Happy Birthday, Frank

The Voice - Frank Sinatra

The Voice – Frank Sinatra

December 12th is the 100th year celebration of the birth of the scrawny kid from Hoboken that for all time is known as the Voice.  Ramparts has no intention to achieve some definitive coda to the gift that was Frank Sinatra to the world of song – the event of his centennial birth is bringing forth magnificent tributes that remind all of us the multi decade contribution of a singer that defined music, without ever being able to read a single note of it.  For instance, the don’t you dare miss contribution of Mark Steyn, writer extraordinaire who becomes even more extraordinary when he  focuses his story telling virtuosity to music.  Steyn has spent the past year detailing the wonderful contributions and stories behind Sinatra’s Greatest Hundred Songs(per Steyn).  Pick your own hundred favorite songs. There are hundreds to choose from. Sinatra’s treatments transcend almost anybody else’s  attempt to define the songs, and ring in our memories whenever we think of them.

They are the epic performances of one of music’s most complicated artists, who brought real meaning to the juxtaposition of true professional — and major pain in the rear.  Despite being borne of immigrant surroundings, minimal schooling, and the rawest of vocal training, he proved to be a performance perfectionist with legendary phrasing capabilities and a trinity of voices that included brassy tenor, mellow midrange and vulnerable baritone.  Musicians loved to perform with him and arrangers wanted to interpret with him. Almost no one wanted to cross him.  A smoker, drinker, and carouser, he treated his musical instrument, his magical voice with impudence, and in the late 1940’s nearly destroyed it forever. The gift recovered, however, and the 1950s and 1960s would prove that the vocal changes occasioned by the period of vocal chord failure made for an even more spectacular interpretive vocalization.  Sinatra, doing it his way,

Sinatra was of a time of song interpreters, and he was the best.  He drew out of Ira Gershwin, Sammy Kahn, Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen, and Lorenz Hart and other great lyricists sound images that transformed their best works and raised the lyrics to the level of poetry with his phrasing and word play.  When tied to the great arrangers like Nelson Riddle, Billy May and Gordon Jenkins the music evoked real emotions and life enhancement.  You may not be able to live the life of Sinatra, but he would help you live yours, in brandishing exuberance for life, the pain of loss, the sensual nature of attraction, and the vulnerable sadness of the memories fading away.  The generations of Americans that grew up with him, the adoration Bobby Soxer teenagers of the 40s, the confident young adults of the post WWII America, the on top of the world masculinity of the 60’s, and the chastened and circumspect parents of the 70s all heard in Sinatra the chimes of their own story.

The most powerful memories that define musical Sinatra are the Capitol Record years with a mature Sinatra bringing his own peculiar mix of machismo and vulnerability to a string of albums that flexed between swinging exuberance and the depths of despair. Albums like Come Fly With Me, In the Wee Small Hours, and Nice and Easy. Sinatra knew how to swing better than anyone, and he knew how to breathe better than anyone, and it made both up tempo and extended ballads ring with peerless excellence.  He studied the lyrics and poured over the arrangements until they achieved a synthesis he could be happy with, and given his sense of accomplishment of task was achieved at a level that few could match,  for that, we will always be eternally grateful.

A performer always, he lingered in the 1980s and 1990s beyond what his vocal gift could bear, and the later performances are often gruff and at times, forgettable. But even late in life he could summon up greatness, in the life defining song My Way, or the late hit New York, New York.  In the final years, he might botch a lyric or forget a stanza, but he would pick himself off the mat and become Sinatra for at least one or two songs, and the audiences adored him.

Then again, we are all the sum of our best memories and Sinatra, at his best, made life seem just a little special. The Sinatra of the 1950s and 1960s, at the height of his vocal powers could crackle and sizzle like the ebullient and confident American Century he epitomized, and helped us feel there was a natural order to our optimism.  Given our current funk, Sinatra would  grab us and shake us, until we woke up and got it back together.  Emoting the words of Dean Kay, Sinatra would have set us right…

That’s Life
That’s what all the people say
You’re ridin’ high in April
Shot down in May
But I know I’m gonna change that tune
When I’m right back up on top in June…

Happy Birthday, Frank

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Saving the World : 2 Degrees Celsius

COP 21 - Paris Global Climate Conference 2015 photp : 24heuresactu.com

COP 21 – Paris Global Climate Conference 2015
photo : 24heuresactu.com

The world is meeting in Paris to discuss great threats to world stability and civilization, and it has nothing to do with the ongoing calamity in Syria, or the recent slaughters in Paris or San Bernardino.  The enemy is temperature – specifically rising temperatures – and the red line that the civilized world is willing to stand behind, to marshal all its resources, to form the greatest coalition the world has ever known to defeat the agreed upon greatest threat to the world we have known – is two degrees Celsius.  Climate change in all its described forms has progressively flexed its muscles the last 30 years on the concept of global warming, and the assurance that despite the multiple thousands of periods of global warming intervals in the past, this period of warming is special, human caused, and inexorable.  According to the missal, the world is warming out of proportion to every other climatic period, and the selected point of no return is 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.  The solution is to be government mandated regulation to save us from ourselves, and will require the greatest redistribution of wealth from private individuals to government coffers ever known.

The warmist in chief is the President of the United States, who has determined that the trends in warming are responsible for such defuse events as drought, hurricanes, economic downturns, and even terrorism.

“What we know is that — as human beings are placed under strain, then bad things happen,” Obama told CBS Friday. “And, you know, if you look at world history, whenever people are desperate, when people start lacking food, when people — are not able to make a living or take care of their families — that’s when ideologies arise that are dangerous.” – President Obama

The collected mass of sycophants in Paris will battle the rest of us who wish the world’s destruction by willing the world to accept the settled science.  CO2, the trace gas,  is the underlying satanic culprit having increased measurably over the last 100 years from the high two hundreds to 400 parts per million. CO2 of course is problematic in that it is an essential gas, critical to all living plants securing the means of making sugars through the process of photosynthesis making as byproducts  oxygen and water, essential for all living animals.  It is unfashionable however in that it is created by the greatest discovery for human individualism ever known, the identification of the byproduct of hundreds of millions of years of decaying organic matter forming carbon fuels. Carbon fuels have permitted the capacity of humans to live in hostile environments, develop economic vitality,  achieve individual comfort, create fantastic inventions in transportation, plastics, medicine, and information that have forever changed the world.  What carbon has done that can not be forgiven for, is creating a world of individual choice and initiative, and therefore, variation in outcomes between peoples.  This has proved more potent than any of the egalitarian philosophies meant to defeat individual choice, fascism, communism, and religious totalitarianism.

