Gridlock: GOP Healthcare Repeal; Foodstamps Reduction; Homelessness; Crippling Poverty, Poor Roads-Old Bridges and Falling Infrastructure: Whither USA?
Emerging Gadgets and Concepts: Undergirded Gridlock
There is an extensive array or variety of internet appliances that are being spawned and added to the host of other technologies that have come up in the last twenty or so years to date. It is very important and fascinating to see the profusion of all these gadgets, and their enhanced uses and technical feats and interconnectivity.
It is also important to know what it is they do and how they do it. Added to this, is the most important fact that they are altering, changing, pacifying determining and redirecting how we network, talk, behave, plan, asses, learn, think and perceive and receive the world through these gadgets, and how we are affected and effected.
Internet appliances, for example, are tasked to function on specific devices containing embedded computers and connectivity to the Internet. They trade the functional generality and computational power of desktop computers for low cost and ease of use. The term, Internet Appliances, Applies to a range of products-from low-cost general purpose network computers to cell phones and microwave. These include:
PDA: A hand held device that communicates via two-way wireless networks. This personal digital assistance promises to organize the information we use everyday: phone numbers, appointments, lists, addresses, etc.
Web Terminal & Virtual JAVA Machine: A desktop device optimized for browsing the Web and executing load-on-demand JAVA programs. Similar to diskless workstation.
ISDN Video Phone: A desktop device primarily intended for making video phone calls, but also allowing the recording and retrieval of video messages and clips. Voice mail will be replaced by video mail.
Internet-enabled Equipment & Appliance: Ovens, VCRs,Video Cameras. Automobiles(dashboard & internal monitoring), and HVAC are just a few examples.
Here are some of the advances that have taken effect thus far:
VCRs have now become remote webcams; Microwave Ovens are now somewhat remotely programmed to cook dinner; Smoke/Intruder Alarm check on your home while your out of town; Automobiles today are designed to allow your mechanic to check out the engine while you are using it; Cellular Communications Device allow one to browse the web using your cell phone; Network computer lowered total cost of computer ownership; Pacemaker/heart monitor will allow medical technicians to adjust your pacemaker/heart monitor whilst you have it on you.
These emerging technology are going coming out with 'desktop applications built with easy to use solutions', will be able to 'give access to your enterprise information from your desk and through the world', make easy to 'remote' data collection; enable dynamic communication across your organization and Wireless connectivity; and, increase your ROI by investing in the latest technology; RFID (real Time Supply Chain), Barcode capture/AIT and Wireless Technology.
These services - Workstations, Web Apps, Mobile Devices and Emerging Technologies are integrated to improve our Organizations Information Technology(IT)..In the process of our consuming and utilizing these new and emerging technology they alter and change our behavior, thinking, organization and knowledge in the way they afford us access, speed, efficiency and in the process we acquire new ways of seeing, learning behaving and thinking and talking…
From convergence to virtualization, form narrow casting to ultra high speed broadband connections, the information technology industry and the profusion of technological gadgets is in constant change. These emerging technologies scan the horizon to help its users adapt to changing technology and go through with ease in understanding the ambiguous regulatory environment.
These new technologies use Computer Vision technology which enable new Touch light applications in gesture UI, video conferencing. The incoming new generation of cell phones have a bigger screen and a portable pad for pone button. These phones are called 'Fastap'-enabled equipped with a new user interface, Bluetooth, a Megapixel camera, and a micro SD card slot. It has slick buttons and a variable voice quality; meanwhile it offers innovative Celltop application; Wireless Interface: conference capabilities; Internal Antenna; caller ID; Speakerphone; Short messaging Service; Internet Browser.
The description of the cell phone above is not a sales pitch, but a concise listing of what these gizmos are packaged like and with what features and their network offerings and connectivity. What they have is their ability to increase out dependence, thinking, behavior, communication, networking and learning.
It is important to appreciate what these emerging technologies are designed like and crafted to do. They miniaturize our lives into a gadget that covers all the areas we would have had to try to cover in a myriad activities into one gadget. This gadget is technological in nature and it extends us in all sorts of direction and immerses us into the Electrical Computerized Cyber world and lifestyles.
Then there are people like Steven Woods says that : "We want to reduce the Computer's stranglehold on cognitive processing by embedding it and making it work more and ore like the natural environment. It is too much of a technological device now, and we haven't had the technology to truly integrate a high resolution display in artifacts that have organic shapes: Carved, flexible and textile,like you coffee mug."
A Queens Computing Professor Roel Bertegaal, who is now developing prototypes of these "non-planar" devices, in an article titles "New Computers change shape, Respond to Touch" says: says:"Not only will they take on flexible forms we've never imagined — like pop cans with browsers displaying RSS feeds and movie trailers — computers of the future will respond to our direct touch and even change their own shape to better accommodate data, for example, folding lie a piece of paper to be tucked into our pockets."
Dr. Vertegaal further states: "What we are talking about here is nothing short of a revolution for human-computer interaction." He compares our current use of flat, rectangular to the 19 century satiric novel. Flatland. A romance of Many Dimensions, about people who live only two dimensions and are narrow minded. He say and suggests that: "I think that computers are very much like that today.
"You are essentially looking at a tiny tunnel into a flat online world, and that causes people to think in a two dimensional way. 'Flatland' interfaces are incredibly limited compared to natural 3D ones." Some of the projects carried out by the Queens University's Human Media Lab have in June of this year "hacked together a controller for a Phillips 'lumative shirt'.
"The controller uses a solenoid acuator controlled by an Arduino board. Inputs are capacitive touch sensors connected to conductive fabric sewn into the shoulders of the shirt. By touching the left or right shoulder,friends can operate a back and forward image browser on your T-shirt. We believe that this to be the world's first truly interactive T-Shirt."
Steve Baker says that: "People put out personal data every time they click on a website, change the RV channel, shop, or talk on the pone. In his book, 'The Numerati,' Baker explores ways mathematicians and computer scientists are using information to predict- and possibly manipulate consumer behavior." He offered some 10 technological developments that will hit mainstream:
1. Magic carpet:
Researchers at Intel Corp. have come up with linoleum kitchen tiles wired with weigh sensors connected by radio signals to the Internet. They can measure not only the weight of people going about their business in the kitchen, but they can also determine the length of their strides and distribution of their weight. They are also designed to monitor elderly people, and send alerts if increased wavering signals the risk of a fall.
Is there a lot of action in your neighborhood at 3 a.m.? Sense Network's Citysense allows users to look at cellphone usage patterns to gauge the flow of foot traffic in a city. What's more, by studying urban movements, Sense can sort users into behavioral "tribes" — people who follow similar patterns, from neighborhoods to night clubs. So, if the dots congregating down the street are red or blue, it might be lively — but not for your tribe.
3. Face recognition
It's been a sci-fi standard for generations — show the photo of a face to a machine, and it comes up with a name. Digital spies, of course, would love to use such technology to identify every face in airpots. That's still far away, But for hobbyists, simple face recognition will help sort out who's who in the family photo. Google's Picasa is already offering a version of this technology. New beards must cause problems. And forget about twins.
4. Supermarket smart carts
A decade after failed attempts to computerize shopping, supermarket chains in the United States, Germany and South Korea are rolling out new smart carts. The idea: Shoppers swipe their loyalty cards and a suggested shopping list pops up on the screen, based on their historical patterns. If this works, markets could offer shoppers customized discounts. The challenge will be to convince shoppers that sharing this data is worth the benefits — and that this trove of information won't be sold to marketers elsewhere.
5. Nano-wired helmets
The Pentagon is experimenting with helmets wired with nano-sensors. The idea: if a soldier is wounded, first responders will be able to download details of the impact — and it's likely consequences — as soon as they arrive on the scene. How long before this technology moves into football helmets.
Newscred is a site that tracks and analyzes the credibility of news organizations and blogs — as ranked by readers. Fine, you might say. But what if readers on right and left trash the reputations of media they don't agree with? Newscred has to adjust its algorithms for such behavior.
7. Travel-time maps
Why measure miles? New cartographers at Google and elsewhere will be cooking up new generations of maps that combine a variety of data. A site called Information Aesthetics in London compares housing prices to travel time and driving to public transportation One glance at that kind of map, and you may see that you are farther from work than you thought.
8. Dragon Runner 'ThrowBot'
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are laboratories for a new generation of robots, including the "ThrowBot," a cheap 8-pound unit that rolls around dangerous territory, capturing information Look for these data-sweepers to show up in American cities, maybe in sports stadiums. They're the four-wheeled emissaries of the surveillance society.
9. Compulsion TV
Imagine a TV that allows you to click on an image — a woman's bracelet, her sweater, her shoes — to reach the item's e-commerce site. This is Internet marketing brought to Tv and DVDs. Many of us wouldn't click even once. But it could be a breakthrough for the home shopping set
Who said emerging technology couldn't be re-emerging? In the oil crisis of the '70s, Americans bought a half-million of these low-power motorbikes with pedals. With oil prices up, moped could make a comeback for all those potential cyclists who would appreciate a push up the hills. Gas mileage for mopeds routinely tops 70 miles per gallon.
These are some of the emerging technologies and their application and usage as envision by Baker. It is interesting to note that these technologies are intertwined with our central nervous system to the extent that we are not only wired, but are having a computer grid, through all sorts of gadgets,be gridded into our consciousness, awareness, thinking, behavior, work, houses,communication,learning and coping with life itself.
"It is important that we understand the promising emerging technologies through the lenses of their creativity and creative inquiry and learning. There is a proliferation of emerging technologies throughout the world and this article cannot cover them all.
"Maybe in the next deposition of technologies that are emerging and affecting and effecting our being, thinking, behavior, networking, learning, using, living-i.e., try to cover as many facets of life, living, thinking and improving our humanity and our perceptions, and at the same time understanding clearly how this new techniques and technologies are morphing into our existence and if whether this is good or bad for us.
"I think as we get to know about what came before, what's coming and what will be in the future will help us better know them and use them better and to our advantages. The problem here is that they come ready to serve our need and deeds; they already have programmed in them as to what they can do, and we adapt to that technique and programming.
"This is where I have a problem with our current technologies. We buy and use them according to what they promise us they can do. We become transformed based on the offerings that come with our gadgets. We o not come to our new technologies with what we want them to do for us. We come to them in their own terms as to what they can do to transform some things we need transformed, communicated, adjusted, monitored, viewed and so on."
Some of these technologies are:
Robotics; Biometrics; Voice Recognition Devices; Disposable Technology; E-Books; New Audio Media; Nanotechnologies; Flexible Computing Devices; Biotech; Digital Health; Eco-friendly Products; Electronic Clothing and Accessories; Embedded Technologies; Emerging Technology/Engineering; Home appliances; Home Healthcare Products; Intellectual Property; Personal Electronics; Personal Safety and Security Products; Robotics; Social Networking; Sports Electronics; Wireless Communication Consumer Electronics; Audio; Computer Hardware and Software.
Lastly we have a Hoverpod, a new Skycar. Chris Jablonski says that, "It uses a proprietary centrifugal fan that allows for the creation of an extremely compact craft with VTOL capabilities and high lifting efficiencies. The Entecho Hoverpod's core IP is an odd enclosed-rotor flight technology that requires a disc-shaped aircraft with passengers or payload in the center...
"Totally VTOL and with a small footprint, perhaps the Entecho Hoverpod might deliver as a practical and affordable personal flight solution. The manned vehicle is about 5 feet in diameter and can travel up to 75 mph, seat 3 passengers, and is currently designed to fly at an altitude of only around 5 feet — still greater that a conventional hovercraft, allowing it to pass any terrain.
"Our technical world not only creates these feelings spontaneously, it develops them with malice aforethought for technical reasons and by technical means which, in their action on the human being, reinforce the structures of that technical world. The words might be taken to pertain to the integration of all men into a brutally technicized environment. Modern society has moved toward a mass society, but the human being is still not fully adapted to these new forms.
Material techniques usually result in a collective social form by means of a process which is largely involuntary. But sometimes it is voluntary; the technician, in agreement with the technical data, considers a collectivity a higher social form. For example, the purpose of advertising technique is the creation of a certain way of life.
In this case, it is much less important to convince the individual rationally than implant in him a certain conception of life. The object offered for sale by the advertiser is naturally indispensable to the realization of this way of life… Now, objects advertised are all the result of the same technical progress and are all identical type from a cultural point of view.
So that, advertising, which is founded on massive psychology research that must be effective, can "put across" the technical way of life. Anyone who buys a given object participates in this way of life and, by falling prey to the compulsive power of advertising, enters involuntarily and unconsciously into its psychological framework.
One of the great designs of advertising is to create needs; but this is possible only if these needs correspond to the ideal of life that man accepts. In the meantime, advertising goes about its task of creating a psychological collectivism by mobilizing certain human tendencies in order to introduce the individual into the world of technique.
Advertising affects all people and its goal is to persuade the masses to buy. The inevitable consequence is the creation of mass man, and in the end, for all the technological advancement and how it is advertised to the consuming masses, we end up becoming the grid and are the grid, in the broader sense of the meaning of the word.
Today, our cultural body is made of media. Mediating technologies are fibrous matter holding society together. We are the grid because the communication, unlike chemistry or biology, is behavioral process. The role and effect of media are not as predictable as the result when two chemicals are mixed at a certain temperature in a laboratory.
Communications involves human beings and society, not physical elements undergoing experimentation in a laboratory. Technique, to Ellul, is "a 'blind' force, but one which unfortunately seems to be more perspicacious than the best discernible human intelligences.
Ellul's insistence that the technical phenomenon is not a determinism is not weakened by the enumeration of five conditions which are said to be "necessary and sufficient" for its outburst in the recent past, since the sufficient conditions for conditions(for example, the causes of the population explosion) are not ascertainable."
Ellul states: "The inertia of the technical phenomenon guarantees not only the continued refinement and production of relatively beneficial articles such as flush toilets, and wonder drugs, but also the emergence of those unpredictable secondary effects which are always the result of ecological meddling and which today are of such magnitude and acceleration that they can scarcely be reconciled with even semistable equilibrium conditions of society.
"Nuclear explosions and population explosions capture the public's imagination; all indices of modern technological culture are exploding, too, and are potentially just as dangerous to the continued well-being of society, if by well-being we understand social equilibrium."
Some peoples cautious reasoning has prompted some people to see the output of the media not as a reflection of raw, unmediated reality but rather as a social index of attitudes and feelings. As Virginia Woolf elegantly put it, 'newspapers are tin sheets of gelatin pressed nightly on the brain and heart of the world'.(Woolf)
Many people actually see the media as responding to general impulses and prodding of the users and consumers of media and technological gadgets. With the new emerging social media, we become the media grid in our uses of the gadgets and we ultimately become the grid, and this has caused disequilibrium for the human being seeking to adapt to his new technological and social communication milieu.
Ellul states: "Our technical world not only creates these feelings spontaneously, it develops them with malice aforethought for technical reasons and by technical means which, in their action on human beings, reinforce the structures of that technical world." And Robert Ley adds: "The only person who still remains private individual is who is asleep." These words may be referring to the Nazis, but they are not limited to that. They pertain to the integration of all men into a brutally technicized environment.
Convergence of Humans and Technology
New Media and Interactivity
In the distant future will humanity ever merge with technology? Close attention should be paid to the fact that when talking about robot people technology, nor the technology of lights and clockwork technology, but one should think of it as any invention of man.
In these time of technology changing and proliferating so fast, changing buildings, phones, cars, networking, communication, behavior, thinking, Health, learning, political thoughts and conceptions, it is hard to keep up with all the changes taking place, but noting a few areas that technology is effecting and affecting, we can have a peek at the window into the future and maybe better prepare ourselves to live and survive in it.
The creation of mass man has ultimately created a mass consuming society with the help of advertisement and the evolution of technique within the mass splurge and constant new offerings of technical gadgets. Until we control our media and technology, we really do not know for certain what the future holds for us. We only hope it is for the better for human development and edification.
On this issue above, Erin A. Meyers writes:"I have been considering new media in a broad sense this semester, for a variety of reasons, and these are some of my ideas. The umbrella term "new media" has been used to refer to a wide range of media platforms and technologies. But the vast array of platforms makes it somewhat confusing to really think through exactly what new media are, and indeed, what's so new about them.If
Netflix streaming is clearly a new media platform, does that mean that Netflix home delivery is not? Or, is an oPhone the same sort of new media as Netflix? Each technology serves a different function, But the potential spaces of overlap (using your iPhone to watch streamed movies as opposed to using it to make a phone call or send a text) makes, I think, a precise definition of "new media" pretty challenging.
The new technologies are so varied and can be harnessed for many different purposes. Though the technologies that have reshaped everyday communication and media are viral to our understanding this new category, but, what's new so new about new media are the way the technologies enable user to interact with information and each with each other.
These interactions are tied to how the technology functions or what it makes possible (e.g., the iPhone lets you make phone calls, text, surf the web, etc., through its digital platform) but also to how individuals actually use that technology in their everyday lives.
What's so new about new media,then,is the fact that users can be both producers and consumers of content(even if that production is limited to a very small audience). Although the iPhones or Twitter are considered as new media, we should also consider how older media forms have transformed to meet the demands of our new media.
The new media, then, offers new sorts of ways to think about and engage with "old media." To this point, McLuhan gives us the picture of the nature of these new technologies when he says:
"Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media with which men communicate than by the content of the communication. All technology as the property of the Midas touch; whenever a society develops an extension of itself, all other functions of that society tend to be transmuted to accommodate that new form; once any new technology penetrates a society, it saturates every institution of that society. New technology is thus a revolutionizing agent.
"We see this today with the electric media and we saw it several thousand years ago with the invention o the phonetic alphabet, which was just as far-reaching an innovation — and had just as profound consequences for man. The electronically induced technological extensions of our central nervous systems, are immersing us in a world-pool of information movement and are thus enabling man to incorporate within himself the whole of mankind.
"The aloof and dissociated role of the literate man of the Western World is succumbing to the new, intense depth participation engendered by the electronic media and bringing us back in touch with ourselves as well as with one another.
"But the instant nature of electric-information movement is decentralizing — rather than enlarging — the family of man into a new state of multitudinous tribal existences. Particularly in countries where literate values are deeply institutionalized, this is a highly traumatic process, since the clash of the old segmented visual culture and the new integral electronic culture creates a crisis of identity, a vacuum of the self, which generates tremendous violence — that is simply an identity quest, private or corporate, social or commercial."
We are also made effective entities of inefficient of stagnant social, but progressive social whole that occupy space and time, over and over again. Below we take a look at the grid and its effects and affects on the in multiple social settings and ecologies.
We Are Virtually in the Grid
We are the grid, even if we do not think so about ourselves because, one way or the other, we are conforming to the cultural dictates of the new and emerging media, and we are in a hurry to dump the old ways or willing to be numbed from acknowledging it. In so doing, we are, in plain view, becoming and allowing ourselves to be enslaved by technology, and cannot even grasp that we are in the act of doing so and are eager to ride pell-mell into the technological virtual world.
Even if the new technologies are offering us ways to think and engage the new media, we are merely extending our already extended nervous-system-like-existence of which we are already one with its grid. In this case, the propagation of the knowledge of human beings, his tendencies, his desires, his needs,his psychic mechanism, his automatisms as well as knowledge of his social existential reality(Ellul),
"Thus technique has managed to dictate its own brand of culture, and suppress the cultural knowledge that had brought man to that point of modern, efficient refined technology and its embedded techniques.
It is interesting to note that McLuhan's analysis of the History of Western Cultures in that what it expeditiously does is to displace people as the chief causes of change. McLuhan is not a Humanist because Humanists stress the primacy of humans as the focus of attention in such matters and questions.
They look at seeking the causes of history in the texts and social movements of the time, in the political structures, in the global conflicts over the diminishing basic resources, and so forth.We thus begin to consider those that help us understand how we arrived where we are, why we believe what we do, why the national borders are as they are, why the distribution of wealth is as it is, and so on.
McLuhan's vision of the role of technology in these questions is that it subtly shapes the 'environment' in which events it occurs. We are different beings by virtue of the way in which technologies are not mere add-ons to ourselves. McLuhan writes: "Tonybee considers that although all of the oriental societies have in our time accepted the industrial technology and its political consequences: on the cultural plane, however, there is no uniform corresponding tendency."
"This is like the voice of a literate man, floundering in a milieu of ads, who boasts, "Personally, I pay no attention to ads." The spiritual and cultural reservations that the oriental peoples may have toward our technology will avail them not at all. The effects of technology do not occur at the level of opinions or concepts, but alter sense ratios or patterns of perception steadily and without any resistance."
He saw cultures as affected by technology via the impact on social structures, but also by the ways in which it changes us in a more personal fashion. The moulding influence of technology on culture, then, is profound. It certainly needn't offer a complete explanation to any question we ask, but is far more important a factor than we commonly understand.
Technology may not determine culture in many ways (what,of value is done with it, for instance), but by its nature and influence on people, technology will "shape and control the scale and form of human association and action."
We should take note that whenever we talk about gridlock, there are other areas, or ecologies, if you will, that are part and parcel of the gridlock narrative of this Hub. Wildwell writes the following about Transportation gridlock: "Oil's greatest effect has been on transportation. Without doubt this sector has been changed the most by cheap, readily available oil.
"Around 70% of oil goes directly to he transportation sector and nearly 50% is used by cars. As it turns out, cars are a hopeless machine for moving around the cities (or even going to them) — by virtue of flow, parking and accidents and ann that good at energy efficiency.
"So, apart from looking at alternatives fuels, its worth taking off those car-based rose colored spectacles, and look at what's been happening around the world. Imagine the race between the hare and the tortoise, while that 1.5 ton 11mpg personal monster appears to be an example of sexy consumerism, in the real world those that can get to work quicker, more easily and using less energy are ultimately going to win the race…"
Wildwell further makes concrete what he is alluding to that, "Traffic congestion, already costing Americans $63.1 billion a year, is only getting worse, according to a new report from the Texas Corporation Institute [TTI]. Factoring in today's rising fuel prices adds another $1.7 Billion per year. [...]
- Annual delay per peak period (rush hour) traveler, which has grown from 16 hours to 47 hours since 1982,
- A number of urban areas with more than 20 hours of annual delay per peak traveler, which has grown from only in 1982 to 52 in 2003,
- Total amount of delay, reaching 3.7 billion hours in 2003, and
- Wasted fuel, totaling 2.3 Billion gallons lost to engines idling in traffic jams
"Two schools of thought opine that we should build more highways or we must encourage more people to mass transit. The first option sounds tempting (assuming you have the space) and sits well with the oil companies, car makers and all the pimps of the highway lobby.
"And there is a great deal of political opposition to alternatives. The absolute maximum highway capacity is 2,000 vehicles per hour(VPH) on grade separated freeways per lane, with various diseconomies of scale using ramps as they fight for space down to less than 2,000 VPH for the whole highway. If those 2,000 vehicles have one person in them they are extremely inefficient at getting people around urban areas.
"This compares to new rail lines in China moving 100,000 people per hour, with 99% punctuality record. Some cities were built before cars or in topographically restricted areas — so mass transit has had to the way. Fast and efficient mass transit means that less than 10% of households own a car."
Man Extended by Social Gridlock Ecology
Lost Motorcyclist writes: "Most people think they know what gridlock is,but I want to go over it agains because it happens to highlight one of the most important principles in civilization, and if we can solve gridlock, we could solve any human problem. Let's start with the basics. On a crowded city, such as New York which happens to be laid out in a grid, traffic will occasionally come to a complete halt in a feedback chain reaction.
"Imagine a city block which has an intersection at each corner, when traffic is heavy. Now imagine what happens at one of those intersection when the light turns red, but some cars are stuck in the intersection blocking their progress. Immediately, more cars become blocked behind them, and if the line stretches back to their previous intersection, then that one also becomes blocked the same way, and the chain reaction will now occur in all four corners of the block.
"And with one city block completely stuck, neighboring blocks will also get stuck the same way. That is what we call gridlock. In principal, gridlock can happen in places other than a grid. Apparently these traffic James are hard to break up.
"The root cause of gridlock come down to human nature," writes Lost Motorcyclist. "Each independent driver is trying to get trough the traffic as quickly as possible. So they amy make a decision which superficially may help them get a little further. But their decision blocks another driver, and the feedback from that eventually blocks the entire traffic flow for the whole city."
The psychology of this is very interesting, because even if you explain to each driver how to act in order to ensure the free movement of traffic, where they themselves will be stuck for hours.[We create and grid and we become the grid — locked up and stuck… my paltry two cents] . In short, moving ahead is not always wise if you want to keep moving ahead.
Other Ecological Environmental Extensions like politics, economics, and war also suffer from gridlock mentality. This is the kind of 'self interest' that gives temporary advantage to one person while starting the chain reaction that brings down the whole system for everyone.
"Think of economic banks, that get spooked by economic news, and withdraw their loans to protect their own interests, which shuts down those borrowers' business, which in turn lay-off employees,who in turn withdraw their money from the banks, thus driving the banks out of business anyway.
The circular chain reaction always comes back to the beginning of the problems and then spreads further. This gridlock mentality applies to a military occupation, where soldiers are torturing and killing innocent civilians to get information which ends up having a negative effect with more civilians turning against the occupiers until they finally have to give up.
A small advantage one minute, which is torturing the rebels in order for the regime to "stay safe". But the advantage in temporary security turns millions of people against the occupiers, and the war is lost(Vietnam, etc) "Terrorists are aways trying to find ways to enhance 'gridlock' effect against the occupying forces.(Lost Motorcyclist).
Emerging Technologies and the Girded Grid
Virtual Traffic as an Extension of ourselves
In the final analysis, emerging technologies and the spurious coming into being to users of their gadgetry and other technologies are clogging the market and the consumers are left bedazzled and bamboozled. People never get to know their technological toys, then new one come up just as sophisticated as the old one, but in a new ways, and they are also becoming smaller and smaller, newer and smarter.
The social media applications have been credited as the first social networking too to really make a connection with culture. It facilitates for all kinds of topics. Social media is a broad term which mainly refers to t he constellation of websites who's content is produced by uders, and these users develop communities and enertes conversation between its membership. These social media include: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and other blogging platforms, YouTube, LinkedIn, Digg, Delidcious, Reddit, and much more.
The interest in social use of social media is because of the possibility of the conversation that take place on social media properties and very powerful tool for generating publicity about business or public interest activities, through techniques such as bookmarking, blogging, photosharing and messaging. There is a lot of interconnective inter activity that is promulgated and made possible by these social media platforms. At this juncture, I will use statistics from Pingdom to give a sense of the breadth and depth of the Internet up to 2009:
- 90 trillion - The number of e-mails sent on the Internet in 2009
- 247 billion - Average number of e-mail messages per day
- 1.4 billion - The number of e-mail users worldwide
- 100 million - New e-mail users since the year before
- 81% - The percentage of e-mails that were spam
- 92% - Peak spam levels late in the year
- 24% - Increase in spam since last year
- 200 billion - The number of spam e-mails per day(assuming 81% are spam)
- 234 million - The number of websites as of December
- 47 million - Added websites in 2009
- 13.9% - The growth of Apache websites in 2009
- -22.15 - THE GROWTH OF IIS websites in 2009
- 35.0% - The growth of Google GFE websites in 2009
- 38.4% - The growth of Nginx websites in 2009
- -72.4% - The growth of Lighttpd websites in 2009
- 1.73 billion - Internet users worldwide (September 2009)
- 18% — increase in Internet users since the previous year
- 738,257,230 - Internet users in Asia
- 418,029,796 - Internet users in Asia
- 252,908,000 - Internet users in North America
- 179,031,479 - Internet users in Latin America/Caribbean
- 67,371,700 - Internet users in Africa
- 57,425,046 - Internet users in the Middle East
- 20,970,490 - Internet users in Oceania/Australia
- 126 million - The number of blogs on the Internet (as tracked by BlogPulse)
- 84% - Percent of social network sites with more women than men
- 27.3 million - Number of tweets on Twitter per day (November 2009)
- 57% - Percentage of Twitter's user base located in the United States
- 4.25 million - People follow @aplusk (Ashton Kutcher, Twitter's most followed user)
- 350 million - People on Facebook
- 50%-Percentage of Facebook users that log in every day
- 500,000 - The number of active Facebook applications
- 4 billion - Photos hosted by Flickr (October 2009)
- 2.5 billion - Photo uploaded each month on Facebook
- 30 billion - At the current rate, the number of photos uploaded to Facebook per year
- 1 billion - The total number of videos YouTube serves in the US(November 2009)
- 12.5 billion - Videos viewed per month on YouTube in the U.S.(November, 2009)
- 924 million - Videos viewed per month on Hulu in the US(November 2009)
- 182 - The number of online videos the average internet user watches a month (USA)
- 82% - Percentage of Internet Users that view videos online(USA.)
- 39.4% - YouTube online video market share (USA)
- 81.9% - Percentage of embedded videos on blogs that are YouTube videos
- 148,000 - New zombie computers created per day (used in botnets for sending spam, etc.)
- 2.6 Million - aAmount of malicious code threats at the start of 2009 (viruses, trojans, etc.)
- 921,143 - The number of new malicious code signatures added by Symantec in Q4 2009
The statistics above were provided by Pingdom and are used here to highlight the traffic on the internet and to give a sense of how huge and deep is the Web. We are in the grid and are the grid. The number of people on the Web is growing daily and so are the emerging new technologies which have what McLuhan would call a numbing effect on the users who are trying to keep up, and the speed and rapidity with they are churned-out and the public given unlimited and unfettered access to them.
Gridlock comes here in terms of people scuttling to keep up with the new gadgets as they hit the marketplace at blitzkrieg speed, and that this type of change demands that the users keep up with the techniques embedded within these new gizmos. There is some unitary consciousness that is being created by the workings of the Internet as observed above.
The numbers tell us that there is something working her in unison like it never did before; human beings are connecting and communicating with each in even larger and within a myriad of ways that are offered by the Internet. It would be proper at this time to see what McLuhan has to say about this phenomenon. The Internet, wherein he enables us to wrap our minds and understanding of the Ways of the Internet and its inner-workings — i.e., its effects and affects on us.
McLuhan informs us thus: "Our very word 'grasp' or 'apprehension' points to the process of getting at one thing through another, or handling and sensing many facets at a time through more than one sense at a time. It begins to be evident that "touch" is not skin but the interplay of the senses, and "keeping in touch" or "getting in touch" is a matter of a fruitful meeting of the senses, of sight translated into sound and sound into movement, and taste and smell.
"The 'common sense' was for may centuries held to be the peculiar human power of translating one kind of experience of one sense into all the senses, and presenting the result continuously as a unified image to the mind. In fact, this image of a unified ratio among the senses was long held to be the mark of our rationality, and may in the computer age easily become so again.
"For it is now possible to program ratios among the senses that approach the condition of consciousness. Yet such a condition would necessarily be an extension of our own consciousness as much as the wheel is an extension of our feet in rotation.
"Having extended o translated our central nervous system into electromagnetic technology, it is but a further stage to transfer our conscious ness to the computer world as well. Then at least, we shall be able to program consciousness in such wise that cannot be numbed nor distracted by the Narcissus illusions of the entertainment world that beset mankind when he encounters himself extended in his own gimmickry.
"If the work of the city is the remaking or translating of man into a more suitable form than his nomadic ancestors achieved, then might not our current translation of our entire lives into the spiritual form of information seem to make of the entire globe, and of the human family, a single consciousness? Translation is thus a 'spelling-out' of forms of knowing".This is what we call 'mechanization of the global collective consciousness,' as McLuhan attested to.
McLuhan writes: "Any invention or technology is an extension or self-amputation of our physical bodies, and such extension also demands new ratios and equilibriums among the other organs and extensions of the body. ...These media, being extensions of ourselves, also depend upon us for their interplay and their evolution.
"The fact that they do interact and spawn new progeny has been a source of wonder over the ages. It need baffle us no longer if we trouble to scrutinize their action. We can, if we choose, think things out before we put them out. In other words, the greatest school had been put for human use before it has been thought out..
"Now, this is especially true of our media. They are put out long before they are thought out. In fact, their being outside us tends to cancel the possibility of their being thought of at all. McLuhan in seeking to understand many media, the conflicts from which they spring, and the even greater conflicts to which they give rise, handed out the promise of reducing these conflicts by an increase of human autonomy.
"We have reached a [certain] point when each stick of chewing gum we reach for is acutely noted by some computer that translates our last into a new probability curve or some parameter of social science. Our private and corporate lives have become information processes because we have put our central nervous systems outside us in electric technology."
We have discussed throughout this Hub how we are part of the electrical and technological grid. What we learn from McLuhan is that when we invented the technologies that we are using today, we "extended ourselves" and that these extension create a shift, a change in our real space and time, and that,it would important that we should be cognizant of what we are doing.
"Whenever we invent we are extending ourselves through the new technologies, and that we neither have time to adjust and get to know our creations, fully. As noted in the issue discussed about Gridlock, one can see that in our creating cars, we got caught in the glut of these new mechanism and now they are taking too much of our time, energy and jamming us in the spaces they fill, and subjecting us to the technological inventions of our making.
Making my comments above much more cogent and even more clearer, McLuhan instructs thus: "The electric light ended the regime of night and day, of indoors and out-of-doors. But it is when the light encounters already existing patterns of human organization that the hybrid energy is released. Cars can travel at night, ball players can play all night, and windows can be left out of buildings.In a word, the message of the electric light is total change. It is pure information without any content to restrict its transforming and informing power."
McLuhan thinks that all "students of the media should mediate on the power of this medium of electric light to transform every structure of time and space and work and society that it penetrates or contacts, he will have the key to the form of the power that is in all media to reshape any lives they touch.
"Except for light, all other media come in pairs, with one acting as the content of the other, obscuring the operation of both. It is a peculiar bias of those who operate media for the owners that they be concerned about the program content of radio, or press, or film. The owners themselves are concerned more about the media as such, and are not inclined to go beyond 'what the public wants' or some vague formula. Owners are ware of the media s power, and they know that this power has little to do with "content" or the media within the media."
Politics of Gridlock and Dysfunction
On the other, America is undergoing a huge change as an industrial and military power. This can be seen in its political system which is beset and bereft with gridlock that undermines the country and its inhabitants badly. Ever since Obama took the reins of power America has become polarized and gridlocked helplessly. One can see the 'sluggish economical recovery of the economy, the loss of jobs, the scale of the soaring deficits.'
Looking at the congressional budget office's projections, that even Senators say that if they do not do anything about it this country will like Greece, with the exception that America does not have the European Union to bail the US out. Senior military officials bemoan the fact that the single most threat to national security was the American national debt. Timothy Garten Ash writes:
"Switch on your television, or turn to the politics pages of your newspaper, and one's heart sinks. But if you ask what will be the biggest geopolitical story of the of the 2010s onwards is that China is rising and America is struggling. When 2020 comes around, the US will have had to find a way to put its house in order. If you want to feel optimistic about America's chances of renewal, go to Silicon Valley. For a downer, look to Washington.
"The struggle for America's recovery is the battle of the iPad against the filibuster. In Silicon Valley, you see everything is still inspiring about American society: innovation rooted in science and intellectual freedom; entrepreneurs and risk-taking venture capital exploiting that innovation commercially; a dynamic, open society that attracts the brightest from everywhere - Indians, Chinese, Europeans, Africans.
"If you ask the people around the world what they most admire about the US, their shortlist is likely to include, beside George Clooney and Julia Roberts and Denzel, the iPhone, Facebook, Twitter or google. Yet, What it is that makes American politics so depressing? They are both polarized and gridlocked. Change in the Silicon Valley happens at the speed of science fiction; in Washington, at the pace of Brezhnev's Society Union."
Ash contnues to inform us that:"For instance, a bill to help out America's job-generating small businesses with modest government-backed loans was stuck in the Senate for months — a victim of the procedural rule which means that the minority (currently Republican) can block legislation by the threat of filibuster unless the other side can garner 60-vote "supermajority." A growing number of American(80% according to the Gallup Poll) believe that their congress needs recall and that their government is dysfunctional.
Ash says: "There are several aspects to this dysfunctionality. There is what I call the politics of cultural distraction. Millions of air hours are devoted to arguments about gay marriage, abortion, homosexuality or, most recently, the planned Islamic center blocks from the World Trade Center in New York," [the national budget battle, tax cuts for the rich, and more cuts in the poor's programs, taxes, payroll cuts/taxes and extension of unemployment benefits and the whole bit — my addition].
The newly elected Tea Baggers are the one who are assiduously working hard to make sure that, 'Obama fils in all his efforts, that he should not have a second term- and they are willing to handcuff the economical growth and in the process make the poor suffer more, and the rich become richer. Ash informs us thus: Then there is a strident, partisan polarization of the cable news networks, with Fox News roaring from the right, MSNBC shouting back from the Left, and CNN flailing in the middle.
There is the shameless gerrymandering, politely called "redistricting". At a recent event organized by Google, a former chair of the Republican national committee, ED Gillespie, explained that winning control of local houses of representatives in individual states is also important, because it helps when it comes to "being able to draw the district lines in a way that is more favorable toward our party". Not even the pretense that democracy is meant to have a level playing field.
All these exacerbate the dysfunctionality. But the most immediate pressing problem is the combination of institutional gridlock and the lack of cross-party cooperation, each reinforcing the other. The present political situation turned out that the Republicans won the House of Representatives and installed some recalcitrant Tea Bagger who are are calling the shots within the Republican party.
The Republicans did not win the senate, and have to date presented Obama with a gridlocked government and have given America the Brezhnevite gridlock and delay, as averred by Ash above. America's decline is China gain and prosperity. According to Ash, "There are no huge changes in the whole political system, no cross-party co-operation to simplify the country's absurd tax code, redirect the budget to the need of nation-building in the US, nor limit the power of money in American politics, the rules and change the procedure in the Senate - making one wonder if whether America can ever be reformed...
We are immersed within the technological smorgasbord, and thus have become girded within the grid that we end up being extended by its techniques and information and formation tendencies. The way the new technologies are emerging and have created a virtual world of interactivity and interconnectivity, the consumers and users of these gadgets have somewhat real, or imagined, and created a gridlock-like feeling at the speed with they are churned and made accessible to the rest of us.
As said when discussing the vehicle gridlocks, it is pointed out that we should be responsible regarding the actions that we take when in traffic; and as McLuhan has warned, we should think out what ever we choose to throw out the as our extended selves, so as to have a chance to mull over our creations, and thus forego the numbing aspects and effects that these technologies bring to bear on us, and try to manage to exert some control over them. We are all logged onto and into the girded virtual grid and political upmanship…
Technology As An Environment; The Medium as The Message and Messenger
Themes From The Environmental History Of Technology
Media (technology) always must be understood as an extension of human mind-body. This is a broader definition of a medium than is usually meant, since it applies not just to communication but every technological innovation starting with language(from oral tradition-a la Ong). By altering the relationship between our self-system and the environmental systems within which we live, we unintentionally cause changes to both ourselves and the environment.
Because media are extensions of our minds and bodies, we shape our tools and then our tools shape us… We have created a computer which works best with the Web: the computer is our body and the Web is our mind-the communication that takes place is an extension of our sense, mind and bodies which we extend virally as we have an extension of us through our nervous system in our physiological metabolism and mechanism.
