Archive for the ‘media’ Category
Words like credibility and gravitas get tossed around a lot and in the process land in places they don’t belong. Sometimes, however, they land dead on. Such is the case with Bob Woodward. I think for those of us who lived through Watergate, and were at least old enough to grasp the fact that something politically earth-shattering was occurring, “Woodward and Bernstein” are names tattooed on our brains. Since their extraordinary investigative journalism led to the resignation of then President Richard Nixon, Bob Woodward has spent decades rightfully earning a certain amount of respect for the seriousness with which he continues to approach reporting, and critiquing, our politicians and our nation.
Woodward, based upon his decades-long access to and writing about every President since Nixon called President Obama’s approach to the sequestration issue “mad”…as in insane. Needless to say his comment landed with a thud at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Questioning the sanity of a sitting President is bold under the best of circumstances. But with a President as “thin-skinned” as this one (again Woodward’s language, not mine) and as intentionally insulated from criticism by a generally fawning press, it turns out to be dangerous. The response to Woodward’s comment came from a high level White House staffer who chewed Woodward out for thirty minutes on the phone then followed up with an email warning him he would “regret” what he was saying publicly.
This President and those who surround him govern by bullying, disregard and hubris. I’ve written about their approach long before this latest incident. What I find so disturbing, as should every American, is the now fully unmasked disregard this President has come to exhibit for the dignity, sanctity and scope of the office to which he was elected. Further, he seemingly couldn’t care less about the desires and preferences of the citizens who put him there.
Bob Woodward has verbalized what many of us have thought for some time now. Either Barack Obama does not care about the destruction of the United States or he intends it to happen. Either way, he is mad. And either way, Bob Woodward has had the courage to call it like it is.
Finally, credibility and gravitas in action.
A Palestinian terrorist breaks into the home of an Isreali woman asleep with her two children. He is wielding a knife and a pipe. His intentions are clear. Absent a miracle, the horrific scene from Itamar where the Fogel family was slaughtered in their sleep will be repeated. I am uncertain whether this qualifies as a miracle or just good defensive planning…but the mother, Yael Matzpun, trained in Krav Maga (an Israeli defense technique) battles her attacker, secures him in a bathroom, and calls for help. Upon trying to escape the bathroom window while refusing to put down his weapons, the terrorist is killed by the arriving IDF forces.
I have a few politically incorrect questions.
2. What is wrong with a culture/religion that breeds such men, labels them martyrs and celebrates their atrocities?
3. How amoral or blind has the worldwide media become that it sees no distinction, or lacks the courage to articulate, the difference between the basic humanity of these two societies?
If you approach it like a quiz, the answers are 1) there are none; 2) it is perverse; and 3) very amoral and cowardly.
There comes a time when those with eyes to see and ears to ear are called upon to use their voices to speak truth to power. We are living in such times. The world should cease deluding itself while labeling terrorists as freedom fighters. Both use violence to achieve their ends but that is where the commonality stops.
Freedom fighters seek autonomy and a free society. Terrorists seek death and total destruction using fear as their means of achieving it. The people living in Gaza have an autonomous society (Hamas is their “democratically” elected government) that is free of Jews. It is not enough because neither freedom nor autonomy are their goals. Their goal is murdering every Jew until none remain then obliterating the Jewish homeland.
The terrorist who broke into the Matzpun home to carry out Hamas’ mission is where he belongs; Yael Matzpun is a hero whose children are alive as I write this because she knows who she is dealing with; and I have called it as I see it.
To hell with political correctness.
Moral equivalency is only possible in a world where there is no God. Without belief in a Supreme Being, all values are subjective. Absent a fixed, higher order of what we generally term “good” or evil” all values are subjective. Therefore, what is good to one may be bad to another. Once you begin down that slippery slope you inevitably arrive at moral relativism.
Yesterday, I was part of a web conference call with Gil Troy, a professor of history at McGill University speaking from Jerusalem where he is a Shalom Hartman Institute Engaging Israel Research Fellow. The purpose of the call was to give a real time update on conditions in Israel as that country enters the 8th day of conflict with Hamas, a designated terrorist organization based in Gaza.
