Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Singapore Summit

Even if you were determined NOT to know anything about the historic Singapore Summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un yesterday...not sure you could pull it off. It is everywhere today. All over social media and as the saying goes, like assholes, everyone has an opinion. Including the news media. Fox News is giving its version of it (while slamming the left at every opportunity). The left wing media is giving their version critical of Trump and the right.

I hope Trump and Jong Un manage to come to some kind of agreement that moves the needle backwards to a world with a few less nucs. But there are some things that bother me a lot about the summit.

One thing is the row of flags behind the two of them. Every other one is an American flag. Touching or very close to touching the North Korean flag. How did the dictator of a country like North Korea elevate himself and his flag to equal standing with the United States? Everyone who is so concerned and outraged about dishonoring the flag and the pledge and the anthem, tell me...are you okay with that? Does that not demean our flag?

Remember when Obama visited Cuba and there were a few pictures that showed the likeness of Che Guevara in the background? People criticized him very strongly for that. "Mr. President, you're a disgrace," Ben Shapiro tweeted. Check out this article in Time Magazine.

Another thing ...Trump's hearty endorsement of the North Korean dictator after the Summit

"He's got a great personality. He's a funny guy, he's very smart, he's a great negotiator. He loves his people, not that I'm surprised by that," Trump said. "I think that we have the start of an amazing deal. We're going to denuke North Korea."
Please take a few minutes and watch this video of a young North Korean girl who escaped from North Korea. She tells of witnessing the execution of her friend's mother for watching a "Hollywood"movie.  Tell her how much Jong Un loves his people. There is poverty, lack, wide spread human rights abuses. From all appearances, Kim Jong Un mainly loves himself.

Asked if he had a message for the North Korean people, Trump said, "I think you have somebody that has a great feeling for them. He wants to do right by them and we got along really well. We had a great chemistry."

Great chemistry? Really? As Saturday Night Live's church lady used to say many years ago..."isn't that special."

Sunday, June 10, 2018

We take their rosaries...

I came across a meme making the rounds on Facebook. It is a picture of neatly arranged rosaries that have been confiscated by the border patrol from undocumented immigrants trying to enter the United States.

Although the meme includes a partial link to the story that ran in the New Yorker in March of 2017,  it gives the impression that this is some new atrocity. Not hard to believe when there are so many new atrocities every single day. Please let me be clear...no one is more outraged, frustrated and shocked by this administration...by this president...than I am but this is something we cannot lay entirely at his feet. We have been doing this stuff for a long time.

Tom Kiefer is the photographer who took the pictures. He collected the personal items that were confiscated from undocumented immigrants by the border patrol. Most of the stuff ended up in the trash. He collected the items from 2003 to 2014. Below is the introduction on his website. El Sueño Americano (The American Dream)

Lurking beneath the bright and shiny dream of a better life, El Sueño Americano is a deeply disturbing reflection of our treatment of fellow human beings. As a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol janitor, part of the job was removal of trash bags at just one of our 136 facilities, where personal belongings are seized from migrants at or near the border. One day I looked into the bags. I glimpsed personal items, carefully chosen to support their owner’s desperate and dangerous journey. Items confiscated and trashed as ‘non-essential’; rosaries, bibles, wallets, clothes, coins, phones, food, soap, blankets, and family photos. Spending time with the confiscated items, organizing them, photographing them -- profoundly moved me. How precious were these to their owners? Disposing of them, I realized, was an act of dehumanization. El Sueño Americano is a visceral snapshot of what is happening, in direct defiance of those who would sweep it out of sight.

I am not really an advocate of totally open borders although I welcome immigrants. Yes, I know the immigration process is so broken and if my kids were suffering I'm sure I would make the trek to the US Border praying for mercy. But the heartlessness of the process that strips these people of their rosaries and little blue Spanish new testaments...and toilet paper, toothpaste, shoelaces, blankets, wallets and extra clothing is horrible.

I don't have the answers. I wish I did......

Here is the link to the New Yorker article. This is the link to a true/false discussion of the FB meme on Snopes.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Blatant Display of Confirmation Bias

First of all..let me make it clear that I think biased reporting happens in the "mainstream media" too. This is not just a Fox News thing. 

