Thursday, March 29, 2018

Lead, Follow or Get Out Of The Way

Once I worked with a career counselor, who remains a professional contact to this day. She gave me some great advice, considering that I am an academic at heart: “Try to think of work as an anthropology experiment,” she said to me. “Observe the people like you’ve embarked on a field trip, and write down what you see.”
It was the best advice anybody ever gave me, not just about coping with an unpredictable and stressful work environment, but generally about coping with life. If you can observe yourself and write down what you are feeling, or capture it in some other way (for example, drawing or photography or music) then despite your actual lack of control over many things, you perceive yourself as empowered because at the very least your experiences matter, you’re telling your story, and it is your story to tell.
There is a reason they call work “work,” and that is the fact that normally it is stressful. When I first started working in government, at a different agency than I work at right now, I participated in a significant reorganization. Naturally, people were upset about it.
But we had a gifted Chief of Staff. In response to concerns that people would lose out professionally because of the “reorg,” he said, “Do not worry about dividing the pie. The pie gets bigger when you share.”
Supporting the chief of staff was my boss’s boss, the director of communications. He was talking to us in a staff meeting one day, and as I recall he was talking about organizational change. “The train is leaving the station,” he said. “You’ve got to get on the train.”
Now I am the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, my grandmother (may she rest in peace) was at Auschwitz, and so when I hear about “the train leaving the station” some terrible intergenerational trauma is unleashed. So I don’t like that phrase.
But I can relate to “get on the bus,” as in, “the organization is moving in a certain direction, and you can express your views all you want before the decision is made, but once it is made you either have to join up and execute or find another place to work.”
Which brings me to the present day. A few weeks ago, I took an excellent training course where we learned what it means to be a great staff officer. One of the most fundamental things I took away from this course was the importance of supporting a decision once it has been made — whether or not you agree with it. This isn’t to say that you can’t have your opinions, and even share them, but there is a time and a place and limit for everything.
I am the most skeptical, questioning person in the world. But at the end of the day, the team cannot support endless griping and negativity.
“Say what you have to say,” my mother used to say, “and then let’s get on with business.” (OK. What she really says is “cut the s — t.”)
Copyright 2018 by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. All opinions are the author’s own. This post is hereby released into the public domain. Photo via Wikipedia.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Alliance To End All Bulls — t

So somebody posted this quote on Twitter about the false divisions we are currently experiencing in American culture. I don’t know who wrote it, but whoever took a picture of it had screen-shotted the words from Facebook.

In a world where people are now afraid to go on social media and share their views for fear of being blackballed by family and/or friends, blacklisted from work, and possibly even spied on by their television sets, I thought this wish for unity was very well-said. It reflected exactly my own sentiments.
“I’ll lose people by saying it but I believe we all want pretty much the same things. Liberals and conservatives all want a safe and prosperous America. We all want to restore our former greatness. We all want the homeless housed. We all want these nightmare (sic) called mass shootings to stop. We all want to remain free. We all want the world to be a better place. We all want a brighter future. We all want to love and be loved. We all want less hate and anger. ALL WE DISAGREE ON IS HOW TO MAKE THOSE THINGS HAPPEN.”
Below is the screenshot as it appeared on social media.

As it happens I saw another really great sentiment on Twitter today, about the common enemy we do face. The problem is not Republicans or Democrats, but rather it is tyranny, by a group of people who wish to substitute their version of right, wrong and reality for the self-expression of those they simply disagree with:
"The new army to fight against tyranny will be a cross section of humanity lined up to defend free speech & freedom of thought. This army will fight to the death as they realise that without freedom you are already dead. #FreedomOfSpeech"
Again, here is a screenshot of that quote, by @BigBroHeavy.

All profiles can be faked, but here is the person’s self-description, which obviously took some personal effort: “Free speech & Anti hypocrisy advocate. Believer in supremacy of argument but never in supremacy based on colour. Hates false politicians.Free speech & Anti hypocrisy advocate. Believer in supremacy of argument but never in supremacy based on colour. Hates false politicians.”

Their location? “Planet Earth.”

Before I saw these sentiments, over the past few days, I had been feeling somewhat gloomy and hopeless. When will the trials actually begin? What of the corrupt people in power, who always, always, always seem to get away with it?

Why has Washington, D.C. become such a sad place? Why has the world gone quiet?

Sometimes it does truly feel like “the calm before the storm,” almost like a really big war actually is going to break out.

But then I see that people, like flowers, are standing straight and tall and blooming this springtime. They are starting to express their views, maybe anonymously at first, but there is a trend toward putting one’s name out there.

And it isn’t always politically correct, either.

Don’t get me wrong: Most of my friends are progressives. They are D.C. area policy wonks, they have an advanced education, they are reserved and circumspect in forming their views, and they are wedded to the kind of tangible evidence you cannot get when studying deep corruption.

