOSE IT

Omnipotence is a fancy word that could be used to describe the remarkable strengths that make our nation the world's only Superpower. Our modesty makes us flinch from comparing our destiny to Imperial Rome, or seeing ourselves as part of the continuum of history, writ large by all the ancient Superpowers that prevailed for a time, and then faded from the world's center stage. Even more than these earlier great Empires, America today is the dominant military, political, and economic civilization on this planet. And like it or not, it is our turn in the spotlight.


The American tradition repudiates bullying and aggression. We hesitate to flex our muscles and flaunt our superiority. But now the enemy leaves us no option except to unleash our awesome power to protect against their insanity and insure the future of democracy throughout the world. A return to the Dark Ages is the awful alternative. Unrelenting and unafraid, we must now attack on many fronts, apply all our resources of mind, body, and spirit to achieve complete and unconditional victory over Terrorism in all its forms, in all its locations.


Our enemies will agree with the cynics who claim American might is only a chauvinistic delusion, and they will act on the foolish fiction that America is an impotent paper tiger. Like the Japanese in 1941, they do so at their own peril. But unlike the Japanese our new threat is beyond the reach of reason or negotiation. They respect power, and only power. They are implacable enemies sworn to destroy us, or be destroyed themselves in the process. At this historic crossroad the signpost clearly spells out the sober imperative of our newly discovered omnipotence. Use it or Lose it!


Jack Mason,

Jan 8, 2002

Cheerleading for Liberty

CHEERLEADING FOR LIBERTY IS NO VICE

In the dark early days of WWII, French generals who had cut-and-run in the face of a smaller Nazi invading force, warned Winston Churchill that the Germans would “wring the neck (of Allied armies) like a chicken”. Years later, Churchill remembered the foolish French prophecy in words laced with his eloquent scorn, “Some chicken…some neck!”


In the early days of the Iraqi War, a similar whiff of defeatism emanated from a letter in the Bulletin. The author made no secret of his opinions when he described “Chuck and Jack” (presumably referring to Chuck Ross & Yours Truly) as “cheerleaders” for Conservatism, in lock-step support of President Bush’s ill-advised plan for ousting Saddam Hussein. Up to that point his letter got it right, but it went off track when it implied that we would soon get our comeuppance as Operation Iraqi Freedom fumbled and stumbled, our advances blunted by heroic Iraqi resistance.


Was the U.S. to become just another fat chicken about to have its neck wrung? Well, happily we all know now that our brave young people, their very competent leaders, and a strategy to spare innocent civilians was not about to let that happen!


Even with our stunning victory now in the history books, I have no illusions that the radical fringe will ever admit to its pusillanimity or abandon the America-Is-Always-Wrong worldview. It’s very likely they’ll persist in abusing free speech to camouflage their disloyalty; which of course is their right, so long as they stop short of giving aid and comfort to our enemies.


But for that gentleman whose letter I’ve been responding to, I’m hopeful he is not of that ilk and the events of the past month have opened his eyes. At the risk of paraphrasing Barry Goldwater to a Democrat, I would respectfully point out that cheerleading for the liberation of the Iraqi people was no vice, and tolerance of the Butcher of Baghdad was no virtue. We may continue to disagree on other aspects of Dubya’s plan for America, but now we should be able to concur that the whole world is better off because of skills, courage, and tact so nobly displayed by young Americans during three awesome weeks in the spring of 2003.


Jack Mason,

April 21, 2003

AN INTERESTING PHONE CALL

On Nov 4 I took a phone call from a stranger who had just read my Bulletin letter regarding the dirty tricks Democrats were playing in South Dakota—in particular reports exposing bribery of native Americans for votes. After identifying himself, he got right to the point by remarking something about my letter being printed on the eve of the election that sounded faintly accusatory. He then asked me if I truly believed Democrats were such rascals. I answered that I most certainly did!


His call had caught me off guard since I hadn’t yet seen my piece in print, and as it dawned on me that I might be dealing with a riled up Dem, I braced myself for a verbal donnybrook. The ugly images of Democrat bigwigs and the Clintons yukking it up at that awful Wellstone “memorial” were still stuck in my craw.


But he quickly put me at ease when our conversation revealed he was a gentleman and not an enraged partisan spoiling for a fight. He politely disagreed that all Democrats are scoundrels. His civility and good manners brought back memories of my own growing up in a blue-collar world where the Democratic Party resolutely opposed tyranny, and was justifiably perceived as defenders of the little guy and social justice. I tried to reciprocate his civility without compromising the clear evidence that the modern Democratic leadership has jettisoned these noble traditions. Decent traditions they cynically abandoned for a divisive, win-at-all-costs game plan that must be an embarrassment for decent Americans still in their rank and file. How else can we explain what happened on Nov 5?


So now I want to take this opportunity to thank that man who reminded me that honest differences of opinion and mutual respect are not incompatible. And I also want to salute all those voters who on Tuesday put the best interests of the country ahead of party ambitions.


Jack Mason

Nov 10, 2002

ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS OUR BIAS

Like Political Correctness, which as a force in our culture is the butt of jokes but still seems to grow like Topsy, media bias on behalf of Liberal politics suffers regular & frequent exposes, and not only persists, but becomes increasingly blatant. Even when “mainstream” TV & print outlets lose some of their customers, offended by shameless partisanship, the NYT, CBS, ABC, et al. continues down the path of undisguised favoritism for Democrats. The Dan Rather fiasco is just the latest example of how far the media establishment is prepared to go to get John Kerry elected. Or more accurately, it reveals just how determined these folk are to getting Dubya unelected.


It is no longer a question of does Liberal bias exist, but why? As a retired businessman, on the surface this appears to me as a very un-businesslike form of hara-kiri. But is it really?


In an era of extraordinary cultural & political division, I’m wondering if just maybe the media shakers & movers have decided that journalistic traditions of objectivity and political neutrality are trumped by the need to sell newspapers to true believers and hold onto a smaller, partisan, but still sizable television viewership? Perhaps the driving force behind propagandizing is not only the print reporter’s or TV personality’s personal bias, but the bias of their readers, the bias of their TV audiences. The newspaper/network “suits” might then calculate that a half-loaf is better than none, and if becoming a shill for one of the national parties is the way to survive in a competitive news-world, then so be it. It ain’t exactly Edward R. Murrow’s style, but the world’s a lot different than when he wore a trench coat.


Although I have no way of proving that the mass media has made a conscious decision to come out of their Liberal closets, boldly abandoning factual truth for political fiction in order to ballyhoo a message that resonates to audiences in the blue states…it is at least a hypothesis that has the advantage of explaining why the media network giants would risk what appears to be a death-wish.


If this is so, I have no problem that this remains their free speech prerogative, and is maybe even a good thing; if finally we are liberated from the pretenses of bogus journalistic independence… so we can collect our Sunday morning newspaper at Owens with the full knowledge that the newsprint under our arms is likely to be as slanted as the space in which we parked our car.


Jack Mason, 9/15/04

A TALE OF TWO CULTURES

A Tale of Two Cultures...


Well describes the America of 2004, and the polarization that characterized the presidential fiasco in 2000. The USA TODAY blue and red map of our nation, geographically locates “Liberal America” and “Conservative America”, displaying with stunning clarity where the two ideological cultures live. My guess is that those colors are going to deepen in intensity before they realign, or fade away. Multi-Culturism, for good or ill, is certainly here.


I believe it also signals a new social-political phenomenon where bitter partisanship is pushing us ever deeper into the danger zone of disunity during time of war. It may even compare to the soul wrenching division that plagued the United States in Lincoln’s time.

Now, I know some people will say I’m an alarmist. I’m over the top! Preposterous! We’ve seen it all before, and survived, etc. I hope they’re right, and the future proves me wrong.


But compelling questions persist. Which Culture should prevail? Which one shouldn’t? Is there a middle ground? Those are, depending on your point of view, the traditional kinds of arguments we’ve had in the past. But in the current environment we can no longer pin our hopes on civil discourse, bi-partisanship and compromise. This new schism is so absent good faith, so far beyond reason, it can only drown us all in a sea of bile. And if the partisan gridlock of the past ten years doesn’t justify this pessimism, then what does?


The values of Liberal Culture are writ large on the rock of secular Humanism, government largesse, “well regulated” liberties and moral relativism. Conservative Culture is unmovable in its commitment to individual responsibility and freedom, respect for religious tradition, moral absolutes, and minimal government intrusion. Liberals dwell on America’s shortcomings, Conservatives on America’s nobility. So, our dilemma boils down to two irreconcilable views of the world. Not only do we not “get along”, it looks very much like we can’t “get along” anymore than the mongoose can get along with the snake.


Where that will take us is hard to say, but the current scenario mocks the notion that “moderation” will save the day. In the real world “Moderation” is sneered at as just wimpy straddling that betrays principle for expediency, and is detested by both Cultures. Just ask Joe Lieberman and John McCain. The only fans of “moderation” are the folks in the biased media, and then only if the “moderates” happen to be Republicans.


Maybe Cultures, like people, have to divorce when they reach a certain level of incompatibility, although I’m not personally ready for that kind of solution in America. I do find it ironic, however, that Al Gore may have been lucky to lose the last election, and I certainly don’t envy President Bush having to suffer his way through a campaign of “take no prisoners” in 2004. I also remember that back in ’96 when Pat Buchanan first defined this struggle as the “Culture War” he was scorned and reviled by both parties. But it looks now like maybe he was right, after all.


Jack Mason, Feb 10, 2004

Facing the Inevitable

FACING THE INEVITABLE


It seems to me that some ideas have a ring of inevitability about them. For example, even though it may be a long way down the road, my guess is that there is sure to be a major overhaul in the way income taxes are collected. Whether it comes in the form of a flat tax, a “sales” tax, or whatever—the present system is just too bollixed-up to survive. And likewise, I have no doubt that some form of prescription drugs will become subsidized for seniors. Ditto for school vouchers. The timetable for these reforms may be uncertain, but I think their ultimate enactment is not. Prescription drug coverage is probably most imminent, with school vouchers not far behind. Correcting the tax mess will take a lot longer, but it will get fixed.


Six months ago I thought that vouchers to allow kids to escape from failing schools was going nowhere. But like all ideas born of genuine need and fused with common sense, it has stubbornly hung in there—and now that the Supreme Court has confirmed its legitimacy— I’m hopefully optimistic it will happen. And well it should because it most influences the destiny of our country. By rescuing children from failing schools, it will impact the greatest threat to our national survival--ignorance. We have had enough of the shameful status quo.


All the hollow braying against vouchers seems to be melting like the wicked-witch in the Wizard of Oz. The vested “special interests” that fight so hard to keep their ox from being gored are losing ground every day. Or, at least so it seems to me.


In towns like Tryon where the money and will are present to watchdog decent public education we sometimes have a hard time seeing the need for vouchers. But we have to look beyond our good fortune to see the millions of students in blighted cities across America who are not so lucky.

From where I sit, Milton Friedman had it right 35 years ago when he first advanced the idea of free-market choices for schooling children. And unless my optimism is misplaced I think the inevitable is about to happen. What do you think?


Jack Mason, July 15, 2002

SUNNY JIM

As many of us watch, with embarrassment, the TV pictures of a former president of the United States cozying up to one of the most notorious dictators of the 20th century, it is only natural to wonder why is he doing this? What kind of rehabilitation does the man with the toothy, frozen smile expect from the bearded tyrant of the Caribbean? Does Jimmy Carter really think he can transform Fidel? Does he really expect Castro to slap his brow, and say—“yes, of course.. popular elections..an open society..why didn’t I think of that!”


Or has he, once again misplaced his hopes for selling the idea of democracy in Cuba, like when he misjudged the Ayatollah Khomeni, or the loony young dictator of North Korea. Remember how Mr. Carter gave away the Panama Canal so that today it is controlled by the Chinese?


The hard truth is that the man from Plains has a record of miscues and misreading of American national interests that ranks him as one of our most unsuccessful presidents. His down-on-the-farm persona and admirable home building hobby has not obscured the fact that he was a disaster as our Commander-in-Chief. And now he is compounding that failure, by fast becoming our most ludicrous ex-president. In time, Bill Clinton will probably win that dubious award, but for now the man from Plains tops the list.


In the meantime we have to endure good ‘ol Jimmuh’s cheerleading for those “superb” Cuban schools and hospitals, as maybe there is a lesson here for us to learn. While he only whispers about the atrocities of a despot who has violated every human right in the books, presiding over a nation in desperate poverty. A nation so economically backward that it drained the Soviet Communist treasury dry, and contributed to the financial collapse of Communism in Russia. And when Mr. Carter comforts us with his assurance that he didn’t see any evidence of bioterror development in Cuba, does that make us really sleep better at night?


And just for good measure Sunny Jim lectures the Cuban people that America also has plenty of warts. Sure, Jimmy, blame America first. And since America is imperfect, maybe Americans should not crow too much about our system and have a little more respect for different worldviews. Yeah, like tyranny.


Jack Mason, May 16, 2002

WWIII

I see a rationale for fighting & winning the War in Iraq that I haven’t heard before.


I begin by looking beyond immediate circumstances in the Middle East anticipating a much broader expansion of the war, on many more fronts, and in the not distant future.


That broader war will require aggressive action against many, if not all Arab states. At the moment Iran is the sole focus of our dilemma about how to react militarily to a WMD threat. Its only a matter of time, however, absent a mechanism to prevent it, that many more Arab countries will possess the nuclear sword of Damocles to hang over our head…a multiplication of danger so awful that whether Saddam had, or didn’t have WMD in 2003 will look laughable.


Against this sandy landscape, there is the Trojan horse threat of fanatical European Muslim populations that can paralyze if not destroy their host countries. All of which raises the distinct possibility that our old allies will cower in fright, forcing us to go it alone.

So, the question arises…how do we prepare, and/or what can we do to prevent or minimize this scenario? To begin, I personally rule out negotiation & compromise if it is to be of the unreliable PLA sort.


I suggest that succeeding in Iraq is our only hope. Even at that we still have the irrationality of the rest of the Arab world to anticipate.

Therefore beginning the tough job of responding to Islamofascism in Afghanistan & Iraq was not only a prudent beginning to our winning WWIII, but military incursions that not only buy us time to prepare for the wider conflicts, but gives us the opportunity to develop technology & strategy to fight…and win…a war unlike any we have ever had to in the past.


I see it as akin to those NFL exhibition games that help teams prepare for the real thing…


JM 8/29/05

BEYOND DONKEYS AND ELEPHANTS

For years I’ve been trying to sell my Conservative views to Liberal friends. I’ve tried sweet reason, blunt argument, and even my dubious personal charm, but with very little success. However, I like to think that as fair-minded adversaries they respect my right to my opinions, as I do theirs. Yes, we write competing letters to the editor sometimes confusing facts with opinion and logic with passion, but at the end of the day we can respectfully agree to disagree. Or so I thought, until recently.


Now there appears to be a new gang of crazies crashing onto the stage of our civilized debate.


These bullies reject reasoned argument and courteous discourse. Their weapons are shrill invective, and false accusation. And they’re not just fringe kooks. They betray Conservativism by bombing abortion clinics, and shame Liberalism with outrageous slander equating our President with Bin Laden and Hitler. They are self-serving hustlers who bludgeon decent citizens with charges of racism, or lapsed loyalty.


