Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Why Trump is President Part II

In the last comment on the first part of Why Trump is President, Keith posited..........  Regarding societal evolution.  I guess I am not too sure I understand the concept as well as you do.  Evolving to what?  What are the characteristics that differ or can be compared to human evolution which is improvement in adaptation environmentally exhibited by higher intellectual capacity.  is it the ability to maximize our intellectual capacity in ways that benefit mankind's survival as a whole?  Which brings us to the Reds vs the Greens.  Why does it seem that the greens have progressed towards maximizing their intellectual capacity more than Reds -Oranges?  Or is that just a contextural elitist bias.   We are all born with this intellectual capacity that makes us superior to the animal kingdom intellectually.  So why do some people become greener than others?  Is it an organic brain formation, environment ?  Clearly, some parts of the country are more Red than others, but you can find greens amongst them and vice-versa for greens.  Some points to ponder.

My response.........

Regarding societal evolution, one of the best examples is slavery.  As societies evolve, slavery disappears.  Previous studies have shown that in ego/ethno-centric cultures 15% practiced slavery and it was black on black, white on white and yellow on yellow.  Race did not matter in those studies on indigenous populations and they practiced slavery because worldcentric morality had not yet emerged on a wide scale)—hence this unfreedom is not primarily due to the presence of an oppressive force but to the absence of a higher development. This is key to understanding the far-right today - they are not being deliberately oppressive - they lack the higher development needed to see they are oppressing others with their beliefs and subsequent actions.    

Quoting Wilber "This evolutionary stage also meant that identity could expand from ethnocentric (“my-special-group” identity) to worldcentric (or “all-groups” or “all-humans” identity, which strove to treat all people—not just a special group but all people—fairly regardless of race, color, sex, or creed). This was  a staggering shift in values—from ethnocentric group-centered to worldcentric all-humans centered—and for this reason, in a one-hundred year time period (roughly 1770-1870), slavery was outlawed in every single worldcentric modern-rational society on the face of the planet—the first time anywhere in human history that this had happened".  

So, the ending of slavery in all modern and post-modern societies is an example of societal evolution reflecting a 100th Monkey type of result though the actual numbers to drive societal change are around 10%. The integral studies showed that, for example, the abolitionist movement in the US took place with only about 10% of the population at a world-centric view which is where slavery obsoletes itself - it is too obvious at 10% that slavery is wrong.  

That is an example of a societal stage driven by a percentage of people at a personal stage of development.  For background I quote Wilber again "People are not in any way born with green values; those values are rather the product of 5 or 6 major stages of human development,  1st-person perspective of red, to a 2nd-person perspective of amber, to a 3rd-person perspective of orange, to a 4th-person perspective of green, to a 5th-person perspective of early integral, to a 6th-person perspective of late integral, and higher. Each of these stages “transcends and includes” its predecessor."

To me, from an evolutionary question of "why is green or later turquoise an evolutionary improvement?" the answer seems to be that in a complex society of specialization, earth resource depletion, and interdependence that we currently have, these advanced stages become essential for species and planet survival. If the human race does not evolve to these higher stages, it could destroy the planet at worst, or maybe more likely just kill off 90% of its own population.  

And, back to your question of why some stall at different stages (everyone has to go through all of them through their life), it appears to be complex with many factors contributing: intellectual capacity (a mentally disabled person is not going to progress at all which means on a spectrum of intelligence there are likely max levels one can achieve); education certainly plays a role in maximizing potential; personal drive and curiosity to know; personal practices (previous studies show that the single best practice to move people on the cusp from one to the next level is meditation); and then of course the supporting activities/systems to all these like diet, exercise, schools, health-care, etc which without you cannot achieve max intelligence, emotional control, sound thinking processes, etc.  The meditation effect is particularly interesting because prayer is a form of meditation - so religious practices can play a positive role in moving people along if they don't get trapped by the dogma.   

Now, back to green.............. "But this postmodern stage—Integral Meta-theory’s “green”—brought a 4th person perspective into significant existence, which had the capacity to reflect on—and critically analyze—these 3rd-person “global” productions, and this is where green postmodernism (so named because it came after, and reflected on, the products of modernism) decided that this rational-modern mentality had, in too many ways, veered off course in destructive and counter-productive ways. And thus the civil rights movement, the worldwide environmental movement (which became larger than any political party anywhere on the planet), personal and professional feminism, the sustainability movement (in business and elsewhere)—all of what I have called “the many gifts of green. And yet, in the course of that, driven largely (if often unknowingly) by arcane arguments in academia, the originally healthy pluralistic postmodernism increasingly became an extreme, overblown, self-contradictory, utterly dysfunctional relativism, which soon collapsed almost entirely into nihilism and narcissism. It’s the nature of the leading-edge stage that its values, although they are only directly embraced by the stage itself, nonetheless tend to permeate or seep through the culture at large. (For example, when the leading-edge was orange rational world-centric, whose world-centric or “all-humans-treated-equally” values inherently included an anti-slavery stance, the Civil War was fought in America in order to end slavery, and over a million white boys died in the fight to end black enslavement—and yet not much more than 10 percent of the population was actually at the orange stage—but that value had seeped throughout the culture of the North, and many were willing to die for it—as many were in the French and American revolutions, which marked an orange democratic overthrow of amber monarchy/aristocracy.)"

Where he talks about green falling back into nihilism and narcissism is when I reflect on the rabid attitudes of progressives manifesting as overbearing PC, taking up causes like stopping water bottling (just an example I see), the micro-aggression issues colleges have had to deal with where people find the least little thing to be offended by, etc are when Green veered off course. It got stuck in its own loop. Reds actually came up with what I thought was a ridiculous saying that "liberals eat their own young" which i only now understand.  But, the progressives who lost emotional control did become so vicious I can see how someone could make that statement. Think about the vitriolic attacks on GMO's, energy producers, etc - on one level I agree those things are problematic but some of these people would blow up Monsanto, Exxon, and Chevron with no solution what to do next figured out. They substitute one wrong with a much greater wrong.  And, some of these far-left activists will cut off their nose to spite their face because they see certain things as so wrong - they have lost perspective.  That is the negative side of green that caused the backlash that ultimately was that little extra that pushed Trump over the top.   

