The Dangers of Subversive Propoganda from… Disney Movies?

I have a daughter who is now eight years old. Given that I have an inherent bias, just going by the endless and consistent comments from when she was just a baby, she is a beautiful  Young girl and always has been.  Like most girls, she fell in love with the Disney princesses and very quickly had all of them at both her mom’s and my house, along with the requisite Disney castles.  We have enjoyed them all, with her naturally having favorites, but she really did like Disney’s Mulan movie.  She didn’t seem to like to play with the Mulan doll as much as Arial or Cinderella, but there’s no doubt she enjoyed the movie. As kids are known to do, she’s watched it many, many times.

But for  current Vice President, Mike Pence, Disney is up to something far more nefarious than just entertaining and highly profitable children sounds. in fact, Disney is subversive Propaganda for your children, says Christian extremist, Mike Pence. He wants to convince you women should not be in the military & that Disney’s “Mulan” is propaganda to teach young girls it’s okay to be in the military. In fact, she can succeed and even achieve glory in battle.

Here is the piece Mr. Pence wrote on the dangers of Disney’s “Mulan.”  I have always been uncomfortable with the impossible physical attributes given to Disney’s female characters. It’s impossible for a woman to have a waist as thin as any of them. If you read the short Op-Ed from Mr. Pence, you will see his interpretation is very different from mine.

As a parent of a daughter just eight years old, who has already made comments about her waist size, which I assure you is anything but perfectly normal,  One has to wonder if she grows out of it or be detrimentally affected by this ‘body image’ issue that girls & women never really escape all her life? Just look at the magazine covers in the checkout line – nearly all unrealistic unless you happen to be a hard-core athlete, work out like a champion, have the right genetics, and/or are extremely cognizant of proper nutrition.

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But with the completely unrealistic body’s on most cartoons and Disney Channel shows with child actors, all of whom seemingly have ultra thin figures, and the dolls themselves especially, it is very easy to see how body image problems develop. These mostly unrealistic figures given to all Disney princesses can be confusing to a young girl and as they grow older.  It would seem natural to ask, why doesn’t my body look like that?

Continue reading The Dangers of Subversive Propoganda from… Disney Movies?

Hurricane Trump… hold on!

A Barrage of lies and Propaganda… Un-American Policies Executed with the Incompetence Demonstrated Throughout Trump’s Campaign & That Weaken Our Security at Home & Abroad.

This is absolutely insane! This president seems to attack or alienate, disparage and weaken all of our most important alliances, the latest being with Australia. Of course, Republicans like Sen. Kori Gardner of Colorado refused to say anything but talking points regarding how they feel about trumps “diplomacy” with our allies – not our adversaries – these are our long-standing allies.

In 20 days we’ve seen conflict with Mexico – we’ve threatened to send US Troops into Mexico if they can’t address their drug problem, a personal insult to Germany’s Angela Merkel, our strongest ally in remaining in Europe, a public disagreement with the majority of the rest of the world as evidenced like that of Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who had the audacity to say Canada will welcome Syrian immigrants (mostly women and children) fleeing to escape the horror in Syria, a horribly hostile call with an ally that has been in every war with us since World War II – of all countries to fight with, we fight with our best ally.

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America & the World hold on as Hurricane Trump’s rapid fire barrage of hot-air has them scrambling: BNPS

 

I fully believe this is an intentional strategy from Steven Bannon, a strategy is to constantly change the subject with one controversial move or ill-advised tweet, in an effort to get the media to shift focus. That is precisely why Trump moved up his announcement of the Supreme Court nominee to distract from the Muslim Ban. Now we know that he may have, without Trump’s knowledge or consent, slipped into the “Modernization” of the National Security Council (NSC) a permanent seat on the NSC, while taking permanent seats away from the Direction of National Intelligence – the highest intelligence officer in the Nation whose job is to advise the President on Intelligence issues.

As you try to follow and think about the ramifications are of this machine gun of errors, it is almost impossible to keep up much less write a serious piece with links to the examples of the constant lies from this administration. I was glad Kellyanne Conway finally admitted that the President was offering “Alternative Facts.” It doesn’t take a genius to realize there is no such thing as alternative facts. In the real world these are LIES and correctly called lies. There are way too many lies to even keep up with them all, but let’s just look at the very first White House Press Briefing the Trump Administration had.

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In the very First Press Briefing by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, whose job is to speak for the President. Spicer too no questions but read from a statement excoriating the media and flat-out lied to the American People four (4) times:

  • There were 3-5 million votes cast by illegal in the election;
  • That it was the “Largest crowd in history” to have seen an inaugural ‘both in person and on TV’;
  • There were magnetometers on the mall that slowed people joining the crowd before; and
  • The Parks Service never used white grass protectors; making it seem like the crowd was smaller.

