Whether coming from advertising, reality tv, the news media or Hollywood, the name of the game is “attention getting,” and it is our attention that is at such a premium, that people will sell their dignity for this priceless commodity. We, in turn, determine how much of our attention they will get. So we have some limited control. No mention and no attention is one approach.
If you want to know whether your congressperson or senator is doing a good job, pay attention to the questions they are posing, especially in the Cabinet hearings. Way too frequently, appointees are being asked if they believe something in particular.
Asking what a candidate believes means: The questioner
Is simply ignorant and does not know how to elicit information.
Is throwing the candidate a softball question impossible to screw up.
May be making a coded statement: Every question has a statement behind it.
In any case, there is no perjury or accountability when you believe
I can believe anything I want. For example, I can believe that alien space vehicles have been entering our stratosphere and heating up the entire globe. That can be my belief, and you can do nothing to disprove it or hold me accountable. It is a question that invites an imprecise or useless answer.
Instead, they should be using directed questions such as whether one has “evidence to the effect that,” or “that can substantiate their position,” for example, on global warming. “Specify the most important studies you have read” on a particular topic.
You would think a sitting Senator or Congressperson would know better, or at least be concerned about embarassing themselves.
The following note was sent to Sen. Kamela Harris regarding her questioning of Dir. of National Intelligence, James Clapper on the 10th:
You used the following question to Jim Clapper on Jan 10,” Do you believe your education efforts of the Trump transition team have been effective?” One can believe anything she wants and not be held accountable for it. How could anyone possibly perjure oneself in answering that question? However, if questioned about “what steps I have taken to eductate the Trump team,” “what specific indicators there are that Trump is disposed to attributing credibility to the intelligence community,” that leads to a response that is substantive. Please pay attention to the use of “believe” in your questioning, for it is not only the “ultimate softball” but is beneath the dignity of a Senator to pose unless interest in an individual’s beliefs in particular.
I will be adding to this list, for almost every day I hear someone pose this question, for which there is no accountability.
Here is Carl Bernstein commmenting on Kellyann Conway acting as a Propaganda Minister, while he falls into the “believe” pit.
And you can deconstruct it and it comes down to, ‘Look the chief officials of the United States intelligence community believed they had something urgent enough to bring to the attention of the president and the president-elect of the United States. ‘That is a story.’”
Listen carefully to the questions posed in congressional hearings, on news shows and during interviews. People are asked whether they believe “X”, or even what they believe another person believes, e.g. “Does the President believe that North Korea is a nuclear threat to our homeland?”
That questions would flunk a Journalism 101 exam, and would violate the rules set by the Equal Employment Occupation Commission. Yet questions about what someone believes are posed daily on the record and before Congressional Committees. These questions are unprofessional at best and not legitimate for an interrogatory. They have become all too predictable; while the questioner is simply unprofessional, lazy or sloppy.
We have the right to be “a reasonably well informed citizenry,” one of the hallmarks of a democracy. We have the right to a factual, reality-based platform of information. Congressional and media interactions both should have this as their serious and professional purpose. Derive useful information. Provide us with a basis in fact to determine what is “true.” They both need to dig down with questions that precisely and persistently extract information that can rise to the level of truth.
When someone testifies to what he believes, he is responding to the ultimate softball question. What anyone believes may actually be unknown to the believer, outlandishly false, or simply not provable. Whether flat earth, election fraud or space aliens, it is your right to believe it.
No one will do time, or even have to own up to the so-called “belief.” It’s a get out of a hearing or press interview free card. What we get is a perjury proof response that is somewhat speculative, with no accountability on the part of the questioner or respondent.
If you want to know what a Congressional member’s convictions are, ask and compare it with what they actually do. “By their acts you will know them.” Elicit the available evidence, research or data that informs that person’s convictions and the action they will take. Determine whether your representatives are informed, doing their homework, operating from any sort of policy or values platform, competent. Who are they really working for?
Ask questions directed at the basis upon which someone is making a decision. Drill down. Get past the bias, the distraction, and the spin. Go for the facts, the hard evidence, the intention behind it, the research, the priorities and values being expressed, the specific outcome sought.