Sorry for probably giving you more than you asked but it all started to fit together and I just kept going

Why Trump is President

This post and the extensive comments are a transcription of an email exchange I had with a friend.  Other readers should feel free to jump in as they feel inclined.

If you feel like diving into some deep-think analysis where this guy (Ken Wilber) uses lots of big words check this out.  First I will give you an excerpt that will either capture your attention so you will be willing to invest the few hours it takes to digest this overly-complicated way of viewing the current social issues in the US and world or you will say Nah, I would rather do my other things.  When this guy says "Green" just substitute "progressive politically correct"  and when he says "amber" think alt-right nationalistic and fundamentalist.   

Here we go..........

Here’s just one example of this slowly but widely growing realization of green’s complicity in the election of an amber ethnocentric Trump—and an indication that the self-correcting drive of evolution is indeed kicking in.  In an online article by African-American Jeremy Flood (cofounder of At the Margins), entitled “The Revolution Must Be Felt,” after emphasizing that Trump’s election was the victory of an ethnocentric current, Flood very perceptively confesses, “But in the very same vein, we [liberals] must acknowledge the way in which we refer to Trump’s base, the way we emphasize his support from the ‘non-college educated,’ the way we approach the premise of rural white America generally, relies on that very same prejudicial inference.  Our hatred for these people is at its very essence class-ism [his bold].  This cannot be stressed enough.  

Contempt for white ruralites is built into the fabric of the modern liberal lexicon.  We set them up as a vessel of every oppressive construct university liberalism has aimed to dismantle [i.e., the single great cause of all forms of oppression]—from fundamentalist religion, to sine qua non nationalism, to a general distrust in science, we’ve sculpted these people into a caricature of barbarian ignorance.  And then when we come knocking for votes, we expect them not to have noticed.  In taking these people’s votes for granted while unabashedly airing our hostility, we pushed them ever closer to the precipice, and then watched in shock as they jumped.” Exactly one of the points I’ve been making.  

Flood continues, “And if our own class-ism prevents us from caring about the emotional needs of those we derided as deplorable, we are not really progressives.”  He explains: Do you disagree with the substance of this narrative?  Are you aching to insert how [their] views are misleading, the byproduct of sexism, unfair media attention, and double standards?  Me too.  It doesn’t matter.  That was the narrative that we sold to millions of people.  And they told us what they thought of it.  We lost Michigan.  We lost Pennsylvania.  We lost Ohio.  The razed waste of Unionland.  How did we get here?  How indeed?  Says Flood, “Pundits can argue forever about whether economic or racial anxiety triggered the detonation.  But here is the bottom line: the Left failed [his bold].  We failed not because we didn’t have the facts on our side, not because our policies weren’t better for the working class, not because the redneck sods of the Trumpian horde were too racist to see reason.  The left failed because the story they were selling wasn’t strong enough to overcome these not at all new resentments [his italics].” Ressentiment, indeed.  Flood notes that “Solidarity is a story.  It’s composed of our actions and our authenticity.  It’s about collective [worldcentric] identity and collective struggle.  We are not ‘stronger together’ when half of us are ‘deplorable.’”  Amen, brother.  

“We embraced an academic, impersonal style of politics [postmodern poststructuralist], and through our tone and narrative, the Democratic party came to embody exactly the kind of elitist hierarchy it was built to overcome.”   Right on the money.  And as we’ve seen, one of the primary reasons that this comes about is that whenever we deny growth hierarchies, then automatically, unavoidably, and by default, we strengthen dominator hierarchies.  Without a countervailing current tilting and trending us toward our highest worldcentric and integral possibilities, we slide into our lowest common denominators, our egocentric and ethnocentric drives.  (And when originally worldcentric notions regress to ethnocentric displays, they take on the flavor of all amber-stage productions: an absolutistic, fundamentalist, “one-true-way” attitude, and we buy into it with a religious fervor that takes no prisoners.  We have seen this happen with science itself—as it slid into amber scientific materialism and reductionistic scientism; with feminism—as, for many, it slid into an absolutistic religion, the slightest disagreement with which was viewed as deeply demonic; we saw it with Marxism—as it slid into a de facto zealot religion for millions: while religion may or may not be the opiate of the masses, Marxism became the opiate of the intellectuals; and we’ve seen it with many political ideologies, even those coming from orange or green, when latched onto with an  unquestioning fervor and absolutistic enthusiasm, slid into their lowest ethnocentric and even egocentric displays, with disaster a short step away.)  When that happens, then this slide from growth holarchies into dominator hierarchies is deeply unavoidable—and catastrophic coming from the leading-edge itself.  No wonder evolution imploded. 

This link should take you to the whole thing if you are interested.  I think it is needlessly long, repetitive and hard to understand though the general thesis is that the progressive movement imploded because being PC made it impossible for progressives to reflect on where they were because it isn't PC to see stratas of society and consciousness which set up a cognitive dissonance that shorted out the movement and prevented it from leading.  If you can read it though it really hammers this idea home so you can fully and completely understand the schizophrenic left and why the other half of society rebelled - they had to because it was leading to a dead-end.  I ended up reading the whole and am glad I did because now I can translate some of it into easier to understand language.   

Once I read this, then it was really easy for me to see the manifestation of the progressives I know in basically embracing this idea of stupid, ignorant, racist, greedy, uneducated, sheeple on the right who fall for idiotic rhetoric over and over.  And, I realized that these so-called progressives have embraced a hatred for this group though they will not call it that because it is not PC to hate someone.  Quite the societal schizophrenia.  

Keith's Response:
 I took the time to read the entire paper.  Since it was so long, I took notes along the way which has motivated me to put down a long reply. 

 It is both disturbing and thought provoking relying heavily on imparting self guilt to anyone who is not a Trump supporter as well as his foundational premise on "truth".  That truth for everyone has de-evolved to being contextural based.  Truth, in spite of being contextural today's truths can still be tested for mistakes in logic using the set of fallacies we discuss during the course of the campaign last year.  The Trump campaign and administration continue to violate logic for nearly all the 12 Fallacy arguments that I am aware of. 