Yet something has changed. Where the very articulation of “gut feeling” was once discarded as inherently ignorant, there is a greater and greater willingness to trust what one senses as some version of the facts — if only because there’s so much fake news around.

It seems to me that we are living through a kind of social wake-up call, that we aren’t getting the news we need to get, and that what was fed to us as fact may just as easily be disinformation.

I believe we have reached a tipping point now. People want some answers, not just because having the answers will be a satisfying thing but also because we are a democracy. One way or another, even if it’s difficult to talk about, we must get those hidden crimes on the table; we must have justice.

The national cry for unity is getting louder and louder.

So too are my prayers, every day.

May God bless and protect our great Nation. May he shelter us from harm and make us turn toward His will. May He give us the strength and courage that we need, the intellectual fortitude and the persistence, to repair what has gone wrong and build on what is right.

May He especially protect the most vulnerable among us, with a fixed gaze upon the children.

Amen, Amen, Amen.

Copyright 2018 by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. This post is hereby released into the public domain. CC0 Creative Commons photo by Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay.

Monday, March 26, 2018

If We Really Cared About Women

Just before I gave birth to my daughters, people would ask me the Big Question: "What do you plan to do when they are born?" 

The implicit meaning of this question was, if I didn't get it the first time, was: "Are you planning to go back to work?" 

Sentence construction frames reality, and in the days of the nascent modern feminist movement, "work" was what we were supposed to want to do, as opposed to "standing around pushing a baby carriage." Of course, "go back to" signified that the the office is our natural place, it's where we came from and where we return to, and home is nothing "real" or valuable.

As a young mother I made the difficult decision to stay at home with the kids, a decision I was fortunate to be able to make. In the park, I was surrounded by nannies of color. It was a rich White neighborhood, and the other mothers were doctors and lawyers; they outsourced the mothering function and everybody told them that this was okay -- even normal. 

Fast forward to a few years ago, and that morning when I woke up from a terrible dream. I called my mother, sweating, and said: "I had a terrible dream that I was standing in a crib, crying hysterically, for the longest time, and nobody showed up to help me."

"Oh, that wasn't a dream," my mother said. "That was a memory."

“What are you talking about?" I said to her, shocked and upset.

"Doctor Spock," she said. "We were supposed to let you cry it out in the crib. Everybody knew that."

Motherhood is socially constructed, but not always in ways that benefit the kids.

I was in Panera yesterday, blankly looking out the window and enjoying my usual cup of coffee, hazelnut with extra half and half. A woman sat next to me with an infant and a toddler, and though I tried not to eavesdrop or even look at them, I couldn't help but enjoy listening to their interaction. "Do you want some soupie?" she kept on saying. "Do you know what we're going to do later today?" Pitter-patter, pitter-patter.

Finally I looked down and to my left and one of her kids was crawling under the table next to me. She looked up and smiled at me happily. This was a mother who loved to be with her kids, and their calm and happy demeanor showed it.

If you get a moment, watch the movie I, Tonya. It's a biographical movie about the skater Tonya Harding, best known for her rivalry with fellow Olympian Nancy Kerrigan. But the movie is not about skating, really; the focus is on Harding: how she was poor, and her mother smacked her upside the head, and how she went on to a boyfriend who did the same, and who ultimately tanked her career. 

All the time she did this, all the time she suffered, the mother refused to express a single bit of emotion for Harding, instead telling her that pushing her, pushing her endlessly to climb out of poverty through a skating career was the equivalent of loving her.

Or see the less-well-known movie Lady Bird, about a teenage girl whose mother says, "my mother was an abusive alcoholic," and as a result the mother can't express any warmth or love for her, only criticize the girl over and over in the hope that she will be motivated to make a real future.

If you want to know why children seem to suddenly go mad, I encourage you to consider the simplest of all explanations: We as a society, as a planet, do not take care of their mothers. We do not encourage staying at home and caring for one's children personally at least through the age of three. We do not talk about the devastating personality disorders that arise from a lack of secure attachment between mother and infant. We do not prioritize, as we used to, the breastfeeding of infants rather than finding ways to circumvent it.

We could find ways, but we don't, to allow women to stay home and be with their children without having the fear that they will end up without a roof over their heads. 

We could find ways, but don't, to ensure that mothers of color are not pulled away from their own children to serve the needs of other, wealthier women.

We do not talk about the sexist attitude that motherhood is essentially replaceable, worthless, and nothing, and that "real success" is represented by rising to become the wealthy CEO of a major corporation, a doctor, a Supreme Court justice, an inventor, etc. etc. etc.

Please don't get me wrong; I am "all in" when it comes to women having the very same encouragement and opportunities as men. But children are more important than adults, we owe them a proper upbringing to the greatest extent possible.

Children belong with their mothers, at least through the tenderest of years. And when we prioritize the self-interest of adults over the legitimate needs of children, what we get is a bunch of psychopaths.

