Release of New Book by Mack W. Borgen

Posted by Mack W. Borgen February 28th, 2021

March 1, 2021

Announcing the Planned Release 

of

Mack W. Borgen’s New Book

The Writings of a Lifetime

– –

An Entirely New Type of Writing

– 

About 

Life and laughter,

The need for ethics and the power of decency,

Hope and happiness,

Love and even loneliness.

Mack W. Borgen  

More Information 

and

A Presentation of the Book Cover

In Five Days!!

6 Books in 8 Years

 

Having Fun and Happy New Year – More of the (Please) Now Go-Away Words of 2020

Posted by Mack W. Borgen December 31st, 2020

Blog No 128
December 31, 2020 

Politics and Pandemic

More of the (Please) Go-Away Words of 2020 

READING TIME: Just 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

Two weeks ago, I posted my Blog No. 127 in my continuing presentation of the Best Song Lyrics of Modern America. In an almost passing manner, I closed my blog with a short list of ten of the new words of 2020. This led to an outpouring from many of my readers – a very appreciated outpouring – thank you!! Many of you asked for other words to be included in the list of the 2020 words to be soon dumped and forgotten.

As you will see, some of these words or phrases were introduced prior to 2020. Nevertheless, they are here included because, for various reasons, their use reached both a boiling point and a dumping point in 2020.

In appreciation of you, my readers, and in a weird celebration of this last day of the weird year of 2020, there is an expanded list of “The (25) Words of 2020” to be soon dumped and forgotten.

Alternative Facts: A phrase coined by Kellyanne Conway, the former Senior Counselor to the President, during her Meet the Press interview in January 2017 to defend then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s false (but who really cares) assertion that Trump drew the biggest inauguration crowd ever.

Alt-Right: A far-right movement based on rough, vague concepts of white nationalism and antisemitism. One of its leaders, Richard Spencer, described the Alt-Right movement as “identity politics for white people.” Even earlier, when Steve Bannon was running Breitbart News – and obviously before he became a Senior Advisor to President Trump, boasted that his news network was “the platform for the alt-right.”

America First. Variants of this phrase were used throughout the 20th Century; however, President Trump used this phrase and concept of American self-interest to galvanize his base. Upon election, he followed this premise as a partial basis for withdrawing from the Paris climate accords and renegotiating multiple trade agreements.

Antifa: A far-left movement, somewhat like the flip side of the alt-right movement. Some – even most — of its followers have used aggressive tactics and confrontational means to seek to intimidate groups seen by them as authoritarian or racist.

BIPOC: A term for Black, Indigenous and most other people of color. In particular, the identities and experiences of Black and native America communities in the U.S.

Blursday: The fuzzy merging of the time since the pandemic shut down so much of the world, making it difficult to determine what day of the week it is.

Bubble: A small group of individuals who follow the same rules and standards for behavior – and can thus spend time together – during the pandemic,

China Virus: An alternative and intentionally accusatory phrase for Covid-19 which was used frequently by President Trump and his followers to remind American’s of the original source of the virus. Variants of this phrase include the more demeaning phrase “Kung Flu.”

Contact Tracing: A phrase used in public health to describe the process of identification of persons who may have come into contact with an (Covid-19) infected person and subsequent collection of further information about these contacts.

Covidiot: A pejorative term, for someone who ignores health and safety guidelines intended to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Deep State. This concept that civil servants and bureaucrats within the political system and the government run a de facto secret government has been in existence for many years, but this concept was advanced loudly and often in the many conspiracy concepts advanced by Trump.

Defund: To withdraw financial support, as in calls by the movement to defund the police, which promotes a public-safety model that shifts resources from law enforcement to community-led social programs and initiatives.

Doomscroll: To addictively thumb through the deluge of bad news shared on social media in 2020, frequently undertaken at bedtime.

Fake News. The derisive term used constantly by Trump and his followers to describe (and implicitly seek to dismiss) any news or piece of information which was inconsistent with the goals or desires of the administration.

Hoax: Like “fake news: this is the all-encompassing word used by Trump to dismiss all multitudes of perceived erroneous facts or inconvenient truths — from climate change to the Mueller Russian investigation, and on and on.

Karen:   A colloquial term for a white woman weaponizing her privilege often at the expense or well-being of a BIPOC individual.

Lockdown: In the context of Covid-019, a lockdown is a restrictive policy for people or a community to stay where they are and amongst only themselves (e.g., small groups, family). In the context of Covid-19, the phrase was also used to describe the many, oftentimes severe, restrictions imposed upon businesses and facilities prior to their opening to the public.

MAGA: Borrowed from Ronald Reagan, the phrase – standing for – “Make America Great Again” became the slogan of many of Trump’s rallies and was presented on hats and endless other forms of political merchandise.

Never Trumper. Originally, the Never Trump movement was a failed attempt by some Republicans to keep Trump from winning the 2016 election. Later, however, it found new expression in anti-Trump groups such as the Lincoln Project and as a generic means of supposedly describing anyone who at a given moment may have opposed President Trump or one of his policies.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Clothing or equipment that is worn or used to provide protection against hazardous substances, environments, or – in the case ofCovid-19, a highly contagious virus.

Quarantini:  The day- or nighttime cocktail many have used to unwind amid remote work and Covid-19 lockdowns.

Second Wave: A phenomenon of infections that can develop during a pandemic. Infections occur first in one group of people. Infections appears to decrease, but then infections increase in a different part of the population resulting in a “second wave” of infections.

Social Distancing: A term for a set of measures to prevent the spread of a contagious disease.

Superspreader:   A person or event responsible for transmitting an infectious disease to many people.

Other Older and Over-used Words, Phrases and Chants Over-used During the Last Year(s).

Collusion                                               Disinformation                                     Enemy of the people

Failing                                                    False and misleading                          Globalist

Herd immunity                                    Lock her up                                          Loser

New Normal                                         Norms                                                    Patient zero

Quid pro quo                                        Resistance                                             Sad!

Self-isolation                                        Seriously not literally                          Triggered

Witch-hunt                                            Zoombombing

And maybe most of all, a closing thought

“If I never read another Tweet ….” 

Sources:

Emails and response comments and ideas from readers of my December 16, 2020 Blog No 127.
Mersinoglu,Y., indy.com;
Smith, David, “Alternative Facts … The Trump Era in 32 Words and Phrases, The Guardian, Dec. 28, 2020;
Time Magazine, December 21-28, 2020 Issue.

 NOW LET’S GET ON WITH 2021

 HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL

 

Books authored by Mack Borgen

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Now Recipient of Eight National Book Awards

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Best Song Lyrics – Part 16 – And THE NEW WORDS of Our Covid 2020 Year

Posted by Mack W. Borgen December 16th, 2020

Blog No 127
December 16, 2020 

SPECIAL HOLIDAY GREETINGS

TO ALL AMERICANS AS WE CLOSE A TOUGH YEAR.

And, With That, Let Us Celebrate 

The Best Song Lyrics of Modern America – Part 16

– The Poetry of Our Time –

READING TIME: Just 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, just 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 16 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 at the lowest prices, go to http://mackwborgen.com/shop/ .