So that, in the final analysis, clothing extends the skin, shoes extend soles and the feetWheels anther automotive extend our legs; whilst phonetic literacy extends eyes and the mind; that, in the end, electric media extends us akin to the our nervous system in our bodies.
We tend to 'clog' these systems, whether they be in our bodies, minds, computers or the Web-highways and by-ways; the electric grid or any space where were directed and dictated to by technology, and technique in an environment it is embedded in, we are the grid entrapped within the gridlock.
The body, with a gridlock within its functions, breakdown-and one gets hospitalized or sees a doctor; our technologies crash, whenever we clog the Web(this part I am not still sure how it works), and in turn, our traffic jams on the highway, clog the high ways, by-ways and the extended arteries and secondary roads that in the end nothing moves, man-hours consumed stuck are irreplaceable.
In effect, as extension os our mind and bodies, our use of media technologies changes us psychologically, socially, spiritual and intellectually. It also conditions us to accept and have a rear-view mirror viewing of the world. This backwards looking and forward peeping sets us up for a gridlock in a myriad ways. Fro instance, the immediate sensory environment — the context within which things are experienced — is itself very difficult to experience because "it saturates the whole field of attention so overwhelmingly."
Also, extensions of the human mind-body result in new relationships between our perceptual and bodily capacities, disrupting our self-system and giving rise to auto-protective measures, i.e., numbness(psychic anesthesia, emotional dissociation, PTSD ...Our use of technologies easily becomes addictive, and as it clogs "our everything" [so to speak], in order to protect the whole nervous system.
If one were to try and cut off or censor the Web, it has a way of circumnavigating that 'block' and find another way around it. Just as our natural reaction is to safeguard the whole nervous, because we try and block out psychic dissonance of the new media environment by absorbing ourselves in sense of control offered by the new technologies
- The environmental effects of technological innovations "Enhances", that is, what the new medium does improve, make possible or accelerate in us in our using and interacting with it;
- "Obsolesce" in a sense we notice that it is that is pushed aside or obsolesced by the new medium;
- Reverse pushed to the limit of its potential, their new form will reverse it original characteristics.
- For example: automobile: enhance speed, obsolesces horse and buggy; retrieves nomadism, and reverses it into gridlock;
- Cellphone: enhance voice and increases mobility and flexibility, whilst it obsolesce the phone booth and house phone, which tend to keep one stationary, and the cell phone reverses the freedom of being in a leash, as explained;
- Just as Capitalism: it enhances liberty (of trade), obsolesces community responsibility; or, retrieves hunter-gatherer patterns, but reverses abundance into starvation and scarcity.
Technological Process of Imbalance, Ecological Instability, System Slippage and Gridlock
Many people who consider themselves to be modern assume regarding the neutrality or the intrinsic goodness of technological development, have obscured the cultural sacrifice man made in leaving and developing from Oral society, which had then established a balance with the environment; i.e., a balance with the environment, also a harmonious internal balance of sensory experiences, a stable economic and political order, a deeply immersive involvement in the world.
Literacy and symbolic consciousness generally, spreads out awareness past the present into the past and future, along and also into abstract possibilities which empowers us while at the same time, blocking, impoverishing, and dimming down our human potential. This occurs in the following manner described below:
Depression, mental illnesses, apathy, drug addictions and other compulsive-obsessive behaviors occur in "civilized" or 'modern' societies, i.e., societies suffering from a continuous process of uncontrolled explosion/implosion, creating perpetual dissonance and atrophy and entropy. Some technologies that are involved with our current civilizational disequilibrium with the world are:
- phonetic literacy and typography, automobiles, paper/digital currency system, electricity, Internet, Television, Radio, Phones(from land line to Cell phone), totalitarian agriculture;
- certain ideas about: development, what it means to be human, to be happy, to be in control, to be alive . The ills of technology have nothing to do with being not natural, but have much to do with the introduction of perpetual dissonance, entropy and disequilibrium which humans try to process into an even-keeled equilibrium.
Electric media do not merely extend ones sense, but they extend the entire nervous system, therefore extending self-awareness or consciousness past the body-defined self… We are now trying to understand the infinite ramification of the Technological and information societies while we still have time and ability to affect its development and our own development through it.
A key difference is he tension between the Self as a disembodied, placeless cyberanimal which simple processes information and the self living as a disconnected entity and needing to be connected: this is a balance between being challenged by technology and being in control. Thus, technology presents us with a problem: how do we avoid narcissus narcosis in the use of the new technologies.
Well, the way I see it, we seem to be overcome, swamped and swallowed by the fast and emerging and converging technologies and their technique embedded gizmos that it is really going to take a strong will than we can imagine to wean ourselves off this quicksand and gridlock of this tech/gadget environ which is moving us apace with its dictates, and not ours in any form one may see or understand it. At this present state and stage, we are really Gridlocked within the Media/gadget environs.
Americans Fed Up With Constant Political Gridlock
United States Governmental Gridlock
Mim Hall reported in the USA Today that:
"WASHINGTON — Members of Congress care more about their own re-election campaigns than about the nation's economy. Leaders in the House and Senate spend all their time battling. The White House won't take charge.
"A pox on the lot of them.
So say many Americans after weeks of watching political wrangling over how to cut spending and whether to raise taxes as part of a deal to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by Aug. 2 so the federal government won't have to default on its loans for the first time.
"They're screwing up right and left," says Steve Watson, 57, a self-described conservative Republican from Delta, Utah. "We've got to clean house and put new people in there with new ideas. All they're doing is arguing among themselves and not getting anything done."
STORY: Low ratings for Obama, Congress on debt talks
Ann Perry, 70, a liberal Democrat and retired teacher from Chester County, Pa., says, "They're worried about getting re-elected … and it's costing us."
News from On Politics
Less than three years after voters heeded Barack Obama's message of "change" and nine months after Republicans won control of the House of Representatives amid voter concern about government spending and the economy, Americans express profound disappointment with their political leaders.
As Obama and Republicans continue to debate how to handle the debt and future deficits, the GOP is taking the hardest hit with a job approval rating of 28% in a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. Obama's approval rating: 45%.
Obama shouldn't rest easy. Americans overwhelmingly are appalled with what they see in Washington. Half of those polled say Obama and Congress are doing a worse job than their predecessors at managing the nation's problems. Democratic Congress members have a 33% approval rating.
"They can't get on the same page, and I don't know the answer," says Bill Gwynn, 65, of Powder Springs, Ga., a life-long Democrat who says he usually votes Republican now. "But something better be done quick, or this country's going right down the crapper."
Carey Lefkowitz, 32, a self-described liberal Democrat who supported Obama in 2008, says he blames the Republicans for the unfolding fiasco — but he's disappointed with Obama for compromising on extending Bush-era tax cuts for top earners this year.
"I want my president to go out there and have the [guts] to stand up for what's right," Lefkowitz says. "I'd like to hear him set it straight with the American people."
Charlene Lewis, 60, a Democrat from Vincent, Ohio, blames no one but the Republicans, specifically House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Lewis says she has a sister who counts on government programs to pay for her kidney dialysis treatments, and she can't abide the notion that entitlements such as Medicare could be cut while tax breaks for the wealthy stay in place.
"Boehner should realize who he's working for," Lewis says.
John Ross, 71, a moderate Republican from Tavares, Fla., also pinned the problems on his own party, complaining that the anti-tax Tea Party faction has scuttled efforts to reach a compromise on spending and taxes. "The Tea Party Republicans are Republicans first and Americans second," he says, "and it's a shame."
Even the Dalai Lama got into the act Monday, chiding lawmakers. Speaking on NBC's Today, the Tibetan spiritual leader said that when a nation is "facing crisis," political parties must become "secondary."
"It is not the interest of this party or that party," the Dalai Lama said. "It is a national sort of interest. So (they) must work together."
Gridlock ... Back
"Gridlock" took a bit of a hiatus during the presidential campaign, but today, we are back. Why not blog during the most engaged political moments of the cycle? Well, campaigns are times of combat, not times to figure out how to get things done. Ideally, we talk about solutions, but it was clear from early on that this was not going to be a campaign about reckoning with our big problems or addressing systemic defects in government.
There was a moment when it looked like the Republicans had put some big ideas on the table about entitlement reform -- that is, when Paul Ryan was nominated for VP -- but Romney distanced himself so quickly from this that it is as if he realized Ryan had a communicable disease a couple days after selecting him.
Anyway, the election was about "who cares about your problems the most," "who resonates the best with the middle class," "who will create the most jobs [as if a president actually has the power to do this]" and other matters. Big issues were discussed at their most superficial level -- who gets the next round of tax cuts and how big will they be -- but that is about it. "Gridlock" didn't have much to offer to this campaign that was not available from many other sources.
But now, all the problems that existed before the election are still here, the players are pretty much the same, as is the balance of power. The president has been ratified by the voters, so he is a more powerful figure than he was before, but congressional leaders also believe their approaches have been ratified as well. Nonetheless, as Lincoln said in his second annual message to the Congress, "As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew." Hopefully, "Gridlock" can contribute to debates we are surely going to be having in the "stormy present."
Who Will Be "Grand Bargaining" For Them?
As Washington re-focuses on issues of taxes, spending and debt, I can't shake the images I saw while helping to get out the vote in some poor, mostly African-American neighborhoods in Durham these past couple of weeks.
I'm ashamed to say that I visit these communities far less than I should, and I am mostly inspired to do so every four years when I am encouraging their residents to cast a ballot in the presidential race. Even so, it is a humbling experience. Too many ramshackle homes, too many kids with nowhere to play, too much poverty. I asked a friend one day how his canvassing was going and whether people were home during the middle of the day. "Yeah," he said, "people are home because they don't have jobs."
Over the next weeks and perhaps months, Washington will be filled with talk of trillions in tax cuts or increases here and there. Slimming deductions. Broadening the base. Trimming 'domestic discretionary spending.' Saving the Pentagon from the dreaded "sequester." There will be the illusive chase for the grand bargain affecting virtually every government program on the books. Representatives of every group, organization, trade association, union, contractor, and business will be scrambling around the city trying to make sure their voices are heard and their interests are protected. My question is -- who will be "grand bargaining" for the people whose doors I was knocking on the past few weeks.
I'm all in favor of tackling our long term debt. I agree that we need a better tax code. We can't afford to keep spending so much money on health care. But I do think that when all is said and done, there has to be something in this bargain for our least represented, our most needy, and our oft forgotten communities. People from these neighborhoods came out to vote in droves -- they were a key part of the coalition that got the president reelected. There ought to be something in the "grand bargain" for them. There has to be something in the grand bargain for them.
Most of the discussion is going to be about cuts to government spending. But in the process, we ought to be adding something as well. I'm not an expert, but I'd say there has to be some type of jobs program for low income, semi-skilled workers, perhaps building infrastructure, perhaps renovating schools, I don't know. But we need something to pump money into these communities and help those who the great recession has pushed close to, or even into poverty.
The people who trudged out to vote, who stood on lines for hours, did so because they have faith in this president. He cannot move mountains. But he owes it to them to be their voice, to be their representative at the table as the deals that frame our future for the next decade and beyond are being cut.
The Gridlock Illusion
Regarding the 'manufactured' Gridlock in congress, R. Shep Melnick informs us that:
"It is hard to find a news article on Congress these days in which the word 'gridlock' does not figure prominently. After months of tense negotiations, Congress and President Barack Obama barely avoided going over the “fiscal cliff” in January, and their last-minute agreement leaves many more months of inconclusive bargaining to come. The legislative branch has yet to revise a national immigration policy that pleases no one, or even to pass a stripped-down version of pathway-to-citizenship legislation that enjoys widespread popular support.
Everyone knows that Social Security is headed toward insolvency, and that the longer we wait, the harder it will be to fix the problem. But Congress after Congress has done nothing. Most important, almost everyone recognizes that in coming years we must both raise taxes and cut entitlements in order to avert fiscal disaster, yet Congress has taken no significant steps in that direction. Meanwhile, its approval rating has slipped below 10 percent, to the lowest levels ever recorded.
The most common public response to these developments has been to blame our elected representatives for engaging in petty partisanship, to charge that they are beholden to “special interests,” and to insist that all would be fine if our leaders would only listen to “the people.” But “the people” are really a fractious and increasingly partisan lot, and in 2012 they sent back to Washington nearly all of the hyperpartisan politicians who had achieved such stunningly low approval ratings during the previous two years
. As the political scientist Richard Fenno has pointed out, voters may hate Congress, but they love their own member of Congress. Consequently, most members run for Congress by running against it. Voters routinely reward individual legislators for engaging in behavior that regularly produces the collective action they abhor.
This pattern has led some scholars to conclude that the heart of our current problems lies in our institutional arrangements. Our unusually complex structure of government—one that combines separation of powers, bicameralism, and federalism—not only embeds numerous “veto points” in the legislative process, but frustrates accountability by making it nearly impossible for voters to know whom to blame or reward for public policy.
Our current discontents, particularly on budget issues, give new urgency to a critique of our constitutional arrangements that dates back to Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era. From the turn of the century through the 1960s, progressives and New Dealers insisted that our “horse and buggy” institutions were incompatible with the demands of modern government.
The result, they charged, was the “deadlock of democracy,” which in effect meant that an unholy alliance of conservative Southern Democrats and Republicans in Congress could block the initiatives of liberal Democratic presidents.
“Gridlock” is the new term favored by critics who are frustrated with Washington, and it is used by people across the political spectrum, not just liberals. The triumph of this neologism over the more conventional descriptors “stalemate” and “deadlock” is not an accident. It reveals how criticism of our institutional arrangements has subtly shifted as government has expanded.
The term “gridlock” caught on in 1980 as a way to describe traffic congestion so severe that cars block multiple intersections, preventing movement in any direction. It quickly became the leading metaphor used to describe congressional politics after President Ronald Reagan’s initial legislative victories in 1981.
It was at about that time that the United States began to feel the effects of what political scientist Hugh Heclo has aptly called “policy congestion.” As the government does more and more, policies increasingly overlap, bump into one another, and, all too frequently, begin to contradict one another.
For example, “Energy policy,” born in the 1970s, has grown into a motley collection of hundreds of conflicting policies and programs, some of which seek to subsidize or otherwise promote various forms of energy use and production that others tax and discourage. Similar contradictions are rife in welfare policy, health care policy, and what we now call budget policy—which includes virtually everything our enormous national government does.
The “stalemate” argument focused on the obstacles to creating an extensive regulatory and welfare state. “Gridlock,” in contrast, refers to the difficulty of managing and coordinating the extensive welfare and regulatory state that we have somehow managed to build.
There can be no doubt but that the gridlock argument captures key features of American government. Who could deny that the Constitution establishes what civics textbooks call an “obstacle course on Capitol Hill” that makes it excruciatingly difficult to enact legislation on controversial issues? We should remember, though, that the Founders had good reason to make the legislative process so arduous.
James Madison was not enamored of every component of the Constitution he had helped to create—he was especially dismayed by the clause providing for equal representation of all states in the Senate—but he provided a sophisticated defense of the features that are commonly blamed for gridlock.
Making it easier to pass legislation, Madison observed, would increase the “mutability of the law.” The resulting “public instability” would not only undermine public confidence and weaken the United States internationally but would give an “unreasonable advantage” to “the sagacious, the enterprising, and the moneyed few over the industrious and uniformed mass of the people.”
But by providing an opportunity for a “sober second thought,” bicameralism would reduce the possibility that legislation would be the product of momentary public passions or manipulation by political insiders.
Furthermore, by requiring very broad majorities to enact laws, the Constitution reduces the power of what Madison called “majority faction.” By combining a lower house whose members serve two-year terms with an upper house whose members enjoy six-year terms, the Constitution also combines responsiveness to current public opinion with attention to the long-term interests of the nation.
Moreover, by dividing the legislature into two parts and granting veto power to the president, the Constitution prevents the legislative branch—which “necessarily predominates” in republican government, Madison wrote—from “drawing all power into its impetuous vortex.” In other words, it protects both judicial independence and presidential power.
Today’s critics of the Constitution tend to be less skeptical than Madison was of simple majoritarianism. From Woodrow Wilson a century ago to University of Texas law professor Sanford Levinson today, they have argued that the greatest shortcoming of the Constitution is its failure to allow popular majorities to prevail. What about the danger of majority faction and tyranny of the majority?
Certainly no contemporary law professor can be indifferent to the plight of politically unpopular minorities. The unstated assumption of contemporary progressives is that this job can safely be left to the courts. Since we already have an activist judiciary, we can now tolerate an activist Congress. Let Congress do more, then let the Supreme Court invalidate those portions of the law that five of the justices consider unfair.
The Constitution’s critics also tend to assume that the dangers created by government inaction are far greater than those caused by rash, premature, or intemperate action. They express no concern about the “mutability” and “instability” that so worried Madison.
They tend to assume—despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary—that government’s mistakes can be easily remedied. In reality, government programs create constituencies that are highly organized, acutely aware of the benefits they receive from government, and strategically placed to block substantial change. In other words, delays are often temporary, but mistakes last forever.
Inaction can certainly be costly but sometimes there are advantages to inaction. Consider the case of acid rain. It became a political issue in the 1970s, but Congress did nothing to address it until 1990. For many years, this was considered a prime example of gridlock—just as congressional inaction on greenhouse gases is today.
But the regulatory scheme Congress eventually used to control acid rain, marketable emission rights, has proven much better at reducing pollution quickly and cheaply than the kind of command-and-control regulation Congress relied upon almost exclusively in the 1970s. In other words, delay produced smarter government action.
Political parties have long been the chief mechanism for building majorities that pull together our constitutionally separated institutions. For most of the 20 century, ours were internally heterogeneous “umbrella” parties that provided the building blocks for legislative coalitions without guaranteeing partisan majorities in either house of Congress. In the early 1990s, however, it was clear that our legislative parties were undergoing a sea change.
By the time the Republicans took control of Congress in 1995, party leaders in the House of Representatives had acquired powers that rivaled those of the famous “czar” Speakers of the House (Joe Cannon, for example) who had reigned a century earlier. Within the House, most of the “veto points” so frequently decried for promoting stalemate had been eliminated.
Today, the Speaker effectively determines which bills come to the floor, as well as the rules for amending and voting on each. Committee chairs, who once rose to power on the basis of seniority and exercised near-baronial powers, are now under the control of party leaders. Votes on important issues follow party lines. What the majority-party leadership in the House wants, it almost always gets.
During the presidency of George W. Bush, for example, Republicans briefly gained control of both the House and the Senate, and they rammed through a series of tax cuts and a major expansion of Medicare with virtually no support from Democrats.
Advocates of party government had assumed that stronger, more ideological parties would allow one dominant party to give coherent direction to the government as a whole. On occasion that is true. But neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have managed to build resilient electoral majorities. Indeed, as soon as one party seems to be gaining effective control of government, the voters revoke its mandate.
The 2010 election, which ended the Democrats’ brief monopoly on power by giving the House to the Republicans, was just the latest manifestation of this dynamic. The same thing happened in 1994 and 2006. The public, it seems, is not enamored of either party, and prefers divided government to party government. In short, party polarization, once considered a cure for stalemate, now only seems to make the problem worse.
On the surface this combination of constitutional structure, partisan polarization, and a fickle electorate seems to create the perfect storm of gridlock. Before we despair, though, it would be worth taking a closer look at the extent of the problem. On many fronts, things are not as bad as they seem. Consider, for example, some of the steps the federal government took in response to the financial crisis of 2007–08:
• In the autumn of 2008, Congress created the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to address the subprime mortgage crisis. The Bush administration managed to push its proposal through Congress despite strong opposition from Republicans.
• With only tepid support from the White House, Congress bailed out—and essentially took over—the federally created mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, adding $142 billion to the total bailout.
• Several months later, the Obama Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve announced a plan to pump an additional $1 trillion into the banking system.
• After providing billions of dollars to keep General Motors, Chrysler, and AIG afloat, the federal government played a central role in managing their downsizing. The government suddenly became the largest stockholder in three of the nation’s biggest companies.
• Even before the financial meltdown, Congress passed a $168 billion bipartisan stimulus package negotiated by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader John Boehner, and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson.
The United States has responded to the financial crisis much more aggressively than has Europe, with its supposedly more effective parliamentary governments, and our banks are now in better shape than Europe’s. Much of the TARP money has been repaid, and the auto companies seem to be recovering. Whether or not one approves of these policies, it is hard to describe the government that initiated them as gridlocked.
One could respond to the remarkable events of 2008 and ’09 by saying that the American political system is capable of responding to emergencies, but not so good at fashioning policies that prevent them in the first place. So let’s look back at the first seven years of the George W. Bush administration. Here, it seemed, was a recipe for stalemate.
The electorate was divided 50-50 in presidential elections, with Bush losing the popular vote in 2000 and eking out a narrow victory in 2004. The Senate, too, was divided 50-50 in 2001, and soon shifted to the Democrats when James Jeffords of Vermont left the GOP. The Republican margin in the House after the 2000 election was only nine votes, the slimmest partisan margin in 50 years.
In the 2006 elections the Democrats regained control of both the House and the Senate, and the country returned to divided government. Animosity between the parties (and against the president) ran unusually high. But consider what Congress accomplished during those years:
• It passed the No Child Left Behind Act, the biggest change in federal education policy since 1965 and the most prescriptive federal education legislation ever enacted.
• It created Medicare Part D, the largest entitlement expansion since passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.
• It passed the Bush administration’s tax cuts in 2001, 2003, and 2004. Together they constituted the largest tax cuts in American history.
• Despite stiff opposition from Republicans, it approved the far-reaching McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law.
• It passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which CQ Weekly described as “the biggest increase in the regulation of publicly traded companies since the Depression.”
A few of these laws received bipartisan support; passage of others relied almost entirely on Republican votes. While some of these policies might have been ill advised and excessively partisan, no one would describe the Congresses that produced them as “do nothing.”
Foreign and defense policy rarely comes up in discussions of gridlock. Indeed, those who have complained most bitterly about legislative stalemate also criticized the Bush administration for acting too aggressively and Congress for delegating too much authority to the executive. Foreign policy during the Bush administration hardly looks like gridlock:
The administration launched wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (in each case with congressional approval), announced a controversial new policy on “preventative wars,” and established the equally controversial detention facility at Guantánamo Bay. Meanwhile, Congress established the Department of Homeland Security, enacted the USA Patriot Act, overhauled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and passed several pieces of legislation on the use of military commissions and the rights of detainees.
When one looks at the sweep of US foreign policy over the course of the 20 century—especially the pivotal role the United States played in defeating two vicious and expansionist totalitarian powers—our constitutional structure seems to have served us well.
The record of the Congress that convened in 2009 rivals that of any since the historic 89th of 1965–66. The 111th Congress demonstrates how partisan polarization can produce dramatic policy change when one party seizes control of the White House and both chambers of the legislative branch. While many of these enactments are well known, it is worth recounting them to indicate the range of congressional action:
• Most important, Congress enacted a profound overhaul of the American health care system, extending coverage to 30 million Americans; imposing extensive mandates on insurance carriers, employers, and state governments; creating new insurance exchanges; imposing an array of new taxes, fees, and penalties; extending drug benefits; and making significant cuts in the Medicare program.
• Four months later, Congress enacted a 2,300-page law to create a new regulatory structure for the entire financial services sector and to establish a mechanism for “winding down” failing banks and brokerage houses. According to CQ Weekly, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act “touches just about every major piece of financial regulatory law of the 20 century.” It created two new regulatory agencies, and required these and other agencies to produce 250 additional sets of regulations to govern the financial sector.
• Soon after convening, Congress passed another stimulus package, to pump $800 billion into the slowing economy. The legislation included a diverse mix of tax cuts; an extension of unemployment benefits; grants to the states for infrastructure, education, and health care; and measures to encourage the development of clean energy.
• After decades of debate, Congress passed legislation authorizing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate the content and marketing of tobacco products.
• Congress made major changes in the federal student loan program, and provided more than $4.35 billion for the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” initiative to encourage innovation in elementary and secondary education.
• By repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Congress allowed gays to serve openly in the military. It also confirmed two Supreme Court nominees, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, by wide margins and without the threat of a filibuster.
On top of this, the Obama administration augmented the US military commitment in Afghanistan, the second major American war zone “surge” in recent years. It substantially increased American drone strikes against suspected terrorists. In short, 2009 and ’10 were years of intense partisan animosity but not of gridlock.
To be sure, over the past four years Congress has failed to pass any immigration legislation. An omnibus, jerry-built climate change bill passed the House but died quietly in the Senate. The administration’s signature health care legislation nearly failed for want of a 60th vote in the Senate. If the Perils-of-Pauline story of the Affordable Care Act illustrates the difficulty of enacting major legislation, it also points to a shortcoming of the conventional gridlock narrative.
“Gridlock” is almost always used to imply that an obstinate minority is frustrating the will of the majority. But in 2010 Obamacare was in grave danger because public opinion was turning against it. If anything, the health care battle shows that the federal government is capable of taking dramatic action even when public support is shallow.
The stalemate/gridlock argument is misleading not only because it ignores so many accomplishments, but also because it focuses so intently on just one small part of domestic policy, namely passage of major pieces of legislation at the national level.
Lost in this picture are the daily decisions of administrators, judges, and state and local officials, as well as members of Congress engaged in the quotidian business of passing appropriations, reauthorizations, and budget reconciliation bills. Taken individually, these decisions might seem like small potatoes, but collectively they can produce significant policy change.
Critics of the Constitution overlook the fact that by creating multiple “veto points,” our political system simultaneously creates multiple points of access for policy entrepreneurs and claimants. Every “veto point” that can be used to block action is also an “opportunity point” that can be used to initiate or augment government activity.
Consider, for example, the problem of global warming. Neither Congress nor the White House has yet taken steps to reduce carbon emissions. But state governments have acted. Nine northeastern states reached an accord promising to reduce power plant emissions by 10 percent by 2020. In 2006, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an agreement to curb global warming by capping certain emissions, declaring, “California will not wait for our federal government to take strong action on global warming.”
More important, the Supreme Court has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gases. In response, the EPA has issued new rules that limit carbon dioxide emissions from industrial sources. This is just the beginning of its regulatory efforts.
Given the structure of the Clean Air Act, it is unlikely that this will be a particularly effective or efficient form of regulation. But the worse the EPA proposal, the stronger the incentives for congressional action. After all, if Congress fails to act, the EPA’s flawed plan will go into effect. As The New York Times reported, “Administration officials consistently say they would much prefer that Congress write new legislation . . . but they are clearly holding it in reserve as a prod to reluctant lawmakers.”
To take another example, how did Congress manage to pass controversial legislation guaranteeing every disabled student a “free appropriate public education,” complete with an “individualized education plan,” provision of “related services,” and a promise that each student would be placed in the “least restrictive environment”? The answer is that the courts acted first, suggesting (rather obliquely) that students with disabilities might have a constitutional right to an adequate education.
This forced state governments to spend much more on special education, which led them to demand that the federal government provide the money needed to comply with this federal mandate, which led Congress to provide both more money and more federal regulation, which led to more litigation and more federal requirements, which led to state demands for even more money, and so on. This is a vivid illustration of how separation of powers and federalism can produce not gridlock, but a game of institutional leapfrog that results in a steady expansion of government programs.
How did affirmative action—highly unpopular with the American public—become embedded in so many federal programs? Slowly, subtly, and at times surreptitiously, a long series of court decisions, agency rules, and complex legislative provisions injected the presumption of proportional representation into federal civil rights programs.
How did the federal government come to set national standards for state mental institutions, schools for the developmentally disabled, nursing homes, and prisons? Largely through litigation and consent decrees negotiated by the Department of Justice.
Why has the means-tested Medicaid program grown faster than the supposedly sacrosanct Medicare program? After all, the former serves the poor, while the latter provides benefits to one of the most potent political forces in American politics, the elderly.
According to Lawrence Brown and Michael Sparer of the Columbia School of Public Health, part of the explanation is the shrewd incrementalism of congressional entrepreneurs such as Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who steadily added federal Medicaid mandates to budget reconciliation bills in the late 1980s.
The combination of state and federal funding and control over Medicaid, Brown and Sparer note, had the effect of “prompting coverage expansions during good times [the feds paid most of the bill] and deterring cutbacks even in bad times [every state dollar saved meant two or three federal dollars lost].”
Instead of promoting a “race to the bottom,” our post–New Deal “cooperative federalism” has stimulated expansion of the welfare state. This effect is not limited to health care. The respected federalism scholar Richard Nathan has concluded that, “US federalism’s dominant effect has been to expand the scope and spending of the social sector.”
Those looking for evidence of gridlock in Washington might point to Congress’s failure in 1998 to pass legislation imposing a large tax on tobacco products and limiting tobacco advertising.
Soon after that bill died in the Senate, though, state attorneys general reached a settlement with tobacco companies that included a $250 billion settlement—to be paid to state treasuries—and unprecedented limits on advertising, sponsorships, and lobbying by tobacco companies. Having lost narrowly in one arena, anti-tobacco activists prevailed in another.
When the Securities and Exchange Commission was criticized for regulating Wall Street too laxly, another state attorney general, New York’s Eliot Spitzer, stepped into what he perceived as a policy void. When the Obama administration appeared too tolerant of AIG’s bonuses, Spitzer’s successor, Andrew Cuomo, took aggressive steps to expose the miscreants.
In area after area, the competition and multiple avenues of access created by the Constitution provide opportunities to prevail for those who seek to expand the public sector. Policy entrepreneurs have learned how to use these features of our political system to their advantage. As Representative Waxman, one of the most successful of these entrepreneurs, once put it, “Incrementalism may not get much press, but it does work.”
In The Welfare State Nobody Knows (2008), political scientist Christopher Howard argues that the American welfare state is much larger than is generally recognized. We fail to appreciate its size because our welfare state provides benefits through so many programs (at least 77 separate means-tested federal programs provide assistance to the poor) and in such indirect ways (such as loan guarantees, refundable tax credits, and tax exemptions).
Our fragmented welfare state reflects our fragmented political system. As Howard suggests, we need to understand how our peculiar political system has produced a different type of welfare state, not simply keep repeating the mistaken claim that it has produced a small one.
At the heart of all serious political analysis lies Henny Youngman’s famous response to the question “How’s your wife?”: “Compared to what?” At one time or another we have all been frustrated or even enraged by the delays, irrationalities, and complexities of our political system. If we were starting from scratch, no one in his right mind would give Wyoming, Vermont, or Rhode Island two seats in the US Senate.
The big question is, What is the alternative? Most critics seem to assume that the answer is parliamentary government. Not, of course, the unstable, factious, multiparty coalition governments one finds in Italy or Israel. Nor would they welcome the insulated, faction-ridden, and corrupt system of Japan, where a single party has dominated for more than 60 years.
Rather, reformers assume that we would naturally develop the stable two-or three-party Westminster-style parliamentary government found in Britain, Australia, and (at one time, at least) Canada.
My guess is that these reformers would have a hard time convincing most Americans that the British form of government is more democratic than what we have now. Who voted for Prime Minister David Cameron other than 34,000 members of his Witney constituency? What do you mean, ordinary people can’t vote in party primaries—you intend to allow party bosses to choose the nominees? Elections held whenever the incumbent prime minister finds it convenient? A powerful elite senior civil service without much oversight by elected representatives?
Significant movement in that direction would provoke a populist revolt in this country that would make the Tea Party look, well, like weak tea.
Do we have any evidence that parliamentary governments are any better at governing? The answer, I think, is no. The best analysis I know of is a Brookings Institution volume edited by political scientists R. Kent Weaver and Bert A. Rockman, Do Institutions Matter? Government Capabilities in the United States and Abroad. At the risk of oversimplifying the book’s careful analysis, let me note three of the editors’ conclusions, which ring even truer today than when the book was published 20 years ago.
First, most of the problems facing the United States today “are shared by all industrial democracies.” In particular, “problems with balancing budgets are ubiquitous. All elected (and most unelected) governments are reluctant to impose losses on pensioners . . . . Particular institutional arrangements do not cause these governance problems; they are inherent in complex societies and in democratic government.”
Second, there are “direct tradeoffs” between institutional capabilities. The fragmented American political system “generates a lot of policy innovation” because it promotes “policy entrepreneurship from disparate sources.” But this innovation “tends to be at the piecemeal level of individual programs rather than comprehensive, sector-wide policies.” Unfortunately, institutional arrangements that are better at producing comprehensive reform are also “likely to create risks of policy instability” and to overlook interests not well represented within party organizations.
Third, the contrast between parliamentary and separation-of-powers systems “captures only a small part” of the differences between regimes. “Second-tier institutional arrangements” such as electoral rules and norms established within legislative bodies “influence government capacity at least as much as do the separation or fusion of executive and legislative power.”
If fundamental political change such as a shift to a parliamentary system is unlikely to produce significant benefits, and even less likely to gain public support, then it behooves us to focus instead on the “second-tier institutional arrangements” that are equally important and considerably more malleable.
Consider, for example, that today a single US senator can put a “hold” on a nomination or a piece of legislation because the Senate conducts so much of its business through unanimous consent agreements. Use of both senatorial holds and filibusters has escalated in recent years, often with serious consequences. Senate rules—even those on filibuster and cloture—can probably be changed by majority vote once obstructionism becomes too obvious and too unpopular.
In 2005, Democrats used the filibusters to block a number of President Bush’s judicial nominees. This led the Republican majority to threaten to pull the trigger on “the nuclear option,” that is, to limit filibusters on judicial nominations. The result was a compromise: Democrats agreed to place holds on only two nominees if the Republicans would not change the formal rules.
A number of Democratic senators have advocated instituting further limits on the filibuster when the 113th Congress convenes this January. Democrats and Republicans alike have been the victims of senatorial obstructionism, and the Senate’s reputation has suffered. As a consequence, rules that once seemed invulnerable might soon be subject to revision.
There are many other ways Congress and the executive can alter second-tier rules to increase our capacity to cope with the serious problems that confront us. For example, during the 1990s the so-called PAYGO rules (for “pay-as-you-go”) helped Congress reduce the federal budget deficit by requiring that any new tax cuts or spending be offset by new revenue or by savings elsewhere in the budget. “Fast-track” procedures have helped temper parochialism in trade legislation.
The Base Realignment and Closure Commission gave Congress a mechanism to reduce unnecessary military spending by shutting down the many congressionally protected bases the Pentagon considered outmoded. Legislation exempting budget reconciliation bills from filibusters has made the budget process somewhat more rational and majoritarian—and allowed the Obama administration’s health care proposal to become law.
Conventional arguments about gridlock not only ignore our political system’s capacity for major policy change, but imprudently focus our attention on constitutional changes that are neither feasible nor likely to address our present discontents. The gridlock metaphor tends to gloss over the fact that our political institutions are surprisingly good at innovation, but depressingly bad at coordinating the many responsibilities we have taken on.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in our inability to bring taxing and spending into line. Since 2000, Congress has done an excellent job of enacting tax cuts and creating new entitlements. But that has only made our fiscal problems worse. Imposing budgetary pain in a political system as responsive to public opinion as ours is extraordinarily hard. Making progress on this crucial task does not require systemic institutional reform, but, rather, adjustment of a variety of second-tier rules in order to focus public attention on the aggregate and long-term consequences of frenetic government activity.
Why Gridlock Is Good (If You You're A Progressive)
We also learn from Deepak Chopra the about the merits of Gridlock for a 'progressive ' sector of the American voting polity:
"There is widespread lamentation over the current gridlock in politics. After a quick shot of elation for Democrats -- which I wholeheartedly shared in -- Washington went back to the status quo. Commentators point out that the same players are sitting in the same seats. The chances for tax reform and a solution to immigration may have improved slightly, we are told, but with more than 50 Tea Party members in the House and battle lines drawn everywhere on ideological lines, the news isn't good for successful negotiations.
I accept all of that, but it seems to me that gridlock is good for the progressive side, and liberals shouldn't join the general lamentation. Gridlock is the political equivalent of a medically induced coma. Basic life functions continue while a critical disease runs its course. Being in a coma isn't good for anyone, but when the disease is worse, a coma may be the only way to return to health.
In Washington's case, the disease is right-wing reaction. Its effects have been dire already: drastic economic unfairness, the Iraq war, control of Congress by lobbyists, intractable ideologues infecting the democratic process, and a draconian war on drugs that has filled our prisons comparably to what Stalin did in the Gulag (according to Fareed Zakaria, America's prison population has quadrupled since 1980, almost totally due to drug convictions, and we now incarcerate people at 10 times the rate of many other developed countries).
To halt the spread of reactionary policies, gridlock brings a coma-like stasis. But the other part of an induced coma is that nature takes its course to heal the patient. That is happening, too. The reelection of President Obama held back the worst aspects of the right that Romney pandered to. It allowed four more years for demographics to continue to outnumber the Republican base (the party has already lost the popular vote in five of the last six elections). Less noticed but still good is the rise of a younger generation of Christian fundamentalists who do not share their parents' rigid Bible belief.
When all these forces have come to fruition, the state of gridlock should have run its course in 20 years, 10 if we are lucky. It took 30 years for the electorate to swing right, gradually driving out better candidates because they were unwilling to be vilified and face Willie Horton tactics. Ten years is only a fraction of that. Scorched-earth tactics didn't defeat Obama.
Good candidates may take heart and start to return. For the time being, the crystal ball isn't clear. Human nature is stubborn, and there is no viable reason for the intractable right wing to cede power in Congress. They suffered pain in the last election, but pain doesn't create change, as history abundantly shows us. Situations that contain implacable divisions (Sunni vs. Shiite, Israel vs. the Palestinians, slave owners vs. abolitionists) don't heal; they fracture.
The good news for our body politic is that we have already broken the fever, but not in the way that Joe Biden called for when he foresaw the House accepting compromise after Obama won. They won't, just as the Republican Party won't become less radical through defeat. At best the two sides will lurch toward partial solutions with teeth grinding all the way. The rise of reactionary forces over 30 years has depended on legitimizing the worst in human nature, the side where irrational prejudice, resentment and fear are lurking. If we are honest with ourselves, each of us feels these impulses.
But the essence of progressivism is to resist the worst and nurture the best through idealism and fair-mindedness. By acting like an adult and never giving way to revenge, Obama has used the patient tactic of leaning against a wall until it moves. He is counting on the electorate to wake up to its better nature. If he succeeds -- and I think he will -- Lincoln won't be the only president from Illinois who was a man of destiny. Obama is presiding over a shift in consciousness that will restore American uniqueness by curing us of a malady that was heading toward disaster.
Racial Prejudice and Media:
Hall argues that the media's main purpose is to produce and transform ideologies. Hall defines ideologies as "those images, concepts and premises which provide the frameworks through which we represent, interpret, understand, and 'make sense' of some aspect of social existence [Dines & Humez, 2003, p. 89]."
Hall notes that ideology and language are distinct from each other and yet language is necessary to transform ideology by establishing new meanings through articulation. Individuals produce ideological statements in an effort to "make sense of social relations and our place in them [Dines & Humez, 2003, p. 90]."