Democracy is based on a collective number of heads being better than one person alone. But that is the case only when each person is informed; not ignorant, biased or propagandized. It is the job of Congress and the media to extract and present the facts to the public so that better decisions can be made by citizens.
The next time you hear your representative or reporters using the “B” word, call them on it. Get them back on track to do the job our democracy requires. Substance and representation dissolves as professionalism dissolves before our eyes. Tell your representative and/or reporter: Do Your Job. Get both of us the facts with which we can understand what is going on, and make good decisions about it.
We have the right to be informed by our representatives. So we need to know where they are coming from and whether each possesses the competence with which to act on our behalf.
Denial continues unabated. However, democracy requires the decency of an informed electorate, which has seemed to have come through.
Human history has been sectioned into three epochs:
13,000 BC – 7,000 BC: God and Nature were perceived as threats to be appeased. People were hunters and gatherers, moving to stay in touch with their food source – herds of animals, or grub for fruits and berries.
7,000 BC – 2,000AD: The enemy was the “other” who could invade, kill and enslave. People began to cultivate crops and domesticate animals. The nation state emerged as a protection against the enemy. [This stage was typified in the comment by Reagan that the Soviet Union indeed was an “evil empire.” The lie, cheat and do not keep their commitments.]
2,000AD (1989 closer to accurate): The enemy is now the shadow side of each person, aspects and characteristics of which are disowned, denied and projected onto another. Having sanctified the making of money as an indication of success, a “billionaire” assumed the perch as universally acceptable. From this position, DJT has acted out of his shadow side to the extent that his true personality fails to emerge, lest he lose his base. This ownership of the dark side initially was viewed as a fresh start. However, the lack of directionality and capacity to guide is much in evidence.
The president is said to rage when things do not go his way. This kind of pressure on the circulatory systems expands the arteries, loosening the cholesterol already packed into. The surface become less smooth, with more places for new sticky cholesterol to lodge. This closes up the arteries and leaves the occupant ripe for heart attack.
At the very least, one who is under heavy pressure would do well to bring his weight, BMI, in under a rating of obesity. And exercise is essential to keep the heart muscle healthy. So, when the president eats hamburgers or a well done steak slathered with roquefort dressing, gravy, and big dollops of ice cream for dessert, he is asking for an early retirement, not a 2020 re-election.
Aspartame is the artificial sweetener in Diet Coke. It is a $570M per year product. It is said to have caused Gulf War Syndrome, contributes to multiple sclerosis, can cause petit mal seizures, and is transformed in the body to deposit formaldehyde in the brain.
The president consumes dozens of diet cokes a day, according to a 12/10/17 NYT article. This could be a contributing factor to his erratic behavior. In any case, I would counsel against consuming in such large amounts.
Someone who is neurotic tends to overtax his nervous system, usually with anxiety or the need to control others or situations to alleviate that anxiety. There is little real responsiveness to circumstances or in relationships, rather only reactivity.
Once the patterns are detected, it becomes increasingly possible to predict with some degree of accuracy what the neurotic individual will do or say. Even “unpredictability” becomes predictable.
The work in New York was that James Levine went to Harlem and abused little black boys. At that time, Michael Jackson was facing some impediments in putting together a nationwide tour. In order to get over the obstacles posed by the higher level promoters, his people threatened to “out” James Levine, conductor of the Metropolitan Opera. Apparently it served as leverage.
However, what role did the adults play in colluding in the sexual abuse that they knew about, but chose only to use in backroom negotiating, not in defending the children being abused?
When you feel frustrated and angry every time you see an office holder on TV or hear his name, shake it off and find some presence, peace and equanimity within yourself.
In a time that is so crazy, you really have to take care of yourself first. With psychosis running rampant and grasp on reality a rarity, the best you can do is to ground and center yourself, establish your own grasp on reality, and be truly present with others. Find and make peace within yourself.
The current challenges to hundreds of years of progress, everything from clean air and water, to protections of the environment, sustainable energy – improvements, knowledge, techniques that formerly marked improvement for the human condition – are being reduced, removed or regressed.
Perhaps the best thing you can do under these circumstances – rather than getting furious and negative – is to be well within yourself. Establish a peaceful core and sustain it. Then, in the face of this unconscionable stupidity, ignorance and ill advised decision making, you at least maintain your own personal quality of life.