Tag Archives: politics

Worldview: The word which has empowered propaganda machines of the left and right

Worldview (n.) – a comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world especially from a specific standpoint. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

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Nothing truer than this.

Worldview is everything in political belief, whether or not we wish to admit it. What dictates beliefs from an ideological standpoint varies widely from person to person. The extremes of both sides of the ideological aisles often fail to see, or choose to be blind to, this fact. What is more bothersome is that many of the things which we hold as truths, as Obi-Wan Kenobi once observed with such eloquence, depends entirely on our point of view or, to use a more modern vernacular, our worldview.

This definitely affects how news and information is approached and received. The notion of “fake news” is not a new concept; President Theodore Roosevelt spoke of reporters who infiltrated sweatshops in America’s Northeast and Midwest in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s as “muckrakers.” To him, many of these reporters were simply attempting to sensationalize the conditions, such as those described in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, in an attempt to advance an agenda. Granted, this was largely the case and did achieve historic changes which led to modern health and safety rules in the workplace, but Roosevelt and, more to the point, industrialists directly affected by the changes caused by said articles, regarded these journalists as self-serving do-gooders whose publishers where more concerned about selling newspapers than actually looking out for the national interest. It is very familiar song.

While the journalists of that time were unjustly regarded as parasites, today’s media has created much of its own perception issues, but those problems have also been exacerbated by the proliferation of the sources which cater to one particular worldview. Websites such as RedState, Huffington Post, NewsMax, and Mother Jones were all established with one purpose – activist journalism, which takes legitimate information and manipulates it to advance an agenda, be it conservative or liberal. These websites have become popular, and even trusted, because traditional legacy sources such as network news and periodicals such as Time, Newsweek and USA Today lost sight of their primary mission – to inform the public. Instead, traditional information sources have focused more on the viewpoints of individual writers and “anchors” to “sell the story,” rather than letting the story sell itself.

A great example would be to compare the Trump Administration to the Nixon Administration in terms of media coverage. Today’s media is focused on “pouncing;” attacking what the President does with Twitter, or what his underlings say in press conferences, and picking it apart. The media of the Nixon era was more concerned with receiving information as it was disseminated, analyzing it, and finding inconsistencies. While it was not entirely investigative journalism, the reporters of Nixon’s day focused more on the facts and allowed that administration to create its own worst nightmare; impeachable offenses revealed through a combination of individual hubris and collective administration incompetence. For the Nixon White House, the gaffes of ego committed by the cabal led by both Nixon himself and advisors, such G. Gordon Liddy, did more damage to that President than any newspaper editorial ever could. For Trump’s Administration, the media now appears to be willing patsies in a war of misinformation and blatant ego inflation. Rather than reporting on inconsistencies and obvious conflicts of interests, the media’s obsession with the President’s twitter feed and what his children do in their off hours appears to be stuff of political and editorial vendettas, as opposed to the work of truth-seeking reporters.

During operation Desert Storm in 1992, the late Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf pulled one of the great distraction moves in modern warfare. He sent coalition forces to the Kuwait border in such numbers to keep the late Saddam Hussein’s forces occupied and obsessed with stopping a direct invasion and then, in a bold move, launched a massive offensive to west of Kuwait, destroying the Iraqi Army’s rear lines. Much of Trump’s campaign and administration’s public relations moves appear to be the same; focus media and public attention away from the more pressing issues of the day by using marketing buzzwords and research to distract the public and media, then working to do things his way without public scrutiny. This sort of distraction is a classic tactic in business – use distraction in negotiations to focus attention on one hot-button issue in order to gain larger concessions on broader matters, and his most vocal, rabid supporters are defending him at every single turn, no matter how questionable his statements on these matters. A good question is why are these voters buying into it, but a better question is how is Trump pulling it off?

The answer is simple; Trump is playing to the fears of his base’s worldview.

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Former Fox host Glenn Beck, who became famous for his conspiracy chalkboards, started his conservative talk career at WFLA-AM in Tampa in 1998.

Many Trump voters share a similar, if not identical, worldview; a collective group of nations, largely Muslim, which seek to destroy the United States by any means necessary. While several of these nations exist, most lack the will or ability to strike even indirectly. In addition, they feel that corporate America is part of a globalist cabal which seeks to destroy the American-Western way of life. Some of these worldviews also put white Anglo-Saxon protestants (so called “WASPs”) at the top of the world pyramid of authority. Others espouse the worldview that Western culture is far superior to any others on Earth – former radio host and libertarian standard-bearer Neal Boortz once famously admitted he was not a racist but a “culturalist,” stating he did believe that Western civilization was superior to all others on Earth and must retain its eminence, and TheBlaze founder Glenn Beck was pulled from Fox News when even the heads of the largely conservative-oriented news network got the jitters over Beck’s increasingly conspiratorial claims on his own short-lived TV program.

