Somewhere along the way, the city of Ferguson, Missouri, one of a chain of small towns and neighborhoods buried near St. Louis, began to carry out a criminal enterprise. In a short time, that enterprise grew inside-out. It was wildly successful. It set goals and developed guidance; it applauded and defended its corruption. But Ferguson’s malfeasance never managed to get right-side-up.
In painful details, with statistics, records, and conversations—with emails that matter—the Justice Department shows Ferguson slipped into a parallel world that went almost unnoticed, as Ferguson openly created a criminal enterprise founded on crime! But Ferguson thought it was doing good by doing bad! What guided Ferguson’s fascinating dance on the wild side was a stern Puritan approach toward the majority of its citizens, easily identified by color. That Puritan judgment became racial bias. In the neighborhoods of Ferguson, two-thirds of its residents. people of color, made easy pickings for schemes to fill its coffers and to increase arrests for the city’s public order crimes.
Ferguson acted swiftly and expanded its violations of public order; many crimes were added to the city’s legal statures in order to increase revenues despite having no real public safety benefit. Public order crimes were the gateway to a broad labyrinth of administrative fees and fines, and added costs which developed after routine contact with the police and the court.
Public order crimes usually have no victims; they emanate from statures that criminalize certain behaviors interpreted by the police. “Failure to comply” was a common favorite; so was “manner of walking.” These crimes become an issue when police are out of control and use broad powers to target every slight, real or perceived. Discretion is not only judgment, it is power. In Ferguson, it was only power, a drill abused.
Crime is frequently about bigger things, about money and power. These motives underline bad acts. But Ferguson’s crimes began at the other end; they were the consequence of power: Ferguson converted its public safety and justice missions into revenue streams. Its systems became an ongoing criminal enterprise by violating citizens’ constitutional rights. The city institutionalized these violations as way to make public order crimes pay off for the city! These constitutional violations brought this small city more than a million dollars a year. On Ferguson’s scales of justice, one side, a minority, enjoyed special privileges. They rose above the other, a majority without power, on whom the systemic thumb of authority was an economic burden that weighed freedom down.
Corrupt? Criminal? Unfair? Biased? Ferguson officials disagree. They reject these descriptions and they are sincere. But their story, as they tell it, recycles a familiar canon: biased beliefs and myths about its majority, people of color. The same biases Mitt Romney expressed in the Presidential election. The ones he mentioned during his call to President Obama when he conceded. The ones related to the mythic stories Ronald Reagan often told. The difference in values and beliefs that Rudy Giuliani feels between white Presidents and a black President; a causal, mean-spirited disrespect echoed in the House and the Senate, in every political talking point flashing through social media; in part, the unstoppable outrage of acceptable mistreatment whose vicious blame and ugliness carries with it a simultaneous pledge of no ill will.
But Ferguson was loose about race. Police and court personnel often shared racial humor in moments of levity. In all of these jokes, they claim no intent to harm; it’s only small stuff. One official remarked about Ferguson’s unwritten policy of illegal 72-hour detention, “it was only few days.” When challenged, “it” was only funny/humorous/no big deal/why all the fuss/everyone jokes? Challenges meet with grievance or indifference.
When the police department and court clerks make jokes about eugenics and genocide that’s no laughing matter.
The town, Ferguson, which in the 1960s required all blacks to exit its limits by sundown and at night chained off the main street to Kinloch, the all-black town that was its closest neighbor, saw itself as honest in its bias. It found humor in its version of ugly truth.
Among city officials, court workers, and law enforcement personnel and supervisors, emails made the rounds which supposedly mirrored the profound—and pathetic—truth of being black. In one example, humor lay in associating abortion by black mothers with the laudable and socially acceptable goal of reducing crime. (Why did the pregnant mother who aborted receive a $5,000 check from Crime Stoppers?)
Think about it. As assembled, the joke slips out of joint. On closer reading, the joke implies not only does black life not matter—but that it matters even more and is worth something if and only if it becomes dead.
