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Lawrence Fedewa

SUBURBAN COWBOY, Chapter Two: The Summer of ’95

The summer of 1995 started at Christmas, 1993. That was when my grown  daughter, Kirsten, announced she was going to learn to ride a horse, and that I was going to teach her. I learned a long time ago to do what women tell me, so I agreed to the project, thinking that it probably would never happen. But she persisted and changed my life.

I had not taught anyone how to ride since I was Riding Master at a boy’s camp during the summers I was in college. My brothers and I had been taught how to ride and how to train young horses by Jim Rooker, at that time a veterinary student at Michigan State College (East Lansing, Michigan). Jim went on to become one of the best-known Arabian breeders and trainers in the country. My Dad had, on the advice of Professor Byron Goode of Michigan State’s School of Veterinary Medicine, bought two Arabian yearlings and an older gelding named Don, who had been used to teach college students how to ride. He also set us up with Jim Rooker.

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Donald J Trump’s Big Gamble

 

Will his actions speak louder than his words?

 

by Lawrence J Fedewa, April 15, 2018

In language, style and actions, Donald J. Trump is commonly described as “a different kind of President”.  His advocates tend to believe that he is “still learning how to be a politician”. He detractors believe that he is now and ever will be an incompetent President. As the great ethicist, H. Richard Niebuhr, used to say, “People are generally correct in what they affirm, and wrong in what they deny.” In the case of Mr. Trump, it is true that he is learning, but not how to be a politician. It is true that he is not going to change, but wrong that he is incompetent.

The basic truth about Mr. Trump is that he is deal-maker. What he is learning is not how to become a politician, but how to make deals with politicians. He has publicly scorned the deal-making capabilities of politicians, but he is now in their world, so he has to learn how to make deals with them. A more conventional description of this process is “building a coalition “around each major initiative.

He has learned that the sweet spot of most politicians is their electability at the time of an election. He has already indicated that he intends to have a very active campaign schedule for the 2018 mid-term elections. To the extent that his campaigning is successful, of course, he will build political capital. The opposite is also true. Unlike most of the politicians he interacts with, his core competence is making deals rather than attracting voters. The fact that he has done as well as he has with attracting votes is a tribute to his natural charisma and his experience as a media personality rather than his political know-how.

So, what is different about a deal-maker? The script for Mr. Trump’s approach to dialog is contained in his book, The Art of the Deal.

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The God of Science

The universe pulses the greatness of God.
Utter vastness of worlds and galaxies,
space, light, time in trillions,
suns and millennia and light years
grow and pass and pray their grandeur
and the greater grandeur of their timeless time
there to God alone, playing and praying
for untold eons watched by Him alone
before man’s telescopes and missiles and rockets.
God, more baffling and astounding and vast
than they and their offspring added and multiplied.
O God of space! O Presence!

God in every ion and molecule,
surrounding its infinitesimal, streaking explosions,
planning its patterns, placing its presence
for man to find and gape in awe,
hypnotized by the science of God
unfolding the mixture of things, the folly of senses
– for a paralyzing instant – a numbing flash
of the fantastic Mastermind of the universe!

Suburban Cowboy (Chapter One)

I’m fighting rush-hour traffic in suburban Washington, D.C. on a summer Friday. It’s after 5 o’clock, and I’ve been trying since three to leave the office and go horseback riding. Now I’m working the car phone, waiting for lights, crawling along the parkway, wondering what in the world I think I’m doing. Between calls, the fatigue and frustration of a long day and a long week start to set in. I can’t say I need the exercise — compared to my push-ups, aerobics, racquetball, and occasional jogging, horseback riding seems pretty mild. So much work: grooming, saddling, longeing, schooling. So hot and sweaty. And dangerous, too. Aren’t I old enough to know better? How old do I have to get? When I finally get home, why don’t I just relax with a tall, cold drink and watch the horses from the air-conditioned house? All the
reasons.

I decide to take it one step at a time. After all, I don’t HAVE to go riding, HAVE to groom, HAVE to saddle up. I can stop at any point, right?

Thus do I cajole my tired old bones into changing my clothes and walking out to the stable, I start by looking around at everything, seeing if the workers have left any problems. This activity, of course, is a lot like the office, but the sun feels good on my back, and I notice the breeze on my face. After “fixing” a couple of little things, I decide to go the next step.

