Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Within the Comfort of Our Safe Zones

July 19, 2018

HARRISON FORD



The image of the American trailblazer, bravely forging a path into the unknown, fades to a ghostly image in the bright lights of modern American glitz.

Today, the majority of the participants in the social media networks move tepidly against the backdrop of… of… well, many very scary things!!

It has become a commonplace to stay within the confines of what we already “know” whether it is correct or not and never bother questioning whether it is correct or not. Our opinions matter so much more than… well anything else, especially something like facts.

Opinions have become the new brand of “truth”.

It is like those friends – and I’m sure most of us know these – who claim that someone is fat or ugly or stupid and, to soften the blow, claim it is because they alone are the one friend who will speak the “truth” to you.

Who ever believed opinions were “truth”? How did this ever become a thing?

During the 2016 election cycle, this was displayed quite publicly on the large public stage.

While I was ranging far and wide to learn as much as I could about the various candidates, the issues, and so forth, I received the same messages from differing sources. I mean, I kept hearing all the “bad Trump” messages from left-leaning friends and the “crooked Hillary” links from my more conservative associates.

I would post and link what I found to be cohesive and intelligent views from all sides during the period. Green party, Libertarian, Republican, Democrat, and quite a few independent or undecided sources; whatever I found of interest to the greater issue, I would share while my friends were stuck on a one-tone throughout the debacle.

Why are these people so quick to judge and so reticent to actually do anything like independent research?

First off – TIME.

Doing your own research takes a lot of time. Being a fast reader, I can breeze through this stuff rather quickly. Others sometimes struggle through pithy political punditry or pedantic posturing, trying to find some sense in the mess.

Memes are so much easier than anything like actually “reading”.

But even though some of my friends read a lot, they generally read only those articles that merely reinforce their previous opinions, their “truth”. When reading articles they disagreed with – found very uncomfortable to read – they flatly rejected them or, most often, ridiculed them. When put to the task of clarifying the points they found objectionable, the response was usually “all of it”.

Maybe it’s just me, but I doubt I can read any lengthy article (on any subject) and fully agree with the author on all points. I sometimes even do not completely agree with the stuff I’ve written when removed a year or so from it… yes, my opinions morph over time. I actually thought that was normal!

When the assault occurred on the alt-right speaker Richard Spencer, the internet exploded with “Punch a Nazi”.

A wave of self-congratulatory flag-waving ensued among the collective intelligentsia as if some mighty blow had been made against the assembled forces of evil.

It was humorous to watch. Even if it gave me an uneasy feeling. It reminded me of a period in history when, after the death of Lincoln, anyone who said something bad about the late President was liable to be shot dead. And there were many killings “claimed” to have been for this reason although no investigation was done.

When the mob intelligence (what an oxymoron!) rules, mayhem ensues.

But I digress…

What is the cause of this retreat of our consciousness into our imagined “safe spaces”? Why this refusal to step beyond our comfort zones?

No man is an island, the old saying goes, but we are becoming more so every day. Stuck in echo chambers, hearing our own thoughts regurgitated by others, constantly reinforced, it is hard to see beyond the veil of consensus to ever glimpse some truth beyond the pale.

Is this a by-product of our education system?

The strict enforcement of “only one correct answer” thinking leads to a society that can no longer think.

And neither Bill Gates’ questionable agenda in that regard or the leadership of Secretary DeVos seems to be working toward any relief to the growing problem.

The result will be more and more enlarged comfort zones, people incapable of robust thinking, polarization of ideas, and inability to find their way around a negotiation.

In complex situations, those who do not comprehend – in depth – the data and motivations of all the parties involved, are doomed to be the frantically screaming sidelines seeking out passive Nazis to sucker-punch before running off cackling like a loon to post their “blow against evil” on their Facebook page.

Where are the trailblazers from whom we sprang?

And from where sprang these…?




Advertisements

What Happened, for Real

October 26, 2017



Hillary has written a book to let everyone know what really happened in the election of 2016.

Unfortunately, neither she nor most of the media analysts really seem to have come to grips with what really happened – what continues to happen – to the political landscape in America.

Once you grasp the reality, the present predicaments tearing apart both the major political parties begin to make a little more sense.

