Articles

Longer articles, min. 300 words, to distinguish from shorter comments.

A Culture of Lies & The Real Fake News

No, Lyin’ Donald, you did not create the term ‘Fake News’.  Your first use is below, while fake news have been a part of politics virtually forever.

According to Politifact, Obama was telling all or most of the truth 50% of the time as of this post date.  That’s disappointing.  But compare that to only one out of six Trump claims being true or mostly true.   That means that five out of six times Trump is fully or partly lying.

The explosion of lies has mostly happened on the Right over the past few decades.  It’s become a standard part of the Republican toolkit.  See Swiftboating and Truthiness.

The next step in institutionalized lying is to attack those who job it is to report the truth objectively, regardless that their reporting is supported by published data and verified sources.  Calling legitimate media fake is a classic doublethink switch and bait marketing tactic.  It’s perfect cover to move the attention away from the real fake news, your own lies.

But there is a limit. When you’re mostly lying, anything you say won’t be trusted.  People tune you out.  Not only do they not believe your lies, they also ignore the rare 15% of the time when you actually do speak the truth.

Ultimately a culture of lies is ineffective and unsustainable.  There is no bridge to reach those who think for themselves, aka #TheResistance.  Once you’ve maximized your base, which Trump did on Election Day, you’re not going to be able to expand it.  You’ll have to expend ever greater effort to publish your fake news and maintain a false reality that’s constantly clashing with what’s really happening.

https://frd1.us/FAlieculture

 

 

Posted by Marc Freedman in Articles, Commentary, Reality, Republicans, Thank you, Trump, 0 comments

The Boy King is Naked

“Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.” Nobody, except everybody else.

This is what passes for self-disclosure and nuance for Trump.  An issue that’s been a huge controversy for decades, that he willingly accepted as President, and that he promised to have a solution for.  And he’s now finding it … and many other things just so … hard.

How do you get your arms around and around this narcissist?  Naming is important.

I choose Naked Boy King.  Symptoms include the elevation of self, lack of empathy and understanding, limited scope of one’s world, absolute reliance on loyalty, actions based on emotion and not logic, refusal to accept commonly accepted objective reality, ignorance of his shortcomings, and that’s just a start.

The following is taken from Child Development Info based on Piaget’s Stages for the characteristic behavior for a 4 to 7 year old.

  • Speech becomes more social, less egocentric.
  • The child has an intuitive grasp of logical concepts in some areas.
  • However, there is still a tendency to focus attention on one aspect of an object while ignoring others.
  • Concepts formed are crude and irreversible.
  • Easy to believe in magical increase, decrease, disappearance.
  • Reality not firm.
  • Perceptions dominate judgment.
  • In moral-ethical realm, the child is not able to show principles underlying best behavior.
  • Rules of a game not developed, only uses simple do’s and don’ts imposed by authority.

Seems to fit to me, though Alison Gopnik argues that he’s not even four and Jennifer Finney Boylan notes the lack of object permanence, which would place him at two.  Whether he’s 7 or 2, he is our President, or rather king wannabe.

Posted by Marc Freedman in Articles, Commentary, Donald Trump, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Reality, 0 comments

The Abyss Widens

Post-modern civilization is threatened.

In the absence of global wars  the inevitable ups and down of civilization are economic.  And the the rich have been more than ready to play.  Unrestrained capitalism has corrupted the political system and created an abyss between the haves and have-nots in both Europe and the US.  The oligarchs of wealth have choreographed the rise of emotion over logic during the past 20 years, which has come to fruition with regressive authoritarian populism.  The ruling class – the haves – have expanded the abyss by changing the rules of the game.  They trump conflicts that don’t exist, ignore facts and science, and sell an alternate reality.  A billionaire was voted in the White House against the clear self-interest of his voters – the have-nots.

The good news is that progress is rarely linear.  The current Hot Tub Time Machine return to 1950s cannot be permanent. Political complacency on the left has been replaced by a new engagement. The pendulum will swing back, though the cost may be great.  Rationality will return victorious, but only after a painful lesson in humility.

One cost that’s not fully collected yet is the damage to traditional liberalism.

The continued protest on college campuses over nationalist and ultra-conservative speakers is one example.  The tumult on campus has been troubling. But it’s not just a few people or one school.  It’s easy to denigrate students and call them pampered babies.  There is something significant that is not being heard.

