Saturday, January 29, 2022

The End of America's Grand Experiment

I fear that America’s grand experiment in democracy1 is over.  Nearly forty percent of our nation’s electorate are passionately following the very kind of leadership which the framers of the U.S. Constitution sought to prevent from ever being in power.  By dividing power among three separate branches of government, the Founding Fathers rejected the idea that our country should ever be led by someone wielding the power of a monarch that ruled by divine right and that answered to no earthly authority.  The Separation of Powers embodied in the U.S. Constitution was supposed to ensure that accusations of wrong doing by anyone, (including, and especially, accusations made by the President), are backed up with evidence, presented in a court of law.  Forty percent of America’s electorate2 does not care that 61 of 62 “election fraud,” lawsuits3 brought by the 45th President and his team, have failed.  That forty percent of the electorate only cares that the 45th President said the words and therefore the words must be true; evidence, or the lack thereof, be damned.


Moreover, the paramount point of the U.S. Constitution was to mandate the peaceful transfer of power, election cycle after election cycle.  When forty percent of any nation’s population is willing, nay eager, to forego the peaceful transfer of power in favor of violence, representative democracy can not survive. 


Christopher Dinnes
Chief Sherpa
Dinnes Farm and Castle 

1] As ubiquitous as is the phrase, “grand experiment”, in reference to America’s democracy, the phrase itself doesn’t appear until the later part of the 19th century.  The concept is discussed in The Federalist Papers No. 9, by Alexander Hamilton, published on 21 November, 1787.  One can find the word, “experiment”, used in reference to America, in a letter by Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler Washington, dated 28 June, 1804

2] Axios-Momentive Poll of 2,700 adults, conducted from 1-5 January, 2022.  An earlier poll by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, conducted from 14-20 December, 2021, has the number at 33%.  An even earlier poll by Politico/Morning Consult, conducted from 22-24 October, 2021, has the number at 35%.

3] The 45th President and his team, in challenging the legitimacy of the 2020 elections, brought 62 lawsuits to court.  61 failed; failed in courts presided over by judges from both political parties, including judges appointed by the self-same 45th President.  The single remaining lawsuit was only partially successful, but it did invalidate the rule that had allowed Pennsylvania voters to “fix” their lack of voter identification up to 3 days after the election.  This invalidated about 14,000 votes in a state that President Biden won by 48,000 votes.  It is important to note that these 14,000 voters who had originally gone to the polls without proper identification could just as easily been Republican voters as Democratic voters....



Monday, October 2, 2017

Non-Humans Do Not Matter

How did ostensibly good and kind people, who loved their children, enjoyed sunsets, and attended church, own slaves or gas their neighbors?  The first step is always the dehumanization of a class or group of people.  To the Germans; the Jews, the Gypsies, the homosexuals, and the rest were the untermenschen, the subhumans.  'They are not worthy of consideration, they are less than fully human.Once a group or class is seen as less than human, any horrific treatment of them becomes possible.

The following is from the book, The Temple of Music* by Jonathan Lowy.  The book is set in the late 1800's, to early 1900's.  The scene is at a party where a discussion is ongoing about how little advancement has occurred among the former slaves since slavery ended.

"...As I was saying," the professor raises his voice a notch now and turns towards the colored man.  "I have studied them and I have found the following.  The Negro children may be sharp, intelligent, full of vivacity, but on approaching the adult period a gradual change sets in.  The intellect becomes clouded, animation gives place to a lethargy, briskness becomes indolence.  The reason, I have deduced, is that the growth of the Negro brain must be arrested by the premature closing of the cranial sutures and the frontal bone.  There is no doubt the arrest or deterioration in mental development is largely responsible for the fact that after puberty[,] sexual matters take the first place in the Negro's life and thoughts.  You will not be surprised to find in the Negro a lowered morality, as evidenced by the higher rates one finds in our prisons.  Contrast with the white, whose brainpan expands, allowing for proper development."