Of course, the pretense is it is a joke about crime and criminals and criminal activity. But its core intent makes a clear case about competing ideals: about the values society rewards and the reasons why. The joke laces values, rewards, and reason to color by offering a large bounty for aborted black children, who, even unborn, are presumptive criminals—and born to be worthless.
Stand the joke on its head. It points back to a society monitoring intrusively the activities of black families. (In the joke, Crime Stoppers is monitoring the arrivals and birth certificates of black newborns; vigilant in its fear!).
The narrative of the joke denies an opportunity even for life itself; black death is an event and value to be glorified—and made valuable by the illegal cash award (mocking the truth of Ferguson’s illegal transfers!) that strongly suggests that normal social institutions endorse death and share common, dark fears. In the joke, a death certificate is like a coupon. It could be a lottery ticket, a scratch-off. The joke’s world view says the only choice for black youth is crime. It replaces grief and helplessness with cash incentives, makes the high point of black life an early death.
People who laugh at these jokes hold the jokes’ embedded values in their own core. Whether in anger or fun or rage, the narrative’s ruthlessness, closed-off coldness and concept of social good is easy to see, after the shock. Memory (and photographs!) say Southern lynchings were well attended. Black death has long been entertainment in live form or repeated stories. In Ferguson’s world of fungible humor, bounties were offered for dead black children. In the context of crime, laughter was invoked by a bounty for an unviable fetus.
The media, of course, failed to notice this. But CNN did discuss this “second” set of emails (after Hillary’s); its “expert” commenter ignored them and staged the report as the Justice Department coming after the police. He obviously had not reviewed any section of the report. His bit was familiar: liberals and black officials against the police; what else? He was a racist enabler. The anchor had not read the report either. Their questions and answers not in evidence called for speculation and went off-topic to familiar ground. By their insincerity, they were part of the problem. Continue reading Eugenics Is No Laughing Matter: Unconstitutional Humor Laughs at Black Death in Ferguson’s Emails
Netanyahu’s “shrift rift” turned into a confessional with all the hallmarks of dirty politics. First, no one accepts an invitation from a “family” member unless he or she is certain the head of the house approves. Certainly, a national leader does not accept an offer to speak that bypasses the equivalent office he or she holds, when to do so undermines and embarrasses the very relationship on which your security and progress is built. Would it be a “family” issue if President Obama thought it important enough to bypass Netanyahu and take his case directly to the Knesset?
Every dirty political move denies its errors and intent; Netanyahu is doing the same. Every dirty move claims it is demanded by a higher calling: safety, security, liberty, survival are righteous claims. The details of truth that lay in the balance are overlooked because of the attention given to the dirty move—which is being carefully denied! Hence the cycle: it’s denied in order to deflect from the details of truth that disprove its claims.
Finally, the point of political dirt is disruption—and this Boehner/Netanyahu dust-up with Obama is as nasty as it gets—bypassing a head of state to address a national legislature is a collusion never witnessed in US history. (Not Britain, France, China, Russia, or any of the world’s 190+ nations have had the opportunity and disdain and disregard to do so!)
John Boehner is willing to risk our national security while embracing a war hawk who wants the US to be his pocketbook and national proxy; in Israel, some call him the Republican senator from Jerusalem, or is that Netanyahu?
Israeli bombing in Gaza, 2014.
Finally,the speech. In the South, we speak of “woulda, coulda, shoulda,” speech that engages in hot air and fantasy and traces lines of fear but in the end has no substance and leads to the same dead ends. It was sad to see the Prime Minister’s speech use the powerful images of threat, the history of his country and its survival and the “sturm und drang” of war for more “woulda, coulda, shoulda.”
So much of the controversy around this historic opportunity was old news. Old slights, grown uglier and menacing to US statecraft. Defiant anger coolly aimed toward Obama. Old warnings of nuclear threats on a horizon in a warmonger’s looking glass that skipped a myriad of details—including who is going to fight, or what happens next—or even what happens now?
