Local News Since 1890 Now Online!

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

What’s in a label?

In Education, Health, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, sociology, Uncategorized on March 18, 2017 at 9:22 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

One things that human beings have in common is an insatiable need to label each other, both individually and by groups. I’m no expert at human evolution or psychology, but I’d guess that categorizing our fellow man must have been a leftover from prehistoric times. Our instinctive ability to size up a potential adversary may have served us well as cave people, but today, those emotions can inadvertently damage our relationships in the civilized world.

For our discussion purposes, the term “label” generally implies a negatively-focused word that’s used to identify someone based on visible stereotypical characteristics, like behavior, clothing, language, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. It’s not a factual assessment but rather an assumption, and it’s nearly always wrong. I’ve never found labels particularly helpful and arrived at from a single action or characteristic.

It gets a little confusing when you think about how to accurately describe someone without bias or negativity. If I were a Muslim, for example, it would be OK to say, “He’s a Muslim,” if you are stating a fact. On the other hand, if it’s stated in a way that has a negative connotation behind it like, “He’s one of those Muslims,” that’s not a fact, it’s a label. It comes with images of terrorism or other undesirable stereotypes.

In fact, trying to find any unoffensive example of labeling was a challenge, but I figured if I use myself as the subject that would be OK, so here it goes. I was raised on a farm in a rural community. Some people have a predetermined “image” of what someone like me should look, act and sound like.

My corn-fed brethren might even be labeled with a term that I find incredibly offensive – redneck. Despite what some might think, it’s just as intolerant to pin a racial slur on a white person as anyone else. It does, indeed, go both ways.

People are people – not labels. (Infographic courtesy of TrustLifeToday.com)

The general assumption is that someone with my background is uneducated, ignorant, with a “hillbilly” accent, bad grammar, less than stellar dental hygiene and who prefers to date within his or her own family. Throw in some right-wing, gun-totin’, Bible-quotin’, racism and that’s pretty much the way the liberal left sees us too.

Absolutely none of this is accurate where I am concerned, nor is it for most people I know. I’m well educated, I have no discernible accent, I’m not racist and, while my grammar isn’t perfect all the time, I’d like to think I’m above average in that area. The point is that the “rural” label is usually so far off as to be laughable. In fact, when people meet me they generally have no clue as to my background. None of this implies anything positive.

All that said, a close friend reminded me recently that labels have a positive side as well. In some cases, when people are vastly different from ourselves, a label can sometimes give us a reference point to understanding.

If you’re like me, a rural-raised American, you may have never met someone from, say inland China. When that opportunity arises, a label might be helpful as a starting point. If I say, “she is Chinese,” you probably already have an idea of what that means in your mind and an image forms based on your past understanding.

This type of labeling can be helpful provided the assessment does not end there and you keep an open mind about the individual. We must be respectful of the fact that we are each far more than the sum of our parts. I’m a farm boy, but a quick Google of my name will tell you there’s nothing “typical” about me. And that’s true for most of the people I know who grew up like I did.

Remember that labels are generally bad, but could have a positive application if people are willing to look beyond the surface and learn about the individual. Categorizing anyone can be incredibly destructive and serve only to perpetuate nonconstructive stereotypes. Give people a chance and learn about them before you slap a tag on their forehead. Our diversity in the world really is our strength. Let’s start behaving that way.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. more at deerinheadlines.com

 

Veterans do not want pity

In Health, history, National News, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized on February 27, 2017 at 10:12 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOThe way in which we care for military veterans in this country is shameful, to say the least. And, so far in the Trump administration’s first term, there has been no movement to correct it. Strangely, some people still think veterans are just whining or wanting some kind of pity from the rest of us.

Well for those of you who think they’re whining, here are some facts. There are more than 21.5 million living veterans in America. From that group we know that they are 26.3 percent less educated than the average citizen, earn more money on average, about $8800 per year more, and 71 percent of them vote in general elections.

Nearly 2 million veterans and almost 1 million of their family members, lack health insurance and more than one-sixth of all veterans have an active duty related disability that they can’t get the Veterans Administration to recognize. If they do recognize it, some veterans must wait up to three years for treatment to begin.

Veterans don't want pity - they want what they were promised.

Veterans don’t want pity – they want what they were promised.

The divorce rates for veterans is at record levels while declining among the civilian population. Veterans are half as likely to be homeless as non-vets and more soldiers have committed suicide this year than have died on the battlefield. These statistics are incomprehensible to any sensible, thinking person.

My questions are simple. Where is the outrage? Where are the protests? Where are the executive orders? None of the above have happened, nor are they likely to.
Sure, occasionally you get an appropriations bill coming through congress that’s supposed to shore up resources for veteran programs, update medical facilities, or increase money for benefits a bit. But that’s it, and even that money gets whittled down repeatedly until the overall impact is negligible.

Dozens of veteran-focused organizations are out there with the mission to assist individuals with problems like jobs, housing, welfare, whatever. But these are people who have protected us from at least one full generation that has done so voluntarily. No one conscripted them – they went willingly to take up the front lines.

While elected officials debate and

Those of us with veterans in our families understand the reality of waiting weeks for a doctor’s appointment or months for treatment of a diagnosis. But it’s not all about medical care.

Make no mistake. Veterans don’t want our pity but our respect and to have the U.S. Government fulfill its promise of lifelong care for their service. In this writer’s opinion, beyond race or gender, a veteran should be given first consideration for jobs, loans, business opportunities and so on. They’ve earned it. They put their civilian lives on hold, and sometimes their very lives on the line for all of us.

To put it into perspective, members of the U.S. Congress receive lifelong retirement and health insurance benefits befitting most other federal employees at the same pay level – on average around $220,000 per year. But it’s a sure bet that none of them would have to wait three years for any diagnosis or treatment but all of them get to decide on how much money goes towards caring for the veterans who will.

It’s disgraceful that any serving enlisted military member must survive on welfare of any kind. Then, once they finish their tour – or tours – of duty, they must depend on the V.A. for services that are so low in standard as to be laughable. And change is moving at a snail’s pace.

I’m not a veteran. I considered going into the U.S. Air Force after high school, but health issues made that impossible. Still, as a citizen, I’m constantly impressed and in awe of the level of which military men and women, active and retired, serve with no regrets, and who express unshakable loyalty to a country which has done virtually nothing to support them after the fact.

Veterans don’t want a handout. They want an opportunity; an opportunity to receive what they were promised when Uncle Sam accepted their signature. There’s nothing charitable about that – it’s just the right thing to do.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Catch the podcast version, free,  at MyGreeneRadio.com.

A matter of alternative fact

In history, Media, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized, World News on January 30, 2017 at 9:24 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOThere has been a great deal of discussion in the media of late about “facts” and the incomprehensible notion of “alternative facts.” Considering such dialogue, it’s only fitting to review what constitutes a “fact” and if, indeed, there can be any possibility an alternative to any fact. Confused yet? We’re just getting started.

First, we need to define the word, “fact.” What does it mean? Where does it come from? Is a fact out of context still a fact? Is a fact the same thing as the truth?

Well, according to merriam-webster.com, the definition of the word “fact” is listed as follows.  Pronounced, “fakt,” it is a noun meaning: 1. A thing done 2. Archaic 3. The quality of being actual 4. Something that has actual existence or an actual occurrence and 5. A piece of information presented as having objective reality. OK, that’s a lot of material, so let’s focus on definitions 4 and 5 from our list.

Trump advisor, Kellyanne Conway spins the "alternative facts" from the White House.  Photo courtesy NBC News

Trump advisor, Kellyanne Conway spins the “alternative facts” from the White House. Photo courtesy NBC News

Starting with number 4, “Something that has actual existence or an actual occurrence,” we might best illustrate this in the following phrases. “It is a fact that water is vital to life,” or “prove the fact of damage to the house after the storm.”
If you stop watering your plants, they die. Stop drinking water and you die too. These notions are “facts” because we know them to be impartial. If a house is destroyed by a storm, the wreckage is visual and cannot be disputed. These things are all “facts.”

Moving on to definition number 5, “A piece of information presented as having objective reality,” the key word to focus on is, “objective.” To be objective something must be taken impartially and without bias.

For example, two people could easily agree on the color of a house, in this case without worrying about a specific shade. Bob says the house is green. Mary says the house is green. Bob and Mary aren’t looking at the location, style or anything else that may prejudice their judgment of the structure, only that it is green. That’s what it means to be objective. Therefore, for information to be factual, it must be viewed objectively.

Somewhat confusing, however, is that a fact can be argued for its validity of context, but not as to whether it is a fact. A great example of this is the idea of global warming.

Politically, there’s a good deal of disagreement between liberals and conservatives about this concept. Scientists have factual evidence that the earth is, “in fact,” growing hotter, over all. But the context of the facts is where the disagreement lies.

Is the fact of global warming a direct result of man’s poor energy choices and pollution? Or, is global warming the natural result of the planet’s life cycle and nothing we do will have the slightest effect one way or another? This is where the argument takes the facts and places them in opposing context.

Where does “truth” come into all of this? Most people make decisions about politics, religion, and just about every other emotionally-charged concept, based on what they believe to be the truth, with little thought to what might be factual. That’s where this all gets a bit murky.

Indiana Jones may have offered the best explanation of this idea, from a scientific perspective. In “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” he said to his class, “Archaeology is the search for ‘fact,’ not ‘truth.’ If it’s truth you’re interested in, (the) philosophy class is right down the hall.”

What he meant was that in something like philosophy, as in religion and politics, “truth” is largely dependent on your point of view (a subjective belief). While archaeology, and other sciences – physics, meteorology, chemistry, etc. – are based on objective, factual study, unemotional and unbiased.

What all of this objectively leads to is the conclusion that a “fact” cannot have an alternative – it either exists or it doesn’t. It’s logical then to deduce that an ‘alternative fact’ can likely be only one other thing – a lie.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com.

 

 

 

 

Hypocrisy and rants of the Hollywood left

In National News, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized, World News on January 18, 2017 at 10:14 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

When actor Meryl Streep took the stage to accept her Golden Globe award on January 9, she did something that has become a bad habit among the Hollywood elite. Instead of a sincere speech giving thanks for the honor, Streep chose to use the network TV time, and captive audience, to lash out in a thinly vailed diatribe against president-elect Donald Trump.

Meryl Streep and her entertainment cohorts have a right to voice an opinion. But the awards show is not the proper venue in which to vent. Grandstanding to whine about the inequities of life because you have a viable platform to your advantage is exactly what the liberal left is always complaining about.

img_6238I need to be clear, I don’t think much of Streep, and I’m sure she could care less about my opinion. But I believe most of her type are hypocritical millionaires who are incredibly overpaid to pretend for a living.

Primarily a group of babied, narcissists who live in multi-million-dollar mansions, and surrounded by personal assistants, yes men, and “handlers,” these people are far more out of touch with reality than any of the politicians the spend so much time attacking in the media. Which brings me to the second point of this piece – why do Americans put so much value in the opinions of these people in the first place?

Rather than listen to the thinking minds of the day, whether academic or political, or even the few top-notch journalists that are out there, the politically apathetic tend to absorb the opinion of actors and celebrities. It makes no sense to me. They have no qualifications to offer any such opinions but “act”- pun intended – as if they have the pulse of the socioeconomic state.

I have a great deal of respect for those I have worked with in the entertainment industry over the years. I’ve known incredibly successful and famous people as well as those who are just getting by.

Most of them do their best to entertain, earn their pay, and move on to the next project without feeling the need to stump for a political cause. That’s not to say being public about your politics is bad, it’s just that there is a proper time and place to voice your opinion.

The truth of politics, religion, even science, is that people hear what they want to hear and repeat what they “believe” to be the facts – or the facts according to personal perception. The challenge is altering that perception so that it’s more in line with the facts than with the opinions of someone else.

To me, hijacking the stage at an awards show is very much like someone who rants at their job all day about politics to whoever will listen. Same goes for religion, or whatever else might not be the best conversation in a professional setting.

Make no mistake, I believe Trump is a bad move for our country. But I must point out that back when Barack Obama was elected, anyone who voiced a negative word against him was immediately labeled (by the liberal left) unpatriotic, or worse yet, a racist.

It’s obvious that the media is firmly against Trump and his buddies. He is unlikely to ever get a fair treatment by the press – nor is he going to give them any latitude without flashback for all the negative coverage. It’s not a press holding power accountable – they just don’t like him.

Trump doesn’t seem to care what the media says. The Donald’s take more like the schoolyard bully who gets away with shoving some kid to the ground and then, thumbs in ears and fingers up like rocking antlers, sticks out his tongue in an exhibit of, “Nanny, nanny boo boo.”

Streep’s rant – however graciously delivered it may have been – was inappropriate for the setting. Much in the way that I don’t want to listen to a musician’s politics when I’ve paid to attend a concert. Save it for the op-ed pages or write your memories or something, but if I’d wanted to hear a political speech, I’d have tuned into C-SPAN instead of the Golden Globes.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines can be seen online and on WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton program in video form. Visit gerydeer.com for more.

No One Is Qualified To Be President

In Education, history, Media, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized on October 3, 2016 at 6:08 am

By Gery L. Deer
Deer In Headlines

DIH LOGOThere is a great deal of debate going on as to whether the current presidential candidates are “qualified” to hold the office. Good question, but the answer is a bit more ambiguous than we might want to know.

The American system of representation is not based on educational or experience qualifications. It is, instead, dependent on general popularity of the vote. There is no list of professional requirements to run for either president or congress, arguably two of the three most powerful branches of government.

To be president, there are age and citizenship requirements. We’ve heard enough from Donald Trump over the years challenging President Obama’s citizenship that the actual law warrants a look. The U.S. Constitution, in Article II, Section 1, reads as follows.

“No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.” Other than that, the office has fewer qualifications than someone applying for a job as a Walmart stock boy (woman, person, whatever).

Jefferson and Lincoln were prime examples of the varied backgrounds and qualifications of those who would be president.

Jefferson and Lincoln were prime examples of the varied backgrounds and qualifications of those who would be president.

The point is that no one is really qualified to do the job until they’ve already done it. The only people who have the practical experience to be President of the United States have already sat in the big chair. If you don’t believe it, let’s review the backgrounds of some of the most prominent presidents in history beginning with the man who most Americans would agree was our greatest president – Abraham Lincoln.

Now we’ve all heard this tale a million times. A Kentucky-born backwoods boy grows up in hardship, teaches himself to read and goes on to become president during the bloodiest time in American history. He had spent most of his young life in manual labor having also spent time as a lumberman, shopkeeper and postmaster.

It was only after having been elected to the Illinois state legislature – again with no formal education whatsoever – that he became a self-taught lawyer. The rest, as they say, is history. Lincoln is forever seen as one of the greatest Republicans who ever lived. But when he was elected president, he had served on a state legislature, so he was more qualified than many others.

Our next case study into presidential qualification is, in an effort to be fair and balanced, the Democrat favorite – Thomas Jefferson. In many ways Lincoln’s socioeconomic opposite, Jefferson was born into one of the most prominent families in Virginia.

He was provided the best education, studied Latin and Greek and spent leisure time (something Lincoln would never have had) practicing his violin. He grew up learning from some of the elder statesmen and scholars of the time, formally studying law as an apprentice before being examined by the bar as a fully qualified attorney; again, a sharp difference from his presidential counterpart here.

Of course Jefferson went on to draft the Declaration of Independence and played a pivotal role in the separation of the colonies from England. But the point of all this is that here are two completely different men upon whom fate and providence moved to sweep them into the history books.

But for all their differences, they had two things in common; characteristics that should be the most important qualifications of anyone seeking the highest office in the land. Both were very smart men and both were compassionate and cared about the fate of their country and its citizens.

There was no glory seeking or publicity hounding in these men. They believed they had an honorable duty to carry out and the people agreed. Today we choose candidates because of race or gender or the gibberish they spew from the debate podium. The only way to make America great is for our citizens to wise up and demand more from our leaders.

There are still Lincolns and Jeffersons out there but their voices will forever be squelched by the unqualified noise of the media-obsessed political machine. Integrity, intelligence, humility, humanity are the best qualifications for president.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Listen to Deer In Headlines on air at MyGreeneRadio.com, October 2016. More at deerinheadlines.com

 

Media doesn’t control anyone

In Economy, Education, finances, Media, News Media, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, sociology, Technology, Uncategorized on August 4, 2016 at 10:01 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOIf you do a Google search for, “how the media controls what we think,”you’ll find dozens of articles, videos and feature stories on the subject. Each claims that news programs, TV commercials and even movies are so powerful they can actually control your mind.

To say that I find fault in these kinds of reports would be an understatement, but what exactly are they talking about? Let’s briefly examine these as separate concepts. First, there’s the advertiser. How is it that advertisers create commercials that convince people to buy things they didn’t even want in the first place?

Well there are countless components to creating an effective advertisement, but the primary way to get customers to buy is through media saturation. This is where you see and hear an ad for a product or service over and over again, on every medium – radio, TV, online, everywhere. Eventually, the message is so engrained into your mind you can’t help but remember it.

If you’re a commercial radio and television consumer, the best example of this kind of advertising is from auto dealers. Car dealerships flood the media with the same, nauseating advertisements, chock full of shouting announcers or gimmicky slogans.

Actually, when advertisers saturate the airwaves like this, the ads don’t event have to be particularly good, just slightly memorable with the name and product repeated over and over again. It’s the frequency that causes you to remember them.

There is no question that the media gets in our heads. Today we are so connected by the Internet and on every manner of device that some people struggle to be away from the constant flow of information even for a brief period of time. All of this has led to the idea of what is sometimes called “media mind control.”

You're probably far more likely to be "brainwashed" by a company like Apple that convinces you how "cool" something is and play on your own vanity. You're still making the choice.

You’re probably far more likely to be “brainwashed” by a company like Apple that convinces you how “cool” something is and plays on your own vanity. You’re still making the choice.

But, in my opinion, as a working part of the media in question, all of this is nonsense… sort of. If you really believe an ad can “make” you buy something or that the news can force you to vote for a particular candidate for office, then that’s pretty sad. Where is your own free will? Why follow the lemmings?

Media can “influence” the decision making process by presenting information tooled towards a certain message or ideology. But the decision to buy into any of that is all on you. The people writing the mind control articles I mentioned earlier have forgotten one, basic idea – we all have a freedom of choice and will.

Even though it might not seem like it sometimes, people choose what they’re going to believe. Advertisers and politicians are hoping you don’t exercise that free thought component of your brain and just follow blindly where their media leads.

Yes, they will play your heartstrings like a cheap fiddle and go at your sense of need and desire until you feel like you can’t live without … whatever they’re selling. But if you are so brain dead that you actually fall for their nonsense, then that’s your fault, not theirs.

We must stop blaming the media for everything and take some personal responsibility for our own bad judgment. News outlets reporting on a shooting did not cause the next mass murder, the guy on the trigger chose his actions. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton didn’t “manipulate” anyone into following them, the choice was made by each individual. Period. Any other conclusion is a bit delusional and conspiracy-minded.

Again, influence is the key word here. You can be influenced easily enough, but full on “manipulation” by the media, or anything else, is based on a level of control that we, as individuals, have to give up in order to be affected by it. If you choose to hand over your independent thought and free will then the problem rests with you, not the media you consume.

This, no doubt, will be an unpopular statement considering the “my bad behavior is someone else’s fault” society we live in today. But it’s true, nonetheless. Without threat of harm or other level of duress from an outside source, the only person who can make you do anything – is you.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com

Detach and de-stress from politics

In Health, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology on May 17, 2016 at 7:57 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOA July 2014 article in The Washington Post included a headline that read, “Politicians are the No. 1 cause of stress in our lives.” The article focused on a stress survey in which, “Americans cited, ‘Hearing about what the government or politicians are doing,’ as the most frequent daily stressor on their lives, and at a substantially higher rate than the usual annoyances like commuting, chores and general schedule-juggling.”

That was nearly two years ago and reactions to day-to-day politics were driving the survey. At that time the dizzying level of ridiculousness surrounding the 2016 presidential bid had yet to shift into high gear. Now, with just a few weeks until the first convention, the stakes have never been higher, and neither has our collective blood pressure.

In the time between now and the conventions, it’s unlikely anything of consequence will occur. There will be blustering and feather ruffling from candidates, but, in the end, the convention is the next decisive event. It’s time to back away for a while.

If the presidential race has driven a wedge between you and those close to you, it may be time let it go. It’s not important. The truth is, very little that takes place on the presidential campaign level will affect those of us down here in the real world.

And it certainly is not worth the loss of close friendships. So how do you disconnect? Well, here are a few short tips.

First, step away from social media – immediately! As if the cable news blather wasn’t enough, Facebook, Twitter and all the rest of social media is inundated with opinion, and certainly not necessarily what you would call, “informed” opinion.

maxresdefaultMost people, for whatever reason, have a difficult time recognizing fact from rhetoric. How many times have you been taken in on Facebook or Twitter by some fake news story? Generally those kinds of things are harmless. But when conflict and gossip are presented as factually based information, things get murky and you have to know the difference.

