“These are not normal times.” Dan Rather

24 Jan

These are not normal times. These are extraordinary times. And extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.

When you have a spokesperson for the president of the United States wrap up a lie in the Orwellian phrase “alternative facts”… When you have a press secretary in his first appearance before the White House reporters threaten, bully, lie, and then walk out of the briefing room without the cajones to answer a single question…

When you have a President stand before the stars of the fallen CIA agents and boast about the size of his crowds (lies) and how great his authoritarian inaugural speech was….

These are not normal times.

The press has never seen anything like this before. The public has never seen anything like this before. And the political leaders of both parties have never seen anything like this before.

What can we do? We can all step up and say simply and without equivocation. “A lie, is a lie, is a lie!” And if someone won’t say it, those of us who know that there is such a thing as the truth must do whatever is in our power to diminish the liar’s malignant reach into our society.

There is one group of people who can do a lot – very quickly. And that is Republicans in Congress. Without their support, Donald Trump’s presidency will falter. So here is what I think everyone in the press must do. If you are interviewing a Paul Ryan, a Mitch McConnell, or any other GOP elected official, the first question must be “what will you do to combat the lying from the White House?” If they dodge and weave, keep with the follow ups. And if they refuse to give a satisfactory answer, end the interview.

Facts and the truth are not partisan. They are the bedrock of our democracy. And you are either with them, with us, with our Constitution, our history, and the future of our nation, or you are against it. Everyone must answer that question.

Dan Rather

January 24, 2017

Bending Reality

18 Jan

As mentioned in “He’s Making A List,” we are entering a new and more difficult period with Trump taking over the presidency.

A new, more disciplined and ideologically committed right wing team has taken over national government at all levels. These folks are not “traditional” Republicans. In many cases they are enemies of the “traditionals.” These Teaparty/ultra right wingers want power and control to spread their destructive programs. They will attack and replace the “traditionals” if the old guard will not agree with their more extreme and aggressive policies.

Donald Trump is actually not part of this group. While he is the titular head and CEO of this multi faceted grouping he is not a Teaparty/ultra right ideologue. He is a narcissist, an unstable and psychologically dangerous person who is centered on making money, and gathering fame and recognition for himself and his family.

Mike Pence and Steve Bannon are the ones to watch. They are disciplined, organized and ideologically committed to the ultra right. While Trump is out making news they will be behind the curtain, setting up and facilitating the attack on democracy and progress in many areas,  and providing support for their appointees in the federal departments.

Up front is Kellyanne Conway. She is an expert in the dark arts of “spinning” the facts and trying to “bend reality.” She is dangerous because she is very good at this. If you did not watch her effort to belittle the joint intelligence report on Russian interference with the election, and the short British summary on possible Russian mob ties to DT, here it is:

https://youtu.be/aUNlr5GiHwI

Anderson Cooper does very well to parry her jabs and refuse to let her deny what they both know exists – the report on Trump that mentions possible Russian mob connections.

“Bending reality” will be very important to this new administration given that less half of the voting population, and by inference, half of the adults in the country, do not agree with DT or his policies. Recent polling suggests that even fewer people have confidence in Trump than two months ago when he won the Electoral College.

Gaming and scamming and misleading people are precisely the aims of the new administration. Twisting reality, by making it seem as if what is actually occurring is not real, is a constant necessity for Trump and his team.

Kellyanne Conway has a lot of work to do. By the way, has anyone seen or heard about Steve Bannon lately? Odd, isn’t it?

He’s making a list and checking it twice.

18 Jan

In case you didn’t notice, the Trump administration intends to use their power aggressively and immediately.

The request to make a list of staff in the Department of Energy who publicly recognize the reality of climate change, and the immediate recall of State Department ambassadors appointed by President Obama, suggests that the new administration intends to identify and target progressively minded people in government.

Trump’s early high level appointments underscore this approach. Betsy Devoss, Jeff Sessions, Rex Tillerman,  Andrew Pudzer and others are clearly in power to reverse, reduce and forestall any progress that may have been made in the areas of their authority.

The appointment of Steve Bannon, with his open ties to the international right wing and racist movements, is another demonstration of the seriousness of the right wing to exploit their capture of the White House and the power that goes with it.

The progressive community cannot take these developments lightly. I’m not suggesting that they signal an impending fascist morph of federal government. That sort of change will take larger battles inside and outside of government, unfolding over a longer period. These developments, as well as ongoing right wing hacking and fake news, warrant serious attention by the progressive community. We need to reassess how we mobilize and communicate, and how protect our identities and our plans.

This new administration is different. They intend to press harder against progress, and against progressive individuals and organizations. Not paying attention to their seriousness, and not changing our tactics, is not wise.

