66) Kavanaugh

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-2b594-bcdf5a

The fight for justice…hands stretching, muscles tearing, reaching for the sky- daunting, tempting to surrender, and submit, assuming futility, but people walked on the moon, made a vaccine for malaria, polio, and other diseases.

I contemplate my White Privilege, resenting every remnant of it, and scowl at America’s White Supremacist bigot bullies…oppressing…Native Americans, African Americans, Arabs, Jews, Women, the non-heterosexual, the poor, the vulnerable, the non-Christian, non-Caucasian and it disturbs me, makes me drink my whiskey with a little extra intensity…

I fear that nothing, not a single atrocity, would have moved Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s supporters in the Senate to oppose his confirmation…

The Era of Revolutionary Debate

There are few eras as exceptional and consequential as this one we’re currently living in.

There’s the advents of fire and language, money and democratic government, Aristotle’s laws of identity and non-contradiction, the printing press, the industrial revolution’s sort of destruction of feudalism (though these days the richest 1 percent seem to me like new age lords and nobles, and the niches of the working people– though lacking in their rights to strengthen as official unions– seem like contemporary guilds, and bursting through the caste system of sorts, despite proof of so many so- called “American Dreams” fulfilled can feel impossible when you haven’t done it and the way through seems unwritten)…

…and I wonder, really, since the Civil War, at least from an American perspective, when have we seen a time as radical and revolutionary as this?

When, since the tumult related to World War II have we seen so much global radicalism and revolution?    

Nationalism continues to spread like a global fever (so much so that the March/April 2019 Edition of Foreign Affairs titled the issue “The New Nationalism” and the publication’s editor says Nationalism “has come back with a vengeance” ).

Indeed, it has, from Brexit to the fighting between Israel and Palestine, from Russia’s lust for Crimea and more to “the ascent of strongmen in states such as China, the Philippines and Turkey,” as Jack Snyder puts it in one of those Foreign Affairs articles”

The Global Nationalism trend though is just one piece of a fascinating strand of the intensity throughout the world lately.

Vox reported this weekend that New Zealand “released the first-ever ‘well-being budget’ on May 30.” Happiness is starting to matter more.

The Economist reports that “According to India’s telecoms regulator, subscriptions for mobile-broadband services more than doubled between the end of 2016 and the end of 2018, from 218m to 500m.”

People in severe poverty which once kept them from accessing the internet increasingly are gaining access, especially to make and watch videos.

As of 2017, according to an article by The Verge, “the aggregate time people spend watching videos on YouTube’s home page has grown 20 times larger than what it was three years ago.”

Some people, like Caleb Cain, according to a New York Times feature on the YouTube vlogger,  “f[a]ll asleep to YouTube videos at night.“

The New York Times adds:

With two billion monthly active users uploading more than 500 hours of video every minute, YouTube’s traffic is estimated to be the second highest of any website, behind only Google.com. According to the Pew Research Center, 94 percent of Americans ages 18 to 24 use YouTube, a higher percentage than for any other online service.

With YouTube in the midst of a dramatic rise, forget how this might impact network television. How will  Netflix, Amazon and Hulu compete for viewers in the 18-24 demographic?

Will some of the biggest vlogs become Netflix vlogs? What is this mean for the Maddow-Hannity style political commentary we got used to?

Meanwhile: “Public support for left-wing policymaking has reached a 60-year high,” Vox Reports.

So just like there was a consciousness revolution in the 1960’s from the politics of that decade to the increased depth of Bob Dylan & The Beatles style music, something distinct yet comparable is going on now.

Donald Trump, a former reality TV Star, is president of the United States. He’s the first president without any meaningful experience and he’s on the verge of becoming only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.

To be sure, his attempts to obstruct investigations into his suspicious ties to Russian interference with our elections (mixed with a plethora of other disconcerting , abusive, and criminal acts, including violation of the constitution’s Emoluments clause) make him far  more impeachable and criminal than Clinton’s lie about oral sex. And the law on which President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment was based was ultimately deemed unconstitutional.   

The political response is likewise, historical: as Bloomberg reports: “There are more current and former governors and members of Congress running this year than there were total candidates in any party primary in the last several decades.”

