All posts by Dee Armstrong

MY OPINION: DEMOCRACY IS SIMPLY MOB RULE.

By Dee Armstrong

“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”?  Thomas Jefferson, questionable attribution

 “Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.” Henry L. Mencken (1880—1956)

Ah, how sweet it sounds to hear that a country has selected a democracy for its form of government. People voting for the first time. Remember the Middle Eastern voters who were so proud to show off their purple fingers? The voice of the masses finally heard. Elections, elections, elections! Freedom, freedom, freedom!

With the 2020 election just around the political corner, I am inspired to write about today’s voting pool. I believe this is more applicable today than in Menckin’s time, although I’m not sure it really is ignorance (not knowing). It may just be plain old-fashioned stupidity (choosing to remain ignorant). The result of democratic elections is some elected officials who do not respect the Constitution—or are just plain ignorant of it—and have no good intentions for preserving our Republic.

Thank goodness America is NOT a democracy!

This statement is not new to many. Unfortunately, it still raises eyebrows of those who are ignorant of the terminology. It’s always been my mantra: Democracy is MOB RULE. Sometimes, the mob (voting pool) ends up with a reasonable result—a qualified official with the best interests of his or her constituents. That’s only if the mob is NOT ignorant or stupid. We, collectively, have elected some qualified government officials—and some NOT even qualified to be a bartender!

Our Constitution clearly identifies our nation as a Republic. So does our Pledge of Allegiance. What does this mean to me? To you?

Here’s just one example that is close to my heart.

If I am the only citizen in all of America who wants to own a gun, and the rest of the entire nation’s citizens want to ban anyone from owning a gun, our Constitution protects my God-given right to defend myself, my family and anyone I choose to protect. God created humans with specific instincts, just as he created the rest of the animal kingdom with survival instincts. Humans have a more complex brain than other animals (supposedly!), with the ability to reason, to deliberate, to learn, to love. Animals may have some of these capabilities, but animals execute them without deliberation. They rely on instinct. Humans have been blessed with an elevated sense of responsibility and the power of reasoning, learning, compromising, and surviving.

According to Britannica.com, natural rights are those that people acquire inherently, from God or nature. The majority can’t control those rights in our Republic. Those rights are not dependent on the laws or customs of any particular culture or government and are universal and inalienable (they cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws). Civil rights or legal rights are those that must be given and guaranteed by the power of the state. Therefore, they vary greatly over time, culture, and form of government and tend to follow societal trends that condone or abhor particular types of discrimination. They can be modified, repealed, and restrained by human laws.

In JD’s Snake Oil blog, it burned in my heart to read in black and white the reality that the American masses, through our democratic elections, are literally voting for socialism–or worse. Our election is the only element of our great experiment that is democratic.  Thank goodness for the Electoral College. Our founding fathers had great vision in knowing that the future voting mass could very well destroy the Republic, that Americans could end up so easily led and manipulated that they elect those who wish to destroy the Republic and the Constitution. In walks the Electoral College, at the very start of the United States of America.

I wandered off for a bit, so let’s get back on track. Mob rule.

James Madison was concerned with what he called “the tyranny of the majority.”  He wasn’t alone. The founders had a vision of the population changing and electing those who wish to destroy the Republic from within. How wise were they!

According to the Constitution, the states elect the President, not the populous. The citizens vote for their state’s electors. No mob rule.

I’m grateful for the wisdom and vision of our founding fathers. They could see the inherent dangers that lie with democratic elections. The Electoral College is the only protection we have from mob rule, and the only way we can non-violently preserve our individual rights and prevent the downfall of our great Republic. God bless America and the foundation on which it stands.

Be safe, stay informed, and thanks for reading!

© 2019 Dee Armstrong All Rights Reserved

Email Dee: deeinmontana1949@gmail.com

Subscribe to receive free American Journal updates by Email

Email Format

OPINION: What is a Professional?

By Dee Armstrong

I worked as a “bus boy” (politically incorrect—oh well) in my teens. I was fast, thorough, and didn’t break dishes. I’ll never forget something my boss said to me. “You are so good at bussing tables. Is your goal in life to be a professional bus boy?”

I thought about my answer, even though, in reflection, it was probably a rhetorical question. I responded. “I want to be a professional at any and every job I do.” Because of that approach to work, I did not remain a professional bus boy!

The Webster definitions of the word “professional” varies. They include, but are not limited to, the following:.

  • exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace
  • engaged in by persons receiving financial return
  • following a line of conduct as though it were a profession

As bus boy, I felt I satisfied all three of these definitions. Funny how these definitions don’t directly refer to an academic degree. Geez, maybe there’s more to being a professional than a college degree.

My new manager of corporate communications had just graduated from college. She was ten years my junior. The only reason I bring up her age is that I had ten years of working experience that she lacked. But that’s okay. What wasn’t okay was her attitude of superiority, which I considered unprofessional.

I was editor of a company newsletter and had been doing that for several years prior to her arrival. When I brought my draft newsletter to her for her signoff, she took it and kept it for several days, causing an unnecessary rush on the printer. When she did return it, she had bled all over it. I recall her one recurring punctuation edit was moving the period to the outside of an end quotation mark. I asked her what her source was for doing that. She said it was because she had a degree in journalism and had published many newsletters at college, and I didn’t have a college degree. Great reasoning? I don’t think so.

My next question got me a nastygram for insubordination. “Please tell me what writing source tells you to put the period after the end quote.” She walked away.

That afternoon I gathered the dictionary, the Chicago Manual of Style, the AP Stylebook, and several other reference books. I flagged the punctuation issue in each and placed them on her desk. I told her I would not change that punctuation unless she could show me her reference, because I wanted to preserve my professionalism. Then I asked her to please bring in several of the newsletters she published in college, so I had a better idea of her preferences for layout and style. She never did bring them. She merely wrote me up with a ding in my personnel file. I’m proud of that ding. I asked nicely, professionally. I didn’t care if she was young, inexperienced, and had her bachelor’s. I just wanted to do things right.

Since I lack the academic credential, I found myself carefully researching things that some degreed “professionals” seem to take for granted. They are right because they have the degree, and that’s good enough for them. It isn’t good enough for me.

In my spare time, I wrote for no pay at all just to get a portfolio together. It was a tough road, but it paid off in the long run—emphasis on “long.” Please don’t misunderstand me. I am all for higher education. If I had had a degree in combination with my work ethic, I might have had more doors opened and reached financial goals decades sooner. But education is what you make of it. Some party their way through college and manage to graduate by the skin of their teeth. Some cheat. Some breeze through college because they’re really smart. Some must work extra hard to pass. Many just give up and drop out.

Through my survival instincts, I quickly learned ways to help me overcome my lack of credentials. I explained emphatically to prospective employers that I’m smart enough to apply what I know, confident enough to admit when I don’t know, and always determined to learn quickly what I need to know. Ignorance is not knowing. The word “ignorance” gets such a bad rap. We are all ignorant in some regard since no one knows everything. However, choosing to remain ignorant is just plain unprofessional, on the edge of stupid. And, as my surrogate brother says, you can’t fix stupid.

I also stressed the importance of a good work ethic and potential to wear more than one hat. I even offered to work for a probationary period for less money just for the chance to prove myself and the value I could bring to the job. I always got hired. Good and honest communication is critical to success, with or without a college degree.

We encouraged our daughter to go to college but also warned her that we would not support failure. When she ended up on academic probation, we cut the money. We’re very proud of her because, quite a few years later, she had funded her education and graduated, even though she was older than many graduates. It may have taken her longer, but she was determined. She is the first in our family to earn a college degree. My mother and father both quit while in high school. My husband also quit high school. He earned his GED and further education in Navy Nuclear Power School, which eventually landed him a senior engineer position with a major corporation. With many businesses, experience and application trump credentials. Although I did graduate from high school, I wish I had had the opportunity to go to college decades ago. From what I see of today’s culture, I know that a degree doesn’t necessarily validate a person’s intelligence or work ethic. Unfortunately.

Someone once told us that we must live in a “good” school district to be sure our daughter got a quality education. Although public schools have their drawbacks, I have concluded that education and the ability to learn comes from within oneself and with help and encouragement of family. Even with some substandard teachers and schools, I assured our daughter that she could learn as much or as little as she wanted. There was always the library for research, the newspaper for current events (that’s questionable these days), listening to others and being able to analyze sources. Learning is a continual element of life if we accept the fact that it isn’t always obtained traditionally. We stop learning and we stop living.

Maybe I’m a professional learner. I see every person in our lives as a teacher, whether they realize it or not. There’s always something to learn. Every drive we take we can learn from what we see out the window. Every task, whether at home, at work or at play, can teach. How can we do things better, faster, smarter, or more productively? How can we communicate better, with truth and information, with clarity and lack of ambiguity? How can we do better, for ourselves, for our loved ones and friends, for our employer? Professionalism is the link to answer all these questions.