But, now, … The Best Lyrics of Modern America

– From 1957 through 2015 –

Enjoy.

 Some of the Best Short Lines 

Waterloo, Abba (1974) (Group) (Years Active: 1972-1982, 2018 – Present).

            “The history book on the shelf

            Is always repeating itself”

I Fought the Law and the Law Won (1966) (The Bobby Fuller Four) (Group) (Years Active: 1962-1966).

            “Breaking rocks in the hot sun,

            I fought the law and the law won.”

Third-Rate Romance (1975) (The Amazing Rhythm Aces) (Group) (Years Active: 1974-1981, 1994-Present).

           “…The talk was small when they talked at all…

            Third-rate romance, low-rent rendezvous

            … ‘I’ll tell you I love you, if you want me to.’”

 The Sixties

Lay, Lady, Lay (1969) (Bob Dylan) (Born 1941: Robert Allen Zimmerman) (Duluth, MN).

            Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed

            Stay, lady, stay, stay with your man awhile,

            His clothes are dirty, but his hands are clean

            And you’re the best thing that he’s ever seen.

            …

            Why wait any longer for the one you love,

            When he’s standing in front of you.

 The Seventies 

Sister Golden Hair (1975) (America)(Group) (Years Active: 1970 – Present). 

            “Well, I tried to make it Sunday, but I got so damned depressed

            That I set my sights on Monday and I got myself undressed

            I ain’t ready for the alter, but I do agree there’s times

            When a woman sure can be a friend of mine.

           . . . 

            Well, I keep on thinkin’ ‘bout you, Sister Golden Hair surprise

            And I just can’t live without you, can’t you see it in my eyes?

            I been one poor correspondent, and I been too hard too too hard to find

            But it doesn’t mean you ain’t been on my mind.”

The Nineties

Together Again (1997) (Janet Jackson) (B: 1966; Gary, IN).

Everywhere I go ..  Every smile I see

           I know you are there … Smilin’ back at me

           I know you are free … Cuz I can see your star

           Shinin’ down on me”

 Country Western

 Close Enough for Perfect (1982) (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.”

Not on Your Love (1995) (Jeff Carson) (Born 1963: Tulsa, OK).

           ” We both said some things we don’t really mean

            Sometimes love can be like that

            And right now, they hurt, but they’re only words

            There’s nothin’ we can’t take back.

           . . . 

            When we started out, we made a vow,

            Not to sleep ‘till we settled the fight

            And there have been times we’ve seen the run rise

            But it always worked out alright.”

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, 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. This 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 those years 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.

– – –

The New Words from Our Covid-19 Year  the Day

Excerpted from Time Magazine, December 21-28, 2020 Issue

BIPOC:             A term for Black, Indigenous and most other people of color. In particular, the identities and experiences of Black and native America communities in the U.S.

Blursday:        The fuzzy merging of the time since the pandemic shut down so much of the world, making it difficult to determine what day of the week it is.

Bubble:            A small group of individuals who follow the same rules and standards for behavior – and can thus spend time together – during the pandemic,

Covidiot:         A pejorative term, for someone who ignores health and safety guidelines intended to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Defund:           To withdraw financial support, as in calls by the movement to defund the police, which promotes a public-safety model that shifts resources from law enforcement to community-led social programs and initiatives.

Doomscroll:    To addictively thumb through the deluge of bad news shared on social media in 2020, frequently undertaken at bedtime.

Karen:               A colloquial term for a white woman weaponizing her privilege often at the expense or well-being of a BIPOC individual.

Quarantini:    The day- or nighttime cocktail many have used to unwind amid remote work and Covid-19 lockdowns.

Social Distancing:       A term for a set of measures to prevent the spread of a contagious disease.

Superspreader:           A person or event responsible for transmitting an infectious disease to a large number of people.

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 bookstores. How about this one? One of my books  ….

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Fixing America – Too Many Attorneys and Too Much Litigation – Part 2

Posted by Mack W. Borgen December 3rd, 2020

Blog No. 126 
December 3, 2020 

Fixing America – Idea 21 – Part 2 

Reading Time: 7 Minutes
By Mack W. Borgen
University of California at Berkeley (Honors, Economics); Harvard Law School; National Award-Winning Author, The Relevance of Reason (Volumes I and II) (2013) and Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America (Volumes I,  II,  and  III (2018-2019).
My Resolution for the Year: To write shorter blogs. Part 1 on this subject (Blog 125) was posted on Dec. 1, 2020.  
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

Over the last two years, I have presented a wide-ranging set of ideas for “resetting” and “fixing” America. This blog is Part 2 of Idea No 21 in this “Fixing America” series of articles. 

We Attorneys Are a (BIG) Part of America’s Problems

Part 2

Background Summary as presented in Part 1 of article (Blog 125, December 1, 2020). This author has practiced law and written about social, economic, and political matters for many years. With that experience, I hope to address the roles (and abuses) of attorneys from the perspectives of both an attorney and a writer/social commentator. In Part 1 of this article, it was noted (1) that, unquestionably, there are many any conscientious, dedicated, competent, and honorable attorneys who provide essential legal services for their clients – and in doing so, for our society and its economy, and (b) that many of the issues raised in this two-part article could be resolved merely by changing America’s legal practice so that attorneys’ fees are paid by the losing party. However, since that significant awarding-of-attorneys-fees change is unlikely to soon occur, other approaches as here discussed are necessary.

In Part 1, three threshold problems were identified. First, there are too many attorneys in our country. Second, there are too many laws in our society. Third, there is far too much litigation in our country for many reasons including the fact that (a) any good attorney can mold a claim out of almost any set of facts, (b) litigation is too often used as a tactic of negotiation, intimidation, or even retribution, (c) even though the final litigation commencement decision is that of clients, attorneys too readily acquiesce—or even encourage, litigation as a course of action, (d) attorneys and their clients too often blindly believe that everyone deserves vigorous, committed counsel and “their day in court,” and, lastly, (e) although states have various litigation containment mechanisms, such abuse of process or vexatious claimant statutes are rarely invoked by the courts.

Part 1 closed with the following statement – “….Americans too often ‘abuse’ the legal system and attorneys too often are complicit in the filing of baseless Roy Cohn-type lawsuits for purposes of harassment, intimidation, negotiating position, retribution, spite, and even whim.”

Ideas 

Idea 1. Change Legal Curricula and CLE Ethics Courses. Legal ethics and professional responsibility classes are taught both in law school and as a part of state continuing legal education (“CLE”) programs. These courses traditionally focus upon matters such as the standards of representation, conflicts of interest, management of trust accounts, and avoidance of malpractice claims. However, the scope of such courses must be changed. Such courses should explain the right, and sometimes the duty, of attorneys to decline acceptance of a case. For most attorneys, this will require a change of perspective as well since, in most instances, such declination of representation may not be in the attorneys’ immediate, short-term financial interests.

However, filing a materially baseless claim is basically a fraud upon the court and upon the other party or parties. And wholly apart from the plaintiff/claimant, the attorneys’ complicity in such fraud should not be overlooked. Once again, this problem could partially be addressed by merely awarding attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party, but until this is done, then attorneys themselves must start stepping forward in their rejection of baseless (or more technically, materially baseless) claims. 