Politico’s David Siders writes in his headline and subtitle:

Trump backlash sparks avalanche of 2020 policy proposals–The sheer multitude of policy proposals is staggering.

He calls it “an unlikely renaissance of ideas” and says “For brooding Democrats, the primary field’s position papers are an emotional refuge — this summer’s dreamy must-reads.”

And those old tried and true conventional ideas such as “electability” which Trump destroyed in the 2016 election (read Bob Woodward’s book Fear for example after example of Republican operatives dismissing Trump, after each of his missteps, as “unelectable” and Stephen Bannon’s consistent rebuttals to them) are undergoing further demolishment as mainstream media darling, the former Vice-President Joe Biden seems to flaunt his aura of unbreakable “electability”  with the utmost cockiness in a way that is shattering support that he might not have lost eight years ago.

Consider the following quotes Politico documented this weekend:

“It’s not just a flip-flop. It’s like a double axel flip-flop, and he’s not even nailing the   landing,” said Democracy for America Chairman Charles Chamberlain, whose group has supported Warren and Sanders in the past.

“Look. He’s running for president,” Marianne Williamson, the self-help author running in the Democratic primary, said of Biden’s changing position on the Hyde Amendment on CNN on Friday. “People came up to him and said you’re really behind the times on this, Joe. You’ve already got a problem with women, all of that, and so he changed his mind.”

And Politico published another article poking more holes in the “electability” concept and demonstrating why we can really now call it– and please excuse my profanity on this one occassion, this would be one of the very few instances in my blogging life where it seems like the appropriate word– bullshit!

[Read the Politco article here: “Why You’re Wrong About the Democratic Primary– the Wild History of Presidential Campaigns Has a Lesson:  Nobody Knows Anything”]

The 1973 Supreme Court Case on Abortion rights, Roe v Wade this year is being systematically and methodically challenged by a number of state legislatures. ABC News says their

News Supreme Court Contributor Kate Shaw, a law professor who regularly writes about reproductive rights, explained the new spate of abortion restrictions, acknowledging that they present an unprecedented attack on one of the country’s most controversial laws.

“Since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, these are absolutely the most extreme laws that have been passed,” Shaw said.

Over 40 prosecutors, including state attorney generals, signed a statement pledging not to prosecute these laws. In other words, we’re in the midst of a major legal faceoff.

What does it mean to live through such an age?

I think it means there’s a special chapter, or maybe even a series of special chapters reserved in the history textbooks of the future which will be taught to posterity. I believe that furthermore this means what how we act in these very particular times will be extremely consequential.

While those of us who are deeply embedded in social media communications and politics are more energized than we’ve been in nearly half a century, and while access to the internet is growing exponentially, especially on already massive sites like YouTube, that doesn’t mean those who live outside our niche, our clique, our Twitterverse if you will, necessarily care.

To illustrate, as someone said to me recently, while the crowds on social media for are calling for Trump’s impeachment, (myself included), that does not necessarily represent the majority or a plurality.

Not that I suggest this is an argument against impeachment and why it’s a losing political move. Rather, I’m thinking of Massachusetts Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren and what she said at the recent MSNBC Town Hall event:

See 10:15-10:54

If most of America isn’t with ya, then you talk about it. You make the arguments and then you listen…you start with what you believe is right then you go out there and fight for it.

My bottom line then is this: however revolutionary the times may be, however liberal the plurality of Americans may be, even if internet access is opening up for the severely poor, Nationalism is on the rise, and there are traps like the U.S. Electoral College, gerrymandering, and a Supreme Court which is a product of those– I mean that the revolutionary fervor is alive and well on both the left and the right from different angles and if we want posterity to look back and say this age- not just of revolution, but of revolutionary debate- was won by those who care about things like…abortion rights, not just internet access as a means to distract the poor from their miseries but to help them grow intellectually and economically, and happiness for as many as possible, those kinds of things…we need to make the most of it.