Search English editions of Israel’s newspapers (haaretz.com, the JPost) and read what Boehner and he never admit: the spin machine is going full-bore, trumpeting Netanyahu’s popularity in the US as being at an all-time high, claiming the political tensions, inside and out of the US and Israel, are being exaggerated, touting his standing ovation by Republicans who had refused to fund their own national security in order to politically punish our President. Sheldon Adelson’s free daily newspaper Israel Hayom expanded its printing to a record press run.
Yet other news outlets ere pointing out that 188 generals and officials (including a former head of Mossad) thought his speech was self-serving and did not serve Israel well. And more than 3,000 ultra-orthodox Jews protested in New York City over Netanyahu’s claim that he speaks as an emissary for all Jews. Acknowledging him as a head of state, they opposed his covenant claim of speaking for Jews. Many carried signs saying, “We don’t need a bibi-sitter.” Continue reading The Netanyahu Confessional
I am one of the few who has made the argument that the President’s style is a classic example of the practice of the high art of Zen, one prescribed by its greatest masters and rooted in the classic book of wisdom, the I Ching.
It’s an easy case to make! Zen focuses on inner strength, not outer conflict. It is a quiet and presence of mind that sees both the short and long term by a presence of heart that is calm and reserved; it values wisdom above force.
The comparisons and the parallels with Zen never come up in the media. After hundreds of microphone sound checks by top analysts and thinkers, the Zen meme, in plain sight, is without a peep. It reveals how terribly and narrowly one-sided American thought presented by media has become: they claim insights on world traditions, but they established a multi-channeled agenda to build an intellectual frame, with Obama’s image as the poster of misgovernance.
Zen, by definition, is smart action, wisdom deftly applied. For deep, contextual reasons of power and privilege, Obama was a threat to all a circle of special interests cherished, and they needed desperately to portray him to their followers and to America as dumb.
The I Ching finds its roots in China as a work whose system of insights and actions explains the social and spiritual conditions that at times appear chaotic and bewildering, while at other times appearing calm and clear. Each set of conditions has hidden meanings and passages. If respected and tempered, through actions and virtues, these insights and steps bring forth inner truth, guide choices, and direct the path to change.
Simply, the I Ching defines relations between men, women and the world, and the forces beyond, the unseen conditions once known as the zeitgeist and weltanschauung and the things of heaven. The I Ching defines both the inner and outer nature of conditions and change in society and in the hearts of men and women. It is a manual that tells how to progress and benefit while being morally responsible; it addresses prosperity and security and the attitudes of good and evil; it maps out when to be patient and when to advance and warns of the dangers, both visible and hidden, from people and conditions.
Barack Obama has faced both during his two terms as our elected President; he has faced dangers—from people and conditions. When he stepped into office in 2009, some of the country’s most powerful institutions and people immediately formed organized resistance, and global conditions were at their global worst.
But his refusal to fight was classic Zen: engagement would have only stirred and strengthened evil and confusion. A fight would have only served his enemies. Despite his victory, he and the country were too weak to win and fight when others defined the terms and were willing to weaken the country even further.
His patience served America, and patience is an inner virtue, but in the President, many—both enemies and supporters—called it weakness, indecision. Many were drawn in by the anger his opponents displayed, by the force of their hatred and their demands for absolute power over his office as they blamed him for disturbing the status quo and not submitting to their “compromise.” They shut down the government and said he wouldn’t meet them halfway—to give them all of what they wanted to end their threat. They skipped 200 years of time to draw on a model of government that has no models of success.
The President did not respond until conditions were right. Zen teaches the right conditions are when your opponents think they are at their strongest, but have in their zeal for power left many things neglected, failing to attend to social needs. So after the midterm elections that put Republicans in charge of both the House and Senate, the President has made his opponents look incompetent and revealed them as servants of special interests whose tools are anger and bluster and money and whose goals are power and disrespect.
Like now, when the President without fanfare issued the third veto of his five years in office, striking down a bill in which Congress voted to approve the building of a Canadian pipeline across America’s plains, over America’s vital Midwestern aquifers, across sacred Native American sites, to bring the dangerous Canadian tar sands oil to Texas refineries. His opponents called his veto an “embarrassment.”
So America’s energy policy is a principal concern about not being “embarrassed?” What about merits? Were there none to criticize the President on? Was an embarrassment the worst result of his veto? The criticism hides a deeper failure by his opponents to pass a bill with substance they could defend.
Barack Obama has seen the institutions of power align to belittle and willfully oppose his every act, politically and personally. His legislative initiatives were wrong, his vacations too expensive, his head nods were considered bows that displayed gross violations of unwritten protocol and submission to foreign heads of state—even as his opponents were unrepentant about their violations, one yelling out during the State of the Union speech to say to the President, “You lie!” Continue reading Barack Obama: The Man of Zen
Which of the two holds the greater attraction: helping an organized rebel group under attack by an international coalition to establish a caliphate governed by Sharia law, or the right to kill without consequences far-ranging straw populations turned into enemies? This is the divide which reflects the debate about the global attraction of ISIL. But it’s really a choice that represents the same side: help establish the caliphate and kill; kill and help establish the caliphate.
The two realities are married. The caliphate is a process, a goal to be pursued; its outlines measured in captive cities and mapped territories. The other is a reality shared daily, like the rites of morning prayer or tea. ISIL’s rituals of death are displayed, taped and broadcast across the globe. The images include fire fights with irregular troops and the defeat of national armies, but more often with a solemn horror, the bodies of civilians—women, children, men and boys, in uniform or out, laying dead, still, scattered in the streets. Or as short and long lines of captives made to kneel as they are executed, their heads whacked with knives or blown away with guns. To an amazed global audience, there are those who want to participate in the killing, drawn to wielding the evil pleasure of meting out death as a witness or by their own hands.
There is a time when activities leap forward to create new forms, and the old thinking is slow to catch up. From where I watch, the old thinking is tied to a conflict narrative of political ideology that misses the new motives. Evidence—the old thinking misses the new evidence. And because it does, it is unable to contain a force whose spread will consume civilization. The caliphate will be a rogue organization with stateless boundaries through which random terror will threaten and disrupt the world order of global societies. The caliphate’s only purpose will be to provide the resources and safety to serve death again and again until fear and grief shut freedom and liberty down.
ISIL is a death cult. It attracts those fascinated with killing. Its main activity is murder. Its survival and media is giving similar-minded groups the will to copy its blood trails. It is swiftly attracting recruits.
The caliphate is like the leather jackets of Hell’s Angels or the Disciplines, an identifying style to mark them apart, to signify their outlaw status, a display of their pride in defying the social order for the wild satisfactions of the fringe. Even the motorcycles of the gangs became secondary to the gangs’ corruption that reveled in the dark side of crime and violence. For ISIL, the caliphate, too, is a symbol, nothing more, of those who are consumed with the electrifying rush related to killing, and who seek to establish communities of killers, those who share and glorify the same rush, inflicting death across the globe.
ISIL is not so much a political problem as a psychological one. It is the ground zero point for a part of our culture that many thought had been successfully repressed. But its horrors have risen from time to time, albeit short-lived.
During the Civil War at Ebenezer Creek, Georgia, in a little-known incident, Confederate cavalry leader and West Point graduate Joseph Wheeler killed over 3,500 slave “contraband” who were following the Union army. Their bodies washed out of the black water creek to dam its mouth for six months after the incident. The locals found women, children—infants–men among the dead. At Fort Pillow, Confederate Nathan Bedford Forrest ordered the killing of surrendered, unarmed black soldiers and ran the Mississippi red.