Professor Troy described the psychological impact upon himself, his children and the citizenry in general when sirens sound, giving them 60-90 seconds to find shelter from incoming rocket attack. He also described how quickly life returns to “normal” once the threat has passed. How his children continued on to their soccer practice, shopping excursion and hike as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. He lamented how after two or three such occurrences over a three day period his 15-year-old daughter had at first been reduced to tears but by day three, seemed to have accepted it as a part of life.
In particular, he expressed compassion and remorse for the loss of civilian life, particularly the children, on both sides of the conflict. Which brings me to my point. As a Jew, I know many Jews and a fair amount of Israelis. Nowhere among all of them do I ever hear anything but sorrow over the loss of civilian life. As with Professor Troy, they always express particular sorrow over the loss of life when children are the victims.
Yet, this is not the case in reverse. Hamas, and the Palestinian people, celebrate the loss of innocent life, regardless of age. They celebrate not only the loss of Israeli lives, they celebrate the loss of their own when it’s in service to killing innocent Israelis. As I post this, the most recent example is the bombing of a bus in Tel Aviv this date where 21 civilians have been wounded with Hamas taking credit for the attack. In Gaza, they are passing out candy and celebrating in the streets. This is not the aberration for Gaza and West Bank inhabitants under such horrific circumstances. Disgustingly, it’s the norm.
As for moral equivalency, the Western media makes no distinction between the two societies. Yesterday I watched a U.S. news anchor condemn Israel for bombing a building in Gaza that housed a known Hamas leader and some Palestinian “journalists”…one of whom lost part of his leg in the bombing. Where was that anchor to condemn Islamic extremists when terrorists beheaded journalist Daniel Pearl, a Jew, while he was still alive then posted the video through Al Jazeera?
Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir summarized the pain Israeli’s experience best when she said, “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. But we can never forgive them for forcing us to kill theirs.” I know of no such morally equivalent sentiment ever expressed from any representative of Hamas. Such is the obscenity of the moral equivalency expressed by the world in relation to this conflict and its two participants.
If the world does not recognize and stand for what is good while identifying and standing against what is evil, then Israel’s continued existence is not all that is at stake here. It is the continued existence of humanity.
Yes, the recently published photos from Afghanistan showing U.S. soldiers posing with maimed body parts of Taliban killed in action is disturbing on many levels. It’s disturbing that the L.A. Times is so lacking in editorial discretion and politically motivated that it would publish the photos. Unfortunately, blood sells papers (and assures traffic to websites, television programs as well as movies) and the “gore of war” supports those who advocate for immediate withdrawal of our troops from that conflict. It’s certainly disturbing that U.S. soldiers would behave in such a fashion.
But mostly, it’s disturbing that humanity has arrived at an acceptance, almost normalization, of extreme violence. We not only act it out in various ways but have an unhealthy interest, also normalized, in following the stories and watching the visuals. While humankind has always been violent, our misuse of the technology has done much to create this normalcy bias. We have grown accustomed to the infliction of pain and suffering and somehow, accept it as part of who we are.
Nothing could be further from the truth. We have the capacity for compassion and unity. It is our birthright. However, it is a choice we must consciously exercise. Being human, with all of the potential for what that entails, requires that we be deliberate in our use of those potentialities and aspire to our highest good.
Violence and war will be part of our reality so long as we “nourish” such thoughts and accept as normal the acting out of them. Each of us must be vigilant in our own lives that we are not contributing to the inevitable end product of the misperception that we are separate form one another and that it is possible to harm another without harming ourselves.
If the story and photos out of Afghanistan are repugnant to you yet you are fighting with a friend, relative, co-worker, or neighbor… you are being part of the problem not the solution. The remedy for what ails the world starts with each one of us and radiates outward.
