How do you feel? An informal poll

Variations on a Theme

Let’s call this an informal poll. These are divisive times. Everyone feels they are the true patriot, the one who loves their country. You are either filled with hope or despair. When you look at these pictures, do you feel ‘A’ or ‘B’.

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Divided We Fall; Can We Make America Great Again?

A house divided against itself cannot stand. – Abraham Lincoln

James Calvin Davis is a Christian studies and ethics teacher. Who he is and his religion aside, and even putting aside his book, Forbearance: A Theological Ethic for a Disagreeable Church – I have to agree with and share my personal concern and distress over the current climate of divisiveness in this country. I used to be quite the firecracker when it came to heated conversations. No more! I no longer share in debate and banter with friends and family because it gets ugly in seconds flat. Now, I stand in fear of antagonizing or creating a rift in longstanding friendships.

Journalism: “writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation”

Then, there’s my first love – journalism – a profession that has been vilified as both a career and a calling. Let us try, for a moment, and remember the importance of a free press. Today, the openness to ideas and communication is gone. Self proclaimed well-read and concerned citizens choose to ONLY hear their own voice and those who share that voice. But please think – – -one doesn’t need to agree with on a moral, ethical or simply personal level with everything we see and hear and read, BUT we do have a human obligation to weigh possibilities; to intelligently debate ideas; to actually care about a differing opinion in order to see a more valid truth. This CANNOT be the future:

“You either hate women or like to kill babies. You are either a hawk or a peacenik. You are either homophobic or a fan of bestiality. You either prefer owls to people or condone raping the environment. You are either a socialist or a one-percent. You are either for law enforcement or for African-American rights. This is what most of our public debate looks like these days.” – James Calvin Davis

How do we move forward? Who will teach future generations to communicate, to speak, to share – without being immediately dismissed, rebuked or belittled? We learn by example. It is a general belief that by the time we hit our 20’s, the measure of our integrity has been well established. So what then? I think the importance of teaching ethics is vastly under-emphasized.  It is paramount, perhaps more now than ever, to give our future generations the tools in which they are ready to engage and debate alternative views. Conflict resolution should not just be a line on a resume.

We have become a nation numb to the simple virtues of honesty, integrity and compassion. What is conveyed every day by people we should hold in great regard has become accepted behavior. Dishonesty, malice, disparagement: this is the new norm. In fact, I see it not only accepted but worse, emulated. Something’s gotta give, because this is real and this makes me sad.

xoxo DDJ

Are you listening or just waiting to talk?!

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Dialogue: (verb) take part in a conversation or discussion to resolve a problem.

There is a great divide.  It is People.  Open discussions with people involving hearing AND listening used to be part of my everyday life.  Nowadays, well, there is plenty of talk, and not much listening.  People don’t seem to waver from their stance on ANY subject.  From the practical and sometimes enjoyable can of Beefaroni—see!!! You are already judging—to healthcare, listening to someone say their piece has vanished and been replaced with preparing a verbal assault.

I am the first to admit I have many, I mean MANY opinions. In fact, there is probably very little I don’t have an opinion on. I am lucky or smart enough to surround myself with people I enjoy having a healthy banter with. And, this is what I love about my family and friends–we hash things out.  I look forward to my niece’s take on things that I have clearly not taken into consideration or my brother correcting me because he just so happens to have more information than I am privy to.  It may not completely change where I stand, but I can tell you I always take pause.

I was recently verbally assaulted by a person whose opinions seemed scripted.  Genuinely, as if he had some sort of—don’t take this the wrong way—Liberal handbook.  He had way too many facts askew, so I asked where he got his information.  A question I felt was valid, and in this case—NECESSARY.  My crime for the ensuing onslaught was fessing up to being a fiscal conservative. And in response to my seemingly simple question… there was silence.  I asked again.  I figured I would help him out.  I mentioned I have the Pulse app on my phone and follow 12 News apps and 6 Political apps, encompassing a variety of viewpoints.  I mentioned that I generally like to check things out on Politifact or Factcheck.org and even hit up Snopes occasionally.   So I waited patiently for some sort of a response.  The response was that I must be some sort of “Ann Coulter wannabe”.   I was trying to imagine anything I would find more personally offensive… and at that moment, I couldn’t.  And just when I thought I was going to walk away….. which I promise you, I really was, I decided to say the defusing sentence.  I  said, “Sometimes, with some issues, it is best to agree to disagree”.  I took the high road—not a well-travelled path for me.  THEN, the unthinkable happened.  He KEPT TALKING!!!???  Compared me to Rush Limaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Hannity—He talked about my not KNOWING that we live in an oligarchy, that we are (insert really bad word here), because we can only choose between Pepsi and Coca Cola, and that corporations have bought all the politicians and our votes don’t count…that until there is a revolution and “we take our government back from the 1%” we are all… yes, insert that same bad word.

