Monday, June 19, 2017

Shut Up and Sing (unless you agree with me)

Social meeting has created a special connection between celebrities and their fans and people who like their public persona.  Some celebrities have created a social media experience for fans were they answer questions, get into dialogue and share both professional and personal thoughts, sometimes too personal.  Some celebrities like  JK Rowling, Marina Sirtis, Andrew Zimmern, Cher, Christine Teigen and Mario Batali are among some of the most outspoken celebrities on Twitter.  Often after they post something that challenges a politician there are an army of people who attack them for having an opinion.  It isn't that they argue against the opinion they posted, they tell them that they shouldn't be posting anything outside their narrow occupation.  It is as if there are those who believe celebrities are one-dimensional for their entertainment and if they act like a normal human they have personally injured them.  In a forum that is completely voluntary, people posting their thoughts means you are seeking them out.  If you don't like their thoughts, you can simply stop reading them.  It is easy.  Easier then typing "stay in your lane" or "I don't follow you for your politics".  Guess what I do.  I like reading what a man like Zimmern thinks about policy as he has lived at virtually every socio-economic status in this country.  I like how a major voice and philanthropist like J.K. Rowling formulates her thoughts on issues like refugees and hate.  These celebrities are human beings, they live under the same laws and policies that we do.  What is amazing is that many of the most outspoken have means to avoid the repercussions of policies that they criticize.  They are not speaking from self-interest.  What they are is liberal and for many conservatives, it is unsettling to them for people they appreciate to have a different world view.  I know this because they also support the voice of celebrities who agree with them.  If you look at their own twitter feeds they retweet conservative celebrities like James Wood and Pat Sajak.  So their concern is not so much that a chef is being a citizen, but that they are liberal.

Social media has allowed for a closer connection to celebrities, sometimes it makes for a cool moment when a hero answers your question or retweets your joke.  But we will also see things that we don't like.  We can chalk it up to the diversity of thought that exists or tell our heroes to shut up.  They won't and shouldn't and maybe if  you listen you will see they have something to say that might help you understand the world in more color.  But that is hard for some.  

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Tweets are NOT the Issue

Republican politicians and pundits are saying that the President should stop using Twitter..  Twitter is not the issue.  Twitter is just another way of communicating.  The thing is that late at night and early in the morning when the President doesn't have lawyers and political operatives looking over his shoulder he shows us exactly who he is in real time. In fact it has become an important vision on the the abject ignorance or purposeful deception on the part of the President of the United States.

Let's look at one situation.  When the terror attack occurred on London Bridge,  Mayor Sadiq Khan of London went on television and told the people of his city that there will be a heightened level of armed police officers on the street.  He reassured them that there is no reason to be alarmed by this.  He wanted to let people know a change in the number of police on the street was not because they were in immediate danger.  You know like a a good public leader.  so the President of United States tweeted:    "At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is "no reason to be alarmed!"  So the question is was the President just not smart enough to understand what was being said?  Did he tweet without knowing the full context of the mayor's word?  Was he just trying to attack an ally while they were in the aftermath of a terror attack?  All of these show a lack of ability to act in a way that is part of being a world leader.  So the media, doing there job of informing the American people, pointed out Trump's misunderstanding of the mayor and gave full context, publishing the quote:

“My message to Londoners and visitors to our great city is to be calm and vigilant today," Mr Khan said. "You will see an increased police presence today, including armed officers and uniformed officers.

"There is no reason to be alarmed by this. We are the safest global city in the world. You saw last night as a consequence of our planning, our preparation, the rehearsals that take place, the swift response from the emergency services tackling the terrorists and also helping the injured.”

Now a real leader would acknowledge the misunderstanding but of course the President didn't, in fact he attacked the mayor via Twitter .

"Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his "no reason to be alarmed" statement. MSM is working hard to sell it!"

This is amazing to anyone who has a brain. Even after there was a deluge of the fact of what Mayor Kahn said the President continues to write his own version of reality.  That is a level of disturbing that I don't think any real serious person should accept.

The issue isn't that Trump tweets telling us what he thinks, it is that he thinks these things.  His weird covfefe tweet that was met with silence for several hours, his attack on Qu'tar, a place with a large forward command base in the fight on terror because of a Middle East political situation he didn't understand, and more and more.  His travel ban tweets which undermined his own staffs pressure on the media to not call it a ban for legal reasons. And on and on and on.   The President's twitter feed is a clear window on his ignorance, his incompetence and perhaps his criminal behavior in light of some of things being investigated.  I say, let him tweet away and let him weave the proverbial rope that will hang his presidency.  

