The Agenda-Afflicted Rose In Full Bloom

By Norman E. Kjono, November 3, 2006

There is much ballyhoo in the press today about the winds for change on the political front based on next week's elections. That the winds of change blow with uncommon velocity is self-evident. But what new direction does that wind portend?  Are we to merely replace Republican "Deciders" with Democrat "Deciders"?

From Newsweek. November 6, 2006 issue, "OK Sister, Drop That Sandwich,"  

"Nov. 6, 2006 issue - Walking around downtown Orlando, Fla., feels like strolling through "The Truman Show" 's fictional town of Seahaven. But spotless sidewalks, a tidy business district, lush parks and lakes belie a real city with real problems, in particular a burgeoning homeless population that local officials are struggling to control. After a law banning begging outright was struck down by the courts, the city tried regulating panhandlers by issuing them ID cards, then by confining them to three- by 15-foot 'panhandling zones' painted on sidewalks. But it wasn't enough, so this summer Orlando tried a supply-side solution, cracking down on churches and activists who had been feeding large groups of homeless people in downtown parks. Now it's not just the panhandlers who risk getting arrested, it's the people trying to help them. Advocates say anti-feeding ordinances are the latest in a series of municipal efforts to legislate against homelessness." (Underline added.)

From the Seattle Weekly, January 18, 2006 "Big Nanny Is Watching You," By Philip Dowdy. Quoting Roger Valdez, Director of Tobacco Prevention, Seattle-King County Department of Public Health, Mr. Dawdy wrote:

"Americans think they have a lot of rights they really don't have. Smoking is one of those things where people think they have a right to smoke, but you don't. . . . You have no right to smoke. It's an addiction. It's something you should see a doctor about. . . . The condo association can ban it, and you have no legal recourse."

From the Seattle Weekly, January 18, 2006, "Smoking Out the Homeless," by Philip Dowdy:

On Jan. 17, the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) received a violation notice signed by Roger Valdez, the county's tobacco czar (see "Big Nanny Is Watching You," Jan. 18). . . . I cannot imagine that the county cares whether people are smoking in DESC or not. This, to me, seems like someone's agenda running amok. 'Director stated that he would not come into compliance with the law and would not pay any fines issued,' one of the county's no-smoking squad noted in the record. The next week, Valdez wrote DESC to inform the agency that it faced fines if it didn't come into compliance-which presumably meant kicking out smoking shelter residents. One of the strictest antismoking laws in the country has run smack into urban reality. Was this what voters wanted when they passed the indoor-smoking ban in November, which also prohibits outdoor smoking within 25 feet of entrances?"

Mr. Valdez appears to travel in august company. A few weeks ago the Decider-in-Chief singed into law the Military Commissions Act (MCA). The act opens the door to eliminating a constitutionally protected writ of habeas corpus, effectively the right to trial by a jury of one's peers. The writ is fundamental to personal liberties because it assures that citizens may demand appearance before the courts and therefore rely on lawful due process in addressing charges against them. Valdez has already decreed that condo associations can unilaterally mandate other's rights, so why should we be at all surprised that the homeless apparently have no legal recourse concerning lawful behavior not specifically enumerated in our Constitution?


There appears to be a current nationwide fascination with Napoleonic law versus U.S. constitutional law. Under Napoleonic law that which is not expressly permitted is prohibited. Under the U.S. Constitution that which is not prohibited is permitted. Leave it to the little Napoleons of today's era and their wannabe adherents to redefine constitutional law to suit personal preference. When one puts King County's "Crack Down" on the homeless in context of Orlando's "Crack Down" on feeding them it becomes evident that county level wannabes have gone one better than Marie Antoinette: apparently cake and a place to sleep are just, well, you know, a little much to expect, after all. It's interesting how public disgust with King Louis XVI and his wife - purported source of the infamous line "let then eat cake" -- lead to installing Bonaparte as Emperor of France after a short period of rule by the citizen's Directory. Hopefully we can avoid a similar fate here in circa 2000 USA. That Napoleon's rule as Emperor lasted a scant 11 years before his Napoleonic Wars excesses caused his downfall inspires hope.


The wannabes are cause for continuing concern, however. Predictably, immature bullies always "Target" those weakest and least able to resist, in futile attempt to accommodate their own compulsion to assert personal power. If they are riding a wave of Social Marketing public opinion about a political agenda so much the better, the delinquent thinking goes. Mandate muggers never get it: the act of "Targeting" others reveals the weakness and simple-minded thinking of a bully, to begin with. We the people then get it with stunning clarity: it's not about the homeless or smoking at all, it is - and always has been - about the bully's compulsion to dominate.