As all individuals make ideological statements (which tend to just be descriptive statements), it is a collective process by which ideologies are transformed. This process is generally an unconscious one. Individuals identify with their ideologies and this allows them to discuss them.
The media produces representations of the social world. Our definitions for race are constructed through the media. These ideas are not uniform and are not limited to "a single, racist conception of the world [Dines & Humez, 2003, p. 91]."
Hall proposes two types of racism in media: overt racism (which occurs when the favorable coverage is openly given) and inferential racism (which occurs when events relating to race are represented in what appear to be a natural situation, such as a fictional television program). Hall also discusses the way races were first generalized and stereotyped in television and film.
Many of these "old movies" are still available for viewing and can influence interpretations and understandings of race. Current representations continue to contain traces of racial representations which lead to "multiple, conflicting interpretations [Dines & Humez, 2003, p.95]." Hall uses Barbie to describe how reality (in this case, the reality of femininity) can be manufactured.
Hall states that post-industrialization, globalization and migration have significantly reshaped our cities (2004). Cities are divided by "class and wealth, by rights to and over property, by occupation and use, by life-style and culture, by race and nationality, ethnicity and religion, and by gender and sexuality [Hall, 2004, p.2]." The boundaries and zones that are created overlap and blur into each other. However, people identify with their own neighborhoods (Hall, 1991).
This model of communication stresses non-linear communication. The sender is an encoder who encodes messages that are sent to the receivers or decoders. The messages are effected by distortions and also influenced by other factors such as physical context, cultural context, education, the gender of the encoder and decoder, the role in society held by the encoder decoder and, as well, their ethics (Hall 1980)
Definition of Encoding And Decoding:Encoding: The Act Of Producing The Message. Examples: Writing, Speaking, making a gesture.
Decoding: The Act of Understanding the message. Examples: Reading, Listening, Deciphering A Gesture.
The Process of Encoding and Decoding Is Never separate. These Actions always work together (Pierce, 2009)
Hall's Encoding and Decoding model of communication states that:
-the meaning of the message isn't determined by the sender
-the encoder's message isn't transparent
-the decoder doesn't receive the message passively ( Hall, 1980)
According to Hall, the receiver may decode the message in one of three ways:
-Dominant-hegemonic position -
The Decipher Identifies The Message And Agrees With It.
The Decoder Negotiates An Understanding Of the Message And Maintains A Neutral Stance
The Decoder Disagrees With The Message And Rejects It.
Connecting this communication theory to blogging in the classroom:
Information on blogging:
-a website maintained usually by one individual, known as a blogger
-the topic of the website is usually devoted to one topic that is regularly updated
-entries ( known as posts) are displayed in reverse-chronological order
-readers are allowed to comment on the posts
-bloggers encourage readers to comment and begin a dialogue with them and other readers
How are blogs used in the classroom:
-a place to publish student work
-as an electronic journal that students can contribute to everyday
-teachers can post a question and students can respond by commenting
-as a way to teach New Media techniques in the classroom
Connecting this communication theory to blogging in the classroom:
Hall’s non-linear theory of communication explains how messages aren’t received passively by receivers but rather decoded and given meaning that is both personal and individual. Messages are sent back and forth between senders and receivers just as in blogging
Culture as Public Pedagogy:
The educational capacity of culture redefines public pedagogy — the politics of power, the political nature of representation and social changes. Hall’s theory analyzes how authority and power actually work in linking texts to contexts, ideology to specific relations of power, and political projects to existing social formations.
Public pedagogy for Hall represents a moral and political practice rather than merely a technical procedure. Hall’s theory also provides the framework for work culture, students bringing knowledge with them, and how public discussions shape knowledge. Public pedagogy becomes part of a critical practice designed to understand the social context of everyday life as lived in relation to power.
Henry Giroux argued that Hall’s work is refreshingly theoretical, contextual and rigorous. It opens dialogue but refuses any reflection on a position. Hall limits the sphere or form of political work such as working in public schools or in museums.
Hall suggested that before accepting any information from any social realm, source of the information should be authenticated based on reception theory. During Medieval Europe, paradigm of knowledge system was based on Platonic Philosophy. In postmodern era, paradigm of knowledge system is based on social, material and situated knowledge (social experience and interaction) [Strickland, 2007].
Therefore, cultural studies have bigger impact in shaping a broader set of discourses and social configurations at work in the dominant social order.
Due to new electronic media, hegemony will key driving force for social changes and knowledge. Hall’s considers social changes as a precondition for a politics that moves in the direction of a less hierarchical, more radical democratic social order. We live in a mixed, mongrelized work; our identity was formed in relation to the formation of a community itself.
Critique of the Theory:Cultural studies is not a unified theory.
Doesn’t promote public interest.
Cultural studies lacks scientific method.
There is no agreement on method and validity.
Does not focus upon observing, describing, interpreting, and drawing conclusions but rather examines the role of representation in language, image, and text.Its field may be larger & complex.
Stuart Hall Encoding-Decoding Method and Theory
As a cultural theorist, Stuart Hall critiques the practices of everyday life, particularly systems of meaning channelled through the televisual medium. From his analysis of television, Stuart Hall developed a theoretical model to explain the influence of television broadcasts (advertisements and sitcoms).
Stuart Hall’s called this theory the encoding/decoding model. The basic premise of Hall’s encoding/decoding model of communication is that the media apparatus has an interest in production, circulation, distribution/consumption, and reproduction rather than conveying a message (Gurevitch, Scannell, 2003: 139). S
Stuart Hall’s encoding/decoding model focuses on the ideological dimensions of message production and reception in a capitalist world.There is much validity to this theory, and it to understand it completely, one must be knowledgeable of Hall’s Marxist background, and the implications of his concepts.
This essay will make the case for the utility of this model through an analysis of three Apple Inc. iPod advertisements via Hall’s concepts, arguing that his production-reception model is a useful approach to understanding modern mass media messages, especially advertising.
In order to adequately understand the encoding/decoding model by Stuart Hall, it is necessary to draw connections to the basic foundations of this theory. To begin, Stuart Hall was profoundly influenced by Marxist theory, particularly ideas concerning the proletariat struggle against the bourgeoisie.
Hall’s cultural theory is deeply rooted in Marxist theory with which he has translated the intent of media from its base intent of send-message-receive towards an alternative system of production, circulation, distribution/consumption, and reproduction (Gurevitch, Scannell, 2003: 139). In his autobiography, Stuart Hall explains that he was influenced by
The questions that Marxism as a theoretical project put on the agenda: the power, the global reach and history-making capacities of capital; the question of class; the complex relationships between power, which is an easier term to establish in the discourses of culture than exploitation, and exploitation.
The question of a general theory which could, in a critical way, connect together in a critical reflection different domains of life, politics and theory, theory and practice, economic, political, ideological questions and so on; the notion of critical knowledge itself and the production of critical knowledge as a practice. (McGuigan, Gray, 1992: 100)
Here, Stuart Hall explains the reasons why Marxism yielded an immense amount of critical analysis for him. He asserted that issues concerning:
1) power, class dynamics, the discourse of exploitation,
2) politics, life, economy, and
3) hegemonic and ideological ramifications towards production and critical knowledge resonated from the media. Understanding the relevance of why Hall utilized Marxism is crucial for the analysis of the encoding/decoding model.
Drawing the connection between Hall’s theoretical origins of Marxism and the encoding/decoding model, one will receive an enhanced understanding of his theoretical conception of media discourse. With the acknowledgement of Hall’s Marxist background, the next step is understanding the potential for his theory in today’s televisual discourse
.In the encoding/decoding model of media discourses developed by Stuart Hall, the meaning of the text is located between its producer and the reader (Hall, 1980). The producer (encoder) framed (or encoded) meaning in a certain way, while the reader (decoder) decodes it differently according to his/her personal background, the various different social situations and frames of interpretation (McQuail, 1994).
According to Hall, the meaning within a text is neither a fixed concept, nor a totally uncertain ‘polysemy’ (Fiske, 1986). Although Hall notes the polysemic nature of meaning in text, one must inevitably take a ‘position’. Such a position is the balancing point in the process of dynamics of encoder and decoder, the result of tension between encoder’s dominant intention and decoder’s reading strategies.
According to this hypothesis, encoder is trying to transfer his / her version of a certain meaning based on his / her personal background and cultural perspective to the decoder, while the decoder will adapt this ‘original’ meaning into a ‘new’ version according to his / her background and particularities. In order to conceptualize this transference of meaning from encoder to decoder.
Once the intended meaning is produced, it is then followed by the medium of discourse, but “at a certain point, however, the broadcasting structures must yield encoded messages in the form of a meaningful discourse” (Hall, 1980: 130).
Through televisual discourse, meaning is decoded by the audience. Through this decoding process, the ‘new’ version of meaning may be consistent with the ‘original’ one, or be oppositional to it; however, in most circumstances, it is always a result of negotiation. Essentially, Stuart Hall’s encoding/decoding model has wider implications once the audience manifests their own meaning.
In order to conceptualize the implications of Stuart Hall’s encoding/decoding model and audience effects, three iPod advertisements will be deconstructed to illustrate three reading strategies that Hall asserts as ‘positions’ that decoders take.
Stuart Hall characterized three major reading strategies that, even with a polysemic underlying interpretation, are chosen by the audience in the decoding process. As an artifact to aid in this explanation of the decoding process, three iPod advertisements will illustrate the significance of Hall’s three positions.
Firstly, when the decoder’s position is near to the encoder’s, he / she will interpret within the frame of the dominant code—the “preferred reading” (Hall, 1980: 136). The dominant encoded meaning in this advertisement is perpetual dancing through break-dance moves and other very difficult dance techniques. Essentially, the dominant intent of this advertisement is excitement, joy, and how one may experience a mind-altering temporary pleasure from an iPod.
Although this reaction to music is unrealistic and many people in real life do not engage their music in random dancing on the street, Apple has instilled this pleasurable, almost innate response from musical enjoyment. When this advertisement was released, Apple Inc., in their annual report of 2001, reported that: “Net gains before taxes related to the Company’s non-current debt and equity investments of $75 million, $367 million, $230 million, and $40 million were recognized in 2001, 2000, 1999, and 1998, respectively” (Apple Inc, 2001: 20), which elucidates the number of people who have decoded the initial meaning of the encoder.
The producer (Apple) professed (encoded) consumption of their product (iPod) and were then broken down (decoded) by the audience in the same way as the encoder intended, in which the high volume of sales on iPods is reflected by Apple Inc.’s 2001 Annual Report. Stylistically, In Figure 2 of Apple Inc.’s first iPod advertisement, there were no flashy colors, or exuberant contrasts but with had sophisticated dancing—a feature of Apple’s iPod advertisements it would keep through many years afterwards.
Many years later, Apple Inc. formulated a new advertising strategy to excel enthusiasm for the iPod and increase sales (Figure 3[2005 advertisement]and Figure 4 [2006 advertisement]). As predicted, Apple Inc.’s Annual report in 2006 explained: “Net sales of iPods increased $3.1 billion or 69% during 2006 compared to 2005. Unit sales of iPods totaled 39.4 million in 2006, which represents an increase of 75% from 22.5 million iPod units sold in 2005” (Apple Inc, 2006: 55).
Once an individual purchases an iPod, their decoded purchases an iPod, the individual may meet individuals who also have an iPod and then proceed to dance with them. This is very unrealistic, although many individuals who succumb to this dominant-hegemonic position are led in this manner in order to purchase an iPod.
Secondly, when the decoder’s position is opposite to the encoder’s, the decoder will create his/her own version of the message with a totally different intention; the decoder may read subversively and against the dominant meanings from an oppositional point of view (Hall, 1980: 137). When an individual is functioning under this position, Hall states that, “He/she is operating with what we must call an oppositional code” (Hall, 1980: 137). This will undermine the initial message and attempt to rationalize that it is an object that promotes mainstreaming, or a unified hegemony that Apple exerts to promote their iPods. In addition, another individual taking an oppositional position may consider that Apple Inc. is causing major environmental damages and poses a severe health risk. For instance, in an interview with an environmentalist, Giles Slade noted that:
Steve Jobs came out recently and pretty much admitted that the iPod should be thought of as a disposable product. It is a slick, sleek thing, and you would never consider that it comes from a fundamentally dirty industry. In fact, the amount of toxins that go into an iPod is enormous. There are more than 68 million of these things out there, and they are full of cadmium, beryllium and lead. And Apple has deliberately created them so they only last a year. The company has a voluntary take-back program, but how many people use it? They won’t say. I am hugely personally disappointed in Steve Jobs. (Tyee Books)
Here, Slade has asserted the negativity of iPod exposure and its long-standing impact on the environment. In a deeply disturbed way, Slade has transformed the initial meaning of Figure 2, Figure 3, and Figure 4 in a way that was contrary to Apple Inc.’s encoded meaning.
Thirdly, and in many cases, the decoder will adopt a negotiated position, which is to accept some aspects of the dominant meaning, but reject and alters others, to suit their understandings and goals. For example, an anonymous blog commenter who initially took a negotiated reading to the dominant code posted:
My friend just gave me his old iPod and I began the investigation on how to change the battery. I couldn’t believe that the unit is made so as the owner is not able to do their own battery replacement. Apple wants $100 to have the battery replaced? NOT! I’m glad I didn’t buy an iPod and won’t. Somebody is getting ripped and it isn’t Apple. (MoPhos & Photos)
This individual had clearly been skeptical about purchasing an iPod, favoring a waiting delay period before he/she understood every potential bug in Apple’s iPods. This negotiated reading creates a very skeptical audience who may or may not purchase the iPod. They may be persuaded by each of these advertising strategies slightly, but not enough to fully gain their cooperation with purchasing the iPod. Instead of looking directly at the advertisements and interest with the decoder may decide to look at the stylistic features, or the specifications of a particular model of the iPod and based on them, the decoder may decide to oppose purchasing an iPod or want to purchase them.
In this stage, Stuart Hall calls it the “a mixture of adaptive and oppositional elements: it acknowledges the legitimacy of the hegemonic definitions to make the grand significations [abstract], while, at a more restricted, situational [situated] level, it makes it own ground rules—it operates with exceptions to the rule” (Hall, 1980: 137). The negotiated decoding strategy is oftentimes what the audience undertakes in order to completely understand the product they purchase, in this case an iPod.
These three positions, as Hall has illustrated, function as an imperative decoding strategy that the decoders undertake. It is the intent of the encoder, in this case Apple, to utilize a predictive measure targeting individuals who decode in a negotiated position and oppositional position, especially. Apple Inc. is fully aware that decoders who undertake oppositional and negotiated readings exist and, subsequently, their advertising strategies will always change until they have fully persuaded the negotiator to become their product consumer and the oppositional decoder to become at least a negotiated decoder.
Stuart Hall’s encoding/decoding model is an imperative explanation outlining the intent of advertising strategists, such as Apple Inc. and their three advertisements deconstructed in this essay. Using Stuart Hall’s model, the intent of advertisers becomes clear; advertisers are the dominant encoders of a messages only to be decoded by the audience in a seemingly clear translation from product to consumer. Although decoders may have multiple interpretations, argues Hall, they inevitably take a position in which he outlines three possible routes of decoding:
1) the dominant-hegemonic position,
2) the oppositional position, and
3) the negotiated position.
The intent of advertisers and their encoding strategies are maximizing wealth and continuing the means production, circulation, distribution/consumption, and reproduction. Through this process, positions may be confronted with the same encoded messages throughout many years.
This perpetuating cycle continues to further capital, to enforce the continuation of the product or service. In this sense, Stuart Hall’s encoding/decoding model proves a valuable utility for the analysis of advertisements, their intent, and the methods of decoding audiences take. It may also help us untangle the gridlock in the media today.
Video is clogging the Internet. How we choose to unclog it will have far-reaching implications.
We are Informed, at length in this part of the Hub about the Gridlock that has taken place on the Internet by Larry Hardesty in the following manner:
An obscure blogger films his three-year-old daughter reciting the plot of the first Star Wars movie. He stitches together the best parts–including the sage advice “Don’t talk back to Darth Vader; he’ll getcha”–and posts them on the video-sharing website YouTube. Seven million people download the file.
A baby-faced University of Minnesota graduate student with an improbably deep voice films himself singing a mind-numbingly repetitive social-protest song called “Chocolate Rain”: 23 million downloads. A self-described “inspirational comedian” films the six-minute dance routine that closes his presentations, which summarizes the history of popular dance from Elvis to Eminem: 87 million downloads.
Video downloads are sucking up bandwidth at an unprecedented rate. A short magazine article might take six minutes to read online. Watching “The Evolution of Dance” also takes six minutes–but it requires you to download 100 times as much data. “The Evolution of Dance” alone has sent the equivalent of 250,000 DVDs’ worth of data across the Internet.
And YouTube is just the tip of the iceberg. Fans of Lost or The Office can watch missed episodes on network websites. Netflix now streams videos to its subscribers over the Internet, and both Amazon and Apple’s iTunes music store sell movies and episodes of TV shows online. Peer-to-peer file-sharing networks have graduated from transferring four-minute songs to hour-longSopranos episodes. And all of these videos are higher quality–and thus more bandwidth intensive–than YouTube’s.
Last November, an IT research firm called Nemertes made headlines by reporting that Internet traffic was growing by about 100 percent a year and that in the United States, user demand would exceed network capacity by 2010. Andrew Odlyzko, who runs the Minnesota Internet Traffic Studies program at the University of Minnesota, believes that the growth rate is closer to 50 percent. At that rate, he says, expected improvements in standard network equipment should keep pace with traffic increases.
But if the real rate of traffic growth is somewhere between Nemertes’s and Odlyzko’s estimates, or if high-definition video takes off online, then traffic congestion on the Internet could become much more common. And the way that congestion is relieved will have implications for the principles of openness and freedom that have come to characterize the Internet.
Whose Bits Win?
The Internet is a lot like a highway, but not, contrary to popular belief, a superhighway. It’s more like a four-lane state highway with traffic lights every five miles or so. A packet of data can blaze down an optical fiber at the speed of light, but every once in a while it reaches an intersection where it has the option of branching off down another fiber.
There it encounters a box called an Internet router, which tells it which way to go. If traffic is light, the packet can negotiate the intersection with hardly any loss of speed. But if too many packets reach the intersection at the same time, they have to queue up and wait for the router to usher them through. When the wait gets too long, you’ve got congestion.
The transmission control protocol, or TCP–one of the Internet’s two fundamental protocols–includes an algorithm for handling congestion. Basically, if a given data link gets congested, TCP tells all the computers sending packets over it to halve their transmission rates. The senders then slowly ratchet their rates back up–until things get congested again. But if your computer’s transmission rate is constantly being cut in half, you can end up with much less bandwidth than your broadband provider’s ads promised you.
Sometimes that’s not a problem. If you’re downloading a video to watch later, you might leave your computer for a few hours and not notice 10 minutes of congestion. But if you’re using streaming audio to listen to a live World Series game, every little audio pop or skip can be infuriating. If a router could just tell which kind of traffic was which, it could wave the delay-sensitive packets through and temporarily hold back the others, and everybody would be happy.
But the idea that an Internet service provider (ISP) would make value judgments about the packets traveling over its network makes many people uneasy. The Internet, as its name was meant to imply, is not a single network. It’s a network of networks, most of which the average user has never heard of. A packet traveling long distances often has to traverse several networks.
Once ISPs get in the business of discriminating between packets, what’s to prevent them from giving their own customers’ packets priority, to the detriment of their competitors’? Suppose an ISP has partnered with–or owns–a Web service, such as a search engine or a social-networking site.
Or suppose it offers a separate service–like phone or television–that competes with Internet services. If it can treat some packets better than others, it has the means to an unfair advantage over its own rivals, or its partners’, or its subsidiaries’.
The idea that the Internet should be fair–that it shouldn’t pick favorites among users, service providers, applications, and types of content–is generally known as net neutrality. And it’s a principle that has been much in the news lately, after its apparent violation by Comcast, the second-largest ISP in the United States.
Last summer, it became clear that Comcast was intentionally slowing down peer-to-peer traffic sent over its network by programs using the popular file-sharing protocol BitTorrent. The Federal Communications Commission agreed to investigate, in a set of hearings held at Harvard and Stanford Universities in early 2008.
It wasn’t BitTorrent Inc. that had complained to the FCC, but rather a company called Vuze, based in Palo Alto, CA, which uses the BitTorrent protocol–perfectly legally to distribute high-definition video over the Internet. As a video distributor, Vuze is in competition, however lopsided, with Comcast. By specifically degrading the performance of BitTorrent traffic, Vuze argued, Comcast was giving itself an unfair advantage over a smaller rival.
At the Harvard hearing, Comcast executive vice president David Cohen argued that his company had acted only during periods of severe congestion, and that it had interfered only with traffic being uploaded to its network by computers that weren’t simultaneously performing downloads.
That was a good indication, Cohen said, that the computers were unattended. By slowing the uploads, he said, Comcast wasn’t hurting the absent users, and it was dramatically improving the performance of other applications running over the network.
Whatever Comcast’s motivations may have been, its run-in with Vuze graphically illustrates the conflict between congestion management and the principle of net neutrality. “An operator that is just managing the cost of its service by managing congestion may well have to throttle back heavy users,” says Bob Briscoe, chief researcher at BT’s Networks Research Centre in Ipswich, England.
“An operator that wants to pick winners and chooses to say that this certain application is a loser may also throttle back the same applications. And it’s very difficult to tell the difference between the two.”
To many proponents of net neutrality, the easy way out of this dilemma is for ISPs to increase the capacity of their networks. But they have little business incentive to do so. “Why should I put an enhancement into my platform if somebody else is going to make the money?” says David Clark, a senior research scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, who from 1981 to 1989 was the Internet’s chief protocol architect.
“Vuze is selling HD television with almost no capital expenses whatsoever,” Clark says. Should an ISP spend millions–or billions–on hardware upgrades “so that Vuze can get into the business of delivering television over my infrastructure with no capital costs whatsoever, and I don’t get any revenues from this?” For ISPs that also offer television service, the situation is worse. If an increase in network capacity helps services like Vuze gain market share, the ISP’s massive capital outlay could actually reduce its revenues. “If video is no longer a product [the ISP] can mark up because it’s being delivered over packets,” Clark says, “he has no business model.”
As Clark pointed out at the Harvard FCC hearing, ISPs do have the option of defraying capital expenses by charging heavy users more than they charge light users. But so far, most of them have resisted that approach. “What they have been reluctant to do is charge per byte,” says Odlyzko, “or else have caps on usage–only so many gigabytes, beyond which you’re hit with a punitive tariff.”
The industry “is strangely attached to this one-size-fits-all model,” says Timothy Wu, a Columbia Law School professor who’s generally credited with coining the term “network neutrality.” “They’ve got people used to an all-you-can-eat pricing program,” Wu says, “and it’s hard to change pricing plans.”
Absent a change in pricing structures, however, ISPs that want to both manage congestion and keep regulators happy are in a bind. Can technology help get them out of it?
The Last Bit
To BT’s Bob Briscoe, talk of ISPs’ unfair congestion-management techniques is misleading, because congestion management on the Internet was never fair. Telling computers to halve their data rates in the face of congestion, as the TCP protocol does, is fair only if all those computers are contributing equally to the congestion.
But in today’s Internet, some applications gobble up bandwidth more aggressively than others. If my application is using four times as much bandwidth as yours, and we both halve our transmission rates, I’m still using twice as much bandwidth as you were initially. Moreover, if my gluttony is what caused the congestion in the first place, you’re being penalized for my greed. “Ideally, we would want to allow everyone the freedom to use exactly what they wanted,” Briscoe says. “The problem is that congestion represents the limit on other people’s freedom that my freedom causes.”
Briscoe has proposed a scheme in which greedy applications can, for the most part, suck up as much bandwidth as they want, while light Internet users will see their download speeds increase–even when the network is congested. The trick is simply to allot every Internet subscriber a monthly quota of high-priority data packets that get a disproportionately large slice of bandwidth during periods of congestion. Once people exhaust their quotas, they can keep using the Internet; they’ll just be at the mercy of traffic conditions.
So users will want to conserve high-priority packets. “A browser can tell how big a download is before it starts,” Briscoe says, and by default, the browser would be set to use the high-priority packets only for small files. For tech-savvy users who wanted to prioritize some large file on a single occasion, however, “Some little control panel might allow them to go in, just like you can go in and change the parameters of your network stack if you really want to."
Just granting users the possibility of setting traffic priorities themselves, Briscoe believes, is enough to assuage concerns about network neutrality. “I suspect that 95 percent of customers, if they were given the choice between doing that themselves or the ISP doing it for them, would just say, Oh, sod it, do it for me,” Briscoe says. “The important point is they were asked. And they could have done it themselves. And I think those 5 percent that are complaining are the ones that wish they were asked.”
In Briscoe’s scheme, users could pay more for larger quotas of high-priority packets, but this wouldn’t amount to the kind of usage cap or “punitive tariff” that Odlyzko says ISPs are wary of. Every Internet subscriber would still get unlimited downloads. Some would just get better service during periods of congestion.
In order to determine which packets counted against a user’s quota, of course, ISPs would need to know when the network is congested. And that turns out to be more complicated than it sounds. If a Comcast subscriber in New York and an EarthLink subscriber in California are exchanging data, their packets are traveling over several different networks: Comcast’s, EarthLink’s, and others in between.
If there’s congestion on one of those networks, the sending and receiving computers can tell, because some of their packets are getting lost. But if the congestion is on Comcast’s network, EarthLink doesn’t know about it, and vice versa. That’s a problem if the ISPs are responsible for tracking their customers’ packet quotas.
Briscoe is proposing that when the sending and receiving computers recognize congestion on the link between them, they indicate it to their ISPs by flagging their packets–flipping a single bit from 0 to 1.
Of course, hackers could try to game the system, reprogramming their computers so that they deny that they’ve encountered congestion when they really have. But a computer whose congestion claims are consistently at odds with everyone else’s will be easy to ferret out. Enforcing honesty is probably not the biggest problem for Briscoe’s scheme.
Getting everyone to agree on it is. An Internet packet consists of a payload–a chunk of the Web page, video, or telephone call that’s being transmitted–and a header. The header contains the Internet addresses of the sender and receiver, along with other information that tells routers and the receiving computer how to handle the packet.
When the architects of the Internet designed the Internet protocol (IP), they gave the packet header a bunch of extra bits, for use by yet unimagined services. All those extra bits have been parceled out–except one. That’s the bit Briscoe wants to use.
Among network engineers, Briscoe’s ideas have attracted a lot of attention and a lot of support. But the last bit is a hard sell, and he knows it. “The difficult [part] in doing it is getting it agreed that it should be done,” he says. “Because when you want to change IP, because half of the world is now being built on top of IP, it’s like arguing to change–I don’t know, the rules of cricket or something.”
Someday, the Internet might use an approach much like Briscoe’s to manage congestion. But that day is probably years away. A bandwidth crunch may not be.
Most agree that the recent spike in Internet traffic is due to video downloads and peer-to-peer file transfers, but nobody’s sure how much responsibility each one bears. ISPs know the traffic distributions for their own networks, but they’re not disclosing them, and a given ISP’s distribution may not reflect that of the Internet as a whole. Video downloads don’t hog bandwidth in the way that many peer-to-peer programs do, though. And we do know that peer-to-peer traffic is the type that Comcast clamped down on.
Nonetheless, ISPs and peer-to-peer networks are not natural antagonists. A BitTorrent download may use a lot of bandwidth, but it uses it much more efficiently than a traditional download does; that’s why it’s so fast. In principle, peer-to-peer protocols could help distribute server load across a network, eliminating bottlenecks.
The problem, says Mung Chiang, an associate professor of electrical engineering at Princeton University (and a member of last year’s TR35), is the mutual ignorance that ISPs and peer-to-peer networks have maintained in the name of net neutrality.
ISPs don’t just rely on the TCP protocol to handle congestion. They actively manage their networks, identifying clogged links and routing traffic around them. At the same time, computers running BitTorrent are constantly searching for new peers that can upload data more rapidly and dropping peers whose transmissions have become sluggish.
The problem, according to Chiang, is that peer-to-peer networks respond to congestion much faster than ISPs do. If a bunch of computers running peer-to-peer programs are sending traffic over the same link, they may all see their downloads slow down, so they’ll go looking for new peers.
By the time the ISP decides to route around the congested link, the peer-to-peer traffic may have moved elsewhere: the ISP has effectively sealed off a wide-open pipe. Even worse, its new routing plan might end up sending traffic over links that have since become congested.
But, Chiang says, “Suppose the network operator tells the content distributor something about its network: the route I’m using, the metric I’m using, the way I’m updating my routes. Or the other way around: the content distributor says something about the way it treats servers or selects peers.” Network efficiency improves.
An industry consortium called the P4P Working Group–led by Verizon and the New York peer-to-peer company Pando–is exploring just such a possibility. Verizon and Pando have tested a protocol called P4P, created by Haiyong Xie, a PhD student in computer science at Yale University. With P4P, both ISPs and peer-to-peer networks supply abstract information about their network layouts to a central computer, which blends the information to produce a new, hybridized network map. Peer-to-peer networks can use the map to avoid bottlenecks.
In the trial, the P4P system let Verizon customers using the Fios fiber-optic-cable service and the Pando peer-to-peer network download files three to seven times as quickly as they could have otherwise, says Laird Popkin, Pando’s chief technology officer. To some extent, that was because the protocol was better at finding peers that were part of Verizon’s network, as opposed to some remote network.
Every technical attempt to defeat congestion eventually runs up against the principle of net neutrality, however. Even though BitTorrent Inc. is a core member of the P4P Working Group, its chief technology officer, Eric Klinker, remains leery of the idea that peer-to-peer networks and ISPs would share information. He worries that a protocol like P4P could allow an ISP to misrepresent its network topology in an attempt to keep traffic local, so it doesn’t have to pay access fees to send traffic across other networks.
Even David Clark’s proposal that ISPs simply charge their customers according to usage could threaten neutrality. As Mung Chiang points out, an ISP that also sold TV service could tier its charges so that customers who watched a lot of high-definition Internet TV would always end up paying more than they would have for cable subscriptions. So the question that looms over every discussion of congestion and neutrality is, Does the government need to intervene to ensure that everyone plays fair?
For all Klinker’s concerns about P4P, BitTorrent seems to have concluded that it doesn’t. In February, Klinker had joined representatives of Vuze and several activist groups in a public endorsement of net neutrality legislation proposed by Massachusetts congressman Ed Markey. At the end of March, however, after the Harvard hearings, BitTorrent and Comcast issued a joint press release announcing that they would collaborate to develop methods of peer selection that reduce congestion.
Comcast would take a “protocol-agnostic” approach to congestion management–targeting only heavy bandwidth users, not particular applications–and would increase the amount of bandwidth available to its customers for uploads. BitTorrent, meanwhile, agreed that, “These technical issues can be worked out through private business discussions without the need for government intervention.”
The FCC, says Clark, “Will do something, there’s no doubt, if industry does not resolve the current impasse.” But, he adds, “its possible that the middle-of-the-road answer here is that vigilance from the regulators will impose a discipline on the market that will cause the market to find the solution.”
That would be welcome news to Chiang. “Often, government legislation is done by people who may not know technology that well,” he says, “and therefore they tend to ignore some of the feasibility and realities of the technology.”
But Timothy Wu believes that network neutrality regulations could be written at a level of generality that imposes no innovation-killing restrictions on the market, while still giving the FCC latitude to punish transgressors. There’s ample precedent, he says, for broad proscriptions that federal agencies interpret on a case-by-case basis.
“In employment law, we have a general rule that says you shouldn’t discriminate, but in reality we have the fact that you aren’t allowed to discriminate unless you have a good reason,” he says. “Maybe somebody has to speak Arabic to be a spy. But saying you have to be white to serve food is not the same thing.”
Ultimately, however, “The Internet’s problems have always been best solved collectively, through its long history,” Wu says. “It’s held together by people being reasonable … reasonable and part of a giant community. The fact that it works at all is ridiculous.”
Three Keys To Breaking Government Gridlock
Overcoming it is not a hopeless challenge. the trick is to look for issues beneath the surface
Sometimes we get stuck. When action that would benefit the common good is inhibited by differences among individuals, groups, organizations or political parties, we call it gridlock.
The term of course, comes from a form of traffic congestion that sometimes occurs in cities with a grid-pattern street layout. Imagine we are experiencing congestion in an intersection. It is caused by the backup of traffic from an adjacent intersection, which is caused by a backup at another adjacent intersection, and so on. The engineering solution is not to focus on the congestion in our intersection but to go back to the root cause of the backups at those adjacent intersections.
In the public sector, we see gridlock in many varying manifestations--a city and county government that find it difficult to collaborate even when doing so would be in the interests of both; the federal government and states struggling to work out a simple formula by which states produce better results with less money while getting flexibility from the feds in how they do so; or two city department heads who block collaboration because of their mutual rivalry. And the list goes on.
So how do we overcome gridlock in government? As with traffic gridlock, the breakthroughs lie in unveiling and understanding the deeper issues below the surface. While the particulars will vary from one situation to the next, consider these three clues to discovering and dealing with the root causes of gridlock you may be experiencing.
• First, gridlock is sometimes rooted in a competition over "winning" and "losing." We get stuck because, in this paradigm, success necessarily means that for one party to win, the other must lose. The solution lies in changing the rules about winning and losing. For example, today we are conditioned to think that the debate over federal fiscal policy is a competition between Republicans and Democrats. Who will "win?" Because neither side can afford to let the other win, gridlock is perpetuated. We all lose.
Most Americans know this. Polls show they want the issue resolved. They are tired of having the common good be the loser. Could the definition of success be redefined? Could the voters decide to make the perpetuators of partisan gridlock the losers and those who sit down to work out a deal for the common good the winners? Could the media revisit how it defines this issue?
• Second, gridlock can be rooted in what organizational behaviorists call "representative dynamics." This phenomenon occurs when each constituency, organization or jurisdiction is represented by someone--a legislator, for example--to advance their interests. While representatives from differing parties might be capable of sitting down and working out solutions, their constituencies almost certainly will punish them for "selling out."
We see this in labor negotiations and jurisdictional conflicts as well as in our national fiscal debate. "Getting primaried" has become a term of art in describing the power of intractable constituencies over their representatives.
The key to getting at this root cause is for the representatives to lead in service to the interests of their constituents rather than to follow their narrow positions. "interest-based bargaining" in which the two sides start with declarations of their interests rather than with specific proposals, is based on this principle.
In the partisan political realm, this means our elected officials would help us define our real interests rather than holding so tightly to the constricting narrow positions we have traditionally used as substitutes for those interests. It is much easier to find mutually acceptable solutions — even to something as daunting as our fiscal challenges — using such an approach, sometimes referred to as "win-win bargaining."
• Third, we all fear change and usually avoid it if we can. Breaking gridlock often means that we have to change not only the way we define winning and losing and the way we authorize our representatives but also the way we think and the way we talk. It is not easy to get out of that rut. Social science gives us some clues, however, and our literature is packed with examples and case studies of how to do this.
The key is building trust. In their book "Vitality: Igniting Your Organization's Spirit," my colleagues Mary and Chuck Lofy define trust as "a felt sense of safety." How can we make it safer to enact the changes that are in the interests of the common good? Are there ways to reduce the punitive behaviors that threaten those who would change? Are there safeguards that can be introduced that raise our sense of security? Is there a step-by-step approach that makes it easier for both parties to move toward the common good?
Gridlock need not be the preordained, ultimate state of things. Many cities and counties are finding breakthroughs in collaborating with one another. Many of the nation's governors have joined together to offer practical solutions to the fiscal challenges we face. School districts are working with community groups, businesses and their city governments to improve learning outcomes for kids. And in the Middle East, some Palestinians and Israelis are working together to build opportunities for peace. However large or small, these all are breakthroughs that are worth our study.
Gridlock Shuts US Government
Due to government Gridlock, the US government has been shut down by the belligerent Republicans who are against Obama and also bent on destroying his legacy by demanding that the Affordable Care law be scrapped or dismantled. Up to 40-plus million stand to have a decent health coverage it has begun to unfurl today on 1 October 2013. We pick up the story as told by Rebekah L. Sanders and Erin Kelly who wrote:
With the government hurtling toward a shutdown Monday night, House Republicans scaled back their demands for delays in the nation’s health-care overhaul as the price for essential federal funding. But Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama rejected the proposals as quickly as they were made, leading to the first shutdown of the federal government in nearly 18 years and setting off another round of the blame game between political parties.
In the 11th hour, House Speaker John Boehner called for a committee to be formed between the House and Senate to work out a way to keep the government running.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rebuffed the overture, and House Democrats crowed that Boehner had rejected past offers to form a special committee.
Some Arizona voters, fed up with the stalemate in Congress, pledged to play a blame game of their own and punish both parties in the next election.
“I blame all of them: every senator, every congressman and the president. Our political leaders are no longer doing what they were elected to do,” said Lynn McNerney, an independent from Peoria. “They don’t seem to care that while they’re digging in their heels, they’re hurting a lot of people.”
During a long day and night at the Capitol, the Democratic-controlled Senate torpedoed the House GOP’s third attempt to tie government financing to changes in the Affordable Care Act, this time delaying by a year a cornerstone of the law, the individual mandate that requires all uninsured people to purchase coverage by Jan. 1 or pay a penalty.
The same measure also would require members of Congress and their aides, as well as the president, vice president and the administration’s political appointees, to bear the full cost of their own health-care coverage. The vote was 228-201.
Arizona’s four Republican House members supported the measure, as did two of its Democratic members, Reps. Kyrsten Sinema and Ron Barber, who represent swing districts and joined only seven others from their party in bucking leadership. Sinema of Phoenix and Barber of Tucson have said they support some changes to the law, though not a full repeal.
Sinema said too many states are behind schedule on creating online marketplaces where families and individuals can find medical plans.
“It’s not fair to punish people who don’t have the information they need to make informed decisions,” she said in a written statement. “A one-year delay of the individual mandate will ensure that Arizonans get that certainty.”
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., who also represents a swing district and supported a one-year delay of the individual mandate this summer, did not advocate for it Monday night, nor did Arizona’s two remaining House Democrats.
The Flagstaff congresswoman couldn’t support the delay again because “this time around, the House GOP is playing games,” Kirkpatrick spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson said.
Republicans “took this approach knowing it could result in a government shutdown that would hurt millions of Americans,” Johnson said. “Rep. Kirkpatrick has been consistently clear that she wants to vote on a clean [continuing resolution].”
But US Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., said it’s Democrats who have stuck to their guns, putting the paychecks of hundreds of thousands of federal workers and federal services, including national parks, at risk. Some critical parts of the government — from the military to air-traffic control — would remain open.
“The House is the one that keeps compromising,” Schweikert said, minutes after walking off the floor from a vote. “We’ve engaged in lots of movement here, from a complete defunding of ‘Obamacare’ to a delay to now just a delay on the individual mandate.”
He noted that Obama is promising to veto changes to the law despite already delaying parts of it himself, such as the mandate for businesses to purchase insurance coverage.
“What I’m seeing is a duplicity from the Democrats,” Schweikert said.