Throughout the 20th century, in race riots in Florida, Tulsa, Cincinnati, in thousands of lynching incidents including 15 year old Emmett Till’s death in Mississippi, in officially sanctioned police actions like the one in 1969 that killed Chicago Black Panther Fred Hampton in his bed in a pre-dawn raid as eight police officers fired 99 shots, death has been the quick, easy solution for fears and slights. But its presence in society goes deeper than its ease. Continue reading The Will to Kill
Hillary Clinton’s search for an economic policy seems to forget the phrase used to caution investors: “Past results are not indicators of future success.” The world of her husband’s administration is long gone. The great goods of all economies are now commodities; volume produces wealth and flatlines jobs and wages. Apple, Monsanto (80% of world corn seed), American Water Supply (the largest water utility), Pepsico and Google are diverse examples of commodity enterprises operating in global markets that increase capital wealth with little increase in jobs; yet they are vital to economic growth.
Clinton’s advisers don’t seem to get this paradox: the modern economy is built on essential commodities that transfer wealth without the traditional means of adding value through labor and large workforces. In fact, work itself is becoming a commodity, priced by industry and region, in the same way as good and services.
Clinton economic panels ignore this reality. Yet the US economy is deeply entwined with monopolies by companies and by regions (China’s Pearl River zone, Foxconn; Vietnam, Indonesia, clothing; Brazil, agriculture; the big banks, cell, music and cable services; et al.). Working around the economic margins through taxes and fees will not restructure a system designed to vacuum up cash and maintain rock-bottom wages while the private sector shifts social costs to government.
But more importantly, her panels of economists overlook global best practices and opportunities! They agree and disagree about the wrong things! Models in several countries have successfully produced rapid growth and gains for the middle class in the last two decades (interrupted by the global recession) and continue to do so!
To cite four: China, Brazil, Botswana (per capita income, $17.1k, one of Africa’s highest!), and Mexico. Each country has structural issues, several confront major corruption and crime, but their political economies have increased wages and the size of the middle class by taking advantage of training, government partnerships, economic planning and global growth.
All four share two essential features: modifying social capital to invest heavily in health and education incentives, and protecting wages and investments for families by safety nets and identifying markets through planning with high-paying, sustainable jobs.
US politicians look at polls and avoid plans. The US creates international agreements, but lacks domestic strategy. The private sector and conservatives applaud the open market, but ignore its chaos and corruption, and see government as an adversary rather than a partner, a view contrary to the emerging global vision of government’s role in expanding national economies.
On taxes, Congress closes doors and opens loopholes. The controlling party of Congress wants to tell the sick they are unaffordable, the illiterate they are flawed, and to describe the jobs in which workers are stuck for decades as entry-level. Their proclamation of progress has no plan or specific details. We are deluding ourselves. Especially if we think only the market can pick winners and losers.
Successful models don’t debate ideas, abandon common sense, or solve blame. They don’t tilt policy to accelerate the flow of wealth to the rich while blaming others for the lack of virtues that supposedly cause income inequality and static wages. Successful models promote growth. They engage stakeholders and establish activities—real organizations and businesses supported by advanced knowledge and research, highlighted and included in state and regional plans, aided by federal policies that will innovate as markets expand.
This approach would give rebirth to America’s economy. Developing global models are driving micro (for families) and macro (for companies) growth and job expansion around the world (except Haiti, close to home). Here in the US, partisan calculations blot out the rich benefits of using the models’ far-reaching economic calculations.
Three Global Opportunities: Rails, Smartphone Operating Systems, Hydro and Solar Energy
Though it expands year over year, the US has abdicated the global rail market to China and Europe. It is a huge missed opportunity. Rail’s five main market segments (high-speed, mainline, freight, light rail, metro) include 150 or more sub-industries, among them electronics, safety, signaling, communications, maintenance, interiors, metallurgy, construction, power engines and assembly, and will have steady long-term growth, powered by the need to transport grain, coal, chemicals, automotive, intermodal freight and urban ridership.
