Please ladies.....

Do not presume to make your own definition a reality.  Your opinion is exactly that.  Anything beyond the definition is opinion.  Exactly as mine.

noun: gentleman; plural noun: gentlemen
  1. 1.
    a chivalrous, courteous, or honorable man.

    "he behaved like a perfect gentleman"
    • a man of good social position, especially one of wealth and leisure.
    • (in the UK) a man of noble birth attached to a royal household.
      synonyms:man; More

      "a fine steed suitable for a gentleman such as yourself"
  2. 2.
    a polite or formal way of referring to a man.

    "opposite her an old gentleman sat reading"

    1. 1 a :  a man of noble or gentle birth b :  a man belonging to the landed gentry c (1) :  a man who combines gentle birth or rank with chivalrous qualities (2) :  a man whose conduct conforms to a high standard of propriety or correct behavior d (1) :  a man of independent means who does not engage in any occupation or profession for gain (2) :  a man who does not engage in a menial occupation or in manual labor for gain
    2. 2 :  valet —often used in the phrase gentleman's gentleman
    3. 3 :  a man of any social class or condition —often used in a courteous reference <show this gentleman to a seat> or usually in the plural in address <ladies and gentlemen


Black and White, Left and Right

By Thomas Sowell

Much is made of the fact that liberals and conservatives see racial issues differently, which they do. But these differences have too often been seen as simply those on the right being racist and those on the left not.

You can cherry-pick the evidence to reach that conclusion. But you can also cherry-pick the evidence to reach the opposite conclusion.

During the heyday of the Progressive movement in the early 20th century, people on the left were in the forefront of those promoting doctrines of innate, genetic inferiority of not only blacks but also of people from Eastern Europe and Southern Europe, as compared to people from Western Europe.

Liberals today tend to either glide over the undeniable racism of Progressive President Woodrow Wilson or else treat it as an anomaly of some sort. But racism on the left at that time was not an anomaly, either for President Wilson or for numerous other stalwarts of the Progressive movement.

An influential 1916 best-seller, "The Passing of the Great Race" — celebrating Nordic Europeans — was written by Madison Grant, a staunch activist for Progressive causes such as endangered species, municipal reform, conservation and the creation of national parks.

He was a member of an exclusive social club founded by Republican Progressive Theodore Roosevelt, and Grant and Franklin D. Roosevelt became friends in the 1920s, addressing one another in letters as "My dear Frank" and "My dear Madison." Grant's book was translated into German, and Adolf Hitler called it his Bible.

Progressives spearheaded the eugenics movement, dedicated to reducing the reproduction of supposedly "inferior" individuals and races. The eugenics movement spawned Planned Parenthood, among other groups. In academia, there were 376 courses devoted to eugenics in 1920.

Progressive intellectuals who crusaded against the admission of immigrants from Eastern Europe and Southern Europe, branding them as genetically inferior, included many prominent academic scholars — such as heads of such scholarly organizations as the American Economic Association and the American Sociological Association.

Southern segregationists who railed against blacks were often also Progressives who railed against Wall Street. Back in those days, blacks voted for Republicans as automatically as they vote for Democrats today.
Where the Democrats' President Woodrow Wilson introduced racial segregation into those government agencies in Washington where it did not exist at the time, Republican President Calvin Coolidge's wife invited the wives of black Congressmen to the White House. As late as 1957, civil rights legislation was sponsored in Congress by Republicans and opposed by Democrats.

Later, when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was sponsored by Democrats, a higher percentage of Congressional Republicans voted for it than did Congressional Democrats. Revisionist histories tell a different story. But, as Casey Stengel used to say, "You could look it up" — in the Congressional Record, in this case.

Conservatives who took part in the civil rights marches, or who were otherwise for equal rights for blacks, have not made nearly as much noise about it as liberals do. The first time I saw a white professor, at a white university, with a black secretary, it was Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago in 1960 — four years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

She was still his secretary when he died in 2006. But, in all those years, I never once heard Professor Friedman mention, in public or in private, that he had a black secretary. By all accounts, she was an outstanding secretary, and that was what mattered.

The biggest difference between the left and right today, when it comes to racial issues, is that liberals tend to take the side of those blacks who are doing the wrong things — hoodlums the left depicts as martyrs, while the right defends those blacks more likely to be the victims of those hoodlums.