They are haters of religion, patriotism, and most of all our way of life. In the past they called themselves Weathermen, Black Panthers, and Alabama sheriffs. Today their cover is the University, the traditional home of academic freedom, now dominated by odious one-dimensional elites in bow ties. Their enemies are God fearing Americans; their religion secularism; their catechism political correctness. With haughty certitude in their own righteousness, they’ll clobber you into compliance if you dare disagree. They crow about diversity in everything… except that which conflicts with their worldview.


Foreign madmen slaughter innocent office workers in the Pentagon, and the next day an American college professor applauds their murder. Another obscene academic insults the Twin Towers victims, desecrating their memory by comparing them to “little Eichmanns”.


Raising American academic standards are thwarted by teachers & politicians more interested in defending tenure & exploiting minorities…and at a time when the rest of the world is hot on our heels upgrading their schools. Children are chided for playing games with violent themes, and then allowed to attend movies and watch television awash in blood & guts. We rail against discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, or national origin, and then hypocritically insist that everything be decided according to—you guessed it—race, creed, color, etc. It might be funny if it weren’t so sad.


Democrats and Republicans alike should be alarmed by the deepening shadow of intellectual dishonesty and ideological intolerance that threatens to blot out the bipartisanship necessary to make a Republic work. The new enemies of America have no use for our old tradition of give-and-take. They see politics as a struggle to the death. They’ll throw in with any party that’s foolish enough to provide them a platform…and if they have their way, the Donkey and the Elephant will wind up on the endangered species list.


Jack Mason 4/17/05

Regime Changes are Coming...Like it or Not

When we hear so many Americans, and others, anguishing over the U.S. preemptively taking out Saddam Hussein, I wonder if these same folks realize that our sworn enemies also have “regime change” in mind.


But Al Qaeda’s idea of “regime change” is to reinstall slavery in Iraq and Afghanistan. Forget popular elections, freedom, liberty and all that good stuff. Their plan is to inflict religious tyranny, presided over by Mullahs in black turbans and robes, so they can add two more countries to their list sponsoring Islamic terrorism. And when they finish setting up shop in an abandoned Iraq & Afghanistan, they’ll take aim at Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and every Muslim country in the Middle East. That is, if they don’t try to take down Israel first.


And with those sorts of credentials, they’ll enjoy plenty of credit with the unscrupulous merchants of death who do have WMD for sale. And from that point on, it’s anybody’s game to win or lose, making our breast-beating over “regime changes” look like a sad and frivolous historical footnote.


From there they’ll move on to those other nations on this planet with growing Muslim populations, hoping to conquer more than Hitler or Stalin ever dreamt of. So, please spare us the nonsense that these hideous ambitions are George Bush’s fault, or could have been kept trapped in a box. Don’t insult our intelligence like one of our presidential wannabes who says these horrible prospects can be managed down to the level of being more a nuisance than a menace? THIS IS WAR, PERIOD.


You can bet the farm that Al Qaeda is planning on a defeatist media that will depress our morale & willingness to stick it out. You can be sure they’re praying fervently to Allah that we’ll elect a new and wobbly American president who’ll talk 300 million confused citizens into throwing in the towel to a mob of less than 20 thousand thugs; a mob whose only weapons can be carried in their hands. No tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, or airplanes. No technology. Just ragtag Arabs scaring the beejeezus out of a nation blessed with the best equipped & trained military in the world; a country they’re confident they can rout with dynamite, small arms, mortars, rocket propelled grenade launchers…and perseverance. Sounds crazy, but it could happen.


A ragtag army, by the way, that is willing to die for “regime changes”, unburdened by any Pollyanna concerns that “regime changes” may not square with their traditions…may not meet with UN approval…may not be fair, etc. etc. No, they don’t lose sleep worrying about these kinds of niceties, and when we do…we’re just playing into their bloody hands.


Keep it in mind when you vote on Nov 2.


Jack Mason, Oct 26, 2004

VIETNAM & KOREA

In the Bulletin of July 11, Mr. Bill Holcomb wrote an extensive rebuttal to someone he referred to as “CCR” (the Contributor from the County of Rutherford)”. Since he never mentioned the name of the person for whom he (Mr. Holcomb) was setting straight the historic record, I can only guess it was Mr. Chuck Ross. If so, I’m sure Colonel Ross can and will respond to the details of Mr. Holcomb’s wide ranging history lesson.


But to one of Mr.Holcomb’assertions I want to offer my own respectful correction. It refers to his claim that the “U.N. Police Action” in Korea was responsible for “about half the number of Americans were killed as were killed in Vietnam”. In truth, the Department of Defense Table 2-23 informs us that the comparative percentage was 71%, not 50%.


Korea, a war that was compressed into three years caused the death of 33,651 U.S. servicemen, or an average of 11,217 each year. The Vietnam conflict, over a period of nine years resulted in 47,378 deaths or on average 5,264 casualties each year.


I offer these numbers, not to barge into Holcomb’s debate with CCR, or assign more honor to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in Korea, but to try to put their last full measure of devotion in clearer perspective.


Jack Mason


July 16, 2003


859-8356

DIVIDE AND CONQUER

It doesn’t require genius to suspect that radical Muslim terrorists are licking their chops to convert American Muslims to their satanic cause. The recent arrest of homegrown Islamists who tried to enlist in Al Quaeda may be the first evidence of a concerted effort to sell Bin Laden’s poison here in the U.S. Early indications are that a Muslim foreigner was the recruiting sergeant to these terrorist wannabees in Portland, Oregon, and a mosque his recruiting office.


Population estimates of American Muslims range from 5 to 10 million, 40% of who identify themselves as African Americans. Additional estimates point to the probability that many young, male American Muslims underwent conversion while in prison. These numbers are estimates and not an airtight census—but they clearly indicate that Islam has appeal to a large segment of minorities. To speculate that some of these folks are more attracted to Islam because it is a repudiation of the country of their birth…is also not unreasonable. Whether this disconnect is valid, or not, is another subject altogether. My point now is that our enemies are very likely to target these people for exploitation, and we can’t afford to stick our heads in Politically Correct sand. Sensitivity yes, stupidity no. So, what to do?


I have to admit that this is a much bigger question than I’m equipped to answer. But for starters, I think American leaders, especially minority civil-rights leaders, have to disabuse their followers of Islamic fundamentalism--not with just lukewarm criticism but with the fire-in-the-belly eloquence for which they are famous. As for congressmen who bad-mouth the U.S. in our enemy’s back yard, we should express our disgust with them, and their kind, in the voting booth.


Its time for all Americans to stand together in solidarity as our best defense against blatant and subtle attempts to pit us against one another. Free speech may protect demagoguery and irresponsible defaming of our country. But it must be made clear that it is no longer absent a price tag—a much higher price than we had to pay before the horror of 9/11. Incendiary rhetoric can now ignite passions that could burn down the house we all live in.


Jack Mason


October 4. 2002

When seeing is not believing

Imagine a small group of kooky dooms-day cultists waiting in the pre-dawn mist on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Convinced that this is the day the world will end, they’re gathered there to be consumed in a fiery explosion. Instead, the only devastation that occurs is visited upon their bogus prophecy by the routine rising of the sun revealing just another normal day on earth.


This laughable scenario reminds me of Liberal true-believers when facts intrude upon their fantasies Remember how certain they were that Ronald Reagan would bungle America into depression and WWIII? And when he rallied the economy and defeated Soviet Socialism his critics held steadfast to their claim he was only an affable moron? For example do the Reagan haters who were certain our former President was stumbling America into WWIII, instead of defeating Socialism, really think gobbledygook, or name calling, are rational responses to their disproved theories? When the supporters of 40 years of failed welfare policies, howled that 1996 reforms would starve children and murder innocent poor people did they face up to the truth when these reforms generated positive results and their catastrophes did not materialize? Ditto for any reforms that might be imposed upon our failed Public Schools. Or, more recently did the party of peace-at-any-price that preferred Saddam to freedom, and who tried to frighten us with the specter of countless American GIs coming home in body-bags recant when their dire predictions didn’t come to pass.? No, the leader of the House Democrats just offered the preposterous notion that Hussein’s regime would have collapsed anyway. Sure, and someday pigs will whistle Puccini!


That truth so frequently trumps Liberal fictions is not what strikes me as amazing. All partisan ideologies are imperfect and are at times wrongheaded. But what strikes me as different is the out-of-control, virulent contempt for our President that seems to obsess today’s Liberal Establishment. It has become so vicious that pulling down George Bush blinds them from being able to do what’s best for America. Sure, Conservatives didn’t shy away from Clinton bashing, but at least it’s arguable that Clinton brought much of this upon himself. Indeed Clinton’s contribution to hateful partisanship may be all there is to his shameful legacy.


If good faith is abandoned for a “my party first, my country second” philosophy, we might all of us wind up on the cliff’s edge, looking foolish. In today’s world this criticism may apply more to the party that doesn’t reside in the White House, but Republicans must be careful not to claim immunity from this insidious disease. A “take no prisoners” strategy may be necessary to do battle with Terrorism, but our homeland politics cannot survive such a mentality.


Jack Mason, May 1, 2003

THE LAST FULL MEASURE

There are many “70 something” old-timers living in Polk County. In the last century they defended us against horrendous assaults upon our way of life,and triumphed. Their claim to our respect and honor is unquestioned, but they are the last to make that claim themselves. They mask their valor living quiet, modest lives that echo the humility and decency of their generation. Duty, honor, and country are the scaffolds upon which they built their contribution to our history and that informs their view of the world, even today.


One of the members of the “70 something” generation is missing, however. He sleeps in a small graveyard, in the shadow of a little mountainside Church in rural North Carolina. I met his sister today, an elderly southern lady, tending his gravesite and grieving his death as if the dreaded “We regret to inform you…” telegram arrived only yesterday. She is also of this noble generation, and when she last saw her brother she was only a young girl, and Bryant was a 20 year old country boy going off to war.


Bryant Womack, you see, was Army Pfc. B.Womack in 1951 when he was sent to struggle in a place on the other side of the world called Korea. Young Bryant was thrust into the agonies of that awful place and attended his combat buddies as a medic. On March 12, 1952, Private Womack, not yet 21 years old, surrendered his own life while trying to save others. Even though he endured horrific wounds, he placed his responsibility to his comrades ahead of his own injuries; ahead of his own life. And for this he died a hero’s death on a dismal hump of ground near a place called Sokso-ri. A grateful America awarded him its highest commendation, the Congressional Medal of Honor. A grateful community named a public building after him, and the U.S. Army remembers him with a Fort Bragg hospital that bears his name.


For all of this, Bryant can never again farm the bottomlands along the Broad River, or play his banjo. He can never be inspired by a loving wife, see his children grow up, or know the joy that they would bring him when he joined the “70 something” crowd himself. Instead Bryant left us a poignant memory of how courage and selflessness can combine to make this a better country, and a better world. He truly gave us the last full measure of his devotion.


But Bryant and others like Bryant live among us today. We see them in the supermarket, in restaurants, on the street, and cheering the little kids playing soccer at Harmon field. They are the white headed, wrinkled old folks that Bryant would resemble if he had escaped his fate 50 years ago on that terrible hillside in Korea. Like all the other young men, whose lives were cut short for us to survive in this dangerous world, you can still contemplate Bryant when you visit the Lebanon Methodist Church cemetery in Pea Ridge. You can witness him in an America free from the tyranny he died opposing. Or just maybe next Sunday in church you can see him when you look into the eyes of that dignified old gent sitting beside you


REMEMBERING A HERO


Jack Mason, April, 2001

ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL

When the New Orleans mayor predicted levee flood deaths could rise to tens of thousands, he was evoking a specter of horror that could have happened but, Providentially, did not. As I write this letter another tempest is developing in the Gulf, and we can only pray it will not once again hammer the poor souls in New Orleans and the nearby Gulf Coast.


So, how is that this horrible prediction didn't come to pass? Maybe it's because of the courage & resourcefulness of many young American rescuers: Soldiers, coast guardsmen, policemen & firemen, volunteers from all over the U.S.,and relief agencies like the Red Cross...as well as an avalanche of American sympathy & help. So when the dust settles the actual number of deaths will likely be in the hundreds, more comparable to the number of victims criminally murdered each year in the Big Easy than the toll of a Tsunami mega-disaster. I know this may not be a politically correct comparison, but I'm making it anyway.


As a consequence we now have the possibility that the Crescent City, saved from destruction and criminal chaos, will have a shot at being an historic town that rises from troubled waters to a brighter future than existed before August 29, 2005. This, of course, is what should be the focus of our attention and effort. But I think we all know better.


Future news stories are certain to be dominated, ad nauseum, by negativity and a one sided war of words by Bush's accusers. Giving Bush credit for winning a game he was losing in the early innings will be out of the question for the media and his partisan detractors. Dancing on Bush's grave, and blatantly lying about how the Bush tax cuts caused New Orleans poverty, as "no class" Bill Clinton did on 9/18 TV talk shows, are just more examples of how Democrat honchos once again insult the intelligence of Americans and underestimate a President who dares to lead. And while we find these rascals rooting against the home team, to their consternation the rebirth of New Orleans & the Gulf Coast is moving ahead and be will be part of Dubya's shining legacy. No wonder the Lefties are going ballistic.


This is not to suggest we don't try to learn from this tragedy or overlook grievous dereliction. But giving over precious time & energy to finding fault and even inventing it to make political hay...strikes me as being not only unfair and distracting to the reconstruction of the devastated Gulf Coast...but contrary to the American tradition of solidarity in times of national emergency. For just once, I hope we can leave the political football in the closet and get on with being our brother's keepers. But I seriously doubt it.


Jack Mason

Sept 21, 2005

THE WAR AGAINST THE WAR

THE WAR AGAINST THE WAR

The recent Senate committee hearings that put Donald Rumsfeld and his generals in the “hot seat” had a certain inquisitional quality to it. Listening to former KKK grand Cyclops, the slobbering Senator Byrd mocking Rumsfeld, and in the process the troops that Rummy commands, was infuriating. Watching that bloated boob, Ted Kennedy, call for the Secretary to resign was nauseating…and remindful of the resigning Kennedy didn’t do after leaving a young girl to drown in a creek.


But for all of its irritating annoyances, the hearings had this redeeming educational benefit…and that is how it revealed the way legitimate dissent can be hijacked by crass politics… crass politics that rubs up pretty close to treachery. But not to worry because all of this disloyal subversion is designed to get Democrats back in power. That is what their playbook calls for; and if it conflicts, the security of the United States can go to Hades.


The Dems strategy echoes a new expression of the old saw about how the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Just sub Osama for the “first enemy” and “George Bush” for the second enemy and there you have it…the Democratic ‘08 campaign motto!


Now some might consider this an unfair indictment of all Dems, and I agree. But it certainly is spot on re. the leaders of the extreme Liberal faction that currently controls the party…the ones Democratic Senator Zell Miller excoriated in his historic speech before the Republican Convention.


Consider these two questions if you will… The US “wins” the war in Iraq and Iraq goes on to become a democratic Middle Eastern bulwark that defuses the terrorist threat to destroy America. Do you think this is something guys like Kennedy truly want to see happen, and put Dubya in the Hall of Fame? Or might he and his ilk prefer seeing Iraq dissolve into chaos and disgrace for America… just so long as it guarantees that Bush & the Republicans will be prevented from ever again occupying the White House?


I think most people know the answer, but now you must decide for yourself. Your country is at stake.


