Crusading against evil since ...
2336 stories
·
1 follower

Where's My Bubble?

1 Comment

We just took a quick day trip with the board of directors to an amusement park, one that has become a favorite of mine after roughly 17,000 excursions there as a class trip chaperone. One small incident reminded me of one reason we are having a moment about vouchers and choice in this country.

To understand the story, let me tell you a few things about regular life for the board of directors. The twins are now 7 and get very little screen exposure. In the summer, they get one "show" each on a daily basis (less during school). They don't have devices of their own, and they don't get to share ours. They do have screen time at school. But they are used to watching shows from tv or disc. Also, they are very accustomed to hearing some version of "no." 

So. We booked a hotel room for the night before. When we're doing longer traveling, we usually have a laptop with us, which, time permitting, let's them have a daily show. But this time we didn't. All we had was the cable for the hotel tv.

They were absolutely baffled. Why could we not just watch their shows? Why wouldn't we pull up Netflix? Why was this program in the middle and what did we mean, we couldn't just go back to the beginning and start over?  

None of this was angry or entitled, but about 1 part bemusement and 2 parts frustration with the grownups who were not smart enough to make things work the way they are obviously supposed to.

We have raised and are raising generations of citizens who are used to living in a bubble, a bubble in which they control most of what goes on, how it goes on, when it goes on. 

I have used before my tales of being a band bus chaperone and the effects of technology on shared space. Ages ago, the inside of a band bus was a shared space, as exemplified by the music. Ages ago, you got whatever the driver picked up (or could pick up) on the radio. Then debates over what tape to play. The use of boom boxes to break the space into smaller spaces. And finally, we arrive at the age of walkmans and ipods, in which what was once shared space is not shared at all.

Most of our popular culture in the 20th century was shared space. If you skip Super-Bowls and political debates, all of the most viewed episodes on tv are from at least thirty years ago; an entire generation has grown up with no idea of what Must-See TV is. 

I'm not waving my old man fist at technoclouds. Things change. But I do think that sometimes we overestimate the power of deep policy decisions and the long slow game for school choice and the privatization of education and underestimate the degree to which a generation has been affected by growing up in their own individual bubbles. 

Of course, the thing about bubbles is that they're fueled by available choices, and has always been true, the number of choices you have available is directly proportional to the amount of money you have to spend on them. Bubbles favor the haves way more than the have-nots; in fact, bubbles are often about the haves keeping the have-nots out.

Nor do I think society benefits from a shortage of shared spaces. But shared spaces are at odds with the commercial, mercenary consumer mindset, a mindset that encourages us to scrimp and save and hoard the resources we need to make ourselves the best damned bubble ever. Gimme my fully furnished neo-liberal bubble, baby.

Robert Putnam in The Upswing suggests that maybe we will figure out the value of shared spaces and bounce back. And maybe we will be moved by the loneliness of tiny gods; certainly the signs are that we are feeling it. Lots of folks like to point at social media and smartphones as culprits, and I have long resisted that notion because I have witnessed what a huge connective power that social media exerts, how it allows people to stay in contact with a myriad of human beings. But it does so as part of the process of building that bubble, and I think that bubble, that lack of time spent in shared spaces, is the more likely culprit in the steadily worsening mental health of younger generations (as well as, suggests Hannah Arendt, the growing attraction to totalitarianism). 

Public schools have been one of the great shared spaces in this country, shared not only because every child goes there, but because every taxpayer participates and contributes.

Preserving them as a shared space is crucial to our collective health. Some public school defenders link public schools to democracy, both as contributor and benefactor, but I think the issue is deeper than that, more fundamental our health as human beings. We need shared space to be fully, healthily human, even if we have to share that space with people with whom we disagree. Maybe even especially if we have to share the space with those people.

How to do this when so much of the tide is sweeping away shared spaces? How to make the argument to folks whose position is a simple, dispassionate "Why should I have this particular feature in my world when I don't want to and I don't have to?" 

There is a big bundle of questions to solve here, and I don't take them as simple theoreticals, because my sons and my grandchildren are the people who are growing up needing the answers, who are having their shared spaces devoured out from under them, and I worry about them reaching the point when their bubble is not a preference, but a necessity. 

