Keep Your Friends Close

Which identity

Which identity


A perennial quote from Sun Tzu, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

There are several explanations regarding the meaning of the statement. One relates to being able to anticipate the actions of one’s foes. Another relates to understanding the motivations of those who are one’s antagonists or rivals. Thus, it explains why some businesses thrive in a highly competitive marketplace while others exit for one reason or another. Sometimes it isn’t a question of anticipating the actions of the competition as much as not having the foresight to envision the next enhancement or not being the one clever enough to create a strong consumer desire for your product or service.

Friend or Enemy

This brings us to the question of how to accurately identify the friend who may actually be the wolf in sheep’s clothing. So many who have survived either domestic workplace abuse thought they had an ally who could be trusted with the private grousing or the sharing of hopes and desires. How many can attest to sharing the details of a proposal with a manager only to later discover those very details have become part and parcel of a project under another’s direction?

Is it an enemy who tells you outright that you’ve been blacklisted and will not be working in any industry anymore? Or is that actually an ally who’s providing notice that adjustments in your plans need to be made? Better to know than to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to make the car run when it has no gas tank or wheels.

With a certainty, there will be disparaging remarks that are only made out of earshot. They will relate to one’s character, work product, sanity and stability, and other matters that are cause for people to spurn and disassociate. Yes, they can come from an outright enemy. That venue is to be expected. In fact, it’s the grist of many soap operas. But how do we define the one who is our most trusted who drops a word or phrase that casts doubt and discourages?

And then there’s the one who spreads false rumors or attributes negative comments about a person or group that were never made. If no one brings up the subject with the one given credit for having made those statements, it becomes nearly impossible to put out the flames of destruction. Better to address the matter when there’s some inkling of trouble. In circles of good social responsibility, making the bad news public from the owner of the blot rather than have it blown out of proportion and raise the question of whether a cover-up was attempted is a prudent move.

Friends and enemies. Yes, it’s a good idea to think of many situations, both social and business, as a potential for re-enacting an episode of Big Brother. When we think of the management style of leading by example, we don’t have too far to look for a role model. While it may seem like paranoia, being prepared for and able to anticipate the pitfalls is both rational and reasonable.

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Terrorism: Domestic and Foreign

Gunman in need of a target.

Gunman in need of a target.

According to the history, this post was started on 2017/08/23. I remember this endeavor. Collecting the links to make the point of how conditions are devolving became overwhelming and I simply abandoned the effort. The hopeful thought was someone else would become cognizant of the issues, motivated by the circumstances, and act upon them before my feeble efforts at screaming “Stop it” were read, let alone heard. That wasn’t the case. Here we are nearly a year later. Here we are with so much more death and devastation.

Youth who are barely over the age of 16 years have become organized. They are speaking out. They have the organization and funding to plan and execute protests not only in Washington, D.C. but across the nation. Their voices are being heard. They are demanding that Congress stop using PAC dollars to maintain the status quo. They are saying ‘our lives matter’ – just as Black lives, and Brown lives, and Yellow lives, and the rest of the spectrum. All lives matter.

Even as I prepared to write a post regarding ethics, my attention was drawn the the number of times I’ve written about assaults in just this space. It was painful to relive those posts. It was even more painful to realize we use these instances as cocktail and coffee hour conversation. We suck our cheeks, cluck our tongues, feel good about the fact that we had a superficial exchange about the latest news, and then return to our normal activities, content with the belief that we’ve done our part for being socially aware and involved.

We have reached a point when it’s time to peaceably take action. It’s time to urge immediate action to preserve our Constitutional values and rights. It’s time to urge Congress to unite in protecting its citizens and population from the looming war that threatens us domestically, in every city nationwide as well as the foreign threat against the nation and the peace and safety we deserve to enjoy.

We should not awake before hearing the news report and wonder whether we are about to suffer a nuclear attack from some foreign country. Nor should we awake wondering when someone in our neighborhood (or even those who have crossed state borders to our neighborhood) who has the intent and armaments to attack and destroy our lives and desecrate our homes has done so. We should not be forced to live in fear for our lives and safety at every turn. Like a person living in a domestic violence setting, this is unhealthy. Anything could prove to be the tipping point that leads to the explosion – and our destruction.