Along with the computer, switch off the TV as well. Face it you’re never going to get an “objective” view of any candidate, party or issue from corporate news agencies. Every organization introduces the spin they want you to hear. Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and all the rest, have their own political agendas and when they want you to think, they’ll tell you how.

Consider also, how you feel when you encounter political news. Take close note of your emotions when you’re reading, watching or listening to political material. Does your heart rate jump? Do you feel angry or enraged? Well, believe it or not, that’s exactly what they want; “they” being the media manipulators.

But, you don’t have to fall for it. You can choose what information to which you are exposed and how it affects you. If you just let them get to you, that’s your own fault.

Probably the best way to keep from being overwhelmed by the election hype is to be informed. Do your own research on the candidates and issues and get the information as first-hand as possible. The more facts you know, the less likely you are to get sucked into the garbage.

Politics can sometimes be a fun diversion, though for whom I haven’t a clue. But when things are as charged up as they are this time around, most of what results is stress, angry feelings and regretful behavior.

Remember that politicians at that level – including Hillary, Bernie, and Donald – have no stake in your life. They could care less about anything save their own quest for power, ego and personal benefit. And they’ll say anything to get the votes they want. Anyone who sincerely believes otherwise is a bit naive.

So as the election creeps up on us, be prepared to go vote your conscience when the time comes. Until then, shut it all down, tune it all out, and relax!

For further study and resource …

6 Ways To Cope With Political Stress by Dr. David Lowenstein

http://drlowenstein.com/2016/03/10/6-ways-to-cope-with-political-stress/

5 Ways To Avoid Stress and Stay Healthy In Political Campaigns by PoliticalCampaigningTips.com

http://www.politicalcampaigningtips.com/5-ways-to-avoid-stress-stay-healthy-in-political-campaigns/

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com

 

 

If Trump gets nomination, I’m done with GOP

In Business, Economy, history, Jobs, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics, sociology, State News, Uncategorized, World News on February 25, 2016 at 9:37 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOBecause I’ve always tried to get people to think about my subjects from more than one perspective, I’ve rarely shown my personal political leanings within the wording of my columns. In fact, I so often take opposing views in any given article, after any given Deer In Headlines column is published, I could be called, in the same day, a “bleeding heart liberal,” and a “right wing conservative.”

But, here it is, for the record and publicized for the first time anywhere – I am a registered Republican. (If there was a pool going somewhere, I’d like a cut please.) I am certainly not, however, what you might think of as a typical modern conservative. In truth, my considerations often demonstrate a far more liberal position but I’m also frequently sickened by the level of hypocrisy in both parties.

So, I should explain, “why Republican?” Well, I didn’t go with the GOP from any ideological position. Many years ago, during the first presidential election for which I was old enough to vote, I had to choose a party in order to participate in the primary election. At the time, I knew more about the Republican candidates, so I picked that one. Really scientific, wouldn’t you say?

No, it wasn’t the best way to choose, but I was 18 and had to make a fast decision. As the years went on, I always avoided just blindly voting the party line and chose whichever candidate I thought was best based on the facts at hand. So, my party affiliation really didn’t make much difference. But today I think that affiliation does matter, possibly more so than any other time during my life.

Trump rise indicates hateful path of GOP. Photo courtesy NYTimes.

Trump rise indicates hateful path of GOP. Photo courtesy NYTimes.

Donald Trump has managed to do exactly what he set out to since the day he announced his candidacy for president. However caustic and cartoonish his campaign, The Donald has ripped through the fabric of the Republican Party and scattered the conservative base.

My problem here is that any group that would allow and encourage a self-aggrandizing buffoon like Trump to climb to the top of the party has obviously lost its way. Poking around in the dark for the lesser of who cares, people have desperately searched for a non-politician. Sadly, they think Trump is that person. Still, Americans need a good leader and someone who understands the complexities of the world stage on which America is just one player.

To be an effective president, Trump would have to work on a team, listen to more knowledgeable advisors and make decisions based on the best interests of the people, not just to get his own way. I believe, as do others, that Trump is totally incapable of this behavior.