Now you know more about me than you ever thought you would—or ever cared to know.

Be safe, stay informed, and thanks for reading!

© 2019 Dee Armstrong All Rights Reserved

Email Dee: deeinmontana1949@gmail.com

Opinion: I’m in a Hurry

By Dee Armstrong

I’m in a hurry to get things done.
I rush and rush until life’s no fun.
All I need to do is live and die.
I’m in a hurry and I don’t know why.  Alabama

Our personal lifestyle here in Montana reflects a pace unknown to city dwellers. Even lacking the big cities, we find the rush of city life flurrying around us. With all the imports from Canada, California, and so many other places, people tend to bring their “in a hurry” attitude with them. In my opinion, that state of hurriedness brings all sorts of problems for everyone. And the attitude (“driven”) can agitate good health and certainly isn’t helpful for health issues. I believe God gave us the ability to handle some stress, but, when that stress is unnecessary, we’re foolish to push the envelope.

The first “hurry” that is most obvious is the speed limit. I don’t appreciate the guy or gal in front of me going 50 in a 65-mph speed limit. However, road and weather conditions should dictate the speed, as well as choice. In casual conversation, one lifelong Montanan said that people who drive 50 in a 65 should be ticketed. I responded with a question: “Do you know the definition of the word ‘limit’?” I asked him to keep in mind that the speed limit does not dictate the appropriate speed.

A coworker who was a retired state trooper once told me that being in a hurry was the routine excuse that he heard during all kinds of traffic violations and accidents. I refuse to provide any state with more revenue due to my ignoring its laws. It’s just not worth the stress or the money.

One time, I was called to jury duty. The defense attorney asked all of us prospective jurors who was a little nervous when we noticed a cop car behind us. All jurors raised their hands except me. He asked me individually, “You aren’t a bit nervous?” I replied, “Not at all. Just the opposite. When there’s a cop car around, every driver plays nice on the road. I love it.” The judge, the prosecutor, and the two policemen laughed out loud. Needless to say, the defense attorney gave me a thumbs-down. But I digress.

Yes, going too slow can cause a traffic issue, but I find tailgaters to be more of a safety hazard than those going slightly slower than we’d like, or under the speed limit. Many roads here have a 70-mph speed limit. One such road crosses a rather narrow bridge with a shoulder not wide enough to park a car. One day, I approached the bridge and saw a deer (boy, they are everywhere here) trapped on the bridge, trying to make its way across. Slow down? I surely did, but others coming the other direction did not. That was an “I’m -in-a-hurry” accident waiting to happen. There are lots of deer, and they don’t really cross where the sign says, “Wildlife Crossing.”  Let’s give them a ticket for jaywalking (deer-walking?). Or send them back to school to learn to read.

The rule of thumb, in my opinion, of course, is, if you can’t see around the bend or over the hill, slow down until you can see. Oh, my gosh—is that just too much common sense for a society that appears to have made common sense so terribly UNCOMMON?

The other “hurry” is at the grocery store or big box store. I understand that others may have time restrictions and are trying to get things done quickly. Those carts are weapons to one’s heels. They can do serious damage. Tailgating with those carts is a no-no, similar to tailgating in a car. However, I also believe that common courtesy dictates that us slower-moving shoppers should pull aside or park off the main aisle so those with the time issues can fly past. Sounds a little like the road traffic?

I don’t care how fast you go—in the store or on the road. I don’t care how many chances you take in your everyday life. I only start caring when you affect what I do, my safety, my stress level, my health, my money, my constitutionally protected freedoms—and those of my family and loved ones.

I have come to realize that it’s the touch of Libertarian in me. I’ve come to believe that others—those who speed, those who do drugs, those who are rude, those who are unaware of anyone around them—can press on as long as it doesn’t affect me or those I love.

How do I curb my “I’m-in-a-hurry” mode of operation? First, I make sure I allow plenty of time to get where I’m going. Even during my working days (and I had a three-hour commute, one way!), I always arrived on time because I allowed for potential obstacles. I had a one cup of coffee at home, but I often arrived early enough to grab that second cup before my allotted start time. I wasn’t getting paid to stand in line at Starbucks. If I didn’t have the time before my work clock started, I did without the coffee. That didn’t happen very often because I really was annoying without that second cup. It’s called a work ethic. Because of my work ethic, I was called “Goody Two-Shoes,” but I didn’t care. My work ethic made me feel good. I was proud to be a responsible employee.