But rail’s sustained, high-wage jobs are ceded to Canada (Bombardier), Germany (Siemens), and France (Alstom), among others. In a global market approaching a trillion dollars annually, two-thirds of rail revenues remain directly accessible to the US—orders are open and awarded to the best bids from competing global suppliers! Yet, as an example missing the present and future, the US share of the rail car market is only 5% and is not using its superior financing, technical and research knowledge, experience with large-scale projects and skilled workforces to compete for dominant share.
China holds two of the top three positions as manufacturers and suppliers of rolling stock equipment, positioned to take advantage of new sales: in the next ten years, Europe will replace 10,300 locomotives, and Africa’s demand for rolling stock will double.
Consider these recent global rail projects:
- In Basque, a 172km high speed network in Spain between three regional capitals.
- In Algiers, Africa’s second metro system carries 300,000 daily riders underground on a 9.2km line, with ten stations.
- In Ankara, Turkey, three new lines, Kizilay-Cayyolu, 16 stations, 18km; Ulus-Kecioren, six stations, 7.9km; TBMM-Dikmen, five stations, 4.8km; 108 metro cars.
- In Warsaw, a 19km route with 19 stations.
- In Mexico City, North America’s second largest rapid transit, a new Gold Line, 24km with 18 stations.
- In Brazil: Bidding a 511km high-speed line (with 90 km of tunnels!) with contracts for tracks, stations and infrastructure.
- In Argentina, a 710km high-speed line, $4B.
- The Trans-Asian Railway, a 14,000km main rail link between Singapore and Istanbul, with connections to Europe and Africa.
US companies received none of these bids or subcontracts, missing out on 80,000 to 250,000 new jobs. Nor do they recognize a key value of rail is its stable long-term growth through flexible and sustained mobility.
With rails, entrepreneurial opportunities exist in adhesives, sealants and fixings; cables, hoses and connectors; paint and protective coatings; electrification, power supply, lighting, electromechanical systems and drives; fire safety, detection and suppression; computer hardware and software, controls and monitoring systems, door systems, gangway systems, public address and alarm systems; track engineering and construction, track maintenance and repair; fare collection and ticketing; noise, shock and vibration control; heating and cooling systems and compressors; and wash plants—leaving aside the importance of locomotive, rail and passenger car design.
Research for innovation include sensors, computers and digital communications to collect, process and disseminate information to improve the rail safety, security and operations. Research also includes alternative fuels and energy sources, reducing life-cycle costs while increasing reliability of equipment and infrastructure assets, and maintenance.
Chinese high-speed train makers are increasingly selling their products to Western countries. Experts say the established European firms in the sector urgently need to develop strategies to counter the competition.
In fact, the US is absent from rail and many economic niches.
Apple dominates the high end of the smartphone market, but opportunities exist and are expanding for inexpensive models, a market in which India and China lead with no US competition. The Indian smartphone market for phones under $200 grew 186 per cent in the first six months of 2014. Other developing countries hold the same market potential.
Recently, Google announced Android One, a standard operating system intended to become the first choice for millions of new customers globally. Continue reading Hillary Clinton: Will Her Economic Policies Follow Best Global Practices?
A cross-section of ideas and acts, global, national and local, haunt the negative and positive spaces of our lives, influencing our decisions and thoughts, our choices, our feelings about progress or defeat.
A good deal of America is engaged in cynicism, reducing complex issues to a short list that squares with a wish list of beliefs and desires.
Michelle Obama often is an object of choice by cynics, who find it easy to shave off the responsibilities she has as a mother and as a public figure married to the President from her duty to share her authentic self, which often flows into a space beyond what many expect. When disappointed, they assume an attitude of “I told you so” (smug about never mentioning what was told!) and then assume the imagined gross error that exists in their minds speaks for itself. Thus they retain in their hearts what they really wanted to believe in the first place—and forever more.