Rudolph Giuliani, when he was the Republican mayor of New York, probably saved more black lives than any other human being, by promoting aggressive policing against hoodlums, which brought the murder rate down to a fraction of what it was before.

A lot depends on whether you judge by ringing words or judge by actual consequences.


What Are Elections For?

By Thomas Sowell
Published Jan. 19, 2016

After months of watching all sorts of political polls, we are finally just a few weeks away from actually beginning to see some voting in primary elections. Polls let people vent their emotions. But elections are held to actually accomplish something.

The big question is whether the voters themselves will see elections as very different from polls.
If Republican voters have consistently delivered a message through all the fluctuating polls over the past months, that message is those voters' anger at the Republican establishment, which has grossly betrayed the promises that got a Republican Congress elected.

Whether the issue has been securing the borders, Obamacare, runaway government spending or innumerable other concerns, Republican candidates have promised to fight the Obama administration's policies— and then caved when crunch time came for Congress to vote.

The spectacular rise, and persistence, of Republican voter support for Donald Trump in the polls ought to be a wake-up call for the Republican establishment. But smug know-it-alls can be hard to wake up.

Even valid criticisms of Trump can miss the larger point that Republican voters' turning to such a man is a sign of desperation and a telling indictment of what the Republican establishment has been doing for years— which they show pathetically few signs of changing.

Seldom have the Republicans seemed to have a better chance of winning a presidential election. The Democrats' front-runner is a former member of an unpopular administration whose record of foreign policy failures as Secretary of State is blatant, whose personal charm is minimal and whose personal integrity is under criminal investigation by the FBI.

Meanwhile, the Republicans have fielded a stronger set of presidential aspirants than they have had in years. Yet it is by no means out of the question that the Republicans will manage to blow this year's opportunity and lose at the polls this November.

In other times, this might just be the Republicans' political problem. But these are not other times. After seven disastrous years of Barack Obama, at home and overseas, the United States of America may be approaching a point of no return, especially in a new age of a nuclear Iran with long-range missiles.

The next President of the United States will have monumental problems to untangle. The big question is not which party's candidate wins the election but whether either party will choose a candidate that is up to the job.

That ultimate question is in the hands of Republicans who will soon begin voting in the primaries.
Their anger may be justified, but anger is not a sufficient reason for choosing a candidate in a desperate time for the future of this nation. And there is such a thing as a point of no return.

Voters need to consider what elections are for. Elections are not held to allow voters to vent their emotions. They are held to choose who shall hold in their hands the fate of hundreds of millions of Americans today and of generations yet unborn.

Too many nations, in desperate times, especially after the established authorities have discredited themselves and forfeited the trust of the people, have turned to some new and charismatic leader, who ended up turning a dire situation into an utter catastrophe.

The history of the 20th century provides all too many examples, whether on a small scale that led to the massacre in Jonestown in 1978 or the earlier succession of totalitarian movements that took power in Russia in 1917, Italy in 1922 and Germany a decade later.

Eric Hoffer's shrewd insight into the success of charismatic leaders was that the "quality of ideas seems to play a minor role," What matters, he pointed out, "is the arrogant gesture, the complete disregard of the opinion of others, the singlehanded defiance of the world."

Is that the emotional release that Republican voters will be seeking when they begin voting in the primaries? If so, Donald Trump will be their man. But if the sobering realities of life and the need for mature and wise leadership in dangerous times is uppermost in their minds, they will have to look elsewhere.


Cafe Diablo


This showy drink combines spiced brandy, Grand Marnier, and a strong African roast such as Kenyan or Sumatran. Mason's Restaurant used to create this popular drink tableside, using a saucepan and igniting the brandy before ladling the potent drink into a demitasse cup. It is no longer available at the restaurant (for the obvious fire-hazard reasons), but can certainly be recreated in your own home for special guests. The proportions have been changed to accommodate a coffee mug.

* 1-12-ounce coffeemug, preheated

Serves 1
* 2 cubes sugar
* 1 1/2 jiggers brandy
* 1/2 jigger Grand Marnier
* 5-8 whole cloves
* 1 strip orange peel
* 1 strip lemon peel
* 8 ounces Kenyan or Sumatran brewed coffee

Gently heat all of the ingredients except the coffee in a chafing dish or, if one is not available, a saucepan. Pour the hot coffee into coffeemug. The brandy should begin to release its aroma after a few minutes. At this point, ignite the brandy and allow the flames to burn for 15-20 seconds, then ladle the brandy mixture over the hot coffee. Mix the coffee and brandy together.

