Reset America – Not Bad, But Necessary

Posted by Mack W. Borgen June 29th, 2020

 

Blog No 118 
June 30, 2020

 It’s Time to Reset America

READING TIME: Just 5 Minutes
By Mack W. Borgen
Recipient of Eight National Book Awards.  For a “cleaner” / non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at https://www.mackwborgen.com/

It is time for America to reset itself.

In many ways, this is not bad, but it is necessary. Upon even passing reflection, such a “reset” can be viewed as an almost inevitable course of correction. And if the word “correction” is too burdened by an implication of error, wrongdoing, or blame, then just use the even more neutral phrase “course of change.”

Our country has been going through a rough time, and nothing in this short article is intended to diminish the many serious crises facing our country or the many Americans who have lost their lives or livelihood over the last months. We all know about, and in varying degrees share, the reality that our country has been enduring a pandemic for nearly five months; and that we suffer from fierce partisan tribalism and racial tensions – again and still.

However, as we try to discuss these subjects which have dominated our Internet, headlines, and Twitter feeds, hundreds of other pressing issues too quickly become a part of our “ya-but” conversations. And it is impossible to simultaneously debate income and wealth inequality, the breakdown of our Congressional bodies, the politicization of our Cabinet Departments and the Supreme Court, gerrymandering, public education, women’s rights and the MeToo movement, civil rights and the Black Lives Matter movement, poverty, immigration, cybersecurity, health care, term limits, and on and on.

Thus, in a certain respect, the first step is to start regaining our national composure. In that process, we also need to give ourselves a slight break.

Rather than thinking of our nation’s problems as a tiring and unending list, we must recognize that America doesn’t need fixes. It needs a full reset. And this is not unusual. The need for a reset is not a reason for panic. Everyone who has ever played a sport has heard their coach scream at halftime for a team reset. No time to lose control. No need to lose confidence. No place for anger. Just settle down. And go win.

And heaven knows, America, at the age of 231 years, is well past its halftime. There are a lot of different measuring dates, but the Soviet’s try at communism only lasted 72 years. The whole British Empire — with all of its ships and its “sun-never-sets-on” chants — only lasted about 450 years. Even up against the duration of the Roman Empire, America does well. We have been working, expanding, and in many respects improving our nation for almost two and a half centuries. Yes, America, 231 years is a long time. Democracy is wonderful. Capitalism can work. But we have problems, and it is time for a reset.

In a word of caution, this short article can be easily misunderstood. This article is not meant to be a piece of cheerleading. It is meant to present a sobering challenge. It is not meant to suggest that everything will be o.k. It is meant to suggest that we can no longer approach things sequentially. Because there is too much to do. Because enough is enough. Because the time is now.

Thus, we would do better if we view it for what it is – an American reset. We are at some kind of societal half-time. And that is o.k.

It has been 100 years since women got the right to vote. But we must do more and better.

It has been 67 years since Brown vs Board of Education and nearly 55 years since Representative John Lewis, after crossing the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, asked a State Trooper “if not us, then who? If not now, then when?” 

It has been almost a half century since 1968, the last big year of anger and protests – the Tet offensive, the assassinations of Martin and Bobby, and the riots in Chicago (and many other cities).

It has been 40 years since we heard the calming voice of Walter Cronkite give his last news broadcast.

And, possibly most importantly, it has been about a quarter century since technology changed the manner and, for better or worse, the ease of our communications — splintering forever the sources of our news and information. It is no coincidence that both Fox News and MSNBC began the same year – 1996, about 25 years ago.

But regardless, it’s halftime. We have to settle down. Take a breath. The halftime analogy of this short article can definitely spin way out of control, but — in closing – I’d suggest that we are one country, one community, one team. It is up to our leaders to encourage rather than to divide. But it is up to us to demand that they do so. It is up to us to have the confidence to win.

Closing Note: For an interesting, albeit slightly dated, approach to this subject of “reset,” see Professor Larry Sabato’s 1977 book A More Perfect Constitution – 25 Proposals to Revitalize Our Constitution and Make America a Fairer Country. It has been years since I corresponded with Professor Sabato, but I remember he and his book to be brilliant. It remains relevant. 

INVITATION

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– – –

New Blog Feature – The Fancypants Word of the Day

Fugacious (Adjective; Origin: Latin) 1) Tending to disappear; 2) Fleeting.

Examples of uses in sentences:

“Of late, the American Dream is itself fugacious.”

“Cookies are fugacious in my house.”

If you like what you’re reading, … Order Copies of My Books Now

Recipient of Eight National Book Awards

Best Nonfiction Book of the Year in Three Separate Categories

— U.S. History, Current Events, and Reference —  

mackwborgen.com

Best prices. Fast shipping. Just go to http://mackwborgen.com/shop/ . All books will be signed by the author and will be shipped within five business days. My books are, of course, also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. and at select independent bookstores.

All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical without the prior written permission of the author.

 

Lessons of the Covid-19 Pandemic and Best Song Lyrics of Modern America – Part 15

Posted by Mack W. Borgen June 15th, 2020

Blog No 117 
June 16, 2020

Dedication

As of the time of this writing, 117,464 Americans have died from Covid-19 – a pace of about three 9/11 tragedies every week. In honor and memory of these Americans – and the many other people around the world who have died — we have, in this instance, a responsibility to learn how to better contain the next pandemic. We can. And we will. This blog is also dedicated to the thousands of doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals and to all of the first responders who have assisted all of our communities during these last tough  months.

Covid-19

Initial Lessons 1 and 2 

Covid-19 Lesson 1. There will be more pandemics. Covid-19 will not be the last pandemic. Although the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-1920 and the current Covid-19 pandemic are in a dubious league of their own, they are not alone. They are, in certain respects, barely unique. In the last 100 years, there have been at least nine other worldwide pandemics  — Asian flu (1957-1958), Cholera (1961-1975), Hong Kong flu (1968-1970), SARS (2002-2004), Mumps (2009), Swine flu (2009-2010), MERS (2012-Present), Ebola (2013-2016), and Zika (2015-2016). And therefore, the first reminding lesson of Covid-19 should be that there will be more pandemics. In our geo-mobile, “smaller” world, there will be even more pandemics. For that reason alone, our first lesson from Covid-19 should be that we must study, memorialize, and put into use methodologies necessary to better contain future pandemics. We cannot merely survive and then forget.

Covid-19 Lesson 2. Importance of Clarity and Facts. One of the widely-shared perceptions of many Americans over the last months is that clarity and facts relating to the Covid-19 pandemic have been very difficult to find. There have been endless press briefings, hundreds of articles, and thousands of rumors and opinions. But whether due to honest confusion, poor presentation, or cynical deception, it is widely believed that facts have too often been either poorly presented or intentionally withheld. Facts have been buried in stories and, innocently or otherwise, poorly presented by our leaders. Facts themselves have a wide array of traits. Many facts are disappointing, discouraging, inconvenient, and downright unwelcomed. But they must still be disclosed with precision, clarity and accessibility to the American people. Just like during times of war, the facts cannot be muddled in their presentation. Americans should not have to rely upon the trickle of selected news from press briefings and from political speeches and tweets. As hard as it may be to accept, the American people can accept even bad facts better than we can live with confusion and rumors. And thus, once again, the second Covid-19 lesson is that facts must not be allowed to be filtered by politics or twisted by the commentary of our news media. Ideally, it is the recommendation of this author that governmentally-released facts must be regularly assembled and should be presented by a single-source, single-voice, independent agency.

