Free Press – Free to What?

Is a free press free to use public forums to promote their own adversary, political agendas?  Are public figures free to eschew blatant attacks, avoiding angry public exchanges by picking and choosing news sources and using more moderate press pools to communicate?

Managing news coverage has been an important strategy for recent presidents.  The news media has paid a great deal of attention to President Trump’s conflicts with them.  However, the press has a short and selective memory when it comes to which presidents used such strategies.  President Trump is far from the first to employ the tools about which they complain.  Here is what the Atlantic said in an August, 2014 article about Richard Nixon’s, George W. Bush’s, and Barak Obama’s relationships with the “media.”

“… the Obama White House has used new media to take image control to new levels. It sends a stream of tweets, Facebook posts, and YouTube videos directly to the public while bypassing journalists. Last year, (July 8, 2014) in a separate letter*, 38 news organizations complained to Obama’s press secretary that photojournalists are often barred from public events. They said the White House prevented photographers from covering presidential meetings with congressmen and Middle East peace negotiators but then released its own photos of these events using social media.

 Obama also avoids interviews with White House reporters, preferring appearances on The View and late-night talk shows where easier questions are asked.”

 https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/08/nixons-revenge-his-media-strategy-triumphs-40-years-after-resignation/375274/

*http://www.spj.org/news.asp?ref=1253

The proliferation of “news” media has been exponential since 24/7 CNN.  The internet has allowed anyone to pose as a journalist.  At the same time, the public has become enervated to violence, scandal, and weirdness.  The competition for “eyes” has fomented “Jerry Springer” news.  Now the media is dominated by “breaking news,” and blatant, personality-driven opinion/commentary/spin/attack entities (e.g. Fox, CNN, MSNBC, Washington Post, New York Times), versus the few remaining sources offering dull, objective reporting of events from balanced, professional, factual reporting (e.g. BBC).

This evolution has turned “news” into espionage, and propaganda.  That means idea wars; that means information combat.  No intelligent person would stand still for their enemies to strike them.  Hence, defense and offense to offset the attacking forces.  Now we watch and listen to accusations, threats, partisan presentations, and ad hominem attacks.

Through such perspectives, we no longer have well-meaning people making bad choices, we have evil people making sinister choices.  We have rampant, belief “racism.”  We have created unthinking, philosophical camps with labels for “us,” and “others.”

Why do we decry racism, ethnic hatred, and other generalized biases?  Because it keeps us from knowing each other as people; it causes us to treat other people with contempt without knowing anything else about them.

How do we create these idea-based “races?”  We assert that all liberals believe “X”, all conservatives believe “Y”, all evangelicals believe “Z”, all millennials believe nothing, etc.  With this context, we form “righteous” cohorts of like-minded people to oppose other “inferior” or “evil” cohorts.

This intellectually lazy “groupthink” replaces critical thinking; this dissuades individuals from developing personal, unique, diverse combinations of beliefs, which they form over time, from life experiences, education, discussion, and research.  It also inhibits real exchanges of ideas.  Conversations, and discussions become unchanging, competing monologues.

The press is free to publish and broadcast what they will, but pernicious ideologues need not be ushered through the gates of those they despise.

“Day Without Immigrants?” – How About “Day Without Illegal Aliens”

Mainstream mislabeling of non-Americans, who are neither registered resident aliens nor naturalized citizens, as “immigrants” is a political victory for the media, and open-borders advocates.  Substitution of terms, and collapse of meaning is called “conflation;”it is pervasive; even those who advocate legal control of our borders have adopted the “alt-lit” use of “immigrant” where “illegal alien” or “unregistered foreign national” is accurate.

This national protest is designed to show the importance of immigrants and their descendants to America.  No protest is required.  Just get the words straight, and you have a clear picture of who we are talking about.  Any hyphenated American is still an American.  “Green Card” and valid visa holders are welcome visitors.  Subtract these people from the “Day Without Immigrants” activities and see who is left.