A term I first heard from your brother and Jeff Roach was "elitist" which Wilbur seems to have lifted from the Trump supporter lexicon.  I still cannot understand why being elite is a bad thing.  It never bothered me for someone to think I was better than them when I never thought I was.  Elitism is criticizd by Wilbur for the loss or for the recent developments in evolutionary self-correction yet his entire thesis is presented using esoteric, elitist words and sentence construction throughout.  To gain a better understanding of the nature of the world we now live in I am beginning to read a book Invitation to Philosophy-Issues and Options .  Lots of sections on Logic, Ethics, Fallacies, Perceptions, and Truth- the entire gamut of philosophy in brief.  Arming up for alternative facts.

So, though I do not agree with Wilbur on "there is no truth" or that it is a best relativistic, seems too much the self blame.  Perhaps for the Democratic Party, but for the vast majority of centrist Democrats and Independents I don't think it can be applied.  And we should not accept blame in terms of what Wilbur is proposing.  Nor progressives in general.  Party affiliates yes.  For me it is a combination of factors that account for Trump's election.  The elephant in the room being simply the wrong opposition candidate being pushed through by the Democrats.  The missteps by Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Donna Brazile in putting historic precedence before what was best for the country.  Trump didn't win, the Democrats lost.  And it was a screwy election since he won the Electoral College not the popular vote which puts a pall over his legitimacy.  Keep in mind that it wasn't just that Hillary beat Trump in the popular vote by 3million votes, there were another nearly 8million cast for other than Trump or Hillary.  That means nearly 54% of the popular vote did not go to Trump.  Of 136.6million voters 73.65million did not vote Trump and with his popularity dropping by the week his ability to govern will become more and more of a problem. 

I think that Strauss and Howe in the Fourth Turning, captures in their minds, as a product of the cycles of history which they explain to my satisfaction the why's and mechanisms that apparently repeat and have repeated throughout history.   Since this is a cyclical process I would not agree with the idea it is evolutionary.  At best evolutionary and de-evolutionary, ie cyclical.  Very much a pendulum that reaches an extreme followed  by a counter reaction moving towards center and on to the other extreme.  The positive regarding Trump is he represents and extreme so though it may get worse it will reach an end point.   I think Wilbur adds to the details of what Strauss and Howe have already proposed.  However they add greater depth and dimension by characterizing the effects on each generation as they arrive in a specific Turning be it the High, Awakening, Unraveling or the Crisis and how their response shapes the successive generations as they all approach the next turning.  Theirs is an optimistic view that we pass though Crises to the next Highs and the First Turning.  It really depends upon the foundation for our values and how strong our Constitution and three branches of government can maintain balance.  After all, all can be lost.  It is an option.

it appears, and bothers me that the foundation premise for Wilbur's further arguments is what he refers to as  "there is no truth", that it is relative, which if my interpretation is correct, I reject.  Truth is not relative.  That statement alone is false.  Truth can be tested.  That is what is happening right now.  Too many people already know what "truth" is and is not.  People know how to test for fact vs alternative facts as evidenced by the inability for the Trump Administration to even get itself off the ground caught up in their own lies.  Wilbur's paper is analysis of the fallacies (though he doesn't state this) that have currently been used to gain hold by the Right with Brexit and Trump,  However, for those of us with the tools to sift fact from fallacy, truth has been and will be a continuum,  Only if yo believe there are no facts and "what really counts is we truly believe this" do you get duped. 

This is why, in spite of the fact I didn't vote for Trump, I wanted him to be the GOP candidate (as long as it couldn't be Kasich or some other reasonable Republican).  Since we were headed for "Crisis" phase anyway let's just jump in and get it over.  Given the first 3 weeks performance all is working according to plan and the  more the outrageous the better. 

I take even more umbrage with the description by Wilber of Boomers as not teaching truth, but self-esteem.  This his "truth", not mine nor most Boomers, but again he establishes this as fact then expands upon it committing the same fallacy that he criticizes.  The Boomer Generation is the "question authority" generation who were still taught critical thinking,(not emphasized today) keeping in mind the No Child Left Behind and Common Core BS were brought to you by the Orange administrations.  (An aside doing away with the Department of Education at this point would not be a bad thing, letting the states handle it with Fed Funds only to ensure equivalency in buildings.)  But Wilbur's "no truth" premise is a false foundation up which much of the rest of his argument does not hold up and is more a criticism of the Right than the Left rather than the fault of the Left. 

Much of this is regional.  A function of the Coasts with generally better education systems vs the Right in the fly-over states, more the belief oriented states with belief based education.  The irony is these same Trump supporters who suffer from inadequate education needed to get the jobs and the standard of living the coasts enjoy are the very ones who seem to think the government can fix it, the same government their anti-government movement wishes to diminish.  The 70% of whites with only a high school or lower education who voted for Trump don't see they are a victim of their own device.  They are "the rednecked, oafish, uneducated, gigantic instigator of oppression of all minorities" who above all hate minorities who have become more successful through their own hard work and who conflate the criminal elements of the minorities to bring down all members of an ethnic group or race.  And what of this term "elite", again is this anyone who has become more successful than themselves.  Appears to be the case.  A case of self hate transposed over resentment.

Wilbur seems to suffer from some of his own Green guilt complex which I do not share.  I, unlike the serious hopeful Hillary voter, after 8 years of obstructionism by Republicans wanted to bring this festering sore of an Alt-Right Movement (now that it has been defined as such) to the fore so those supporters, out of ignorance, could see that it's without substance.  To let the disappointment settle in with the reality that there really wasn't anything in it for them.  Green's warned the Oranges, but they need to see for themselves.  Not a problem for me.  Again, it was the wrong major party candidate that lost, Trump did not win.  If it had been Biden or if Obama could have run a third term, just by his popularity numbers we can see either one would have won.  So the underlying theme by Wilbur of gross miss steps by the Greens is overstated.  There is a great deal of self flagellation and attempt to transfer that sense of guilt to those he calls greens.  Going back to the Fourth Turning, I would equate Wilbur's Integral Age to the First Turning, a High as they term it.  An upbeat era of strengthening institutions and weakening individualism.  We are now in the Fourth Turning, it is clear, a Crisis era where secular upheaval exists and the values regime propels the replacement of the old civic order with a new one.  This is why needed a Trump, to bring this to a head, what has been fomenting on the Right for 8 years.  A kind of Anti-Christ who though bordering on evil is needed to bring us to our senses and across this abyss of questionable values.  The future is playing out as it should with Trump only 3 weeks in already floundering on a number of fronts. 

