Red States & Blue States vs. The United States

All states are diverse in political persuasion, at least to some degree. However, because of our winner-take-all electoral system, pundits like to talk about states being either red or blue.

With the election less than two weeks away now and the polls all indicating that many of the states that went for Bush over Kerry in 2004 are likely to go for Obama over McCain this time around, I think it’s well worth keeping in-mind that the populations of all states are diverse in political persuasion, at least to some degree. However, because of our winner-take-all electoral system, pundits like to talk about states being either red or blue. The truth, however, is that all states turn various shades of purple when one squints a little bit and looks at voting by district.

 

It is my most sincere hope that, when this election is over and the GOP, a consortium of right-wing, angry fringe groups, is left in shambles having to redefine itself before the next election, the politics of division will be set aside in favor of national unity born out of reason, common goals, and diplomacy. Now, I don’t know who originally authored the following — somebody from California no doubt. I hope whoever it is won’t mind that I have included it in this posting. It came to me by e-mail from a dear friend who leans in the same directions I do, politically, morally and spiritually. So, whether it serves to justify your beliefs or challenge them, what follows will hopefully make you laugh — per chance to think as well.

Dear Red States:
If you manage to steal this election too we’ve decided we’re leaving.  We intend to form our own country, and we’re taking the other Blue States with us. In case you aren’t aware, that includes California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and the entire Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.
To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood. We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Ole’ Miss. We get 85% of America’s venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama. We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share. Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22% lower than the Christian Coalition’s, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.
Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we’re going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they’re apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don’t care if you don’t show pictures of their children’s caskets coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq, and hope that the WMDs turn up some day, but we’re not willing to spend more of our resources in Bush’s Quagmire.
With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80% of the country’s fresh water, more than 90% of the pineapple and lettuce, 92% of the nation’s fresh fruit, 95% of America’s quality wines, 90% of all cheese, 90% of the high tech industry, 95% of the corn and soybeans (thanks Iowa!), most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.
With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88% of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92% of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100% of the tornadoes, 90% of the hurricanes, 99% of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100% of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.  We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.
Additionally, 38% of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62% believe life is sacred unless we’re discussing the war, the death penalty or gun laws, 44% say that evolution is only a theory, 53% that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61% believe they are people with higher morals than we lefties.
Peace out,
–Blue States

I invite your comments, whether pro or con

PS ~ If things turn-out as current polling suggests, we’ll not only have the best surfing, but most of the good skiing too!

Published in: on October 25, 2008 at 10:29 am  Comments (1)  

The Birdfeeder Allegory ~ An Example of Viral Disinformation

As we become more and more absolute in our convictions, more and more polarized from and stigmatized by the other half of society, we no longer have minds that are open to facts.


April, 5, 2008 — I recently received an email message from one of my more-conservative thinking friends.  It contained a forwarded story, an allegory really, about birds flocking to free food.  The birds in the story were obviously a metaphor for illegal aliens.  My friend invited me to read the story then respond with what I thought of it. The original message, the one passed-on to me, encouraged recipients to pass the story on to others in chain-letter fashion.

My response to my friend began, “Interesting that you should ask this now, Bobby (not my friend’s real name); I’m teaching a lesson to my economics students tomorrow entitled, ‘Social Goals vs. Market Efficiency’.  Social goals include things like equal justice, quality education for all, gainful employment for all who are able and willing to work, freedom from crime, and security in our old age.  I think I’ll share this story with my students and ask them what they think.”

What follows next is the story as it was originally forwarded to me.

The Birdfeeder

I bought a bird feeder. I hung it on my back porch and filled it with seed. Within a week we had hundreds of birds taking advantage of the continuous flow of free and easily accessible food. But then the birds started building nests in the boards of the patio, above the table, and next to the barbecue.

Then came the poop. It was everywhere: on the patio tile, the chairs, the table…everywhere. Then some of the birds turned mean: They would dive bomb me and try to peck me even though I had fed them out of my own pocket. And others birds were boisterous and loud: They sat on the feeder and squawked and screamed at all hours of the day and night and demanded that I fill it when it got low on food.

After a while, I couldn’t even sit on my own back porch anymore. I took down the bird feeder and in three days the birds were gone. I cleaned up their mess and took down the many nests they had built all over the patio.

Soon, the back yard was like it used to be…quite, serene and no one demanding their rights to a free meal. 

