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).

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.

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.

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