Consideration for others includes being on time. Consideration for me means planning my time so I don’t have to hurry. You wouldn’t believe the amount of stress that this approach eliminates. I wish everyone would try it, for everyone’s sake.

Be safe, stay informed, and thanks for reading!

© 2019 Dee Armstrong All Rights Reserved

Whatever Happened to Sticks and Stones?

By Dee Armstrong

Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never harm me. Only if I LET them!

Yes, words can hurt, but only if they come from someone I respect and love. Even then, I get over it. I don’t scar easily. And, as I matured, I found it easier to walk away from trouble.

Speaking words or putting them down on paper (or a computer screen) requires a certain level of vocabulary. Words put together in a clear, unambiguous narrative can inform, influence or motivate. Words written or spoken for any other reason are just blanks, with little to no power to do much of anything, unless we allow them.

Name-calling, as children, was frowned upon, but parents realized they couldn’t protect their children from every bad thing. So, we were taught the sticks-and-stones philosophy. Don’t let others hurt you with their hurtful words. That lesson encouraged self-confidence and taught us to walk away from most trouble. Pick your battles—and name-calling wasn’t worth the fight.

Several decades ago, I was watching the Johnny Carson Show one late night (remember him?). Johnny was conducting an audience search for the most unusual or funny name. I can’t recall what names popped up, but I said to myself, “If I was there in that audience, I would have won the prize.” My parents stuck me with the given name of Edith Muriel Kronbitter. Could it get any worse or any funnier?

I hated elementary school classmates calling me “Eat-It.” In middle school, I was so skinny and tall they called me Beanpole, and taunted, that, when I turned sideways, I disappeared. At high school graduation, you can imagine my horror when the principal called me to the stage to get my diploma: “Edith Krumbiter.” Would I ever live that down? I wanted to move away, far away.

As I grew into an adult, and started my family, I realized that names could actually help or hurt a child. I started thinking carefully about what to name my daughter. I was named Edith after the dear and generous English woman who took my abandoned mother into her home and cared for her, taught her, and loved my sister and me as if we were her real grandchildren. We called her Aunt Edith. Muriel was my mother’s name. Kronbitter? A German name from Kronenbiter—beggar of coins. Oh well, no way to talk myself into loving that one.  I often wonder if I got married just to change my last name. At the wedding reception, I’ll never forget my new mother-in-law’s greeting: “Welcome to the family, dear. Now I can finally remember your last name!”

I digress. Naming my daughter. I managed to convince my husband on the first name Meredith, which contained our dear Aunt Edith’s name.  Middle name would be Jeanne, my deceased sister’s name. I liked the melody of “Meredith Jeanne.”  Of course, with the nickname of “Merrie,” her classmates taunted her with “Merry Christmas.” Kids just do those things.

Now, in my winter years, I’m pleased I’m named after a wonderful and kind woman. That’s called “growing up” with some good core values, I’m proud to say.

So now I face the issue of PC—political correctness. We can think it (at lease, still), but before we speak, most of what we want to say we must re-run through our brain several times, checking for anything offensive to anyone. Not me. Implementation of my freedom of speech has lost me a few friends, but I figure they weren’t really friends anyway.

I believe we have the First Amendment right to speak—not spread lies or yell “Fire” in a theater—but to speak our minds and opinions.

If someone calls me a name I don’t like, I don’t have to listen. If someone writes something I don’t like, I can stop reading. If I see a TV show I find offensive (lots of them out there), I change the channel. I don’t file a complaint or hire a lawyer. If I do those things to someone else, they have choices too. Turn away, delete the email, take the book back to the library, change the channel.

No wonder our current state of affairs is in chaos. Everyone is picking on everyone else for some dumb reason or another. I believe our country is producing a whole fragile generation who has way too much time on its hands to scrutinize others’ speech. I feel like telling the politically correct police that life isn’t fair, and your opinion is yours to voice, but, according to the Constitution, I can voice mine too, whether you like it or not.

Here goes an eyebrow-raiser. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a “hate” crime. To hate is NOT a crime. It sure isn’t constructive and can do the hater lots of damage, physically, emotionally, and certainly spiritually. However, hate is not illegal. It’s the action that is the crime, regardless of whether hate is involved or not. Someone who murders someone because they hate them–or love them–is still a murderer. At the trial, hate may be motive. The three elements to prove guilt are motive, means and opportunity. None of these three things is the crime. They just help convict. But murder committed for any reason is still murder. What about the mother who abandons or even kills her children because her new boyfriend doesn’t want kids? What about the out-of-control druggie who assaults or kills for money to buy drugs? What about the grandson who kills the grandparents for his inheritance? Lots of emotions—or lack of them—can motivate someone to commit a crime. It’s the action that is the crime—not the emotion or motivation.

