Hal 9000: Good Morning, Dave.

The term fake news isn’t new.  But it wasn’t a term you heard very often until the past election.  Suddenly it was everywhere.  It was originally intended to describe social media and internet posts and stories that were either outright lies or grossly misleading.  During the election, new sites were constantly emerging on the internet devoted solely or in part to these types of stories.

There were a number of reasons these sites became prolific.  Some were purely partisan political sites that went beyond “slanted” stories or “spin” to promote a candidate or disparage an opponent.  Many were run by current or past members of the Republican elite.  These were not a well-coordinated force, but they were some of the first.

Others were simply profit making endeavors, preying on the public’s fascination with outlandish stories and their need to see people in high places brought low – especially if those people had different political views than they do.  The lure of profit simply by having someone click on a web site link was irresistible to many.  Kids in Macedonia financed their record collections.  Marketing experts in the US got richer.

And then there was the Russian government sponsored campaign. Continue reading

Seeing the Trees for the Forest

So, Trump is pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement.  Except he can’t.  Not until just after the 2020 election.

He could have done it sooner by withdrawing from the underlying UN treaty that gives the Paris Agreement it’s legal teeth, The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, but he decided not to go that route, probably because, unlike the Paris Agreement, getting out of the UN treaty would almost certainly require Senate approval since they ratified the treaty in the first place, and that’s probably not going to work out well for him.   So Trump didn’t go there. Continue reading

Meanwhile, In Another Part of the Forest

It has become increasingly difficult for me NOT to write about the current state of the American presidency.  Every day we see a new leak, a new revelation, a new entry into the annals of America’s descent into the black hole of world political suicide.  The legitimate, investigative press is working overtime to piece together some semblance of the truth about how all of the threads came together to produce the sack cloth that now covers the White House.

At the same time, what more can be said that hasn’t already been said?  How many times do we have to read about how moronic, ethically corrupt, illiterate, perhaps mentally unstable, and destructive this president is?  It becomes mind-numbing, and the last thing we need right now is more numb minds.  The last thing we need is for people to give up, turn off, and retreat into their daily routines. Continue reading

When America Was Great

It would be nice if everything was either-or, black or white;  if the laws of physics only allowed one cause for every observed effect.  It would be useful if history books reflected the true nature of what occurred in the past, and all our problems would be solved if everyone always told the truth.

This is all wishful thinking, of course.  It’s like unicorns and colonies on Mars.  It’s like the past we think we can recapture.

I was born in Akron, Ohio in 1947. Continue reading

PC – Pragmatically Correct

Words.

Words are important.

Language is what separates mankind from the lower animals, that and an opposable thumb, of course.

We revere people who have used language well.  From Shakespeare to Dickens to Hemingway, we admire good writing.  We spend millions on the writing of people like Steven King and JK Rowling.   Our children still memorize the words of Abraham Lincoln, written on an envelope at Gettysburg. Continue reading

The New American Oligarchy – Phase Two

Back in 2014, a study by Princeton University Prof Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Prof Benjamin I Page concluded that America was no longer a democracy, it was an oligarchy.  The government, they claimed, had been hijacked by the very wealthy and corporate interests through lobbying and funding of political candidates. (1) Continue reading

Snake Oil

Trigger Alert!  What you are about to read may cause anger and confusion. Do not kill the messenger.

Donald Trump has claimed repeatedly that America is no longer “Great.”

He has based his whole campaign on that slogan.

He is absolutely right. Continue reading