In many ways, we’ve been told how inconsequential we are compared with the gratification of the president’s ego. His grandeur, not the welfare of this nation, is paramount for the attention devoted to sitting in the Oval Office. The power that seat represents is what drives the hourly tweets and inappropriate communication that emanates from the place. Those who serve the man, reflect his principles because he has set the standard and now leads by example.

Since August 11, I’ve been consumed with journalism about the events in Charlottesville, Virginia and posting coverage of not only those events but also related incidents. Enough. Depressing and disturbing as they are, the curated content is posted here.

August 12
Protesters in Charlottesville, VA turned violent as counter protesters reacted. The demonstration, in the early hours of California time, erupted into breaking newsworthy publicity. Three hours later, a car rammed through a crowd of counter protesters. One has been killed.

There was silence from the White House, yet the mayor of Charlottesville decried the situation and the cause of it.

It was FLOTUS who finally spoke out against the violence via a tweet.

It’s now an hour later. There’s been an announcement that of those in the counter protester injuries, one has died. The President (who during his campaign encouraged acts of violence and disorder while promising impunity for such acts) has remained silent.

Another breaking news announcement hit the airwaves a few minutes ago. The President was supposed to finally speak about the Charlottesville situation.

In reality, he had no intention to speak nor do anything about the situation except to do a PR one-minute acknowledgement of it. His first priority was recognition of the VA, which was essentially more his proclamation than addressing the violence and disarray in Virginia.

These protests against removal of the Robert E. Lee statue have been ongoing (at least since May of this year). Today’s activities took the protests to a higher pitch.

In a response to that incident, the observation was made that:
Leader inaction has consequences. You know, they were only following the campaign rhetoric and examples of the President. What’s wrong with that?

Things kept spiraling:
An account of the activities in Charlottesville that takes in many of the perspectives involved. It sounds like the domestic beginning of WWIII.

While China along with both North and South Korea looked on and worried:
In yet other news, China is urging Trump (for the second time since April) to use more restraint in his language and actions toward North Korea. Apparently there have been more than three warnings from China about the bullying stance coming from the new President up to this week.

Meanwhile, back in the States and as the events continued to escalate, I wondered, Is Virginia an open carry state? Apparently Charlottesville is an open carry city. Some of the alt-right protesters are carrying rifles. But we should take note that several days after this “rally,” it was reported that not all of the members of the crowd were Charlottesville residents. Protesters and rally attendees came from as far away as Portland, Oregon and other states in order to raise their voices and create the tumult. Their actions had absolutely nothing to do with rights and interests that pertain to their own homes and property.

August 13:
In sharp contrast to Charlottesville, VA, there were repercussions in Dresden, Germany when an American Tourist Punched For Giving Nazi Salute In Germany on the same day. Where’s the American enforcement of hate crime laws? In fact, it was time to look up the United States definition of “hate crime” as defined by the FBI.

* * *

Enough. I can’t endure this anymore. We cannot afford to endure this anymore. Time for us to join the youth as mentors and co-organizers. These acts of violence are not coming from immigrants; they’re homegrown in a toxic garden that’s being constantly fertilized. Time for all of us to lift our voices in protest to our current circumstances and take affirmative action.

How Many Times?

How many times have I talked about this issue? Here are some representative posts:

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Onset of the Second Year

Let's Make America Great Again

Let’s Make America Great Again

Here it is January 3, 2018 and the beginning of the second year of the 45th U.S. Presidential administration.

The headlines throughout the first brought shock, amazement, outrage, disappointment, fear. They incited resistance by some followed by affirmative action by others who had more power and resources. The defenders of the Reich (oh, I mean regime) did their best to make excuses for the unacceptable or disparage representations of what was blatantly put before a world audience by the model. But the slow progress to our journey into darkness continues.

What are we being told when traditional journalists who broadcast their researched editorial opinions that are negative toward the President find themselves removed from their positions?
Fortunately, the phrase “fake news” is now considered a punch line for satirical monologues and comedy acts. But it appears the new McCarthy Era is going through birthing pains to resume its place in our society.

This morning’s reportage of the schoolyard taunts between the leader of the U.S. and the leader of North Korea about whose button is bigger again makes us wonder how far in the future is the reality of nuclear war because two narcissists want to implicitly compare their genitals via amount of power they have.

