Who Are We?

It’s bad enough that after the tragedy in Orlando, despite a Senate filibuster and a House sit-in, lawmakers remained in thrall to the NRA, refusing to pass even the most tepid gun control measures.

Less publicized was the fact that– even as they were offering their “prayers” for the victims–House Republicans once again refused to allow a vote that would have extended equal civil rights to LGBT citizens.


  1. Thank you.
    And may we learn from the devolution of ‘The Empire’ as Great Britain learns the 400 year lesson of what goes around …

  2. I completely agree. I realized awhile back this vote isn’t so much for President, it’s for the country. I fear that a democratic president being elected only delays the inevitable stupidity a faction of the electorate seems destined and despirate to express.

  3. The Brexit vote in Great Britain is, I believe, a precursor to what we will eventually see happen here.

  4. Sheila:

    We really are at a turning point in America. The 2016 elections have not created the tensions that threaten to tear us apart, but they are certainly bringing those tensions to a head. When Americans go to the polls in November, we will be confronted with a stark choice, not just between political parties and candidates, but between vastly different ideas about the real America, our fellow-citizens and the nature of our republic.

    We will be deciding what sort of country we want to be.”

    We can all sleep easier now with our future in the hands of Hillary Clinton. As a reminder, you better make sure you take a handful of sleeping pills before you dose off.

    You can call me: OUTRAGEOUS or more. I won’t be offended.

  5. Thanks Prof. I agree this is a make or break election. This week I saw the Democratic Party regrow its spine. Thank goodness for that. I think the rational Americans are waking up to the fact that it DOES matter who you vote for. “They” are NOT all the same. This is big, grown up stuff. “Who would you rather have a beer with?” and other such nonsense that got a lot of air time, needs to go away. Germany want down a very dark path 80 years ago. Too many Germans did not take the crazies seriously until it was too late to stop their own destruction. It can happen anywhere. Time to work for a better USA. Time to create the good USA that we thought we lived in.

  6. Marv; like it or not (and I am among many others who do NOT), Hillary is the presumptive Democratic nominee at this point. The alternative to Hillary Clinton must be our focal point at this time, not whether we like or approve of her stand or her affiliation with Goldman-Sachs, et al, or the issue of her E-mails. I still view her as Donald Trump in drag; Republican roots and years of history as a Democratic supporter combined, plus being a major member of corporate American does not put her in the corner of average Americans, those of us who will be most affected by the outcome of this presidential election. We ARE the country but what sort of country we WILL be has already been decided by those with the most money to pave their way and pay they way into control

  7. JoAnn,

    “Marv, like it or not (and I am among many who do NOT, Hillary is the presumptive Democratic nominee at this point. The alternative to Hillary Clinton must be our focal point at this time.

    We ARE country but what sort of country we will be has already been decided by those with the most money to pave their way and pay they way into control.”

    Are you telling me that……TEACHING TOLERANCE and the Southern Poverty Law Center are our only defense against devolution of the Republic, along with the likes of Hillary Clinton? They aren’t. You’re brainwashed. And as long as you and everyone else keeps thinking that, we will remain….. “up shits creek without a paddle.”

  8. I’m particularly feeling a dread this morning after the news of Brezit…too many similarities in the populist mood in both countries.

  9. Good grief, the sadness of my British friends here in Europe about the Brexit vote makes us all wonder if America will follow suit in November and elect a racist idiot. There are so many shocked people over here and they are fearful for their future. The pound dropped like a rock over night and every one is uncertain about how the next couple of years is going to pan out too. Will there be a recession? The market is seeing a lot of red today as well and for those of us that are here with UK-EU open border visas are now wondering, how long will we be allowed to stay where we are? And as I’ve said in the past, if Trump becomes President (OMG, NO), WTF will we do then? This is Black Friday for us and it ain’t pretty over here (although it’s hot as haddes out there with 90 degrees with 70% humidity and no a/c in sight). The world has gone mad and I am really sad that it is affecting the children too.

  10. From what I can tell, people fall into two philosophical groups. There’s “Us v. Them,” and there’s “We’re All in This Together.” Unfortunately, the former seems to be thriving all too well.