Now let’s see… our government gives out free food, subsidized housing, free medical care, free education and allows anyone born here to be an automatic citizen. Then the illegals came by the tens of thousands. Suddenly our taxes went up to pay for free services; small apartments are housing 5 families: you have to wait 6 hours to be seen by an emergency room doctor: you child’s 2nd grade class is behind other schools because over half the class doesn’t speak English: Corn Flakes now come in a bilingual box; I have to press “one” to hear my bank talk to me in English, and people waving flags other than “Old Glory” are squawking and screaming in the streets, demanding more rights and free liberties. 

Maybe it’s time for the government to take down the bird feeder. 

The rest of the response to my friend read as follows:

“The market can very efficiently make some of us very rich while leaving the majority of us in poverty, or it can raise the standard and quality of life for all.  I know that this sounds like socialism, but that’s an extreme I do not advocate.  Neither do I advocate laissez faire politics wherein the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  No serious student of economics believes in laissez faire anymore; that’s survival of the fittest — jungle rules.  So, we can either invest up front in human capital (head start programs, education, health care, etc.) or we can accept the consequences of higher high school drop-out rates, teen pregnancies, declining economic growth, and growing crime rates in our inner cities.  For me, it all boils down to a choice between near-term investments vs. long-term expenditures.

We are not birds — we are human beings, charged by our common Lord to love one another.”

I did share this story and how it came to my attention with my high school economics class seniors the next day and the next (our school is on a block schedule).  I didn’t lecture them or lead them to any particular conclusion about it.  I just read the story then let them respond and discuss their varying attitudes about it.  A few laughed and indicated that they thought the story was very astute, representing as it were an obvious truth about lazy, unethical people in our society, especially illegal aliens.  About an equal number of students argued that it was an ugly, unfair generali- zation about poor people and that it speaks more to a prevailing attitude of selfishness.  Some said they thought most immigrants, legal and otherwise, have come to America, not for a free ride but for opportunities to better themselves. Most students, however, offered no opinion at all, perhaps fearing criticism from me or from their peers.

In retrospect, I see this story, and the way that it has been circulated, as an example of how political opinion is and has been shaped in this country since the advent of mass communications, especially television and the Internet.  I consider this kind of thing to be Viral Disinformation as it is originated and spread from one individual who is infected with biased, adamant, unreasoned beliefs to many others who share or are susceptible to the same frame of reference.  Not willing to discuss our beliefs and doubts with those who disagree with us, we have become intellectually lazy, taking in, first, “sound bytes” and now “video bytes” ala YouTube from entertainers who bill themselves as being well-informed, experts on any number of different subjects.

In the twenties and early thirties, the sound bytes were from entertainers like Will Rogers.  Today the bits and bytes are coming from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Keith Olbermann on the television, radio, and over the Internet… and from charismatic preachers in places of worship too.  In some cases, this can perhaps be the most virulent source of dis- information.  This kind of thing, according to Susan Jacoby in her book, The Age of American Unreason, is “infotainment.” Rather than reading newspaper editorials – point and counterpoint – as our grandparents used to do, then discussing things with our friends and our neighbors in pubs, schools, parks, and other community places, we sit in air-conditioned homes alone after work and on weekends in front of the television or computer digesting only those sides of things that resonate with us.  We become more and more absolute in our convictions, more and more polarized from and stigmatized by the other half of society.

We no longer have minds that are open to facts.  In fact, if the facts conflict with the dogma we have already adopted, we reject them entirely notwithstanding the majority convictions of intellectuals like our scientists, doctors, and academics – the freethinkers.  We choose to believe instead, whichever politician curries our votes by agreeing to something we consider sacrosanct, like the literal, absolute truth found in the Scriptures, for example.  In this way we become victims to pitfalls of objective thinking: biases, loaded terminology, and the fallacies of composition and causation.

Hmmmm… I wonder if I am not playing into viral disinformation myself by writing and posting this article to The World According to Opa. Let me know what you think by posting a comment.

Published in: on April 5, 2008 at 1:27 pm  Comments (7)  

While Everybody Complains About It

 Earlier this week, a local TV station news program reported on a story about a poor Dallas area widow who collapsed from heat exhaustion while standing in-line to receive a free fan.  She had to be taken to a hospital emergency room.  She survived only because others were near to render aid.

Although tropical storm Erin has brought a temporary respite from the heat that we’ve been feeling here in north-central Texas recently, most of the people in “temperate” zones around the world are still suffering.  People are dying from the heat, even in Europe where the climate has been historically cool and moist for hundreds of years.