Net-net though I questioned and challenge Wilbur on some of his arguments and his being a bit heavy on the "psycho analysis" and his assignment that the green's fundamental belief is "there is no truth" I think this a good read.  I would also challenge his guilt laden arguments he lays on greens.  Then he needs that to go forward with his thesis.  Simply spelled out, the crisis we are entering into is a Constitutional Crisis and I am betting on the Constitution to prevail.  the alternative will be extreme civil insurrection and perhaps civil war.  It could happen. 

Wilbur speaks of the future, some Pollyannaish green's "reaching out to understand, include in dialogue, care, even love to the deplorables".  Maybe because I come from the 60s and still harbor a great deal of resentment for the authority during those times, I will have none of that.  would rather see it taken to the streets if necessary.  No peace, love incense from my part.  Too much venom on the Orange/Red, Alt-Right whatever for peace/love.   

Per the Fourth Turning Wilbur would be out of synch from an historical perspective.  The Awakening he referred to has already passed.  It started in 1984 and ended in the mid-2000's (at least that was the end point predicted in 1997,  We are actually at the peak of the Crisis stage (again as predicted in 1997) and it feels like it.  Finally Wilbur states, "Humankind has never had a leading edge like this at any previous point in history" which is completely untrue.  Every Crisis stage presents a great existential threat and the chance everything could be lost.  The year preceding the Civil War was the leading edge like none in history whose effects have rippled even to the present day.  Very long lasting effects.

Don't worry.  I have confidence things will work out and even more so with the pushback by the Federal Courts and the total transparent ineptness of Trump and his entire staff from Kelly Conway, Spicer, Flynn, and De Vos.  The scariest guy so far is this Goebbels like reincarnation, Steven Miller.  That guy is dangerous.  However, they too will fall.   

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Facts Are Meaningless and Any News I Don't Like Must Be Fake

Screw facts. News that is contrary to what I know is fake.  Thinking is a waste of time when there are pundits to explain it all. Feeling indignant is so righteous. My emotions are more valid than anything. Writing and talking about politics is a waste of time because 90% of people only look for confirmation about what they already know.

A very concise list of current falsities believed by 45 - 50% of the US populace. They will attack this with all their might.

  1. Obama was weak with Russia.  Yet, Ukraine became part of Europe in 2014.  "Ukraine was a reliable Russian satrapy or obedient client state until 2014, when popular uprisings and then free elections ousted Moscow's puppet, Yanukovich, in the worst disaster to Russian hegemonism since the fall of the Berlin Wall."  You need more proof? "Moreover, whom did Vladimir Putin and the Russian press openly blame for this calamity, bringing Europe within a few hundred kilometers of Moscow? Why, those machiavellian chessmaster-manipulators and insidious cold war fighters, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton! Just look at a map and view the last few years as V. Putin sees them. Read his actual (yes, actual) statements on the matter and vows of vengeance. His nibble-backs in Crimea and the Donbas, for which the U.S. rightwing kvells in admiration, are trifles, by comparison. "
  2. Obama was weak with China and the US lets them have the South China Sea.  "...the U.S. Navy patrols the South China Sea with regularity, making clear that a 12-mile radius is all that China has won around each of its stunningly vulnerable, sitting-duck outposts, gained - temporarily - at incredible cost in both money and goodwill."  
  3. The world is more disorderly now than when Obama took office.  "...when Obama entered office, not a single major U.S. Army or Marine unit was rated "fully combat ready" (FCR). Our reserve units had virtually been destroyed and America's reputation was around our ankles. Allies had dropped away from us like peeling skin.

    Today? 100% of major U.S. active duty military units are FCR. The National Guard and reserves - devastated and ruined under Bush - are now repaired
  4. The Affordable Care Act is a disaster.  Yet, all health statistics improved under Obama and Clinton.  All health stats declined or stalled under H.W. and W Bush.  

Monday, December 12, 2016

How I Kept My Cool in 2016

We all have to eat, drink, exercise and use our brains.

These were my top ideas from 2016.

Click here to read!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Will the Right Hold Out an Olive Branch?

How to survive the Trump changes
Donald Trump has won the presidency, will be the 45th POTUS, and the progressives in the US are scared — really scared. If you are a centrist or left-of-center then that brain has, or is now doing some flips to make sense of what is going on.
If in the Trump camp you are ecstatic and maybe feeling more powerful and ready to shove one of societies dregs or some other country around now to show them a new sheriff is in town. Or, maybe you realize those Clinton, Johnson and Stein supporters are now freaking out and ready to offer an olive branch and some comfort to those folks. Maybe you can see that offering a billy club is not the right tool and an olive branch would soothe things remarkably. Maybe you can see that those scared progressives need to hear you say that you have a firm limit on misogyny, racism, societal inequality, nationalism and a willingness to got to war. Maybe you can understand they need some reassuring words that you will not let them be harmed and that you are with Trump to shake things up, but, not let people get hurt.
The center and progressives are scared because they don’t understand why anyone could vote for Trump after what he has said about women, other races, Muslims, Hillary (I will have her investigated on day one!), and anyone who disagrees with him. They wonder how much Trump supporters will tolerate before saying enough-is-enough. Right now they have no idea how far their friends, family, and neighbors will go down the road of nationalism, bigotry, race-baiting, and bullying of those less fortunate. And that, at the least, concerns them, and more likely, they are downright scared that most Trump supporters will stick with him no matter what he does.
Many, many Trump supporters are going to need to articulate where they draw the line. It is the only way for the Trump skeptics to be at peace enough to start healing and find a way to support the changes coming.
The alternative is not pretty. If this turns ugly it could get very bad before it gets better. I hope everyone can find a place in their heart that is inclusive. If you can only find a place for what you claim as yours then the changes coming are going to create big wounds. Look out for, care for, and take care of all your fellow citizens and people of the world. We are all in this together.
Why should Trump and his supporters care? After all, might makes right and with a GOP congress and the Presidency they can do what they want at this point and ram through all those things they have wanted and that President Obama has stopped. 
Many wise people have weighed in on this subject before. Let’s consider Henry Ford’s quotes: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”; and, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” Then in the bible: Mark 3:25 “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand”; Matthew 12:25 “And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand”. Patrick Henry’s famous statement is similar: “Let us trust God, and our better judgment to set us right hereafter. United we stand, divided we fall. Let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.”. And, from sports came Vince Lombardi’s quote “Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
My hope is that Trump supporters clearly find that place in their heart where they will not go past. And, that the place they find will not let anyone get hurt, and that they state publicly where they stand to reassure progressives, women, and those of color that they will not support policies, laws and military actions that will bring harm to those groups. And, just as important, the Dems, independents, and those on the far-left find common ground on many issues, be supportive, and not resort to violence on their side either.
As the state motto of Kentucky says “United we stand and divided we fall”. Lets all stand up together!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Tastiest Facts You Need To Survive

We all want to consume the tastiest facts because we need them to live. How do you find the facts needed to survive and stay away from the poison that will kill you for sure? A recent NY Times article dug out some recent headlines from around the internet to highlight what is bombarding us.

