Discernment Lacking…

We seem to believe that we are discerning people.  To discern means that we are able to perceive or recognize something.  One would think that adequate discernment would protect us from ‘fake news’, but that does not seem to be occurring consistently in our world.

Might we not be as discerning as we give ourselves credit for being?  Could it be that we are regularly hoodwinked by the deft use of seeming facts that we gloss over and assume to be accurate?  I would suggest that the inability to be truly discerning people is what gives birth to ‘fake news’.  How is this possible if we are as bright a people as we give ourselves credit for being?

Let us count the ways.

First, we often scan a written piece and presume that we’ve extracted the gist, but when there is an intentional misleading statement involved, we can easily miss that nuance or subtlety given the high-level glance we just gave the writing.  We skip on to the next paragraph or the next article or the next e-mail message confident in the assumption we made a couple of seconds earlier.

Second, we tend to believe that everything in print is true by its very nature.  How could anyone print something that is not true?  Are there not editors or some kind of requirements for truthfulness before something can be published?  If it is in print, it must be true.  If we remember The Onion newspaper or Mad magazine we can recall the spoofs that were foisted upon us regularly and how funny those were.  Except, these kinds of things are not at all funny if they are fed to us intentionally with the goal of having us believe the content.

Third, the more often we read or hear something, the more we come to accept it as being the unquestioned truth.  That is simply our nature unless we happen to have been educated as an attorney or are a wordsmith dialed into such things.  Some of us, too few, unfortunately, have a gift of spotting that which doesn’t quite add up.  Those things almost seem to jump out at us and an alarm goes off that makes us review more closely.

Fourth, there are publications, news programs and so on that we have become accustomed to recognizing as truthful and believable and, therefore, not necessary to be scanned for deceit or ambiguity.  These can get us quickly if something is slipped in by accident or intentionally.  We have to remember that we are the only person we can trust in this arena.  I might have been believable, and I might have accidentally permitted something untrue to make its way into a blog.  If you were not watching carefully, you might simply assume that I knew what I was talking or writing about and let it pass as true.

Fifth, the more we hear or read anything that seems the same over and over again, the easier it is for us to assume the substance must be truthful, therefore our threat scanners are unknowingly disabled.  Repetition is one of the most egregious forms of passing on bad information and having it believed by more and more people each time it is heard or seen.

Sixth, we tend to be of the political belief that our parents were, at least at the beginning of our adulthood, that time when we come/came of age to be able to vote.  I have shared that I was a devoted follower of the AuH2O (Goldwater) effort during my first experience of a presidential campaign/election in which I could vote.  I don’t recall what my parents’ inclination was but I suspect that it was not liberal if I immediately gravitated to Goldwater as my choice.

Add to all this the simple fact that there are publications posing as something they are not, just as the satirical Onion posed as something it wasn’t.  Of course, the Onion was an intentional spoof that most everyone knew was just that.  When we are uninformed or simply gullible, we can be more easily fooled.  When we are tired of the news, we tend to become steeled to the din but some of that gets through nonetheless.

If we agree that there are more liberal ‘news’ feeders than conservative ‘news’ feeders, then we begin to be able to understand that an insidious conscious effort to misinform might work quite well.  If all we saw or heard was liberal information, we’d very likely be liberal in our thinking and therefore in our voting.

How do we protect ourselves and others from this insidious subterfuge?  We question and we urge others to question.  We share our beliefs and are able to articulate why we believe as we do.  We recognize the publications and/or broadcasts that we can trust and those we cannot trust, and we know the likely leaning beforehand.  We gather information from trusted sources; if we are uncertain which those are, we ask those we know to be conservative for their advice.  We use our democracy as it was intended to be used by the founding fathers.

I also intentionally read liberal theses simply to be aware of the positions taken…but I do that in very small doses in order to maintain my sanity such as that is today.

Remember Guantanamo Bay?

With regularity it seems, we read of another person released from the Guantanamo Bay prison facility showing up in the news…and not because of some humanitarian involvement.  The ‘graduates’ of this facility vowed to again fight their battles if released and it seems most, if not all, have lived up to their vows.  Those laggards yet to be accounted for will no doubt live up to their boasts, as well.  It is, after all, what they do.

What could former President Obama have been thinking when he ordered these releases?  Who could he have been trying to impress?  Why did he think these worst of the worst ought to be put back on the streets to do more violence to people with whom they disagree?

