Enlightened Conflict

an ironic view of building a wall

January 25th, 2017


symbolism construction growth progress business trump




The United States Commander in Symbolism Chief is at it again.

Except on this day he not only seems to be establishing the upcoming war for the soul of America but also the war over our tax revenue.



feel the irony wall trump hate

………………. The Wall …………………….

I have no doubt that President Trump will be doing some hacking to existing government programs and planned spending to free up funds to pay for all the shit he is suggesting we are gonna do … but as it appears to date … he seems to feel the pocket book <most likely be prefers a wallet> is open and bottomless.



Here is the irony.


This all costs money to do.

And this money comes from one of two places … business tax revenue or citizen tax revenue.


We already know that larger businesses do not pay shit for taxes <and will apparently be paying even less than shit when President Trump slices their tax rates>.


We already know that the bulk of tax revenues come from the citizens <which includes self owned small businesses>.

trump and taxes 1

Therefore … the tax money he is using to fund many of his symbolic gestures to a greater America … is yours & mine … uhm … and none of his.


We have no proof he has paid any taxes for years <decades>  and … well … he sure ain’t gonna start paying now.



I may like spending money on infrastructure <I do>



I may like expanded Medicare because it helps people <I do>.trump and taxes 2



I may like cutting corporate tax rates <I do … although it tends to feed the business bottom line more than it does feed employee salaries>.


I may like building a border wall <I do not … stupid use of a finite budget>.


I may like a less expensive approach toward immigration like hiring more border security & enforce existing laws <I do>.


I may like investing in military & security upgrading <I kind of do>.


I may like contributing to all these things with my tax dollars <I am okay with it>.


But … unless proven otherwise … my President is contributing zilch.

Zero. Nada. Nothing. No money.


I find it slightly ironic that I am helping make America great and he is contributing nothing to help <and has not been for quite some time>.


irony could not recognize enemy no friends people lifeI find it slightly ironic that a multi millionaire, who is playing president, is actually making money on a business he still owns <but is technically not running> and not paying taxes on that increasing self wealth and my minuscule tax dollars are funding a wall <or some semblance of one>.


And, lastly, I find it slightly ironic that no one in our congress … who we voted for to battle for what is good and right for the citizens … is saying how stupid the wall is to the President of Symbolic Actions … and the past Mexican President actually tweets what they should be saying:

Vicente Fox Quesada

✔ @VicenteFoxQue

Sean Spicer, I’ve said this to @realDonaldTrump and now I’ll tell you: Mexico is not going to pay for that fucking wall. #FuckingWall

3:55 PM – 25 Jan 2017




Basically … we want to build a wall to keep out someone who is smarter and more courageous than many of the people who will be inside the fucking wall.


A sadly ironic day.

oldest known form of freedom

April 1st, 2015

consistency dangerous freedom


“If he wants to be an asshole, it’s a free country.


Millions before him have made the same life choice.”



Margaret Atwood







This is mostly about freedom of speech … but also includes the spirit of freedom that lies within us.






I would imagine that as soon as humans began some form of thinking beyond survival, sex and eating … they began to grapple with freedom. Uhm. And have been grappling ever since.



I tend to believe it is a lifelong, generation spanning, grapple because freedom is instilled in all of us.



It can be found in youth as breaking free of adult rules & restrictions.



It can be found in adults in physical behavior <traveling beyond the boundaries of current location>, self-esteem <freeing oneself from self-destructive – or self-inhibiting – thoughts> or even cultural attitudes <seeing things differently than before>.


It does not matter who you are or what type of personality you have … inevitably all of us seem to constantly seek to ‘free ourselves’ in a variety of ways or at least seek some aspect of freedom in our lives.


In fact.


I would tend to suggest that freedom is at the core of the human soul.





This means that anything that inhibits freedom chafes. Shit … something doesn’t even have to actually inhibit … we just have to think it may inhibit our freedom and it chafes.





I began this post when I saw a picture of “cuneiform” … an ancient form of writing … where, etched on a cave wall, was the word “Freedom”written in Sumeria in 2500 B.C.



freedom amagi cuineifform

freedom (ama-gi) written in Sumerian cuneiform





This means humans have craved freedom for thousands of year.


By the way.


Craving can create some fairly passionate feelings.



Ask her what she craved, and she’d get a little frantic about things like books, the woods, music.

Plants and the seasons.


Also freedom.


Nightwoods – Charles Frazier




All that said.


Who would have ever thought freedom would be tricky to discuss?

<not me>




It is.


I like to believe I am a fairy articulate guy and I know I always have an opinion … and yet … when discussing freedom I seem to offer up well intended meaningless pabulum <”freedom is good”> and struggle when asked “when does freedom become lack of tolerance?”


Maybe because I never thought freedom and intolerance would ever be in the same sentence let alone the same thought.


It is easy to say things like … if you say stupid stuff that will cost your employer money, expect to face consequences. But that also assumes I can show a direct cause-effect relationship.



I would suggest, however, that simplistically … while freedom is a privilege … free speech is actually a responsibility.




That means … you say dumb things and you can face consequences.



I say that because all of a sudden there is a ‘victim’ mentality being associated with people who say dumb shit.


freedom to speak



Any ‘victim’ is free to say stupid things.

Any and all the times they want.


But they also aren’t guaranteed a job by their employers if they do so.


That is freedom of an employer to decide who represents their company and their brand.


Is that discrimination?




Another tricky topic.





It is establishing some discriminatory behavior guidelines with which you assess your employee.


Outlined up front … well … they are established.


And they represent … well … let’s call it ‘rules.’



Some could argue that individuals do not exist to promote the interests of group consensus.



Unless that individual is actually part of a group … like a company.



Therefore, in that case, if a person who thinks differently from the company desired behavior says something that suggests “offensive” … outside the ‘established rules’ … the group <the company> does have freedom to act.





This is all why freedom is tricky.



Don’t bother trying to make sense of what beliefs are permitted, what words or phrases are permitted and which ones will get you hauled off as some criminal to be placed on the rack in the middle of town.


Even worse?


Today’s world has created a minefield of inconsistency.



Criticizing Islam can be construed as intolerant and yet insulting Christianity is simply a sport.





This is not about religion … this is simply about freedom.


freedom feels like hold

And once you have freedom … you don’t ever <ever> want to give it up … even a small degree of it.



That is why I scratch my head as the mob delightfully destroys people’s lives under the guise of intolerance <and yet that person was sharing freedom of thought … albeit sometimes dumb>.


I also scratch my head thinking that the mob seems to never stop to ask themselves the basic scary question … what happens when they come for me?




If history is any guide that’s what will happen.



Regardless of the ‘mob mentality’ and political correctness … we need to pay attention.



Because, at its most basic, we are discussing freedom of thought.


And it is the out of control political correctness and the knee-jerk consequences we assign to speaking out of the norm that we need to pay attention to.


Maybe it is possible we are simply blinded with the richness of our freedom.

Because freedom is blindingly bright.




We feel like we have escaped from a dark cave into the bright daylight.


And here we stand not knowing where to go or what to do.”


unknown Siberian peasant after the Russian Revolution




I imagine I used that quote to make everyone think about the ‘dark cave.’ Let’s call it the cave of intolerance where views were never expressed. Or views were only expressed in private … in the cave as it were.




In today’s world the cave is public.

public is the new private

And public is the new private.






Let’s be clear. There is no longer ‘private.’



But just because it becomes public doesn’t mean you lose your freedom to speak and think.




And this public world is the world we live in.

Our forefathers made laws about freedom of speech (to protect citizens from government, not to protect gossip channels), but they never displayed equal foresight for privacy.

Probably because in their day decorum prevented certain behaviors from ever seeing the public eye.


That was a long time ago.


Today, no place is safe, no restaurant, no parking lot, perhaps not even your own bedroom.

But its not just privacy.



It is anything and everything IN the public.






Students at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota canceled a “Hump Day” celebration featuring a camel because someone thought the camel signified racism against Muslims.