First of all, we had Bernie Sanders, an Independent, deciding to run for the Democratic nomination. I was all for him and he reminded me so much of Robert Kennedy in 1968 who was also cresting the wave of dissatisfied youth.

On the other end of the spectrum, we had Donald Trump, an independent, deciding to run for the Republican nomination. Everyone I knew thought his candidacy was a joke.

Had the Republican Party been saddled with the same sort of back-stabbing machinations that the Democrats had (to ensure the success of their prima donna) they would have ended with a standardized “Republican” candidate on the ticket in November.

During the primaries, it was overwhelmingly obvious as the time wore on that the registered members of both parties were opting for the “outsider”, whether his name was Sanders or Trump. Those should have been the two who took the fight head-to-head in November but for the party manipulations created to ensure Hillary’s nomination.

After Hillary stole the nomination, I was backing the “Giant Asteroid 2016” before I threw my support to the Libertarian candidate, Johnson.

So, what can we take from this angle on the election?

First, the vast majority of both parties were rejecting “politics as usual”, the movements by Sanders and Trump promised to “drain the swamp”, even if Sanders words were a little more politically correct on the issue.

Trump won practically ALL the Republican strongholds in America – whose adherents after eight years of progressive policies under Obama were a bit more dissatisfied than the Democrat faithful – and was able to pull enough votes from the Democratic strongholds through voters who were particularly dissatisfied with the parties’ handling of their candidate, Bernie Sanders.

Yes, it was the Sanders people who decided to vote for Trump because they were not so much interested in continuing the party politics of the past eight years but preferred the public outcry to drain the swamp and get away from rule by political influence rather than of, by, and for the people.

Since the election, we can see the reality continuing in the very fact that the Republicans holding the majority in BOTH houses of Congress are trying to stop Trump on many fronts.

The party itself is troubled and talking – like the Democrats are – about finding their identity. Unfortunately, both parties are looking for that identity within themselves rather than in the roots that got them into power, and those root elements want politics cleaned up. Even the most die-hard faithful of either party will freely admit to the corruption within their own party even while they castigate the opposing party for the corruption within their ranks.

And still, the leadership in neither party has come to grips with what the bold statement of the electorate is: stop the damned politicking, the backroom deals, the selling out to lobbyists and special interests rather than serve the people they have sworn a sacred oath to do.

That’s what this last election has said, loud and clear, and it appears neither the media, the political parties, nor even the public that has created this crisis seems to have been able to voice.

The only one person in the mix who seems to have taken it all very seriously is Donald Trump. He feels he was elected, if not by a clear majority mandate, at least specifically to do a job: drain the swamp.

Is it any wonder, then, that Republicans on the Hill oppose his acts as heartily as the Democrats? He is an outsider, a non-politician, and independent in Republican clothing.

The Media continues to act as if his “own party” is at odds with him. If they dropped their obvious bias for a moment they might realize the Republicans cannot be blamed for this anomaly in the White House.

This President is, for the first time in a very long time, a Man of the People rather than some party machine.

I just wish the larger swath of the electorate realized this golden opportunity.

We may not have another non-swamp President in our lifetimes.

We really should get behind the guy and see what we can push through over the heads of the swamp creatures in Congress attempting to block all his legislation… for the good of their two-party system.



the Tribe

April 18, 2010

In ancient times, people grouped together by familial relationships into social and protective units called tribes.

These social structures have continued throughout history but became looser as time progressed to the point of practical non-existence in today’s world. Instead the ‘tribes’ of today are by intellectual or social affiliation: alumni to a particular institution, members of a military unit, Republicans, Democrats, peaceniks, white supremists, football fans, etc. They are all bonded together by mutual experience, interests, or thought patterns.

But these groupings are artificial, non-tribal groupings not related to co-survival.

Most people in a group like Republicans or Democrats have the idea that they are united in some common cause, and yet the reality is that the group has a broad range of ideas on which individual members disagree. Many even consider decisions on these things as acts of survival; which, of course, they are not.

Likewise, many religious groups have individual sub-groups of varying ideas, concepts, or interpretations of doctrine. Though some may feel these moral and doctrinal issues are profound, they are virtually inconsequential in reality.