It is sometimes difficult to find any rational basis for decisions made by liberals.  That seems especially the case with the Guantanamo releases.  Are these decisions driven by the need to be loved even more by fellow liberals?  Is there a total disregard for the danger being created by such releases?  Or is this some kind of liberal soul washing that is more important than the aftermath of such releases?  Does demonstrated experience mean nothing to liberals?

Even Barack Obama must have been able to fathom the hatred he was releasing to go back into the world of us more normal people (note “more” vs. “completely”).  Even he must have been able to see that these bad actors would be back to plying their trade very soon.  Once you’ve beheaded another human it must be hard to leave that “rush” behind.  How must he, Barack Obama, ‘feel’ now that he actually can read about the results of some of his release decisions?  We know that for the liberal mind ‘feelings’ are all important.  Feelings drive the world of liberals.  But that seems to be tossed out the window when things like Guantanamo releases are done.  How could you possibly feel good about such actions?

Seldom will facts be permitted to derail a liberal thought.  Facts seem to be left to conservatives in hopes they’ll deal with that kind of thing.  And then, even as the conservative minds have begun their moves based on the facts, liberals arise to attempt to thwart those actions.  Sometimes, though, there is that glimmer of recognition on the part of Democrats.  Such was the election of the lesser of evils to replace the Florida congresswoman who had run the party for way too long.  The lesser of evils was achieved by the Dems electing the less liberal of their two liberal candidates to replace Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as the party’s leader.  Even more astounding was the fact that he who was elected is a white man and he who lost is a man of color but then made a deputy leader.

The liberal Democrat party is indeed alive and well.  That is probably good since the Republicans can’t have all the fun of dealing with President Trump, now can they?  That hardly seems fair.  And, truth be known, there will probably be ample opportunity for both parties to ‘deal’ with President Trump.  There are still, and probably will continue to be, those stalwart Republicans who simply cannot accept reality; Donald Trump is really the President of the United States of America.  This, for some, is not just a bad dream that will end when they awaken in the morning.  This is real.

We the people voted and we the people elected Donald Trump as our President.  Both some Republicans and most Democrats seem still to be working on that reality.  The internecine struggle affecting Republicans shows signs of continuing for some time.  That could play into the hands of Democrats and I fear those Republicans who feel so strongly might just decide to screw over their party, and their country, and let that happen.

If Republicans cannot see the forest for the trees, the next election might see some changes that will astonish us all.  In the meantime, we have President Donald Trump to occupy us no matter where we stand on that issue.  But that still leaves the release of Guantanamo prisoners.  Let us hope and pray that President Donald Trump does not consider the release of more Guantanamo detainees.  If anything, maybe those who prove they are still bad actors ought to be given the opportunity to again live on Guantanamo Bay.




The President & The Fourth Estate…

The Fourth Estate, the press, is having some difficulties with President Trump.  The essence of the difficulties is quite simple.  President Trump does not hold all the members of the Fourth Estate in the same high esteem with which they hold themselves.

The press, of course, decries any perceived mistreatment as a violation of its rights.  President Trump decries these people for their sometimes lack of truthfulness, and their habit of not naming their sources when certain charges are leveled.

This might be seen as a balance that was envisioned by our forefathers as this country was being created.  There are points to be made on both sides of this disagreement…this argument.  Of course, there has been the occasional confrontation probably more so with President Trump than any other that comes readily to mind.  I would submit that the press has earned some of the chastisement that it is now receiving, and I would also indicate my belief that the press is not always the ‘angel of truth’ it would have us all blindly believe it to be.

The press does not take kindly to criticism seemingly because it believes it never deserves any criticism.  It does not take kindly to being called out as this President is wont to do.  Things have changed and the press is having significant difficulty dealing with the change…especially when it originates from a person sitting in an office for which they generally see him as being unqualified.  It is also possible they are decidedly liberal in their leanings and that this is part of their professed aggravation with President Trump.

Most members of this group, the press, have decided political leanings.  Some of the leanings are very pronounced.  Few of the political inclinations of the press are favorable to the conservative persuasion.  Actually, most leanings of this group are decidedly liberal when we get right down to where the rubber meets the road.

