Saturday, August 19, 2017

Slavery--

who would think we'd be arguing it today? Does someone defend slavery? Does anyone?

Biblically speaking, slavery was condoned and had rules regarding. Abraham, considered the father of two religions, owned slaves. His wife, Sarah, had a handmaiden (i.e. slave), with whom she encouraged her husband to have sex so he'd have an heir since she had been unable to conceive. The Bible said that at 90, Sarah then conceived a child and eventually mistreated Hagar, after she feared the handmaiden's child would take away the heritage of her son. The two resulting religions have been at war with each other through history.

The founders of the United States owned slaves. Although George Washington freed his, it was only in his will. Jefferson freed some of his in his will-- but not all. Worse, for him, is he had children by a slave, who he never freed. Jefferson, who favored gradual emancipation, still had slaves at the time of his death, who were sold to others in order to pay his debts. [For Jefferson, clearly complexity thy name was slavery].

The North turned from slavery but many believe because the practice was less economical in manufacturing. As with Jefferson, economic reasons, were why some felt they could not free their slaves, the situation with Robert E. Lee. He is one of the current subjects for vilification calling him a terrorist by some on the left. Was he or just a complex man in a complicated time-- one of transition from one thing to another. I found this a good article on him-- [Making Sense of Robert E. Lee].

The Civil War was not fought just about slavery, although it certainly was the underlying cause. Southern states would not have agreed to break from Britain if slavery had been put into the Constitution. The South feared eventually the North would try to emancipate all the slaves and wanted to form their own nation-- the official reason for the war.

While some saw slavery as always an evil, eventually it was deemed such by all. Nobody today in the United States is defending the practice or claiming it was innocent. Again and again, the United States beats itself up over it and here we go again.

I wrote about it awhile back in a different blog and said a lot of what I still feel is true.


In the raging rhetoric of today, it's not about slavery, although you'd think it was. Because of what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, we are back arguing the whole thing. I've commented on it a few different places and usually regretted doing so as some talk in righteous terms about something they can condemn someone else over-- and that they ill understand themselves. Currently, it's mostly about Trump saying what he did and the hatred many on the left feel for him.

For those who haven't been following this, here's some of what he said:
"I watched those very closely, much more closely than you people watched it. And you have -- you had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent, and nobody wants to say that, but I'll say it right now. You had a group -- you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit, and they were very, very violent."

"Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee." 
"So this week it's Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson's coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you all -- you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?"
And so it went. Some believe what he said will bring down his Presidency. I have no idea but was he defending slavery or owning slaves? Was he defending using violence to gain a political goal? The one who used an automobile as a weapon was clearly radicalized by the flaming rhetoric but maybe also mentally ill, as has happened before. 

The irony is one journalist claimed the attack in Barcelona was inspired by Charlottesville. Seriously, that is where we've come to ignore history and use each tragedy only to make political points-- so Barcelona was about white supremacists not Muslim radicals. That writer must have not remembered the London Bridge attack or others in Europe-- a lot of others. 
Is there a solution to this kind of situation. I can't see us actually heading for another Civil War because this difference isn't geographical. It's inflamed by those who often have goals very different from what they are espousing. I worry a lot about where we are heading. 

Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets are now saying they will ban hate speech. The question is who decides what that is? If it's using violence to attain an end, then that might help. What if it's about different political views like defending a wall or concern over what is taught in schools? What if it is not allowing a conservative to speak on a campus?

Is Lee on those sculptures, as a defense of slavery, or is it because of what Theodore Roosevelt said about him (another who is condemned today regarding Native Americans).
In 1907, on the 100th anniversary of Lee’s birth, President Theodore Roosevelt expressed mainstream American sentiment, praising Lee’s “extraordinary skill as a General, his dauntless courage and high leadership,” adding, “He stood that hardest of all strains, the strain of bearing himself well through the gray evening of failure; and therefore out of what seemed failure he helped to build the wonderful and mighty triumph of our national life, in which all his countrymen, north and south, share.”
So here's where we are, with Vice (a left wing news outlet) suggesting we blow up Mt. Rushmore (then retracting it). Is this time really about determining right from wrong or is it instead about winning? The left currently is condemning the right but what are they saying they want to do? Issues are lost when emotions go wild. Worse, for me, is being in a time when the mood is so inflamed that we can only say what is deemed acceptable by each side-- no ability to discuss issues without accusations. It's a sad time.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tuesday

For me, last week was a week of grandsons. They are all back home, and today I have to get back into my regular routine of writing. With the boys here, I mostly had the news off but did read what was happening. I also commented on someone else's blog. I have more thoughts on the happenings in Virginia but for now, this is most of what I wrote there. 

I find it hard to believe we have gotten to where we are. Do we never learn and really go on, or is there something in our human DNA that again and again brings us to this kind of violent and ugly point?

