If I want to stream, do I Ruminate or Excogitate?: That is the Question

 

In a recent blog I ruminated for awhile about what to do about viewing television. After a few visits to websites to gather information about this issue, it turned to excogitating about what the whole idea of viewing means anymore in order to look at the burgeoning number of services attempting to enter, influence and dominate the market in viewing the moving image. As a person who loves much of the idea of 19th century’s simplicity, this has led to the confounding elements found in the 21st century digital reality in which most of us live, save those forest-dwellers in Indonesia. It seems even the Bushmen, The San, of South Africa, are succumbing to life in the modern age, though not necessarily by their own design. Many are wearing Western clothes and know what is happening elsewhere via their cell phones.

For us American Baby Boomers, though, the beginning of the 21st century is sort of a midpoint in lifestyle changes. Ruminating on this comment leads one towards his/her memories introduced in that earlier blog about how we once viewed content that featured movie images and sound, called them television shows or cinema movies. That was in the analogue era, when there was a physical element produced and recorded, with some of it transmitted via airwaves to a receiver in a home. As mentioned in that blog, cable television used those same signals or recordings and passed them on to paying subscribers, igniting a whole new business model that we have all utilized to some degree. In the 21st century we will need to inaugurate a different term, perhaps a new one, to describe the content we view in this age. streaming optionsWe’ve ventured into digital, CGO, Virtual, Augmented and other enhancements.

Within that earlier era that was the object of my rumination, there were reel-to-reel, speakers connected by wires to amplifiers each of varying quality and costs, vinyl, 8 track, music cassettes, video cassettes, 8mm-16mm-35mm or 70mm film, BW or color slides and filmstrips and many other various media options to store and project content. Someone paid for the capturing and developing, then there were the issues of distribution. As I mentioned before, that was either through the cinema or home television until the cassette era, when Virgin, Blockbuster and all the other specialty stores carried options for buying or renting physical objects that stored the media. Today’s generation of youth look at that time period as though it is a BW version of cusackJohn Cusack’s High Fidelity film (which today you can view on iTunes). They cannot imagine owning something in that physical version and falling prey to the vagaries of the markets those items produced. The hard copies are not gone, but they are not the driver of markets, culture and lifestyle anymore. Analogue is a conscious choice to be retro, or perhaps to choose a quality that is irrelevant to most of the population. If you still have a collection, the time is running out on the device you use to view it. But that is another blog concept.

Today is the digital world. In that world, there is no longer a need for a physical ownership, though that is still possible. In fact, proprietary ownership is an issue in and of itself. If there is an icon on a screen, can’t I just click it and “own” it? CDs and DVDs are but two examples of “old fashioned” purchasable formats for digital content. You can also download digital content onto some format that could be saved in a variety of ways, but good luck at keeping track of where you ‘filed’ it. Plus, distributors hate that you can download content and they have devised streaming methods that make recording difficult for us normal non-nerds. Yet, again, for this year, those are dying fast and the next generation is already tossing those onto the High Fidelity ash heap. If you are like most of us, you are trying to figure out what the pie is, how it is growing, what the new slices look like and are named, what is of quality (or not), how can you access it, who is in control of the content, how much will it cost to view it and when and where that will take place.digital platform

In this world the really big question becomes: Is content or distribution going to be king? In other words, is it more important to be a creator and aggregator of content – or is it more important to have the distribution path into a consumer’s home and into a consumer’s digital device (not necessarily the TV)? Some people, like Jeff Bezos, are trying to be both. In order to play this game, you need to understand what happens when something is digitized and be aware that ‘owning’ digital information is a very ephemeral concept now. It seems most of us are only renting huge portions of our lives, or perhaps it could be stated that we can now store our moments digitally in much larger quantities than the 19th century versions of letters, diaries or sketches that served the purpose of enhancing our memories as we aged. Today’s lives are even defined by many for themselves through a digital device. But, again, I digress into another blog topic.

First, the digital terms and acronyms necessary to play today’s game of content owners and distribution operators need to be discussed. Consider these: downloading, uploading, streaming (and in streaming, is it progressive downloading, live streamed, or adaptive streaming?), wireless, cable, adaptor, HLS format, RTMP format or Impact TC, server, platform or the hundreds of other specific terms related to the science, business and properties of any digital enterprise.  Then, there is the decision of choosing which one of many businesses that have arisen to distribute digital content is the best for you. I have listed one collection below from only one site that claimed they had chosen the fifteen best. At the end of this blog, too,  take a look at the list of links that I picked up in the side column of one website to external links to ‘enhance’ your options related to the topic of digital consumption. There were many dozens. They are all live links. I have also included the links I used to research the blog at the very end…they too are numerous and expect some expertise and time to learn and utilize the new terms and language used by the geeks and nerds of our new world.

The real question you have to consider now is whether to unplug from cable and use another subscription to free your viewing options from a television or not. Also, a major consideration, do you feel it is acceptable to be bound by a viewing schedule, found on something like TV Guide, to view a program at a predetermined, or even live, time? Or perhaps live broadcasting be taken over by Facebook in the future, putting FOX, CNN, CBS, NBC, etc. out of business? They could easily outbid one of them for the rights to air the NFL games.

What each platform is attempting at this juncture is to provide content that is so appealing the customer will sign up. Think of Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Game of Thrones, The Queen and all those movies, serials and programs now in existence and even garnering top awards at the Emmys for their efforts that were produced by these new competitors for our time and money. Even the Oscars has taken note. Amazon purchased the distribution rights to Manchester by the Sea and it was awarded an Oscar. They distributed it traditionally, but what does future distribution of a movie mean anymore? The new generation wants to view anywhere and at anytime and doesn’t need to be sitting in an audience, see it on a large screen, hear the quality technically available only in large cinemas…and they are not necessarily going to monetarily reward the people involved in the production of content in the ways that would be considered traditional. Digital is also somewhat easily pirated, as evidenced by the HBO Game of Thrones incident recently. What you can count on, though, is that someone will recognize which platform gathers the most attention. Whether the viewer will be left alone to enjoy the content without advertisements, even though you have paid something to access it, is another matter. I suspect you can expect something to pop up, float over, interrupt, influence or embed within the actual content.  Most likely the Mad Men will find some even more novel way to sell you a product in the future obstructing the content you really want to see, though.

Netflix, Amazon, Google, YouTube are just some of the companies ( and which took down the likes of Blockbuster) which are now hoping to produce and own the content as well as be the distributor of that content. The content you see won’t be owned by you and stored on your device, but, for a fee, you can access it anytime, anywhere and on any device, as long as you have the right device, the right server, the right app and access to the digital signal. And, as you access any information digitally, they are also collecting information about your viewing and purchasing preferences to further tailor your future choices and to figure out how they can influence and find you. Those are all moving targets at this time, each with its own issues and costs, and the list of who is in and who is not changes by the month. Look at this sampling below.

This is one website’s version of the 15 best current streaming providers. They describe the cost comparisons, device needed icons collectionto access the signal and content available in the subscription. There is now the opportunity to tailor your choices more, but it seems every choice we make now for news, for entertainment, for sports, etc., costs 9.99 per month each. Here is a comparison of the best TV streaming services (Keep in mind they all require an internet connection, with the costs, quality, bandwidth speed issues and availability issues to consider):

1. Netflix

Starts at $7.99 per month

iOS, Android, Windows, set-top boxes, most smart TVs, Tivo, most gaming consoles

Excellent on-demand movie and TV show library, with exclusive and original content.

2. Amazon Instant Video

$10.99 per month, $99 per year

iOS, Android, Windows, set-top boxes, most smart TVs, Tivo, most gaming consoles

Great on-demand television and movie library on the web, with some original content.

3. Hulu and Hulu Plus

Starts at $7.99 per month

iOS, Android, Windows, set-top boxes, most smart TVs, Tivo, most gaming consoles

Incredible selection of TV shows; soon will add live television service.

4. Sling TV

Starts at $20 per month

iOS, Android, Windows, set-top boxes, most smart TVs

Features on-demand content and is currently the best live TV service, in comparison to cable television.

5. PlayStation Vue

Starts at $29.99 per month

iOS, Android, Windows, Roku, Sony smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV, Sony gaming consoles

Some on-demand content and a live TV section.

6. HBO Now

$14.99 per month

iOS, Android, most set-top boxes, most smart TVs, newer XBOX consoles

Vast library of HBO-original programming.

7. Showtime

$10.99 per month

iOS, Android, most set-top boxes, most smart TVs

Extensive library of original content broadcasted on Showtime.

8. Starz

$8.99 per month

Android, iOS, and web

Excellent original Starz content, in addition to movies and TV on demand.

9. iTunes

Prices vary on movie or TV popularity/release date

iOS and PC

Limitless movie, TV, and music library, but no original content like Netflix or Hulu. The app is automatically downloaded onto all iPhones.

10. Google Play

Prices vary on movie or TV popularity/release date

Set-top boxes, smart TVs, gaming consoles that run on Android, PC, Mac, iOS

Average media library, with some on-demand options; no original content. The app is supported on all Android devices.

11. YouTube

Lots of free content; other content prices vary on popularity/release date

iOS, Android, Windows, set-top boxes, most smart TVs, Tivo, most gaming consoles

Tons of free, original media from online users; great movie catalog for new releases.

12. VUDU

Prices vary on movie or TV popularity/release date

iOS, Android, Windows, set-top boxes, most smart TVs, most gaming consoles

Offers excellent on-demand content and a wide library of films.

13. FandangoNOW

Prices vary on movie or TV popularity/release date

iOS, Android, Mac, PC, set-top boxes, most smart TVs, most gaming consoles

Features a video on-demand library; a great streaming service for new releases.

14. Cinema Now

Prices vary on movie or TV popularity/release date

iOS, Android, Mac, PC, set-top boxes, most smart TVs, most gaming consoles

Not the best library of entertainment compared to other services, but does offer on-demand streaming.

15. DIRECTV Now

$35 per month

Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Chromecast, Apple TV, iOS, and Android

Live TV streaming service with over 100 channels. Just starting out, and has a few bugs.