Were I President Trump, I would be giving quite a bit of thought to inviting members of the press whom I think I can trust to present an unbiased version of the story into the Oval office for a quiet back and forth on essential issues.  Let the Fourth Estate come to understand that it is dealing with a person not easily given to being reviled with ink on newsprint when there is a political bias to the “news”.  I could count the news organizations on one hand that I believe are capable of an even handling of news and fewer with a true conservative leaning.

The saying employed by a venerable newspaper, “All the news that’s fit to print” tells the story.  For way too long the print media, and now the press in all it forms, has determined that it alone knows what the truth looks like and it guards, jealously, the sole right to tell us what that truth is.

The pomposity of this Fourth Estate is not well taken by President Trump.  I suspect that he believes he will be pilloried no matter how he acts or what he says, so why should he waste any time on trying to avoid that.

Of course, fake news lies at the bottom of this kerfluffle.  That might be defined as actually fake news as well as news not quite as full of the truth as it should’ve been.  Or even as news carefully constructed so as to be truthful but also damning at the same time even when there is no blame to be assigned truth be told.

The press is unaccustomed to having its feet held to the fire.  That is driving this latest tirade and President Trump is probably willing to weather whatever storm this brings about if for no other reason than to show the press that he is at least it’s equal…and that he should be treated as such.

The press is potentially at a crossroads.  It is taking on not only the sitting President, who is unaccustomed to losing any fight, it is taking on we the people who elected this president at the same time that we the people are excited about all the venues we now have available for purposes of gathering our news.

There is an oldie but goodie that goes like this:  choose your battles wisely.

The press would be wise to remember that with this person sitting in the Oval office.  This is not the typical Casper Milquetoast politician that the press is used to bullying.  This is also a time when we have sources for our news needs that haven’t before existed in the fashion and number that is the case today.


Dump Trump?

Democrats are still suffering from shell-shock given the election results but that doesn’t stop them from dreaming about just how they’ll get rid of President Donald Trump.  I’ve already read or heard of the potential impeachment of President Trump.  At first, this simply slid off my consciousness as just another liberal rant, but it does not appear to be going to go away anytime soon.  There are probably some Republicans that would entertain such a move given the intense dislike of Trump by some of the old school Republicans who must have to, metaphorically, hold their noses whenever they enter a room where he happens to be.  That is unfortunate but those may well be the RINOs (Republicans In Name Only), that find it difficult to live in this new conservative world of Republicanism.

Enter stage left:  the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.  Is there the potential for a coup d’etat in the United States of America?  That is quite unlikely but that doesn’t mean people cannot dream, especially when they might feel like Alice in Wonderland every time they awaken.  “This has to be a dream; no, it has to be a terrible nightmare.”  How can we liberals accept that there is a President Trump and not a President Clinton?

Presidents have voluntarily turned over their duties to their Vice Presidents.  Both Reagan and Bush 1 did so when they had to undergo surgery.  There is the potential for sitting Presidents to be declared unable or unfit to sit in their elected office and that would continue unless and until Congress saw fit to return them to their office.

There is also a section that would permit, in special cases, the Vice President and unnamed “other individuals” to declare the President unable or unfit to discharge the duties of the office, and that could continue unless or until Congress sees him or her as again being fit for office.

CNN recently interviewed Congresswoman Jackie Spier (D-California) who stated that Trump “has to get a grip”.  She went on to say “the 25th Amendment is there if the president becomes incapacitated.”  Another Democrat Congressman, Ted Lieu (D-California) interestingly enough, who said he wants to introduce legislation that would force Trump to have a psychologist or psychiatrist in the White House at all times.  Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) claims a few Republicans have expressed concerns regarding Trump’s competency.  Finally, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) said that Trump’s mental health could be the reason to invoke the Amendment.  He went on to say that Trump’s verbal exaggerations are “not normal behavior.  I don’t know anybody in a position of responsibility that doesn’t know if they’re being rained on…Nobody I work with serially offers up verifiably false statements on an ongoing basis.”

Interesting that Democrats would be laying this kind of groundwork if there had not already been some discussion, at least, to that effect.  Nothing about the current state of affairs in national politics should be discounted, including these allusions to what might be in the Democrats’ perfect world.

Can you even begin to imagine the press if this notion gained momentum?  They would put Piranhas to shame as they chased this blood in the water.  The Democrats would’ve solidified, once again, their brother and sisterhood with the mainstream media.  It would be a Katy-bar-the-door event for the ages.

