The Cabinet of Inescapable Entitlement 

Here’s my question. I put it to you. Do you see how instead of answering questions there he shifts blame to others? It is a tactic that he’s used all his life.

Email hacks of US officials-where did they come from?  

Intelligence community- all signs point to Russia

But instead of acknowledging that the revelation of compromising emails may have won him the election, he shifts the blame to dubious rampant voter fraud. When over a third of your eligible voters sit out the general election the problem isn’t fraud, it’s voter turnout and easier access to voting.

Tax returns-full financial disclosure is not forthcoming any time soon from this President. The first reason for this is his financials are probably a complicated mess probably involving 100s of LLCs, partnerships and other structures designed to legally avoid taxes and shield him from any personal liability.  
A man whose main business is casinos and resorts and has international locations is inevitably going to have ties to other foreign governments and organized crime. Trump in business is more a Gordon Gekko than a Warren Buffet and we should expect him to run government the same.

Tillerson, Trump, and Devos regardless of what kind of people they are to their family and friends will not suddenly abandon their history and the natural biases. Tillerson may be savvy in communicating with other governments, but will always have energy on his mind in those dealings and his history doesn’t lead me to believe he will advocate for more solar and wind to power our grid or to reduce pollution internationally.

Trump may advocate for a stronger US economy by trying to encourage more manufacturing in country. So far it is definitely a nationalist trend in policy toward the economy. He wants to abandon old trade deals and re-evaluate treaties and memberships. He is effectively withdrawing a good bit of US leadership in the global economy. We’re having our own Brexit.

So why is the stock market reacting so strongly to this break in tradition and the potential for turmoil in international trade?  Some economists have put forth the notion that the market is underperforming the possibility of a 15% cut in corporate taxes by only rising 10%.  Others would say that the market is still rallying on the possibility of lower corporate taxes and policies that favor deregulation that will benefit large corporations.

Devos may actually want to help children.  It seems unlikely that a billionaire heiress with experience in private and religious school is going to have the perspective to represent the majority of Americans who don’t send their kids to private school.  Unless she can address access for poorer families with vouchers she will in effect further de facto segregation in schools.

The Unbearable Bias of Being

From Breitbart News to the Huffington Post, Fox News and CNN, media bias is inescapable. Fair and balanced is an illusion. As much as we want to be impartial, we cannot remove self-interest from our lives. Look at how we fight about our Supreme Court justices. If the law is infallible and judges are impartial, why does it matter who serves?  A judge based on her own personal and professional experience and deeply held values may interpret the law differently.  No judge can remove his own bias from decision. The best she can do is recognize it.

 From the journalist, to the editor, to the owner, every single person has a bias. This is not to say that bias is necessarily bad, but it is important to recognize and disclose that bias if we want to be honest with our audience.  If we don’t want to be honest then by all means we should declare our truths the only ones that matter and fight anyone who says different.

Bias forms the basis on which we make friends, choose a partner, a career, the kind of car we drive, where we live and so on.  Removing bias is akin to a lobotomy. So forget unbiased.  It does not exist I tell you!

If we want a better informed citizenry, Snopes is about as good as I’ve found for analyzing media and separating fact from fiction, but even they show a percentage scale of mostly true or mostly false and it is questionable where their bias lies or how well they analyze the stories they try and debunk.

Get your news from different sources if you want to be well rounded.  Compare, contrast, and use your critical thinking skills to examine the information available to you.  It is amazing with the proliferation of information on the internet that our views still remain so narrow.  Known as confirmation bias, we tend to gravitate toward the news and views that confirm what we want to believe.

Right and wrong, fact and fiction, truth and lies are rarely black and white.  We desperately want clear lines and infallible truths, but the reality is that the human eye can detect more than 500 shades of gray between black and white.  This is a fact that I highly recommend you use your critical thinking and a google search to verify my claim.  I could just as easily say 50,000 shades and who would dispute me except someone who studies color and vision.

Peeling Off Labels

Chicquita and Dole are the stickers I find most often on bananas.  Bananas are found in the produce section of the grocery store.  I often wonder how they get to Georgia via Panama without turning black in the process, but once they make it home with me, they are going to turn spotted and brown.  Unless you are me, you are quickly going to find the banana inedible.  For us, that banana peel becomes compost, soil, and starts the cycle over again.  When someone says banana, though, what we picture is a curved yellow exterior peel.  Rarely do we picture the white fruit inside, the green peel as it grows on the trees, the browning outside and in as it decays.  They are all banana, but saying banana doesn’t do the banana justice.  We casually and carelessly wear labels we are not conscious of.  And like a grocery store clerk with a price gun, we label everything and everyone around us.