The final weapon available to the statists is to declare all the usual weapons of freedom, common sense, objective fact, and circumspection inviolate.  Despite the highly questionable sources of temperature measurement and the unfortunate lack of measurable warming over the past 18 years, now cloyingly referred to as the global warming hiatus, the continued alarm demands the painting of a future of sea levels 5 to 7 feet over current, massive droughts and increased weather severity, starvation, and wars.  It is the language of religious revelation, defining man as an original sinner that unless deflected from his sinful course, will invite the coming of the Apocalypse, engaging the end of man.  This was according to the prophet Al Gore, to have happened by 2015, but the prophecy has had to be discarded to a later date, because the climate did not cooperate with the alarmist projections.  So now the red line, the projected timeline is 2050, with the world by changing its entire economic and political conceptualization, will slow the current warming of 0.89 degrees Celsius over the last 100 years under the arbitrary tipping point of 2 degrees Celsius.

The statists came close to grabbing global economic power with the 1995 Kyoto treaty, but the ludicrous goals proved too onerous for established economies, and emerging nations saw it for what it was, a removal of their individual striving and improvement.  Every several years another attempt to own the future presents with massive governmental participation in world conferences, and now we have Paris.  The rational development of strategies for cleaning water, cleaner air, and efficient management of resources is not on the docket.  It is the need to own the future, and President Obama, so visibly deficient in managing every other tidal historical force, will go to the wall to own this future with the other statists who find the present world an untidy caldron of individualism, inequities, and uncontrollable initiative.

The statists never quit, until they own your future, and they will change the narrative until you believe, and finally submit.

Facebook_meme_Global_Cooling_11

 

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Fearing Modernity

The Future meets the Past

The Future meets the Past

Look anywhere around you in today’s unstable world and the strain of inexorable change and the reaction to it is a fundamental tenet of the instability.  This is certainly not a new phenomena but the current neurotic response is in many ways more universal based on the incredible speed by which change decimates in our electronic and global culture.  We are now not so much resistors to change as we are reactionaries.  The reactionary nature I think bleeds out of our superficiality, and our aversion to the hard work associated with being an individually unique soul , accepting the burden of attaching some meaning to our existence. We are unwilling to evaluate change as progressive or regressive based on deeper values, but rather instinctually and aggressively react to the very presence of different interpretations or opinions that would add to or depth of understanding.  We have become scared of our own shadow, because we are no longer interested in understanding how a shadow is formed.

The Industrial Revolution may have created the seeds of our current neuroses.  Prior to the power of industrial magic, distances for thousands of years were consistently understood.  We were limited by the speed of a running man or perhaps the horse he rode upon, the capability of sail across a body of water.  We hunted or grew our own food, or we lost the battle of survival from the lack of sustenance.  The power of steam and eventually the combustion engine however forced enormous change, rapidly reducing distances and placing goods and services into people’s homes without requiring the physical labor or risks associated with producing them.  We could now live and work distances from our survival supplies, in innumerable and creative ways that increased individual initiative and  incentive.  The increased capacities did not come about without a significant disillusionment that ‘old times’ and ‘old ways’ were somehow better, and more human.  Yet the concern about progress was weighed against the value to the individual – more goods were seen as better quality of life for more people, individual achievements were honored as indicative of the human spirit, horrors such as slavery and religious wars seemed anachronistic to a comfort with a ‘modern’ concept as to the primacy of individual thought and expression. With such benefits came the growth of reactionary impulses that feared the potential that one might fall behind progress, or simply be left outside looking in.

The examples as to our neurotic fear of other now expresses itself in many shades across cultures.  its common cord however is the unwillingness to judge ‘other’, not to the extent of its potential benefits to culture, but rather its very existence as a threat to a demand for an accepted normal.  Examples abound.

The concept of political correctness covers a universe of fear of other and the individualism it promotes.  Several decades ago, it was thought that individuals were capable of rationalizing controversial subjects and forming expanded and complex ideas about right and wrong. Television shows promoting such concepts, like All in the Family or Fawlty Towers used comedy to open our controversial prejudices to the light of discussion.  The Wall Street Journal reports that the BBC in today’s world attaches sensibility warnings to shows that may offend, and erases out Basil Fawlty’s more ‘objectionable’ discourse for fear ‘average’ people will be unable to digest the deeper truths.  The article further examines the  response by Yale professor Erika Christakis to an email put out by Yale University Intercultural Affairs Council to urge students to avoid certain Halloween costumes for their offending potential,  to frame an argument that individual expression that may even border on insensitive or obnoxious may actually promote the concept of vetting ideas through open debate.  The very idea that other viewpoints other than the accepted viewpoint by culturally progressive and politically correct councils brought an explosive fury upon the professor with threats of expulsion and violence.  No isolated event,   campuses across the country saw furious efforts to squash any form of speech that deviated from the accepted version of appropriate speech, and demanded the scalps of the identified non-conformists.

The campus thought police that look to stamp out free speech seek to eliminate any avenue for more complex thinking.  ‘Safe zones’ are being set up on campus where individuals can be assured all thinking is communal and reactionary, and the definitions of right and wrong can be uniform, so no one is confronted by change or their righteousness threatened.  Individual thought brings the potential of complexity and even personal growth – in essence threatens change to the status quo.

The fear of change created by individualism is the foundation of the histrionic demand for uniformity regarding supposed anthropogenic global warming.  The science must be accepted as settled, because to develop other theses is contrary to the avoidance of change.  Global warming hysteresis is based upon the concept that current climate is ideal, and any change must be avoided, regardless of cost. The acceptable costs to ‘control’ climate are the destruction of individual initiative, global redistribution of resources, and top down regulation of what qualifies as acceptable behavior.  The need to ignore the realities that carbon dioxide levels have fluctuated long before man was felt to influence them, that temperatures rose and fell over centuries independent of man’ influence, and that different climatizations incentivized different cultures over time is anathema to the elite’s demand for the cessation in climate change. No matter the accumulated resources of the entire globe would be insufficient to affect in minuscule fashion the actual climate of the planet; the very futileness of the effort would speak to its righteousness in the conceptualization of those who seek to destroy individual expression and avoid change.