  11. Marv; exactly WHO are you going to vote for in the November presidential election…one of the two actual candidates or will you just write in the name of your personal preference ? Our system is set up this way; we cannot work (or vote) outside the lines. SPLC’s “Teaching Tolerance” and “The Trump Effect” are simply two of many publications providing their view of the information before us via the media. “The Nation” is another qualified option to heed or ignore; national and/or local media, including newspapers provide their own information. SPLC has added their “Teaching Tolerance” questionnaire results in “The Trump Effect” – do you doubt their veracity? Do you know of some hidden candidates both parties will spring on us at their respective conventions? We will be given two opposing options plus a “write-in” line; you can eeny-meeny-miney-moe your choice or use your vast store of knowledge and political experience to select one or the other, write in your option – or sit at home and gloat that you are “showing them” by your inaction. Currently, this is still America and you have those choices. This may not be true after January 20, 2017; especially if after January 1, 2017, Congress is still overloaded with Republicans at state levels.

    Butch has a line in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” that fits here. He told Sundance, “Never bring a knife to a gunfight.” We seem to be in a national gunfight (NO pun intended) at this time and we are armed only with a dull paring knife.

  12. Let’s see. On the one hand we have a candidate who wants to build a wall, deport 11 million people, keep all Muslims out of America, makes fun of the disabled, thinks it’s okay if we don’t pay our debts, and wants to trash all of our treaties. On the other hand we have a candidate who wants to provide debt-free college education, have a rational immigration program, provide jobs by starting with an infrastructure repair program, work on gun control issues, find new ways to combat global warming, and treats people with respect.

    I have a hard time seeing why so many people think this is a “lesser of two evils” election.

  13. Bill,

    We are now witnessing a total world-wide systems collapse created by the impotence of the U.S….. We are the vital node. And we have lost our socio/political, economic, equilibrium.

    Like you pointed out….the Us v. Them philosophy is winning out . Our only chance for Planet Earth is for a “miracle” philosophical shift to “We’re All in This Together” in the U.S. BEFORE the Presidential election in November. If that doesn’t happen, Donald Trump will win. He will be the only one who will be able to provide some semblance of order. So, right now, I’m leaning his way.

  14. Peggy; you will need to add a third option. I just read an NBC News headline, “Bernie said he will vote for Hillary Clinton”. Let the games begin!

  15. Joanne– as Stalin says, it’s not the voting that counts, but who counts the votes, as the Democratic primary has made obvious.

  16. JoAnn,

    We all have different backgrounds of experience and awareness. Neither the Southern Poverty Law Center or The Nation were willing to engage the deep background or the “nerve center and vital nodes” of the Far Right Movement dba as the Tea Party, before them the Christian Coalition, before them the Moral Majority from the beginning. We’re talking about more than 35 years.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center and The Nation were not just two other voices. They’ve controlled the democratic response. They were trusted, since everyone knew the limitations of the national press and the Democratic Party after Bill Clinton introduced his strategy of “TRIANGULATION,” when It should have been labeled….STRANGULATION.

    I know that first hand, you don’t. And you have continually refused to hear what I’ve been trying to say for almost a year. As I’ve said before, there are things that you can do that I can’t, but on the other hand, there are things I can do that you can’t.

  17. “Are you telling me that……TEACHING TOLERANCE and the Southern Poverty Law Center are our only defense against devolution of the Republic, along with the likes of Hillary Clinton?”

    Marv; I have said nothing about the above list in your quote being a “defense”…I have stated they are “options”. I have heard what you have been saying; just don’t always agree and at this time I am still talking about “options” as I have all along.

  18. Where to start?

    Is our biggest problem here those who believe that running the country is so easy that even a Brooklyn thug can do it, or that it’s so hard that even a suitably educated experienced successful intelligent work-a-holic career public servant can’t?

    We are appalled that British ignorance has reached the level of out-voting common sense and dropping an economic bomb on the world to make the point that only those of Royal (read English) blood are suitable British.

    While we worry about the Brexit economic bomb we ignore a bigger one: letting fossil fuel companies continue to profit from moving carbon from its underground Pandora’s box out into the ocean of air that we live in then to the ocean of water that we eat from knowing that such action will strike a lethal blow to much life.

    We are devolving. We went from life as a struggle between tribes to a comfortable for most better for all triumph now back to where we came from.

    The more we collectively know the more ignorant we individually act.

    We have failed the test of freedom. We apparently aren’t capable of it. All of those lives given in pursuit of it were in vain.

    Western civilization’s demise.

  19. Below I copied and pasted the lead section of an NBC News report on AOL this morning:

    “Asked on MSNBC’s Morning Joe whether he will vote for Clinton in November, Sanders responded “Yes.”

    The Vermont senator, who has not yet formally ended his 2016 campaign, said that stopping Donald Trump from becoming president must be an overarching goal.