(Yes, Muslims aren’t a race, but that doesn’t matter, apparently.)



Dartmouth cancelled a charitable fund-raising “fiesta” because one student complained that the word “fiesta” was racist. And going beyond race, commencement speakers, ranging from Condi Rice at Rutgers to Christine LaGarde at Smith, have been turned away by rabid student protests, mocked here by Yale Law’s Stephen Carter.

From the economics to the politics, colleges and universities are looking less like serious places to improve one’s mind and one’s prospects, and more like expensive islands of frivolity and, sometimes, viciousness.





Frankly … it has reached some absurd levels.


freedom free speech















And I am not speaking of political correctness … but rather … freedom of thought.




“We naturally associate democracy with freedom of action, but freedom of action without freed capacity of thought behind it is only chaos.”



John Dewey


I am certainly not condoning stupidity.







People are free to be stupid.


<note: I have written about how the most articulate stupid, the morons, are actually quite intelligent: http://brucemctague.com/morons   >


And while I ramble on about tolerance, and intolerance, it may be good to remind ourselves that we are actually a country of knowledge and learning. While our country’s success has a foundation of “doing” <other countries always think we are always in a rush>, the doing has a strong thread of quality about it because we are a country of thinkers.



Great thinking.



Great freedom of ideas.



Great freedom of thought.







We always think about what we deserve or are entitled to.



Sometime these rights, or freedoms, are viewed that way by people.


We think about those rights to which we are entitled … which, uhm, are actually not an entitlement but rather a privilege guaranteed by our Constitution & Bill of Rights.


The words are part of our everyday vernacular and part of our identity and therefore deemed a ‘given’ not a ‘privilege.’



But just because we enjoy certain rights and privileges does not mean we can do whatever we want … whenever we want to.



There are necessary restraints on freedom.


Basically the most basic restraint is that you may enjoy your ‘freedom of’ liberty as long as you do not harm others <or yourself>.

confidence stupid people






And this doesn’t mean ‘harm someone else’s’ thought.’


This means actual harm.



I think <I am no lawyer> that legally … restriction of our freedom is rarely justified.  Suffice to say that the legal judiciary has to prove it has a reason to limit the freedom, that the law actually addresses the harm (i.e., that by limiting our freedom the government is actually protecting us from something harmful).




So why should a ‘jury of peers’ not have to follow the same rules? The burden is to PROVE a reason to limit a freedom … not just bully it into change or limiting.



Harmful thought is incredibly difficult to prove <excepting maybe inciting to riot’>.


There’s a massive difference between expressing your personal opinion versus trying to punish someone for theirs.


I fear we are leaving ‘I do not agree with what you have to say but will defend to the death your right to say’ behind and it is being replaced with I do not agree with what you have to say and will do everything in my power to ruin you for saying it or even thinking it.’



I fear there is little, or no,  tolerance for a different point of view these days.



I fear it is gone.



And within that fear is a greater fear.



I fear we have begun a slippery slope on something so innate, so powerful … it resides within all of us – freedom. I fear we are grappling with ‘what are the limits on freedom’ on this very very slippery slope.


stupid but will do it anyway











I fear we are undoing something, freedom, which has been around for thousands of years.



In the end I like to remind people that a desire for freedom resides in every one of us … from the minute we are born. And while it is born within us many of us never have the privilege of  living somewhere in which we can actually live with freedom of thought, speech and religion.



And because it truly is a privilege … it seems like we should be doing more to protect freedom rather than seeking ways to limit it.



This includes, yes, freedom to be stupid.


March 16th, 2013


“All morons hate it when you call them a moron.” –


Holden Caulfield <Catcher in the Rye>Cary Town Council - Wellness Morons






Morons is a harsh word and a harsh concept … but let’s face it … most of us have experienced that maddening discussion where we explain that seemingly simple concept … or that seemingly simple common sense point of view to someone … and not only can they not grasp it but may actually argue a completely moronic point of view that flies in the face of:

<1> facts,

<2> truth, or maybe even

<3> common sense.