Taken in reverse order, it took just a few minutes to debunk the last lie from Sean Spicer’s mouth: 4) was proven a lie after a simple Google search revealed images shots of workers placing the white grass protectors on the ground during President Obama’s Inauguration in 2013. 3) Though the Secret Service generally does not issue statements demonstrating the President LIED to the American people, the did issue a statement to verify there were NO magnetometers on the National Mall. (2) Trump Inauguration was not even remotely close to either of President Obama’s inauguration and even George W. Bush after another peculiar electoral process had a larger audience.

Let’s be honest, no one in their right mind thought Trump had anywhere near the crowd of either of president Obama’s 2009 crowd of 1.8 million and 2013 was only 1 million. Just having functional eyes and a brain is all that one needs to discern that assertion is so completely ridiculous it barely deserves discussion. YET that story dominated the new President’s thoughts for at least a week. His thin skin is so bad that he has to make up a completely obvious lie, that no one outside Trump believes and points to the complete lack of any evidence whatsoever, that 3-5 million illegal votes were cast… otherwise he could have won the popular vote. The most laughable assertion he has made yet. It is no coincidence the Oxford word of 2016 is “Post-Truth.”

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I believe shorter, single issue posts is the way to try to keep up with the barrage of steps this “learn-on-the-job president keeps firing at us hoping there is no time to focus on one thing before the next distraction is manufactured by the big “ratings machine -DJT.”

I also think reposting other very well done posts is a great idea as well. The more the truth is circulated to defy the Trump Propaganda machine modeled after his idol, Vladimir Putin, and his use of propaganda and now fake news. Trump also has the first “news” channel that is solely devoted to making him look good, making everything Democrats do as evil and un-American, and freely spread the fake news and lies the right uses to confuse so people don’t know what to believe. All of us are guilty of echo-chambers because social media is designed that way… that makes the more extreme politicians attractive to badly misinformed voters and stoked by Right-Wing Media so we get “the party of NO.”

The same is true for Democrats though maybe not quite so bad – but I want democrats to really Stand for Something again – like being the party of the middle class in Deed and not just in word. The party left the unions… heck they let unions be weakened to the point of extinction. Now Corporate Interests dominate the media, political system, and they are executing their takeover of the Courts, which we see is the last line of defense in the brilliant Separation of Powers our Founding Fathers established. Unfortunately is has been slowly gobbled up and now serves Corporate interests rather than being “beholden to The People, alone.”

Democrats need to repay the GOP for the awful Republican treatment given to President Obama by the right – like Mitch McConnell saying on 1/20/09 that his “number one priority is making Barack Obama a one-term president.” Remember, that was said as the Country was hemorrhaging 800,000 jobs per month. He didn’t want to help the President that actually had an electoral mandate guide the country through the Great Recession. Thankfully he succeeded without any Republican help at all. Despicable.  As much as I despise Trump, I want him to somehow become a great president because that means American is doing well.

Unfortunately, the only evidence available is not encouraging. As a result, all Americans should watch like they never have before and educate themselves on what is really happening despite what ALL the Corporate media tells people. But this does not mean the Democrats should work to make compromises unless it pertains to issues that are actually good for America, and make him expend every bit of political capital on fights that distract him from killing Americans by just ending The Affordable Care Act (ACA or ‘Obamacare’) or starting a war with an adversary or even an ally because Trump’s has no idea to act with grace and diplomacy which he sees as weak… the rest of the sane world calls it good governance.

Trump Will Tell You He’s Keeping Us Safe from all the Terrorist Attacks Suffered Under Obama & Bush? Problem is, what attacks justify this Executive Action – which Republicans would have called ‘an Imperial fiat from King Obama’ while they are now silent as Trump equates the morality of America versus Russia. Guess he means the ‘Lone-Wolf’ attacks  the Muslim Ban would not have prevented.

This Blog is Changing…

The United States is the Only Country That Has Always Had a Peaceful Transfer of Power For Our Entire History.

That Said, There Will Always be a Cloud Over This Administration. For the First Time in Our History There Was Unquestionable Russian Interference in Our Free & Fair Elections

This is usually a tremendous day for the United States. There is always one party in the 2-party system, but everyone puts down their clubs to witness the peaceful transfer of power. I believe the US is the only nation that can say we have never had a coup, martial law or things we see in the so called Banana Republics where this is commonplace related to transferring power from one leader to the next.