In its final form, the fear of change that modernity brings through individual capability has lead to an enormously murderous force to avoid change.  The radical Islamist ideal of not even avoiding modernity for themselves,  but instead forcing reactionary concepts from the distant past to somehow revert the world to a previous reality speaks to its neurotic lack of self esteem.   Cloaked in supposed religious piety, the need to force conformance with seventh century concepts of slavery, female servitude, singular belief systems, and totalitarian justice implies a distortion of culture that even the seventh century would have had problems with.  The self actualization that religion provides in allowing an individual a deeper understanding of  a reason for being, is perverted by people who are offended by society’s lack of willingness to accept their own stilted inadequacies and respect for other.  The jihad of radical Islam is not an righteous argument for a life of higher piety.  It is an effort to use religion as an excuse to avoid individual actualization, for the fear that such an actualization would degrade them in God’s eyes, as much as their own.

We are living through a crisis of confidence in our own capacities as thinking beings to build a better world.  Perhaps this was inevitable when the very threats to life itself, starvation, disease, and poverty began to recede, and with them the common threat they presented to us equally.  We have had these crises before, out of which sprung the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment, and the Age of Science to the positive development of the best that we are today.  Change is therefore not to be accepted or rejected, but rather dissected, understood and adjusted  for what it may mean to our own self development and progression as a species.  The current hysterical and violent reactionary nature speaks to our fear of the unknown and our desire to remain constant whatever the consequence.  Modernity is after all eventually only the ancient standard for another time to come.  As Yogi Berra so succinctly stated, the future ain’t what it used to be…”

 

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War Against the West: Paris Joins the Notorious List

Eiffel Tower displays French patriotism after the November 13, 2015 terror attacks

Eiffel Tower displays French patriotism after the November 13, 2015 terror attacks

A coordinated set of carefully drawn out attacks on the night of November 13th, 2015 in Paris, France by Islamic assault troops   resulted in the deaths of 129 and the wounding of 352.  The aggressive reaction of the stunned and aggrieved French nation was to close its borders for the first time since World War II, initiate a international manhunt, declare the event as an act of war, and bomb the assumed headquarters of the marauding ISIS in Syria with multiple bomb strikes.  In other news, the President of the United States reiterated his claim that the terrorist clique claiming responsibility for the attacks was “contained”.

Somebody has lost his mind.

Let’s remind ourselves briefly of the extent of our previous  ‘containment’ of this problem:

September 11, 2001  New York/ Washington DC/ Pennsylvania        2996 deaths                   October 12, 2002      Bali, Indonesia bombing                                        202 deaths                                       October 23, 2002     Moscow Theater hostage massacre                       120 deaths                March 11, 2004         Madrid Train Bombings                                            191 deaths              July 11, 2005             London Train Bombings                                            52 deaths           November 28, 2008  Mumbai  Terrorist Attacks                                    171 deaths         September 11, 2012   Benghazi Consulate  Assault                                   4 deaths                 April 15, 2013               Boston Marathon Bombing                                      3 deaths                July 7, 2015                 Paris Charlie Hebdo Attacks                                   20 deaths

Of course, such a short list leaves out the hundreds of other bombings, near bombings, beheadings, kidnappings, knifings, and shootings that didn’t quite make the list but were every bit as lacking in ‘containment’. It is a world wide war where at least one of the combatants doesn’t feel the least ‘contained’. It has succeeded in carving a caliphate out of Syria and Iraq, weaponized parts of the Sinai, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen.  It sees an enemy willing to perform self containment,  accepting hundreds of thousands of refugees infiltrated by the marauders themselves, passively watching the progression of genosides, focusing on the self immolation on the pyres of global political correctness, and downsizing their defense structures at every turn.  It is almost beyond what any marauding barbarian force could possibly have hoped for.

The French at least have recognized the last outrage for what it is: an act of war in a many year series of war acts.  They have responded with what they once disdained of President Bush – taking the war to the enemy on his home ground, to weaken his ability to project upon your own – but even the French felt constrained.  They dropped 20 bombs on the alleged ISIS headquarters in Syria; the average major raid in WWII dropped ten times that many.  No troops followed to rout the survivors, take territory or put the enemy brigades on the run.  No this was modern western strategy – get mad, get even, then, get lost.  Even that was better than the President of the United States who still feels this is a battle formulated by wackos who don’t want to get with the program, rather than  legions of holy warriors.

The President has perceived that in the long view political victory in the struggle will be achieved by avoiding  physical victory, against an enemy fighting a holy war for whom defeat is simply not an option.  He is of the opinion, that given room, the enemy will come to its senses.  His enemy thinks that whenever room is given, the gift comes with  the invitation to take more room.

On a Friday night in Paris, people went out to enjoy a meal, a soccer match, a concert, and live out the gift of free society. In just a few minutes, the gift was taken forever.  Lighting in color a few buildings in solidarity is a nice touch, but its not going to bring anyone back, or dissuade anyone jihadi from trying a worse cataclysm the next time western civilization lets its guard down.  It would be nice if after all the playing of defense, we played a little offense, and let this clique know their days are numbered.

 

 

 

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# An Unserious Country

"News" on the phone

“News” on the phone

On a recent Ricochet podcast, conversation centered around a commenter’s observation that America had become a fundamentally unserious country.  The specifics of the observation centered upon the current Presidential debates as compared to the content of the 1960 Presidential debate between candidates Nixon and Kennedy.  The essence of the 1960 debate is recalled to have centered upon an in-depth discussion by the candidates regarding America’s role in the world, her security, and whether a potential “missile gap” existed between the United States and the Soviet Union that threatened the uneasy peaceful existence created by the policy concept of mutually assured destruction.  In contrast, the recent presidential candidate debates have focused on  the perceived need for government to regulate fantasy football, whether one candidate considered the other “ugly,”  and what candidates “hated” most.  We are surrounded by burgeoning societal debts, immigrant crises, provocative totalitarian movements, genocides, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and crumbling of value structures without clear vetting of what is to take their place, and we are comfortable with our potential leaders defining each other as a “loser”, “dumb”, ‘ugly” or “lazy” in our search to find people who will have to address the world’s increasingly  complex problems.

