My name is Scott. I'm not an easy guy to figure out, especially considering I'm still trying to figure me out after being alive for almost a half-century. That being said, I have a lot of interests, and I hope we can discuss them here with some logic and reason. I'm privileged to be an American, a Southerner, and to be in the company of some truly amazing people both here and in my personal life.

My name is Scott. I'm not an easy guy to figure out, especially considering I'm still trying to figure me out after being alive for almost a half-century. That being said, I have a lot of interests, and I hope we can discuss them here with some logic and reason. I'm privileged to be an American, a Southerner, and to be in the company of some truly amazing people both here and in my personal life.

First Amendment Foolishness

The completely ridiculous attention paid to recent behavior exhibited by some NFL players has touched a nerve of mine. First of all, I am not addressing the players, their actions, nor their motivations; that has been more than amply discussed by many, and rather eloquently by both my co-conspirator Paul and our guest contributor Robert Kirby. Both of whom, I might add, have expressed feelings very similar to my own, and likely in a far more civilized fashion than I would have. What I am concerned about is the continued defense of these particular controversial actions by proclaiming them to be an issue of First Amendment rights. To those who hold that opinion, especially those who do so with an upturned nose and haughty air of condescension, I have two words:

You’re wrong.

In all honesty, that’s my sanitized response. What I’m actually thinking while you wax verbose from the pedestal you placed yourself upon is more like this:

(insert your favorite personally-insulting adjective here), please…

…followed by an eye-roll, of course. Why, you ask? Because it is contributing the the Constitutional illiteracy which in my opinion plagues our nation to a frightening degree. Here is the full text of the amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,

and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”

Let’s go back to the function the Bill of Rights. If you didn’t know this, know it now – the Bill of Rights does not, I repeat, does NOT list rights given to the citizens of the United States by the government. It recognizes rights our Founders felt were inherently held by the people, and specifically limits the federal government from violating them. There’s a huge difference between the two. The Bill of Rights exists to limit government power, not give the people power. One cannot give what one does not have, correct? To paraphrase, the entire document is essentially saying “…you have these rights, you’ve always had these rights, they are not ours to give, but yours, given to you by God, and we’re formally documenting this for all time in order to specifically limit the power of the government”.

Now, please return to the the text of the amendment and read the first five words again. Once again, even – read the first five words. Let them sink in.

“Congress shall make no law…”

Who does this limit? Congress. Who or what else is mentioned in the remainder of the text to indicate what follows also applies to others? Nothing. No one. Zero. Zip. Nada. All the nopes. Every single thing mentioned after those first five words only applies to Congress. What does that mean? It means if you are suffering consequences due to your words and/or actions, and those consequences are not being placed upon you by Congress, then claiming your First Amendment rights are being violated is absolutely incorrect. Doing so while holding it up like it is a holy relic which shields you from all criticism while you act as if anyone who disagrees with you is a heretical simpleton just makes you look foolish.

I expect many to disagree with my assessment. I invite your comments and discussion. For brevity’s sake I will include only one reference for those who wish to look elsewhere. The whole world is at your fingertips if you wish to seek further knowledge. Take a look at this article, which gives examples of various situations and how they would typically relate to the first amendment. Please note the first cited example perfectly describes the current situation involving the NFL and its ability to place limits on the behavior of players. Secondly, I would add this article was posted by a well-known bastion of leftist ideology, which certainly begs the question; If that “news” outlet doesn’t support your position on Constitutional grounds, do you really have a leg upon which to stand?

Please, I beg you, do not contribute to the continued dumbing-down of our society by jumping on this bandwagon! Learn what the Constitution actually states and means, do not buy into fallacies such as this. In my opinion, for decades now there have been those who have perverted the meaning of many Constitutional amendments through artifice and corruption, and they will continue to do so unless we educate ourselves and take corrective action. With that, I leave you with the words of one of my favorite Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson:

“On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit of the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”

Football, Free Speech, and Reality

For the second time, I am glad to share a guest contribution to The Frustrated Americans. Please read, comment and share Rob Kirby’s thoughts on the current situation with the NFL.

Recently, I’ve seen blurbs on the news and posts on Facebook referencing the newest sports-related drama involving the NFL. Lots of folks are upset athletes are kneeling during the National Anthem rather than standing respectfully at attention with their hands over their hearts. Even our president has been caught up in the theatrics, stating players who kneel should be fired. Many fans are saying they will boycott the games because of the players’ behavior. Other fans are defending the rights of the players to express themselves freely as a Constitutional right. Still, others enjoy the games and say they will continue to watch… and they really don’t care whether the players kneel, stand, or dance a jig for matter. I have friends from all three categories on Facebook, and the debates concerning the topic are entertaining to say the least.

As for me, I’m not watching NFL games this year. To be honest, I’ve never watched the NFL much in the first place. I’ve watched a couple of Super Bowls and a few games on Thanksgiving here and there, but I’ve never been much of a fan. I personally don’t want to waste my time or money watching grown men dress up in a suit of plastic armor, stretch a pair of tights over it, and beat the ever-living hell out of each other whilst chasing an oblong ball around the field. I can appreciate their talent, but I’ll never be able to stomach the amount of money they make to do these things, and anyone who calls them “heroes” is, in my opinion, being very generous to say the least. They are, at best, entertainers, just like actors and singers. Now, if one of them donates part of their fortune to cure cancer, or to feed the hungry, I might consider them heroes. Otherwise, they are just performing on a big green stage with white stripes and getting overpaid to do it. So I can’t blame my non-viewing on players kneeling.

