November 22, 2016

Post-Election: Learning About Our Country

by WIZ

trumpoThis is my first post in 5 years. I vowed to take a reading sabbatical and focus on books over electronic posts. In that time we have had 2 presidential elections, I took a director job in a new area, and started/finished a Masters degree. A lot has worked through my mind in those 5 years. More recently, I have read a lot pertaining to the election and needed to get it out in writing.

Many people believe we live in a new and different country, one they do not recognize or thought still existed. I don’t think a new country could have formed overnight. This change has been fermenting for anywhere between 8 and 30 years.

I voted for Hillary. I didn’t think she was perfect but I admired her views and convictions and respected her experience. I was turned off by Donald’s rhetoric that emboldened hate and nervous we would make the most powerful person in the world hold a job they had zero qualifications for. While Hillary has nearly 2 million more popular votes than Donald, the electoral college vote gave Donald the win. He is our president.

There are a variety of responses to this new reality. Donald supporters can boast, Hillary supporters can vent, or we can work to understand each side. I wish to understand the thinking and desires of Donald supporters. I refuse to believe all Donald supporters are racist and uneducated (exit polls have shown that 30% of women voted for Donald and a similar amount of Hispanics did too).

I have found various media outlets to be either helpful or harmful in this effort to understand. Many blogs report every single solitary tweet by Donald or his “alleged” supporters, making it seem that all they are and do is reduced to offensiveness. Meanwhile I find many posts by David Brooks to be balanced and helpful. Brooks highlights the tendency to reduce people to caricatures (emphasis in bold is mine):

Large parts of popular culture — and pretty much all of stand-up comedy — consist of reducing people to one or another identity and then making jokes about that generalization. The people who worry about cultural appropriation reduce people to an ethnic category and argue that those outside can never understand it. A single identity walls off empathy and the imagination.
We’re even seeing a wave of voluntary reductionism. People feel besieged, or they’re intellectually lazy, so they reduce themselves to one category. Being an evangelical used to mean practicing a certain form of faith. But “evangelical” has gone from being an adjective to a noun, a simplistic tribal identity that commands Republican affiliation.
Unfortunately, if you reduce complex individuals to one thing you’ll go through life clueless about the world around you. People’s classifications now shape how they see the world.

I do not have answers to why each and every person voted for Donald. Truth is I never will. I personally would find it hard to trust his promises when he has never made any political promises before, trust his alleged ethics when he has flip flopped more than Mitt Romney, or simply vote enthusiastically for someone just because Hillary was anathema.

Trump has somewhat changed since winning the election. His 60 minutes interview shows a more somber personality, but his daily attacks on media resembles single party authoritarianism.

It’s been two weeks since the election. The raw emotion has begun to go away for me. I am willing to listen and learn. Let’s do this together.

September 15, 2011

A Reading Sabbatical

by WIZ

I decided this week that I would take an indefinite reading sabbatical. What does this mean? I am going to steer away from my daily online reading, which if you didn’t know, consists of a about two dozen or so blogs and online media outlets, as well as my own blogging/online writing, and start to chip away at my “to read” book list. This has been long overdue on my part. I have a hard time balancing both reading outlets (electronic and paper) and feel more pulled towards books at this point in life. The frenzy that I feel I get caught up in with blogs and the general media cycle can fall to the wayside for a while. I will still check a few blogs that I go to for pictures and articles that I can’t resist.

I will keep you all updated as to my return. There are some articles written here from time to time by other authors. Look for them!

September 7, 2011

Global Temperature Trends

by WIZ

More on the above chart here.

September 7, 2011

“Smoking Pot is my Civil Liberty”

by WIZ

“I’m a hardworking, tax-paying, kid-raising, church-going citizen of this country,” say author and PBS travel host Rick Steves, “and if I work hard all day long and want to go home and relax with a joint, that is my civil liberty.”

September 7, 2011

Mitt Romney’s 150-page Economic Plan

by WIZ

Reason delves into it with some humor and expected results.

September 7, 2011

9/11 Encyclopedia

by WIZ

The New York Times Magazine put together an encyclopedia in response to this Sunday’s 10th anniversary of September 11th, 2001 and the attacks that day:

As this anniversary loomed, we found ourselves asking: With all we now know, how to begin to address the enormity of the event? Our solution was not to shrink from its scale but to embrace it.
September 7, 2011

Falling Out of the Middle Class

by WIZ

Ezra Klein finds an interesting study that gauges what factors contribute to men and women falling out of middle class society:

The big takeaway: Divorce and marriage matter, a lot. Education, or lack thereof, is pretty important, too. The picture gets blurrier with drug use: Men who use heroin are more likely to fall out of the middle class, but the effect is statistically insignificant for women. And crack use doesn’t make much of a difference for either gender.

September 7, 2011

The Civil Discourse Go-Around

by WIZ

Jimmy Hoffa, the teamsters union leader, warmed up a Detroit crowd before Barack Obama took the stage by saying the following:

“We got to keep an eye on the battle that we face: The war on workers. And you see it everywhere, it is the Tea Party. And you know, there is only one way to beat and win that war. The one thing about working people is we like a good fight. And you know what? They’ve got a war, they got a war with us and there’s only going to be one winner. It’s going to be the workers of Michigan, and America. We’re going to win that war,” Hoffa told thousands of workers gathered for the annual event organized by the Detroit Labor Council.

“President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march…Everybody here’s got a vote…Let’s take these sons of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong,” he concluded.