“Obama to Declare MARTIAL LAW If Trump Wins Election.” That was the teaser text that recently popped up on my Facebook news feed. It directed me to a post from a page called Nation in Distress, one of the many hyperpartisan Facebook pages that have gained in popularity this year. The post linked to a website called, which linked to a video blog called The Daily Sheeple, which cited a National Enquirer story claiming that Hillary Clinton had a lesbian tryst in a Beverly Hills, Calif., hotel in the 1990s. I wasn’t able to find the evidence that President Obama would declare martial law if Donald J. Trump won the presidential election.

Then an email from an investment newsletter had a link to this article on how the FBI probe of Hillary was tainted by huge campaign donations. There is no one we can trust, is there? Here is another highlight from the Emma Roller op-ed piece. She shows an example of the complete ridiculousness of headlines meant to get us to click on the link.

The next time I opened Facebook, another Nation in Distress post showed up at the top of my news feed — this time with a story about how the size of Mr. Trump’s campaign plane HUMILIATED the Clinton plane. (Dr. Freud was unavailable for comment.)

A recent BuzzFeed analysis found that roughly 38 percent of posts from three “hyperpartisan right-wing Facebook pages” contained false information, compared with 19 percent of hyperpartisan left-wing pages. BuzzFeed’s conclusion: “The best way to attract and grow an audience for political content on the world’s biggest social network is to eschew factual reporting and instead play to partisan biases using false or misleading information that simply tells people what they want to hear.”

But, is it really what we want to hear? Or, is what we must hear? Our confirmation bias may be so deep that to go against it will at the least cause us severe mental pain. At worst, for those already a bit unstable, the pain of seeing ourselves as previously fooled and hoodwinked could put us over the edge.

So, we must believe we are swallowing bits of truth. It cannot be lies since it has been fact-checked! More from Emma.

If share-baiting Facebook posts are the junk food of the political internet, then fact-check journalism is steamed spinach. As a journalistic tool, fact-checking has been on the rise for years. A study conducted by the American Press Institute found that the number of fact-checking stories tripled between 2008 and 2012. This election has given us a barrage of dubious claims that need to be verified or debunked.

The study also found broad support for political fact-checking — or at least the concept of it. Eight in 10 Americans view political fact-checking favorably. But reconcile that statistic with the fact that, according to a CNN poll from 2015, 29 percent of Americans, and 43 percent of Republicans,think President Obama is Muslim. The implication seems to be that Americans like the concept of fact-checking, as long as those facts confirm their point of view.

Before this inflamed political rhetoric was on Facebook, it was broadcast to millions of listeners on talk radio. On a recent episode of Mr. Limbaugh’s radio show, which draws roughly 13 million weekly listeners, he argued that there was no such thing as “fact checking,” since the news outlets that did the checking were irredeemably partisan.

“The idea that it is a fact-checked story is designed to say to you that it is objective and analytically fair, and all it is a vehicle for them to do opinion journalism under the guise of fairness, which if you fall for it, gives it even more power,” Mr. Limbaugh told his listeners.

This automatic distrust of the press, long a bastion of conservative thought, took on a darker tone this year. At a rally in Cleveland on Saturday, a pair of Trump supporters called the press “lügenpresse,” or “lying press” — a term used in Nazi Germany that has recently been resurrected by the German anti-immigrant party known as Pegida.

Daniel Dale is the Toronto Star’s Washington correspondent, and since last September, he has fact-checked as many of Mr. Trump’s statements as he can. It’s a daunting task, what he calls “an unprecedented daily avalanche of falseness.”

“Shoehorning him into a normal coverage pattern conveys the impression that he is a normal political liar,” he said. “He requires something different.”

During the debates, Mr. Dale fact-checked both Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton, and found that, over the course of the debates, Mr. Trump made 104 false claims, while Mrs. Clinton made 13 false claims. He has seen a lot of interest — his list of fact-checks, which he tweets out daily, regularly get more than 1,000 retweets — but also a lot of animosity.“On the positive side: Nothing I’ve ever done has been this popular online,” he said. “On the negative side: Nothing I’ve ever done has so infuriated people.”

Are you one of the people who think Obama is Muslim? Does the work Daniel Dale did infuriate you with a stat that says Trump is 9x the liar Ms Clinton is? Have you decided that fact-checking is bogus? Do you believe in chemtrails and the Ilumanati? It is your brain protecting you, so don't get down on yourself. Otherwise, you might end up much worse off like a complete melt down. Ms Roller continued........

Many people will be doing some soul-searching after this election, but perhaps no one more than conflicted conservative talk radio hosts. Charlie Sykes, a popular radio host in Milwaukee, has been candid about conservative media’s complicity in the rise of Trump.“We’ve basically eliminated any of the referees, the gatekeepers. There’s nobody,” he told Business Insider in August.

He added at the time: “We have spent 20 years demonizing the liberal mainstream media. And by the way, a lot of it has been justifiable. There is real bias. But at a certain point you wake up and you realize you have destroyed the credibility of any credible outlet out there,” he said “And I have to look in the mirror and ask myself, ‘To what extent did I contribute?’ ” (Mr. Sykes announced this month that he will be leaving his radio show at the end of the year.)