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I think Trump is more a prisoner of his own ambition and need to appeal to these people than he is their leader. He does not have courage. Most likely, he is not a personal bigot, but he doesn't mind using those who are. He didn't create them-- maybe you could say they created him. Most who voted for him are not white supremacists but the base, the ones he can count on, might well be; and with the country mostly against him, it's not hard to see his motivation on being careful what he says. 

In some ways, he's pathetic more than anything else-- like some of the fairy tale characters who pay a terrible price to get what they want and don't know in time what it is. I don't feel sympathy for him. He did this to himself. The bad thing is a lot of the politicians out there have done the same thing. Maybe it's a sickness in our country like McCain can now say what he wants when he won't run again but to get his last term, he sold out also. Hypocrisy thy name is politician.

Most people know Trump didn't create this terrorist mentality. They will remember the black church where the guy killed the parishioners in an attempt to start a race war. They will know about the militia groups spread around the country, training for some kind of civil war they expect or hope to create.

Recently, I learned that when civic groups meet in a nearby city, when they come out of such meetings (most planning for social events not political), outside on the street will be chalked symbols of hate. The haters have no way of knowing what the meetings are about but apparently find they are being held and spread their hate and attempt to intimidate. Those tactics are terrorism also. It doesn't take a lot of people. Not a lot of supremacists met in Virginia, but they sure got the attention they wanted and now it will be encouraging more as that kind of publicity does that.


In the '90s, my husband worked with an engineer originally from Taiwan. That guy was very into guns and drilled with militia type groups, where they played war games to train. There is a map out there that shows where they have bases in each state. Some regions have more of them but every state has some.

Years back, we were down in Southern Arizona, close to the border and exploring gravel roads as we love to do. We had a jeep come up fast on us, guys with militia gear and guns. They looked us over and drove off just as fast. A little after that, a border patrol agent also looked us over before turning around. This was long before Trump.

Today though is a scary time and it worries me because terrorism can work, which is why it's used, where people fear speaking out-- and it's not paranoia if it's a real concern. For me, the worrisome part of all this is-- how big is this terrorism supporting group?


Saturday, August 12, 2017

manipulation

I have a friend very concerned about today's propaganda, most likely because she fears it'll end up like Germany when Hitler began to take control. I think the concern is not really valid as their situation was different on many levels, but the US has been manipulated into going to war, regularly is manipulated into voting for someone-- or not. Ads do it all the time.

It's good to be aware of how it works when our emotions are being tweaked-- especially since politicians regularly employ these techniques. Generally speaking in our ADD era, most politicians don't rely on facts to get you to vote for them. Recognizing when your emotions are being tweaked, it helps to have taken classes in logic. A plus B does not equal C unless there is a direct connection-- even if both A and B are true.

Are you being manipulated? One clue is if you feel an emotional reaction after hearing the argument. You are not listening to the facts once you feel rage or fear. I cannot currently think of a single politician who doesn't  use these techniques, which means don't listen to their speeches (I rarely do). Instead read what they said and see if the arguments are first true, are connected, and lead to the conclusion being claimed.

I went looking for something online and liked this. The writer cleverly stayed away from politics as for many people, as soon as you use a politician or party's name, they're done with logic. Instead, see if your guy is manipulating you and if so, did you lose track of whether he was making a valid point or looking for an emotional response. Pundits, bloggers, and writers are good at it. It does not just happen on one side of the partisan divide. It allows the manipulator to get people to vote against their own best interests for a quality life.

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PROPAGANDA TECHNIQUES

A propaganda technique is an improper appeal to emotion used for the purpose of swaying the opinions of an audience. The following propaganda techniques are common:

1. Bandwagon: This technique involves encouraging people to think or act in some way simply because other people are doing so. For example: "All your neighbors are rushing down to Mistri Motors to take advantage of this year-end sale. You come, too!"

2. Snob appeal: This technique involves making a claim that one should act or think in a certain way because of the high social status associated with the action or thought. For example: "Felson’s Furs – the feeling of luxury, for those who can afford the very best."

3. Vague, undefined terms: This technique involves promoting or challenging an opinion by using words that are so vague or so poorly defined as to be almost meaningless. For example: "Try our new and improved, all-natural product."

4. Loaded words: This technique involves using words with strong positive or negative connotations, or associations. Name-calling is an example of the use of loaded words. So is any use of words that are charged with emotion. For example: "No really intelligent voter would support his candidacy."

5. Transfer: This technique involves making an illogical association between one thing and something else that is generally viewed as positive or negative. For example: " The American pioneers worked hard because they cared about the future. If you can about the future of your family, then see your agent at Pioneer Insurance."

6. Unreliable testimonial: This technique involves having an unqualified person endorse a product, action, or opinion. For example: "Hi, I’m Bart Bearson. As a pro-football quarterback, I have to be concerned about my health. That’s why I take Pro-Ball Vitamin Supplements."