Idea 2. Narrow the Societal Mantra of One’s Right to Their “Day in Court” and Change Society’s View of the Use of Litigation Itself. Societally, we must start recognizing that not everyone should have their “day in court” – consuming the resources of the judicial system and imposing undeserved and costly burdens upon multiple other parties. Furthermore, the mere filing of a lawsuit cannot be seen, by itself, as somehow legitimizing one’s claims if such claims are baseless.

The first well-known dirty secret is that the amount of litigation in this country would drop significantly if litigious clients were turned down by responsible attorneys and had to turn to Better-Call-Saul, strip mall attorneys rather than dressing up their supposed cases with thick filings and the retention of big firms.

The second well-known, but rarely discussed, dirty secret is that a great amount of litigation could be avoided by once again teaching and embracing the reality that there are powerful distinctions to be made between that which is legal and that which is ethical; between that which is legally permissible and that which is morally acceptable. Greed, even if lawful, may not be “good.” And the writings of Milton Friedman have been taken too far — raw greed and the unchecked pursuit of profit are not always good for our country. It is easy to dismiss these concepts — and this entire discussion — as ethical discussions which should be saved for buddies, rants, campfires, kumbaya moments, weekends, and church. But that is not the case. These concepts – or, more precisely, the core concept that “if it’s legal, it’s o.k.,” dramatically affect how our society functions. From the perspective of litigation, another substantial amount of litigation could be avoided by just doing the proverbial “right thing”; by not lawyering up; by viewing litigation as a last – not first – resort; and by viewing litigation at least with a sense of disappointment and even regret and embarrassment – just as bankruptcy used to be viewed.

Note: With your permission, may I underscore this last point. It is only in the recent years of Modern America that bankruptcy has been viewed by some as “acceptable” and as merely a “business tool.” Historically, there was a certain degree of disappointment, bordering on shame, associated with the filing of bankruptcy – whether it be Chapter 7, 11, or 13 bankruptcy. While one’s filing of litigation is far less draconian a measure than the filing of bankruptcy, it would be – literally — useful for society to view litigation askance as well.

Idea 3. Increase the Transparency of Representation. Assure higher level of transparency and publicity with respect to the attorney representation of parties so that any party – including the press – can readily identify which attorneys and which law firm(s) are representing which claimant parties.[1] This is not suggested as some variant of any cancel culture. Indeed, some attorneys and firms routinely publicize cases they win. In a parallel fashion, the public should be able to readily discover which cases (and types of cases) these attorneys and firms take and which clients (and types of clients) they represent. Thus, when a baseless case has been taken and is readily dismissed, the public should have ready access to knowing what attorney and firm represented such losing party. 

Idea 4. Substantially Increase the Fines (or Other Financial Consequences) Resulting from Frivolous Litigation (or Litigation Dismissed by Summary Judgment). Substantially increase the fines and consequences relating to the filing of baseless claims or even discovery motions made by clients and their attorneys. Without getting overly technical in this article, it is also recommended that consideration be given to imposing a substantial fine or other charge payable to the innocent party in the event of any case dismissal via summary judgment motion. Lastly, the imposition of such fines should not be limited to the client. A portion – or even a parallel assessment – should be imposed upon the attorney(s) who articulated, filed, and initiated such spurious cases. 

Implementation. Very bluntly, each of the foregoing ideas will be both hard and slow to implement. Especially the narrowing of the right to “one’s day in court” societal mantra will require civic discussion and explanation. Likewise, the economic thrust of some of these ideas will require attorneys to occasionally turn away cases and this will require them to work against their own (at least short-term) economic interest.

Nevertheless, these issues must be addressed. America has become far too litigious. America is becoming more sophisticated and more aggressive in condemning enablers, and it cannot be ignored (a) that our country is buried under the weight of too much litigation and (b) that some attorneys’ and law firms have become enablers in the worst sense of that word.

Closing: In the interests of focus and brevity, this article has not addressed the reality that most Americans can no longer access the American judicial system. They cannot afford the high fees of attorneys and the cost of litigation. As a result, attorneys in the context of non-criminal matters are retained almost exclusively by the wealthy clients or corporations, but these subjects are not here addressed. In addition, this article was also NOT intended to revisit Shakespeare’s four-centuries-old line “let’s kill all the lawyers”[2] To the contrary, I believe that many attorneys provide innumerable, constructive services for the benefit of Americans and our society and economy. However, some attorneys are blinded by the economic rewards of litigation. Some attorneys have unduly, even unwittingly but conveniently, embrace the concept that everyone has a right of representation. But that is not always the case. America cannot any longer ignore the reality that some attorneys have become powerful enablers in the misuse of our judicial system for wrongful purposes – retribution, shakedown, intimidation or negotiating advantage. Such behavior will never be eliminated, but societally we must start imposing consequences not only upon the plaintiff/claimants but also upon their attorneys. 

INVITATION 

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For you or your friends to receive direct copies of my blogs, just send your or their confidential email address to me at mwborgen@live.com.

The Fancypants Word of the Day

Esurient (Part of speech: Adjective) 1) Hungry 2) Greedy.

Examples of use in sentences: “He skipped breakfast, so by lunchtime he was positively esurient.”

“He hated being called greedy, but because of his ignorance he did not mind being called esurient.”

Source and thank to wordgenius.com and Shawna Borgen.

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More Relevant Than Ever! – Start the New Year with New Books

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Your buying of my books is appreciated beyond words — and they make good gifts!

Copyright 2020 by Mack W. Borgen. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews, without prior written permission by the author.

Mack Borgen's Book Series

[1]  I am not suggesting that this information be used in furtherance of America’s recent engagement of cancel culture. (See, Carney, T., “Canceling Lawyers and Punishing ‘Enablers’). However, members of the public should be able to know and have ready access to the public records or easily find out who a lawyer or firm has represented.

[2] This famous line is from Shakespeare’s 1591 play Henry VI, Part 2.

Fixing America – Idea 21 – We Attorneys Are a (Big) Part of the Problem – Part 1

Posted by Mack W. Borgen November 30th, 2020

Blog No. 125 
December 1, 2020 

Fixing America – Idea 21 

Reading Time: 6 Minutes

By Mack W. Borgen

University of California at Berkeley (Honors, Economics); Harvard Law School; National Award-Winning Author, The Relevance of Reason (Volumes I and II) (2013) and Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America (Volumes I,  II,  and  III (2018-2019).
My Resolution for the Year: To write shorter blogs. This is Part 1 on this subject. Part 2 will be posted on Thursday, December 3, 2020.
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

Over the last two years, I have presented a wide-ranging set of ideas for “resetting” and “fixing” America. This blog is the twenty-first idea in this “Fixing America” series of articles.