Friday, June 2, 2017

Climate Accords and the Zamboni

When I was in High School, my history teacher, I think it was Mr. Hanson, was illustrating the Industrial Revolution.  He used an analogy to Hockey, his favorite and a highly popular sport way up on the Canadian border.  He told us that years ago, to resurface the ice in-between periods of a hockey game about 10 men would come out with buckets and mop the ice with fresh water to smooth the surface.  After a game the ice was scraped with a tractor and more water added and mopped smooth.  At least 10 men were hired to do this job and with the invention of the Zamboni, a ice resurfacing machine, 9 of those men were looking for work.  A new technology put people out of work.  But the fact was that the new technology needed people to help build the Zamboni, fabricate its parts and maintain the mechanical aspects of it.  A single Zamboni could create as many hours of labor in a given year as the mopping of the ice.  But even if it didn't, the Zamboni still made sense, it as safer, more efficient and made the smoothness of rinks more uniform.  We can be sad for the men with mops, but we can also think about helping them find other work and let progress take its course.  I truly wish Donald Trump had been in that class. He would have known that regardless of what he does with the Paris Climate Agreement, coal jobs are not coming back.  Pulling out of the agreement was a policy move that he promised his base and thus had to follow through on.  It was easy, he didn't really have to do much.  He knows the right wing noise machine and his 35% of hardcore followers would back him.  He also knew he had allies in Congress, who among other things, say that God will save us from Climate Change, that it is a hoax to make money for someone (not sure) or that the earth is actually cooling.  (Just to be clear that 12 of the hottest 13 years since 1880 have been in THIS CENTURY).  He just did it in the smug and ignorant fashion he does most things.  Heads of industry including fossil fuel industries urged him not to do it.  He adds the US to only 2 other countries who didn't sign on to the agreement.  Syria, because Syria and Nicaragua because they were protesting it didn't go far enough.  This is where we are now.

Of course the social media experts on both sides filled our feeds with all kinds of things.  Media scrambled to find two sides to facts.  Funniest moment was when former Senator Rick Santorum suggested that he didn't know how batteries work.  I think he had a phone in his hand at the time.  But in the end this agreement was at the pleasure of the President and the President pleasures himself with impulsive actions.  Thus today the world will stop looking at the US as a leader in this area and fears the US will not be a leader in others.  And what is remarkable is that the President could have had his cake and eaten it too.

You see there is an argument against the Paris Climate Agreement that makes sense.  Let me be clear I don't agree with it, I think it is dangerous and short sighted and will absolutely not work, but it is there.  And some in the right wing media that can go beyond hyperbole and nonsense (only in the 8 o'clock hour) and even Rex Tillerson, our titular Secretary of State (you know the former Exxon CEO who argued to stay in the agreement) have made the argument.  That the United State, a country leading in green energy and a country that has plenty of leaders committed to reducing greenhouse emissions doesn't need to be in the deal.  They can lead from the outside.  Secretary Tillerson said talking about the US efforts over the last decade or so that, “That was done in the absence of the Paris agreement,” Tillerson said. “I don’t think we’re going to change our effort to reduce our emission in the future, either.”  That could be the message.  But of course that won't be.  Even if it is not true.  I do not trust industry to police itself totally and I fear a government not willing to support the efforts of new technology to reduce emissions.  We will have to see.  I am glad that local and state governments will work hard to make their corners of our great country more earth friendly, but I also worry that with free rein efforts to skirt some of the targets we had agreed to will continue.  But elections have consequences and we have elections coming up every two years.  

What this won't do is bring back coal to what it used to be.  You see the coal industry suffers from being an inefficient source of energy in the new energy economy.  Natural gas (which I know has its own issues) is easier to get at, we have a lot of it and it is cheaper to transport and use whether as a source of heat for homes or to create electricity.  With the expansion of wind and solar energy, breakthroughs being made in tidal energy and of course sources still being developed in the minds of scientists (like algae as a biofuel) coal may just sit in the ground and hope to become diamonds.  Berkeley Energy Group, a Kentucky coal mining company, has partnered with a green energy group to build a solar farm on a strip mined area of the state.  This is telling.  But for President Trump, he doesn't understand the new energy economy, and can't get out of his own way.  He believes that if he does the right thing that the thousands of coal miners will be coming back to work digging coal in Kentucky.  He might as well tell the sons of the former mop and bucket brigade that they two will clean the ice for an NHL finals, I can't imagine what the President's argument might be, but maybe he will think Zamboni is a foreign company stealing American jobs.

A Tale of Two Scandals

While anyone who knows me knows I feel the Republican party has many problems and it is in fact ready to die a painful death at the hands o...