Where does such unseriousness come from?  Being oblivious to growing problems is not a new phenomena per se. Each generation’s interpretation of the succeeding one had the patina of derision regarding their ‘seriousness’ in addressing life’s challenges.  The Lost Generation that propelled out of WWI was considered drifting and aimless. The Silent Generation between the wars was self absorbed and capable of superficial frivolity, yet bore what was eventually the Greatest Generation of WWII. Leave it to the greatest among us to have introduced to the world the Baby Boomer Generation  that redefined self absorption for all time. And so forth, through Generation X, the Millennials, and the current Generation Z.

There are many contributors for producing the current brand of unseriousness of the country given the problems faced, but a few rise to the occasion of this brief essay.  First and foremost is the death of civics and geography in the insight of those who would hazard opinions on the formidable problems we face.  The concept of citizenship seems a tired relic of the past, formed from the concept of the dreaded nation state.  A nation state had borders, a shared philosophy of citizen-hood, and a conviction to defend those ideals.  In the case of many of the nation states of the West, the border has become porous cheese, with the unvetted intake of individuals who are looking only to the economic benefits offered by the acceptor nation, with no intention of absorbing its principles of citizenship.  The nation state progressively demands little in the way of preparation of either its immigrants nor its citizens regarding the responsibilities of a citizen in acknowledging the country’s geographic reason for being or foundational principles.  Ask the average citizen the difference between the Bill of Rights and the Constitution and a blank stare emanates. Further emptiness in rationalizing concepts as to how and why the borders developed, why individual states exist, and how resources historically determined the facts on the ground.  What has replaced such concepts is a general globalist vagary that has the depth of a television commercial as to “shared” responsibilities for big ideas like equality of outcome, keeping the oceans and earth safe from humanity, and allowing the equality of all cultural concepts no matter how devastating they may be to the individuals who suffer under them.

Second is the profound self absorption that increasingly dominates public discourse in the form of victimhood.  Born out of legitimate attempts to understand the effects of crime, historical inequities, and the economic forces that determine outcome of opportunity, the discourse has deteriorated into infantile rants that remove all notions of self responsibility and with it the understanding that in a free society an individual can effect control over their own destiny.  The tools of individual improvement, most profoundly the strength of a classical education based on analytic thought, ability to digest and understand complex ideas, and obtaining the knowledge base necessary to eventually expand one’s knowledge has devolved into reducing measures of accountability,  providing education that revolves around victimization not actualization, and denigrating true achievement.

Third is the overwhelming influence of social media, that has reduced complex ideas to bulletin board remarks, dramatically reduced the digestion time on events to discern their deeper meanings and undertones, and elevated the tyranny of public scorn onto every dissenting thought. Take the Facebook promotion of the Hillary Clinton candidacy pictured above. What do we want? – We want a Woman Presidency, We Sure Do. Does it matter what her opinions might be on the issues of the day, her previous performance in leadership positions, her character for addressing the great responsibilities inherent in such a position?   Not So Much.  At a guttural level, social media weaves the superficial emotions that occur at the breathtaking speed of the internet to firm opinions without measured consideration or the value of dissenting opinion.  This has invaded the so called Fourth Estate – the traditional journalism that was structured in the world of freedom of the press and free speech itself to hold leaders accountable for their actions, investigate in depth their process of decision making, and root out those that would take extra-constitutional or dictatorial means for achieving their ends.  In a society that increasingly won’t read and reflect, the headline gains in stature, the edited video stands in for the historical record, and the depth of comment is quickly superseded by the next attention getting superficial event.

And thus so usually defines the collapse of civilizations.  The Roman citizen more interested in the gladiators battling in the Coliseum than the gladiators defending the empire’s borders.  The British King more interested in maintaining his colonies’ obedience than adjusting and modifying his approach to their grievances.  The West has had quite a run, but the mighty battleship hides a rusted infrastructure that is progressively at risk to catastrophic collapse from a well placed shell.  We best get more serious in our approach, or when the vaunted shell comes, we may find ourselves in the middle of a hostile ocean with no lifeboats to be found.  Now that, is down right #serious.

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People We Should Know #28 – Augustin Hadelich

Augustin Hadelich

Augustin Hadelich

Every once in a while, you see something that transports you so much you start to think maybe there is still hope for us homo sapiens.  Everything you thought you knew about hard work, preparation, capability and profound comprehension are shown by someone to exist at a higher plane than you ever thought possible.  That was my concert experience recently watching and listening to Augustin Hadelich perform Beethoven’s D major Violin Concerto with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.  One of those generational talents, Hadelich at a very young age appears to have grasped the dual oracles that are provence of only the greatest of performers, pyrotechnics and poetry, and welded them into an artistic whole.  We are consumed with the apparent demise of glorious, elevated expressions that seem to have faded from western civilization after a 500 year renaissance, and then someone like Augustin Hadelich comes by, and you realize we are going to go forward for a few years more.  That is why Augustin Hadelich is Ramparts People We Should Know #28.

Augustin Hadelich is an immigrant American citizen,  born and raised in Tuscan Italy by German parents.  It may well be that the cultural life forces that are Italy and Germany have infused themselves into a perfect concoction.  Sunny Italy with its romance and poetic view of the beauty of life.  Earnest Germany with its craftsman precision and its teutonic discipline.  Born in 1984, raised on a farm in northern Italy, Augustin showed prodigy talent in a musical family, but it took a catastrophic accident to bookmark a whole new level of genius.  At the age of 15, Hadelich was horribly burned over two thirds of his body, and for almost two years had to give up playing the violin, too painful to contemplate the difficult physical nature of the instrument. Like a Phoenix from the ashes, however, at 17, a completely new artist emerged, and a new direction as well.  Hadelich was accepted to Juillard, the citadel of budding performers, in New York, and trained under acclaimed teacher Joseph Smirnoff.  It was at Juillard that Hadelich credits finding his musical voice in the multiple chamber music opportunities that taught him how to play with an intimate tone, and once married to his prodigious physical gifts, his career has been thereafter on a rocket to stardom.  He won the 2006 Indianaopolis International Competition Gold Medal, the Avery Fisher Prize, and other major perfomance awards. He has already performed with all the leading orchestras in the world.  And when an adjective is looked for to describe his play versus the many other technically skilled artists now perfoming, it is one word -masterly.Augustin Hadelich is a true master in the classic sense of the word.  He can play everything, and he can play everything better than most.