Serve in a Trader Vic Cafe Diablo mug (Above) & contemplate what a great evening last night was.


Open Season on the Police

 Thomas Sowell

By Thomas Sowell

Published Oct. 20, 2015

In recent months there have been a series of cases reported in the media, where some teenage thug — white, black or Hispanic in different cases — has been stopped by a policeman for some routine violation of the law and, instead of complying with lawful instructions, such as "show me your driver's license," chooses instead to defy the policeman, resist arrest and finally ends up physically assaulting the cop.

In the most recent case, the teenager happened to be white, but the story doesn't seem to change much, whatever the complexion of the guy who violated the law. Nor does the sad ending change, with the young wise guy shot dead. Nor do the reactions of the media and the parents vary much.

"He was only a kid" is an almost automatic reaction of the parents and the media. "He didn't deserve to be killed" over a traffic violation, or because he didn't drop a toy gun when ordered to, or some other minor infraction.

Are we so addicted to talking points and sound bites that we can't be bothered to use common sense? If you are killed by a teenager, you are just as dead as if you had been killed by the oldest man in the world.

It doesn't matter how minor the law violation was that caused the young guy to be stopped. He wasn't shot for the violation — which could have been jay-walking, for all the difference it makes. He was shot for attacking the police, after having foolishly escalated a routine encounter into a personal confrontation.

Irrational statements by the young man's parents may be understandable when they discover that their son is dead. But for media people to make such mindless statements to a nationwide audience is just grossly irresponsible.

In an atmosphere where second-guessing policemen has become a popular sport in the media, as well as among politicians, there is always someone to say that there must have been "some other way" for the policeman to handle the situation.

Utter ignorance of what it is like to be in such situations does not seem to make the second-guessers hesitate. On the contrary, ignorance seems to be liberating, so that "excessive force" has become an almost automatic comment from people who have no basis whatever for determining how much force is necessary in such situations. You can't measure out force with a teaspoon.

The truly tragic cases involve some really young kid — maybe ten years old or so — who has a very realistic-looking toy gun, and has removed the red plastic attachment that is supposed to show that it is not a real gun. When he turns his realistic-looking toy gun on a policeman, and refuses to drop it, that can turn out to be the last mistake of his young life.

Someone in the media recently complained that a policeman shot a boy who had a toy gun "within seconds" of arriving on the scene. When someone has a gun, and refuses to drop it, a policeman can be killed within seconds. A dialogue under these conditions can be a fatal luxury he cannot afford.
There is something grotesque about people sitting in safety and comfort, blithely second-guessing at their leisure what a policeman did when he had a split second to make a decision that could cost him his life, leaving behind a widow and orphans.

You cannot have law without law enforcement. If cops are supposed to back down whenever they are confronted by some brassy young thug, that may indeed save a few lives among the thugs. But that just means that a lot of other lives will be lost under "kinder, gentler" policing.

After this year's widespread indulgences in anti-police rhetoric by politicians, the media and race hustlers, how surprised should we be by the dramatic upsurge in murders after law enforcement had been undermined?

Laws without law enforcement are just suggestions. Imagine if highway speed signs are replaced by signs that say, "We suggest you not drive faster than 65 m.p.h., please." Do you doubt that many more lives will be lost on the highways?

Maybe the parents who are so bitter over the loss of a son in a wholly unnecessary confrontation with a policeman doing his job might ask themselves if they did their job, when they raised a child without teaching him either common sense or common decency.


Hello I'm Special

Book Review: Hello, I’m Special: How Individuality Became the New Conformity by Hal Niedzviecki