The smoke issued from the White House in the form of threats this year (and a type of bombastic display) are numerous. Merely attempting to locate the link regarding the firing of a CBS news anchor revealed this list of related searches:

  • colbert on trump
  • trump threatens media
  • trump threatens venezuela
  • trump threatens paul ryan
  • donald trump threatens pope
  • colbert late show trump
  • trump threatens nuclear war
  • trump threatens north korea

There may be some specter of hope for positive change on the horizon. In the process of confirming which administration is currently in charge of our country, some interesting headlines tumbled into my search results, headlines that urge reflection and consideration. What those headlines suggest is altogether more positive than the negative emotions created in the past. They imply that the time for accountability has arrived. They suggest the time for more assertiveness by the republic has arrived. (Think, “When in the course of events . . .”)

Those research headlines said:

There are probably a lot more that are similar; these were sufficient.

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Preserving a Right

A request to sign a petition from Brigade + Causes hit my mailbox yesterday that raised my eyebrows. “Sign the petition to #fireColbert” read the subject line. The opening of the petition says: “Stephen Colbert finally took it too far with a disgustingly lewd anti-Trump rant on The Late Show on CBS.”

The author of the petition was sufficiently offended by Colbert’s monologue from last week that the author initiated the movement. In fact, he closed his appeal by saying, “This is certainly within Colbert’s right to free speech, but the networks should strive for a higher level of decency. This isn’t comedy. It’s just disgusting and offensive.” Apparently the FCC was also alarmed at the language used in the monologue.

However, we need to ask ourselves in what way did the Colbert monologue in question substantially differ from the many antics of #45 during his campaign. We also need to recognize that Colbert is in the entertainment business and relies on [Nielsen] ratings in order to keep his show on the air. Similarly, during the campaign, #45 was in several industries (including entertainment) and heavily relies (even now) on outlandish behavior for the sake of garnering ratings and attention. So where’s the difference? We also need to take into consideration that #45 was never called to task for any of his campaign behavior and was never penalized in any way. In fact, he was applauded. It’s difficult to understand why, in a post-Carlin’s “7 dirty words” environment that Colbert (or CBS for that matter) should suffer even a penalty.

Now, to be sure, it’s no secret that Colbert is not a fan of the 45th President. It’s safe to say there’s little evidence that he has ever had favorable feelings about #45.

It says a lot about what still remains of American freedoms that Colbert can express his political opinions during his monologue without being censored or have his way of life threatened. It’s called freedom of speech. True, there were objectionable words used in the body of the monologue but the blue language was bleeped from the speech. Even Colbert’s mouth was blurred when he pronounced certain words so that they could not be discerned and cause offense. Those were the instances when it went into territory not covered by Carlin’s “7 dirty words” but at least the freedom to express those feelings was in place.

Other TV hosts have also lampooned the First Family in this last week. It doesn’t appear any of those hosts are being called to task for doing their jobs while simultaneously pushing their audiences to engage in critical thinking or else express what their audiences fear to say aloud.

Likewise, the petition’s author has the freedom to express his distaste for the language – the language, mind you, not the thoughts and feelings owned by the speaker.

So, rather than endorse a return to Woodrow Wilson standards and suppression of one of our precious foundation rights, free speech, I will not sign that petition. Let us, without resorting to expletives and bullying, discuss and debate the policies of #45 and come up with solutions.

It appears both Colbert and the petition author have come up with a very meaningful topic for discussion as well as some meaningful tangents.

Initial Talk with Congress

Many are talking about the new President’s address to Congress on February 28. No, it didn’t mark the completion of 100 days. No, it wasn’t a State of the Nation (per se). It was just the newly-elected President talking to Congress.

Perhaps the event was in remembrance of Washington when he went over to Congress to ask his friends about how to do something and they ran him out because, with a great deal of effort and redrafting of the organizing documents, there are three separate and distinct parts of our government. Each acts separately in order to keep checks and balances and so that the government doesn’t become a dictatorship – each part echoing what the other says and sometimes in unison.

Which identity

Which identity

Nevertheless, the President went to Congress to talk with them. It wasn’t in order to get their advice about anything. It was a new, toned down campaign speech that reiterated what’s been said over the last two years. But this speech added a little more to the campaign rhetoric.

Although the tone was drastically different from what we’ve been hearing during the combative and corrosive campaign there was something different. Yes, there was the signature blaming and faulting to indicate and rally more supporters because things are such a mess. But the rambling, train of thought diatribe that is typical of this President wasn’t presented.

