Note to politicians (and so-called news people) – STOP THE NAME CALLING AND LABELING

The United States and the world have a lot of problems that need elected officials to address. The problems are multi-faceted in causes, so they require holistic thinking, educated and civil discussion and multi-faceted solutions. Our problems are hard enough to solve when we focus on the facts and issues, but nigh impossible when we listen to name calling and labeling as a substitute for discourse.

So, politicians, here is a simple piece of advice. If you cannot understand the first paragraph, then what you need to do is please resign. We don’t need people who decide not to add value and name call opponents. That is not civil discourse, that is childish playground talk. If you cannot add value with your commentary, please keep your thoughts to yourself. At least this citizen will not be listening to you, nor should others. That includes all politicians, not just the ones who disagree with your positions. It also includes those who are berating Tim Scott calling him “Uncle Tom” because he has the temerity to be a Black Republican.

The same goes with opinion hosts who are disguised as news people, but are really entertainers. Note, that is not my word, as Fox News decided to defend one its hosts who is being sued for defamation by saying his show should not be taken seriously as a news show, as it is an entertainment show. To repeat, Fox News said one of its night time hosts is an entertainer, so his opinions should be taken less seriously.

My advice to people who watch the news or read it online, please consider the source. Do they print errata notices when they get it wrong? Is it an opinion host or a newscaster saying or writing the news? Or is it one of those paid advertisements spread between the news, hoping you do not see the word AD on it? Is it a Facebook or Instagram friend who likes to share evocative videos just to get a rise out of folks?

For democracies to work, we must have a free and read press. Sadly, there are some who wish to taint all news as bad or fake, so they can basically do whatever they want. That is what we must guard against, especially after January 6. Civil discourse is a must. If our so-called leaders and talk show hosts cannot be such, then it falls on us to show them the way. Our leaders should be among our better angels, not our worse demons.

My browser seems like a gossip column with the tribal BS – where is the news?

With all of the tribal BS going on, the folks who are supposed to report on the news seem to spend a lot of time correcting others. It has grown commonplace for very biased sources to make things up and watch the more legitimate news sources report on the lack of veracity of the biased source. To be honest,, news reports of the lack of veracity of some opinion hosts is not really news to me.

It should be noted this is all by design, as it gets people talking about nothing important overlooking the fact that things are not getting done. The other unfortunate objective is to discredit the whole news process. If sources with lots of followers lie often, and more reputable news sources get caught in a lie, it defames the news credibility. We just witnessed almost six years of a former candidate and president routinely claim that all negative news about him was “fake news.” Just because he said it was fake, did not necessarily mean it was not true.

But, this also impacts other politicians. As a group, politicians are not known for their truthfulness. And, some are well known for not being consistently truthful. This former candidate called an opponent “Lyin’ Ted” and was not far from the truth, yet he failed to look in the mirror when he made the accusation. Sadly, if a politican says something, check other sources. The body politic has earned this requirement.

So, if I see things in my browser that are he said/ she said stuff, I pass. Nowadays, if I see a picture of the former president who is not known for his veracity, I pass. The same goes for certain opinion hosts and politicians, as their words are usually less than truthful, so I pass.

The Wednesday Wanderer

In all fairness to Dion who sang “The Wanderer” back in 1961, this wanderer is not the womanizing man defined therein, but someone whose thoughts are wandering about. It is not unusual for some great tunes to be about not desirable folks (think “Every breath you take” by The Police).

So, let me play gadfly and wander around with a few thoughts.

I have seen graphic data which reveals vaccines are making a huge difference in cutting the rate of COVID-19 infections. The news by President Biden should be well received, but we also need to help places like India whose population is four times that of the US and too many live too close together, increasing exposure.

Speaking of vaccines, I get my second one on Saturday and my wife and son will be finishing theirs later in May. The only side effects have been with my wife, who was extra tired and a little nauseous. These are small prices to pay to be safe. It is only your life and that of your family. As my Air Force veteran brother-in-law noted, it is not like you are being asked to storm a beach at Normandy.

I did notice there is one night time opinion host, whose veracity is consistently in question, advising his viewers to go up to children who are wearing masks and tell them they will call the police on their parents. Really? This is malfeasance in my view, as someone will get hurt, either the revved up person or the target of the revved up person. It is similar to the former president being responsible for inciting an insurrection that ended up with seven people dead and over 400 charged with a crime all because his fragile ego could not handle losing.