 Additional Covid-19 Lessons. In my forthcoming blogs, I will try to identify other lessons which might be drawn from the recent months of Covid-19. 

ANNOUNCEMENT AND INVITATION

ADD ME ON INSTAGRAM AT MACKWBORGEN.

But before we return to identifying the lessons from Covid-19 or continuing with my series of ideas about “Fixing America,” possibly we can take a brief respite and enjoy some of the Best Songs of Modern America. 

The Best Song Lyrics of Modern America- Part 15

– The Poetry of Our Time –

READING TIME: Just 6 Minutes
By Mack W. Borgen
Recipient of Eight National Book Awards.  For a “cleaner” / non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at https://www.mackwborgen.com/

 

Introduction

Song lyrics are the real poetry of Modern America. The lyrics of our favorite songs roll around in our heads for decades. Almost unconsciously, every day we honor the words of America’s songwriters who said something in that perfect, poetic, or clever way.

Here is Part 14 of my assembled list — done over the last ten years in conjunction with my research for my last series of books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America.  For an explanation about the background of this Best Lyrics project, see below. To order copies of my books, just go to http://mackwborgen.com/shop/ .

Enjoy.

Some of the Best Short-Lines Ever 

Since You’ve Been Gone (1968) (Aretha Franklin) (B: 1942, Memphis, TN – D: 2018, Detroit, MI).

            “There’s something that I just got to say …

            You left me hurtin’ in a real cold way….” 

Summertime Blues (1968) (Blue Cheer) (Group) (Years Active: 1966-2009).

            “Sometimes I wonder what I’m a-gonna do

            Lord, there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.” 

The Seventies

 Undercover Angel (1977) (Alan O’Day) (B: 1940, Hollywood, CA – D: 2013, Westwood, CA).

            “Cryin’ on the pillow

            Lonely in my bed

            Then I heard a voice beside me

            And she softly said

            ‘Thunder is your night light

            ‘Magic is your dream’

            And as I held her

          She said, ‘See what I mean?’” 

Life’s Been Good (1978) (Joe Walsh) (B: 1947, Wichita, KS).

            “I have a mansion, forget the price

            Ain’t never been there, they tell me it’s nice.

            I live in hotels, tear out the walls,

            I have accountants pay for it all.

            …

            My Maserati does one-eighty-five,

           I lost my license, now I don’t drive.

            …

            I go to parties, sometimes until four

            It’s hard to leave when you can’t find the door.”

Country Western

 Close Enough to Perfect (Alabama) (Group) (Years Active: 1969-2004, 2006-2007, 2010-Present).

            “Right or wrong, she’s there beside me

            Like only a friend would be

            And that’s close enough to perfect for me.

            ….

            Don’t worry about my woman

            Or what you think she ought to be

            She’s close enough to perfect for me.” 

I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool (Barbara Mandrell) (B: 1948, Houston, TX).

            “I took a lot of kiddin’; cause I never did fit in

            Now look at everybody tryin’ to be what I was then

            I was country when country wasn’t cool.” 

Explanation and Background of These

“The Best Lyrics of Modern America” Blogs

As noted above, song lyrics are the real poetry of Modern America, and about nine years ago, in 2010, when I started my research for my books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America, I spent much of the initial year assembling, sorting, and selecting those “memorable” song lyrics to be included in my books.

However, I eventually decided that it was necessary to exclude song lyrics from my books. This was done partly in deference to the needs of book brevity and in bowing recognition to the unavoidable subjectivity of making such selections. But it was also done because most songs are almost definitionally “intra-generational” in that they remain the separate and proud province of each generation. They are a part of each generation’s formative and collective memory – but not beyond that.

Nevertheless, as a result of that year of research, I assembled a relatively massive collection of what may be, by some measures of broad consensus, the greatest song lyrics of Modern America.

I have decided to start presenting them here for your remembrance and enjoyment. I confess that this is partly triggered by the fact that I have already done the fun, but painstaking, work of such assemblage. However, these lyrics blogs are also triggered by the fact that America needs – maybe now more than ever — to reach back and enjoy something or, as best said in 1967 by the Beatles in their song A Day in the Life” — “I read the news today, oh boy.”

Thus, starting on October 9, 2018 with Blog No. 83, I have started posting some excerpts of this author’s humble suggestions of The Best Lyrics of Modern America.

– – –

New Blog Feature – The Fancypants Word of the Day

Gelastic (Adjective; Origin: Greek) 1) Laughter provoking; 2) Relating to as specific kind of epileptic seizure.

Examples of uses in sentences:

“The stand-up comedian’s performance was so gelastic he could barely catch his breath between laughs.”

“His service dog was trained to protect him during a gelastic seizure.”

Get Copies of My Books

Now Recipient of Eight National Book Awards

Best Nonfiction Book of the Year in Three Separate Categories! 

— U.S. History, Current Events, and Reference —  

Best prices. Fast shipping. Just go to http://mackwborgen.com/shop/ . All books will be signed by the author and will be shipped within five business days. My books are, of course, also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. and at select independent book stores.

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All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical without the prior written permission of the author.

I’m Back – Knocked Down, But Not Out – Hard Data – Spanish Flu vs Covid-19

Posted by Mack W. Borgen June 10th, 2020

Blog No. 116
June 10, 2020

 Knocked Down, But Not Out 

Reading Time: 7 Minutes

By Mack W. Borgen, Recipient of Eight National Book Awards.

For a “cleaner” / non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at https://www.mackwborgen.com/

Introduction 

The last months have been difficult, challenging, and literally scary for Americans. At this time, more than 110,000 Americans have died. There is no way this, or any other author, can duly honor these Americans. My deepest sympathy extends to all of their family, friends and loved ones. 

Everyone has reacted to the Covid-19 pandemic in their own way. Everyone has protected themselves and their loved ones as best they could. We will have to continue doing so until this damned Covid-19 becomes a distant memory.

And this author, maybe like you, has been knocked down — but not knocked out. And it is time for me, too, to regain my energy and voice; to get going once again.

Since 2012, I have been writing blogs on this website. Over those eight years, I written over 115 blogs about many different subjects.

Starting in October, 2019, I have been focusing upon the presentation of many varied ideas for “Fixing America.” That which has recently hit our country – the Covid, the acrimonious politics, and the civil unrest in our streets  — reminds us that there is much left to be done.

But we also joy, reflection, memory, and even smiling levity in our lives. Thus, my blogs about the “Best Song Lyrics of Modern America” have been interspersed with my “Fixing America” blogs.

For more levity for my readers, I have also been presenting in each blog “Fancypants Words” – words that are real, but not well known. Since early March of this year, more than 37% of all conversations in America have begun with the F*bomb. O.K., I made that up. But still, we do need new words in our language, and the Fancypants words can be used for fun every now and then — to impress your family, your neighbor, or your cat. 

AND SO I AM BACK. Humbled again.  But I am back.

It is time to get going again.

 My blogs will start again next week. Please keep an eye out. Forward them on to your friends or send me their email addresses so that they may automatically receive an email copy of them. My mailing list is never circulated or sold to third parties, and your and your friends’ comments about any of my blogs are always welcomed by me.