The New Year awaits

5 Jan

When I conceived Alternative Realities several years ago I felt the presence of dangerously dissimilar points of view growing stronger. As a fan of science fiction my readings over the decades led me to believe that many physical, mental, spiritual and dimensional presences can exist in the same space. All of these presences, however, may not be perceived as real by everyone experiencing them.

It is no surprise that one recurring theme in the recent US national election is the seriously divergent points of view about what is real that exists between the people who voted for Donald Trump, and those who either voted for HRC, or those who did not vote for her but believe that HRC was not “radical” enough.

Personal interviews, polling and surveys provide ample evidence that a large number of people view and interpret what exists and occurs in the real world (for most people), as completely different and in many cases, false. These people reject science based reality, they believe that much of which has occurred in the previous century (the moon landing is a prime example) was fabricated. Their education or lack of accurate education, has led them to believe, for example, that US slavery was not harsh, brutal or barbarian. They reject the reality of climate change and they believe that white people in the US, in particular, are under a sustained assault from many “others.”

I am not at all convinced that in the short run (a handful of years) a large number of these people can be convinced that what they believe is false. With constant efforts to expose the hypocrisy of Trump and his followers; their lies, corruption and unwillingness to effectively address the real needs of this misled group, some may be pulled away to see reality somewhat clearer.

The clear majority of voters that consciously selected the HRC coalition are representative of a majority of people residing in the US. This group provides the only significant foundation for progressive change and resistance to conservatism, backwardness and political fascism.

There are special and specific efforts that must be made to better educate, organize and mobilize this majority. There are many issues and broad struggles, local and national, over progress in US society (and in other places worldwide) that this majority must play an active role in for those struggles to succeed, spread, and reverse the backward direction that has taken control in Washington, D.C. and many states across the US. The involvement of this majority will not come by accident. It will come only with their conscious action and by those who assist in organizing them.

It is to this effort, and to drawing the line between reality and distortion, that I commit Alternative Realities.

Adelante/Forward

Gun Control, Sharia Law, Republicans, Climate Change, Parallel Universes – Anything in Common?

19 Dec USS_Enterprise_(NCC-1701),_ENT1231

USS_Enterprise_(NCC-1701),_ENT1231

In search of the parallel universe?

After reading FB posts by friends and family on the tragic killing spree in Sandy Hook, CT, which follows last month’s equally tragic events of Hurricane Sandy, I was stuck by a series of connections. It is hard to understand how and why these horrible events occur, unless you understand that in the overlap of the parallel universes that we live in, oftentimes the outcome is not very good. The recent U.S. presidential election campaign, and its provides a momentary glimpse into existence and intersection of these two very different and contending universes.

In one universe, a majority of rational, thinking people voted for a moderate, intelligent, educated and cultured man. He ran on a pledge to continue to grow the U.S. economy by investing in education, infrastructure, scientific research, transportation and cleaner energy development, among other things. A majority of young people, women, minorities, city dwellers, gays, middle class, unionized workers, intellectuals, white people, and other distinct groups voted for him in large numbers.

A sizable minority of Protestant fundamentalists, older white people, NRA supporters, large business owners, and residents of the former slave states, Mormons, Texans, and others voted for the other candidate. (This is a broad simplification.)

The connection rests in the fact ( either polling, statements, actions) that most of the second group hold profound doubts about the reality of science, on which understanding of climate change, sexuality, human behavior, the economy, and physical health rests. More importantly, more people in the second group harbor and evidence serious fear of many people in the first group. That fear is utilized by a very small group of very conservative religious “leaders”, corporate business owners (including gun manufacturers and dealers), and ultra conservative politicians, to foster a passionate campaign for the “right to bear arms.”

As a result, more than nearly any other country, the United States is awash in handguns and assault rifles. You can buy these weapons in nearly unrestricted manner and number in local mega-malls, strip malls, “mom and pop” gun stores, and at gun “fairs.” While I have not been to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and parts of Africa, I have read that it is just as easy to obtain all manner of weaponry in local markets there as well.

The U.S. certainly has its share of unstable people, who also exist in just about every other country. However, in the U.S. their unrestricted ability to easily obtain pistols, assault weapons and ammunition, clearly amplifies their destructiveness, as recent shootings give tragic evidence.

Most people in the first universe would accept and even welcome a reasonable national policy that tightens the regulation and use of handguns, automatic weapons and ammunition. Most people in the second universe fervently oppose any restriction on the use or sale of such weaponry.

Also, most people in the first universe accept the idea that the world’s climate is changing, with clearly damaging impacts on people, all manner of animal and insect species, and the physical makeup of the earth. These catastrophic changes are a direct result of human activity, principally by the nearly unrestricted increase in carbon pollution. Most people in the alternative universe deny this scientific reality and its conclusions since they generally deny the fundamental principles of science, and some even the idea of a non-Bible based reality. As a result, very little will probably be done to begin the long effort to arrest the harmful environmental changes that are occurring to the earth as a result of human action (or inaction).