It is with great discomfort that I write that our entire Intelligence Community (IC), the massive 17 agency apparatus meant to keep the Commander-in-Chief the best informed person on the planet. At this moment, as Trump prepares to take the oath – ready or not and there is plenty of news to suggest he is far from done. So far Trump asked President Obama if 50 or so staffers can stay around for what the President-Elect’s spokesperson, Sean Spicer, called “continuity of government.” This is an admission the Trump Team is not prepared to get to work at 12:00 noon today as they should be, they need Obama’s people to help show them how things operate on a daily basis. This is a sad statement of Trump’s overall preparedness for  the office. Nothing during the campaign or transition gave one the impression they are gunning for January 20th.

This is similar to Trump’s cabinet nominees being rushed through as fast as Obama’s were, but what is NOT spoken is the fact that all disclosures were submitted for review by the relevant committee the Monday after the inauguration so by the time the hearings occurred, the senators had all the materials well in advance of the hearing so the conflicts of interest can be explored and satisfactorily addressed. Mrs. DeVos, the nominee for Secretary of Education wanted to address questions to the nominee on her billions and whether any conflicts of interest were present in such a massive portfolio. But to this moment, as far as I know, she has still not provided her basic disclosure handed in by President Obama’s nominees on the day after the election in 2008.

The Cloud Hanging Over This Inauguration: RUSSIA.

This cloud will remain until the investigations are completed. We know from an article published yesterday that investigations into intercepted communications and inappropriate communication and Financial Transactions between senior members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials since around April 2016. An article published January 18, 2017 – just 2 days ago – in McLatcheysDC revealed the “FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into the well-established Russian attempts to influence the November election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided President-elect Donald Trump.”

In addition to the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Justice Department, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and representatives of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) were involved with the investigation for several months according to the article’s two (2) sources.

“Investigators are examining how money may have moved from the Kremlin to covertly help Trump win, the two sources said. One of the allegations involves whether a system for routinely paying thousands of Russian-American pensioners may have been used to pay some email hackers in the United States or to supply money to intermediaries who would then pay the hackers, the two sources said.”

That Russia hacked into the election and used their known pawn, Wikileaks, to make sure a daily dribble of sometimes embarrassing emails were leaked t o the Press on a daily basis to guarantee domination of the news cycle, which was achieved. This was known and included in a Joint Statement from the ODNI that there was “a consensus” that Russia was behind the attacks. Russia has long done conducted these cyber-ops in every former Soviet states to delegitimize the government to allow Russia to increase its old “sphere of influence” that existed under the U.S.S.R

Our NATO allies have been telling us this was happening regularly in the former Soviet spy agency. The US knew its old nemesis, Vladimir Putin has been trying to reestablish the old-Soviet sphere of influence. The election of an authoritarian figure like Trump has the entirety of Europe frightened as to Russian intentions to destabilize democratically elected Governments in former Soviet States. These former Soviet bloc countries have been subject to Russian cyber-attacks for years and the US knew it, but I sincerely doubt we ever expected the “oldSoviets” to conduct an operation of this magnitude against the United States election. But they did and it and, at minimum, delegitimize the electoral process and confidence American citizens have in that sacred democratic process. One could argue they are already skeptical of elections and participated at an embarrassingly low 47% d in that process in this of all years. That seed of doubt sown by the Russians is already a major success if it goes no farther but the investigation continues since April.

In the hacking realm, nothing more damaging than revealing what observers knew already: that the DNC clearly “greased the wheels” for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders resulted in enough Sanders’ supporters home on election day to have swung it in Trump’s favor. I hate to say that, not only have I suspected precisely this exact collaboration between the Russian Intelligence Service (FSB) and Wikileaks, I also suspected direct collaboration between Trump and the FSB – formerly known as the KGB where Vladimir Putin spent his entire career as a Soviet Spy.

This fact along with the well-known reality that Russia opposes everything the US and our European allies stand for based on the NATO treaty in place since the end of WWII. A very important alliance which has as the most significant part of the alliance – the Article V provision which means an attack on one NATO country is an attack on ALL NATO countries. Few realize that provision was only used once – after al Qaeda attacked the homeland on September 11, 2001. Those allies are still fighting with us today. This makes any notion that our NATO allies owe us something seem a statement in poor taste. Perhaps some behind the scenes discussions, but not for the Public Realm  and most certainly not appropriate for Twitter.

President-Elect Trump has been making statements that are completely opposite U.S. Policy and every president since WWII. It happens to be a complete 180 degree turnaround from consistent and bipartisan policy for 75 years. There have been no major wars in Europe partly because of the NATO alliance. Vladimir Putin sees it as a threat to his goal, which is to remedy what he calls the “greatest tragedy of the 20th Century: the fall of the Soviet Union.” Now he has an ally in the White House that calls “obsolete” NATO alliance

Eliminating the Sanctions placed on Russia after their invasion into the Ukraine and ultimate annexation of the Crimean Peninsula – the first time one country has annexed another since the Second World War. Trump has mentioned lifting those sanctions and recognizing the Crimean Peninsula as part of Russia. That will pay a serious debt, if one is owed, to Russia and  the oligarchs that we would know about if we had seen a tax return. But we did not for the first time in modern US History despite there being no law against disclosing part of that tax return for public consumption. This is a way to ensure our president has no conflict of interest that may be present if he or she were to owe billions in debt to foreign banks or individuals. We do know Mr. Trump owes $627 million to the Bank of China.