Take a look at this video with clips from the Obama era (dating back to his campaign days) to the present day Trump administration. Has that much changed in 10 years? Has Kim Jong Un slowed down his nuclear program? Has he shown any signs of moderating his rhetoric? Seems like he has only upped the ante and become more of a crazy rogue dictator. 

So take a look at this video compiled by the folks at Now This.  It is a series of clips showing Fox News personalities giving their then and now opinions about presidential meetings with dictators. They  go back and forth between condemnation and praise (depending on whether they are talking about Trump or Obama) The hypocrisy is stunning when it is put side by side like this. 

To explore how our media (both right and left) uses selective exposure to boost ratings and revenue,  this wikipedia article is a good place to start.  Here are the first few paragraphs from the article below....

Selective exposure is a theory within the practice of psychology, often used in media and communication research, that historically refers to individuals' tendency to favor information which reinforces their pre-existing views while avoiding contradictory information. Selective exposure has also been known and defined as "congeniality bias" or "confirmation bias" in various texts throughout the years.[1] 
According to the historical use of the term, people tend to select specific aspects of exposed information which they incorporate into their mindset. These selections are made based on their perspectives, beliefs, attitudes and decisions.[2] People can mentally dissect the information they are exposed to and select favorable evidence, while ignoring the unfavorable. The foundation of this theory is rooted in the cognitive dissonance theory, which asserts that when individuals are confronted with contrasting ideas, certain mental defense mechanisms are activated to produce harmony between new ideas and pre-existing beliefs, which results in cognitive equilibrium. Cognitive equilibrium, which is defined as a state of balance between a person's mental representation of the world and his or her environment, is crucial to understanding selective exposure theory. According to Jean Piaget, when a mismatch occurs, people find it to be "inherently dissatisfying".[3]

"Inherently dissatisfying"? That's certainly an understatement.

My opinion... the best way to get a "fair and balanced" view of what's going on in the world is not to watch any one news source exclusively. Not Fox, not CNN, not MSNBC or any of the major (or minor) news sources. And I pay special attention to left leaning media when they report what might commonly be considered right leaning "talking points." And visa versa. If Fox News is reporting something you might expect to hear on CNN...I listen up. 

When a news source espouses views opposite of their known bias, I figure they must have some facts to back it up. And they must have done their research....

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Yet another school shooting....

Another school shooting. Parkland, Florida. 17 dead. And again we go through the cycle. No guns vs more guns. Arm all the teachers (really? They can't even get adequate school supplies) Confiscate all the guns like Australia and Britain did (in MAGA America? Sure, like that is going to happen) 

Being a pick and choose, middle of the road moderate/independent, free thinker, I really don't fit anywhere (least of all my own home but that is another story for another day) Here is a link to a (imo) balanced article that discusses ways to move the needle without employing an either/or, all or nothing mentality. There really are some common sense bipartisan measures we can enact that will potentially move the needle in the right direction. 5 things America can do today to reduce gun deaths

Shep Smith is one of the few on Fox News whose head is not buried shoulder deep in partisan sand bullshit. In one segment of his show the day after the shooting he listed the 25 fatal school shootings since Columbine. He pointed out that this does not happen other countries. In another segment he made a plea for the United States to come together, put partisanship aside...and gather our best and brightest to figure this out.

Of course, this would be more feasible if the NRA did not consistently block research by purchasing politicians who remove funding into the why's and how's of gun violence (murders and suicides) 

Check out his video here. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Pardon for Sheriff Joe....

Pardon for Sheriff Joe....
Heading out to the grocery store before they get busy but I just wanted to post this link to a liberal site with an inflammatory click bait type headline that details (and provides links to) the atrocities committed by Joe Arpaio. Yes, this is a left leaning site. Far left. I am posting the link because it backs up its claims with links to other sites (some left, some right, some in the middle) If you want to see what has been said about him over the years....I encourage you to check out this article AND follow the links. For those who are all for these tough punishments because "jail is supposed to be punishment" bear in mind that some of these people who were killed or abused....tortured is not too strong of a word....were innocent. The only thing some of them were guilty of is being Hispanic on Sheriff Joe's turf. 