We Attorneys Are a (BIG) Part of America’s Problems

Part 1 

(Note: All footnotes are at the very end of this article)

1. Background. 

A. Even Before We Begin – Three Preliminary Notes and Caveats

                First, my background and career. It is impossible for this author to be entirely impartial with respect to the practice of law in the United States since I have practiced business and real estate law for decades. During that time, it has been my honor to work for and with large national law firms, medium-sized law firms, small firms, sole practitioners, and corporate in-house counsels. With that experience, I hopefully can accurately address the roles (and abuses) of some attorneys in our society from the concurrent perspectives of both an attorney and a writer/social commentator.

                Secondly, many good and honorable attorneys and the provision of many useful services. There should be no doubt or confusion that there are many good, conscientious, dedicated, and honorable attorneys and that attorneys provide innumerable essential services for many Americans and, in the process, for our economy and our society. They help clients memorialize agreements, structure businesses, anticipate problems, resolve disagreements, protect and preserve assets, establish estate plans, minimize taxes, and achieve clarity in documents and communications. The list of valuable services is endless.

                Thirdly, awarding of attorneys’ fees. Many of the issues raised in this article could be resolved merely by changing America’s legal practice so that in the context of litigation attorneys’ fees are paid by the losing party. See my article, Fixing America – Idea No. 4 (Blog 107, October 28, 2019). However, just as the adoption of terms limits in the context of American politics is unlikely, there is regrettably little reason to believe that America will soon change its manner of awarding attorneys’ fees to the winning, i.e. the prevailing, party. Thus, other approaches, such as those included in this article, may be necessary. 

B. Problem 1 – Too Many Attorneys. There are too many attorneys in our country. This is both a cause and a reflection of many societal problems. In the U.S., there are about 1,350,000 attorneys – about one for every 250 people. In California alone, there are about 266,000 licensed attorneys[1] and 199,000 licensed and active attorneys — about one for every 208 Californians (and one for every 161 adult Californians!).

In the opinion of this author, there are too many attorneys – especially, for example, compared to other professions. In California, where there are 266,000 licensed attorneys, but there are only about 143,000 physicians. There are 266,000 licensed attorneys, but there are only 119,500 full-time law enforcement personnel.[2] Worse yet and almost eerily, there are almost exactly the same number of attorneys in California as there are schoolteachers (266,000 attorneys vs 266,255 teachers).[3]

Admittedly, comparing the number of attorneys to other professions or to the total population is, at best, a very rough measure of whether there are too many or too few attorneys. Other factors, such as the size and legal complexity of our economy or the over-legislation and over-regulation by our government are contributory problems. Also, the high number of attorneys might merely reflect, but does not independently cause, many of the problems discussed below. But whatever the reasons or no matter the measure, there are too many attorneys in our society.

C. Problem 2 – Too Many Laws and Regulations. There are also too many laws and regulations in our society. I have discussed this subject before in the context of the over-criminalization in American society. [4] However, there are too many federal and state laws and regulations in the context of both criminal and civil statutes. Over the course of many years, these laws and regulations have been stacked upon us — one on top of another. The suggestion of mandatory sunsetting of all new legislation will be made in a future Fixing America article, but for now, it is only necessary to note that, almost definitionally, the more laws passed by politicians usually means, over time, a higher demand and need for more attorneys.

On the other hand, blaming politicians for the proliferation of our nation’s and state’s laws is a bit circular since 145 members of the U.S. House of Representatives (i.e. about 33%) and 47 of the U.S. Senators (i.e. 47%) are attorneys. One could argue that blaming politicians and legislative bodies merely leads us to come full circle … back to blaming lawyers once again.

D. Problem 3 – Too Much Litigation. For several primary reasons, litigation is far too frequently – indeed almost far too routinely — commenced in our country. In 2019, there were 610,627 civil cases[5] filed in California Superior Courts alone. Because many of these cases were initiated by corporations or other legal entities, it is difficult to juxtapose this number with the population of California. However, the number remains – 610,627 civil cases in one year alone. As briefly discussed above, it is tempting to blame this litigation volume upon the size and complexities of the world economy and the proliferation of laws and regulations, but we lawyers have played a substantial role as well.

First, any good lawyer can mold an argument and make a claim out of any set of facts, any bowl of clay, or — to be blunt –  any pile of bullshit. Any good attorney can weave thin threads of truth into a thick rope of claims. Both attorneys and the litigation process itself can transform obvious truths into reasonable doubts. In most instances, such molded claims survive summary judgments, and the costly, protracted litigation continues — in part to the continuing economic advantage of the litigant attorneys.

Second, while litigation is sometimes necessary and unavoidable, too frequently litigation (or the threat thereof) is used as a tactic of negotiation, intimidation, or even retribution. In some instances, litigation becomes a test of resolve and resources more than a matter of right and wrong; a devil’s brew of staying power and stubbornness more than a means of finding truth or achieving justice.

Thirdly, it is tempting to suggest that the decision relating to the commencement of litigation is the sole province of clients but that is oftentimes not true. Clients do (and should) make the final decision, but attorneys have a powerful, influential role. As I wrote in an article published years ago (which was reprinted in a number of California legal publications),[6] attorneys should remind their clients more often and more aggressively that litigation is rarely a prudent course of action. There are certainly some major exceptions and unavoidable needs for litigation, but while the attorneys will normally be paid “upfront,”  any favorable judgment (and the collection thereof) for the client will usually be the hardest money they ever earned.

Fourth, attorneys (and their prospective clients) too often blindly believe that everyone deserves vigorous, committed counsel and that clients deserve “their day in court.”[7] However, this author suggests that this adage is far too blindly and far too widely accepted. In the first place, except in the rare case of court-appointed representation, attorneys do not have an obligation to accept a client; to further his or its cause; or to advance his or its claims. Admittedly, once a matter is accepted, then withdrawing from a case has appropriate ethical and judicial restraints. But initially, cases can be turned down. And more cases should be turned down.

Fifth, states have various litigation containment mechanisms by which they seek to control the destructive, harmful whims of what are called “vexatious plaintiffs.” However, such variously named mechanisms (abuse of process or vexatious claimant statutes) are rarely invoked by the courts.[8] Consequently, if there is to be a meaningful control upon the filing of spurious claims initiated primarily for purposes of retribution, shakedown, intimidation or negotiating advantage, then attorneys can help society by merely asserting their right to decline representation. Not all news is fit for print. Likewise, not all cases are deserving of representation.

Thus, the focus of this article, is that Americans too often “abuse” the legal system and that attorneys too often are complicit in filing baseless Roy Cohn-type lawsuits for, as referenced above, purposes of harassment, intimidation, negotiating position, retribution, spite, and even whim.  Author’s Note: It is beyond the scope of this article, however, it is also a financial reality that due to cost alone, the retention of attorneys is far beyond the capacity of most Americans. In that sense, attorneys themselves become an unwitting tool almost solely of the wealthy class or their corporate entities.                                               

SOME SOLUTIONS AND IDEAS – SEE THURSDAY’S BLOG 126

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The Fancypants Word of the Day

Neophilia (Part of speech: Noun; Origin: American English) 1) Love of, preference for, or great interest in what is new 2) A love of novelty.

Examples of use in sentences: “My damn neophilia makes me always bring home the next generation of iPhone as soon as it’s released.”

“My aunt says she’s not a hoarder, but she admits suffering from extreme neophilia and has to get a new thing for her house every day.”