A big part of the problem is not just Republicans’ willingness to say untrue things, but more of a willingness to let other people in their party say crazy and untrue things without pushing back. After Mr. Trump spread a racist lie about the first African-American president, that did not stop Mitt Romney from accepting his endorsement in his 2012 race. Conservative politicians and media personalities are stuck in a double bind now, where they are too afraid of comeuppance to tell their audience the truth.

Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University, said Republican elites trapped themselves by telling their supporters not to believe mainstream outlets, even though they still relied on those outlets. “When they preached, ‘Don’t believe the mainstream media,’ they were still reading The New York Times and The Washington Post every morning and using it to set their baseline for their political reality,” he said. “They didn’t take the advice they gave to base voters.”

Fact-free thinking isn’t just for the right. The anti-vaccine movement is a perfect example of far-right paranoia wrapping around to the far-left fringe. At a rally last month in upstate New York with Senator Bernie Sanders and Zephyr Teachout, I talked to a woman who calmly segued from talking about climate change (real) to chemtrails and the Illuminati (not real). But while the Republican nominee is dabbling in conspiracy theories, no Democratic officeholder is holding hearings about chemtrails.

The strongest bias in American politics is not a liberal bias or a conservative bias; it is a confirmation bias, or the urge to believe only things that confirm what you already believe to be true. Not only do we tend to seek out and remember information that reaffirms what we already believe, but there is also a “backfire effect,” which sees people doubling down on their beliefs after being presented with evidence that contradicts them.

There might be hope for those that are ready to move past confirmation bias. If you are one of those who cannot move past that it is OK. If you are then get ready for some tough sledding because it will not be easy. You are going to eat a big slice of humble pie! Ms Roller continues with a possible path through the mess.

So, where do we go from here? There’s no simple answer, but the only way people will start rejecting falsehoods being fed to them is by confronting uncomfortable truths. Fact-checking is like exposure therapy for partisans, and there is some reason to believe in what researchers call an “affective tipping point,” where “motivated reasoners” start to accept hard truths after seeing enough claims debunked over and over.

Some facts are equally inconvenient for both sides. President Obama has deported more people than any president before him. That fact doesn’t sit well with the president’s supporters, who think of Democrats as the party of kindness toward immigrants, and it doesn’t sit well with Mr. Trump’s supporters, who think the president is a weak and feckless leader.

“President Obama has moved millions of people out. Nobody knows about it. Nobody talks about it. But under Obama, millions of people have been moved out of this country. They’ve been deported,” Mr. Trump said at the third and final debate.

This criticism was bizarre — after building his campaign on a southern border wall and a “deportation force” that would round up undocumented immigrants by the millions — but it was true all the same.

Do you feel completely upside down now? If so, that means you are considering moving on from cherished beliefs. Maybe your emotional filter is ready for some maintenance. Humans have to process so much information we must use an emotional filter or we would end up overwhelmed and become a weeping confused blob. So, lighten up on yourself and your fellow humans who seem so stupid to you. Chris Field talks about the basics of our emotional filter in this blog. Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink covers how we make instantaneous decisions. Both these give some insight into how the brain works. We are only scratching the surface of how cognition works. So, give yourself and your fellows a little room to move forward.

Emma Roller (@EmmaRoller), a former reporter for National Journal.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

BS’ing Myself

BS’ing Myself

Did you ever have an Ah-Ha moment when you realized how you were bullshitting yourself? And, you could see how your mouth had just opened up and swallowed the biggest bunch of crap ever. And, you had fed it to yourself! Well, for about 60 years I never tasted my own bullshit and then one day something happened.
It seemED impossible to me that I could lie to myself like a great politician and do it so well that I didn’t know it. How is it possible to be the deceiver and the deceived at the same time? It cannot be — can it?
My aha was laying on a table being checked out by a PT (physical therapist) for left hip weakness. He was giving me advice on different exercises and movements I should do to fix the problem. And, I am thinking, I used to do that. I Used to do that too. I USed to do that one. I USEd to do those. I USED to do all that!!!!
After leaving the PT and having time to think about the state I was in and realizing my body deterioration was almost 100% my own doing, instead of chastising myself, moving on, and forgetting about the whole thing, I tried to look at where did the decision-making go south. That was when the web of deceit and lies I had woven started to unwind ever so slowly. My mind did not really want to give up this info because this is precious ego stuff. It was like a foggy blanket over my consciousness of a particular aspect of my life. The ramifications are huge when you think about it. If one does this once in one part of their life, the odds are pretty good they are doing it in other parts as well.
One of the reasons I am writing this is so I remember how the fog burned off and made the web of deceit visible. It took a while to see how I built the wall brick-by-brick to block off the view and the memories. I am sure my ego-mind thought it was doing me a favor. The reality was it was slowly killing me. That sounds dramatic but I don’t think overly so. Let me explain.
After a hernia operation last August I was in a lot of pain. At least for me it was a lot of pain because I have been lucky health-wise most of my life. So, for two weeks I could not stand up straight because my gut hurt so bad. And, my mind just kept telling me to take it easy and not do too much which was good advice at the time. But, six months later, that was not good advice. Yet, until I went to the PT and he gave me an exercise program almost identical to what I was doing before, all the answers remained hidden.
As I peeled away the layers, I started to see how we build walls inside walls of beliefs that hide the truth we need from us. One of the ways this happens is that what is true at one time is not at another. For example, giving pilates exercises a break right after hernia surgery was a good decision and true to my needs. Three months later, that was not true to my needs. As humans, we think truth is a static, unchanging principle. I don’t think this is true and it is why we must constantly challenge our own beliefs. If we don’t then rigidity will set in and we will stop improving and start to decay. It makes me wonder how much of getting older is actually predestined in our genetics and how much is a result of our own actions.
So, even if you accept what I have said. And, even if I accept this, how do we decide what beliefs to reexamine? Should we have an ongoing process? I think so. There are lots of really smart people who write about this all the time. I am seeking them out and reading them and am trying to synthesize those ideas into a process that works for me. I will write about that in a later post.
If you have found any of these thinkers, please comment below so I can add them to my reading list. Thanks!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Best Music, Vids and Food of 2015

Music, videos, books, movies, television and food are where many of we spend the majority of our leisure and socializing time. We also spend a decent percentage of current or future earnings on these pursuits. Do you have time to find out about the new stars and releases? I do, and here is my list from 2015. Hope you find something to talk about at the next party! And, there are links to free versions and pro reviews of almost all the listed music and videos. No free lunches at the restaurant though!