Here is another link...to an article that claims neither side of the debate is working off of facts. It confirms that Arpaio is indeed a despicable human being but that the law he violated was an over reach on the part of the judge who issued it.

And while the letter of the pardon may be legal...the spirit of the pardon is nothing more than a head nod from Trump to his base of supporters...among whom Joe Arpaio was one of the most fervent.  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Trump - in full "wink-wink-wink" mode?

So Donald Trump finally got around to putting a face with a name and called out racists and white supremacists for the weekend's events. It certainly didn't convince the prominent white supremacist, Richard Spencer, who called the statement kumbaya nonsense that only a dumb person would take seriously. I saw a FB meme that compared the enthusiasm of Trump's denouncement to that of a hostage forced to read a statement prepared by his captors. His heart clearly was not in it. 

Check out this Business Insider article that talks about Richard Spencer and his view of the president. Although he does not consider Trump Alt Right, he does consider him the first true nationalist in his lifetime. Well, there you go. 

And please watch this short, sobering video...earmarked especially for those (including Trump himself) who claim that Trump did not do anything to incite this kind of violence. I call bullshit on that claim. 

And finally, here is a link to a Vox artricle...definitely worth reading. One of my favorite comments from the article quotes an "Alt Right" Trump supporter:

“Our Glorious Leader and ULTIMATE SAVIOR has gone full-wink-wink-wink to his most aggressive supporters.”

Even they don't believe his denouncements....

Monday, August 14, 2017

Silence equals Complicity

It is not okay…NOT OKAY….for Americans wearing armbands adorned with the Nazi swastikas to be parading around the streets of America. Doesn’t this go without saying. I saw a cartoon that proclaimed that truth…and then mentioned…an actual war was fought over this…remember?

And along with the mayor of Charlottesville, I proclaim that a line runs directly from the race riot we witnessed to the White House and Donald Trump. He may not have placed the rifles in the hands of the militias who attended…and he may not have lit their tiki torches…and he may not have slipped the bands with the Nazi Swastika onto the arms of those willing…no proud…to wear them... but his rhetoric, his platform, his agenda and his refusal to denounce these hate groups led to what we saw in Charlottesville this weekend.

He is their enabler. And if he doesn’t want to claim that honor or be associated with their agenda then he needs to speak out loud and clear. Because they are wearing his hats, claim they are fulfilling the Trump agenda and getting a little pissy because of the lukewarm rebuke he did manage to get out.

Others took it as endorsement. The Daily Stormer...yes, that same disgusting website that called Heather Heyer a fat slut...too fat to outrun the car that killed her had this to say:

"He didn't attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. He said that we need to study why people are so angry, and implied that there was hate ... on both sides! So he implied the antifa [anti-fascists] are haters. There was virtually no counter-signaling of us at all. He said he loves us all. Also refused to answer a question about White Nationalists supporting him. No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him." 

I can't link to the Daily Stormer because, thankfully, Go Daddy refused to host the site any longer and they could not find any other takers (at least at this point)

Yes, I denounce violence on both sides…left or right/black or white/liberal or conservative…but this racist stuff runs deep and to the bone in our country. Sixtyish years ago, Emmett Till's eyes were gouged out and he was lynched for flirting with a white woman (which he didn’t do) or when three men were murdered because they were actively helping blacks register to vote. There were separate bathrooms, separate water fountains, interracial marriage was illegal and many blacks were lynched for being too uppity.

Martin Luther King and his followers marched in my lifetime. I am old enough to remember. It wasn’t all that long ago. And while many of us changed with the times…evolved…embraced the equality of all humans….others stayed rooted in the pre-civil rights days. The hate and prejudice festering in their hearts. To me this is undeniable.

I think Trump covertly courted the white supremacist vote so he does not want to offend them. I think he shares many of their values and beliefs so he does not want to denounce them. Could I be wrong how “all in” he is with white supremacists? Sure. But those who deny that the present administration is not bringing that festering hatred to the surface are just not taking a good clear “look-see.” With its self-proclaimed Alt Right advisers like Steve Bannon and the robotic Steven Miller…and others of that ilk,haters have been emboldened by Trump's presidency. They don’t have to hide their hatefulness or bigotry for fear of the consequences. They are not holding back…and what we saw in Charlottesville this weekend couldn't make it any clearer.