 The Spanish Flu and Covid-19: Compared

                 It seems that facts have been very hard to come by over the last months. Too often, they have become lost in the confusion, panic, and politics of this pandemic.

                 So, if I may, in this first, come-back blog, I thought it might be useful to present a few facts about the 1917-1920 Spanish flu epidemic. It hit our country  — and the rest of the world — about 100 years ago. At that time as well, starting in San Francisco, people were warned to wear masks. Quarantine signs were nailed on people’s homes in Salt Lake City. The epidemic swept over the world in three separate waves over the years from April, 1917 to April, 1920.

                 But encouragingly, America is much more powerful now – in the good sense of that word. Our medical and health services resources are immensely better. Our understanding of these types of viruses and the skills of our scientists and medical professionals have been logarithmically enhanced. From 100 years ago, the tools for research and communications have expanded with, literally since the 1920s, the phone, computers, the Internet, and a thousands other speed-enhancing tools.      

                 But, still, these following facts may help us understand the scope of this Covid-19 pandemic.

 U.S. Population

                Year:                                                                  1920                                                                  2020

                Population                                                  106,500,000                                               331,000,000

                1% of Population Equals:                          1,065,000                                                      3,310,000 

US Deaths – Spanish Flu vs Covid-19:                                                                                                                                    

                Spanish Flu:

                            Number of Deaths:                  511,200-862,000

                           Percent of Population:                0.48%-0.81*

                Covid-19 (As of June 10, 2020)

                            Number of Deaths (To Date):        110,000

                            Percent of Population:                        0.034%

Summary: The Spanish flu (which especially affected the very young and very old) killed at least about five times more Americans than Covid-19 and about 15 times more per 1,000 Americans than Covid-19 — or at least based upon the Covid-19 data currently available.

On the other hand, Covid-19 has already more Americans that were killed in the Vietnam, Korean, Iraq, and Afghanistan Wars combined.  

Frame of Reference Data:

                War                                                             U.S. Deaths

                Civil War                                                       655,000

                World War II                                                405,000

                Covid-19                                                        110,000

                Vietnam                                                          58,000

                Korea                                                               37,000

                Iraq                                                                    4,500

                Afghanistan                                                     2,200         

                 Now, as painful as this type of information is to think about, I will – over the next months — try to do my small, small part in turning our collective energies and focus back to things more encouraging. Even in our Covid isolations, our time can be used to think, plan, analyze, solve, reminisce, enjoy, and even dream. As I mention in my books — and as we are reminded by the protests in our streets — both the good and the bad news is that “the place to begin is everywhere.”        

My Books

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My books are also available on Amazon etc., but your ordering direct from my publisher is greatly appreciated — and lowest prices. 
A percentage of my receipts are donated each year to selected charities. 

Books authored by Mack Borgen

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Get Your Mind off Coronavirus – The Best Songs Lyrics of Modern America – PART 13

Posted by Mack W. Borgen March 9th, 2020

Blog No 115
March 10, 2020 

The Best Song Lyrics of Modern America- Part 13

– The Poetry of Our Time –

READING TIME: 6 Minutes
By Mack W. Borgen
Recipient of Eight National Book Awards.  For a “cleaner” / non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at https://www.mackwborgen.com/
MY BLOGS MAILING LIST HAS BEEN GROWING FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS NOW. IF YOU WANT TO ADD YOUR FRIENDS AND ASSOCIATES, PLEASE DO SO.  IT’S FREE.   
JUST SEND ME (at mwborgen@live.com) THEIR EMAIL ADDRESSES, AND I WILL ADD THEM  — NO NAMES OR CONTACT INFORMATION IS EVERY SOLD OR SHARED WITH ANY OTHER PARTIES — BUT THE FREE BLOGS ARE FUN!  
EASY. INFORMATIVE. FUN.   
guitar player

 Introduction

Song lyrics are the real poetry of Modern America. The lyrics of our favorite songs roll around in our heads for decades. Almost unconsciously, every day we honor the words of America’s songwriters who said something in that perfect, poetic, or clever way.
Here is Part 13 of my assembled list — done over the last ten years in conjunction with my research for my last series of books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America. For an explanation about the background of this Best Lyrics project, see below.
And, maybe, get your mind off the coronavirus; off the stock market. Just order a set of my books — fast, easy, fun, informative, and appreciated.
Delivered to you in five days — just go to http://mackwborgen.com/shop/ .

But, now, … The Best Lyrics of Modern America – Part 13

– From 1957 through 2015 –

 This Week – Some of the Best-Said, Short Lines Ever

I Fought the Law and the Law Won (1966) (Bobby Fuller Four) (Group) (Years Active 1962-1966) (The group, originally from El Paso, TX., disbanded in 1966 after Bobby Fuller died under mysterious circumstances in Hollywood, CA).

Breaking rocks in the hot sun,

        I fought the law and the law won.” 

Dream On (1976) (Aerosmith) (Group) (Years Active 1970 – Present). 

        “Dream until your dream comes true.” 

The Nineties 

The Great Song of Indifference (1995) (Bob Geldof  (previously a member of The Boomtown Rats) (Group) (Years Active 1975-1986, 2013-Present) (Bob Geldof – B: 1951, Dublin, Ireland). Curiously, it was Geldof, an anti-poverty activist,  who was one of the primary forces behind the extraordinary Band-Aid (1984) and the Live-Aid (1985) concerts which raised money to help alleviate the famine in Northern Africa.

         “I don’t care if you live or die

        Couldn’t care less if you laugh or cry …

        I don’t mind if culture crumbles

        I don’t mind if religion stumbles

        I can‘t hear the speakers mumble.”

        …

        “I don’t care if the Third World fries

        It’s hotter there I’m not surprised

        Baby, I can watch whole nations die

        And I don’t care at all.” 

The 2010s 

American Dreamz (2018) (Tom MacDonald) (B: 1998, Canada). (Note: This is a newer song and slightly after my 1957-2015 definition of Modern America. It is here included because MacDonald is one of a group of increasingly popular and possibly noteworthy, “politically-incorrect” rappers. As evidenced by this song, some rap is no longer about just sex, drugs, and attitude.)

        “A gun don’t make you a soldier with a purple heart

        A gun cannot protect us if we don’t know where our morals are

        Students fill the classes and the graves

        And you claim it’s a conspiracy to take your guns away

        All the while the families torn apart and trying to ask

        Why their son deserved to die at his desk in the class. …”

        – – – 

        “We don’t want no politician making money offs bullet holes

        They’re digging ours graves, the home of the brave, has gone up in flames….”

Country Western 

Forty Hour Week (1985) (Alabama) (Group) (Years Active 1969-2004; 2006-2007; and 2010-Present).

         “There are people in this country who work hard every day

         … But the fruits of their labor are worth more than their pay.”

         – – – 

         “Hello Detroit auto workers, let me thank you for your time

        You work a forty hour week for a livin’, just to send it down the line.

        Hello Pittsburgh steel mill workers, let me thank you for your time

        You work a forty hour week for a livin’, just to send it down the line.” 

Explanation and Background of These

“The Best Lyrics of Modern America” Blogs

As noted above, song lyrics are the real poetry of Modern America, and about ten years ago, in 2010, when I started my research for my books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America, I spent much of the initial year assembling, sorting, and selecting those “memorable” song lyrics to be included in my books.