I know first-hand about motive. The man who killed my sister stood in court, crying, and sincerely claiming he loved her so much that he couldn’t bear the thought of her dating someone else. Jealously was the motive, not the crime. Should he be punished any less because he didn’t hate her? Our judicial system must separate the motive from the crime. Motive is certainly one element of proving guilt, but taking a life is the CRIME.

Name calling can hurt and damage us, if we let it. As humans, we have the ability to heal, even though we might need help from family, friends or community. We must take a look at how we raise our children. I believe in the sticks-and-stones approach, because, as my dear mom would say from experience, where there’s life, there’s hope. We have choices, at least so far. Society must recognize the priceless value of our First Amendment or we, collectively and individually, will certainly crumble and fail.

Be safe, stay informed, and thanks for reading!

© 2019 Dee Armstrong All Rights Reserved

OPINION: Is It Compromise? Or Is It Surrender?

By Dee Armstrong

Mom told us many times that nothing good happens after midnight. That’s probably true for the bar crowd, dance clubs, and one-night stands. As a writer, I disagree with that idiom. Some of my best ideas pop up while I’m struggling to sleep. The streaming thoughts are screaming to get out of my head. One of the well-earned perks of being retired—and just plain old—is the opportunity to get up in the middle of the night and throw those thoughts onto the computer screen. At least I can get them out of my head and maybe get some sleep. I can always edit a bad page, but I can’t edit a blank page.

One such subject popped up early this morning. I listened to Tucker Carlson talk about the importance of political compromise.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjZJtKKUKVc

He’s right that our Congress is obligated to come to compromise to get the job done, now and historically. However, certain things should NOT be on the table. I can think of three categories that shouldn’t be compromised: 1) those things that violate or infringe on our constitutional rights; 2) things that endanger our great nation and its citizens, and 3) things that go against our core values on which this nation was founded.  I’ve often thought our elected officials should be required to include in every bill unquestionable evidence that the bill doesn’t violate any of these principles. Better yet, let each bill provide evidence of how it upholds our Constitution, our safety and security, and our core values.

The most mundane analogy I can come up with on this compromise topic is dating. It’s been a very long while—decades—since I dated, but my memory still is intact, thank the good Lord. If a date wanted to eat at a Thai restaurant, I could compromise, even though I’m not crazy about Thai food. However, if he wanted to draw a line of cocaine as dessert, that’s where I draw MY line of no, no, and hell no. A rather elementary analogy. Choosing a mate involves compromise, but I refuse to tolerate someone who embraces cheating, atheism, drug use, financial irresponsibility, “open” marriage. Leaving wet towels on the bathroom floor? I can compromise on that, although I may not like it much.

I just thought of a public compromise with which I can live. At Walmart, I can go down another aisle when shoppers block that aisle. I don’t like it, and I consider those shoppers rude, but  I can compromise without my core values getting challenged.

To bring compromise to the table on a woman’s “right to choose,” well, that’s just plain wrong. That compromise means a surrender of someone’s life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. A dead baby, born or unborn, has no chance at liberty and certainly cannot pursue happiness. If I compromise on this issue, I surrender my core value of revering God-given life. Women should not have the power of deciding an innocent and helpless human’s life or death, regardless of the fact that they reside in the womb. Once conception takes place, I see a woman’s body as an incubator for another human life. We, as women, must understand the consequences and/or rewards of a pregnancy. Same goes for men. And don’t tell me I don’t know what it’s like to face the consequences of an unplanned pregnancy. I do. So there.

The other issue I see as void of compromise is the immigration crisis. Breaking the law is not a compromise—it’s a crime. If you don’t want illegal immigration to be a crime, CHANGE THE LAW. And if you attempt to change the law, you’d better have some strong justification to do so without placing our people in jeopardy.

I could never understand how Roe v Wade got through the Supreme Court. I can not understand how sanctuary cities consider themselves lawful. And that’s just two out-front issues. I could go on and on, but it’s 4 degrees here this morning, and I must bring in more firewood for our woodstove.  No compromise on that!

Be safe, stay aware, and thanks for reading!

© 2019 Dee Armstrong All Rights Reserved