Psychopaths who seemingly cannot stop themselves from getting their hands on guns, and murdering their classmates at random. 
Copyright 2018 by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. All opinions are the author's own. Photo by the author.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Leadership Is Showing "I Am With You"

Whether you are leading a tiny project team, a family, a hospital, a synagogue, a company or a country, you will fail, and fail big-time, if "the people" do not feel and sense and breathe that you are with them always.

On Sunday mornings at 7:30 a.m., on radio station 95.5 in the D.C. area, Pastor Keith Battle has a short radio program called "Weekly Wisdom." And it really is a fountain of wisdom about life, straight from the Bible, delivered by someone who clearly and unashamedly feels for the average human being just trying to struggle through life.

It is not very often that I find myself wanting to write down every single word a speaker says, but Pastor Battle's talk last Sunday was an exception. He spoke of Rahab, and how she was labeled forever for being a prostitute, and how God works through sinners. How we are all sinners, at one point or another. And how the people we callously label as "no good" are the very people He works through to save us.

There are very, very few leaders who have the capacity to make you feel that you are with them. President Trump, in my view, is clearly one. And I recall, having spoken to someone who met her, that Michelle Obama has the same kind of warm, real empathy. This isn't the same thing as charm; it is that feeling that you can sit down and tell the person how you really feel, what your problems are. And they, in their hearts, are with you.

Roseanne Barr has that quality as well. She calls 'em as she sees 'em; she's a tremendous personality, very real, her feelings are larger than life. But what drew me to her on her show, what I saw in her that made me want to watch again and again, was how, beneath her gruff exterior, was overflowing emotion--having a "tough girl" mask made that easier to contain. Charlize Theron, who has made a number of movies I would classify as "real-woman feminist," has that same quality. She is there with you in your ugliness. Like Lena Dunham, she is the kind of friend who holds your hair back when you're sick and throwing up uncontrollably.

What is leadership? It isn't words. Too many people focus on polished vision statements, on having the right thing to say, on buying the type of clothes that help them look the part. Maybe it is some of those things, sure; but it is something else altogether, and very few people have a heart that beats for many people at once, unconditionally, no judgments.

We need more leaders in our world. Maybe they're out there, and it's just too hard for them to step up, what with all the rules, restrictions, and guidelines we have placed on what they can and can't say.

Maybe we should loosen up a bit, and go back to a time when people could just be real.

We need leaders like that. We would all be extremely grateful.

Copyright 2018 by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. All opinions are the author's own. This post is hereby released into the public domain. Stock photo. Photo credit: explorerbob via Pixabay (CC0 Creative Commons).

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

How Comedy Central portrays QAnon

Originally posted on Twitter; lightly edited for typos and readability and to provide some additional commentary.

It should have been titled: "Deplorables: Aren't You Ashamed?"

And in the end, if "they" don't pull it off the air (because it didn't achieve the desired political intent but rather the opposite), this may very well be the moment that the mainstream begins to take seriously the "Drain the Swamp" theme that permeated President Trump's 2016 campaign. 

What follows is a transcription of a March 20, 2018 sketch on Comedy Central's "The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper." It was called "Redpilled: The Storm." Below, the transcription, followed by my "translation," then by personal commentary.
Narrator: "What if I told you the world is not as it seems, that what you think you know is wrong, that Matrix references are still cool?"
Translation: Somebody (not "us") is either crazy, out-of-touch, or stupid.
Narrator: "For conservatives on the Internet, the Matrix is shockingly still cool. You take the blue pill, and the story ends. You take the red pill, and we follow the white rabbit into 'The storm.'"
Translation: Conservatives follow #QAnon. They are either crazy, out of touch, or stupid.
We see words on the screen: "Redpilled: The Storm."

Translation: The words that mean "truth" to many people ("redpilled") actually mean "insanity" to "us," and we are now going to show you just how stupid these people are.
Narrator: "What is 'The storm'? A master conspiracy that's taking the Internet by - well, let's just say it's big."
Translation: These people are only stupid but also totally out of control.

(Also: Whoever wrote this sketch actually used the word "Internet": - out-of-touch "spook?")
Narrator: "Remember Pizzagate, the too-crazy-not-to-be-true conspiracy that started on the Internet but ended with a man shooting up a real pizza parlor with an AR-15?"
Translation: "Hillary keeps sex slaves in the basement of a pizzeria?"

Comments: "AR-15," "shooting up?" Talking points? Also, do you notice the wooden quality of the writing? This is the same problem Hillary had on the campaign trail. All of it sounds like a hideous reptilian, trying to mimic humanity.
Narrator: "The storm is similar, but some experts predict it's poised to have an even more explosive real-world impact."
Comment: The word "explosive" seems odd. Not a comedy word, and the FBI just announced an investigation into Q, based on the word "BOOM" appearing in one of its post, due to a possible connection with the recent and tragic bombings in Austin. Strange. 