Foreign Blackmale

We know since President Obama met with Director of National Intelligence,  James Clapper, the individual who is in charge of all 17 intelligence agencies, on Thursday and President-Elect Trump Friday. During that meeting, the 2 page summary of the 35 page dossier that purports to lay out the Russian effort to obtain “Kompromat” or compromising information on a Presidential candidate.

After that meeting, James Clapper released a statement that led to another ill advised tweet in which Trump mischaracterized the information relayed to him, leading Director Clapper to issue a statement indicating Trump mischaracterized the information and that the IC (intelligence community) determined the dossier “crap & Fake News.” Like so many Tweets, that was definitely NOT  what the statement said. The DNI had to clarity in writing – a rare step by anyone in the IC – that the IC reached no conclusions as to the reliability of the information contained in the dossier (different from saying we have concluded it is not reliable).

More importantly it said no information from the dossier was used in any conclusions. We have to again look at what was not said. We know there’s an investigation looking into possible collusion between what is now our 45th President (just sworn in), and we have known since the before the dossier was leaked. That means the dossier simply corroborated (at least partially) other information that originally led to the investigation being initiated. Trump failed to notice the nuance and reading between the lines.

Regardless, a President was sworn in that is being investigated for potentially colluding with a foreign adversary that we know to have affected and interfered with the cornerstone of our Democracy – Free &  Fair Elections. The investigation also includes an alleged transfer of funds from the Kremlin to Trump. I hope there is nothing more to this than we already know… but I doubt it. I hope President Trump exceeds all expectations…but I doubt it. I hope there is not the corruption that seems imminent given the new President paid $25 million to settle a lawsuit for defrauding our fellow Americans. The President takes office with a 30% approval rating – precisely 1/2 the 60% of an immensely popular, now former President Barack Obama. We hope he succeeds because if he succeeds, America theoretically succeeds.

Time will tell. From this point forward, he now has to Govern the United States of America rather than campaign. Let us hope he studies more and tweets less. Most importantly, lets hope he does well for America.

Human Rights v. Human Obligations

Have you ever considered the notion of “human obligations” as a corollary to the term human rights? Not to suggest one is dependent upon the other by I cannot help but wonder how things may be different if certain human obligations were dealt with in the same manner as human rights have historically been addressed. This would obviously require careful monitoring, but imagine if every Citizen was obligated to prove he or she knows the basics of how our government works in order to vote. I know this brings up thoughts of the poll tax or IQ test to those that was only applicable to African-Americans, but this is different. Let’s use the basic civics test we require those attempting to become Naturalized citizens of this country who are naturalized are required to know and .are tested upon. If we require it of those we grant citizenship to, it is not unreasonable to demand that same basic knowledge from our citizens.

How delightful would it be if all those seeking to serve Public Office be required to have a certain level of education, degree, certificate or whatever we decide to call it in Political Science and the Art of Statesmanship & Governing before they are eligible to run for elected office? In fact let’s do the reverse, every person that has completed such training is automatically eligible for election process (if they announce an intention to Run). Wouldn’t provide a basic level of competence. We require training of lawyers, doctors, professors, mechanics, plumbers, electricians, etc. so why not those in charge of our own government?

Once they have successfully completed the appropriate education from an accredited Political Science department (like accredited law schools), all they need do is announce their candidacy for lower office. And then they must first have held a lower office and demonstrated an ability to fulfill those duties that in a way that warrants their eligibility for higher office. These need not even alter the existing constitutional age requirements for the certain offices in Congress & the presidency.

Is it mere utopianism to hope for an elected official feels a “Human Obligation” to have in mind the best interests of the People he or she represents? At this stage, it is so blatantly obvious our elected officials no longer even try to hide the fact that they spend up to 70% of the time fund-raising.

The Supreme Court has somehow found it appropriate to give Corporations the same rights that we individuals have in our Constitution. Combined with other case law, they are now permitted to essentially give unlimited funds to campaigns, PACs & SuperPACs with almost no disclosure necessary – at least not before the election in question.

It’s so obviously wrong that there is a significant movement to change the law to undo the damage, which was to essentially put the entire government up for sale to the highest bidder. Between 2010-2012, during which the Supreme Court rendered its controversial Citizens United ruling, spending on campaigns, PACs & SuperPACs increased by something like 1900%. Does anyone in their right mind not believe the donors are expecting ROI – Return on Investment – which is a concept they are very familiar with in business? I certainly hope that level of naïveté does not exist.

I think it may take a constitutional amendment to fully eliminate the blatantly corruptive influence money currently has on our government, which explains why is it: 1) so bitterly divided and vitriolic; and 2) unable to accomplish anything, leading to the lowest approval rating Congress has ever seen.

The lawmakers have benefited so drastically from these rules and we cannot rationally expect they would change those rules themselves. They certainly have not done anything thus far. On the contrary, it’s gotten much worse. If you study campaign contributions, PAC & SuperPAC contributions as well as lobbying activity, Wall Street exceeds the other big players combined.

Which simply means Wall Street owns both parties and why there is currently a strong movement within the Democratic Party to get away from Secretary Clinton’s real & perceived ties to Wall Street and that of her husband. Of course, it was Pres. Bill Clinton that executed the plan to make sure Wall Street knew Democrats were as willing to play ball as the Republicans, as long as they kept the campaign money flowing. And boy did they ever.

It such a dominant influence in current politics that things the American people almost unanimously agree SHOULD get done will not get done. They won’t even come up for a vote because the industry watchdogs Big Corporations have purchased in Congress won’t allow it.

Take the controversial gun issue: over 80% of Americans are in favor of universal background checks for every sale. Though I’m not certain, I believe the statistics for closing the show loophole are similarly overwhelming. But the power of the NRA and the gun lobby is immense & they OWNER the GOP.

Let’s investigate how much money the industry has made under the current president because of the constant NRA campaign of lies like, they’re (Obama, Harry Reid, pelvis);; literally coming for your guns and they’re going to imprison you in FEMA Camps”. It might make for interesting fiction if a majority of Americans didn’t believe it to be so. You may recall the proposed invasion of the state of Texas under the guise of “wargames” that was supposedly leaked by the military or something of that nature – and, of course, didn’t happen. I still see people saying Pres. Obama has time and will declare martial law, confiscate all weapons and retain power.

Then again, there are those that will argue till they’re blue in the face with as much passion as if they were fighting for civil rights that there is all a massive conspiracy to cover up the fact that the world is flat. Even though it’s mathematically impossible as the extra gravity accumulated the closer you came to the “edge” of the earth would be something like 9G’s. The Internet is an amazing and wonderful place but it’s also given something to do to those people who have that little bit of knowledge we all know can be a dangerous thing. And now with the technology they can organize, groupthink sets in, and suddenly we have militias and the most creative conspiracy theories one can consider.

This stemmed from an interesting thought that occurred to me when I ran across this quote from Alexander Solzhenitsyn:

“It is time in the West’s to defend not so much human rights as human obligations.”

Now I acknowledge having no idea the context in which the quote was made. He may have been referring to obligations as burdensome while I’m looking at them as a way to force citizens to realize the government isn’t here just to protect your freedom and allow you to take, take, and take. This is what happened with the fossil fuels industry for the last 200 years.

Think about this way: you find something in the ground that doesn’t belong to you, but that you essentially pay the government for the rights to steal from the ground – from the ground owned by “The People”. And they pay absolutely nothing for the right to exploit the resources of our, which we know it took millions of years to get there.

First of all, this exploitation of resources removes any doubt as to why fossil fuel companies have been among the most profitable the world has ever seen. Look at the business model! They get to extract as much of the resources mother Earth created over millions of years at virtually ZERO COST, and turn around and profit on it as if they created the chemical in their own laboratories and obtained the requisite patent. If that were the case, they have the right to have all of the profits (that’s the model of the pharmaceutical of big Pharma which is for another subject), but these guys take from the earth. Worse, what they take, and take and take from the earth has already done a great deal of damage in terms of the climate, and some will argue we are already too late without immediate & drastic measures that the fossil fuel industry will certainly oppose.

It’s happening right before our eyes as the developing countries (China, India & Brazil, etc.) are now fully developed and they unanimously realize how serious a threat climate change truly is. Of course they have no insane political party made up of politicians paid to deny the unambiguous science as we have here. Thankfully b/c it allowed them to take the bold steps (though not enough) that they took at the Paris Climate Agreement. The party that denies the science, also denies its beloved war making machine that has identified to climate change as a global threat. A real & true threat – a clearly defined strategic threat to the security of the United States of America. Despite this, half of our government refuses to even acknowledge it exists because they are so beholden to the Fossil fuel industry. They will protect that industry regardless of the cost to the American people and the environment we live in.

As I’ve said many times, the choice is ours. The only way in which we can exercise that choice is basically which party we vote for given the limited choice we really have. As always, would love to hear your thoughts, reactions or impressions.

Thanks and have a great day!

Check Your Perspective…

Thought Experiment… Step Out of Your Comfort Zone and Think From Another’s Perspective:

A worthwhile Thought Experiment is to challenge yourself to view an issue from another perspective. Here is a 14 minute video that, if you really thought about it, would admit presents a perspective that is what I imagine is a very different perspective that you had of the topic. Was this true in you case?

Take this 13:38 and step away from the Echo Chamber in which millions of Americans elect to live their lives: 1) Engage in the experience of learning about and considering another’s perspective; 2) Now actually considering, really thinking about something a perspective that you never thought about that way before; and 3) Share your reactions, thoughts, opinions or suggestions in the Comments Section of the blog and which really supports the blog too so I kindly ask you to use this platform. (It’s just a click but it helps me immensely!) Congratulations on getting this far. Sincere apologies, unless I am wrong, I must pay for the ability to embed video on my page so click here for YouTube video (13:38).

Did your Perspective Change about anything? If so, what & how? I wouldn’t spend the time if I didn’t think there are subjects we need to make sure we really think about, done an thorough analysis of our reasoning to make sure it isn’t just going with the flow, a gut reaction or conventional wisdom – all without much though given to why you chose the way you did. Don’t feel inadequate as I believe only a small minority are that self-aware and analytical, quick to use critical thinking skills. Like many things it becomes a habit… a way of thinking and living in the world. These skills, which were important to our survival at one time, and that echo-chambers erode like all other unused muscles – hated atrophy! “Group-think” sets in and the analysis of what may be an important issue or life decision is over. The benefit of this approach is you don’t have to decide for yourself, you just turn with the swarm of fish that is the masses and have no really idea why. It’s not uncommon at all. I genuinely fear the school of fish analogy is sadly now the default setting for at least American society. This is my humble effort do change that. If you think you already see issues from a balanced perspective you…

May Want to Double Check…

One way is to take this short escape from your routine that won’t miss you and do what you normally don’t do because it’s human nature and it is SO easy to do – which is stay to that which you already know and are very comfortable without ever stopping to consider why you agree. Consider and analyze your reasoning. Really deconstruct it so you’re confident it’s sound and if you discover otherwise, you reconsider this is done without shame and should be done without shame. It is no different than preparing for everything we all have to do for anything we want to do well. Preparation is critical and this is why we demand it of doctors, lawyers, and ourselves whenever we give a proposal to our bosses, to prospective customers, and in other important events in life.

If you are Consider the reasoning of other’s that you respect but that may hold a different opinion so you can see it from her perspective. If you responded to that last sentence with, “I don’t know anyone like this.” you may be too far gone and will have to make an effort to meet people with different views. You will discover first that they are people too. Think about it this way: close to ½ of the voting public disagrees with you, but way more than half of those we deal with in life are nice, regular folks just making it through another day like you are. Meaning some would hate your politics, but you know they are not a monster – and neither are you. This sentiment is long dead in the current political climate… let’s hope that changes.

Online we act like civility and basic respect mandatory in face to face discussion is obliterated and it bothers me. There is never a way to exchange ideas or get someone to consider your perspective if you’re calling them names. No matter who started the bad behavior! If that happens, just disengage – no online rage (no one can see you anyway… I hope!)  Perhaps because the dialogue I am accustomed to is philosophical and legal. Philosophical discussion is typically pretty civil and pleasant. While arguing to a Court one is required to exercise decorum, civility & respect or the Judge will let you know it.

What constitutes “discussion” on the internet in general deserves not such a dignified label. It’s a childish trading of insults and will be ignored. People generally talking at each other not in anyway resembling a real discussion with an exchange of ideas. We have to remember that there are people that you respect and with whom you don’t agree on every important issue… you just don’t know it yet. It is because we have such complicated and very complex lives it shouldn’t surprise us that we reach many different opinions, but saying your opinion these days risks a nasty response and this is especially true online.

But again, like anything else, reason can be done properly or improperly. No one can tell you the answer, but you can be challenged to make certain you have given important issues appropriate thought and consideration. What if a young man or woman walked right up to you and asked very directly your opinion on an important topic?

Lives are hectic, but we must give ourselves time to think. We demand our children think before they speak or act, why not hold ourselves to the same standard? But the way one checked their opinions was discuss it with friends, parents, and teachers, along with anyone else available whose opinion we respect. Please read what Plato thought about taking enough time to think click here now.

If you want to read my continued thoughts just click. here.