I remain dismayed how politicians can avoid working together so as not to be seen working together as that will not sit well with the base. Really? You will avoid solving problems, which people want you to do, because it will look bad to your tribe? Let me be frank – get off your duff and go make it happen. Be a leader. I do not care who gets more credit, please do something and stop the posturing.

In this vein, I have said for four years, the previous president had a golden opportunity to push through a needed infrastructure bill. He campaigned on it and Democrats were ready to discuss it.. Plus he had a majority in both chambers. He could have set sails on his presidency with a bipartisan bill out of the gate and it could have changed the course of his presidency. Yet, he chose to try to take something away from people as his first mission all because it was nicknamed for his predecessor – Obamacare. After months of god-awful legislation and process, that effort was defeated. And, that failure better defined his presidency.

That is all for now. Let me know your thoughs. They call me the wanderer, the wanderer..

Negative news has a larger echo than positive news

We should remind ourselves that bad news has a larger echo than good news. This is why good news articles and social media posts are so needed. News agencies publish “conflict” as it sells better. The doctor who does things well 19 times out of 20 is not newsworthy, until he messes up that one time. The best offensive tackle is not newsworthy unless he is penalized or his opponent gets by him to the quarterback.

No question, division exists and civility is lacking to too many in discourse. But, what we don’t see and hear are the countless folks who are living their lives and getting along. Most people do not pay attention to the blathering untruths of people named Carlson, Hannity, Ingraham, et al. We are too busy paying attention to our own lives.

If we do watch news, it is more often entertainment or sports news or something someone shared on social media that was more provocative than accurate. In fact, much of what finds may way into my browser could qualify as gossip – some one reacting to the inanity said by an opinion host who is just trying to sell ratings. My reaction before I pass on reading it is “Oh, (insert name) must have said something stupid again.” Next.

Some have prophesized this will cause our extinction. It does threaten our democracy, but will likely not cause our extinction. On that front, what we need to worry about is too many people chasing too few water and food resources. So, before we are pronounced extinct, please note it is not as bad as portrayed, but it still needs to be a lot better. Our real problems are hard enough without some opinion host masquerading as a news person making up inane things. My advice is to ignore blather and check other sources.

Mid-week musings

Ever the news junkie, I have seriously dialed back my news intake. It has made my life much easier, as I need not worry as much about who said what about whom. Mind you, those stories seep in as I see my browser headlines, but knowing the lack of veracity of many of those reporting or being reported on, I need not bother reading what the latest gossip is. And, truth be told, a lot of what comes out of some mouths or fingers is gossip.

I did see where former Republican president George W. Bush has joined former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner in lamenting the nationalistic and untruthful bents of their party. Both are doing book tours, which give reporters the opportunity to ask questions about the overt inanity going on in their party. People may not recall that Boehner resigned as Speaker as he was tired of herding cats to get legislation passed. And, Bush has turned out to be a better artist than first envisioned, and is helping paint what American immigrants look like.

I am delighted Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd. It would have been a travesty of justice if he had not, since his crime was overt and recorded. Those who have made this issue tribal need to look at the footage and testimony to see how good a case was made. Also, we need elected leaders to avoid commenting on trials until they are finished. The best thing they can do is wish the jurors well with their jurisprudence. Their comments could be cited as undue jury influence if made before sequestering.

Speaking of veracity, I am long weary of politicians, spin doctors and opinion hosts masquerading as news people trying to re-write history, even very recent history to support their tribe.. I fully realize how easy it is to do with social media and US citizenry more keen on entertainment news. There is an conscious effort to sand away the former president’s role in the insurrection on January 6. This followed and is still following a conscious effort to say the election was fraudulent, when proof continues to be elusive.

If you are getting your news from an opinion host, my strong suggestion is to find another source. Many of these folks are mere entertainers telling you what you want to hear. It matters not if people with names like Carlson, Hannity, Maddow, Rivera, O’Donnell, Ingraham, etc. like or dislike something, as they are only sharing their opinion. And, some of opinions are less informed than their smugness conveys.