Well…. What was I to do? There was nothing on earth I could say to him, and he had not yet given me any idea where and how he formed his opinions. Even if I wanted to agree with any part of his tirade, I was pretty sure I was still about to get burned at the stake for being a Republican.  I was curious… I don’t even know this guy, but was demonized as a right-wing fanatic, who as far as he was concerned, was on the side of the super wealthy.  Funny… I don’t make that much money, but what I do, I work hard to keep.

This started with a few simple statements.  I said I consider myself a fiscal conservative, I have a blog page and I sometimes might write about things of a political nature.  Big mistake—HUGE. But this isn’t about one closed-minded, misinformed person.  It was about his simply not working with me on what we disagreed about.

Where is the dialogue?  It is monologue after monologue. I was used to this in the actual political arena, but in what should have been a “get to know ya” conversation?  It became hostile.  Okay, maybe I became hostile.  But every BUTTON I have was pressed.   It was as if some kid got on the elevator of a 30 story building and pressed every single floor!

Perhaps I am not as ‘open minded’ as I hoped, or thought, or wished.  But dialogue certainly involves 2 voices.  Evolution of said dialogue involves both those voices listening to the other. Lack of dialogue very well may be the cause of an ever soaring divorce rate, but that dialogue is clearly for another time.

“It is partly true too, but it isn’t all true. People always think something is all true”—J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye.

This lack of dialogue is of epidemic proportions.  It reaches far beyond politics.  People have become so sure of their own voice and their own opinions that a chat about a movie or TV show or a song can turn ugly pretty fast.   GEEZ, people—lighten the heck up!  Perhaps we all have some growing we can do, open our minds, evolve a little! We do not live in a world of absolutes–Just ask any scientist.  So it is in everyone’s best interest to listen, process and THINK… for ourselves.

Problem: People are closed minded, unwavering, and more often than not—ill informed.

Solution: Beats the heck out of me, but I am open… yes I AM OPEN … to suggestions.

I have tried the high road, driven many a mile on the low road, and have hid in the bushes to avoid the road and its traps altogether. As the United Nations General Assembly is in session a few blocks away, I wonder what kind of dialogue is going on there.  Is anyone listening?  Or, are they just preparing their verbal, tactical assault?

“In this treacherous world, nothing is the truth nor a lie. Everything depends on the color of the crystal through which one sees it.”—Pedro Calderon de la Barca

DDJ [here to listen, not here to HEAR]

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When will NEWS = TRUTH? Another stab at it.

card for BLOG news

It would appear that former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg—now that he already changed the NYC mayoral game by extending term limits on his own job—wants to stay in politics. He is launching a new Website as well as a Television show on his own network—also available via streaming. His TV show, planned to air daily, will be hosted by veteran journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. If those names sound familiar, it would be because they are presidential election staples. Halperin from Time Magazine, and Heilemann from New York Magazine and MSNBC. But their books, Game Change—which became an Emmy nominated HBO movie—of the 2008 election, and Double Down about the 2012 election, are the standouts in their US politics/policy world.

I love the idea that Bloomberg has about this emerging multi-platform jump into US politics and policy—even if it is looking a little self-serving. [Is there a hint of 2016 on his mind?] I worry, however, more about the content. I just don’t see the diversity of open, honest, bipartisan journalism from the as-so-far announced names involved.

Justin B. Smith—Chief Executive of Bloomberg Media Group put this project together being able to—undoubtedly—careen across the already established platforms of television, radio, print, digital, and video that Bloomberg already established. Clearly a leg up on any other upstart.

I will watch with my somewhat curious if not apprehensive eye, to see how this evolves. But my gut feeling is yet another journalistic endeavor based on opinion rather than fact, or equally as disgusting, facts skewed to fit a demographic. In this case a more liberal minded, Bloomberg infused ideal. You have to remember, Michael Bloomberg was a lifelong Democrat until he switched teams in order to run for mayor in 2001. He left the Republican party in 2007. (Again, making me wonder why party affiliations should matter.)