However, I eventually decided that it was necessary to exclude song lyrics from my books. This was done partly in deference to the needs of book brevity and in bowing recognition to the unavoidable subjectivity of making such selections. But it was also done because most songs are almost definitionally “intra-generational” in that they remain the separate and proud province of each generation. They are a part of each generation’s formative and collective memory – but not beyond that.

Nevertheless, as a result of that year of research, I assembled a relatively massive collection of what may be, by some measures of broad consensus, the greatest song lyrics of Modern America.

I have decided to start presenting them here for your remembrance and enjoyment. I confess that this is partly triggered by the fact that I have already done the fun, but painstaking, work of such assemblage. However, these lyrics blogs are also triggered by the fact that America needs – maybe now more than ever — to reach back and enjoy something or, as best said in 1967 by the Beatles in their song A Day in the Life” — “I read the news today, oh boy.”

Thus, starting on October 9, 2018 with Blog No. 83, I have started posting some excerpts of this author’s humble suggestions of The Best Lyrics of Modern America.

New Blog Feature – The Fancypants Word of the Day 

Lugubrious (Adjective; Origin: Latin)      1) Sad or gloomy; 2) Exaggeratedly mournful.

Example 1: “The loss of his friend cast a lugubrious shadow over the gathering.”

Example 2: “His lugubrious attitude seemed more about getting attention than mourning any loss.”

The Gen Z* Slang Word or Phrase of the Day

Introduction: Communicating with younger generations is oftentimes difficult enough – especially since their conversations are dominated by memes, ever-changing social media platforms, and 280-character tweets. Nevertheless, our ability to “talk” with one another is important – and even if not important, it is at least useful. These short slang definitions might help.

Cap / No Cap. To “cap” is to lie about something, whereas “no cap” means to tell the truth.

Example 1: “What you just said is cap, there’s no truth in that whatsoever.”

Example 2: No cap! It was the best game I’ve ever seen.:”

Source: The New York Times.

* Definitions of Generations: Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Gen X (1965-1980), Millennials (1981-1996), and Gen Z (1997- ).

It’s Time.

Get Copies of My Books

Now Recipient of Eight National Book Awards

Best Nonfiction Book of the Year in Three Separate Categories! 

— U.S. History, Current Events, and Reference —  

Best prices. Fast shipping. Just go to http://mackwborgen.com/shop/ . All books are shipped within five business days. My books are also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. and at select independent bookstores. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical without the prior written permission of the author.

You’re Invited – Mack Borgen on Dr. Elizabeth Stewart’s Radio Show TODAY

Posted by Mack W. Borgen February 27th, 2020

PRESS RELEASE 2020-13

Schmitt & Brody Publishers, Santa Barbara, California

Dear friends,

You are invited to join us.

Listen in as author Mack W. Borgen returns TODAY to Dr. Elizabeth Stewart’s wonderful radio show – KZSB 1290AM at 10:00.A

Another radio segment about one of his latest series of blogs entitled “The Best Song Lyrics of Modern America.”

In light of the coronavirus pandemic concerning so many Americans,

Mack will look back at history and discuss one of the fascinating uses of music in the context of a prior crisis in Modern America.

Join us —  KZSB 1290AM at 10:00AM

Mack Borgen's Book Series

www.mackwborgen.com

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Fixing America – Overcriminalization in U.S. – Plus Fancypants Word and Gen Z Slang

Posted by Mack W. Borgen February 24th, 2020

 

Blog No. 114
February 25, 2020 

Fixing America – Idea 15 

Reading Time: 10 Minutes
By Mack W. Borgen, Recipient of Eight National Book Awards. For a “cleaner” / non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at https://www.mackwborgen.com/

Introduction 

This is the sixth article in my Fixing America series.  In this series, I present ideas which might help us resolve some of our differences and advance some of our common goals. 
Some of the ideas are my own. Some of them, I have come across in the course of my research over these last now 12 years for my last two series of books – The Relevance of Reason (Vols I and II) (2013-2014) and Dead Serious and Lighthearted (Vols I, II, and III) (2018-2019). A few of them are older, even well-known, ideas which I believe deserve reconsideration. A few of them incorporate the welcomed and attributed ideas of friends and associates.
These ideas cover a wide range of subjects. The ideas are presented without lengthy comment, but I believe that you, like me, may conclude that many of the ideas already percolating out there in our America – like the title of my initial blog in this series “are good … and some are brilliant.”  Enjoy.

Idea No. 15

Streamline the Federal and State Penal Codes

and

Start Fixing the Overcriminalization of American Society

Mack Borgen's Book Series

Background:  America is a complicated place – 330,000,000 people; 32,500,000 businesses (including 3,600 U.S. domestic public companies and 230,000 businesses with more than 100 employees); 19,495 cities (including 310 with populations over 100,000); 3,071 counties and parishes; a federal government with more than 4,000,000 employees scattered amidst countless departments, agencies, and regulatory bodies; 85,434 pages of the Federal Register; 532 members of Congress; and 50 state governors, legislatures, departments and agencies. And on and on.

Many, indeed most, governmental bodies feel a relentless need to justify their existence by overseeing and regulating matters within their jurisdiction and through the passage of an ever-increasing number of laws, rules, regulations, executive orders, and directives. The elected bodies, such as U.S. Congress and state legislatures, seem to feel a political need to justify their existence and to “do something” since in the eyes of many politicians and as repeated in endless campaign ads, there is supposedly nothing worse, for example, than a “do-nothing” Congress.

(Author’s Note: For purposes of simplicity, this article primarily focuses only upon federal government and its departments and agencies. However, the issues discussed in this article arise at the state and local levels of government as well.)

With every session of Congress, more legislation, bills, and resolutions are introduced and passed. Every year more regulations are promulgated, and more and more of these laws and regulations carry the threat of criminal sanctions.

Many Americans, including this author – but for a different reason which will be discussed below, believe that we have passed into an era of what is commonly referred to as” overcriminalization.”

A couple of hundred years ago, the original federal code only had about 30 crimes. Now there are more than 4,450 crimes. They are scattered throughout the multiple U.S. codes. In addition, there are now more than 300,000 federal regulations which contain potential criminal penalties.

Even if one is willing to agree that most of these laws and regulations were adopted for good reasons and after serious consideration, the number and nature of these statutorily or regulatorily designated “crimes” are now out of control.

Worse yet, some of them are absurd. Some of them balance awkwardly between the humorous and the pathetic.

For example, it is a “crime” to allow one’s pet to make a noise in a national park if such noise would scare a wild animal. Really? It is a “crime” if one does not affix a federally mandated sticker on an otherwise lawful UPS package.[1] Really? Even as I was writing this article, a far less humorous, but far more commonplace, example of overcriminalization was noted in The Week magazine. The article described the large undercover sting operation implemented to “save you” from unlicensed plumbers and tile-layers.[2] Posing as homeowners, undercover police officers solicited and then arrested 118 handymen who agreed to perform services for which they did not have a license. Some regulatory supervision and licensing of construction-related businesses is appropriate, but for the police to divert their resources in this manner and for 118 men to be arrested and booked evidences that, once again, things have gone too far. Each of these handymen now faces a 12-month jail term. Repeat offenders can be charged with a felony. And, yes, of course, this occurred in Florida – but that is another story.

But these are just examples. For decades, some commentators have noted that America is in an “era of overcriminalization.”