This list omits the CBS All Access, Acorn, and dozens of other competitors who’ve entered the game.

https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&biw=994&bih=739&q=different+streaming+services&oq=different+streaming&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.35i39k1j0i7i30k1l2j0.10404.12024.0.14039.11.8.0.0.0.0.724.914.0j1j6-1.2.0….0…1.1.64.psy-ab..9.2.913.mkXtI46XaBo

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Links used in research:

http://letzgro.net/blog/7-ways-to-host-streaming-video-on-your-website/

https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/Apps/Fundamentals/Audio_and_video_delivery/Live_streaming_web_audio_and_video

https://www.fastcompany.com/3066532/7-ways-streaming-music-will-change-in-2017-after-another-crazy-year

https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2489103,00.asp

https://www.consumerreports.org/streaming-video-services/guide-to-subscription-streaming-video-services/

http://www.newtechnologytv.com/5-ways-broadcasting-will-change-in-the-next-few-years/

http://www.newtechnologytv.com/netflix-is-20-billion-in-debt-what-does-this-mean-for-streaming/

 

 

 

 

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Tintinnabulation: Does this Ring a Bell?

What You Should Know About Arvo Pärt arvo part

Arvo Pärt? Several years ago, while driving with Mary down the I-75 and listening to someone like Krista Tippitt or Terry Gross on PBS (though in researching this piece apparently not either of them), we heard some stunning music playing. I wrote down the name of the composer, Arvo Pärt. I found out little about him other than findng a few links to his works that I later listened to for awhile and then put them into my mental repository…big mistake. It took those intervening years to remember those moments.

Until returning to a FB posting of a time-lapsed collection of fabulous weather events that was embedded with the music of Pärt, I had forgotten my earlier exposure. It turns out I had been exposed to him often through a variety of sources and did not offer the respect due. Here is my redemption for that lacking.

This blog, while offered in visual form for reading and viewing photos, cannot do justice to music without you taking advantage of the links to listen to his work. As I have also been enjoying some clips and interviews featuring Terry Gross recently, I suggest you use her technique used in her interviews: she usually does not occupy the same space as the interviewee, who is often a great distance from her, sitting in a dark room with ear phones and a microphone. I recommend that you find a quiet place, maybe even darkened, with no distractions to take in Pärt. Silence, as well as contemplation, are critical for full enjoyment of this style of music. Here is a good example from the Metropolitan Museum’s Temple of Dendur. dendur

Be forewarned it is more than an hour in its entirety, though the text on his work is a worthwhile addendum to my own and accompanies the web description.

Pärt grew up in Estonia, living much of his formative life in Soviet controlled society, even doing compulsory military service for the Soviets. Yet, he was always pulled to music and benefitted from exposure to early 20th composers, most importantly those stemming from Arnold Schoenberg. He dutifully grew as a composer using the concepts and complexities of atonal music featuring dodecaphonic elements, serialism and aleatoricism.*

But, this track in his life did not satisfy him. He hit a wall and for nearly a decade lay fallow in the production of new ideas. Like many geniuses, he needed some epiphany to strike him. Of course, one needs to be armed with knowledge, experience, feeling, empathy, awareness and aspiration to welcome such an epiphany. For Pärt, his occurred in a supermarket in Estonia. the fine evening Felix Vallotton 1892When lining up at the check out line, a loud speaker harkening the shoppers to an announcement. ”Over the public address system one hears the sound ‘doo, doo doo’ ” — three descending tones — “‘Could so-and-so please go to till No. 25?’  That sound is called a triad in music, but it’s actually the building block of all music in the Western world.” LINK to excerpt

Pärt realized the beautiful simplicity of the triad and ran with it. He called his newfound style “tintinnabuli,” a word referring to little tinkling bells. Another ingredient in the recipe is silence.

“On the one hand, silence is like fertile soil, which, as it were, awaits our creative act, our seed,” Pärt says. “On the other hand, silence must be approached with a feeling of awe. And when we speak about silence, we must keep in mind that it has two different wings, so to speak. Silence can be both that which is outside of us and that which is inside a person. The silence of our soul, which isn’t even affected by external distractions, is actually more crucial but more difficult to achieve.”

As you can see, Pärt is serious about his life, his work and the music that results from his thinking, knowing and doing. He was discovered in the West by the head of EMI, who, like me, was listening on the radio and had to pull off the road. It took him some time to track down Pärt, this being the Soviet era in the East, and another eight years to produce a recording. From that point on Pärt has been known to the musicians and composers of the world and his impact is profound. It is primarily the NPR-type audience who appreciate him, though he has gained a wider notoriety through films like There Will Be Blood. Take a look at this sequence and appreciate the import of Pärt’s music accompanying it. From here on I freely lifted his bio from his webpage….

Pärt’s early influence on Estonian music: neoclassicism, dodecaphony, serialism, sonorism, collage technique and aleatoricism. His works proved to pioneer many of these areas: “Nekrolog” is the first dodecaphonic, “Perpetuum mobile” the first sonoristic and “Collage über B-A-C-H” (1964) the first work employing the collage-technique in Estonian music. Pärt had become one of the leading figures in the Soviet avant-garde. Nevertheless, none of those styles remained permanently in his work nor interested him for very long – many of his early compositions can be viewed rather as brilliant experiments or testing the boundaries. However, regardless of the chosen styles or techniques, Pärt’s early oeuvre is characterized by a punctual and powerful concept of dramaturgy, concentrated musical material and elaborated form – the elements, which are visibly present in his later tintinnabuli music and can therefore be characterized as the main pillars of his musical thinking.

The reception of his music in the Soviet Union at the time was conflicting and complicated. On one side, he was perceived as one of the most original and outstanding composers of his generation, whose works were also performed and acknowledged outside the USSR. On the other, many of his works composed in the 1960s were heavily criticized. However, it was not the composition style that caused the scandal following the premiere of “Credo”, but its inner message and choice of text as well as the “dangerously” strong impact it had on audiences (when the piece was performed for the very first time, the audience demanded a repetition). With its text in Latin “Credo in Iesum Christum” the composer openly and sincerely confessed to being religious, which was considered provocative and against the Soviet regime at the time. “Credo” was basically banned and Pärt, as well as his music, fell into disfavour for several years.

From 1968 to 1976, not particularly good years out of the many in Soviet-controlled countries, Pärt went dark. Those years of study were no conscious break, but were consumed by a life and death agonizing inner conflict. “I had lost my inner compass and I didn’t know anymore, what an interval or a key meant,” Pärt recalled some years later.

In his new quest for self expression Pärt turned even more intensively towards the early music and became absorbed for years studying Gregorian chant, the Notre Dame School and Renaissance polyphony. The first signs of this appear in his Symphony No. 3 (1971).

After all that intensive research, Pärt emerged in 1976 with a new and highly original musical language, which he called tintinnabuli (from tintinnabulum – Latin for ’little bell’). The new language first appears in a short piece for piano, “Für Alina”, followed soon by masterpieces like “Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten” (1977), “Fratres” (1977), “Tabula rasa” (1977) and “Spiegel im Spiegel” (1978). Pärt has now been composing in his tintinnabuli-style for almost 40 years, and it has proven to be a rich and inexhaustible creative source.

Tintinnabuli music can be defined as a distinct technique, which in essence unites two monodic lines of structure – melody and triad – into one, inseparable ensemble. It creates an original duality of voices, the course and inner logic of which are defined by strict, even complicated mathematical formulas. Through that duality of voices Pärt has given a new meaning to the horizontal and vertical axis of music, and broadened our perception of tonal and modal music in its widest sense.

Tintinnabuli music can also be described as a style in which the musical material is extremely concentrated, reduced only to the most important, where the simple rhythm and often gradually progressing melodies and triadic tintinnabuli voices are integrated into the complicated art of polyphony, expressing the composer’s special relationship to silence.

In addition, tintinnabuli is also an ideology, a very personal and deeply sensed attitude to life for the composer, based on Christian values, religious practice and a quest for truth, beauty and purity.

After emigrating (1980 onwards)

The first tintinnabuli works were composed and premiered in Tallinn, Estonia – the USSR at that time – but in order to continue, the composer needed complete creative freedom. In January 1980, Arvo Pärt was forced to emigrate to Vienna with his wife Nora and two sons. A year later the family moved on a DAAD scholarship to Berlin, where they lived for 30 years.

As an active and productive composer, Pärt has continued composing since without any longer breaks. Vocal compositions, often based on liturgical texts or other Christian prayers, comprise a large part of his oeuvre. Among them there are many large-scale compositions for choir and orchestra, such as  “Passio” (1982), “Stabat Mater” (1985), “Te Deum” (1985), “Miserere” (1989/1992), “Berliner Messe” (1990/2002), “Litany” (1994/1996), “Kanon pokajanen” (1997), “Como cierva sedienta” (1998/2002) and “In principio” (2003), as well as lighter choral pieces with organ accompaniment or a cappella. One can say that the Word plays an important role in Pärt’s oeuvre because many of his instrumental works are text related and the textural structure is often the basis of his compositional process (i.e. “Psalom”, 1985; “Orient & Occident”, 2000; Symphony No. 4, 2008 etc.). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUC4_GCSJno

It was also in Germany, where the lasting collaboration with Manfred Eicher, founder and producer of the renowned ECM label, began. In 1984, ECM released “Tabula rasa” launching a whole new, highly successful series of recordings under the ECM New Series title, which brought Pärt to the world. His music was soon included in the programmes of many renowned festivals, orchestras and ensembles as well as television and radio broadcasts. Since this debut album, all the first recordings of Pärt’s major works have been released under ECM.

