Political Season Warning

Watch out for the straw man   Watching the debates reminded me of a communication ploy to which those who hold similar views to the presenter become victims. It’s an abysmal technique I recommended as a political consultant. Its called the straw man argument. And, is often use when attempting to strengthen a position on an issue to which the presenter has little or no backup data. The straw man technique is misinterpreting the opposing point of view to make it easier to refute or discredit it. A presenter’s straw man argument: “There is a war on Christmas. Atheist are trying to do a way with the day we celebrate Christ’s birth. We’ve got to stop them. The first steps are having us say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas and making us remove manger scenes from public spaces!” With this Christian straw man argument, the goal is to entice likeminded and uninformed individuals into joining supporting the alleged Holy war. In reality this is literally, a nonexistent issue. The overwhelming majority of Atheist, Jews, and other non Christians have no problem with Christmas. However, to sell more soap and automobiles, the media drags this old chestnut out every year, then assiduously seeks out a person of an opposite view to create a “news” fiction. Don’t fall for that straw man argument and have a happy holiday. A recent CarMax TV commercial is a great example of a straw man argument. Video and voiceovers depict car dealers attempting to take advantage of buyers with various disreputable sales ploys. CarMax then says they don’t use those “muscular” tactics. The truth...

My Mother

My mother, Eva Alene Craddock Womack Allen was born mannerly, with a vocabulary that would shame Webster. She attributed her noteworthy social skills to the Craddock family’s (alleged) direct descent from Lord Baltimore. Mother worshipped her father and tolerated her mother. Her father, Walter Craddock, who died when I was four, was a noble figure in Nashville politics of the 30s and 40s. An intellectual, gentle man, who found his greatest joys in serving people and animals, and in consuming copious quantities of Kentucky Bourbon. Her mother, Lily Bell Craddock was from pioneer stock and rural beginnings. Lily Bell’s father Henry Bell, and his brother Montgomery, sold gun powder to both side during the Civil War. Grandfather Henry may have been the Bell family’s salesman to the south, for his brother Montgomery became quite wealthy. Henry returned to dirt farming after the war. As a child, Lily Bell (Craddock) lived a hardscrabble life. A mindset she carried with her into her marriage to Walter and beyond. Lily and Walter had three children. The eldest, a son who died as an infant, Mother (Eva), and her younger sister, Harriet. When Mother was a young girl, her maternal grandfather Henry died when a rival tossed him off a bluff into the Harpeth River Mother inherited her strong love of dogs and cats, from her father. Her dad often brought home stray canines and felines. While her mother didn’t like to pet them, she tolerated and never mistreated them. Mother’s first (and several subsequent cats) was named Blackie. Blackie number one joined the family menagerie when she was five-years old. Diary entry:...

Dream/Think/Plan/Act

The Cycle Of Success Success is something you feel and it comes in all shapes, sizes, and currencies. Just think about all the successes you’ve had in life and how you felt when you received that first place trophy, the blue ribbon, the check, the acclaim, or the inner joy of service to another. Success feels great!  There is a line in Victorian poet George Meredith’s Love in the Valley that provides a powerful illustration of how success feels: “She whom I love is hard to catch and conquer. Hard, but O’ the glory of the winning were she won!” Success, accomplishment, winning, whatever you call it, rarely comes in an instant.  It is usually the result of a series of events that we consciously or intuitively set in motion. In fact, many people find as much joy seeking success as they do achieving it. That process for success, I call the dream/think/plan/act cycle. Dream before you think.  Think before you plan.  Plan before you act.  Act. Begin dreaming again. It’s not new. For eons people have used this process for winning battles and maidens, riches and acclaim, freedom and souls.  Most successes began with someone closing their eyes and opening their mind to the possibilities that life affords them.  Dreams may be big or small. Dream – Dreams are the prefaces to accomplishments. Dreaming of success is painting a picture of the future with the possibilities before you. It’s imagining how your life will be when the dream becomes real. Think – Thinking focuses the dream.  Thinking is removing the clouds from your picture of the future to give you a...

We Need A Peaceweaver General

The sagas of Iceland were composed during the golden age of Iceland (850‑1050 AD), A time of civil war and social decline. The most important saga, the Volsunga Saga, was the source for Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelungenlied Opera. When Segfried acquires a treasure from his two brothers, it creates a family dispute of heroic proportion. The matter is settled when the family summons a peaceweaver, a person in Icelandic mythology who has no ax to grind, no claim to cure ills, or no personal agenda. The peaceweaver’s sole ambition is to help individuals in conflict to work with one another, with respect, to resolve the disagreement without perpetrating violence on each other. Peaceweavers were not kings, priests, or judges.  They were mediators, encouragers, arbitrators, and counselors. They were respected and revered, not for their power, but for their willingness to serve. We need a Peaceweaver General to provide reasoned moderation during these divisive times in these United States....

Man Versus Beast

Gus and Rhett, a Black Lab and a Golden, romped together in my backyard for almost a decade. After a few years of access to the entire yard, my wife and I decided to fence in a portion to give us a poop-free zone for croquet matches and hammock snoozing. Leaving the rest of the yard to the dogs. Included in the new fencing was a dog run across the back. It allowed Gus and Rhett to continue to greet us, on the other side of the yard, for their daily head-scratches when our cars arrived home from work. During the erection of the fence, a workman mistakenly left a space at the bottom of the run that was immediately discovered by Rhett. The smarter of the two dog. After a few digs with his paws, Rhett crawled through the gap and escape the confines of their section of the yard. Rhett barked at Gus to join him in his newfound freedom. Gus just dumbly barked back. Making no move towards the opening. After several addition barks, Rhett realizing, that Gus didn’t grasp the significance of the opportunity, crawled back through the hole, barked a few more times, and again exited the escape route. This time Gus got the message. He followed Rhett through the hole to brief, but joyful freedom. My wife and I watched the entire episode through the kitchen window. After plugging the opening, I returned the escapees to their section of the yard. Animals, like dogs, pigs, monkeys and other creatures, regularly communicate with one another through instincts acquired over millennia and recent experiences. These...

Straw Man Season

BEWARE! “We must do everything within our power to stop the War on Christmas!” During the Christmas season, we often hear or see persons who are outraged with those who want to do away with this hallowed holiday. When, in reality, those allegedly large numbers of heathen malcontents and Godless atheist do not exist. There are a few loud irritating voices who espouse this view. They, along with a few Christian zealots, are annually sought out by the media to sell soap, automobiles, political views, and Sony Play Stations. But a war? I think not. A Straw Man argument is typically used when debating social, political, and religious issues. The user is often aware their opponent doesn’t really hold the view, exactly as presented. The Straw Man argument purposely misrepresents an opposing position, making it easier to knock it down or discredit it. Debater One: “I think the government should spend more money on health and education.” Debater Two: “I’m surprise that he hates our country so much, he wants to gut military spending.” The Straw Man argument also used as a shield in personal relationships when one party desires to change or end the relationship. The perpetrator argues falsehoods or half-truths, instead of what is really on their mind. Thus, requiring the other side spend energy and emotions disproving the falsehood, instead in addressing the real underling issue. The Straw Man argument is also used as a commercial gimmick. There is a CarMax TV commercial that demonstrates how others who sell cars make you haggle over prices and use strong arm measures to make you buy something you...