Roughly defined, overcriminalization is “the overuse and abuse of criminal laws to address every societal problem and to punish every mistake.” Thus, overcriminalization, a broad and encompassing term, refers to the use of criminal law – as opposed to civil law or administrative, licensing, or regulatory laws and sanctions – to punish behavior that historically would not have been viewed as criminal behavior. And the list of new “crimes” keeps stacking up. Since 2000, the U.S. Congress has itself “created an average of 56 new crimes annually (and) … over 300,000 regulations … (now) carry criminal penalties.[3]

Overcriminalization can occur in many ways. It can present itself in many forms. The following are examples and manifestations of overcriminalization:

1 – Ambiguous criminalization of conduct without meaningful definition or limitation.

2 – Enactment of criminal statutes which do not incorporate meaningful mens rea, of wrongful intent, requirements.

3 – Expansion of criminal law into economic activity that has been traditionally (and oftentimes more efficiently) been regulated by civil laws and civil enforcement.

4 – Creation of mandatory minimum sentences which are unrelated to the severity of the “crime” or the harm caused by the underlying “crime.”

5 – Federalizing crimes traditionally reserved for state jurisdictions.

6 – Duplicative, confusing, and overlapping statutes.

7 – Dangerously enhanced prosecutorial discretion and overcharging which, in turn, contributes to the seeming politicization of the Justice Department (and arguably other federal regulatory agencies and bodies). More philosophically, the undue, drip-by-drip proliferation of criminal statutes shifts our society from one based upon “the rule of law” to one based upon “the rule of prosecutors.”[4]

Regardless of its form, overcriminalization also generates adverse, secondary consequences. It contributes to the backlogging of our judiciary. Resulting convictions and incarcerations cause an overflow our prisons. It can lead innocent individuals to “sometimes plead guilty because the exercising of their constitutional right to a trial is prohibitively expensive and is oftentimes … seen by such individuals or corporations as too much of a risk.”[5]

Possibly the most (or for our cynical readers, the least) surprising aspect of this problem, is that even though America has been in an “era of overcriminalization” for years, little has been done to contain this problem. Streams of articles have been published over the last two decades, but little has been done. In 2013, Congress established the Overcriminalization Task Force. The Task Force held hearings on the subject, but little has really been done since its final hearing in July 2014 – almost six years ago now. In 2015, Congress adopted a rule change so that the House Judiciary Committee now at least has the power to review any bill which proposed or modifies a new or existing criminal law or penalty. However, this additional level of theoretical oversight has achieved very little.

The Complicating Factor of the Politicization of This Issue

And the Real Problem of Overcriminalization

In the opinion of this author, it is regrettable that this issue has long become – like so many other challenges facing this country – politicized. Overcriminalization is often seen as a “conservative” issue. It is advanced as a conservative cause. As one can see from the footnotes to this article, overcriminalization has been the subject of numerous policy papers and articles published by, for example, the right-leaning Charles Koch Institute and The Heritage Foundation. Nevertheless, for varying reasons, the issue of overcriminalization should not be a viewed as a “right” or “left” or “liberal” or “conservative” issue.

On this issue, this author agrees with many writers from the political right. Overcriminalization is a serious issue. However, my reasoning is based upon my perception of a much more severe, long-term consequence of overcriminalization.

Many conservative writers suggest, directly or indirectly, that prisons should somehow be reserved for people who are “a danger to the community.”[6] As I have written about in numerous contexts, there are some circumstances in which I strongly disagree. Too many criminal wrongdoings, including especially certain types of financial and consumer protection crimes, should not be dismissed as “white collar crimes.” Punishments should not be monetized by the mere payment of fines and penalties. To the contrary, even though such crimes rarely involve the use of firearms or any other direct threat of physical danger, they are not “victimless.” They are serious. Incarceration, not fines, should be the normal consequence of conviction. Speaking harshly, I, like many Americans, am tired of hearing about the convicted defendant’s “no-priors,” “philanthropic activities,” and his or her family and its “deep ties to the community.” Speaking bluntly and to use just one example, there are as lot of ways to steal. A stupid young man who robs a 7-11 for $100 with a gun should not serve time while a smart, older man who robs (or authorizes expressly or by willful blindness) $100.0MM with the assistance of his staff gets away by merely paying a fine.

But this sidetrack issue does not change the fact that this author agrees with my conservative friends. Overcriminalization is a serious problem.

However, I respectfully suggest that many writers addressing the subject of overcriminalization overlook another, even more serious, societal consequence of overcriminalization.

Because of overcriminalization, too many “crimes” are routinely overlooked. Too many “crimes” are not prosecuted. Over-burdened police, under-staffed investigative resources, and a shortage of prosecutors result in the dangerous societal message. The societal message, the overcriminalization consequence, is that some “crimes” can be committed without any real risk of arrest or prosecution. And this reality has a profound impact upon our society.

Just as we want our families and our schools to help teach our children the meaning of consequences, we must insist that society does its best to prosecute all criminal wrong-doing. Some room must remain for appropriate prosecutorial discretion, but — as a general rule — there must be consequences for bad actions.

There might not be an obvious reward for doing the right thing and playing by the rules. But there must be a punishment for doing the wrong thing; a punishment for breaking the law. Lawyers should not walk their clients to the proverbial line and “advise” them both of the meaning of the law and the remoteness of arrest and conviction. This must stop.  

Even two simple — and petty examples — can easily underscore that laws, if they exist, need to be enforced.

This author has no idea why there is a routinely posted sign prohibiting littering. But the “crime” is rarely enforced — and that unenforced criminal law sends a horrific message to our society.

Allow me another example. This author has no idea why there are California highway signs which indicate that there is a $491 fine (distracting curiosity — why not a round-figure fine like $490 or $495 or, hell, $499.99) for driving in the car-pool lane. But in this instance, it is an “infraction” as opposed to as misdemeanor or felony. Regardless, just like littering or vandalism or theft or bank robbery — if someone commits one of these crimes or “infractions,” a strong emphasis must be placed upon catching and arresting them. If someone litters or drives alone in the carpool lane, then stop them. Assess the fine. Impose the damage. Do not teach our citizens that they have an implied permission to ignore the law.

Tolerance can, in and of itself, be dangerous, and overcriminalization, in and of itself, has the unintended consequence of lessening enforcement. Literally, there are too many “crimes.” The police do not have the time to enforce the laws unless funds for more police resources are a component of each crime bill. Alternatively, if appropriate, move these matters from the criminal code to the civil code.

For these reasons, America’s era of overcriminalization must start to come to an end.