The point of sharing this vile quote is that it in itself is largely a quote.  The assertions made by the professor are word for word from the famed 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, published in 1911.  Against this backdrop of that socially acceptable analysis, black Americans were trying to carve out a piece of the American Dream.  While real science eventually debunked that vile analysis, the dehumanizing attitudes remained throughout our society.  In 1939, Bille Holiday recorded Strange Fruit.  The segregation of bathrooms and other public facilities was not fully outlawed until the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  Laws prohibiting interracial marriage were not declared unconstitutional until 1967, in the Supreme Court's aptly named Loving Decision (Loving v Virginia).  (Although, the last law against interracial marriage, in Alabama, wasn't officially repealed until 2000.)

We seem to have two kinds of people in our society today.  There are those who see that certain classes of people are too often treated unfairly; considered to be less worthy, less intelligent, less honest, and less deserving of basic human consideration than other classes.  And there are those who don't see it all.

If you contend that there is no racial or social injustice in our country that is worthy of protesting, then you are part of the problem.

Christopher Dinnes
M/V Liberty Eagle
Berbera, Somaliland 

*The Temple of Music, by Jonathan Lowy is a now little hard to find.  I own it in eReader format; a format which came, ruled, and disappeared all in the seeming blink of an eye.  I did find that it was available as a Nook book from Barnes and Noble, on iTunes as an iBook and as a used book in places like AbeBooks.  

Disclosure: No financial considerations have been given for the preceding book links.  I just really enjoyed the book.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Complete, Searchable PDF of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Agreement Is Now Available

 The Law of Unintended Consequences:
"Whether or not what you do has the effect you want, it will have three at least you never expected, and one those is usually unpleasant"* 

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement is the single largest and most complex trade agreement which our nation has ever tried to implement.  The possible negative repercussions and unintended consequences of this agreement are beyond comprehension; literally beyond comprehension.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (TPP) was negotiated in secret.  Outside of a few leaks, the entire process was performed behind closed doors.  The entire 6405 page document was released on 4 NOV 2015 and is available on the website of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (OUSTR).  But this "release" does little to assuage the very real concerns about the consequences of the TPP.  The "release" is a web page with 194 separate PDF documents that comprise the entire TPP.  (This is not counting the "Chapter Summaries" which are PDF's from the OUSTR explaining how good for America is that particular Chapter.)  A single, downloadable, searchable PDF of the TPP was nowhere to be found.  Certainly, the appearance is that there is little real intent to inform the public about the true scope of the TPP.

But.  Christopher is nothing if not tenacious and stubborn.  An afternoon and evening was spent downloading all 194 PDF's; all the Chapters, Annexes and Related Instruments.  Another evening was spent combining the PDF's into a single, searchable document and uploading it to Dropbox and it is available here.  (The size of the document is 339 MB, so be prepared if you download it.)

Christopher Dinnes
AMO Star Center
Dania Beach, FL

NOTE: The single PDF of the TPP which I am making available above, does not include the aforementioned "Chapter Summaries".  Also, the file is named with the year-month to clearly indicate its version/age.  I will endeavor to update it should/when changes occur. 

Disclaimer: While I am extremely anal about such tasks, we are talking about almost 200 files and over 6000 pages, (which I downloaded and combined manually without the aid of a script), so there may be a mix-up or missing file/page.  Confidence is very high that my offered file is accurate and complete.  However, if a problem or omission is discovered, please let me know so I can correct it.  

*The Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Danger of Christians Seeking To Impose Sharia Law

Christians who want Sharia Law have become a significant threat to American Democracy.  Their desire to apply the Bible to secular/civil law is an affront to our shared values.

Stop.  There is no relevance in the difference between a Christian's view of God's laws and a Muslim's view.  As a non-Christian, non-Muslim, I can unequivocally say that they are exactly the same; they are laws of religions that are not mine.

We should all respect and support ANY religion's right to organize itself in a manner that it sees as true to God's law.  As a personal example, within the bounds of our Parish, my marriage to my wife is not recognized, (at least as far as Rome is concerned).  Yet, I attend Mass with my wife and value the experience.  Should Catholicism try to have secular/civil law reflect their religious law and thereby invalidate my marriage, the religion would, with extreme prejudice, lose my respect and support.