Source and thank to wordgenius.com and Shawna Borgen.

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FOOTNOTES TO ARTICLE

[1] In California, there are 266,000 licensed attorneys, but of these only 190,000 are “active” and permitted to practice law at this time.

[2]  Of this 119,500 law enforcement number, 78,500 are full-time officers with full arrest powers and 41,000 are civilian staff.

[3]  This translates to an average California teacher:student ratio of 1:24 — compared to the national average teacher:student ratio of 1:16. In addition, there are about 16,555 school administrators representing an administrator to student ratio of about 1:386.

[4]  See, Borgen M., “Streamline the Federal and State Penal Codes and Address the Issue of Over-Criminalization om American Society” (Blog No 114, February 25, 2020).

[5] This number even excludes criminal cases (189,013 felony and 766,782 misdemeanor cases), family law cases (375,529), juvenile law cases (74,507), and probate matters (49,152). See courts.ca.gov.

[6] Such publications included the Los Angeles Daily Journal, the San Francisco Daily Journals, and various other county and regional bar publications.

[7] This article focuses upon civil litigation rather than criminal cases where the right to counsel has been long established by the US Supreme Court.

[8]  Since 1991, California has maintained a Vexatious Litigant List, however because the threshold for “repeated” motions or causes of action is very high, vague, and hard to prove. Thus, the Vexatious Litigant statutes are rarely invoked. After nearly three decades, the California list includes only a few thousand names. Other than The Church of Scientology and a couple of trademark trolls, most of them are not well-known individuals or entities.

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America’s Achievement – 149,000,000 Voters in 4 Weeks – A “Participatory Democracy”

Posted by Mack W. Borgen November 9th, 2020

Blog No. 124
November 10, 2020

 America’s Achievement  – Deservedly Proud – And Now We Know  

Reading Time: 8 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/
Copyright 2020 by Mack W. Borgen. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews, without prior written permission by the author.

Introduction 

For the past six weeks, I have been “quiet.” During this period of our nation’s loud and tumultuous election, I decided that there were enough words being thrown into the ether. No one needed more. 
I thought of the line from Max Ehrmann’s early 1920s prose poem, Desiderata— “go placidly amidst the noise and haste of the universe and remember what peace can be found in silence.” (Note 1) With that in mind and for most Americans, this has been an challenging and dangerous period for our country — an acrimonious, insulting, and even embarrassing period for our country.  
In the coming months, many contentious debates will continue. Blind partisanship (and even rampant showmanship) will continue to be a huge challenge. But for now, let us note what DID happen. Let us congratulate ourselves for what Americans – of both parties – achieved.               
It is too early to know if there may be reason for a touch of stubborn optimism.  But I offer a small start with this modest, welcome-back article. It is about a success which should not be overlooked. 

America’s Participatory Achievement 

Our Founding Fathers sought to construct a participatory democracy. At the time of America’s founding, the population of our entire and new country was less than 5,000,000 – less than the current population of New York City.  
But when the 39 delegates signed the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787 after a four-month-long convention, did they remotely envision establishing a participatory democracy that would work in a nation of 330,000,000 people; in a nation which in less than 225 years grew to nearly 70 times its original size? 
Could the Founding Fathers have anticipated a “participatory democracy” with this level of population? With our current population it at least could have been questioned whether or not a “participatory democracy” could still work. 
And now we know. At least in the context of “participatory,” now we know the answer is YES.

 Congratulations Are Due 

During this election, more than 149,000,000 Americans voted. (Note 3) This number represents about 66.5% of the 257,000,000 eligible, over-18 voters in the US. This number is the highest voter participation percentage in over 125 years.  I deeply respect that some people for personal or even religious reasons chose not to vote. But 149,000,000 Americans did.
Certainly, such voting is also an indicator of the extent of our country’s division. But for now. For just a moment. Let us pause. 
Let us take note what this level of voting also means. 
Whether Democrat or Republican and in addition to honoring our veterans on this Veteran’s Day this week (Note 4), let us also honor our country’s voting.   

This Level of Voting   

This Level of Voting is good – in and if itself. 
This Level of Voting is good  – regardless of which party received the most votes. 
This Level of Voting evidences that even amidst the noise and craziness of our world, 149,000,000 Americans took the time to get out their pens, read their ballots, fill out and sign their ballots, mail them or drop them off while other Americans walked or drove to polling places, stood patiently in line – sometimes for hours in the cold and rain – and then voted. (Note 5) 
All across America – 50 states and the District of Columbia, 433 Congressional Districts, 3,141 counties, more than 200,000 polling places, hundreds of thousands of poll workers (Note 6), tens of thousands of poll watchers, the USPS, the printers, the security guards, … and people voted. People “participated.” People “spoke.” (Note 7) 
Americans can debate everything later – and, for the foreseeable future, they certainly will. It will take us a long time to shift from “argument” to “debate;” from adamancy to compromise; and from polarization to unity. But for now, let us hold the backslaps and fist pumps. Let us ignore the tweets and the snide remarks. Let us turn our backs on the dark predictions. Instead, let America take a moment to congratulate itself. 
Well, we did it. You did it. Both Republicans and Democrats (and even my Libertarian friends) should recognize what was accomplished; what Americans successfully did. 

 NOTES

1.  Desiderata. In light of the many contentious debates (and arguments) which will cloud America’s next months, this author notes that possibly it is the next line in Ehrmann’s Desiderata which may be even more relevant — “as far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.”
2. Timing and Manner of Voting. In a few states, even earlier voting was permitted, but most voting – both in—person and by mail – was done in the last month.
 3. Voting Percentages by Candidate. At the time of this writing, the voting allocation appears to be approximately 75.6MM (50.7%) for Biden, 71.0MM (47.6%) for Trump, 1.7MM (1.2%) for Jorgenson (Libertarian), and 0.7MM (0.5%) for others (sorry, Kanye).
4. Veteran’s Day. The major hostilities of World War I ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Thus, this day – Armistice Day and Remembrance Day – has long been recognized. In 1954, the day was re-named Veteran’s Day.
 5.  Covid Vaccinations. It is beyond the scope of this article, but it is tempting to suggest that if 149,000,000 can — in a short period of time – take the time to vote, then possibly a similar number can take the time to soon receive a proven covid vaccination. In the context of this covid pandemic, most of us still cannot see a light at the end of the tunnel. But maybe we can hear the whistle.
6.  Number and Ages of and Compensation for Poll Workers. The exact number of poll workers is not yet readily available since due to the Covid pandemic and for other reasons, the number of polling stations has been changing radically, but it is estimated that the number is about 225,000. As of the 2016 election, 58% of the poll workers were over the age of 61 (16.4% – Ages 18-40; 25.5% – Ages 41-60). Especially because of concerns about covid, this poll worker age allocation may have changed considerably in the 2020 election.
7.  No Evidence of Vote Fraud. It is recognized that some believe – and will obstinately always believe — that extensive voting fraud existed. However, as of the time of this writing, there has not been a single presentation of any verifiable voter fraud – let alone any evidence of organized or massive voter fraud. To the contrary, the election – despite its size and the anticipatory fears – worked – and worked well.