Idea.  Begin the slow, tedious process of eliminating or consolidating criminal statutes by implementing the following:

  1.  Analyze the current usage of and rates of charge and conviction of our country’s various criminal statutes.
  2. Consolidate all federal criminal laws into Title 18 of the U.S. Code rather than having them scattered throughout the various codes.
  3. Recognize the criminal defense of “mistake of law” whereby a person cannot be convicted of as crime if, using an objective reasonable person standard, no one would have thought that the charged conduct would be deemed a “crime.”
  4. Severely limit the right of federal agencies to create federal criminal offenses. The role of federal agencies could/should be limited to (a) adopting civil monetary penalty standards and/or (b) recommending to Congress the creation of a federal crime.
  5. Eliminate unjust, unnecessary, redundant, superfluous, or outdated criminal statutes.
  6. Because of the need for consistent review of both existing laws and new or proposed criminal provisions, create an independent advisory and reporting authority (sometimes referred to herein as the “Criminal Statute Evaluation Board”) to be used as a mandatory step in the legislative or regulatory process. As a condition of adopting any new criminal statute or regulation, have the Criminal Statute Evaluation Board analyze the projected, annual additional enforcement costs associated with such proposed statute or regulation.
    H.  Although a complicated and sensitive issue, have the Criminal Statute Evaluation Board consider recommendations regarding rectification approaches (e.g. commutation, pardons, and in extreme cases even restitution) for any individuals who may have been previously and wrongfully convicted of such overcriminalization offenses.
  7. Accept the fact that addressing the problem of overcriminalization is necessarily a slow, deliberative process. It is going to take years before the problems caused by our nation’s overcriminalization can be resolved.
  8. Have the Criminal Statute Evaluation Board track the number of arrests and convictions each year with respect to each criminal statute and highlight any criminal statute which, for whatever reason, is not being enforced and which may be a candidate for statutory removal.

Implementation. Because of the sanctity of our criminal processes and the importance of not inadvertently eliminating necessary criminal laws, the implementation of these recommendations is going to be tedious and difficult. In addition, because of the necessary retention of highly skilled and dedicated attorneys and staff, it will also be costly. However, addressing the problem of overcriminalization is important. Because of the size of our nation and the complexities of analyzing so many multiple statutes and convictions thereunder, these problems could not reasonably be addressed without the extensive use of computers and digitalized records. But America has such tools. The problem of overcriminalization can be addressed. It needs to be addressed. Now.

See Additional Previously-Presented Ideas

Idea 1 –  Consolidated Interstate Database for Reports of License Suspension or Revocation (Mack W. Borgen Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019). 
Idea 2 – Term Limits (Mack W. Borgen Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019).
Idea 3 – The Media – Report Corporate Settlements, Awards and Fines as Percentage of Annual Net Profits (Mack W. Borgen Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019). 
Idea 4 – Award of Attorneys’ Fees to Winning Party (Mack W. Borgen Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019).
Idea 5 – Inclusion of Positive Aspects of American Society as a Distinct Part of U.S. History School Curricula (Mack W. Borgen Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019). 
Idea 6 – Office of International Comparisons (Mack W. Borgen Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019). 
Idea 7 – The Need for Climate Scientists to Retain Professions for the Development of an Educational Campaign (Mack W. Borgen Blog No. 109, Nov. 26, 2019). 
Idea 8 – Redefining the Concept of “News” The Need for the Regular Infusion of Positive News (Mack W. Borgen Blog No. 109, Nov. 26, 2019). 
Idea 9 – The Necessity of Mandatory Public Service (Mack W. Borgen Blog No. 109, Nov 26, 2019). 
Idea 10 – Cap or Tie Congressional Pay Increases (Mack W. Borgen Blog No. 110, Dec 7, 2019). 
Idea 11 – Scrutinize (and Possibly Eliminate) the Congressional Health Care System (Mack W. Borgen Blog No. 110, Dec 7, 2019). 
Idea 12.  Eliminate the Congressional Retirement System (Mack W. Borgen Blog No. 110, Dec 7, 2019). 
Idea 13. Cease production and eliminate the use of the U.S. penny (Mack W. Borgen Blog No. 110, Dec 7, 2019).
Idea 14.  The Institutionalized Use of Military Units in the Event of Natural Disasters (Mack W. Borgen, Blog No. 113, Feb. 11, 2020)

The Fancypants Word of the Day

Perspicacious (Part of speech: Adjective; Origin: Latin, 17th Century) 1) Highly perceptive, keen. 2) Discerning, shrewd.

Examples of use in sentences: “The perspicacious 9-year-old easily picked up on my feelings without me even having to speak a word.”
“I take a perspicacious approach to my studies by analyzing every word written in the course textbooks.”
Source and thank to wordgenius.com and Shawna Borgen

The Gen Z* Slang Word or Phrase of the Day

Introduction: Communicating with younger generations is oftentimes difficult enough – especially since their conversations are dominated by memes, ever-changing social media platforms, and 280-word tweets. Nevertheless, our ability to “talk” with one another is important – and even if not important, it is at least useful. These short slang definitions might help.

Shade: The word” shade” can be used as itself to refer to a situation where someone illustrated sneaky actions or disparaging words toward something or someone. On the other end, the person who has done the sneaky action or spit the disparaging words has been deemed to “throw shade.”

Examples:  “She was out there throwing shade.” or “Buddy, how do you feel having all that shade thrown on you?
Source: Urban Dictionary.

Buy Some of My Books? 

Buy one or get a set of my books.  All books will be personally signed. Simple ordering and special prices at https://www.mackwborgen.com/shop/.
My books are also available on Amazon etc., but your ordering direct from my publisher is greatly appreciated — and lowest prices.  In addition, a percentage of my receipts are donated each year to selected charities. 
Your buying of my books is appreciated beyond words — and they make good gifts!
Please spread the word …

FOOTNOTES

[1]   Solution 2018 as published by The Heritage Foundation, a Washington, DC-based, self-identified conservative think tank, which was formed in 1973 and which has articled, promoted, and advanced conservative causes for the last five decades.
[2]   The Week, February 21, 2020, p.34.
[3]   “An Era of Overcriminalization,” Charles Koch Institute.
[4]   James Copeland, Manhattan Institute’s Center for Legal Policy.
[5] See generally, website and articles of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (the “NACDL”).
[6] An Era of Overcriminalization, Charles Koch Institute, quoting former federal prosecutor Sidney Powell.

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Fixing America – Idea 14 – The Use of Military Units in the Event of Natural Disasters

Posted by Mack W. Borgen February 10th, 2020

Blog No. 113
February 11, 2020 

Fixing America – Idea 14 

Reading Time: 7 Minutes
By Mack W. Borgen, Recipient of Eight National Book Awards. For a “cleaner” / non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at https://www.mackwborgen.com/  and click “Blog.”

Introduction

This is the fifth article in my “Fixing America” series of Blogs. In this series, I present ideas which might help in addressing some of  America’s challenges and problems.
Some of the ideas are my own. Some of them I have come across in the course of my research over these last now 12 years for my last two series of books – The Relevance of Reason (Vols I and II) (2013-2014) and Dead Serious and Lighthearted (Vols I, II, and III) (2018-2019). A few of them are older, even well-known ideas which I believe deserve reconsideration. A few of them incorporate the welcomed and attributed ideas of friends and associates.
These ideas cover a wide range of subjects. The ideas are presented without lengthy comment or recommendation, but I believe that you, like me, may conclude – like the title of my initial October 14, 2019 blog in this series – that many of the ideas already percolating out there in our America “are good … and some are brilliant.”  Enjoy.

Idea No. 14

The Institutionalized Use of Military Units

in the Event of Natural Disasters   

Excerpts from Dead Serious and Light-Hearted by Mack W. Borgen

Background:  Wars have changed. Except in the movies like 1917, the trench battles of World War I are over.  There is not going to be another D-Day; another Battle of Midway; another Iwo Jima or Guadalcanal; and hopefully never again another Hiroshima or Nagasaki.  Instead, 21st Century warfare is different. Traditional warfare has been replaced by the more unending battles against terrorism and the chaos of “unconventional” warfare. But to the extent that the lasting results of “war” are roughly defined the massive loss of lives and property, and to the extent the over-riding purpose of the U.S. military is to defend our peoples and our land, then in the 21st Century, the military must become much more engaged in the third type of “war” which will define this century – the losses of lives and property due to natural disasters.