Jack Mason, June 28, 2005    

OUR UNBRIDGABLE DIFFERENCES

A Conservative advocates reduction in the overall size of government and government regulation. He is for reforms that will command less confiscation of personal wealth, exponential government growth and ever escalating intrusions in our lives. He will tell you that his logic bases on good business practices, human nature, and conforms more to the legacy of our founding fathers than does the “nanny state”. He’ll also tell you that the inevitable corruption that finds it way into all governments is blunted when they are smaller, transparent, and more manageable. As political theory, he’ll also tell you smaller less intrusive governance has the advantage of inhibiting those that we elect from becoming masters instead of servants of the people. All of this said, however, doesn’t preclude the probability that some Republicans will be excessive in their opposition to necessary governance…but good intentions don’t necessarily qualify as good ideas…and is a lesson both parties should learn.


A Liberal will rarely speak out in clear support of a gargantuan, meddling government. But Democrat liberals and some Republican “moderates” as well, seem inclined to simply let it happen, as happen it will when government seduces more & more individuals and interests groups with welfare & privilege: forging chains of dependency that bind citizens to the give-away party in the way a drug junkie is bound to his dealer. Although Democrats don’t brazenly champion big, domineering control over every detail of our lives, they advances these ideas, not so much by promoting them, as attacking those that oppose them.


This is the liberal Democrat who will tell you the conservative reformer Republican is just being greedy & selfish, and has no compassion for the needy or anyone other than themselves. The liberal won’t deny the historic failure of the Socialist states, as he continues to pad quietly down that same road because he is convinced the collectivist ideology can work “under new management”.


He won’t openly plump for bloated government & oppressive regulation, because like admitting one is a liberal, this would be counterproductive. At best this fellow truly believes in “militant compassion”, and all who disagree are sinister enemies to be despised and to be resisted by any means necessary. At another level there exists non-ideological politicians of all stripes who know that as long as Paul is in the majority; robbing Peter to keep him happy is an unfailing formula for political dynasty.


THEREFORE, THE UNBRIDGABLE DIFERENCE BETWEEN LIBERAL DEMOCRATS AND CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICANS RE. GOVERNMENT SCOPE IS THAT DEMOCRATS ARE UNSHAKABLY SANGUINE ABOUT BIG GOVERNMENT. IN SPITE OF ITS VULNERABILITY TO CORRUPTION AND INEFFICIENCY, THEY’RE INDIFFERENT TO THE EVILS OF CONCENTRATED POWER, BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE IT DELIVERS THE GREATEST GOOD TO THE MOST PEOPLE. IT’S A PRICE THEY’RE WILLING TO PAY THAT REPUBLICANS ARE NOT. DEMOCRATS WILL COMPROMISE THE SCALE OF GOVERNMENT ENLARGEMENT, BUT NOT IT’S SHRINKING, AND THERE’S NO DOUBT THAT MANY REPUBLICANS HAVE SURRENDERED TO THIS INEXORABLE TIDAL DRIFT TOWARD THE “NANNY” STATE. LIBERALS SEE HAPPINESS IN TERMS OF SECURITY AND MATERIAL WELL BEING, AND AS AN ENTITLEMENT ONLY GOVERNMENT CAN CREATE AND DELIVER. CONSERVATIVES DON’T.  

DON'T LAUGH AT LAFFER

 Laffer has the last laugh

Way back in the eighties Professor Art Laffer conceived what we now call the Laffer Curve. His idea is that at some point tax cuts actually increase tax receipts and he plotted those points in a bell curve format. From that point on the curve, higher taxes only serves to depress investment and new job creation. In other words the Golden Goose begins to choke on taxes that discourages her from laying the golden eggs that advance and grow our economy…you know, the economy the Dems told us was the worst in 50 years!


You do remember saying that Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Dean, Mr. Kerry, etc?


Now exactly where on the curve we start to head downhill is subjective, but if results really matter, the record shows it isn’t the Dems who seem to know best where that point is. But, in my opinion, since the Dems aren’t dopes they also know, deep down, that in tax policy less can be more---but not when they’re addicted to spending more and more money to make more and more people dependant upon them. Not when they try to parley class envy into votes. Then the rules of economics go out the window and politics comes in the front door.


So let’s get serious and look at Office of Budget Management numbers. That “lousy economy” the Dem leadership campaigned on last year is booming so much it justifies a new OBM budget forecast. And what does that forecast reveal? It shows that the Bush tax cuts—which the Dems told you would put workers out on the street and all of us in the poor house—are making the budget sink like a stone, down from $427B to $333B, or a savings of $94B. Not exactly chicken feed, wouldn’t you say?


But you just know that the Dems and their media buddies are going to try to hang double-talk crepe on these numbers. However their misinformation will be rendered impotent by the back-up figures also coming out of Treasury, where the hard numbers of tax receipts have actually increased since the Bush cut taxes. For the first nine months of fiscal 2005, Treasury took in 15% more tax money compared to last year. During that period the federal government deficit of $250B was 24% lower than last year.


All of this probably explains why the Liberals are no longer pushing the wacky idea that our economy is in the tank. But if these guys can be so off the mark understanding our finances, and so off target in how to deal with the threat of international terrorism, how can they ever be trusted to run the country?


P.S. To recent letters of outrage from Mr.Weathington & Ms. Johnson I respectfully request that they stick to challenging my facts instead of assigning me horns and a tail. As for Mr. Don Weathington’s psychoanalysis…I think I’ll stick to the professionals for that, thank you.


Jack Mason,


Tryon, NC, July 22, 2005

FACTS OR FICTION?

FACTS VERSES FICTION

If there is one constant & unrelenting criticism by Democrats writing letters to the Bulletin bashing President Bush…it’s that Bush tax cuts coddle the rich and punish the rest of us. On this talking point, local & national Dems are in lockstep; but do they have the facts on their side?


You can decide for yourself. Just visit the Treasury Department Office of Public Affairs website and read their report of March, 2005. Below is just one direct quote from that report that gives lie to the Dems claim that Bush is robbing the poor to give to the rich…


“The Presidents tax cuts have shifted a larger share of the individual income taxes paid…to higher income taxpayers. In 2005, when most of the tax cut provisions are fully in effect (e.g., lower tax rates, the $1,000 child credit, marriage penalty relief), the PROJECTED TAX SHARE FOR LOWER-INCOME TAXPAYERS WILL FALL, WHILE THE TAX SHARE FOR HIGHER-INCOME TAXPAYERS WILL RISE.”


The Treasury Report offers up many more compelling statistics that reveals Bush as not being cozy with Fat Cats while being unfair to Skinny Cats. And just because all taxpayers benefit from tax reductions doesn’t mean that the wealthy aren’t paying their share…unless, of course, you’re peddling class envy for votes. Maybe the top 10% of taxpayers, who pay two thirds of all taxes now, should pay 70%, 80%, or why stop there…WHY NOT 100%? Now there’s a great idea don’t you think Hillary?


Doesn’t it figure, then, that if I read the report, Ted Kennedy & other Democrat leaders have also read it.? And if that’s true, then why do they persist in propagandizing a completely contrary and bogus story? You know…the baloney that GWB is a Neanderthal-lying-richkid-elitist-racist-warmongering-anti-feminist-homophobic-Biblethumping-redneck-reincarnation of Bull Connor!


Do they really believe the rubbish that Republicans want to stifle all dissent? If so, then why do the President’s enemies knock all Bush initiatives off the table...offering no solutions, only vulgar tirades instead of honest debate? How is it they never seem to get it that they’re insulting our intelligence with this tired old “let’s get even and soak-the-rich” pandering?


Is it because Liberal big shots are “stuck on stupid”, or because it works? Is it because the Democratic rank & file are so hungry for red meat they’ll eat anything their leadership throws at them?; or maybe ordinary Democrats are just a silent minority…embarrassed by all this absurdity, but not enough to speak out against it.


I guess we’ll have to wait until next year’s elections to find out. Till then, sort of reminds me of Will Rogers quote “It’s not the things we don’t know that gets us in trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t true.”


Jack Mason, October 11, 2005

BULLY IS NOT THE SAME AS LEVIATHON

“Bully” is the fashionable slur flung at Americans and American national policy these days. But a more accurate label might be “Leviathan”. Not the dictionary definition of a giant whale, but Leviathan---a metaphor for a superpower, as in the title of a famous book written almost 400 years ago by the Englishman, Thomas Hobbes.


Hobbes theorized many things—not all of which I share—but his hypothesis that survival of the world could best be assured by a nation of people so powerful that all others would “keep them in awe” does make sense to me. Hobbes felt that in the absence of the Leviathan, civilization would crumble, order would dissolve, and the world would come apart at the seams. Life for everyone on the planet would then be “nasty, brutish, and short”.


Mr. Hobbes had no way of knowing that the 21st century Leviathan would be a constitutional democracy called the U.S. He couldn’t anticipate the UN failing its mandate to be our communal Leviathan, degenerating into a corrupt and feckless debating society. Weapons of mass destruction were surely beyond his imagination, as would be the scourge of Islamic mobs armed with them.


Still History seems to bear out Mr. Hobbes, as evidenced by the hope we’re beginning to see and hear coming from enslaved people looking for Uncle Sam to stand with them in their quest for freedom; while home-grown and foreign Liberals adamantly continue to risk the dangers and dishonor of abandoning these poor wretches.


But if history charges the U.S. with achieving world peace through freedom, aren’t we obliged to adopt strategies for our own survival as the first order of business? If so, by what kind of crazy logic can preemptive strikes against terrorists & their enablers, who respect no law, be deemed unlawful in this kill-or-be-killed environment? Can any sane person make a case for waiting for another 9/11 or Pearl Harbor before going after rogue states with arsenals of WMD, who have no compunction about using them, or providing them in a New York Minute to religious fanatics?


Taking on these responsibilities, and standing firm we must also not allow our national interests to be sidetracked by effete anti-American foreign “Leaders” who are no more representative of all their people than Al Capone represented all Italians. The Liberal nonsense of Political Correctness that denies us the right to be “judgmental” also has to be laughed out of town if we are to rid the world of monsters like Saddam, Kim IL Sung, Robert Mugabe, and their like.


For those who say this isn’t our business, I said they were wrong when they were cozy with the Communists, and they’re wrong now. For those who say we can’t pull it off, I say we have no choice, and pull it off we must. For those who counsel retreat, I say their compass can only lead us to hell.

Now is the time we have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk if we are to keep faith with JFK’s words, “We will bear any burden, pay any price, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty”. Spoken like a true Leviathan, wouldn’t you say?


Jack Mason, Mar 5, 2005   

DEMOCRACY & WORLD PEACE

The phenomenon of anti-western terrorism tempts what might well be a short- sighted analysis. The conventional wisdom, for example, that bases on looking for “root causes” to explain fanatical hatred of America and other advanced democracies may have it right, after all. So, lets look at history for some indicators of what may be a broader vision.


We would see that every major conflagration of the 20th century pitted democratic nations against totalitarian regimes. In each of these confrontations, the totalitarian states were the aggressors. The exception would be our wartime alliance with the non-democratic Soviet Union that enabled us to defeat Nazi Germany. But even the USSR surrendered to a democratic model after they lost the Cold War. So WWII, followed by the Cold War, was primarily a struggle between totalitarian and democratic alliances, with the democracies coming out on top. Not only Russia was transformed by democratic institutions, but also almost all of South and Central America and in key spots throughout Asia like the Philippines, Taiwan and South Korea. The democratic coalitions not only vanquished the dictatorships, but also imposed on the vanquished nations like Germany and Japan, democratic governments that have prospered and endured for 50 years. A corollary advantage of each of these countries that have been forcibly detached from totalitarianism is a flourishing economy. A vital contribution to their stability, and the entire world.


In those places where this transformation failed, or has yet to take place, like Cuba, North Korea, China, Africa and the Arab dominated Mid-East the danger to world stability and western civilization remains the greatest. These are also regions characterized by non-democratic governance.


As of today, the prospect of a full-blown war against Iraq, or more particularly, Saddam Hussein is real and certain. If we fast-forward to a presumed total victory over Saddam, can we not also reasonably anticipate a replacement democratic government, not unlike what we established in Afghanistan after routing the Taliban. And if all of this actually transpires, can we not expect to defuse Iraq as a threat to world order? Which brings me to my point.


And that is this. If the U.S. can unilaterally, or in combination with other democracies physically remove ALL despotic Arab regimes, and install democratic governments, not only in Iraq, but Syria, Iran, Sudan, and most of Africa, would we not completely defang the mid-east terrorists and their threat to world peace. Maybe, forever?


Is it not reasonable to speculate that the real “root cause” of terrorism is the absence of democracy in those nations laboring under the yoke of totalitarian regimes. Would any of the states that currently nuture terrorists and export their evil to the rest of the world continue as threats to civilization if they were transformed to democracies? I think not.


So, perhaps our anti-terrorist policy should be folded into a larger policy that recognizes that the only true antidote to terrorism is the conversion of these states, by force when necessary, into democracies. The United Nations can only serve to be the instrument of world peace if it marshals all the energies of its members to make this happen..


JM

GEORGE ORWELL

In his visionary books, George Orwell revealed how totalitarian governments coerce uniform thinking and behavior to achieve complete control over all citizens and their institutions. Some of the target institutions include the educational establishment, the news media, entertainment and art forms, all means of production, the military, religion, and government itself.


Orwell’s masses are controlled through sophisticated group brainwashing techniques that compel the thinking and conduct desired by the State. A first step in this control process is to reform all spoken and written language. Meanings of words are blurred and adulterated to blunt their precision, and make them more efficient lubricants of government propaganda. The new dictionary of State approved language is called “Newspeak”, and gives expression only to approved ideas and actions, not unlike what we know today as Political Correctness. Individuality in all forms is purged in favor of conformity and submission to the Dictatorship of the Politically Correct elite.


I think we see in America today the incarnation of some of these Orwellian ghosts.. like the “newspeak” that spills out of the mouths of some of our politicians, pundits, and mass media. For example…


Witness how our President pondered what the correct meaning of is..is. Or, his Vice-President’s lame alibi, “no controlling legal authority.” Add to this, calling tax cuts “risky schemes”, and tax spending “investments.” Or using the deception of labeling improperly cast ballots as “uncounted votes” as if they were orphan equivalents to properly executed ballots. How about chest thumping rhetoric exhorting “the will of the People”, and “Count every vote”, when the same politicians deny the vote to our soldiers and sailors, and extend the right to felons. What about the mendacity of accusing indignant citizens of “rioting” when they properly demonstrated against a sinister attempt to count votes in back rooms away from all scrutiny. Then there are the bogus claims that blacks were denied access to polls, “by dogs, guns, and police,” that turns fiction into fact by the constant repetition of politicians, race hustlers, and the media.


These incidents are more than innocent exercises in hyperbole. They come precariously close to Orwell’s cautionary tale, reminding us that words have meaning, and consequences. The enemies of our way of life will twist and torture language to turn truth on its head, as a first step in dismantling our heritage. So, listen closely, you may hear the spinning sound of “newspeak” on the six o’clock news tonight. 1984 has come, but it is not necessarily gone!


Jack Mason, 12/10/00

MADE IN CHINA

I think an important fact is being overlooked in our debate over how to deal with China.


In that debate there is much anguishing over the cheap goods made in China that would be denied us if we had a serious confrontation. The assumption in that worry is that the Chinese have exclusive control over the flow of these goods into our country, and any shut-off would come down heavy on only the USA. This is not true because an interruption in trade would also very negatively impact China as well.


Although the Chinese factories are indeed the makers of these products, they have a critical dependence upon American marketing that when combined with their low cost manufacturing results in a successful enterprise.