The latest disclosure in the Trayvon Martin killing appears to be that NBC selectively edited then aired the 911 call made by George Zimmerman resulting in the impression that Zimmerman voluntarily identified the suspect as “black” rather than responded to the dispatcher’s question as to whether the suspect was “black, white or Hispanic?” So the facts turn out to be different than the illusion.
As a former practicing attorney, I can tell you that the facts are seldom apparent. They require a diligent and determined effort if they are to be uncovered. It’s why we have pre-trial investigations, a formal process of discovery, trials by judges or juries who act as arbiters of the facts as presented. Even after all of that, we remain conflicted when the death penalty is at stake because we know, in our hearts, that even after the most thorough effort sometimes facts, and therefore the truth, still remain undetected.
But undetected facts are quite different than deliberately obscured facts.
What one or more persons at NBC did in editing that 911 call was deliberate. It was either a knowing falsehood, with the intent to mislead, or it was incompetence. Either way, there’s no justification and no excuse for the damage done.
I frequently speak professionally to organizations on ethics. In fact, I developed a system called Ethics-To-Go© because, in a highly technological and rapidly shifting world where trends change daily, we need “user-friendly” ways to hold onto what we value.
Everywhere you look, we are deficient in ethics. There is an absence of ethical behavior in both our public and private leaders. These individuals, however, are not the cause. We are. We get the leaders we deserve. So long as we do not demand of ourselves the highest ethical (and moral) behavior we can expect no more from those who aspire and rise to positions of authority and power. They are merely our reflection.
NBC, by its malfeasance, has contributed not only to the lowest common denominator but also to the violence erupting nationally. By their act they bolster those who believe this crime was all about race rather than about fear and aggression and in so doing, fan the flames of racial hatred and violence.
Thus far, there are several take-a-ways from this as yet unfolding story.
- We are not a nation of vigilante justice.
- Violence begets violence.
- Allowing the process to unfold is critical.
- Manipulation of the truth results in staged chaos.
- We cannot reply upon the media.
I suspect there are more take-a-ways yet to come.
In the meantime, let’s be grateful that there’s enough light around to illuminate all this darkness. Let’s also be committed to being the Light so we enlighten ourselves and others. It is only by embracing personal responsibility that we can hope to someday get the leaders we want and deserve.
There are two kinds of chaos. One works in your favor and one against. As we go through personal and global change on so many levels, it’s helpful to be able to distinguish them so you know which one to embrace and which to avoid.
Natural chaos is the byproduct of anything, or anyone, moving from one state of existence to another. All life exists as a pattern or series of patterns. (In fact, we know that when a pattern is detailed and self-repeating it’s called “fractal”). When an existing pattern is caused to change any aspect of itself, the period of re-organization or self-organizing is chaotic by definition. This is because in the absence of one pattern, and in advance of the formation of a new pattern, a period of uncertainty ensues. Natural chaos is internal in origin, whether internal to a single organism or a society. It is also a necessary and natural phenomenon indicative of dynamic transition.
Staged chaos is externally driven by applying excessive pressure or strain upon an existing condition for the purpose of confusion and disruption leading to disintegration and/or destruction. It is artificial in origin and manipulated to affect a given outcome. Staged chaos is man-made. It is most often and easily seen in the breakdown of a society where a few individuals band together to create conditions that ultimately benefit them at the expense of the many. Staged chaos is also generally accompanied by force and/or violence.
We humans periodically go through evolutionary leaps in knowledge (information) and conscious awareness (spiritual insight). Such leaps are natural and re-occurring. We are in just such a leap now and so we are experiencing the resulting natural chaos both personally and as co-inhabitants of a global community. The leap is tenuous and fraught with challenges but it will lead to new understandings of both our physical and spiritual existence.
However, it’s important to distinguish between what natural development is causing us to do and what political agendas, powerful financial organizations and tyrants would cause us to do. The way to make this distinction is to ask yourself if external force and artificially generated pressure are the means to the end. If the answer is “yes” then avoid such chaos. Refuse to participate. Refuse to be manipulated. When the mob says “Go” make certain you remain very, very still.