Our brains naturally categorize everything we see and feel and think.  This is food.  That is a coffee mug.  Pens go in this drawer.  We do this with people automatically.  Black, white, Asian, Australian albino.  Liberal, conservative, libertarian, egalitarian, socialist, Marxist, anarchist.

Like the Sorting hat, once our brains have sorted we think, “That’s that!”  Slytherin!  Well obviously you are a terrible person who only thinks of personal gain.  Gryffindor!  Brave and loyal and true.  Hufflepuff!  Awkward and studious, unnoticed, unimportant.  Ravenclaw!  So smart and intellectual.

But take those heroes of Gryffindor and they couldn’t be more different.  Harry chose to be Gryffindor, but might have been better suited to Slytherin.  Hermione might have been better suited to Ravenclaw. Neville might have been Hufflepuff.  They chose to wear the label of Gryffindor.

Once they’re sorted it makes it easier for the brain to relax and not see their differences.

Sometimes we wear these labels proudly. Proud to be an American!  Doctor!  Farmer!  Hunter!  Sometimes we use labels to denigrate.  Libtard!  SJW! Millenial! Our brains instinctively accept labels and classifications.  It makes life easier to see the world in black and white.  Survival is hard-wired into our own sorting system and really what we are doing is protecting ourselves from views, opinions and people we think are bad or keeping at arms length things we think are dangerous to understand.  The truth is that we are more than our labels, and that in order to build better communities we need to try and see deeper than the labels we wear and that we give other people.

How strongly we identify with a label  doesn’t come from any strict code we adhere to, but as the result of a deeply personal experience or loyalty to a community or by following someone we admire.

When someone talks about standing for family values I always wonder what that is code for.  Do you mean family values that just mean marriage between a man and a woman?  Do you mean anti-abortion?  Do you mean women should submit to their husbands?  We use labels that mean different things to different people and assuming our meaning is the only meaning is cause for confusion and conflict.

There are some people who will hear that label of family values and they will automatically feel comforted and believe it applies to their own family values without understanding that different families have different values.  One thing we can say with some degree of certainty about family values, is that people who have family values value their families.  Beyond that, ascribing any certain moral code, behavior or configuration to the term family values cannot help but be divisive.  Oh, I see you care about your family, but it sounds like you don’t care about mine and would like to see mine disappear from the face of the earth.  A label can divide as easily as unite.

The media or the liberal media is another label we use too often.  Does that include CNN?  NBC? 60 Minutes? NYT? WaPO? The Guardian?  The label is used mainly negatively as if the press were a single organism bent on the destruction of the world.  There are thousands of individual reporters, editors, owners and so forth within THE MEDIA (dun, dun, dun!).  It is a safe and uncomplicated way of viewing our news outlets. The problem being that when we allow that negative and generalizing label to take hold we are guided toward a more narrow view seeking the one outlet of “truth” as if there is no bias.  The best we can do with news is to use the internet to view multiple outlets and consider stories from different angles and points of view.  The worst we can do is to seek a single source that continually validates our own biases.

Speaking of truth, let’s talk about fact, opinion, truth and lies.  I hear a lot being reported or argued about “blatant lies” or “he’s a liar” and again this is another comfortable label that can obscure a better understanding.  I believe it is better to identify the questionable information before labeling the person or at least identify the evidence for the label alongside it.

Instead of “he is a liar” you can say “he said X which is incorrect according to Y evidence” and for emphasis with something pathological say “this is in addition to A, B, C” which supports a pattern of lying.  The audience can determine from evidence what label they want to use and at least the label you want to assign someone has a contextual foundation.  The inaccuracies in news reporting come from a desire to get the “scoop.”  There is a rush to report in the daily papers.  There is a sensationalism driven by a need for ratings in the 24-hour news channels.  Anyone who believes this is a relatively new phenomena should spend some time going through news throughout history.  Yellow journalism has been around for quite some time.

The great thing about the “Information Age” is how many different sources we can find for a single subject.  A critical thinker can read about an issue or an event from many different perspectives.  We are more than our labels.  The issues of our times demand a deeper and more complex understanding than our politicians and leaders can express in a sound byte.  As a country, for our communities, for our world, we must be able to look beyond our surface impressions and easy judgments to gain better knowledge and to build a better world.

Credit: iHeart Organizing for the pic