His works in chronological order

Even If I Lose Everything  (2015)

There Will Be Blood   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugTbwvVuLKA

dodecaphonic  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve-tone_technique

serialism  Some composers such as Béla Bartók, Luciano Berio, Benjamin Britten, John Cage, Aaron Copland, Olivier Messiaen, Arvo Pärt, Walter Piston, Ned Rorem, Alfred Schnittke, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Igor Stravinsky used serialism only for some of their compositions or only for some sections of pieces, as did some jazz composers such as Yusef Lateef and Bill Evans.

sonorism  https://rateyourmusic.com/genre/Sonorism/

collage technique  In music, montage (literally “putting together”) or sound collage (“gluing together”) is a technique where newly branded sound objects or compositions, including songs, are created from collage, also known as montage.

aleatoricism  (also aleatory music or chance music; from the Latin word alea, meaning “dice”) is music in which some element of the composition is left to chance, and/or some primary element of a composed work’s realization is left to the determination of its performer(s).

http://www.npr.org/sections/deceptivecadence/2014/06/02/316322238/the-silence-and-awe-of-arvo-p-rt

http://www.npr.org/artists/16070552/arvo-part

https://www.theguardian.com/music/arvo-part

https://www.theguardian.com/music/tomserviceblog/2012/jun/18/arvo-part-contemporary-music-guide

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FK-KC2aQpcI&index=4&list=RDQtFPdBUl7XQ

https://onbeing.org/blog/trent-gilliss-the-majestic-beauty-of-supercell-thunderstorms-in-slow-motion/

1984: Was it a good year or a bad year? Orwell thought bad; Reagan claimed it a good one… What is our role in the discussion about how “television” has influenced our lives? You decide.

“A popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both.”–James Madison, 1822

bradburyRay Bradbury, in 1953 wrote Fahrenheit 451 and he thought we had entered an dangerous era . James Madison, too, would most likely weigh in with his opinion if he could respond to the post World War Two era in his America.

What is “television” anymore? More precisely, how many ways are there for you to now access moving images that, since the 40s, used to be either seen on a television or in the cinema, and how many ways are there to spend money doing it? In fact, do you get your “news” from some screen now that is different from your access only a short while ago? This blog will start off a very complicated exposition, which may take some time to develop, more than a single blog at any rate.

One should be loath to start out discussing a topic with “In the old days”, as it encompasses so many connotations that elicit thoughts of curmudgeonly attitudes, or conservative frustrations or “Make America Great Again”. But, in the old days we had limited choices when viewing a moving image. It was either delivered on one of four stations on a television (with one the required Public Broadcasting Station that was commercial free), the access to which was delivered via airways regulated by the government or we paid to go into a building to see it projected on a screen. If we wanted to see a film without paying (other than viewing a drive in film from outside the walls), one waited sometimes years to view it on the tv, along with its accompanying commercial breaks to pay for its delivery. Payment is always the issue, as advertising ala “Mad Men-style” commercials were inserted proportionately into the half hour or full hour television programs and movies to finance the airing of programs through the television medium.

The beginning of cable in the United States altered our world in ways that we are still measuring, with satellite delivery now enhancing even more the ways we view sports, news and other events of note (or not of note). Our whole world for some of us is now viewed through some form of screen that the viewer today now sometimes uses to validate their lives. Information is almost always digitized now, allowing for storage and dissemination that were only dreamed of post World War Two. For those interested in making a profit, though, the medium of viewing any moving image and having someone interested in those images leads them to want to cash in on the experience no matter what screen delivers the image. Therein lies the complexity of the discussion. How did the world go through the process of delivering the moving image over greater and greater distances, speed of delivery and ease of individualizing the experience?

When television was over the air, after World War Two, there were televisions being sold by the millions to access what was provided. The FCC regulated content and process, and the US government had great control over our paradigms developed through this medium. That kind of control is worth its own blog discussion, and will be touched upon only sporadically here, though this blog will hopefully introduce the importance the government plays in regulating or at least supporting the promulgation of information. Motion pictures had been around for decades and decades by then and had established their own distribution issues and government oversight, but having paid for entrance into a cinema freed you from further commercialization of that particular product to a great degree. As I mentioned, though, the producers of a movie were happy to sell it after its original screening to any variety of distributors for further profit opportunities. Television could convert the analogue film to a viable transmittable image for distribution to the homes that received television signals over the air. Commercial advertisements were inserted into preplanned moments of tv productions or in convenient (or inconvenient) moments in the film to pay for its transmission. These usually increased in frequency and sometimes length as a film neared its climax.

Almost immediately, though, there were areas of the States that were blocked out of this market because of distance or topography. Signals could be collected and amplified as some cost on the highest of mountains, but no one lived there. Cable companies arose in some regions where it was financially viable to build an antenna and then connect cables to the antenna to deliver a signal to the homes nearby. By 1952 this was available for a very small population willing to finance such a venture, only 14,000 homes nationwide. Yet, as cable companies figured out how to expand their signal collecting, they expanded their net and profits, to the point that over the air channels claimed theft of signals they were financing. The cable companies, it was argued, were not paying for programming and profiting from the distribution. The FCC curtailed much of this in the 1960s, starving cable development. This changed in the 70s, but the big year was 1984.

In that year regulations changed the game. It was in the Reagan Era. The Cable Television Act, sponsored by Senator Goldwater, was passed. Goldwater was always a deregulation Republican, but the stakes in changing the law on communications involved billions of dollars of changing fortunes and what was going to be available to the public in the future, for a cost, was the outcome. Massive changes in our culture would result, economically, politically, culturally, ethically, in other words it was an historical paradigm shift that would ultimately impact the whole world incrementally.

Just before he died, Ray Bradbury gave an interview to correct the many critiques and analyses of Fahrenheit 451. He said he was not worried about a technological future, or a government dominated future, he was worried about the impact of television on the mind of the populace and how he thought it would destroy our ability to think, to reason. Bradbury wanted people to read, to see ideas in print, to have discussions about what we read: in effect he was pushing the Madison agenda. Having some corporation program the thoughts, words, ideas and narrative for us to blandly and meekly accept as ‘truth’ was what worried him most. Welcome to his worst nightmare.

Of course, hundreds of other things impact paradigms, but the change in television viewing, the content of what was presented, the control and oversight by any particular government entity and the making of fortunes by individuals who would have never surfaced otherwise was initiated. For Goldwater, it was a basic question of local vs. federal rights, laissez-faire principles of economics and obliquely the nature of free speech. But, free speech is a difficult topic: speech involves the thing being said, who says it, where it is said, who ‘owns’ the speech and who hears it. What power is given to all those aspects of speech in the First Amendment? 1984’s decision will test us answering that question. This past week or so in America has seen it tested.

So, to prompt thoughts about future blogs on the topic, consider this. Time, Warner, Turner, AOL, Rush Limbaugh, Citizens United, HBO, Blockbuster (and not), Rupert Murdoch, etc. And, that when Stephen Colbert gets spicy in his language or gestures on CBS, they are censored, but John Oliver can do and say just about anything he wants and HBO can show us almost anything now. Or, if you are thinking about the First Amendment and contemplating what is fair to the republic, what is your position of White Supremacists marching on The Lawn without hoods, proud of their speech and placards and changing the very nature of the political process. Should a person side with Antifas? Is Martin Luther King Jrs’ and Gandhi’s hope for non-violence in civic discourse and political confrontation quaint to consider now? What will come of President Trump and his defense of free speech in the manner of equivocating he has been using lately?

What Goldwater hoped for, to deregulate, to give power to local governments, to move the federal government away from business decisions and to make the pie of the television industry grow and be divided differently….all took place. But, that was without a lot of federal control or with federal winks and handshakes that made many politicians wealthy. Reagan will veto the Fairness Act, which will die completely during the Obama administration. CSpan, a part of the arrangement organized to require cable to fund public access and discourse, is continually under the attack of the Republican lawmakers. One could, and does, claim that many in the GOP like the populace stupid. There seems to be ample evidence of the Bradbury factor in today’s populace and political results. Corporations are even citizens today.

Free Speech, government regulation, the GOP? In a book written in 2007, Prologue to a Farce, by Mark Lloyd, he argues that the founders and in particular Madison were very aware of the knowledge needed in the republic’s citizenry and that government support for the dissemination of knowledge was both critical and required. This will be the gist of later blogs. To expand on the earlier Madison quote and give the full context of his thoughts at the time…”A popular Government without popular information or a means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.” This will be the genesis of a following blog. But, consider this, too, as you make out your check to pay for access to “television shows”; is it for cable, or Hulu, Netflix, wireless only, satellite something, over-the-air only with an antenna, or some of the dozens of other ways that, once you have wireless, someone wants their $9.99 a month to gain access to the newspaper, the show, the magazine, the video clip, the music experience from the German opera or Met, etc. Apparently I will need a blog to explore those options. It is an ongoing shift at present and that pie, and knowledge, are the prize and victims and Goldwater didn’t fully realize and consider what he was doing when he started that shift in our political and economic paradigms. More later.

http://www.upi.com/Archives/1982/05/04/Sen-Barry-Goldwater-R-Ariz-urged-cable-television-operators-Tuesday/9014389332800/

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08821127.2007.10677686

http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1195&context=fclj

http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/68hgg5er9780252031045.html

http://www.openculture.com/2017/08/ray-bradbury-reveals-the-true-meaning-of-fahrenheit-451.html

https://www.ncta.com/who-we-are/our-story

https://www.ncta.com/platform/industry-news/new-from-the-near-future-a-smarter-vision-for-healthcare/

https://www.ncta.com/platform/industry-news/more-viewers-try-new-ways-to-watch-tv/

https://www.calcable.org/learn/history-of-cable/

The Eclipse?: The real one or the metaphorical political one

As we reel from yet another presidential pronouncement or whatever one calls the utterances from this man, the country adjusts to a new reality that requires responses in the hundreds. These come in the form of news analysis on television in attempts to analyze meaning, affect and effect. Or, to counter what was said and give rational context to where we are based on the continuously occurring new episodes demonstrating incompetence. Now the elements of condemnation, even include right wing pundits squaring off on either side of the issue on Fox with several of their pundits accusing the man with clarity and well-defended admonishments. Or, of course, there are the multiple attempts to correct the misinformation and prevaricating spouted from the POTUS podium. The latest was using a debunked story once carried by the real FAKE news about General Pershing.