This is not a time like the mid to late 1990s when things seemed so well and yawning in apathy and lethargy didn’t seem to come at such a cost. Like the democracy of Ancient Greece and Rome, like Aristotle’s discovery of logic there’s a lot we can either embrace or lose for who knows how long under the sand inside some time capsule.

On the People Beyond the Sales Pitches (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary Vlog– Episode #21)

As global/international society sophisticates and deepens its connection through communication technologies and improved alliances I think we ought to reexamine what we mean when we identify with and distinguish ourselves nationally….and beyond the context of laws we are subject to…beyond the jurisdictional context, that is to say.

TRANSCRIPT

I want to talk more about my notion of vlogging and my fascination with the medium.

Like I said yesterday, I care very deeply about preserving records of personal contemplations as a way to better understand the self in relation to society, environment, and time, for both contemporary-social purposes and journalistic-historical purposes.

What does it really mean to know somebody? I mean the person beyond the sales pitch– though not necessarily excluding it for we are, in part, the work we are so passionate about.

Some people can’t relate to my love for commercials and ads. Really, I do enjoy them in many respects. I don’t mind that someone would like my money. I only mind if that’s all someone cares about in his or her interaction with me. So the commercials and ads for those products which are of high quality…I actually find inspiration in that…a find a sense of culture, society, and one where conditions are improving.

Still, there is much to be troubled about with respect to how we approach our productivity, consumerism, materialism, commercialism, capitalism, et cetera.

Think for example of what goes on behind the production of our electrionics. It is not just, for example, Apple, where worker suicide in China has been widely reported over the last decade–  that abuses and exploits its workers. So does Samsung.

From a recent USA Today piece written by  Pham Thi Minh Hang and Joseph DiGangi,

Our organizations explored this hidden story by conducting in-depth, open-ended, confidential interviews with 45 women who work on the assembly lines at two Samsung factories in Vietnam. What we found was shocking.

All the workers we interviewed reported that they experienced episodes of dizziness or fainting at work. High noise levels violated legal limits. After standing at work for 70 to 80 hours a week, they reported pain in their bones, joints, and legs. Not a single worker we interviewed received a copy of her work contract (a violation of Vietnamese labor law).

(And Huawei…well that company is deeply embedded in and subsidized by a totalitarian communist regime in China. So the three titans of the smart phones– they really give us this amazing technology at the expense of extremely unethical practices. )

Bringing this back to knowing a person though…I wonder if there is a relationship between the degree of permissiveness humanity on a global level possesses with respect to the exploitation and harm behind the production of its most cherished technology and possessions, and perhaps the degree to which we really hold back from understanding our humanness, our souls, our senses of self.  

I must report to you, I felt …. Really for the first time since I began this vlog just short of 3 weeks ago,  a bit of insecurity this morning trying to wrap my mind around the sense of my “purpose” in some kind of marketable expression about it. “What the hell am I really doing and why am I doing it?” I wondered. And I worried if I came across to you as either too professional or too unprofessional. Then I though of a vlog I recently watched by a gentleman who goes by the name Daniel DC Becker.

He began a vlog to document his experience with colon cancer. In his vlog about anxiety he opens up about his temptation to delete the vlog he’s making or at least not to share it, bu then he stops himself.

He says “I don’t want to hide this aspect of myself” he says that “feels like giving up. So I’m gonna put this out there. This is me. For better or worse”

I can relate to that. I don’t want to hide my thoughts.

I mean, I don’t feel a need to tell you EVERYTHING. So how does one decide that which one should share? Afterall, privacy too, is a wonderful value– I believe privacy is part of one’s sense of self, that and the choice of keeping this or that private.

But how then do I decide what goes into the private category and what gets placed into the share with humanity category? This of course addresses a wider issue, does it not? That issue of those aspects of ourselves we keep to ourselves. (Some people perhaps could focus on sharing less and can overwhelm us…inundate us with more of themselves than we might want to know but the question of what about others we are curious about I think is another issue)

From my point of view, as of now, I like to share thoughts I believe I have vetted meaningfully…thoughts I feel a degree of confidence about…or rather…opinions I have confidence in…

Maybe judicious sharing of the self as a root in the realm of opinion. That is to say, we have put enough thought in some aspects of ourselves to have some degree of logically, factually supported opinion on it. That;s my theory as of now on the matter. I think it may make some sense and may connect to the social media concept.

