Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Resist American, Resist!

The politics of blame and shame.

I am sure you may have noticed, but just in case you missed it, there is nothing, and I mean nothing, positive about Donald J. Trump's message. Even his signature slogan, "Make America great again! " is perjorative. It implies that something insidious was afoot over the last several years which somehow derailed the greatest nation on earth from its lofty perch, and he and only he can fix it. Nonsense. Unless he has a foil, he has nothing to say. Unless he is pitted against some adversary, real or imagined, the Donald is a rhetorically windless bag of bloviation and self adulation. 
    He does not operate based upon any sound ideological footing, nor does he seek to implement a comprehensive well thought out agenda. He is totally reactionary and his end game is pointed in only one direction: winning, at whatever the cost. And that, for the American people is not a good thing. We have always labored under the assumption that our nation has a moral compass, and that we have ideals which we are striving to achieve. Trump has shred bare those ideals and left us with a philosophy of me first, self aggrandizement that seems to have no limit. 
    Somehow we need to collectively abandon this detour he has put us on, and reassert our pride, our values, and the essential goodness of America, before he drives this country into a very deep ditch, or even worse, off a cliff from which we will have no parachute to insure a safe landing. We must be vocal and vigil, and anything but silent in the process of this resistance. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of our country. We must form a resistance and stick to it. Only then will this mighty shroud crumble. If we stay strong and fight for our beliefs, this too shall pass, sooner rather than later. America must stand up and confront this bully at every turn. It is the only way we can maintain our freedom and dignity.  We are beyond " Give him a chance, he's new." He is not going to change, so we must. Resist, America, resist! 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Humorless

Being able to effectively use self deprecating humor is the sine qua non of any successful President. Trump's problem, among others, is that he has none. He cannot poke fun at himself. Any slight, real or imagined is a serious threat to his virility. He has virtually no sense of humor. He doesn't drink, so he's not going to mellow out after a few beers, and he has no intellectual curiosity. He does not read books or briefing papers, which is why he winds up quoting Fox TV sound bytes as reality. This is not going to change. That's the bad news. The good news? I don't see any yet. 
Stupid is as stupid does. Just as Forrest Gump. As each day goes by, it is increasingly. Lear that our new President is limited and /or handicapped, emotionally, and intellectually. He does not read books. He reacts off the cuff to the last thing he sees in cable news programs ( e.g. Sweden) , and he brags as naseum about how special he is and how much he has done, often ignoring the facts and simply fabricating stuff out of whole cloth. This, to say the least. Is very unpresidential. Starting today, this blog will take on Trump and his braggiodocious comments, as well as his actions. We must all be vigilant, lest we lose our democracy. 
https://www.facebook.com/jtsullivanjr/posts/10155318503077784
ANNOUNCEMENT 
New editorial policy--

 As most of my friends know, I am very vocal when it comes to my political views, and the recent installation in office of our 45th President has only heightened that reality. That being said, I don't want my Facebook postings to be a continuing screed against Trump. There are lots of other topics to pay attention to,  and that are deserving of comment. His constant barrage of baloney deserves separate and distinct treatment. So, from now on, I will attempt to restrict my posts about anything Trump related to my political blog: WWW.pdq22.blogspot.com . I will post a link on FB to my blog. However, I will not post the comment on FB. The reader will have a choice to click or ignore. 
    I will need to change my blog to achieve this, so, instead of posting full blown essays, I will be posting shorter dissertations of a paragraph or two instead. This should provide more content to those who seek to follow political commentary. It will become a chattier , less formal opinion site, and hopefully engender comment from others. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Breaking News v. Broken news

Breaking News. Nary a day goes by without seeing that term flash across our tv screens, and  pop up on our smart watches . Watches used to actually just tell time, and newspapers used to actually print the news. As one highly regarded news purveyor, the New York Times, so presciently put it in way back in 1896: We print " All the news that is fit to print". That quote from publisher Adolph Ochs is still emblazoned on the masthead of the nation's most respected news source. Today, the word "print" has taken on multitudinous forms, with most of us now getting our information from non- print sources and hand held mini computers. It is tough to figure out what information is reliable, and what is not. With the emergence of Cybernews, we have lost our reliable filters as to what is and is not fit to "print" . 
     Back in those days of robber barons and major media moguls , Ochs was responding to his competitors tendency to publish salacious headlines and half truths twisted in a way to push forward a particular ideology or agenda. That was labeled "Yellow journalism" back then, when tabloid publications were owned by, among others, William Randolph Hearst.  Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, another NY newspaper publisher,  focused on crime and sensationalism, and their newspapers were sold on the street for a penny or two. Indeed, that's where the term '"my two cents" came from. These bold new tabloids garnered hundreds of thousands of new readers and recruited lucrative advertising revenue from department stores to enhance their profitability. Presenting the facts as news became secondary to advancing agendas. Our involvement in Cuba at the time, the Spanish American war and the assassination of President McKinley in 1896 were directly attributable to these yellow journalism "rags". Fast forward 110 years, and we see the same scenario playing out, only this time, in the context of "fake news" , and social media,  such as Facebook and Twitter. We now have a toxic mix of misinformation and disinformation available, which can adversely affect the outcome of elections. 
   Guess what? That toxic mix of news, non-news, and fake news worked. And to add insult to injury, this time a foreign government, to wit: Russia , played a significant role in the disinformation campaign. We had cyber-hacking of e mails from foreign spying agencies , and selective leaks of those e mails intended to influence the election .  Everything old ala 1896 became new again, and news networks like Fox News have taken the place of the Pulitzers and the Hearsts, and the casualty of these efforts has been the American electoral system. 
    When you can't separate fact from fiction, and when facts don't matter as much as the belief systems of the media presenting those alleged facts,  you have a recipe for disaster . Not only have we been hacked, we have been had. 
      In order to function properly, a democracy must have an informed electorate. Without that , it doesn't work. It becomes mob rule. Just ask Thomas Jefferson who famously said, " A people who believe they can be both free and ignorant, believe that which never has been and never can be". Without the ability of an informed electorate to make intelligent and critical choices in the voting booth, we are destined to  become the pawns of those who would dupe us. Yes, it has come to pass. Demagoguery has triumphed in the person of our President-elect, and how and if our system will actually survive is a question that hangs precariously in the balance. Only vigilance and paying persistent attention to the machinations of our newly chosen leader can save us from perfidy. 
     Hopefully, in the end, the truth will prevail, but at the moment , determining what is true and what is not is an increasingly elusive goal. The Fourth estate has an incredibly important role to play in the next four years. If breaking news becomes broken news, then woe be we.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Rubes united vote