On the other hand, can you imagine President Trump if such a move were to be perpetrated against him?  The level of angst and anger would be difficult to quantify.  I would not be at all surprised to see, again, fisticuffs on the floor of the House; the Senate probably would behave given the average age of its members who might not be able to form a fist any longer, and if formed might not be able to muster the energy to swing it at someone.  That would be in keeping with the slow-walking that seems to be so pervasive in that august body.

We live in a very different time, entertaining to some degree, and frightening, as well.  The idea that national politics would reach such a low level must have earlier inhabitants of those bodies rolling over in their graves.  Those engaging in these antics ought to be ashamed of themselves, BUT we know they are likely proud instead.

Disconnect? Our Fault?

Things in general, seem to be going along ‘swimmingly’ with President Trump in office, and yet all I see in the media are doom and gloom forecasts.  Seems there must be a disconnect somewhere in the ‘chain of evidence’.

The media is an active co-conspirator along with left-leaning news wanna be players.  The Internet permits almost everyone the opportunity to write whatever they feel good about writing.  It is up to the consumer of the information presented to determine if it is believable.  Therein lies a significant problem.

We consumers of news have gotten lazy.  We do little to nothing to verify what we read and hear and watch as being truthful or even partially truthful.  In fact, it is the partially truthful information that is probably the most dangerous since there is usually enough believability so as to make one think it all must be true.  As we consumers of news have gotten lazier and lazier, we have also become more and more gullible.

So if we believe the big lie, that is on us almost more than it is on the conveyor of that information.  To a point anyway.  There will always be purveyors of partial truth no matter how many are ferreted out and shown to be non-truthful, to be gentle.  I express my opinion but I do so based on what I believe to be factual evidence.  Since everyone sees this as simply my opinion, they probably approach it with a degree of skepticism which is not typically present when we watch a national news broadcast or read a well-known news publication.

Are those publications literally outright liars?  Maybe a few are but they tend more to be expressing their opinion just as I express mine.  Yet, this blog is always going to be more carefully scrutinized than an Associated Press piece in a newspaper.  And that is part of the overall problem.

If you take the time to watch and pay close attention to a Presidential press conference, you will see and hear the different approaches from the different reporters present.  Some are all ga-ga that they were called upon while others are downright angry they weren’t called on.  The new Press Secretary rattled cages with his first conference when the old hierarchical seating arrangement was thrown out the window.  That was a not-so-subtle message to the mainstream media and it made its point.  There is a new ‘sheriff’ in town.

We each are responsible for what we believe of what we consume as ‘news’ or ‘fact-based’ information.  If we approach that task haphazardly, we may well be taken for the proverbial ‘ride’.

Fake news is real.

Retirees Back To The Workforce?

A Barron’s article this morning tied into the shortage of prospective employees being encountered in the country and especially in my hometown area today.  I was just talking with a good friend who is in the staffing business and he confirmed that there is a decided shortage of experienced prospective employees to fill the openings currently available.  It seemed as though the Barrons people had been listening in on our conversation.  I passed retirement age a while ago and had no intent then, and still have no intent, on ‘retiring’.  That is reserved for the time when I am physically or mentally (or both) unable to work.  So far that has not been the case despite what some might think.

In the area in which I live, there literally are more jobs available than there are people to fill those positions.  That results in excessive overtime, staffing issues of all types, lost business opportunities, etc., etc.  It seems a shame that an arbitrary date should mean that able-bodied, healthy and willing people are ignored as potential applicants for these jobs.

I know that people are living longer today than when the retirement age of 65 was established.  I know that this age was designed to assure that new workers would be able to find employment but that seems now to have been turned on its head.  That is coupled with people being in better health than their contemporaries decades ago at the age prescribed as ‘retirement age’.  And, there is a wealth of experience that has been accumulated by those at and beyond retirement age that is simply going to waste.

The employment of an already-once-retired person might be a blessing for employers, too.  Part time positions might become more easily designed.  Benefits already funded by prior employers would cut costs in that area.  The experience gathered over the years could be a real boon for the new employer especially if it came from a similar industry.  There are also issues created by local, state and federal governments that might not be applicable to the employment of retirees.

Those of us who have reached and/or exceeded retirement age have had experience in a wide range of things, not the least being how best to get along with people which sometimes seems in short supply these days.  There might be good opportunities to create shared jobs with a couple of retirees sharing a particular job they had been doing for years already.

