- Seen Another Way…. Tuesday January 31st, 2017
Where are the responsible journalists? Oh…forgive me: it’s about selling advertising and preaching to the choir, not reporting the facts.
For example, more than 70 million Americans rejected Democrat candidates this last election. You can see that right here but you won’t see it reported in the New York Times…because it’s not aligned with the liberal core values of that institution and its readers.
More than 8 million Americans had the integrity to reject both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but the media focus on the 4 million who make the most noise…because that sells advertising. It is, however, fashionable to portray third-parties and their candidates as crackpots and kooks…but I forget: there’s a bigger scapegoat for that right now.
Anyone remember Bob Filner? This clown somehow served in Congress from 1993 until 2012 when he was elected Mayor of San Diego. Everyone – including the Democrat base he represented – understood his penchant for acting above the law and his lascivious predilection for groping and otherwise, er, being inappropriate to women who worked with and for him. His term as Mayor ended when he couldn’t survive the allegations of sexual harassment and the associated lawsuits. The local Democrat leadership and voters “held their noses” and voted for him anyway because “it’s more important that there is a Democrat in office.”
We looked the other way on Filner, Bill Clinton’s bimbo eruptions, Rick Santorum’s very screwy personal agenda, even Jack Kennedy’s chronic unfaithfulness. Generally it seems America doesn’t care how personally messed up our elected leaders are so long as they advance a “party” agenda. What’s frightening is that actors, for example, exposed for much less impropriety in the tabloids, never get a free pass from journalists, while elected leaders always advance directly to “go” if their politics align with the media’s preferences.
Yes, we have elected a despicable man as President. All of us did that, regardless of whether we were part of the 2.4 million Americans who left their Presidential ballot choice blank or the 137 million who actually voted for President. Bill Clinton was OK as President; so was Jack Kennedy.
The fact is, even if Trump wasn’t your choice, he’s our President. Yes: there are more of us who wish that wasn’t the fact than there are those who “support” him and however Trump supporters justify it to themselves. This is not new, people: power shifts. Democrats are out at present; Republicans are in. It would behoove everyone invested in rejecting Trump to take a careful look at why this happened…but the reason won’t be reported by the media (except for right-wing talk show hosts) because it doesn’t sell advertising.
What’s the reason? It’s as old as elections: right or wrong, voters have rejected the ideas and candidates that don’t work for them. Anyone who’s serious about winning the next election ought to be thinking carefully about ideas that are better than Trump’s. Why? Because while protests raise awareness – and sell advertising – they are meaningless in the long ...
- A Call for a New Response to War Monday May 04th, 2015
Last week I attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of a new exhibit at the San Diego Veterans Museum and Memorial Center: Vietnam — A Retrospective on the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. I was the invited guest of a United States Navy disabled Veteran who served in the “brown water navy” and was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries he sustained March 1, 1968, when his PBR was blown up by a mine and hit by a rocket. I’ll call him Joe (not his real name).
There were many Vietnam Era Veterans in the audience, including three South Vietnamese nationals. When they were introduced, I had the first of many gut-wrenching responses that continue until today, some 24 hours after the event itself.
As I sat there, I felt such shame that the United States had brought dishonor to these three gentlemen and their homeland. Forty years after the fall of Saigon, and I was embarrassed for what my country had done to theirs – or failed to do for theirs, depending on one’s perspective. That shame has been gnawing at me.
So I did some research.
From another longtime Navy Veteran who served in Vietnam, I’ve learned that, back in the day, the San Diego Veterans Day Parade included French and Russian Veterans of WWII who were living in the area, and that today’s parade regularly includes Veterans of the South Vietnam military. The San Diego Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America has intentionally reached out to non-US Veterans of war as a gesture of goodwill and healing. This makes some kind of sense to me.