    “I think the issue right here is I’m gonna do everything I can to defeat Donald Trump,” he said.

    But Sanders also dismissed the idea that he should withdraw from the Democratic race now that Clinton has secured the nomination.”

    I agree that defeating Donald Trump should be our “overarching goal”. But how we are supposed to know what is going on in this election when the publicly favored Democratic candidate states in one breath he will vote for Hillary in November but in the next breath declares he isn’t withdrawing from the race?

    Members of Congress sneak unrelated issues into favored bills sure to pass, hoping it will get lost in all of the legalese and technical language. The LGBT issue is only one example; and I strongly favor honoring their rights but…the route taken is questionable. The Farm Bill was easily passed before the general public learned that it included denying thousands of needy Americans their eligibility to receive food stamps.

    Donald Trump has caused fear in the hearts and minds of many of our school children per the Southern Poverty Law Center publication. I do believe this is true; he has caused fear in myself and most of the adults I talk to. Currently he rules the Republican party as their presumptive nominee while at the same time they try to distance themselves from his embarrassing, racist, bigoted and often stupid rants.

    Hillary may still be hauled into court on the issue of her Single Server and E-mails deleted, released, sent to her personal mail and other message related issues I can’t recall.

    “Who Are We?” Maybe the question should be “What The Hell Are We Doing?”

  20. It seems to me that it’s impossible to live in the political limelight as long and prominently as the Clintons have and escape criticism. As always some criticism is valid and some fabricated.

    If we only look for perfection we’ll end up with only candidates who are unknown, unrevealed, perhaps only the best liars.

    The best, like Presidents Obama, Roosevelt, Lincoln and Washington will only come along perhaps once in every hundred years. In between the choice is among those who are best known and least flawed.

    The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.

  21. JoAnn, you are onto something important…”What the hell are we doing?” as opposed to “Who are we?”, a rhetorical question posed in the abstract. Personally, I am comfortable with thinking and writing in the abstract; however, my daily living occurs in the concrete where I’m far more likely to ask “What the hell are we doing?” than “Who are we?”.

    Bernie Sander’s “yes” response to a closed-end question, one of those “yes” or “no” constructed questions, on MSNBC does not mean he’s thrown in the towel or given up. Sanders did not proclaim an endorsement for Clinton. Hold that thought. And, as you mentioned, who knows if Clinton will or will not be hauled into court before November. As an aside, is Ms Clinton the first candidate for the Presidency who is under an active FBI investigation, not a FBI review because the FBI investigates, not reviews? So many thoughts and so many questions.

    By the way, the Associated Press, following some bit of litigation revolving around the release of Ms Clinton’s Secretary of State daily schedules and daily calendars, published the 6/24/16 article as linked below.


    As Sir Walter Scott penned, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!”

  22. BSH; I considered the question and the response as you posed in your comments…were I in that position my response would have been, “If she is the nominee.”

    Of course my mind-set had that response ready for those who have asked, not an outright “yes”. Still seeing Facebook posts about Bernie’s popular vote lead, uncounted votes, etc., but Hillary is already making declarative statements on current issues as if she has been named. Including her statements listed with President Obama’s reaction to the UK exit vote. Counting her chickens before they are hatched? Who knows?

  23. Peggy, “I have a hard time seeing why so many people think this is a “lesser of two evils.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    While it’s tempting to probably over simplify many of the goings on in the world as prefabricated ignorance gone amok due to the power of all of the screens in our lives it seems likely to be more fundamental like the end of western civilization. It’s had a long and largely successful run and now that success has over burdened it.

    We are now one world. That has run head on into the reality of many races, religions, regions, realities, cultures, languages, and the growing disparity between what we collectively know and what on the average we individually know.

    Now is the storm. We will come out of it better or worse off with the risk of it being profoundly so, either way.

    I have no pretense of objectivity. I’m a born again optimist. But I will admit to fear.

    We desperately need effective world government and we demonstrate daily how incapable we are of it.

  24. Betty, answering your question from a couple of days ago re: where I lived in Tennessee. At present I live in Hamilton County, IN. I did live in Knoxville, TN for approximately 4 years where I also spent considerable work related time in Oak Ridge, Gatlinburg, Sevierville, Townsend, and Pigeon Forge which is now ruined, absolutely ruined by the unsightly and godawful touristy trash developments allowed by its Planning and Zoning Board.