That’s not how Phoenix voter Michael Spillane sees it. The Democratic retired military veteran said a small group of conservatives in Congress should be held responsible for a government shutdown.
“After 43 times of trying to defund [the health-care law] and after losing an election where the president garnered 5 million more votes than Mitt Romney did and Obamacare was front and center in that election, there’s no other group to blame,” said Spillane, 63.
Despite the government shutdown, the online health-insurance marketplaces provided under the Affordable Care Act were scheduled to open today.
Two major polls released Monday showed a majority of Americans felt the same way as Spillane.
About six in 10 Americans — 63 percent — disapproved of the way Republicans were handing the budget standoff, according to an ABC/Washington Post poll.
In a separate poll by CNN/ORC, 69 percent of Americans said Republicans were acting like “spoiled children” in the budget showdown. That compares with 58 percent who said the same about Democrats and 48 percent who said it about Obama.
“It’s wishful thinking by Republicans that they’re going to be able to blame [Democrats],” said Fred Lokken, a political-science professor at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno.
Still, there is political danger for incumbents in both parties, he said.
“The level of disgust that American voters have toward Congress has reached an all-time high,” Lokken said. “They look at Washington, and they see a train wreck.”
As lawmakers squabbled, Obama urged House Republicans to abandon demands he said were designed to “save face after making some impossible promises to the extreme right of their party.”
Speaking of the health-care law that undergoes a major expansion today, he said emphatically, “That funding is already in place. You can’t shut it down.”
Boehner responded a few hours later on the House floor. “The American people don’t want a shutdown, and neither do I,” he said. Yet, he added, the new health-care law “is having a devastating impact. ... Something has to be done.”
US Rep. Paul Gosar said his constituents want the law overturned and warned Democrats were “misreading the cards.”
Arizonans such as Greg Thatcher agreed.
“I would blame Obama. He will not negotiate with the Republicans at all, so it’s in his court. He just flat out said, ‘No,’ so it’s his fault,” the Chandler resident said.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
In a related article, but this time looking at the effects and affects of this government shut down is an article by Erin Kelly titled "Looming Government shutdown could have wide-ranging impact":
WASHINGTON — If the federal government shuts down next week, a development that appeared increasingly likely Thursday, it could have a wide-ranging impact on Arizonans.
Whether it amounts to an annoyance or serious financial hardship could depend on how long the partial shutdown lasts.
If it’s just a few days, most Arizonans probably won’t even notice. But a longer shutdown could prevent people from receiving unemployment checks, getting passports, applying for veterans benefits, obtaining gun permits, visiting the Grand Canyon and applying for loans to pay for college, buy homes or help small businesses.
Many of the approximately 55,000 federal employees who live, work and spend money in Arizona would be furloughed without pay. Whether they would recoup those wages when the government reopens remains unclear.
Arizonans who serve in the military — including those on active duty in Afghanistan — would stay on the job without paychecks while the civilians who worked with them were furloughed.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., warned of the impacts in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday as he urged lawmakers to avert a shutdown.
“If the federal government closes its doors, seniors applying for Social Security and veterans applying for disability could be forced to wait until federal workers return to their posts,” Reid warned.
“Across the country, mortgage loans and small-business loans could be delayed. Members of the United States military could be forced to defend this country without even a paycheck as thanks. And billions of dollars will drain from the economy every day the government is closed for business.”
But House Republicans vowed Thursday that they won’t simply accept the stopgap legislation that is likely to remain after Senate Democrats strip away a plan to dismantle President Barack Obama’s health-care law.
And a sense of confusion settled over the House, both over how to avoid a shutdown and how to handle even more important legislation to increase the government’s borrowing ability to avert a default on US obligations.
Short of votes, House leaders shelved a vote that had been expected this weekend on the debt-limit measure and gave frustrated GOP lawmakers few clues about what they plan to do to avert a shutdown.
Washington faces two deadlines: the Oct. 1 start of the new budget year and a mid-October date — now estimated for the 17th — when the government can no longer borrow money to pay its bills on time and in full.
The last time the government shut down, for 27 days in late 1995 and early 1996, it cost the economy about $60 billion in today’s dollars, Reid said. The cost to the government alone was about $2 billion in today’s currency, according to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service. Much of that cost was from the government winding down operations and then ramping back up when the shutdown ended.
So, why is Congress on the brink of doing it again? It comes down to an ideological battle over the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 health-care law better known as “Obamacare.”
Republicans, especially those in the House, view the law as a massive government takeover of health care and want to repeal it and replace it with a plan of their own. That’s unlikely to happen as long as Democrats are in the majority in the Senate and a Democratic president sits in the White House.
So, House Republicans have latched onto a spending resolution aimed at keeping the government open past Monday, when fiscal 2013 ends. Last week, they attached a provision to that resolution that would fund the federal government through Dec. 15 while stripping the Affordable Care Act of its funding.
The resolution passed the House and has been sent to the Democratic-led Senate, which is poised to pass a resolution today that keeps the government open but does not touch Obamacare. Most Democrats view the health-care law as crucial to providing affordable medical insurance to people who have none.
Once the Senate passes its funding resolution, the measure will go back to the House. House members will then have to decide whether to approve, reject or revise the Senate bill. If they reject it, the government will shut down on Tuesday. The same thing would likely happen if they sent a revised bill back to the Senate.
The gridlock stems from the fact that Congress has grown more divided as fewer moderates have been elected and more ideologically driven politicians on the right and left have taken their place, said David Rohde, a political-science professor at Duke University.
“The two political parties have become so polarized that it becomes harder and harder to produce a piece of legislation,” Rohde said. “The price they are willing to pay for their ideology is huge — including shutting down the government.”
Both parties are blaming each other.
“As they did in the ’90s, today’s radical Republicans have called for concessions they know Democrats will never agree to,” Reid said. “The Senate will never pass, nor will President Obama sign, a bill that guts the Affordable Care Act and denies millions of Americans access to lifesaving health care. ‘Tea party’ Republicans have demanded the impossible and vowed to shut down the government unless they get it.”
Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., blamed the Democrats.
“The liberal media and the Democrats have demonized and mischaracterized this exercise of Congress’ constitutional power over the purse as an irresponsible and futile attempt to shut down the government,” Franks wrote in an op-ed in Thursday’s Washington Times. “Mr. Obama is threatening to shut down the government, not the Republicans.”
If the government shuts down, it would be a partial closure that exempts federal employees who are deemed essential to protect the health and safety of people and property. In Arizona, that includes Border Patrol agents along the U.S.-Mexican border.
An estimated 59 percent of non-defense federal employees would be exempt from the shutdown and would go to work as usual, according to a USA Today analysis of 119 shutdown contingency plans filed with the Office of Management and Budget. Those plans were filed in 2011 when the federal government nearly shut down.
Agencies that don’t rely on annual funding for Congress also would continue to operate normally. That would include the US Postal Service and the Federal Highway Administration.
In Arizona, state officials are skeptical the shutdown will really happen because Congress has managed to avert several previously threatened closures at the last minute.
John Arnold, director of Gov. Jan Brewer’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting, said he called state agency directors, “And everybody’s dusting off their books on what to do.”
“A lot depends on what the feds do and how long it lasts,” Arnold said.
The many state agencies that use federal funds could keep operating in the short term, using cash on hand, Arnold said.
For example, Arizona’s unemployment-insurance program is funded by local contributions from employers, so those dollars would continue to flow. But administration of the program is paid for by the federal government. So, it might be closed because there would not be anyone to run it if the shutdown was a long one, Arnold said.
Officials also were preparing for a possible shutdown of Arizona’s signature natural attraction — the Grand Canyon, along with other national parks.
Jessica Kershaw, a spokeswoman for the Department of the Interior, which oversees the parks, said the agency is making plans “for executing an orderly shutdown.”
“This planning is consistent with what was done in previous instances where a potential lapse in appropriations was approaching,” she said. “The specific details of those plans are still under development and review.”
During the 2011 budget showdown, the agency planned to close all national parks, including the Grand Canyon.
An October shutdown would come after the park’s busy summer season has ended and shortly before the North Rim begins winding down for the winter.
Still, the Canyon has averaged more than 350,000 visitors each of the past 10 Octobers. That’s more than 10,000 people per day, and the biggest losses would likely come earlier in the month, especially on the first weekend.
Julie Aldaz, general manager of the Red Feather Lodge outside the park, said the lodge remained booked through the middle of October, though a shutdown is already creating problems.
“We have seen some cancellations, and that’s what they say,” Aldaz said. “It’s scary because it’s our last three weeks to make our income.”
John Tatham, president of the Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce, said businesses in the area have not received advisories about a closure. Many of the tourists at the Canyon this time of year are foreign visitors who probably aren’t following the situation in Washington closely anyway, he said.
“In Tusayan, we’re doing fine,” Tatham said.
Arizona and the Grand Canyon served as an entertaining sideshow during the last government shutdown in 1995-96.
Then-Gov. Fife Symington marched to the Canyon with unarmed National Guard troops in a dramatic bid to keep the park open. Although largely for show, it did lead the Pentagon to warn that it might bring the Guard under its control.
Arizona paid $370,000 to keep a portion of the park open during the shutdown, though the money was ultimately returned.
Arizona travelers also could be affected by a shutdown in passport services.
An official with the US State Department said Thursday that the agency could not say how passport applications would be affected.
In 2011, however, it planned a wide-ranging shutdown. “For all practical purposes, passport offices will be closed for the acceptance of new applications,” the agency said in a release at that time.
The impact of the potential federal shutdown at military installations in Arizona is uncertain.
“Right now, since we don’t have word on what’s going to happen, we haven’t taken any actions,” said Staff Sgt. Angela Ruiz, spokeswoman for Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson.
Base leaders are awaiting guidance from the Pentagon, she said.
As many as 900 civilian employees at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale could be furloughed, said Brig. Gen. Michael Rothstein, commander of the 56th Fighter Wing the base.
“We’re going to coordinate with our higher headquarters up to the DOD [Department of Defense], trying to get down to a discreet name-by-name list of who would be furloughed if that were to happen,” he said.
The specific number of employees who would be affected depends on how many are deemed to be essential.
Meanwhile, military personnel would continue to work and earn pay, but they wouldn’t be paid until after the shutdown. Because Air Force personnel typically get paid at the middle and end of each month, they may not even notice an interruption, Rothstein said.
Republic reporters Mary Jo Pitzl, Ronald Hansen and Paul Giblin and the Associated Press contributed to this article..The Hub above has been about all types of gridlock, and we are now in the worse stage of the government shut down. More than 800,000 workers were told to stay home with no promise of their back pays. This shut down is going to have far reach effects.
It is ironic that this shut down has nothing to do with anything but an effort to destroy Obama's legacy and leadership. The racism that has reared its head through the Tea Baggers, has continued to fight(supported by the Koch brothers), that even if Obama is not going to run for presidency again, the effort to undercut and destroy his rule has continued without any distraction or stopping.
In the process of these acts being carried out by the GOP, the American people are the ones who are bearing the brunt of this dislocation. The GOP has been aggressively launching a political attack on the government workers, and this is in an effort to undermine democracy and the rule of law and government assistance to the poor. Erin Kelly wrote the following article on this issue:
Whilst the world is watching, perplexed at the goings on within the American Government, the GOP has made another of their insidious moves. When Obama made the announcement that he was encouraging the people with insurances to leave them and join the ACA, the GOP made hay and created hillocks out of the the pronouncement.
The devious insurance companies began dropping the insured people(which the Obama administration called 'junk' and the reaction was massive. Seeing that opening, the Republicans and their Tea Bagger minions seized on the opportunity and attacked Obama.
Seem the political implication of the attack, now recently, Obama issued an apology for 'mspeaking. and now, the House(under Republican sway) has just passed a proposal that allows those insured to keep their insurances past 2014, with an eye towards defunding and repealing ACA.
This was in line with the GOP's aims to get rid of the so-called Obama care, which, thus far, they had failed to repeal. Obama answered by saying that the proposal from the Republican House will be denied, and the GOP is setting itself up for the next fight.
It is important to note that the GOP has no other alternative plan to replace the ACA if they were to get their way. It is one of the opportunistic maneuvers that the republicans are trying to seize upon, and knowing that it will not be signed by Obama, have begun to make it an issue.
It is an issue so long, as for the Republican, it obscures much more important issues like Immigration Reform and Job Creation. So long as the attention of the nation could be focused on what the Republicans say is the declining of Obama's popularity, though they do not point out to their unfavorable and falling popularity with the American, they are nonplussed and chugging ahead making the scrapping of "Obamacare" their main priority.
Undergirding the repeal "Obamacare" wails from theGOP, is their total hatred and dislike of Obama as the American President and the fact that he is an African American who rules America. This smokescreen has made the FOP to be arrogant and to forge ahead with their failing strategy of doing away with the ACA which is ow Law.
They even choose to ignore the fact that in the most recent election they lost dismally, and in their denial, try to refocus on the issue they have lost on-'repealing Obamacare,' and their devastating defeat in the most recent elections, as in the national election, wherein the American people sent them a message that they want the ACA to be implemented.
Without any new ideas and contribution towards a better healthcare program, the GOP is content with the gridlock and blocking of Obama's implementation of programs that help the middle-class and the poor of America.
Their arrogance presents and displays their dislike and hatred of Obama, not because he cannot govern, but because their Aim, form the time he took power, was to make Obama a one time Presidency, and that all that he wanted to do for the American people, even if it was the GOP's ideas, should fail and make him look bad.
Well, it seems like the computer glitches associated with the ACA launching since October 1 2013 are being managed and fixed, and by the end of November, as the Obama administration promised, we might begin to see some improvement, that by January, as they have predicted, everything will be flowing smoothly for new registrants.
US Government Shut October 1st 2013
"On October 1, 2013, Democrats opened up a program to bring health care to all, while Republicans peacocked around trying to stop history. It's obvious which side will be judged more kindly from now," says Michael Tomasky
"We sometimes don’t notice history as it’s unfolding right before us, so let’s stop and take note of what a historically momentous day Tuesday was. Twenty, 50 years from now, when historians or college professors are trying to describe to their readers and students what the difference was between the two political parties in our time, they will direct them to October 1, 2013. That one day says it all.
"The Democratic Party was opening up its historic program to bring health care to all citizens, and the Republican Party was closing down the federal government, a fanatical minority manipulating the rules of our democracy and holding a gun to the country's head, all because it wants to deny all citizens health care and is furious that it failed three times in that effort.
Tuesday perfectly expressed what these two parties have come to be about. The Democrats have many flaws, and money has corrupted them at certain times on certain issues almost as much as it has corrupted Republicans. And yes, sometimes some Democrats behave divisively, too. But at least they have had good moments, even great ones. The passage of Social Security. Medicare and Medicaid. Civil rights (and please, you cynical Everett Dirksen-invokers, give it a rest and go away; you would have long since drummed Dirksen out of your party today). Women’s rights. And most recently gay rights, including same-sex marriage; history will recall Barack Obama with admiration as the first sitting president willing to voice his support for that.
This is where you might expect me to say the evil Republicans were implacably opposed to every one of these great advances at every turn. But that isn’t the case. In 1935, majorities of Republicans backed Social Security—not by anywhere near the percentages Democrats did, but they supported it . Thirty years later, about half of Republicans in both houses of Congress backed Medicare and Medicaid. And yes, Dirksen and other Republicans were important allies for Lyndon Johnson on civil rights against the racist and reactionary Southern wing of his own party.
The GOP was wagging the tail of the dog of history in those days—while it wasn’t leading the fights, a respectable number of Republicans signed onto them. Still, wagging a tail is a far sight better than cutting one off with a rusty serrated knife. And that’s all the party of resentment does these days.
Universal health care has been discussed in the United States for a century. It never succeeded before because of the powerful business and vested interests that opposed it. In Harry Truman’s day, the American Medical Association assessed its members an extra $25 in dues to fight Truman’s universal health care plan, and the AMA won.
This time, opposition to universal health care isn’t chiefly financial. The AMA even endorsed Obamacare. It’s chiefly cultural, right-wing rage that Mitt Romney’s 47 percenters are getting something for nothing (which they aren’t, of course). Read the comments of some of the Tea Party House Republicans who are delighting in the shutdown, absolutely convinced they’re doing the right thing. “What was I elected for? To try to change the law on behalf of my constituents, to stand on my core principles and do my best to represent them ethically, honestly, based on the core principles we share,” Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) told the Times.
Aheads Up From The Main Street
Summary for anyone who is interested and who wants to more fully understand what is happening with our federal government right now:
1. This shutdown is not happening because both parties won't compromise. This shutdown is happening because Republicans in the House of Representatives have refused to pass a budget bill without a bunch of amendments tacked on to it, chiefly amendments nullifying Obamacare.
2. Obamacare is not directly tied to this budget bill in any way. It is a separate piece of legislation, already passed and signed into law back in 2010. The House Republicans are just saying, "We don't like this law, Obamacare, that was already passed, and because we do not have the votes to repeal it in the manner laid out in the Constitution" -- they don't; they've already tried to repeal it 42 times, yes, that is true, 42 times -- "we're going to instead DEMAND that the law be repealed or delayed, or else we won't pass this budget legislation necessary to keep the country running."
3. Again, Obamacare was signed into law, in the fashion laid out in the Constitution of the United States, in 2010. It was not, like, laid down by martial law, unless you think a bunch of congresspeople and senators voting for a bill counts as martial law.
4. Also, the president behind Obamacare was reelected in 2012. Also also, in 2012 the Democrats retained control of the Senate, and House Republicans actually lost the popular vote, but stayed in control of their chamber because of shrewd gerrymandering. All of which is to say: If Americans hate Obamacare so much, how come they reelected Obama and voted so strongly for Democrats.
5. Remember that in 2012, the Supreme Court, led by a conservative chief justice and majority, upheld Obamacare's constitutionality, except for one part. (And that part is kaput. The president is not trying to enforce it with UN troops and black helicopters. It's why we don't have a state-run health exchange here in Wisconsin.) So, to sum up: Obamacare was not only enacted according to the rule of law in this country, it also survived scrutiny by the highest judiciary body in the land, which is in the hands of the opposition party.
6. The point being: None of this is to say whether Obamacare will be good or bad for the country! It is only to say that it was passed according to the rules, and it's been legitimized by our top court and implicitly by citizens who voted to reelect the president whose name it bears. Socialist tyranny, it's just not.
7. What the House GOP is pulling right now -- "Get rid of Obamacare or we'll shut down important services and risk a global financial catastrophe by not raising the debt ceiling" -- this is not politics as usual. This is extortion. They are a minority; even plenty of other Republican legislators think that what these guys are doing is absurd and dangerous (and this will likely become more clear the longer the shutdown goes on). If these guys want to get rid of Obamacare, they should go out and campaign and get more senators and a president elected. That is how democracy works. AMERICA, Y'ALL.
8. A note on the debt ceiling: Voting to raise the debt ceiling is not voting to spend money that the U.S. doesn't have. Congress *already voted* to spend that money. The debt ceiling is a bizarre, redundant device, and we are basically the only country that has one. (Denmark has one, but it's just a formality and has never been a point of controversy or contention.) Essentially, it's like if your dad went out and bought a lot of stuff with his credit card, but then he had to ask your mom if it was OK for him to pay the credit card off. The money is already spent. If your mom says no, then your dad is failing to honor his obligations, and his credit rating (and your mom's!) is going to be trashed. The difference on the larger scale is that if the U.S.'s credit rating is trashed, the whole planet's economy could take a massive hit, because we are, you know, a global super-power.
9. Again, this is not about a lack of compromise on both sides. The House GOP is demanding that the president and congressional Democrats just undo their chief legislative victory. And it was a legitimate victory! And frankly, Obamacare is something that a lot of Americans *want*. Those Americans are real citizens, too. So this is like if your dad and your mom and you and your sister all vote to go to Olive Garden one Thursday evening, but your little brother wants to go to Applebee's, and so instead of just accepting that he won't always get his way and planning a stronger case for Applebee's for next Thursday, he flips out and runs outside and slashes all the tires on the car so you guys can't go anywhere. Except, again, much crazier, because instead of just one family it affects millions of people and could also set off an economic calamity of titanic proportions.
10. Let me be clear: I do not hate Republicans. My dad is a Republican! I am a small businessperson! I go to church! I LOVE CHRISTMAS. This is not about name-calling or hating on anyone, and frankly, I do not expect to change anyone's mind about any of the proceeding details. But I am tired of the notion that both parties are equally to blame for our troubles; it has surely been true in the past, but it's not right now. (And it is entirely possible for ALL POLITICIANS TO BE AWFUL and for ONE OF THE TWO PARTIES TO STILL BE CONSIDERABLY WORSE.) Believe me, I would love nothing more than to see a revitalized Republican party, with views that I might disagree with but which were not straight-up lunacy. IT WOULD MAKE MY DUMB INTERNET FIGHTS A LOT MORE INTERESTING.
I can't believe I'm posting this. I am a fool. I don't know if I will even respond to comments. I have a headache already. Maybe it would not be so bad if we all downloaded our consciousnesses into computers after all. (MoonWolf)
The Have Mores vs The Have Nothin'
Repeat It Again-Republicans Governmnet Modus Operandi
David Horsey writes:
At the last possible moment, the dysfunctional United States Congressvoted to end the debilitating government shutdown and avoid a calamitous default on the government debt. It should have been a humiliating defeat for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and the other Tea Bagger Republicans who engineered this political debacle, but none of them are showing the slightest sign of remorse.
That raises a big question about what happens in January when another government shutdown will loom, and in February when the debt ceiling will need to be raised again. Given the tea partiers' lack of repentance for the shenanigans that cost the U.S. economy $25 billion, the most likely answer is that we will very soon be going through the same reckless, costly brinkmanship again.
A lot of people, including President Obama, insist that it will be different next time. But, for anything to be different, some sort of budget bargain will need to be reached before Christmas. Even without the tea party faction in the House Republican caucus, that would be a tough job. Democrats are going to want some new revenue to offset the deep budget cuts Republicans will demand, and new revenue means raising taxes, which, for today’s Republicans, is the deepest heresy.
Nevertheless, if a deal can be reached between congressional leaders and the president in the next two months, House Speaker John A. Boehner would then be faced with two options: either sell the agreement to the ultra-conservatives or allow the deal to be passed with mostly Democratic votes. The former seems quite unlikely, given the uncompromising stance of the tea partiers. The latter is exactly what Boehner did Wednesday night to win approval of the Senate bill to reopen the government and raise the debt limit.
Could Boehner pull that off again and still retain the speakership? Right now, the radicals are praising Boehner for sticking with them as long as he did (and sticking it to the country in the process). That admiration would quickly wane, however, if Boehner agrees to a budget compromise that doesn't please them (pretty much a certainty, since any deal that Obama would sign on to is certain not to please them.)
The tea party caucus has been appeased for the last three weeks, not subdued. Yes, they lost a fight and, yes, sane Republicans such as John McCain are now chastising them for dragging the party down to its worst popularity ratings ever. But, in their districts, these guys are heroes. Their most vocal supporters are only sorry the shutdown did not continue and the day of default arrive.
A new Pew Research Center survey found that a mere 30% of tea party voters were “very concerned” about the shutdown. Little or no concern was expressed by 37% of them. Even more telling, 52% of tea partiers saw no reason to raise the debt ceiling at all, while an additional 15% figured the country could go for several weeks before the debt limit would need to be hiked.
Those numbers are very different for most other Americans, majorities of whom were quite concerned about the damage being done by the budget and debt farce. But, though they invariably claim to be the voice of “the American people,” the House GOP’s militants are not especially interested in what the majority thinks; they really only care about their like-minded constituents back home. Those are the voices to whom they listen -- along with the shrill, uncompromising admonitions of the Club For Growth, the Heritage Foundation and Freedom Works, the right-wing activist groups that threaten to bring down any Republican who dares compromise with the president they despise.
The tea party Republicans arrived in Washington to do battle, not to do deals. The fight that just ended will not be their last. Their permanent war against all things Obama will still be raging on Jan. 15, the day the federal government could be closing its doors once again.
Government by the Clueless Governors
Shut Down Of American Rule/Governance
A Futile Act of A Dysfunctional government and Party
In an article written by Bowman Cutter, titled "What did the Government Shutdown Battle Really Accomplish"" he writes:
Well, that was fun. We just escaped another Perils of Pauline moment by deciding not to test the proposition that default doesn't matter, and the Republican Party's (apparently diminishing) instincts for self-preservation finally overcame its fear of its far-right base. So where are we?
First, a brief victory lap. As I predicted a week ago, this debacle was devastating politically for the Republican Party. Reflect on this quote from the most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, taken after about 12 days of the shutdown: "the poll gave the Republican Party its lowest marks in the history of Journal polling. More than twice as many (participants) hold a negative view of the GOP as a positive one. By contrast the number of Americans viewing the Democratic Party positively or negatively was nearly equal at 40%." I won't bore you with more numbers; they all tell the same story.
This result was inevitable. The Republican House members (1) chose a goal they could never accomplish; chose means (shutting down the government and threatening default to defund Obamacare) that never had a whiff of political legitimacy; never had a strategy; never communicated a comprehensible story; spent every waking hour making themselves look like mean, inept aliens; and voluntarily selected a negotiating tactic that was beyond stupid. You never, never, never enter into a negotiation with both a goal that is really hard to achieve and a self-defined binary outcome, with no middle ground. All of this against a president who was and is a lot more popular than they are. (Maybe none of them had ever heard the story of the bear and the hunters)
As I said before, in the history of the world, no one has ever been luckier than President Obama in terms of who his opposition is. All he had to do was wait for the game to come to him. As Napoleon said, never interfere when the enemy is in the midst of destroying itself.
And what did all of this accomplish, except a vast waste of time and money, further erosion of trust in politics and democracy, and a substantial hit to America's international reputation? I'm tempted to answer "nothing," but that's not true.
First, it was diverting and fun, in a way. I particularly liked the repeated instances when people who loudly shut down the government discovered that they didn't like shutting down the government. But you can only stand so much of that fun.
Second, it pretty much guaranteed we wouldn't be put through this by the Republican House again for a while. Of course, some of them continue threatening, and there will continue to be budget and tax battles, but I cannot imagine anyone actually daring to try for shutdown and default again during President Obama's term. He should have fought this fight two years ago in March 2011, as I wrote then, but learning lessons late is the human condition.
Third, it accomplished the impossible by switching attention away from the enormous and predictable startup problems of Obamacare and toward the inanities of the people who foisted this debacle on us. Who knew there were so many Republican politicians more eager to explain at length why default was a destiny to be embraced than to ask why the new heath care exchanges weren't working?
Fourth, it probably ended any chance Republicans had of winning the Senate, maybe put the House in play (I see 435 campaigns on the general theme of "he (or she) shut the government down; let's shut him (or her) down"), and gave the Democrats a huge boost for 2016. Did Senator Cruz just simultaneously win the Republican 2016 presidential nomination and elect Hillary Clinton?
Fifth, it made inevitable a necessary civil war within the Republican Party. A party cannot go through a debacle like this without hard questioning about how it reached this point and what it is trying to accomplish. The country actually needs the Republicans to go through this fight.
And sixth, it provided President Obama with a totally unexpected opportunity to reinvigorate his second term. He's the only political player in Washingyon left standing with any credibility or gravity, and if he now defined a sensible, pragmatic, doable agenda, he could get it done.
I'll conclude on the agenda. The Republican Party doesn't have one, and I see little evidence that the Democratic Party is capable of or willing to rethink one. But there is a new agenda out there that all polling evidence suggests the vast middle of the American electorate (across party lines) is hungry for. All the political experts say there is no chance for a third party, a third agenda, or a temporary alliance of independents. But the world keeps changing, the next American economy poses huge challenges, and we've all just had another extended lesson in the dysfunctional nature of our current politics. Why can't this debacle we just survived be the moment that catalyzes the widespread sense there has to be a better way?
Voters do not forget, and they remembered this past elections
"If Only "Obama" Was A White Man/Person, ... Maybe White America would respect his rights as that of a human being
From the time he announced(Obama) to run for the Presidency of the United States, he sparked the oft repeated known and practiced American 'way of life': this is a White man's country, and no Black person has a place in it. One needs to remember the case of the "redeeming Decision"
The case before the court was that of Dred Scott v. Sanford. Dred Scott, a slave who had lived in the free state of Illinois and the free territory of Wisconsin before moving back to the slave state of Missouri, had appealed to the Supreme Court in hopes of being granted his freedom.
Taney -- a staunch supporter of slavery and intent on protecting southerners from northern aggression -- wrote in the Court's majority opinion that, because Scott was black, he was not a citizen and therefore had no right to sue. The framers of the Constitution, he wrote, believed that blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it."
Referring to the language in the Declaration of Independence that includes the phrase, "all men are created equal," Taney reasoned that "it is too clear for dispute, that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration. . . ."
The main thrust and Key line of this decision: .. "because Scott was black, he was not a citizen and therefore had no right to sue. The framers of the Constitution, he wrote, believed that blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it." .. has never be remedied or ameliorated to bring equality in America.
America, despite the hypocrisy of the "Civil Rights Laws" of the '60s, never got over the hangover of this claim as cited above. Africans were not person nor human and they were never to be given or have their being recognized nor respected by White people of America, and they also believed and still believe that Blacks were reduced to slavery, or non-citizens for their own benefit and justly so, for the benefit of White people.
Obama irks White people. The fact that his mother was White, his grandparents were White, is not an issue. What matters is that he looks African, his skin color is not white, he has married a Black woman, his father is African, and America has never had to be led by any Black man, let alone become President. What has this engendered? Racial hatred that knows no Bounds.
One has to watch Scarborough and his motley crew in the morning to feel and see the deep-seated hatred Whites(supposedly progressive) have for Obama. I am not here even talking about Limbaugh and his blood-thirst lynch mobs are pining for). Yet, the same America is the one that is the example of 'human rights' throughout the world, and the 'policamen' of democracy and stability around the world. But now that they have had to live up to their 'credo', that is when we see the real face and intentions of America: No Black man has any rights that White people need to respect in America or around the world.
If only Obama was white, whether he be racist, dumb or not suited for the job of being the President of the US, that would have been better than having a Black person, like Obama be the President of the Most "whitened" of all countries in the world: The USA. Being Black and watching most of the TV talking heads in every TV cable outlet on TV, and reading all the vitriol on the Web against Obama, one is taken aback, in 2013, that we are living in the America of the 1600s.
What is also appalling for the African people of the US and those throughout the world, is the 'glee' and callousness that attacks on Obama have become the rallying cry for the most virulent racist in America. It is the way Scarborough, Limbaugh, Reporters in the White House Briefings, Senators during Obamas State of the Nation Address, Tea Baggers, and ordinary intelligent and ordinary ignorant White Americans say they hate, dislike, do not trust, or want Obama, that it is not really surprising to Africans, but a reality check as to their relationships with White people, specifically those of America, with them.
You cannot trust Obama when he says that he is a Christian; nor can Whites trust him when he want to see 'bi-partisanship' as a means of governing America,they aver; neither could one trust his economic policies, even though he culled them from the Republican plans; let along let his Affordable Health Care work, because it would make him look good, even though it is done for the 'good of the country'. What needs to be done, so says the GOP,is to make sure that it is repealed, and that their Insurance companies must resume their business as usual. Even though this is going to be good business for the Insurance companies(ACA) just because there should never be any respect for anything the "Blackman" Obama does or says, it ought to be opposed by any means necessary-Even if it means Americans have to suffer in the process.
Even the White Democratic senators, especially those who are in the so-called Red States, oppose most of the governance of Obama because they fear their voting polities in the state. So that, it does not matter what everyone else might have to say about what I say, Obama is not good enough because he is not a White man, and no White man is compelled to respect or acknowledge anything he does or says because because he is African(Black).
For many White people who hate hate Obama,it is because he is not 'like' White people; he does not think nor walk like Whites; he is a muslim, Hitler, socialist, African, with an African father, ancestry and represents the lot of Africans they still view as underlings and slaves(subconsciously and realistically) in America. With his 'humanity(Ubuntu) they disregard that as being meek, not aggressive enough. And if he dared be aggressive and very obstinate, they refer to him as being an uppity N***er.
His compassion and care for the poor is seen as a weakness and not befitting an American President. His being aggressive, is seen as being arrogant and uppity. Did the slave not face the same conundrum? Where they were not expected to anything but subhuman, if not, and if they tried the act of 'being human approach' they were beaten half to death or simply hung or just killed.(Read the Book "Without Sanctuary" -Lynching Photography in America by James Allen et al)
Obama is committing the same error. If he apologizes for any errors he has made, they GOP goes on the offense with impunity. They have just passed some louy proposal to undermine the ACA, which is not good for those who are insured under those insurances. Another repeal vote in another name-constant attack on the ACA by the GOP, in a Trojan horse and underbelly types of Attacks from Boehner and his racist Tea Baggers. Even if these shenanigans are preposterous, the Americans who hate Obama, find the palatable and because Scott was black, he was not a citizen and therefore had no right to sue.
The framers of the Constitution," Taney wrote, that he believed that blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it." redeeming and 'putting the slave in his place'. This smacks of racial attitude and racist beliefs that African people have no place, nor deserve respect from White people in America. This is true.
So that When Judge Taney opines, "Referring to the language in the Declaration of Independence that includes the phrase, "all men are created equal," Taney reasoned that "it is too clear for dispute, that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration. . . .", he was merely reinforcing the prevalent beliefs of the time which carried over to Obama today
It is also true that today, many White Americans, still hold that to be absolutely true about their African American fellow citizens. They hold on to the privilege of viewing, and practicing their 'right as white people' to not respect the former or still enslaved Africans(which they hypocritically claim, today, that they had nothing to do with slavery, today), yet, the Obama saga contradicts them every step of the way. One could even nearly hear some of them saying, if only Obama was White(as Hitler wanted to create a White Super-Race reality and mindset)- that which is what White America is demonstrating and projecting to the World- that- Obama is not White, and therefore, he is not good enough to be their President. The Child of the former slaves, perceived as a slave today, has no rights that Whites in America need to respect. None whatsoever.
The Dread Scott case is instructive if one were to understand the hypocritical mindset of White America today. From the time this decision was issued, up to the present-day of the Obama Presidency, this has remained a constant in the mind of White America: "blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it."(This is nRRted below by Na'im Akbar)
Today, this applied to African Americans in may ways: poor schooling, lack of employment; poor neighborhood (ecocide); low pay and crappy lives that are bleak and poverty-stricken; stereotyped as backward, lazy, and so forth.
This is what Richard Weiss wrote:
".. It is important to examine Lodge's concept of race. Well-educated, a scholar and historian, he was aware of the theoretical writings on race then in existence. He acknowledged that movements and mixtures of races on the European continent had resulted in the amalgamation of different human stocks. In an absolute sense, there was no such thing as pure blood. Nonetheless, he contended that there were peculiarities that attached to peoples and that these had been forged over such long periods of time as to make them virtually fixed. He defined racial characteristics comprehensively as
"... the moral and intellectual characters, which in their association make them a race, and which represent the product of all its past, the inheritance of all its ancestors, and the motives of its conduct. The men of each race possess an indestructible stock of ideas, traditions, sentiments, modes of thought, and unconscious inheritance from their ancestors, upon which argument has no effect. What makes a race are their mental, and above all, their moral characteristics, the slow growth and assimilation of centuries of toil and conflict. These are all the qualities ... which make one race rise and another fall." Lodge went on to further add, by further citing a French Psychologist, Gustave Le Bon, as his authority, Lodge warned against Amalagamation. He maintained that history taught that when unequal races mixed, the inferior prevailed:
"There is a limit to the capacity of any race for assimilating and elevating an inferior race, and when you begin to pour in unlimited numbers people of alien or lower races of less social efficiency and less moral force, you are running the most frightful risk that any people can run. the lowering of a great race means not only its own decline, but that of the human civilization."
I could go on citing from the history of American race relations even much more worse and damning perceptions and perspectives on race. The thing about these beliefs is that it spilled over and carried over to the 21st century. Today, these ideas of Lodge and his ilk might seem arcane and archaic, but reality and today's real and contemporary history proves them to be real and contemporary as of the writing of this Hub.
Just like Hitler perceived of a 'pure' White race, America and their Eugenicists and other racial bigots, still hold on, in the 21st century, to these ideas which helped create slavery, which made Whites rich, because they saw slavery as a means of doing these savage Africans a favor, and another way of enriching themselves without having to lose their profits and income.
All this disrespect and put-down of Obama and crating a gridlock in the government and trying to repeal ACA, and further racist attacks of Obama's race, person and the like, is one way which we can begin to understand that in looking at the Dred Scott decision, we have a much more clearer picture of what it means to be Black and exist as a Black, let alone be a Black president in America.
It is unacceptable, and America has not yet outgrown its racist view of Africans, no matter what they can do or be. They will remain persona non grata in the America White system(mostly amongst the White bigots of any stripe). In the Minds of Americans who hate Obama, it's their wish that they would have had a better time in America "if only Obama was White... Yet, in the finally analysis, Obama is a Human Being...
Dread Scott - Human Beings R-Us
Racism and Inhumanity to Man In America is the Present Normal
One thing that is puzzling is the rhetoric that most of those who will want to see other human beings suffer that they declare their Christianity beliefs and yet, they want to see many poor people suffer. The most perplexing thing about the modus operandi of the GOP is the concerted effort to attack women on every front, passing laws in the middle of the night, and secretly in order to subjugate women. Not only that, the very fact that the can limit or cut down on Foodstamps in order to earn the billionaires more money is very disconcerting. Meanwhile, they stoke feeling of racial division and hatred at all turns.
The problem with these shenanigans by the GOP is that they are doing it because they want to see Obama Fail, and to show how much they dislike, disrespect and disregard anything he is trying to do for the poor. They never apologize for shutting down the government; neither for all the nastiness they hurl at him from every quarter or chance they get. But when Obama apologizes for something he was doing to try to help all Americans to have a better health-care, or maybe said something that they, the GOP, perceived as wrong or unwarranted(according to the GOP), they attack him vociferously and viciously and in fact, demand that he be impeached for flimsy and weak, tired and reasons that hold no sway to the majority of the American people.
As for the gridlock(caused by the GOP in the Shutting-down government), and the hunger they are causing to all Foodstamps recipients [of which the majority of these are White people], but listening to them, they make it seem it's poor Black people, who they claim buy cars and the like, wasting the money], one would have thought that they would have some compassion and shown some leadership. Just because they 'hate' Obama, and this is true and has been spoken about on TV and elsewhere, one is either ignored or attacked as an Obama sympathizer, and yet, America is steadily declining, and poverty, homelessness, unemployment and the whole bit is steadily bringing the US to her knees. All this is done because none of the Tea Baggers and their hordes think that Obama is a Human being or is the President of America.
That is why above I used the Dred Scott decision or saga to highlight the form of racism we witnessing today, that it has its antecedents from those time, never changed over the centuries, and now it's rearing its racist ugly head during the rule of Obama. Studying the willie Lynch proposal and advice to plantation owners, or the Black Codes, one can have a better sense as to where most of these racist and very crude, but very persistent Obama haters, who see him as less of a human being, come from. The cited instances of racism in America in the 'Dark Ages of African Slavery" in America, are relived by the Tea Baggers and their hapless followers. I say hapless for whatever Obama does, even if it's for their own good, they'd rather reject, avoid, and do anything but accept it. Even if it means their demise, so long as whatever it is that is to be done and is proposed or said by Obama, it needs to be blocked or rejected.