That being said, I believe if an individual wants to kneel during the National Anthem, they have every right to do it! For that matter, they have the right to throw an American flag down on the ground and stomp all over it if that’s what they want to do (as long as it doesn’t belong to someone else). This is all part of free speech, so I say have at it! And just like these individuals have the right to do it, I have the right to call them moronic jackasses for doing it, because I also have the freedom of speech.

I believe the problem here isn’t really the behavior – it’s the arena these individuals have chosen to exercise their freedom of speech. Rather than setting up a march or a rally, they’ve chosen to subject all of their customers (that’s right… CUSTOMERS!) to their politics. For a long time, their customer base has been diverse… all socioeconomic statuses, all races, all religions, all political affiliations. And now these individuals have decided their right to express themselves is much more important than keeping a nonpartisan atmosphere so all customers can feel welcome. I’m guessing a lump sum of the NFL’s profits come from ticket sales and advertising. Apparently, the individual athletes aren’t worried about pissing off half their customers – thereby cutting their ticket sales in half and causing half of their TV audience to change the channel. I think that’s eventually going to sting a little.

In my unnamed job, I am occasionally required to salute the flag as it passes or when it is posted or raised. Don’t get me wrong… I would do it even if my job didn’t require it, because I have great respect for my country, for my freedom, and for my forefathers who died defending those things. It’s not about the flag… it’s about what the flag represents. But my job does require me to salute on occasion. Now if someone who works with me decides to take a knee in public instead of saluting, my guess is that it wouldn’t work out well for them. An individual has the right to free speech and expression. That person does not, however, have the right to a job. Having a job is a privilege – not a right. The problem with the NFL, a very large business, is that by allowing individuals the freedom to express whatever the hell they want to while they are on the clock and in an NFL uniform, the entire business appears to have embraced the same view. Hell, the team owners have even taken to the field to kneel with the players in a “show of solidarity” against Trump – who, by the way, is neither the American flag nor what it represents. When your corporation gets involved in politics to this level, you can expect to create a divide between yourself and a large percentage of your customer base. It would be like going shopping at Walmart and the entire time you are in the store, somebody is talking over the intercom telling you over and over how sorry your political party is. Sooner or later, a crapload of folks are going to get tired of hearing it and stop shopping at Walmart.

The NFL could have told its players to kneel on their own time. Instead, they allowed it to not only continue, but to grow to what it has become. I stopped reading most news articles and watching most news channels because of slanted politics. Since I’ve never really watched professional football, I guess I can’t boycott it. But I’m sure as hell not going to start watching it! It’ll be interesting to see what happens next. If everybody who says they aren’t watching anymore really stops watching, the NFL might just get a lesson in the importance of customer service.

Two types…

 Copied below is a “note” I published on social media a few years ago, with a link to the original post.  After being reminded of it recently, I decided to bring it here with minor revisions and invite discussion. What are your thoughts?

July 31, 2011 at 7:11pm

 The more I think about it, the more I feel there are two basic types of people when it comes to the concept of government. Apart, of course, from those who feel themselves to be the elite who must stand in control of us poor intellectually-challenged souls desperately needing their benevolence lest we plunge headlong into barbarism and anarchy (ahem — Washington D.C., cough, cough). Furthermore, I grow to feel that coexistence may not entirely be possible for these two types. At this point in time, I’m not sure what to call them; Victor/Victim, Contributor/Drain, Independent/Dependent, or something else entirely. Ask yourself these few questions, and decide for yourself where you may lie. Decidedly on one side, or somewhere in the very narrow space between. Is there a space between?

Life is tough — upon whom do you rely?

Do you stand resolute that through your work, your faith, and your determination you can live a successful life? Do you feel solving your problems should first be done by you? Are you eager to stand on your own two feet, beholden to no person or institution? Do you find it offensive when others insist they know best how to spend your money and live your life? Do you take the concept of personal responsibility seriously, and feel it is becoming far too rare? Do you find the thought of NOT doing what you can to provide for you and yours abhorrent and irresponsible? Do you find being forced to contribute to that which you do not agree to be robbery? Do you feel your safety and security is primarily your responsibility?

Does a just government grant rights or acknowledge them? Do you know the difference?

Do you feel it is the responsibility of others to assure you a certain minimum level of provision? Do you look to society to right the wrongs which may have befallen you? Do you think because others may have much, they somehow owe some of it to others and should be forced to do so? Do you think your personal safety and security is primarily the government’s responsibility? Can you allow another to live in a way you find disagreeable as long as they do you no harm? Do you feel others must be controlled by force of law because of what they MIGHT do? Have you ever uttered the phrase “…there ought to be a law!” ? Have you ever thought “I am (fill-in-the-blank), so I should receive special treatment”? Do you look to others to solve your problems?

Which paragraph describes you more accurately? Which type do you think makes for a stronger society?

Mountain out of a Molehill: Sheriff Clarke’s Uniform

A recent Twitter rant about Sheriff David Clarke’s uniform went viral to the point of being reported by the media. The problem is, it is chock full of logical and factual errors. The series of tweets railed against his uniform, accusing the Sheriff of wearing unauthorized items and implying (but not stating outright) stolen valor. Media reports took it one step further (imagine that), with headlines like  “Looks like Sheriff David Clarke’s “army” medals might be B.S.” Social media comments outright accuse him of stolen valor (even using the sharp sign, err… hashtag), along with the usual foaming-at-the-mouth ad hominem tirades.