Are there exceptions to the rule?  Absolutely just as there are with any ‘rule’.  An employer can get a good feel for the person he or she is interviewing and especially when he or she is interviewing a person who has been there and done that.  If the position is viewed to be potentially temporary in nature, who better than a retiree looking for a few hours of work a day or week?

If you are an employer, maybe you could benefit from this phenomenon.  If you are retired looking for some additional funds for new toys, maybe you can benefit from this need.  I always had concerns about how I’d feel about self once no company wanted me anymore.  I’ve found that this fear goes away very quickly when I do some writing for others, for example.  I volunteer for more activities that help others.  We ‘retirees’ represent a wealth of talent, self-excepted, that are simply waiting to be asked to participate again.  Along with this comes a whole new definition of loyalty to employer, by the way.

This is very definitely a huge win-win!  Especially when jobs are begging for employees.

Three Top Generals…

Continuing on the theme of military preparedness from yesterday’s blog, it is GREAT to see three strong General officers on President Trump’s team.  General James “Mad Dog” Mattis is serving as the U.S. Defense Secretary, Lt. General Keith Kellog is serving as National Security Council chief of staff, and Lt. General H.R. McMaster is now serving as National Security Advisor to President Trump.  McMaster will remain on active duty while in service to the President, an unusual but entirely legal way in which he can be utilized.

Where there was genuine concern over the past eight years about how the military was viewed by President Obama, there can be little doubt that President Trump sees the military as a vital part of our country’s defense, and as an integral part of our country’s world presence.

This is a nearly complete reversal from where the military fit in the last presidency.  We will have a strong military presence in the decision-making process that simply was diminished and nearly totally ignored in the previous eight years.  That will have a significant favorable impact in our foreign relations efforts since our neighbors around the world will know there is a military presence in the arena of U.S. decision-makers.

Some will latch on to this with a fervor claiming that we’ll be more likely to see war as a more favorable solution to world problems than using peaceful methods to maintain peace.  In fact, the pure strength of our military has always been the most effective foreign relations tool in our arsenal.  The old saying, “Speak softly but carry a big stick” has much truth in it.  We were much more likely to be threatened in an Obama-style government than we will be in a Trump-style government.

Our foreign friends will not likely make the mistake of jostling us with low-level flyovers and movement of troops to areas heretofore not occupied by those countries.  Especially if there are now going to be sabres in those formerly empty scabbards.  We were seen as soft in terms of our willingness to fight, and we were seen that way by the manner in which our armed forces were treated through the budget process, as well as by the wishy-washy edicts from the White House.

The National Security Council has not taken kindly to our new President Trump.  These kinds of staffing additions will let those folks know that there is a new sheriff in town and that this sheriff will not emulate the last guy in office.  It obviously takes time for a new Administration to find all the right people from its perspective but this Administration is certainly demonstrating that it can make some very solid choices.  Of course, that is easier to recognize and appreciate if you are of the conservative persuasion.

I think President Trump has shown brilliance in his selections of staffers.  He knows what he wants and he knows how and where to find those people.  Another thing that may not be readily apparent in these selections of leading military minds is that they are accustomed to speaking truth to power.  If we look back through our relatively recent history, we see the truly highly regarded and successful military commanders were in the mold of a George Patton.  Give them their orders, support them with troops and materiel and let them get the job done.

Americans ought to be able to again feel a sense of security that we’ve been denied for the past eight years.  We are now marching boldly into the future rather than walking apologetically into the future.  It may not seem to mean anything, but the difference is staggering in its impact.

Will President Trump have some egg on his face from time to time?  I’d be amazed if that didn’t occur.  The liberals will see to that if they have anything to say about it.  We will see, probably, a more contentious four years simply because of those who desire it to be that way.  We still have the daily eruptions of Trump-hysteria from the liberal news mavens who are just beside themselves with the fact that Hillary isn’t sitting in the Oval office.  I saw a couple of columns of that nature today.  That garbage is, unfortunately, going to be seen from time to time because that is all the liberals have available in their arsenal.

So, we’ll have the slow-walkers in Congress who’ll do their best to delay Trump’s efforts without regard for anything, frankly, but their own political careers.  We need to be very thankful that this is all they can do with the Republican majorities in Congress and with President Trump in the Whitehouse.  The mid-term elections will be quite interesting.