          Natural Disasters. This article is not about the contentious debate about the existence or causes of climate change. Instead, it is “merely” about the growing number of national disasters which have occurred in the U.S. the last several decades.

               Hurricanes, Cyclones, and Floods. There are too many hurricanes and cyclones to even remember. They hit the headlines and pass through the news. But the number of dead and the monetary losses are staggering – Hurricane Isabell (2003) (East Coast) (51 dead – $5.5BB); Ivan (2004) (Texas and Florida) (54 dead – $13.0BB); Frances (2004) (Florida) (49 dead – $9.0BB), Katrina (2005) (Gulf States) (1,500 dead – $125.0BB); Rita (2005) (Louisiana) (1320 dead – $18.5BB); Ike (2008) (Texas and Louisiana) (112 dead – $30.0BB); Irene (2011) (Puerto Rico) (49 dead – $15.8BB); (Super Storm) Sandy (2012) (East Coast) (158 dead – $71.4BB); Mathew (2016) (Southeast) (47 dead – $10.0BB) Harvey (2017) (Texas and Louisiana) (106 dead – $125.0BB); Irma (2017) (Puerto Rico) (99 dead – $53.4BB); Maria (2017) (Puerto Rico) (2,982 dead – $90.0BB); Rita (Louisiana); Harvey (Texas and Louisiana), Michael (2018) (Southeast US) (59 dead – $25.0BB) in losses); Florence (2018) (Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) (54 dead – $24.2BB in losses), … and on and on. They are literally running out of hurricane names.

                Tornadoes. And though they do not give names to tornadoes, there have been more of them as well — such as the 2008, 2011, and 2012 outbreaks (360 tornadoes in the Midwest and South with 448 dead – More than $14.5BB in losses) and the especially tragic 2011 tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri (158 dead –  and $2.8BB in losses).

               Wildfires. One does not like to compare tragedies, but in certain respect wildfires may be even worse than hurricanes, cyclones, floods, and tornadoes. We can chit-chat all we want about forest practices, clear-cutting, the maintenance of electrical lines, and state vs federal forests, but the proverbial bottom-line is the same. In each of the last two decades for which there is solid US Forest Service data (1999-2008 and 2009-2018), the data is the same – about 108,000 square miles have burned. This equates to land the size of Wyoming (or for you Easterners, land equal to about 90 Rhode Islands!). This damage is about a 2.5 times (250%!) more than that of any prior decade. And the wildfires are everywhere throughout the West and especially California. Like our hurricanes and cyclones, there are too many to name — from the 2003 Biscuit Fire in Oregon to the 2018 Camp Fire (85 dead in Paradise, California); from the Tubbs, Woolsey, Atlas, and Thomas fires in California to the Yarnell Fire in Arizona. And, on it goes — just like the seasonal onslaught of hurricanes in the Gulf and Southeastern States and the tornadoes in the Midwest and South. Thousands of Americans dead and billions of dollars lost.

       The Growing and Lethal Constant in American 21st Century Life. Deadly, costly, and tragic natural disasters are now a constant of American life. Aggregating just those U.S. natural disasters in which more than 15 Americans have died, in the last 20 years there have been 6,756 casualties and total losses well in excess of $650,000,000,000. That is more than the 6,208 U.S. military casualties in both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars combined. That is about the same as the entire 2019 Department of Defense budget of $686.6BB. Foreign powers and armies must still be contained. Terrorism must be contained. America’s shores must still be protected. But natural disasters should be recognized for what they are — the new 21st Century enemy; the new 21st Century “war.”

       Inadequate Local, State, and Regional Resources. However, there is one more consideration. There is one more stubborn reality. As our nation’s population, urbanization, and development continues to grow, the containment and emergency response capabilities remain evermore beyond the inadequate and under-funded capacities of local, state, and regional resources. As commendable as they may be, safety precautions, enhanced building codes, improved emergency planning, and better environmental and forest practices are not enough. Neither Americans nor their insurance companies can any longer just lean back and “brace themselves for another next (fire)(hurricane)(tornado) season.”

       But there may be a (partial) solution.                                                                                                         

Idea.  As a matter of training and as an articulated mission, the U.S. Armed Forces must be authorized to immediately react and assist in the preservation of U.S. lives and property upon the occurrence of a natural disaster. There are nearly 1,400,000 active duty personnel (of which more than 80% are on active duty within the U.S.). There are another 845,000 military reserve personnel. Although of very different sizes, there are already military bases and facilities in all 50 states. And even though “natural disasters” have not historically been deemed “the enemy” from which the military serves to protect our country, this must change. The word must be broadened. Importantly, the mission of using the military for fast and routinized assistance in responding quickly to domestic natural disasters is wholly consistent with the military’s purpose of protecting America and Americans.

Furthermore, the military is already uniquely trained for this mission. As a veteran myself, I know that the military prides itself upon the training, physical conditioning, discipline, readiness, and mobility of its troops. These skills are exactly those which are necessary for responding to natural disasters. Thus, the military should be brought in both soon and automatically.

Neither the military nor the imperiled citizens should have to wait until the fires are out of control. The military should not await the sometimes dangerously belated declaration-of-emergency announcements of our political leaders or the mobilizing of national guard units. State and local officials should not have to compete and beg for the woefully under-funded and oftentimes over-whelmed resources of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. (“FEMA”). FEMA was honorably founded in 1979, but back then they could not foresee the scope of their task. And even now, FEMA’s measly $29.0BB budget remains a mere 4.2% of the DOD budget. FEMA’s 11,300 employees represent less than 1% the number of active duty military. Very bluntly, it is 2020 now. We know that neither localized first responders nor FEMA are enough to combat the 21st Century’s natural disasters — possibly the greatest known, indeed assured, threat to American lives and property. Thus and instead, military units should be used to immediately and routinely defend our country and its citizens against natural disasters. The military should not replace America’s first responders, but they should be institutionally used as our nation’s “second responders.” 

Implementation. The implementation of this idea would require thoughtful coordination. A carefully delineated chain of command and an allocation of response priorities would have to be agreed upon. However, in certain respects this added mission of the military may be far simpler than one would. First, because the speedy and talented provision of disaster abatement and relief by the military would be welcomed since there are, for example, only about 374,000 full-time firefighters in the U.S. Worse yet, many of our country’s small towns and many parts of rural America are served only by volunteer firefighters, and in the event of a natural disaster, these men and women are too widely dispersed and too inadequately trained. In addition, they oftentimes do not have the necessary resources and equipment. Thus, whether it be fires or hurricanes or cyclones or tornadoes or floods, the defined role of the military should be expanded. Our new form of “warfare” needs to be recognized for what it is. Our need for immediate and powerful responses needs to be recognized. The military needs to expand its concept of “shock and awe.” The military needs to be welcomed as it more directly and automatically assists in assuring the speedy preservation of American lives, homes, and property.

Source: Author Mack W. Borgen

List of Previously Presented Ideas 

Idea 1 –  Consolidated Interstate Database for Reports of License Suspension or Revocation (Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019). 

Idea 2 – Term Limits (Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019).