Likewise, if you are getting your news from legislators, that is unfortunately a dubious source, as well. .And, they brought it on themselves. The sad part is they don’t seem to care if caught in lie. The last president’s worst legacy is not his rampant untruthfulness, it is how he showed people to deflect scrutiny from his lies. If it is bad, it is “fake news.” One hundred years from now, when “fake news” is looked up, it should have a picture of the most recent former president in its definition.

So, take a deep breath. Stop watching entertainers tell you what to think and read and watch better sources of news. And, if a legislator says something, take it with a grain of salt. Better yet, confirm it with another source.

Email to Tucker Carlson

The following was posted on the websites for Tucker Carlson and Fox News after I read yet one more untruthful thing .

Mr. Carlson, as a former Republican and now independent voter, I must beseech you to arc your comments to the truth rather than the rhetoric you have been using. I do not care if people are more conservative or progressive than I am on various issues, but I do care when people working for a news organization and politicians do not even try to be factual to drum up votes or ratings.

My former party is condemning Republicans who speak the truth and rationalizing those who do not. We need the party to find its bearings and get their rudderless ship back on a better path. Conspiracies, lies and fear mongering are not conducive to good governance. The Democrats are not perfect, but they are at least trying to govern, whether you agree with them or not.

Let me be blunt

People are craving leadership. They will listen to anyone who appears to be one, only to find the person lacking. Just because a person is in a position of leadership, does not make them one. We have a few current events to draw from, so allow me to be blunt and state the obvious. It matters not your political party, as poor leadership can occur anywhere, anytime.

The easiest example is what the Queen of England failed to do. She truly blew a lay-up to be a leader missing an opportunity to educate. Her grandson’s wife was subjected to racist criticism from the press and in social media. The message could have been so simple and people would have respected her for saying something like the following.

“My fellow citizens we in the public eye are subject to criticism. That is more than fine as a free democracy should allow for such criticism, as long as it is civil and hopefully fact-based. Yet, the attacks on my grandson’s wife are beyond the pale. To use racist symbolism and name calling is highly inappropriate and not in keeping with the ideals of our nation. I do not condone such offensive language. The Duchess of Sussex is an important part of our Royal family and attacks on her are the same as attacks on me.”

Another key story involves New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He has two issues, one involving fudging numbers on nursing home COVID exposure and the other involving sexual misconduct. If found culpable on either, his resignation can be rightfully demanded. It matters not the party affiliation. When an incumbent dishonors the office he holds, action should be taken. That could range from censure to removal.

Which brings us to the former US president who incited an insurrection on another branch of government and continues to lie to this day about wide-scale election fraud which he cannot prove in court. He is the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime even before adding the word seditious to his list of descriptions. The fact he was impeached twice is not a surprise. The fact only seventeen Republicans voted to impeach or convict this traitor is. When an incumbent dishonors the position….

Leadership is lacking. The US now has a president who actually is trying to lead and do it in the right way. He is not perfect, but deserves a chance.

Deny, Discredit, Disinform, Diffuse and Defray – a reprise from 2014

The following post was written almost seven years ago, before the former president walked down the escalator to announce his candidacy. He showed how to manipulate these five D’s, but his albatross was he could not control the one guy at the toggle. So, he often gets in his own way and the way of his helpers.

The five D’s. As a now 55-year-old man, I have witnessed over time the aggressively managed handling of criticism whether it is in politics or in big business. In my view, the defense could be summed up in the following order – Deny, Discredit, Disinform, Diffuse and Defray – where you keep drawing lines in the sand as you retreat. With each D and line drawn, you want to see if that will stave off the criticism.

The fossil fuel and petro-chemical industries have been deploying these tactics for decades, as what they do for a living is not easy and has a history of impacting the health and welfare of humans and the environment. When you add money on top of these approaches, it takes an Erin Brockovich to make any headway against them. Yet, what people fail to realize is these five D’s are an aggressive risk management strategy.

But, the approach is definitely not limited to big business. Vladimir Putin is probably the best games player around. He knows your weaknesses and hot buttons, so he has and continues to use these approaches. In the US, politicians value and pay dearly for spin doctors like Karl Rove, who in essence are paid liars. Their job is perfume any pig that comes their client’s way. However, most politicians who have won more than one election become increasingly artful in these defense tactics – Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, Obama and the Bushes – all could be considered good at these approaches. With Nixon, the lies caught up with him as he taped himself. He only resigned once the courts ordered him to release the tapes that showed he was not only paranoid, but ran a burglary and disinformation ring out of the White House.