Let me attempt to inject some sanity into this ridiculousness, if you please. Scattered within said 14-tweet screed, the author asserts the following: “You see all that shit pinned all over his dress uniform jacket? That’s not supposed to be there”, as well as “On the left side, you have what appears to be more badge replicas/pins and several ribbons, one of which looks unauthorized.” Also, “… and then up top, you have the flag pin arranged on the lapel as though it’s part of the uniform code. Pretty sure it’s not.” My problem with this is not his attack on David Clarke. If you read the entire series of tweets along with other of his writings, it is blatantly obvious he has an axe to grind with Sheriff Clarke. That’s his problem, not mine. I’m not here to defend the Sheriff, that’s his job. I’m here to defend logic. My first issue with this is quite simple, and best described in question/answer format. Who sets the uniform standards for a Sheriff’s Department? The answer: THE SHERIFF. Period. End of story. Therefore, every single point raised above is absolutely incorrect. If the good sheriff wants the uniform to be a pink leopard-print romper with a green Borat mankini on the outside, then that’s the uniform code. Another burr under my saddle was this gem: “It’s literally a sloppy assortment of badge replicas arranged neatly…” Which one is it? It’s either a sloppy assortment, or it’s arranged neatly. It cannot be both. My second issue is that in all the pics which were posted as evidence, I did not recognize one single solitary piece of military insignia. I will concede, however, the last point in time I was subject to Army uniform regulation (AR 670-1) was likely before the author of that rant was a gleam in his daddy’s eye. There are undoubtedly many pieces of authorized insignia which have been added to the mix since I’ve been out. That being said, the burden of proof is on the doubter. It is his job to specifically identify each piece of wayward insignia and why it doesn’t belong, according to standard. I won’t hold my breath.

The remainder of his missive is, as I mentioned above, mostly personal attacks on the sheriff. As I also mentioned previously, that’s not my problem. I’ll leave it at this; for the sake of logic, if you wish to raise an issue (with anything, not just this), be precise with your statements. Be accurate with your accusations. It is hardly within the realm of logic to accuse one of wearing unauthorized uniform items/uniform not being up to code when the target of your attack is the one who sets the code. Chill. AR 670-1 doesn’t apply to a sheriff’s department.

Whether or not said code is over the top is a separate issue from the above, and certainly open for discussion. Now that it has been mentioned and I’ve looked, his dress uniform jacket does look a bit busy. Frankly, though? I’ve got better things to worry about.

I do find it puzzling from a logical perspective to see this story was picked up by the media. Politically, though, it’s easy. If David Clarke was an outspoken Democrat and/or a Hillary supporter, there would have been nothing but crickets on this one. David Clarke’s only real sin is being a black man who supports Republicans and speaks out against the terrorist group BLM.

Why Firing Comey Doesn’t Matter (right now)

I’m not sure it’s possible for one to not see the foolishness involved in the reporting of anything related to Donald Trump these days. Only the most partisan of Democrats could fail to acknowledge the obvious bias and agenda in what passes for journalism in the U.S. at this point in time. Before continuing, I will reiterate now what I have said many times; I am not a Trump fanboy. I was extremely skeptical of his candidacy, and he was far from my first choice. That being said, it is getting more and more difficult to pay much attention to the “reporting” taking place today when the desire to trash a public figure is so prominent that disparaging stories are written because he takes two scoops of ice cream with his dessert (insert eye roll here).

I’m a “big picture” kind of guy for the most part. I’m also a skeptic. For those reasons and more, I don’t often get swept up in the day’s stories. More often than not, I wonder what’s *not* being reported more so than becoming anxious about what *is* being reported. Because of that, I’m going to offer some food for thought about the President’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.

1. The Director of the FBI serves at the pleasure of the President. Hearings don’t need to be convened, HR doesn’t need to weigh in – if the President wants to fire you, the President has that power. Period. End of story. Doesn’t. Matter. Why.
2. This particular FBI Director has earned scathing criticism from all political sides. One can only defend his job performance through a highly politicized and agenda-rich perspective. Many prominent Democratic figures are on record calling for his head.
3. The President exercised restraint and showed deference to protocol. How, you say? It doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to see Democratic obstructionism has caused difficulty for this administration through foot-dragging in reference to cabinet nominations. The Director of the FBI’s boss is the Deputy Attorney General, who reports to the Attorney General, who reports to the President. Jeff Sessions wasn’t sworn in as the Attorney General until February 8th. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wasn’t sworn in until April 26th. Comey was fired on May 9th, just shy of two weeks after his boss was finally allowed to take his position. Hardly a questionable timeline given the circumstances. President Trump waited on the formal recommendation of Comey’s next two levels of supervision before ending his service as FBI director, when he could have done it on January 20th.
4. Rod Rosenstein is widely regarded by both sides of the aisle to be exceedingly apolitical, very ethical, and a consummate professional. This lends significant credibility to his recommendation for Comey’s dismissal. Given his record, it is unlikely he would produce a recommendation with which he disagreed.
5. Relieving the leader of an entity does not immediately end the activities of said entity. The only person in the FBI throwing up their hands and not doing their job any more as of May 9th 2017 is James Comey. Every other FBI agent reported for duty on May 10th and continued doing their work, and every investigation currently under way by the FBI will continue to be conducted until it is concluded or ordered closed. Judging by the apoplexia on display from the usual suspects, one would think no FBI activity at all has taken place since Comey was fired. There is simply no logic in acting as if this is the de facto end of any investigation.

