Another Perspective

Another Perspective

The Tyranny of Branding

By 12.6.13

Has anyone noticed that your brand has replaced your self?

First impressions have always been important, but became critical to survival when Americans left the farm for the city and needed to get a job from someone they were not related to or friends with. Dale Carnegie cashed in on this demographic shift with his bestselling 1936 book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

The advent of social media, however, seems to have unleashed an obsessive inner need to mark our territory like dogs who stop every five feet to spread their scent, and not just on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

I am no scientist, but I’ve noticed you no longer have to Google people to find out who they are. Just look at the back of their car. It will often tell you not just their political affiliation, a long-standing tradition, but where and how much they spend on vacation, their yearly tuition bills, and their social class.

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The Impenetrable Beltway Bubble

By 12.4.13

I do my fair share of carping about Washington’s “elites,” say, for their free-spending ways or their reckless adventurism abroad. That said, when I speak to family and friends back in the Heartland, I usually dissent from at least some of the common epithets thrown at the inhabitants of the Beltway who claim to govern America. “Stupid,” “dumb,” “idiots,” and sometimes “clueless” are the typical pejoratives used. From my perspective only the last one is accurate. The denizens of Washington may live in an impenetrable bubble, but they are actually quite smart, well educated, top of their class, and… clueless as to what most Americans are thinking and feeling. Poor judgments on the NSA’s snooping and the proposed intervention into Syria are just two recent examples. And the President’s patent falsehoods about letting folks hold onto their existing insurance plans, well, that was not stupidity but outright dishonesty predicated upon the view that the rubes will sit still for anything on offer from their betters in Washington.

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The Pope and Rush Limbaugh

By 12.3.13

You’d have thought the president of the NRA had called for the tarring and feathering of mourning dove hunters! All it took for Pope Francis to bring down on himself the Wrath of Rush Limbaugh last week was to disrespect — or appear to be disrespecting — capitalistic economics, in the context of calling for a new Christian evangelism.

“The worship of the ancient golden calf,” said the pope, “has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose.” Further: “The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase.” There was, to make matters worse, some severe language regarding “trickle-down economics” and that good old Darwinian notion called “survival of the fittest.”

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Nuclear Hide and Seek

By 11.29.13

The world press followed the Kabuki theater of negotiation among the G5+1 and Iran as if it was a traditional “give and take.” But the Iranians had already won the contest before it began. No matter the conclusion of the six month test period, the Persians already have acquired and stored enough weapons-grade nuclear material to arm several missiles. It may not be of the highest destructive concentration, but it can work. And that’s all that’s needed.

The Obama administration, accompanied by its allies, has convinced itself that the Iranians are unable to hide the crucial accumulation of weapons grade uranium. This is a false assumption. The North Koreans had effectively camouflaged their progress and continue to do so. What Pyongyang is now missing is the ability to reliably deliver its weapons on target.

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Kennedy’s Wall

By 11.26.13

Rick Santorum's grandparents had three photographs hanging on a wall in their home when young Rick was growing up: Jesus, the pope, and John F. Kennedy. Back then, Santorum recalled in an October 2011 speech to College of Saint Mary Magdalen students, "Kennedy was an icon." Later, after reading one of Kennedy's speeches, Santorum "almost threw up."

Kennedy's September 1960 address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association "was the beginning of the secular movement of politicians to separate their faith from the public square," Santorum griped. "He threw faith under the bus."

But had the former presidential hopeful read about what came after Kennedy's infamous speech, he would have acknowledged that there were many who were far more gag-worthy than Kennedy.

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Yankee Doodle Came to Town

By 11.25.13

The NSA’s ability to intercept electronic communications worldwide is actually the hope and ambition of every other comparable service around the globe. America’s enemies (overt and otherwise) are many, so it is only logical that the U.S. government would want to have the ability to know everything it can about the communications of those aligned against them. Unfortunately it is impossible to track the bad guys without invading the privacy of others whose countries are used covertly as sites for various aspects of what is most succinctly referred to as bad guy activity logistics: finance, cover, safe havens and weapon supplies, etc. (This means having access to domestic exchanges, though access does not necessarily, an indeed rarely does, mean monitoring—both in legal and functional terms the distinction is essential.) 

It’s a vast job requiring vast resources. Alas, its vastness was never supposed to be public knowledge. One talented but unscrupulous traitor has changed that and given impetus to an explosion of righteous indignation even from the many sister services that had been profiting from shared information.

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