This was the year I developed more of an ear and appreciation for hiphop with even some rap here and there. Last year started this morph with Azealia Banks' Chasing Time video and Vic Mensa's Down on My Luck inventive storyline. This year brought Future's Dirty Sprite 2 which is at once both nihilistic and entrancing with its brutal portrayal of inner city life dominated by drugs, violence, generational crime and the resulting mindset focused mostly on money, sex and getting high with the strongest ties in life to your gang members. Listening to that album while reading the translation on lyrics Genius was like taking a trip to a foreign land that in Future's case is the Little Mexico section of Atlanta.


  1. Neon Indian - VEGA INTL Night School LP This is completely infectious and instantly accessible though has held up to heavy rotation since its release in October.  Dance music that sounds innocent though a lyric dive can reveal some dark shit.  
  2. Nao - Feb 2015 LP Nao is supposed working with Jai Paul's brother to produce her latest effort. It has that funky heavy bass synth beat reminiscent of Jai Paul's latest. Her vocals are somewhere between Aluna and FKA Twigs.  
  3. Kurt Vile - B'lieve I'm Goin Down  Kurt is known as putting out the best stoner guitar picking music in the universe. I don't know about that but have enjoyed this album since its release in September. 
  4. Future - Dirty Sprite 2 If you are not up on the latest lingo then DS2 can be difficult to comprehend. With the help of Lyric Genius though anyone can figure it out quickly. In case you don't know, a Dirty Sprite aka Lean and aka Purple Drank is a mixture of cough syrup (codeine and promethezine), Sprite and a Jolly Rancher.  I've never taken this but after a hernia operation the end of August I ended up with a hydrocodone scrip and only took one and half pills before feeling very sick and dizzy and was taken off of them.  Getting back to the music on this album, it seems that even someone like me who is not a big hiphop fan will appreciate this music because of the high artistic achievement of making me understand the hopeless feeling of being a hood on the wrong side of town. I have never felt such nihilism from music before.  Trap Nigga (a black man trapped in a bad situation or place) is one of the more accessible songs and gives a good idea of this album.  
  5. Grimes - Art Angels  Claire Boucher goes by the music artist name of Grimes. This is her fourth album and the first I had heard. The music was so good I ended up exploring her earlier catalog and realized she has been a major talent for years. The album is hard to categorize with styles all over the place which is what makes it great. I never felt like it was listening to the same song 10 times.  This is pop dance floor music at heart with musical techniques not usually associated with that genre thrown in to make it endlessly interesting since the mid-November release.  


  1. Fifth Harmony - Sledgehammer  An immediately foot stomping dance song with great vocals and music from girl band Fifth Harmony.   
  2. Joey Bada$$ - Save the Children  This song deserves a top notch video - hard to believe a cutting edge producer has not done it for free by now. This just begs for visuals.     


This year did not have the big impact standout video like last year's Chasing Time. What 2015 did bring was a lot more high quality vids which made selecting three very difficult. It was a lot of fun reviewing the many worthy considerations.


Future - Blood On The Money

This is not happy holiday music, is not uplifting and does not have a happy ending. Regardless, the funeral feel to the music and the dark visuals create a mood and movie scene that sticks with you after watching it.


Demi Lovato makes you simultaneously dread and thirst breathlessly for summer 2016 to be here now.

Honorable Mention for being very cool and probably costing more than any other one.


The one standout book I read was The Shephards Crown by Terry Pratchett. This was a work in progress at his death in March that his friends and family finished from his notes. It is in the fantasy genre and was enjoyable because it was really good and had the added drama of being his last.  I listened to the audio version and highly recommend.


Allegro Romano  - Italian restaurant on top of the Broadway Tunnel in San Francisco.  My friend had the truffle risotto special which was fantastic. I had the chicken saltimbocca that was served with a picatta type sauce. Other dishes at the table were the beef carpaccio appetizer and lobster ravioli. Food, service and timing were excellent. The view from the hill outside back into downtown is wonderful.  The restaurant feels like your own private find in a nice neighborhood away from other commercial businesses.


CitizenFour was released October 2014 and I watched it in 2015.  Chilling movie that helped me understand the absolute futility of the idea keeping guns in your house will protect you from a tyrannical government - forget that - it is way too late. I consider it almost a duty for every intelligent US citizen to watch this movie. You then realize how this world works on many levels and can better identify and understand the media propaganda we are bombarded with every minute.


 What can I say? It was a great year to be a Warriors fan!!!! My wife and I so enjoyed watching the team play all season and then eat the competition alive in the playoffs.  They are starting the new season off pretty well too. Haha!

Friday, May 15, 2015

What's Your Ride?

What’s Your Ride?

What’s Your Ride?

Everyone has a vehicle. I am not really talking about a car or motorcycle. No, the vehicle I am talking about is what you use to explore for new places both physically and in other ways. So, it might be your car. But, it could be your running shoes or your yoga mat.

Most of us have more than one way to get around. There are the few one-trick ponies who maybe find work or school all-consuming. But, like a different set of clothes, we have our various ways of seeing and experiencing. One of my favorites is the bicycle. You can ride paved roads bicycle paths, dirt roads, and dirt trails. You can even put it on your shoulder and walk for a while to get over obstructions.
And, when the same routes get boring there are resources like Google Maps, RidewithGPS, Strava, and many others to find new places, see new sights, and change up the routine that maybe has become stale. And, like those same roads we travel day-after-day that can become boring and tiresome, we have our standard ways of thinking and experiencing the world that can make us feel trapped on a treadmill going nowhere. What are the maps of our interior daily life we can consult to find a new way?
The maps are surprisingly similar and sometimes the same. When bike riding on a new road yesterday called Skywalker (really — I swear!) that turned into a paved trail when barriers to cars appeared, with vistas of a 100,000 person metropolis, and a hill-side house reminiscent of The Jetsons, my interior map changed as well. The experience of a new physical area changed the interior landscape as well. Simple enough you may say, but possibly a bit more complex than at first blush.
What were the choices made along the way? What expectations were involved? How much awareness of my immediate surroundings did I need? If my head is down the whole time huffing and puffing up the 14% grade will I see The Jetson house? The rain clouds not too far off provided a sense of urgency. The previously unknown road that just turned into a paved trail with one foot high weeds makes me wonder if I’m lost. Something is making me feel edgy now.

