Opinion Is NOT Analysis

Five years ago, Marissa Nelson, Senior Director of Digital at CBC News, wrote a series of articles on,” Journalism in the Digital Age.” The Canadian Broadcast Corporation prides itself on its standards; she was fair and specific on several topics. One drew my interest: the differences between analysis and opinion.

Quotes from the CBC “Journalistic Standards and Practices.”

• Analysis

When appropriate, news and current affairs staff offer reports we refer to as “analysis”. Here, reporters may make observations and draw conclusions based on facts as well as their own experience and expertise.

Their intent is to give the audience insight into the true nature of events, not to be a forum for the personal opinions or preferences of the author.

• Expression of Opinion

Our programs and platforms allow for the expression of a particular perspective or point of view. This content adds public understanding and debate on the issues of the day.

When presenting content (programs, program segments, or digital content) where a single opinion or point of view is featured, we ensure that a diversity of perspective is provided across a network or platform and in an appropriate time frame.
When we choose to present a single point of view:

o it is clearly labeled, and
o it does not misrepresent other points of view.

Our value of impartiality precludes our news and current affairs staff from expressing their personal opinions on matters of controversy on all our platforms.

• Designated Opinion Columnist

On an exceptional basis, the Editor in Chief may also choose to appoint certain journalists as columnists, who have licence to express their opinions. In order to protect the integrity of CBC’s journalism, we will restrict the role of such columnists to opinion and commentary, which will be clearly identified.

• Commentators and Guests

CBC, in its programming, over time, provides a wide range of comment and opinion on significant issues.

We achieve balance by featuring multiple perspectives and points of view to reflect a diversity of opinion.

It is important to mention any association, affiliation or special interest a guest or commentator may have so that the public can fully understand that person’s perspective.

The Washington Post recently re-published an article by Ishaan Tharoor, The Global Divide Between Those Who Dream and Those Who Fear. It was labeled, “WorldView” Analysis. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/09/07/the-global-divide-between-those-who-dream-and-those-who-fear/?nid&utm_term=.20997e3b5af0

I do not know where others draw the line, but this article falls clearly in the opinion category. I fault the Washington Post for mislabeling such an obviously slanted article.

Ishaan Tharoor is a widely publicized writer and the son of Shashi Tharoor.  He is a writer for The Washington Post, and a former Senior Editor of Time Magazine.

The article is mostly about United States immigration policy (58% of word count). It mentions Britain (37%), and Germany (5%).

The article opens with an unsupported statement about 800,000 DACA participants; the statement characterizes the whole group as “…people who know no real home other than the United States, who are productive members of the American workforce, sometimes serve in the U.S. military and abide by the nation’s laws.” I would wager that this description does not apply to every member of this group.

John Lott published a study that found that, in Arizona, illegal immigrants who met the age requirements for DACA were overrepresented in the prison population.

Harvard researcher Roberto G. Gonzalez surveyed more than 2,000 DACA recipients about their education levels. His studies show 22% of DACA members have a bachelor’s degree; 21% have dropped out of high school; (note: high school diploma is a requirement for DACA)

The New American Economy, a nonpartisan immigration reform group, analyzed 2013 – 2015 American Community Survey (ACS) data and found that 17 percent of 1.3 million DACA-eligible immigrants have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Language: Mr. Tharoor uses terms sympathetic for DACA and critical of American government: “Their fates — in many instances, those of their families — hang in the balance as the White House dangles red meat to its right-wing base.” And: “This is all aside from the moral argument against shattering the lives of close to a million people who see themselves as Americans, an act that former president Barack Obama called both “cruel” and “self-defeating.” He calls opposition to untethered immigration “republic of fear.” Liberal immigration he dubs, “republic of dreams.”

Americans live in an environment of razor-thin distinctions on many topics. I feel Mr. Tharoor misused his privilege as a journalist by presenting his political and social opinions as analysis. The Washington Post could take some or all the responsibility.

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Blair

Days in a classroom
Fifth graders learning music
Her other children

She loves two daughters
Playing with her grandchildren
Dancing the tango

Tending others’ needs
She meets each day with laughter
Such a sweet spirit

She is like music
A beautiful experience
I can hear her now

Kim

Ball of fire redhead
Present-minded professor
Haiku writer

Knows how to have fun
Lights up everywhere she goes
Blue eyes sparkling

She wrote a novel
Published mystery writer
Next book on the way

She loves jazz dancing
Country Western boot scooter
Lady May lover

She has two great sons
Loves her four grandchildren too
Has a “fur baby”

Married her lover
Travels in their Gypsy style
Rides a house on wheels

Virtual Fahrenheit 451 – No Part of History Is Good Enough

451 (2)

“Fahrenheit 451 – the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns…”.

In Ray Bradbury’s prescient 1953 novel, the government made the past illegal. Guy Montag is a “fireman” employed to burn the possessions of those who read outlawed books.  They even had book-sniffing robots to find homes with hidden books.

When Guy becomes despondent over the meaning of his work, his fire chief explains that, “over the course of several decades, people embraced new media (in this case, film, and television), sports, and a quickening pace of life.  Books were ruthlessly abridged or degraded to accommodate a short attention span, while minority groups protested over the controversial, outdated content perceived to be found in literature (yet comic books, trade papers, and sex magazines were allowed to stay, as those fed into the population’s want for mindless entertainment).”  People would watch the “parlor walls” (large televisions) with visiting friends instead of conversation.

We are now in the throes of a virtual Fahrenheit 451.  The need for burning books has become moot with the advent of ubiquitous, mesmerizing “screens.”  Evidence:

  1. Generations of high school graduates who show increasing ignorance, apathy, and illiteracy; they are ill-equipped for self-sufficiency, yet they excel at World of Warcraft, and Grand Theft Auto.
  2. People without enough money for food, have cellphones, and giant high-definition televisions, with cable. They read little and text a lot.  Everything is Facebook, selfies, videos, and soon virtual reality.
  3. Minority groups are protesting the controversial facts of our history. For example, the Fairfax County, Virginia school board just renamed my high school, J.E.B. Stuart High School, Justice High School.  (I can just imagine my next class reunion.)  Why?  Because he was an officer in the Confederate army.  Does anyone believe the Confederacy won the war?  Does anyone not see the tragedy of 600,000 lives lost as a lesson in pain?  Why remove the reminders?

What is next?  Will we remove the Civil War from our libraries?  Will museums take down every work of art with elements of that part of our nation’s history?  Will schools bury the history of slavery and the people responsible?

When will we hold accountable the Africans who sold tens of millions of other African as slaves to the entire world? https://goo.gl/EXnyGT

Were they not even more responsible for the misery of those slaves and their progeny?

Ignoring or censoring history will neither change the past, nor the consequences of what happened.  It will leave us less aware of the truth; a type of cultural dementia.  We must resist becoming a world of virtual Fahrenheit 451.

Transconfusion – “Identity“ Detached from Reality

trans

I wonder if anyone is clear about what these various “my body is this form, but I feel like another form” discussions yield?  In our society, a body with a penis is male, and a body with a vagina is female.  That is a physical, sexual distinction.  This distinction is important to procreation, on a purely biological basis.  Females have the capacity to bring a fertilized egg, to embryo, through gestation, to live birth of a new person.  Males do not.  This is bisexual reproduction, without dispute.  Early humans could not alter this law of nature.  The fact that our world now has 7 billion people, is testament to  this:  vive la différence(I know that physiology can be unclear in up to 1.7 percent of the world’s population, according to the UN, but let’s let the outliers lie out there.)

Then we have society.  Sex is physical, gender is cultural, based on the expected roles and behaviors of men and women.  Most of these expectations have evolved from physical traits and expanded family traditions.  To act like a man was to think, speak, and act in ways that the alpha male did. Little boys worked at being like their father or big brother.   Likewise, to act like a woman was to conform to the ways of other women, take cues from their mother and other female models.

Yet, humans have gone through amazing, changing models for men and women.  Three centuries ago men wore fancy silk and satin clothes, high heels, wigs, and makeup.  They moved and spoke in ways modern Americans would associate with women.  We have also seen the division of labor of the past shift mightily.  The roles and responsibilities of men and women are more alike than ever.

We inherited our intricate social structure and laws from humans who managed to survive and procreate.  In any culture, to deviate from those complex behaviors was to jar the stability of, and threaten the survival of a family/community.  Failure to conform to the spoken and unspoken rules of society was an invitation to punishment.

Homosexuality did not bear the fruit of children, which was a threat to the future of the community.  Religions proclaim that it is a duty to God for people be fruitful, and forbid non-fruitful behaviors.  Some religions even promoted polygamy to increase the number of children added to their flock.  Being “non-fruitful” by having sex without the possibility of children was a sin.  Such sins were often punishable by shaming, shunning, physical punishment, death, or exile.  No one questioned the wisdom of the “scriptures.”

When societies expanded and advanced to the point that extinction was not as great a fear, people felt safer to allow themselves to be “non-fruitful.”  Homosexuality was tolerated along with other “sins,” and “debauchery.”

Only recently, has America made homosexuality legal and sanctioned homosexual marriages.

But here is where I get confused:  what exactly is “transgender?”  At first, I thought it meant a homosexual who took action to physically gain the attributes of the opposite sex.  Sounds painful and expensive to me; and not all men make pretty women.

But now I hear that transgender can mean that a person “identifies” as another sex without the physical transformation.  I was surprised that Bruce/Kaitlin Jenner “identifies” as a woman, has gained breasts, grown long hair, bought a wardrobe of women’s clothing, but retains male genitalia. You think, maybe, he “identifies” as both male and female?

I am also hearing about people who call themselves transgender who do nothing physical, just “identify.”  Boys who “identify” as girls, but are still physically boys, want to go to the girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms.  Homosexuals have always used the bathrooms of their physical sex.  What is different with transgenders who are physically boys or girls?  For me, as long as the difference in preference or identity is not represented by your body, I say, your body determines which school or public facilities to use.

