Unity 2

Post two on UNITY. It might be important to think about the aftermath of the banker precipitated crash of 2008, who got hurt (not the banker) and who was decimated, working class people who lost a lot to pay for a gamble by rich people to get even more for themselves. Those rich people, by in large, some of them republicans but a lot of them democrats, came out with hardly a scratch–many of these even more flush–while those who had relatively little and worked damned hard for it were terribly bruised if not severely wounded–some destroyed–by it. The democratic administration that came into office after the crash did much to prevent damage to the system that better served the rich and little to help those of modest or little income who took he brunt of it. Hum… A clue in all of this for why Trump?

Re: Ken Burns

Ken Burns Says U.S. Has 3 Viruses: COVID-19, White Supremacy And Misinformation

In a significant way, all are tied to the fact that the American public is not yet capable of functioning as a democracy that decides in favor of what is sane and humane.

Unity

I have been thinking a lot lately about UNITY and the divisions that exist in this society and about what causes those who I come to see as deplorable for their ways of thinking and their actions as deplorable. I think this is a worthy activity in which to be engaged as, though unity seems impossible if it means somehow coming to terms with those whose ideas and behavior seems to me to be of stupidity rather than intelligence applied, their “values” dangerous, in good part because they are inhumane, and their vision for the future one that if realized would destroy the planet. I have started to write about what my thinking has begun to produce. I will say that the mass of people I am calling deplorable must be understood to have good reason for their disdain for what is, what has become, “the American way,” that they are looking for a future that means a better life for themselves and their children, and that they have been moved to far-right, in part, because they have not been properly informed about the alternatives available in progressivism which they have been taught to fear and loath by those who would preserve American society as it is because they benefit so well from the very inequities from which the deplorable suffer.

Supremacy and Trump

Related to this story and a string of posts expressing admiration for Mr. Adelson.

Sheldon Adelson Dies article from NPR  

Interestingly, the issue of supremacist beliefs becomes more complex than it is usually treated in this conversation and may help to explain why both white supremacists and certain factions of the community of people identifying as Jewish stood in support of Donald Trump.

A conversation related to my last post concerning the legacy of Sheldon Adelson. The person who is identified as “me” was asked if she minded my publishing our conversation. She said no because she did not wish to be spammed and such if I did so. I attempted to ask her if it would be okay with her if I published without her being identified but was informed that the message was being blocked. I publish having removed her identification. I do not publish to in anyway harm or belittle her. Some, I have to believe, will agree with what she says. Others will not but no one, through my act of publishing this as it is being published can do her harm for expressing her beliefs. 

She

It’s a hard day for so many of us. As you know the real measure of his strength was apparent in his insatiable need to give back. In the Jewish faith the highest honor we attribute to man is that of a righteous person who gives to heal the world anonymously. I personally witnessed this over and over with him. That’s how I will judge.

Stephen Lafer

He did not help Israel, really. Nor did he help American democracy by using his wealth to buy power to take away the power of the people to participate in fair and honest deliberation for the sake of sane and humane governance. He corrupted. That is his legacy.

She

 I doubt you speak for the Israeli people or the Israeli government. Not only would the majority of the population disagree with you , in the style and character of an Israeli they would vehemently disagree with you and let you know to your face.

She

 , btw He worked tirelessly to ensure that those murdered in the Holocaust would never be forgotten, contributing generously to ensure Yad Vashem endures. Have you been there ? have you seen the magnificent Holocaust Museum and Memorial that he funded?? So that didn’t help Israel? Explain your way out of that one.

Stephen Lafer

All good. And then he supported and helped get elected a Trump. Go Know.

Stephen Lafer

 Those who are not Jewish would, sadly, have to agree with me. If one is Jewish and only thinks of Jews when thinking about humanity, that person will inevitably act inhumanly. There were lessons that should be learned from the Holocaust that seem never to be considered and the likelihood of inhumane people becoming leaders–there is one in Israel right now and in the USA–is heightened.

She

 , inhuman leaders??? Yes here’s my list. Rashida Talib , Ilhan Omar , Alexandra O Cortez. Etc etc. thinking only of Jews?? Really ? Let’s begin your education with the billions donated to medical research and rehabilitation centers in this country and all over the planet. Funded by the Adelsons. You don’t even have to look farther than here in Clark County to see the medical institutions flourishing through his generosity. Basically you name the significant charity and we can probably find the generous gift. We can move on if you’d like to The old age homes and children’s programs for inner-city and the indigent. Or maybe you’d like to talk about the veterans programs and opening the hotel up to wounded warriors in the United States. I could just keep going but I haven’t had my morning coffee yet. I’ll circle back around after the buzz and give you about another 50 organizations that he single-handedly supported or spearheaded they don’t have the word Jewish in them. 