When was the last time someone was here? Does it matter if I know?

So, it seems that fear is a vehicle for opening up something new. Fear makes me want to turn around and go back to the car and then head into Pete’s for a coffee. Recognizing that the fear is probably irrational pushes me on to new vistas both physically and mentally.
Once committed to moving forward then like magic a downhill appears which accelerates the adrenalin flow. My senses have become more acute to subtle changes in the road since hitting a rock at 35 mph could send me flying.
Like following physical maps someone else has made in order to get somewhere sooner and with less effort, there are interior maps that have been left behind. Those can be ways of analyzing data. It might be emotional maps of dealing with fear and other feelings that can carry us away. My emotional map regarding fear is one traveled extensively and was familiar enough for me to make a good decision.
Sometimes we just have to go with the flow though. Like being in a strong current in the ocean or a river, if you fight the current then your body will tire out and you could drown due to exhaustion. When to fight the current and when to go with the flow are important decisions. Sometimes you can make a quick burst of swim strokes to make it to the beach or the side of the river and save yourself.
There are some serious rain clouds building up from where I came and am planning to return to in about 3 hours. Should I turn around and try to beat them back? Or, should I stick with the plan and head away from them and hope they are gone by the time I am heading back in that direction? My intuition is to follow the plan because, hey! — things have worked out OK so far. But, just following intuition seems wrong somehow. A quick check of iPhone weather shows that the rain is supposed to pass in about 1.5 hours. Everything seems great!

Beautiful scenery unfolds and joy. But, the road is strange. There is a sort of foreboding. I have not been here before. Can I stay on schedule? And, what kind of sign is this? I mean, this ride is feeling a bit weird. But, what-the-heck?

I am feeling a little strange, but really, does life have to cooperate so fully? This seems like a time to go with that flow. And, in just a few minutes that will get tested.
The clouds are getting darker and I am thinking of stopping for lunch but want to stay the course. The air gets that fresh smell of rain so I stop to put my phone in a plastic bag and get my gilet out. And, then the rain comes down and the rain is fierce in my face. I have to really push hard to pedal up the hill into this 25 mph wind. I am rewarded by some oak trees to gain cover under where I discover that my GPS says I am off course. I was supposed to turn at that last intersection and missed the beep due to the wind. My good fortune of finding the oak trees also lets me correct course. The wind dies down and the rain passes.
Heading back to the car on this last stretch of more familiar roads, all the events of the day coalesce and this little memo-to-self writes itself. In the end, that Pete’s ice coffee tastes really good. But, now instead of feeling like a salve for giving in to fear, it seems like a reward for pushing my physical and emotional boundaries
What is your vehicle? How do you get outside and outside yourself?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Healthy Approach to Physical Fitness Training

Mark Sisson, over at posted a good article called Is Your Workout Worth The Risk? Check it out if you work out regularly as it has really good points about listening to your body, limiting/eliminating higher-risk exercises, good form, and many other common-sense daily practices. While his post and this one are primarily for the person who works out regularly, the advice can help anyone. As Mark says, everyone will deal with this issue sooner or later.
A recent survey of CrossFit athletes found that 73.5% had experienced an injury during training, 7% of which required surgery. But before the anti-CrossFit crowd starts gloating, realize that this injury rate is similar to Olympic lifting, powerlifting, and gymnastics and lower than contact sports like rugby. Similar polls in runners find that in a given year, 13% of runners experience knee injuries, 8% get Achilles tendinitis, 7% suffer hamstring pulls, 10% deal with plantar fasciitis, 10% have shin splints, 14% report iliotibial band syndrome, and 6% get stress fractures. There’s no way around it: engaging in non-essential, extracurricular bouts of physical exertion, also known as working out, carries some risk. Not working out carries its own set of (greater) risks, but that’s beside the point. As many a lauded strength coach has said, injuries are a matter of when, not if. And many of these injuries become chronic injuries that stay with you for the rest of your life.
 Though his article is good on the do's and don'ts of training, I would add a few things to Mark's excellent post:

1. Rehabilitation of injured joints and muscles is critical.
My goal is to rehab the injury so that area is stronger than it was before. Finding a good PT (physical therapist) and maintaining a good relationship with them is critical as well. It can be a PT or DC or sports massage or Osteopath - whatever works for you. 

2. Backs seem to an issue for most people sooner or later. Personally, I know more people with messed up backs from doing yoga so be careful if yoga is your thing.  Foundation Training developed by Dr Eric Goodman has proven itself with my wife, son and myself.

3. An excellent joint mobility program is call R-phase by Eric Cobb. 

4. Egoscue Training was recommended by my Tai Chi teacher. I have done some of the online videos to help me through a knee tweak from skiing and the exercises are simple and seem to work.

The bottom line is that a workout regimen needs to have a preventative group of movements
like Pilates, Foundation Training, R-Phase, etc. Though I have done Tai Chi for 20+ years, I hesitate to recommend it or Yoga because there is definitely a risk of injury if done incorrectly and in my experience there are not a lot of good teachers who know how to limit students egos to push and then get hurt. For example, Upward Dog done with the legs off the ground is very high risk for lower back injury. Most people should be doing Cobra with no weight on the lower back muscles. Upward Dog done by someone who knows the technique and has a good teacher who can spot slight form issues is safe, but, is it worth the risk?

In summary, think about breaking your training into two parts. For every workout day (a run, crossfit, kettlebells, weight training, etc), have a core/preventative day like Pilates, Foundation Training, joint mobility, balance, etc.  And, get on good terms with a PT and rehab all your injuries back to making the injured component better than it was before. Invest time in finding a PT, ART specialist, ROLF'ing, Osteopath, etc that you trust and has a record of success helping you.

And, last by not least, have a goal for how long you want to live and treat your body as if it has to last that long. If your goal is 100 and you want to be active that long, look at good examples like Jack LaLanne or others of what they did to be active and healthy to the end.

In an effort to keep this post short and readable, I included links and brief mentions of many resources but did not go into detail. Use the comments section to ask questions about any areas that you want more information. Have a happy body day and be kind to it!