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THE FANCYPANTS WORD OF THE DAY 

(Note to Readers: For more fun and commencing with this blog, this author is going to try to use the Fancypants Word in at least one humorous sentence below).
Sempiternal (Part of speech: Adjective; Origin: Latin) Eternal and unchanging; everlasting.
Examples of use in sentences: “As an astronaut, I am intrigued by the sempiternal vastness of space.”
“I listened to him for hours, and then I came to understand the sempiternal emptiness of his mind.”
Source and thank to wordgenius.com and Shawna Borgen.

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Fixing America – Idea 20 – Truth/Balance Ratings of News Shows and Commentators

Posted by Mack W. Borgen September 21st, 2020

Blog No. 123
September 22, 2020 

Fixing America – Idea 20 

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/
Copyright 2020 by Mack W. Borgen. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews, without prior written permission by the author. 

Introduction

Over the last two years, I have presented ideas for “resetting” and “fixing” America. This blog is the twentieth idea in this “Fixing America” series of articles.

Idea No. 20

-The Truth Problem-

The Need for Truth and Balance Ratings  

For Newspapers, Magazines, Columnists and 

Television and Radio Stations, Shows, Hosts, and Commentators  

Background: Getting accurate information in this 21st Century is challenging. This is especially so in the context of this year’s acrimonious, highly partisan, and fact-challenged national election. Words such as “hoax” and “fake news” have long replaced Rush Limbaugh’s dismissive “drive-by media” chants of the 1990s. Adding insult to logic, even the concept of “alternative facts” has been suggested by some commentators and presidential spokespersons so that individual’s can more easily be persuaded to conveniently mold a challenge, deflect a criticism, or pass off an excuse as an explanation.

Admittedly and regardless of the context, truth can sometimes be elusive. But, in America, finding the truth has become a never-ending task. At times, truth-finding feels more like game of wits and bluster. At times, truth itself is presented as a fungible blob which can be twisted, changed, or worse yet, hidden.

Americans do not deserve this. Even more frightening, our system of governance cannot long survive this.

However, there is good news. This article will outline that one aspect of the “truth problem” which could be readily fixed.

First, allow me to briefly present some background and perspective.

More than 50 years ago, in 1968, the United States implemented a film classification system whereby the Motion Picture Association began rating films based upon their content (G, PG, PG-13, R). Except for the R-rated films, this is not a form of censorship. Instead, the ratings are offered only for advisory use.

And America has become comfortable with rating systems. Especially in our Internet-dominated America, we rate nearly everything. We consult Yelp to find a good handyman, car mechanic, and house painter. Niche.com and greatschools.org offer every multiple comparative criteria for evaluating high schools and colleges, and U.S. News and World Report and Princeton Review present their annual ratings. We read jdpower.com to compare cars. We check with Consumer Reports to get the inside scope on every product in America.

There are also consumer warning labels everywhere. They, too, are intended both to inform and to warn us. Baby bottles, baby cribs, baby strollers come with warning labels. Our food is packaged with ingredient labels measuring product ingredients down to milligrams and Daily Percentages. Sports equipment, camping gear, lawn mowers, and power tools come with informational packets the size of small books. Backyard bar-b-ques and propane tanks have warning labels. Our medicines are delivered with pages of do’s, don’ts, and cautions. In a curious turn of words, there is even a “Harmful-If-Swallowed” choking warning on, of all things, “Lifesavers.”

But when it comes to the media, we are somehow left on our own. The manner in which most American adults “learn” almost everything, is hit-and-miss show. No guidance. No disclosures. No warnings. With newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations and shows, and commentators and writers, we get nothing except community gossip and an occasional Fact-Checker comments. And those are not enough to save America – especially in our read-and-run, hear-and-repeat, he said-she said world.

The problems relating to the American Disinformation Network are the result of at least four, highly inter-related reasons.

First – No Single Source. Up until about four decades ago, most Americans received their news from one of three sources – ABC, NBC, or CBS. Walter Cronkite (Years of New Anchoring: 1962-1981) was for years recognized as the “most trusted man in America,” and he worked amidst a small group of other respected and serious news anchors – names like John Chancellor (1970-1982), Chet Huntly (1956-1970), David Brinkley (1943-1997), Tom Brokaw (1982-2004), Peter Jennings (1983-2005), and Bernard Shaw (1980-2001). Although every American interpreted “the news” in their own manner, at least everyone started from the same place. Everyone heard roughly the same news. Everyone read from roughly the same page. That is no longer the case. Now, “news” is distributed almost willy-nilly through and from hundreds of different sources. We no longer “start from the same place. I can have my facts. You can have yours.

Second – Blending of News and Entertainment. More and more over the recent decades, both television and talk radio sought to blend news with entertainment. Some argue that this coincided with the launch of CNN in 1980, but the more toxic mix of news and entertainment (or “news as entertainment”) was accelerated with the launching of Fox News in 1996 and with the spread and reach of the Internet and other forms of social media.

Third – Glimpsing of the News. With the headline-grabbing, photo-based “journalism” of the Internet and social media, news is more and more the subject of glimpsing rather than study. Intellectually, most Americans know that there is proverbially “more to every story,” but in the rush-madness of the Internet Age, casual listening is followed and conveniently reinforced by the echo chambers of talk radio. Too often, careful reading and thoughtful analysis are now left to nerds, scholars, insiders, and the Bill Moyers/NPR-types. 

Fourth, Proliferation of New Sources. The proliferation of news sources also has changed everything. Most Americans once had a local paper and a few major network stations from which to choose; from which to get their news and information. Now, there are hundreds of television and cable stations. There are endless streams of 24-hour talk radio shows. Unsurprisingly, both newspapers and the dying art of reading the news have lost their hold on many Americans. Thus, as a cause and as a result, these developments reflect the increasingly tribalistic political environmental of America. We are no longer inconvenienced by truth. We are no longer burdened by the need for accuracy. Instead, we can tailor our news sources to those which best most reflect (and reinforce) our beliefs.

But in fairness, there is one more huge problem – whom to believe. There are multiple takes on every issue. The mastery of “spin” is no longer left to the politicians. It has become a skill and tool of newscasters, television, and radio talk show hosts as well.

It is beyond the scope of this article, but this author also believes that the Federal Communication Commission’s 1987 elimination of the “fairness doctrine” contributed to the slanting or narrowing of balanced news reporting. The “fairness doctrine” was in place for almost 40 years after it was first introduced in 1949. It required all broadcasters to present controversial issues of public importance in a manner which was honest, equitable, and balanced. Broadcasters had wide latitude in the application of this fairness doctrine and although (despite common belief to the contrary) the rule did not require “equal time” for opposing positions,  there was still FCC licensing and regulatory pressure to present the news with a certain degree of “fairness.” Note that this did not mean that every angle, every article, and every rumor had to be presented. There was no requirement for any broadcasters to present QAnon’s latest Pizzagate, cannibalistic pedophilia claims or their latest Reptilian, “deep state” absurdities. But there would have been a requirement at least to present, in a “fair” manner, other responsible ideas or interpretations. Many believe that the 1987 elimination of the fairness doctrine by the FCC contributed to the political polarization of the United States.