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

The ancient Greeks were adamant that philosophy (literally translated to Love of Wisdom), be a deeply useful skill that should be learned and practiced by all as instructive to humans living and even dying well. The very well-known PLATO (circa 423-347 BC), believed in the usefulness of philosophy more than most of his contemporaries. Plato viewed philosophy was a kind of therapy for the soul. One of the most compelling and widely known of the stories or dialogues Plato wrote on the usefulness of philosophy in what is now known as the Allegory of the Cave; perhaps the most famous allegory in all of philosophy. The purpose of the allegory was to “compare the effect of education and the lack of it on our nature.”

As part of his masterpiece, The Republic, Plato describes The Cave – a prison where people are born as prisoners and are to remain for life. Without the ability to ever venture outside the cave in which they are chained, they are deprived of natural light in the cave so all that the inhabitants can see are shadows of things projected on the wall by the light of a fire behind the objects and prisoners. Being the only reality they know, the cave dwellers become fascinated by the shadows of animals, plants & people. Moreover, they believed the shadows were real and, if studied, will provide them with knowledge to allow them to succeed in life. Obviously, the dwellers have no idea they see only shadows… mere phantoms of the thing it purports to represent. The dwellers even begin to talk among themselves about the shadowy things and take great pride in their sophistication and wisdom.

Then something very unusual happens when one of the cave dwellers happens to find his way out of the cave into the blistering noon sunlight. At first his eyes are overwhelmed but adjust soon enough. For the first time in his existence, he finally sees things as they really are when properly lit by the sun. Gradually he begins seeing ‘real’ objects and begins to recognize these are the things he has previously only as shadows on the cave wall. His finally adjusted eyes see actual flowers, the colorful sky and its many birds, and he touches and feels for the first time the foreign texture of everything he touches as everything is new to him. The night comes and he is flabbergasted by the stars and gradually begins to contemplate the vastness and sublime nature of the universe. As Plato put it, “[p]reviously he had been looking at only phantoms; now he is nearer to the true nature of being.”

From a natural feeling of wanting to share his discoveries with his former cave-dwelling companions still blinded by the confusion and error of the shadows, he decides to leave the sun-lit world and return to the dark and damp cave he used that used to make up his world. His eyes area again required to adjust from bright light of the outside world and he struggles to acclimate to the cave. He stumbles and, unable to see clearly, to his companions seemed very awkward and confused. He clearly did not impress his companions as one bestowed with knowledge of “the real world.” He quickly realizes his former cave-dwellers were unimpressed with him and he is equally unimpressed with them. The animosity heats up badly enough that when he insists on explaining what the sun is, or what a real tree is like, the cave-dwellers initially get very sarcastic and poke fun at him. His persistence engenders anger as they feel the newly enlightened escapee has perhaps lost his mind. They then get angry with him and the discord leads to an eventual plot to kill him.

Plato Those that see beyond shadows

The solution, according to Plato, was a broad, carefully administered philosophical education. He understood the effectiveness of a method of inquiry pioneered by his master Socrates, which is where the type of  inquiry is now known to us as the Socratic Method. Done properly, it should be a gentle process. One must avoid condescending lecturing at or forcing pupils to read a particular text. Instead, start with a general pronouncement of intellectual modesty. Be honest with each other in admitting that no one knows very much, and that true wisdom starts with owning up to that ignorance.

Simply confess that you don’t know what policies the government should implement, what war is meant to achieve or how relationships work. Then attempt to get the other person to state what they think and you together start a journey to find the answers. It is likely the other person will be confident, sometimes even overconfident. They may quickly tell you the answer you seek is rather simple and most people know the answer already. This is where real patience is needed to deal with this type of bravado. If the inquiry goes off-topic, you cheerfully bring them back around and be prepared to have many discussions with them, often over many days.

This method of is based on a confidence that with the right encouragement, people have the ability to work things out themselves and eventually learn to detect errors in their own reasoning. But dialogues often go awry unless you gently and quietly draw your interlocutor’s attention to sticky and difficult points without ever casting blame or getting annoyed. You cannot teach anything by making your pupil feel stupid, even if they are at first.

We ALL must begin in our Cave, but it was Plato’s deepest insight that we need not remain in the darkness and ignorance of the cave by remaining. Plato enlightens us by informing us that the way out of the darkness is philosophy. Philosophy is the beacon whose light we learn to slowly follow until the true nature of things become clear.

How Does This Apply To Me?

This allegory has never been more applicable than in modern society and in a most serious way. More than  ever America is stringently divided into echo-chambers where no one is even exposed to other views much less presented with a coherent argument of all sides of the many complicated issues we face so one can arrive at an informed opinion through their own informed, well-reasoned thinking. Sadly intellectual laziness pervades and far too many are content to be told what to think and the mental muscles used in critical and/or analytical thinking are atrophied to uselessness.