Rubes unite! 

For the last thirty years or so, since the Reagan revolution, we have had some form or another of trickle down economics in play in our country. Here's how it works: tax the rich less so that in theory they will use the money they keep to create more jobs and new wealth. The problem is, it doesn't work. It never has, and it has created the greatest divide between the haves and have nots that this country has ever seen. It has crushed the middle class and robbed people in lower socio economic situations of their ability to better themselves. It has. virtually if not literally , killed the American Dream. The rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer. 
   So,  in response, what do we do about it? Blame the black guy who inherited the mess for not fixing it fast enough, and vote Republican. As a result of the despair so many are feeling, we elected an authoritarian narcissist as President because he claimed "I alone can fix it!"  Make sense? Hardly.
    For 55 years of my life, I lived in a place where people who live in trailer parks tend to vote Republican. I say that not in a disparaging way, but simply to describe folks who are unfortunately stuck  in that  lower socioeconomic strata. Time and again, these denizens of the mobile home on cinderblocks world have been their own worst enemies at the ballot box. They vote against their own economic interests. Why the conundrum? 
    With few exceptions, upstate NY trailer park people don't trust the party of Thomas Jefferson. How can that be? The answer is quite simple, actually. They don't trust their downstate big city brethren to do what's right for them, and with good reason. The Democratic Party in New York, which is controlled by the Manhattan type elite,  has never really listened to them, and has  paid only lip service to these "upstate rubes". The rubes resent it, just as people in the fly over sections of our country resent the attitude of the east and west coastal communities . And how do I know that? Because I am one of those "Upstate rubes". I was recruited in 1995 to create the illusion that the NY City politicians were actually listening to the rubes, who had just thrown Mario Cuomo out of office. He got only 17% of the vote  in Oswego County, and that needed to be changed. So,  as a former Upstate Mayor, with an ebullient Irish demeanor , I became the Co- Chair of the state Democratic Party. My job was to bring back the Reagan Democrats. There was a need for the illusion that the party was listening to the rubes. In reality, that was far from the truth. But we did go on to create the Democratic Rural Conference , and that helped galvanize the rube vote for a while. Our motto was "United for voice and victory." We energized the people with the pitchforks. The Democrats started winning again. It didn't last for long. And even Howard Dean picked up the idea and ran with it as DNC Chair with what he called his 50 state strategy. That worked too, and the Democrats for a while, made a comeback. 
    To digress, in addition , and to buttress my rube bona fides, I lived for three of the last six years in SE Kansas, which counts as middle American fly over country. I used to tell my college aged students that I may be from NY, but not the NY they were thinking about. I was from  the Southeast Kansas part of New York. I think they got it. 
     It is the arrogance of the elite ruling class that brings out the rube vote in droves. This election provides ample evidence of that phenomenon. The rubes prevailed. They voted for change over substance because they are frustrated and forlorn and never really listened to. They believed that a tear down the house ersatz billionaire would deliver them to the promised land. They didn't like it when Hillary Clinton called them a basket of deplorable, and more than they liked Mayor Ed Koch's comment , when he ran for NY Governor in 1982 about pick up trucks with gun racks and gingham dresses.
    So this year, Trump won.  And  now we will wait in great anticipation to see what if anything can be done to advance the cause of american rubery.  We will see if If true change is possible,  and whether economic justice is more than just an illusory apparition. Turnabout is fair play. The elites are now marching in protest and the rubes are rooting for the Republicans to bring about that deliverance. Ying meet yang. Yes, we shall see what happens.  But I wouldn't get my hopes up too high. 
  Nevertheless, in the interim , we should stay open to the possibility of success, while still planning  for the worst. And what's the worst that can happen?  A return to despair. Perhaps one day we will all  be singing "Happy days are here again!  ", or perhaps not.  Only time will tell. 
    But as we take a collective deep breath before retreating to our sparring stations in opposite corners of the ring, let's understand that an  early knockout is unlikely. We are in for a multi-round battle. The rubes of this country must re-energize and unite. Once that happens , the fight will be  on, an then real change may actually come about. Meanwhile, the words of Mr. Jefferson come back to haunt us. " A people who believe they can be both free and ignorant, believe that which has never been, and never can be. " A democracy presupposes an informed electorate. Without that, it just doesn't work.  Believe me!