First, when criticism is made against what you do or have done, you deny it aggressively. That is absolutely not true will be words usually spoken. Note, with false claims, denial does not mean the accuser is correct as that is part of the defense strategy under discredit. Putin claims that Ukraine is fascist, but you really cannot call Ukraine fascist if they are trying to have democratic elections. The toxic fracking slickwater is not getting into people’s water supply, is a good example of denial. The NSA is not spying on Americans is another one.

Second, when the denial ceases to work, the discredit strategy begins. Sometimes, the discrediting comes with the denial. The Putin example is a good one. The global warming is a hoax is a prime example, where the fossil fuel industry through its public relations engine wanted to paint Al Gore and all of his imperfections as the reason why global warming was not happening. He lives in large mansion and is using this as a publicity stunt. Name calling or branding people comes part and parcel. Using terms like Hitler, Apartheid or Stalin to paint something you dislike is a common tactic. I have often been called an Environmentalist, which I am, but the term is used to smear me because it is meant to construe that I do not care about jobs. The fact that there are tens of thousands of jobs in solar energy in my own state and they are growing in number, seems to get overlooked as unimportant.

Third, if denials and discrediting don’t work, disinform. This probably frustrates me most, as it is a very common tactic on partisan news shows, to spin the truth, overlook the issues or just lie. I tell people often and write on this blog and emails for people to stop watching Fox news and its counterpart, MSNBC. Your are better off watching no news as the spins can be so severe that you are not informed –  you have been propagandized. The real truths include: Global warming is not a hoax. Fracking is not perfectly safe. Creationism is not science. Voter fraud is virtually non-existent. Business is not inherently bad, but needs governance. Protecting our environment costs us less in the long run. While there are a few abusers, people on food stamps are not gaming the system.

Fourth, if we are still in trouble, the next line in the sand is to diffuse. This is a measured  mea culpa which allows some concessions, but does so on your terms. You have already thought through beforehand what would be an acceptable position to come to, when the avalanche of truth gets too big. You have done some internal investigations and found there is some truth in what we are being accused of, so we will fix it. You are right, climate change is real, so we are going to focus on natural gas, as it burns cleaner than coal. The data breach is bigger than we first imagined, so we are doing the following. We are only getting Metadata and not listening to your phone calls and reading your emails.

Fifth, if this fails, then we need to defray. We need to settle claims as quickly and expeditiously as possible. We must avoid class action suits. We need to divide and conquer. Pay people a pretty penny, but limit the number of pennies and limit the number of hands. No one goes to jail. We just pay out of expenses what we have already accrued when the problem first reared its head. Or, let’s recall every car that has any minor defect now. This will be far cheaper than the potential lawsuit.

The five D’s. Next time criticism is flying toward someone or some entity, watch how the issue is handled. Usually, the higher the revenue stream potential, the more aggressive the defense. The truth is usually further away from the speaker with the most to gain financially. Not always, but often enough.

Friday fan-fiction?

Fan-fiction is a common term used to define people who have written variations or new stories off their favorite movie series – Harry Potter, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. The fans who write and read these stories are often a self-governing group who offers passionate feedback, good or bad. Sometimes, with so many directors of a movie series, the loyalty to the mission of the characters is better served by these fans, than a director. Even an author can fail to fully understand the history, as well as these passionate fans.

I am reminded of the Stephen King book and movie called “Misery.” The plot is about an author who is tired of writing a successful series about a female character whose name is “Misery,” so he dramatically kills her off. Sadly, for him he has been “kept” by a woman who is a huge fan of the series, after the author is injured in a car crash. She nurses him back to health, until she gets the final book. When she learns he has killed Misery off, she goes berserk and hobbles him, so he cannot leave. She forces him to write a new book that brings Misery back to life.

The fan-fiction concept reminds me of the cult-like following of the former president and his sycophants. The niece of the former president noted her uncle lies so much he starts to believe his own BS. I have witnessed this over the last five years, as well. What happens is the lies are heavily flavored and reiterated by a conspiracy minded group of people and pseudo-news sycophants. So, the lies get wind beneath their wings from the vast fan-fiction and soar ever longer.