One common cause of cynical angst is First Family travel. Its critics make the small large, pride themselves as spending sentinels, pat themselves on the back with the shared disgust of those who feel being black and having a family and being President is just too much for anyone to accept. After all, if it were not for those 62 million votes, Barack Obama might well be unemployed and certainly not a world leader of note and renown.
Those people also feel John Boehner is perfectly capable of running things in the White House from his seat in the House, if they could just get Obama impeached and Joe Biden to step aside.
The suggestion of budget abuse by the First Lady for travel generally offers no details, and, as is usually the case, no logic braces the cynical foregone conclusions.
That Michele Obama has abused public money is ridiculous! American Presidents, First Ladies and their children (from Eisenhower to Obama) don’t ride Greyhounds. It is a point of national pride, and respect for the office, that America, no matter what the ideology or color of the President, provides first-class travel and top security (the same as other nations!) when the First Family travels.
Surely the cynics know this! What is their real motivation? What leads to the cheap shots that single out Mrs. Obama? Why is she so often the target of fact-free smears?
Have her accusers forgotten John Sununu, who flew to New York at taxpayers’ expense for a $300 haircut? Or the junkets of Congress? Here are two current examples, one about Tea Party fiscal fanatic Steve Pearce and the other involving former Congress member Michele Bachmann. Travel spending is replete with examples of abuse; the narrowed, unsupported focus of the cynical looking glass tells me something else is at work in their thinking.
Cynicism abounds in more difficult arenas as well. The complex problems of foreign and economic policy are being met, in the popular mind, with spreading cynicism. The array of forces circling the globe is being viewed with an inherent mistrust. Goals are reduced to simple measures, with success or defeat assigned to reflect ideology and personality. The cynics are consistent and confident as they engage in enlightenment by doubt.
Hence the craziness around vaccines: sound, sensible medical practice, a patriotic principle in the 1950s and 1960s, when whole towns turned out on vaccination days and nurses visited schools to end the scourge of polio and measles, whooping cough and other deadly diseases of childhood, is now a battle front over freedom. Vaccines have become a cause some parents are unwittingly willing to follow politicians and have their children die for, or at least experience the nasty conditions of measles they themselves avoided because their commie parents who voted for Eisenhower got them vaccinated. So along with Agenda 21, Executive Order 12333, the New World Order, and the Haitian earthquake, we can add vaccinations to the sinister exercise of power of Big Government, as California’s vaccination rates in wealthy areas fall behind South Sudan’s. Continue reading In Politics and Public Life, Do the Odds Favor the Cynics?
Growing frustration exists about the role of global media in sharing the truth and facts about politics. Even the media’s cherished idea of balance has taken a slant. The American media’s direct reporting omits deep backgrounds. In print and broadcast, anonymous sources are assigned the duty of representing an ideology and attacking those who disagree. In live reports, face time is more important than oral intelligence. And no news broadcast is complete without a YouTube clip.
What recent stories has the media missed and how have the omissions affected the country?
The biggest missing story is about the media itself: it has abandoned analysis. Instead of being shaped by insights and history, or by conflict and values, stories are “blocked.” They are packaged for immediacy rather than viable information, and immediacy has come to mean any story which zooms in on a crisis in the social order, a threat to well-being or life.
Blocking a story means it will be limited to reviewing events without examining causes; limited by sensationalism that ignores the mainstream; limited by the next big story without any follow-up on the previous big story. But the story’s limits always include speculation, no-rules chatter about what happens next. Speculation, and its inaccurate prophecies, unleashed fears and violations of logic and common sense, is featured without critical review. By offering speculation, media abandons the idea of wrong or right; its stories are blocked to show who is for and who is against.