In fact … during the discussion we may even try several different approaches to the idea, using every metaphor <or parable or analogy> within reach to throw into the discussion that we think the person should reasonably be capable of following.



In the end … sometimes we succeed … mostly we fail … and always it is painful <to us> and obviously moronic <to us>.



It is here I will bring up the idea of intelligence <despite the fact it may sound odd in a rant on morons>.




Just to set the groundwork … most everyday functions of modern life require an IQ of around 90.


Those functions include driving a car, mailing a letter, paying bills and making a bank deposit.


The more specialized the function, the more intricate, the higher the level of intelligence necessary.





I am not using the term ‘moron’ as a classification of any mental deficiency despite the fact that technically ‘moron’ translates to denoting a mild mental deficiency. I am going to suggest being a moron denotes a certain deficiency … but not a mental one.



Therefore <here is where I link intelligence and the topic of morons> we can dispense with the idea that morons are stupid or have a lack of intelligence.



The deficiency within morons, or being moronic, has nothing to do with intelligence <or at least IQ>. Most have IQs at or above 90 <I made that up but I tend to believe it>.



Let me take it one step further.


Try this on for size … you cannot be a moron unless you actually are intelligent.



Because morons are actually people who have intelligence … but they waste it.


Either by using it <their intelligence> poorly or misusing it or not even using it at all.





Bet you didn’t think I was going to head down that path, did ya?


Morons are actually intelligent? Yup.


Morons are simply purposefully ignorant … but they are smart.


warning light


Uh oh <warning … warning ...>.



That means morons are as intelligent as you and I <okay … maybe at least me … you are probably smarter and this is simply my issue>.



All that said … it suggests that the moronic issue resides elsewhere than intelligence.


Robert Heinlein said that stupidity characteristics <or characteristics of morons> are actually tied to ignorance <so I am going to steal that idea because I agree with Bob>.



He suggests that stupidity cannot be cured using money, remedial education or some governmental edict because inevitably it resides within a different reason … a purposeful or intentional ignorance.



Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm …

This means that morons actually know something to be wrong with themselves <it may be subconscious but they somewhere within they understand> … they are intelligent enough to understand … and, yet, rather than correct themselves and abandon that ‘something’ … they practice intentional ignorance clinging to that ‘thing’ and inevitably insist that they are right and everyone else is wrong.



And this is where morons are dangerous.



morons electrons


Very very dangerous.

“Because, fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding.

And soon, your Honor, with banners flying and drums beating, we’ll be marching backward, backward, to those glorious ages of the 16th century, when bigots burned the man who dared bring enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind.”

Clarence Darrow <Inherit the wind>



Morons march backwards.

Busily marching themselves and trying to herd the rest of us backwards to some glorious age.


It is a Life truth that fanaticism & ignorance is forever busy <and a busybody>.



I fully understand that this fanaticism and ignorance is impossible to extinguish. But that doesn’t mean it should be tolerated. Particularly if it is actually harmful.





Tolerance, in the end, is an acceptance of the morons.



And with this acceptance, albeit grudging acceptance, the morons simply see it as permission to be moronic and they gladly step up <in their forever busy way of theirs> and do harm.


Harm in the form of stopping <or even reversal> of progress … harm in marching us backwards.



Or they teach and promote falsehoods to others <others including children which is disturbing> with the hope that this younger generation will grow up and can possibly march us backwards.


All this translates into a lot of time and effort and energy lost as ignorance and its byproducts step up and suck time & energy from progress.




A Bruce thought.



I believe we can no longer afford the luxury of moronic ignorance or tolerate the presence of morons. Tolerating them leads to the creation of a sense that this moronic ignorance actually equals some sort of knowledge <which then makes them some sort of “knowledgeable person” and you know where that leads … ‘trouble in River City’ to quote The Music Man: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s60hOgqLFGg   >.


“<there is a> … false notion that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

Isaac Asimov



Morons are wily. They have the notion that their smarts, combined with their purposeful ignorance, is just as good as real unfiltered knowledge.