Idea 3 – The Media – Report Corporate Settlements, Awards and Fines as Percentage of Annual Net Profits (Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019). 

Idea 4 – Award of Attorneys’ Fess to Winning Party (Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019).

Idea 5 – Inclusion of Positive Aspects of American Society as a Distinct Part of U.S. History School Curricula (Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019). 

Idea 6 – Office of International Comparisons (Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019). 

Idea 7 – The Need for Climate Scientists to Retain Professions for the Development of an Educational Campaign (Blog No. 109, Nov. 26, 2019). 

Idea 8 – Redefining the Concept of “News” The Need for the Regular Infusion of Positive News (Blog No. 109, Nov. 26, 2019). 

Idea 9 – The Necessity of Mandatory Public Service (Blog No. 109, Nov 26, 2019). 

Idea 10 – Cap or Tie Congressional Pay Increases (Blog No. 110, Dec 7, 2019). 

Idea 11 – Scrutinize (and Possibly Eliminate) the Congressional Health Care System (Blog No. 110, Dec 7, 2019). 

Idea 12.  Eliminate the Congressional Retirement System (Blog No. 110, Dec 7, 2019). 

Idea 13. Cease production and eliminate the use of the U.S. penny (Blog No. 110, Dec 7, 2019).

The Fancypants Word of the Day

Flaneur (Part of speech: Noun; Origin: French, 19th Century)  1) One who rambles or travels aimlessly, 2) An idler or dawdler.
Examples of use in sentences: “People tolerated him for being a flaneur, but it was an exhausting tolerance.” “They left their itineraries open so that they could be flaneurs and do things on the fly.”
Source and thank to wordgenius.com and Shawna Borgen.

The Gen Z* Slang Word or Phrase of the Day

Introduction: Communicating with younger generations is oftentimes difficult enough – especially since their conversations are dominated by memes, ever-changing social media platforms, and 280-character tweets. Nevertheless, our ability to “talk” with one another is important – and even if not important, it is at least useful. These short slang definitions might help.
Flex. To “flex” (as a verb) is to knowingly flaunt or show off. As a noun, a “flex” is the thing being shown off.
Example 1: “He drove himself to school in a new car the day he got his license, but everyone knew he was just trying to flex.”
Example 2: “Big flex, I just got as job promotion last night.”
Source: The New York Times.
* Definitions of Generations: Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Gen X (1965-1980), Millennials (1981-1996), and Gen Z (1997- ).

More Relevant Than Ever!

Get a set of my books.  All books will be personally signed. Simple ordering and special prices — just go to mackwborgen.com and hit the “Shop” tab!!
My books are also available on Amazon etc., but your ordering direct from my publisher is greatly appreciated — and lowest prices. 
In addition, a percentage of my receipts are donated each year to selected charities. 
Your buying of my books is appreciated beyond words — and they make good gifts!
Please spread the word …

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Just 1 Song – The Best Song Lyrics of Modern America – Part 12

Posted by Mack W. Borgen January 20th, 2020

Blog No 112 

January 21, 2020 

The Best Song Lyrics of Modern America – Part 12

– The Poetry of Our Time –

READING TIME: Just 4 Minutes
By Mack W. Borgen
Recipient of Eight National Book Awards.  For a “cleaner” / non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at https://www.mackwborgen.com/

  

Introduction

Song lyrics are the real poetry of Modern America. The lyrics of our favorite songs roll around in our heads for decades. Almost unconsciously, every day we honor the words of America’s songwriters who said something in that perfect, poetic, or clever way.

Here is Part 12 of my assembled list — done over the last nine years in conjunction with my research for my last series of books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America.  For an explanation about the background of this Best Lyrics project, see below.

To order copies of my books, just go to http://mackwborgen.com/shop/ .

But, now, … The Best Lyrics of Modern America

– From 1957 through 2015 –

Enjoy. 

Normally, I select some of the great lyrics from each decade —

the Sixties, the Seventies, the Eighties, the Nineties, the 2000’s,  …

But this time.

Just One Song

– Because of Its Echoing Relevance –

The Sounds of Silence was written by Paul Simon when he was just 21 years old. He was still living at home. But in the shared parlance of all generations, he nailed it. The Sounds of Silence joined a number of folk rock songs which were released around the same time and became rock classics – such as Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone and The Times They Are A’Changin’, the Byrds’ Mr. Tambourine Man, and Barry McGuire’s The Eve of Destruction..

The meaning, history, Paul Simon’s writing of the song, and even its true title (The Sound of Silence vs The Sounds of Silence”) have been the subject of much debate and speculation. However, Art Garfunkel once offered that the song was merely about “the inability of people to communicate with each other.” And maybe that is partly why this song still resonates; still seems to be “new” and “relevant.”

Even six decades after this song was written, we Americans still seem to have an almost unique “inability to communicate with each other.” Possibly reading (and for some of us, remembering) these lyrics will help all of us find our way.

The Sounds of Silence

“Hello, darkness, my old friend

I’ve come to talk with you again ….”

. . .

“I turned my collar to the cold and damp

When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light

That split the night

And touched the sound of silence.  

And in the naked light I saw

Ten thousand people, maybe more

People talking without speaking

People hearing without listening ….”

“‘Fools,’ said I, ‘You do not know

Silence like a cancer grows ….”

“And the people bowed and prayed

To the neon god they made

And the sign flashed out its warning

In the words that it was forming

And the sign said, ‘The words of the prophets

Are written on the subway walls

And tenement halls’

And whispered in the sounds of silence.”

– – –

Author’s Post Script:

And so it is for us, as well.

Maybe it is time for us to speak up.

Our silence “like a cancer grows.” 

– – –

Explanation and Background of These

“The Best Lyrics of Modern America” Blogs

As noted above, song lyrics are the real poetry of Modern America, and about a decade ago, in 2010, when I started my research for my books, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America, I spent much of the initial year assembling, sorting, and selecting those “memorable” song lyrics to be included in my books.

However, I eventually decided that it was necessary to exclude song lyrics from my books. This was done partly in deference to the needs of book brevity and in bowing recognition to the unavoidable subjectivity of making such selections. But it was also done because most songs are almost definitionally “intra-generational” in that they remain the separate and proud province of each generation. They are a part of each generation’s formative and collective memory – but not beyond that.

Nevertheless, as a result of that year of research, I assembled a relatively massive collection of what may be, by some measures of broad consensus, the greatest song lyrics of Modern America.

I have decided to start presenting them here for your remembrance and enjoyment. I confess that this is partly triggered by the fact that I have already done the fun, but painstaking, work of such assemblage. However, these lyrics blogs are also triggered by the fact that America needs – maybe now more than ever — to reach back and enjoy something or, as best said in 1967 by the Beatles in their song A Day in the Life” — “I read the news today, oh boy.”

Thus, starting on October 9, 2018 with Blog No. 83, I have started posting some excerpts of this author’s humble suggestions of The Best Lyrics of Modern America.

– – –

New Blog Feature – The Fancypants Word of the Day

Vainglorious (Adjective; Origin: Latin) 1) Feeling excessive pride or self-importance; 2) Given to over-the-top demonstrations of boastful pride and vanity.

Examples of uses in sentences: “His coworkers didn’t think he deserved the promotion and were irritated by his vainglorious attitude.”

“His vainglorious assertions of success were revealed to be nothing but false claims.”

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