While these worldviews are often based in personal experience, they can also be based in a facade of nationalism designed to profit from the fears and emotions of those who seek validation of their beliefs and views. It is these individuals, such as conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones and Breitbart head/Trump advisor Scott Bannon, who are the greatest purveyors of convincing misinformation. In Bannon’s case, a reasonable individual can deduce one reason for his practices – packaging propaganda in a veneer of factual data to present in such a way that it’s accepted because it matches the accepted views of those who voted for Trump in the first place and, therefore, emboldens the President to behave in a manner which is to the advantage of both Bannon and those of his ilk.

To many, the media is not reliable because it was the media itself who bought into the notion of not only informing the public, but influencing it to act in accordance with a narrative. Individuals such as CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Nancy Grace, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews, and even Fox News’ newest crop of hosts are not journalists in the true sense of the world, but commentators using the facts given by genuine reporters to advance an agenda. This is reminiscent of another individual who has used legitimate reporting as a means to advance an agenda – The 700 Club’s Pat Robertson. The controversial conservative minister’s Christian Broadcasting Network, though a reasonably ethical operation on its own, allows its facts to be manipulated for Robertson’s own purposes, mainly fundraising. For this reason, CBN suffers from a heavy dose of “guilt by association,” and is regarded as a less-than-credible outlet for information.

Another example of worldview issues could be found on the other end of the spectrum, BBC News. For years, Britain’s government-owned network was regarded as a go-to source for information from around the world, with strong ethics and a high standard of quality and accuracy. As time went on, BBC’s own anchors became more and more focused on news which portrayed the United States in a less-than-flattering way and, for that reason, aided far-right media types in a campaign to paint the mainstream media as liberal elitists. Unfortunately, this image was only entrenched further when a scandal broke within the BBC’s ranks exposing editorial bias being encouraged and dissent being quashed by network bosses. Those with a worldview of journalists being nosy crusaders only concerned with their career found their views confirmed, and this only served to undermine the media and enhance the position of ideologically-oriented websites which take legitimate information and spin it to suit their needs.

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MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, known for her fiery ultra-left views, is considered part of why the network’s ratings continue to languish far behind CNN and Fox News.

So how can we separate the good from the bad, the reliable from the speculative. Critical thinking comes into play here. If something doesn’t an instinctual “smell test,” chances are it is either false or manipulated. Stories about Trump which seem too crazy to be truth tend to be so, just as stories about former President Obama also lean that way. Both sides have websites which focus on fomenting resistance though inflammatory news articles, and both are extremely adept at pointing fingers at the other side while denying stories which they themselves plant. One way to determine the veracity of story is to know the backgrounds of the writers. When one sees the words “activists,” or “political expert” or “left” or “right” in their bio, it is a fairly safe bet that writer has the interests of their cause, not the reader, at heart.

While some ideologically oriented websites have quality informational articles, double checking the information though other mainstream sources is always advised. If even a sliver of the information is accurate, it could point to a much greater situation. Nevertheless, worldview contributes to how we view news, whether we want to admit it or not.

A word about why American politics are so f—-d up.

Warning: this post may be offensive to everyone on earth. Better to close it now and get it over with.
Since the inauguration of Donald Trump as President, protests and riots have swept across the nation.  The new President has signed executive order after executive order, and the country is more polarized than ever.  The more I look at things, the more I can see the origins of a lot of these issues and it comes down to a saying by the late pro football coach Vince Lombardi:

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

Somewhere along the way, both the left and the right decided that their way was the not only the right way, but the only way to run things.  Instead of being open to new ideas and practicing moderation, extremism took root, aided by the absolutism made fertile by talk radio hosts, many of whom have turned out to be, themselves, outright hypocrites.  Both left and right pointed the finger at each other, decrying the other’s way as “evil” and “corrupt,” tossing about buzzwords like “income redistribution,” “globalism,” “market freedom” and “indoctrination.”

In the end, both sides are guilty of fomenting national discord for the sake of their own ambitions and avarice.  Both extremes are akin to fans of opposing teams in the Super Bowl who use the exact same offensive and defensive strategies.  The only differences are the cities represented, team colors and the one massive variable:  personalities.