Comment #2: Let me also throw in here that I do not consider myself particularly "conservative." I'm not even sure what that means. I do know that "conservative" is a word that certain types of political types use. Hillary cultists, mostly. Who wrote this sketch, and why?
Narrator: "It's already spreading faster than Pizzagate. And it's big. So big, that the main hashtag associated with it (#QAnon) has been tweeted more than 5,000,000 times."
Translation: All these people are stupid, and there's a lot of them. You see how they need our help?
Comment: The real enemy here appears to be people who think for themselves, not a manufactured category called "conservative." Remember: Ivanka and Chelsea were friends; maybe they still are.

Comment #2: I agree with #QAnon's assertion: These people truly are stupid.
Narrator: "Even @seanhannity retweeted a post (note: from @prayingmedic) mentioning #QAnon, the shadowy figure at the center of the storm. And of course, this luminary (screen shows @RealAlexJones) is on board."
Translation: Our political enemies are helping these crazy people.
Here the sketch cuts to @RealAlexJones: 
"A lot of what QAnon has said, I've already gotten separately from my White House sources, my Pentagon sources, and yes, this is happening, the storm is real." (Here, Jones is shown wildly gesticulating.)
Translation: We hate Alex Jones.
Comment: At this I am reminded of Sunday's episode of @TheWalkingDead and Simon's plan to "expunge" the good people left on Earth because they simply would not accept the rule of the bad people. Negan tried to convince them, but they wouldn't bow down.

Comment #2: I am reminded of John Brennan's threat to President Trump (that America will "triumph over you,") and Samantha Powers' threat to listen to Brennan's threat ("not a good idea to piss off John Brennan.")

The abuse dynamic.
Narrator: "Newsweek called it the biggest (fake - here the word fake is shown but not said) news story of 2018."
Translation: Newsweek is real news. Believe real news.
Narrator: "But what is the storm? The thesis is pretty simple."
Comment: See how the word "thesis" is used here? Think about who is writing this.
Narrator: "Robert Mueller isn't investigating Trump at all. In fact, Mueller is working *for* Trump, and his real target is a corrupt cabal of Deep State globalists (here Hillary, Obama and McCain are shown) who he will round up and ship to Guantanamo."
Translation: N/A
Comment: YAY.

Comment #2: It is here that the writers of the sketch have overplayed their hand. They overestimate the extent to which the audience is with them. In fact, they only serve to reaffirm what many ordinary people believe. And they forget that comedy is art: Politics ruins it.

This reminds me of the story of the ancient prophet-for-hire Balaam, who was paid to curse the Jews and instead God turned his mouth so that he winds up blessing us. Hahahahahahahaha.
Narrator: "That series of arrests is referred to as 'The Storm.' And it's coming."
Narrator: "But let's back up. 'The Storm' started one sunny day last October when Trump said this (cuts to @POTUS): 'You guys know what this represents? The calm before the storm.' (reporter asks) 'What storm, Mr. President?' (POTUS replies) 'You'll find out."
Comment: BINGO!
Narrator: "A storm. You heard it. A statement like that had to be significant. He's not the kind of guy who likes being off the cuff." (Cut to @POTUS saying: "I like being off the cuff.")
Translation: You're crazy. And you're stupid too. Do you not watch the news? Of course not.
Narrator: "It had to mean something. And you know who else knew it had to mean something? A mysterious figure called Q, or #QAnon."
Comment: The assumption here is that the President is unaware of, or disconnected from, #QAnon. What is the basis of this assumption?
Narrator: "...who began posting about the storm on anonymous Internet message boards like 4chan and 8chan, the only place to get unfiltered truth and uncensored tentacle horns."
Translation: We control the mainstream media, not these anonymous message boards, so don't read them.
Narrator: "Q claims to be a high level government agent with top secret security clearance. Which makes sense because he has so much time to post on the Internet."
Comment: Two words: Psy Op.

Comment #2: If you've ever struggled to read Q code and felt stupid, this next part is truly funny.
Narrator: "Three weeks after Trump's cryptic 'storm' reference, Q made his first post, predicting that Hillary Clinton would be arrested on October 30, 2017, which definitely happened."
Translation: obviously not, fools
Narrator: "...because followers noticed her orthopedic boot must be covering an ankle monitoring bracelet, and is the only reasonable interpretation of this picture."
Comment: Lots of ankle boots around. Newsweek even covered it. Surprised they missed this one. 
Narrator: "Since that first post in late October, Q has been dropping cryptic clues, called 'crumbs,' almost daily. His legion of followers then collect these 'crumbs.'"
Comment: How do the writers of this sketch know that Q is a man?  Implicit sexism much?
Narrator: "They call themselves 'bakers.' Which makes total sense, because that's what bakers do. They bake cakes from the crumbs of other, staler cakes."
Comment: This sounds like the writing of someone who really studies Q online, but doesn't get it. For example, where's "memefag?"
Narrator: "Most crumbs are questions that invite readers to draw their own conclusions. Take for example this real post, from last month, that I will now read verbatim. 'Think image drop. Think O P. Think United. When does a bird sing? Everything has meaning.' Could be a capital I, or a lower case l, Q. So elegant. So clear."
Comment: LOLOL
Narrator: "You see Q is like Socrates, or someone who doesn't have enough information to make statements."
Translation: obvious.
Comment: See how the humor shifts to anger? Who is speaking here?
Narrator: "Luckily bakers are here to connect the dots. Some theorize that the image drop is Obama's portrait, OP. And United Airlines now flies nonstop to Cuba. It's a commercial airline which evades Deep State leakers."
Comment: We were focused on the weird mockery of a portrait.
Narrator: "Birds sing when they're caged, so Q is telling us that Obama is on United to Gitmo, where he'll confess. It's pretty obvious, if you ask me."
Comment: I don't recall this interpretation of things AT ALL. Do any of you? Was the writer filling in blanks with imagination?