 

 

 

Independence Every Day – Divorce Virtual Opioids

This is a great time to be alive in America.  The average American has a better life than kings, queens, and pharaohs of the past.  We are safer, live longer, are free to go where we want, and enjoy knowledge and experiences that would have astounded the world only a few decades ago.

One area that is encroaching on our freedom is the enticing addiction to the virtual world to the exclusion of the real, here and now world.  More, and more, I walk through crowds of “zombies” stuck in their phones, tablets, music, and video.  They are not really “here.”  The inattention to life has begun to dominate our culture.  Isolation from “real” family and friends is rapidly wearing down the social skills of our society members.

The siren attraction of the imaginations of others is sapping the development and practice of imagining for ourselves.  Children need that development as they grow up.  What kind of adults, parents, employees will people become if they have no experience of self-creation?  What will our culture become when all we have is “copies” of the excellent ideas generated by a few “imagineers.”

Try doing without the virtual toys and tools you spend so much time with for 24 hours:  No cell phones, tablets, pc’s, internet, cable tv, DVD’s or other electronics.  You will quickly find out what you have been missing, such as talking with your family, reading books, playing musical instruments, inventing things, fixing things, learning things, eating with people who are present and making conversation about your life and the people you love.

We had to fight for our independence as we started this nation.  Now is a good time to exercise total freedom from the seductive draw of virtual opioids.

No Penalty for Synthetic News – Voracious Media Swallow Anything

For quite a while, papers such as the National Enquirer were the only place a reader could find out about the conception and birth of the extraterrestrial, alien children of movie stars.

“Enquiring Minds Want to Know,” led supermarket and drugstore shoppers to buy the tabloid for gossip and secrets of the rich and famous, celebrities, along with eyewitness tales of the occult and UFOs.  It only took a dozen or so specious or craftily worded articles per week to keep the America Media publication flush with advertising revenue.  No one cared about journalism, or retractions, or misspellings – entertaining fiction was all it was.  They had a big enough budget to settle lawsuits and keep printing.

Now the ever-widening maw of the internet has spawned info-fantasy outlets to compete with reality.  Exempli gratia:  The recent articles about a couple of California “Breatharians,” who claim to live on “energy that exists in the universe and in themselves” and that they are sustained by “cosmic nourishment.”  This must put the National Enquirer in the backseat of audacity.  No fewer than six news outlets on Google News published the articles; YouTube videos of the couple and their two children have hundreds of thousands of views.

I will not honor this idiocy with more details, but I will shake my head at what the word “news” has come to mean.  I shudder at the thought of how many people might believe such unfiltered, synthetic, mental trash.  Our children are already screen zombies with waning connection to the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual worlds they inhabit.  The gullible, undereducated, and socially diminished cohorts of the future may have little reality on which to build their lives.

The comedian Gallagher quipped, “I wish there was a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence.  There’s a knob called “brightness,” but it doesn’t seem to work.”  That was before cable TV and the Internet.

Do Americans Really Want Economic Equality? – Not Beyond Our Borders

So much anger and angst about “Inequality” fills the American press without suggesting solutions.  Do they propose taking from the wealthy and handing it to the poor?  Just what do they want?

Do Americans really want economic equality, considering the vast economic differences in the world’s economies?  How about economic equality with the 10 poorest countries in the world?

  • Malawi: (pop 16 million, GDP per capita of $226.50)
  • Burundi: (pop 12 million, GDP per capita of $267.10)
  • Central African Republic: (pop 5 million, GDP per capita of $333.20)
  • Niger: (pop 21 million, GDP per capita of $415.40)
  • Liberia: (pop 5 million, GDP per capita of $454.30)
  • Madagascar: (pop 20 million, GDP per capita of $463.00)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo: (pop 77 million, GDP per capita of $484.20)
  • The Gambia: (pop 2 million, GDP per capita of $488.60)
  • Ethiopia: (pop 104 million, GDP per capita of $505.00)
  • Guinea: (pop 12 million, GDP per capita of $523.10)
 http://gazettereview.com/2016/06/top-10-poorest-countries-world/

United States (pop 300 million, GDP per capita of $51,638.10)

How much of your lifestyle would it take to “level the playing field with these 274 million African people who average $460 per year?Are you ready to make your contribution?

I do not think so.  It seems that the perceptions of difference limited to Americans are much more important to the critics than broader global realities.  This way of thinking of the world in discreet nations is automatic for most people.  We blithely ignore the fact that America is near the top of the economic “food chain” when we cry “inequality.”  Even the TV weather seems to stop at our borders.  But money does not.

The internet and international trade have dissolved the economic borders of nations.  People can buy and sell goods and services among the countries of the world with fewer restrictions and barriers.  Countries with lower cost labor compete with businesses in countries where wages and costs are much higher.  Globalization has revealed the world’s true economic inequalities.

American workers were paid well to operate factories and do skilled and unskilled jobs; now many are displaced by globalization, and other technological and cultural factors.  New jobs in America require different skills, and higher levels of education, knowledge, and experience.  Those who do not or cannot adapt and learn are left to compete for lower-paying jobs.

Creating financial success is not an equal opportunity phenomenon.  It tends to favor those who are born with successful parents, intellect, talent, and drive.  Globalization and technology have created business opportunities that can make people wealthy overnight, widening the wealth gap between the haves and have nots.

Where did the concept of economic equality come from?  Has any country survived and thrived under mandated economic equality?  When, in history, were people equal in anything?

In its early form, America was unique in the world to propose that citizens govern themselves with the precepts of equal civil and legal rights under our constitution and laws.  Under our system, we have equality of liberty and freedom for citizens who obey the law.  We are not promised economic equality.

The Declaration of Independence asserts that “all men are created equal.” Conceptually, we asserted this in the context of renouncing the right of a king to rule his subjects.  We were announcing that no one has a birthright to a lower or superior class or nobility in America.  Further, it reads “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” among them “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  We were not announcing anything beyond natural rights to life, liberty (from overreaching, arbitrary laws and rules of monarchs), and the pursuit of happiness.  We were not announcing redistribution of wealth, or handicapping the blessed.

Humans are born different and unequal in almost every aspect of being, including intellect, strength, size, eyesight, and other things that allow them to operate successfully in the world.  The fact is, people are never equal; that is what makes them unique.

 

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.

 

The March? -Fog of Vague Purposes

Remember “Occupy Wall Street?” More currently, “Black Lives Matter?”  And the latest example, “Women’s March?”  They have this much in common:

  • Loose Organization
  • Diverse Membership
  • Aggregate Complaints
  • Unfocused Intentions
  • Non-Specific Proposals
  • Outdoor Meetings
  • Catchy Names

“Occupy Wall Street” was pretty much just news items about their encampment.  “Black Lives Matter” fails to note that Federal statistics show that 80-90% of murdered “black lives that matter” are victims of black killers.  Half of all murder victims, nationally, are black; blacks are less than 15% of the population.  Where is that protest and call to action?

In the context of this protest, do they mean “Black, Mexican, Muslim, LGBTQ, Women’s Lives Matter?”  Or do they mean “Black, Young, Men’s Lives Matter,” but this just happens to be a women’s march?  Just what do they mean?

It seems that the “Women’s March” was all about disappointment, fear, and frustration transformed into pink anger.  Disappointment that Hillary did not win, fear that women’s rights will be undermined, and frustration that women do not receive equal pay.

Trump became the effigy to blame for everything.

Misogyny:  How many participants, do you think, could cite specific instances when President Trump recently disrespected women who were not attacking him?  Where is the acknowledgement of the nonchalant treatment of wives and women by iconic presidents such as JFK, and Bill Clinton?

If the marchers are promoting equality for women, his business organizations reflect great respect for women by hiring them, promoting them into management and paying them well; sounds like equality to me.  Why not ask women who work for the Trump organization how they feel about their misogynist boss?

Immigration:  First, Trump got trapped in the “Newspeak” of the way we use “immigrant.”  Many foreign nationals, from many countries, apply for visas, “green cards,” and citizenship every year.  Those who gain permanent residence or citizenship can rightly be called immigrants.  A great number of Americans are immigrants or children of immigrants.

The proponents of unlimited immigration and aligned journalists fought to not use the legal term “alien.”  They insisted on substituting “______-immigrant” until it became commonplace.  The problem is that non-hyphenated, legal immigrants heard these “_______-immigrants” being criticized and threatened, and felt included in that group; they took personally the anger, fear, and distain.

By verbally lumping the “_______-immigrants” together with immigrant citizens, they built support for their open-borders philosophy.  If we had stuck with “aliens,” and “foreign nationals,” the citizens would not have felt combined with them.

Exactly, what did he say about Mexicans?  Not just the clips, the whole statements. He said that among the illegal migrants were, drug smugglers, human traffickers, fugitive criminals, including murders, and rapists.  Is that true?  Yes.  Trump’s opponents extracted this description and implied that he meant ALL Mexicans fit these profiles.

Muslims:  Trump wants to limit and vet prospective refugees entering the US from Islamist countries tied to terrorism.  He wants Muslim communities to help identify and thwart jihadist terrorists.

Women who live in Muslim countries might not be sympathetic with the complaints of the marchers; certainly, they would or could not march on their capitals protesting.  Why not ask Muslim-American women what they would face if they went home to Arabia and Africa?  What would you face going there as a Christian?  Count your blessings that you live here in America.

There are no government proposals or actions right now that threaten women; he just took office Friday.  All the rhetoric is about what could happen; what rights they fear might be lost; what affronts they fear they may face.  Fear is a factor, but not fact

The one thing that stands out to me is concern about reversing Roe v. Wade.  I understand opposition to abortion challenges.  I support safe, informed, reasoned choice for every woman.  So, focus on defending that right or you risk people writing you off as generally disappointed with the election results, and righteously irritated at the challenges of being a woman.

