Democrats and Republicans Squander Power in Internecine Swamp Warfare

When politicians get personal, at best, nothing happens, at worst, nothing good happens.  We are witnessing, and suffering the slings and arrows of Alinsky-esque, Pyrrhic battles among the old guards of both parties of the “swamp” and the “Neo-Alt-Populists.”

What earnest, stalwart citizens expect is honest disagreement and negotiation to get the nation’s business done.  Instead we get messy, nasty, underhanded, duplicitous, deceitful, street fights by leaders of the traditional, two-party Congress and political elite intended to sabotage and neutralize the populist agenda.  Instead, we drown in oceans of pure sewage, a woeful waste of time, money, and reputation.

Trump started this ad hominem warfare with schoolyard nicknames for his opponents and constant public comments on everyone and everything.  But the swamp knows how to respond in kind.  Undermining, demeaning, and slandering one another absorbs enormous energy and batters the already dwindling confidence of the public.  What can we do with the barrage of bickering and dirty laundry?

I assign a giant portion of blame to the partisan, self-serving, faux journalists who constantly, gleefully, nakedly, shamelessly, and blatantly editorialize the mayhem.  The growing competition for notoriety risks America’s reputation and wastes our resources and influence.   Adolescent gossip has become the fodder for our herd of addicted commentators, who flood every form of information outlet, 24/7, with waves of “breaking news.”

I propose a ceasefire and a truce on public criticism, starting with the President.  Take your bar fights out back; do not make us witness the ugly, monkey-dance posturing, angry barbs, and impotent jabs.  Come back when you are done mauling each other, and you have made up with some workable compromise.  We are tired of seeing how no sausage is made.  We want to see and hear mature, decent people, doing what we elected them to do, with decorum and dignity.

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Empty Vessels – No-Knowledge, Hapless Harlequins

We Americans pride ourselves on sophistication without evidence.  Take any “on-the-street” interview.  Does the ignorance of the pedestrian amuse you?  Beware the flagrant lapse of education and awareness. Apparently, we stopped requiring and inspiring “common” knowledge thirty or more years ago.

We have become a sort of third-world country in terms of awareness; clowns of not-so-funny, serious lapses of informed smarts.

A television sampling of instant interviews prior to the recent eclipse was a frightening display of the absence of even elementary information and knowledge about the nature of our planet, our solar system, our universe.  We were supposed to laugh at these peoples’ abject ignorance.

What a condemnation of our education system, and any ill-informed populism we might engender.  Finite knowledge, and unbounded ignorance go hand-in-hand with fascism, and other forms of mindless collectivism.

A glaring, and shocking example of this growing surrender to rude “democracy,” is the recent Fox News segment, “Next Revolution,” with Steve Hilton.  He calls it “positive populism,” I call it a thinly clad predecessor to the failed notion of communism.  We have entered a dangerous period of power without knowledge.  A democracy of fools is a vast and dangerous mob, incited by the slightest of mistaken thoughts and gossip.

Harlequins were clever, cultural foils for royal courts of yore.  They raised obvious points of regal stupidity through not-always-subtle, but carefully-clad humor, and thinly-disguised ridicule.

I fear that we Americans have become so arrogant, so conceited, so vainglorious, that we cannot see the truths in the humor of our harlequins.

 

 

“Hate” – A Needless Form of Thought Crime

Do we need the distinction “hate” when dealing with violent crime?  Media amplification, maybe?  A “hushpuppy,” for the politically correct?  A first step toward “thought crime?”

Psychopaths, and sociopaths, outlaws, and gang members may not hate their victims at all.  Does that make their crimes less heinous?  How about crimes against loved ones, are they “love” crimes?  How about any other state of mind?  Have we developed mind-reading, telepathy, or other means to know what is in the head of a criminal when they commit offenses?  I say, forget useless adjectives and apply what we already have:  laws.

Laws distinguish first degree murder, manslaughter, and justifiable homicide, based on circumstances, threat, and intent. The term “aggravated” is added to crimes based on severity, and intent. So, we have legal tools to separate “accidental,” “incidental,” “intentional,” and “self-defense.”  Types and severity of prescribed ranges of sentences are graduated based on degree, and intent.

“Hate crimes” seem to be intentional to me and therefore “first degree,” or “aggravated.”

Verbal and menacing threats are crimes, “assaults,” misdemeanors.  What parts of so-called verbal “hate crimes” are not covered by current laws?