As someone who has always defined herself as a non-conformist, I’ve noticed something recently. It used to be, being a non-conformist put you outside the norm, outside the cool, outside the places where things really happen. Now, though, it seems like everyone I meet is an iconoclast. Non-conformity is everywhere. What does it mean when everyone is a non-conformist? That’s what I was hoping Hal Niedzviecki would explain in Hello, I’m Special.
For Niedzviecki, the epiphany came when he got a mass-produced birthday card declaring “Happy Birthday to a non-conformist.” If you’re on Hallmark’s radar, Niedzviecki wondered, could you still be an outsider? That’s when Niedzviecki realized that being a non-conformist had become the norm. Everyone wanted a piece of the outsider action; everyone was special.
Just ask reality show contestants. These people, searching for their 15 minutes of fame, are the poster children for conforming non-conformity. During his research, Niedzviecki visits the Canadian Idol tryouts, where thousands of young people lined up overnight, every aspiring Idol convinced that this was the beginning of their fame. This was the stuff that pop dreams are made of.
At the Canadian Idol tryouts, I find thousands of bright, funny, interesting, horribly deluded people, new conformists every single one of them. They all share the same dream and pursue it in exactly the same way. Coincidence? Human nature? I don’t think so.
Therein lies the essence of the book: We are all looking for our own equivalent of an Idol moment, when the apparatus of pop culture will validate us by turning its attention our way. Being different is the way for us to get that attention. Being different gives our lives meaning, makes us more than worker drones in some hive world. Or, to put it into a journalistic maxim: Dog bites man isn’t a story. Man bites dog, on the other hand…
The reference is both flip and apt, encapsulating as it does what special means (extraordinary — outside the norm) and who the ultimate arbiter of specialness is. As a modern society, we are defined by the media; the media is what we use to know who we are. This, perhaps, was always the purview of art, to reflect back what it means to be human; but now, instead of looking for an everyman, we are looking for what makes us special, our thing, so to speak.
This desire to be special has implications, of course.
The compulsion to be noticed often translates into confusion and even a certain degree of sadness. Do we really want to quit our jobs, abandon our responsibilities, seize the day, break the record? Silly, of course we do. Who doesn’t? But, all too often, seizing the day is not so easy. It’s not clear what ambition we harbour, what world-changing activity we might embark on. Too often, we end up feeling depressed and devalued as we carry on through lives that have become all the more ordinary because glamorous pop stars are urging us to just do it.
Niedzviecki, who writes with a mainstream non-conformist’s informality, seems torn about the despondency that the I’m Special phenomenon can elicit. He is empathetic to people who are broken down by their failure to successfully fit in by standing out. He recognizes that it is almost impossible for a person to escape the zeitgeist of their times:
Force-fed the fattening syrup of self-esteem, we are nevertheless starving, hungry to graze amid the pastures of fame. To give up would be to admit that pop dream that is so much a part of our lives is a lie. For an ever-growing number of people, life has come to mean achieving the pop dream. In the schools, they call it self-esteem; in leftist cliques, they call it hedonism; and in New Age circles, they call it personal spirituality. What it amounts to is the new conformity—the search for a way in.
Still, Niedzviecki seems to see himself, for the most part, as outside this phenomenon. Sometimes, it seems as if he sees himself as a real non-conformist, bitter about the interlopers with questionable credibility. He has a tendency to treat his subjects with the kind of hipster detachment that flirts with derision. This is, perhaps, most evident when he cites the fat acceptance movement as an example of the absurd degree of acceptance for deviations from the norm:
In the age of individuality, you can be beautiful any way you are, never mind that [Dimensions Plus modeling’s DeLores] Pressley’s message of “self empowerment” is also one of mass delusion: In an age of unnaturally bloated bellies, in a country leading the way with 65 percent of its residents overweight, Pressley just might be doing a bit too good a job convincing us that it’s okay to be chunky.
Activism itself is a symptom of the I’m Special society, or at least a microcosm of it. Niedzviecki notes that activists aren’t that different from Idol contestants or Trekkies in their motivations.
I’ve observed first-hand the way activist communities provide a niche and a recognition that is not unlike that of pop-culture communities. I’ve seen youths arrested for taking over an abandoned building—action they ostensibly took to protest a lack of affordable housing#8212;hugging and high-fiving each other as they emerged from jail. They were clearly exuberant. Why? They achieved nothing except a paragraph in the paper and legal hassles. But in their minds they had also accrued real evidence of their personal commitment to rebellion, to the cause. While waiting for their accused offspring to be released, I watched annoyed liberal parents wring their hands in frustration. How to yell at your kid for wanting to do something to help others? And yet the parents all seemed to sense that altruism was not the sole motive behind their children’s actions. The line between the pop-culture-infused desire for individualistic adventure and commitment to the cause becomes blurred.
This observation articulates some of my own ambivalence towards activist causes. Anyone who has ever been involved in an activist group can tell you about power struggles that seem at odds with the altruistic mission statements of many of these groups. And it is not unusual for the groups themselves to become commodified. It’s a marketing trifecta when a product can sell us individuality, self-esteem, and do-gooder points. How could anyone resist something that promises all that? Again, Niedzviecki cites the fat acceptance movement to make his point:
What begins with an empowering not-for-profit indie magazine or support group ends, invariably, with a glossy magazine, a website, a consultant, and a whole new language of “curvy” and “plus-size”—all meant to make the overweight feel happy and represented. And, of course, they are encouraged to keep buying.
So who is to blame for the Special society? As mentioned earlier, Niedzviecki recognizes that it would be hard for anyone to resist buying into the mythology. After all, the media is constantly telling us just how special we are…or at least, how special we could be. Yes, the media and its need for consumers is the culprit here.