Beethoven created his violin concerto for masters that did not yet exist. the first performance in 1806 of the concerto was not well received.  It was not understood by audiences that were not prepared to have the violin dominate  a piece the way that the piano was achieving at the time.  Beethoven, this most masculine of composers, briefly found himself in unusual territory of doubting his work.  Concerned that such a piece might be too big for the performers, he hastily transposed the concerto instead for piano, but that was even less successful.  It would take 40 years, for the great performers of the 19th century like Paginini and Joachum, to elevate the violin into a performance level like the piano in the minds of audiences, and with such talents, the Beethoven concerto began to soar, and never again was thought of in any way other than the zenith of performance concertos.

The D Major concerto carries the performer through the orchestral composition like no other, defining the melody, then framing it over, through and under the orchestra, emerging at times, like the most intimate of string quartets, singing like a celestial chime above, than at other times pulling the orchestra along with macho warmth and fullness. It  holds for the performer a restrained kind of fiendish difficulty, until the performer is exposed in the cadenza, the famous finale of the first movement, and reminds all of the enormous capacity of the violin instrument, and the technical skill of the performer. Some performers can play lyrically, some can show pyrotechnical brilliance, and some can emote great discipline, but Hadelich can do it all, and do it so effortlessly, that you wonder if this is what the greats in the golden age of classical music sounded like – the Joachims, the Krieslers, the Heifetzes.  Hadelich shines most at the upper range of the violin, that fiendish region at the top of the finger board with the sonic vibrations of notes differ minisculely, and the spaces between them for the fingers to function, even smaller.  The best players in the world can sound harsh and thin in this rarefied play area, toneless and cold. Not for Augustin – the quiet high passages ring like celestial chimes, with the purest of tones at the most pianissamo of play.  He is playing in the music of the other world, and inviting us to briefly to bask in its glory.

We don’t always recognize the Great Masters, but they are still among us. Taking life, and coloring it like a prism, sounding it like the oceans, describing it as one would the angels.  Augustin Hadelich is already a Great Master, and Ramparts People We should Know #28.  Behold – the Music of the Spheres.

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The Obama Doctrine

President Obama meets with his National Security Council

President Obama meets with his National Security Council

The world has become an exceedingly dangerous and unstable place in the seven years that President Barrack Obama has been the steward of American foreign policy.  Certainly some realities as an outgrowth of September 11th, 2001 and the radicalism of Islam subsequent to the Iranian Revolution of 1979 were unpleasant gifts the previous administrations bequeathed to this president, but a substantial number of metastases of instability, chaos, and dramatic violence have sprouted from multiple directions in response to his decisions.  As much as he has been comfortable of blaming every untoward response to American interests as a reaction to President Bush’s aggressive foreign policy, the pattern of Obama as more than just “anti-Bush” is beginning to project as a premeditated decision process, what used to be referred to as a policy philosophy, or a “doctrine”.

Presidents in the modern period have structured their foreign policies behind attempts at consistent interpretations and responses to world events, known as doctrines.  The Truman Doctrine, in response to a post war Soviet Union bent on expanding its rigid grip on eastern Europe and Asia, defined a policy of containment as outlined by George Kennan, that became the benchmark of American foreign policy for the next forty years.  The Carter Doctrine, reacting to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranian Revolution, declared that any effort by foreign powers to attempt to usurp the status quo of the Persian Gulf would be considered in direct conflict with America’s vital national interests and would be met militarily.  The Reagan Doctrine declared the goal of American policy toward the Soviet Union was no longer containment, but rather a comprehensive effort to “roll back” the global influence of the Soviet Union – or as Reagan so presciently described it, “we win, they lose”.  The George W Bush Doctrine grew out of the catastrophe of 9/11 and became a multi-pronged strategy essentially defined as, if necessary,  preemptively attacking enemies of the United States at their root, to prevent the fight being brought to America’s shores.

These doctrines, some successful, some not so successful, at least defined a consistent and articulated  national policy process and understanding of a national interest. But what of the current president?  Is there a discernible American interest in Obama’s seemingly haphazard declarations?

Niall Ferguson, a Professor of History at Harvard and a senior fellow of the Hoover Institute at Stanford, has editorialized on what he believes is the “Real Obama Doctrine”.  A must read, the editorial reflects what one of America’s most astute intellectuals sees as the essential pattern of the “patternless” and seemingly contradictory Obama actions.  Sadly, he concludes all these colossal ‘mis-steps’ are on purpose:

“But what that meant in practice was not entirely clear. Precipitate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq, but a time-limited surge in Afghanistan. A “reset” with Russia, but seeming indifference to Europe. A “pivot” to Asia, but mixed signals to China. And then, in response to the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Libya, complete confusion, the nadir of which was the September 2013 redline fiasco regarding the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons in Syria and Mr. Obama’s declaration that “America is not the global policeman”–..

An approximation of an Obama strategy was revealed in April last year, at the end of a presidential trip to Asia, when White House aides told reporters that the Obama doctrine was “Don’t do stupid sh–.””

Dr. Ferguson sees the Obama Doctrine as much more than threat avoidance.   He now believes the President is driving  a forced re-set of America’s position in the world and a particular desire to create a new balance of power, most particularly in the Middle East.  The Doctrine as Dr. Ferguson sees it is directed by the pre-conceptions of the president himself, with almost no significant intellectual counterweight in the administration in the skill set of policy development.  The president has surrounded himself progressively with fellow lawyers who are predominantly concerned with the process of negotiation rather than reflecting a world view.   That leaves President Obama himself to refine the rationale and his strong opinion of his own intellectual prowess leaves little room for the discussion  alternative scenarios.