Comment #2: Note that we don't get information, then we're criticized for not having it.
Narrator: "Sure, critics call 'The Storm' a coping mechanism for those who can't accept a world where Trump isn't winning. But I can't accept that."
Translation: Q/QAnon = conservative = Trump = emotionally unbalanced.
Comment: Politicization of psychotherapy. Frightening!
Narrator: "Instead, I prefer the simple, soothing idea at the heart of 'The Storm.'"
Comment: Whoever wrote this underestimates the extent to which #QAnon followers seek to invalidate incorrect statements.
Narrator: "That everything that looks bad for Trump is actually good for Trump."
Comment: This is actually the furthest thing from the objective nature of commentary by President Trump's supporters, who know that he can only be helped through objective feedback.
Narrator: "And while that's the center of the storm, there are even grander ideas living at the fringe. That's right. We haven't even gotten to the fringe yet."
Translation: If you believe this s--t, you're definitely the fringe. The fringe is dangerous.

Comment: That weird smile.
Narrator: "You see the storm is a sort of master conspiracy that connects every conspiracy you already know is true."
Translation: All conspiracy theories are false. (Conspiracy, in this context, means organized crime by public officials.)
Narrator: "The dossier, fake. The Vegas shooting, an inside job. The Deep State, connected to Big Pharma, the Illuminati and, say it with me, the Egyptian Sun God Ra."
Comment: It's interesting how they picked Big Pharma to focus on. Of all things. (And not, for example, Child Protective Services.)
Second figure: "May I interrupt for a moment?" 
Narrator: "Author and journalist Kurt Anderson, what are you doing here? You're not an expert on this!" 
Kurt Anderson: "Well, I kind of am an expert on this, I just published a bk called 'Fantasyland.'"
Comment: Dummies in the crowd, be silent.
"about how these kind of nutty conspiracy theories, and all kinds of magical thinking, really are pretty fundamental to the American character."
Translation:If you're stupid and voted for Donald Trump, it's not your fault, because Americans are naturally stupid. Hillary was just too smart to win.
Narrator: "So you're saying there's nothing more American than a conspiracy theory. We're saying the same thing." 
Anderson: "No, we're not. People can look at the same thing and say hey, that's goofy, that's silly, that's funny. But there are a lot of people, in the millions, who take this kind of thing very seriously. That's where it can get dangerous."
Translation: Independent thinking is BAD.

Comment: The issue is not whether people take conspiracy theories seriously, but rather whether there is a concerted effort to violate the law by certain corrupt people in power, and an accompanying concerted effort to hide or eliminate the evidence of this, along with an attempt to deny this information to the American people so that justice can be done. 
Narrator: "Now it's reached members of Congress and the President, who is really a conspiracy theorist in chief. Birtherism, a conspiracy. Millions of people illegally voting, a conspiracy."
Comment: This line is an attempt to normalize the idea that President Trump is mentally unfit to hold office. Also, no counter-facts are offered.
Narrator: "'The Storm' is just a short hop, skip and jump away from those kinds of thinking."
Translation: People who question the State are a danger to the State and must be rendered harmless.
Narrator: "Conpiracies are heading mainstream. Awesome." 
Anderson: "No. NO NO NO NO NO." 
Narrator: "Begone, Mr. Anderson."
(Sketch ends.)

Comment: The people who control the mainstream media, meaning journalism, journo-entertainment, and Hollywood, have a very powerful voice. (By all means, listen and read whatever you want.)

But the American people are wise. It is up to us to make our voices heard as well. 

Peacefully, legitimately, but loudly.


Copyright 2017 by Dr. Dannielle (Dossy) Blumenthal. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own, as always, and do not represent any other organization, entity, institution or individual. This post is hereby released into the public domain. Screenshot from video of the comedy sketch.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

How Dangerous Is A Snowflake?

If repeating your mistakes is one form of insanity, so too is telling people what they want to hear. Because then the truth becomes a negotiated reality, dependent only on what both parties find safe and protective.

