The peddlers of fear and outrage

Trash your TV

Two things took place during my hospital visits with my Dad this week. One was becoming captivated with an unlikely Trump voter. The other was gaining some insight into how he got that way.

I visited my Dad when the nightly news was on. Our local ABC affiliate, WTVD, was ticking through its top stories from around the country. Dad soon changed the channel and offhandedly stated his reasoning.

It was all about crime. Robberies, murders, carjackings, shootings. For some reason, our local affiliate thought it important to alarm us with news of misfortunes that took place hundreds, or in some cases, thousands of miles away, far from any possibility of them affecting us.

Why was the news doing this? Was it just laziness, being that chasing a cop or an ambulance is an easy way to a story? If there was airtime to fill, why weren’t there more local stories to fill it? Why fill viewers’ heads with stories that have no practical value?

Unless the point is to … stoke fear?

I’d been thinking lately that many Trump voters seem to be under some sort of spell. That’s one way I can account for the cognitive dissonance. Why do these folks seem so fearful all the time, thinking the boogeyman is at their door?

The answer was staring me in the face. It’s the television coverage.
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Bernie bashers, let it go

With yesterday’s announcement of the retirement of Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy, some Hillary Clinton supporters are trotting out the tired old blame game, saying this is the fault of voters who thought Hillary wasn’t progressive enough. Bernie Sanders supporters, in other words.

These people blaming Bernie can kindly fuck right off.

Clinton was a hugely flawed candidate. She managed to lose the biggest shoo-in election in history. Aside than that, she’s a big girl who is fully capable of accepting responsibility for her own loss. Indeed, accountability is one of the key parts of the job of being President. To point fingers anywhere else is shirking responsibility. As the great Democrat Harry S. Truman said, as President the buck stops here.

As this week’s encounter with a Trump supporter showed me, the Democratic Party has a lot of work to do to bridge the gap between it and working voters. Trump offers us a silver-platter opportunity but we will absolutely fuck this up if we continue to highlight differences in our own party rather than those in the opposition’s party.

Don’t be a fool like Trump. Let go of the last election. The only one that ever matters is the next one.

The working-class votes that got away

I was in the hospital today for my dad’s lung surgery where I rode the elevator with a guy wearing a Trump hat. He was elderly and skinny as a rail, probably weighing not much more than a hundred pounds, and wore coveralls that swallowed him up. In his hand was a beat-up canvas bag holding the oxygen tank that fed the tube on his face. The guy looked like he didn’t have two nickels to rub together, like he’d had a hard life working hard somewhere – maybe as a farmer.

After he stepped off the elevator I couldn’t help but wonder what would make a guy like this, seemingly a proud working man, think that he had more in common with a thieving con artist like Trump than with anyone the Democratic Party had offered up.

If ever there was a sign of just how broken the Democratic Party is, this was it.

Pompeo says China incident is ‘entirely consistent’ with Cuba ‘sonic attacks’ – CNN

Sonic attacks on American diplomats continue, this time in China.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that an incident involving a US government employee stationed in China who reported “abnormal sensations of sound and pressure” suggesting a mild brain injury has medical indications that are “very similar” and “entirely consistent” to those experienced by American diplomats posted in Havana.

US officials have issued a health alert in China following the incident. Additionally, the US State Department is looking into whether the incident is similar to what happened in Cuba in 2016 and 2017, a US diplomatic official told CNN, which the US government characterized as a “sonic attack.” That incident led to a reduction in staffing at the US Embassy in Havana.

Source: Pompeo says China incident is ‘entirely consistent’ with Cuba ‘sonic attacks’ – CNN

It’s Time For A New Maritime Strategy – U.S. Naval Institute Blog

In the current environment, the U.S. military is stretched too thin and lacks the strategic purpose and resources to effectively employ this strategy. There is no guiding principle for the employment of naval force and yet the Navy continues to be used as an active tool of diplomacy in an era without strategic priorities. As globalization continues to take hold but the U.S. begins to focus inward, the role of the Navy must be better defined. In April of 1991, as the U.S. faced a period of unchallenged superiority with the demise of the Soviet Union, then CNO Admiral Frank Kelso made the following statement in Proceedings:

We must shift the objective of our “National Security Strategy” from containing the Soviet Union to maintaining global stability. Our evolving strategy must focus on regional contingencies in trouble spots wherever our national interests are involved.

Source: U.S. Naval Institute Blog

Four Bad Habits to Avoid at City Council Meetings – CitiesSpeak

This is a great lesson on how some common parliamentary procedures are frequently misused.

There are a number of “urban myths” about Robert’s Rules of Order that can get in the way of democratic process for your council. If your municipality, county council, or special district avoids these bad habits, congratulations! If these errors happen at your meetings, however, you might want to bring them to the attention of your colleagues to straighten them out – in a pleasant way, of course.

Source: Four Bad Habits to Avoid at City Council Meetings – CitiesSpeak

Taking Children from Their Parents Is a Form of State Terror | The New Yorker

A few hours after Putin took his fourth oath of office, in Moscow, Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed a law-enforcement conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. He pledged to separate families that are detained crossing the Mexico-U.S. border. “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you,” Sessions said. The Attorney General did not appear to be unveiling a new policy so much as amplifying a practice that has been adopted by the Trump Administration, which has been separating parents who are in immigration detention from their children. The Times reported in December that the federal government was considering a policy of separating families in order to discourage asylum seekers from entering. By that time, nonprofit groups were already raising the alarm about the practice, which they said had affected a number of families. In March, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the hundreds of families that had been separated when they entered the country with the intention of seeking asylum.

The practice, and Sessions’s speech, are explicitly intended as messages to parents who may consider seeking asylum in the United States. The American government has unleashed terror on immigrants, and in doing so has naturally reached for the most effective tools.

Source: Taking Children from Their Parents Is a Form of State Terror | The New Yorker