The result – has been nothing short of disastrous.  A resurgent Al Qaeda after Obama declared it dead and a even more murderous cousin ISIS after Obama disdained it as “junior varsity”. A catastrophic collapse of nation states in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen. A ruthless Russia that has forced itself back into the position of power broker in the middle East after 50 years as irrelevant and the United States as the definitive arbiter, and has brazenly absorbed the Crimea and thumbed its nose at NATO and the US in creating a proxy war in Ukraine. A China that is aggressively threatening to turn the world’s busiest sea traffic lanes into an internal Chinese sea. And perhaps, most stunningly, the President agreed to a massive infusion of cash and capability into the world’s most aggressive supporter of terrorism, Iran, which has declared its intent to ignore all the supposed agreement Obama crowed about negotiating with it, including ballistic missile and nuclear weapon development.  And ominously, repeated its stated goal to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

The Obama  Doctrine is succeeding beyond even the President’s projections in re-setting America’s position in the world, and the result is calamitous.  For  a President that planned to “stop” America’s addiction to “ceaseless wars”, the doctrine is looking like it will make 2016, the last year of the Obama presidency, at risk for real non-stop global conflict.

It turns out that thinking you are the smartest guy in the room, might just make you the dumbest man on the planet.

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The Battle of Britain

RAF pilots sprint to their planes to attempt to intercept incoming German air attack squadrons in the Battle of Britain 1940

RAF pilots sprint to their planes to attempt to intercept incoming German air attack squadrons in the Battle of Britain 1940

“What General Weygand has called The Battle of France is over. The battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization  Upon it depends our own British life and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of a perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour'”

                                        Winston Churchill  June 18, 1940

75 years ago this month, in a September 17th meeting with his military staff, Adolf Hitler, the dictator of Germany and the conqueror of continental Europe, heard the disparaging news that his air forces were not going to be able to sustain mounting losses and still hope to support a cross channel invasion of Great Britain.  Three days later, unbeknownst to the British, who had months of horrific losses ahead of them in nighttime bombing later referred to as the Blitz, Hitler effectively suspended the initiation of the cross channel invasion, Operation Sea Lion, and in doing so, changed the outcome of history.  The battle of which Churchill so eloquently spoke of  just three short months before, had turned back the greatest war machine ever known through the savvy, will, and courage of perhaps the fewest people one could imagine. 75 years later, it looks like no less a miracle, and ever more important, as we are currently called to summon our will again to combat a marauding evil.

When Churchill spoke to the House of Commons in June 1940, he saw a world where his Britain was the last remaining obstacle to securing Hitler’s stunning successful conquest of the European land mass and the subjugation of the cultures that had determined western civilization for the past five hundred years. The challenge looked immense, if not hopeless, to most, including members of his inner circle.  The United States, Churchill’s hoped for ally that might turn the tide, had no inclination to get involved in a trans ocean struggle and was nowhere near ready to do so, if it had so inclined.   The United States Ambassador Joseph Kennedy saw in the British a dying empire with no hope of  stopping Hitler, and recommended no American support.  The Germans as recently as May had gone through the French million man army in a mere six weeks, and the British had narrowly escaped with the remnants of their forces at Dunkirk in a hastily produced withdrawal that was a victory only in avoiding  disastrous capture or destruction of the entire British expeditionary army. The Soviet Union has earlier made its own pact with Hitler and swept into eastern Poland and Finland, to secure its own land grab, giving Hitler the ability to focus full attention on Britain.

Full attention meant the world’s largest war machine pointed at the nation that had just had it handed to it over the preceding 6 months in Norway, and then France. The only hope lay in the difficulties of achieving a cross channel invasion.  This had not been successfully achieved (without invitation) since 1066, when William the Conqueror defeated Harold at the Battle of Hastings, and William had not had to worry about battleships or airplanes during the crossing.  The Germans initiated the preamble to Sea Lion in July, 1940 , with a massive daily air attack to destroy Britain’s capacity for defense, with the plan’s logic the destruction of the British Royal Air Force, and with it, the last chance to fend off a cross channel invasion fleet.  And so history was joined to the destinies of individual pilots, the German contingent looking to attack, the British looking to eliminate, in a deadly battle of attrition that bound one to exhaust the fighting capacity of the other.  Planes as machinery were difficult to replace, but pilots – able pilots were irreplaceable.  The destiny of a several hundred thousand man invasion force  therefore lay in the hands of several thousand trained pilots on each side, capable of the skills and experience required to marshall the  maneuvers of a modern aircraft.  Each day a massive bombing force from the continent looked to destroy British will, and each time a group of intrepid fighter pilots in Hurricanes and Spitfires looked to drive the Germans into the sea.

A British Anti-Aircraft Gunnery views contrails of battling aircraft over Britain

A British Anti-Aircraft Gunnery views contrails of battling aircraft over Britain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The battle was every bit about individual courage, but it was also about revolutionary tactics.  The Germans were late to the understanding of the significance of radar and a sophisticated forward spotting network. The British airmen did not have the ability to be everywhere, but sophisticated tracking allowed the concept of force magnification by getting fighters from far afield to the appropriate intercept point with uncanny accuracy. The Germans had somewhat more powerful aircraft in straight line speed, but poor fuel capacity to the extent that for the escort fighters, only about ten minutes of dog fight capacity was present before the fighters had to turn to home across the channel, leaving the bombers exposed. The german bombers were instructed to destroy the airfields and planes initially, a task that proved difficult given the ferocity of the resistance and the accuracy of bombing at the time,  That left British industrial capacity for the most part untouched, allowing the capable replacement of the air machinery above loss rate.  Eventually, the German losses mounted and the raids turned to night bombing of civilian areas, bringing horrific casualties on the ground in the tens of thousands.

Milkman Fred Morley delivers milk in London despite the devastation of German bombing raids

Milkman Fred Morley delivers milk in London despite the devastation of German bombing raids

By mid-October, though the ferocity of the bombing was nowhere near done and the Blitz continued until May 1941, when Hitler re-directed his assets east toward Russia, The idea of a successful cross channel invasion was scrapped by the Germans.  The Battle of Britain had resulted in the loss of over 1600 German piloted aircraft, compared to 1400 RAF.  More importantly, it removed the word inevitable to describe the German war machine and proved a democratic people could develop the powerful martial instincts necessary to combat a remorseless leviathan.  As Churchill was to say in words that have become immortal regarding the Battle of Britain participants : “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”  In a war that may have resulted in as much as 25 million military deaths, the sacrifice of less than two thousand airmen may have changed the entire course of the war, and history itself.