In a few days the Solar Eclipse will occur, with its totality experienced along a line that only cuts through North America. In the prehistoric past this would have been viewed as apocryphal to those experiencing it. It seems we could be reverting to this role again based on the language used by at least two of the world’s leaders in the past several weeks. Thankfully, as of this writing, the cooler heads on this side of the Pacific are controlling the podium and the back rooms, and on the other side we might assume the game of chicken the North Koreans have perfected over the last three generations of Kims.

The recent Kim’s actions and words have left them closer to their policy goals and the West, and China, impotent to alter their thinking, again. Even Steve Bannon laid out the situation as it really is, the only thing he’s said with which I have ever agreed. At least the Koreans above the 38th Parallel, the most important line on the earth of late other than the oblique one in North America under which the rest of the gathering crowds will collect to be washed in the shadow of the Umbra, are quiet of late. It seems we can breathe a bit easier based on the absence of further provocation by Kim and no POTUSian Tweets on the subject lately. Allen at least seems to be corralling Trump in this area, even though he must surely be tested by his impotence regarding the surprise and dismay he exhibited at the Trump Tower episode.

So far the signs are increasing for the Trump’s eclipse, eclipsesHOWwhich many hope will bath us in an political Umbra and not dabble and tantalize us with the PreUmbra as is happening now. There have been useful, heartfelt and strong condemnations by many in the Republican Party, some from new quarters. Some are threats to change…..or else? There is one Democrat in the House of Representatives who is drafting Articles of Impeachment to put before that body, a necessary first step. It would need the cooperation of Ryan to push that step forward and enough Republicans to form a majority of that body to hand over the possibility of conviction to the Senate, which I don’t think will ever happen. The House of Representatives only prosecutes, it cannot convict. If it ever got to the Senate, then nineteen Republican Senators would have to agree with the assumed full complement of Democrat Senators who would want his ouster. The list of disgruntled GOPers at present, regardless of the motives for their public disowning of the President’s current emeses, probably would not be party to the process. 2018 could change that, which the Republicans know.

In a clear description of how the process of impeachment works in the Atlantic, they offered some sound advice about the gravity of flaunting the process unnecessarily. “Undertaking a presidential impeachment is no small matter, and it should not be approached as if it were simply a technical application of the law. An impeachment will dominate the political agenda for months and throw the government into disarray. An unsuccessful effort to remove a president will leave the White House damaged and enfeebled. If supporters of the president are not persuaded that the impeachment effort was justified, it will escalate partisan tensions and feed distrust of American political institutions. Congress has a responsibility to pursue less drastic measures to address the perceived problems when it can. If an impeachment inquiry becomes unavoidable, political leaders on both sides of the aisle will have a duty to work together to find ways to overcome the resulting civil strife and put the nation on a stronger footing as it faces the challenges ahead.”

But, the chances of this ever coming to fruition are slim because of many factors, because of those outlined above, as well as some devious factors, some others selfish, but in particular because the whole body and especially the Republicans do not want the process of power laid out by the Constitution to be utilized unless it is the Writ of Last Resort. It will most likely be Article Twenty-Five of the Constitution that does Trump in. According to the language therein, he passed its threshold long ago.

If we ever go here, he would most likely resign and go into his Shadow Political Life for the next umpteen years, pushing the products he sells on the cable channel that steps up or is created to support him. In fact, regardless of where this debacle ends up, I do not see us as a country coming back from this precipice with dexterity. That more than two-thirds of the country’s Republicans still support Trump’s recent actions, words and demeanor is really troubling to me, as is the stubborn figure of 33 to 36% that feel he is doing a good job overall. I completely dismiss the 18% diehards as beyond hope.

We need some civics courses that expound upon ethics, community expectations and viability, Constitutional meanings and, most importantly, how government programs originate, operate and can be meaningfully amended. Within such a course, it would be taught how the democratic process best determines the value of government, in budgetary terms surely but more specifically whether its decisions are fair and sustainable. These are issues we have too simply categorized and misrepresented in the media as media outlets are utilized at present, and I certainly don’t have any illusions that this will improve in the future.

I truly fear and believe that a significant proportion of those in the 33 to 36% behind the Willful Wall of Ignorance won’t accept reason and facts as they have traditionally been presented. But, as Rick Russo once again advised me recently regarding fight or flight, he always pugilistic in politics and me leaning to dreaming of the coast of Brittany, educators and people with grandkids must hope for the best in paying it forward. Though, if that 33 to 36 balloons in 2018 and the signs of an eventual Trumpian eclipse does not surface, Les Homards will not be pulled from the Penobscot Bay in our future dining experiences and Coquilles St. Jacques, Moules Frites, Crêpes and Galettes, Palets Breton, Calvados, Bière pression and Cidre will be the purchases made on our visits to the restaurants in the area. 

https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/eclipse-who-what-where-when-and-how

Some people deserve to be outed: There is a cancer in this country that is growing

It is highly recommended that you read about at least one strain of this cancer, posted herein.. This group is very well-versed in confrontation and the scenes in Charlottesville are just the beginning of neonaziswhat is planned by the groups involved in White Nationalism. This is serious……they plan to grow and disrupt and hopefully carve out a nation based on exclusion, expulsion or genocide. “The radical right was more successful in entering the political mainstream last year than in half a century,” the Southern Poverty Law Center reported in February. The organization documents more than nine hundred active (and growing) hate groups in the United States. The United States faces a sixty-per-cent chance of civil war over the next ten to fifteen years according to one expert, Keith Mines. Mines’s definition of a civil war is large-scale violence that includes a rejection of traditional political authority and requires the National Guard to deal with it. Other experts’ predictions ranged from five per cent to ninety-five per cent. The sobering consensus was thirty-five per cent.(New Yorker)  Recent interview with Matt Heimbach...

MATTHEW HEIMBACH click on his name to start with his own philosophyabc_ntl_racism_1_140117_wg

Considered by many to be the face of a new generation of white nationalists, Matthew Heimbach founded a campus chapter of Youth for Western Civilization at Towson University in Maryland and later started the White Student Union there. He also has been a member of the neo-Confederate League of the South. Since graduating in the spring of 2013, he has entrenched himself further in the white nationalist movement and become a regular speaker on the radical-right lecture circuit.

 

Born 1991       Location Bloomington, Ind             Ideology White Nationalist

Following his graduation in the spring of 2013, Towson’s WSU was folded into the Traditionalist Youth Network, a new white nationalist organization cloaking itself in “traditionalism” that was founded by Heimbach and his father-in-law,  Matthew Parrott. In late 2014, Heimbach also assumed a leadership role in the neo-Confederate League of the South as the hate group’s training director.

In His Own Words:

“No longer will the homosexual, Muslim, and black supremacist groups be allowed to hijack our campus. … Youth for Western Civilization is preparing to take our campus back, all we need is the help of people like you to make it happen.” – Youth for Western Civilization blog, January 2012

“To be able to get everyone behind the idea [that] the purpose of our movement shouldn’t be about reforming America, shouldn’t be about trying to make the system better and less unfair towards us, it’s about flipping the table over. It’s about going to temple and saying that this is a violation of God’s law and creating a new homeland for whites around the entire world.”

– Traditionalist Youth Hour with Matthew Parrott, July 10, 2013

“[W]e shouldn’t give up California just yet. Because it truly is beautiful in terms of weather, but it’s full of Mexicans and that’s sort of a problem.”

– Traditionalist Youth Hour with Matthew Parrott, July 10, 2013

“This is our home and our kith and kin. Borders matter, identity matters, blood matters, libertarians and their capitalism can move to Somalia if they want to live without rules, in the West we must have standards and enforce them. The ‘freedom’ for other races to move freely into white nations is nonexistent. Stay in your own nations, we don’t want you here.”

– “I Hate Freedom,” Traditionalist Youth Network, July 7, 2013

“Those who promote miscegenation, usury, or any other forms of racial suicide should be sent to re-education centers, not tolerated.”

– “I Hate Freedom,” Traditionalist Youth Network, July 7, 2013

“I do not care if you are a man who ‘loves’ another man, you do not have the right, privilege, or ability to marry him and carry on in a degenerate relationship. In any healthy society you would be dragged off to therapy to help you cope with

your mental illness, not given glitter and assless chaps to parade down the street. A society helps the mentally ill; it doesn’t parade them around as normal.”

– “I Hate Freedom,” Traditionalist Youth Network, July 7, 2013

“We are not separate peoples fighting alone. We are all comrades in the struggle against International Jewry and the Zionist State.”

—“Same Enemy, Same Barricades: The Church Against Zionism,” Traditionalist Youth Network, Aug. 11, 2014

“When the Jews are strong, the Jewish people engage their supposed foes with cold-blooded cruelty. This is why we must understand a unity between those who struggle against the Zionist State and International Jewry here in the West and those on the streets of Gaza, Syria, and Lebanon. We face the exact same enemy, one who doesn’t care if they kill our women, children, and elderly. We are facing a truly Satanic enemy, one that cannot be understood except through the lens of Christianity and Christian prophecy.”

— “Same Enemy, Same Barricades: The Church Against Zionism,” Traditionalist Youth Network, Aug. 11, 2014

Background:

Matthew Heimbach is a 2013 graduate of Towson University in Maryland, where he received a degree in history. As a student, he founded and served as president of a chapter of the white nationalist Youth for Western Civilization (YWC). Following the dissolution of the YWC chapter in the spring of 2012, Heimbach began a new campus organization known as the White Student Union (WSU). After his graduation, he became increasingly outspoken and transparent with his white nationalist beliefs. He has connections to several national organizations espousing similar ideologies — most notably the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), the League of the South (LOS), the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the American Freedom Party (AFP).

Heimbach stated in a fundraising letter in the fall of 2011 that the YWC stood for “stopping rampant multiculturalism” and “against illegal immigration.” In early 2012, he issued a report on behalf of his YWC chapter that referred to the death of apartheid in South Africa as “orchestrat[ing] the systematic slaughter of the white community.” Continuing, he wrote, “The worst fears of the so called ‘radicals’ of the white minority that were discounted in the early 1990s now have come true.”