Negotiated reality happens to be the hallmark of marketing: I tell you what you want to hear, you buy my s**t. Branding, in contrast, depends on reality: I tell you the truth, regardless of whether you want to hear it. In return you give me real feedback. And that is how we build trust, and a long-term, “win-win” relationship.

Just a short time after the 2016 U.S. Presidential election had concluded, I went to a local artists’ fair. Everybody had at least one item in their booth designed to hate on President Trump.

Me being me, I went up to a booth populated by three artists: They were transvestites, men dressed as women. (Please note that I don’t particularly care one way or the other how anybody chooses to dress.) I got the attention of one of them and asked, genuinely curious: “Excuse me. I hope you don’t mind my asking, but I am a Trump supporter. Why do you dislike President Trump?”

The answer came back swiftly, mixed with shock and rage: “As a woman, I just don’t feel safe anymore.”

The first thought that came to my mind was this: I don’t think President Trump has anything against transvestites. Here’s the second one: Surely this person knows that they are biologically male, right?

And then I realized: The answer to that question would be no!

Now, I might dress in the traditional clothing of a man (if there can be said to be such a thing anymore, in America). For example, I might get a buzz cut, and wear ugly mustard-colored work boots. At times I might even “feel like a man inside,” whatever that means.

But I would no more present myself to you as a male than I would go to the National Zoo and insist that I am a giraffe. Sadly, however, it has become the social norm to cater to people who are fundamentally disconnected from reality in this way, and to say: “Whatever you think you are, who am I to argue?”

A society dominated by marketing, meaning “lies we tell each other to make each other feel good, and get something in return” is a society deeply at risk from snowflake-hood. In a society of snowflakes, we make it a habit to artificially inflate children’s self-esteem by giving them certificates practically for breathing. We make up academic degrees that have little worth or meaning, providing education in the flimsiest of forms, and in turn consumers rack up credentials that have very little meaning at all. We chastise people for “fat-shaming,” perhaps deciding that no such thing as fat even exists, and we even invent mirrors that make us look fifteen pounds thinner than we are.

In a snowflake world, parents call up employers to negotiate higher salaries for their kids. Employees file complaints because they think they should be promoted much faster than they are, because they believe their work is better than it is, and because any attempt to provide them with genuine feedback is somehow “disrespectful.”

In a snowflake world, we kid ourselves about the state of our economy, believing incorrectly that the more money we print, the more money we actually have. We devise standardized tests, teach to the test, and then equate memorization and canned test-manipulation games with education. We pour millions of dollars into marketing campaigns and tell ourselves they’ll succeed simply because “we did our research, and everybody agreed.” And perhaps most frighteningly, we believe we can take on any enemy out there, simply because we bought equipment and “trained.”

Worse yet, when snowflake culture fails to produce the results it believes it deserves to have, it invents monstrous “others” to explain things. Thus, for example, instead of devising a national communication strategy adequate to address real perceptions on the ground, we instead blame magical “fake news stories by the Russians” for everything and anything under the sun.

Do you want to know what it is about the Russians that scares me? It’s not their capacity to lie; I think everyone has shown that they are pretty good at doing that. Rather, they have their kids rolling around in the freezing cold snow as infants. They also teach their children to use guns responsibly for self-defense. And when anyone so much as tiptoes into anything that could harm their national security, they have no qualms about acknowledging and responding to a threat.

The U.S., because of our snowflake culture — because of our insistence that men use bathrooms labeled for women, because gender is something in our heads and not an actual biological reality that exists — has lost its strategic advantage over time. Only now, with a President that calls it as he sees it (and he may be wrong in what he sees, admittedly), are we starting to restore not just our moral compass but also our literal sociocultural permission to actually describe things as they are, and not as someone’s feelings dictate they should be.

Catering to insecure snowflakes may make everybody feel better in the short term. But those certificates of merit — printed just because you decided to show up to class — won’t be enough to defend us against a determined, dangerous enemy.

Copyright 2018 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. This post is hereby released into the public domain. All opinions are the author’s own. All opinions, as always, are solely the author’s own. Cover photo, by the author, is also released into the public domain.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Staged Narratives, Fake News, and the Coming Angry Mob

"Liberal psy-op agents."

You said it, Slate, not me.

Have you noticed a pattern of late?

A person, or a group, commits a crime that is just in line with what the media's been telling us to think. And the movement that is supposed to "naturally" organize around it...somehow always falls flat. 

Mmmm...doesn't that look good?

Charlottesville was, supposedly, an organic hatefest by neo-Nazis against Jews. But I (a traumatized grandchild of Holocaust survivors) found the scene unconvincing. 

Google "neo-Nazis in America."

Actual Nazis, as opposed to the assembled throng of probably-paid actors in Charlottesville, are diverse in their appearance (whoever staged this event was aping Richard Spencer, who sort of apes Hitler.) Female, not just male. Animated, not drones. 