The response to Hoffa intrigues me. The Tea Party, of all people, condemned his words, saying they were “inappropriate and uncivil rhetoric,” and that they have  “no place in the public forum.” This is the same Tea Party that since it’s inception has been spitting vitriolic bile and is known for it’s protesting signs that depict Obama as either a Nazi or a slave master. To this day, I have not seen one Tea Party leader call for condemning their own “inappropriate and uncivil rhetoric” that truly “has no place in the public forum.”

Now, to be fair, Obama has called for a transformation in our political discourse so it would only be fair for him to call out Hoffa for his comments. He has pointed out the rhetoric of Congressional Republicans. Can he do the same for his own backers?

September 7, 2011

Tying the Knot

by WIZ

A very unique card! H/T: Christina Moralego, via

September 7, 2011

White Whine of the Day

by WIZ

September 7, 2011

Quote of the Day

by WIZ

Leaders are not what many people think–people with huge crowds following them. Leaders are people who go their own way without caring, or even looking to see whether anyone is following them. “Leadership qualities” are not the qualities that enable people to attract followers, but those that enable them to do without them. The include, at the very least, courage, endurance, patience, humor, flexibility, resourcefulness, determination, a keen sense of reality, and the ability to keep a cool and clear head even when things are going badly. This is the opposite of the “charisma” that we hear so much about. – John Holt

September 7, 2011

Political Cartoon of the Day II

by WIZ

September 7, 2011

Political Cartoon of the Day

by WIZ

September 7, 2011

Venture Capitalism

by WIZ
September 6, 2011

Linking al-Qaeda to Baghdad

by WIZ

With the new Dick Cheyney book out, this monster under the rug has come back to haunt America. Here is a segment of a conversation Col. Lawrence Wilkerson had with then Secretary of State Colin Powell:

He had pulled me aside in the National Intelligence Council spaces in the CIA, put me in a room, he and I alone, and he told me he was going to throw all the presentation material about the connection between Baghdad and al-Qaeda out, completely out. I welcomed that, because I thought it was all bogus.

Within about an hour, George Tenet, having scented that something was wrong with the Secretary vis-à-vis this part of his presentation, suddenly unleashes on all in his conference room that they have just gotten the results of an interrogation of a high-level al-Qaeda operative, and those results not only confirm substantial contacts between an al-Qaeda and Baghdad, the Mukhabarat and Baghdad, the secret police, if you will, but also the fact that they were training, they were actually training al-Qaeda operatives in the use of chemical and biological weapons. Well, this was devastating. Here’s the DCI telling us that a high-level al-Qaeda operative had confirmed all of this. So Powell put at least part of that back into his presentation.

We later learned that that was through interrogation methods that used waterboarding, that no U.S. personnel were present at the time–it was done in Cairo, Egypt, and it was done by the Egyptians–and that later, within a week or two period, the high-level al-Qaeda operative recanted everything he had said. We further learned that the Defense Intelligence Agency had issued immediately a warning on that, saying that they didn’t trust the reliability of it due to the interrogation methods. We were never shown that DIA dissent, and we were never told about the circumstances under which the high-level al-Qaeda operative was interrogated. Tenet simply used it as a bombshell to convince the secretary not to throw that part, which was a very effective part, if you will recall, out of his presentation.

September 6, 2011

A Closer Look at Jon Huntsman

by WIZ

He released his economic plan last week. Take a look at it and the feedback on it in comparison to the 2012 GOP field.

September 6, 2011

Pay Attention to Nonviolence

by WIZ

Julia Bacha spoke on an important topic at TED:

In 2003, the Palestinian village of Budrus mounted a 10-month-long nonviolent protest to stop a barrier being built across their olive groves. Did you hear about it? Didn’t think so. Brazilian filmmaker Julia Bacha asks why we only pay attention to violence in the Israel-Palestine conflict — and not to the nonviolent leaders who may one day bring peace.

September 6, 2011

Unemployment’s Far-Reaching Effects

by WIZ

Ezra Klein digs into a few studies that exposes the health and educational pains inflicted on pupils and families as a result of unemployment:

Last year, Mike Konczal flagged a 2009 study by Ann Huff Stevens and Jessamyn Schaller of UC-Davis that examined the relationship between parental job loss and children’s academic achievement, drawing on data about job loss and grade retention from 1996, 2001 and 2004 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation:

We find that a parental job loss increases the probability of children’s grade retention by 0.8 percentage points, or around 15 percent. After conditioning on child fixed effects, there is no evidence of significantly increased grade retention prior to the job loss, suggesting a causal link between the parental employment shock and children’s academic difficulties. These effects are concentrated among children whose parents have a high school education or less.

 

In the end, the researchers concluded, “one percentage point higher unemployment rate leads to a 0.3 percentage point increase in the probability that a child repeats a grade.” If this is true, Konczal points out, the cumulative impact of unemployment is staggering. “There are roughly 55 million students in K-12 in the country right now. If unemployment is 1% higher that means, roughly, 165,000 additional years of schooling will be repeated,” he writes.

But just as children are at higher risk of underachieving, education budgets are being slashed across the country as the economy remains anemic and the politics of austerity have taken hold. It’s a continuous pile-up that could have lasting damage that goes well beyond sheer employment numbers.

September 6, 2011

One Other Sign of How Our War(s) Hurt Us

by WIZ

In Vermont, they had to receive special out of state air support during Hurricane Irene because their helicopters were being used for war purposes in Iraq.

September 6, 2011

Political Cartoon of the Day IV

by WIZ

This could serve as a type of media headline game.