Heimbach planned and executed a series of inflammatory events at Towson University while president of the YWC chapter there. Foremost among these was the chalking, on campus sidewalks, of messages like “white pride” and “white guilt is over” in March 2012 – an event that led to the resignation of the group’s faculty sponsor, Richard Vatz, and the ultimate loss of the group’s official status on campus. Said Vatz: “They were using rhetoric in their arguments that I found were not appropriate.” Vatz went on to call the language frightening, particularly in its descriptions of political opponents as “cancer” and “disgusting degenerates.” In an interview with the Southern Poverty Law Center, Vatz said, “This is not how conservatives comport themselves.” In Heimbach’s mind, the chalking event was a simple expression of “traditional conservative values and not racist.”

After his chapter of the YWC was disbanded, Heimbach formed another campus group, the White Student Union. According to Heimbach during an online segment filmed by VICE News: “We [Towson students] have black student development, Latino student development, gay student development, student success programs for those who can’t make it, and things for women. So one day white people will be on there. We’ll be treated equally with every other single group, hopefully. But demanding equality for white people on campus apparently isn’t very popular.”

On Oct. 2, 2012, “race realist” Jared Taylor spoke to the White Student Union at Heimbach’s invitation. Taylor is the founder of the white nationalist New Century Foundation and editor of its American Renaissance journal, a pseudo-academic journal that regularly publishes articles by proponents of eugenics and blatant anti-black and anti-Latino racists.

The WSU’s recommended readings include Francis Parker Yockey’s neo-Nazi classic Imperium, as well works by three leading white nationalists — Sam Francis’s Essential Writings on Race, Pat Buchanan’s Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive Until 2025?, and Jared Taylor’s White Identity.

In the spring of 2013, during his last semester at Towson, Heimbach organized a student night patrol to combat what he called a “black crime wave.” Along with three other students, he patrolled the campus with police flashlights and pepper spray. Wrote Heimbach, the “commander” of the WSU, on the group’s blog, “every single day black predators prey upon the majority white Towson University student body.” In a later interview with the Baltimore Sun, he claimed that “every time the offender is a black male, usually between 18 and 25.”

In the documentary segment on VICE that focused on the WSU’s campus patrols, Heimbach, in no uncertain terms, endorsed the creation of a white ethno-state: “I think that especially the black community will find areas in the South, areas like Detroit, where they can have their own homelands, we don’t have to be antagonistic towards them. And if you want to sell yourself and your children down the river of multiculturalism, you can do that. But we deserve the right to exist, deserve the right to defend our culture, and deserve the right to have a future for our culture.”

While a student at Towson, Heimbach spoke at the Harford County Sheriff’s Office for the Route 40 Republican Party Club in Edgewood, Md. The vice president of the group at the time was John Stortstrom. In July 2013, Stortstrom was suspended from his job as a mechanical engineer at the U.S. Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center in Maryland after his ties to Youth for Western Civilization and American Renaissance were exposed.

On May 22, 2013, at a WSU dinner, Heimbach proposed that the group merge with Matthew Parrott’s Traditionalist Youth Network (TYN), “an organization that will take the message of the WSU [White Student Union] far beyond the confines of Towson.” Heimbach, following graduation, assumed the role of national director for the group.

On June 8, 2013, Heimbach spoke at the racist CCC’s annual conference in Winston-Salem, N.C., while wearing a pistol on his hip. Claiming that “[o]ur people haven’t had a voice since 1860,” Heimbach called for secession. “The system can’t be reformed, nor should we try to do so,” he said. “We’ve tried every avenue to try to resolve the [race] issue.” Quoting Theodore Bilbo, a Klan member who was governor of Mississippi in the early 1900s, Heimbach stated, “It’s separation or mongrelization.” He closed with the “14 words,” a white nationalist motto coined by the late David Lane, a convicted terrorist who helped assassinate a Jewish talk show host in Denver in 1984: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

Heimbach has attended several of the LOS’s annual gatherings – in Abbeville, S.C. (2011); Wallsboro, Ala. (2012); and Wetumpka, Ala. (2013). The neo-Confederate group advocates a second Southern secession, a society dominated by “European Americans,” and a leadership composed of “Anglo-Celtic” elites. In Heimbach’s visits to the LOS’ conference in 2012 and 2013, he and other attendees traveled to downtown Montgomery to pose with a Confederate flag at the Civil Rights Memorial (located at the offices of the Southern Poverty Law Center) and the nearby Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the Montgomery bus boycott in the 1950s.

At the 2013 AFP conference, Heimbach spoke alongside Tomislav Sunic, an AFP director; Bill Johnson, the AFP chairman; Mark Weber, director of the Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical ReviewKevin McDonald, an AFP director and an anti-Semitic professor at the California State University, Long Beach; and Michael Meyers of the Golden State Solidarity movement.

In the summer of 2013, it became evident that Heimbach was wading into neo-Nazi territory. He spoke at the annual Stormfront gathering in Tennessee, where he sang the praises of neo-Nazi David Duke. This followed a late August interview on Duke’s radio show. Heimbach took an even more extreme turn the next month when he participated in a gathering hosted by the violent skinhead group Aryan Terror Brigade and co-hosted by the Imperial Klans of America and the National Socialist Movement. The event included a cross and swastika lighting. A photograph surfaced showing Heimbach standing under a large swastika performing the TYN favorite Avalonian salute, nearly indistinguishable from a sieg-heil, with a group of Klansmen and neo-Nazis.

As a result of Heimbach’s appearance at that gathering, Michael Hill, LOS president, barred him from attending an LOS rally in October and booted him out of the group. However, the ban only lasted a few short months before Heimbach was reinstated and placed into a leadership role as the LOS’ training director.

In 2014, Heimbach’s steady activism continued and was highlighted by a presentation at the annual Stormfront Smoky Mountain Summit entitled “Death to America.” Although it contained many familiar white nationalist talking points, such as claims about the purportedly Jewish-controlled U.S. federal government and scathing indictments of affirmative action, it also veered into more outlandish — such as the assertion that America was born of a secret partnership between Freemasons and the Jews.

“You are the wrong color, ladies and gentlemen. You are the wrong color to be an American and enjoy the American Dream. I’m sorry,” Heimbach told the crowd. “The meritocracy of America is skin color.”

However, Heimbach’s presentation stirred up controversy among some attendees, particularly the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan leader and well-known Christian Identity pastor, Thom Robb, who said of Heimbach: “Speakers should be experienced, grounded, mature and employ wisdom, otherwise they will never inspire others or be able to give a vision for others to grasp. … Perhaps Matt will someday, becomes [sic] those things, but until then he needs to humble himself and seek wisdom both of which he, at this time, lacks.”

The following September, Heimbach married his girlfriend, the daughter of Matt Parrott, co-founder of TYN. The two honeymooned across Eastern Europe, where they met with leaders of several far-right political parties including Greece’s criminally inclined Golden Dawn neo-Nazi group and the Czech Workers Party – even speaking at a political rally for the latter.

The year 2015 saw an increase in TYN activities including several protests against speaking engagements by Tim Wise, a well-known anti-racism activist, and a demonstration with members of the LOS at a panel centered on Russia at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. That increased activism has been accompanied by a shift in TYN’s focus towards making their white nationalist politics into a lifestyle, rather than just a political movement, that mirrors the Orthodox faith of key members of the group. In a series of articles titled “Becoming a Legionnaire,” Heimbach and Parrott make suggestions on how to live a life grounded in the principles of Traditionalism.

He is seen in the video outside the courtroom on Monday claiming it was the police and National Guards’ fault for letting the demonstration get violent. Yet, a simple sampling of the groups involved in Unite the Right and their dialogue, slogans and principles show them to be prone to inciting violence and hopeful of confrontation in order to gain more notoriety. They feel theirs is a cause that will gather more traction and followers because it is right.

Take a look at these other video clips to see what these groups espouses

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzfIYK-_JZY

http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2017/08/12/unite-right-white-nationalist-rally-charlottesville-erupts-violence/562095001/

He also has a criminal record

https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/matthew-heimbach

October?: Trump won’t let me enjoy the Red Sox run~ Charlottesville, Korea, Russia, Health Care…..

It’s summertime in August and the Red Sox are doing pretty well. Their two rookies and a new comer, Devers, Benintendi and Nunez, all benefitting from immigration to the States somewhere in time and one still needing a translator, are having the time of their lives. Yet, the world that I feel Trump is both symptomatic of and responsible for is encroaching upon my summer buzz. I’m hoping for some positive things to happen by October.

The continued splintering of the Republican Party. The Party of Lincoln, which once was both strong on national defense but averse to foreign intervention in the 1930s, the party that supports free trade and limited government seems now to the point of almost willingly allowing monopolies and unregulated nihilism, is also completely bereft of meaningful leadership that can define its purpose. There are many within its tent who wish to define it though and whom I feel are dangerous.

 

 

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What seems to be surfacing as its cause celeb is limited government, including lesser regulation on finance, the environment, oversight of education and civil rights, and a coarser civil discourse. Their calls for lower taxes and reform are not new, with the goal as usual calling for trickle down but in reality more money for the financial elites. Their hope is that starvation of government programs will render them impotent, allowing for more raping of government lands, while claiming that they are giving full economic power to the individual when in reality it is the corporations’ control that is the true goal of this untethering. All the while this party wants to maintain strong central control over social programs, but in the name of religious conservatism.

This blend has been invaded by strong nationalist aspirations that push the US agenda in all global issues to the point of ignoring the needs and security of our allies and is threatening our very own, too. In the midst of this disintegration of the the Old Party of Reagan and Bushes, where reasoned use of tax money also gave preference to corporations and the wealthy, there are also the resurgent White Suprematists, KKK members, Neo-Nazis, Identity Evropa, White Zionist-style anti-Semites who support exclusion of anything not them, Gun-toting Amendment 2 NRAers who want libertine power to run their own lives and settle their own scores, and the Rand Paul intellectuals who have enough from their white privilege to claim anyone can have what they have if they work hard enough and if you don’t have enough no one should help you in any way. In there somewhere are Log Cabin Republicans, Evangelicals, Mormons and some conservative Catholics and a few Jews who support the real Zionism in Israel.

