Zelensky Not the Only One Under Pressure to Kow Tow to Trump

During the impeachment hearings in the House, the Republicans repeatedly referred to the President of Ukraine saying there was “no pressure” exerted during the Trump phone call. This is a President with the military might of Russia active in the eastern portion of his country, one for whom military aide is essential to survival of his country.

Now zoom in on the Republican Congress persons, none of whom are threatened by Russian activity in their Congressional Districts. Yet, every one of them felt pressure to tow the party line, to parrot the party talking points. Was this all for the purpose of uncontested re-election? Or were their lockstep pronouncements designed to fend off the ire of President Trump.

At what point will be see a demonstration of courage, integrity, authenticity from these people who may see, but do not admit to reality. They are using old Soviet era propaganda misinformation and misdirection like they were trained in the Kremlin.

When He Goes Low… No One Counters

The current climate in this country does not speak well for the character of our congress persons. So few are willing to take a stand against the Bully in Chief, knowing full well that he is a coward. However, they are reluctant to reap his wrath. So, who will be the first to take him on head on? Who will withstand what is assumed to be withering fire? But if he is incapable of firing someone face to face, does he really have the cajones to deal with someone who is confronting him? Who will call him out on his cruelty, ignorance, deadly reasoning?

Who will stand up ? We are waiting.

Why are Muslims Killing Muslims

Farah Pandith was the first-ever Special Representative to Muslim Communities serving Secretaries Clinton and Kerry. In a recent program at the University of Texas at Austin, she said that the Wahhabi muslims are part of a movement to get rid of the more moderate muslim elements, even going so far as to limit the translation of the Koran to more fundamental interpretations. So, while fears are expressed about Sharia Law being imposed in parts of the United States, we are grouping all Muslims into this fundamentalist extremist element. And it is we whose ignorance is fostering, or at least not impeding the Wahhabi.

Why Aren’t They Called Muslim Perverts?

Recently I have heard radical Muslim extremists referred to as a “perverse element” of the Muslim religion.  Why then are we not using the term, Muslim Perverts, in place of Muslim Extremists?
Pervert trumps Extremist                                                                                                                           If a member of the Smith family is an “extremist” member, he is still included under the umbrella of the family membership. Distinguishing how he is different and extreme, requires spelling out. The term bleeds over and taints all the Smith’s.
Referring to this same member of the Smith family as a “pervert,” immediately distinguishes and separates the outlier from the “regular” family members.  One is less likely to confuse this outlier with other family members.
I suggest the use of the term, Muslim Pervert.


Published in Letters to Editor, Austin, American Statesman

Why We Choose What We Pay Attention To

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.

When Calvin Klein was using pedophillic imagery in his ad campaigns,
the Ad Daily said he had a very small budget and had to make his
dollars count. Yesterday’s NYT said Calvin used one of the sexual
abusing photographer’s photos, awaiting those that got his heart
racing. I haven’t bought CK in years as my response.
Much of the stretch from the norm to the scandalous is for the
purpose of shock and attention. We can choose to go with the
flow of the lowest common denominator, the sewage flow. And
so goes civilization.
It is up to each one of us to stand for something,
and keep standing. This is one of those things.

Why do they ask what they “believe?”

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.’”

“Do You Believe…?” Is a Fake Question

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.