Then, for some inexplicable reason, people knowledgable on just one side of a debate believe themselves to be unrivaled experts on the subject. That misguided belief is most often accompanied by an arrogance justified only in a true expert that has spent years in study and/or training to acquire the knowledge, skills and abilities of an honest expert. This is why we use a surgeon to repair a damaged body, a lawyer to argue a complicated case before a judge, and a mechanic to repair our cars. The glaring distinction is the true expert has devoted immense time and effort to obtain the knowledge, and her well-developed knowledge is constantly updated and sharpened by the inquiries and challenges by more accomplished experts. The end result is someone with unique ability and knowledge to address a particular problem needing a remedy.

By contrast, the pseudo-expert does not have her ideas and beliefs challenged but only reinforced, no matter the ideas proximity to truth. After constant reinforcement these unrefined ideas eventually seem infallible. This is a dangerous and growing phenomenon made more complicated by the recent phenomenon of “fake news” to further cloud the issues. How is an individual living his or her busy life, even a relatively well-informed citizen, expected to devote the time and energy required to become adequately & thoroughly informed and to make a decision on a complex or nuanced issue? Without making an immense individual effort to discern fantasy from reality, which not every citizen has the time, energy or ability to do, it is tough for one to locate and study the right sources to address the inquiry even if inclined to do so in the first place. There are trustworthy sources that are reliable and factually accurate, even some still using the journalistic standards that we used to be able to take for granted but no more.

It now takes time and effort to determine whether a source is reliable or if it also has an agenda that colors the objectivity of the reporting or analysis built into everything they report on or if its accurate but it can be done and, I would argue, must be done as we go forth in this brave new world of post-truth politics we have quietly entered. Let’s reign in this monster before it becomes an accepted as the “new-normal.”

I do not know if you agree but I cringe at the idea of living in a “post-truth” world and that becoming the new normal. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”

It is understandable to be tempted to throw up your hands, say “to hell with it” and just disengage. Should that happen, we will quickly slide into a permanent state of post-truth politics and the power of the people will be a thing of the past – which I believe is precisely what the establishment wants. flag-eagle-constitution

Sometimes circumstances dictate the action one must take and this is one of those times. To be clear, I cannot emphasize enough how much I truly hope I’m wrong. I want President Trump to act for the benefit of all Americans and successfully build on President Obama’s work in steering the Ship of State out of the Great Recession and building on the stable economic foundation of slow but steady economic growth (free of bubbles), drastically reduced unemployment and focusing on increasing real household incomes that have been stagnant since the 80’s – a trend that finally started to reverse as we saw a considerable increase in household incomes in recent months.

Making matters exponentially worse, our gridlocked political system has been put up for sale to the highest bidders, which are inevitably the wealthiest families & large corporations. As a result, our elected officials that should be “beholden to the people alone” are rather blatantly beholden to their donors and ignore the needs & desires of the people. This explains why members of congress spend up to 70% of their time fund-raising and yet we the people are supposed to naively believe the unlimited millions donated to their campaigns, their leadership PACs, and SuperPACs give these mega-donors no greater access to or influence over our elected officials than you or I have? An utterly absurd notion.

Corruption has always been a part of politics but there is no longer even a superficial attempt to conceal it. Where our politicians used to try to hide their conflicted interests, they now barely pay lip service to their constituents while publicly and without a hint of shame, do the obvious bidding of their donors. I believe it is because they know – or at least believe – that there is nothing “we the people” can or will do about it.

As it stands, the only ones with the power to change the rules are the ones grossly enriched by those rules. We have allowed the Fox to take possession of our Hen House and does anyone believe the Fox will voluntarily change the rules and ban Foxes from the hen-house?

Or do you suppose he will now gorge himself until sick then hand out the rest to cronies? I think it is the latter. The best book I know on the subject is “Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress – and a Plan to Stop It.” It is such an enlightening work I wish I had the power to require every voter to read it and to compel the people to implement a plan to end corruption.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Now is the time to remind ourselves that our great Republic depends on an informed electorate. I add to that what I believe the founders took for granted – an energized and participating electorate. Apathy was painfully evident in the 2016 election. Decisions to stay home and not participate could easily have changed the outcome of the contest. The decision lies with each one of us. We can choose to stay in the echo-chamber that is the Cave we have made for ourselves or fallen into that keeps us insulated from the thoughts and opinions of others. In the alternative, we can make a choice as an act of our individual will to get out of the Cave and move into the light to become part of a truly informed electorate for the benefit of our nation and our children’s future. What will you do? Only you can decide, but I humbly suggest get you leave the intellectual comfort of the Cave, move into the light and accept the challenge to think for yourself so you can arrive at your own well-informed and well-reasoned decisions as our Founding Fathers intended. Now decide.