Of equal or greater importance is the affect of such approaches on those who believe themselves to be exempt from inevitable and unseemly consequences. Many assume that because "it doesn't affect me" they can ignore mandates imposed on others. None would believe themselves more exempt from mandate muggers than those who earnestly follow Christ's teaching to love one another, expressed in the Orlando case by feeding the homeless. It is striking, and to me deeply unsettling, that we the people appear to have progressed from smacking around unsightly and defenseless homeless to now also penalizing those who presume to share a meal or crust of bread with them. The message sent by such unseemly ordinances is at once eloquently simple and exceptionally blunt: help a "Target" and you become one, regardless of the merits of what you do.  First, and above all else, the authority of the deciders must and will be preserved. The rationality or common decency with which the authority is applied being so far distant from consideration as to become a non sequitur. 

From the Seattle Weekly, February 1, 2006, Roger Valdez Letter to the Editor, "Try the Patch:"

"We have compassion for smokers battling a powerful addiction . . . Affordable treatment is key: We offer a free nicotine patch program, and we are advocating for important changes in the law to mandate smoking cessation treatment on demand for those with health insurance and offer support for those with no coverage. . . . The ban and its implementation is a success story written by our community."

The "Crack Down" artists, exemplars being Mr. Valdez and his ardent supporters such as Washington's Democrat Governor Christine O. Gregoire, have spoken. Use the nicotine patch. The Seattle-King County Department of Public Health even has a free - which means taxpayer supported - program to accomplish that. The fact that such Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products are, in good times, 7 percent effective - and therefore 93 percent ineffective - for intended use as smoking cessation aids apparently being irrelevant. This must be considered in light of the fact that "Smoke Free" Nicotine Delivery Device products such as Nicorette Gum and NicoDerm CQ patches pay ZERO state excise tax, while cigarette Nicotine Delivery Devices are highly taxed. Accordingly, we the people observe those who spend taxpayer's money to advance a personal preference agenda engaging in a stunningly-stupid use of taxpayer funds. In 93 percent of cases King County will have paid artificially inflated prices for "medication" that predictably does not work for intended use to cure the "illness," and in the 7 percent of cases where the "medication" does work state tax revenues are converted to a subsidy for powerful pharmaceutical interests such as Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline. What was state excise tax revenues becomes bottom line profits for special-interests that aggressively fund tobacco control activists and programs. The more successful tobacco control is the faster the state transfers its excise tax revenues to corporate tills. Whatever else such state policies may be, fiscally responsible they are not. 

The message to nonsmokers who believe themselves exempt from the consequences of the Agenda-Afflicted advancing their Anti-Mentality agenda about tobacco because "it doesn't affect me" is therefore clear and unambiguous: either way Mr. Valdez and Governor Gregoire's tobacco control agenda shakes out you lose. 93 percent of the time you will have spent state money to purchase nicotine "medicine" that predictably does not work; whether it works of not you will have transferred your taxpayer's dollars to enhance Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline bottom line profits. Then again, the presumption that those who stand idly by while their neighbor's oxe is gored are intelligent enough to understand their own bovine may soon take the horn, too, might need to be revisited.

From George F. Will's Last Word column, "Togetherness In Baghdad,"   published in the November 6, 2006 edition of Newsweek:

"Nov. 6, 2006 issue - Many months ago it became obvious to all but the most ideologically blinkered that America is losing the war launched to deal with a chimeric problem (an arsenal of WMD) and to achieve a delusory goal (a democracy that would inspire emulation, transforming the region). Last week the president retired his mantra "stay the course" because it does not do justice to the nimbleness and subtlety of U.S. tactics for winning the war. A surreal and ultimately disgusting facet of the Iraq fiasco is the lag between when a fact becomes obvious and when the fiasco's architects acknowledge that fact. Iraq's civil war has been raging for more than a year; so has the Washington debate about whether it is what it is."

It is interesting to note that "chimerical" is defined by Webster as "unreal, imaginary." That term is interesting as to its roots. Oxford defines "Chimera" as a mythological fire-breathing beast with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail, and "Chimeric" as imaginary or fanciful. An example of how the term has been used, as provided by Oxford, dates to 1751: "A convocation of Chimeras breathing fire and smoke." The term "delusory" as used by Mr. Will to describe the goal in Iraq has its roots in the word delusion, described by Webster as "A false, unshakable belief indicating a severe mental disorder."