Let’s review: We have an FBI director with an easily documented and indefensible record of poor job performance (marvel at my understatement), two levels of supervision recommending his removal, and the end of his chain of command has the clear and unrestricted power of dismissal. And your problem is?

Accusation: He was fired to hinder investigations which may cause trouble for the President.
Counter: Even if he was, it cannot be proven. Move on. The time to make hay in regard to this is if the new director takes provable action to actually impede any particular FBI investigation for political reasons.

Accusation: He was going to fire him anyway. He just waited on those recommendations, which he ordered to be written, as a form of political cover.
Counter: One could just as easily say, possibly with more credibility, he wanted to fire him but asked for input from every link in the chain of command between the two in order to make a more fully-informed decision. That shows good leadership. I may not like the man as a person, but do you really think given his record of performance he doesn’t know a thing or two about being a leader? The timing of it, as previously mentioned, was largely determined by Democrat foot-dragging.

There are multiple investigations being conducted by multiple entities looking into possible Russian interference in our election. There may be more. This firing will have no effect on the FBI’s ability to do what it does. For that matter, I think it more likely to cause a “double down” response, ultimately causing more scrutiny, not less.

Ultimately, I personally believe the Russia argument is a pile of excrement, and largely a product of sore losers hell-bent on causing as much pain as possible for this administration. There is much more documentable evidence of Democrat involvement with Russians than Republican. In any case, let them investigate. As I said, I believe nothing credible will come of it. If it does, then the necessary steps will no doubt be taken.

This firing is no smoking gun. At most, one should make a note to consider this as a small piece of the puzzle if a smoking gun is ever found. In the mean time, right now, the firing of James Comey just doesn’t matter.

Why can’t we just get along? Here’s one reason…

From what could be called our “mission statement” above, one can see we’re primarily blogging here because we’re frustrated with the lack of logic, reason, and just good ol’ common sense in what currently passes for public discourse. What I’d like to discuss today is one of the most common logical fallacies. If you haven’t noticed it already, you’ll see what I am about to illustrate used very routinely, and almost never called out as incorrect.

But first, let’s address the more general — what is a logical fallacy? In short, it is an erroneous argument; an error in logic. It’s not necessarily related to what you are saying, but more of how you are approaching the debate. These errors have been categorized and defined for thousands of years now. Seriously, thousands of years… Greeks were writing this stuff down in years we end with “BC”. Intrigued? Research Aristotle. Plato. Stoicism. Also check this out. It’s an intellectual rabbit hole, but I find it fascinating.

Aristotle wrote about ignoratio elenchi, which he considered to be a somewhat “catch all” term for certain logical fallacies related to what I’d like to discuss today, which is called Straw Man. The British also refer to it as “Aunt SalIy”. It can be simply defined as the misrepresention of an opponent’s position. For example:

  • Person A: I feel the medicinal use of marijuana should be legal. 
  • Person B: How can you possibly be in favor of decriminalizing marijuana? Obviously, you just want to get stoned all the time.

To some, the faulty logic of the above needs no explanation. Being in favor of medical cannabis is rather obviously not the same as stating marijuana should be as easily found and as loosely regulated as Cheetos. Unfortunately, this type of erroneous thinking is everywhere. If you have read my last blog post, you will remember I used healthcare as an example in my discussion about what consitutes a right as opposed to a need. On another similar social media discussion not long after posting those thoughts, I was informed the following:

 

“From your above post, I can “infer” or “deduct” that you believe poor people do not deserve healthcare as a right…..”

“Anyone that thinks the rich should get healthcare while the poor die, deserves to acquire a deadly disease, have their healthcare taken away, and die slowly, as that is what they are doing to the poor.”

“As it is obvious that you do not believe healthcare is a right for anyone if it will cost you a dime of your treasure or a moment of your time, I continue to infer that you are an immoral, evil person.”

 

All of the previous are perfect examples of Straw Man arguments (with a topper of Ad Hominem for a hint of spice). My point was simply healthcare is not a right. A need? Of course. A right? Nope. I never once addressed economic status. Rich people versus poor people? Not discussed. I never said people don’t deserve healthcare. I said people do not deserve healthcare as a right. Frankly, I feel if a person cannot distinguish between those two statements, they should go back to every teacher they’ve ever had and profusely apologize. An apology complete with wailing, gnashing of teeth, and maybe even self-flagellation. This person attacked arguments I did not make; ergo, his arguments are invalid. Summarized: “You’re arguing against what I didn’t say.” If one were to point out the error in logic and the offender recognize and acknowledge the same, a productive discussion could then possibly move forward. Experience shows the previous statement to be hopelessly optimistic. Such attempts are usually met with further illogical reponses, and remembering a movie quote from Gene Wilder.

When you see the straw man, look for this as well – is the argument being made from a position of ignorance, or deliberately? It is painfully obvious the above examples illustrate ignorance. The most frustrating type of ignorance as well, when the one positing such a wave of illogical garbage is absolutely convinced of both their intellectual as well as moral superiority. Usually, as in this case, quite falsely on both counts, I might add. In all honesty I hold the deliberate practice of this error in more contempt, as it is usually the type purpetuated in political discussions. A perfect example?