Avoid using propaganda techniques in your own speech and writing, and be on the alert for these techniques in the speech and writing of others. Look for these techniques when watching television or looking a published ads (magazines or newspaper).

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

falling into some holes is worse than others...

Recently, I've come to believe the most important issue for us to tackle, as a culture, is immigration. We've let it go too long and we need to protect our border as well as decide who we want to let into the country. I won't go into my thoughts on what we should do-- just that for me it takes precedence over taxes or health care. Not saying those aren't important but if we cannot protect the essence of who we are as a nation, protect our own people's quality of life, how will the rest matter? Or maybe for how long will they matter before it's all screwed up again.

The other thing is the difference between being wrong and lying. It seems the media just can't get that there is a difference. 

Of course, to have a president be habitually wrong, cannot be good. It's not great in our personal relationships either. Do we care enough to research whatever conflict is happening? Do our leaders?

Photo from Yellowstone trip.

Monday, July 31, 2017

...

Currently, although I do generally keep track, politics frustrates me a LOT. One day's truth is the next day's untruth. Chaos appears to be the goal of many. What some people have as their dogma, to me, is amazing and yet considering history, not so much. 

My own attention is turning to my next book as I begin writing and putting together character lists and general timelines. I like escaping to another world when the one I am in seems in turmoil.

Returning from a trip to Yellowstone and Montana, I've been putting together photos to eventually share in Facebook and my blogs. Not sure how it'll come together, but maybe grouped in similar subjects. Where many go to Yellowstone for the big scenes, this time because we'd been to those and because of the crowds, we went for the little scenes.

My part of Oregon is promised to be unusually hot,  I'm dealing with allergies (brought home with me somehow or other) and as I said, writing. If something comes along that seems important and  clear to me, I'll post a link here. Otherwise, enjoy the summer. It's passing all too fast.


Monday, July 10, 2017

one man's truth is is another man's lie

What we read or hear for news depends on whether we get multiple sources, whether we go for what we most want to hear, whether when we read something potentially disturbing, we look for more sources. Do we spread around the version we most want or accept there are other possibilities? Are we part of the solution or the problem?

I first heard the following at Facebook, from those who used it as evidence that Trump is crazy or senile and should be replaced. I then went looking for what was online and found many stories describing the event but not adding the crazy part. There are two versions to describe the video that is supposed to be proof of insanity. Which do you believe?
Version 1: Trump got off his plane and walked past the waiting Presidential limousine. A secret service agent stopped him and guided him back to his ride to the White House.

Version 2: Trump walked past the first of two black limos, both awaiting his arrival. Someone guided him back to the first one. Normally, the President would use the second one as the first is subterfuge in keeping attackers from knowing which he is in.
If you hated him, you only heard the first and went out spreading around evidence that he is insane. 

If you don't hate him, don't like him though, you might've ignored the whole story and still won't know the facts, which could have been that cameraman captured the moment where he was wandering around confused or that there are always two limos. Usually he is supposed to ride in the second. This time they wanted him the first. 

The President has to ride in the right one, as it's where the codes are waiting in case of an emergency. In that latter case, he didn't do anything nuts but the media, constantly clipping or using photos to be damaging created this non-story, knowing ordinary people, as well as blogs will spread it around to reassure themselves that they aren't wrong to hate him and to stir up fear.

This is what we face in our times. Is it any wonder many give up on the news? Even a picture today is evidence of nothing!

Monday, July 03, 2017

accountability

A friend of mine wrote this on Facebook. I thought it was important to share.
"Interesting points from a Canadian author this morning, talking about the Canadian health care system and the decisions Canadians made to get them there. Essentially he said that there are trade-offs that must be made, and that Canadians decided they wanted health care for all, which means they couldn't have the most modern hospitals, the latest diagnostic tools, the most advanced drugs, etc. Essentially he said they settled for less than great health care to enable it to be given to everyone. 

"He said the problem in America today is that we aren't willing to have that conversation - some of us want health care for all, but we also want the best medical care available, the most advanced techniques and medicines, and we want it quick and responsive. Like a lot of economic decisions, to get to a solution you have to set priorities and make trade-offs. I think he's right.
"So, what are our trade-offs? If you believe health care is a right, are you willing to forego those MRIs and the latest cancer drug and a longer wait list for orthopedic surgery so that your fellow citizens can be covered?" 
He's right because we are encouraged not to consider the costs of anything. We want it all and figure borrowing will get us it-- without worrying about the cost. Politicians, both sides, are good at that game. Words are cheap-- accountability, not so much. That kind of thinking does not work for families and won't for government-- not in the long run. Let's be reasonable and figure out what we're willing to give up to get what we want. It is the responsible way to live.