Ulrich Baer writes in the NY Times that the campus change is generational in What ‘Snowflakes’ Get Right About Free Speech.

During the 1980s and ’90s, a shift occurred in American culture; personal experience and testimony, especially of suffering and oppression, began to challenge the primacy of argument. Freedom of expression became a flash point in this shift. Then as now, both liberals and conservatives were wary of the privileging of personal experience, with its powerful emotional impact, over reason and argument, which some fear will bring an end to civilization, or at least to freedom of speech. …

The recent student demonstrations at Auburn — as well as protests on other campuses against Charles Murray, Milo Yiannopoulos and others — should be understood as an attempt to ensure the conditions of free speech for a greater group of people, rather than censorship. Liberal free-speech advocates rush to point out that the views of these individuals must be heard first to be rejected. But this is not the case. Universities invite speakers not chiefly to present otherwise unavailable discoveries, but to present to the public views they have presented elsewhere. When those views invalidate the humanity of some people, they restrict speech as a public good.

The pure free speech argument is a longtime liberal plank.  It has a lot of merit.  But there is a bigger picture in which to view these campus protests.   The controversial speakers are yet another example of false equivalencies.  In civilized society freedom of speech is a public good.  But we’re no longer in that idealized world when reality itself is under assault.

The campus protests illustrate the corrosive effect of the oligarchic programs on not just their followers but also the liberals on the other side.  When formerly common facts are denied, the middle ground for agreement vanishes (thus the Republican party asymmetrically becomes a party of No, not governance).  First principles are not always accurate.   Nuance becomes increasingly important and as we’ve seen with campus protest, it’s … HARD.  If it’s challenging for people committed to self-reflection, what hope is there for those in the Time Machine who don’t question Fox News? The gulf between the haves and have-nots can exponentially increase.

The pendulum will swing back.  But how far can it go when the abyss continues to widen?

Posted by Marc Freedman in Articles, Commentary, Marc Freedman, Philosophy, Republicans, 0 comments

Whose World Do You Want To Live In?

I want to tell you a story. You’ve been hearing it for the past two years.  It’s about darkness, fear, and despair.   The world is collapsing.  Our borders let in murderers and rapists.  Muslims are killing the Americans left alive.  Women, minorities, and non-Christians get preferred treatment over white men.  Billionaires and corporations should be treated as gods.  Science is for sissies.  Our national intelligence and military are not respected.  Freedom is for the chosen few.

It’s the 1950s Happy Days … or the 1930s Weimar … or 1900 BC.

That’s Trump’s story.  That’s what he wants to make great again.

I want to tell you another story, an alternate set of facts, if you please.

Once upon a time America was respected across the world. People everywhere admired the country for its rule of law, focus on the future, dynamism, individual rights, vigorous media, practicality, and openness to difference.

Government wasn’t perfect.  It allowed billionaires and corporations to corrupt institutions, cheat on their taxes,  pollute our air, water, and food, and keep most of the money at expense of everyone else.

But on the whole government was good when it could stand up for the people.  It protected the weak, provided basic health care for all, and supported the young, disabled, and elderly.  It forced everyone to respect other people’s rights and let them be who they want to be in peace. It strove to have FEWER Flint Michigan disasters, not more.

It was a time when conservative stewardship meant protecting this land not just for us, but for our children, and our children’s children … not for ever more corporate exploitation and profits.

It was a time when science,  logic, and open and transparent inquiry were respected and treasured, for they formed the basis of a good share of everyday life, from America’s military might to popular media to amazing advances in health and agriculture to the latest electronics, phones, Internet, and technology.

Despite occasional myopic, meddlesome, and, er, Trumped up wars, the U.S. exuded optimism and kept moving forward and upward.  The nation was a shining beacon across the planet for freedom and progress.

Life was good.  Many were happy.  All the women were strong, the men good looking, and the children above average.  And not just the white folks.  Too bad the kids weren’t as excellent at school as other first world countries and were taught the world revolved around them.  But they typically grew up to be fine citizens and weren’t sheep.  And we still managed to out-innovate everyone else.

This time was 2016.

So, forget the rhetoric and politics.  Ask yourself one question.  OK, just a few actually.

What time do you want to live in?

What world do you want to live in?

What will you do to make your world a reality?

Be FREED. Not Trumped.