In the absence of this vital input from our folks, I think the Chinese, on their own, would be unable to make the right products, at the right time, in the right packages. They would also be unable to execute the sophisticated distribution and advertising that lubricates the consumer demand for products in the fast moving and very competitive U.S. marketplace.


American entrepreneurs conceive almost all of the toys, clothing, sporting goods, and high-tech products that display the Made in China label. The partnering of our capital and marketing skills with foreign manufacturing is what makes possible the high-demand, low-price products we buy at Walmart. Product ideas that are relevant to the tastes and needs of the American consumer is the first obligation of good business, and without them a factory is like a ball-park without players.


If enterprising Americans were forced to find other “off-shore” manufacturing sources to make their products, I think they could. It might involve some dislocation and loss in manufacturing sophistication for a time, but it could be done. Remember, it’s a big world out there.


So, the bottom line is that a profitable economic partnership is like a winding river. It will go where it must in order to survive, and like a river the genius of American business is its ability to survive. In this high stakes poker game we should not allow ourselves to be bluffed, or forget that we too are holding some pretty decent cards.


MADE IN CHINA


Jack Mason

FAIR & BALANCED??

GUARD DOGS OR LAP DOGS?


Veteran Newsday Washington correspondent Elaine Povich reported that only 7% of all Washington correspondents voted for Bush Sr. in 1992; as compared with 37% of all American voters who went for Mr. Bush. Other surveys of earlier elections by Lichter (1986) and Weaver (1996) report similar lock-step loyalty to Democrats by journalists. For more details, consult 2003 University of Chicago survey report A Measure of Media Bias.


These revelations are more than just a "boys will be boys" side issue in American politics today. In my opinion they are an alarming threat to a democracy dependant on an accurately informed electorate. If the knowledge, worldview and will of the people can be manipulated, then so can the government of and by the people. This is such an obvious danger, I'm amazed that we yawn at its persistence, and for the record... I claim this would be equally as dangerous if conservatives dominated the media. So lets look at some facts.


In the GHB campaign, the Ninth California District, which includes Berkeley gave 12% of its votes to Bush Sr., DOUBLE THE RATE JOURNALISTS GAVE TO MR. BUSH. In the Eighth District of Massachusetts, which includes Cambridge, 19% voted for GWB, TRIPLE THE RATE JOURNALISTS GAVE TO BUSH. In the Fourteenth District California, including Palo Alto, 26% voted for Bush, FOUR TIMES THE RATE FOR JOURNALISTS. So, in real life the media was dramatically more liberal than even the most liberal enclaves in America! And does anyone really believe that pattern has changed?


Now add to this picture the support Mr. Bush got in the most conservative of all states. Mississippi yielded him 50% of the vote,a far smaller % than journalists (nationally) gave to Bush's opponent. In a later election Clinton enjoyed 89% of media votes compared to Ross Perot's 2%.


This imbalance is a real predicament. On one hand it has grave consequences--particularly in a dangerous world such as we live in today-- when one considers how much the media can influence public opinion and in the process shape government policy. On the other hand we have uniquely American treasures invested in our institutions of a free press and free speech. We must preserve those treasures, but we must do so without kidding ourselves that media bias is only a myth.


So, what to do? In the last analysis, we can only rely on a citizenry that is educated and fair minded enough to reject the frequently flagrant, but more often subtle media bias that colors today's political landscape; like emphasizing one dimension of the news, posturing opinion as fact and reporting only that which promotes a certain ideology.


In the end it will be the responsibility of we the people to resist being led down a path of destruction by journalists for whom a headline or TV news are just opportunities to advance an agenda. So, with tongue-in-cheek let me recommend that, for starters, we begin on Sunday mornings not rushing down to Trade Street to buy the you-know-what newspaper?


Jack Mason, 30 Hunting Country Trails, Tryon, NC 28782

April 10, 2006

GRUMPY OLD LADY

Resembling a much-hunted old bloodhound, she sits in the first row of the White House pressroom. Her name is Helen Thomas, the Liberal grand dame of the elite clique of reporters that cover the President of the United States. With in-your-face audacity she has been pitching “gotcha” questions for over forty years to nine different Chief Executives. To our current Commander in Chief she throws mostly hardballs, as she did to Bush Sr. and Ronald Reagan, while for Clinton and Carter she served up mostly softballs. Be that as it may, my quarrel with her today is with her 9/11/-anniversary column on the Internet.


In this column entitled, A Different America, she moans that George Bush, “with his conservative advisors egging him on” has succumbed “ to a new doctrine that smacks of old imperialism”. And when Dubya states the obvious and declares we are “in the first war of the 21st century”, she snidely wonders “is this any way to inspire the nation?” Our national peril seems to take a back seat to her concern for the sensibilities of terrorists.


She gets tangled in murky rationalizations of terrorist hostility “impelled by religious zealotry”, while being dead certain that in her own country we are being tyrannized by “widespread acceptance of unprecedented “big brother” security measures”, that foments “stereotyping and racial profiling of Arabs and Muslim Americans.” She claims conservatives are promoting internment camps and Federal officials are “employing wholesale deportations”. Of course, she provides no evidence to corroborate her overstated fantasies. Maybe she feels her credentials within the Establishment excuses her from this crass responsibility.


From reading these bazaar opinions of a very senior news personality, I can only wonder if she lives in the same world that I do. Her wrong-headedness notwithstanding, whatever became of journalistic political independence? It seems to me that if the mass media is willing to brazenly propagandize a particular political bias, they must know that they risk losing public confidence and professional credibility. But Helen Thomas is only one grumpy old lady in a crowd of journalistic flacks who seem to be willing to take that risk. And just for the record, although today’s reporting bias may be mostly Liberal, I would resent it just as much if it favored Conservatives.


Jack Mason, 30 Hunting Country Trails, Tryon, NC, 28782 9/11/02

REBUTTAL TO WEATHINGTON

Is it “name calling and character assassination” to tell it like it is about Senator Byrd having been a member of the KKK, and Teddy Kennedy the ignoble participant in the demise of Mary Jo Kopechne? If Mr. Weathington has evidence to the contrary about the dubious background of these two men, then I would be willing to withdraw my words, but if not I think Mr. Weathington should retract his dismissive accusations.


And if my commentaries were “shocking and sickening” about Kennedy/Byrd, in particular, and Durbin, Reid, Pelosi, and Dean in general, he should honor us with more evidence than simply labeling them “ludicrous assertions”. He should provide the facts that disprove my claim that their unpatriotic outbursts have been PR fodder for the enemies of the United States. And if he doubts that this is so, I urge him to read the gloating Al Jazeera coverage of their “dissent”.


Not rooting for the home team is another claim that I made & stand by as it relates to the Liberal Democratic leadership. If what they say every day about “quagmires” and their cynical emphasis on all the negatives in Iraq—without any recognition of the hard earned progress of Iraqis and American GIs—doesn’t have the effect of injuring our soldiers morale abroad, and our citizens at home, then words simply no longer have any meaning. Common sense is turned on its head when the Dems bash the Commander and Chief of our brave young military people, their mission, and at the same time claim to “support the troops”. It’s more than wrongheaded, it’s dishonest.


Any fair minded Democrat would have to take note that I clearly did not tar all Dems with the brush of anti-American opportunism. But I did state loud and clear that only someone blinded by partisanship can overlook the rantings, ravings—the “character assassinations” if you will—of the Democratic leadership. And Weathington has the temerity to try to pin that rap on Dubya, and yours truly?


As for Mr. Carl Rove and the unflinching certainty about Rove’s guilt...I wonder if Mr. Weathington would be man enough to admit his partisan wishful thinking when Rove doesn’t go to jail, or when that fails will he admonish us all to “just move on” as his compadres are so fond of doing when the light of truth demolishes their phony baloney arguments?


And finally I have to admit that I don’t know if Mr. Weathington is a psychiatrist...but if he isn’t I have to reject his “projection” analysis of me as medical advice as bogus as his politics.


Jack Mason, July 16, 2005

HISTORY'S STRUGGLES

Much of history seems to record the struggle between chaos and order, between the forces of anarchy and stability. Monarchies arose to combat the instability and dysfunction of tribes, clans, warlords. People surrendered themselves to kings, emperors, and aristocratic social orders, in exchange for the basic essentials of life. They gave themselves over to totalitarianism in exchange for stability: For deliverance from pain & suffering incomprehensible to us: For survival.


When seen from our comfortable position in today’s democratic America, the abuses of monarchies and other “national” consolidations obscure their original attractions to peasants in all corners of the globe. Those attractions are the same that still inspires man’s striving for a better life, for a personal and group identity. For a sense of well being and a sense of belonging.


Since man first ventured out of his cave, he has organized into groups to better deal with his environment. He formed tribes, clans, monarchies, constitutional empires, dictatorships, and ultimately democracies. Each of these new social formations was expected to deliver a better life than the one before.


This evolution, however, didn’t occur everywhere in the same way. Some parts of the world—maybe the larger part—is still organized around tribes and clans, the lowest rung of societal order and sophistication. One might see the entire range of possibilities when comparing Mongolian desert nomads and the yuppies of Wall Street. They both rise in the morning to greet a new day in the 21st century, they both have to drink & eat to survive, and they both belong to groups whose rules dictate their lives. But these rules are beyond each other’s comprehension: Beyond each other’s imagination, and often beyond each other’s tolerance.


The intolerance, however, remains inert until their journeys intersect. That’s when the trouble starts.


“In order to form a more perfect union” was the rational basis for the formation of our country. But the intent framed in these famous words, could also explain every variety of social formation that man has ever attempted, from primitive tribes, to clans, monarchies, empires, dictatorships, and ultimately even democracies. Each of these formations were experiments at organizing for greater efficiency, greater power, and greater affluence. Later social models added even more altruistic objectives like liberty, and happiness to the menu.


Jack Mason

CATHOLICS AND POP CULTURE

THIS IS LETTER WRITTEN TO A FRIEND IN RESPONSE TO A LETTER WRITTEN TO HIM BY A "CAFETERIA" CATHOLIC


Reading this poor fellow’s stream of consciousness observations re. Catholics & how they rationalize, agonize over, or otherwise get tangled in their political/societal/cultural contradictions was painful. In my opinion, it reveals how just how acrobatic the mind can be in dealing with the basic shoot-out between life on the streets & Catholic dogma. Of course, dogma bites the dust every time. All of this points to the bottom line reality that modern culture has torpedoed Catholicism. And not unlike many other traditional moral congregations, we Catholics have abandoned ship but won’t admit that we’re now adrift at sea, preferring the illusion that we’re all still safely in our staterooms...


JM

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES

I can understand frustrated Americans who want us to hightail it out of Iraq & leave the Iraqis to fend for themselves. After all it’s Iraqis who are killing each other, as well as Americans caught in the middle of their shootouts, isn’t it? It’s not hard to buy into the notion that the Iraqi people are ungrateful and unworthy of the spilling of any more American blood. Nightly we’re told by a one-sided media that it looks like we’ve done our best, but failed. So why not just walk out the door we came in three years ago?


The answers to these questions lie in what would be the likely consequences…


For starters, it would almost certainly guarantee a regional, not just a civil war. Imagine the Iranians hard charging into Iraq, in support of their Shia brethren, strangling the fledgling Iraqi democracy in the cradle and certifying themselves as the top-dogs of the middle-east: After which nearby Sunni states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and others weigh in on behalf of their Sunni kin. In the middle of all this, suppose the Kurds declare the independent new state of Kurdistan, which ignites a war with Turkey? And what if Baathist Sunnis decide to glom onto the vital Kirkuk oil resource; and on, and on, and on…


In the old days, one could have expected the UN to keep a lid on this kind of strife. But in today’s world can anyone seriously expect this of the feckless UN? Can anyone realistically hope wobbly Europeans, or Iran’s business cronies like China & Russia will join the Anglo-American enterprise to establish democracy in the middle-east? I don’t think even a French speaking US President could pull that off.


What happens if Iran takes advantage of our absence to sucker-punch Israel with WMD? What happens if the appearance of an American defeat in Iraq emboldens Muslim fundamentalists all over the world to step up their reign of terror, especially on American soil?


A partisan might say, so what? It’s all George Bush’s fault, vote out the GOP rascals, bring the troops home, and all will be made right. But deep down I think we all know that’s a false promise. A pullout might give America the fleeting satisfaction of good riddance. But those who advocate quitting Iraq prematurely cannot dismiss the frightful consequences of doing so, unless they’re willing to risk the hounds from hell scratching at our own door.


Jack Mason, Tryon, NC, Aug 30, 2006

"SINK" MANNING

To local horse people, “Horse Whispering” is a new and more effective way to “break” horses. Yes, it’s also kinder than the cruel “Horse Whipping” technique…but what’s amazing is that this method of communicating and teaching a 1000 lb animal is not only possible but really works. It’s not a gimmick, but a wondrous new way for horse and rider to achieve a partnership based upon mutual understanding, trust & respect. The end result is known as “joining up”. That’s the magical moment when rider & horse become one, bonded in hours, for life.


I’m explaining “horse whispering” in order to reveal a remarkable Polk County neighbor who was in a very real sense a “whisperer” of people as well as horses. His name is “Sink” (William, Sinkler) Manning, and he died last October at age ninety, only one day after he played his last game of tennis. Since then I’ve been thinking about how I could explain to those of you who didn’t know him, just how extraordinary this ordinary man was. I say “ordinary”, not because he was, but because that’s they way Sink saw himself, and the way he preferred others to see him.


He didn’t wear his personal and family accomplishments on his sleeve, but instead devoted himself to quietly being a truly decent human being. In my own experience one of the most decent I’ve ever encountered.


So when his wife of 65 years, Barbie, agreed help fill me in on the details of Sink’s life, I soon found myself swimming in the ocean of Sink’s amazing biography.


There were his privileged growing up days, his illustrious Manning ancestors, four of whom were governors of South Carolina, his years at Yale where he majored in history and was a popular member of the varsity rowing team, his harrowing 33 missions over Nazi Germany in a B-17 bomber , his polo playing and horse activities, his volunteer community service, his do-it-yourself talent for making or fixing things, his remarkable physical condition that even into his eighties equipped him to hike all over the world… and of course, his inspiring example to me when I rode with him 10 years ago on the FETA horse trails.


Here was a man trained to be a captain of industry, but who had his own ideas about what was a good life. Shortly after marrying Barbie in 1940 Sink went off to war as a member of the U.S. Air Force. Following WWII, he and his adventurous city girl wife resumed married life at Belle Grove, their 1000 acre spread outside Columbia. There they raised cattle & horses…on a farm with some indoor plumbing but no electricity. If true pioneers still graced our history in the 20th century, it was Barbie and Sink.

When I sat down to scribble my respects to this tall, jut jawed, smiley John Wayne of a man, I couldn’t help but remember a 1997 trail ride with Sink when he told me an unforgettable story about his college days back in the late thirties. Riding a bicycle, on a bet with his classmates, Sink pedaled the 800 miles from New Haven Connecticut, to Columbia South Carolina. He was challenged to ride his bike home for summer vacation, with a $40 reward if he finished in one piece; which he did, and which indeed made him $40 richer.