Up until 2017 it seemed they were united in voting against anything the Democratic Party wanted. Now that they have such wide control of state and national power, they seem to be pulled in all these directions simultaneously with the blob slowly oozing one direction or another depending on the incident. Yet, with a president who’s under attack for his incompetence, petulance, and who seems to support many values that are counter to American ones, the GOP is in danger of losing its way for a very long time to come.

Trump tweets according to his deranged whims of the moment. Those whims are apparently either based on what will make Donald Trump come onto a television screen or based on the premises; “how to I maintain the energy of those supporters who are most true to me or how do I deflect the discourse away from the Russia probe”. His staunch supporters happen to be the least Republican, in my opinion, and the most damaging to American democracy. But, the GOP conglomerate needs their numbers to be even remotely viable. Those disaffected blue-collar workers, Millennial unemployed momma’s boys like the accused white supremacist who drove into a crowd of anti-protestors in Charlottesville, the J.D. Vance described white, middle-class, educated male with problems of identity because he cannot relate to women-authority-other-you name it, the senior citizen ruralites who feel their world is in the rear view mirror and the Conservative Christians who are bothered by the growing acceptance of scientific reality that we are all mutants and part of the human race from birth and that God’s image is metaphorical and not one that is white and blond.

It remains to be seen whether events related to 1)Korea, where a well-managed military engagement could strangely strengthen the GOP hold on the electorate (know that this cannot happen because well-managed military success has not been our forte in the troubled world of today because military victory is achieved with the destruction of an enemy’s permanent control over territory), or 2)the continuing racial divide that has been opened up by the Trump presidency, or 3)the Russia investigation into the Trump Campaign and White House will become the most important issue in determine the direction of American politics over the next few months. It is apparently impossible for the mess of the Republican Party to actually govern and offer meaningful tax reform, infrastructure support and rebuilding, passing the budget and offering long-term government spending guidance during the next few months or dealing with the myriad problems we presently have, let alone those which will surface during the next year.

Recent events in Charlottesville have become center stage at present, with Trump’s unwillingness to condemn white supremacy and only a few Republican political leaders stepping up to the podium to call him on it to this point. I don’t believe Trump has it in him to make a stand against White Power (*correction below)(**and correction to the correction). Fox News has allowed equivocation on the event and issue, too, even comparing Black Lives Matter approaches to those used by the Unite the Right. If blacks can claim prejudice, why can’t whites?

This is a question I hope comes under full scrutiny, with a great opportunity for a national history lesson delivered by those with the credentials to do so. This is such a rich opportunity for all major platforms to take on this issue and give a detailed account of what must be discussed: civil rights in this country must be based on rule of law, respect for the law and how our traditional values can actually lead us to a better place.

It will not be Trump, though, who takes us there, as he is symptomatic of the vein in American politics and culture that needs to be rooted out, in my opinion. Perhaps there is a silver lining in all this mess. If the majority in a democracy can support inclusiveness, community solutions based on good will, embracing your brother and sister whomever they may be, helping those less fortunate, in other words values found in all religious doctrines and also rooted in clear Greek discussions of ethics, we can utilize those overwhelming numbers, from all the reasonable political persuasions, to move this country forward in a meaningful, fruitful and sustainable way.

All we can hope for is that someone in charge stops Trump from making any of these decisions, as he has proven over and over again that his choices are divisive and dangerous to the US  and the world.  If Trump will not call for a destruction of white supremacy as a acceptable cause in American politics…who will? While it was somewhat satisfying to see the citizens of Charlottesville run Kessler out of town because of what he stands for, it would be better if the system, from the top down, did this. It is sad and ugly in Charlottesville now and not the fault of its citizens.

We shouldn’t need to rely on grass roots building from a base to do this, though I would love to be reading a good history book in a few years’ time that recounts how the progressive movement used 2017’s events as a catalyst to unite and claim the national discussion.

For me, I feel our best hope is that Mueller can put his information-gathering together with rapid dispatch and it brings into focus the fire that has caused so much smoke related to the Russia probe. It seems time is the most important factor is resolving the Trump presidency, as he desperately needs to be removed from any decision-making capacity on any level. We can’t survive four months, let alone four years with him. I’d much rather focus on the Yankee/Red Sox rivalry between now and October, but if Trump is gone by then……..

Correction and acknowledgement: Trump clarified his position on Monday, the 14th, in a scripted response that he uncharacteristically followed to the end. He did condemn these hate groups. He also reacted to the Merck CEO (who happens to be black) who had just resigned his commission because of Trump’s previous tepid respond to the violence…….. excerpted below

Correction to the above correction: Trump only lasted twenty-four hours before his lesser angel, that dark one that crawls on its belly and consumes the emesis of Cerberus, spoke his vile, divisive declaration equating liberal Antifa’s actions of resistance to the messages of White Supremacists to those Supremacists who wish to incite, divide, exclude and eliminate. He has again lived down to my expectations and returned to the invectives of hate and support for his shrinking base. Shrink on.

The topics of the economy and white supremacism have already collided. On Monday morning, the CEO of the pharmaceutical giant Merck announced he was stepping down from Trump’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative over Trump’s tepid remarks on Saturday. Trump was much faster to denounce the executive than he was to denounce neo-Nazis, tweeting within an hour, “Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”

Since then more CEOs have exited his council. It is probably not over as of this printing on the 15th.

 

 

 

 

UVA and R.E.L: How should Robert E. Lee be treated in Charlottesville?

History is a moving target. We are now in the year 2017; a year in which we have seen great changes where there is more acceptance of LGBT rights and better exposure of the issues facing individuals from this group. It’s also a year where other civil rights issues have found more exposure and acceptance with ones like the “Black Lives Matter” movement maturing and taking hold. Yet, the long history of race in America is still not to a place where reasoned dialogue can reign supreme. Regarding race, there are so many positions related to race in this country, ones that are more complicated than out of the mainstream gender issues in many ways, that the path forward, unlike the LGBT issues’ path, may be more troubled.

For LGBT issues, it is now coming down to a simple matter of science over religion. This divide has been strong for millennia, but science usually prevails in the end, as it is indisputable once theory becomes law. Of course, Fundamentalists, be they of the Shiite or Sunni clans or the Evangelical Christians of America or anywhere else in the world one finds adherents who claim preeminence based on long-held views and documents, will resist science as long as they can. There have been many speed bumps in history over these conflicts, with religious texts eventually relaxing their power, ignoring the inconvenient within the texts and coming to an ‘accommodation’ with those that are irrefutable truths. I am satisfied that knowledge about the issues of gender and how any individual is implanted with his/her status in life will continue to be more widespread and accepted by a growing majority in the country. We now easily use the noun transgender to distinguish the many among us who do not neatly fit into the outdated simple boy or girl categories. That now the arts, customs and laws are allowing free and open dialogue about LGBT issues,  acceptance is prevailing over resistance in America. Perhaps those who are born transgender can live wherever they wish without issue in the near future. Even though we know this not to be true at present, I do know that history is on their side.

But, for race, this is more problematic. History has engrained so many prejudices, and not just religious ones (though these are significant and difficult to ignore), that cultures have adopted many of them as truths. Reimagining the legal landscape to deal with these expectations cannot be resolved with crystalline definition. Take for instance the recent uproar in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In this wonderful Virginia town where the University of Virginia was founded by Thomas Jefferson and whose Lawn is famous throughout the land for its place in history and education and for influencing some of the most important individuals in our history, there has been an uproar over what the history of the Civil War means to the country, to the state of Virginia, to the university and to Robert E. Lee. And, in the current era of Trump, the elements of white frustration with lost power has resurfaced. That the white population in certain segments of the population has suffered diminishment in the past thirty years is a fact. Why it has come under threat is worth a discussion, which should involve factors like globalization, automation, transhumance and needed educational reform. Race, though, should not be prominent in the discussion and it is an ugly claim made by those who started the rally in Charlottesville. Those White Supremacists in the country who are being represented by Spencer and Duke and others in Charlottesville think the tide is turning in their favor due to Trump’s election. Being counter prejudiced by the hope and cry for laws to now protect whites is disingenuous at best, disdainful  in reality and disheartening for those of us who wish we could just continue the march towards acceptance and the enlightened attitude of inclusion in this society.

The issue began as the Southern liberals’ attempts to address the stigma of the Confederacy began some years ago. This was tied into the rise of Black Lives Matter and to the continued killing of blacks by law enforcement at a rate higher than the average of other races and connecting this to the apparent attitudes by some law enforcement individuals that run counter to legal expectations. Some white extremists are denouncing this movement and feel threatened, as well. The solution by some radicals in America is to change the laws to favor white dominance, while instead much of the country (perhaps a significant majority if the polls can be believed) feels the issue of race acceptance has not gone far enough.

In many Southern states that had been a part of the Confederacy and had also erected monuments honoring their participation in the Civil War or had designed their state flags with emblems of the Confederacy, there was an effort to address these images for what they stood and stand for and to determine whether their continued existence was divisive in today’s society: most have made that determination. Connecting the violence of the past decade or so against blacks by officials of the law, many times in the South (but not exclusively by any means), some mayors and governors sought to right apparent wrongs. Some monuments were removed, Confederate symbols expunged from government property and documents, and statements made accepting the racial prominence in the Southern Civil War cause. Especially after the church killings in Charleston, even the likes of Nikki Haley, no liberal spokesperson on any level, came to realize that change was needed and supported taking down the Confederate state flag. In city after city monuments were taken down from public arenas, always to protest, sometimes in the dead of night.

Recently the town of Charlottesville also addressed their past. But, as an historian, I feel it should be asked, ‘how should this past be viewed and of what use is it to the present and future, in the best sense of this question?’ In going forward, let’s consider this as the city of Charlottesville is presently addressing racism and its past. There are several options open to them. At present, they have decided to take down the statue of Robert E. Lee, lee statuewhich has stood in a park that for a time was also called Lee Park. It is presently Emancipation Park, which has not the same theme, for sure.

Charlottesville today is a mostly liberal city, supporting Democratic candidates and espousing nearly all liberal causes. The university initially protected free speech in allowing a demonstration to proceed related to a group calling itself “Unite the Right”.

