By Their Works, They Will Be Judged

There are many interesting adjectives and phrases being tossed around during the 2016 election cycle. Some of them are quite familiar to the ones used in the past. During the 2012 and 2008 cycles, one phrase struck me as an odd criticism – too intellectual. To criticize a candidate for being too intellectual seems rather odd. The spread of anti-intellectualism has been effective. As we see in this current election cycle, it seems that many have forgotten what the words elitist, bigot, pandering, and patronizing mean. To infer that any politician is void of these traits is foolish. They all pander and patronize to some extent. They all belong to an elite group even as they claim to understand the common man. While not all will outwardly admit to a belief that the elite should rule, most will have risen to their places in society through the help of elitist organizations. Finally, few who walk this earth can truly claim to be without some form of bias, and while most will do their best to avoid bigotry and correct this human tendency, not all will.

Intellectualism was criticized and anti-intellectualism was embraced during the last eight years. Now it is elitism at the center of public criticism. While criticism is flung at one candidate for elitism, those using the criticism are clamoring to another elitist who panders to the base nature of man rather than a more elevated nature of man.

Evaluation of political candidates and political leaders is vital. Sometimes it will feel as if the choice is between the lesser of two evils. That is why the work they have done in the past must be weighed as much, if not more, than the promises they make. In the end, how a person treats their fellow man, and how they conduct their business is usually a better indicator than the promises they make or the slogans they use.

Turning the Other Cheek vs. Turning a Blind Eye

Where is the accountability in this statement?

No one can offend you unless you choose to be offended. 

A person may choose to remain offended, in essence to remain a victim of someone else’s offense, but they did not necessarily choose to be offended in the first place. Whether the offender intentionally or unintentionally caused offense, they should be held accountable for their actions.

Turning the other cheek and turning a blind eye are not one and the same.

Bias in the Media

Media bias comes in two forms, the suppression of news coverage and the coverage of news in a manner that constitutes propaganda. Propaganda, or what we are being told and sold, makes up half the problem of biased reporting, the other half of the problem lies in the suppression of news.

In an article I was reading this morning, published by POLITICO, there was a great quote by Sharyl Attkisson, “The images that the public sees every day, in many forms, are influenced and manipulated by political, corporate and other special interests through orchestrated and well-financed campaigns.”

I had great hopes, for a brief moment, that for once the media would discuss the presence of and issues caused by corporate or special interest bias in the media. Sadly, rather than branching out past the standard issue of political bias in the media, the article only focused on the well discussed presence of political bias.

Political bias/propaganda is fairly easy for most people to identify, and the educated can maneuver through it with little difficulty. Although frustrating, political bias is not the real danger because it is relatively obvious. It is the corporate and special interest bias/propaganda that hold the real danger for the public, because of the difficulty identifying the motivation. We could say, “It is all about money,” but this oversimplification obscures the difficulties we face in identifying what money is purchasing. Certainly, a corporation would want to increase its earnings and thereby wish to wage a campaign against anything that threatens earning potential, but unlike with pure political bias, the public is more often then not unaware the campaign is being waged. Special interest bias/propaganda is even more difficult to identify, because unlike in a political campaign where the special interest group is identified at the end, news coverage does not include a “paid for by” statement at the end of each news story. Nor will you hear a “this story which we did not cover was suppressed by” statement during the news coverage.

While many can learn to read between the lines of propaganda and glean an understanding of bias, one cannot read between the lines when there are no lines due to suppression.

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Reporting the News: a Psychic Creation

I  wish journalists would study more than historical talking-points before tackling foreign policy issues, particularly the effectiveness of intervention wars.

If the history of foreign policy is not their strong suit, bringing in an ‘expert’ would be fine. Bringing in two opposing ‘experts’ would be better, especially if the ‘experts’ were really ‘experts’ and not just the talking heads of the day.

When did reporting the news become nothing more than selling the news? Maybe it has always been that way but there are simply more annoying ways to sell it today.

Propaganda has always had a role in war, and even without governmental encouragement media has spread war stimulating propaganda. It all seems to revolve around having a good story to tell. Sadly, the good story, which spreads like wildfire in the blink of an eye or the click of a share button, can and does affect the public and the officials who in the end create the events that make the news. Reporting the news, therefore, takes on the nature of predicting the future, but a future the psychic has helped create.

It has been fascinating to discover how often propaganda has been shared by the media without the urging of a government. As we swim through the dangerous waters of governmental oversight, we should worry about the other dangerous creature in the water. Drowning may not be what kills us, but rather the sharks feeding off our fear of the water. 

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FYI: I cannot view, nor do I endorse any of the ads that are shown on my blog.

What will be remembered?

Being fully aware of political spin and propaganda, I am wondering if in the end this letter will be what history records for future generations to study.

Willingness to come together for war, but government shutdown in an attempt to stop a health care law. Where does this leave us and what does this mean for our future? Most importantly, what does this really say about us as a nation?

Reid to Boehner 2013

 

PDF of the letter can be found at the ‘letter’ link and at the following:  harry-reid-letter-to-john-boehner.pdf

Saith Me… A Note to My Child

It is easy for people to hate when times seem tough. It is also easy for people to justify their hate because they are ignorant of real history – they only know the glossy myth. I am proud that you are not one of those people, but seek to love all of mankind. I am also proud that you seek out the history and culture behind the myth. I love that you ask “why” and have learned to chart your own course rather than to allow yourself to blindly follow those who would seek to lead you astray (even if they know not what they do). I am proud of you for who you are and who you will grow to be because of the choices you make, particularly the choice to love not hate.

Saith Me… Myth or History – Which do you Study?

People keep talking about the ills of our government, about our liberties being at risk and about how bad the nation is now. But I really wonder how many of them have ever studied any history – real history, the kind that goes beyond even the freshman level American History course of most colleges. Before they spout off about the loss of rights, do they really do their very best to understand the basis upon which those rights were created or do they simply agree with the masses screaming foul?

I often wonder if the propaganda material of 1770s and 1780s is all the people of today know about and whether they understand that not all the Founding Fathers agreed on the propaganda. The one thing they did seem to agree upon was creating a Constitution that did not hem us in but rather grew with us, adapted as we adapted, and outlived the political rhetoric of any one generation.

Lastly, I wonder if the spouting masses of today have any real idea of how much compromise those Founding Fathers put into not just the Constitution, but into the governance which then had to follow in order to provide for the protections the Constitution promised. Or how many times it took the threat of war before they would step down from their soapboxes and agree to compromise.

Maybe it is our turn to set aside the soapbox and pick up a scholarly history book, one that challenges our notions rather than simply tells the mythical side of the story.