This year’s Super Bowl is a great example. New England’s Tom Brady is a person who draws absolute reactions.  You either love him or you hate him.  You either admire his guile for exploiting lax rules enforcement with “deflategate,” or he is a cheater.  For Atlanta, you either love Matt Ryan for his stoicness in games and his ability to heave the ball downfield with stunning accuracy, or you hate him for his occasional post game showboating and arrogance or the demands of owner Arthur Blank.  Long story short, team affiliation and cults of personalities determine the fan base.

America’s political landscape is much the same way anymore.  It’s no longer about “what’s right for America.”  Rather, many citizens have become so fed up with the demands of either side, their rhetoric, and the approach to life their supporters take, the “win at all costs” attitude has permeated American politics.  You either love Donald Trump and what he espouses, or you loved Hillary Clinton.  Anyone who isn’t on the side of an extreme allegiance is a gutless moderate, or an independent who is immediately picked apart for which side of the ideological aisle they most identify with, regardless of if their heart is good.

We are no longer a nation which compromises for the good of all; we are a country obsessed with winning and being “right,” even if being right means may the good of the nation be damned, so long as our side prevails.  We no longer see shades of gray, or the empty spaces in between the argument where facts get lost in the name of victory.  It is now black and white terms:  good and evil, order and chaos, life and death, left and right….and zero in between allowed.

Both sides are guilty on this one.  The far right has pushed gun rights, the far left gun restriction.  The far right pushes free market and free will as the answer to everything, while the far left pushes government as the solution.  Both sides point the finger at each other when something goes wrong.  A great idea is only a great idea of our side came up with it.  If one side comes up with a truly great idea, the other side will do everything they can to stop it, and vice versa.  Why?  Because it wasn’t their idea. They can’t take credit, so they want no part of it.

This is where our nation has been taken. Compromise is death.  Bipartisanship is evil.  The left will destroy the rights of all.  The right will destroy the rights of all.  They are both the same, but they are different.  The left wants people to be lifted up, but so does the right.  The only difference is the means it happens and who at the very top benefits.  It’s old money family rivalries on a global scale.  The same monster with two heads and the same master manipulating both heads, in this case the people are the brains inside the heads, to fight each other.

But why?

Did it not occur to anyone here that if a world leader with access to nuclear weapons gets into a pissing match with another world leader with nuclear weapons in this age of “pride before prudence,” things could end VERY VERY BADLY? This is not the old Cold War era where world leaders understood the concept of mutual assured destruction. In this era where all that matters is winning, regardless of the cost, MAD isn’t really so crazy anymore.  It’s considered “acceptable risk.”

That said, here’s something think about:  all the protests and guns on earth won’t mean shit if there’s nothing left to protest or no one to kill. Yes, people are angry at each other and there are powerful people making a ton of money off pitting us against each other, but do you really think any of them give a damn about YOU when the mushroom clouds start rising? They already planned for this years ago.  At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, anyone who thinks those in position of true power haven’t found some way to gain from a world atomic holocaust are sadly mistaken.  They get to rebuild the world, only the way they see fit.

We can stop all this madness, but we need to focus on what we see happening, not the rhetoric being said or the memes being posted. Focus on what’s real instead of what is imagined. We still have a judicial system and civilian control of our military. I know people are saying we need to strike “just in case.” What is that going to accomplish? To all of you wanting a civil war to settle it all, do you really think that dying for SOMEONE ELSE’S CHECKBOOK is more important than the ideals espoused in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence, because I guarantee you that most of your radio and television pundits and commentators, liberal or conservative, couldn’t remember the Bill of Rights, much less which state first ratified the constitution.  They CAN, however, remember their bank account number and safe combination, easily.

Those want to die, or are okay with friends and loved ones dying, to impose their worldview of America on everyone else, are EXACTLY the sort of danger George Washington spoke of in his farewell address. We need to take a long hard look in the mirror as a nation, stop worrying about who is offended by who said what and what injustice was committed by people long dead, and instead focus on the injustices being committed right now, against us by each other. We need to look at our current immigrants who may not have gotten here legally, but are law abiding otherwise and a great source of tax revenue.  We need to look at our homeless and see how much of it is true laziness and how much of it is actually mental illness which, once treated effectively, can unlock the minds of potential geniuses.  We need to feed our hungry children so they can feel compassion and grow into compassionate adult instead of bitter children in adult bodies vying for the power they never knew in youth.  We need to help our veterans who our leaders have come to view as similar to sanitary napkins; something to absorb political blood in photo ops and rituals, but disposed of once they’ve outlived their usefulness.  We need to address the reality that racial tensions exist not so much as the result of what happened over a century ago, but the mistrust formed between races because of old fears turned into old wives tales, which have in turn become cultural norms.
Finally we need to remember and accept that assimilation does not mean elimination.  A people can become law abiding productive citizens without being forced to abandon their cultures and customs.  Immigrants should have to learn our language, history and abide by our laws but should not be required to abandon their heritage and culture in their own homes.  