When a religion fills your Life, it can be easy to forget that that it is just YOUR Life.  While you should live your Life as an example of your religion, it is wrong to IMPOSE your religion's rules and laws onto someone else.  Our democracy is based on a principle that whatever are your personal beliefs; you have every right to have them and no right to impose them on anyone else.  Therefore, railing against the real or imagined imposition of Sharia Law, all the while seeking to impose a different set of religious laws, threatens the very foundation of our democracy.

And it is a stunning hypocrisy.

"In regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practiced, and both by precept and example inculcated on mankind."
-Samuel Adams, The Rights of the Colonists (1771)

Christopher Dinnes
Dania Beach, FL

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Media & Journalism Are Not Synonymous...

Media bashing is the favorite pastime of many Americans.  I often rail against such bashing because I see that it is driven by an inclination to bash anything and everything different.   But I have found that arguing against the general bashing of the media is hard to support given the level of journalism so often demonstrated.  Therein lies the rub, I find myself defending the indefensible because "The Media" is too often not journalism.

Last night on the Republican Presidential Primary Debate, CNN's John King asked Mr. Gingrich, "...would you like to take some time to respond..[?] to allegations from his ex-wife Marianne Gingrich that he wanted an "open" marriage.  "Would you like to take some time to respond," REALLY?!?  CNN, the media outlet which probably had more to do with the taking down of the Iron Curtain than any other force in the West, THIS is a question for a Presidential Primary Debate?

I have no interest in knowing anything about Mr. Gingrich's actions in his marriages.  His fidelity, or lack thereof, is not what I would consider an issue.  However, his blatant hypocrisy on the issue, trumpeting "family values" while having extra-marital affairs, that has some merit as a political issue.  John King's question to Mr. Gingrich however, was an entertainment media question, not worthy of any journalistic comparison.

"Was it hypocritical of you to lead the impeachment of President Clinton while you were having an affair?"  That's a journalistic question.

Or, "You have admitted to numerous adulterous affairs including one to the woman you are now married.  Your ex-wife has pointed out that while you were cheating on her, you were giving political speeches accusing Democrats of undermining the institution of marriage.  How do you explain that hypocrisy, sir?"

Or, "In this campaign you have said you would fight for a federal ban on same sex couples being allowed to get married.  How can you justify passing judgment on other people's marriage, when you're own marriages are the kind of ethical mess described by your second wife on ABC News today?"

When politicians (or want-to-be politicians) stand up for a particular principle and then in their personal life they act counter to that principle, that matters to me.  That is a demonstration of a type of ethics which I am not inclined to desire in my elected officials.  When politicians do not attempt to stand in judgment of my personal life, then I have no desire to know about or judge theirs.  For then they are demonstrating adherence to that Libertarian ideal which I greatly admire, 'stay out of my personal life and I'll stay out of yours'.  Which is to say, "Don't Tread On Me."

To discern whom we feel is most deserving of our vote, We The People require journalism.  Prurient interest in an individual's sex life to feed a media entertainment industry?  Bash away.

Christopher Dinnes
USNS Pililaau, T-AKR 304
Newport News, VA

Disclosure: I lifted the hypothetical debate questions from Rachel Maddow, as heard on her Rachel Maddow Show, Friday, 20 January, 2012.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Votor Fraud and Naked Emperors

Ernest Hemingway's statement that good writing requires the writer to have a 'built-in automatic crap detector', is a fundamental principle which can be applied with equal accuracy to any action or endeavor, especially political discourse.  While there have been any number of things from varying factions on the Left which didn't pass my smell test, my attention today is on broad based, party platform ideas, behind which an entire Party, either Party, unites.  The Republican Party will almost always get the heat from this because we all know that the Democrat Party won't unite behind a good idea, much less an idea which has no basis in reality.  Voter I.D. legislation that is so championed by the Republican party is a perfect example.  This is part of their platform.  Republicans at the State and Federal level are actively pushing for, or have succeeded in passing, legislation requiring Voter I.D's.