As Trump plowed through the rest of the party making his way to the top, he has repeatedly shown he is not ready or personally equipped to be that kind of leader. As a businessman, he comes across more like a dictator. In other words, it’s his way or nothing. Ironically, Republicans have repeatedly criticized President Obama for the very same behavior citing executive orders.

At this point, I need to be clear about something else regarding my political leanings. I don’t like Hillary Clinton either. She’s a proven liar from a deceptive family and a political insider. Bernie Sanders isn’t much better. His blathering on about so-called democratic socialism is idealistic nonsense lacking even the most basic economic foundation.

So why come out about my party affiliations now? Well, there are a couple of reasons. Over the years I’ve watched in disgust as this party that revels in moral values seems hypocritically more bigoted, angry and hateful than ever. A fact made more clear every time Trump opens his mouth to denigrate Muslims, minorities, women or whomever he’s attacking that day and is met with unbridled cheering from ignorant followers.

The party of Lincoln would certainly cringe if he were here today. In recent times, the GOP has argued harder for the right of someone to own an AR-15 assault weapon than for women and minorities to be treated equally. Honestly? It’s just embarrassing.

Trump’s shocking rise from joke to frontrunner proves that the Grand Old Party is nothing of the kind. It has become, instead, little more than another corporate sell-out run by rich, old white guys with followers who seem to thrive on hate, bigotry and fear.

A Trump nomination will be the last straw for me. When it happens, although I disagree with a great many liberal policies and ideals, I will march myself to the board of elections and change my party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.

Since, I tend to think for myself rather than be a political lemming, I’d obviously rather go “independent” but I wouldn’t, for two reasons. First, the idea of an “independent party,” is an oxymoron. You can’t be independent about something if you’re just going to follow a group. Secondly, I still want to have an effect in the primaries.

Many people are angry about the direction of the current administration and the country and I sympathize. I have many friends, family and business associates who are Trump supporters for those very reasons. And for them, I am simultaneously surprised and disappointed, but I still support them and their right to choose the candidate that best reflects their views.

So, I certainly hope these revelations have not put you off of reading my work, but I felt this was important enough to make a stand and let you, my readers, know where my head is in this election. In the coming weeks, I’ll be discussing more about what happens next in my political participation, so stay tuned to Deer In Headlines.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at deerinheadlines.com.

Saving the mythical middle class

In Economy, history, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics on February 1, 2016 at 9:38 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGODuring the post-war euphoria of the 1950s, Americans were convinced of a concept that has carried through into the next century. The “middle class” was a figment of someone’s imagination – probably a politician – and sold to the public as the ideal life. But the idea of a middle class has become as mythological as the Leave It To Beaver universe that created it.

As the presidential election year kicks into high gear, saving the dying middle class will be the subject of countless speeches. But how do you preserve something that no longer exists, if it ever did at all? The truth is, you can’t.

But who is the middle class? As it turns out, there is no consistent definition of this mythical group. Depending on the source, the middle class can be defined in a number of ways, from economical status to age and race demographics. So when you hear a politician spout off the words, “middle class,” the context is vital, otherwise it’s meaningless.

According to CNNMoney.com, one definition by the Pew Research Center is based on income. It lists the middle class as those Americans who earn between $46,900 and $140,900. Another marker has to do with aspirations.

Most people who consider themselves middle class want to own a home, send their kids to college, have proper healthcare and investment savings, a car, vacations, and so on. Obviously, that means that the money has to exist to make any of that a possibility so we’re back to financial definitions once again.

Photo courtesy NBC News

Photo courtesy NBC News

The simple fact of it is the concept of the middle class is a myth; a myth we have all been trapped into believing to the point of mass hysteria. The American dream does exist, but it’s far less detailed than we’ve been taught over the last 70 years or so, and it’s not as tied to the middle class as once thought.

Between the American dream and the middle class, I’d much rather focus on the former; at least I know it’s ambiguous and depends on my own efforts, choices and aspirations. The American dream is different for each person.

Yours might be to own a bookstore while your neighbor’s may simply be to be healthy and happy in his or her own way. But trying to be part of the middle class has done countless families harm over the years, struggling to “keep up with the Joneses,” and fighting the never ending war to amass “stuff” so as to appear successful.

As a political hot button, the idea that the middle class is suffering provides unlimited opportunity to yank at the heartstrings of conservatives. Liberals don’t seem to care as much about it. It all goes back to that subliminal mental tie-in between the middle class and the American dream.