But even without the reinstatement of the fairness doctrine, there is something that can be done to help Americans more easily determine who to believe and what are the facts. In time, this “something” may greatly assist Americans in making better electoral selections and policy decisions.  This “something” is the establishment of a truth and quality rating system for the media.

At first blush, this may seem challenging and dangerous. However, the American people have a right to know whether they are listening to an entertainer or a news reporter; whether what they are reading or hearing is raw propaganda or hard facts.

Furthermore, such media rating is neither unreasonable nor far-fetched. Americans already know that there is a difference between The New York Times and The National Inquirer; between Time Magazine and Mad Magazine.

Admittedly, the lines are more blurred in the context of television and radio. For example, at times, Rush Limbaugh has himself claimed to be the voice of truth in America. At other times, he has himself claimed to be merely an entertainer. Which is it? NPR puts out it seemingly-fact based stories, but there is no easy way for the average listener to ascertain their truth and accuracy. Some Americans do not believe anything unless it comes from right-biased Fox News or the left-biased MSNBC. But, some form of truth and balance ratings can help serve as a guide. For even in the context of television and radio, there is a difference between Alex Jones and Lester Holt. Fox News deserves credit for its clever “Fair and Balanced” slogan, but this slogan cannot be allowed to mislead the public about Fox News’ bias as presented daily by Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, or Tucker Carlson. And the same is true with respect to the MSNBC voices from “the left.” Truth and balance should not be required, but their absence must be noted. It is time for bias and selective editing to be registered and disclosed.

Idea: Based upon an established set of announced and evenly-applied criteria, an independent body of persons should rate the balance of editorial selection and the factual accuracy of the content of (a) all major newspapers and magazines, (b) all television and radio news or commentary stations and shows, and (c) all commentators and writers. Such guidance ratings should be conspicuously posted (in the corner of each television screen or on the front cover of each magazine and newspaper or, in the case of radio shows, disclosed at the commencement and end of each radio shows) so that the ratings are readily discoverable to the American reading and listening public. Lastly, all such ratings should be periodically reviewed.

Implementation. The implementation of such a truth and balance rating system will be challenging. However, the current absence of such a fact/balance rating system is devastating. The problems of both ignorance and bias have helped to nurture America’s level of angst, anger, and acrimony within America.

The independence of the panel of reviewers must be steadfastly maintained. Just like Consumer Reports, WebMD or Healthgrades physician reviews, U.S.News and World Report’s List of Best Colleges, J.D. Power and Associates car evaluations, Zagat’s restaurant reviews, IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes movie reviews, Expedia’s hotel reviews, and on and on — the ratings, at times, will be imperfect. This author rarely uses the word “absurd.” But it here applies. The Cronkite era is long dead, and now it borders on the absurd that there is no truth and balance rating system with respect to the sources of America’s news and information.

The manner of selection of and appointment to the commission of reviewers deserves serious consideration. However, it can be done. The commissioners must be financially independent of such news and network organizations. They should not have been elected public officials. In addition, it is recommended that they be barred from appearing on any reviewed program or published in any reviewed publication both during one’s tenure on the panel and for a fixed number of years thereafter. Again, the selection process will be challenging. But it can be done. It must be done.

In closing, a reminder: Americans have the right to easily know the relative truth and balance of those persons they read or hear. If a particular newspaper, magazine, network or cable station, or commentator gets a low, poor, 1-star rating, maybe it or they will try harder to present more truth and better balance — and that itself, would be a fine result for all of us.

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Dead Serious and Lighthearted book cover

See Additional Previously Presented “Fixing America” 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 110, Dec 7, 2019). 
Idea 12 – Eliminate the Congressional Retirement System (Blog 111, Dec 7, 2019). 
Idea 13 – Cease production and eliminate the use of the U.S. penny (Blog 112, Dec 7, 2019).
Idea 14 – Institutionalized Use of U.S. Military Units in Event of Natural Disasters (Blog 113, February 11, 2020). 
Idea 15 – Streamline the Federal and State Penal Codes and Address the Issue of Overcriminalization in American Society (Blog 114, February 25, 2020).
Idea 16 – It’s Time to Reset America (Blog 118, June 30, 2020).
Idea 17 – If They’re Good Enough for Our Capitalism, They’re Good Enough for Our Democracy – Monthly Bonus Payments for Excellence in Citizenship (Blog 119, July 15, 2020).
Idea 18 – Let Us Try – The Simple Utility of Remembering America’s “Good Celebrities” (Blog 120, August 2, 2020).
Idea 19 – – If We Get It Right – The Next “Greatest Generation” (Blog 121, August 18, 2020).
Idea 20 – -The Truth Problem – The Need for Rating Newspapers, Magazines, and Columnists and Television and Radio Stations, Shows and Commentators (Blog 123, September 22, 2020).

The Fancypants Word of the Day

Blandishment (Part of speech: Noun; Origin: Latin) 1) Flattering speech intended to coax or influence; 2) The act of persuasion by means of flattery.
Examples of use in sentences: “The fundraiser organizer used blandishments to convince the donors to pull out their checkbooks.”
“Sometimes, you can get on your boss’s good side with a little blandishment.”
Source and thank to wordgenius.com and Shawna Borgen.

If you like what you are reading … Order Copies of My Books Now

Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America

 (Volume I (1957-1976), Volume II (1977-1993), and Volume III (1994-2015))

The Relevance of Reason – The Hard Facts and Real Data about the State of Current America 

(Volume I (Business and Politics) and Volume II (Society and Culture)) 

Recipient of Eight National Book Awards

Best Nonfiction Book of the Year in Three Separate Categories

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

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Paperback or hardback. Simple ordering. 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!

9/11 – On This Sacred Day – Three Things America Must Do

Posted by Mack W. Borgen September 10th, 2020

Blog No. 122
September 11, 2020 
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/
Copyright 2020 by Mack W. Borgen. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without prior written permission by the author.

On This Sacred Day – Writing a Better History

By Mack W. Borgen
University of California at Berkeley (Honors, Economics); Harvard Law School; Author, The Relevance of Reason – ((Volume I) (Business and Politics) and Volume II( Society and Culture) (2013) and Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America (Volume I (1957-1976), Volume II (1977-1993), and Volume III (1994-2015) (2018-2019). Author’s Note: This blog is based upon an article written by this author five years ago — September 11, 2015. It is here re-printed on this sacred day with some minor adaptations.
As Advertised in The New York Review of Books and Recipient of Eight National Book Awards

 Preamble

We Have Entered the Third Decade

9/11/2001 — 19 years ago.
It seems long ago. It seems like yesterday.
Children born after 9/11 are now voting. They are now in the military.
And our sacred duty is to honor that day

By taking action.