And to the degree that an overall minority of the voting population (which probably represents the same percentage in the overall adult population) continues to control most of the state legislatures in the country, due to years of voter district re-drawing (“jerrymandering”), they appear to have no trouble imposing their concept of reality on the majority. In fact, they consider themselves quite clever in doing so and will continue to do so. To them this behavior is normal and sensible.

They also promote a thought process which reverses reality so that those impacted by their decisions are viewed as the “dominators,” while they are viewed as the victims. So while they impose their concepts of “gun freedom,” and “right to life,” and “right to work,” and “sanctity of marriage” on the majority, they are quick to label any effort by the actual and growing majority to enact different policies as “imposition” of some form of liberal “sharia law.”

Back to where this began. We are living in a very unstable time. This is largely a result of sweeping changes in world demographics, economic inequality and instability, political polarization, instantaneous communications, and the steady rise of religious based politics and philosophies, of all which gives rise to contrasting views of reality co-existing in the same place and time.

When I thought about the connections between the recent twin tragedies, I simply plugged in those seemingly unconnected thoughts to my Google browser (no product endorsement intended) and discovered several other bloggers who shared remarkably similar thoughts. The parallel universes concept has validity. Listed below are two very interesting thoughts on its existence. One is a quick video of an elected Congressman from the parallel universe. He is painfully real. The other has a great explanation of the ongoing rise of the parallel universe in the U.S. and its impact on all of us.

By the way, the term “parallel universe” was referred to by a spokesman for General Motors (quite a real and generally conservative company) during the recent presidential campaign as the location from which several manipulative and completely erroneous statements from Mitt Romney originated.

I have also included a link to a recent Paul Krugman op-ed in which his closing lines offer a somewhat chilling thought about what we all are facing in the next few years, given the dominance of the parallel universe on U.S. politics. While I don’t agree with Mr. Krugman on the withering away of the parallel universe, it’s evident that his conclusion is right (I purposely did not use “dead on” out of respect for the recent victims of the thoughts and policies of the parallel universe.)

http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2012/10/07/this-is-why-republicans-are-scary-dangerous-and-separation-of-church-and-state-is-so-important/

http://www.policymic.com/articles/14556/taking-a-field-trip-through-the-bizarre-parallel-universe-the-gop-lives-in

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/14/opinion/krugman-the-gops-existential-crisis.html?src=me&ref=general

27 Nov

Bienvienido!

The World is Not Flat

Welcome to the second post in Realidades Alternatives/Alternative Realities. It has taken me far too long to activate this project, many years in consideration and construction. While I hope to share an enjoyable mix of art, everyday living, language and story, I also hope to make observations that encourage you to examine life from a different perspective.

When I first conceived of this blog a number of years ago I wanted to address a fascinating shift of life that occurs to me while living in Mexico. Being here for long periods of time facilitates my observation of a myriad of “cultural” differences between Mexico and the US. (I use “culture” in a global manner since the entirety of living here encompasses much more simply cultural experiences.)

However, in the time since I began to write this blog,  sweeping changes in so many aspects of life in the US has led to (and been influenced by), changes in the character of US politics. A particularly ominous change, given renewed life by the spread of the religious right and the Tea-Party movement, has been the increase in the number of Americans who have moved further down a path that encompasses challenges to the existence of a science-based reality.

To be clear, according to Wikipedia, “science” is a “systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.”

In form, those primarily religious-based challenges now range from denial of the physical outcome of rape, to continued denial of the existence of climate change. Ironically, that denial played out recently in US politics at the very moment that unusual (or rather, new normal) near hurricane strength storms were striking one of the most highly populated areas of the US eastern coastline.

This blog, dealing with alternative realities, will include observations about those people who believe themselves to be living in different spaces than the rest of us, with different “rules” or basis, and who seek to convert or impose their views of reality on others. Large numbers of those people also exist in many other parts of the world.

In the US, that phenomenon surfaced and was noticed in the recent presidential elections. In rejecting a particularly deceitful campaign statement by candidate Mitt Romney, regarding automotive jobs leaving the state of Ohio allegedly for China, a national spokesperson for General Motors (many of whose top executives probably supported Romney), stated that persons making such a claim must live in a “parallel universe.”

So, while I intend to focus primarily on the alternative realities that I encounter in daily life, the scope of those encounters may expand to include observations on the state of the “parallel universe.”

I do believe in science and the scientific method. The world is not flat. Adelante!

For a long time

5 Nov

I’ve thought that we are each a part of and a force in many realities. One or several we perceive as our own reality, and others we believe belong to those around us.

How these realities exist and interact, and alternatives that exist, are a major focus of this blog. Those realities include the everyday experience of life in its complexities, art, the political, economic and social world, and the wonder and struggle of life on this planet.

I’m always fascinated, surprised and sometime taken aback by what I observe daily and oftentimes I’m motivated to share those observations.

Bienvenidos!