Opinion

Politicians of every stripe are so focused on becoming and remaining incumbents, that they have little time to worry over the consequences of their actions and decisions. It's easy to see that the economic abyss into which we are descending is the unintended consequence of allowing them to extend their sphere of influence into every aspect of our lives.

Unintended Consequences
What goes around comes around
It can be argued that the ten plagues visited upon the Egyptians were the unintended consequences of Pharaoh's refusal to let Moses' people go. Even so, unintended consequences didn't receive serious study until Adam Smith introduced consequentialism during the Scottish Enlightenment, then languished in obscurity. The study of unintended consequences returned to public attention in the 20th Century with the publication of “The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action”, a paper written by sociologist Robert Merton in 1936. Even so, awareness has brought scant relief.

 
 

Short Story

Pay Day is a tragedy about a man who lies.
Picture
Click to read "Pay Day"
Everyone lies, don't they? For some, it's expected. Salesmen. Politicians. How could they survive without lying.

Then there's the rest of us. Lovers. Spouses. Parents. Children. The human race seems united in one cause, weaving tangled webs.

Some get away with it. Some don't.

The results can be tragic as in this story of deceit.
 
 

History

The political compass of most Jews seems drawn to the Left as if it was the North Pole of ideology. Repeated failures of socialism throughout history does not seem to deter the children of Abraham in their rush to try it once more. We see it in America as Jews vote en mass for the party that supports socialist programs. As a Jew who votes the other way, I am a pariah in my own family.
Marx
How ironic that Marx sprang from Jewish ancestry
Why are Jews drawn to socialism?

National socialism, known as Nazism, murdered Jews by the millions.

International socialism, known as Communism, murdered even more.

The combined death toll of those murdered by socialists may well exceed the total of all victims of all wars throughout all of history.

Still, the Jews are drawn to socialism.

It is a question that has perplexed me for many years.

In all other respects, I am proud of my community.

I may have found a clue that will guide me to the answer. I found it in a recent issue of Hadassah Magazine. This periodical has been finding its way to our mailbox for many years now regardless of the fact that we have never subscribed. Indeed, it follows us without fail whenever we move. The people I long suspected of having it sent to us have all died. Regardless, I have read each issue from cover-to-cover, always finding enough morsels of knowledge to keep me opening it each month. The December 2014/January 2015 issue contains a commentary by Mich Odenheimer that suggests an answer to my question. Please indulge me as I quote:

 
 

Entrepreneurs

If you think that being a writer, living in your head, romancing the most beautiful women you can imagine, daring to do any task and vie with any foe, is interesting, you should have lived my life before I retired to write stories. I was a consultant.
I pursued five careers in my lifetime: bureaucrat, soldier, marketing guru, and computer technology. I survived the last three as an entrepreneur. Over the course of fifty years working years I participated in projects with every type of organization from one-man operations to multinational corporations, for profit and nonprofit, every level of government, local, state, and national, and a variety of military units.

Frequently, I have been asked, “Which is the best managed?”

I've never hesitated, not even a heartbeat, to answer.

The United States Army.

Yes, you're laughing.

So have all my audiences.

But, it's true.

The laughter dies when they realize I'm not joking and there's a pause as they wait expectantly for me to explain.

I do, simply.

 
 

Doodle

My reaction to this question on my favorite discussion website, RallyPoint, took me by surprise. “Have you ever made a snap decision? How did it turn out?” I reacted much like the cynical food critic in the Disney animated film Ratatouille when he ate the dish prepared by a rat and flashed back to his childhood.
This question elicited a similar response from me...

I flashed back to the moment when I came to a fork in the road just outside Denver. I was driving across the country without a plan looking for a new beginning. I had been dismissed unexpectedly from the Army and needed to find my place in the civilian world.

 
 

Humor

Muslims obviously don't like anyone else poking fun at them and their beliefs. We don't need to see any more blood spilled to understand that. However, I am wondering if they ever poke fun at themselves.
Self deprecating humor is a trait of those who are secure in themselves, and I've enjoyed laughing along with them. Lawyers in particular seem most comfortable with it. I've never met a lawyer who objected to lawyer jokes. Indeed, several I've known collect them and always welcomed any additions I could offer.

 
 

History

Everyone is a hero to someone.

No one is a hero to everyone.

How many in this gallery of heroes are yours?
Yes, Fidel Castro is there. He was a hero in my first novel, however, I couldn't write “The End” until another hero returned in the last chapter to see what he had become. The man who launched the revolution in Cuba bears little resemblance to the one who governed it as a communist dictator. He wasn't even a communist until the revolution ended.

Castro isn't alone. All heroes fail eventually, even my favorites. How about yours?

 
 

America

I woke up this morning at my usual time, 6:30 am, sans headache. I showered, shaved, and brushed my teeth. I exercised, dressed, ate breakfast, and fired up the computer and checked. Nothing significant had changed. Today is Thursday, just as Thursday always follows Wednesday. So what if it's New Year's Day, 2015? An excuse to party, to drink, to dance. Is that all there is to the beginning of a New Year?
How sad. The only song I find sadder is John Lennon's Imagine. To be bereft of principle. To think that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are America's most admired people of 2014 according to a Gallup Poll. Police are being assassinated as thugs are being celebrated. The Republicans who were elected to put a stop to the growth of big government are already coddling up to a President who promises to promote even more federal intrusion into our lives. That Americans feel more politically and ideologically divided today than ever before, even during the Civil War. How can I read that and then wish you a happy new year?

Is it true?

Is that all there is?

No. There's more...

 
 

Cuba

Father forgive me for I have sinned.

How long has it been since your last confession.

A pause.

A shrug.

Cover Art
Click to read the story
How have you sinned, my son?

I've murdered men.

Men?

Yes, many.

How many?

Another pause.

Another shrug.

And?

I've tortured many more.

Why?

They displeased me.

How?

They disagreed.

Do you wish to confess another?

I've sent others to murder and torture on my behalf.

Who?

Ernesto.

Ernesto?

Che.

Ummm. He must confess his own sins.

He didn't.

No?

A laugh.

It's funny?

Yes. Che never believed that he'd sinned.

No?

That's why I killed him.

You murdered Che?

 
 

Television

Quirky characters and well-written scripts dominate Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries available on Netflix streaming. My wife and I absolutely adore it.
Essie Davis
Essie Davis as Phrne Fisher (Click to Google)
Essie Davis romps through the title role as a bon vivant who returns from England to Melbourne, Australia and becomes a sleuth. Everyone loves Ms Davis. The makeup artists. The costume designers. The dialog writers. The lighting director. The camera operators. Everyone loves Ms Fisher. Her household staff including her maid who fears the telephone (the earth, she is told by a friend, will explode if people keep transmitting electricity through wires), her butler (a WWI veteran intelligence officer and commando), and a pair of roustabouts who do the heavy lifting, especially when thugs are involved in the plot. The chief police inspector is constantly annoyed by Ms Fisher's intrusions into his investigations, but we suspect that he secretly loves her too. There's no doubt that his hapless constable loves her maid.