America is still a most attractive country in many respects.  I understand why foreign nationals want to live here, it is vast, varied, wonderful, free, and full of opportunities.  We have borders, and citizenship laws, like every country in the world.

What we do not have is a guest worker visa program large enough to accommodate our labor needs.  This is evident because over 11 million people are living here without the benefit of such visas. Employers hire them to do the jobs they need done.

If all the energy, time, and money spent for these demonstrations were applied to getting Congress to authorize and expansive guest worker program, most of the illegal aliens could be legalized and have the benefits of official recognition and legal protection.

Plugging Leaks – How to Find Out Who in 30 Days

Information is vital in politics, government, healthcare, warfare, and business.  Secrets are a type of information that has value and power if the confidences involved are maintained.

Secrets are kept to protect the information from other people who might use them to their advantage, or to harm the people the secrets are designed to protect.

When secrets “leak,” they can cause serious damage to systems that rely on confidentiality.  If the attitude about classified information that the State Department displayed under Hillary Clinton prevails, our national secrets are not safe.

Recent leaks of the contents of General Lynn’s secret phone conversations with the Russian ambassador, are intentional betrayals of trust by employees of the federal government, violating their security clearances, and pledges to maintain national secrets.  The leakers are enemies of the US Government, and should be treated as dangerous to our national security.

The question for the Trump administration is how to quash the subversive elements hiding in the bureaucracy.

It seems likely that employees of the Intelligence Community are responsible.  The heads of these agencies have failed to structure, manage, and supervise their staffs to prevent such leaks.  Therefore, these agencies involved cannot be trusted to fix the problem.

It will take a focused, rigorous, and ruthless effort to find and punish the leakers, cauterize the wounds inflicted, and inoculate the intelligence bureaucracy against further subversion.

President Trump could direct his Director of National Intelligence to lead the effort to uncover the leaker(s)

The president could also appoint a Presidential Commission for this purpose.  A commission might be more effective, and manageable to investigate the leaks.

Whichever authority he chooses could announce a four-stage, 30-day, no-nonsense plan to find the person(s) who leaked the contents of the phone call.

Stage 1.  Identify all agencies and staff positions with authorized access to the phone taps and transcriptions.
Stage 2.  Provide incentives, and substantial rewards to those who report the leaker(s).
Stage 3.  If no one identified within 10 days, suspend or revoke the security clearances of those with access.
Stage 4.  If no one identified after 30 days, replace agency heads and their managers.
Is this unfair to innocent, loyal employees?  Maybe.  However, those who do not think that national security is critically important, and do not take their responsibilities seriously, are in the wrong jobs.

Political “Racists” Accuse Tom Brady of Racism

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” – Rudyard Kipling

Tom Brady had just led his New England Patriots football team to an historic, overtime, victory in the Super Bowl, after overcoming a 3rd quarter, 25-point deficit – a Super Bowl record.  But, he is a friend of the president.  How stupid and arrogant can political “racists” be to cast racist aspersions on Tom Brady for quoting inspirational, non-racist words from Rudyard Kipling’s poem to his son John, “If–”?

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, ‘
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!”

Rudyard Kipling was born in 1865 in Bombay, India.  He grew up in the age of Imperialism, as the British Empire was reaching its peak.  Critics point to his 1899 poem, “The White Man’s Burden,” as racist, and it was, as was the rest of the Eurocentric Imperialist world.

Nonetheless, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907, “in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author.”  That did not make the Nobel Committee racist.

If we discarded all works of culture, art, music, & history because they came from times, authors, artists, and views we now condemn, the libraries’ shelves would be empty, the walls and pedestals of museums would be barren, the world would be silent, and we would be ignorant savages, banging stones against stones; but wait, some people insist on just that.

When have human beings not been “racists?”  How long have civilizations existed and progressed despite built-in bigotry, bias, and fear?