75 years is such a time period, that the few that lived through the moment are in no position to teach the current generation of the necessity at times to defend one’s civilization.  No invasion took place of the British Isles, because a determined population believed their view of civilization was worth fighting for, no matter what the odds, and potentially at total cost. Surrender of a way of life and tradition of respect for others was thought less worthy than the loss of one’s life for the chance of preserving such principles.  Mr. Morley, the milkman in the photo above, saw the surrounding devastation as an obstacle to overcome in his call to preserve a civilized society, not a sign that self preservation was called for. Delivering milk to people who needed it, is what was done in a civilized society, and to stop, would to suggest the barbarians had won. And that, was unthinkable.  Civilization once again proved itself to be a bottom-up phenomena, barbarism top down.  The shadows of such distant history show us today that our civilization’s decline will occur only if we as individuals stop caring about our role in civility.  The island of Britain, all alone, against indescribable odds, showed what one could do, if civilization was your cause.  We again to look to Churchill whose words resonate for those of us who see the immensity of the task ahead of us in a time where surrender is all around us – ” You must just KBO!”

Keep Buggering On.

 

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Boehner and the Tea Party Insurrection

Boston Tea Party illustration by Currier

Boston Tea Party
illustration by Currier

Speaker of the House, John Boehner, third in line to the Presidency of the United States, was felled by a procedural dispute.  The dispute unfortunately for him was with a group of congressmen and women he could no longer ignore, or avoid. Maligned and derided, miscast as at best doofuses or at worst racists, the tea party insurrection has quietly gone about its business, and is now progressively shaking the very core of what represents the conservative political movement in this country,   The tea party movement, now just over   six years old, has managed to help win first the House majority for Republicans in 2010, then the Senate majority in 2014, elect political stars such as Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and  Ted Cruz,  take down House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and now, Speaker of the House Boehner.  Not bad for doofuses.

Who are these ‘doofuses’ and what do these ‘doofuses’ want?  The establishment politicians, enamored with their supposedly invincible incumbent status, gold plate retirement plans, and propensity to support the version of democracy that functions as a one party state, the government party, are asking the question much as the British establishment did at the original tea party in Boston Harbor in December, 1773.  It was hard to project in 1773 how such an obscure rebellious act would result in the revolutionary tumult only a few years later. Such is the obscure origin of the current tea party insurrection.  Smoldering for years, as Washington grew progressively larger and larger and more and more tone deaf, the ignition spark occurred when a little known financial reporter for CNBC, Rick Santelli, went on a spontaneous rant on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade, on February 19, 2009. Santelli railed  against the new Obama Administration that was willing to spend billions of stimulus money to secure mortgages that had been given out by many banks to individuals who had no assets to pay for them.  Santelli spoke up for the average person who plays by the rules, takes appropriate risk, and has no one look out for them when fate determines a bad outcome.  Santelli felt something profound had just been broken, the equal opportunity that was at the heart of the American Dream.  Little did he know what his four minutes of rant would start:

Within weeks “tea Party” movements broke out across the country, and a slow steady wild fire began.  Initially formed as Tea “Taxed Enough Already” Party, the movement began to develop unappreciated depth, impressive patience, and significant political acumen.  Early missteps with unprepared candidates such as Christine O’Donnell and Todd Akin were learned from, and the skill and winning ways of the candidates began to take hold.  Scott Brown winning the Senate seat previously ‘owned’ by Teddy Kennedy in deep Blue state Massachusetts,  Scott Walker achieving and then retaining the governorship of Wisconsin despite a furious and vicious effort to defeat him in three elections over four years, and Eric Cantor’s stunning loss to unknown David Brat showed a disciplined and committed movement.  Further earthquakes prior to Boehner  began to show themselves in the summer Presidential process, with establishment favorites Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton loosing traction despite enormous money advantages, and a ‘throw the bums out and make America great again’ demagogue named Trump storming to the top of the polls. The concept of Trump is closely tied to the poor selections of O’Donnell and Akin but can be seen as the temporary weapon the modern movement is using to evidence its displeasure with the status quo and warn everyone what is coming.

Which brings us back to Boehner.  The final straw had nothing to do with taxes per se.  It had everything to do with leadership mistaking their positions are not related to their experience with process, but rather, their grasp of principle.  Boehner committed the ultimate sin in suggesting that an electoral success of 2014 putting Republicans in the position of leadership of both legislative houses, would lead to clear actions thwart the runaway train that is the constitution subverting Obama administration.  Rather than show backbone and take stands that would make clear distinctions of philosophy between republicans and Democrats, the two houses sheepishly folded time and time again, as the President ignored laws and made laws that were never legislated with Obamacare, outsmarted Boehner and McConnell in avoiding any vote on the disastrous Iran agreement that would have at least made all parties responsible for their actions, and finally crumbled into silence on any action on defunding Planned Parenthood’s development as a fetus factory for profit.

The phony tears that are those of Boehner’s supporters suggest that there was little he could do with the numbers in the President’s favor.  For Tea Party proponents, the excuses rang hollow.  They had labored mightily to give Boehner his majority and hence his Speakership.  They saw him much like General McClellan in the Civil War, blaming his lack of action on the forever excuse of not having enough troops or provisions.  Lincoln, much like the tea party finally exhausted by the excuses, was willing to take a chance and absorb some heavy punishments on a considerably non-establishment figure, General Ulysses Grant.  He stated, ” I can’t spare this man- he fights”.  The tea party was not looking for Boehner to win in order to fight, it was looking for him to fight to win.

The tea party has grown into a principled social movement that demands that America return to rules of behavior, limited governmental size, reducing repression on personal freedom, equal opportunity, fiscal sanity, and firm defense of its exceptionalism.  In six short years, it has grown beyond insurrection, into something that is beginning to look like revolution.  Revolutions are unpredictable, but sometimes are necessary to re-orient a lost compass.  One thing is for certain, and John Boehner knows it now if he didn’t before.  The tea party is not the provence of a few raving reporters and political outcasts.  It’s a political movement that’s rocking the world.