The last point is this:  What do you propose, aside from replacing Donald Trump?  Many commentators have shrugged their shoulders about the purposes of the march because the marchers are not clear about what they are championing.  It was a shame that all the time, money, effort, and commitment it took to get people on the streets ended in a fog of vague purposes.

Donald Trump–The Matryoshka Candidate?

Matryoshka

I am amazed at the number, scope, and continuous flow of speculations about Donald Trump, as president-elect.  Now we have an American, billionaire, capitalist, accused of being a Russian sympathizer, and even a collaborator with Russia’s Putin to win the election.  Does that sound like the Russian version of “The Manchurian Candidate” to you?  (FYI:  a Matryoshka (ma-trosh-ka) is a hollow, Russian, nested, wooden doll with smaller and smaller dolls inside.)  I guess there are no limits on imagination, enmity, paranoia, malice, and disappointment.

Those who oppose Donald Trump, and those who are left bitter, dazed, angry, and confused by his election as President do not need to be rational in their relentless attacks on anything Trump.  Those accusing him of being soft on Russia, a Putin sycophant, and naïve about our enemies might take a minute to reflect on how silly that sounds.

Is it soft to sell some rich Russians overpriced condos and land in the US?  Is it sycophantic to use Putin to criticize political opponents as being weak?  Is it naïve to get the Russians to pay premium prices to have the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow?  Do I hear a no?

Until now, Mr. Trump’s interest in Russia has been limited to money, i.e. making money, not losing it, and not giving it away.  All his dealings with Russians have been real estate in the US, or visiting Moscow for a US-based beauty pageant.  Trump has never met Putin face-to-face, or made any deals with him.  Putin even cancelled a scheduled meeting with Trump during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.  Does that sound like love to you?  I believe Trump could continue to make money from Russians without being President, and without being friends with Putin; therefore, I do not think there is a sinister link. What else would he have to gain?

Some cite the friendly, respectful tone of comments and letters between the men.  A friendly demeanor is not the same as friendship; sometimes negotiations can benefit from pleasant diplomacy.

Others suggest that Putin sees Trump as weaker than Clinton.  Do we have some evidence that Trump is as passive as Obama has been in foreign matters, such as Crimea and Syria?  Or maybe evidence that Putin is afraid of Hillary after meeting her as Secretary of State?

Let us see what happens after January 20th.

This Blog Is Fake News

Not really, but language is our primary way to communicate.  “This statement is false,” is a classic example of recursive writing.  Sometimes I enjoy annoying, contradictory statements; these conundrums are good exercise for our understanding of language, our value judgements and our unchallenged intellectual sides.  Fake news is fiction dressed up in the trappings of fact.  Those who are fooled operate on faulty assumptions.  Snopes may not be enough to save us.

How important is what we believe?  We make choices every day based on information from others. For long stretches of our history, Americans expected, and demanded professional journalism; we challenged the news with research of our own; we relied on professional information gatherers and presenters; we cherished objectivity.  Walter Cronkite is the example that comes to mind.  He and his news team did not editorialize; they presented the facts they could verify plainly; even when the news was painful, such as the Kennedy assassination, he held his emotions in check, almost.

As the era of journalism fades in our collective awareness, we stumble into an epoch of opinion; the 24-hour news age Ted Turner invented is voracious; anything to fill the hours.  The demand grew for titillating, shocking, insidious, intentional, or just stupid, public lying; I guess there was not enough honest scandal, hyperbole, deception, libel, and defamation.

Now we find completely fabricated articles, meant to harm specific people or raise undue alarm among us. Free speech, or libel?  First Amendment rights, or vicious cowardice?  It seems we are reaping what we have sown.   We have become victims of our society’s lax attitude towards rigor and honor.  We have grown lazy and unwilling to check the things presented to us.

Frankly, I am glad.  Not for the bad things that follow such propaganda, but for the possible reawakening of doubt, curiosity, and inquiry.  Of all the innovations of the 20th century, the internet connection of millions of individuals is the most important, because it reveals and magnifies our human nature and limits. Our naivete allowed us to be fooled by sources we trusted. At last, we know we must check the sources and validity of our vast ocean of daily information.

Humans are suspicious by nature; evolution has left this trait engraved in our genes.  But we can be lulled into gullibility, and we have been.  The opinions of writers and editors may vary all along the spectrum of belief; perspectives may open many windows of human experience; but some grounded facts must be present to sort and distort.  Fake news is just written lies and gossip without honest attribution.

Who Examines Presidents? – Whoever They Choose

 

Americans deserve and need to know the health of our President, and our Vice-President; but we do not.

That is right:  There is no impartial national medical team for our country’s top executives, or those who seek those positions.  Each president and vice-president picks their own doctors, and decides what medical information they disclose.  In fact, several presidents have withheld and even falsified their health conditions to the public.  Kind of scary to not know the health of the most powerful politician in the world.  And, a heartbeat away, it also makes knowing the health of the Vice-President more than a casual concern.

The 25th amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides emergency options, should the president be incapacitated.  It lays out protocols for the vice president to take over, temporarily, when the president is stricken.  Why rely on such extraordinary measures when we can anticipate, and avoid problems by knowing the health of our president?  We have the technology.

In a 1993 edition of The Journal of the American Medical Association, former President Jimmy Carter advocated “the creation of a ‘nonpartisan group’ of physicians to help decide when a president’s illness affects his judgment.”   Apparently, doctors of previous presidents said presidential disability was a terrible problem.

Examples of hidden conditions:

Ronald Reagan

Reagan fought hard to dispel any rumors about his ill health, even after surviving an assassination attempt and colon cancer.  Some historians speculate the 40th president suffered from dementia  while he was in office.  He was publicly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease before his death in 2004.

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy presented the image of youthful vigor, but was in chronic pain due to back troubles from a World War II injury and constantly fatigued from Addison’s Disease (a chronic insufficiency of the adrenal glands).

Franklin D. Roosevelt

FDR hid the severity of his polio until after his death in 1945. Roosevelt was barely able to stand as he governed through World War II.

Woodrow Wilson

Wilson concealed the fact that he had three minor strokes leading up to his run for the presidency.  During his second term, Wilson suffered a massive stroke that left him paralyzed and blinded on the left side of his body.  He couldn’t have a cabinet meeting for nine months.

His vice president, Thomas Marshall, refused to take over; Wilson could only manage his presidential duties with the help of his wife, Edith, who decided which issues deserved the president’s attention.

In this case voters were denied knowledge of conditions that seriously limited Wilson’s ability to govern.

William Henry Harrison

The 9th president of the United States died in his first month in office of “bilious pleurisy” which appeared as “inflamed lungs,” an “engorged liver,” and a “delirious mental state.”

We want to know that our top leaders are healthy enough to perform their vital roles.  As we approach the 2016 election, Americans are concerned that we have no reliable way to learn about the physical and mental health of the presidential candidates, and their running mates.  Right now, with no other mechanism in place, only the candidates can relieve our concerns.

Middle-Class Families Robbed by Obamacare – Before and After Taxes

The New York Times just published an article claiming that middle-class families are better off financially.  They blithely overlooked the greatest tax increase in recent memory and the greatest increase in medical cost Americans have ever seen.  We have been robbed blind.

Many employers dropped or reduced their health insurance benefits and left their employees to shop Obamacare market places.  Not only are the premiums higher and the benefits lower, but now they must pay with after-tax dollars.  Insurance premiums paid by employers is exempt from payroll and income taxes.  Any of the premiums employee pays must come from earnings that have been taxed at about 8% for Social Security, Medicare taxes; the employer pays the same amount in matching payroll taxes.

But that’s not all; the employee also pays income taxes on the earnings – at least 15%.  So 8% + 15% is 23% fewer dollars in the employees’ pockets just to get the money to pay for healthcare insurance.  Since Obamacare started, health insurance for middle-class families has roughly doubled.  They get no government subsidies; they have fewer choices of doctors and hospitals; the deductibles and copays empty the bank accounts.  People who have worked hard, have been nicked by the recession.  They may be working for a fraction of their former incomes.  Families are now strapped for cash, and struggle to find medical providers that will accept their healthcare insurance.

Ask yourself, is the New York Times right?  Have we increased our incomes enough to rise above the tax grab and the insurance double-cross?  Our economic anemia verges on leukemia; Obamacare is the pathogen, not the cure.

What if Trump Wants to Lose? – Reality TV at its Finest

Interesting; both candidates for President are set for life, no matter who wins.  Aside from political ambitions, what other consequences can we think of?  Speaking engagements, books, endorsements; contributions to “selected” organizations, trust, foundations?

I think that is why Trump keeps upping the ante.  He is probably just as surprised as the pundits that he is the Republican candidate for president.  He is geared to parlay events that favor him into big wins.  But what if he does not want to win?  Could he be testing the limits of our national appetite for trash talk?

And, what about his campaign team?  In mid-August, Donald shrugs off the RNC “sheeps clothing” and resumes his “Wolf of Pennsylvania Avenue” regime.  An experienced manager tries to get him to smooth public dismay, and assume RNC campaign strategies; Trump demotes him and resumes fraying the tightrope to the White House.

Back to the show without protagonists; it must be amusing and frightening to watch our silliness.  All our military power, all our amazing creativity, dimmed by this imbroglio.

Timid, cowering politicians, showing everyone we have no cohesion, no clear direction, no acceptable answers to quell the “masses” who intuit the vacuum of power in our country.  Since 9/11 we have been “dazed and confused;” what should we do, whom should we trust; whom should we fear?

Flaying with “Shock and Awe;” useless, ignorant “boots on the ground” in places rich in resources, but impoverished in modernity.  We have shown our naiveté by superimposing our values and culture on 7th century tribal people.  Iraq was not even a country before Churchill drew a line around three feuding ethnic groups and assigned a titular government.  Afghanistan is the graveyard of many invading armies.

Donald Rumsfeld’s endorsement of Donald Trump is emblematic; the man who almost single-handedly emasculated Americas military, feebly blesses a novice in military affairs.  Sad, sad, sad.