There is only one problem.  There is no problem.  There are no statistically significant examples of voter fraud to be found that would have been PREVENTED by the requirement of a photo I.D.  None.  Zero.  Here is a column by Michele Malkin where she slams the Left for silence on the subject of voter fraud.  She cites a number of alarming statistics to support her call to arms over voter fraud.  Here is an article which lists a number of other claims of voter fraud by the Right.  But when the statistics and legal records are examined, when one looks at the issue, seeking actual, statistically significant evidence of ANY voter fraud that would have been prevented by the requirement of a photo I.D., one simply finds nothing.  Here are links one, and two, for examples of the kind of research upon which the results of my smell test were/are based.

The emperor has no clothes, folks.  There has been no voter fraud which would have been prevented by a requirement for photo I.D's.  With no fraud to prevent, is there any reason to legislate a voter I.D. requirement other than to keep those least likely to have a photo I.D., i.e. Democrats, from voting? 

With NO FRAUD TO PREVENT, I can not discern any other reason.

Christopher Dinnes
USNS Pililaau, T-AKR 304
Newport News, VA

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Miracles, Christians And An Individual's Faith

I recently came across a video clip of Rick Santorum where he, in speaking against gay marriage, used the analogy that a glass of water is a glass of water and calling it a glass of beer, does not make it a beer.  The point he was trying to make was that calling gay marriage, "marriage", does not make it marriage.  (The video clip can be seen here.)

Really?  A Christian using an argument that water can't be turned into an alcoholic beverage?

My intent here is not to beat up Mr. Santorum over a poorly chosen analogy, other than to make some humorous hay at his expense.  But his analogy does highlight a logical view of our society which I use to base my Life's choices.  For you see, I don't pretend to be a Christian.  But my wife is and I'm a member of our parish.  I attend Mass with her.  I have supported the religious community of which I am a member with the fruits of my labor and the actual sweat of my brow.  Some time back, my wife and I were talking about Communion and I expressed how amazed I was at the number of Catholics who don't believe that Communion IS the Body and Blood of Christ.  (Numbers described here.  A more recent survey here.)  Even I as a non-Catholic/non-Christian have no problem wrapping my head around that "miracle".  My wife then asked me, why then do I not take Communion?  To which I replied, "Out of respect for your faith."  Her faith says that one can not take Communion unless one believes, is, and does certain things.  Which I don't and am not.  But that has nothing to do with my belief in the reality of that which I am witnessing, and to no small measure, supporting.

Just because someones belief is different from my own, does not necessarily make their belief any less real.  By the same token, nor does it make my belief any less real.  The rules by which the Catholics run their faith are their rules.  THIER rules, which work for THEM.  (Although I do believe that many Catholics need to work on this whole Body and Blood of Christ thing.  It is a bedrock principle of the faith.)

My faith is not diminished by the actions of others.  Yet I am on a path, not in a static point in time.  The actions of others do influence the steps I take and therefore the personal growth which I experience.  By the same token, my marriage is not diminished by the actions of others.  Anyone who contends that the actions of others negatively affects their marriage, I feel is contending the illogical and ignoring the value of great faith and love that exists elsewhere, but all around us.

I leave this with a final point that is NOT humorous hay.  Does anyone truly believe that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) would have somehow made Newt Gingrich adhere to that "in sickness and in health" clause of his contract with his wife as she lay battling cancer in the hospital?  (In all fairness, I believe it must be stated that the oft repeated story that Newt served his wife with divorce papers while she was recovering from cancer surgery, is untrue.  Here is an informative article on the subject.)  I certainly don't believe that Mr. Gingrich's life choices would have been any different had DOMA been the law of the land at the time.  But I do believe that if we, society, really want to pass a law that will "strengthen the institution of marriage", then there is only one law we can pass that will do so.

Criminalize adultery.  I believe that if Mr. Gingrich had spent a few months behind bars cooling his hormones, he might have been a bit more inclined to honor his vows.  But that's just me, believing that my marriage is not negatively affected by the actions of others and the only way that some people can be made to honor their contracts is with the threat of punishment.

Christopher Dinnes
USNS Pililaau, T-AKR 304
Newport News, VA