Read the whole story
DGA51
1 day ago
reply
On personal spaces, etc.
Central Pennsyltucky
Share this story
Delete

Friday Toons

1 Share

 

Read the whole story
DGA51
4 days ago
reply
Central Pennsyltucky
Share this story
Delete

Right-Wing Affirmative Action

1 Comment

You can tell a lot about a political party by who they elevate, and whose voices they believe speak to their audience. At the Republican National Convention, it’s been a parade of powerful white men — and a smattering of window-dressing women and racial minorities.

Subscribe now

One of the more interesting aspects of conservative race and gender politics is that conservatives insist that they believe in race-blind and gender-blind equality, while also insisting that men and women are fundamentally different, especially insofar as men are more natural leaders than women (and probably more intelligent). The same GOP that claims it doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, or purple routinely uses Black and Latino Republicans as political props because they believe the appearance of diversity actually does matter. The underlying perspective seems to be that white men are indeed naturally more intelligent, skilled, and suited to leadership, but you’ve gotta stick a few women and minorities on your stage to make it look like you’re not racist or sexist. In my view, this goes a long way in explaining the right-wing hostility to DEI initiatives and policies like affirmative action: Many conservatives truly don’t believe that women and people of color are as competent and meritorious as white men, and as a result see these policies as tools that elevate the inadequate and lower overall quality (many liberals, myself included, have all kinds of issues with some of the more ridiculous DEI schemes, but generally see efforts to bolster racial and gender diversity as being about opening doors to people long shut out, not lowering any bars).

And so when conservatives are trying to diversity their own spaces, they do exactly what they accuse liberals of: They elevate a bunch of absolute yahoos based primarily on those yahoos’ race and gender.

Now, in conservatives’ defense, they suffer no shortage of white and male yahoos, and they are also happy to elevate these men into positions of power (see, e.g., Donald J. Trump). But as the Republican Party gathers for its convention, it’s worth looking at who they put on stage — and what that says about who the party wants to be.

Read more

Read the whole story
DGA51
6 days ago
reply
Many conservatives don’t believe that women and people of color are as competent and meritorious as white men.
Central Pennsyltucky
Share this story
Delete

Decoding the “Unity” Message

1 Share

Calls for Unity From Our Elected Officials Despite Deep Political Division

Suddenly, there is talk of “unity” for our politics in the aftermath of the assassination attempt, as if that’s what we have been seeking all along.

Both Joe Biden and Donald Trump have been quick to disavow violence and adjusting public messages to promote this long-sought, but never-practiced, “unity,” even as they and their teams promote campaign messages and policies that savage the other.

Biden has been on television three times to say that we need to lower the temperature of election rhetoric, and took down campaign ads temporarily. Newsmax, Fox News and the Washington Examiner said Trump is rewriting his convention acceptance speech, tempering his usual fiery message to “bring this country together.”

What exactly is this “unity” — other than agreement that shooting candidates in the head or carrying the makings of explosives are beyond the pale?

That seems a basic notion, but hardly seems to explain what anyone listening to the incessantly divisive political talk in this country hears. More likely, “unity” means for each of the two an expectation that the other half of the country will come to its senses and agree with the speaker.

Maybe we need to look at what unity ought to mean, starting with a realistic view that the numbers of guns, semi-automatic weapons and ammo are out of control, while our mental health services are inadequate.

Elusive “Unity”

Even when the smoke clears on the details of the security issues that allowed a gunman onto a roof with a direct sightline 150 yards away from Trump, we will not have a united view of what happened and why. That requires seeking out and accepting facts, and an outlook that searches for compromise solutions — neither of which marks our current politics.

“Unity” is not what our politicians and their operatives thinks works with voters.

Among progressives, it is hard to see unity in a message that tells me what books we can read, what bathroom we must use or why women must flee of half the states to receive medical treatments, including abortions. It’s hard to see unity in a promise to round up millions of undocumented people, including families who have been here and part of American life for decades. The vow to seek a formally dominant white, Christian nation automatically excludes tens of millions from any version of “unity” that I understand.