I go out to the pasture with a few treats in my pocket. All the horses notice me as soon as I get within range. It’s kind of funny to see how they arrange themselves to approach me. Maia, my beautiful grey Arabian mare, is the Queen of the little herd. She dispatches a friendly old gelding named Speedy (he isn’t) to find out if I have any treats. But before old, slow Speedy gets to me, Sir Prize, a friendly, supremely self- confident four-year-old gelding reaches me and starts begging for a treat, which, of course, he gets. By this time, Speedy has arrived, quite upset that Sir Prize got there first, but he quickly forgets his pique when he too gets a little reward. In fact, instead of reporting back to Maia, he’s hanging around.

I keep walking.

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Democratic socialism versus democratic capitalism in America

Bernie Sanders, the socialist senator from Vermont, entered the Democratic primaries in 2016 as an advocate of “democratic socialism”. Since then, “democratic socialism” has come to describe what is known as the left wing of the Democratic Party.

So, what is democratic socialism?

The classic definition of socialism is “a system of government in which the means of production and distribution of goods are owned, controlled or regulated by the government.”

The most radical form of socialism is communism, where all property is owned and distributed by the government. Less radical forms of socialism are seen in the governments of Western Europe, where private property is recognized but government has the responsibility of acquiring (through taxes) enough wealth to provide for physical well-being of all its citizens, however that may be interpreted at any given time.

As the demands of the population grow, so does the amount of tax revenue needed to provide for these demands. At some point, especially when unemployment is high, the taxes on the companies producing the country’s wealth get so great that those companies cannot keep up, and the entire system fails. If not stopped, people will start to go hungry, and riots will follow – as is happening in Venezuela right now. American examples of this situation are Detroit and Puerto Rico, which have taxed themselves into bankruptcy.  Keep Reading

What is Democratic Capitalism?

By Lawrence J. Fedewa

The first thing to understand is that “democracy’ is a system of governance, and “capitalism” is an economic system. The genius of America has been to unite these two elements into a synergistic whole with the goal of providing every American “the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The foundation of capitalism is “profits.” A profit occurs when you sell something for more than you paid for it. All taxes depend on profits – no profits, no taxes; no taxes, no government. So, if governments (combining local, state and national) take too much of the profits generated by businesses, there will not be any profits, and the economy will fail – and people will go hungry.

Thus, there will always be a tension between government and business over the amount of profits government takes and the amount kept by businesses. Since there is no accepted “balance,” there is always a tug of war between advocates of “big government” and “limited government,” generally represented these days by the Democrats and the Republicans.
There are some basic issues at stake. First of all, governments generally have the guns, meaning the resources to enforce whatever they want to enforce, whether through confiscation (taxes), incarceration (prison), or militarization (martial law). Keep Reading

SOMEWHERE (a poem by Lawrence J. Fedewa)

[A few days ago, a Red State’s Larry Friis  opened a radio interview by asking. “Where is God?” He was quoting an atheist who thought he was proving there is no God. I did answer the question, but this is a better answer:] 

Somewhere, through all the mist and clouds
Somewhere in the darkness you are there.
The beauty of the sunset and the ocean’s power,
and the horror of tsunamis, tornados, and volcanoes —
all say that you must be there.
Somewhere.

Why all things are alive and strive then die,
why crippled bodies and torn souls hurt and cry;
why men can learn all but “Why”?
and cannot love the shame and sadness and pain we see
as much as the power and grandeur of the earth and sky —
all these things I do not understand
all say that you must be there
Somewhere.

But they do not tell me who you are,
or what you are, or what you want,
or why you have made all this.
So how can I know you know me
care for me, try to save me?
Only the bleeding hands of Jesus,
touching, healing, and changing me
telling me you want me happy
make me think you know I’m here.
Through all the mists and clouds,
Right here.

 

School Safety: Three key issues

Sympathize, but not simplify, safeguard the children, upgrade prevention

By Lawrence J. Fedewa 2/27/18

The current debates stemming from the Parkland massacre finally must deal with three key issues:

  1. The emotional climate following this tragedy
  2. The requirements to provide for physical safety of public gathering places
  3. The establishment of a crime prevention capability

 

  1. The emotional climate following this tragedy

The anguish and grief of the victims and their loved ones are not only understandable but are shared by empathetic observers everywhere. The natural reactions to this event are anger, demands for action, and fear for the lives of school children everywhere. The intensity of these emotions can easily lead to hysteria, which in turn can lead to acceptance of simplistic solutions. School safety is not a simple issue; it is a very complex issue. Because this murderer used a gun to execute his perverted mission does not mean that the solution to all the aspects of this type of assault is the further restriction of gun possession.