Pop culture, and especially its gift of “free TV,” gives us access to a world we will otherwise never know. From the Amazon rain forest to the operating room to Michael Jackson’s mansion to the mysterious life of a Mafia drug lord, we can enter into places far more exciting and seemingly real than our own everyday existence. At the same time, this process instills in us the desire to find similar intensity and excitement in our own lives. We don’t just want to watch the movie, listen to the song and play the video game, we try to replicate the scenario in our daily lives. Consumer-culture critic Juliet Schor has discovered in her research that the more time a person spends watching TV, the more money that person spends.
Meanwhile, our television gurus (and the pop culture tabloids), have a mantra that tells us that we too could grow up to be a Mafia drug lord, or a skin-disordered exile pop star, or any of a million other special things.
In preaching the self-esteem you-can-do-anything pop myth, most therapists—be they popular speakers and TV personalities (think Dr. Phil and Oprah) or accredited professionals—aim to create good little individualists who at once believe they can do anything, but don’t actually upset the ratio of one superstar to every million people by successfully managing to do anything.
Who wouldn’t need anti-depressants after a life-long force-feeding of messages of promise and almost no way to get any substance?
So, the culture of Specialness can be blamed for our rampant consumerism and our dissatisfaction with our lives. Other than anomie, what are the consequences? Well, for one, violence. Niedzviecki repeatedly references the Columbine shootings as a case where people, denied acknowledgment for their specialness, sought out a way to be sure they would be recognized. Niedzviecki posits that if Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris had had other channels through which to communicate, the tragedy would have been averted. And, Niedzviecki warns, it will get worse, not better.
With even our sanctioned mass culture becoming ever more violent and extreme, what is left to do that will shock and horrify and thereby proclaim I’m-Specialness? If you go to work like a good boy, you are labeled boring. But how far does the good boy need to go to shake off the aura off Corporate Ken and achieve the status of bad?
(We Need to Talk About Kevin, a fictional tale of school violence, also touches on the idea that eventually, even school shootings can become ho-hum.)
If we are so exposed to I’m Special stories that we have no other way to find meaning and to frame our lives, it is inevitable that we will look for the things that characterize a good story to also characterize our personal narratives. Just like everyone else, we are compelled to find the element in our lives that will make us stand out. For an increasing number of people, that storytelling is not just an internalized act, but also a deliberate, public one. That’s where the blog comes in. (What discussion of current sociological trends would be complete without blogs?)
Niedzviecki notes that online journals reflect:
Our desire to be noted (or at least footnoted) in the electronic mass community. In a culture where it is common to obsess over other people’s problems as a kind of entertainment—from the trials of the stars as chronicled in People and Star Weekly to the agonies of boy-toy doctors on the boob tube—it really isn’t much of a stretch for someone to decide, “Well, my problems can be entertaining, too.” And though there’s a problem of access to the airwaves of radio and television, no one has yet figured out how to keep us from chipping away at the entertainment monoculture via the net.
To Niedzviecki, blogs are a subversive way for individuals to seize a tiny patch of media estate to declare their own specialness. Bloggers, do you feel ready for your non-conformist birthday cards? In addition to blogging, Niedzviecki cites other instances where individuals try to recreate popular culture for themselves; backyard wrestling and Elvis impersonators are two meme that appear throughout the book. Blogging is a little different, though, because it doesn’t just appropriate a piece of pop culture for home use but rather allows the blogger to appropriate a bit of media and brand themselves however they see fit.
The question is where does all this specialness lead? Niedzviecki wonders if conformity might not be the new non-conformity. He offers up his brother’s dedication to Orthodox Judaism and John Walker Lindh embrace of the Taliban’s restrictive policies as two examples of people non-conforming by absolving themselves of much of the freedom considered the foremost perk of modern Western life.
As conforming specialness spreads, our problems as a society change. No longer are we trying to escape the confinement of restrictive parents, religions, and communities. Instead, growing numbers of us are trying to find situations in which we can replicate a sense of belonging in non-restrictive ways. We want to be noticed for being who we are and we want to be told, gently, who we should be.
People who move from big cities to small towns, even off the grid, are doing the same thing, says Niedzviecki.
The pressure of needing to constantly justify and give notice of your existence is ameliorated by living in a (comparatively) closed society… The clock is turned back. The nobody can be somebody just by existing. The roles—town drunk, town loon, town rabble-rouser, town gossip, town genius—provide identities that would otherwise have to be carefully maintained and retooled and projected. Perhaps this is why small towns always seem so sleepy and nonchalant. They are protected from the perpetual necessity of narrative reinvention.
In the end, Niedzviecki doesn’t have an explanation for how we came to be such a Special-centric society. He blames the media and notes that the non-conforming ideal tends to breed good “citizen consumers…passive, focused on the self, willing to work hard to buy the stuff that will make him stand out” rather than forcing us to acknowledge that it is statistically impossible for every one of us to be special, when special is by definition not the normal state of affairs. Nor does Niedzviecki offer an answer as to how we can get off this green screen scenery treadmill life and back to real dirt, in real woods, complete with the unpredictability of the outdoors. After all, there is no escaping culture.
Few can force themselves to suffer. We can’t choose to leave home still a boy, wander the backwoods, work as a logger in the days when logging meant heading off to the forest and cutting down trees by hand—a dangerous business, you could easily lose a life or a leg. Maybe that’s why most of the professional creators working in Western countries today seem to lack gravitas, seem to be complaining just for something to do, just because it’s the next move in playing the game.
In other words, I’m Special has us destined to mediocrity. It’s not the kind of message that will inspire you to go out and conquer the world, but maybe, just maybe, if we stopped thinking quite so much about how we as individuals are special and more about what we have in common with others, maybe the conformity could be revolutionary.