But for all the many anecdotes that comprise the Sink story, there is one I came upon trying to organize this letter that deserves special mention. It was an eloquent tribute written by a woman who had been Sink’s student at Belle Grove back in the 50’s where he volunteered his time, knowledge and farm to instruct young people how to ride. Her name is Salley McInerney, today a columnist for the Anderson Independent-Mail, who in those days was one of the young people Sink taught compassionate horsemanship as well as compassionate living. This is what she wrote regarding that experience…


“What did we learn? We learned to jump big fences; we learned to gather in a galloping horse, bringing him to a smooth, effortless stop. We learned to polish our boots to a high, fine sheen and ride with the big boys—the Camden Hunt.


We learned about a particular brand of love that the magical man dispensed, the magical man who cared not a lick for city or society doings, even though he was a handsome gentleman: A Yale man with a fine family pedigree.


Although Sink was not at all preachy, he did say what he thought had to be said. Ms. McInerney describes it this way…


”I will never forget one such sermon. The young horse, small and unsure beneath me—skittered nervously across the ground. She did not like the look of the tall, white fence. We tried to jump it once and she had planted her feet firmly in the ground before it, refusing to take flight over the strange obstacle. I was frustrated. I did not like to fall.


Sinkler walked quietly over to us. He talked softly to the nervous animal. He wiped something from her eye. He patted her neck, reached for her mane and grasped it with one hand, then he placed his other hand on my knee and looked up. “I want you to settle down. I want you to walk her over to the fence and just let her take a look. Then make a circle, use your legs firmly, enough for her to know that she must go forward, but not so much that it scares her. I want your hands to be soft on the reins. I want you to guide her gently, but clearly. Talk to her. Tell her what you’re doing. Communicate with her. She will respond”.


Salley then goes on to say, “And so it is, I settled down and let my horse consider the fence. She stretched her head out and sniffed the obstacle. Then we made a small circle, breaking into an easy canter. I guided the young horse into the jump with firm legs, soft hands, steady voice. And she took flight.


Expanding on Sink’s influence upon her life, Salley sums it up…“And so it is that in many things I do, I first tell myself: “Settle down. Take a look. Firm legs. Soft hands. Steady voice.”


As for me, like Salley and so many others who knew him, I’ll miss Sink Manning the Magical Man. I can only hope our world has not seen the last of his kind.


Jack Mason 30 Hunting Country Trails, Feb 7, 2006

BASEBALL & TAXES

On July 11, a Letter to the Editor poo-poohed the parable about restaurant diners that depicted how Liberal Democrats view taxes. In that figurative tale the disparate dinner bill for each diner was symbolic of how taxes are levied by Democrats to reward some, and punish others. This symbolism was apparently not understood by the letter writer, who went on to infer that punishing successful folks is OK with him because, “the rich are different from the rest of us-they stick to themselves, and are unlikely to share.” (Maybe he should have added, “Off with their heads!”)


So, in the hope our egalitarian friend will better understand the reality of confiscatory taxation, here is a simpler analogy.


50,000 people attend a baseball game, but it is rained out and a refund was due.


Democrats persuade team to send refunds based on Democrats interpretation of fairness. This is their plan.


People in $10 seats get back $15, because they have less money to spend.


People in $15 seats get back $15, because that’s fair.


People in $25 seats get back $1, because they already make a lot of money.


People in $50 seats will have to pay another $50 because they have way too much money in the first place.


People outside the stadium who could not afford tickets to attend game will each get $10, even though they didn’t pay anything, because they need help the most!


If you believe that robbing Peter to pay Paul is a proper role for government, say so! But don’t attack the messenger who honestly points out how this government plunders some American citizens to bribe the vote of others. That is, of course, unless you just happen to be standing outside the stadium.


Jack Mason, July 14, 2001

HELPING THE HELPLESS

Providing refuge and comfort for needy animals is what we do at the Foothills Humane Society animal shelter. That’s our job. But sometimes we also encounter needy humans, like Kathy J.


Kathy J is a young single mother whose husband died in 1999, leaving her with two little girls, a dog, two cats, as well as a mountain of personal debt, and no family to help. Further complicating her desperate situation, she now faces a very serious 10 hour spinal operation, without which she could be paralyzed. It’s necessary because of an on-the-job injury not covered by insurance. Other State agencies are being appealed to, but so far no real help has been forthcoming.


I came into the picture when Kathy asked the Foothills Humane Society to care for her pets while she is hospitalized. Since boarding is not one of our missions, I’m looking after her dog Buddy and her two cats, on my own. Anita M. and Kim W. are friends who have agreed to take in Kathy’s daughters during this ordeal; and because Kathy doesn’t own a car, Cricket R., and Joyce at PCTA will arrange to drive her the five hours to the hospital performing the surgery.


In a recent letter, she wrote me, “Without the care and kindness of the above people, I would be lost. I’ve had to go on Medicaid to pay the many doctor bills and medications. And Outreach Ministry has stepped in with food, clothes, and Christmas presents for my daughters. Being alone and raising 2 children in Polk County (or anywhere) while sick is a scary thought. But one thing I’ve learned is that there are people here who care. As for the rest of Polk County that’s helped me, (and you know who you are), I’d like to thank you with all my heart. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”


I’m writing this letter now to pass along Kathy’s gratitude; to remind us that kindness to helpless animals, and occassionally their hapless owners, is an obligation and a privilege for those of us who are blessed with more comforts and more resources than poor Kathy. Kathy’s plight gives Thanksgiving special meaning to all of us here at the FHS, as we hope it does for all the readers of the Bulletin. Anyone interested in helping Kathy can contact Bank X, where a “Rescue Kathy” fund is available for contributions.


Jack Mason, Board member writing on behalf of Shelter manager, Vicki Sommers


Foothills Humane Society

I KNOW THAT YOU KNOW

“You could say that you’re leading me on…but it’s just what I want you to do.”... Lyrics of famous 1950s ballad.


In it’s it time the words of the popular song Misty celebrated romantic love.


In today’s upside-down world they could express our culture’s fascination and embrace of debauchery...that we used to consider unthinkable…unspeakable. Today the fashion is to surrender to every temptation, to scoff at surrender to every Corruption pedaled by entertainment, political, and education hustlers who consistently appeal to our base instincts. Hustlers who lower our standards, sneer at our morality and try to disabuse us of all that we held dear in the past. almost all of our old in order to substitute To their : That we are the fools; blinded by our hypocritical tradition, and ridiculous sentimentality.


In their view, the “truth” is that almost nothing from our past matters; the civility of language, the commitment of personal relationships, keeping one’s word, the honor of serving your country, respect for life, hope for the future. etc. These are these values our 21st century Pop Culture looks upon as a joke. We see the message of their ugly new world coming from vulgar Hollywood films and idiotic Hollywood celebrities…We hear it in the demagogic raging of our politicians…we cringe from it in the foppish babbling of Academics who despise our history & preach the nonsense that totalitarian Socialism could still work “under new management”.


The stunning success of American style capitalism, it’s warts notwithstanding , is mocked by the likes of Harry Belefonte from the balcony of his eight million dollar home…made possible in a country that doesn’t stand in the way of a handsome guy whose only talent is singing about yellow birds. And he has the chutzpah to defame his homeland as inferior to the squalid tin-horn tyrannies that he admires in the UN!


And then we have Tony Soprano who, for me, best illustrates our surrender to sleaze, “But it’s just what I want you to do.”


For a long time, I too bought into the sappy delusion that Tony was just another guy from a different culture, trying to provide for his family…that his barbarism is only part of a mean-streets, macho lifestyle that if not to be admired, should at least be “understood”. Being judgmental shouldn’t ever get in the way of our being titillated by his boorish personality & monstrous behavior. Nahhh, that’s not what cool folks do these days. We elevate the Sopranos to celebrity. We yawn at people getting “whacked’. We laugh at crudity that would embarrass a cave-man. We get up from the couch with the urge to take a shower, but we never do. We just remain silent. We just go with the flow.


I know because I’m that guy on the couch…and not at all proud of it…

SO, WHAT'S NEW?

This mess in post Katrina New Orleans triggered a recollection of something that occurred in 1995 when Mary Jane and I lived in a townhouse in Middletown NJ. Middletown was part of our lifestyle transition from Monmouth Beach, where since 1975, we had raised our three children...who were now on their own, leaving us a big house outsized for just two old codgers. So we decided to pursue a scaled down, less complicated existence in the nearby Atlantic Highlands section of Middletown. Our next door neighbors were a very pleasant couple in their early forties, and their 3 young children.


Angel & Jim Toma graciously helped us old-timers when snow had to be shoveled, or our little garden needed watering when we were out of town, etc. Angel looked like her name, and Jim put me in mind of Al Pacino with a deeper voice. He spent much of his free time exercising in his well equipped basement gym, usually with his two boys sweating right along with him. The Tomas extended us good humored respect that I think stemmed from our shared backgrounds growing up in no nonsense blue-collar Newark suburbs; that are today satellites of a city that has become a dreadful urban ghetto. You might say the generation gap was not our problem...


In those days Jim was an undercover Essex County detective whose dangerous work was offset by the tranquil suburban life he relished coming home to every night. They were truly a nice family, the Tomas.


It was September 1995 when Jim phoned me to ask if I knew anything about New Orleans from my years traveling on business. I told him what I had experienced the half dozen times or so that I visited customers in New Orleans and nearby Baton Rouge...information I recollected about hotels, restaurants, airline connections etc. After which I asked him why he needed to know these things?


He told me he had to go to New Orleans in a few days to recover a NJ fugitive mobster that was spotted by the Feds in NO. And so it was that Jim was assigned to return this wise-guy to Jersey for trial. The hoodlum thought he was safe in the Big Easy and had no idea he was about to be collared by a Jersey cop: A cop who had the legal authority and one-way plane ticket to bring him back to the Garden State in cuffs.


When I asked Jim if he was working through the New Orleans police department to make all of this happen, he emphatically said "Hell no. If those guys knew I was coming to get Mr. Bad Guy they [New Orleans cops] would make sure he skipped town before I ever got there." No, he said "I'm going down there on the Q.T. just to make sure that don't happen."


When I next saw him I asked how it all turned out. He smiled and answered by telling me that "No thanks to the NOPD, Rahway has a new resident!" ( Rahway, for non Jerseyites, is the site of a bad actors prison that is in no way a country club.)


And so, as you can see, New Orleans was polluted long before Katrina came to town...


Jack Mason

October 1, 2005

THE ALIENS WITHIN

“Alienation is when your country is at war, and you want the other side to win.” This was the message on the cover of a Vietnam era edition of Ramparts, a prominent left wing magazine. A shameful time when an American movie star cheerfully posed on Viet Cong anti-aircraft guns aimed at our jets, and when college demonstrators against the war giddily waved their support of our enemy with VC flags.


This kind of activism in the sixties was not new. It followed in the tradition of U.S. “progressives” who naively fought for the communists in the Spanish Civil War, who were blind to Stalin’s atrocities, who championed Fidel Castro as a “liberator,”and who were morally ambivalent about the Cold War.


Now we see it in the aftermath of Sept 11, when once again tweedy intellectuals, mushy headed Hollywood narcissists, and even some Democratic Party leaders are flirting with thinly disguised “alienation.” After discredited support for totalitarian Socialist utopias that collapsed, they now attach themselves to a corrosive anti-capitalistic nihilism that blames America first..for everything.


They were conspicuous in their silence following the Trade Towers incineration of 3000 innocents, resisting any impulse for sympathy or outrage as politically incorrect. Their phony “objectivity” was dismissive of the horror and barely concealed their smug satisfaction that we got what we deserved. Witness the college professor who applauded the fiery murder of Americans working in the Pentagon. Remember the knee-jerk whining about “inhumane” treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo; the braying over “unfair” military tribunals and the mawkish ranting about civil liberties for suspected terrorists? This was the gang who demanded “evidence” before going after Bin Laden. Whose sneering distrust of their own country, if not traitorous, is certainly dishonoring to the memory of those who died so hideously on that sunny morning last fall.


I firmly believe the majority of American Liberals are not disloyal or reflexive America haters, but I do think the mindless haters find the Liberal’s “tent” a convenient place to hide. I also think that those who would pull our nation down would have no compunction about pulling down American Liberalism with it. The legitimate American Left has an obligation to open its eyes to the aliens within, and renounce fanatics who loathe their own people, and their own nation. At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, I see it as nothing less than their patriotic duty.


Jack Mason


April 10, 2002

WHEN MIGHT IS RIGHT

The history of WWII demonstrates the power of a people motivated by love of country, even after they were betrayed by the Communist Revolution. In their heroic resistance against the invading Nazi juggernaught, the Russian people’s love of their Motherland triumphed over the German contempt of them as unter mensch, or sub-humans. Russian soldiers valiantly defended their imperiled homeland and produced stunning victories on the battlefield over the vaunted Panzers of the Third Reich. Red Army morale, fueled by patriotism, trounced the demoralized Wehrmact, weakened by the irrational fiction of a “super-race”.


In America’s battle with Islamic terrorists, I think there is an historic parallel that will ultimately bring us victory over their evil fantasies.


The wanton murderers of civilians who will stop at nothing are also driven by a senseless and consuming hate of a culture that they don’t even vaguely understand. The preposterous image of the West that they have constructed will fail the test of reason, although like the absurd message of Goebbels that hoodwinked the German people, the satanic gospel of Bin Laden may be an incendiary force with ignorant Muslim peasants. In the long run, however, the righteousness of our cause, partnered with stoic resolve and unrelenting military force will win out over the madness of this corruption of Islam.


There may be bumps in the road that challenges this certainty. But our eventual victory will be assured if we remain loyal to our history. Loyal to our traditions that have proven to elevate the body and soul better than any other system in the saga of mankind and loyal to those who have given their lives for our freedom. If we hold steadfast to these truths, we will defeat the psychotic monstrosities lurking in the shadows of caves in Afghanistan and palaces in Baghdad, just as surely as those brave Russian men and women who stood their ground at the gates of Stalingrad. We have both might and right on our side, and now we need the wisdom, courage, and patience to stay the course.


Jack Mason


March 6, 2003

UPSIE DOWNSIES

In my working days I was in the toy business. One of my employers was Mattel Toys who made a line of pre-school “little people” figures back in the early sixties called Upsie Downsies. These topsy-turvy characters were designed with feet where the head should be, and vice versa, and thus their whimsical name. Upsie Downsies figures & accessories were expected to tickle the funny bone of little kids, but despite their charming look, they turned out to be a marketing flop.


They remind me, however, that in the real world turning truth on its head can be a much more successful enterprise. Witness today’s Liberal Credo, more popularly known as Political Correctness and in particular its upside-down interpretation of Diversity and Tolerance.


Diversity used to base upon a respect for civilized people with customs and traditions different from our own. It required that we admit to qualities of honesty and decency in people that deserved it, even when their language, dress, and other cultural attributes were strange and unfamiliar. Fair enough.


But today, Political Correctness corrupts these noble intentions when it eschews common sense and indiscriminately attaches legitimacy to all cultures and lifestyles, no matter how wacky. When, in the name of Diversity, non-judgmental multiculturalism blinds us to what is perverse, threatening to our national survival, or assigns moral equivalency to that which is evil, we are back in the world of Upsie Downsie.


Tolerance used to describe an attitude of live-and-let-live respect for individuals, groups and philosophies different from our own. Not a bad idea. But today, at the same time “non-judgmental” Liberals are demanding we tolerate the intolerable, campus activists are mocking free debate, shouting down and censoring those who would dare to oppose their arrogant claim to PC “truth”. And with the full support of their professors, and Universities. Hello again, Upsie Downsies.