Posted by Marc Freedman in About, Articles, Commentary, Inspiration, Marc Freedman, Philosophy, Politics, Resistance, Society, 0 comments

Make America Great Again … Again

The past 50 years have seen more innovation than the rest of the entire 200,000 million year history of modern man.  The tidal wave of change has finally caught up to society.

The world is in flux. Media has exploded. The election of a TV celebrity to President shows the power today of mass media and the Internet to catapult neophytes to stardom and insulate people in their own tribes.

Capitalism has run amok. The rich have continued a multi-decade march to reshape society in their image and own the government. They’ve destroyed liberalism and unions, which have given a voice to the common man.   They’ve destroyed the checks and balances of American civilization that enabled a thriving middle class.  As a result income inequality has robbed an entire generation of the promise of a better future.  The ultimate expression has arrived today with a billionaire in the White House who lives in a different reality of alternative facts and has brought his fellow billionaires to play and dismantle the government.

Many despair. Some withdraw. Others fight. A few cling to the old activism.

There is another choice. A new model for a new time.

We can make American great again … again.   Here is how.

  • Use the power of the Internet to connect and grow.
  • Conquer a weak brand with a stronger brand.
  • Embrace the madness with absurdity and humor.
  • Turn to the light and the love.
  • Revel in facts and logic.
  • Think for yourself.
  • Join a growing resistance of millions.
  • Take back power for yourself, your community, and your country!

Get FREED.  Not Trumped.

Posted by Marc Freedman in About, Articles, Commentary, FREED Brand, Inspiration, Marc Freedman, Philosophy, Politics, Resistance

Never Again

By Marc Freedman

The Jews know a few things about being FREED.

I’m Jewish. We have a special sensitivity to oppression that’s virtually imprinted on us at a genetic level. We are all immigrants. Trump said ‘Never again‘ at the Holocaust Remembrance Day.  But in his Orwellian doublethink pay attention to his actual actions.

He has already started to come for the Muslims.  The Mexicans are queued up next.  And then who?

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Pastor Martin Niemöller

A culture of fear, hate, and incompetence is institutionalized in Trump’s presidency. If you waited, what more do you need see?  He’s created and staffed  a Ministry of Truth that refuses science and creates its own alternative facts.  He isn’t satisfied with taking the US back to the fantasy of white Christian 1950s.  He is retreating further to the dark 1930s where the response to economic inequality was the charisma of a strongman who rode fear and mob rule to racial annihilation.

This is not politics as usual.  These are not regular Republicans.  It’s evil, whether it’s a cult of narcissism, the tyranny of the Christian majority, the nihilsm of libertarians, or the next step toward totalitarianism.  It must be stopped.  In all ways.  Now.  It is time.

I care because as a rational human being (and an engineer) I believe and live in the world of logic.  That’s my reality.  That’s what allows me to type on a computer, use email, and send this over the Internet.  A lie, broadcast and repeated hundred fold, is still a lie. It cannot be allowed to flourish, cower listeners through repetition, build power, acquire legitimacy, and flood our coastlines through neglect.  Yet that’s exactly how dictators work.  How he works.  And it’s succeeded.

I care because the suppression of facts, the cult of personality, and the demonization of dissent is plainly wrong.  I care because a narcissist who acts like a spoiled brat and pouts and attacks when he can’t be number one – when he should be running the country – should not hold any public office, must less the nuclear launch codes.  I care because a racist misogynist xenophobe does not deserve respect and is not a role model for our children.  I care because all the above cannot be the legacy we pass on to our children’s children.  I care because this cannot be the new normal or we have truly started down that dangerous slippery slope.

I care because I’m Jewish and we have seen this before. They have come for us.  We know how this can end if we wait too long and don’t stand up to authoritarians.

I care because we have vowed Never again.  In the real world.  Not Trump fantasy land.

 

https://frd1.us/FAnever

Posted by Marc Freedman in About, Articles, Commentary, Donald Trump, History, Inspiration, Marc Freedman, Republicans, Resistance, Society, 0 comments

Grande Old Party, I Hardly Knew Ye

I’m not a history buff.  But I do love a good story that’s rooted in fact and not the typical hero worship, half-truths, and fiction written by the winners or current incumbents.

One mystery is what happened to the Republican party.   I remember them positively as a teen (yes, in an ancient era) as the party of economic opportunity.  That was long before its hijacking by first religious fundamentalists and then the super-rich.  Going back much further, the party roles were reversed.  How can you not root for Abe Lincoln and the GOP, fighting for justice to end slavery against the wealthy landowners?