The sad art about the ACA that Obama has tried to give to all Americans is that the very people he's trying to help feel like that he is misleading them and destroying their decrepit coverages which most of these coverages, and the insurance companies know this, only cover them for two hospital visits and retain their products of treating their customers like they do not deserve to be covered, and that they need to pay much more higher fees for their coverages-pretend like Obama is wrong. But, just because they hate Obama, not that he has done anything wrong, but because he come from a race of people they really do not think much of, except as slaves or something not human, they attack him, to their detriment, and this is the sad part that the world is watching Americans do to their African American President and its African American People.
They Americans people who hate Obama, might not care what the world thinks of Obama, but the World is seeing the true colors of America, which nearly destroyed the world economy and nearly downgraded the American Credit rating, shut down the government, reject and attacking Obama, that, it might seem good and look correct in the short term, but in the long term, it puts the respect the world has of America in jeopardy. Obama was supposed to go to world leaders meeting, but was blocked because his government was shut down. His ACA registration was supposed to start on the 1st of October 2013, but the government was shut down-and the government or the American lost somewhere close to $50 billion dollars in those two weeks, and the GOP lost the elections following that debacle. So the World is supposed to see America as the World Leader-This does not pass the smell test. Now way..
Racism, which America is refusing to face and deal with is destroying it, and more so during the reign of Obama. Seeing African Americans and other ethnic groups as inhuman is retarding the growth and depressing the respect that America enjoyed around the world. Those in America who say that they do not care what the world thinks, well, history will prove me wrong.. It is a very bad place to be: on one hand talk of human rights or go against any violation thereof, and in the same breath and mouth utter virulent vitriol and racist plus jingoistic diatribe, that this leaves the world wondering who is this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde called The United States of America?
The American credo is to encourage other nations to be more democratic. But there is no more undemocratic government that the world sees today that is the United States Congress. Just the other day, listening to Boehner and his hard-line attitude in insisting that the health coverage of those who do not want ACA should be extended, and in fact, that 'Obamacare' should be repealed, after all the failures, and listening to his mean and harsh tone, leaves one wondering where is this leading to? I see like this is the fall of the American civilization, which is engineered by racist who are filling their pockets with money, and sowing racism and hatred amongst the different peoples that are Americans.
In Senegal, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama look out from the "door of no return" at the Goree Island slave house, described as the exit for Afric
Disrespect, Inferiority Complexes Need to be Upheld By white Against Africans in America.
So that, this disrespect of Africans is not a new thing here in America,. Looking back into history a bit will help us understand this mind set of disrespecting Obama or Africans/Indians in this country. Let us consider another of the most destructive characteristics from slavery. We are told by Na'im Akbar that:
"This characteristic is a sense of our(African()inferiority as African-American people. This characteristic has been discussed by psychologists more than any other. It has been used as an explanation for nearly every aspect of Africa-American behavior. The self Hatred or low-esteem of African American people has certainly been overworked but is worthy our consideration in this discussion.
"The shrewd slave-makers were fully aware that peopple who still repected themselves as human beings would resist to the death the dehumanizing process of slavery. Therefore, a systematic process of creating a sense of inferiority in the proud Africa was necessary in order to maintain them as slaves. this was done by humiliating and dehumanizing acts such as public beatings, parading them on slave blocks unclothed, and inspecting them as through they were cattle or horses.
"They were forbidden to communicate with other slaves which would have been a basis of maintaining self-respect. Many historians and slave narratives report how young children were separated from tier mothers because the mother's love might cultivate some self-respect in the child.
"Cleanliness and personal effectiveness are fairly essential in the maintenance of self-respct. The slaves were kept filthy and the very nature of physical restraints over long periods of time began to develop in the people a sense of helplessness. the loss of the ability to even clean one's body and to shield oneself from a blow began to teach the slaves that they should have no self-respect.
"These things, conbined with the insults, the loss of cultural traditions, rituals, family life, religion, and even names, served to cement the loss of self-respect. As the slave master exalted himself and enforced respect of himself, he was increasingly viewed as superior to the slaves. The superiority was based on the utter ehumanization of the Africans. The slave was forced to bow and bend to the slave owner and treat him as god. with the if a Caucasian man even as god, and with all kinds of images of Africans as dirty and olny half human, it was inevitable that a sense of inferiority would grow into the African American personality."
This is what Carter G. Woodson observed more than a century ago:
"...to handcap a student for life by teaching him that his black face is a curse that his struggle to change his condition is hopeless, is the worst kind of lynching. It kills one''s aspirations and dooms him to vagabondage and crime."
"This sense of inferiority still affects us in many ways. Our inability to respect African American leadership, our persistent and futile efforts to look like and act like Caucasian people, is based upon this sense of inferiority. The persistent tendency to thin of 'Dark Skin" as unattractive, 'kinky' hair as "bad hair", and African features as less appealing than Caucasian features, come from this sense of inferiority. Our lack of respect for African-American expertise and the irresponsibility of many African-American experts comes from this sense of inferiority.
"The disastrously high Black-on-black homicide rate is in may ways indicative of fundamental disrespect for Black life growing out of this same sense of inferiority. It is a simple fact that people who love themselves seek to preserve tieir lives-notdestroy them.
"The fact that we remain as consumers and laborers, rather than manufacturers, planners, and managers, has a lot to do with the sense of inferiority. The continued portrayal in the media of African-Americans as clowns, servants, crooks(thugs), and incompetents maintain this sense of inferiority. the limited number of powerful and dignified images of African-Americans in the media and the community as a whole reduces our sense of self-respect.
"This is a continuation of the slavery patterns. oOnly those persons who looked like. acted lie, and thought in the frame of reference of the master, were completely acceptable. those earning such acceptance were projected as far superior to those who like, acted like, and thought in the frame of reference of African -self-affrimation'
So that, then,Obama's becoming the President of the United Staes was demystifying, debunking and destroying this reality that affirms White superiority, and encouraging Africans that they too can have power and control the whole country of America and the world. This is why Obama, who belong to a people whose rights cannot be respected nor accepted by white America, is being attacked and even if this could lead to the death of the American civilization and credo, the White racist think that it should be so,. If this history is forgotten, the White racists in America will cause some serious dysfunction and gridlock and make the governance of America impossible, up to the point of destroying the whole economy, credit standing and importance of America in the world.
If we see the gridlock and all that it has spawned in the rule of Obama, we need to dig much deeper back into history and look at race relations, and we then get a better picture as to why America is suffering from the Racist hangover because they have never really dealt with the Race issue and questions in this land. Until this come to the fore, we will have a lot of dysfunction, gridlock and reversal to the days of slavery, which the Tea Baggers are really pining for, as we speak. The specter of slavery which hangs like an albatross on the neck of America's civilization, will not just go away, for both the victims(Africans) and victimizers) White Slavers). It will take some time for this gridlock to be untangled, and America needs to do deal with it in order to have a human face...
Just 16 percent of voters approve and 77 percent disapprove of the job Congress is doing
Is America Not A Country But A business? Really...
I remember one film(Killing Them Softly') I was watching and this when Brad Pitt was in the Bar with his handler(for he was an assassin for the these unknown people he worked for) and as Obama, on the film, was saying that America in neither Blue nor Red, but one people, the older handler told the assassin that he should listen to Obama and think about it. The Assassin said that "America is not a country, it's a business". It weirdly rings true, in a sort of a convoluted way, yet real
If one understands that the rich are becoming more richer, and the poor more than poor, it causes one to pause and think about this reality. Some people think that some amount of inequality is good for the country, and I tend to disagree. At the present moment, the US is the most powerful country in the world, and it is in a position to create a more Human World Order. What do I mean by that?
Well, since its creation as a country, we have yet to see a much more equitable and just society from America itself. I am not here talking about the world, but the changes that need to come from America with its advantages today. We have yet to see that there are Human rights for all and justice for all and a more equitable human race. We do not have that yet, have not yet seen that, and we are still swirling from all that injustice, inequality, the have mores having too much and the the nave nothing living in abject poverty.
I do not think the human race will evolve and grow into a more advanced civilization when there are people who still justify greed, want to see more poverty, homelessness, less healthcare for the poor, no jobs for the population, and more money for the Rich, and excessive funds for the Armed forces, not peace. This might seem like irrelevant, but in the end, we need to have a more stable planet and very well developed and advanced humanity.
All what I have said above is just a pipe dream for in the real world that is not the goal of those who own and control the means of production and the wealth of weaker, rich or poor countries. Also, what is ironic is that the very countries that are supposedly 'poor' or called 'Third World' or 'Underdeveloped' countries are the ones who have the most or are rich in natural mineral resources. But just because they are exploited by the so-called 'First World' countries, they are deemed poor. That to me is itself a jaundiced and very distorted reality as to the state of the world and how the world works.
Well, this brings me to the question I asked above, "Is America a country or a Business? I have decided to utilize the article written in the Economist. Before posing it, some people are saying: "The land of the Free is starting to look ungovernable. enough is enough," I think since Obama came into power, The US government has become ungovernable, and much ore unequa. This issue is addressed, as I have alluded above, in the Economist titled:
"Inequality: Growing Apart: America's Income Inequality is growing again. Time to cut subsidies to the rich and invest in the young."
A BARRAGE of new statistics on American living standards offers some grounds for optimism. A typical American household’s income has stopped falling for the first time in five years, and the poverty rate has stopped rising. At last, it seems, the expansion is strong enough at least to stabilise ordinary people’s incomes.
But the main message is a grim one. Most of the growth is going to an extraordinarily small share of the population: 95% of the gains from the recovery have gone to the richest 1% of people, whose share of overall income is once again close to its highest level in a century. The most unequal country in the rich world is thus becoming even more so."
The Film, :Killing The Softly" with Brad Pitt as the main actor, is not a science fiction. This film is a raw and bloody reminder of America after the Bush years, when the economy fell on its face; and also, it is a political commentary, and both Obama and the Republicans get the brunt of the rage of Pitt. but then, the notion that "all men are created equal' is a farce and fiction. for instance, if one were to believe the stats below, the gridlock or stagnant governance has not helped America in many ways. If we were to agree that America is not a country but a business, it seems then it is bad in doing its business across a vast spectrum of activities. Let's look at the following stats to see if I am off base or not.
Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom premiered last night and everyone is talking about protagonist Will McAvoys's tirade on how America isn't the greatest country in the world:
"We’re 7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories. Number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real and defense spending..."
In Sorkin's honor, here are 25 other things America isn't number one in:
- America ranks 13th in starting a business,, according to the Doing Business rankings compiled by The World Bank.
- The U.S. ranks 47th in press freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders. So much for freedom of the press.
- The U.S. ranks 20th in International trade, according to the Doing Business rankings compiled by The World Bank.
- The U.S., which ranks 15th in dealing with debt insolvency according to the Doing Business rankings.
- The U.S. is ranked 10th in economic freedom, according to The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal.
- The U.S. is 25th among 43 developing countries for the best place to be a mother, according to Save The Children.
- The U.S. is only the 11th happiest country in the world, according Columbia University's Earth Institute.
- There are 21 countries better than America in freedom from corruption, according to Heritage.org.
- The U.S. was ranked 24th in perceived honesty, according to Transparency.org.
- America is ranked 39th in income inequality according to the CIA World Factbook.
- Need a Hepatitis B vaccination? The U.S. is ranked 89th in percentage of children who have been vaccinated according to the World Health Organization.
- The U.S. is only 47th in infant survival? That's true, according to the CIA World Factbook.
- Want to live a long life? Don't live in the U.S., which is 50th in life expectancy according to the CIA World Factbook.
- How well is our economy growing? The U.S. GDP growth rate is ranked 169th out of 216 countries, according to the CIA World Factbook.
- Our GDP per capita is only 12th in the world,, behind Qatar and Liechtenstein, says the CIA World Factbook.
- U.S. unemployment is worse than 102 of 200 countries listed by the CIA World Factbook.
- The U.S. is an embarrassing 142nd out of 150 countries in infrastructure investment,, according to the CIA World Factbook.
- America's budget deficit is ranked 192nd in debt relative to GDP, according to the CIA World Factbook.
- The growth rate of American Industrial production is ranked 79th, according to the CIA World Factbook.
- The U.S. is only 11th in oil exports, according to the CIA World Factbook.
- America's oil reserves is only 13th most in the world according to the CIA World Factbook.
- The United States is ranked 192nd, dead last, in the net trade of goods and services, according to the CIA World Factbook.
- U.S. reserve of foreign exchange and gold is ranked 19th, according to the CIA World Factbook, right behind Indonesia.
- The U.S. is ranked the 28th best soccer team by FIFA.
- In terms of the percentage of women holding public office, the U.S. Ranks 79th out of 147 countries, says the IPU.
Some say that "Nations have significantly different structures than corporations, but ultimately both must observe certain efficiencies and be competitive if they are to last. In this respect, you could refer to the "Business of Government" or "The Governance of Business".
Well, if efficiency were to be the criterion of ether business or government, then the United States is not a paragon of 'efficiency' if one were to believe these statistics. Now, does one really need these statistics to see that America is not functioning well, and is on the verge of a very dysfunctional society. There is evidence everywhere. One just has to listen to the GOP and their megalomaniac proposals that are dumbing-down america, shifting it into high gear of poverty, mass incarceration, too much Defense spending, trying to repeal ACA, attempting to get rid of Social security, progressively doing-away with Foodstamps, derailing funds for housing, poor and failing schools, rampant gun violence of which the GOP and the Gun Lobby goons refuse to adjust the laws, need I say more? Many people know that there is something wrong with the picture above that is presenting America as Failing in all categories globally,a nd for real, this picture, whether one believes it or not, opening one's eyes to the existential reality, there is ample proof that this is true.
Well, the way America run her business today, it is maybe good for the billionaires, but terrible and worse for the falling middle class and the very poor army of the unemployed citizens. The Gridlock that is the new normal in the American congress, is really bringing the civilization of America down.
Is This a Dream Or Lived Reality?
In The Midst of The Eye Of The Storm
Larry Liu posted this article:
Why Is The US Political System Gridlocked?
"One review of the newspaper reveals to us a political system that has clearly become enormously dysfunctional. Most Congressional legislation is blocked by a Republican majority in the House of Representatives. At the same time, much of the political proposals of the Democrats have been fairly limited in scope. Yet, the problems, which we have in our country are tremendously huge. A laundry list of problems was provided by Matt Miller, columnist for the Washington Post: 20 million Americans desiring full-time work, won’t be able to attain it; the wealthiest 400 Americans own more wealth than the bottom half of the population combined; half of all jobs pay less than $35,000 a year; 12,000 Americans die every year from gun violence; 1 in 5 children live in poverty; social mobility is declining; the biggest banks, which have contributed to the economic crisis, have become bigger than before after receiving their government handout in the form of bailouts and Fed low-interest loans; 50 million people lack health insurance (after the implementation of Obamacare, it will be half of that), while the health care system continues to be the most expensive in the world; carbon emissions continue to rise, which accelerates global warming and climate change; most Americans do not have enough retirement savings; and politicians in Washington are busy raising cash from the wealthy rather than address the political problems that affect us all.(Matt Miller)
And despite all these problems, members of Congress are incapable to alleviate any of these problems, so that even the business community begins to complain about the political incapacity of Congress. This criticism had become very salient especially with regard to the debt ceiling debate, which harmed the financial interests of the elite investors. (Interestingly, when it comes to other issues like funding public schools or providing health care to more people- areas that affect most people more intensely- there has been very little uproar in public discourse. This clearly reveals the strong extent of inequality in this country, but more about it later.)
It will, therefore, be very pertinent to look at this issue of political gridlock in Washington, because Congress is the main institution, where expected political changes are supposed to take place. Why is there no possibility to surpass these partisan divisions? There are two main line of arguments that can be run in order to explain this gridlock. One deals with the procedural structure of the US political system and the other deals with the socio-economic polarization in the form of greater economic inequality. I will present both of these reasons, and find only the latter argument convincing, while disagreeing with the first argument.
The first argument claims that the Founding Fathers had intentionally devised a political system that would divide the legislative from the executive branch of government, i.e. Congress is seperately elected from the president. Congress may be run by Republicans, and the presidency may be run by a Democrat, so disagreement between the two branches of government exist by design. By the same token, there is a clear division between two branches of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate also has the special ability of blocking any legislation with a filibuster, which can only be overcome by a 60 member majority. So the system is apparently set up for failure, which fits well with the intentions of the founders, who thought that a concentration of power in either branch of government would lead to tyranny.
This argument may have some validity, but I do not find this procedural reasoning to be particularly convincing from a historical perspective. Even if the peculiar nature of the US political system allows a division of power, which reduces the ability of passing laws altogether (a problem other countries with parliamentary systems do not have), it still does not deal with why there was more/less gridlock at some times than in others. There were several fairly activist Congresses in history, such as during the Reconstruction era after the end of the Civil War led by so-called Radical Republicans, during the New Deal reform in the 1930s and during the Civil Rights era of the 1960s. The decisive shift in the political system must have happened in the years after the Civil Rights era, when the Democratic southern states turned into Republican strongholds. Gerrymandering, which is the arbitrary drawing up of Congressional district for the benefit of whichever party was calling the shots in the respective state (especially in the case of Republican states), also became a more popular tool among policy-makers to sharpen the political divisions to higher levels.
There is now significantly less bipartisanship than back in the 1960s. From the viewpoint of political sociology, there have been several arguments made about how the voters must have shifted to the right or to the left, and so the political leaders follow the more extreme views of the public. But I actually find very little evidence for a massive shift in popular opinion about most political issues. Any kind of political theory that stresses the supposed changes in the political viewpoint of Americans too much is very much suspect to me. Some exceptions do exist with regard to social issues. A majority of American people now endorse gay marriage. But that is a far cry from socio-economic issues like inequality, health care or jobs, where most people have been consistently progressive. Gerrymandering and stronger political divisions do matter, and it is noteworthy that it is when the Republicans are in opposition that the veto points are the strongest. The Democratic majority was not nearly as intransigent to the Bush administration, which was Republican.
And now here comes the socio-economic aspect of the political narrative of gridlock, which is consistently neglected in public discourse, and it has a lot to do with the laundry list of problems enumerated above: economic inequality and political corruption. In my argument, there were political measures by businessmen to secure themselves more favorable tax policies. Businesses became free to invest anyplace in the world that pleased them and bypass any environmental or labor regulations that make political democracy and economic egalitarianism possible in the first place. Free trade policies, automation of production, and union-busting increasingly became the norm. Workers’ wages stagnated and in some cases declined. Rising corporate profits were reinvested back either into production abroad, or in financial investments, lately in housing, the future’s market and other commodities, enriching a group of investors and hedge fund managers, while reducing the financial security of workers and retirees, and eventually the whole economy (look at the global financial crisis since 2008).
Workers reacted very much divided to this shift in the political economy. They did not realize what was going on, and when they did realize it they reacted haphazardly. There had been long-standing institutional weaknesses in the US labor movement, which had mostly organized itself in terms of craft or in terms of the specific firm workers worked for. The lack of class solidarity among the US working class made it, therefore, very easy for employers to circumvent the working class, and use the political system for their short term gains. As income inequality increased, so did the cost of election. Because as the rich get richer, they will bid more for political campaigns, and middle and working class people, who are always deeply affected by policies, can not match this lobbying effort with equal interest or financial resources. Any resemblance of progressive politics has to be shelved given the fact that only the big spenders, who are friendly to corporate interests, have an opportunity to become elected. A few exceptions exist, but only if there is a strong grassroots effort that support the respective candidate. Without a strong, united labor movement it is also difficult to have more (small ‘d’) democratic priorities represented in Congress.
That is why I also think that even when Democrats are in power, there is enormous difficulty to get political measures across Congress. Democrats have to concede to so-called moderate, Blue Dog Democrats, who generally resist too many progressive policies, officially in order to tame the budget deficit (but really to hurt the poor). That was the whole campaign that president Bill Clinton ran on. But, nonetheless, I find it interesting that both parties have shifted to the political right, so that we may safely classify the modern Democrat as a moderate Republican, and the modern Republican as extreme right-winger. Progressive political forces are continuously marginalized. The few sane members in Congress, like Senator Bernie Sanders, always have the greatest difficulty to push for measures that benefit the mass of the American people.
I have no interest to simply bash the Republicans, though I have to say that the Tea Party phenomenon, which is almost entirely bankrolled by conservative billionaires, is peculiar to the Republican Party. It is right to point out that Republicans are more extreme in their views than Democrats, but it is also right to argue that both parties have shifted to the political right. But then this would presume that both parties would agree with each other, and then there could be no political gridlock. Well, it is not that simple either. There are some real diffferences between the political parties, but it is often a question of magnitude, and not one of overarching policy preferences. The Democrats want to cut spending programs a little bit (which hurts working people and the underclass), and raise taxes a little bit. The Republicans only want to cut social spending programs, and no tax rises. A more progressive alternative would be to demand significant spending increases financed by significant tax increases on the rich, the corporations, who sit on too much idle cash, and the investors, who speculate and lend it out rather than giving people access to resources in the form of wages and jobs. But that is currently a topic that is entirely taboo inside the Beltway, so it is a challenge to us, the public, to change the political picture
On a final note, I will argue that some powerful interests in this country might even prefer a stymied Congress. A stymied Congress is conservative by necessity. A bickering Congress won’t pass sweeping social legislation. This generally benefits businesses. It is not that Congress does absolutely nothing. Some spending programs for important political clientele will continue to receive federal funding, such as the military or agriculture. Companies will still benefit from very favorable tax policies, and the way that happens is through lobbying, which is a legalized form of corruption. It would be simply called ‘corruption’ in other countries. But that is the only effective way to secure resources from Washington. On the other hand, popular interests become ruefully neglected. It does not seem to matter how many children are drifting into poverty or how many workers have to remain unemployed under the current government, the political gridlock will continue to prevent any significant social reform from happening. Food stamps and Medicaid are on the chopping block, not really the tax breaks for the wealthy. That is really good for conservative interests. This strategy might backfire for conservatives, because Tea Party Republicans are pushing for no compromise on the debt ceiling. But historically we know that over the last few years, the Republicans have always voted for an increase in the debt ceiling even if it was in the last minute. So far, conservatives do not have to fear much of anything. The political gridlock still benefits that clientele, even if the whole economy is harmed by government shutdowns and more poverty, inequality and unemployment. The focus of change will not come from grand political speeches by presidential candidates, but from the actions of a determined public."
Racism Disguised- Or is It?
Imposing Poverty On The Poor
Gridlock has been set up in such a way that it is the main objective of those who wiled Power in the Congress of the US. Just as much as we can talk about the gridlock, how in had manifested itself, we should also talk about the targeted people who, amongst the many stalling tactics, is the war on the poor's poverty. We learn more from the pollowing article by David Coates:
anuary 2014 marks the fiftieth anniversary of theState of the Union Address in which Lyndon Johnson launched the War on Poverty. This anniversary is leading to much soul-searching here in the United States.
Partly that soul-searching reflects the high levels of poverty that persist in contemporary America. The US does not define the poverty level as the EU does: as a percentage of median income, and therefore as normally a rising target. It defines it still in money terms, with the poverty level adjusted only for size of family and inflation.
There is much debate here currently about the adequacy of that measure. When the War on Poverty was first launched, the percentage of Americans with incomes lower than the poverty level for their size of family stood at 19%. After a decade of sustained policy, that percentage had fallen to 11.1%. The official poverty rate then stabilized, oscillating between 11% and 15% with each business cycle. As a result of the 2008 financial crisis and resulting recession, it is currently back to a peak of 15%, with almost one American child in five growing up in poverty. At stake in the soul-searching now underway is whether poverty persists in these proportions in modern America because, as Ronald Reagan once famously put it, “in the war on poverty, poverty won;” or whether, on the contrary, the war on poverty failed because his administration (and subsequent administrations) stopped fighting it.
The political conflict around that question is now intense. Advocates of a renewed war on poverty point to the significant impact on poverty levels made by key government programmes. Take those programmes away, they say, and the level of poverty in the United States would be dramatically higher. On the most recent data available to us, the Earned Income Tax Credit reduced child poverty by 5% in 2012 alone. Food and nutrition programmes had much the same effect. Advocates point too to the involuntary nature of most contemporary poverty. The vast majority of Americans who are currently poor are poor in spite of their own best efforts. They are poor because welfare payments are low and limited. They are poor because low-paid employment (of the kind offered by, among others, America’s largest employer – Wal-Mart) still keeps people below the poverty level. Or they are poor because large-scale involuntary unemployment (there are still three unemployed Americans for every available job) is steadily pushing the long-term unemployed out of the American middle class.
The Politics of the War on Poverty
Unfortunately for the poor, however, conservative critics of welfare provision do not see it that way. They either deny that anyone is America is genuinely poor – so many of them have televisions and cars after all – or they insist that most of those now in poverty are there because of poor life-style choices or an unwillingness to work. For such critics, the welfare net is not too modest. It is too generous. Any narrowing of the gap between welfare income and low pay removes the pressure on the long-term unemployed actively to seek work. Indeed, so certain are conservative critics of this truth that, in the current US Congress, Republican legislators voted in November to cut food stamps and cannot now be persuaded in sufficient numbers to extend long-term unemployment insurance to the more than one million Americans whose insurance ran out in December. And among the Tea Party base of the Republican opposition to welfare provision, it must be recognized, strands of racism linger. The American poor is still disproportionately African-American and Hispanic, attracting arguments from libertarians about the need to honor the defining American tradition of self-reliance, and arguments from intense nationalists about the need for repatriation and the closing of the border.
But the poor in America now come in many colors including white, and in many ages – both young and old. The social compact between firms and workers that once traded modest wages for guaranteed healthcare and a reliable pension is eroding fast, and though in 2014 Republicans will no doubt still point to “welfare queens” as spongers on the public purse, they too have now to address the poverty issue in all its complexity – not least because many of their potential voters are either in or on the edge of poverty themselves. So many of the men now in poverty in America are keen to find work but cannot, and so many of the women are grandmothers struggling to survive on a modest state pension, or are high school graduates struggling to find work of any kind at all, that their plight is simply too evident and too entrenched to be ignored by even the most strident critics of welfare provision. Whether they like it or not, poverty in America has become a problem for Republicans. For Democrats it needs to become a cause.
The current political gridlock in Washington is leaving more and more Americans vulnerable to poverty. There is an enhanced churning here as well as an enhanced volume: between 2009 and 2011 the incomes of approximately one American in three (31%) fell below the poverty level for a while, remaining there for at least two months. The evidence is clear. Political gridlock and the resulting absence of effective anti-poverty programs in the contemporary United States benefit the rich, but they leave the rest of us with increasing income inequality, vast areas of urban blight and suburban drabness, and diminished access to the American Dream. Lyndon Johnson was right:
the man who is hungry, who cannot find work or educate his children, who is bowed by want, that man is not fully free.
But try telling that to a Republican legislator who is safe in his/her gerrymandered constituency only so long as the Republican Party’s Tea Party base is not enraged by any softness on the poor.
There is a lot at stake in 2014 in America, as the last mid-term elections of the Obama administration approach. We can expect Democrats to press the poverty button heavily as they campaign. Let us hope, for the sake of the American poor, that this time pressing that button works: that at long last the progressive message on wage growth and income distribution gets through to the American electorate on a scale sufficient to return power to more compassionate legislators than those currently controlling the House.
Continuing Racism In the US and Around The World
Racism Persists And Is Even Uglier and Deadlier Today
Frank Kovarick wrote the following articles
Racial Politics and Obama: A new era"
"Daedalus, the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, published in 1965 two issues on “The Negro American.” Some 56 years later, in 2011, the journal has published a kind of follow-up, a two-volume issue on race in the age of Obama. The first issue, edited by Washington University’s own Gerald Early, takes a humanities-centered approach. The second, edited by Lawrence D. Bobo of Harvard, features the work of social scientists. Both issues make for fascinating reading—perhaps the most varied and learned discussions of present-day racial issues in America available in one place anywhere. (You can buy the Daedulus journals for $13 apiece.)
I recently read with particular interest an article called “Barack Obama & American Racial Politics,” by a trio of eminent political scientists, Rogers M. Smith, Desmond S. King, and Philip A. Klinkner. This article framed the history of racial politics and political alliances with great clarity, and its analysis of the current moment struck me as being absolutely correct. Although the authors’ description of President Obama’s political acumen gives me great hope, their larger points about the realities of race in America serve as disquieting reminders of the challenges we face.
The article describes three eras of racial politics in American history, each divided by a transitional period: 1) the era of slavery (1790 to 1865); 2) the era of Jim Crow (mid-1890s to mid-1960s); and 3) the era of race-conscious controversies (1979 to the present).
Most distinctive about our current era, the era of race-conscious controversies, according to the authors, is how neatly racial alliances match up with partisan alliances. Unlike previous eras, in which a variety of positions toward slavery and segregation could be found in either of the two major parties, in our current era, “Republicans regularly endorse color-blind policies, while Democrats support race-conscious ones.” This partisan division means that even though the racial issues currently at stake may be less dramatic and stark than the issues of slavery and segregation, they seem even more intractable because they are tied to the political fortunes of one party or the other.
As Lyndon Johnson brought an official end to the Jim Crow era of de juresegregation, he remarked that he had lost the south for the Democratic Party for a generation. The authors note that “he was more right than he knew,” pointing out that no Democratic presidential candidate has won a majority of the white vote since LBJ himself was elected in 1964. Nevertheless, Johnson’s Great Society legislation—e.g, the Voting Rights Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and the Higher Education Act—also led to changes in the electorate overall that eventually made possible the presidency of Obama.
One of the most interesting observations in the article is that “With the emergence of each new structure of rival racial alliances, members of both alliances have professed allegiance to the resolution of the previous era’s disputes.” Republicans accuse Democrats of betraying Martin Luther King’s dream that his children would be judged by the content of their character and without regard to the color of their skin. Democrats, in turn, accuse Republicans of willfully ignoring the enduring inequalities that have been left unchanged by civil rights gains.
The authors note that most white people oppose race-conscious measures to alleviate inequality—and even white Democrats favor them somewhat half-heartedly. So Barack Obama as a candidate had to tread very cautiously in discussing these matters, expressing support instead for policies that would appear race-neutral but actually have a disproportionately beneficial effect for African Americans and Latinos. (Health care reform falls into this camp, as does, interestingly, Michelle Obama’s campaign against obesity.) Meanwhile, John McCain had to be careful about overt race-baiting during the campaign since his party professed an ideology of color-blindness. Yet, as we all remember, issues of race simmered just under the surface throughout the run-up to the election.
Despite Obama’s adroit navigation of the treacherous currents of race in America during the 2008 campaign and his impressive record of achievements as president, the 2010 midterm elections serve as only one reminder of the challenges that Obama faces in bringing progressive change—and, indeed, in leading America out of the era of race-conscious controversies and into a new and, one hopes, happier era.
The authors note that Obama has used his personal story as an emblem of the American motto of e pluribus unum, as a call to Americans to set aside divisions and instead work together to find common ground and compromises that can help us move forward as a country. As the earlier part of the article makes clear, however, these divisions are not so easily set aside. Moreover, the approach of using universal or race-neutral programs to effect changes to racial inequality often falls short of producing substantial change.
President Obama is both admired and mocked for his seeming unflappability, his coolness. That coolness was probably an essential characteristic for his ascendancy to the White House. On the level of image, it no doubt assured some white voters that he was not a threatening “angry black man”; on a more practical level, his equanimity probably allowed him to make wise strategic decisions that helped him win the election and achieve the political victories that he has won while in office. At the same time, the president’s critics have sometimes found him to be overly aloof, too distant from the fray, too calculatingly aware of the long-range strategy to get involved in the heat of political battle.
In my own limited experience with race-conscious controversies, I have also found coolness to be a useful virtue. Assuming the best of those who might criticize me, being slow to take offense, being willing to compromise even with opponents who may seem irrational or malicious—I have found these to be strategies that effectively avoid inflamed and destructive conflict. And so I tend to trust President Obama.
But was the election of the first African American president the momentous event that has ended the third period of racial politics in American and propelled us into a period of transition? Will his re-election in 2012 be the final turning point in ending this third era? And what would a new era look like?
A new era would seem to require both a diminishment in awareness of race as well as a diminishment in the inequities that correlate to race in America. As we move toward an America in which there is no longer a single racial majority, and in which economic inequality reaches ever greater proportions, it seems unlikely that either of those two requirements will be attained. Even the two-term presidency of Barack Obama, whom I believe to be an uncommonly brilliant man, will thus probably not spell the end of our current era of racial politics.
Obama’s coolness may indeed be a great presidential virtue. Yet the two previous eras of racial politics in America—slavery and Jim Crow—ended only after periods of intense heat: the massive upheavals of the Civil War and the Civil Rights revolution. As I look into the future, I feel a bit of trepidation as I consider the suffering and strife that may accompany the end of our current era and the transition to the next."
Shoot First, Ask Questions later - Stand Your Ground Laws
The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. Tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peace-makers for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. [Nazi leader Herman Goering]
Racism and racist ideas have been on the rise in America since Obama became president. A lot of people of European descent have been very unhappy with an African American(Of mixed race) ruling the U.S. One of the most amazing thing are the changes and reversal of laws by the US supreme court on issues pertaining to voting, approving the removal of Affirmative action laws, allowing the most rich to finance elections, the controversial Florida and other states 'Stand Your Ground Law", and the rise of the racist militia and many other changes that have been instigated by the GOP(Republican Party), Obama's detractors, and their leaders/sidekicks, the Tea baggers. This has been addressed in a much more conversational style by Playthell Benjamin as follows:
Throughout your tumultuous and productive presidency, through thick and thin, I have been an unwavering supporter and friend. I have fearlessly defended your record and character from attacks on the right and left. I have shared your vision and supported your policies because I believed they were the best possible choices among the possibilities.
Upon coming into office you inherited one of the worst crisis’ in history, a multi-level mess that involved a wrecked economy, a world financial system on the brink of collapse, and two foreign wars; yet you resolved them with Christian compassion and Solomonic wisdom. I have been looking over your shoulder the whole time, recording your major moves in writing – which has now run into hundreds of essays, and the first volume of a compilation will be published this year.
It is because I have paid such close attention to your policies and proposals, and the nasty nature of a Republican opposition whose actions have endangered national security and bordered on treason, that I have repeatedly taken on friends and colleagues on the radical left, or pompous self-righteous liberals, in a protracted no holds barred rumble when they attacked you because you didn’t embrace their ideology or couldn’t make all their dreams come true. I, on the other hand, am amazed at what you have actually accomplished under the circumstances. Since I have written about this elsewhere I won’t reiterate it here.
Unlike some of your most vociferous critics, ala Cornel West and Boyce Watkins, who portray your compromises as betrayal, I know that you are just playing politics. And like you, who is obviously gifted at the game, I understand that politics is the art of the possible! Hence if we look candidly at the present political realities in US domestic affairs and our foreign relations just now, it is fair to say that you have some monumental fights ahead.
Between the tumultuous events abroad, which the US cannot control but refuses to accept, and your increasing inability to govern at home because of the disloyal Republicans in the House of Representatives and US Senate, whose sole mission has not been to govern effectively but to destroy your presidency, it does not take a seer to see that it will require your best efforts to avoid disaster at home and abroad.
As the crisis in the Ukraine grows more antagonistic it is absolutely critical that you follow the example of your fellow Chicagoan, the brilliant song poet and compassionate humanist Oscar Brown Jr., who declared “I always live by one golden rule: Whatever happens don’t blow yo cool!” If ever there was a time to be the calm and collected fellow we came to know as “No Drama Obama” ……it is now. For you are confronted with a situation that if handled badly could result in a catastrophe worse than the Old Testament’s descriptions of the Flood of Noah, which, despite its horrors and widespread destruction, life flourishes on this planet.
But as James Baldwin, the prescient Afro-American scribe and seer warned: “God gave Noah the rainbow sign….no more water, the fire next time!” This, in essence, is the fundamental issue: Will you be the one to spark the atomic fire that will incinerate the earth and destroy not only modern civilization but all life on this planet, which, as near as our brightest scientist can tell, is unique in the vast expanse of the universe? In the absence of great diplomacy while mediating the crisis between Russia and the Ukraine, the destruction of the world will be your legacy Mr President. “To be or not to be?….this is the question.”
While Playthell takes a look at the war or non-war stance of Obama, Eric Wattree posted this article he titled, "Demographics Are Against The GOP, So They've Become Dangerous":
"It seems that the GOP’s outreach program to recruit minority voters has gone bust, and with good reason. Contrary to what the GOP seems to think, the problem that the Republican Party is having with recruiting minority voters has absolutely nothing to do with merely communicating their agenda more effectively - it’s their agenda itself that's the problem. The minority community is not dumb. They understand that the Republican agenda is so toxic to the American people as a whole that they have to use racist and bigoted rhetoric and policies just to gain what little support they do have from their conservative base.
Thus, covert racism and bigotry is the only thing the GOP has to offer to justify their current existence, since for the past 70 years their primary agenda has been to return poor and middle-class Americans (of every race) to the condition that they suffered prior to the New Deal that brought them relief from the effects of the Great Depression. But the American people are simply not going to buy into that, so the Republican Party has had to sugarcoat their message by cloaking it in the tried-and-true emotional appeal of good old American hatred, anger, and bigotry (See Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, etc.).
But demographics are now working against them, and they know it. So they’ve gotten desperate - the mere fact that they even attempted minority outreach clearly attests to that desperation - and since they’re also without limits, if they EVER regain control of this government, they're not letting it go again, regardless to WHAT they have to do.
"hey're already experimenting with despotism in the state of Michigan (or what I've come to call, "Michighanistan") to see what they can get away with without causing civil unrest. Gov. Rick Snyder has replaced many duly elected officials with his handpicked corporate cronies under the pretext of an economic emergency. As a result, many citizens in the city of Detroit have absolutely no say in government, or the actions of these unelected managers. They’ve been effectively disenfranchised. After all, what sense does it make to vote if the politicians that you elect aren’t allowed to hold office? If the GOP successfully gets away with that, and then extend that policy on a national level, this will no longer be America. So it's time for the people to turn off BET, MTV, and ESPN, and wake up.
Racism Amongst The Racist Whites Is Causing Them To Vote Against Their Own Interest To Their Detriment
Racism is Alive and WEll In America Of Today
This brings us to an article written by Tim Martin which is titled:
Racism Is America's Persistent Poison
"Racism is one of the most insidious factors in our lives. It's ingrained in America's collective unconscious. The bigotry and hatred taught to us and handed down over the ages doesn't go away simply because we want it to. Like it or not, we are still a prejudiced nation.
First it was the Indians. Then the Chinese who helped build our railroads. After that it was the Irish, the Germans, and Japanese Americans who were our citizens during WWII. That was followed by Puerto Ricans, blacks, and Hispanics. Today it's Muslims. Yes, there is prejudice and hate in all corners of the world, but America is supposed to be different. We're the place where people of all color, race, and religious beliefs are welcomed with open arms.