Perhaps the British Army was on to something when they surrendered at Yorktown during the Revolutionary War. Their evacuation after the surrender was accompanied by the fanfare of Royal military bands that played a song called, The World Turned Upside Down.


Jack Mason

WHY THEY MIGHT HATE US

Much of human history has been shaped by wars between nations whose object was to conquer, or to resist being conquered. Wars have been fought to steal or preserve property, seize control or repel invaders. They’ve been fought in the name of both noble and diabolical philosophies, and the “spoils” of war have always been a major incentive. Until now.


Islamic jihad against Western Civilization changes all that, propelled as it is by a fury that is beyond negotiation, or even self-interest. Jihad claims spiritual legitimacy that boggles our concept of spirituality. Jihad seeks not our wealth, our land, or our conversion to Islam. It is just a raging madness salivating at the prospect of slitting our throats.


Not since the Crusades, when Christian hatred of infidels failed to blot out the existence of all unbelievers have we seen such a struggle. But this time it is fueled by Muslim hatred abetted by all the horrible technology and carnage of modern warfare, and not with massed armies in the desert riding clumsy horses, and wielding swords, and spears.


Today’s fanatical barbarians at our gates have no intention of observing traditional conventions of war or civilized decency. That’s a given. But which rules of our free society, if any, must we abandon in order to interdict them? What civil rights, if any, must we put on-hold in order to survive? I certainly haven’t the answers to those questions but I do know that the Geneva Conventions won’t cut any ice with the Bin Laden’s of our world. And like the criminal who snatches a policeman’s pistol and shoots the cop, we can’t let terrorists turn our own democratic traditions against us.


In the meantime, what do our sworn enemies see on CNN? American leadership united to hurl the full weight of our military and moral strength against their assault on our way of life? No way…


They see a U.S. Supreme Court okaying sodomy, the absurdity of pop culture politics in California, a rising tide of approval for homosexual marriage, and a gaggle of wannabe U.S. Presidents bashing the current occupant of the White House, the terrorist’s most despised opponent.


Not exactly a prescription for winning the hearts and minds of Islamic Imams and fundamentalist masses that already have us pegged as Satan’s disciples, don’t you think? But then again, maybe I’m just being an alarmist.


Jack Mason, 30 Hunting Country Trails, Tryon , 8/1303

ONE MAN'S OUTRAGE

Every sordid new scandal metastasizes the cancer menacing the Roman Catholic faith. Until recently... unthinkable, squalid revelations inflict the ugly truth that practicing homosexuals and their toadies have succeeded in invading the clergy of the Church of St. Peter. They have infiltrated all levels of pastoral authority. They have tacitly and actively collaborated in infecting seminaries and rectories, turning them into perfidious bathhouse brothels. They have been complicit with monsters whose lascivious appetites have difiled children...and to all of this they have responded to our outrage with sanctimonious, stiff-necked arrogance. They have mocked God, who will be their eternal judge. They are responsible for causing an exodus of disgusted parishioners emptying out of pews all across America. They are the prophets, if not the embodiment of the anti-Christ.


I admit that this dreadful picture is not drawn from first hand knowledge, but is informed by media exposes that are sometimes unreliable. May god help me if I got it wrong. Only God can help us all if i got it right.


Jack Mason, May 26, 2002

 PATRIOTS or TRAITORS?


Why is it that the mass Media is held in such low esteem? Maybe it's because the New York Times no longer even attempts to disguise it's haughty contempt for America's red states or the president twice elected to live in the White House? How did it happen that such an illustrious institution as the NYTs has the hubris to not care a fig about the appearance of sympathizing more with our nation's enemies, than our nation's commander-in-chief...and that by wrapping itself in the protection of the First Amendment the Times adds insult to injury by insisting it should be above having to face any consequences for it's disloyalty...or dare I say it... treason? Or could it be that the Times is just taking it's cue from Jane Fonda, who skated free of any prosecution even after she mounted a North Vietnamese gun platform; "fondly" contemplating how, in a time of war, that anti-aircraft gun would bring down her fellow Americans.


In my opinion, the irresponsible, if not traitorous NYTs recent security breaches illustrates how much the Gray Lady loathes Middle America and our president, and is unusual only in the way it reveals what has long gone unnoticed and unheeded...the anti-American bias that obsesses the Liberal princes of journalism.


So, what can I offer to support this charge? Howazbout the 1987 PBS "roundtable" performances of two of the crown princes of newspeak, Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace.


On that telecast, "Ethics in America", Mike Wallace shocked the PBS roundtable participants and viewers of the program by explaining how he would react as a reporter imbedded with an enemy unit fighting against the United States. The hypothetical raised by the debate moderator was, "What should an American journalist, imbedded with the an enemy military unit, do when that enemy unit is preparing an ambush against Americans?


Should the journalist warn the Americans?...or should the journalist just keep rolling the film recording the destruction of bushwhacked GIs?


To the question of should the journalist try to prevent the slaughter, Wallace unhesitatingly answered NO! His point was that the reporter should remain neutral, and just stick to reporting the ambush. PBS moderator, Professor Ogletree of Harvard pushed Wallace. "Didn't Peter Jennings, speaking earlier on this subject have it right when he said some higher duty, either patriotic or human, is to do something other than just roll film as soldiers from his own country were being shot?" Even though it would almost certainly mean losing his life, Jennings had said, "I do not think that I could bring myself to participate in that act [doing nothing]. That's purely personal, and other reporters might have a different reaction."


Immediately Mike Wallace retorted... "I think some other reporters would have a different reaction," obviously referring to himself. They would regard it simply as a story they were there to cover."No," Wallace said flatly. "You don't have a higher duty. No. No. You're a reporter!" Hearing Wallace's assertion that fealty to headlines trumps loyalty to country, Jennings backtracks...but fast! Wallace was right, he said. "I chickened out." Jennings then flip-flops saying that he had gotten so wrapped up in the hypothetical questions that he had lost sight of his journalistic duty to remain detached. When Jennings opines that he now agrees with Wallace, the other dozen forum participants, mostly veterans, appear stunned.


So why then should we be surprised when you lay that sad performance up against the recent NYTs display of anti-Americanism: Can anyone doubt that smug disdain for "old fashioned patriotism" has been stewing in the editorial offices of elitist journalists, cum propagandists, for a long time...especially when their crowd is not in political power?.


Now the question of what will rational & loyal Americans do about this travesty?... My guess, is nothing...until it is too late...


Jack Mason, July 1, 2006

ALL THE NEWS THAT'S FIT TO PRINT?

When one considers the boggling volume of news information and misinformation heaped upon us every day, clearly we should be more wary than gullible. For example, consider the Chernobyl disaster and the way it’s been reported to us by our mainstream media.


As of 2005, the number of people who actually died right after the accident was 56. The media reports, however, were not just wrong… they were astonishingly wrong! The UPI claimed 2000 were dead, with an unknown number of likely future deaths & deformities.


In 2000 the BBC & New York Times told us 15,000-30,000 people would soon expire from radiation exposure, but in the same year a Ukraine-Russian survey revealed that out of 1 million people exposed to Chernobyl, 4,000 had cancer, and 19 had actually died. CNN had projected there were 3.5 million people infected with Chernobyl’s radiation that would surely die over time…but to date there is no evidence that comes even close to the CNN numbers. So, if the mainstream media can be so far off-base… how can we put confidence in any of their speculations?


Adding to all this confusion, a UN report in 2005 warned “the largest problem created by Chernobyl is the damaging psychological impact due to lack of accurate information”; in effect saying our greatest health hazard is bad information, and the anxiety it causes In my opinion, this may be the most serious & legitimate alarm of all. Hysteria might sell newspapers, but it’s also dangerous to your health!


Also, consider the apocalyptic forecasting re. the so called world population “bomb” & Y2K punditry. In 1960 Paul Ehrlich predicted that by 2000 over-population would result in 60 million starved-to-death Americans, and the Club of Rome was moaning that by 1990 all of earth’s resources from oil to copper would be exhausted. After the Y2K gloom & doom prophecies didn’t materialize, the UN crowed that “Governments can congratulate themselves for passing the Y2K challenge.” Now, by what kind of logic can world governments pat themselves on the back when our government spent 1 billion dollars to deal with Y2K compared to 100 billion spent by US corporations?


How then are we to believe panicky claims that the earth is hurtling towards an ice-cube or a fire-ball destiny…how beer is one day a boon to heart health & the next day a cancer causing carcinogen…ditto for SUVs, cell phones, Chinese food and all of life’s other goodies? One day they’re just swell, and the next day worse than bubonic plague! Kind of reminds one of David Brinkley’s famous quip, “The one function TV news performs very well is that when there is no news, we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were.”


Jack Mason, 30 Hunting Country Trails, Tryon, NC 859-8356 April 23, 2002

OLD FRIENDS OR NEW ENEMIES?

It wasn’t very long ago that Liberal elites were chiding us common


folks for not being more like our uppity Euro cousins. Didn’t John Kerry


sniff that Bush was just a clod and how he {Kerry} knew better how to


dance the minuet with Europe’s more nuanced wise men? Didn’t Kerry


try to convince us that America is the prodigal cowboy son, and the


Eurosnobs the beneficent father we should look to for forgiveness and


wisdom?

The answer, of course, is yes. But in light of the recent referendums in France and Holland, does it look like Kerry had it right? Are Europe’s leaders really the smartest or just the richest in their world? It isn’t hard to understand now why they were so unwilling to give us a hand in Iraq, when their hands were so deep into Saddam’s pocket. And it amazes me how these con artists are still revered by some anti-war Americans!


First of all anyone with eyes can see that the Old World is mired in economic stagnation, that we capitalist lackeys here in the U.S. would never tolerate; i.e. their 9% unemployment, with over half the unemployed out of work for more than a year…and a lot more bad news than space permits reporting here.


But the Frenchman prefers his 35 hour work week to a vibrant economy. The German hangs on to the dumb idea that he is entitled to a free beer with his free lunch, and fuggedabout becoming more productive like those American barbarians.


Isn’t it obvious, then, that Europe should be imitating us instead of the other way round? Who in their right mind wants highfalutin’ socialist dandies, like those in Berlin and Paris, steering our ship of state? Conceited ingrates, they wag their fingers at our history, our culture, our decency…while they aid and profit from our monstrous enemies; ineffectual twits they have the gall (or is it Gaul?) to look down their noses at us as they march their own people into the poor house.


On top of all this, the birth rate in these countries is below that necessary to sustain their populations, setting the stage for a Europe without Europeans in the not too distant future. Absent a sufficient number of people prepared to do the work, to pay the taxes that supports their elaborate welfare system, cushy pensions, and generous health benefits… is it not likely this gravy train will derail soon? Methinks it already has.


I would also add my niggling opinion that the adulation of the European Way by some American intellectuals proves once again that they ain’t as smart as they’d have you think they are; and America is lucky to have a president sensible enough not to get snookered by them, or the likes of Monsieur Chirac and Herr Shroeder. Whaddayathink Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Carter, Mr. Kerry, Mr. Kennedy, hmmm?


JackMason, June14                                                                              Tryon, NC

WHAT IF GORE WAS ELECTED PRESIDENT IN 2000?

1. Would 9/11 have happened?...probably

2. Would Gore have retaliated against Afghanistan as Bush did – probably not

3. Would Gore have reacted at all against terrorist bases in Afghanistan – probably by air bombing only

4. Would Gore have given UN inspectors more time in Iraq – probably

5. Would Saddam have taken advantage to accelerate WMD development – probably

6. Would Saddam have unleashed WMD – probably not at this time

7. Would Saddam have used WMD as leverage against reform – probably

8. Would Saddam have emboldened Islamofascists - probably

9. Would US media have been outraged – probably not

10. Would US have eventually invaded Iraq – probably

11. Would US media have been supportive of US invasion - probably

12. Would Gore have pursued winning strategy , or settled for negotiated settlement – probably the latter

13. Would media have been agreeable to Gore strategy – probably

14. Would UN moderated settlement between US & Saddam have left Hussein in power – probably

15. Would US media object – probably not

16. Would democratic govnt. be installed in Afghanistan – probably not

17. Would US media object – probably not

18. Would US forces still be in Afghanistan – probably not

19. Would Taliban still control Afghanistan - probably

20. Would US forces still be in Iraq – probably not

21. Would US media object to US withdrawal from Iraq – probably not

22. Would Abu Ghraib scandal have emerged – no

23. Would Iran & North Korea be less bellicose – probably not

24. Would US foreign policy achieve pre-9/11 status quo – probably

25. Would there have been a Gitmo – probably not

26. Would the US again be attacked like on 9/11 – probably

27. Would Saddam use WMD against Israel after US leaves middle east – probably

28. Would there be less push for democracy in mideast – probably

29.Would there be more tyranny in mideast – probably

29. Would America be safer – probably not

WHAT IF?

What if all Americans, including conservatives like me, suddenly buy into the Liberal propaganda that GWB lied us into a war for personal political advantage. Forget that there are no facts to make this case, but just suppose we all surrender to the constant media drumbeat telling us Bush is a deceitful scoundrel, his administration a bunch of Gestapo hoodlums, and his reckless responses to 9/11 are going to get us all killed.


Suppose we all join the crowd that declares their “support for the troops”, but then proceeds to savage their Commander in Chief, their mission, and make odious comparisons of our heroic soldiers with Nazi brutes, Pol Pot barbarians, gulag prison guards, etc.


Let’s assume Michael Scheur, former CIA operative persuades us that he has the facts right when he tells us on Chris Matthews TV show that GWB screwed up because “In the war against Al Queda, Saddam Hussein was one of our best allies”. As Matthews applauds, Scheur boasts with smug certainty that “without a doubt” the U.S. would be better off with Saddam still in power. Scheur, you see, really believes that Hussein would have been our ally in the WOT because Saddam had no love for Bin Laden’s Al Queda; and not to worry, the Butcher of Baghdad would never have given us a head fake.


I know, I know…this sounds crazy, but consider the source, their rage, their political ambitions, and please humor my speculations…


Pretend that Scheur, and Democrat leaders convince us that they know what they don’t know. Suppose we dump all GOP candidates and we cripple Dubya with threats of impeachment. We high tail it out of Iraq. Forget the chaos that would follow or the increased danger we’d have to face on the home front. Maybe to show repentance we burn Bush in effigy…just before boarding the last flight from Baghdad. That should inspire a terrorist’s high-five, dontchathink... after all, isn’t Bush the real reason the jihadists hate us?


Imagine that we give in to every complaint from Teddy & Co. What then??? Would they revive America’s sagging reputation throughout the world? Would the terrorist who wants to slit your throat give up that fiendish impulse, if only we put Hillary in the Oval Office? Would the Dems restore civility, solidarity, maintain economic growth, and return us to the “peace” of pre- 9/11? Would they take action to protect our kids from illegals, Social Security and Medicare disasters? And would it be asking too much for them to tell us how they would do all this?


Methinks the bottom line isn’t whether or not the Dems will abandon their slash & slander strategy any time soon…the really big question is, what if Americans fall for it?


Jack Mason, Nov 14, 2005                                                                 859-8356

WHAT'S NEXT?

Does anyone seriously think that Homeland Security measures have protected us from suicide bombers decimating shoppers in a Waco mall, blowing up a platform full of commuters in a Boston subway, or dismembering a group of school yard children in Phoenix? Of course not. No Federal agency could provide a shield against crazies bent on this kind of retail slaughter. No collected effort here in the wide-open U.S. could stop women or kids with dynamite belly-bags from wreaking havoc, anywhere & at any time they were directed to do so. You have only to witness the impunity of suicidal bombings in Israel—and the way it gets turned on & off—to see how prevention is impossible when ordered “from the top”.