And, another thing.
If you spend any time actually listening to what White nationalists are saying (I'm not confident that Nazis is the right term), their concern is not at all what they chanted in Charlottesville - "Jews will not replace us."
As far as I can tell, White nationalists simply believe that many Jews are bad, and it's the ideology of political correctness they dispute (as epitomized in the slogan, "it's OK to be White.") A good example of a White nationalist is Paul Nehlen.  If you want to learn more, the New York Times has an excellent article on the distinction between White nationalists and White supremacists.

In any case, if you read anything at all about the current tactics of White nationalists, the focus is on achieving normative status (i.e., elected office). Not carrying tiki torches on a college campus. 

So Charlottesville was staged. And guess who's the governor of Virginia?
Well now, it's Ralph Northam. But before him, during the Charlottesville "riot," it was Terry McAuliffe. Guess who Terry McAuliffe is friends with?

#QAnon tells us to "read the map." 

To a sociologist like me, maps are human networks.

McAuliffe is a friend of Hillary Clinton.

McAuliffe-linked Democrats gave disgraced Andrew McCabe's wife, a political candidate, $675,288 -- while McCabe was investigating her.

And guess what?

"According to the ACLU & reporters covering the rally, the violence escalated due to...intentional lack of police oversight, with the blame aimed squarely at Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe," reported 

"It’s almost as if they wanted us to fight each other.” a counter-protestor reportedly told CNN. 

As a Jew it is incredibly offensive to me that anti-Semites such as Obama, Clinton, and George Soros invoke anti-Semitism to advance their own agendas. In the process, they make people actually hate Jews more -- something, sadly, we do enough of on our own.

Fortunately enough, these rabble-rousers are not all that intelligent. 

Half of my ancestors are Hasidic. 

Maybe all Hasidic Jews look alike to you, but even a 4 year old Hasid can tell that this is just a movie scene (Check out Menashe, a really good film.)

Anyone paying attention can clearly see what they're doing.

Remember Occupy Wall Street? One doesn't know whether to laugh at the stupidity or cry at the obviousness of the display, and at the mockery it made of truly authentic class-based activism.

Speaking of fake movements that exploit actual human problems, who funded Black Lives Matter and what is their aim

Why does it always seem that movements claiming to speak for the Black community, also want to keep Black people in a total victim status?

Why do we have such a vocal anti-gun movement happening right now? Because of a school shooting where guns were needed to go in and stop the shooter. (And they use "Never Again," the Holocaust slogan...which cynical Jewish politician did that?)
Speaking of artificial gun-related activity, is there any truth to the allegation that U.S. government entities, at least at one time, intentionally flooded gang areas with firearms? What would be behind that, if true?

Believe me when I tell you I would rather spend my off-time having fun, than doing this stuff.

But it has become very clear to me: Much corruption is related. That is looks like a random set of colored puzzle pieces is intentional.

The idea is to keep the issues looking isolated, so we're off chasing our tails on this story and that. 

The consumer (for that is what we are) of news is trapped in the Devil's whirlwind. 

Constantly distracted, always confused, always being pulled further and further in.

And if they don't distract you with news stories (cannily aimed to promote the policy of the day), well then of course you have celebrity "news." 

"I just can't watch that viral clapping moment," says Jennifer Garner. "I caaaaaaahhhhn't!"

Meanwhile, the really important questions only get teased at. Why does Mary-Kate Olsen do this kind of double-talk?  "I would never wish my upbringing on anyone... but I wouldn't take it back for the world." 

Why is it that genuine peace-loving public figures always seem to get assassinated?

Why did the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. have to die?

Who does it threaten when all the people want is peace?

Why do the very same people who tell our children to relinquish their God-given right to self-defense, also seem to take the bread out of their mouths so that they can fund a defense contractor's mortgage?

Whose fault is it that Libya has become one giant slave market?
Did you want an answer? Don't ask Obama.

Am I the only person who suspects that Obama's skin color and Hillary's gender were used in a cynical, exploitative fashion? 

To gain the sympathy of the people and prevent genuine dissent? 

To divide the people against each other, with accusations of -isms?

What does a child sex trafficker look like?

Who would make the kind of deals that keep a steady supply of children flowing into the hands of their tormentors?

Who would rather keep you preoccupied, so that you cannot stop and think about your circumstances?

Increasingly, our eyes are being opened to the truth. And it's a horrifying truth at that.

All over the world, women and men are beginning to realize the extent to which they've been victimized. By crimes against their bodies. By crimes against their minds.

A great anger is rising up in the people. An anger that demands satisfaction. We are very, very close to the tipping point. (Note: I do NOT advocate extrajudicial violence.)

The time for justice is upon us now. Especially, justice for child traffickers.

As @POTUS @realDonaldTrump said (10/8/2012): "Got to do something about these missing children grabbed by the perverts. Too many incidents – fast trial, death penalty." 