  • Donald Trump: “We must have strong borders and not let illegal immigrants enter the United States.”
  • Media/political opponents: “Donald Trump is a racist!”

I have a special contempt for the deliberate use of this as a tactic of demagoguery. This is Goebells-level propaganda, and it sickens me. Almost as much as it sickens me to see the sheer number of people who fall for this type of rhetoric. I may address my thoughts on that in a future post. Those thoughts center on the failings of our educational system, which are many. But, I digress…

Watch out for the straw man. He’s everywhere.

I do hope my ramblings here were informative, and maybe help you realize this error in logic when you see it. Trust me, you will.

As always, rational discussion is welcome – please comment, and if you are so inclined, forward a link to this post on your social media of choice.

You keep using that word…

Of the many societal ills from which we are currently suffering, the highest on my radar is how words and terms are constantly being redefined. This is solely for propaganda value in my opinion. Rational and logical discourse have been overtaken by inflammatory, deceptive manipulation for decades now. This has permeated many aspects of our nation, with the government/mainstream media as the chief offender. I do consider them to be essentially the same; the media has long since abdicated any pretense of impartiality. They are the de facto communications arm of the Democratic party.

That being said, the word du jour is “right”. What is a “right”? I dare say if you were to ask a group of random people, you would be hard pressed to find 10% who could adequately define the word as it relates to politics and society. According to thefreedictionary.com and their legal dictionary, it is defined as “…an entitlement to something, whether to concepts like justice and due process, or to ownership of property or some interest in property, real or personal.”

In that previously mentioned random group of people, some would no doubt mention “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” from the Declaration of Independence. Here are those words in more complete context:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident,

that all men are created equal, that

they are endowed by their Creator

with certain unalienable Rights,

that among these are Life, Liberty

and the pursuit of Happiness —

That to secure these rights, Governments

are instituted among Men,

deriving their just powers from

the consent of the governed…”

No one could make a credible case the founders of our country chose their words with carelessness. In the case of the Declaration, once the issue was formally brought before the Continental Congress by Richard Henry Lee on June 7th 1776, a committee was chosen to prepare a written declaration. Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson were the assigned members. Jefferson wrote in 1823 the committee “…unanimously pressed on myself alone to undertake the draught [sic]. I consented; I drew it; but before I reported it to the committee I communicated it separately to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Adams requesting their corrections…I then wrote a fair copy, reported it to the committee, and from them, unaltered to the Congress.” There is a great deal of original source material on this subject if one wishes to find it — my purpose is not to chronicle the history of the document, but to illustrate it was written with many revisions as well as under great care and attention to content. Rather, my purpose is to discuss some of those words in detail to illustrate the concept of rights.

  • “We hold these truths to be self-evident”: My translation? What follows should not require translation, explanation, or justification. They exist as surely as the sky is above us and the earth is below, and they cannot be rationally bargained or dismissed.
  • “…that all men are created equal”: Self evident? Yes. What many do not realize is that in historical context, it was a very controversial and shocking statement. How it is discussed today is usually completely out of context. We were then ruled by the British Crown, headed by a king. Royalty justified their authority as being given unto them by God. They were created superior, meant to rule, every word and decision they uttered carrying the will of the Almighty, with no limit, and your purpose as one created inferior was to be ruled by them with no questions asked. To put pen to paper and state “all men are created equal” was no small affront to the ruling class; it was a shot across the bow! I may write an entire post on this topic alone in the future. For now, I leave you with this: The key word in that phrase is “created”.
  • “…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”: Now, we’re getting into the heart of the matter. This may be the most rebellious phrase in the entire document. You have rights as long as I decide you have them, according to a king of that time – that was the standard of the day. With those words, the Colonists were essentially saying “…here’s a list of things you have no legitimate power to control, and we dare you to try. We have them because we exist, they were given to us by God, not you, and you cannot take them away”. This was in theory and practice a giant extended middle digit to the king, accompanied by a hearty “up yours!”
  • “that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”: Now, we’re listing those specific things over which they felt the king had no authority. Life – my life is mine, given to me by God. It is not yours to dismiss with a wave of the hand and an “Off with his head”. Liberty – In short, freedom. You cannot capriciously decide how free I am; I am free because I exist, to do as I wish under the laws of God. Pursuit of Happiness – much has been written about the meaning of that term as written in this document. Without writing another book, I will say I believe it to be in agreement with another phrase used both by the First Continental Congress as well as in the Constitution, that being “life, liberty, and property”. Others may disagree.

But again, what is a right? How often do you hear or read someone proclaiming “…it’s my right!”, or ” I have a right to (fill in the blank)!”? There is a difference between a “right” and “what one thinks one should have”. More often than not, those screaming the loudest today are usually crying for the latter. How can you tell them apart? It’s really not that hard once you think about it. Rights are those things you have, whether a concept like the right of self-defense, or a reality like the right to own property which you earned. The key here is this – no one gave it to you; you already have it, either by your very existence, or because of your toil and treasure.

This can be stated more clearly in the inverse: If what you hear someone proclaiming as a “right” requires someone must give it to them, it is not a right! It may be something one feels no one should be without, but if it must be taken away from someone else to give it to you, then it is not a right, it is a nice-to-have.

Before we go further, a short lesson in logic:

Just because one states something is not a right

does not mean they are proclaiming no one

should ever have that something.

That is an illogical argument which

is so prevalent it has a name:

Straw Man.

For an excellent description of

this logical fallacy, go here.