But then why, since 2001, have they not done so here? Is it possible that being spared mayhem in America is no accident? I for one, think so.


Just as Al Qaeda employed train bombings in Madrid in order to intimidate (successfully) the Spanish government to leave the Iraqi coalition, I think our good fortune here in the States also has a political design behind it. Exactly what that design is I can’t say for sure, but an accident of fate it’s not. On that I would bet my house.


We must remember that the terrorists leadership are sophisticated, well educated, and often opulently rich young Arabs. They are very knowledgeable and well tuned in on the culture and politics of the West. When George Bush was elected by a tiny Electoral College advantage in 2000, the screams of foul from Al Gore, Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, et al were heard loud and clear in the Middle East hideouts of Bin Laden. And you can betcha that the gut wrenching squabbling between Americans that followed in the wake of that 2000 election was factored into the near-term strategies of Bin Laden & his gang. This “house divided” scenario may have even prompted the “green light” for the 9/11 attack.


Another reasonable certainty is that whatever the Islamofascists plan is for the U.S., it would not favor the reelection of George Bush. But the big question that lies behind that certainty is, what strategies against the U.S. would Al Qaeda pursue with a new president in the White House? My guess is that if a moratorium on violence helped Bush’s opponents (by denying Bush a rallying point), once he was out of office would also remove any need or incentive not to go back into action with small-scale terrorism. Of course, if Dubya gets reelected, a moratorium, no longer politically useful, would also likely be abandoned. That is, until such time as magna-terror with WMD becomes feasible. So, no matter who wins on Nov 2, it’s my hunch that not far away are lots of threatening clouds…especially for a nation that may have gotten too comfortable with business-as-usual.


Jack Mason, October 20, 2004

ALL THEY KNOW...IS NO!

With Social Security reform stymied, it’s reasonable to ask why the Democrats are manning the anti-reform barricades, fiercely resisting any changes to the suicidal status quo. Witness the letter recently sent to the White House from 42 Senate Dems vowing to oppose any SS reforms that include investments in the private sector; some even arguing that SS is just honky dory as it is & not to worry. For them I’ve got a bridge for sale…


On the other hand we have President Bush advocating a tiny fraction of Social Security taxes be made available---on a purely voluntary basis---to invest in private sector securities in order to protect SS for future generations and because of the high probability taxpayers will wind up with more eggs in their retirement nest. So why then do Liberals issue ultimatums instead of engaging in honest debate over the pros & cons? Why do they insist upon taking private sector investing off-the-table, even before beginning to consider a compromise; unless they have an agenda more important than reforming SS?


I raise this question because the Democrats game plan seems to base on an unflinching “no way” mentality re. any changes to SS; even while the same people who are throwing monkey wrenches into Bush’s proposals benefit from some pretty cushy Government funded retirement plans, themselves!


And, get this---their Federal Employee Retirement program and TSP schemes, which also benefits Congressmen, does invest a sizable chunk of their retirement contributions in private securities. And what do they choose? 60% in stock market, 5% in Government bonds! Which may explain why the average Federal worker’s monthly pension payoff is almost twice the size what the average Joe Blow Sr. finds in his mailbox…not to mention that Federal folks can also bequeath their benefits to their families?


So, why is it then, that what’s good for the goose isn’t also good for the gander??? My guess is that the apostles of Big Government are so dependant on pick pocketing SS surplus funds that they’ve become hopeless tax & spend junkies…an addiction begun in the sixties when LBJ first dipped into SS to finance his Big-Brother programs. And sadly, this crowd includes some Democrat light Republicans.


Five years ago at Hyde Park, NY, Bill Clinton & 85 leading Democrats warned that we had only three choices to save SS, (1) raise taxes, (2) cut benefits, or (3) find a way to generate higher returns from private investments. Five months ago 42 Senate Democrats turned thumbs down on item (3) and one has to ask why? Why are they dismissive of their hero Bill Clinton’s sober warnings and why are they so bent on opposing instead of proposing?


If Bush’s plan is so hopelessly flawed, shouldn’t they be selling us a better alternative? Doesn’t the minority party really owe us more than just flip-flops and shrill obstructionism? Or is the Democratic strategy just a mindless, no, a thousand times no…to anything that GWB proposes? Sure seems like it to me…


Jack Mason, August 11, 2005

FRIENDS & ENEMIES

Jimmy Carter coos about Castro being a wonderful “educator”. He told us back in “94 that North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat. And in the blink of an eye, the North Koreans are blackmailing us with bombs they told Jimmy they would never build. Democratic congressmen visiting Baghdad sing Saddam’s praises, while blasting their own president. Now Democratic Senator Patty Murray, aka Osoma Mamma, makes bogus accusations that the U.S. destroyed all those wonderful schools, hospitals, and roads that beneficent Bin Laden built in Afghanistan. Add to this list of America bashers, countless college professors and Hollywood ninnies who never miss a chance to unfairly tar the U.S. for every evil in this world. And you have to wonder, why are American Liberals such knee jerk critics of their own country? It isn’t a new phenomenon, either. During the Cold War, many leading Liberals saw Stalin as “Uncle Joe”, not the butcher that he really was.


I think the answer lies in the old axiom, “The enemy of my enemy, is my friend”. And Since the main “enemy” of Liberals are Conservatives, the lefties take their friends where they find them…even if that means you-know-who!


JM

BEHIND THE MASK

The legislative agenda of the Democratic leadership has been somewhat curtailed with the Republican moderated Patient’s Bill of Rights. But a more apt label for the original Democratic proposal, and other Liberal initiatives, could well be a Bill of Frights!


By scaring employers and insurance providers, the Dems think they are securing a strategic political advantage over their opponents, and by some perverse logic, protecting the public at the same time. When in fact even this watered down law could raise insurance costs, discourage employers from continuing to supply a benefit that could put them out of business, and ultimately risk bankrupting the private sector health insurance industry.


So, with such dreary consequences staring them in the face, why would the Lefties gamble with an insurance shield so important to American families? When so many millions of working people are already unable to afford health insurance, why would Mr.Gebhart want to add to that list? Why do Democrats who were the major sponsors of HMOs back in the seventies, as an affordable alternative to conventional insurance companies, now want to see them stabbed with the knife of legal terrorism? Why does Sen. Kennedy today insist upon making insurers vulnerable to lottery lawsuits, when he and his colleagues exempted the HMO’s from ambulance chasing lawyers in the first place?


Since it is inconceivable that Democratic Party leaders are ignorant of these troubling speculations, how then do we understand their passionate advocacy of such dangerous policies? The only logical explanation of why they want HMOs to walk the gangplank, to drown private enterprise in a spinning sea of lies, distortions, and legal muggings, is so that in it’s place an enormous new government bureaucracy could intrude our lives. More dependency and power would be transferred to the Collectivists. And lastly, if the Hillary Clinton version of Socialized Medicine becomes the American paradigm, do you think that system would then open itself to law suits from ordinary citizens? Fat chance!


Jack Mason, 8/5/01

THE GAME QUITTER

Bill Parcells, one of the winningest football coaches of all time was recently the Nov 2006 cover subject of a New York Times Magazine article. I recommend this as a great read for anyone interested in a very insightful piece on Bill Parcells in particular, and professional football in general.


Parcells commenting on the psychological dimensions of highly competitive professional sports...and opining on his fascination with the sport of boxing, identifies a phenomenon he calls "the game quitter". He goes on to explain, "Game quitters seem as if they are trying to win, but really they've given up. They've just chosen a way out that's not apparent to the naked eye. They are more concerned with public opinion than the end result."


Parcells was making the point in connection with an interview about his role as coach of a football team; but he said he originally came to this idea as his explanation of a famous 1977 boxing match in which the heavily favored boxer, discouraged by the dogged determination and tenacity of his clearly inferior opponent...succumbed to an irrational demoralization, so paralyzing, that he lost the fight.


Now I can't help but wonder if Mr. Parcells would object to expanding his idea to apply to the psyche of a nation as well as an individual? I can't help but wonder if the wisdom of what he's saying strikes you as relevant to what's happening in America today? That's the big question I think that will be answered next week.


Jack Mason, Nov 3, 2006 30 Hunting Country Trails, Tryon, 859-8356

IN DEFENSE OF HMOs

A recent reader’s letter railing against President Bush and the HMO Industry shrugged off objections to the Democrats HMO reform bill with undisguised hubris. The writer completely overlooked polls that demonstrate HMO customers are clearly satisfied with their providers, when polled on their experiences. Polls that reveal dissatisfied subscribers employed loaded, and very generalized questions designed to elicit these negatives. So what’s new in the world of “spin” politics? And just maybe this is a fabricated “crisis” designed to bankrupt our last line of defense against another Hillary like effort to Socialize the Health Industry?


The honest worry that trial lawyers will glut our courts with dubious suits against HMOs, and employers who underwrite this insurance, is blatantly dismissed as irrelevant and “transparent camouflage.” If “this isn’t about trial lawyers and rising costs” then how do we explain earlier epidemics of litigious terrorism that rocketed up liability exposure insurance premiums for doctors and businessmen, who subsequently passed along these onerous costs to their patients and customers? Its not like we haven’t been to this movie before!


Also, the writer who is so unhappy with HMOs infers that he is an enrolled HMO customer and does not want to “end up like chickens at a hawk convention.” That is a reasonable worry if a personal experience demonstrates “systematic withholding of services” has victimized him. In which case he should provide the details to support his case for risking a debacle that will exacerbate the already acute problem of millions of Americans for whom HMOs are the only affordable insurance.


Good intentions alone are not enough, and the old problem of unintended consequences is certainly worth debating. Remember Prohibition and thalidomide also looked good at one time.


Jack Mason, 6/28/01

HOW CUM?

Five months ago Democratic senators J. Kerry from you-know-where, E. Bayh of Indiana, Louisiana’s M. Landrieu, J. Liebermann of Connecticut, and B. Lincoln from Arkansas sent a letter to President Bush. In that letter, along with 37 other Senate Dems they vowed to oppose any reform that creates personal retirement accounts funded with a portion of American workers Social Security (payroll) tax.

It should also be noted, that although these politicians have only had to pay into SS since 1984, they also have a Federal Employees Retirement System that is a much cushier deal than what’s available to Joe Blow. SS pays an average $12,000 a year after 45 years in the work force, while the FERS plan pays out an average of $45,000 a year for far fewer years, and—I might add---isn’t staring bankruptcy in the face like the SS we commoners have to depend upon.


But back in August 2000 these same senators, plus 80 other elected Dem leaders were on the opposite side of the fence from where they are today. In those days they signed a “statement of principles and…policy agenda for the 21st century.”


In that “statement of principles” the Democratic leadership, in their own words, agreed to…

  • “Make structural reforms…that slows…cost growth, modernizes benefits…and gives beneficiaries more choice and control [italics mine] over their retirement security.”
  • “Create Retirement Savings Accounts to enable low income Americans to save for their own retirement.”

Now I admit that I’m not completely on board with George Bush’s plan to restructure and privatize a tiny portion of SS; much has yet to be learned from honest and thorough debate before it becomes a “done deal” for me.

Jack Mason, August 3, 2005 Tryon, NC                                                                                      859-8356  

IF NOT DEMOCRACY...THEN WHAT?

I think the most remarkable, and most controversial thrust of the Bush foreign policy, is its emphasis on advocating democratic revolution for the world’s oppressed billions; especially those living in the Middle East and other places where tyranny’s hopelessness fuels an irrational, wildfire of anti-Americanism that serves as recruiting posters for suicide bombers.


When you think about it, the Bush policy is stunning in its audacity and a historic first for a Superpower that supports liberty as a universal right, not only as rhetorical puffery, but as an achievable goal for all mankind. After all, when Soviet totaliarism was riding high, we didn’t scoff at their boast that Communism was the wave of the future, so why is it not possible for us to sell the more deserving pluralism of Democracy?


The rationale of the Bush Doctrine is that consensual government is not only good for the folks denied its benefits, but the exclusive hope for world peace and stability. It bases on a confidence that people who are free have at least a chance to pursue their own happiness and prosperity, and are therefore less likely to buy into fanatical terrorism. Not an unreasonable proposition, and certainly consistent with the visions of Woodrow Wilson, JFK, and Ronald Reagan.


Opponents of this policy or at least those who oppose the U.S pro-actively working to make this happen have many reasons. Some unfairly impugn our motives as “imperialistic”. Others, overwhelmed by how daunting this mission is conclude that it is simply an impossible dream; and given the many obstacles to delivering democracy in parts of the world where it has never existed, this pessisimism is not unfounded.


But whether you agree, or disagree, with the Bush vision of democracy for all as an insurance policy that best addresses our national security needs, I think we can agree that business-as–usual ended when those planes slammed into the Trade Center Towers. The smoke & debris have been cleared at ground zero but the evil remains as a challenge unlike any we have ever faced before.


I think we can also concur that on 9/11, isolationism, “containment”, negotiated peace, the impotent UN, or the feckless German & French leadership, became unacceptable strategies and unreliable allies. Yes, we should continue seeking help & support from the world community, but with the sober understanding that the U.S. will always have to provide the steady leadership, and do the heavy lifting. With so few options to choose from, if not democracy…then what?


Jack Mason, Tryon, 859-8356                                                           Sept 12, 20004

THE TROUBLING TRUTH

For many years Liberals have relentlessly opposed spending money on America’s defense. Their most recent occupant of the White House, following in this tradition, dodged an Army uniform and said that he “loathed” the U.S. military. And then, as President, he went on and proved it. Liberals ridiculed and resisted every effort Ronald Reagan made to revitalize our armed forces and develop new defense technologies, but our Cold War victory vindicated him. Ditto for Bush Sr. when he won the Gulf War.


Democrat’s willingness to risk America’s security is a matter of historical record. They know all too well that spending tax dollars on “pander butter” instead of guns, yields more votes, and more power. In a benign world that might be tolerable, but not in these dangerous times. Since 9/11, “It’s the economy, stupid” is only a political half-truth.


Left wing contempt for our military feeds on the myth that America is a bully who sacrifices minorities as cannon fodder in bogus wars against “sovereign” states, like Iraq. Appealing to old stereotypes, the Chris Matthews, Phil Donahues, and Jesse Jacksons, et al, tell us young African American soldiers are going to do all the dying if we dare to take on Saddam Hussein. Vietnam, they claim, proves this point. But does it?


In 1997 Tom Wicks wrote in The Wall Street Journal that U.S. Army statistics debunk the racist accusation that black soldiers died in unfair numbers in Vietnam. The sad bottom-line of Viet Nam was 86% of those killed were white soldiers, a greater proportion than their numbers in the general population. Equally tragic were the African American GIs killed who were 12.5% of total casualties, consistent with their percentage of total population.


Wicks reports that although African Americans account for 30% of today’s volunteer Army, 79% of those assigned to front line units, like the infantry and special-forces, are white, and 9% are black. The other 12%, we can surmise are Asians, Hispanics and women. So, if his numbers are correct, the makeup of the most dangerous deployments in the Army refute predictions that young black people are going to be disproportionately put in harms way.


Because left wingers have never let the truth interfere with their agenda, I have no illusions that they will abandon their divisive lying to a gullible public. Yes, honorable American servicemen, particularly young blacks, are being used as fodder—propaganda fodder for Liberals. Will Rogers said it best—“Its not the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t true.”