I always thought of America in superlatives; strong, honest, forthright, steadfast, resourceful, courageous, and blessed come to mind.  Our moral infrastructure is in such disrepair, that we cannot stand for anything as a nation.  We have such weak bonds with each other, that we waste our energy and resources on things of little consequence in the world.  We blame each other for problems no one could create or solve.  We are frustrated with the impotence of government to do what it cannot.

  • Are we still recovering from the shock of a homeland attack?
  • Have our imaginations and fortitude been diverted to virtual reality?
  • Are we happy that we chose two weak candidates for President?
  • Are we that detached from reality?
  • Do we think this is just another show on TV?
  • Is our decline that obvious to the rest of the world?
  • Are Russia and China taking advantage of our frazzled reticence?
  • Where are the serious leaders we need?

We need citizens to accept individual responsibility and to participate in the things that matter – the true threats and vital problems; not bathrooms and weddings.

As in the TV series House of Cards, the voters are not in charge of anything. If we remain the audience for a reality TV Show, it should be called Decline.  You are never fired; in fact, you are stuck in a job you cannot afford to lose.  We could wake up like Gregor Samsa in Kafka’s Metamorphosis; no control over, and less understanding of what is happening to us.

Saul Alinsky was an important personal mentor to Hillary; his books are modern, grass roots, activist versions of Machiavelli’s The Prince, and Karl Marx’s Manifesto of the Communist Party.  Listen to the rhetoric of semi-incumbent,Hillary Clinton, and parse out the words that are not in Rules for Radicals.  She does not have any answers that were not available to another Alinsky apostle, Barack Obama; how can anyone believe she can do what he could not?  Not that Trump has any silver bullets either; but voting does not have to be rational; and so it is not.

Kizr Khan waved the Constitution on TV, but he must not have read the powers of the Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court. Had he read and understood Articles I, II, and III, he would know that all these sweeping promises candidates make are not within the powers vested in the Presidency.  If they could have, they would have.  Obama has stretched every possible executive power; what can any president do without Congress and the rest of the nation?  Read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

But I digress.  Just think; what if what Donald Trump never intended to become President. It has cost Donald Trump virtually nothing to become a famous world figure and a national icon.  He definitely, upset the powers-that-be in the RNC.  He awakened an army of citizens who have suffered too long from economic and government impoverishment.  Even if the presidency goes to the second most unpopular, and widely distrusted candidate, both she and Trump are set for life.

 

 

 

Hillary Clinton Showed More Awareness of Her Speaking Voice

During Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech, I liked the improvements in her speaking voice.  I shake my head when I read that her supporters lecture us to be more politically correct; you cannot order us to, “stop not liking her delivery, you men do the same thing and get accepted.”  Listeners cannot escape their visceral responses.  I say, “Stop telling us how we should respond.”

Our culture has conditioned us to hear and respond to voices since we were babies.  We did not choose our responses; we grew them based on the events that accompanied the speaking.  We are sensitive to tones, overtones, undertones, volume, brittleness, rhythm, pace, inflections in both high-pitched and low-pitched voices.  We have all been soothed and yelled at by both men and women.  We know it when we hear it. Watch how babies respond to voices; that is our nature.

Before microphones, people speaking to large groups or singing had to amplify their voices, a kind of practiced yelling.  Preachers in churches, actors on stages, singers of opera, and teachers in classrooms had to speak/sing loudly to be heard.

The advent of microphones made this unnecessary. Radio and television stations discovered which kinds of speaking voices are soothing, grating, jarring, preaching, threatening, etc.  They just do not hire people who do not speak successfully to their audiences.

No amount of chiding, “people should not let shrill voices bother them, they should just hear the message,” will change our automatic responses.  The speaker must accommodate the listener, not the other way around.  That is what voice coaches do.

What I noticed, during Hillary’s speech, was how many times she caught herself when she started to elevate her voice for emphasis, and lowered it into a more powerful, conversational range.  There is no need for yelling with today’s microphones.

The finest example at the convention was Michelle Obama’s amazing speech.  Replay it to experience the smoothest, clearest, most comfortable, conversational speaking I have ever heard.  She made it easy to hear her very strong points without yelling, grating, or preaching.

So, let the critics of the voice critics relent; no one will take you seriously; no one will cheer if their ears are not happy.

Populists Remodel, Instead of Making New Parties

“Americans are not only strongly dissatisfied with the state of the economy and the direction in which the country is headed, but with government efforts to improve them. As the Pew Research Center’s analysis of exit poll data (2010) concluded, “the outcome of this year’s election represented a repudiation of the political status quo…. Fully 74% said they were either angry or dissatisfied with the federal government, and 73% disapproved of the job Congress is doing.”

http://www.pewresearch.org/2010/12/14/how-a-different-america-responded-to-the-great-depression/

Like the two poles of a magnet, anger and dissatisfaction manifested in favor of a clearly popular Bernie Sanders movement on the left, and more clearly in the ascendancy of Donald Trump on the right.

The Democrats

Bernie Sanders attracted a large plurality of younger citizens to socialist ideas for solving perceived failures of government.  The Obama administration did nothing to ameliorate the impact of staggering loan burdens on college students; the Affordable Care Act not only failed to manage healthcare needs, it aggravated the problems of access and affordability.

Super delegates, and the strident support of the DNC establishment saved Hillary Clinton’s primary candidacy from an embarrassing drubbing by the populists.  Nonetheless, the Democrats had to shift their platform to the left to avoid losing the new voters Bernie Sanders attracted.  The party apparatchiks felt their grip on power slipping, and quickly adjusted to retain control.  Witness the remodeled Democratic Party

The Republicans

The Republican powers-that-be were not so lucky; by denying, resisting and eschewing, they lost control of the party to a populist candidate beyond their influence.  Donald Trump, by design or blind luck, tapped into the anger and frustration of a tsunami of new and dormant voters on the right. Instead of building a new third party, ala Ross Perot, Trump remodeled the Republican Party.  This massive wave of constituents was so strong that sixteen traditional candidates succumbed to mild taunting and criticism in televised debates, and strong turnouts in the primaries.

The barrage of criticism from both parties, the withdrawal of political support by RNC powerhouses, and the withholding of financial support by big-time contributors could not stop a political neophyte from becoming the Republican candidate on a tiny fraction of the money spent against him.  The Republican Party has been transformed into a conservative, populist majority; sour grapes, snubs, and disownment remain ineffective on the new dynamics of the party.

“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore,” is our new national creed.

Love Is Blind – Exaggeration Is Rampant

Those who love Hillary Clinton can hardly contain their hyperbole.  Let us put it this way:  Hillary Clinton is not, “the best qualified candidate for president America has ever seen.”  While she has done many admirable, and noteworthy things, it takes a fairly partisan filter to make them presidential.  In fact, we would have to give a “participation trophy” for many of the things she has done.

Achievement is not attendance, support, involvement, engagement, pursuit, publishing, membership, advocacy, writing, researching, promoting, and most of the descriptors in the articles, blogs, and websites promoting her qualifications. 

Is she really better qualified than Abraham Lincoln? Yes, he was a man with few credentials, but he managed the most excruciating period in all of our nation’s history.

Is she even close to George Washington? George Washington was chosen by acclamation; rightly so in that he led the colonies to victory over the greatest military force in the world. He was a highly principled man, who pandered to no one. He was a successful wealthy businessman.  He managed the most challenging period in our early history.

What about Franklin D. Roosevelt, who defied his social class to lead the nation through the worst combined experience in the last century?

How about Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bill Clinton, Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson (the top 10 according to a 2014 Washington Post survey.), or Barak Obama (Ranked 18)?

Does being First Lady, being a senator, or being a cabinet appointee give her astounding qualifications to be president?

As far as I can see, the only elected executive position she has held was “president of the college’s student government associations” at Wellesley College.

(Update: “Hillary Clinton Removes Hamas-Israel Ceasefire Accomplishment from Biography as Gaza Tensions Rise”

https://www.ijreview.com/2016/02/528923-hillary-clinton-removes-hamas-israel-accomplishments-from-biography/

Ah well, history in the remaking.)

 

Where can we find descriptions of her achievements and qualifications in very supportive, favorable publications?  Here are extracts from two articles that called for examples of her qualifications.  It seems that both articles point to her efforts and activities instead.  You be the judge.

First, extracted from https://www.quora.com/What-has-Hillary-Clinton-achieved

phrases used to describe Hillary’s achievements:

  • became engaged in politics
  • took part in political campaigns
  • graduated from Wellesley College
  • was involved in student government
  • elected president of the college’s student government associations.
  • worked with the college’s African-American students
  • became the first student in Wellesley’s history to offer its commencement address
  • received a 7- minute standing ovation
  • criticized Senator Edward Brooke
  • was on the editorial board of the Yale Review of Law and Social Action
  • worked with the Yale Child Study Center
  • wrote “Children Under the Law”
  • researched issues affecting migrant workers
  • served as staff attorney for the Children’s Defense Fund
  • moved to Arkansas with Bill Clinton
  • began teaching criminal law
  • joined the Rose Law Firm
  • pursued patent infringement and intellectual property law
  • became a partner in 1979
  • co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families
  • publish scholarly articles in the field of children’s law
  • served on the board of directors of the Legal Services Corporation
  • served as First Lady of Arkansas
  • served as chair of the Arkansas Education Standards Committee
  • implemented standards for curriculum and mandatory teacher testing
  • served on the board of nonprofits
  • was on the corporate board of TCBY and Walmart
  • pushed for environmental reforms and for more women in its corporate management
  • regarded as the most politically influential first lady in the history of the United States
  • played an important part in vetting presidential appointments
  • headed the unsuccessful effort to achieve national healthcare reform
  • worked with the U.S. Senate to pass the State Children’s Health Insurance Program
  • was influential (in) the passage of Foster Care Independence Act
  • traveled extensively and advocated for women’s rights around the world
  • was elected United States Senator from New York twice
  • served on Senatorial committees
  • worked in a bipartisan manner
  • was instrumental in securing funding for recovery efforts and increased security for New York state.
  • voted for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
  • began calling for gradual withdrawal from Iraq
  • opposed the increase of troop deployment of 2007
  • voted in 2007 for a spending bill that would require a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
  • voted against Bush’s tax cuts
  • supported immigration reform as a senator
  • led a bipartisan effort to bring broadband access to rural communities
  • was the first former First Lady to occupy a cabinet position
  • conducted many diplomatic missions
  • visited over 100 countries
  • did a great deal to repair international relations
  • lead the U.S. response to the Arab Spring in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen
  • was the key advocate for U.S. participation in the military intervention in Libya
  • argued successfully that the United States not release photographs of the Al Queda leader
  • was vital in conducting relations with Pakistan and Afghanistan
  • worked to restart negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians
  • establish(ed)ing direct talks in 2010
  • travel(led)ing to Jerusalem in 2012 in an effort to stop the 2012 Gaza conflict.
  • promoted women’s right and human rights
  • advocated for gay rights at the UN Human Rights Council
  • oversaw damage control in response to the Wikileaks revelations of State Department cables
  • testified to Congress regarding the killing of U.S. Diplomatic staff in Libya
  • co-chaired the U.S-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in 2009
  • mediated in the electoral crisis in Honduras in 2009
  • unveiled the Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative for Bill Clinton’s Clinton Global Initiative.
  • visited Haiti in 2009 and Chile in 2010 in response to catastrophic earthquakes.
  • played an important role in lobbying the U.S. Senate to ratify the new START treaty in 2010.
  • was outspoken in support of legitimate democracy in Russia
  • was the first Secretary of State to visit Burma since 1955
  • played a vital role in the passage of the Turkish-Armenian Accord
  • initiated reforms in the State Department

Am I missing something?  Which of these supports qualification to be president?

Second, an article from politico:

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/09/carly-fiorina-debate-hillary-clintons-greatest-accomplishment-213157

THE FRIDAY COVER

What Is Hillary’s Greatest Accomplishment?

Carly Fiorina dared Democrats to name it. 20 top Dems accepted the challenge.

By POLITICO MAGAZINE

Getty

“If you want to stump a Democrat, ask them to name an accomplishment of Hillary Clinton,” Carly Fiorina quipped at Wednesday’s Republican debate. The line got hearty applause—but it also cut to the core of one of the defining lines of attacks against the former first lady and Democratic presidential frontrunner. After nearly forty years in public life, what exactly has she accomplished?

It’s a question that even, at times, has tripped up Clinton herself: During her 2014 book tour, when ABC’s Diane Sawyer asked her about her “marquee achievement,” Clinton changed the subject and she fumbled over a similar question during a women’s forum in Manhattan last year. “I see my role as secretary—in fact leadership in general in a democracy—as a relay race. You run the best race you can run, you hand off the baton. Some of what hasn’t been finished may go on to be finished,” she told Thomas Friedman. “I’m very proud of the [economic] stabilization and the really solid leadership that the administration provided that I think now leads us to be able to deal with problems like Ukraine because we’re not so worried about a massive collapse in Europe.”

The question Fiorina posed has also tripped up members of the Obama administration. When State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki was asked last year to “identify one tangible achievement” accomplished through one of Hillary Clinton’s key projects as Secretary of State—the first-ever audit of the department—Psaki punted, “I am certain that those who were here at the time, who worked hard on that effort, could point out one.”

Hillary’s supporters have been stumped too. When Bloomberg Politics’ Mark Halperin asked a focus group of Iowans this summer about Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments, one Democratic supporter said, “I honestly can’t say I followed along [with] everything that was going on.”

So is Fiorina right? Are Democrats really unable to defend Clinton’s record on the merits? To find out, Politico Magazine on Thursday asked the nation’s top Democratic leaders and thinkers to name Hillary Clinton’s biggest accomplishment.

What is the most impressive item on Clinton’s record? Which legislative or policy triumph from her many years in office will be most important on the campaign trail? Not surprisingly, those surveyed all came up with an answer to defend their party’s likely presidential nominee. Whether these count as “marquee,” “significant,” or “tangible”? You be the judge.

‘It’s kind of hard to pick one accomplishment’

By Bill Burton, former senior strategist for Priorities USA Action, a super PAC in support of President Barack Obama.

It’s kind of hard to pick one accomplishment for Hillary Clinton. Personally, I’m sure she’d say her daughter and grandchild are her greatest accomplishments. Professionally, how about these three?

  1. Her China speech on women
  2. Her role in killing Osama bin Laden
  3. Management of the State Department during which time we saw a 50 percent increase in exports to China
  4. Aggressive work on climate (particularly at Copenhagen)
  5. The effort to create and implement the toughest sanctions ever on Iran—helping to lead us to the agreement currently on the table.

‘The sanction on Iran that brought them to the table’

Howard Dean is the former governor of Vermont and the former chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Hillary Clinton was the principal author of the sanction on Iran that brought them to the table.

‘Nearly every foreign policy victory of President Obama’s second term has Secretary Clinton’s fingerprints on it’

By Harry Reid, Senate Democratic leader.

American foreign policy was stronger when Hillary Clinton left the State Department than when she arrived. She took the reins from a Bush administration that had left America’s reputation deeply damaged and planted the seeds for the foreign policy successes we see today. From the

  1. agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon
  2. landmark normalization of relations with Cuba, nearly every foreign policy victory of President Obama’s second term has Secretary Clinton’s fingerprints on it.

Her accomplishments extend to health care, as well.

As First Lady, she helped create and guide through Congress Children’s Health Insurance Program, a key program that brought health care coverage to millions of children.

As a Senator, she worked across the aisle to provide full military health benefits to reservists and National Guard members.

Secretary Clinton was also an outspoken champion for women around the world. She set records for travel while leading the State Department and used every trip to empower the women of the 112 countries she visited. She made gender equality a priority of U.S. foreign policy. And she created the ambassador at large for global women’s issues, a post charged with integrating gender throughout the State Department.

 ‘The SCHIP program … which expanded health coverage to millions of lower-income children’

By Anita Dunn, Democratic political strategist.

After universal health care failed in 1994, the Clinton Administration was reluctant to go anywhere near healthcare again—Democrats lost the Senate and the House in 1994, and losing the house was for the first time in 40 years.

Then-First Lady Hilary Clinton ended up being the White House ally and inside player who worked with Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch to create the SCHIP program in Clinton’s second term, which expanded health coverage to millions of lower-income children.

She has other accomplishments but this one made a huge difference, and came at a time when politically the Administration was cutting deals with Newt Gingrich on the budget and not necessarily all that enthusiastic about revisiting health care.

This obviously isn’t her only accomplishment but it is meaningful because she took a political battering after the failure in 1994 but came back to fight again, and was able to work on a bipartisan basis during a very polarized time to get this done. Seems relevant!

‘Clinton is one of the most accomplished people ever to run’

By Chuck Schumer, U.S. Senator for New York, Democratic party.

Hillary Clinton is one of the most accomplished people ever to run for the Presidency. I’m lucky enough to have seen those accomplishments up close from her time as Senator from New York and as Secretary of State. Hillary Clinton

  1. was instrumental in helping secure $21 billion in federal aid to help New York rebuild after 9/11. She fought tooth and nail to protect the first responders who rushed into danger when the towers collapsed and was pivotal in the passage of legislation that helped those first responders who got sick get the care and treatment they deserved.
  2. worked night and day to protect and create jobs in New York, whether that was at the Niagara Falls Air Force base or the Center for Bioinformatics at the University of Buffalo. She also led the charge on the Lilly Ledbetter Pay Equity Act, which is now the law of the land.

‘Rebuilding America’s leadership and prestige overseas after the Bush years’

Bill Richardson is a former secretary of energy and governor of New Mexico.

As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was key in rebuilding America’s leadership and prestige overseas after the Bush years.

She restored our alliances with the EU and key Asian allies as well as key relationships in Africa and Latin America.

 ‘The Pediatric Research Equity Act’

By Chris Dodd, former U.S. Senator for Connecticut, Democratic party.

Having worked with her in the Senate and on the HELP Committee, the first thing that came to mind was her

  1. authorship of the Pediatric Research Equity Act. This law requires drug companies to study their products in children. The Act is responsible for changing the drug labeling of hundreds of drugs with important information about safety and dosing of drugs for children. It has improved the health of millions of children who take medications to treat diseases ranging from HIV to epilepsy to asthma. Millions of kids are in better shape and alive because of the law Senator Clinton authored.

‘Crippling sanctions against Iran’

By Paul Begala, political analyst for CNN and counselor to President Bill Clinton.

Easy: Iran sanctions. Sec. Clinton accomplished the nearly impossible mission of getting China, Russia, the European Union and the civilized world on board with crippling sanctions against Iran. This is what brought Iran to the negotiating table.

‘Clinton struck major and consequential diplomatic achievements’

By Bill Scher, senior writer at the Campaign for America’s Future.

Hillary Clinton has four major accomplishments from her tenure as Secretary of State: winning the

  1. UN resolution supporting military intervention in Libya
  2. New START arms control treaty with Russia
  3. renewing diplomatic ties with Myanmar
  4. setting in the motion talks that culminated in the Iran nuclear deal.

We don’t see the Clinton campaign or other Democrats leap to cite most of these accomplishments because they come with degrees of future uncertainty and, in the case of Libya, associations with the tangentially related Benghazi attack. But they are significant accomplishments nonetheless.

Clinton is often mocked for failing to “reset” relations with Russia. But the New START treaty is being followed and helping contain tensions. She won Russia’s support for UN sanctions on Iran that helping bring the rogue state to the negotiating table. And she cajoled Russia to abstain on the Libyan resolution, which was critical to securing its passage in the UN Security Council. (In fact, she may have “reset” too well. Vladimir Putin, who was not President at the time, opposed the resolution and that may have contributed to his decision to reclaim his post.)