The tribe is grouped together by common survival. Although not all the members agree on all the actions of the tribe, conceptually they are all linked through mutual survival.

If a group feels strongly enough about some tribal action, it is not an option to take over the tribe – but they can certainly go elsewhere and start their own tribe built on their interpretation of necessity.

A tribe is concerned with its members. Mutual support is non-existent if it is not inclusive. Differences in members is generally embraced because it is understood that all people bring something different to the table: abilities, outlook, thought process, understandings, viewpoints. All variations are absorbed into the tribal whole.

Diversity is good for the tribe. If everyone who thought differently, spoke differently, acted differently, conceived differently, dreamed differently, were expunged from their ranks, the tribe would soon become torpid, their genetic pool stagnant, their actions routine, their existence boring, and their future bleak – as well as short.

In our own bodies, the differing organs use differing tools and techniques to supply all the varying processes we require to stay alive.

Some claim the heart is the most important organ. Should we therefore remove the others? Should we force the other organs to act more like the heart? Of course not. Such an idea is exceptionally STUPID. And yet there are many groups in today’s world who would try and eradicate all ways of thinking and acting that are contrary to what they think of as optimum.

Whether or not your ideas are more workable than others, there cannot be only one way to approach ALL problems. Tribes that have done that are (fortunately) extinct.

Equally unfortunate, the great American tribe is headed for the same extinction. Driven by closed moral attitudes (this applies to the Mid-East as well as the Bible Belt), societies are becoming more myopic, more “cleansed”, and more DEAD.

Science has brought us “wonderful advances” in agriculture, creating seeds that grow crops less susceptible to infestation and disease (or so such is the claim), making each plant identical (basically a clone) to the next one.

But what will occur when a new blight, overlooked by the bioengineers, attacks the crops? In the past, with a wide range of genetic differences between the stands of crop, only a portion of the total would be ruined. Today, the monocultured crops would ALL be wiped out… and the greater tribe will starve to death.

It is NOT sane science. Nor is it sane social organization, either.

Medicine has sought for years to eradicate certain diseases, only to find they have returned stronger than ever and our immune systems not ready for them. Disease is GOOD! It keeps us and our immune systems strong. Remember the Hawaiian Islanders almost wiped out by some simple diseases carried to paradise by Americans?

The same is true with ideas. If we all had the same ideas, notions, concepts, and thought patterns, where would the philosophers and creative artists come from? We would see nothing new and we as a species would be dead, eventually following the dinosaur and the dodo.

In tribes, they understood that differences kept them growing. Someone may have a little different mental faculty (today, they would be called ‘disorders’), but it would bring new and different abilities to the tribe. Rather than trying to eradicate (i.e. medicate) them into amorphous clones of the ‘normal’ tribal member (e.g. clones) they would try and understand, develop, and utilize the unique talents of the individual.

Tribes are built of individuals, acting in concert for self- and group-interests. And these interests should not be mutually exclusive, like politicians and religious leaders would have us believe today.

Tribes do not have “them or us” mentalities. Violence is a necessary part of the human make-up, but tribes know that to commit violence on the tribal level is to invite eradication of the tribe. Violence was channeled into activities other than war. Disagreements were handled by the tribe and the tribal leadership took responsibility for all actions of the tribe.

Imagine if today’s leaders took that stance. ALL errors in the government become the responsibility of the leader. Unfortunately, in our larger tribe, we have a marvelous thing called the “balance of power” which in practice turns out to be a “balance of blame” with NO ONE taking any responsibility for the course of the nation, the government, or the people.

Our present government is ‘top-heavy’. All aspects of local direction are being manipulated by Washington’s centralized power.

The ‘republic’ for which it stood NO LONGER exists. A republic had the power vested in the individual member-states – our country has no such thing. I would prefer it returned to the republican ideal (no relation to the misnamed Republican Party), and each state formed by a ‘republic of counties’, and each of the counties formed by a ‘republic of municipalities’, and each municipality formed by a ‘republic of tribes’.

The organization should be ‘bottom-heavy’ as the people in Washington have no real concept of what is needed at each local level.

I do not currently expect a true tribal-nation to come about, but decentralization would be a good start. It should NOT be used in a spirit of isolationism but a spirit of ‘equalizationism’. All tribes would find equal representation at all levels that matter, and the control over each tribe would grow LESS at each republic level going up, with the Federal Government having NO effect on the local tribe.