A determined bad guy can always find a weapon to execute his murders, whether a gun, a sharp knife, a sword, a bomb, another explosive or weapon– and they have. And no matter how good the background check, someone will always slip through the net – by chance or by changing since the check was done. So, other measures must be also employed.

  1. The requirements to provide for physical safety of public gathering places

President Trump has focused rightly on the need to “harden schools as targets” and his public discussions have highlighted many very effective measures which have been developed by numerous school districts. Some of the most effective that have surfaced are: single point of entry to each school with metal detectors managed by armed guards, concealed weapon carrying school personnel, specifically trained to protect students, bullet-proof, locked individual classrooms, and others. It appears that this search is well underway without more attention here. The most successful prevention program in recent years is the way we stopped airline hijacking. Everyone complains about airport security, but we all get scanned, and we don’t have any more hijacking (but it didn’t stop the 9/11 hijackers).

  1. The establishment of a crime prevention capability

The most complicated issue in this whole discussion is the fact that our entire law enforcement is based on catching and successfully prosecuting criminals. Their mission is NOT preventing crimes. The fact is that there is NO law-enforcement agency — or any other government agency — has the mission of preventing crimes. And there is a very solid reason for that. The reason is to protect the privacy and civil rights of individual citizens. The idea of giving the government the power to decide whether I am a threat to society on the basis of my exercise of free speech, or my counseling sessions with a mental health professional, or my history as a prisoner, or wife abuser, or member of an out-of-power political party or partisan organization is fraught with potential for abuse. Especially in view of the current doubts about the FBI and the FISA courts.

The provisions for temporary confiscation of weapons reported by several states, e.g. Indiana, have tackled this problem already and these experiments can set an example of attempts to reconcile crime prevention with catching criminals. The final decision as to the retention of a weapon permanently in these procedures lies with a judge – within 24 to 72 hours. The issue is, what are the criteria on which the judge will make his decision? What is the basis in law?

There is, of course, a common sense, common law rationale for such actions, namely, to protect the common good of society. But the principal thrust of American jurisprudence has always been to protect the individual citizen from an overzealous, even hostile government. Unfortunately, we are currently experiencing glaring examples of the value of such protections, Recent revelations of the federal government’s flagrant abuse of its powers by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts represent the need for very serious caution in giving ANY government body more powers over our lives. Nor is the Judicial Branch of the government any better. How many times have we witnessed clearly partisan verdicts by federal judges, whether district, appellate or Supreme Court? Clearly, the supposedly impartial “wise men (and women)” of the American judiciary are fast disappearing.

Yet, such measures MUST be taken immediately. Today, we live in constant threat for terrorists, whether foreign of home-grown.  We have been attacked since 9/11/2001 by many persons, on many occasions, using weapons ranging from airplanes to butcher knives. Before that were the Oklahoma City bombing (1995), and Columbine school massacre (1999) and other tragic events. It is about time that we face the inadequacy of out current safety infrastructure.

But how? How do we balance individual rights with the prevention of such terrorist acts? My own view is that we must endow crime prevention efforts with aggressive transparency. No more secret arrests. No more unannounced confiscation of weapons or “temporary” incarceration. Our only protection as free American citizens is open courtrooms, public announcements, and provision of competent legal defense. One of the major defenses against unlawful search and seizure should be the press. Unfortunately, like the courts, the press has revealed itself as frequently biased and unreliable. However, the counterbalance to that dereliction of duty is the internet, social media, and an activist citizenry.

These observations and opinions are not answers to the choices which face us. They are reasons to act, cautions against poorly analyzed actions, and desperate calls for doing something to prevent atrocities like Parkland, Florida – but doing the right things.

Copyright 2018, Richfield Press, Ltd,

The controversies around school shootings

A UK interviewer asks for insight into American approaches to the tragic shooting in a Florida school.http://bit.ly/2HLBVs3    (22 minutes)