Former Mayor Bloomberg certainly left a lengthy legacy on the city of New York, with a pretty impressive list of bans. All, of course, in the interest of his constituents. And don’t get me wrong, there were many that truly are in the best interest of people. Notable to me were the banning of smoking in bars and restaurants, and banning of trans-fats in restaurants. Then there are the more absurd things that he tried like the ban on soda’s larger than 16oz or the ban on loud headphones. At some point we really shouldn’t have all decisions made for us. We as a people, need to make educated and practical decisions and in the case of the loud headphones, people need to have respect for those around them. I fear this new endeavor will be a constant barrage of what I am supposed to think, rather than a medium for current political news based on facts from the point of view of someone entrenched in the political arena while it is taking place—if that is even possible in Washington.

I am a huge fan of Vice News and their endeavors. Fact based, first person perspective is the kind of journalism I want to see, read and hear. Internationally, they go places we don’t want to be and report things most don’t want to know, but NEED TO. If you haven’t already, follow @vicenews on Twitter. (And then follow all their reporters). Their reports and documentaries are more to my liking and I just don’t see this new Bloomberg multi platform version of Political News and Policy living up to my perhaps “implausible standards”.

I suppose I am tired of “infotainment”. And I don’t think it should be skewed, sugar-coated, or the absolute worst—FABRICATED. So I will wait and see, while I continue to get my political news via a hunt to ‘find the truth’ instead of a ‘here are the facts’ scenario. Stay Tuned,

 

xoxo

DDJ

If I speak “POLITICALese”, am I bilingual?

george-orwell-political-language

There are few things more noticeable to me than when you hear a politician who sounds like he’s at a backyard barbecue. It is noticeable because it so rarely happens. Politicians speak something I call Politicalese. Yes, I made that word up. But how else does one define the differences in the language and how it is presented? In my personal revised edition of My Fair Lady…. it would be something like, Why can’t Politician be more like a Person. 😉

In news of average Joe behavior being frowned upon in politics, one can look to Tajikistan. They blocked yet another YouTube video. The third this year, but who’s counting? This one involved their President as he allegedly sang and slurred his way through a song at his son’s 2007 wedding. Now, personally, I would find myself feeling a bit closer to a person whom I thought acts just like any drunken relative we all have. But, NO. Then again, their country is a little different from ours.

So, what about our country? There is currently a campaign in Massachusetts for the Senate seat left open when John Kerry became Secretary of State. A man by the name of Gabriel Gomez—a former Navy Seal—is running against Democratic challenger Ed Markey. Ed Markey, in case you don’t know, has been in some form of office since 1973 when he was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Needless to say, at 40 years, one might call him a career politician.

One the flip side of this election is Republican candidate, Mr. Gomez. He is a 47 year old former Navy Seal with an MBA from Harvard Business School. (This is not so much about HIM for office as it is about the man—as he grew up the son of Colombian immigrants, speaking Spanish before learning English and went on to be a successful private equity investor.)

On paper he is living the American dream and has—evidently—yet to learn Politicalese. So henceforth, I will call Mr. Gomez, the “Everyman”.

Everyman got into a little—let’s just call it a rookie mistake—trouble with something he said. Evidently, calling your challenger “pond scum” is frowned upon. The barbs back and forth came from an ad campaign. Evidently, Markey had a video in a commercial ad that highlighted the fact that Gomez was a spokesman for a conservative super PAC that criticized Obama’s handling of information about the death of Osama bin Laden. And, Everyman responded to a reporter, “You know I’ve got four young kids, and they’ve got to sit there and they’ve got to see an ad with their dad, who’s a SEAL, who served honorably,” he went on, “And for him to be as dirty and low, pond scum, to put me up there next to bin Laden, he’s just got to be called what he is.”

OK! Pond Scum. Hey, that’s bad? I think it’s a breath of fresh air… well figuratively, of course. But he speaks in a way—with words I understand—and naysayers are making this a big deal? Please. I want to understand the person who supposedly represents me. I do not want to feel as if every sentence is so calculated and needs some sort of approval from the Politicalese Police that by the time it comes out of someone’s mouth I am scratching my head. We should all try to remember all of those political appointee’s caught on any given open mic night, saying things FAR WORSE.

I want my government to represent ME.

Ok… I was dreaming for a moment. But good luck to all the Everyman’s out there who dare to try to change the world for us and speak a language that, at the very least, I understand and appreciate. 🙂

DDJ