For Trump followers, “unity” means dropping criminal charges filed for allegations over hiding classified documents, obstructing justice and falsifying business records for personal gain, or coordinating months of scheming over election denial that led to the Jan. 6 uprising at the Capitol. Unity means agreeing to limit justice, and the FBI from pursuing investigations of Trump allies, closing the border, and putting America First, even at the peril of allies.  Where exactly does the spirt of pro-Trump Jan. 6 rioters meet up with any definition of “unity” — or a plot to kidnap the Michigan governor, an attack on Nancy Pelosi’s home or a threat against a Supreme Court justice?

Biden says the debate over policy and the appropriate role of government can be vigorous without crossing a line that leads well beyond passion into dangerous activity.  But he sees no problem with calling Trump a danger to democracy, to allies, to an inclusive America, opening him to criticism for seeking “to put Trump in the bullseye” for his views.

Perhaps a near brush with a deadly bullet has changed Trump’s outlook, but his language and deeds have been filled with disdain, sneer and darkness for anyone who does not agree with him — Republican, Democrat, moderate or other. His messages about “toughness” have encouraged militias and extremists on all sides toward war-like talk that is amplified in ever-repetitive media reports.

It is a lot easier to see evidence of dis-unity in how we talk about the country than it is about our common concerns. Indeed, the imagery of a raised fist and a message to “Fight” is not about pursuing American Dreams, it is about winning and forcing someone else to become the “loser.”

Some Unity Proposals

How about a unity agenda from both that starts with recognizing the nation’s actual issues? How about a debate that does not start with demeaning the other candidate?

How about a realistic discussion about whatever is needed to reduce the effects of more guns in this country than people, about how best to extend health care access, or recognition that people come in more than one view of religion, ideology, identify, ethnicity and gender? Unity should involve more universal respect for Americans as well as the preconceived “America” that candidates claim as a sole vision.

How about a 10-second rule that might keep our most extreme lawmakers from automatically mouthing off to blame Biden or Trump for anything from overly hot weather to foreign invasions on allies?  How about talk of impeachment reflect some evidence of real crimes and misdemeanors rather than political retribution? Indeed, doesn’t unity encompass some faith in governmental institutions and an acceptance that government exists to help rather than to grind us down?

How about a renewed commitment to accept the outcome of elections? That too seems basic.

It’s welcome news to hear a desire from all to embrace “unity.” But it would be good to know what we’re talking about beyond not literally killing one another.

A Distressing Dismissal

Unless you are a Donald Trump diehard who can see no wrong in anything that Trump says or does, the dismissal of all criminal charges in the classified documents case by Florida U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon yesterday had to be upsetting, because it was a technical workaround of law.

The dismissal was aimed at undercutting the whole idea of having special counsel prosecutors for the Justice Department — a step that has been presumed for 25 years to remove politics from federal prosecution in sensitive cases. Instead, this finding that appointments of special counsels are without basis in law itself felt highly political and devoid of legal or historical standing. It was not among the defenses that Trump’s legal team had brought up, but suggested by the judge.

It will, of course, be appealed and eventually find itself at the Supreme Court, where Justice Clarence Thomas has already written a concurring opinion in the recent presidential immunity case that apparently guided Cannon’s decision.

The decision does not clear Trump of charges that he illegally took and hid documents, including classified documents, or that he engaged in obstruction of justice in keeping boxes of evidence sought under search warrants from the same Florida court.

In that sense, the decision is neither substantive nor just for either Trump or prosecutors, and leaves the taint of political bias of the judge hanging in mid-air.

It certainly is no step toward “unity.”


IF YOU VALUE TERRY’S COMMENTARY, PLEASE DONATE TODAY.

The post Decoding the “Unity” Message appeared first on DCReport.org.

Read the whole story
DGA51
6 days ago
reply
Central Pennsyltucky
Share this story
Delete

America First (Again)

1 Share

Watching the formation of a new “America First” movement has become a hobby of mine that admittedly hooked me when I first listened to the Maddow podcast “Ultra,” now in its second season. I recently posted a small sample of the Dr. Seuss campaign against the pro-NAZI America First movement a while back, and I will post more today and maybe more in the future.