Why Have Elections?

Thomas Sowell

By Thomas Sowell

Published Sept. 17, 2015

Article HERE

In a country with more than 300 million people, it is remarkable how obsessed the media have become with just one — Donald Trump. What is even more remarkable is that, after six years of repeated disasters, both domestically and internationally, under a glib egomaniac in the White House, so many potential voters are turning to another glib egomaniac to be his successor.

No doubt much of the stampede of Republican voters toward Mr. Trump is based on their disgust with the Republican establishment. The fact that the next two biggest vote-getters in the polls are also complete outsiders — Dr. Ben Carson and Ms. Carly Fiorina — reinforces the idea that this is a protest.

It is easy to understand why there would be pent-up resentments among Republican voters. But are elections held for the purpose of venting emotions?

No national leader ever aroused more fervent emotions than Adolf Hitler did in the 1930s. Watch some old newsreels of German crowds delirious with joy at the sight of him. The only things at all comparable in more recent times were the ecstatic crowds that greeted Barack Obama when he burst upon the political scene in 2008.

Elections, however, have far more lasting, and far more serious — or even grim — consequences than emotional venting. The actual track record of crowd-pleasers, whether Juan Peron in Argentina, Obama in America or Hitler in Germany, is very sobering, if not painfully depressing.

The media seem to think that participation in elections is a big deal. But turnout often approaches 100 percent in countries so torn by bitter polarization that everyone is scared to death of what will happen if the other side wins. But times and places with low voter turnout are often times and places when there are no such fears aroused by having an opposing party win.

Despite many people who urge us all to vote, as a civic duty, the purpose of elections is not participation. The purpose is to select individuals for offices, including President of the United States. Whoever has that office has our lives, the lives of our loved ones and the fate of the entire nation in his or her hands.

An election is not a popularity contest, or an award for showmanship. If you want to fulfill your duty as a citizen, then you need to become an informed voter. And if you are not informed, then the most patriotic thing you can do on election day is stay home. Otherwise your vote, based on whims or emotions, is playing Russian roulette with the fate of this nation.

All the hoopla over Donald Trump is distracting attention from a large field of other candidates, some of whom have outstanding track records as governors, where they demonstrated courage, character and intelligence. Others have rhetorical skills like Trump or a serious mastery of issues, unlike Trump.

Even if Trump himself does not end up as the Republican nominee for the presidency, he will have done a major disservice to both his party and the country if his grandstanding has cost us a chance to explore in depth others who may include someone far better prepared for the complex challenges of this juncture in history.

After the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran, we are entering an era when people alive at this moment may live to see a day when American cities are left in radioactive ruins. We need all the wisdom, courage and dedication in the next president — and his or her successors — to save us and our children from such a catastrophe.

Rhetoric and showmanship will certainly not save us.

Donald Trump is not the only obstacle to finding leaders of such character. The ultimate danger lies in the voting public themselves. All too many signs point to an electorate including many people who are grossly uninformed or, worse yet, misinformed.

The very fact that the voting age was lowered to 18 shows the triumph of the vision of elections as participatory rituals, rather than times for fateful choices. If anything, the age might have been raised to 30, since today millions of people in their 20s have never even had the responsibility of being self-supporting, to give them some sense of reality.

We can only hope that the months still remaining before the first primary elections next year will allow voters to get over their emotional responses and concentrate on the life and death implications of choosing the next President of the United States.


Race, Politics and Lies

Among the many painful ironies in the current racial turmoil is that communities scattered across the country were disrupted by riots and looting because of the demonstrable lie that Michael Brown was shot in the back by a white policeman in Missouri — but there was not nearly as much turmoil created by the demonstrable fact that a fleeing black man was shot dead by a white policeman in South Carolina.

Totally ignored was the fact that a black policeman in Alabama fatally shot an unarmed white teenager, and was cleared of any charges, at about the same time that a white policeman was cleared of charges in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

In a world where the truth means so little, and headstrong preconceptions seem to be all that matter, what hope is there for rational words or rational behavior, much less mutual understanding across racial lines?

When the recorded fatal shooting of a fleeing man in South Carolina brought instant condemnation by whites and blacks alike, and by the most conservative as well as the most liberal commentators, that moment of mutual understanding was very fleeting, as if mutual understanding were something to be avoided, as a threat to a vision of "us against them" that was more popular.

That vision is nowhere more clearly expressed than in attempts to automatically depict whatever social problems exist in ghetto communities as being caused by the sins or negligence of whites, whether racism in general or a "legacy of slavery" in particular. Like most emotionally powerful visions, it is seldom, if ever, subjected to the test of evidence.

The "legacy of slavery" argument is not just an excuse for inexcusable behavior in the ghettos. In a larger sense, it is an evasion of responsibility for the disastrous consequences of the prevailing social vision of our times, and the political policies based on that vision, over the past half century.
Anyone who is serious about evidence need only compare black communities as they evolved in the first 100 years after slavery with black communities as they evolved in the first 50 years after the explosive growth of the welfare state, beginning in the 1960s.

You would be hard-pressed to find as many ghetto riots prior to the 1960s as we have seen just in the past year, much less in the 50 years since a wave of such riots swept across the country in 1965.
We are told that such riots are a result of black poverty and white racism. But in fact — for those who still have some respect for facts — black poverty was far worse, and white racism was far worse, prior to 1960. But violent crime within black ghettos was far less.

Murder rates among black males were going down — repeat, DOWN — during the much lamented 1950s, while it went up after the much celebrated 1960s, reaching levels more than double what they had been before. Most black children were raised in two-parent families prior to the 1960s. But today the great majority of black children are raised in one-parent families.

Such trends are not unique to blacks, nor even to the United States. The welfare state has led to remarkably similar trends among the white underclass in England over the same period. Just read "Life at the Bottom," by Theodore Dalrymple, a British physician who worked in a hospital in a white slum neighborhood.
You cannot take any people, of any color, and exempt them from the requirements of civilization — including work, behavioral standards, personal responsibility and all the other basic things that the clever intelligentsia disdain — without ruinous consequences to them and to society at large.

Non-judgmental subsidies of counterproductive lifestyles are treating people as if they were livestock, to be fed and tended by others in a welfare state — and yet expecting them to develop as human beings have developed when facing the challenges of life themselves.

One key fact that keeps getting ignored is that the poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits every year since 1994. Behavior matters and facts matter, more than the prevailing social visions or political empires built on those visions.