It Never Should Have Come to This

Remains of Berlin wall, detail of old concrete wall, Germany

My family, on both parental lines of ancestry, have been in the United States for generations, and some of them for centuries. Still, the current immigration tension hits home with me. All my family were immigrants (unless I have some Native American blood in my ancestral lines, though I am not aware of any).

We live in a nation described as a “Melting Pot”. Various streams of immigration have occurred over the relatively short history of colonization that characterizes our past. The English, the Spanish, the French were the first streams of immigrants. At various times the Irish, the Chinese, the Italian, the German, the Puerto, the Vietnamese, the Mexican and many other people groups have added to that stream.

I am neither a blind patriot nor a self-loathing radical when it comes to this nation’s history. This is no time for naked idealism. Our past indiscretions in the way we treated Native Americans shouldn’t be brushed under the rug, but the great Democratic experiment that has been a shining city on a hill to the world should not be discounted either.

The truth is nuanced. The truth is messy. Idealists doesn’t necessarily create falsehoods (though sometimes they do), but they emphasize the truth that serves them. We should not be blind to any portion of the truth. As a wise man once said, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it” (or something like that).

But, the aspects of that experiment that shine a light in the world include the bedrock value of freedom and a welcoming attitude toward the streams of foreigners who have all come here to make a better life. This has been a land of opportunity, if not always perfectly available to all, that is still exemplary in the world despite its warts…. until recently.

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Fighting the New Cold War


As someone who tries to look away from the news that bombards me from every public and private corner, like a train wreck impinging on my better instincts, I catch bits and pieces of the news on a continual basis – kind of like an unwanted stream of consciousness – that I would rather ignore. But I can’t. Trump, of course, is lurking in just about every news corner.

Trump and Russia are two of the most persistent and pernicious news themes today. Trump is mentioned together in nearly every news story on Russia’s meddling in American politics. I don’t think I am speaking out of school to say that Russia’s meddling in American politics is fact. We are beyond that question, aren’t we? But there is more to this story than Trump.

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Harvey Weinstein in the Whirlwind

Theatre Photography ID: 151700458 Copyright: SharpShooter

The Harvey Weinstein gale has caused a firestorm on the scale of the natural disasters in California, Montana and Canada, except this is no natural disaster. It is far worse. The dirty little secret is out, but how in the world did this monstrous tornado remain a secret so long?

We get angry with the perpetrators, as we should. We get angry with a culture in which men are emboldened to exploit women and in which those dirty little secrets can be kept dirty little secrets. But there is far more about which we should be angry.

There is a huge disconnect. We cry out for justice when we hear about sexual exploitation and abuse. We rightly condemned it, and we rightly condemn the perpetrators of it, but we have a culture that feeds it. We are the culture that feeds it, because “sex sells”, and we are buying it. We have created a culture that feeds the fire of monsters like Harvey Weinstein.

Our culture is saturated with sex. Continue reading

Political Gullibility? Or Unwillingness to Suspend Belief?

Donkey Hotey / Flickr

Are we Americans that gullible? Or are we simply unwilling to suspend our penchant to believe everything that affirms our political views? Maybe its a matter of not being able to stop the momentum of our own biases as they carry us down the streams of our own predispositions.

I spent a half hour reading Facebook posts one day following the Comey hearing. The exercise can be summarized by the following article title: Breaking: Comey Hearing Confirms Whatever You Already Wanted To Believe (it’s satire folks).

I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Throughout the presidential season, we were certain that our partisan counterparts were trapped in their own echo chambers, while we had an uneasy feeling, burping to the surface at times like the perpetual heartburn we work hard to ignore, that we might be living in our own.  Even the most ardent political junkie looked forward to the day when he would sigh in the relief of victory or retreat to lick his wounds in relative peace.

But the peace never came. After a flurry of news and opinions on the scourge of fake news, we have been off to the same race we doggedly followed before. The Comey firing and hearing now is just the latest in the perpetual laps that go round and round.

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Reading Between the Lines

Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore

If anyone ever thought that we could accept a news story at face value, even one written by a nationally respected news source, those days seem to be over. Not only do we have to be concerned about fake news, we need to be concerned about bias in the media, all media.

Frankly, bias has always existed. The media Mantra of objectively reporting the news has always been an ideal at best. Maybe we are just now throwing off the pretense.

Whatever the case is, reading between the lines has never been more important or, perhaps, more difficult. When it comes to Donald Trump, can we believe anything he says? Can we believe anything the media reports?

These are my thoughts as I read Washington Bureau reporter, Tracy Wilkinson’s and Brian Bennett’s, article: “President Trump Has Backed off Many of His Provocative Foreign Policy Promises “.

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Vetting the Truth in Our Echo Chambers

I don’t want to live in my own echo chamber, but I fear that most people do. Judging by the things I see on social media, a large number of people hear what they want to hear, see what they want to see and think what they want to think, regardless of the facts.

We all have our own worldviews. Some try to keep an open mind, but all of us see through filters that we have either consciously or unconsciously developed. These worldviews are a visceral part of us. Our identities are closely connected them, whether carefully crafted or inadvertent.

It seems that most of us have hard time seeing past our own worldviews, and I include the media in that generalized statement. I don’t exclude myself from that observation. I have to fight (myself) to maintain even a semblance of an open mind. Continue reading