The Federal Government was meant to be the collective face of the American Republic to the nations abroad, a government of, by, and for the people, and NOT an overlord to the people.

Disease Management

April 14, 2010

A healthy country is like a healthy person. When all parts are working properly, there is little notice given to its separate parts. But when things start going wrong, and systems are shutting down, the ailment needs to be addressed.

Modern medicine handles such problems with a pharmaceutical regimen, to cut off the disease and restore the functions of the healthy body. And here’s where the problem comes in because 99% of the time, the human body can heal itself. The introduction of pharmaceuticals is usually worse than the disease it targets. Why? Because your body can generally produce the antibodies and chemicals it needs to restore the proper functions of the system. By administering chemicals into the body, the organs normally used for regenerative functions fall dormant, unneeded, and like most physical systems will atrophy from disuse.

So modern pharmacology is creating a race of people addicted to pharmaceuticals. Soon our bodies will no longer be able to stave off even the simplest of diseases. And some people call this “progress” or a “modern marvel of technology”. I call it slow suicide as a race.

Medicine teaches us that cleanliness is next to healthiness – why is it that most diseases in this country are contracted in the antiseptic environments of hospitals? Defenders claim its because that’s where most diseases go: to the hospitals. If so, why doesn’t the antiseptic environment provide LESS of a breeding ground for disease rather than more?

Louis Pasteur gave us the concept that “germs” create diseases, that bedrock concept of modern medical practice (as well as a billion dollar advertising industry), and yet at the end of his life he began to realize that he had it exactly BACKWARDS. Germs do not cause the disease but appear on the scene as a result of the disease. It may sound a little far-fetched, but it is true.

Blood studies show many diseases are already flowing in our blood stream… but the body can keep it all in balance. When something goes wrong in the body, a system shuts down which kept that particular disease in check. It is NOT that you “caught” the disease, it is your body’s way of telling you what exactly is wrong with you. Unfortunately, medicine today attacks the disease rather than the real cause.

The miracle of modern medicine is that it has NOT killed more people than it already has. It spends all its time treating SYMPTOMS rather than diseases. Hundreds of over-the-counter substances can be found to stop runnning nose, coughing, heartburn, gas, dyspesia, etc. and not a single one treats any ailment, only the symptoms.

But what has this to do with government and a healthy body politic?

Everything.

The money and efforts our government pours into social programs treats only the symptoms of the diseases. Do you really think soup kitchens and warm blankets can cure homelessness? Do you really think tax incentives can cure a failing economy? Do you really think a war abroad can end domestic terrorism? Do you really think impeaching the president will halt the demise of the country?

Amputating a limb may seem sound medicine to some, but I think it would be more appropriate to handle the problem before the gangrene sets in. A bandaid will not solve it, nor will smearing a bunch of antiseptic cream on it.

No Child Left Behind

January 28, 2010

President Bush created a bold initiative to foster educational achievement in this country – in theory at least.

On closer inspection, one finds that criteria has been established for data acquisition by children at prescribed levels but without any attempt at ascertaining applicability. In other words, facts are crammed into children to be regurgitated on test days. Most educators will tell you that cramming is only good for short term – the data rarely remains longer than necessary to take the test.

So, what good is this initiative? Well, for one, it penalizes schools who do not meet the achievement requirements and allows parents of students at those schools to remove their children to a “better” school. This is doubly bad for the school who now has to reach the required levels with the brightest students gone. The hurdle is now even higher for the educators (causing many to transfer) and subjects the school to diminished funding. It sets up a cycle of diminishing returns – NOT what we want for our children and their future!

But as bad as all that is, the most disturbing portion of the No Child Left Behind Act is the section forcing schools to admit military recruiters complete freedom to be on campus and free access to transcripts of targeted students. The President tells us it is just to offer job opportunities to graduates. But if that had been the intent, other human resource recruiters from other employers would have been allowed in.

So, I think the REAL reason for this “educational act” is for funneling more cannon fodder into the ranks for Bush’s proposed continuous war to establish democracy around the world.

It does not require a high school diploma to enable one to connect these dots.