Yes, there will always be those who wish to harm us, but we should never do the work for them, and our current political climate is doing just that.  We are truly doing our enemies’ dirty work.  We can, we must, learn to listen to the better angels of our nature.  That is what a “more perfect union” is about, after all.

FRIENDSHIPS:  Healthy, and unhealthy things which end them

If only all friendships could be this strong

One of the hardest lessons we ever learn is that not every friend we regard as “close” or “best” will be there for us through everything.  You can wish upon a star, mash bloody fingertips together, and pinky swear all you want, the fact is people change, and that means friendships evolve or end.  Usually it is the latter.

There are a ton of theories and hierarchies about friendships and relationships, all of them based in some sort of study.  Here are just some observations of my study of the greatest teacher of all, life.

Most friends are seasonal:  Yes, some friendships can be lifelong, but most friendships only last a short amount of time.  Everything from professional associations to changing tastes can affect a friendship.  People often drift apart as time goes on, and it’s a natural rhythm, just like a season’s change.  Let them be them and you be you.

Money does end friendships:  Let’s be honest – money can and does affect friendships.   Those of means can do things and meet people others can’t.  They often have very different world views and when friends who started out the same financially end up in diametrically different positions, the relationship is often strained.  Resentment can and does often take root and, despite the best efforts friends often make, even the strongest relationships have failed when others plant the dread “why is he/she your friend? He’s not like us” seed in our minds.  The scene in Pretty in Pink where the one rich boy says to the other about Molly Ringwald’s character “she’s not from our world” is, sadly, quite accurate in many cases.

Politics often end friendships, too:  If there is anything this recent election cycle has proven, it’s that politics can fracture and end even the best friendships.   No amount of “besties” could save many relationships affected by vehemently oppositional opinions.  Liberals and conservatives often like to associate with like-minded folks and, as much as this is a detriment to our society as a whole, it is a reality which has destroyed many a good friendship.  In addition, politics often bring out the worst traits and prejudices in people, which also end friendships.

Romantic relationships are nasty things:  A boyfriend or girlfriend can end a relationship with a close friend faster than almost anything.  When you hear them whisper or say directly to you how they don’t like you, that’s a signal you’re on borrowed time.  Your friendship may reboot later but, chances are, with a massive loss of trust and vastly changed circumstances.

Unrequited feelings:  Well, this is a big one.  There are a lot of people who decry the “friend zone”, but it is based in a sound, common sense concept.  Some friendships develop into romantic relationships which are extremely healthy while others, not so much.  In same cases, there is an attraction in both sides but, for whatever reason, one of the friends is either afraid to pursue or wishes things to stay “status quo” because they are afraid to lose the friendship.  It’s time for a reality check:  a friendship with admitted romantic, unrequited feelings on one side are nearly impossible to maintain.  The emotional pain and damage caused can last for years and talking about other relationships only causes further trauma.  It is, actually, better to end the friendship than it is to keep it dragging along despite the wishes of either side.  This is the one instance where an ending of the friendship is usually in everyone’s best interest.  It’s all about growth, and one person cannot grow when they are pining for the other with no hope of anything in the future.  It is truly unfair to the one who has the feelings and if the one who doesn’t can’t see that, there’s even more profound issues which need to be addressed.

May your friendships all be rich and joyful and may you all enjoy a wonderful happy life.  Remember this one quote:  if you aren’t losing friends, you aren’t growing as a person.

Fifteen things men need to start doing right now.

Well fellas, I’m about to make fifteen statements I’m sure will piss off “traditional men” or “men who pee standing up.”  This is a list of things we, as a gender, really need to start doing today and if we can’t figure out why, then we are our own worst enemy now. 