In the 1930’s and 1940s, the America First Movement was an isolationist campaign that was aided and abetted by pro-fascist influencers who saw the US entry into WW2 as a threat to their cause. They were, fortunately, very bad at painting NAZIism in a benign light.

More recently, TFG himself adopted the “America First” position in the run-up to the 2016 election:

America first will be the major and overriding theme of my administration.

And now, with his nomination to be TFG’s Veep, “America First” has a new spokesmodel in JD Vance. Speaking to current Danbury Federal Prison resident Steve Bannon on his podcast in April 2022, we have this quote from ol’ JD:

I gotta to be honest with you, I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another.

Stirring words that should tug at the heartstrings of pro-Putin neofascists everywhere.

Similar words were uttered by another famous American of note: The Lone Eagle, Lucky Lindy, Slim… you know Charles Lindbergh. He said this:

I have been forced to the conclusion that we cannot win this war for England regardless of how much assistance we send. That is why the America First Committee has been formed.

And the rest is history.

Read the whole story
DGA51
6 days ago
reply
Central Pennsyltucky
Share this story
Delete

Democrat thy name is Pollyanna

1 Comment

Conservatives have one super power and one major weakness. Progressives have one super power and one major weakness. Every election cycle sees the collision of these strengths and these weaknesses. We saw both flare up during that fateful debate and we continue to see it in the aftermath. The sad truth is that the Democratic party has placed themselves in a no win scenario of their own making.

Republicans can craft a narrative and they have the discipline to stay on that narrative. That is their superpower. Whether that narrative has any truth to it, whether it is raging hypocrisy, or whether it ignores large swaths of truth doesn’t matter. Of course, we are seeing their weakness in full display here in Texas. They couldn’t govern a two car funeral. Yet, I digress.

The whole business about Joe Biden and Ukraine early on in the Trump presidency was a test balloon. Trump was able to paint Hillary Clinton as corrupt and right or wrong that label stuck. So maybe he could paint Biden as corrupt. Obviously that has never worked. He continues to try to fight a two-front war but the vast majority of people don’t see Biden as corrupt. They do see him as old and that is the other plank they have fought on. Watching conservatives fight on both fronts is maddening. One cannot be a criminal mastermind and senile at the same time. I suspect deep down inside they know this, but they almost see it as an insult buffet. You take your pick.

As Democrats/progressives we do one thing really well. We govern. When we are in charge things get done. Legislation passes and people in control do the things day to day that need to be done for things to run smoothly. The economy starts humming and people get the services they need. When polled without labels, people routinely favor what Democrats and progressives do and what they call for. That is our superpower. When we look back at these last three and a half years we see a ton of good in the Biden presidency.

Our weakness is that we care what people think. If you think back to every major progressive achievement, you see we have spent far too much time and energy asking people that will never support it to weigh in. We lost a public option in the Affordable Care Act that way. Now, we see ourselves at the precipice of a national crisis. We see a collision of the GOP strength (discipline in messaging) matched squarely against our weakness (we care what others think). What is one to do?

We blew this one folks. Joe Biden should always have been a one term president. A successor should have been groomed (the positive meaning of that word) and introduced to the public long before now. At this point it doesn’t even particularly matter if he is capable of doing the job for another four years. Politics and reality are at best estranged lovers. What we shouldn’t do is worry about the 40 percent that will vote Trump religiously. Those folks won’t vote for anyone you put up. The key now is the other 60 percent.

Yet again, this is where we burn ourselves. We worry about the narrative.Kamala Harris is too liberal and too abrasive. Gavin Newsom is too California and California is a hell hole. Bernie and Elizabeth are too old and too extreme. Secretary Pete is just too gay. Remember, these are all things the 40 percent will say and they are the folks that would never vote for them anyway. I personally don’t care what they say. I say let’s ask the 60 percent.

Anyone you put up at this point will have about a week or two where they are the darling. Then, the right wing noise machine when craft a new message and start chipping away. That’s the way these things work. So, as hard as it is we have to dial out the noise. We cannot listen to people that won’t vote for anyone we put up. This is all about people that might support the cause. Who are they more likely to support? The clock is ticking.

Read the whole story
DGA51
13 days ago
reply
We cannot listen to people that won’t vote for anyone we put up. 
Central Pennsyltucky
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories