Motives

I try to be an open minded, understanding person. Really, I do. I’ve found that understanding someone’s motives can be instrumental in accepting their actions. Not forgiving or endorsing, but at least understanding well enough to follow the logic back to its source.

I find myself looking at both sides of an issue, which tends to allow me to be more fair in my appraisals. On the other hand, I also tend to expect the same balance in others, and have to soften my judgements of people with little or no insight. I’ve operated a business, so to me some functions appear obvious. A manager is responsible for his employees, therefore he should be interested in hiring people who can accomplish their jobs, which makes him look good to his managers, because he has proven himself to be a good judge of character, hiring people who assist in the business’s growth. It’s fairly obvious this is an outdated notion, operations continue to function with the absolute minimum of competence.

Society seems to be grinding down to its lowest common denominator, standards are lowered, making any drive for excellence whither. It’s disturbing and depressing, and the fact nothing can be done to change it makes it more so.  There is no way to change the tide.

We started with “Nobody’s perfect” and found we could justify any behavior with the phrase. No, nobody is perfect. But there are a lot of people who are ninety nine percent perfect, even more that are ninety five percent. When we start excusing the failures of people who are fifty one percent perfect by saying “Nobody’s perfect”, we fail to motivate those people to become fifty two percent.

It’s not just the people who think they should earn a “living wage” working at McDonald’s that fail to see a need to do better, it is seen in every strata of society.

There was a segment on the news last night about healthcare. As you probably know, hospitals bill ridiculous amounts. The reporter was shown on the phone with the hospital, trying to negotiate a bill, and said “who is looking out for these people?”. What is wrong with this picture? When did we become so feeble that we need to have someone looking out for us? Isn’t that entire “American Dream” concept centered on self reliance? Does thinking for yourself hurt so much that you just refuse to do it?

What comes from this? A government of the people, by the people, and for the people is driven by people who are either clever and trying to take advantage, or stupid and incapable. The trouble is telling them apart.

Ken Burns, the academy award winning producer of documentaries about America, is working on a project about the Gettysburg Address. Every American child memorized this speech in grade school, so we all know the words. It is a wonderful project, one of the more interesting components is a “mash-up“, a collage of different speakers reciting the Address. A grand show of unity.

“Unifying” is not the effect this project has had. In recording different celebrities, Burns allowed different versions of the well known speech to be used. In reality, the speech was given once, and the words were captured by journalists on the scene and transcribed in the New York Times. The words are engraved on the Lincoln Memorial. But due to the lack of photocopiers, Lincoln wrote the speech down on paper five times. There are differences in all five, the words “Under God” appearing in only three of them. The words “Under God” were spoken in Gettysburg, included in the transcript in the New York Times, engraved in stone in the Lincoln Memorial, memorized by every schoolchild, and included in Ken Burns’ “mash-up”, but for some reason the president of the United States decided to read a version that did not contain those words.

What was he thinking?

Immediately, right wing groups jumped on the omission as proof of his godless agenda. I personally don’t care if Obama is a closet Muslim, but last I checked they believe in God. Left wing groups defended Obama saying Ken Burns had specifically requested he read this version. Yes, he may be the president, but if Ken Burns asks…

What I know for certain is that more people have visited the project website, and learned about the Gettysburg Address, than ever would have without all the press the controversy has brought.

Clinton got away with playing stupid for eight years, Obama has worn the card thin in just five years. The latest play has been the suggestion that Edward Snowden should not be prosecuted, because without his information leaks Obama would have never known what the NSA was doing. He didn’t know what the IRS was doing, even after they admitted it. He didn’t know that you can’t build a website coordinating every branch of government with multiple private industries on a political timetable.

With his popularity at an all time low, and worse, his unpopularity at an all time high, it’s time to get serious. The flocks of Obama Zombies are thinning out, and although he won’t face another election, there will be other members of his party running for office in the future. In order for his programs to survive, Democrats will need to maintain at least a presence in Washington for the next decade, so if he wants a legacy other than “biggest fool on the hill”, someone needs to start thinking, no matter how much it hurts.

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