Face it, the “gender war” is a lost cause.  The reason we can’t win is because of our own stupidity.  Rather than actually thinking with our hearts and heads simultaneously, we chose to think with our gonads.  That never ends well.  So here we go, with fifteen things we men need to start doing right this very second:

  1. Quit bullying each other based on whether we are “real men.”  For Christ’s sake, last I checked, a “real man” is as subjective as political ideology.  There is no real absolute except basic decency to others. 
  2. Accept there is a gender pay gap and figure out where and why it exists.  Look if we don’t set the damn example, nobody else will do it.
  3. Quit saying “whatever” during an argument with a woman and walking away.  Our strength is supposedly poise:  let’s show it, dammit!
  4. Get the hell away from “crazy” women (or men), asap!  News flash:  if there’s nobody interested in their behavior, they have to eventually look in the mirror and say “maybe it really is me,” right?  Well, we can get away anyway.
  5. Quit justifying every insult of a peer on “moral” grounds.  If you claim to be a Christian, remember Christs prime commandment; love your neighbor as you would love me.  Everyone else, Golden Rule applies.
  6. Stop expecting anyone to “complete” us.  It won’t happen.
  7. Focus on the good things we do in this world.  There are enough stereotypes; let’s actually tell the stereotype creators where they can go.
  8. Quit denying “rape culture” exists.  Instead, listen for once and do nothing but listen.  More important, remember what was said and use it to make you better.  If you are already a “good guy,” keep being good, but call out those who hurt others.
  9. Don’t be afraid to tell a woman when she’s wrong.  Sorry ladies, you’re just as wrong as we are.  We just never figured out how to tell you “you’re wrong and you know it” to your face in a civil manner.
  10. Accept that in most cases, we will be portrayed as pigs and lying sacks of crap.  We haven’t helped our cause. But take some comfort in knowing the many of the very same people who scream that often do the exact same thing.
  11. Stop thinking life’s not fair.  Life is what you make it.  Sometimes you lose for a long time, then hit a crazy patch of winning. 
  12. Remember that losing isn’t bad unless it’s your freedom or your life. Otherwise, losing simply is.
  13. Stop blaming a woman (or another man) for rejection. If you made a mistake, correct it for next time.  If you didn’t, take the punch and move forward and accept it’ll hurt like hell sometimes.  Let karma handle the rest – the more class you show, the more you attract the person you want.
  14. Realize that some men will be stronger, faster, smarter, better looking, richer, or better in bed than you.  However it is almost impossible to find someone who is better than you at all those things put together.
  15. Finally, quit worrying about finding a mate.  The saying “let the game come to you” is applicable in everything in life.  The harder you try, the less it’ll happen.  Relax and unfocus yourself – our wildest dreams in life usually happen when we aren’t trying or stopped caring.

And yes I am expecting some screaming about this from both men and woman.  Fire away!

Penalties offset, replay the election

Football season is in full swing, the World Series is nearly the final gun, and our elections are almost decided.  With that extremely mixed metaphor out of the way, it’s time to pull out the most non feared weapon in my writing arsenal, the Political and Cultural Penalty Flags.

You’ll put your eye out! Oh wait, wrong blog!

Unsportsmanlike Conduct:  Donald Trump for claiming a system is rigged and fixed before those who rig it have a chance to rig it.  Loss of quiet time with Melania, automatic media scrunity.

Illegal Procedure:  Hillary Clinton for multiple email server infractions.  Half the distance to Weiner, loss of credibility. 

Holding:  President Obama for not taking numerous opportunities to thank good police officers for their work.  Loss of legacy.

Pass Interference:  Bill Clinton.  You do the math.  Ten grope penalty loss of flirting privileges.

Unnecessary Roughness:  North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple for his treatment of native lands with the Standing Rock situation.  Loss of respect and ton of bad karma.

Holding:  Media for refusing to allow third party candidates in the presidential debates.  Five rating point penalty, still in business.

Roughing the quarterback:  Congress for overriding a veto.  Five seat penalty, automatic “Who cares?”

Intentional grounding:  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for the whole “BridgeGate” mess.  Loss of respect from voters.  Automatic end of career.

Offensive pass interference:  Joe Biden for saying “oh GOD” about Anthony Weiner during a CNN interview.  Half the distance to the end of his term, fourth down.

Illegal formation:  Debbie Wasserman-Schultz for her role in Bernie Sanders defeat in the primary.  Donald Trumps questionable charities and donations to Florida attorney general Pam Bondi.  Penalties offset, replay the bonehead moves.

Booth reviews:

  • Election machine issues in multiple states.
  • Dakota pipeline treaty violations.
  • Obamas legacy.
  • Hillary Clintons email server.

Illegal procedure:  Vladimir Putin for talking about our election.  Ten warhead penalty, loss of next guerilla war.

Face mask:  Anyone wearing a Suicide Squad or Deadpool costume this year.  Loss of action, turnover on downs.

Too many men on the field:  Game of Thrones.  Walking Dead.  Deadpool. Oh wait, that’s too many LIVE men on the field.

Encroachment:  This blog for ripping off too much of Dave Barry’s style.  By rule, this post is over.