According to Bring Back the Party of Lincoln,  the recent change in the GOP isn’t new.  Republicans are historical flip-floppers.  Author Heather Cox Richardson concludes,

Twice in its history, the Republican Party regained its direction and popularity after similar disasters by returning to its original defense of widespread individual economic success. The same rebranding is possible today, if Republicans demote Reagan from hero to history and rally to a leader like Lincoln, Roosevelt or Eisenhower — someone who believes that the government should promote economic opportunity rather than protect the rich.

Change is inevitable, especially amid a changing electorate that reduces the Republican power base every year.  The only question is when.

While anything is possible, it’s unlikely to happen soon.  The Super Recession was nearly as bad as the Depression.  It had no effect on the party.  There have been various Republican branding initiatives.  They’ve gone nowhere.  The party has virtually shut down Congress.  Not a budge.  And there is no savior in sight.

Instead the party has used its power to enfranchise its legitimacy by redrawing voting maps and giving the rich even more influence.  It’s drawn the Democrats far right of where they were 30 years ago, thus providing far less GOP maneuvering room.

I suggest nothing is going to happen until the party runs out of all its tricks and loses both houses of Congress and the Presidency at the same time and that’s probably 20 years away at best.

Posted by Marc Freedman in Articles, Commentary, History, Politics, Republicans, 0 comments

Balance, not Bluster: Free market ideology is anti-science

Research from the University of Western Australia sheds light on the irrationality of extremism, typified by the far right of the Republican party in the U.S.

The data is from a survey called  NASA faked the moon landing|Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science. While the study finds support for crank magnetism (if you believe in one anti-science theory, you believe in others), it found an even greater correlation with free market ideology where believers rejected science from humans causing climate change to smoking causing lung cancer and HIV causing AIDS.

Science Blogs has excellent commentary at More data on why people reject science.

The survey unfortunately doesn’t break down free market ideology.  The free market is a proven part of modern economics.  But it’s just one cog in a strong and healthy civilization. A strict belief that elevates the free market at the expense of the other pillars of society is a fundamental part of what caused the global recession and the breakdown of the middle class in the U.S.

Of course if you are one such believer you’ll reject this piece of science as well.  Please continue on to the next blog on fairies, unicorns, little green men, the drug war, universal forces that take an interest in your personal affairs, and the salvation (i.e. continuing destruction) of America through greed and anarchy.

Posted by Marc Freedman in Articles, Commentary, Democrats, Science, 0 comments

Corpocracy: Corporate Class Warfare

Bob Cringely writes IT class warfare – It’s not just IBM. The essay embraces the complexity, nuance, and global dimensions of the self-destruction of the IT industry. He writes primarily to speak to the legions of unemployed older and previously well-paid U.S. IT professionals. But the ills discussed don’t just apply to IBM … or the IT industry. As he writes, “It is about the culture of large corporations today, not yesterday.”

Technology has become synonymous with innovation. It’s a growth engine that has transformed business and everyday life and even led to the creative destruction of a few industries. It’s telling when this poster child for capitalism is just another casualty.

Cringely calls it an issue of a new culture. But he refers to the wrong culture. It’s not the state of affairs in the boardroom. He mentions Wall Street number crunchers, CEOs pushing for short-term results, an economic depression. Such business factors, as well as CEOs both ruthless and enlightened, have come and gone over the decades.

The latter half of the 20th century had reached a social balance where the wealthy and their proxy in commerce – large companies – shared power with the government and the people. Economies were strong, workers were empowered, and the middle class thrived in an engine of increasing consumer demand that grew and benefited everyone.

That balance tipped with the rush to a fully free and open marketplace. This is the culture that has changed and created the “corpocracy“, the rise and supremacy of corporations. Externalities, real costs, consumer safeguards, social commitments, and civic responsibilities withered against the onslaught of unchecked capitalism.

The result indeed is class warfare. Under corpocracy the rich got richer and everyone else got poorer. The middle class that drove the economy dried up. Job stability, benefits, pensions, healthcare, and true middle class pay have been eroding the past few decades for IBMers … IT workers … and all Americans.

Posted by Marc Freedman in Articles, Commentary, Economics, Resistance, 0 comments