No one that I know thinks that it has not been unusually hot — drier in some regions and wetter in others.  But some are still debating the reason for the recent trend.  Is it just a natural cycle of climate ups and downs, or are human activities on earth con- tributing to an ever-worsening problem.  Will the trend reverse itself next year or in ten years regardless of how people choose to live, or could these temperatures be a fortaste of even hotter conditions to come?

Well, while everyone complains about it and many are still arguing whether and what to do about it, enjoy this delightful little cartoon I found on YouTube today in the comfort of your air-conditioned home or office.  As you do, try not to think about those who can’t even afford to own a fan.

Click the play button once to load and a second time to play.

To post a comment, click on the tiny COMMENTS word below.

Published in: on August 17, 2007 at 1:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

How Dare You, Mr. President!

After watching the video of Keith Olbermann’s July 3d call for both the President and Vice President of the United States to resign (I did not catch the original broadcast on MS-NBC) the title for this post immediately came to mind.  It was inspired by dialogue in Tom Clancy’s book and movie, “Clear and Present Danger.”  The danger that I see as being clear and present is not so much from some foreign adversary, certainly not from Iraq or even from al Qaeda, but from within our own democracy, a democracy that has atrophied from years of neglect by it’s own citzens.

The Founding Fathers would be truly saddened to see that we have come so far only to loose our way.  You’ll fully understand what this means after reading Al Gore’s new book, “The Assault on Reason.”

You may not like what Mr. Olbermann had to say last Tuesday evening.  But, after watching the video for yourself, you will almost certainly agree with me that it was journalism the likes of which we have not known since Edward R. Murrow took on Senator Joseph McCarthy on the CBS television news program, See It Now.

(click the run button twice, once to activate and once to view)

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

(Pogo)

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Published in: on July 7, 2007 at 8:24 am  Comments (3)  

Now Who’s the Flip-Flopper?

With time running out as President of the United States, surely Mr. Bush realizes that he has lost all credibility with the vast majority of the American people, to say nothing about the rest of the world. 

These are just a few of the reasons I can think of for the presi- dent’s approval rating to have hit an all-time low of just 34 percent this week:  his refusal to admit and back away from the mistakes he has made in the War on Terrorism; his failed plan to “rescue” Social Security; his No Child Left Behind program; his tax cuts that favor the political donor class over the majority; his confusing MEDICARE plan that benefits industry at the expense of the elderly; his lame excuse for not allowing Americans to buy less-expensive pharmaceuticals from Canada; his plan to give a Dubai-owned company operational control over six major U.S. ports, and; his conspiracy to undermine international scientific consensus on global warming. 

Despite his record of denial and attempts to confuse the facts regarding human-caused climate change, Mr. Bush called for global cooperation to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions last week.  Sig- nificantly, this apparent policy reversal came just days before he will attend the annual meeting of the Group of Eight leading economic nations of the world, where climate change tops the agenda.  But then today, Mr. Bush reportedly dismissed a report from his own Environmental Protection Agency that sided with the world’s environmental scientists (read all about it in the CBS News report).  So… which is it Mr. President?  Do we have a problem or don’t we?  Who’s the flip-flopper now?

Before we let Mr. Bush re-write history in the last few minutes of his eleventh-hour by attempting to turn this ecological disaster into an economic argument for “nonbinding” cooperation between ourselves and the world’s other major polluters, we all deserve to have a good belly laugh about it, don’t you think?  So, enjoy the following video brought to you by YouTube (click the “play” button twice).

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Published in: on June 4, 2007 at 1:42 pm  Comments (3)  

Those Were the Days

Those of you who remember my wife and I doing Edith and Archie skits at our church to promote Missions Team fund raiser events should enjoy this short, little video clip. 

If you don’t happen to worship with us but do live in the Dallas area and would like to see us do similar in the flesh, just let me know.  I’ll make sure that you are invited to the next performace at our church, United Methodist Church of the Disciple in DeSoto, Texas.  In the mean time, enjoy watching this silly couple.  Just click the big arrow once to activate.  The controls should then function properly. 

To post a comment, click on the tine COMMENTS word below.

Published in: on August 17, 2006 at 8:26 pm  Comments (2)  

We Have Met the Enemy

Anybody out there remember Pogo in the Sunday funnies?  It was always a little too sophisticated for me; much of the humor went right over my head.  But, when I saw this movie trailer on   YouTube.com today, I immediately thought about Walt Kelley’s famous comic strip.  What a sage he was.