Despite Obama's election, or perhaps because of it, the level of hatred and intolerance in the U.S. has reached an all-time high. It's brought racists out of the woodwork. A 2011 Associated Press poll found that 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black hatred. The survey also found that 52 percent of non-Hispanic whites expressed anti-Hispanic attitudes.
These people see the world in stark shades of black and white and refuse to accept that we live in a multiracial society. Much of their hatred stems from resentment. They are convinced that words like “diverse” and “multicultural” are simply code words for anti-white, anti-male, anti-western ideology, and that a conspiracy is afoot to eliminate the entire white race. They also believe in a “hierarchy of color” and consider other races inferior.
This is how their minds work -- or more accurately don't work.
This level of bigotry can't go on. We live in a country of many different cultures, ethnicities, and mixed races. According to a U.S. Census Bureau report, in the last decade the number of multiracial Americans grew faster than those who self-identify as a single race, with the largest gains coming in the once racially segregated South. It's time to either accept diversity or close ourselves off in our own little worlds and let prejudice and cultural intolerance win the day.
America's white majority is slipping away with increasing speed, affecting issues from immigration to the future of our economy. The Census Bureau noted that the United States is moving toward a “minority majority” population. By 2043 whites are expected to make up less than half of the total U.S. population.
The new American “us” is no longer black, white, Asian, or Hispanic. It's all of these and more.
Multiracial couples are changing the political landscape and actually forcing our leaders to do something about the treatment of nonwhites. The main question that nationwide immigration centers on is how immigrants should be characterized. Are they a burden to taxpayers with their needs? Or do they bring with them the energy and skills to power the economy and help our country grow?
It's wise to keep in mind that America was built on the hard-working backs of immigrants.
There is great value in diversity. It allows us to break down barriers, eradicate prejudice, and enrich our lives. Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, arguing for racial justice and equality. In many ways we have moved forward and embraced Dr. King's dream. Mass migration has made us more culturally diverse than ever. But we still have a long way to go. Obama did not run as the “first black president,” but America made him that in order to say racism is over. Sadly, it's not. When Ann Coulter writes a book saying racism doesn't exist, you know it's rampant.
One demographic fact is clear: As white America ages, we will have to rely more and more heavily on hardworking, tax-paying nonwhites to build a prosperous economy and fund programs like Social Security and Medicare. Ironic, isn't it? Those who are prejudiced or mixed race intolerant might want to take a minute and wrap their minds around that little nugget of information.
Mutual respect is what we must aim for. We're all in this boat together. Let's start treating our crew members with equal respect. We want Americans to celebrate their own cultures, background, and religions. Those who oppose diversity and pretend that suspicion and intolerance is the way to a better society are swimming against a rip tide. Hopefully someday, in the far distant future, we will just be “Americans.” Or, better yet, “citizens of the world.”
Even when the Affirmative action was past and signed into law, it has not erased attempt that have been made by those who want to keep the old order alive. There are many other things that are happening in the America of today, amidst an economic slow-down and no job creation, those who hate Obama have gone to extreme lengths to make sure that racism is alive and well in contemporaryAMerica. Makes me wonder if the last paragraph by the author above will be feasible or realistic.. History and time will tell..
A Smorgasbord Of Social Media
In this part of the Hub, I am going to utilize a Social Media Smorgasbord perspective to elaborate the nature and functions of the new emerging media, their gadgets and applications. Patrick Fawley penned this article in the following manner:
The Audience Network.
Millions of people use Facebook every day, but what about the thousands of other apps that people use every day? Facebook has announced an answer to this question with the Audience Network. The new feature allows marketers to advertise to users across a network of other mobile apps. First testers of the Audience Network have already seen great returns from their ads; therefore, Facebook is beginning to expand the network to more and more advertisers.
Facebook Launches Atlas
Although it’s been in the works for some time now, Facebook has formally announced the new Atlas. In the introduction, Facebook positioned Atlas as the premier “people-based marketing” platform. The software allows advertisers to market across devices and measure the connection between online campaigns and offline sales. Atlas could become a new valuable tool to not only help market your online campaigns, but track the returns from them as well.
Local Awareness Ads
Do you still go to your local pharmacy? The answer is probably no, but Facebook has tried to help change that by giving local businesses a tool to continue to compete with huge corporations. They’ve done this by creating local awareness ads that allow local stores to target a specific market around their businesses. Initial studies have shown these ads to be extremely successful, which will hopefully continue to allow local businesses to capture the hearts and wallets of their communities.
Facebook Social Login Share Increases
For the second quarter in a row, Facebook increased its percentage of social logins across the industry according to a report from Janrain. The report showed a two percent increase in Facebook’s share along with a three percent decrease in Google’s share. While many platforms are utilized every day, Facebook continues to flex its muscles as the industry leader of social logins.
Similar to its already existing TV conversation targeting, Twitter has announced plans to start targeting ads to fans that tweet about movies. Since Twitter continues to be used to discuss and review movies across the platform, it was only a matter of time until this ad targeting was put into practice (but this still doesn’t give you an excuse to tweet during a movie).
Teens Flee Facebook And Run To Instagram And Twitter
Another study was released from investment bank Piper Jaffray that showed the percentage of teens using Facebook dropped to 45% this fall. This puts them in third behind Instagram (76%) and Twitter (59%). These results differ from previous surveys that showed at least 75% of teens use Facebook.
Social Networking By Season
Twitter Backs The Laboratory For Social Machines With $10 Million
Seeing as Twitter is in the business of social organization and communication, it seems fitting that they would fund a 5 year, $10 million study by the MIT Media Lab. This study will have the goal of researching how “humans and machines collaborate on problems that can’t be solved manually or through automation alone,” says Deb Roy, Twitter’s Chief Media Scientist.
Three years ago, Twitter largely cut off third-party access to the Twitter API, which infuriated some developers. Fast forward three years: Twitter has announced plans to launch a new app development platform called Twitter Fabric. Reports say that the platform should be released on Oct. 22. The hopes are that Twitter Fabric will allow Twitter to get involved in more mobile apps and capture more data about mobile users (which is pretty much the new gold for Twitter and its competitors).
Halloween Pin Picks
Halloween continues to drive huge amounts of content and traffic for Pinterest. In order to capitalize on this momentum, Pinterest has partnered with ten media companies to create a Handmade Halloween campaign to draw attention to its “Pin Picks”. This emphasis on Pin Picks further proves Pinterest’s desire to prove to publishers that they can depend on the platform to drive referral traffic.
Ads To Include Audience Targeting
Could Promoted Pins get here any faster?! Unless you can speed up time, the answer is no. But, as if you haven’t been teased enough, Ad Age recently reported that Pinterest could offer advertisers the chance to target specific customers from email lists or certain databases. Furthermore, it seems as though the company plans on designing a way of tracking the conversions from marketers’ Promoted Pins. This could help eCommerce or merchant sites in the very near future.
Google+ May Be Thriving, But There Remains No Figures
If you simply asked Google, they would tell you that Google+ is doing great and continues to be a long-term plan for the company. However, signs like Google+ founder, Vic Gundotra, leaving the company, the lack of reported numbers for over a year, and the lack of significant mention at the Google I/O developers conference have led to people spreading rumors and questioning if Google+ is on its last leg. Only time will tell what becomes of Google’s prized social platform.
Age And Country Restrictions
Google+ has released a small update to its settings that allows page owners to restrict the ability of certain users from viewing content that is inappropriate to young people (18+ or 21+), or even to countries where the content may be illegal. While this is only a minor change, it could impact page owners posting about alcohol or other mature content.
Ads Are Coming
Snapchat CEO, Evan Spiegel, reiterated on October 8th that users would see the first ads on Snapchat very soon. Before you freak out and think Snapchat is ruined, understand that the ads will NOT interrupt normal messages. Instead, the ads will be inserted into parts of what the company calls “Our Story”. For example, beer ads may come up during the Story for Oktoberfest, and users can then choose to watch them or skip them. This is just the beginning, but it could lead to so much more for marketers on this new frontier that is Snapchat.
Environmental Technological Challenge and The Building Of an Environment Friendly Transport
Article by William Clay “Bill” Ford Jr., and this is what he had to say:
The auto industry has faced many challenges during the 30 years that I have been part of it. And over those decades we have evolved our products, and at times our whole way of doing business, in an effort to address them.
For much of that time, the most pressing issue has been sustainability, and reducing the environmental impact of automobiles. This issue is a personal passion of mine, and one where I have spent years advocating for change. Though the road has not always been easy, we have now made technological breakthroughs that are allowing improvements we could only dream about in the past. I am now confident that in my lifetime our vehicles will dramatically reduce their carbon footprint.
However, looking solely at the emissions produced by the vehicles themselves would have addressed just one part of the issue. Not only have we been focused on reducing tailpipe emissions, but we also have invested substantially in making improvements to the way in which we manufacture our cars and trucks. By doing so, we have significantly improved the energy and water efficiency of our factories and have greatly cut the emissions that result from the manufacturing process.
We still have a long way to go, but the industry is now on its way to meeting the environmental sustainability challenge with new technology, electric motors, and vastly cleaner solutions to the internal combustion engine and our system of manufacturing. We’ve taken a holistic view of the environmental challenge, and are in better shape for it.
If you focus too narrowly on the issues you face, you eventually will find yourself on the wrong side of history. That is why we must take a broader view of sustainability. Environmental impact is only one part of the overall challenge.
For the automotive industry, sustainability means products, processes, and policies that add economic, environmental, and social value over time.
When I look at the future in that context, another challenge looms on the horizon that goes beyond individual vehicles: the issue of urban mobility. although it has economic and environmental implications, urban mobility is primarily a social problem that impacts health, safety, and human rights.
Today, there are about seven billion people in the world. That number is expected to grow to nine billion in our lifetime. at the same time, the world is growing more prosperous, and consumers in emerging markets increasingly can afford to buy automobiles.
Right now there also are about a billion cars on the road worldwide. With more people and greater prosperity, that number could grow to four billion by mid-century. Even with zero emissions and renewable energy sources, the sheer number of vehicles that will be on the road could present a serious challenge to economic, environmental, and social progress if we do nothing.
In the decades to come, 75 percent of the world’s population is expected to live in cities, and 50 of those cities will have more than 10 million people. Combined with four billion vehicles on the road, that raises the possibility of “global gridlock,” a never-ending traffic jam that wastes time, energy, and resources.
A BLUEPRINT FOR MOBILITY
To address this issue, we will once again need new technologies, as well as new ways of looking at the world. At Ford, we have developed a Blueprint for Mobility, which is the start of our thinking on what transportation will look like in the future and what we must do to get there—from the technology road map to the new business models that must be explored.
To start, we need to view the automobile as one element of a transportation ecosystem, and look for new ways to optimize the entire system. a truly sustainable long-term solution will require a global transportation network that includes vehicle, infrastructure, and mobile communications. We need cars that can communicate with each other, and the world around them, to make driving safer and more efficient.
This smart system will tie all modes of travel into a single network linking public and personal transportation. It will use real-time data to enable personal mobility on a massive scale, without tradeoffs or compromises for individual travelers. Pedestrian walkways, bicycles, buses, planes, trains, automobiles: everything will be fully integrated and optimized to save time, conserve resources, and lower emissions.
This connection process is already under way through the introduction of technologies such as Ford SYNC, which allows drivers to bring in and operate their digital devices using voice commands.
The Ford Evos Concept vehicle, introduced last year, begins to explore the next level of connection possibilities. Evos demonstrates how cloud technology can give drivers a personalized connection to the outside world. It can fine-tune its suspension for changing driving conditions; route you around traffic jams; monitor your health; even turn out the lights, lower the thermostat, and close the garage door when you leave home.
Looking further into the future, in the next five years communication technologies will continue to improve and become more widely available. The proliferation of 3-D digital maps and cell-based communications will provide better driver information and entertainment features. We will have ever more sophisticated driver interfaces to manage information flow without leading to distraction. We will be able to use these same systems to proactively alert drivers to traffic jams and accidents.
Vehicle computing power will continue to grow, enabling limited autonomous functions for parking and driving in slow-moving traffic jams. Vehicles increasingly will talk to one another, and the mountains of data they generate will no longer be self-contained and of limited use.
In the mid-term period, to 2025, the amount of data that will flow to, from, and through cars will continue to increase. Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication technologies will make possible improved safety and denser driving. New technologies will allow more complicated semi-autonomous maneuvers such as limited “auto pilot” functions, including highway lane changing and exiting.
The first efforts to integrate the various pieces of the transportation network will also begin in this time frame. Cars will be plugged into public databases to recommend alternative options such as trains, buses, and carpools when congestion is unavoidable.
We increasingly will take advantage of the car as a rolling collection of sensors, improving reporting of road conditions and weather and coming closer to eliminating accidents at intersections.
I am confident we will see many of these advances on the road by 2025 because the early versions are already being designed, and in most cases tested.
In the long term, the transportation landscape will be radically different from what we know today. By 2050, we will have a true network of mobility solutions, all operating together. Pedestrians, bicycles, and cars, as well as commercial and public transportation, will be woven into a single, interlinked system.
In this fully connected world, automobiles will be very different from today’s vehicles.
We will see the first vehicles intelligent enough to navigate complex environments on their own, and the arrival of autonomous valet functions. Not only will you be able to plot and reserve parking spaces in most major city centers around the world before your trip, your car will also park itself when you drop it off at the garage, maximizing parking density. Gridlock, even in urban centers, will be dramatically reduced. Environmental gains will be substantial as we manage a mix of transportation and energy systems toward maximum efficiency.
Personal ownership will remain, but it will be complemented by sharing services that can instantaneously match you with the right vehicle for your task. Software will be able to plot the most efficient, or most enjoyable, route for your day, mixing a variety of transportation modes.
Instead of building a transportation infrastructure and asking humans to adapt to it, we will have a system that adapts to us. We will also be able to save many of the lives lost each year to tragic accidents.
In the years to come, as more people around the world gain access to the mobility we all take for granted, the realities of global gridlock will become apparent. With all aspects of a network fully aware of and integrated with the world surrounding it, we can envision a time when transportation helps us regain our most precious commodity: our time.
Republican win would worsen Obama's Rule..
Gridlock is also governmental. My point here is that just as we have seen the results of the the Mid-term elections in the USA, this is as a result of Gridlocked government, caused to be so by the Republican Party's wing the "Tea Baggers" which obstructed Obama's policies at every turn. But when the elections came, instead of running against their rivals for the same posit, the told their voters that they were running against Obama's 'failed' policies, with the rise of ISIS in Iraq; the Ebola pandemic, which so far in America only 6 people were affected, resulting in one death. Also, they attacked Obama o n Benghazi(where the American Consulate personnel and ambassador were killed); they also want to repeal Obama's health care plan; they promised that they were going to 'impeach" Obama once they take over the Senate and the House of government.
The most recent 2014 elections handed the Republicans an overwhelming victory to be in charge of the of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. This does not bode well for Obama. Prior to this ground-shaking Taste, the Democrats were in charge of the Senate, and the Republicans were controlling the House of Representative. Now, after these aforementioned Mid-Term elections of 2014,, the Republicans control both, and Obama is left with two years to rule. The Gridlock that was part of their strategy to taint and diminish Obama's legacy, was reaffirmed by their being gang pressed into both houses as the Majority or the Majority
The American people here can be critiqued seriously as to their choice of the Republican to run both arms of government. What Obama has done, that ism help the poor get medical coverage(Affordable Care-surreptitiously dubbed "Obama Care", which i very effective and the first of its type for all the American people, was attacked, and yet, they very people who befit from it we're the ones that voted to outset the Democrats from both houses. they did by imbibing what their prospective, and now elected representative framed and couched the terms of the elections as if they were running against Obama and his 'reckless' policies-they chime in.
The fact that Obama is left with two years as The Commander-in-Chief, did not dissuade them from trying to make the last tow years of his rule more difficult and in fact, they were sending a message that they will not and have not yet accepted the reality that Obama was their president and elected into power by an overwhelming majority. What I am saying is that this goes to show that Obama's legacy was not the little of what he did, but the hatred many White Americans of all persuasion had for him and how he looked like, and what this represented in their minds: An African Slave.
Throughout these Mid-Terms elections, the Democrats fought and worked assiduously hard to distance themselves from anything to do with Obama. They denounced him and made sure that they were not associated with him in any shape or form. This too is another ploy, by many of those in the leadership of the White community who had no compunctions as to whether they win without being associated with the leader of the party. So that, the picture above is aplomb with racism and disregard of the authority figure and leadership that Obama has provided thus Far.
Although, it was and is still sad to see how much he tried to get people to vote for the very people who "dissed", or rejected him with all the fanfare of a person afflicted by Ebola, Leprosy, Cancer and all imaginable plagues one can recall.. That, it was sad to see the Democrats choose that strategy-and it cost them the Senate, and they are now a noon-significant Minority without power.
The Gridlock then, was a plan in the making and it has been executed more than 50 times, in the case of the Republicans attempting to Repeal "Obama-Care". Also, the tactics used by the Republicans, those of obfuscating, obstructing and blacking/closing down government, siphon off funds from the Foodstamp programs, inflicting heavy budget cuts on education, shutting down and not voting on budgets on the projected improvement of highways and rails, passing no jobs bill.
They also did not want to deal with the Minimum Wage issue which would put some sorely need cash into the hands of the poor; they are against equal pay for all the women and men in the USA; They also made sure that they will compensate the 1% of billionaires with takes cuts and other protections of their wealth; in all these shenanigans that they were immersed in, they have fever provided the American people with an alternative to all what they have opposed or prevented from coming to fruition.
Then, with the Mid-term elections at hand, they drummed-p their rhetoric that they were running against Obama and his 'socialist-policies", they intoned to their followers. They did not mention once that they are responsible for the dysfunctional government that they engendered with their tricks. It was easy to run for office again by blaming Obama. That is, one was in good standing once they denounced Obama, and they were shire to get voted in. What they did was, in many places work, again, very hard to hijack and discourage the African American and Hispanic votes.
They have designed it that they gerrymandered some areas to their own advantages. so that, the Gridlock spectacle that saw the Republican Brand dropping at its lowest in the polls, was a Party the voters of America handed to the House of Representatives and the Senate. This was a clever ploy of a nation that has no repeat of its former slaves, to effectively shut down the "Commander-in-chief" Slave from making any moves.
This to me, was the final nail that their attempt at gridlocked has panned out to look like: Obama should never be allowed to do anything anymore, that they are going to 'impeach' him; tear down all the laws he passed: that is, create another form of Gridlock that will dibble Obama from functioning like a president. This then, is modern bureaucracy American Style-Bought, sold and Packaged to suit the Overly rich 1% of the the 300+ million people in the USA.
With so much animosity and racism revered-up against Obama, this leaves the African Americans and the Hispanic population in a serious bind. By their acts, the Republicans makes no bones about what they feel and think about the the two populations. Some are trying to pass into the White world, others would do anything to be accepted as not being their own ethnic groups, others are so powerless, unemployed, on Poverty Lines existences, watching other nations becoming rich at their own expense; Unions have been busted and destroyed with impunity; The two groups are now being under constant attack from the police, and their youth been shot-down like dogs in the streets of America; the poor are seeing for themselves that even such dastardly acts by the police, they never get equitable justice in the end-Special Police Forces are let loose in their midst without let-down. These, it turns out, were just Showing-Shortlies".
The way I see Gridlock, to me it means enriching the Billionaire by any means necessary. Until there comes such a time, if this American Democracy is to work, we are not here talking about a parliamentary system, it is going to begin to address everyone in America as its Constitution States: We, The People...". Up to the writhing of this pice above, that seems to be a remote possibility that it will never come to that. If one were to see how the American people used the mid-term elections to send a massage that they are still in charge, and that Obama is not a legitimate leader, that blocking all his efforts and blaming him on the failures(success for the blockade) as him being too inept, and not fit to be President of the UUA..
This is Clearly a Racist view of the Man's Color, the Chattel Slavery that that was uniquely an entrenched institution, shedding it off, is not about to happen vey soon. Obama's Presidency was a mistake, an aberration, something that should not have happened, and since it did, they, the collective of Racist in America set out to destroy him and his rule including any legacy if there's any to talk about, as far as they are concerned.
Today as we speak and witness the Republicans grabbing all the power, it makes all what I was saying even more so true. What I think we will be witnessing is the final chop-down of Obama and obstruction such as we have never seen heretofore. the last tow years of Obama are going to be making sure that he is not ruling the country, and that his 'lame-duck' session, in this case, becomes a 'dead-duck' session, because they, the Republicans, have already laid out their plans to escalate against Isis; Block Africans from entering the US wight sir Ebola; make sure that the Immigration Bill will not passed; attempt to scrape Obama Care; Impeach Obama; and if this is not what has been attempted before and is still going to been, and is not seen as Gridlock.. I really do not know then what is...
This is How Matters Stand-Apart
Doing All Good For Man-To Me That's Obama
For instance, The US has just gone over the 2014 Midterms and the Republican Party wept both houses with a minority vote of their voters, whilst the emcratic voters stayed, the majority of them, at home and did not vote. On top of it alln the Democrats, in their run for their Midterms apppointments, many of them distanced themselves from Obama and his policies, that is, their leader of the Democratic Party, was rejected by the Democrats and distanced themselves from having anuthing to do with him.
Meanwhile, President Obama rallied the Democratic Base on behalf of the incumbents in the Democctatic Party, that was ignoring and itrying their level best not to be associatd with Obama. This contracition cost many of the Democratic incumbents tolose the midterms, and now we have a Majority of the Majority-Totally Republican(Conservatives and Teabaggers). Despite the achievements of Obama's implemented Lwas, despite being blocked and disrupted by the Republican Party, wich sworem aafter Obama was Made President, that they are gong to make sure that "Obama is a one-time President).
This did not not stop nor deter Obama from raisng women's pay; bailing out the motor vehicle industry, and resucitaing a tanked Economy and a burble that was housingm which burst, back to mormalxy. Many people were left in the dist becasue to the housing debacle. Now, Obama also managed to make into Law the Affrodable Care(negatively dubbed Obamacare, which has never been done for the American people until Obama came into power. Obama has managed to negotiate with the Chinese on Taking care of pollution in thei tow countries; Right now Obama is. since the Republicans too over the Senate and the Huse, h gave them a heads-up that he will soon use his Presidential/executive power/privilege to give about 10 million Immigrants, green Cards and citizenship, if the Congress that has ben stalling and blokcking bama, to pick up the cudgel and help the American people.
Now, befpret e electon we a day old, the Republican Spin macnine picked from where it ledt of. That is, providing rebutal and threatening tones, whcih up to now has been their modus operandi, and in this time-frame, as I am onto to tis part of the Hub, Bonner and Mitch along with their bevy of singing canaries in the Republican Party.. Are thereatinng Obama with impeachment; They are now working for the 51+ times to try and repaeal the so-called Obama Care; The have even reneged on their promise not to shut-dwon hthe government, Which Cruz and other knuckleheads in the repubican Congress wants to harness an abuse the ill-begotten power to empower the billionaires and destroy all the Poverty Programs for million of poor Americans.
In factm, this time the Republcans are seriously bent of destroying Obama's legacy and liave it with an Asterx for the future generatonbelmmish and taint his efforts towards the public good he has been working asudiously hard to implenent,and managed to despite the relcalcitrant and dissrepsctful/non-[productive Congress in American History - and here I woluld like to add: "Racist" Teabagger and the Conseravative republicans-Wven incuding the Democrats-who have sabotaged Obama's efforts in various ways, of which I pointed to some above, that I decare that the whole schtick against Obama was racism at its worst.
This is a well-known fact bandied around on Cable TV and the various outposts on the Internet. So that, The Republicans make no bones about the fact that they are going to continue being obstructionists, although there's inner fighting within the Republican Party itself, which might in the final analysis(2016) elections, see them loose the Presidency and many seats in bothe the House and Senate they are lorrding over with arrogance and mien unsurpassed.
Gridlock is thei war-cry of the Republicans.. And we are still going to see more of th same, if not wose, and those who voted Republcians,will soon find out that we are in the poor and dwindled Middle class, are in the same vinegar botle and cave. The Republicans do not mince their words or ssend mied message(which they would do for political expedience). Sicn their win of both HOusese and Senate, they havenot onlytlelegrp\ahed theyir intentions, their have spelt them out. They say that they are going to see to it that Obama does not govern the next coming two years of his final presidency. This is not new, they clearly articulated this point the day after Obama's inauguration: We are going tto make sure that Obama does not get to beocme Presidency for the second term.
Well, it turns out that after winning the midtem electiona dn being the majority iin the Senate and House, the Republicans are now now saying what they mean clearly: we are out to stop Obama. The past ten years have seen just that: blocijng and cirticiaing, and bismirching Obma's image has bee the forntal trhust. Even, the polling done on those who voted, they said that they wanted the Republican Party to coutner everything Obama does - 64% on the eit polls. The utter and thorough dislike of Obama by his detractors(The Teabaggers/Republican Conservtives, and their followers, is palpable. As noted above, now their attack is to impeach him. Well, all this husffing and pusffing is for naught.
Obama has gone on the political hardball mode. He has been working on the agreeing on Climate change with China, Internet neutrality, Immigration passage, blocking the Oil pipeline from Canada; challenging the Republicans to join him in making the USA a better place; by building infrastructure, rail and highways; creating more and mianingful jobs for the middle class and other groups; Passing the Affordable-care Law; bring about pay equality for men and womb at all jobs; helping out with housing and reducing inteest rates; bailing out the motor industry and banks; workng with his allies to begin to fight ISIS; and more. But Obama's doing all these was through a mze og blockades, delaying tactics, stalling and non-working Congress bent on tarnishing his image as a Presidnent, and Making Race an issue.
The threatned gridlock that is upon the US in 2015, iw and will be a toatal kneejack reaction as we have witnessed of the Republicans throughout Obam's reign. It is nothing new for it is only rehasing and repeating the past strategy that riled their base about Obama and talking contantly about them, and blaming Obama, in return for failing to rule America. They say this with conviction even though know it's a lie; they also say this befause they know that is what their base wnats to har; the final nail is racism-they cannot accept and have never accepted Obama as the President of the UNS. Well, his is on his final leg, and they are so focused on attacking and impeaching him, that they have, for now, but forgotten that he is running up his second term.
The gridlock that was used as a tactic and non-governing technique may have the polls showing Obama's low ratings on favoribility, but what is credible and important, is the achievements he has affected on the American society and thinking. He will be missed once his time is up.. But, what he would have left us, would be a legacy of a man who was blocked and maligned at all turns, yet, left a huge impact and legacy that cannot be denied nor ignored.
Yes, Gridlock has set America backwards-and the people of the USA will realize the importance and impact of Obama after he's long gone. But Obama, with his feisty comportment now of late on his TV inteviews and other media, is now more of a force to reckon with-alone-becasue his party, as already noted above, deserted him, and all lost their midterms, as result, now in 2014. Many are going to have concede that, because it will be hard to obfuscate or hide in plain or out of sight the genius and insight/foresight of Obama. There are many, who upon reading this part, will react... Well.. so long as we discuss facts, no matter how paltry-that does not change them from being facts. Obama, in his rule, was blocked and hit with gridlock like no other President since the founding to the United States.
Obama is judged not on his being bi-racial, but that his father is from Keny, and an Africa. So that, Obma gets hit with a double jeopardy, that he was born in Hawaii-an american state, and that his father is from Africa. That his mother is White and so are his grandparents, that is of no consequence, and a s amatter of fact, that get's used against, not by his mother being attacked, but completely deleting and ignoring that fact, and focusing all media into the fact that Obama was not born in America, and his father is from Kenya(The Birhters-those who wanted or said that Obmama has no birth certificate-whic he showed, but then that was not enough).
What I am focusing on here, therefore, is the origin and cause of the gridlock. From the time he was running for his first and second Presidency, race has remained an issue, but he artfully and intellectually dealt with the issue of race and there was no ambuguity as to who he thinks and knows he was, after he dealt with this issue, twice, and extensively. In his book he touches on this issue and then some.
The gridlock in government, that we have seen and about to see more of, is an effort by the Republicans to stop and block or counter Obama. Not becasue he is incapble of ruling, but because of this one-sided racial assigned stereotype-this hits him with a double jeopardy. So being African and born on an Island of the USA, is not sufficient to have him rule/or considered American, and the fact that he has proven his worth and mettle, that too is not important. The focus and important action now adopted by the Republicans post the 2014 midterm elections is to Stop and Impeach Obama in his last remaining two years of his second term.
If doing all good for Man, then what's the 'good' of anything when one is as villified as Obama is, and yet, millions, since he took over power from Bush, have benefited. Some say he failed in creating new Jobs-conveniently forgetting that the Republicans were blocking anything he wated to implement of do, even today-blocking the yet-to-be-nominated Attorney General who has an impeccable record-but becuase Obama threw her in-now the effort is on to deny that nomination. So, doing good, no matter what it is, for the American, is interpreted as wrong or useless just because it is done by Obma. And yet many of theing he is doing now have precedent foom past presidents.
Obama is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but he has done extremely well in the obstructionist and Gridlock Geovernment envoronment created and manned by the Republican party-and some in his own party. So, talk is that Obama is incapable of governing-yet, there is snot a stictch of work that has been doen by thie oppositional and hostile Congress, fewer if any laws sof singificance for th good of all people have been passed.
Million have beeen wasteed on Dumb committees that solved not gone anywhere; they tried more than 50+ time to repal what they Called Ob,ware)ACA0.. and the list goes on. Yet, they have many of their followers(who are benefiting from Ombama's actions and policies/laws, believe that they elected officials are doing a ood job opposing Obma, but that they are not delivering on most basic and pertinent issues that bedevill their polities, nothing is forthcoming.
The hatred of African people in America is something I will have to write a Hub specifically focusing on its History. for now, Obama represents what was once a chattel slave in the American slavocracy society. The fact that a slave is in the WiteHOuse(which was built by slaves, by the way) is what is causing all this furore .. The rest is fluff and hot-air. It is still a=unacceptable for an African person to ascent to postions of power withing certain insitutions, and Obma did the ultimate-became the president of country that endslved his ancestors for centuries.. Now hie Lords Over the Offsprings of His Fomer Master slavers.. This, I hazard, is what is driving the whole Obma haters charade.
Governmental Gridlock in this case, is not premised upon the same gridlock that can be talked about in the history of governance in the US(because all the presidents where White). In Obama's case, Gridlock is based upon race, racism and hatred of that races historically and contemporarily. The issues of [posoned race-reaton int he States are just as intense as they were cenuries ago. Altheough many things are no more done to African folks In the States, they are still suffering from racisttreament and murder by many White Americans.
So that, Obama is ruling at a time when race relation in America are not yet euitable, and the stigma of his ancestors haing been slaves is what riles the racist part/people of Aerica. There is no other rationale that could explain the Republican Party's racist and bigoted regard of Obma, but the fact that he is a descendant of slaves, and how cabn he and his African family occupy the White House. Gridlock-called 'stopping'/opposing and 'blocking' Obama and making sure his rule is seen as being ineffective and useless, is the rule of thumb for all those who oppose Obama. Gridlock, which is stiffling and killing the American civilization, which too is haunted by the spectre of 'slavery' and it sems to be here to stay even longer-post Obama.
Change As Obama Promised
Transcript: Obama’s immigration speech..
OBAMA: My fellow Americans, tonight I’d like to talk with you about immigration. For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations.
OBAMA: It’s kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character as a people with limitless possibilities. People not trapped by our past, but able to remake ourselves as we choose.
But today, our immigration system is broken, and everybody knows it. Families who enter our country the right way and play by the rules watch others flout the rules. Business owners who offer their wages good wages benefits see the competition exploit undocumented immigrants by paying them far less. All of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America. And undocumented immigrants who desperately want to embrace those responsibilities see little option but to remain in the shadows, or risk their families being torn apart.
It’s been this way for decades. And for decades we haven’t done much about it. When I took office, I committed to fixing this broken immigration system. And I began by doing what I could to secure our borders.
Today we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history. And over the past six years illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half.
Although this summer there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is actually lower than it’s been in nearly two years.
Overall the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Those are the facts.
Meanwhile, I worked with Congress on a comprehensive fix. And last year 68 Democrats, Republicans, and independents came together to pass a bipartisan bill in the Senate. It wasn’t perfect. It was a compromise. But it reflected common sense. It would have doubled the number of Border Patrol agents, while giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship, if they paid a fine, started paying their taxes and went to the back of the line. And independent experts said that it would help grow our economy and shrink our deficits.
Had the House of Representatives allowed that kind of bill a simple yes or no vote, it would have passed with support from both parties. And today it would be the law. But for a year and a half now Republican leaders in the House have refused to allow that simple vote. Now I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law. But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as president, the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me, that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just.
Tonight I’m announcing those actions.
OBAMA: First, we’ll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings and speed the return of those who do cross over.
Second, I’ll make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders proposed.
Third, we’ll take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already had live in our country.
I want to say more about this third issue, because it generates the most passion and controversy. Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we’re also a nation of laws. Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable, especially those who may be dangerous.
That’s why over the past six years deportations of criminals are up 80 percent, and that’s why we’re going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security. Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids. We’ll prioritize, just like law e enforcement does every day.
But even as we focus on deporting criminals, the fact is millions of immigrants in every state, of every race and nationality still live here illegally.
And let’s be honest, tracking down, rounding up and deporting millions of people isn’t realistic. Anyone who suggests otherwise isn’t being straight with you. It’s also not who we are as Americans.
After all, most of these immigrants have been here a long time. They work hard often in tough, low paying jobs. They support their families. They worship at our churches. Many of the kids are American born or spent spent most of their lives here. And their hopes, dreams, and patriotism are just like ours.
As my predecessor, President Bush, once put it, they are a part of American life.
Now here is the thing. We expect people who live in this country to play by the rules. We expect those who cut the line will not be unfairly rewarded. So we’re going to offer the following deal: If you’ve with been in America more than five years. If you have children who are American citizens or illegal residents. If you register, pass a criminal background check and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes, you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. That’s what this deal is.
Now let’s be clear about what it isn’t. This deal does not apply to anyone who has come to this country recently. It does not apply to anyone who might come to America illegally in the future. It does not grant citizenship or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive. Only Congress can do that. All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you.
I know some of the critics of the action call it amnesty. Well, it’s the not. Amnesty is the immigration system we have today. Millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules, while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time. That’s the real amnesty, leaving this broken system the way it is. Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary it to our character.
What I’m describing is accountability. A common sense middle- ground approach. If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.
The actions I’m taken are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican president and every single Democratic president for the past half century.
And to those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill. I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution. And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary.
OBAMA: Meanwhile, don’t let a disagreement over a single issue be a deal breaker on every issue. That’s not how our Democracy works, and Congress shouldn’t shut down our government again just because we disagree on this.
Americans are tired of gridlock. What our country needs right now is a common purpose, a higher purpose. Most Americans support the types of reforms I’ve talked about tonight, but I understand with the disagreements held by many of you at home.
Millions of us, myself included, go back generations in this country, with ancestors who put in the painstaking work to become citizens. So we don’t like the notion anyone might get a free pass to American citizenship.
I know some worry immigration will change the very fabric of who we are, or take our jobs, or stick it to middle-class families at a time they already feel they’ve gotten a raw deal for over a decade. I hear those concerns, but that’s not what these steps would do.
Our history and the facts show that immigrants are a net plus for our economy and our society. And I believe it’s important that all of us have this debate without impugning each other’s character.
Because for all the back and forth in Washington, we have to remember that this debate is about something bigger. It’s about who we are a country and who we want to be for future generations.
Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law? Or are we a nation that gives them a chance to make amends, take responsibility, and give their kids a better future?
Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms, or are we a nation that values families and works together to keep them together? Are we a nation that educates the world’s best and brightest in our universities only to send them home to create businesses in countries that compete against us, or are we a nation that encourages them to stay and create jobs here, create businesses here, create industries right here in America? That’s what this debate is all about.
We need more than politics as usual when it comes to immigration. We need reasoned, thoughtful, compassionate debate that focuses on our hopes, not our fears. I know the politics of this issue are tough, but let me tell you why I have come to feel so strongly about it. Over the past years I’ve seen the determination of immigrant fathers who worked two or three jobs without taking a dime from the government, and at risk any moment of losing it all just to build a better life for their kids. I’ve seen the heartbreak and anxiety of children whose mothers might be taken away from them just because they didn’t have the right papers. I’ve seen the courage of students who except for the circumstances of their birth are as American as Malia or Sasha, students who bravely come out as undocumented in hopes they could make a difference in the country they love.
These people, our neighbors, our classmates, our friends, they did not come here in search of a free ride or an easy life. They came to work, and study and serve in our military. And, above all, contribute to American success.
Now tomorrow I’ll travel to Las Vegas and meet with some of these students, including a young woman named Astrid Silva. Astrid was brought to America when she was 4 years old. Her only possessions were a cross, her doll, and the frilly dress she had on. When she started school, she didn’t speak any English. She caught up to other kids by reading newspapers and watching PBS. And then she became a good student. Her father worked in landscaping. Her mom cleaned other people’s homes. They wouldn’t let Astrid apply to a technology magnet school, not because they didn’t love her, but because they were afraid the paperwork would out her as an undocumented immigrant. So she applied behind their back and got in.
Still, she mostly lived in the shadows until her grandmother, who visited every year from Mexico, passed away, and she couldn’t travel to the funeral without risk of being found out and deported. It was around that time she decided to begin advocating for herself and others like her. And today Astrid Silva a college student working on her third degree.
Are we a nation that kicks out a striving, hopeful immigrant like Astrid?
OBAMA: Or are we a nation that finds a way to welcome her in? Scripture tells us, we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger. We were strangers once, too.
My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too. And whether our forbearers were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like or what our last names are, or how we worship. What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal, that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will. That’s the country our parents and grandparents and generations before them built for us. That’s the tradition we must uphold. That’s the legacy we must leave for those who are yet to come.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless this country we love.
Murphy on Obama immigration order: ‘partisan gridlock…forced the president to act’
Geroge Bennett writes:
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, who represents a Republican-leaning district, was the only member of Palm Beach County’s congressional delegation who didn’t send out a mass email Thursday night responding to President Barack Obama‘s use of an executive order to lift the threat of deportation from 5 million people who are in the country illegally.
Local Reps. Alcee Hastings of Miramar, Ted Deutch of Boca Raton and Lois Frankelof West Palm Beach — all Democrats — sent out statements supporting Obama’s action within two hours of the president’s speech.
Asked for Murphy’s response today, his office sent a statement faulting the Republican-controlled House for not acting on a 2013 immigration reform bill passed by the Senate.
“The only true solution for immigration reform is legislative action, which is why the House should have voted on the bipartisan bill passed last year in the Senate. This deal would have had major economic benefits, from retaining high-skilled workers to helping entrepreneurs and startups to cutting our deficit by $900 billion,” Murphy’s statement began.