The ultimate punishments for thought crimes are the double jeopardy of federal “civil rights” prosecution, and triple jeopardy of civil suits for the same event.  The costs in time and money will ruin most people, even if they are exonerated.

Democrat in Republican’s Clothing – George W. Bush

George W. Bush supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.  He has become an ersatz Republican elitist, who still thinks he is right to oppose President Trump.  He remains a sore loser, who did not get his way.  He is worse than the Democrats who continue to moan and groan because they lost the election.  George is a Democrat in Republican’s clothing.  It appears that his mission is not yet accomplished.

“Wolf in sheep’s clothing” is a term for something that seems innocent, but is a lethal enemy.  Nothing could be a worse disguised enemy than someone who pretends to be in the same political party, but who attacks the president, being not too careful in hiding his true feelings.

Who would want the return to elite political power more than GWB?  He was born, raised, and steeped in the rarified, upper echelons of the Republican party.

The Associated Press published part of a recent interview, at a book promotion in Simi, CA.  Bush asserted that receding from global interaction creates a vacuum that would be filled with “… people who don’t share the ideology, the same sense of human rights and human dignity and freedom that we do,”

On his assertion of what will fill vacuums:  Just exactly what countries does he mean?  Does he really think we have friends in every nation into which we pour money?  No, they still hate us, but they love our money.  Does he think adversarial ideology will take over Europe, Britain, Mexico, etcetera?  It must be much more complicated than I thought.

Whoever tries to fill the “vacuums” will do so at their financial peril.  Estimated total foreign aid by Russia and China combined was less than half of US expenditures.  If these evil forces had enough money, they would already have forced us to find other places to put our dollars.

What would be lost by focusing on our internal problems?  I read recently that our foreign aid expenditures total about 1% of our budget.  I also read that only 34% of our budget is discretionary.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/aug/17/facebook-posts/pie-chart-federal-spending-circulating-internet-mi/

That means 1% is really 3% of our discretionary expenses.  With a total 2016 budget of about $4.15 trillion, $42.4 billion goes to “foreign assistance.”  (And everyone made a big deal about Trump’s proposed $54 billion increase in military spending; just 1.35% of the total budget.;)

In the interview, Bush stated that he, “… didn’t intend to criticize Trump when he said recently that a free press is essential to democracy. Trump has referred to the press as the “enemy of the people.” Bush said at the library, the nation needed an independent press, but added that it needs to be accurate.”

The “independent press” used to be 98% news, and 2% editorials; today, editorials are more like 50 to 100% from many sources on both the left and the right.  That changes the character of the press from providing information, to publishing propaganda.  This is an abuse of the public platform and audiences.  This is a perversion of journalism.

Wikipedia says, ” Journalism is the production and distribution of reports on the interaction of events, facts, ideas, and people that are the “news of the day,” and that informs society to, at least, some degree.”  Note that the word “reports” means relays, or conveys factual information about what happens, without interpretation.  Also note the chagrin of “at least some degree.”

Spin, commentary, opinions, editorials, exaggerations, conflation, are not reports.  Neither are unbalanced, “soft ball” interviews with only strongly opinionated, partisan, advocates or critics, selected to advance an ideological agenda.  (e.g. Fox, MSNBC, CNN) That is propaganda.

The BBC is the best example of journalism today.  They clearly delineate news from opinion, and entertainment.  Walter Cronkite is a shining example of the qualities of journalists, and the journalism of the past.  Persuasion is not the intent of true journalism.

What if a news source is not accurate, on purpose?  What if the “free press” is vicious, verging on hate speech?  What if their articles contain accurate facts, wrapped in overwhelming opinions, “newspeak,” “analysis,” and commentary that is clearly inaccurate, subjective, and savagely slanted in scope and innuendo?  What do you call an organization that is staunchly, and consistently opposed to the elected government of the USA, almost to the point of sedition, subversion, insurgence, even insurrection?  What kind of “free press” pounces on, and amplifies every mistake?  What good is a free press that fearfully, and angrily projects, and postulates every possible, negative, future outcome of executive proposals?  Does a free press overlook, denigrate, and downplay every positive possible scenario to extinction, or discredit?

I appreciate GWB’s talent as a painter; he was president during the most shocking attack on American soil since WW II.  His standard-issue ideas, elitist disloyalty, and blindness to the enemy within is not what we need right now.  We do not need disgruntled words from a veteran patrician.  But I do not mean to criticize him.

 

Free Press – Free to What?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Political “Racists” Accuse Tom Brady of Racism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Public Radio – Public Disgrace

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

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

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

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

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

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