This is tiring to deal with.



In fact … if you find yourself surrounded by morons, rather than just shake your head, you have to purposefully accept the challenge to deal with their moronic thinking with the knowledge that they actually have the intelligence to be non-moronic <but actually choose to be moronic>. Wow. Just typing that made my head hurt.



It would take a monumental effort to create the unlikely evolutionary change where morons become extinct <that may be an unattainable objective but it is certainly an admirable objective>.



And it will take your best monumental effort to deal with a moron because there are instances where the lines are blurred and where argument and debate and discussion regarding two sides of an issue are actually warranted.



But.morons disagree



You should seek solace in that there are also issues where right is right … and wrong is wrong … and anyone who argues it looks like the guy who believes Yoda exists somewhere and The Force can be attained with focus & practice.






And here is where morons really thrive.


Numbers & science & studies & statistics <oh my>.



Science is smart and science is stupid.



Both are true and there could be studies done to prove it.


One of the smart/stupid things about science is something called the ubiquitous study. They are excellent scientific research formats but while all studies <and most research in general> are interesting … they do not reveal eternal, all-encompassing truths.




They simply provide a glimpse into one small, carefully cordoned off area of interest. Extrapolations from the data are based on statistics and therefore do not necessarily apply to everyone and everything.



I say that because it seems like we find comfort worshiping at the altar of the ‘numbers’.



All of us seem to be considering study results and numbers to be the indisputable truth.


What a fantasy.



But it is often a fantasy land morons live, eat & drink in <and thrive in like a shit no one noticedbacteria in a petri dish>>. Numbers are their friends and constant companions.


Morons thrive on the isolated statistic.

Some random factoid or piece of information that has no context nor admits it has Truth only within a limited set of circumstances. And they win a shitload of debates using this technique.



How does all this happen?




It sounds simplistic … but I believe we allow it to happen for a couple of reasons … first is a well intentioned but subverted belief in freedom of speech. Subverted because inevitably it is often simply ‘freedom of opinion’ these days.

Secondly … ‘opinion’ forces us all to seek something tangible in which to reach some conclusion … therefore we seek statistics or numbers to identify truth <and isolate something we can all agree on>.



And numbers do not necessarily translate into Truth. Especially isolated non-contextual numbers.



In the end we seem to be damned by a society that has ingrained in us this strange belief that because we encourage freedom of speech and freedom of thought … that all ideas deserve respect and consideration that no one individual <or idea> is “better” or more “worthy” of consideration than any other.



What a bunch of bullhockey.



This has created an environment in which any moronic idea can hover around like an aggravating gnat as legitimate idea.


It is crazy.


A moron is a moron.


A moronic idea is a moronic idea.


It is time that we learned to have the balls <or spine if you are a woman> to call out the morons.

morons quote


Morons don’t like to be called morons.




Because they are frickin’ intelligent enough to know better than skate by on shallow feelings and beliefs.



And all the while you must swim in the shallow end of the intellectual debate to debate with them … you must be careful of your own ignorance more than theirs … because purposeful ignorance does have a sneaky way of creeping up on you.

What I mean is that it is easier to be a moron than to not be a moron. It takes less work, intellectually and curiosity, to maintain an ignorant point of view than it takes to not only grow personally but to actually help a moron grow <which is a quite taxing job>. Frankly it is just easier to quit debating than to take on a moron. I imagine it becomes a test of character.




I imagine in the end that is my point <the test morons give us day in and day out>.

ignorance is a choice

Morons are morons because they are smart enough to engage in purposeful ignorance.



To be ignorant on purpose?





You would have to be a moron.





In the end … morons hate to be called morons simply because they are smart enough to know they could do, and be, better. Even morons know somewhere under their purposeful ignorance they should be better than what they are. I imagine the only way to beat morons is to actually get them to face that fact.




There is a tough job.




We cannot let the morons win.


Purposeful ignorance is a disease. A disease that can affect entire civilizations & cultures. That thought makes it scary to even think about tolerating the moron.


Enlightened Conflict