Stephen Lafer

 I would love to sit down at a table with you and discuss the complexity of the good of donors and what it buys them. Guaranteed that such people are, in good part, the reason there is a need for their charity, this reflected in their use of their money to manipulate the democratic process and the legal system to allow them to hold so much money and then decide how much the rest should have to get along, the decisions made too often favoring the existence of poverty and underfunded public services. You are blinded to the fact before your eyes that people like SA are political influencers who consistently influence to benefit themselves. They give back and get people like you to think that their goodness–a PR feature of their existence–outweighs the damage their selfishness causes, their fight to insure massive inequality in the distribution of wealth and political power a primary deterrent to sane and humane government. Your list of inhumane leaders is pathetic because it reflects a truly profound lack of an essential quality that allows for sane and humane governance. That is empathy. The people you list fight for something other than growing their own wealth and power and you prefer SA over them, label them inhumane and he humane? And the issue of Jewish? A big problem in the thinking of too many with Jewish heritage. I have that heritage but early on realized that Jewish meant nothing in terms of the real character of a human being. I knew of too many my community held in high esteem who did rob from the poor and looked down on people of color while robbing them, using degrading yiddish terms to describe to other Jews the people off of whom they made their livings, people allowed into their neighborhoods only to clean their homes and mow their lawns. Jewish is demeaned when it is used as a term to divide, to confer special status, especially when that status has little to do with the merits of actions. I am Jewish but not Jewish first. I am a human being first, one who happens to be born of parents who were born of Jewish parents. That is it and it really means little. This craziness that is Jewish, the idea that Jewish is a distinct form of human being causes considerable trouble because it warps the thinking to too many Jews who divide the world into Jews and non-Jews and automatically label the Jews, no matter what their deeds, better people than the non-Jews. That is warped thinking and it leads to acts of inhumanity made good because the perpetrator was of particular parents who were of particular parents and little more.

SM

 unfortunately I cannot debate ignorance and hatred. I’m sure he believes Soros is a righteous man because he funds radical leftist organizations that want to destroy Western civilization. I could care less what communists think, they serve no purpose on earth

Stephen Lafer

Are you implying hatred and ignorance in my comment? If so, I would love to be taught.

She

, wow. Self hating is a serious disease. The differences between you and I are many. But most glaring is that it’s first hand knowledge I have. Been there when the generosity flowed. Watched it in real time. Saw the benefits to our community in real time. You don’t know me or anything about me if you did you would never engage in this debate about Sheldon. Yours is conjecture mine is first-hand witnessing. Really big difference. So sorry counselor you would lose that one on an early motion to dismiss for lack of any factual foundation. His largesse, his tremendous generosity impacted countless lives. Otherwise to those of us with a soul no matter what our religious persuasion , may this righteous man rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing to all.

Stephen Lafer That term “self hating” used to describe people who do not think they are special because they were born into Jewish families is beyond absurd, reflecting an attitude of superiority for nothing they have done that is necessarily good enough to deserve such status. There is nothing inherently good about being a person born to Jewish parents. That said, receiving first hand the benefits of a person with great wealth used to buy great power does not necessarily make the giver a good 

Thoughts posted to Twitter

Sensible civil libertarians want microphones and cameras attached to police so what they do and say can be recorded and made public, used as evidence. So, should not they cherish that people like the Trumpians make public their thought and behavior on social media?

If there are plots being hatched to do evil and the evil are constantly revealing their plots in public forums, the problem is not hearing what they say but failing to listen, to take what they say seriously and act before they can do harm, right?

A tonic is what the banning of people from social networks is, used to sooth guilt for not solving Trump who was very transparent in his aims and thinking because of Twitter. Better hidden, right, because then it could be claimed that we did not know what he was up to, about?

Trump on twitter was something of a blessing. The public had an opportunity to tune into the thinking of the president of the USA. He consistently revealed who he was, a good thing. That he was allowed to continue as the nation’s leader despite his thinking, that is the problem.