CLICK THE PLAY ARROW ONCE TO ACTIVATE.  THE CONTROLS FOR THE VIEWER WILL THEN FUNCTION NORMALLY.

  

  

pogo.jpgI did not know until today that Kelley had a book of his best and brightest work published.  I discovered it when goggling the title I chose for this posting.  It was called The Pogo Papers, Copyright 1952-53.  So, if any of my family is reading this, you might want to remember it next time you’re wondering what you can get me for a birthday, Fathers’ Day, or Christmas, that is, if you can find a copy.  It’s a collectable now.

  

The following is from the book’s foreword:

“The publishers of this book, phrenologists of note, have laid hands upon the author’s head and report the following vibrations:

Herein can be found that rare native tree, the Presidential Timber, struck down in mid-sprout by the jawbone of a politician. Pogo returns to the swamp from a couple of political conventions to find his unfinished business being rapidly finished, once and for all, by rough and ready hands.

With that much information you are about as well equipped as anybody to plunge into the still waters of the Okefenokee Swamp, home of the Pogo people. The activities in this present book were spread shamelessly over the past drought-ridden year. Looking back across the fertilizer, small shafts of green can be seen here and there, while off in the distance wisps of smoke denote the harvesters at work.

Some nature lovers may inquire as to the identity of a few creatures here portrayed. On this point field workers are in some dispute.

Specializations and markings of individuals everywhere abound in such profusion that major idiosyncrasies can be properly ascribed to the mass*. Traces of nobility, gentleness and courage persist in all people, do what we will to stamp out the trend. So, too, do those characteristics which are ugly. It is just unfortunate that in the clumsy hands of a cartoonist all traits become ridiculous, leading to a certain amount of self-conscious expostulation and the desire to join battle.

There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blast on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.

Forward!

*Quimby’s Law. (Passed by the Town of Quimby after the Trouble with Harold Porch in 1897)”

Published in: on August 1, 2006 at 9:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Disinformation, It’s Everywhere

One of my sons has asked me to pen a post on how I feel about the news media these days.  Spin by the media has long been a sore spot with him, so here goes.

I too feel violated sometimes, son, especially when the spin runs counter to my own views and persuasions.  But reporters are not the only ones who are guilty of violating our trust.  What about big corporations such as Exxon, Enron, R. J. Reynolds, Worldcom, etc.? What about political action committees?  Indeed, what about our own government?

“But a much more interesting question is what happens to the whole concept of ‘media bias’ in the age of the Internet and globalization,” says Jesse Walker in his article, Trusting the Media, posted on May 16, 2003 to Reason Online. “Today,” he goes on to say, “any literate American with an opinion can publish his views and distribute them widely.  Increasingly successful mainstream outlets (cf. Fox) wear their politics on their sleeves.  And anyone with a computer has instant access to papers from all over the world, laying bare the national prejudices that underlie the ‘objective’ media of each country.”

Personally, I like what Will Rogers had to say about the media: “All I know is just what I read in the newspapers, and that’s an alibi for my ignorance.”  It’s nice to have an excuse.

All wise media consumers should assume that organizations with an agenda, to include the U.S. government and its enemies abroad, spread disinformation, so much so that even fair-minded reporters will not always agree on the facts.  No organization is completely safe from fabulists and plagiarists.  In fact, this paragraph itself is a minimally paraphrased exerpt from Jesse Walker’s article, previously cited. I disguised his words with a few happy-to-glads… still plagiarism.  So, we should all be on the lookout for everyone’s biases, including our own.  You and I, son, are such wise consumers.  Everyone else? Well, they’re biased. 😉

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Published in: on June 30, 2006 at 1:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

It’s a Wonderful List

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If you haven’t discovered it yet, the Washington Post sponsors an excellent on-line source of news, information, commentary, and tasteful (in my humble opinion) advertisements… if it weren’t for all those glitzy pop-ups.  It’s a powerful, professionally published weblog called Slate.  In today’s edition, you will find a posting on the American Film Institutes (AFI) listing of the 100 most inspiring movies of all time.  The posting is entitled, It’s a Wonderful List. Check it out by clicking on the preceding link, and see if you agree with the list.

Personally, although I take exception in some cases to the order of the movies, I found all my favorites on the list except “Gladiator.”  Hmmmm… maybe there’s something weird about me; I’m looking forward to seeing the latest Superman movie too.

You will find the actual AFI list and a discussion on how they came up with it by clicking on a hyperlink you will find the first paragraph of Slate’s article.

😀

Published in: on June 29, 2006 at 4:25 pm  Leave a Comment