Actually, the speech was a bit unsettling. It wasn’t because of the rhetoric. It was because it seemed to be a repeat of another address to Congress from the past. It was as though it was written from a template. The language (except for the blaming) was not the typical content from this President. The tone, ah yes, the tone and the organization (yes, there was organization) of the thoughts and message were a different voice. Someone wrote this speech for the President. That isn’t surprising given the fact that his attention needs to be on many issues and he desperately needs to focus, keenly focus, on the matters of State. So having a speech writer create this message would not be a surprise.

Still, the message followed a distinct pattern. It was as though the template had little boxes that prompted the writer to “insert issue here” and then flow on to flush out some details. Then another box prompted “insert issue here” in a new section.

It was very formulaic, all the way down to pointing out selected examples of day-to-day citizens who were sprinkled into the audience in order to create a positive charisma and build the supporter base. Wasn’t that the tactic Obama used in many (if not all) of his speeches?

On a positive note, the President appears to finally be listening to someone on his staff about the image he’s presenting to the public. He’s getting coaching from someone about staying on point. He’s being urged to use a script more often so that the logic of what he’s saying is more obvious. The meandering trains of thought that go off point just aren’t winning any credibility for him. Unfortunately, he still doesn’t seem to be listening to his advisers too often. He still does things without a script and he’s very fast with that Executive Order ink pen.

The content of the speech is what most are hashing out in these days that followed the template presentation. Many of the matters that are the subject of the Executive Orders were included in the speech. There were (to be expected) claims of vast improvements over the last administration (which buried the country into the worst situation in history, we were told). Government contracts will be closely scrutinized and only approved when the fees are as bare-bone low as things can possibly be cut. (I’m not certain what that means in terms of quality of end product.) Government contracts for defense spending will be increased while government jobs hiring will be frozen. In fact, he seemed to indicate that there are superfluous government jobs and those will be cut. (You know, perhaps that‘s the reason why the Department of Labor Jobs Update alerts (OPA) stopped arriving after January 25.)

Back to the content of the speech and what people are saying about it. Traditional news coverage noted that the President sounded much more “presedential” in this speech. Another media source made mention that he is learning fast [about not rambling].

The staffers were quite pleased with the performance. That’s the other hallmark of this President. Everything seems to be targeted at getting TV ratings and reality show headlines. Although the speech was nearly a 180 change in tone and style, those who have been alienated by the man’s demeanor, attitude, and rantings are not so easily swayed and brought into the fold. Congressional GOP members are still uneasy. DNC members are still unimpressed. And late night talk show comedians are still having a field day. Why not? They’re essentially being spoon fed new nettles and needles every hour of the day. Maybe that’s why Jimmy Kimmel said enough of Donald Trump for tonight and hosted a Trump-free show. To that, I can only say, Amen.

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Questioning the Problem of Gun Violence via Late Night Commentary

Stephen Colbert’s monologue for last night’s The Late Show was a statement about the Orlando mass shooting on June 12, 2016. That was followed (without any break) by an interview of Bill O’Reilly on the subject of mass killings, gun control, and what politicians are saying about the issue.

gunman in search of a target

Young thug with gun isolated on white

As someone from a Facebook conversation yesterday said and as O’Reilly pointed out, what we’re dealing with is a new form of warfare. O’Reilly considers this as a means of legitimizing national gun control laws at the federal level so that states rights does not come into play and so that one law prevails over interpretation of the rule.

Colbert’s monologue was moving. A link to the article about it takes us to the Conan O’Brien monologue that was equally touching.

A few months ago there was a proposal to make it legal for concealed carry in churches. Trump last month, as part of his campaign rhetoric, said teachers should be allowed to carry guns in the classroom. In light of some school officials having been videoed when they have slammed students to the ground, I don’t know that this would be a wise step. And in light of the fact that I know a person who is a teacher who is bi-polar, who refers to their students as savages, and who does things that are dangerous and disrespectful, I have to do the math and realize there are probably many others who have similar sentiments. Those people should not be allowed to even *own* guns, much less carry them.

I agree, the way to solve the problem is to define what the problem is. I agree, this is a travesty and it’s being imposed on us as citizens of a nation that is supposed to be great. I agree, this sickness must stop. What are some first steps toward defining the problem? If it is two-fold, or even multifoliate, what are the issues and how do we prioritize them?