I’ll give you a decidedly hot-button example: Health care. You will have no problem finding those who state people have a right to health care. It simply isn’t true (take a deep breath, see the previous paragraph). For one to have a right to health care, someone will have to give it to them. That means the work, time, services, products, and money of someone else, either directly or indirectly MUST be given to someone else simply because they exist, and those who provide those dollars, goods, services, man-hours, etc. are not compensated. Except for the lobbyists and the politicians, of course; but I digress.

 

We have a word for the legal requirement

under threat of force to provide from

one’s time and treasure

with no compensation.

It’s called slavery.

 

Remember, the subject of this discussion is centered around the definition of rights, not a discussion of health care. I chose that as an example because it is a very current topic at this time in our history.

Substitute the topic du jour when you hear it into the previously mentioned formula and my belief is you’ll find very few actual “rights” are being discussed. More often than not, you’re actually trying to be intimidated and propagandized into going along with giving up more of your labor and/or liberty to the government so they can enslave more of us in the shackles of dependency.

Don’t fall into the trap of their demagoguery. Know your rights from your nice-to-haves!

A friend’s rant

A friend of mine from college posted what follows recently. It captured the attention of the Executive Staff here at The Frustrated Americans, and after an emergency board meeting, publishing rights were soon procured. Now, my friends, please read Robert Kirby’s words – I think you may enjoy them.

I probably shouldn’t even be saying this, and I’ll probably regret this later, but some things are bothering me. I’ve been seeing posts all over Facebook by many of my friends concerning Donald Trump’s upcoming inauguration and presidency. Several of my liberal friends were obviously anti-Trump throughout the election, and my conservative friends were predictably very anti-Hillary. Hillary seemed to be leading the pack, so to speak, so on November 8th, I believe folks from both camps were surprised when Trump won more than the required number of electoral votes to win the presidency. In my opinion, this is when the wheels fell off.

The Electoral College process is actually written into our constitution. One of its purposes was to base the election on the will of the states rather than on the popular vote. I’ve heard it said that if not for the Electoral College, a few large cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, would essentially decide our next president every four years. I don’t know if that’s true or false, and I’ve had doubts about the process of using the Electoral College for years. Nevertheless, it is our current process. Trump was elected LEGALLY by our current system. I realize Hillary won the popular vote by a long shot, but under our current system, the popular vote is irrelevant.

Now I have a few confessions to make. I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I tend to have conservative leanings, but to most of my conservative friends, I would be considered a liberal. In the past few years, I’ve voted across party lines. To me, the party itself doesn’t matter. However, I’ll admit that I was never a fan of Obama. (I am not a fan of Hillary or Donald either for that matter – I believe they are BOTH corrupt in their own ways.). Now when Obama was first elected in 2008, many of my conservative friends threw a Facebook tantrum, saying they would never accept him as their president. Some of you may remember that there was even talk around the nation about states seceding from the union again. ABSOLUTE SILLINESS!!! I decided then that, while I didn’t agree with much of Obama’s agenda, I would pray that he would be the best president this country has ever seen. I decided to put politics behind me and pray for our new president – not for Obama’s sake, but for the sake of our nation, because at the time, we needed the best president ever.

Looking back on his presidency, I don’t believe he has been the president we needed. That’s just my opinion, and only history will tell, but I don’t believe I’ll “miss this guy”, as I’ve seen others posting on Facebook. If you loved him as a president and think he did a great job, and if you will miss him when he’s gone, I TOTALLY respect your opinion. I just disagree with you – that’s all. I believe we can still be friends and not agree on everything.

Now for another confession… I am a selfish voter. I vote based on which candidate I believe will benefit ME and MY FAMILY the most. I know… very self-serving and self-centered, but I guess that’s how I roll. So for me, Obama wasn’t a good president. His policies tended to help other folks at a cost to me. Health care for those with steady jobs became more expensive and lower in availability and quality. Race relations have declined, and police officers have been demonized. Police shootings have resulted in all-out riots. Lots of folks blame these things directly on Obama. I don’t believe he’s directly to blame… cell phone cameras, social media, the news media, a few bad cops, and individuals and their are to blame. But I don’t believe Obama has done anything to help the problem, and has, in fact, only added to the divide with some of his own statements, actions, and inactions.

I have no doubt that many folks have benefitted from “Obamacare” and other initiatives started by Obama. But the fact is that most of his programs end up punishing those of us who work hard to earn a living. It’s that whole Robin Hood storyline. Take from the rich and give to the poor – only the working class are not rich – most of us are just squeaking by. And while I have no problem with the government helping those who are UNABLE to work, I have a HUGE problem with the government helping those who WON’T work! I have a problem with the government helping people who have as many babies as they can and then get a government check, but won’t raise their own kids, or send them to school, or teach them how to be decent human beings, or be otherwise involved in their life. There are men out there who impregnate as many women as they can, moving on to the next woman each time rather than sticking around and being a father to their kids when they are born. Our country doesn’t need sperm donors – it needs fathers! And there are just as many women who welcome this type of behavior and then don’t teach their kids right from wrong. I have a problem with the government supporting people who can’t buy food without food stamps, yet they can rent a flat screen TV that is bigger than they are. I have a problem with rewarding a few people who are too lazy to get a legitimate job to bring in a steady income, yet they have the energy to prostitute, or sell drugs, or gamble all day at those machines in the convenience store, or buy lottery tickets with their welfare money, or steal what others have worked to acquire, or join gangs, or rob and shoot one another, or lie to the police, or run from the police, or fight with the police, or shoot the police, etc. There’s the argument that many folks are set up for failure from the start by poverty, and maybe that’s partially true. And yet, I know many folks raised in poverty who rose out of it by choice and by determination. They took their FREE PUBLIC EDUCATION seriously rather than squandering it, and then found a way to move on to bigger and better things. Through choice and determination, we can make lemonade out of lemons! But I digress.