Our American democracy is neither young nor innocent. But, like all aging celebrities, we still think of ourselves as vibrant and energetic. We still believe we have a deep reserve of hard-earned wisdom.  
And with that in mind, today should be a day of national unity and remembrance; a day to reflect about that tragic days 19 years ago. Maybe, this year — this election year, it may be good to reflect upon how we want to be and behave.   
Some still see America as the only real and deserving world power. But the discord in our country reminds us that few Americans us as cresting in our greatness. In fact, three out of four Americans believe our country is heading in the proverbial “wrong direction.”
This may be accurate for the harsh tone of our country has enveloped us all. Too often, we seem to forget that our actions matter and that our words matter. Our rabid partisanship has consequences. And the style and behavior of our leaders matter.
We have now entered the third decade of this century. It is time for America to reset itself because too many of our country’s honored traditions are being abused or neglected. And the abuse and the neglect are taking a toll. 
In its own way, the horrific atrocity of 9/11 helped cause America to lose its way; to become divided; to become nationalistic and for dangerously re-aligning our nation’s friends and allies.
This November 3rd people who were born after 9/11 will vote for the first time. Those of us who were born before must at least try to set an honorable example for our younger citizens.
For example, we know name-calling and bullying are hurtful. They have existed for centuries. However, traditionally they have been left on the schoolyard playgrounds. Now, they have become a part of the style of our national conversations.
Allow me to suggest that we know better. Our democracy is more than 230 years old. America is now the longest surviving, constitutional democracy in the world. That is both a hard fact and a noble accomplishment.  
Until now, our nation has survived and flourished for many reasons – the breadth of our hopes; the aspirations of our equalities; the brilliance of the 4,543 words of our Constitution; the energy of our people, the bounty of our resources; and maybe because, for better or worse, our citizens have historically been more inclined to action than reflection. But regardless of the reasons, America is now in rarefied company. America has lasted nearly half of the duration length of The Roman Empire itself.
But now we are again at a crossroads — this one is of our own making. We have hard choices to make and much work to do. We cannot stay our current course. That itself is what a “crossroads” means. Wholly apart from the pains and strains of this pandemic, many communities have been dissolving for many years and many reasons. Partly, this is because the strain of America’s admixtures continues — contentment and cantankerousness; wealth and poverty; hope and despair.
And exactly because of these “strained admixtures” – this is a good time to re-commit to doing better; to working together better; to talking with lower voices.              
There is absolutely no need for us to allow a force-of-history inevitability of our own version of Gibbons’ Decline and Fall. Instead, this author believes we can write a better history for our nation. But a new style of leadership must evolve. Very bluntly, it is time for us to put away our childish toys; to use grown-up words; and to both earn and give respect of our fellow Americans.              
This article is written in honor of 9/11 – Modern America’s sad day of infamy. With our prayers and memories close at hand, this article suggests that this day serve as a day of remembrance and unity. This article humbly encourages us all to make some changes so that, together, we can write that better history.
One day at a time. One conversation at a time. We can do it.

Writing a Better History

As I wrote in my first book, The Relevance of Reason, I never met my uncle; my mother’s brother; my grandmother’s son. He died in the World War II. He died young. He died a long way from his Montana home while carrying a machine gun up the lonely, rocky hill in Monte Cassino, Italy.
For reasons I cannot easily explain, I miss him; a man whom I never met. Like thousands of others who lost a father or son or uncle or mother or friend in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Desert Storm, or more recently Iraq or Afghanistan — I sense that my life would have been different had he lived; had we met. Many years ago in a small town in Montana, my grandmother gave me his Purple Heart. She also gave a scrapbook which she had kept for him as a young boy. Now, so many years later, I still feel his presence. I remain indebted to his sacrifice. Even though he made it nearly 60 years before the infamy of 9/11.
Possibly this is because I, too, am a veteran. Possibly it is because I, too, have watched our young soldiers die or our wounded warriors come home — injured, scared, and in pain. Now, we owe it to them (and to ourselves) to understand the state of our country and lessen the confusion and anger of our people. To do this, we need to reflect upon the state of our ethics. We need to re-assert our principles and those of our Founding Fathers. There may be no better day today, this 9/11 — the Pearl Harbor of America’s younger and soon-to-be governing generations.
We need to address the millions of Americans who live in poverty; who are broken by despair; who are hobbled by fear. When I wrote this article five years ago, I noted that we could no longer ignore the fact that the proportion of children living in poverty is higher in the United States in than in any other developed country (excepting Romania). This has been allowed to continue. Because of the pandemic, it has even worsened. But our children should not be destined to accept fates which are undeserved and, worse yet, unnecessary.
Now five years later, we are fighting amongst ourselves and our allies. We are having trouble getting alone with Canadians. Think about that. Our wonderful, maple-leaf Canadians? Even in the context of the pandemic, we are trying to lead the world from the back of the pack – by almost any measure – cases per capita, fatalities per capita, and on and on. These are not matters of quibble for our political parties and the various departments of our government. These are facts we must first address. Then, we must learn from them.
And time is not on our side — and it certainly was not on the side of the more than 190,000 Americans who have died to date.
Nobody needs preachy, and I will use great caution. But there are, in my humble opinion, three things which must be done.
First, Americans must come to better recognize our 21st Century enemies. Sadly, our country will, from time to time, face some enemies in uniforms and with guns. Just like the era of 9/11, there will be terrorists who must be dealt with. But most enemies in our new century will be of a wholly different nature – climate change, forest fires, weather severity, food shortages, hurricanes, and flooding, and – unless America narrows wealth inequality in our country, devastating and incurable economic insecurity. Lastly, there will be more pandemics. Our history books someday will be filled with the scientific nomenclature of America’s new enemies – HINI, HIV-AIDS, Zika, Ebola, MERS, SARS, the Asian flu, the Swine flu, and now Covid.
Second, as lame as it may sound as you read this on a weekday morning, America must re-instill higher levels of CDH – Courtesy, Decency, and Honesty. These qualities must be embraced accepted as the threshold criteria for social, political, and even long-term economic success. Regardless of which political party one chooses and regardless of public policy disagreements, the trio of CDH – Courtesy, Decency, and Honesty must be accepted as prerequisites of public office. There are many reasons for this. We teach this to our children. We expect this from our children. So why do we so willingly allow (and display) lower standards from America’s ;eaders and our voting adults? In addition, there are severe consequences if we do not quickly change our behavior. This is because, over time, style becomes substance. Amidst today’s hyper-sensitivity about our use of language and image, I am hesitant to suggest that we bury our hatchets. But it is time. We must do so. CDH – Courtesy, decency, and honesty. It is a simple and needed change.
Third, allow this sacred day of 9/11 to be used as a day  of remembrance and unity.
Thus, My Summary Ideas Offered for Your Consideration
First,  better recognize the nature of America’s real 21st Century enemies. 
Second, demand that courtesy, decency, and honesty (CDH) be prerequisites for public office.
Third, use this day, 9/11, each year, as a sacred day of remembrance and unity.

 

INVITATION 

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Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America

 (Volume I (1957-1976), Volume II (1977-1993), and Volume III (1994-2015))

The Relevance of Reason

(Volume I (Business and Politics) and Volume II (Society and Culture))

 – Eight National Book Awards –

Best Nonfiction Book of the Year in Three Categories

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

Paperback or hardback. Simple ordering. 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!

Books authored by Mack Borgen

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