Jack Mason


October 9, 2002

ALL POLITICS LOCAL?

Did our recent elections give lie to Tip O'neill's attribution, "all politics is local"...? I'm thinking that old chestnut meant that trash removal, property taxes & municipal payroll issues obscure ideology...that in the words of the Clinton political philosophy, "it's the economy, stupid!"...elections are won on right-now type tangible issues, not noble abstractions...

Also, I think O'Neill's advice based on an assumption that on the local level, party affiliations were not really that signifcant...

And until 11/08/06 I'm thinking 'ol Tip had it right, at least here in Polk County...but somehow that all changed...when tribal loyalties, straight line voting, and stay-at-home-rejection votes won the day for so many Democrats. All of it inspired by the GWB administration's very negative image, particularly his foreign policy, "island of democracy" dream for Iraq...


At the risk of complicating simple things, me also thinks that re. foreign affairs, a small majority of Americans are now subscribing to a new variation on the old isolationist theme...a small majority that could grow to a large majority, particularly under Democrat leadership. Remember how prior to WWII (influenced by many republicans) we were very isolationist, strongly opposed to getting involved in topsy-turvy European wars that solved nothing & killed a lot of American soldiers in the process?...but when we finally were forced into WWII, we fought it unconditionally, were victorious, and undertook nation (re)building on an enormous scale...all of which seemed to permanently cast the US in the mold of a superpower whose foreign policy was robustly "international"...that is until Viet Nam came along and blew our dream of being the savior to the world completely out of the water...


And so it seems to me that ever since the VN debacle, we've lost our stomach for overseas adventures, no matter how altruistic...or even essential to our survival. We're now reluctantly willing to flex our muscles overseas, and then only if victory can be certain, immediate and painless...we see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil until it is staring us in the face...and that until something awful changes this scenario...this is who we are and who we will continue to be...


May God help us if we're wrong...


Jack Mason, Nov 25, 2006

MODERATES

In the media much is made of the “moderate” voters deciding our country’s future. The word “moderate” has a nice soothing ring about it, but it also describes people who can’t choose between fish and chicken for dinner. People like comedian Alan King’s wife, who so wanted to be liked that she joined both the Ku-Klux-Klan and B’nai Brith. Since they are such important “swing” voters I thought I’d try my hand at identifying some telltale characteristics of moderates. For example, moderates often strike me as fence-straddlers who…


Eat vanilla ice cream and prefer beige rugs.


Are all for the designated-batter rule.


Don’t write letters to the editor.


Would grant UN privilege of veto over all US policies


Think bi-partisanship is more important than principle.


Find it easier to acquiesce to evil than to fight for good.


Think Kwanzaa is ok but who wouldn’t say a word when Christmas is banned.


Avoid judgement, criticism and controversy at all costs.


Find it easier to deny conscience than speak up about right and wrong.


Have trouble understanding difference between Democrat and democrat.


Support big Liberal welfare programs paid for with small Conservative budgets.


Wouldn’t create a scene if their life depended upon it.


Let atheists use high-school gym, but get lockjaw when school authorities prohibit prayer.


Preach diversity but don’t practice it. Embrace progressive ideas but don’t promote them. Think Barbra Streisand must know what she is talking about because she’s a movie star Are satisfied their kids have self-esteem but can’t read, write, or figure. Agree Ten Commandments are nice but not necessary, and Constitution should be “flexible”.


Avoid passionate people. They think too much, and make moderates uncomfortable.


Don’t achieve and don’t fail. Choose mediocrity over excellence.


Were Jews who thought Hitler would never murder ALL Jews. Are Americans who think Saddam would never murder all Americans Never got involved in Underground Railway for slaves. Did not give aid to George Washington’s Army.


Gave a pass to Bill Clinton’s lechery and treachery because the economy was good.


Didn’t go to Viet Nam or protest war. Stood by when hooligans spat upon returning veterans.


Will get off their butt to object and cry foul, only after they read this.


Would counsel me never to send this letter to the editor.


Promise never talk to me again, if I do.


Who as parents finding a king cobra in their baby’s crib… their first impulse would be to call the Animal Shelter


Jack Mason, 20 Hunting Country Trails, Tryon, NC 859-8356 7/17/02

THE FIFTH COLUMN

THE FIFTH COLUMN


The confident general approaches with four columns of attacking troops. He brags of certain success seizing Madrid because he has a “fifth column”of sympathizers lurking within the city. The communist general is Emilio Mola Vidal and the conflict is the Spanish Civil War of the l930s. And so it was that during WWII, “Fifth Column” became catchwords for the enemy within our own borders.


Once again we find ourselves at war, and once again we have to deal with a “Fifth Column” of America bashers who run the gamut from naïve idealists to those who flirt with treason. Malcontents who couldn’t care less that their vile outbursts encourage barbarian terrorists sworn to our destruction. Some are political opportunists and media lackeys, some are sentimental nincompoops, some are blame-America-first academics, and some are implacable enemies of capitalism and our open-society.


The Twin Towers were still smoldering when the neo “Fifth Column” began howling their objections to security precautions aimed at protecting us from future annihilation. The same people who blame President Bush for the monstrosity of 9/11 rail against every initiative of John Ashcroft to keep it from happening again, preferring to risk national suicide. One prominent Democrat even has the brass to say that the Attorney General is “the main enemy”. (This must really tickle ol’ Bin Laden) Hollywood big-shot Robert Altman moans that “our flag is a joke, and our present government is disgusting”. (Can’t you just see Saddam firing his gun in the air?) And with hewmungis chutzpah, Liberals whose appetite for power exceeds their concern for our peril go ballistic when their patriotism is questioned! With “patriots” like them who needs enemies?


“Minister” Farrakhan calls for American Muslim solidarity with the butcher of Baghdad, even praying for Iraq’s victory over the U.S. But lest we forget, the outspoken anti-Americanism of Farrakhan, as well as the left-wing Establishment, is a Constitutional privilege rising from the First Amendment only as long as they confine themselves to words and refrain from hands-on support for our enemies. Until then they can push the envelope and thumb their nose at the harm they do their country. But they should be careful because the patience of loyal citizens is wearing thin. The eyes of Texas, and all America, are on them.


Jack Mason , 7/10/02

JUSTICE & THE LAW

A society based on the Rule of Law presumes justice to be its natural end result. When both the spirit and letter of the law delivers impartial justice, it strengthens society and contributes to order and stability. But when partisan judges, or clever lawyers, circumvent justice, it mocks and weakens society, and contributes to chaos. Consider the political wrangling & obstruction associated with getting judicial appointments past congressional rivals. Does this not reveal how vital the political component is considered in our judiciary? If the mission of our courts is to determine compliance, or violation of our laws, why should politics be a factor in their deliberations? The answers are obvious; our courts are primarily engaged in inventing laws to serve political purposes, with justice relegated to only an optional, secondary role.


This results in bizarre court decisions that have Americans scratching their heads. The Enron scandal is only the latest example of how our laws provide the back doors for scoundrels to run out on justice. But the Enron case follows a series of zany judicial contortions that trace back to O.J. Simpson, and the shameful Clinton scandals that allowed shrewd politicization to subvert hard-edged justice. Media pundits reported on these rogues and their “loophole” evasions as if they deserved our admiration for being brilliant Houdinis. And we were dumb enough to applaud and run up their poll numbers!


I remember a lesson from my school days that asserted the Law was intended to be used as a shield, and not as a sword. It appears to me that quite the opposite takes place in many courtrooms today. So, we have to ask why and how is this happening?


My own explanation for how we got here is undoubtedly short of fingering all the contributing complexities. But for starters, I think when political ideology subordinates justice to political goals, and when politics becomes the scale on which we weigh right and wrong, it follows that the blindfold is stripped from the Goddess of Justice. (Witness the brutish, self-serving “judiciaries” of the Soviet Union and Nazi regimes.) Politics then gives rise to all sorts of discord with the letter of the law as it gets swept away in a flood of disingenuous claims for “fairness”, and mawkish sentimentality. Political fashion persuades us to disregard the statutes on the books, and surrender to shrill activists and their appetite for “law du jour”.


Did we ever hear of “jury nullification” before OJ? Do we understand what the real meaning of “is”, is? Howzabout a “Twinky” defense for violent criminal acts? Should McDonalds be prosecuted for making Americans fat? How can racially based preferences be rationalized in a color-blind society? And on, and on, and on.


Common Law, and the Napoleonic Code, were the ancestral inspiration and scaffolding upon which we built our modern legal codes. We used to also rely on guidance from Natural Law, and the Judeo-Christian Tradition. At one time, even Common Sense had its rightful place in the construct of our laws. But all those inspirations have been eclipsed by a new mindset, known as Political Correctness. From this worldview, we see an avalanche of courtroom decisions that would be funny, if they weren’t so deadly in their mischief, and insulting to our traditions. For all of this it is easy to blame the Johnny Cochrans, Lanny Davises, Janet Renos, Bill Kuntzlers, etc., etc. But these were only the cynical abusers—some would say heroes—of a system that was already corrupted by touchy-feely values, and dubious rights. When psychobabble, not personal responsibility held our culture hostage, kidnapped by PC nonsense that censures wrongdoing only if you are dumb enough to get caught at it Barren ground in which to grow the tree of justice...


Jack Mason, May 28, 2005

IS GOD REALLY DEAD?

I’m puzzled and incensed that America's intelligentsia is so outspokenly antagonistic to religion. I understand having no interest in religion: What I don't understand is pro-active hostility to it.


One might conclude the world’s religions are out of date mysticisms, scientifically questionable and hard to believe. That position is neither incomprehensible nor rabid. One might respect the faith of others without sharing it; might regard religions as harmless and colorful folklore. One might even see religion as a benign contributor to social order, calming and comforting the less enlightened amongst us. None of this is new.


But what is new, at least in the free world, is this venal and brazen assault upon religion, particularly Christiananity, and the Christian faithful; propelled by a vicious despise of religion, a desire to discredit and marginalize it and in the extreme...punish its practitioners. Seems like a witch-hunt is under way in which atheists, or Secularists as they see themselves, look for any trace of religion to root out of existence.


The secular atheists have no admitted political party affiliation, but they're voting reveals their preference for a party they must think best serves their purposes. They’re everywhere, but I think are more concentrated in the faculty rooms of public schools and universities, Hollywood poolside parties, the editorial offices of the NPR, BBC, New York Times and TV networks. All the polls show them as small in number but big in powerful leadership positions. So why and how have they become so successful at reshaping the American cultural landscape?


Is it possible that science and/or politics have become their religions, with the Big Bang and/or Big Government replacing Genesis, depicting evolution as a sort of morally indifferent deity goosing humanity onward and upward? Has science produced a god contemptuous of questions central to Christianity, like sin & redemption? Does not the self-righteous intolerance of today’s secularists mimic the intolerance of the ancient Catholic Inquisitors they so despise? Is it partly because believers in America tend to be Southerners, Catholics or Conservatives, all of which are regarded as politically inappropriate conditions?


Maybe it’s all of the above. And in the face of this, I’m astounded that a huge Christian majority seems to be standing sheepishly aside as the Faith of Their Father's is being flogged as was Christ 2000 years ago. If that’s what we’ve become then God…oh excuse me…Darwin help us!


Jack Mason, January 2, 2007                                                                                      859-8356

The Here and Now

Next year’s election, more than any earlier vote, will weigh and choose what economic/social systems best serves the “common good”. There are many that have been tried over man’s history, but in today’s global environment, it seems two dominate the landscape.

One bases on the proposition that the free market with minimal government regulation is superior, and claims validity by citing how it has delivered ( in modern times ) more opportunity…more well being… to more people than any previous system.

The other proposes that given the innate selfishness of free markets, we need a “selfless” State to rein in, and in some cases use coercive power to force “rapacious” free enterprise into conformity with the State’s vision of the “greater good”. So what if traditional established constitutional laws have to be circumvented, so be it. So what if traditional cultural values have to give way to the newer secular values of a “hip” lifestyle than, so be it. It’s progressive, ain't it?

Nevertheless, both world views have some validations, even though I believe the record shows that although free enterprise has not been totally successful, statist governances over time have been even less able to provide for the general well being of their citizens. The facts are the facts in this regard.

But smack in the middle of this debate there remains the BIG question what are the downsides? Which new or modified system is most vulnerable to human venality, the least efficient, the most capable of doing the most harm, the most inherently antithetical to the “common good”?

Clearly there are true believers on both sides, but there are probably more supporters of State primacy…a not hard to understand phenomenon given that the State has as one of its powers the ability to confiscate wealth from those that have (the few) to give to those (the many) who, in return, can be relied upon to vote the State long term, ever broadening authority. Oddly, entrepreneurs, those devilish agents of free enterprise, are also in the business of majority votes and consensus for their products…but they risk competition in conducting their businesses, something a Statist would never allow. That is, unless the masses took to the streets and threatened to pull them down.

To achieve their goals, Zealots convinced of the selfishness of free-for-all-capitalism, are more likely to use the hammer of Big Government, and that may be the needle on which this debate balances. So when it comes to understanding their mindset, paraphrasing Goldwater may help. About 2015 he might have tongue-in-cheek fumed…Extremism for authoritarianism is no vice. And respecting opposing opinions is no virtue. And that’s that, Ollie!!

For myself, I think a new and less fractious hybrid that puts “what’s in it for US” ahead of “what’s in it for ME”… a new way to be both for and by the people. Not only is this hybrid going to be difficult to construct, it will not be easy to sell to the American public… because we got to where we are on the shoulders of an industrial society that at breakneck speed is being overtaken by a new & different world that values brains over hands. Worldwide, the IT educated few already are the masters of the universe over the many who used to make stuff sitting at countless machines making countless widgets. It’s also my opinion that training our current technically untutored millions to catch up with and be able to compete with the elite few, at home and abroad, who are already shaping our fast track future is very problematic. Like golf, these skills have to be learned by the young and the very young, so for many…particularly those over 30 years old… it may already be too late.

And compounding our dilemma, even more so than in the past, our future as a nation can only be decided by an informed, objective and independent electorate that can accurately assess the best choices of what we are being offered by the political establishment. Sadly, there is evidence that altogether too many US citizens are woefully uninformed re those choices. Paul Blumberg (1990) puts it more starkly: “America's embarrassing little secret ... is that vast numbers of Americans are ignorant, not merely of the specialized details of government which ordinary citizens cannot be expected to master, but of the most elementary political facts-information so basic as to challenge the central tenet of democratic government itself.” If that was true in 1990, what can be said about 2015? And remember it was an even earlier time when Churchill sarcastically observed, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter”.

On the other hand there are those who claim the ignorant, like the poor, will always be with us and therefore power and control must be vested in “informed elites”, who would beneficently “from the top down” do for the clueless man on the street, what he can’t do for himself. Does all of that ring reminiscent of the old failed Aristocracies dressed up in new preppy clothes? Maybe so…or is it not so off the wall that some of these elitist views may have room in a reasoned and effective civil reformation of government that better takes into account the realities of today’s Global complexities…like, as just a few of these new realities, our uneducated masses who now have to compete with the increasingly educated masses that live on the other side of our planet? Like the problem of the media so often not getting it right, confusing rather than enlightening the electorate… Like the frightening reality that change, whether we see it as good or bad, is inescapable? Like…well you know…….like…

Whaddayouthink?

Jack Mason Oct 16, 2015

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