Light/Breezes

Light/Breezes
SUNRISE AT DEATH VALLEY-Photo by Tom Cochrun

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

WHITHER AMERICA?


a painted November sky in Morro Bay

whither America?
     At this moment let's leave red and blue out of the picture and think about something that is in the best interests of everyone. There is a visitor to this nation that threatens us with a brain and heart killing disease, despite what is our politics, personal belief, color, ethnicity, identity or dream. What threatens us all is the lack of reasoning.
    Emotion has become our operating system and it is to our detriment. The evidence is everywhere; in the way people "talk" to each other either in social media or face to face,  political advertising plays to emotion, our tone is inflammatory and emotional, objectivity and analysis is drowned out by volume and emotion. And of course we are divided by just about everything and we are very poor at being civil in our disagreements. 
    The history of the US is the history of disagreement and competing forces, ideas, beliefs and philosophy but we've always held together at the center, found compromise and accord with that one tragic exception.


a house divided
       For the next 726 days of your life and mine we find ourselves caged in the reality of the 2020 Presidential election. Count them off if you wish, but it will be an enormous challenge to tune them out. For our well being, for our survival, we need to change the tone and begin thinking.
     Objectivity and analysis need to override emotion but that too will be a challenge.

hacking the human heart and mind

       Ponder this briefly-James Bridle is a British writer/artist/thinker who wrote THE NEW DARK AGE-Technology And The End Of The Future. I heard him interviewed recently where he makes the case the digital and networked world is increasingly influencing human behavior and especially in advertising and media. Algorithms impact almost every aspect of our social interaction and consumer behavior now. Bridle asks what happens when technology knows your likes and dislikes to such a degree that it can purposely hack your emotions-to the extent it can affect your pulse rate, your sense of well being, by controlling the information you see and hear.
      His concern is that an artificial intelligence, an algorithm will "reason" the best way to get you to do or like something is to manipulate you, relentlessly.
     We humans are and have been doing that to and with each other, maybe forever. But now we've become so emotional, so overloaded by loud and divisive voices, with so few places for retreat and sanctuary that we are a bundle of frayed nerves and trigger fingers and tongues. Add the sophistication of AI and we've just upped the chances of disaster. And that is made even more sinister when adversaries, like enemy powers or rogue agents try to intrude  like perhaps in our election cycles.

our hearts at the mid term
     A few tea leaves to read here-if a state is 2/3 white, Democrats lose, Republicans win. Educated women vote Democrat. White women without a college degree vote Republican. 
     Florida restores the right to vote to 1.4 million felons, most of whom are black. This in a state where the governors race was decided by some 74 thousand votes.
     In voting for House and Senate seats Democrats pulled 13 million votes more than Republicans.
     Suburbs and urban areas are consistently Democrat. Rural areas are consistently Republican. Educated professionals vote Democrat. What was once considered "blue collar" seem to be voting Trump Republican. The less education one has the more likely they are to vote Republican. That is almost a direct reversal of the way it was just a few years ago.
     There are of course other divides and the analysis will continue. Some things are certain-the government is divided.
     The House is under control of Democrats who will now have subpoena power. There are public matters they will push and that could include seeing this President's tax returns, exploring his families business ties and entanglement with the business of government, the Russian meddling inquiry, Jared Kushner's business interests, what and how did the White House limit the investigation into sexual assault allegations against Judge and now Justice Kavanaugh, the sexual assault allegations against the President.
      The Mueller investigation also hangs over both the White House and the US Capitol.

      How will we behave for the next 726 days? The President's news conference Wednesday morning didn't bode well. Do citizens still expect something called "Presidential behavior?" Do we still believe that a man or woman should "rise" to the office? Do we think that a free press asking hard questions still has a place in a free society? Do we still believe that all people regardless of color, ethnicity, gender and identity should be free? Do we still believe the confederacy was wrong? Do we still believe the Nazi ideology is outside the bounds of accepted human behavior? Do we still believe the conviction of Nazi war criminals outlawed that belief for all time? Do we still believe the KKK and other white supremacists have no place in a civil society? Do we believe that pandering to the basest among us is wrong?  Do we believe that a politics of ridicule, division and hate is wrong? Do we believe we should govern toward the center? Do we believe we should listen to each other? Do we believe we can find a middle ground and compromise? What do we believe is American?

       See you down the trail.


     

6 comments:

  1. Lots of "do we believe" questions, to which the answers will differ based on where one lives. What I can't believe is how this bozo of a president can continue to make statements that make no sense, yet he is seldom (never?) challenged. Instead, we accept their bozoness and try to make sense of them. How do you make sense of nonsense? What we should do is see them as what they are: This man says virtually nothing that is beyond the realm of ego-protection. That is the reality of Trump.

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  2. Agree with SK above. I'm curious what his re-election strategy will be....the vote seems to be trending towards a demo victory, propped up by the sheer number of demo voters. I can foresee a couple things he can do....start a war, that always bolsters a presidency or has in the pass, maybe except LBJ.
    A interesting factoid came up yesterday here in MT: 15% of trump supporters voted for Tester. I'll be interest to see what happens (hopefully I'll be here still).
    Got another 3" snow last night, and it's 16f outside. Winter is certainly settling in...
    Good post, Tom.

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  3. My "Baby Aunt" who is 6 years younger than I am is a retired school teacher and the wife of a big time farmer. My Aunt and her entire family are MAGAts. Her husband and son grow lots of soybeans and they've made money for years, especially since NAFTA. Right now they are losing $1.25 a bushel on soybeans. I have a brother in law who is a commodities broker, he asked the farmer how he felt about the market for his beans. The farmer relative just hung his head and didn't say anything. He then asked if he still supported Trump, the farmer said nothing. The farmer was one of those young fire brand farmers back in the 80's, he belonged to the NFO and drove his big John Deere to DC for the protests. At a meeting in DC, he was listening to the infamous Ag Secretary Earl Butz lay out some BS about family farms, he got fed up and yelled, "When's the last time you were on a fcking family farm?" My commodity broker bro in law asked the farmer where that guy had gone. The farmer gave a weak smile and hung his head.

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