I’ve also learned that as a part of the US Vietnam campaign, a significant number of United States naval assets were turned over to the South Vietnamese Navy beginning in Fall of 1968. The South Vietnamese Navy, as it turns out, seems to have had some North Vietnamese sympathizers in the ranks – not uncommon based on other books I’ve read including John Stryker Meyer’s “Across the Fence,” – and some of these assets were turned against the United States.
Joe, my Navy Veteran friend, has knowledge of some of the events where American forces confronted their own ships and weapons in the hands of South Vietnamese forces they thought were friendly, so you can imagine his response to the presence of South Vietnamese Veterans in the audience.
The paradox is that offering dignity to our former brothers in arms is noble AND righteous resentment towards those of their countrymen who turned against us is warranted.
I just can’t square the two truths. That’s the second gut-wrencher.
The third happened when we were invited in to view the Vietnam exhibit.
My uncle was a B-52 pilot during most of the Vietnam Era. Although San Diego is primarily a Navy and Marines town, all branches of service are represented in the Museum’s Vietnam exhibit, and the Air Force was pictured with the usual photos of planes in flight and massed on the ground. For the first time I could picture ...
- STEM vs STEAM: a Proposal for an Uncommon Core Tuesday March 17th, 2015
Be warned: rant ahead.
I promise there’s also a solution at the end.
The STEM vs STEAM Rant
The tail is wagging the dog again. Some committee who’s most certainly well-intentioned has determined that science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are the ways that government schools ought to approach education, as this government website says, “for global leadership.” Right.
If anyone wanted to recall the Renaissance, or perhaps in more recent memory, the various world leaders who could actually perform convincingly on a musical instrument (here’s video of Bill Clinton playing the sax on Letterman) the notion of STEAM might be more interesting, since including art (the A in STEAM) in a curriculum has been proven to magically enhance the rest of those cerebral pursuits. Evidence for this goes back, well, several thousand years. There was a time in ancient China, for example, when powerful respected politicians were also poets and sometimes artists.
This is no time to belabor the dismal record America’s government schools have accumulated teaching the arts in primary and secondary education (they have none). Government education offloads that responsibility (yes it is a responsible part of education to at least expose kids to the arts!) to government-subsidized colleges and universities when it’s too late to have an impact on a formative young mind.
(This is not a blog about how eliminating the arts from government education may have resulted in some of the poorest test scores in generations, except to say that “common core” (more about that here) can only hope to realize common mediocrity by senselessly excluding the arts. No secret about where I stand on this issue!)
We’re also not discussing the abundant evidence in most of Western and Eastern Europe and Asia for a more, er, benevolent focus on the power of a solid arts curriculum. It doesn’t take a STEM scientist to look around and take note of the nations who have excelled in STEM since the 1960s: that last major STEM government program America has to offer is still named NASA but its exploits have been eclipsed by the technological prowess of such nations as Japan, South Korea and China, not to mention private companies who can hire STEM folks from oversees. Even our good friends in the former Soviet Union still recognize the value of government-supported arts academies. It doesn’t matter that American companies like Apple have built convincing sustainability at the intersection of technology and liberal arts because of the ignorance of that fact at the United States Department of Education.
Here in my own backyard, Qualcomm, the biggest single employer of STEM-savvy folks for miles around, can’t find any of them at local universities. No DoE STEM edict is going to change that overnight, or even in this generation. There’s a reason that search for the origins of matter is taking place at CERN (Europe) rather than a stone’s throw from Silicon Valley at SLAC (California).
Another mistaken fascination with STEM has to do with buzzwords ...
- Preventing Veteran Suicide with Connectedness Wednesday March 04th, 2015
Preventing Veteran Suicide: It’s hard to consider all the aspects of suicide without recalling the very public self-immolation of Thich Quang Duc, the Buddhist monk who sacrificed his life to protest government mistreatment of Buddhists in 1963. This symbolic and ancient act of defiance inspired many others during that era, including a few who used suicide to protest the war in Vietnam, and had nothing to do with preventing Veteran suicide with connectedness.