Copyright 2017 by Dr. Dannielle (Dossy) Blumenthal. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own. This post is hereby released into the public domain. Cover photo by pexels via Pixabay (CC0 Creative Commons).

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Crisis Doesn't Have To Happen

Yesterday I was at D.C.'s Union Station to take the MARC train up to Odenton. It was about 9:30 a.m. -- a major commuting hub, major commuting hours. Should have been calm-yet-busy.

Yet the scene was alarming. Police officers patrolled briskly, all over the place. Police dogs were sniffing at the shoeshine stand by the Amtrak area, along the wall, and through where the passengers were sitting. A small group of people was huddled around the outlets in the corner; the police spoke to them briefly, and then the group broke up. A beautiful young woman in her twenties, a blanket wrapped around her shoulders, walked around blankly. Others ambled about; a pigeon had made its way into the Au Bon Pain and couldn't seem to get out.

I sat down, a little unnerved, and waited for the train to come. I looked up at the TV monitor, expecting to see the news or the weather. Instead, there was a loop of announcements about what to do in case a train or the station was evacuated. There were scenes of people freaking out on the train. Scenes of them walking to a single car to huddle. Scenes of them evacuating Union Station. I saw a woman on the screen, looking up somewhere near the ceiling, helplessly holding onto the handgrip of a wheelchair holding a frightened-looking man.

Clearly, someone is anticipating some kind attack. Nobody wants it to happen. And in an effort to avert disaster as best we humanly can, there is a coordinated effort on the law enforcement side to detect and disrupt any such incident, while giving people upfront the information they need to survive.

This, in my view, is the right kind of government communication. The crisis doesn't have to happen; we can integrate operations and information to ensure that the public is well-equipped to survive, as long as possible, in most foreseeable emergencies. But to achieve this kind of excellence across the board will require a level of unity.

The government must educate people about the real risks that confront them, the real capabilities we must marshal in order to be strong.

And not waste time and money on anything extraneous.


Copyright 2018 by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. All opinions are the author's own. Creative Commons (CC0) photo by lassaffa via Pixabay. This post is hereby released into the public domain.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Making the World Safe for Judith

This morning I woke up with a panic attack.

Because I realized that The Walking Dead presents us with an impossible choice.

Carl represents goodness. He doesn't stand a chance. 
Negan represents evil. Evil will do whatever it takes. In this world, evil often wins.

Negan put my grandmother in Auschwitz.
It is clear that I have intergenerational trauma. 

If I am traumatized, it's because I will never know for sure what happened there.

We weren't allowed to discuss it back then. Her face shook, teeth clacked, hands shook. She testified for Yad Vashem. There is a lot of shame and shrouding around this topic. But then my dad told me what Mengele said to my grandmother.
"You stinkin' Jew, you'll never have kids," he said as she walked out of Auschwitz. There are family stories about how she escaped Nazi assault. In an instant I knew they probably weren't true, no matter what anyone said, even her.

Here's the central question: "How far would you go to protect your family?"
How far would you go to avenge your loved ones' suffering? The suffering that Negan has inflicted on your soul? Rick to Negan, over and over again: "I'm gonna kill you."

This week - Season 8, Episode 11 - Tara decided to kill Dwight, for vengeance. Even though the team needed his help, and she had been told to stand down. She said: "It will make me feel a whole lot better."

Rick is a good man, but you mess with his family and you're dead.

This is what has me so upset inside: We're dealing with people who rape their own children, and then blow the shofar.

We are dealing with people coming forward to say they were raped by Hollywood figures, and when they told their parents, the response was that being in a movie is some kind of badge of honor.

We are dealing with people who are saying that they told the FBI, and the FBI did nothing.

A book called The Science of Evil is an attempt to understand how Nazis think. Why turned Jews into soap and lampshades. Why cut off a lady's hands, only to reattach them in reverse.

Why would you dump living human beings for three hours in a tub of freezing water...just to see what happens?

Simon Baron Cohen shows us two things. * Evil is not limited to the Nazis AT ALL. * It is a clinically demonstrable deficiency of human empathy. Now, here's the question that gave me a panic attack today.

Knowing that evil will always exist (until the Final Redemption): How do we eradicate evil, without descending into evil ourselves?

This is how good people think, like Gandhi: "An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind."

But when we try to deal with bad people nicely, Negans only reproduce.

When we ignore the fact that Negan presents himself as a "Savior," innocent people keep getting hurt. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's brother Yoni led an Israeli rescue operation to save Jewish hostages from certain death in Uganda. In the process he got killed.  (A movie opening this weekend, 7 Days in Entebbe, revisits the original movie.)

Every day, every single day, good people have to ask themselves this: How do we defend Judith, without becoming Negan?
Copyright 2017 by Dr. Dannielle (Dossy) Blumenthal. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own. This post is hereby released into the public domain. Screenshot of The Walking Dead character Judith via  Other screenshots taken from the respective links associated with them in the post.

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