  25. Pete,
    “We desperately need effective world government…” With no malice intended, you gotta be speaking in the abstract. Hell, Pete, we can’t even formulate effective State or Federal governments.

  26. During cave days we had only tribal government. Progress since then has moved through local, regional, national, finally the UN as means to settle disputes between more local levels.

    Now a great deal of governance is international and try as it might the UN has never been given any unilateral authority so every dispute is settled by negotiations.

    My point is not that we’ve demonstrated the capability for more, only the need. In America we’re still settling states rights. Apparently now a united Europe is in the process of falling apart.

    So our ability to resolve disputes and reduce “tribal” friction is undoubtedly short of the need to.

    The last major consequence of our shortcomings came when the League of Nations failed to mitigate the world wars. The next failure could be much worse. It’s a toss up between climate change and nuclear war as to what will the future consequences be.

    We act like we’re entitled to success but reality is we’re limited to human frailty.

  27. Greetings BSH. As you mentioned we cannot even form and effective local government that is willing to listen and consider the ideas of the other party. We do not need something more complex as you stated in your opening sentence to Pete. Irvin BAA

  28. You all may be right.

    Given what we know about destroying each other though the inability to govern strikes me as a fatal flaw.

    As an optimist I prefer to have faith that we will figure it out before it’s too late. We made it this far.

  29. Pete,

    “As an optimist I prefer to have faith that we will figure it out before it’s too late. We made it this far.”

    I agree and also feel that there is both enough time, although it is running short, and intelligence participating in this blog to figure it all out before it is too late. There is an answer. But we must be able to face the problem first. And it is not a small one. It’s about CONTEXTUAL INTELLIGENCE.

  30. BSH, thanks for your location info. I was recently in Gatlinburg to view the synchronous fireflies in GSMNP. As a member of GSMA, I am keenly aware of litter/trash (not the developments you mentioned), and I remove/recycle as I go. I stayed in Townsend and also cleaned up after myself,recycling where possible. I grew up in Middle Tennessee and spent most of my work life in West Tennessee, where I find myself at this hour. The heat index is about 106 degrees F. at present.

  31. Marv, I Googled “Contextual Intellience” in order to understand your point better and as I understand it it’s about considering the biggest picture. I am I believe naturally inclined to do that maybe as a reaction to a lifetime of seeing folks bogged down in details.

    Details are important but dysfunctional when they obscure the connections between things.

    For instance I can’t tell you how many online climate science discussions that I have had with people so hung up on the details of energy balance on earth that they miss that the biggest picture tells all. It’s simply impossible to put long lived greenhouse gases into the atmosphere without warming the climate all else being equal.

    Here there is much important discussion of the details of governance but again to me the big picture tells it all.

    Freedom requires democratic strong government.

    Progress comes from innovation and investment.

    Make more money regardless of the impact on others leads to out of control wealth distribution which is inherently unstable.

    Laws are required to limit power (i.e. majorities from imposing on minorities).

    Power corrupts.

    Everyone has and lives their faith.

    The purposes of life are learning and teaching.

    A few simple rules separate progress from chaos.

  32. Betty, West Tennessee is oh so familiar. Let me run through a few of those familiar West TN towns, as in Dover (think KY Lake, Lake Barkley, Land Between the Lakes), Paris, Dresden, McKenzie (annual band camp at Bethel College), Milan, Clarksville (as in Ft Campbell), Puryear (former home of the Cotton Club and Club 641 – lots of beer), Trenton, Martin (Lady Vols Coach Pat Summitt), Union City, Dyersburg, and I’ll stop at Nashville as it’s in Middle TN.

  33. Pete,

    About ten years ago I was introduced to the work of Professor Matthew R. Kutz. He now has a book entitled: “An Emerging Competency for Global Leaders.” It was published in 2008.

    This is an excerpt from the Global Business Review about his book:

    “Organizations and their leaders have a growing pool of stakeholders with a growing chasm between individual stakeholder values. This accompanied by global diversity and constant
    pressure to innovate gives rise to changing contexts. In turn, these phenomena require executives and leaders to respond and adapt to quickly changing contexts. The purpose of this article is to assimilate the concepts of CONTEXT, INTELLIGENCE, INTUITION and EXPERIENCE, and present conceptual model for contextual intelligence. Contextual intelligence involves the ability to recognize and diagnose the plethora of contextual factors inherent in an event or circumstance then intentionally and intuitively adjust behavior in order to exert influence in that context. As a concept, contextual intelligence may help to delineate inherent leadership skills as the intelligence element that keeps so many managers from reaching their leadership potential.”