To me, Obama was unsuccessful because he refused to budge and meet others halfway. You might say, “Good! He stuck to his beliefs and refused to lower his personal standards!” But that is the problem. Personal beliefs and standards don’t really work in government – you have to be willing to listen to others and play nice in the sandbox if you want anything to last. Worse, when Obama couldn’t get Congress on board, he just signed things into law by executive order. Nice and easy – except that when somebody else becomes the president, they can rescind the executive order with another executive order. If you can’t get others to believe in your cause and you make it happen anyway with just the stroke of a pen, it only takes the stroke of a pen to do away with it when you aren’t around anymore. How temporary!

Folks say how awful Bill Clinton was, and he certainly had some scandals when he was in the White House. But the man was a genius at getting support from others. He was a great negotiator and would meet people in the middle of the road. Overall, I think history will judge Bill Clinton as successful. Obama should have taken notes. Will Trump be any better? I’m very doubtful. Maybe if he would shut his mouth so that everything coming out doesn’t sound like a belligerent middle schooler, his chances would improve. I realize he’s a businessman who has worked with thousands of other businessmen, but if he doesn’t tone it down, my fear is that he will have no more cooperation than Obama – only Trump will be much louder, boisterous, and embarrassing about it. After all, he won’t be dealing with businessmen. He will be dealing with politicians and their agendas. So I’m doubtful, yet hopeful.

The bottom line here is that the folks who were happy about Obama being elected were astounded that conservatives didn’t want to accept him as their president. Fast forward to today. Now conservatives are astounded that liberals refuse to accept Trump as their president. Liberals tried to derail Trump’s election by starting a movement to push the Electoral College to vote against Trump. Now they are boycotting the inauguration and refusing to recognize him as president (John Lewis, for example), which is a rebellious symbolic gesture, I guess, but still totally irrelevant. Heck, I’ve already seen Facebook posts from some of my friends that talk about impeaching Trump his first 100 days in office. REALLY? That’d be like sending someone to prison because you BELIEVE they might commit a crime. Hell, let’s just throw out the whole constitution and start all over because somebody didn’t get their way. And while we are at it, if your team loses the Super Bowl, just call “DO OVER”!!! Example: I don’t like the results of this election. DO OVER!!! And then the entire country would have to vote over and over until you get the result you wanted.

That’s not how this works, folks. And before conservatives point fingers, they should remember that they acted similarly when Obama was LEGALLY elected by the same system as Trump. And let’s not forget that both sides acted this way all through the election. I guess BUTT HURT can make anybody act like an ass. Trump couldn’t guarantee that he would accept the election results – until he won. And Hillary’s side criticized him for this – until she lost. Now HER side won’t accept the results. Everyone is pointing fingers at their fellow Americans, saying how horrible anyone must be to vote different from them. My God, I’ve never seen hypocrisy on so grand a scale. I tell you, it makes me sick to my stomach! Debate is a healthy thing. Tantrums and finger pointing and hatred towards your fellow man are not.

Look, it’s a free country. If you didn’t accept Obama, that was your prerogative, and if you don’t want to accept Trump, that’s also your prerogative. But this isn’t a productive approach – it does NOBODY any good. Accept him or not, like it or not, next Friday Trump will be THE PRESIDENT – yours and mine. Not happy? I’m not thrilled about it either, but that is the situation we are currently in. Rather than bitching and griping, or crying and wailing, or cowering in fear in your safe place, or planning to violate the principals of the Constitution of the United States of America, or even rather than triumphantly beating your chest in triumph over your liberal neighbors, why don’t you constructively join me in praying that Donald Trump will be the best president we’ve ever seen – just like I did when Obama was elected. Not for the sake of Donald Trump, but for the sake of our country. Because just like last time, that’s what we need our new president to be.

Now if you want to unfriend me for my comments, please feel free to hit the button. I will remind you though, that if you are reading this, I never unfriended you – even if I strongly disagreed with what you were saying. If you’d like to engage me in debate, please feel free. That is the TRUE American way – although I will warn you that it is unlikely you will change my opinion. My empty wallet can speak louder than your mouth can!

There. Rant over.

Context Matters

In my opinion, few if any aspects of human behavior are more weaponized by media than the first impression. An example could be made from the title of our blog, The Frustrated Americans. If all one did was read the title, a derogatory response could be formed by simply dismissing us as just some angry old guys yelling “…get off my lawn!”. There would likely be no lack of those eager to jump on that bandwagon with much more vituperative criticisms. The issue, you see, is the next sentence: “Voices of reason and logic in a world often lacking reason and logic.” Read a little more, look for the author’s intent just a bit, and context is established. We’re not angry – we’re frustrated by the frightfully small amount of reason and logic in our national discussions. One more sentence, and one could avoid an incorrect assumption. If you haven’t heard the old saying about what happens when you assume, it is easily found and very appropriate here. That tendency, exacerbated by our excuse for an education system, is very much weaponized by modern propaganda to craft desired responses rather than report truth.