The question remains, how do politicians evoke emotion over a group that doesn’t actually exist? Or, stated more correctly, a group that encompasses so many different kinds of people as to eliminate any particular demographic. Actually, it’s easier than you might think.

If politicians can keep that apple pie imagery flowing and preach doom and gloom over its demise, people will flock to the polls to protect it by voting for them. It’ll have the same effect as the anti-communist films of the 1950s and 60s depicting a family on a nice summer picnic when suddenly the nuclear bombs start dropping. Destroy the middle class and America dies.

But, once again, it’s impossible to destroy what doesn’t exist. The middle class is defined by whoever wants to use it to their benefit, to push their agenda. Oddly, I’d say the middle class is more about a state of mind of the individual than actual numbers.

We all just want to be normal, average Americans in similar status to our neighbors so we can relate to each other. In the end, I think we all just want to be financially stable and happy with our lives.

Gun crime liability rests with shooter

In Crime, history, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology on January 21, 2016 at 1:00 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOGun control is one of those subjects that is, at best, incendiary and at worst causes explosive arguments. Debate is heated and emotionally driven regarding the real meaning of the second constitutional amendment and how it applies in modern American life.

But it might be that we’re missing a larger question as we grapple to decide whether guns should be available at all to private citizens. Perhaps a larger and more readily answered question should be, who actually carries the criminal responsibility when someone uses a firearm to harm others?

Recently, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders stated that, if elected, he would work to repeal the immunity granted by congress to firearms manufacturers. Passed into law in 2005, The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) protects firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held liable when crimes have been committed with their products.

Most of the disagreement comes from debate surrounding the “intended use” of a product relative to manufacturer or reseller liability. From some points of view, the only intended use of a firearm (gun) is to kill people. However, those law-abiding citizens who maintain guns with absolutely no ill intentions towards others heatedly contest this line of thought.

Ranchers and farmers must have firearms in order to protect property and livestock from wildlife. Even in southwestern Ohio, for example, the wild coyote has become an ever-increasing problem to cattle farms and other livestock producers. While fences, traps and dogs have been used to curb the problem, often a rifle seems to offer the only permanent solution.

At some point, lawmakers need to understand that pulling the trigger is the choice and sole responsibility of the shooter.

At some point, lawmakers need to understand that pulling the trigger is the choice and sole responsibility of the shooter.

But, if one subscribes to the concept that guns are only intended for killing of people, then, logically, culpability rests solely with those who build and sell weapons. Since, by this definition, the products are meant for killing there is no “misuse” of the firearm if it is used to murder.

Conversely, if an axe were used to kill someone, the manufacturer wouldn’t be held criminally liable because the product was not intended for that purpose. Once again, however, why is no one looking at the guy on the trigger (or handle, if the axe is still in play here)?

Once upon a time in America, responsibility for ones actions was the basis for many a legal precedent. Today, the United States has adopted a social climate rich with the idea the personal responsibility is politically incorrect.

At what point did Americans stop blaming the person who pulled the trigger and begin assigning responsibility, not to the perpetrator, but to the manufacturer or seller of the weapon used to commit the crime?

And the next question is, where does self-defense come into play? Who is responsible if someone threatens a law-abiding citizen with an illegally obtained gun and the victim protects herself with a legally purchased and licensed concealed pistol? Good question. It would clearly depend on the facts of the situation.

Making guns entirely illegal is not the answer either. Arguing that swords and battle-axes are illegal so no one uses them to commit crimes because of that fact is, well, stupid; apples to oranges. This kind of weapon simply doesn’t do enough damage for those with mayhem in mind.

Facing facts, the bad guys will always have guns because, quite simply, they don’t obey the law (that’s what makes them bad guys). So if the only people who can own and use a gun – for any purpose at all – are criminals, what are people supposed to do to protect their families and property?

When an act of self-defense has taken place, it should be up to the investigating police officials and, perhaps, eventually a jury to evaluate the culpability and intent where any weapon is concerned. Once again, the discussion has to circle back around to personal responsibility.

Better background check data, waiting periods for purchase and greater restrictions on gun show sales are good options for the short term. They maintain second amendment rights while providing increased safety and also address the question of personal responsibility. Applying some common sense while protecting the rights and security of Americans might just save some lives.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is syndicated by GLD Enterprises Communications Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com.