Amazing that little is said of those before Trump who paved the way, very much, for example, those who were enablers during the Bush administration who are now cleansed by their vows to a Biden administration. Really, friendly doesn’t necessarily mean friend.

Democracy was attacked! Democracy was the problem, problematic democracy, democracy distorted, altered to force bad decisions from the citizens whose lives those decisions affect but good for the few with the power to manipulate and control them.

Do not forget that before January 6, Trump was democratically elected, before Trump racial and economic inequality defined this society, that wealth and political power commingled to insure injustice. Restoration of that kind of order is not a sensible democratic goal.

Important to focus on what happened on January 6 and the four years leading up to that day. More important is consideration of what led to the election of Trump, this critical to determining where democracy went wrong.

Perhaps if our system of education focused on the development of what Postman and Weingartner bullshit detectors rather than distribution of propaganda of a kind, we would trust the public to make proper sense of what is said on social media?

Mimi Rocah

Seeing the news of the the Twitter ban, my daughter asked me how Congress will get his tweets for use as evidence in the impeachment trial. That’s a prosecutor’s daughter right there! 

China

I am arguing with people over the realities of Chinese society and against indoctrinating forces in “west” who would like to convince citizens captive of capitalism, people constantly getting screwed by it, that what happens that looks the least bit good in any country not abiding by the strict capitalist agenda is cruel to its people. I cannot help but think that the brainwashing is too complete to overcome. Can it be that the only countries that enact humane governance are capitalist countries and that the humanity exhibited by capitalist countries is possibly a true form of humanity. If so, my sense of what humane is is horribly distorted because it does not allow for some to enjoy great luxury while others live in relative misery. Yes, misery such as income and housing and food and medical and educational insecurity or outright denial by these humane capitalist societies. What the fuck. My perception is so distorted as to cause me to believe that that bad I see is really for the good. that the many sacrificed for the benefit of a few who live fabulously off their labor is really better than all having to sacrifice some in order that all can have at least enough to live decent and dignified lives?I must be stupid. Or those who deny the goodness of other approaches to civilization than capitalism as possibly better are stupid. Perhaps I am deceiving myself into believe that all fed well, all offered good medical care, all offered good education, all provided access and benefits of good infrastructure reflects the bad society and society that denies most access to such is better. What the fuck?

The USA is Over

The USA is over. 

The proof is in the reaction to the election by people in leadership positions, elected officials who reflect the will of the people who elected them. Apparently, near half of the country opposes the election of the president elect and are unwilling to accept him as the country’s leader.  A good number of people, myself included, could not accept as leader the elected president who was Donald Trump.

The divisions are so very deep that there really is no union, too little of real importance that unites us.  We no longer just disagree amicably about issues but about the very way in which we make decisions, the very rules of disputation.  We do not agree on what is true or how truth is derived, certified.  So how can we unite as a democratic society, as a humane and sane democratic society?  We cannot and we really have not for a very long time because, in order to be united, we have allowed as acceptable ideas and behavior neither sane nor humane, the denial of basic rights to multitudes and the degradation, dehumanization, torture, mutilation, and destruction of real human beings trying to live their lives as human beings.  How many hard-fought agreements in our governing bodies, even in the deliberative bodies that created the master plan for this country, allowed for compromises that compromised the humanity of certain groups of people?

So how can we be united?  And how can we accept the results of our fellow citizens choices without accepting what is immoral, idiotic, and cruel.  I viscerally felt the noxiousness of elections that put the likes of Trump, Gomert, McConnell, Cruz, Nunez in office.  What of that horrible humane being named Inhofe?  What of Strom Thurmond and George Wallace?  I accept the fact that they were fairly elected but cannot help but question the legitimacy of a system that would allow them to lead.  I do not find the system effective in producing good and decent leadership, leaders who would at least serve to demonstrate how good citizens participate in sensible and properly humane debate, debate that is guided by principles related to the common good and the good of the whole.

What we have not is not a politics regarding sensible disagreement one issues of important to the common good and the good of the whole.  It is about how the decision-making process should operate and, at this moment in history, half of the nation’s “leaders” are determined to disrupt any decision-making process that may lead to what is good for all, the best possible for the most.  They are destroying the process that is at the very heart of democracy by using it to make decisions in favor of the few and not the many. 

So, some other decision-making process of what currently is in place and those in opposition to the results for the latest election reflect the fact that half of the country does not want to participate in the democratic decision process as it was set up, the other half showing similar sentiment last time a presidential election occurred.  NO ONE RESPECT THE PROCESS.  Therefore, democracy is dead.  To restore it will not be an easy task.