After resolving the identification of the problem(s), what are the solutions.

The Colbert Show monologue and O’Reilly interview are here.

This is a concern. It is troubling that it gets repeated on an increasingly frequent basis but still there is no action to remedy the illness. It’s merely allowed to fester. Perhaps it will result in a national amputation of civility. I hope not. Unfortunately, that appears to be the trend.

Some argue that we need stricter gun control laws. We need to do better background checks. What good are background checks when those who fit the Betty White profile are dismissed as not a threat and don’t need to be investigated? And there’s no record of the fact (fact) that the person uses a BB gun to shoot small animals in their yard.

Reports of violent behavior can result in a person’s becoming unemployable. This is the case in matters of domestic violence. That is why the victim will refrain from filing charges. The abuser is the source of income for the household. Without those purse strings, the entire household will be on the streets in the blink of an eye.

Yet as of this date, a person on the “no fly list” does not prevent that person from being issued a gun license and thereafter being able to purchase guns and weapons. A person on the FBI list of person who should be monitored also has the freedom to become a licensed weapons owner. We need to question the reasonableness of these laws and protocols.

Even though this post was started the day after the Orlando incidents, the issues remain unresolved. Congress, taking a partisan stance to block progress of the other party and thereby prevent that party from receiving credit for being proactive in regard to public safety and welfare, disparaged the Democratic sit-in by calling it grandstanding. Perhaps that attitude is yet another form of grandstanding.

It’s time. It’s time to stop merely shaking our heads as we go numb for a few minutes or days and then pick up our heads and lives and resume Life as usual. It’s time. It’s time to start being about solutions and positive alternatives. It’s time. It’s time to start learning what the issues are. And it’s time to work toward a meeting of the minds in order to resolve this age of strife, unheeded screams for help and attention, and unmet needs of the people. It’s time for this was of humanity to stop.

We don’t need more late night commentaries about gun control. We need daily reasons to live whole and productive, fulfilling and meaningful lives.

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More Than Being the Female Candidate

The District 3 Supervisor debate between Sheila Kuehl and Bobby Shriver just aired on ABC television.

Based on what I heard and understood, this is going to be a close and difficult race. There are very few issues on which the candidates differ. Both come from backgrounds that have built these leaders. Both understand the processes and systems that need to be used, modified, or operated in order to serve the needs and interests of the population.

Both emphasized service to the population.

As I listened to the debate a particular thought struck me that was never an observation before. We have a woman running for a County leadership position. There were no histrionics, no wailing or weeping, no seeking sympathy for whatever feminine shortcoming (or status).

Both candidates were in a flatfooted race. Both were surefooted. They were well researched on their subject areas. It was obvious that when issues arise that are outside of their platform, they will have the vision to adequately address those concerns or be aware of the tools that can be used to address them.

Each knows how to talk with people in order to reach consensus and solutions. Each knows how to carefully listen to what’s being said. This was an extremely civil debate. There were occasional barbs and citing of questionable interpretations that occurred in the past. But there were not aggressive attacks. There were no efforts at character assassination.

Both cited the portions of their career histories that provided them with their strengths that make them qualified to receive the constituents’ votes. They respected the time limits and judiciously used their time allocations.

There was a comment in closing statements that asserted that Kuehl is from Sacramento. In other words, she is not closely affiliated with Los Angeles County (local) issues but is instead more attuned to the broad state government perspective. Both candidates live in the same city, Santa Monica. Kuehl countered the “not local” comment by asserting for the fourth or fifth time that both of them are from Santa Monica. She also pointed out her close affiliation with Los Angeles County throughout her work in film, law, law school professor, and local city college instructor. In other words (and within 15 seconds) she put herself back on a par with being closely attuned to local issues and concerns. As I said, there were no attacks.

Most significantly, it was a woman going toe to toe with a man. And it wasn’t a question of whether a woman is the better candidate. It was a question, pure and simple, of who is the better candidate.

Yes, this will be a very close race. It is not about whether we put a woman on the Board of Supervisors instead of a man. It’s about which candidate can serve well.

The midterm election is on Tuesday, November 4, and also encompasses election of a new Sheriff, as well as other officials and measures.

These candidates also had a radio debate on KCRW on October 15 that can be found on the station’s website.