When you are able to make this distinction for yourself, and when in each situation use your Free Will to choose your response, you will remove yourself from the effects of staged chaos. You will no longer be the puppet dancing to someone’s pulling of the strings.
So, now, which type of chaos is accompanying the Trayvon Martin saga?
And how will you respond?
Much has been written, and much more will be written, about the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. As a former practicing attorney, I will leave all of the media hype and speculation to those who have forgotten (or have an agenda and choose to ignore) the fact that we remain, thankfully, a nation bound by the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise in a court of law.
My concern over this killing is the misuse of the tragedy by those who seek to further divide and alienate us from one another. As we go through rough economic times, the need for a scapegoat, or an object upon which we can vent our personal frustrations and difficulties, will be great. This, historically, has always been the case no matter what the culture. Giving in to this need remains, sadly, a flaw of human nature.
If we allow ourselves to be used to polarize black against white, or be seduced to participate in a cause that advocates retaliation or vengeance as a remedy, this may well turn out to be the equivalent of the Tunisia man, Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire and sparked the Arab Spring. The lesson there being that his cause was hijacked by those with a radical agenda who used the sincere intentions of the majority of participants to gain a result that few foresaw and less intended.
Here, a young boy is dead. If it was in self-defense no crime was committed. If it was an act of aggression on the part of the other, then justice needs to ensue and punishment to follow. For that determination we must be patient.
While we are waiting, let us remember that we rise or fall together…as a people, as a Nation, as a planet. Unless we comprehend exactly what that means and what it entails, we will continue to be pawns in a much larger game where the few triumph over the many and freedom becomes a fading memory.
I’ve been where Whitney Houston was. No, not the fame, drugs or alcohol but the need to seek validation and safety in something or someone outside of myself. That’s what drove her. That was her inner demon. So when she was interviewed by Diane Sawyer and asked, “So what’s your biggest demon?” she replied “Me.”
It doesn’t matter whether its resistance to accepting responsibility for our personal lives or for our lives as citizens in a free society. In the end, it’s all the same. The individual who looks for safety in government welfare or subsidies loses the same precious gift that Whitney Houston lost when she turned to Bobby Brown: personal power and confidence in one’s ability to achieve. Much will be made of the alcohol binges and drug dependency but Brown was perhaps the most dangerous of all her choices… and the most telling.
When a woman (or a man) chooses a partner based upon neediness, there is always a tradeoff and the tradeoff is always the same. What is exchanged, although not consciously, is personal responsibility. Along with it we relinquish personal power as well. It may take awhile and be a slow process over time, but as the saying goes “you can’t have the benefit without the burden.”
In discussing Whitney Houston’s downward slide, I heard someone say, “She could have gotten herself off that train anytime she wanted.” It’s not that easy. As I said before I’ve been there and dependency, whether upon a substance, a system or a human being is insidious. It does you in a little at a time. It inevitably takes not only the awareness that your existence is at risk, but also the courage to do something about it.
Many have awareness. Not so many have the courage.
It takes courage because the way out of dependency is counter-intuitive. One would think that retaining control, at all cost, to whatever sense of self remains is key. Yet the solution is surrender. Only by surrendering and withdrawing from all that is not working in your life are you able to make room for the Source of True Power to emerge from within. The resistance comes from an illusion that if we give up what we’ve been doing, even if it’s harmful, nothing will take its place…or something worse will. This false belief is a trick of the mind, or the ego, or evil…whatever you choose to call it. But it’s a trick none-the-less. In reality, true surrender brings forgiveness of self and others, a renewed sense of the ability to achieve, and a deep knowing that we are not alone. In surrender, we meet what we were in search of all along… Love.
Whitney Houston could not break through her resistance to surrender and, in the end, that resistance consumed her.
Each of us has to wage this struggle within ourselves. No one is exempt. If we are to learn anything from the loss of a gifted soul and a beautiful voice, let the takeaway be that when dis-empowering one aspect of ourselves we always empower another or, as mythology tries to remind us, the Phoenix always rises from the ashes.