 

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Media Democracy

John Kennedy/ Richard Nixon Presidential Debate October 7th, 1960

John Kennedy/ Richard Nixon Presidential Debate
October 7th, 1960

Television was barely a decade old in being available to a substantial cross section of the American public, when it vaulted to the role of ‘decider’ in the nation’s democratic process.  On the night of October 7th, 1960, two politicians vetted their philosophies in front of a large shared real time audience, and television was there to frame for all time our memory of it.  The U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, John Kennedy was seen by viewers as young but capable, prepared, tanned, energetic, and the promising future; the sitting U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon old, cautious, pale, and the establishment past.  The image television perpetrated of Kennedy as clear “winner” was out of keeping with the relative realities of the debate itself.  Heard by millions more Americans on the radio, it was Nixon, not Kennedy, that was felt to project a more measured, prepared,  and in-depth performance.  At 47, Nixon was barely three years older then the ‘young’ Kennedy and had shared with Kennedy the generation’s defining life experience of World War II combat service.  Unbeknownst to most everybody, it was Kennedy, not Nixon, who was sickly and medicated, only still recovering from an Addisonian crisis several years previously.  It was Kennedy, not Nixon, who declared a nonsensical ‘missile gap’ existed between the Soviet Union’s capabilities and that of the United States, ignoring that fact that the US had a several hundreds times more nuclear delivery capacity, but clearly designed to reinforce the vision of the shock of Sputnik in the uninformed audience’s mind.

Kennedy, following the debate, secured public perception as ‘up to’ the job of President with his projection on TV that night, and defeated Nixon in one of the closer elections in US history.  Television, as the new media, found in its discovery of Kennedy’s on screen projection, the definition of ‘telegenic’, and was happy to promote the Camelot myth of a young vibrant President and his family as the new definition of leader.  Camelot sold a lot of television sets.

In the 55 years since that debate, television has ruled supreme as the venue for definition of a politician, and has guarded that role ruthlessly.  Television was adversarial to Lyndon Johnson and particularly Nixon, despite their political success, as they projected poorly on television, and prominently in Nixon’s case, saw the media as the enemy in defining their public perception. The media wanted Reagan to fail, painting him as dangerous and a dullard, but television could not undercut his telegenic presence, that masterfully projected calm, dignity, and humanness.

As television moved into its middle ages as a media force, it has rallied to the need to re-instill the Kennedy magic, first through Bill Clinton, and in a tour de-force, Barrack Obama.   Clinton, who nearly put every viewer into a coma with his 1988 droning, overwrought Democratic National Convention speech, finally achieved telegenic Valhalla wagging his finger at the camera, denying sexcapades in the White House and inventing the political television reality show. Obama preened in front of Greek columns and claimed olympian talents of controlling sea levels and ending division on the strength of his world diversified telegenic projection, echoing Kennedy but with a fraction of the political grasp or respect for process.  Television needed to balloon these two in particular because the threat of the internet to be even more real time and defining than television, was slowly becoming a reality and threat to the force that television played  in defining our discourse.

Unfortunately for television,, the emerging media, the social media through the internet, has loosened television’s tight grip on the narrative.  Progressively,  the internet has screwed severely with the narrative television has been built to project.  The Internet has broken down multiple fortifications television had built around its star child Obama as the global unifier and the smartest man on the planet.  Television media groups were stunned when it positioned Donald Trump for collapse by projecting his most stupid, offensive comments and discovered the more he did it, the more the Internet liked what it heard.  Trump has thus far proved immune to television defining of him, because he has turned out to be the hybrid, fully cognizant of the reality show deterioration of television and the synthesis of the visual with the immediate and emotional qualities of the Internet.

The latest debate of Republican candidates shows television trying to respond to its slipping position as the primary media vehicle to define this nation’s direction.  A large group of diversified, intelligent, and capable conservatives is not exactly what television has in mind when it sees itself as owner and pathfinder for the nation’s consensus.  The debate was designed by CNN to be part reality show and part circus side show.

Republican presidential candidates, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, right, and Donald Trump both speak during the CNN Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, in Simi Valley, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

CNN sponsored Republican Presidential Debate – AP photo

The idea was to develop a bunch of mudslinging matches that would show the nation  the pettiness and vacuousness of the Republican field, and distract from the emerging disaster that is Hillary and her effect on  the virtuous party, the Democrats.  Fox was stunned when 24 million Americans tuned in to see the first debate, and CNN wanted to magnify the Trump celebrity factor to make the irrelevant cable network seem relevant again.  More than 20 million Americans tuned in to see this second debate.  CNN treated them to questions like, ‘Mr Trump says you’re ugly, what do think of him’, ‘Mr. Bush speaks Spanish, shouldn’t he speak English?’ , and ‘ Mr. Paul, Mr. Trump says you don’t belong on this stage, because you only poll at 1%, how do you feel about that?”‘ – among other questions, in this most dangerous and serious of times.  Despite CNN’s best attempts, surprisingly and progressively though,  an actual debate broke out in the second half, and this bright field of candidates began to find its legs and maneuver into serious discussion, directed at the internet generation, more directed, and personal, and deliberative. Stream of consciousness born for Internet discussion started to develop that television struggles with – What do living fetus organ harvests say about our nation’s character? What are the consequences of citizenship?  How does the nation achieve personal highways to  success for the most people?  What are our mechanisms for dealing with a dangerous world?  Progressively, no one missed the visual references as to who is the prettiest, shortest, meanest, or tanned. The celebrity Trump was mollified, quiet, and progressively a non-participant.

Television is in danger of being marginalized into the corner of an internet screen feed, competing with the huge diversity of opinion drivers available. The concept of the nation huddling around the television in the living room is becoming a dated concept in the same way that the newspaper delivered to the door once connected our thoughts. Something that may be quite profound is beginning to project with the lack of message control that once dominated our thoughts through the visual media.  It may turn out that the huge audiences are continuing to tune in to the debates, are doing so not so much to watch as to organize their own thoughts.  The debate the other night, so designed to define our way of thinking, may have initiated our journey back to a more town  hall vetting of ideas, shorter on visual magnetism and longer on the victory of ideas.  Whatever comes after television, an internet nourished democracy built on ideas, not personalities, may not be the worst thing  The Trump personality comet may actually come to represent nadir of visual consensus, fundamentally mis-interpreted.  It may actually be speaking to the final divorce with forced consensus based on visual manipulation.  The Trump factor may be saying, we will form our own opinion, thank you.  And now we will start looking to the pathfinders that can articulate the ideas that we form.  That kind of media democracy might finally put us back on the path to salvation.

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