“It is extremely unfortunate that partisan gridlock and the continued unproductivity of Congress has forced the President to act. I remain hopeful that Congress can still come together to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation because it is the right thing to do, both morally and economically, for our nation.”
During his re-election campaign against Republican Carl Domino, Murphy expressed support for the Senate bill and its pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants while Domino blasted Murphy as a supporter of “amnesty.”
What Did Obama Adjust In His Immigration Plan?
The Immediate (and Not So Immediate) Impact of Obama's Immigration Announcement
We do know there will be a new task force made up of the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
According to a Department of Homeland Security memo, within 90 days there should be a realigning of personnel to accomplish these task forces, all while maintaining the “the surge of resources” sent to the U.S.-Mexico border during the unaccompanied minors crisis over the summer.
We can also expect to see an overall change in the priorities, as outlined by the President, for CBP and ICE.
Their first priority for deportation: those that are threats to national security, followed by those with three or more misdemeanors, and lastly those “who have been issued a final order of removal on or after January 1, 2014.”
5. Credit Card Payments for Naturalization Fee — End of 2015.
It’s not cheap to become a citizen! The cost of naturalization is about $680, but you can’t currently pay for it with a credit card, which may be why so many permanent residents never take the next step to become citizens
Come the end of 2015, you can use your credit card.
6. Adjustments to High Tech Worker Visas – It’s Not Clear.
In a memo to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson outlined steps to improve the backlog for green cards and visas for high skilled workers, but no timetable is given.
What we will see, however, is a modernization to the process. That means the Department of State and USCIS will work together more closely so temporary status doesn’t expire as quickly.
Additionally, the 2007 expansion that allows students in STEM to stay an additional 17-months, for a total of 29-months on their “optional practical training” visa could also be increased.
“I direct that Immigration and Customs Enforcement and USCIS develop regulations for notice and comment to expand the degree programs eligible for OPT and extend the time period and use of OPT for foreign STEM students and graduates, consistent with law,” the memo outlines.
President Obama did the right thing.
Why I’m pleasantly surprised with Obama’s immigration plan
This is what Vivek Wadhwa had to say about the Obama Immigration hubub:
I had expected — or feared — that President Obama would once again let Silicon Valley down with his executive order on immigration. But he hasn’t. The president has done practically everything in his power to address the needs of the technology community. The larger problem is that this is a only band-aid. What is worse is that this will likely be the only immigration reform we see in the near future. It will take many years for the wounds to heal from the battles that will now start.
There are more than one million immigrant doctors, scientists, engineers, and teachers who entered the country legally and are stuck in limbo while they wait for permanent resident visas, which are in short supply. It can take decades for people of some nationalities to get a green card, and once the application process has started, they cannot change jobs without getting to the back of the queue. Employers know that these workers won’t be leaving them, so they often take advantage of the situation by offering lower salary increases and lesser roles. The president’s executive order provides “portable work authorization,” which means that they will be able to change jobs. This is a big deal because it will fix one of the issues that opponents of skilled immigration have complained the most about: The salary differential between people on H-1B visas and American workers. No longer can skilled immigrants be considered “cheap labor.”
As well, this fixes another major problem: the purgatory that spouses of H-1B workers have been placed in. Highly skilled professionals — mostly women — have seen their careers stagnate and been confined to their homes because they were not allowed to work. The administrative order authorizes work visas for the spouses of immigrants who have filed for permanent resident visas. This is a huge step forward.
The president also announced administrative changes to improve the processing of visas, expanded immigration options for foreign entrepreneurs, and extensions to training visas for foreign students. These are all good, but the devil is in the details. It really depends on how the immigration bureaucracy interprets these orders and what additional hurdles are placed in the way of skilled immigrants.
What the president didn’t announce was an increase in the numbers of temporary and permanent resident visas and a proper Start-up Visa. This is a big concern — because these are the core needs of Silicon Valley. It needs more highly skilled workers and tens of thousands of new start-ups.
The extreme wing of the Republican Party is now likely to go on the warpath because the president used his executive privileges and cut them out of the decision process. They will likely spread more misinformation about immigration and poison the waters even more. They will accuse Obama of providing amnesty to the undocumented, say that foreigners are taking American jobs away, and spread false rumors. The truth will be a casualty of these battles and large segments of the American population will rally against all immigration. So this executive order may be the last progress we see on immigration for many years—until the anger has subdued.
The tragedy is that millions of undocumented workers were left out of the executive order and hundreds of thousands of skilled immigrants will still remain in limbo. The tens of thousands of entrepreneurs who would have come to the United States to start their companies will not be able to do so and the brain drain will continue. The only hope now is that sanity does prevail — and that level-headed Republicans work with the Democrats to craft legislation to do what is right for America.
Obama's Post 2014 Midterm Elections Activities
The Emergent Social Movements and the Strategy of Non-violent Demonstrations
Whenever one looks into the social movements that manifested themselves in America, it would take a whole new Hub to cover this area. We will only make mention of the Civil Rights movement, and what comes to mind is the most recent, Movements against Wall Street, and contemporarily, it is the more dynamic movements against police brutality that has jarred the political realities that we have been witnessing that were splurged on the Social Media(which another weapon that the demostrators against the cops used), and their arranging and not caryying out violence, but spereading the cops thinly, and appearing in many areas at irregular and consistent times.
Obama becoming the President of the US, saw the rise of racism, the KKK and heightened abuse and killing of young African-American youth in larger numbers, and this led to the exoneration of the cops from any wrongdoing by corrupt Grand Jurists in cahoots with Public Prosecutors. Whilst this was happening, the US voting polity was re-awkening and just witnessing the shutting down of Government termed to be Gridlock. They were also witnessing the disempowering of the sitting President, Barak Obama, and an increasingly recalcitrant congress, both Democrats and Republicans
So that, the rise of Social movements, which were made more efficient by the demostrators use of the Social media, this has caught the rogue cops and other legal experts with their pants down. If the Egyptians used social media to create the Arab Spring, the social movements of the day, today, in the US, utilzed the social meida to organize and control their demonstrations; they also managed to baffle the cops by not becoming violent, but applied the new strtegy of snarling and blocking traffic, and applying what they called "Die-ins". What I think came out of this, was the ability of the demonstrators to have leaders in various demonstrations, throughout New York City to manage and control the violent elements within their ranks.
The Shooting and killing in fergusso, in Staten island and many other killings prior to this, angered so many people, that even the White Youth joined the multitude of demosntrators against the killing of Black Men, with placards reading, "Black Lives Matter"; "Hand's Up! Don't shoot", and the wearing of Tee-shirts wo scribbled. This whole Social movement was joined by eminent and famous sports people, Doctors, universities, and different institutions throughout the United States, which has begun to raise the ire of many of those who had a rabid hatred of Obama and African people in America.
The rise of the present-day social movement, so greatly ruffled the detractors of Obama, who were hollering, after the GOP won the 2014 mid-term elections, that they were going to create another government shut-down, that they were going to reverse the Obamacare law, maybe deal with the immigration problem piecemeal-or totally scrap the Presidential cecree instituted by Obama; strip workers of their rights, give tax breaks to the ultra rich, and were still undecided as to whether they will use their majority in both the House and Senate to work with Obama. This is at the beginning of 2015.
The issue that has been put on hold since two cops were ruthlessly assassinated whilst Parked in their car, and the demonstration against thekillings in New York, Fergusson and elsewhere-was halted. The officials, especially the Mayor, was demonstrated against by a few cops who were very disatisfied with the Mayors run for his elections, and the statements he made, about how he raised his b-racial son regarding cops, came to be what was perceived by the cops to be against them; so that, they showed this by giving him their backs when he gave speeches at the funerals of the slain cops.
This has really heightened the contradictions between the Mayor and the police, and has divided the New Yorkers into various camps that is affecting the running of the city and the rise in crime-less aressts and very few tickets given by the cops-but this has had some undesired effects on the role of the cops in New York, as of the writing of this piece. there's a go-slow avitivity on the part of the cops that we see how the crime rate has dropped significantly in New York City.
On the 6th o January, the new GOP-led House and Senate will be sworn in, and they have their agenda set as to repealing Obama care and other issues that have been raised above. the demonstrators against the killings in Fergusson and New York, plus elsewhere have been put on hold-thus far. What has happened is that there is a hue and cry that the Grand Jury system need some overhauling for their decisions to exonerate the copes who shot and killed unarmed African Americans has riled a lot of people.
The social movements as witnessed thus far are operating from their use of the emergent Social Media connections, and thus far have managed, to some extent, to avoid violence(with a few incidences here and there) of rage against the police, which they monitored very well. The New York Mayor, De Blassio, has just given a talk to the cops, and before the cops who were assassinated were buried, he appealed to the demostrators to halt their demostration to show respect for the slain cops.
The demosntrators ignored his suggestions and demonstrated anyway. The incoming GOP Majority is not about to quell the rising tensions and there is speculation that they are going to take off from where they left off before the mid term elections. In the Lame-Duck session that followed the midterm elections, they did not shut down the government nor created a gridlock. But the Bills(Omnibus Bills) that were passed to the tune of trillions, has its detractors saying that the banks were given carte-blanche power to recapture the housing bubble and crisis that affected the middle class house owners thourgh careless loans and bad borrowing practices, now early in the incoming Y2K millennium.
All this matters are seemingly coming to a head in 2015, and it remains to be seen as to whether the GOP Majority will will cooperate with Obama, who has been aggressively pushing for government reform and functioning, after a two week vacation in Hawaai, Jobs, immigration, education as Obama will be traversing the US, in his bid to rally his democratic voters for the next coming 2016 elections. At the same time promoting and pretecting his Presidential legacy by standing viginlant against the GOP enchroamnent on his achievements.
We are now begining to see that, with the 2016 elections looming, and the beginning of the 2015 year, it sems like the tensions of yesteryear are going to resume, and the GOP is not ready, it seems, to govern,bnow that they have been given the wherewithal to to have a majority in both houses and to begin to govern. Whether they will govern or not, that remains to be seen.. What the emerging group of modern-day demostrators will do after this, that too will be something to look out for. The beginning of the 2015 year seems to be full of the unknowns, and sooner or later we will know..
Malcolm X On A revolutionary Tilt
The Chickens Have Come Back Home To Roost..
One other thing that is rising in the horizon is the growing conflict between "muslim radicals" against Western governments. This whole issue is fraught and full of many caveats. The 'War On Terror', the 'War on Drugs', The 'War against Islamic Extrmesms', The 'War against Irag', 'War against Afghanisan', The 'Civil War in Syria'; the rise in the far right elements in Germany, France and throughout Europe; the withdrawal of Obama from these areas of conflict; his attempts of closing down Guantanamo Prison; his instituting Preseidential decreee to get to help the American people, with Health, immigration, building ties with Cuba, and working on disarming the militarized police, and many other things, the confluence of these have given rise to the present-day social miasma we are witnessing daily.
The French people with their xenophobia gainst the Musims, the Jews, Africans, meaning, the so-called indigenous French people, have given rise and impetus to the latest callous murder of cartoonist who were depicting Mumammad, lampooned and caricatured him negatively, and this has incensed many Muslims. Things are now coming to a head, where the Western World is now beginning to coalesce around the fight that they are now engaged in. Obama is blamed for everything that is happening now by the GOP and their followers.
Many in the GOP are calling for the impeachment of Obama, not becasue he is incompentent of ion anything, but is depicted as an "Emperor" as they dub him. It is becasue, despite their efforts to ruin his rule, they have failed dismally, and they have had to try many ways and means to to do so, and all the time they lost their battles against Obama. Recently, Obama told them that he will veto any Bills on the Keystone Oil Pipeline, On the attempt to destroy his Affordable Healthcare law, or erasing his Presidential degcree on Immigration; deny the increament of minimum wage, give more money to the Billionaires, and so forth. Instead of taking care of the needs of the American people, the GOP has, with gusto, begun to pursue their failed attempts on Obama's successes, and meanwhile, the American Middle-Class in on its knees, and the economy is gaining only those with money.
From the Jihadists(Mujahadins) which were sponsored by the CIA to fight against the Russians in Afghanistan(led by Ben Ladin in cahoots with the CIA), to the formation of Al Qaeda, , The Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, The Taliban, and Now Isis, and so on, these were facilitated by Papa Bush and his War against Sadam Hussein, whose wish and instigation of that War was carried forth by his son, W. Bush, that in the end, what we see, is a cascading effect of these wars that in essence, we are seeing the hastening of the War between the Muslims and the West.
We see the rise of these murderous movement who saw the "War On Terror" as the The 'War On The Muslims'. This has given rise to offshoots like the Boko-Haram and the Thugs that are ruining Congo and Cameroon, and the whole of West Africa. There's a lot of turmoil in the areas of Morocco, Algeria, Chad, Mali and Somalia/Ethiopia. Kenya is in the mix of these Wars, and we can only see so much corruption coming out of Angola9becasue of the oil], and South Africa is not far behind, along with Zimbabwe. The domino effect I have alluded to, is steadily gaining ground, and the war against the West is taking many forms and shapes. The sheer terror that these small mobile and highly trained Mulsim killers is cause for concern for the West.
Even if we are to look at the rise of social movement in the United States, there are other social movements around the world that have broken loose and are using the gun and violence to get their girevance and points across. Although the path to any 'just' cause through the use of violence, has never solved nor resolved any contradictions that are being contested. Violence begats more violence, in a violent sprial that many people become killed and the senseleness of it all, results in naught. There is an acknowledgement of the bigotry and xenophobia that permeates the French societies, and it is still to be seen how this is going to adressed by the French and their oppressed minorities. This also goes for the United Stats, Britain, Germany and so forth.
In the same vein, The United States cannot always have a knee-jerk violent reaction to what it perceives as threats to its 'interests' world-wide. What they do, using their army, and violence to bomb the so-called Terrorists, and in the meanwhile killing innocent people and saying it's 'collateral damage'-it creates a seething and permanent hatred for the United States, that will not hack nor cut it. The very act of violence, in the case of the US, creates more violent reprisals agaisnt the US and its allies-by the radical muslims. There needs to be a new and better approach in dealing with the more than a Billion Muslim adherents-that of the West creating a new narrative that deconstructs the present 'radical muslims' violent rhetoric and murderous actions, amongst the non-violent and progressive Muslims.
The growing social movements around the world are in part a reaction to American military aggression, and this has spurned a vicious and violent cycle of violence never seen since. There are moderates on both sides calling for a shift in present social paradigms; there are those, who are on the ultra-right of this issue, calling on an outright war against the muslims-Germany is seeing a rise in the right's activities and protestations that have everyone scampering for solutions; and it is still to be seen what the backlash is going to be in France; In the US, the NAACP office has been bombed, and there is a sharp rise in ultra-right fascists in the US. The rise of social movements throughout these countries has been exacerbated by the falling economies and infusion of immigrants from the man-made-poor countries. The mix of both is creating the social instability, the rise of diffrent types of social movements, and the violence that goes along with matters.
Social Protest Movements Today
Technicized Techinique: The Social Media Protest Generation
Used to be that protest were violent, and the police and scurity details were well tuned to respond with even more violence. Today, as we have seen from the Wall Street Occupy to the present Movement s protesting the murders of African men, boys and girls, there's a new tact that is being apl=;died. some might call it it non-violent protest, but I call it the new High tch protest for theese are being orgnized around the social media. Sothat, social media is part of the posigistcs that guide and help the organizers to create protest coming form different angles, places, but with the sme intensity.
Even if the police are well equipped with the latest technologies themselves, but the wave and modes of protests are not within their purview or past experience. I prefer to call these protests techincized technique, becasue, Twitter, Facebook, Gooble, Ingram, Hulu, YouTube, provide people with instant communication and fast interaction. In a a word, the police I playing catch-up, and this had brought about some virulent and violent frustaration to the security aparuatus that is bent on maintain the status quo under the rubric that they are keeping Law and Order.
The acces that is provided for by the Web and its attendant techniques, in of itself has changed interconnectivity and interaction between the users and the seucty apartus. This has led to many listening posts that are utilized by the secret seurity forces in trying to curb this supposed laissez faire of merging and converging media. So that, monitoring and trying to control the media and its users, now really means literay wresting and forcibly taking the cell phones/smart phones from the hands of its users. This has in fact complicated social relation between the Law Enforcement agancies and the general public. This is the Presentism I have addressed in many articles I have posted here on seveal of the Hubs I have composed.
Same as the new coverage. Cable TV reports events as best as they can.. But they too, the media outlets of the analogic times, have to play catch up for the people, who are now apiralling within the vrial soup, are now adept at reporting at the speed of the Net through many social media about events, in many cases, llve, befroe the news eporters can even get onto the scene,. These meida giants are now depended on the social media and informal reporters, who are oridnary citizens, using their cell phones to capture, in 'real-time' as the news is happening, and posting it on the Twitters, or Facebook, forcing the giant media outlests to use these intsnt media packages as part of their reportage. It is no more the case of the people dependng on the Television or newspapers. Instead, they even use the term as to 'What's Trending". This is somewhat the basis and jargon of the news as presented to and by the tech-suave public, and this is how the portesters are controlling the context and content of of the media today.
The reporting of events and as news has been presented over the decades has changed very much today. the protesters create, make and pst news long beofre the news giants can boradcast it. They also outwit the police in the wary they themselves communicate with one another, and instantly post the positions and movements of the police for all online to see and know and make decision as to what direction and action to take.
The new technlogical gizmos are improving by day, and are becoming more people-riendly and the users, who operate anddwell within thiese environs, are adept and adapt very quickly, and as I have been saying above, the rest of the old institutions of Law and Order, along with those newsp-gathering entities, are constantly playing catch-up. And there is no immediate end in sight. The Technological techniciized society is the bane of the future, as we view it in the present technological environment and societies
Present Future Societies And Cities..
Techological Societies And Development
In Ellul"s conception, then, life is not happy in a civilization dominated by technique. Even the outward show of happiness is bought at the price of total acquiescence. The technological society requires men to be content with what they are required to like; for those who are not content, it provides distractionss-escape into absorption with technically dominated media of popular culture and communication. And the process is a natural one: every part of a technical civilization responds to the social needs generated by technique itself. Progress then consists in progressive dehumanization-a busy. pointless, and, in the end, suicidal submission to technique.
The essential point, according to Ellul, is that technique pro duces all this without plan; no one wills it or arranges that it be so. Our technical civilization does not result from a Machiavellian scheme. It is a response to the "laws of development" of technique.
In proposing and expanding this thesis, Ellul reopens the great debate over the social, political, economic, and philosophical mean ing of technique in the modem age. We need not agree with Ellul to learn from him. He has given us a provocative book, in the sense that he has provoked us to re-examine our assumptions and to search out the Hows in his own gloomy forecasts. By doing so, he helps us to see beyond the banal assertion that ours has become a mass society, and he leads us to a greater understanding of that· Society.(Merton)
So that, we learn from Ellul that:
"Techcnique, must be distinguished from the several techniques which are its elements. It is more even than a generalized mechanical technique; it is, in fact, nothing less than the organized ensemble of all individual techniques which have been used to secure any end whatsoever. Harold Lasswell's definition comes closest to Ellul's conception: "The ensemble of practices by which one uses available resources to achieve values."
"This definition has the merit of emphasizing the scope of technique; but Ellul's further makes it clear that it does not go far enough, since technique has become indifferent to all the traditional human ends and values by becoming an end-in-itself. Our erstwhile means have all become an end, furthermore, which has nothing human in it and to which we must accommodate ourselves as best we may. We cannot even any longer pretend to act as though the ends justified the means, which would still be recognizably human, if not particularly virtuous.
"Technique, as the universal and autonomous technical fad, is revealed as the technological society itself in which Man is but a Single tightly integrated and articulated component. The Technological Society is a description of the way in which an autonomous technology is in process of taking over the traditional Values of every society witout exception, subverting and supressing these values to produce at last a monolithic world culture in which all non-technological difference and variety is mere appearance.
"All the technical devices of education, propaganda, amusement, sport, and religion are mobilized to persuade the human being to be satisfied with his condition of mechanical, mind- less "mass man," and ruthlessly to exterminate the deviant and the idiosyncratic.
"The reduction of everything to quantity is partly a cause, and partly an effect, of the modem omnipresence of computing machines and cybernated factories.
Ellul holds that the technological Society, like everything else, bears within itself the seeds of its own destruction.
Technolgical Likes And Dislikes
Technological Pros And Cons
This has been a hotly debated assertion made by Ellul that many try and counter it. Many theories and possibilities and highlights of modern Technologies and their benefits are laueded all over the place by all academics and sundry Some see it as man simply progressing and developing and overcoming nature to the best of his ability. They also contennd that this has been the overacrching survival technique and strategy of Managainst nature. Now, they glibly assert, we have riached the zenith, and we are now firmly plcaced in the technological golden Age and still getting, by Man, against nature.
When Ellul andmany other nedia Ecologists, state that there are definite effects and affects of technology onto man, many took this to mean, the advancement and defvelopment of man today. They point out to all sorts of advamcements that technology has wrought in our midst; they bring our attention to the medical and other types of faster motions(Air Travel, etc) that we are now enjoying becasue of technology; and to tell the truth, these are true if one were to look at them at face value. But beneath that farce lies the outcomes and after effects of these technoloigcal gizmos and techniques on the users or human beings. These are the realities addressed by Ellul.
It would be instructive, below, to put down some of these arguments I found on the debate wise site:
Just as someone said "The life is more simple when Apple and Blackberry were just fruits", is it true that the modern technology has lot of good with a shadow of bad. Does the fast evolution of today's technology making life lot eas to be complicated....! For the motion is good, against the motion is bad, meaning, there are those who say it's good, and the are others who say that iit is bad.
Modern technology, Good Or Bad?
The GOOD, The BAD And The Ugly?!
Look at medical advancements. Chemotherapy can help cure cancer! Then look at how much technology is saving babies all over the world. Premature babies ever since technology advancements have been surviving more and more. If that isnt enough then look at more of surgical teams, they are more precise and much safer than before when it was just slice and dice. Its easy to debate that technology is bad when your life hasnt been dependant on it. Giving a child or a grown man a new chance at life makes it all worth it. And as far as obesity that isnt the medicals fault or even remotely close to it, its peoples choices to choose to eat all that fatty foods. New diseases appeared before medical technology, and they evolve just as quick as we do to stop them, the truth is yes there are super bugs from over use of the same medicine but stopping using the medical technology wont help us againest them.
Without the medicines people would die from many of the illnesses we take for granted, medicine itself is only a stop gap until technology is invented that can directly intervene at the cellular level.
You do not need to be right to reap the rewards of technology, maybe some, but not all. And just remember, todays technology is tomorrows cheap
Chemo MIGHT cure cancer! While technology has come a long way in curing disease and helping bind injuries it has also had negative consequences. Our use of antibiotics are leading to superbugs that are resistant and more deadly while our way of life is creating new medical problems from obesity to new strains of flu.
Also only if you are rich to you reap the true rewards from these.
We use it to communicate to long distance family. Then you should throw your cell phone and computer away before your sight and hearing goes! QUICK! QUICK!
Would a painting not do as well or even better to mark such an occasion? Having thousands of photos cheapens them.
Microwave is a source of heating or warming up food.
Most people have it because it is like a smaller oven but what people don't know is that
microwave is one. Most people need it and have it. Your car causes pollution too, doesn't mean it should be thrown away with
Microwaves cause too much pollution and they make some of the food unhealthy because of the way(radiation?) they heat them[with]
Cell phone is the most important thing in our life. We use it to see how people are when something happens.
We communicate with people. Nowadays there are groups on our kids phone which can track them down.
Also people use as a daily need. So I know cell phone is one!
Even though cell phones are great they can also produce hearing problems and brain damage. Because phones are becoming so great more people are getting them and peole are spending more time on them.
Cell phones kill honeybees.....these days honey is used by hr8 patients & they would also someday die if this is continuously followed.
However this has not yet happened. Until it does or seriously threatens to do so then technology is still good. At the moment we are a long way off the sci-fi doomsday scenario from such films as the Terminator.
So long as we ensure that we think through all decisions then the idea of a robot army running riot on humanity is nothing but a bad dream (Or a good film).
The debate that robots will take over the world wouldnt be technologies fault, but how the people used it. We have learned and are still learning that we need to look at all possible outcomes before we add new technology or create 'robot soldiers'.
It Could Become Out Of Control..
THINK ROBOT ARMIES WITH A MIND OF THEIR OWN!! :O
Its bad enough when you have to listen to a computer going on and no human.Very impersonal.
Technology can also help us find solutions to global warming. Without computers we wouldn't be able to run simulations to determine what the probable outcomes of the environmental damage.
Modern Technology may increase the temperature of the planet but also supports the existence of 6-7 billion humans for which without technology would simply no be sustainable.
Global Warming is a process that occurs naturally anyway, though we are expediting the current process we can pretty much guarantee that we know what will happen as a result (An ice age of the likes of previous ones). Technology helped us (humans) through the last one and will help us through the next one too.
The world goes through cycles of "ice age' and "global warming" and it always has (according to history). But in the end, the whole recent scam of global warming was just that, a scam. The scientists being paid by the US government to research global warming ended up finding out that global warming isn't actually occurring. Upon investigation the government found out these scientists were bringing up this scare to keep the money from the government lining their pockets. So currently global warming isn't happening, but it will be inevitable.
Modern technology comsumes too much energy so raising the temperature of the planet. Global warming which in large part is caused by modern technology (ever since the 'modern' age began back with the Industrial revolution and the invention of the steam engine). This means that at the moment technology is going to cause our demise potentially for most of the human race if the changes become too rapid.
Life existed before money... obviously if someone stole all the money that one person would be cut out of the loop, have their money invalidated by the world and they'd start over.. money is controlled by governments and technically plays by their rules. (They can print more or just not accept a currency).
Sure a bomb could end the world.. we technically have 'planet crackers' of a kind, we've had nuclear warheads thousands of times stronger than the Hiroshima bomb, 40 years ago the Tsar 'kind of bombs' was detonated and that was only half its potential because it might kill too much..
Technology is knowledge and is not by itself a bad thing, it is in fact our wisdom of using such knowledge that leads to catastrophes.. Sure without the knowledge that probably couldn't happen, but without continual progress we would not be able to support society as it grows. The power generated by nuclear weapons has also stopped world wars due to the fear of 'mutual annihilation' and currently provides a great percentage of the power requirements of the modern world which otherwise would be burning fossil fuels and trees to the point of exhausting those resources.
It could lead us to the end of the world earlier then it should naturally. Somebody creates a bomb by using advanced technology enough to blow the world up! Or even to create a virus to steal and hack peoples accounts and get well hard earned money all over the world. No money means no life.
even though people are taking their own lives because of bullying. but many police officers are trying their best in keeping the community happy such as calling other officers to see how their town is going and they can also give them more advice.
Before Cyber bullying was bullying, before hand held games there were consoles and before that just regular tv. Before i pod was the CD player and before the boom box ect. ect. The point is, these forms of entertainment are nothing new and should not be used as an excuse. It's people like you that poison our world because you take the greatest inventions and turn them into a device thats bad for humanity when in reality, the helpfulness of the tool is far beyond its evils that would probably still occur without said device.
Child Education And Communication.
Children all over the world have now got mobiles, PC, gaming consoles (including things like ipod, PSP, DS, etc.) which are affecting their education. This also leads to the most important, CYBER BULLYING. Cyber bullying is leading to more frequent deaths to people under 18 such as suicidal deaths. Technology is leading us to the worst for our future. The children wont get proper jobs when they grow up and they will end up on the streets.
I believe that modern technology can help us such as the modern technology we are inventing are creating more cures for dangerous dieseases, and they are great for communicating such as for job assignment and even for school education. even though it can hurt people, it can also save people and help people in their lives.
Might not be now, but we could find a way to heal radiation or even use radiation to our benefit in some way, whether it cures us or makes us more able to do something.
No to Modern Technology
As what I have known modern technology can harm people such as radiation(for example) can cause death to human lives.[Sound like a Luddite to me]
We have the bombs that can clear multiple cities with one bomb. We have rocket launchers capable of blowing up buildings from the inside out. We have grenade launchers holding several grenades. We could take down multiple cities within a few seconds and use about 6 bombs to destroy a small country right now.
Thats the scary truth. However, technology may be able to bring upon some kind of defense to bombs and explosions to protect cities. How? Personally i'm not sure, but thats what technology is for, to create things that we don't know and thats what make it so amazing.
Increase in destructions from equipment in wars or fights:
if people increase the number or force in equipmnet such as bombs and guns, they would be able to destroy whole city in a few seconds instead of now when you actually have to drop about 6 bombs to destroy part of a city[See the imgaes coming from Ukraine, today, for example].
Baseball or football could lead to getting hit by the ball or tackled causing broken bones, bloody noses, bruises ect. Checkers and chess could take away from homework, work or chores. These things are not really "Technology" yes could have the same or worse results. No chess and checkers are not really the "in thing" at the moment, but my point is is that without said technology there would just be something else to distract our minds.
Is Technology Bad for you?
63% of people prefer to use the computer or other technology instead of reading or staying warm. A problem that can occur from spending too much time on a computer is that there is a high chance for damaging the eyes. A reason that kids, teenagers, and adults should not be on the computer, phone, iPad, or other technology is that it could take away from homework, work, or chores.
There Is something Good And Bad In Our Technologies
I chose the users, not academicians's responses above in ofer to get a sense of the effects and non-effects of technology on ordinary people. This is what many believe and think they know that techhnology is doing bad for the, althought the nay-sayers are brief in their responses[which I sense a bit of a bias on the colectors of these responses], nonetheless, at time professionals and scholars use high-flown jargon to explin a simple thing like how technology affects and effects its users. Why is it that Ellul says that technology has inherently built into it the seeds of its own destruction. That is why there are those that say that is not true.
This discourse above I took it to the level of and from the point of view of the man-in-the-street, their views and thinking matters becasue they are in constant touch with these gizmos and technologies in all spheres of life. There is a strong correlation between the good and bad effects of technolies and gadgets that are affecting not robots, but human beings. There is definitely some good that comes out of it. This can be borne by the magnitutdes of approval on the posts above, as a small sample. There are also many who see it as foreboding doom on the part of the users and human being/plus nature.
Both opposites should be known thogroughly, I contend. There are the good things that can be said about present-day technologies, and there is a lot of bad, too. I always find, in my case, I look at the Bad and Ugly side of technology, becasue it really has some serious and dangerous effects/affects on their users. These are still being tabulated in may quarters of the Media Ecology we all exist in. I will be making a thorough follow-up on what has beeen happening in the past and post emergence and merging and affects/effects of these technologies and their embedded techniques in their fast emerging/interconnecting gizmos, should be of most concern here-and be interrogated fully.
All accusations are true so what was the problem with limiting connectivity? We have more information available than any other generation ever had and we are using it. This is the problem. There is Somebody or Morebodies who do not want us to have it. But here is my problem: Wikipedia writes your homework every time. Do you make an effort to remember 1/3 of the stuff you copy? Probably not because you can check it again anytime you want. What is the good of using the information but not wisely? It turns out that connectivity kills creativity. Or shall I google it?
What Do You Want To Know? Google It...
Connectivitiy - Interactivity, Cultral Transmission, New Wyaw Of Seeing And thinking
I would like to cull from John Hartley's book on Meida and Cultural Studies. I am of the mind that alternative cultures, either than those of the West only, will help to resuscitate the self desting new emerging technologies. Gridlock, as has been experienced by the so-called advanced countries, shows that there are some cultures that never change. The US is being singled-out for they have reams of literature on culture, and Media Cultural Studies and so forth. But, seeing how they are constatnly bickering about how their intellectual property was being stolen, we should try and remind the US and ask how so much is their property, when in reality their are a relatively very young caviling, so-to-speak.
There are consstancies that can be observed from this pont made above about the US. We know that there is great poverrty in the US. If possible, people can check out or visit the many soup Kitchens, in New York, that is, those that I have seen. Prior to Obama, going to the hosspital was sickenning, for the way one was treated if they had no insurance, and the bill they incurred thereafter; the Concservative Republican ccrew has cut down on the poor's foodstamps, wants to dearil what they call "Obamacare"(The Supreme Court is Now considering a challenge on the so-called "Obamacare", which will enstrange up to 10 million poor people already covered by the Affordable Care passed by Obama).
There are protest that are ongoing, and one of the issue that is being raised and portested upon, is the killing of African American boys, nearly everyweek, by the cops, and this is what has been going on for many years, Remember Amadou Diallo; Byas, Bumpers, Emmett Till? Mmmmm..? The truth about this is that it has never stopped, and it is increasingly growing even more vicious and murderous everyday: the 'killing and murdering' of young Black men, girls, and older people. If ever we are going to have to deal with this matter, we better all recognize that it is the children, the boys, young girls, and women, also the elderly in the African American communities that are being killed as we speak, as of this week.
We Believe In Freedom Cannot Rest Until It Comes..(SHOTRock)..
African Youth Under Siege... From Emmett Till To Who?.. Today...
This is important to really post here, and it is important that the members of this Wall pay close attention to what is happening in the USA to Young African American Boys in the hands of the White police. This is reminiscent of the Apartheid BOSS and South Afircan Police, what they did to us.
Today, It is increasingly happening and affecting the African American Communities theoughout the States, and I would be amiss not posting something on it. I plan to write my own expose, but for now, I will utilizze some spost already done or posted on the Web.
Like Sweet Honey On the Rockd Sand:
"We Who Believe Cannot rest until it comes
"Until the killing of black men black mother's son
"Is as important as the kikking of white men, white mother's son
"We who believe in freedom cannot rest..
"The older I get the better I know...
"Young people come first, they have the courage where we fail..
This song's lyrics I am going to repost above this intial post on this Timeline, and that as we grow older, the years add-up, birthdays come and go for us who live, we are still going to have to dig in deeper on our heels, use this Facebook Social edia as an educational and propagating tool of wha twe would like to know, in all ints depth and breadth, issue that effect and affect us in our decrepit live as we live them throughout our Caves, Ramshacle-Corrugated houses, Ghettoes, slums, Mansions, Street And Open Velds(Open Field Spaces)-As Our Homes and Domicile, with all the poverty, misery and whatever we conjure up about ourselves on the negative side of the ledgee of life-We have to remember that those of us who Believe In Freeeom, Never Rest, then, and now....
"We Who Believe In Freedom Cannot Rest Until It Comes.."
This song of Swweet Honey is apt, spot on and very relevant and resonants with the events that are taking palce and happening to African people Globally. Time we took stock and account, and use the Social Media to trmpet, loudly,Our Struggle and the belief tha twe have in freedom, and that we are not going to rest until it comes.. Fully and authentically and autonomously...
The Real And True Freedom from all this social miasma and murdering of our people, and then some... PLease Listen[To The Posted Sweet Honey's Song] As Much You Can Posted On This Link For It is Choc-Full and Packed with "SHOTRock's" Music for Inspiration, lest we fall, falter, and forget... But "We Shall Rise," as the Youth Post-Ferguson is Chanting... Today... Aluta...
Sweet honey in the rock - Ella's Song
Articulation: Idoelogical State Apparatuses, Interpellation
In cultural studies, articulation doesn’t carry its most familiar sense of ‘uttering clearly’. It is used in the sense you may recognise from‘articulated truck’ – where articulation denotes the joining of twothings together. In cultural studies, what may be articulated are nottwo components of a truck but large-scale social forces (especiallymodes of production), in a particular configuration or formation at aparticular time, called a conjuncture , to produce the structuraldeterminants of any given practice, text or event. Just as an articulatedlorry has a prime mover and a trailer (where the prime mover,although smaller and lighter, determines the movement of the trailer – it provides motive force to the trailer), so articulation describes notsimply a combination of forces but a hierarchical relationship betweenthem. Forces aren’t simply joined or jointed, they are ‘structured indominance ’.The term derives from Marxist analysis, where it refers to thearticulation of different modes of production. The economic andsocial relations of a society during a given epoch will display anarticulation of different modes of production – capitalist, feudal andeven communal, all at once – but one of these modes of production isstructured in dominance over the others or ‘overdetermines’ them andobliges them to adapt to its needs, or integrates them into themechanisms of its reproduction. Hence the feudal monarchy survivesinto the capitalist epoch, but is adapted to its purposes; or an industrysuch as publishing retains feudal relations between author andpublisher within the overall capitalist mode of production of books;or a social institution such as the family allows for communal modes of production to be exploited by a capitalist economy. These are classicarticulations.The term has been extended in use to include articulations of other social forces. You might read, for instance, of the articulation of raceand class in an analysis of subcultural music, or of the articulation of gender and nation in an analysis of sport.
The term peppers the writings of analysts who are not only Marxistbut who are also connected with the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies in Britain. Elsewhere it has been usedto account for certain problems in cultural anthropology, especially thespecific forms of, say, Asian or pre-conquest American modes of production within a Marxist (i.e. Eurocentric and modernist)framework of analysis.
Cluster: Creative Industries, Glogalizaton,Localization
Districts with a concentration of a single or closely related industries.If the resources you require are close at hand, and if there are othersdoing similar work in your local area who can assist you, then your work will be easier and more productive. If you are surrounded bypeople attempting to outdo you – competing for sales or attention – you are likely to work harder. The economist Alfred Marshall wrote of ‘industrial districts’ in 1890: cutlery production in Sheffield, cotton inManchester and coal in Newcastle (Marshall, 1961). These are clusters.When there is such a critical mass of related industries, educationalinstitutions, government agencies and community associations locatedin the same place, innovation and productivity are stimulated. Theresult is greater prosperity. As Michael Porter points out, competitiveadvantages in a global economy lie increasingly in local things – knowledge, relationships and motivation (Porter, 1999).
Localisation and industry clusters are proliferating in what USfederal banker Alan Greenspan described as the ‘weightless’ neweconomy (see intangibles). No longer are the raw materials of aNewcastle essential for cluster formation. The miniature (practicallyweightless) microchip, creativity, information, research, talent andnetworks have replaced coal or steel, manual labour and machinery ascomponents of the majority of clusters.In 1939 two Stanford University students started an electronicmeasuring device company out of a car garage in Palo Alto, California.By 1999 their company, Hewlett-Packard, was one in a cluster withinthe area, now called Silicon Valley, that had a combined revenue of US$47.1 billion. A large number of the companies that make personalcomputers, circuits, software, 3D graphics and that pioneered Internetsearch engine technology can be found in Silicon Valley. It is also thehome of Stanford University, which educates people to becomeresearchers and workers. It is ‘an entire environment, or habitat honedfor innovation and entrepreneurship’ (Lee et al ., 2000: 1).Cluster research has expanded and challenged previous economictheories. New findings on the importance of cooperative relationshipsbetween research, private industry and third-sector organisations arearising out of cluster research. Although primarily an economicconcept, clusters are focusing attention back on place, lifestyle,localism and community. The assumption that ‘nations are the saliententities for understanding the structure of economic life’ (Jacobs,1984: 30) is being disproved at a macro level through globalisation andat the micro level through clusters.
The integration of telephony, computing and media (broadcasting)technologies, and thence the integration of the businesses, markets andthe social interactions associated with them. Responding to atelevision programme (broadcasting) via an online (telecommunica-tions) website that measures viewer responses and votes (computing) isa basic form of convergence.