The import and meaning of events in Iraq is best interpreted by individuals, their relevance to current events being expressed on the ballot next week. Whatever else may be said about the war in Iraq it is now abundantly clear that the weapons of mass destruction used as the pretense for that war did not exist as represented, the collateral damage imposed has been astronomical, and the War on Terror that campaign allegedly supports has been declared to be unending. Consequently, we the people now find ourselves contending with ever-expanding mandates from the Department of Homeland Security that micromanage otherwise legal behavior to the excruciating detail of how many ounces of shampoo one may include in a carryon bag, to ostensibly support eliminating the terrorism in Iraq. Similarly, the alleged claims about tobacco advanced by constitutional luminaries such as Mr. Valdez have now been so thoroughly examined and dismissed as to be nonexistent, the collateral damage imposed by tobacco control on state fiscal responsibility, small business owners and consumers is measured in the billions, and the War on Smokers is an apparently-unending campaign that will continue so long as corporate interests that finance it continue to rake in ever-increasing profits. Consequently, we the people now find ourselves embracing the false belief that we can responsibly finance K-12 education from a cigarette tax revenue source that our governor and local health departments have vowed to eliminate.

The "Deciders" are busily at work, promoting and aggressively pursuing their false, unshakable beliefs. In doing so they appear oblivious that facts readily understood by normal folks reveal that those with a compulsion to decide for others are afflicted with severe mental and fiscal responsibility disorders. We refer to those who presume to decide for all others at any cost or consequence as "Agenda-Afflicted." Symptoms of the disorder are predetermined agendas that will be aggressively pursued regardless of facts to the contrary, acute disregard for the consequences of their behavior on anyone else, and persisting with an agenda despite increasing evidence it is a sham. Such afflictions are inevitably accompanied by concomitant efforts to discredit, demean or otherwise eliminate those who point out the emperor lacks clothes. The Agenda-Afflicted delusion of wearing whole cloth also reveals unsightly warts on the butt of humankind. The common tie that binds the Agenda-Afflicted together - from county health departments, through governor's mansions, and on up to the oval office - is the unshakeable belief in a self-proclaimed delusion of authority to be the sole decider of lawful behavior for all others.

There is much ballyhoo in the press today about the winds for change on the political front based on next week's elections. That the winds of change blow with uncommon velocity is self-evident. But what new direction does that wind portend?  Are we to merely replace Republican "Deciders" with Democrat "Deciders"? More to the point, is there a material difference between a Republican President who threatens the fiscal stability and international credibility of America through a false, unshakable belief that bombing into oblivion nations that do not conform to his vision of Democracy and a Governor who threatens the fiscal responsibility of state budgets with a false, unshakable belief that programs which do not and cannot work will be mandated regardless of costs to constituent taxpayers? It there a material difference between city council members who mandate that the homeless are now not to even be fed in Orlando, a condition so deplorable it is not encountered by most stray cats, and a county tobacco czar who will throw the homeless out of shelters into the streets, then presume to draw a 25 foot circle of exclusion around them, to boot?

Hope is found in the belief that we the people may be wise enough to distinguish political party and agenda-affliction. We as voters need to be wise enough to distinguish between the two because there are ample examples that the Agenda-Afflicted appear in coats of many colors, liberally sprinkled among both Democrats and Republicans. Perhaps the better choice is to measure candidates with the yardstick of fostering responsible wholeness rather than divisive fragmentation of our culture. The choice then becomes one of voting for "Deciders" or "Enablers." Deciders impose fiscally irresponsible diminution of legitimate government interests and constituent rights to accommodate their personal need to express power and influence. Enablers provide welcome opportunity for all to contribute by creating a path to better circumstances for everyone, thereby serving the legitimate needs of both the state and its constituents. Fundamentally, the choice between deciders and enablers is a choice between those who appropriate government auspices to serve themselves and those who allow government to improve circumstances for all. 

Given the above distinction, excerpts from "The Mystic Heart of Justice," Chrysalis Books, Denise Breton and Stephen Lehman, Pages 99 - 103 provide a thought-worthy approach to selecting our future political leaders:

            "Because the principle of wholeness differs radically from our ordinary categories, it challenges us to rethink who we are from the ground up. We're called to rethink not only our nature but, even more, the dynamics of our existence, namely, that we're not separate beings, however much we appear to be. . . .We're beings of connectedness, engaged with all sorts of systems that operate in and around us. . . . Claiming our connected nature starts with recognizing our connectedness: observing how we participate in family systems, educational systems, economic systems, work systems, religious systems, media systems, political systems. . . .We're both products of all these different systems and changers of them. . . . Exploiting one part for the benefit of another cannot, therefore, be a strategy in systems without weakening and ultimately destroying the whole. . . . In the short term, dominator methods can seem successful, but in the long term they fail. They're ignorant of how things got to be the way they are because of the workings of systems. . . . System imbalances must be righted, or system ills go uncorrected. Imbalances make problems multiply, until systems fail, and we with them." (Underline, italic added.)

Please be sure to vote. We'll see what political landscape we have created for ourselves beginning on November 9, 2006.

Norm Kjono

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