The aftermath of that Libyan intervention has been messy, with rival governments fracturing the country, although unity talks are currently taking place. Myanmar has not been perfect either. The promise of released political prisoners has only been partially filled. And the military is being accused of manipulating the upcoming general election. Still the participation of the previously banned National League for Democracy party is a step forward.

These are reminders that, in the real world, progress is often halting. But the fact remains that Clinton struck major and consequential diplomatic achievements, even if the final historical judgment on their lasting impact is years away.

 ‘I’ve seen, first-hand, her exceptional work at every level

By Patrick Leahy, U.S. Senator for Vermont, Democratic party.

I’ve seen, first-hand, her exceptional work at every level—when she was in the White House as First Lady; later, when we were partners and neighbors as senators; and after that, when she was Secretary of State.

  1. Just one example, which is one of her enduring legacies as First Lady, was her partnership with Congress in developing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which has improved access to essential health care for millions of kids.
  2. In the Senate we worked together on efforts to clean up Lake Champlain and to help Vermont’s and New York’s family farmers.
  3. (As a senator from New York,) She was at the center of securing help for New York’s 9/11 first responders.
  4. We worked together in enacting the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was the first bill signed into law by President Obama.

I was chairman of the State Department’s budget committee when she was Secretary of State, and I worked closely with her—week to week, and sometimes day to day—on a wide, wide range of issues and challenges, from human rights to global health.

  1. We traveled together to Haiti as we worked to help that country recover from the devastation of the earthquake.
  2. She had a leading role in securing tougher sanctions on Iran.
  3. We worked together to successfully overcome obstruction by House Republicans of the funding she requested to improve embassy security around the world.

Some of her most important achievements were her steady, methodical efforts, with the President, to help reintroduce America to the world.

 ‘She was the point person … compelling the Chinese to commit to cutting carbon emissions.’

By David Axelrod, former Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama.

When I was there, she played a very active role in

  1. rallying the world behind the global sanctions against Iran that brought them to the table over their nuclear program.
  2. She was the point person in Copenhagen in compelling the Chinese to commit to cutting carbon emissions.
  3. She personally negotiated a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Those are a few that come to mind.

‘The Adoption and Safe Families Act’

By Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress.

As First Lady, Hillary was the

  1. point person in the Clinton Administration on the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, a bill that refocused adoption policies on the needs of the children, made it easier to remove children from abusive situations, provided support and services to adoptive families, and encouraged adoption of children with special needs. The bill increased foster adoptions by 64 percent by 2002.

Hillary helped develop the idea behind this bill, first writing about it in a 1995 article. She went on to work with Republicans and Democrats in Congress, including moderate Rhode Island Republican John Chafee, to see the bill through to final passage, helping broker compromises to ensure the bill’s passage.

This was not a big bill that dominated headlines. But for every child who was placed in a loving home because of this legislation, Hillary’s work was more than an accomplishment on a resume; it was an important part of the reason their lives were better.

 ‘Clinton has at every turn fought for progress and opportunity’

By Tracy Sefl, former senior advisor to Ready for Hillary.

The reality is that Hillary Clinton has at every turn, fought for progress and opportunity. As her campaign continues, she’ll continue to share exactly what those fights have entailed, and for who—

domestically, on behalf of children, veterans, active military, first responders, victims of gender-based violence, family caregivers, pregnant women.

As Secretary of State, she helped restore America’s standing during challenging times, meaning that her tireless diplomatic efforts brought forth progress with

  1. tougher sanctions
  2. missile reduction treaties
  3. ceasefires
  4. strengthened international coalitions.

And critically, her core belief—that the improved lives of women and girls worldwide will leads to stronger and safer economies—is proving to be transformational in the 21st Century.

‘The new START Treaty’

By Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist.

Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, led the negotiations that led to the new

  1. START Treaty, a landmark revision of our nuclear arms agreement with Russia. It received bipartisan support in Congress and represents a critical leg in our national security and a safer world.

‘A relentless advocate for women and children’

By Douglas Schoen, pollster for President Bill Clinton.

Hillary Clinton has:

  1. has championed women’s reproductive rights as well as establishing the importance of early education.
  2. played a critical role in the creation of the Adoption and Safe Families Act.
  3. introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act as well as the
  4. Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

‘Galvanizing the Senate after the tragedy of 9/11’

By Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senator for California, Democratic party.

What Hillary Clinton has accomplished in any given year–from leading efforts to impose the toughest

  1. Iran sanctions
  2. making women’s rights central to our foreign policy to
  3. galvanizing the Senate after the tragedy of 9/11 to rebuild the city and take care of our brave first responders.

‘A ‘smart power’ diplomacy’

By Harold Koh, former Legal Adviser of the Department of State.

As Secretary, Hillary Clinton defined and tried consistently to implement a “smart power” diplomacy that combines diplomacy, development, aid, rule of law and private initiatives with limited applications of hard power to project U.S. global leadership abroad.

In an age where our hard power resources are limited and near exhaustion, her approach is a much more promising than the Republicans’ to addressing our hardest global problems in the years ahead.

  1. The Iran nuclear deal
  2. multilateral trade talks
  3. climate change negotiations are only three current concrete examples of that approach in action.

‘She helped hold together the Presidency and the country’

By Dennis Kucinich, former U.S. Representative from Ohio.

When the Clinton Administration was under attack and facing impeachment, Hillary Clinton

  1. s(h)owed great courage, fortitude and perseverance.
  2. She helped hold together the Presidency and the country by virtue of her steadfastness and determination.
  3. Her conduct revealed an extraordinary resilience and grace under pressure, which are the hallmarks of a strong leader.
  4. Even more than her considerable work on health and education, her effort to be a unifying force at that time was important for America.

‘The world is safer and people are more free thanks to Hillary Clinton’

By Donna Brazile, Democratic strategist and contributor to CNN and ABC News.

  1. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was instrumental in building an international coalition around the toughest regime of sanctions against Iran in history.
  2. She went to Beijing 20 years ago and declared that women’s rights are human rights.
  3. More recently, she stood before representatives of nations like Russia and Uganda and stated boldly that gay rights are human rights, too.

Today, the world is safer and people are more free thanks to Hillary Clinton.

Here at home, from her very first job out of law school—at the Children’s Defense Fund—Hillary Clinton has delivered results for Americans most at risk of discrimination and restricted opportunity.

As First Lady, she

  1. championed healthcare reform at the comprehensive level and through SCHIP for children living in poverty.
  2. In the Senate she fought to raise the minimum wage,
  3. she stood up for 9/11 first responders and she was a tireless
  4. advocate for legislation to protect and expand the right to vote.

 

Summary

Compiling the 47 answers and eliminating duplication, here is what they said were her lifelong greatest accomplishments:

Pre-First Lady:

  1. First job out of law school—at the Children’s Defense Fund
  2. She went to Beijing 20 years ago and declared that women’s rights are human rights

As First Lady:

  1. Point person in the Clinton Administration on the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, a bill that refocused adoption policies on the needs of the children, made it easier to remove children from abusive situations, provided support and services to adoptive families, and encouraged adoption of children with special needs
  2. Championed healthcare reform at the comprehensive level and through SCHIP for children living in poverty.
  3. Advocate for legislation to protect and expand the right to vote.
  4. She stood before representatives of nations like Russia and Uganda and stated boldly that gay rights are human rights, too.

As Senator from New York:

  1. Stood up for 9/11 first responders and she was a tireless
  2. Fought to raise the minimum wage,
  3. Introduced the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
  4. Author(ed)ship of the Pediatric Research Equity Act. This law requires drug companies to study their products in children. The Act is responsible for changing the drug labeling of hundreds of drugs with important information about safety and dosing of drugs for children.
  5. Worked together on efforts to clean up Lake Champlain and to help Vermont’s and New York’s family farmers.
  6. Worked night and day to protect and create jobs in New York, whether that was at the Niagara Falls Air Force base or the Center for Bioinformatics at the University of Buffalo
  7. Traveled to Haiti worked to help that country recover from the devastation of the earthquake.
  8. Worked together to successfully overcome obstruction by House Republicans of the funding she requested to improve embassy security around the world.

As Secretary of State:

  1. Point person in Copenhagen in compelling the Chinese to commit to cutting carbon emissions.
  2. Multilateral trade talks
  3. Instrumental in building an international coalition around the toughest regime of sanctions against Iran in history.
  4. Her role in killing Osama bin Laden
  5. Management of the State Department during which time we saw a 50 percent increase in exports to China
  6. Landmark normalization of relations with Cuba, nearly every foreign policy victory of President Obama’s second term has Secretary Clinton’s fingerprints on it.
  7. UN resolution supporting military intervention in Libya
  8. Renewing diplomatic ties with Myanmar
  9. START Treaty, a landmark revision of our nuclear arms agreement with Russia. It received bipartisan support in Congress and represents a critical leg in our national security and a safer world.
  10. The Iran nuclear deal

I invite you to review and weigh the importance of her individual accomplishments on the scale of presidential qualifications.

 

Tools from Carl Sagan’s BS Detection Kit

We are in an age of hyper-information/persuasion/spin about all aspects of our lives, from what we eat, to what we buy, to what we attend, to whom we choose as leaders.  Now, as always, we can benefit from screening the inputs to our lives, and weighing our beliefs on a scale of clarity, and verity.  Carl Sagan gave us some sage tools to evaluate and detect fallacies of arguments, and false claims.  After the quote, I will try to translate, without bias, his precise language, and references, into reasonably understandable terms.