Ignorance, when clung to righteously, becomes stupidity.  Criticism from a platform of vapid views of hatred is wicked silliness.  I would not give any credence to the blather spewing from such a source, nor would I value anything else it produced.

(In their related article, the Heatstreet Staff called the critics “liberal nasties.” http://heatst.com/culture-wars/tom-brady-under-further-fire-from-liberals-after-sharing-poem-from-racist-rudyard-kipling/?mod=sm_tw_post)

Apnea – The Loud Annoying Killer

Could you be suffering from sleep apnea?

I have sleep apnea, and have been treating it for 2.5 years.  Snoring is a symptom, although not all snoring is caused by apnea.  I am not talking about your run-of-the-mill snoring; I mean SNORING!!  I thought snoring was universal.  Snoring runs in my family – my brothers and I can easily drown out the sound of a chain saw.

Sometimes I can be a little stubborn and skeptical.  (After all, I did not hear any snoring, and it did not keep me awake.)  OK, so I snore a bit.  Doesn’t everyone?  I found out how much my snoring kept my wife awake, because she told me about it.

Sleep is very important to my wife.  Unless she gets 9+ hours every night, I wake up with a zombie.  I bring her a cup of coffee, in bed; she drinks it over 5 – 10 minutes; her eyes open to slit-level; I put the second cup of coffee next to her sink in the bathroom, and run to the kitchen; she smells it and gets slowly out of bed, and does that slow, side-to-side, living-dead sleep-walk into the bathroom.  Twenty minutes later, she is the living, breathing, woman I love.  But, that is when she gets enough sleep.

She tried earplugs, but the vibrations shook her awake, or gave her tremor-nightmares. (She lived in California years ago, and has not gotten over fear of earthquakes.)  I tried sleeping on my side, elevated pillows, breathe-right nose strips, sinus washing, those things you put in your mouth at night to keep your jaw positioned, only minor improvement.  Things came to crisis mode when I started waking up to an empty place in the bed.  I found her sleeping in another room.

Then I heard the word “Apnea;” sounded like a Balkan dialect.  How did this apply to me?  So, I went to the sleep doctor. At first, I did not believe it, even after I had my first overnight sleep study at an apnea clinic.

It took a second sleep study before I accepted the fact:  I do have severe “complex” sleep apnea.  The problem is not so much the snoring, but the silences, when no air is going in or out.  Without treatment, the study showed that, when I was asleep, I stopped breathing 67 times an hour, for 10 – 20 seconds; over eight hours, that would be 536 times per night, 5,360 to 10,720 seconds; 90 – 180 minutes; this is like holding my breath for one and a half, to three hours a night; my blood oxygen dropped to 89 – 94% several times each night (normal is 100%). Frequent interruptions to the sleep cycle can keep you from getting enough REM “deep” sleep, needed for quality rest and restoration of the brain.  That is not good for the brain, or anything else.

Things that could happen with untreated apnea:

  • High blood pressure
  • Forgetfulness
  • Depression
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Weight gain & difficulty losing weight
  • Lack of ardor
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Accidents
  • Nodding off during the daytime
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Liver problems
  • Lower response to medications
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Spouse sleep deprivation
  • Divorce

Still skeptical, I ask, “aren’t these people just selling stuff?” Well, yes, no, yes, and yes, depending on who you mean by “these people.”  Yes, sleep clinics “sell” sleep studies, and they prescribe equipment to keep me from holding my breath 66 times an hour, in my sleep; no, the clinics do not sell the gear.  Yes, “durable medical equipment” companies sell the equipment.  And, yes, medical insurance and Medicare cover their share of the costs.

The doctor prescribed a heavy-duty, nighttime breathing machine called a “bi–pap.”  People with less severe cases use a similar machine called a “c-pap.”