Prop·a·gan·da
ˌpräpəˈɡandə/noun
Derogatory information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

One need not be a Mensa member to see this has been the primary focus of American media for many years now. Quoting out of context is but one of many techniques which are used. My aim with this post is to illustrate how one might learn to recognize it and be less subject to being mislead.

EXAMPLE ONE: Ben Jacobs is a reporter for The Guardian, which is a British newspaper. “Latest US news, world news, sports, business, opinion, analysis and reviews from the Guardian, the world’s leading liberal voice” is how they describe themselves. On 6 NOV 16, he tweeted the following:

       “We are going to deliver justice the way it used to be in this country”

Those who didn’t bother to check the source of the quote responded in a predictable fashion, with dire predictions of violence, dictatorial behavior (behaviour?), and accusations of various ‘-isms’. Here are his words in context:

       “We are going to deliver justice the way justice used to be in this country,

at the ballot box on November Eighth.”

In my opinion, Ben Jacobs intended to mislead readers and malign Donald Trump. Take note of the day he sent this tweet. Mere days before the election, he is irresponsibly and purposefully spreading misinformation. It is remarkably clear what was actually meant by the comment when taken in context. It is also remarkably clear words were taken out of context in order to forward an agenda.

EXAMPLE TWO: Lest one think me a fanboy of The Donald, he has been accused of doing the same. The Hill accused him of quoting Michelle Obama out of context when on the campaign trail he said this:

       “I see how much his wife likes Hillary, but wasn’t

       she the one that  started the statement: ‘If you

       can’t take care of your home, you can’t take care

       of the White House or the country’?”

Trump was accused of implying Michelle Obama was saying Hillary is incapable of running the White House due to the well-known domestic issues between her and Bill. Here is her full quote:

     “Our view was that, if you can’t run your own

       house, you certainly can’t run the White House.

       So, so we’ve adjusted our schedules to make

       sure that our girls are first, so while he’s

       traveling around, I do day trips.”

The Hill is alleging it was deceptive on Trump’s part to use those words in that fashion because Mrs. Obama wasn’t talking about Hillary, she was talking about her own family. Yes, she was — about how her family is run better than Hillary’s, don’t you think? Isn’t Trump’s implication the same as Michelle Obama’s in the big picture? This was more about The Hill stretching to make an accusation than anything else, if you ask me.

It would not be hard at all to cite dozens, if not hundreds of additional recent occurrences of this practice. My aim with this post was not to exhaustively document examples, but to hopefully open a few eyes and spur some thought. This American is frustrated because this phenomenon should be the exception, but it seems more and more to be the rule.

Question what you read. Anytime you are being presented the words of an individual from any source other than that same individual, I advise a little research before forming an opinion. Don’t be fooled by today’s ever more present propaganda.

Springfield Armory SOCOM 16 front sight replacement

I’m moving away from strictly the political with this post to share an informational article about one of my new toys. Please feel free to comment.

Springfield Armory’s venerable M1A has been available for many years in both the original 22″ barrel length as well as a more compact version with an 18″ tube dubbed the Scout Squad. A few years ago, an even shorter 16.25″ variation was introduced called the SOCOM 16, now available in three variations.

I wanted a Scout Squad, but I found a really, really good deal on a SOCOM 16. This sale was likely motivated by an overstock situation on the camo-colored stock, but I didn’t care. It was enough of a deal that I decided to take it even though it wasn’t the exact version I wanted.

While there are many who debate the usefullness of the shorter versions, my intent here is to discuss just one issue and how I chose to tackle it – the front sight. It is ridiculously wide.image

You could land remote control aircraft on this thing! It subtends about a half an acre at 100 yards, which just doesn’t lend to as much precision as I would prefer. All the other versions of this rifle have interchangeable front sights. SOCOM versions appear to be the same, with the front sight being dovetail-mounted and easily removable. The problem is, the SOCOM has a version-specific gas lock which renders the use of standard M1A/M14 front sights a no-go due to a height difference. Below is how I chose to address the issue.

Smith Enterprises to the rescue! They offer a new gas lock which accomodates standard M1A sights, part 2001-GL.

Smith Enterprises gas lock

This is their gas lock with a National Match front sight (easily sourced from many suppliers) already installed. It’s a wee bit narrower…

Sight comparison

This gas lock differs from the one coming on the rifle in that instead of having the muzzle brake an integral part of the unit, it is threaded so you can install the muzzle brake of your choosing. I chose another Smith Enterprises part, the Good Iron 1002-RR

Good Iron

Using the appropriate gas cylinder wrench to hold the lock steady, I used a 3/8ths socket to remove the gas plug, and the gas lock/muzzle brake assembly spun off with light finger pressure.

Gas lock removed

Here is a shot of the assembled Smith Enterprises parts alongside the factory originals…

Smith vs S.A. parts

Installing the new gas lock was a revelation in that the thread fit of the Smith Enterprises unit was quite a bit tighter than the original parts. I had to use a gas cylinder wrench and a touch of colorful vocabulary to spin it flush.

Sadlak wrench to fit

After aligning the new gas lock, I installed a Schuster Adjustable Gas Plug.

Here’s the final assembly:

New installed alongside old

A range session will be in order soon to adjust the gas plug and evaluate the other changes. I expect the front sight to be much more to my liking, and wonder if the new muzzle brake will be more effective than the stock part.

Perhaps a report in another post!

As always, I hope you have found this informative and I welcome rational/adult commentary.