We are all aware of the astonishing frequency of Veteran suicide these days, but did you know that, in some cases, the Veteran intended his or her suicide to be an act of protest? In most cases, however, Veteran suicide appears to be an act of frustrated desperation.
What if one aspect of Veteran suicide is the martyrdom of war?
While it may feel noble to want to prevent one from taking his or her own life, I would like to boldly suggest that preventing all Veteran suicide may be misguided hubris.
Logically, if we truly intend to end all Veteran suicide, we ought to end all war. Clearly, while threats such as ISIS exist, there’s no way to end all war.
So how do we embrace both the desire for an end of war and the reality of its existence? How do we both stand up for peace and pay the cost of battle? How do we attempt to prevent some types of suicide while allowing the pathos of “suicide as protest” or “physician-assisted” end of life? The costs of war are as old as war itself: post-traumatic stress, sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, loss of limbs, and loss of life itself. Normal human responses to such things include suicide and even “assisted” suicide (whether by physician or peace officer), just as they always have.
And, in some parts of the world, the peaceful human protest of oppression and war also includes suicide, just as it always has.
I write this with great sensitivity to those of us who have a personal belief that suicide is “wrong;” I myself believe that violence is wrong, especially violent death, whether or not it is self-inflicted.
However, if we suspend judgment for the purpose of a thought experiment, and allow the paradox of both “good” and “bad” suicide, perhaps we can reach a new kind of compassion for those who are suicidal, regardless of whether we agree with their choice of death or not.
Evidence suggests “connectedness” is a factor in preventing suicide. My understanding of “connectedness” is the kind of one-to-one association you might have with a peer, colleague, mentor, friend or, perhaps, a therapist or religious leader or teacher. This is in contrast to the deeper kind of “connectedness” in a committed relationship such as marriage, but let us keep our thought experiment at the more detached level of “human connection.”
We know that members of a military unit are highly connected, both for task and support purposes. This high degree of purpose-driven “connectedness” ...
- Suicide and Compassionate Care Tuesday February 24th, 2015
For the last three years I’ve had the honor of being a personal advocate for a Vietnam Veteran and good friend. There have been a number of, well, “questionable” circumstances at the Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) with regard to his care. By that, I mean that someone who is more knowledgeable than me would question the care my friend has received. But this post isn’t about that. It’s about something else – a larger issue that encompasses both health care and compassionate care.
Full disclosure: my relationship to my friend is not regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act since I have no legal responsibility nor active role in “protecting” his privacy, and this post has been written with his full understanding and cooperation.
Not once in the three years that I’ve been close to my friend’s situation has anyone ever said to him “I’m so sorry.” Those three words are just missing from the lingo of government health care professionals. Let me give you an example.
I was able to make a referral for my friend to the director of our local Vet Center. Because I’m familiar with the many issues for which my friend needs care, I provided a high-level summary of some of the questions my friend is attempting to answer as he nears end of life, strives to provide adequate care for his wife (who suffers dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and has been physically abusive to the point of breaking most of the bones in my friend’s lower left leg), and does his best to continue to receive care from the VAMC.
The local Vet Center, which is one of the best in the nation, simply offered my friend referrals to other sources of assistance. I understand that this is how things are done, but the fact is that at no time did my friend receive any kind of empathy.
Sadly, it seems that a lack of empathy from our government has reached epidemic proportions. It’s not hard to say “I’m sorry” and really mean it. I do it a lot…and I’m just a piano player. Seems reasonable to me that highly trained professional caregivers with lots of letters after their names ought to be able to say it too. But no: that’s not what my friend experiences. Not from the VAMC; not from his Congressional Representative’s Veterans liaison; not from the Vet Center; not from the folks caring for his wife; not from the folks checking up on him (he’s presumed to be “at risk” for suicide); not from the various other people engaged in my friend’s other numerous public assistance issues.
Granted, my friend will probably die from a number of things most of us will never encounter – complications arising from exposure to Agent Orange for example. Although ...