Like I said yesterday, vlogging in particular offers a fascinating counter-balance to tweeting (and I should add also, Instagram too). Where vlogging offers more deeply contemplated, thorough, longer winded thought (in theory), the tweet is limited to 280 characters (unless you go live) and on Instagram too.  

So my love for vlogging is necessarily a love more broadly speaking of social media and did I mention earlier to you the irony considering how shy I’ve been for most of life?

Social media speaks as of late to a major frustration in life I’ve only recently discovered an outlet for: a feeling of an immense weight consisting of an abundance of contemplations that felt “off the record” which I wanted on the record. Social media puts it on the record for as long as the social media sites care to preserve that which we publish on their sites.

I also wanted to discuss with you the European Union Parliamentary Elections that conclude today.  Europe is a place I wish I paid more attention to. A place I hope to one day visit. As you may discover is widely reported, key issues relevant to these elections include mass immigration, Islamization, nationalism and populism versus centralized European control (quite like our states rights versus federalism debate).

To me, and you might have noted this from previous vlogs, the stand out issue of interest is the question of nationalism versus centralization…and even more widely, nationalism versus globalism.

A question which has long been on my mind: what is the moral basis for the special distinction of country…of fragmented political entities, regions, et cetera? To be clear, I am not asking what the purpose of GOVERNMENT as such is. That’s an entirely different question.

From an evolutionary perspective, of course, “country” or ‘nation” makes sense. Humanity spread itself out and the question of order and resources loomed.   

But as global/international society sophisticates and deepens its connection through communication technologies and improved alliances I think we ought to reexamine what we mean when we identify with and distinguish ourselves nationally….and beyond the context of laws we are subject to…beyond the jurisdictional context, that is to say.

Ideology and philosophy of course are key as much as economic integration is. Alliances and “unions” like the United States or the European Union speak to certain constitutional and fundamental values and principles that in theory or legal practice are supposed to be shared.

Postmodernism has complicated this. Even if not in fact the actual intention of postmodern philosophers, I think notions of extreme relativism are severely prone to fragmentation and nationalism. Ironically even extreme individualism.

I say this as an individualist myself.

The point is, I believe there is a sort of global philosophical pressure in the realm of identity– the protection of individual autonomy and reconciling that with universal interests.

What compels us to say— this land must be American land…or French, or Chinese, or Kenyan, or Russian, et cetera? And what justifies it? How much less compelled would people be to lean towards nationalism if economic anxiety were no longer an issue? How much of nationalism is directly fueled by economic anxiety and assuaged by tribalism?

I really can’t speak to many of the factors specifically pertaining to Europe because I’m not currently educated in the realm of contemporary European affairs so much. But with Brexit in recent memory it is obvious how much economic anxiety and trade frustrations and the impact mass immigration on available resources is shaking things up in Europe causing more nationalism.

I wonder if…to look at this all as universally as I can…and I think my wife was saying something to this effect to me yesterday upon reflecting on a book she is reading— Blaming the Victim– by William Ryan. She mentioned, when discussing the book… thinking about isolated issues as things which could happen to any of us and so trying to examine things in a universal way and what if then…as we look at the issues that economic anxiety is causing in the world…all of this nationalism and such…we have more conversation about how to fight poverty in general? It is a loaded issue, but…I can tie this all back to what I said at the beginning of this vlog— thinking about people as people as opposed to robots we are detached from who are producing the lovely things we buy in life-crushing, undignified conditions, all for an unfair price. I’ll rest my case for the day.

Public Comment is a personal journal vlog where I share my free thoughts on politics, culture, and self.

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at 
https://twitter.com/sopubliccomment 


On Globalism & a Cosmopolitan, Secular, One State Solution for Israel & Palestine (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #15)

TRANSCRIPT:

So, yesterday the New York Times reported that the Trump administration announced they’re going to hold an “economic workshop” in Bahrain hoping that their contribution to an improved Palestinian economy will lead to a friendlier approach to Israel. Meanwhile, the Trump administration appears to lean towards a pro-Israel one-state solution, as President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is on record saying “let’s just not say” ‘two states’ (God forbid– and no pun intended)

This unreasonableness here, and the bias is blatant.  Not that I’m in love with a so called “two state solution.” I have many reservations about this. But my opposition to a “two state solution” is of the unconventional sort.