 

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They oppose the removal of the statue of Lee and also call for protection of “white rights”, which they feel are under assault by affirmative action, changes in the law over the last several decades, political correctness, etc. They also feel emboldened by the lack of opposition to their causes coming from the Republican Party under Donald Trump and the strong support they have for their views on Breitbart News, Alex Jones Infowars and to a great degree much of the broadcasting on Fox News (a broadcaster on Sunday’s Fox compared the Black Lives Matter movement to the Unite the Right movement).

The history of the park is one that both supports Charlottesville’s past, but begs questions about whether there were hopes for a more affirmative future in its donation by and financial support from Paul McIntire, the city son born in 1860 who made good in the North and came back to his native city after WW One. He bought up several plots of land and donated them to the city to be used as parks. He also built the library and supported cultural enrichment. This occurred in the 1920s, during the Jim Crow Era. One of the parks was meant to be used only by whites (the Lee Park) and another to be used only by blacks (dedicated to Grover T. Washington) in support of the social demands of the era. He also commissioned statues, one being the Lee statue. This particular one was special in that he dedicated it to the memory of his parents. His father had been Mayor of Charlottesville and suffered the ignoble act of surrendering the city to the Union General Custer after its defeat in 1864. What McIntire’s true motivations were are still being discussed. There is no doubt he gave much back to his city, though.

This Atlantic Magazine article about the day the statue was installed gives one chills in light of the actions that have occurred over the weekend. It also asks pertinent questions about the kind of statue erected and other possible themes not being chosen. As the statue’s removal has been the most recent and most violent example of mayors attempting to address their cities’ Confederate past, it is important to know the context of each statue’s origin and to know more about the men being honored by them.

Recent events at disarming the legacy of the Confederacy have caused the conflicts that are playing out as I write this piece. White supremacists, for there is no better word for their actions, words and aspirations, have met and fought with students and others who blmatter leedisdain their presence and fight figuratively and literally against them being on Grounds. In fact, from the time I started this blog this morning (Saturday, the 12th) until this moment (Sunday afternoon), events have caused the university to cancel all events surrounding the “Unite the Right” protest. A young woman has been killed by one of the alt-Right followers when he drove his car into a crowd of anti-protestors.

As we go forward, it looks like the most radical option of removing the statue is going to take place, especially since the violence escalated to such a level and it makes giving in to the demands of the alt-Right difficult to accept. The lead up to this decision considered alternatives such as leaving it as an example of the Jim Crow Era monuments, which is more in truth to its inception than as a celebration of Robert E. Lee as the gentleman of the Southern Cause. Even some Black leaders accepted this possibility to use the historical context of the statue in the park as an opportunity for educating the populace about the Jim Crow time period, the Civil War and emancipation issues. Other plaques and statements would have been included in the park’s location for this purpose if such an option was chosen.

Lee’s record as a gentleman has more recently been impugned by several historians and his slave ownership, treatment of same, aversion to emancipation (he freed his wife’s slaves under duress on the same day as Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation) and checkered history regarding the issue of slavery leaves him open to these accusations.

His own response to slavery before the war claimed it was evil, but that God would eventually see to it that it would disappear. It seems Lee did not believe it was man’s role to end it, and certainly not an abolitionist from the North. Lee’s accounts of blacks were not defendable, as he felt them limited and in dire need of Christianity and civilizing, incapable of self rule and of becoming equals in his world. The were property in his world, evil though it may be, but that world needed defending in his time and God would see to it eventually in making it whole, whatever that logic means.

Here is a letter dated December 27, 1856 in response to a speech given on slavery by President Pierce:

           I was much pleased the with President’s message. His views of the systematic and progressive efforts of certain people at the North to interfere with and change the domestic institutions of the South are truthfully and faithfully expressed. The consequences of their plans and purposes are also clearly set forth. These people must be aware that their object is both unlawful and foreign to them and to their duty, and that this institution, for which they are irresponsible and non-accountable, can only be changed by them through the agency of a civil and servile war. There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil. It is idle to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it is a greater evil to the white than to the colored race. While my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more deeply engaged for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, physically, and socially. The painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their further instruction as a race, and will prepare them, I hope, for better things. How long their servitude may be necessary is known and ordered by a merciful Providence. Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild and melting influences of Christianity than from the storm and tempest of fiery controversy. This influence, though slow, is sure. The doctrines and miracles of our Saviour have required nearly two thousand years to convert but a small portion of the human race, and even among Christian nations what gross errors still exist! While we see the course of the final abolition of human slavery is still onward, and give it the aid of our prayers, let us leave the progress as well as the results in the hands of Him who, chooses to work by slow influences, and with whom a thousand years are but as a single day. Although the abolitionist must know this, must know that he has neither the right not the power of operating, except by moral means; that to benefit the slave he must not excite angry feelings in the master; that, although he may not approve the mode by which Providence accomplishes its purpose, the results will be the same; and that the reason he gives for interference in matters he has no concern with, holds good for every kind of interference with our neighbor, -still, I fear he will persevere in his evil course. . . . Is it not strange that the descendants of those Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the Atlantic to preserve their own freedom have always proved the most intolerant of the spiritual liberty of others?

MLKPicOldCabellCropped_000In the 1960s Martin Luther King Jr. came to speak at the University of Virginia regarding segregation. Some token moves had been made by the city by then, but it was still a Jim Crow one in which drinking fountains were segregated. King’s speech started with him asking “Are we really making progress in race relations?” and he described racial segregation as a nationwide problem.

“Segregation is a cancer … which must be removed,” he told the audience.

If he could return to the scene today, some fifty-four years later, he would be asking the same question and I would agree with his conclusion, too.

“Calling ‘IT’ ”: What goes for proprietary ownership in today’s world?

Last evening brought us back into contact with an old Camden friend, Rick Russo. He and Barbara moved away from Camden a few years ago to Portland to be nearer the grandkids and we, living the Southern life at the time and spending summers as we do in Northeast Harbor, had lost contact with them. The evening was wonderful in that he was supporting a local Waldorf school as has always been his want, he read from his new collection of short stories, Trajectory, which is always a treat for anyone in the audience, and we got a chance for reconnecting and finding out that we did, after all, have an email that worked in the collection we now all have with three or more for each of our friends and relatives.

Over the years our visits with Rick and Barbara were always filled with fun, interesting conversations and deep laughs brought on by Rick’s storytelling aplomb. Topics were varied, leaning on travel experiences, childhood memories, love of Maine and politics. Our political views overlap completely, so that was never an issue. That Rick and Barbara support many community efforts to make the world better is another reason to love them. On the way up to Blue Hill Rick called the independent book store in Belfast, The Left Bank, and did a quick pop-up signing in support of their existence, another entity under threat by the digital age and Amazon. I read where more than fifty percent of all hard cover books sold last year were sold on Amazon. A lot was lost, in my opinion, with that occurrence.

In looking for a photo of Rick’s new book trajectoryand notification of the event last night to upload in connection to the posting, I found an article by him about ownership. It is one that contains information that is dear to my heart and triggered, or rather reinforced, thoughts I had been lamenting for awhile now. In the current climate of digital, drones, Amazon, Google and the current state of politics, what is going to happen with the argument in the courts, Congress and world about what is yours and what is mine. It is not like the days of Tom Sawyer anymore or the kids’ claims found in Rick’s article, which is both bad and good, but each step into a new world based on technological innovations bring new problems of ownership.

Rick’s article looked at literature specifically, while opining somewhat in jest on a few other areas of the commonweal. In the future, jest will surely need to be suspended and critical attention applied in Congress and the courts to issues involving music, grocery delivery and regulation of food quality, medical diagnoses, YouTube vs Disney vs Facebook, fashion and Forever 21, EpiPen, Game of Thrones blackmailing and thousands of other examples that have been threatened by the moving line in ownership. So far, it has not been going well. With today’s penchant among many in the US population to avoid government oversight, wishing to avoid, and even evade, taxes, and to champion Ayn Rand-style individualism, the world is definitely not like it used to be. Where something is made, who made it, how it’s distributed to the public, its impact on the environment or one’s health, whether it is taxed at source, at the place of distribution or even at all makes a great deal of difference to people in each of those places. This fascinates me on many levels, obviously, and future blogs will surely return to specific examples from this list as they pop up. Globalization and digitalization are part of the Trump success, aren’t they.

Related to literature though, let’s follow Rick’s line and ask a few questions. Should a book be read hard cover? What are the advantages? We loved getting another copy of a Russo book with his signature in the Front Matter of the book. Those who read hard copies go to libraries, love to hold a book in their hands, love book signings, browse used book stores for more than finding a book, and tend to curry nostalgia and respect for the past in a way other Conservatives trample them. In the hard book trade, there needs to be a publisher when the book is bound, who is then the gatekeeper. A publisher determines what is worthy for the public, which can be motivated by profit alone or could be more interested in the book’s literary impact. In the past, an agent worked for the writer, who let this individual work in his/her interests. The publisher/writer relationship allowed for some great stories in the past between the two and some great literature was offered to the public as a result, also. Of course, a publisher needs to consider profit, but many houses choose rather to focus on quality and uniqueness, which has produced some nice gems of literature, ones that probably would not have been published if profit was the sole guiding principle. Literary history is filled with stories of struggling writers who were turned down many times before they made it into the Anthologies of university textbooks. What should be considered in this digital age related to distribution, quality, purpose of literature and who the ultimate gatekeeper is? These are not questions to be considered lightly.

Google, Amazon and big store booksellers SN_Book_Sculptures_resizedhave other motives for engaging in the sale of books. While claiming benevolence, evidence is surfacing that control is the more prominent goal. They even are trying to make their works exclusive by publishing in formats that cannot be used by anyone unless you use their proprietary software: DMR or ePub. This has always been part of the gatekeeping power, too. Their power is immense and changes have been occurring and will continue to change that beg the questions concerning these grabs for power in the marketplace and in politics, as well in the affect they have on our current paradigms.