Yesterday, one of those conspiracy parrots was formally removed from the House education committee, Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene. Eleven Republicans joined the Democrats in the censure vote, after Republican leaders failed to address her ongoing fan-fiction which included threats of the Speaker. She has espoused many fan-fictions, but let me highlight two.

Ms. Greene believes a wealthy Jewish cadre is causing the wildfires using lasers from space. The creativity of this fiction is only exceeded by disbelief that a grown woman would actually buy into this. The other is a repeat of old fiction that Alex Jones got in trouble for. Sandy Hook’s school shooting which killed twenty children and seven staff was all a hoax. Jones lost a lawsuit and an appeal for mental anguish he caused with his fiction on the families of the survivors and was ordered to pay restitution.

But, let me take the source of this fan fiction one step further. Jones is a salesperson and he is not only selling conspiracy theories, he is pushing product. His “Infowars” show spends a lot of time selling products, more so than the fiction, but the two are often related. After telling us how there was a Democrat scheme to infect the water system with a sexual neutering chemical, the next day, Jones began pushing his own product to protect you from such chemicals. This is fear tactics at their worst – scare you and sell you a product to protect you. The old term is “snake oil salesman.”:

Fan-fiction is entertaining to the passionate fans. But, please remember the key second word – fiction. The former president claims fake news, when the real news paints him in the appropriate light. Yet, what his fans do not realize, the biggest purveyor of fiction is the person they follow.

Shepard Smith Blasts Former Fox News Colleagues Who ‘Propagated the Lies’

Shepard Smith was one of the better journalists at Fox News, but was forced out when he told inconvenient truths about the outgoing US president. In so doing, he was at odds with the primetime hosts who offered their opinions, often to mask those inconvenient truths. In a an article by Rudy Takala of Media called “Shepard Smith Blasts Former Fox News Colleagues Who ‘Propagated the Lies’: I Don’t Know How They ‘Sleep at Night,’” Smith holds no punches in speaking about those primetime opinion folks.

Here are a few paragraphs, with a link below to the article:

“Former Fox News host Shepard Smith excoriated his old colleagues for spreading what he called “disinformation,” and said he stuck with the network in order to combat their efforts.

‘If you feel like the Fox viewers were getting mis- or dis-information, I was there to make sure that they got it straight,’ Smith said in the interview with PBS News’ Christiane Amanpour. ‘There were a lot of others in there who I thought were trying to do the same thing. But I thought that to just abandon it, and to deprive those viewers of … to deny them that, with the thought that they might replace it with opinion instead, seemed a little selfish. So I stuck with it as long as I could.’

Smith, who joined the network at its founding in 1996, left in 2018 amid tension with primetime host Tucker Carlson. He joined CNBC with an hour-long weekday program in September. The show quickly made headlines for struggling to draw viewers.

‘My goal was to just keep the blinders on and just do my job to the best of my ability,’ Smith added, before taking aim at his old network’s opinion hosts. ‘Opine all you like, but if you’re going to opine, begin with the truth and opine from there. And it’s that deviation from that that has caused me the greatest concern. I believe that when people begin with a false premise and lead people to astray, that’s injurious to society, and it’s the antithesis of what we should be doing.

‘I don’t know how some people sleep at night, because I know that there are a lot of people who have propagated the lies, and have pushed them forward over and over again who are smart enough and educated enough to know better,’ he added.”

Many people who have told inconvenient truths about the outgoing president were fired, reassigned or lost their jobs. Just the latest two, Attorney General William Barr and Election Cybersecurity leader Chris Krebs, both openly pushed back on the fraudulent and unproven election fraud claims of the outgoing president. Krebs noted this was the most secure election ever and Barr called the outgoing president’s claims ‘bulls**t.” So, they had to go.

Truth is not used often or valued by the outgoing president. Just looking at the very many people who have been pardoned, which include a parade of corruption and fraud criminals, it shows what he values. Lies and loyalty over truth. And, that is not the kind of leadership we need, from public officials or folks who tell us what they think for a living.

Shepard Smith Blasts Former Fox News Colleagues Who ‘Propagated the Lies’: I Don’t Know How They ‘Sleep at Night’ (msn.com)