I do understand a case for cynicism that Israel and the Palestinians could ever live in a secular and cosmopolitan democracy. The recent violence in Gaza– the worst breakout of violence in 5 years, as has been widely reported– is ample proof that both sides of this conflict are deep in the thickness of zealous, indignant nationalism.

But that is the root of the problem– nationalism! Thus, a two state solution is at best a temporary band aid– a cheap one, ready to fall off the first time you wash your hands at that–  since it does not address this notion that the Israelis and Palestinians simply can’t co-exist as people beyond ethnicity, beyond “nation,” beyond race, and beyond religion, in a spirit of tolerance and real representative democracy.

Still, that being said, if there is to be a “Jewish” Israeli state, I think it would only be fair that there be a Palestinian state. But I must reiterate, logically, this is not a good long term plan!

And frankly, this whole “nationalism” thing is becoming a real serious global problem which the Trump administration is only adding to. I believe we need to start re-examining a cosmopolitan and globalist philosophy.

Just like states in a union can be “laboratories for democracy” as the expression goes– why can’t countries be seen as such ultimately? We’re all humans and our anxieties over resources will only get more complicated.

And what does that look like?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the media industry, and even education and academia, and what the internet means for it in the longer term as things have been evolving over the last decade or so. For example, what does it mean now that podcasts and smaller internet media organizations, whether through social media or cheap apps are emerging? With the means for them to develop getting cheaper and their willingness to produce without making much money persisting, more and more people are gaining access to information for free.

There are a lot of benefits to this—more people are self actualizing, expressing themselves, developing the sophistication of their productivity, but media and academia as we know it are also, it seems, hemorrhaging.

No, I’m not worried about Amazon, Jeff Bezos, Comcast, NBC, or Netflix overall. But there is a massive economic shakeup going on. And it’s not just the way information and technology are shaking up academia and the media.

And how does China’s Huawei innovation of a 5G network play into this? Frankly, considering how we know they don’t believe in free speech, and imprison millions of Uighurs in the North Western Province of China— Xinjiang for being Muslims … as they buy more cellphone parts from US companies — could they manage to shake up so called American values in such a way that those benefiting from Chinese subsidized technology ultimately choose to preserve their way of life — I mean their money and business regardless of  any bad intentions China might have with the use of its marvelous technology? Don’t doubt it…we’ve seen how money and power corrupted a nationalistic Trump coalition GOP.

What’s my point? Wouldn’t Chinese influence over a nationalistic U.S. agenda lead to more globalism? Would it? Or could it lead to complex cyber conflicts playing on our economic anxieties, and vulnerabilities exacerbated by competing nationalistic drives?  

It’s one thing to talk about nationalism versus globalism in the abstract. That will only get us so far. We need to be more assertive and start talking about anti-nationalistic policies, like calling for more aggressive cooperation between the Palestinians and the Israelis with the end game ultimately being a secular, cosmopolitan one state solution.

#4 Balance in Life; Globalism; Economic Anxiety

Greetings! Today, I look beyond politics (though not quite away from it… [can I ever, really?])… to speak with you as honestly and intimately as I can about what it means to me to find a balance between practicality/responsibility and also seeking self-fulfillment/self actualization. In other words, I am thinking a lot about what my “sense of purpose” is…how to be the “change [I ]want to see in the world.

My mother has liked to say in the past that she believes I have the “gift of gab.” I like to talk. That is the whole reason behind why I write in fact. Though one frustration I find with my writing is, as a result severe perfectionism, it takes me a long time to finish writing projects, so extemporaneous speaking enables me to try and balance a sense of trying to speak constructively without spending many, many months just to say one thing.

Also in this blog, I talk about immigration, the violence between Hamas and Israel, globalism versus nationalism, and I reflect on our changing economy.