A. Evaluate Ideas to Approach the Truth:

  1. Wherever possible,there must be independent confirmation of the “facts.”
  2. Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.
  3. Arguments from authority carry little weight — “authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science, there are no authorities; at most, there are experts.
  4. Spin more than one hypothesis. If there’s something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives. What survives, the hypothesis that resists disproof in this Darwinian selection among “multiple working hypotheses,” has a much better chance of being the right answer than if you had simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy.
  5. Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours. It’s only a way station in the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don’t, others will.
  6. Quantify. If whatever it is you’re explaining has some measure, some numerical quantity attached to it, you’ll be much better able to discriminate among competing hypotheses. What is vague and qualitative is open to many explanations. Of course there are truths to be sought in the many qualitative issues we are obliged to confront, but finding them is more challenging.
  7. If there’s a chain of argument,every link in the chain must work (including the premise) — not just most of them.
  8. Occam’s Razor. This convenient rule-of-thumb urges us when faced with two hypotheses that explain the dataequally well to choose the simpler.
  9. Always ask whether the hypothesis can be, at least in principle, Propositions that are untestable, unfalsifiable are not worth much. Consider the grand idea that our Universe and everything in it is just an elementary particle — an electron, say — in a much bigger Cosmos. But if we can never acquire information from outside our Universe, is not the idea incapable of disproof? You must be able to check assertions out. Inveterate skeptics must be given the chance to follow your reasoning, to duplicate your experiments and see if they get the same result.
  1. Avoid Common Pitfalls of Common Sense

Just as important as learning these helpful tools, however, is unlearning and avoiding the most common pitfalls of common sense. Reminding us of where society is most vulnerable to those, Sagan writes:

In addition to teaching us what to do when evaluating a claim to knowledge, any good baloney detection kit must also teach us what not to do. It helps us recognize the most common and perilous fallacies of logic and rhetoric. Many good examples can be found in religion and politics, because their practitioners are so often obliged to justify two contradictory propositions.

He admonishes against the twenty most common and perilous ones — many rooted in our chronic discomfort with ambiguity — with examples of each in action:

  1. ad hominem— Latin for “to the man,” attacking the arguer and not the argument (e.g., The Reverend Dr. Smith is a known Biblical fundamentalist, so her objections to evolution need not be taken seriously)
  2. argument from authority(e.g., President Richard Nixon should be re-elected because he has a secret plan to end the war in Southeast Asia — but because it was secret, there was no way for the electorate to evaluate it on its merits; the argument amounted to trusting him because he was President: a mistake, as it turned out)
  3. argument from adverse consequences(e.g., A God meting out punishment and reward must exist, because if He didn’t, society would be much more lawless and dangerous — perhaps even ungovernable. Or: The defendant in a widely publicized murder trial must be found guilty; otherwise, it will be an encouragement for other men to murder their wives)
  4. appeal to ignorance— the claim that whatever has not been proved false must be true, and vice versa (e.g., There is no compelling evidence that UFOs are not visiting the Earth; therefore, UFOs exist — and there is intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe. Or: There may be seventy kazillion other worlds, but not one is known to have the moral advancement of the Earth, so we’re still central to the Universe.) This impatience with ambiguity can be criticized in the phrase: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
  5. special pleading, often to rescue a proposition in deep rhetorical trouble(e.g.,How can a merciful God condemn future generations to torment because, against orders, one woman induced one man to eat an apple? Special plead: you don’t understand the subtle Doctrine of Free Will. Or: How can there be an equally godlike Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in the same Person? Special plead: You don’t understand the Divine Mystery of the Trinity. Or: How could God permit the followers of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — each in their own way enjoined to heroic measures of loving kindness and compassion — to have perpetrated so much cruelty for so long? Special plead: You don’t understand Free Will again. And anyway, God moves in mysterious ways.)
  6. begging the question, also called assuming the answer (e.g., We must institute the death penalty to discourage violent crime. But does the violent crime rate in fact fall when the death penalty is imposed? Or: The stock market fell yesterday because of a technical adjustment and profit-taking by investors — but is there any independent evidence for the causal role of “adjustment” and profit-taking; have we learned anything at all from this purported explanation?)
  7. observational selection, also calledthe enumeration of favorable circumstances, or as the philosopher Francis Bacon described it, counting the hits and forgetting the misses (e.g., A state boasts of the Presidents it has produced, but is silent on its serial killers)
  8. statistics of small numbers— a close relative of observational selection(e.g., “They say 1 out of every 5 people is Chinese. How is this possible? I know hundreds of people, and none of them is Chinese. Yours truly.” Or: “I’ve thrown three sevens in a row. Tonight I can’t lose.”)
  9. misunderstanding of the nature of statistics(e.g., President Dwight Eisenhower expressing astonishment and alarm on discovering that fully half of all Americans have below average intelligence);
  10. inconsistency(e.g., Prudently plan for the worst of which a potential military adversary is capable, but thriftily ignore scientific projections on environmental dangers because they’re not “proved.” Or: Attribute the declining life expectancy in the former Soviet Union to the failures of communism many years ago, but never attribute the high infant mortality rate in the United States (now highest of the major industrial nations) to the failures of capitalism. Or: Consider it reasonable for the Universe to continue to exist forever into the future, but judge absurd the possibility that it has infinite duration into the past);
  11. non sequitur— Latin for “It doesn’t follow” (e.g., Our nation will prevail because God is great. But nearly every nation pretends this to be true; the German formulation was “Gott mit uns”). Often those falling into the non sequitur fallacy have simply failed to recognize alternative possibilities;
  12. post hoc, ergo propter hoc— Latin for “It happened after, so it was caused by” (e.g., Jaime Cardinal Sin, Archbishop of Manila: “I know of … a 26-year-old who looks 60 because she takes [contraceptive] pills.” Or: Before women got the vote, there were no nuclear weapons)
  13. meaningless question(e.g., What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? But if there is such a thing as an irresistible force there can be no immovable objects, and vice versa)
  14. excluded middle, or false dichotomy — considering only the two extremes in a continuum of intermediate possibilities (e.g., “Sure, take his side; my husband’s perfect; I’m always wrong.” Or: “Either you love your country or you hate it.” Or: “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”)
  15. short-term vs. long-term— a subset of the excluded middle, but so important I’ve pulled it out for special attention (e.g., We can’t afford programs to feed malnourished children and educate pre-school kids. We need to urgently deal with crime on the streets.  Or: Why explore space or pursue fundamental science when we have so huge a budget deficit?);
  16. slippery slope, related to excluded middle (e.g.,If we allow abortion in the first weeks of pregnancy, it will be impossible to prevent the killing of a full-term infant. Or, conversely: If the state prohibits abortion even in the ninth month, it will soon be telling us what to do with our bodies around the time of conception);
  17. confusion of correlation and causation(e.g., A survey shows that more college graduates are homosexual than those with lesser education; therefore, education makes people gay. Or: Andean earthquakes are correlated with closest approaches of the planet Uranus; therefore — despite the absence of any such correlation for the nearer, more massive planet Jupiter — the latter causes the former)
  18. straw man— caricaturing a position to make it easier to attack (e.g., Scientists suppose that living things simply fell together by chance — a formulation that willfully ignores the central Darwinian insight, that Nature ratchets up by saving what works and discarding what doesn’t. Or — this is also a short-term/long-term fallacy — environmentalists care more for snail darters and spotted owls than they do for people)
  19. suppressed evidence, or half-truths (e.g., An amazingly accurate and widely quoted “prophecy” of the assassination attempt on President Reagan is shown on television; but — an important detail — was it recorded before or after the event? Or:  These government abuses demand revolution, even if you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. Yes, but is this likely to be a revolution in which far more people are killed than under the previous regime? What does the experience of other revolutions suggest? Are all revolutions against oppressive regimes desirable and in the interests of the people?)
  20. weasel words(e.g., The separation of powers of the U.S. Constitution specifies that the United States may not conduct a war without a declaration by Congress. On the other hand, Presidents are given control of foreign policy and the conduct of wars, which are potentially powerful tools for getting themselves re-elected. Presidents of either political party may therefore be tempted to arrange wars while waving the flag and calling the wars something else — “police actions,” “armed incursions,” “protective reaction strikes,” “pacification,” “safeguarding American interests,” and a wide variety of “operations,” such as “Operation Just Cause.” Euphemisms for war are one of a broad class of reinventions of language for political purposes. Talleyrand said, “An important art of politicians is to find new names for institutions which under old names have become odious to the public”)

Like all tools, the baloney detection kit can be misused, applied out of context, or even employed as a rote alternative to thinking. But applied judiciously, it can make all the difference in the world — not least in evaluating our own arguments before we present them to others.”

 

“Equality” – An Evil Definition

What qualities are we trying to “E?”  Who decides “equal?”  How does anyone improve the qualities of another person?

When a political party adds a word to their platform, shouldn’t they define it?  Does anyone believe our human race was advanced and improved by denying the qualities that surpassed “normal” or “average?”

I cannot seem to find anyone anywhere who can or will say exactly what they mean by “equal,” or how “equality” will be achieved.

If fostering equality means reducing those who excel by taxation or regulation, what will that accomplish for the “unequals?”

What politicians are ready to point at individual citizens and say, “You are unequal, you are above equal, you are exactly equal.”?

Am I supposed to be so ignorant that I do not interpret this criminalization of success as a naked call for federal government stripping resources from those with money to finance distributions of resources to those who are “below equal.”?  Do I want to live in a communist society where everything is artificial, and nothing works?  No.

Millions of people have risked life and limb to get to the place where they are unencumbered by lack of opportunity – the USA.  They are here to improve their chances for a better life for themselves and their children.  They see that here they have a chance that their efforts will pay off.  Do they require a perfect environment?  Do they insist that the government remove the obstacles to their accomplishments?  No.

Oh, and by the way, where is the campaign for GLOBAL equality?  (Silence)  Hmmm, so giving up what we have that exceeds what other people have in other parts of the world is different.  Hypocritical at best.

Kurt Vonnegut was prescient in a short story he wrote in 1961, (just as George Orwell was in 1944 when he published “Animal Farm.”)

Read what he wrote.

 <HARRISON BERGERON by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr  1961

THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal.  They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way.  Nobody was smarter than anybody else.  Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else.  All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

Some things about living still weren’t quite right, though.  April for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime.  And it was in that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron’s fourteen-year-old son, Harrison, away.

It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn’t think about it very hard. Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short bursts.  And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear.  He was required by law to wear it at all times.  It was tuned to a government transmitter.  Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.

George and Hazel were watching television.  There were tears on Hazel’s cheeks, but she’d forgotten for the moment what they were about.

On the television screen were ballerinas.

A buzzer sounded in George’s head.  His thoughts fled in panic, like bandits from a burglar alarm.

“That was a real pretty dance, that dance they just did,” said Hazel.

“Huh” said George.

“That dance-it was nice,” said Hazel.

“Yup,” said George. He tried to think a little about the ballerinas. They weren’t really very good-no better than anybody else would have been, anyway. They were burdened with sashweights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in. George was toying with the vague notion that maybe dancers shouldn’t be handicapped. But he didn’t get very far with it before another noise in his ear radio scattered his thoughts.

George winced. So did two out of the eight ballerinas.

Hazel saw him wince. Having no mental handicap herself, she had to ask George what the latest sound had been.

“Sounded like somebody hitting a milk bottle with a ball peen hammer,” said George.

“I’d think it would be real interesting, hearing all the different sounds,” said Hazel a little envious.

“All the things they think up.”  “Um,” said George.

“Only, if I was Handicapper General, you know what I would do?” said Hazel. Hazel, as a matter of fact, bore a strong resemblance to the Handicapper General, a woman named Diana Moon Glampers.

“If I was Diana Moon Glampers,” said Hazel, “I’d have chimes on Sunday-just chimes. Kind of in honor of religion.”

“I could think, if it was just chimes,” said George.

“Well-maybe make ’em real loud,” said Hazel. “I think I’d make a good Handicapper General.”

“Good as anybody else,” said George.

“Who knows better than I do what normal is?” said Hazel.

“Right,” said George. He began to think glimmeringly about his abnormal son who was now in jail, about Harrison, but a twenty-one-gun salute in his head stopped that.

“Boy!” said Hazel, “that was a doozy, wasn’t it?”

It was such a doozy that George was white and trembling, and tears stood on the rims of his red eyes. Two of the eight ballerinas had collapsed to the studio floor, were holding their temples.

“All of a sudden you look so tired,” said Hazel. “Why don’t you stretch out on the sofa, so’s you can rest your handicap bag on the pillows, honeybunch.” She was referring to the forty-seven pounds of birdshot in a canvas bag, which was padlocked around George’s neck.

“Go on and rest the bag for a little while,” she said. “I don’t care if you’re not equal to me for a while.”

George weighed the bag with his hands. “I don’t mind it,” he said. “I don’t notice it any more. It’s just a part of me.”

“You been so tired lately-kind of wore out,” said Hazel. “If there was just some way we could make a little hole in the bottom of the bag, and just take out a few of them lead balls. Just a few.”

“Two years in prison and two thousand dollars fine for every ball I took out,” said George. “I don’t call that a bargain.”

“If you could just take a few out when you came home from work,” said Hazel. “I mean-you don’t compete with anybody around here. You just set around.”

“If I tried to get away with it,” said George, ” then other people’d get away with it-and pretty soon we’d be right back to the dark ages again, with everybody competing against everybody else. You wouldn’t like that, would you?”

“I’d hate it,” said Hazel.

“There you are,” said George. The minute people start cheating on laws, what do you think happens to society?”  If Hazel hadn’t been able to come up with an answer to this question, George couldn’t have supplied one. A siren was going off in his head.

“Reckon it’d fall all apart,” said Hazel.

“What would?” said George blankly.

“Society,” said Hazel uncertainly. “Wasn’t that what you just said?

“Who knows?” said George.

The television program was suddenly interrupted for a news bulletin. It wasn’t clear at first as to what the bulletin was about, since the announcer, like all announcers, had a serious speech impediment. For about half a minute, and in a state of high excitement, the announcer tried to say, “Ladies and Gentlemen.”

He finally gave up, handed the bulletin to a ballerina to read.

“That’s all right-” Hazel said of the announcer, “he tried. That’s the big thing. He tried to do the best he could with what God gave him. He should get a nice raise for trying so hard.”

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” said the ballerina, reading the bulletin. She must have been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous. And it was easy to see that she was the strongest and most graceful of all the dancers, for her handicap bags were as big as those worn by two-hundred pound men.

And she had to apologize at once for her voice, which was a very unfair voice for a woman to use. Her voice was a warm, luminous, timeless melody.

“Excuse me-” she said, and she began again, making her voice absolutely uncompetitive.

“Harrison Bergeron, age fourteen,” she said in a grackle squawk, “has just escaped from jail, where he was held on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government. He is a genius and an athlete, is under-handicapped, and should be regarded as extremely dangerous.”

A police photograph of Harrison Bergeron was flashed on the screen-upside down, then sideways, upside down again, then right side up. The picture showed the full length of Harrison against a background calibrated in feet and inches. He was exactly seven feet tall.

The rest of Harrison’s appearance was Halloween and hardware. Nobody had ever born heavier handicaps. He had outgrown hindrances faster than the H-G men could think them up. Instead of a little ear radio for a mental handicap, he wore a tremendous pair of earphones, and spectacles with thick wavy lenses. The spectacles were intended to make him not only half blind, but to give him whanging headaches besides.

Scrap metal was hung all over him. Ordinarily, there was a certain symmetry, a military neatness to the handicaps issued to strong people, but Harrison looked like a walking junkyard. In the race of life, Harrison carried three hundred pounds.  And to offset his good looks, the H-G men required that he wear at all times a red rubber ball for a nose, keep his eyebrows shaved off, and cover his even white teeth with black caps at snaggle-tooth random.

“If you see this boy,” said the ballerina, “do not – I repeat, do not – try to reason with him.”

There was the shriek of a door being torn from its hinges.

Screams and barking cries of consternation came from the television set. The photograph of Harrison Bergeron on the screen jumped again and again, as though dancing to the tune of an earthquake. George Bergeron correctly identified the earthquake, and well he might have – for many was the time his own home had danced to the same crashing tune.

“My God-” said George, “that must be Harrison!”  The realization was blasted from his mind instantly by the sound of an automobile collision in his head. When George could open his eyes again, the photograph of Harrison was gone. A living, breathing Harrison filled the screen.

Clanking, clownish, and huge, Harrison stood – in the center of the studio. The knob of the uprooted studio door was still in his hand. Ballerinas, technicians, musicians, and announcers cowered on their knees before him, expecting to die.

“I am the Emperor!” cried Harrison. “Do you hear? I am the Emperor! Everybody must do what I say at once!” He stamped his foot and the studio shook.

“Even as I stand here” he bellowed, “crippled, hobbled, sickened – I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become!”

Harrison tore the straps of his handicap harness like wet tissue paper, tore straps guaranteed to support five thousand pounds.

Harrison’s scrap-iron handicaps crashed to the floor.

Harrison thrust his thumbs under the bar of the padlock that secured his head harness. The bar snapped like celery. Harrison smashed his headphones and spectacles against the wall.

He flung away his rubber-ball nose, revealed a man that would have awed Thor, the god of thunder.

“I shall now select my Empress!” he said, looking down on the cowering people.

“Let the first woman who dares rise to her feet claim her mate and her throne!”

A moment passed, and then a ballerina arose, swaying like a willow.

Harrison plucked the mental handicap from her ear, snapped off her physical handicaps with marvelous delicacy. Last of all he removed her mask.  She was blindingly beautiful.

“Now-” said Harrison, taking her hand, “shall we show the people the meaning of the word dance? Music!” he commanded.

The musicians scrambled back into their chairs, and Harrison stripped them of their handicaps, too.

“Play your best,” he told them, “and I’ll make you barons and dukes and earls.”

The music began. It was normal at first-cheap, silly, false. But Harrison snatched two musicians from their chairs, waved them like batons as he sang the music as he wanted it played. He slammed them back into their chairs.

The music began again and was much improved.

Harrison and his Empress merely listened to the music for a while-listened gravely, as though synchronizing their heartbeats with it.

They shifted their weights to their toes.

Harrison placed his big hands on the girl’s tiny waist, letting her sense the weightlessness that would soon be hers.

And then, in an explosion of joy and grace, into the air they sprang!

Not only were the laws of the land abandoned, but the law of gravity and the laws of motion as well. They reeled, whirled, swiveled, flounced, capered, gamboled, and spun.

They leaped like deer on the moon.

The studio ceiling was thirty feet high, but each leap brought the dancers nearer to it.

It became their obvious intention to kiss the ceiling. They kissed it.

And then, neutraling gravity with love and pure will, they remained suspended in air inches below the ceiling, and they kissed each other for a long, long time.

It was then that Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, came into the studio with a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun. She fired twice, and the Emperor and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor.

Diana Moon Glampers loaded the gun again. She aimed it at the musicians and told them they had ten seconds to get their handicaps back on.

It was then that the Bergerons’ television tube burned out.

Hazel turned to comment about the blackout to George. But George had gone out into the kitchen for a can of beer.

George came back in with the beer, paused while a handicap signal shook him up. And then he sat down again.

“You been crying” he said to Hazel.

“Yup,” she said.  “What about?” he said.

“I forget,” she said. “Something real sad on television.”

“What was it?” he said.

“It’s all kind of mixed up in my mind,” said Hazel.

“Forget sad things,” said George.

“I always do,” said Hazel.

“That’s my girl,” said George. He winced. There was the sound of a riveting gun in his head.

“Gee – I could tell that one was a doozy,” said Hazel.

“You can say that again,” said George.

“Gee-” said Hazel, “I could tell that one was a doozy.”>

 

“Harrison Bergeron” is copyrighted by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., 1961.