For example, in one recent big story about Ebola, a deadly, contagious virus spreading in three West African countries, media helped generated mass fear and hysteria in America. Justified by media stories, rather than experience, experts and successful protocol, civil liberties went flying out of the window faster than domestic cases of the disease, amid calls for restricted travel to and from the region.
States demanded medical professionals be quarantined even when displaying no obvious symptoms of fever and coughing. Twice-a-day telephone monitoring was put in place for persons returning from countries experiencing the Ebola epidemic. Hours of hard news time were devoted to tracking each single potential threat as the source of an impeding holocaust. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie bad-mouthed a nurse who had demonstrated the courage to travel to the medical front to fight the disease by caring for infected patients.
In the midst of the Ebola fear, Congress members proclaimed the likelihood of legions of Ebola-infected terrorists arriving in Mexico, walking like zombies across unsecured borders—yet so heavily monitored by manpower and technology that enforcement agents intercepted nearly 40,000 unescorted children last year. Many of the same Congress members who conjured a deadly and imminent link between terrorists and Ebola believed this undocumented children’s crusade also had come to destroy the American way of life, stain the American Promise, and end freedom as we know it—by busting public budgets and demanding the right to education. Continue reading Media’s Direct Reporting Omits Deep Background
In the final two-year sprint of the Presidency that created the biggest political backlash since Reconstruction, one that reawakened ancient divisions of class and race, the State of the Union Address displayed the latest strategy of President Obama to avoid the traps, schisms and pitfalls in the road forward for his vision; a vision matched with peerless skills: his impeccable timing, his understated demeanor that lulls his opponents to be overconfident and underestimate his options and resolve, his deep knowledge of the power of small steps.
His sixth State of the Union speech unfolded his vision for this generation’s reset of the American Promise.
“The shadow of crisis has passed,” he said. The troops are home, the economy is growing, America’s jobs and energy production is “booming,” “10 million” uninsured have gained health insurance.
He noted his critics along the way said he was “misguided” and would “crush jobs,” and met him with “fiscal showdowns, government shutdowns, and re-fighting past battles.”
But in his speech, President Obama was clear: the American Promise means giving the middle class a fair share. This is the year of the middle class.
It is clear, by facts and anecdotes, the middle class has suffered more than the rich, having lost 67% of their net family wealth during the 2009 recession, many losing their homes and jobs and income along with their wealth.
“Families need our help,” the President said without misgivings. He detailed several laws and policies to come to their aid. Provide a tax credit for child care. Pass equal pay. Raise the minimum wage. Make two years of community college free and universal. Protect a free and open internet.
In foreign policy, to secure safety for American families, the President turned to the importance of values: “We stand united with people targeted by terrorists.” “Cuba policy was long past its expiration date.” Close Gitmo: “Why keep open a prison terrorists use to recruit?” Continue reading The State of the Union and America’s Middle Class
I personally enjoy observing social behavior, looking for patterns, finding tendencies and connections at hidden levels that make things work they way they do. I have a fondness for truth and putting ideas to the test.
Which one of the two traits above make me unlikely to be a Republican?
Actually, both traits are at the heart of the Republican paradox—the idea that you can lie and win elections, that truth doesn’t matter, but correctly analyzing social behavior contributes to victory. Like the double helix of DNA, Republicans take these twin strands which seem to be at odds, and from their different functions create the twisting rungs of a winning strategy.
Democrats take heed.
For Republicans, lying is big business, especially for elected officials and media personnel. But the new lie is not the old lie.
The new lie incorporates new, multiple functions and has improved deniability and staying power. Among the most important of its new functions is that the new lie sanitizes itself. Newly sworn House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana is a practitioner and high expert of the new lie. He denied knowing he had once spoken to a white supremacist group organized under the patronage of Louisiana’s most famous white supremacist and former state senator, David Duke. The Scalise new lie: “I didn’t know who the group were or what the group stood for.” Could I have spoken to a group of Black Panthers in South Carolina and not known who they were? Continue reading Prepare for the New Lie