Just when you think it can’t get any more absurd or bizarre…Herman Cain endorses Newt Gingrich. Of course, if I were Newt Gingrich, I’d be standing as far from Herman Cain as I could. But then again, I don’t share the common values of 1) objectifying women and 2) being unfaithful in marriage that these two men share.
I want to believe that we as a Nation, not to mention human beings, have reached a point where we no longer believe the image that politicians and media outlets project but rather make our decisions based upon actions not words. If that is in fact the standard then Newt Gingrich is unacceptable as a Presidential nominee.
Mr. Gingrich was disgraced as Speaker of the House of Representatives, has left a trail of unethical and shameful personal behavior, and is a Progressive. His most admired U.S. Presidents are Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Wilson began the Progressive movement and the drive for big government under which we now suffer and Roosevelt implemented Progressive policies with abandon. In fact, Roosevelt was so power hungry and dismissive of the Constitution that his Presidency led to the passage of a Constitutional Amendment limiting the Presidency to two terms so no individual could ever again so abuse access to power.
I believe that we get the leader we deserve. If we refuse to think for ourselves but instead follow the herd, we will have as our choice either Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich on one side and Barak Obama on the other. Each of those is noticeably flawed.
If, however, we do our homework and look deep into the policies, actions and character of the leader we seek, Rick Santorum will be the next President of the United States. Remember, we get the leaders we deserve. I hope we deserve Santorum.
I have consistently watched the Republican Presidential debates because I like to form my own opinion of what occurred rather than be told by someone else what they saw and heard… especially when its main stream media doing the recap. Last night was no exception. I watched the debate from New Hampshire and my disappointment was palpable. All of the candidates are, for the most part, missing two ingredients: honesty and passion.
The passion I can live without. I think we all can. While it makes for compelling TV and equally compelling campaigning, I think it entirely possible to have vision without passion. After all, we had a charismatic, passionate candidate in 2008 who took the White House by storm. In hindsight I suspect most of the electorate, given the opportunity, would gladly rewind and trade-in all that “Hope and Change” for “Honesty and Character.” But hindsight is what it is.
However, while we can live without the passion I don’t think we can live without the honesty.
President James Garfield said, “The truth will set you free but first it will make you miserable.” We have arrived at this low point in American politics precisely because we have acquiesced in allowing ourselves to be deceived for a very long time. As long as the money was flowing and our lifestyles weren’t affected, we stayed unconscious. And while we slept, the monster we were feeding grew. I’ve always believed that people get the leader they deserve.
If we are prepared to face the necessary corrections to get the ship of State, and the culture, back on track then I think we will call forth a candidate who is willing and able to speak truth to us. If not, then we will have much more to concern ourselves with than the 2012 election. We will be struggling for our very survival.
I think we are ready for the truth. I think we have exhausted the emptiness of materialism and the alienation of technology. But it’s up to each of us to make that readiness known. It’s up to each of us to say, “No, I will not choose between two people who have been chosen for me by the powers that be.”
We in the West, raised on Aristotelian logic, think there are only two choices. It’s called a dilemma: “di” meaning “two” and “lemma” meaning problem. The 2012 Presidential election is not a dilemma. It’s a tetra-lemma taught by the Buddhist philosopher, Nagarjuna. There are at least 4 possible choices and, maybe even more. And I don’t mean there are 4 viable candidates at the moment. I mean there are many ways out of this situation other than the two obvious ones. But we have to refuse to respond like trained animals that cannot think for ourselves. We have to be heard saying, “I reject A or not A” as my only choices. I demand competency and honesty and until I have that as one of my choices I will not sit down and I will not be silent.
Socrates was one voice. So was Joan of Arc, Martin Luther King and Steve Jobs. I’m not comparing missions. I’m only shining Light on the power of one voice imbued with determination and certainty who will not sit down, will not be quiet and demands an alternative way of doing things.
You have one voice. Are you standing?