The real turkey is the educational system?

Diane Ravitch@DianeRavitch·18mFact-checking Trump’s cellphone rant of election falsehoods. LIES, LIES, LIES. https://washingtonpost.com/…/fact-checking-trumps…/

Me to DR: Sadly, lies a horribly large section of our educated public accepts as truth. Accepting responsibility by the educational community would be a giant step in the direction of a solution to our greatest problem.

There are teachers but few are given permission to teach

A conversation on FB with a teacher:

SL: Response to another’s comment:By the way, the long standing notion of good teacher in our schools has been of an obedient worker programmed by experts to follow the directions, without question, of some higher authority. Really, doing such does not require much other than being able and willing to follow directions, this not constituting truly professional activity. Those questioning authority often find themselves rooted out by the official evaluation systems in place, amongst them their students’ scores on standardized tests, the outcomes measured used to mandate thoughtless on the part of teachers and students

Deanna Fine: Word. Just ONE reason I quit teaching. Teachers do not give standardized test only at the end of the year. In k-2 they are given in the form of MAPS tests three times a year. Then in 3-5 there is also the SBAC. We spent hours analyzing test scores throughout the year to determine who were the “bubble kids”. These are students around the 50th percentile who could be bumped over to the 60th if we focused more on them in class. Students who fell below had some other interventions because they were soooo low; but the message we were given is, “You don’t need to worry about them so much because they won’t pass the test anyways.” Similarity, students who excelled in the test were also left out because “We know they’ll pass already.” So out of a class of about 22, we were encouraged to put most of our energy into about 7 students so they could pass the test. Now, I’m not saying that standardized tests don’t measure academic achievement to some degree. They certainly do. Still, I was clearly judged by how many of my students were “successful” on these tests. They pit teachers against one another, and make school a drudgery.

SL: Yes, and yes again and it is time that such testimony be made public in a very public way. You were teaching to the system, to demonstrate increases in the rate of success rather than teaching to insure that all students would grow their intellectual abilities to the fullest, those intellectual abilities not the concern of most of the tests they were taking to demonstrate “academic” success. No concern for individuality, differences among people in terms of preferences and ways of demonstrating both knowledge and thought. Those tests do measure “academic success” as defined by the test makers making “academic success” a measure of willingness to obey, conform, take in what is told without considering much its meaning or its veracity. Sorry that what should be the most exciting work in the universe was made drudgery by the system.

Principled advocacy for free speech

In response to this article by Glenn Greenwald,

The Ongoing Death of Free Speech: Prominent ACLU Lawyer Cheers Suppression of a New Book

Free speech has always been more than a Constitutional guarantee: it’s also a crucial societal value. And it’s more imperiled than ever.

Free speech! Too many are far too willing to give up others’ for the sake of having ideas they do not be disappeared, this as though keeping the ideas hidden causes them to go away.

I remember not too long ago, Steve Bannon calling for decapitation of those whose ideas he strongly dislikes, and Bannon being banned from certain social media channels for saying this. Horribly ugly speech, wretched ideas that, if they influenced even one person to act would be tragic. However, as I wrote on FB, censoring even the likes of a twisted minded person such as Bannon puts free speech on the slippery slope toward abandonment.  The problem is and will always be about who it is that gets to determine what kind of speech is censored.  Once a censor’s judgement is allowed to determine who can speak and what can be said, speech is no longer free.

Free speech is a very dangerous principle and, as the ACLU has shown by its past treatment of free speech, advocating for it in a truly principled manner inevitably leads to accusations of support for the ideas when the advocacy is for the right to express them.  Yes, speech does, often, lead to action but actions that are precipitated by speech are actions and not speech.  It is the actions that, for a principled free speech advocate, that need to be prevented or punished.

So, for those who want to suffer a bit of the intellectual agony that goes with principled advocacy for free speech, here is Glen Greenwald speaking of a new tendency within the ACLU that troubles him greatly, he being a principled advocate for free speech.  Interestingly, he, like myself, came to respect ACLU as a premiere institution for the unflinching advocacy of free speech.  The Skokie case taught me early in the formative days of my adult thinking what thinking as a principled—as opposed to impulsive—thinker was and how being principled quite often placed oneself at war within, immediate good sometimes canceled out by the long range consequences for settling for what is appealing rather than suffering for what is right by principle.