    (See Sheila’s above post on the failure of “Teaching Tolerance” by the Southern Poverty Law Center and their early partner….. the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) failed to adapt to the change in context from a possible win-win political environment in the early 80’s when they first started to the zero-sum game situation viz a’ vis the Far Right Movement as it accelerated during the Reagan, Bush era during much of the 80’s.

    Any change of direction by the ADL would have jeopardized the aid to Israel by the Reagan Administration. As a matter of fact, George Bush #1 temporarily suspended aid to Israel in an anticipation of a possible change in direction by the ADL. This was done at the end of his administration in the early 90’s. Extreme anti-Semitism isn’t something new. It’s been increasing ever since the election of Ronald Reagan and his close association to the Moral Majority led by the Reverend Jerry Falwell. The ADL wasn’t in a position to do anything about it unless they wanted to risk the aid to Israel. And consequently neither was the SPLC, since they were tied to the ADL. Consequently, we’re now facing a potential “political tsunami of hatred,” the likes of which America has never experienced because of the implied MODUS VIVENDI forced by the Christian Right onto the Anti-Defamation League….support for Israel/however, only with no effective defenses against anti-Semitism in America.)

  34. Pete,

    Back in 2004, I flew to Tampa, Florida in order to meet privately with Professor Edward Tufte at the end of his conference on information design. He is noted, among other things, for explaining what went wrong at NASA that allowed for the Challenger disaster.

    I wanted his opinion after presenting him with the FACTS, which I have outlined above, as to whether or not a TSUNAMI would be an appropriate information design metaphor with respect to the facts presented. His answer was….YES, don’t worry about it. That was over a dozen years ago.


  35. Marv, I suspect that I’m way behind you in analyzing prejudice. The reason may be that I’ve never experienced any consequences of it. I’m part of every advantaged group known to mankind; a white, male, Christian, Protestant, middle class, American, heterosexual, educated, northern, small town, Republican elite. I had nothing to do with any of it but here I am.

    I don’t know if I needed those advantages to be successful but I accept that not having them handicaps others.

    Perhaps my attitude comes from empathy but I can’t say where that came from, it’s just me.

    I feel the pain of others. I would prefer them to feel as I do, that life is basically good and fair. We can all be what we are without penalty of any kind.

    I join others in their right for that but not at anyone’s expense. We are all who we are and that says nothing of who others are. Diversity rules.

    It may be a losing battle but I don’t care. I don’t need to win, I just need to care.

    My grandchildren did this to me. I want them to have what I had, no handicaps. Be free.

  36. Pete,

    “I join others in their right for that but not at anyone’s expense. We are all who we are and that says nothing of who others are. Diversity rules.”

    You’re right again. From a political systemic perspective in America, we have no other choice than for DIVERSITY TO RULE. We have a unique history unlike any other country. To do otherwise is nothing more than eventual national suicide from the likes of a Donald Trump or something even worse??

    To use sailing terminology like my friend Ellen MacGilvra Rosenberg the author of “The Southern Baptists: A Subculture in Transition”…….Now is the time to “come about,” not tomorrow but today, and proceed again on the “right tack.”

  37. Speaking of Brexit,here’s a thoughtful piece from Ian Welsh on the subject:

    An excerpt:

    “The economy is trash if you aren’t connected to the various London money spigots because Britain insisted on de-industrializing.

    So, we have a very large number of people who have done very badly for 40 years. They were given an opportunity to vote against the status quo, and they did so.

    Now, I am going to tell you a very big secret. It’s a secret that the great sages and the sensible people have been telling humanity for thousands of years.

    The secret of living in a good society is leaving no one behind.

    Sshhhhh. Actually, scream it to the wind, because no one will believe you. We think that being assholes and hurting people and making their lives miserable then saying “vote for more of this if you know what’s good for you” is the secret to prosperity.

    A lot of people in Britain won from neoliberal policies. Those people mostly voted to stay in the EU. If those people had insisted on policies which did not leave everyone behind, especially post 2008, then they would not have lost the referendum.

    Now some people will scream “racism”. Well, perhaps, but I return to this simple fact: racism, nativism, fascism and all that nasty shit thrives when large numbers of people are destroyed economically.

    Go read a book on the rise of Hitler. Or Mussolini. Or whoever.

    This is not controversial, or shouldn’t be.”


    William: I believe this could also speak to the US as well….Which should cause one to pause and ask ourselves, Who are we?

Comments are closed.