I wish I could tell you that using the machine is a pleasure.  This would be a real treat, if you would find pleasure going to bed, wearing a plastic mask over your nose (and maybe your mouth too), with elastic straps to hold it in place, attached to a plastic air hose, attached to an electronic device that looks something like a portable radio, but without the music, that makes you feel like a scuba diver, or a jet pilot, and makes you sound like Darth Vader, or the announcer at a bus station.  Oh, you will need another elastic strap under your chin and over your crown, if you have trouble keeping your mouth shut, and only breathing through your nose. All this, just to keep breathing a few years longer.

It took me a while (60 nights) to get used to wearing it, AND sleeping; (you also need to remember you are hooked up when you get up in the middle of the night; it makes a bit of a mess when you sweep your bedside table clean with the air hose, in the dark, half asleep, waking your spouse, everyone in the house, and your next-door neighbors’ dogs.)  But, I am resolute; I use it religiously; now it only annoys me.  (Note: Any chances of spontaneous romance at night are, let’s say, ZERO.  Planning is the key.  It is sort of fun dating my wife again.  “Would Saturday about 8ish work for you, Sweetheart?”)

This is an amazing, computerized machine.  It monitors every inhale and exhale, to adjust to your normal breathing patterns and air pressure. It generates a constant flow of air at about the same speed and pressure you create when you inhale.  (If you close your throat, and open your mouth just a little, you can make the sound of the wind blowing; by pursing your lips a little tighter, you can make your lips sputter and vibrate.)

If you stop breathing, it blows air into your nose to fill your lungs, and gets you going again. The machine keeps track of sleep stoppages, and sends the results to the doctor.  After six months, the records showed only 1 or 2 brief stoppages an hour; not enough to cause any more brain damage.

I would encourage you to consider the possibility that you, too, might have sleep apnea.  If so, the treatment can change, even save your life.

Here are links to good sites about apnea.  You might want to check them out.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sleep-apnea/basics/symptoms/con-20020286

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sleepapnea

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/sleep-apnea.htm

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/central-sleep-apnea#1

 

Public Radio – Public Disgrace

You would think the 2016 campaign is still raging, after listening to two segments of Think on KERA, hosted by Krys Boyd, today.  Both were patently political, and anti-Trump fearmongering.  Is inappropriate, biased, rhetorical conjecture the policy of KERA and public radio?  Is anybody reviewing the balance or objectivity of the programming?  If so, who?

The first segment was an interview with Kennette Benedict, who has a BA from Oberlin College, a PhD in political science from Stanford University. She is a former executive director and publisher of the  Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which recently moved the Doomsday Clock from 3 seconds to 2.5 seconds until midnight. The whole discussion was a not-so-thinly-veiled criticism of President Trump for the increased likelihood of nuclear war, and, with a strange detour, the woes of unchecked climate change.  I did not hear any details of her solutions to these issues.

The second segment was naked rant of hatred against the president, forecasts of dire consequences, and calls for mobilization against him.  The guest was David Frum, author of an essay about “Building an Autocracy.” Published in the March issue of The Atlantic.  The subtitle, “The preconditions are present in the U.S. today. Here’s the playbook Donald Trump could use to set the country down a path toward illiberalism.”

According to Wikipedia, “Illiberal democracy is a term used by  Fareed Zakaria, a journalist, in a1997 article in the journal Foreign Affairs.[4]    https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/1997-11-01/rise-illiberal-democracy   It refers to governments that give the appearance of democracies, but are autocratic in practice.

The very long treatise may qualify as “future-fiction,” as it starts by describing America in 2021 as Donald Trump starts his second term.  He describes a downward spiral towards a corrupt, Orwellian democracy, in which Trump enriches himself, pardons his friends, harasses and punishes opposition; Slovakia owns The Washington Post; illegal aliens can stay in the shadows to work; young, black, and other liberal voters find it difficult to register and vote in some states.

This is followed by pages and pages of postulations and fears; he took way too many pages to say, “We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered.” “Trump bad!”  “Trump evil!”  “Trump hurt us!”  “Hate Trump.”  Stop Trump.”