Who will the new gatekeepers be? If you wish to publish tomorrow, you may. Amazon, though, will still look at your work and may pull you from their platform. But, with the digital age, can’t you simply put it online somewhere else. Yes, the WWW is open to nearly everything in many countries of the world, with censorship based on each country’s laws and controls considered. But, its advent has altered our world irrevocably. History can judge winners and losers (though only from the particular historian’s biases), but it is difficult to pick them…they just happen and the citizens of the world adjust. Luddites aside, it happens with a whimper in many cases and even the enthusiastic acceptance by some of its victims. More on that later, though.

To close, an excerpt from The Guardian that covers some of the above issues:

Digitisation was supposed to lead to a great democratisation of access to creative work. The putative business model of the internet age is the garage band, the plucky underdog cottage business that can, by canny use of information technology, compete with the big boys and win. What we’re getting is the opposite, a great centralisation of access and, ultimately, control. It turns out that if you want to sell your garage-made product these days, you need a watering hole, a place with many visitors who may want what you’re selling, because the hardest enemy is obscurity. Amid the babble of new voices, distinctive ones can be missed even by those looking for them.

How America’s leaders and Americans use History to Inform Their Decisions: Should We Start a War?

As the events on the Korean Peninsula have escalated, at least in rhetoric and in the number of missile tests coming out of the North, the two leaders are engaging in more provocative language. What should we read into this language, who are the “we” those individuals who count most in considering this pronoun and, in the end, who should decide upon the information available what should ultimately be done? Also, in this democracy, does the typical citizen understand how the country’s decision to engage in military conflict takes place according to our Constitution?  The President has limited powers. The New York Times article about his legitimacy in attacking first is also an issue.

History can inform all of these interactions between these current people~whomever you think are the ones who should be involved in the decision~with the information available to them presently. But, these individuals (again, who are the “who”?) need to understand the past clearly. Then, the citizens can hope for and expect a rational approach to a meaningful solution to the rising tensions. It is not just Trump and Kim involved, or the USA and North Korea. The Japanese, South Koreans and Chinese are central to any possible discussion and will suffer far more than we will on this side of the Pacific, at least initially. What happens if war breaks out, though, is not being discussed and what would surely happen to US interests does not allow an optimistic outcome to surface in my thoughts. In listening to Lindsay Graham today, he was apparently only concerned that the nuclear power of North Korea be extinguished, not what would happen to the world if we chose nuclear power to extinguish it. He’s Senate Committee for the Armed Services, though thankfully John McCain is the more reasoned Chair of that committee. If Trump orders a preemptive attack, will Cmdr. James Hurt become as famous in history as Paul Tibbets?

A caveat as we go forward here, though….history teaches us that often the public was ill-informed, overwhelmingly biased and Jingoistic in their attitudes about information they were ‘seeing’. It is important to understand how any public gets its information and how important it is for that public to be informed and, again, “who” cares about the public’s attitude towards this information and how leaders often manipulate the information in their favor, though not necessarily in the public’s. In a democracy, this is perhaps the most critical factor in decision-making. Let’s be clear, though, history teaches us that both the public and the people making the decisions don’t get it right an awful lot of the time.

Another critical factor in using history to inform your decisions is to consider the “before and after” circumstances in any war. Readers of history should always consider causal theories. In war, once the war that occurred was “resolved”, did the country achieve its aims, were the aims clear beforehand, and, if the goals were not achieved, why not. Were they viable and justifiable goals to begin with? If any of these questions lead to confusion, consternation or calamity, history teaches us that the decision at the time was either ill-informed or made for the wrong reason. Where are we now in 2017?

Simply looking at the US involvement in conflict in the last one hundred years or so allows us to consider these events; the Spanish-American War, The Great War, World War Two, the Korean War, The Vietnam War, a non-war The Cuban Missile Crisis, The Gulf War, The Iran-Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan. This is daunting, but I will be as brief and direct as possible, outlining the method by which the American public received its news about adversaries as the main objective at the time of each conflict and how that has so drastically changed. Then, using a quick summary of history for each, look at the results of the war.

The Spanish American War: the public was informed through newspapers primarily. The term “Yellow Press” as developed primarily by Hearst, who wanted war (the original FOX  news-type character and one who was certainly responsible for Fake News)

The Great War: the public was informed through newspapers, but, after the war started, there were important uses of film with the public.

World War Two was when newspapers informed and film was used for propaganda. The radio was a critical factor, also. Censorship of news was controlled by governments in all societies.

The Korean War was started, one could argue, through mishandling of information and is also known as “The Forgotten War”. It is also the Unended War.

The Vietnam War is the “Television War” that was impacted by Walter Cronkite.

The Cuban Missile Crisis unfolded in public and secret information dissemination and is included not because it was a war but because of why it wasn’t.

The Gulf War made CNN and 24hour cable a staple in homes throughout America. Satellite broadcasting was critical, but heavily controlled by the US military on most levels. Bush One had a clear exit strategy that his son ignored to his and our peril.

The Iran-Iraq War…well historians are just making sense of this and it is not even over. Embedded journalism and misinformation are noteworthy in this recent conflict. No exit strategy and the New Military Doctrine developed by Colin Powell of not engaging in more than two places and never without a clear exit strategy arise out of today’s reality. Syria? Libya? Yemen? Iran? Jordan? Lebanon? Turkey? and others…..

Afghanistan was never clearly thought out and history already had the lesson of what happens to foreign powers coming into a tribal nation like this going back to the mid-1800s. Who were the enemy? What was victory? What is the Afghan nation, in fact? Truly all politics are local in that country.

In all of these conflicts that goals of the perpetrators never were achieved. Most often regime change took place, boundaries changed, economic systems changed, huge setbacks in civilization occurred, marked differences in how the world viewed its paradigms evolved. The public was poorly informed, motivated and engaged in these conflicts at the outset of each.

The British naively used filming of the Somme to encourage patriotism and found that seeing soldiers for the first time going over the top to their deaths achieved exactly the opposite effect. The American public was against taking on Hitler and Japan and those two nations really mishandled the war and ended it badly for themselves through pulling us in. We were attacked at Pearl Harbor and it gave FDR the event he needed to declare war. Truman’s use of weapons that were developed because of the war are still being discussed as to their legitimacy. The exit strategy for this war was clear, though not followed out to completion. There were to be no spoils for the USA and the hope was for humanism and capitalism to prevail. The reality was the Cold War. The Korean War, as part of the unsettled portion of WW2 that is still unresolved in 2017, started because the USA seemed to say they weren’t interested in the peninsula. Its mishandling by MacArthur was a tragedy and can be directly linked to today’s problems with Kim. Some, though, think MacArthur should have been allowed full rein (though for MacArthur the better word is reign) on his decisions and the war we are toying with now would have occurred then. Vietnam is fully a fear of communism war and a national tragedy on all levels. LBJ never thought we should have gone in but also was responsible for escalating to such a level that he could not get out. The television war ended when Cronkite said it couldn’t be won but got caught escalating it to do so. When seeking permission after the non-existent Gulf of Tonkin Incident, The more than five hundred Senators and Congressmen voted for a military solution save for only two honorable and brave Senators. Later, Nixon scuppered a possible solution in order to get elected in his treasonous way. The Vietnamese allowed the solution to be more symbiotic in nature due to their own goals.

Only the reasoned, backchannel discussions between JFK and Khrushchev averted war in Cuba. Of course, Castro got the shaft, but the two leaders knew there was no exit strategy. The chess game they played was one that probably cost Khrushchev his job a few years later.

But, cooler heads prevailed then. The two men engaged in today’s jockeying are dismal in any capacity when it comes to reasoning on any level. Trump should be forced to read several books on these wars before he goes further.

Music from Modern Lebanon: Walt Whitman, Shakespeare, the Arab Spring and possible trouble brewing for the group Mashrou’ Leila

When politics, music and the support for progressive ideas come together, I am intrigued, excited and supportive. I have simply lifted the recent New Yorker article for you to read in this blog. Also, I’ve added a link to the group’s work on YouTube for you to sample them if they are new to you. They formed in 2008, and their name means “the overnight project” – a reference to the night-time jam sessions out of which the band was born in Beirut. Their sound is a mix of influences, from indie guitar music – the Arctic Monkeys, the Strokes and Radiohead – to Lebanese singer Fairuz (think the Arab world’s Maria Callas).Mashrou-Leila-010

And..they also contributed this to NPR’s Tiny Desk competition  which was found on this interview with NPR. I especially enjoyed their referencing Joseph Campbell in the song found at 7’30” in the clip. Within the article, the all male group explains why they focus on gender issues, sexuality and resistance in their album, Roman, which is a condensation of Islamic references through history to those who were not Moslem; the Romans, Byzantines, Christians or Europeans. I have excerpted part of the article below to introduce the video found in the article, which explains the thrust and intent of the album through the word Aleihum, “charge”This is the link to the video

The women are dressed in an array of figure-hiding Middle Eastern clothing like caftans and abayas, and with many wearing various kinds of veils, from headscarves to the face-covering niqab — these are especially stereotypical outfits, given Lebanon’s diversity and what women there actually wear. While Sinno’s lyrics tend towards the elliptical, the song’s title might also be playing with the idea of cultural divides: Rum is the classical Arabic word for Romans, or Byzantines — i.e., non-Muslims — and later became associated with Christians and Europeans more broadly.        The thrust of the video, however, is one word from the song’s refrain: ‘Aleihum — “Charge!” It’s a cry for self-realization, as Mashrou’ Leila explains: a way of “treating oppression not as a source of victimhood, but as the fertile ground from which resistance can be weaponized.”

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The group has attracted more than the attention of music fans in the Middle East, Europe and America where they have been successfully touring for some years. The authorities in the Middle Eastern countries have become aware of their notoriety and message, which should cause some concern. This is a group that bears watching. This article in the Guardian speaks to these wider issues of rebellion and resistance carried in the group’s lyrics. It turns out they are but a sampling of a larger movement going on in the Middle East to further progressive ideas. In April of 2016 for instance the group was banned from playing in Amman, Jordan, in the Roman Amphitheater because the authorities distain the group’s influence and message. They were again banned this summer in Jordan and the lead singer, who is openly gay, has received diatribes filled with hate and death threats. You can follow them on Facebook.