Being able to do all of this via a single device is a further possible result of convergence.The adaptability of digital information has enabled a particular typeof industry restructuring. Service industries, including broadcastingand telecommunications, have traditionally operated in domesticmarkets with industries centred on standardised services delivered tomass markets. These structures have been assumed in policy-making Arenas in the past.
As convergence is linking these traditionally separateindustries through digital networks, traditional industry structures areno longer as relevant. Industries and markets are integrating, as well astechnologies, thus print, screen and website can now be seen asplatforms for the same content-provider.Some of the possible consequences of these changes involvenetworks supporting a range of services, new competition betweenpreviously distinct businesses, service innovation with a focus on customisation and flexibility, the potential for niche markets and agreater scope for international trade in services and goods.
Convergence is causing a number of countries to revisit their communications policies. As the same content can now be receivedacross once separately regulated media – television, radio and theInternet – governments are considering the extent to which regulation will need to be re-thought on order to deal with thesechanges.
For instance, the UK has brought together its formerlyseparate regulatory bodies for telecommunications, television andradio under one umbrella agency, Ofcom.Changes brought about by convergence mean that the traditionalone-to-many information distribution structures will no longer bepreserved, victims of technological constraints. To continue to receiveinformation from singular, ‘closed’ or inaccessible sources withoutentering into participatory dialogue and production will be the resultof industrial, political or cultural forces rather than technicalconstraints.
The search for patterned regularities in the details of conversationalbehaviour. The approach has its roots in a particular branch of sociology known as ethnomethodology, which was concernedessentially with identifying the fundamental categories and forms of reasoning used by members of society to make sense of their everydaysocial world. As such, it was part of a continuing reaction in thehuman and social sciences against the ill-considered and over-optimistic use of quantitative and statistical methods.
True to its sociological origins, conversation analysis is interested inverbal interaction primarily as instances of the situated social order. Practitioners of this approach study conversation as a rich source of observable material on how members of society achieve orderliness intheir everyday interactions with each other. They view conversations
As jointly constructed, practical accomplishments, and seek to displayfrom the close analysis of transcribed talk the methods adopted byparticipants to achieve this orderliness – the conversational structureswithin which participants function and the interpretative work whichthey undertake. In line with this project, conversation analysis hasprovided detailed accounts of how the taking of turns is managed inconversation and how turns are linked together in coherent ways.Some types of utterance are, predictably, related to each other in pairssuch as
greeting and related pairs such as these provide strong linking formats as part of the sequential organization of talk
When it comes to our world so fraught and saturated with technology, we have to keep up with theupdates of dealing with and seeing/feeling the Media. The technological ziamos and teir embedded techniques are evolving very fast, so is efficiency and technological continuity. This we can see with Adveritsing and the New Media shortly presented by the Faculty of Macquarie University who note:
"Digital media convergence is new media technologies that enabled the same element to flow through many different mediums such as Internet, smart phone, laptops or even Ipad. People feel more comfortable because they can use Internet that can be easily accessed by wireless Internet connection that is almost everywhere. In that case of convergence of application and networks, fast Internet through broadband connectivity is demanded in order to stay up to date. Internet service provides data storage and application that can be downloaded are available with various mediums such as web 2.0 and it connects across stages. In relation to advertising and new media, there are so many advertisements were being provided through converge devices or new media such as in social media, youtube, google and yahoo.
“We cannot not communicate” – Watzlawick (1973)
Basically, media convergence is the process when new technologies accustomed by existing media and people can obviously see the alteration from old media to the new media (Dwyer, 2010). It is important to communicate with each other especially in media convergence world. They become the medium communicating between organization and individuals to public or other individuals due to information always got by communicating with others people or media. The improvement of varieties in programming, media convergence has three factors. The first is corporate of concentration that means fewer larger companies owned more and more media belonging. Next is digitalization where people can easily modified to use any moderates. The last is government regulation where allowed more conglomerates owned different kinds of media (Gasher, 2002). For example, Rupert Murdoch is the world’s second media conglomerate.
Furthermore, more and more people get used to the new media like Internet, laptop and mobile phone without leave the old media like television, radio and newspaper. By accessing to the new media especially mobile and others online media, means that people are able to arrange their everyday contacts and their private, leisure and work activities while on the move. For example, there are still many people who listen to radio in the real tool radio in the car or while driving or doing something else.
“Convergence is all around us” – Dwyer 2010
For example, people can use all of the applications in one smart phone just like Iphone. They are including camera, video call, radio, social media and absolutely with the help of Internet. Internet brings benefit to people’s life yet they do have disadvantages as well. People who use smart phones can get up-to-date information wherever they go because of the Internet again and they can easily check the latest news and information. Media will be so easy to see in one box like Ps3 yet Jenkins, H (2006) said that it is not going to happen because digital technology is a response to analogue’s shortcoming. The new media spread away so quickly based on the Iphone launched in China that was cancelled because of scuffles and the crowd of Chinese people there (BBC, 2012). For instance, people no longer watch or hear news only through television and radio, they do it online such as Australian news like ABC and SBS.
Advertising is changing quickly since there are many different media are available for communicating with customers. According to MsChesney (2001), Internet usage is increasing and becoming a part of public service. The digital convergence refers to the growth trend for using computer to deliver information. Because of that, more commercial and advertising are provided in Internet especially in social media, youtube, yahoo, google and many more. Advertising was appeared on television, radio, cinemas, newspaper, or even written on the sky and now it found the Internet that refers to the digital media convergence as a popular mediated. However, a significant percentage of newspaper and public service broadcasting publishing which all or part of them are commercial cable TV channels or commercial media (MsChesney, 2001). They also try to sell the customers to the advertisement and want more people to buy their products.
“Internet marketing ties together the creative and technical aspects of the Internet, including design, development, advertising and sales” – Kaufman
Avril Lavigne - What The Hell" - "Chazwozel1 ~ Ugh... yeah, it's a young person's sentiment. As you get older you learn to place your own limits instead of h
Extension Into The Viral Soup
From the video above, as that can be seen there are so many advertising are shown on the video. There are at least five branded things including laptop (Vaio), television (Sony), parfume (Avril Lavigne), mobile phone (Sony Ericson) and many others. The video is actually sponsored by that organisation in order to advertise their brand name. Furthermore, youtube often have advertisement that automatically shown for about 10 second when we want to watch particular video. Advertising aims to get better understand that information sent creatively and persuasive approaches are changed by the impact of conversational interaction and social participation. They try to sell products and grab your attention by persuading you to have a desire of a particular product. There are also many interesting commercial videos or advertisement in the video on Youtube for example, BMW street racing (short film by Guy Ritchie) “Star” Madonna & Clive Owen.
There is a rise of popularity of search engine. It will be the most important development of informational advertising since it became internationally significant and nationally relevant to advertising media services and institution (Battelle cited in Spurgeon, L 2008). Google and Yahoo become so popular that is part of search engine. The term ‘Long Tail’ of the digital economy (Anderson cited in Spurgeon 2008) describes the command powerful of networked, informational economies that distinguish Web 2.0 media and e-commerce firms from industrial mass and niche media and markets. Yahoo started with the earliest profitable new media in 1998. It rapidly expanded as one of the first commercial search media that attract advertiser in the potential of the Internet as an advertising medium (online advertising). For instance, it recently adds new extensions such as Yahoo! Photos to video, video, music, blog, podcasting media and moved into aggregation and dissemination in mobile.
Augnemtned Reality: Breakdown Of Cognition
In conclusion, in this world that full of digital media even in advertising and other segments. The flow of Internet allows larger audiences and available almost everywhere since there is a wireless connection in every place that is more reachable than old media like television and radio..
There are many articles that deal with augmented reality from the 10990s until the present day using as base Azumas (1997) review of augmented Reality since the 90's and the Augmented Reality Maarkup Language Specification (ArML 2.0) proposal by Open Geospatial Consortium )OGC). Some heave dealt with how AR, as a new digital medium, is remediated our real world experience. Most inestigate and interrogate how AR Systems enable us to redistribute our cognitive process, to make the user work better."(Zamora Marroquin)
We learn from the following posts:
"The history of computing has been characterized by an effort to replicate and augment human intelligence. The paradigmatic case of Vannevar Bush’s memex is indeed not that different in its overall goals as the PC. However the smartphone has disrupted this paradigm of computation as a tool for enhancing advanced forms of intellectual labor. The smartphone introduces a paradigm characterized by smaller but more pervasive kinds of cognitive enhancement. In this paper I explore and describe the differences between these two paradigms of computation using Heersmink’s “multi-dimensional matrix for exploring cognitive-artifact relations” (Heersmink, 2012)."
Here is a "Man-computer Symbioses"
“Man-computer symbiosis is probably not the ultimate paradigm for complex technological systems. It seems entirely possible that, in due course, electronic or chemical “machines” will outdo the human brain in most of the functions we now consider exclusively within its province. Even now, Gelernter’s EBM-704 program for proving theorems in plane geometry proceeds at about the same pace as Brooklyn high school students, and makes similar errors.….In short, it seems worthwhile to avoid argument with (other) enthusiasts for artificial intelligence by conceding dominance in the distant future of cerebration to machines alone.” (Licklider, 1960)
Licklider thought that man-machine symbiosis would only be a temporary phase, until the inevitable “dominance” of machines and AI. What seems increasingly clear is that man-machine symbiosis is not a temporary state. The incorporation of computation into the most everyday aspects of life- not just for solving complex formal problems- suggests that man-machine symbiosis is a fundamental part of the human experience."
Linda Huber writes:
The first tab includes some explanatory text/definition of these dimensions taken from Heersmink’s article, and the subsequent tabs contain my actual analysis of different activities on the smartphone and the PC.
I chose this matrix as a tool for analysis for two main reasons: 1) this matrix is a simplified modeling tool which helps to think more granularly about specific affordances, constraints, and general characteristics of each technology as it relates to cognition. It is in itself a cognitive tool, which is pretty awesome. 2) Heersmink has very explicitly built into his matrix the fact that these dimensions of analysis can not be blindly applied to a piece of static technology, but that these dimensions of analysis arise out of particular combinations of “(1) the cognitive profile or cognitive capacities of the human agent; (2) the representational, functional, and technical properties of the cognitive artifact; (3) the task environment and context of use; and (4) the kind of epistemic action and its epistemic purpose.” (Heersmink, 2014). In other words, this analysis starts off on the right foot by recognizing the integral importance of the specific user, the context of use, the goals of use, and last but not least the actual technological and representational affordances of the artifact. This is particularly relevant, of course, for an effective analysis of the smartphone.
In keeping with this I broke my analysis out into specific apps or tasks on both the smartphone and PC, as performed by myself, a fairly native user of both form-factors and the identified apps. Ideally this analysis would be even more granular, at the level of “creating an event on Facebook” or “figuring out the best route to a particular restaurant in an unfamiliar city”, but it would be difficult to extrapolate back out to comparing the two tools overall with this level of granularity. As a kind of compromise, I worked at the level of the application and attempted to think about many different kinds of use-case. Only after doing these more specific analyses, did I go on to compare the smartphone to the PC directly using these different dimensions. I am certain that this is an over-generalized analysis that glosses over much of the complexity of these two cognitive tools, but it did help me come to a few concrete, high-level conclusions about how these two technologies operative differently as cognitive tools.
Linda Buber writes:
This trajectory towards ubiquitous and everyday forms of computation seems obvious now, but at the time Licklider still saw these technologies as primarily dedicated to formal computation and could not imagine how they would come to be relevant to mundane questions like “Where should I get lunch?.” It is incredibly difficult to make the intellectual leap from computers as machines for solving highly formalized problems to the kind of flexible, practical, everyday computation that characterizes the smartphone– or heck even much use of the PC.
Vannevar Bush’s famous article “As We May Think”, published almost 15 years before “Man-Machine Symbiosis”, actually seems to come much closer to an intuition of ubiquitous, mobile computing that is more closely integrated with everyday activities. Consider, for example, the below quote:
“On a pair of ordinary glasses is a square of fine lines near the top of one lens, where it is out of the way of ordinary vision. When an object appears in that square, it is lined up for its picture. As the scientist of the future moves about the laboratory or the field, every time he looks at something worthy of the record, he trips the shutter and in it goes, without even an audible click.”(Bush, 1945).
This description eerily seems to foreshadow Google glass, that notorious artifact at the frontier of wearable technology. But take note how Bush’s imagined user is still the scientist, the knowledge professional who needs to be able to perform incredibly advanced kinds of analysis. In a similar vein, although Bush acknowledges that there is a more general use and demand for very specialized kind of logic machines, he states that: “With machines for advanced analysis no such situation existed; for there was and is no extensive market; the users of advanced methods of manipulating data are a very small part of the population.” Although this was true at the time, the introduction of the PC and accompanying cognitive artifacts has had a kind of cumulative effect such that, as of January 2014, 58% of American adults own a smartphone, and as such carry around tools for “advanced methods of manipulating data” in their pocket (Pew, 2014). Bush simply could not imagine powerful general-purpose computational tools as an integrated part of the everyman’s life- and who can blame him, almost 2 decades before the very first Personal Computer?
Yet what was incredibly advanced and prescient for Bush in 1945 is woefully behind the times for present-day conceptualizations of computation. These early visionaries were thinking of a paradigm of computation characterized by immobility/single-context use, computation directed towards advanced forms of formal thought and analysis, and utilization primarily by professionals and knowledge experts. This paradigm of computation has since become only one of many. The smartphone (and soon-to-come forms of wearable tech like the Apple watch or Google glass) is fundamentally characterized by mobility and total integration with our everyday lives– and an emphasis on computation that helps us achieve practical, everyday goals more efficiently, rather than necessarily augmenting complex forms of higher thought. This is a totally different paradigm of “cognitive enhancement”, and notably seems to be a step closer to a more pervasive kind of man-machine symbiosis and extended cognition, given the degree to which these technologies will be physically, culturally, and cognitively embedded within every waking moment. This very new paradigm of cognitive tool thus clearly demands the same kind of advanced analysis and visionary thinking as the PC-paradigm. An important first step towards this kind of research is to understand concretely how this new form of computation differs from the old.
In order to begin to explore in more concrete terms how the smartphone differs from the PC as a cognitive tool, I have drawn upon Richard Heersmink’s matrix for exploring cognitive-artifact relations. Heersmink’s matrix synthesizes previous suggested dimensions of analysis for cognitive artifacts proposed by Sutton, Clark and Robert Wilson, and Kim Sterelny. These dimensions and the resulting matrix are designed for “better understanding and exploring the different kinds of epistemic interactions and coupling between humans and cognitive artifacts.”(Heersmink, 2014). I have put Heersmink’s dimensions into an actual matrix here. The first tab includes some explanatory text/definition of these dimensions taken from Heersmink’s article, and the subsequent tabs contain my actual analysis of different activities on the smartphone and the PC.
I chose this matrix as a tool for analysis for two main reasons: 1) this matrix is a simplified modeling tool which helps to think more granularly about specific affordances, constraints, and general characteristics of each technology as it relates to cognition. It is in itself a cognitive tool, which is pretty awesome. 2) Heersmink has very explicitly built into his matrix the fact that these dimensions of analysis can not be blindly applied to a piece of static technology, but that these dimensions of analysis arise out of particular combinations of “(1) the cognitive profile or cognitive capacities of the human agent; (2) the representational, functional, and technical properties of the cognitive artifact; (3) the task environment and context of use; and (4) the kind of epistemic action and its epistemic purpose.” (Heersmink, 2014). In other words, this analysis starts off on the right foot by recognizing the integral importance of the specific user, the context of use, the goals of use, and last but not least the actual technological and representational affordances of the artifact. This is particularly relevant, of course, for an effective analysis of the smartphone.
In keeping with this I broke my analysis out into specific apps or tasks on both the smartphone and PC, as performed by myself, a fairly native user of both form-factors and the identified apps. Ideally this analysis would be even more granular, at the level of “creating an event on Facebook” or “figuring out the best route to a particular restaurant in an unfamiliar city”, but it would be difficult to extrapolate back out to comparing the two tools overall with this level of granularity. As a kind of compromise, I worked at the level of the application and attempted to think about many different kinds of use-case. Only after doing these more specific analyses, did I go on to compare the smartphone to the PC directly using these different dimensions. I am certain that this is an over-generalized analysis that glosses over much of the complexity of these two cognitive tools, but it did help me come to a few concrete, high-level conclusions about how these two technologies operative differently as cognitive tools.
Reliability and Cognitive transformation/entrenchment:
Due to it’s pocket- and hand-sized form factor, the smartphone is much more reliable and accessible than the PC. This reliability is a huge fundamental difference in these two cognitive tools, because it is was allows the smartphone to be much more closely integrated with our general bodily and cognitive schema. For example, the reliability of always having Google maps on my person alters how I think about and approach travelling/commuting. In many ways it opens up an entire sphere of activity that I otherwise would not have done. This app is of course only one of many powerful tools that I carry around in my pocket. The smartphone allows me to walk around with the certainty that at any moment, I can access nearly any piece of information, communicate to nearly anyone in a wide variety of ways, to be entertained and consume media any number of ways, and to document and share my thoughts, my surroundings, a given moment of experience. The physical reliability and accessibility of the smartphone, combined with the breadth of expertise afforded by this toolbox, is a strong impetus for building reliance upon the phone in our daily lives. We take this tool for granted because it is so tightly embedded in our bodily and cognitive schema, and when it is lost or forgotten we experience a sense of anxiety over what is essentially a part of ourselves.
This reliance on the smartphone is partially due to the cycle of increasing returns we receive the more closely the tool is coupled with us. To return to the example of Google maps, if I do not always have my phone, then I must have duplicate system- either a map, or to make more effort to mentally store and remember transit information- to cover those times when I do not have it. If I am confident that I always have my phone on me, than I am relieved of the cognitive burden of these “backup” systems. In this way, the reliability of the phone allows a more complete change in my behavior and cognition. Similarly, if I am trained to check my phone every few minutes, then it is increasingly unlikely that I will miss a time-sensitive notification about, say, cancelled dinner plans as I am getting ready to leave the house or a meeting I am about to miss. This inherent reward system of checking the phone contributes to changed behavioral patterns, ie increasingly frequent phone-checking. (Oulasvirta, 2012). Heersmink notes that, in the case of Otto and his notebook (used as a thought experiment in Chalmers and Clark’s initial paper on extended cognition) that “his [Otto’s] behavioral and cognitive routines are sculpted by his notebook.”(Heersmink, 2014). Heersmink calls this kind of behavioral and cognitive change “entrenchment” or “Cognitive transformation”. In this instance, it is very clear that the smartphone creates extensive behavioral and cognitive transformation, in large part due to the reliability and physical accessibility of this cognitive tool.
In contrast to this very pervasive form of entrenchment between the smartphone and its user, the PC is obviously more physically distant, and as a result is generally less embedded within everyday cognition and behavior than the smartphone. The form-factor prevents you from having it physically on your person at all times, and thus the PC does not allow you to develop the same reliance and completeness of cognitive offloading as the smartphone. In terms of cognitive transformation, the PC does have a much bigger transformative effect within the context of specific tasks. For example, over time my actual cognitive processes when writing a paper have been transformed by the affordances of a word processor, such as copy/paste and quick search etc. Similarly, I find that when doing research online my thoughts tend to follow a kind of branching pattern similar to a chain of hyperlinks. These are complex and very significant changes in our cognition, but these cognitive transformations are limited to specific kinds of work that I do on the PC. These cognitive transformations are more task-specific, whereas with the smartphone the entire device becomes part of my cognitive-bodily schema, transforming my behavior and cognition.
The PC effects complex changes to particular cognitive processes, but these changes are isolated to those tasks alone. The smartphone changes my behavior and cognition in a way that is perhaps more simple- ie, creating a compulsive phone checking habit- but is much more pervasive across a variety of context and tasks.
Limited Reciprocal information flow
One related aspect of information flow on a typical mobile device is that this flow is organized into discrete streams of information, each corresponding to a particular app. I discovered this when I was initially trying to analyze the smartphone and the PC based on a particular task. I came to realize that on a phone, it was easy to choose a particular application and analyze activity within that application, but on a PC you are much more likely to switch applications quickly and work in parallel across multiple different information streams and tasks. For example, when thinking about mobile email, it is easier to imagine the general use-case, which tends to be reading email, deleting email, and simple replies. On the PC, email quickly involves cross-referencing other pieces of information in totally separate applications (calendar, documents, etc), incorporating that information into responses, and generally is much more integrated with a general workstream. I would suggest that the bandwidth limitations of the smartphone described above, combined with the difficulty of switching between different streams of information is what makes it nearly impossible to do the kind of integrative, cross-referential kind of activity that characterizes so much of “work”.
Heersmink also defines 3 basic types of information flow: one-way, two-way, and reciprocal. In keeping with the limited informational bandwidth of the smartphone interface and the restrictiveness of app-based computing, information flow on the smartphone is often two-way, consisting basically of human input and tool response. In a reciprocal information flow, cognitive artifacts “are integral parts of ongoing information-processing tasks.” I was hard pressed to think of a situation in which the smartphone is truly a part of an “ongoing information-processing task”. However, this kind of information flow is precisely what characterizes use of the PC. Browsing, researching, general work activities all utilize the PC as an integral part of the information processing taking place. As described by Heersmink,
“We offload small bits of information onto the artifact, and the nature and content of the offloaded information contributes to and partly determines the next step in the overall process. For example, when writing an academic paper one often starts with a rough outline, which may prompt ideas about how to fill in the details. Filling in the details may then prompt an adjustment of the outline, which may in turn prompt further details…Each step in the overall process builds and depends on previous steps. The human agent and cognitive artifact continuously exchange information and so there is a reciprocal and cumulative information flow that constantly transforms the agent-artifact system. There is, in Clark’s words, “continuous reciprocal causation” between agent and artifact.”
An important element of this kind of reciprocal information flow is that it seems to represent rapid cumulative knowledge development between man and machine. This is truly thinking with the machine, rather than simply informing our independent cognitive process with information provided by a machine. The lack of complex reciprocal information flow between the user and a smartphone indicates a certain limit on the cognitive enhancement that a smartphone can offer. In contrast, the PC is a powerful cognitive tool that is much more integral to complex and extended forms of thought.
Distribution of cognition
Heersmink also includes “distribution of cognition” as one dimension of analysis. Our above analysis would suggest that in many cases the PC is capable of taking on a larger share of the computation in a given problem. They can significantly facilitate even more complex forms of thought and analysis. In contrast, the application-based computing that characterizes the smartphone limits computation to relatively simple and singular tasks, which I then use as a means to inform a much more complex overall task. For example, when I look up the weather (relatively simple computation by the computer), I must still determine the proper attire for the day given the weather and other complex factors. Or I check my Twitter feed, but still must parse through the content and figure out what I want to read, what I want to share, etc. Of course, the same would be true if I wanted to complete these tasks on my PC- but the PC also allows me to do complex reciprocal processes such as writing a paper, whereas the smartphone is generally limited to these simple, two-way information flows. Overall, it seems that the PC is capable of somewhat more evenly distributed cognition between cognitive artifact and the user than the smartphone.
Consumptive Activity across Smartphone and PC
Actually, there is a substantial amount of activity done on both the phone and the PC that is very similar. In my analysis of using Facebook on both the PC and the smartphone, it seems that these two activities are largely similar across all the different dimensions of analysis. Indeed, this seems to be true of most passive information- or media-consuming tasks. In these instances, there is very little informational input from the user, and very little task switching or parallel information processing that needs to be done. In this case, the usual limitations of the smartphone in terms of information flow are largely irrelevant. The implication of this is that the mobile device, while perhaps an ineffective tool for complex forms of computation, is equally effective for simpler forms of media consumption.
Interestingly, this corresponds strongly with patterns of user behavior which suggest that the mobile phone user often turns to the mobile phone even when at home and a PC is also available (Nylander, 2009). The authors cite user explanations that this is partially because the phone is always accessible. Thus in many cases the immediacy of access of the smartphone trumps the possible increased informational bandwidth of the PC. I would also suggest that many of our activities are characterized by either simple two-way information flow interactions (such as looking up the weather), or by some form of relatively passive information consumption, such as skimming through the Facebook newsfeed or quickly reviewing incoming email.
In a kind of parallel to Bush’s suggestion that “the users of advanced methods of manipulating data are a very small part of the population” (Bush, 1945), it seems we only require tools for enhanced cognition and complex, iterative forms of thought during select time periods, largely when doing some kind of work. During all other parts of the day, much simpler enhancements and forms of entertainment suffice.
To summarize my above analysis, it seems that there are some clear and essential differences between these two cognitive artifacts:
The smartphone is much more reliable, and thus much more pervasively entrenched, both behaviorally and cognitively. However, it has limited informational bandwidth. It is much better suited for two-way information flows and for forms of more passive information consumption, rather than complex forms of thought and idea-development.
The PC is much less accessible and pervasive, and thus shapes our cognition only with regards to specific tasks and activities. The bigger informational bandwidth, both in terms of input and output, makes it a much more effective tool for extended and complex forms of thought, and use of the computer creates a cumulative effect whereby thought is substantially enhanced and extended.
This analysis helps us to see precisely how the smartphone breaks with the previous paradigm of computation and cognitive enhancement. If the memex represents the basic prototype of a computational cognitive artifact, then the PC actually seems to be the most up-to-date iteration of this same prototype. Like the memex, it helps to truly augment our thought via a complex, reciprocal exchange of information, and by augmenting the kind of cross-referential and integrative thinking that characterizes advanced intellectual labor. This interaction creates a kind of cumulative effect wherein our thought can be advanced significantly beyond the capability of the human mind alone.
In contrast, the smartphone acts more as a simple informational aid. It augments that part of our thought and activity that is not engaged in complex, extended cognition. And realistically, for many people and much of the time, the wide variety of simple enhancements offered by the smartphone, coupled with its physical accessibility, make for both a necessary and sufficient cognitive tool.
In this way, the smartphone represents a break with the kind of computation imagined by Bush, Licklider and Engelbart. These founding fathers were designing computational tools for the academic, the scientist…for themselves, in many ways. The smartphone is a kind of “everyman’s” computational device, much better fitted for the kinds of simple, everyday informational tasks that facilitate everyday life and occupy our free time, outside of the office or school. Steve Jobs is perhaps an early visionary of this kind of computation, but I would suggest that we need much more research and thought dedicated to developing this form of computation that is so integrated with our daily lives. Thad Starner’s article on Google Glass (Starner, 2013) is one promising example of advanced consideration about how this technology can best fit its cognitive niche, but it only represents a small slice of the field of mobile computation more generally.
This concludes my quick-and-dirty attempt to analyze these two cognitive technologies. There are many more ways that these two cognitive artifacts could be analyzed, ideally with greater rigor and specificity than I have been able to here. Indeed, it would be very interesting to do a similar analysis using the methods laid out by Xia and Maes (Xia) in their reformulation of Engelbart’s conceptual framework for augmenting human intellect. However, we must proceed very carefully. Even their framework falls short in that it is explicitly meant to enhance our intelligence, and if this paper has shown anything I think it is that the smartphone simply may not be a device intended to augment our intellect, strictly speaking! This framework, and likely most frameworks for analyzing computational tools, are still very much entrenched in the PC/memex paradigm of augmenting only certain forms of cognition.(Linda Huber)
Understanding And Knowing About Our PC' and Smartphones
I had to cull the whole bit from Linda Huber's article because I am into new ways of investingating and trying to understand the effects and affects of different tehnologies on us. The research above is very important for it helps us better understand what were dealing with, what we are doing or not doing when applying and using these technologies; how each overlaps over the other, and what this means to us and for us as we use them, and what the capabilities of these new technologies are,.
Linda probes as to how much these gizmos with their inlaid techniques afeect our own intelligence, or do they overcome it, or are there some limitations that are brought about by the make and design of the gizmos that make then less effective in affecting our intelligence? I like this obeservation I have alredy cited in Linda's article, but would like to re-post, this comparative contrast of PC and Smartphone, again:
- The smartphone is much more reliable, and thus much more pervasively entrenched, both behaviorally and cognitively. However, it has limited informational bandwidth. It is much better suited for two-way information flows and for forms of more passive information consumption, rather than complex forms of thought and idea-development.
- The PC is much less accessible and pervasive, and thus shapes our cognition only with regards to specific tasks and activities. The bigger informational bandwidth, both in terms of input and output, makes it a much more effective tool for extended and complex forms of thought, and use of the computer creates accumulative effect whereby thought is substantially enhanced and extended.
I find it interesting and worth knowing that by kowing and having a better understanding of our use of the present-day meida technlogies and their embedded.inlaid technique, the less we will be over-awed and entjralled with them, but might find some more human and contributory reaalities so sorely needed in the decrepit time we live in now.
Iphone 5 Tested
The Present Conundrum Is That We Remain Consumers...
Olivia Payne writes:
This negative side of the collaboration between society and technology is when we arrive at lock-in, at profit driven, non-generative models of innovation. Why? Because the sociotechnical being becomes merely a sociotechnical consumer. The “hedonic treadmill” theorized by Philip Brinkman and Donald Campbell in 1971, and later linked to consumerism by Luigino Bruni and Luca Stanca in 2006, supports the idea that individuals will purchase material goods that they are socialized to desire due to an immediate perceived positive benefit upon acquisition. Interestingly, the theory also contends that these items, once consumed, quickly are taken for granted, or the market creates a new product that promises even better positive benefits. Sound familiar?
This largely differs from the personal computer of the 1970s and 80s that allowed you to expand your resources by introducing new software to existing hardware. Instead, we throw out an iPhone 5 in its entirety as soon as the iPhone 6 is available for purchase. But, these devices are just new shiny boxes with a few software tweaks, leaving us to continuously walk on this neverending “treadmill” of consumption.
Perhaps idealistically, Engelbart envisioned the development of computing in a way that would augment human intellect. Kay envisioned a personal computer for children called the “Dynabook” – portable, tablet-like, computation, that placed the user as an author, not merely as a consumer.
…it was an ancillary point for the Dynabook to be able to simulate all existing media in an editable/authorable form in a highly portable networked (including wireless) form. The main point was for it to be able to qualitatively extend the notions of “reading, writing, sharing, publishing, etc. of ideas” literacy to include the “computer reading, writing, sharing, publishing of ideas” that is the computer’s special province…Isn’t it crystal clear that this last and most important service is quite lacking in today’s computing for the general public? Apple with the iPad and iPhone goes even further and does not allow children to download an Etoy made by another child somewhere in the world. This could not be farther from the original intentions of the entire ARPA-IPTO/PARC community in the ’60s and ’70s.21
We still have not achieved either of these visions because technology has been “black-boxed” from the consumer behind a shiny exterior and a simple interactive GUI. The big tech industry seems to have gotten us into the universalized GUI trap, by creating GUI based computers meant to consume media, not create it.
Without going down the path of technical determinism, we can say that our culture has been formed along with these consumable media production devices. Most do not tinker with their devices, whether a laptop or an iphone. Most do not code or create programs for specific needs using these devices. Most use these devices to check social networks, buy goods, or exchange information. This is what tech companies relish in – a corner of the market where the profits are extraordinarily vast and users get locked in to a platform. IBM was so successful because buyers had locked themselves to a product line.22
In the same way, Apple’s iPhone has been marketed as a full-service consumable device, and our society has fallen head over heels for them. The advertising strategy of Apple sells a product that is cool and covetable. The iPhone is a status symbol, an object. If industry started promoting a product that allowed for more creation and more freedom in development, perhaps more consumers would become creators. We saw this in the 1970s and 80s, when the personal computer offered users a world of opportunity and an open platform to create. Perhaps more consumers would become creators if we really reopened the generative model, or found a social need to bring about this change. But perhaps not. Perhaps this is human nature to consume, but not to create. Perhaps our technical artefacts will just allow for a distributed consumerism. I, for one, hope for the alternative.
Why You Should Care
As Jonathan Zittrain notes in his 2008 book, The Future of the Internet, And How to Stop It, this recurring cycle from non-generative, to generative, back to non-generative models of technology is applicable even to the development of the Internet. He fears that cybersecurity concerns will quash the generative characteristics of the internet, and I believe he is right to fear this possibility. We have already seen big business attempts at monetizing and regulating various areas of the internet. He fears a return to proprietary networks as an easy solution to security breaches, but severely warns against this future.
Zittrain asks, “So what to do to stop this future?23” Zittrain has his own suggestions which I will not regurgitate here, but I ask the same question: What can we do to stop this future? For me, the answer is uncertain. Realizing the problem is half the battle. Realizing that society is recursively repeating these same mistakes will hopefully enlighten some to change the tide. Realizing that as a society we are for the most part merely consumers, distributing ourselves amongst all of these productized sources is important in preventing a future of a locked-in non-generative closed internet. Remember: Open, good. Closed, bad..
Ways Of Seeing And Knowing The New Emergent Media
It is important we begin to stretch the theories as they evoloved from McLuhan to today's Media Ecologists and Observers. This is important because it gives us time to begin to look at some of these gizmos, anew, and not be so overwhelemed that we cannot even talk aabout them or say anything for or against them. That is, we end up becoming rogbots and non-thinking -used =to-be-humans.. Which is why I have written they type of Hub I am not to this point.
The Social Environmentts are in constant flux, and changing very fast. One cannot hinge ones knowledge on somthing as old as six months ago. One has to use the very web to try and find up to thday analysis, and hope that some Theiries hold up right into the futre. That is unknowable if these throies will hold, but I use them as I see them affecting me too, as part of the consumer culture I am immersed-in.
Many of us are caught-up in and with Consumerism, that we are so busy imbibing the incoming and morphing, merging, submebmerging, interconnecting techological gizmos and their techniques, that we do not even have time to mull over them, and at least wrap our brains and minds around their 'being there' and us using them-in the fast changing "here-and-now." We hardly get used to one, then there's a new one to be know, discovered and applied.
The time to marinate on the emerging technologies, their gizmos and embedded techniques, in our psyches, soul and spirits, is zero. Thus, using the cited updated researches as I have done above, is to work on keeping us understanding Gridlock and the emergent New Social Formations and Media Social Environments, much better and holistically-how. as Ed Koch used to holler, see "HOW WE ARE DOING?!".
What I am saying is that, if we begin to study, know and investigate/familiarize ourselves with the fast changing emerging and convergent gizmos, we will in effect be understanding and knowing our gadgets and the changes inherent within them, and what it means for and to us, in its effects and affects. At least, if we can tabulate and upgrade the changing nature and effects of these gizmos on us the users, at least we give ourselves a fighting chance and not to be simply gobbled-up and overcome/overwhelmed by the new technologies constantly in our midst/use.
Keeping It Real...
Change Of Languages, Same Old System Of Capitalism
Is Africa Ready For Another Foreign Investor? What's The Catch? Still To Be Determined…
China in Africa: Developing a Continent
Zhang Yuwei (China Daily)
In the last decade, investment in Africa by the world's second-largest economy has surged to $2.9 billion from $75 million, and with it China's influence can be seen everywhere, Zhang Yuwei reports from New York.
When Asoka Ranaweera helped on a project to build an Ethiopia glass factory backed by the China Africa Development Fund in 2009, he considered it a "flagship investment" given the size of the investment at the time.
It was to be Ethiopia's first glass factory — worth $15 million — and built by Chinese investors through the CADF, a private-equity fund. The fund set up in 2007 planned to spend about $300 million on projects on the continent in 2008.
Located in the suburb of the capital city of Addis Ababa, the factory — built by China's construction firm CGC Overseas Construction Group Co Ltd - was to produce up to 60,000 tons of glass sheet every year, with about 30 percent of that for local use and the remainder for export to East African countries.
"At the time it was considered to be a flagship investment," says Ranaweera, founder and CEO of Grid2Grid, a Washington-based investment-consulting firm, which was approached by the CADF for assistance in locating viable projects in Africa.
That was four years ago. Now, China's footprint in Africa is big and getting bigger. Chinese investment surged to $2.9 billion last year from $75 million in 2003, with an average annual growth rate of 50 percent, according to China's National Development and Reform Commission.
China's investments and influence are seen everywhere in Africa, drawing criticism from some Western pundits who often connect Chinese investments to "colonialism". But many believe China brings hope to Africa.
Zambian-born economist Dambisa Moyo is one of them. Moyo has been outspoken about international aid to Africa. She argued in her New York Times best-selling book Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa (2009) how foreign aid could hinder Africa's growth. But she recently said investment from the world's second largest economy is transforming Africa.
"I'm not saying that China should be given a red carpet, carte blanche, to come into Africa or, indeed, anywhere in the world, and do what they like," the economist recently said in a CNN interview.
"We do need the investment, we need job creation and we do need actual trade in these places, but I think what's really essential is to focus on what China can do for Africa, as well as what Africa can do for China. And I think that discussion has not been as objective as it should be."
In street markets in cities such as Cairo, Luanda, and Johannesburg, all kinds of Chinese goods — clothing, jewelry, and electronics - are popular among Africans because of their affordable prices.
"As per capita incomes grew, Chinese consumer goods like microwaves, refrigerators and washing machines - among a host of other goods - entered the African market," says Ranaweera. "These goods, which were far cheaper than American or European products, became affordable to many in Africa's growing middle-classes."
Best partner now
Mthuli Ncube, chief economist and vice-president of the African Development Bank, said China is probably the best partner Africa can have now. "But Africa needs to step up and develop a strategy for engaging China, so both regions can move higher," he added.
China in Africa: Developing a continent
Robert Rotberg, a visiting Fulbright scholar at Canada-based Centre for International Governance Innovation, says while China's investment in Africa has a positive impact, African countries need to "diversify to best use Chinese cash inflows".
"It [Africa] needs to develop manufacturing and others; China can offer to transfer knowledge," said Rotberg.
Ncube says that while China is increasing its investment in Africa, the continent should develop a strategy for China and use China as its example in many areas.
The chief economist says Africa's manufacturing sector should begin to make different parts for various final goods which are produced in China. Ncube recommends that Africa should see China as a "ladder" which it can climb to reposition its role in the global economy. "Africa should become the factory to the world just like China became one in the last 15-20 years," says Ncube.
Ranaweera says China's current investments in Africa mirror exactly the same pattern of American and European investments on the continent, with the bulk of Chinese investment in minerals and natural resources (oil and gas, mining, forestry).
And the criticism of China comes from competitive concerns of Americans and Europeans, he says. "Americans and Europeans criticize China, but the pattern of trade is exactly the same; Africa provides primary commodities to America, Europe and China," he said.
China overtook the US in 2009 to become Africa's largest trading partner. Trade between China and Africa was $10.5 billion in 2000, $40 billion in 2005 and $166 billion in 2011.
"China has had the experience in the last 35 years of going from a low industrial base to an advanced industrial country. This experience can prove invaluable to African countries," says Ranaweera. "These experiences can lead greatly to increasing the skills, knowledge and experience base of African countries."
In late March, China's new president Xi Jinping kicked off his first foreign trip since taking office less than two weeks before.
The trip included a six-day Africa tour in Tanzania, the Republic of Congo and South Africa where he attended the 5th BRICS Leaders Summit in Durban. His trip to Africa showed how much importance China attaches to extending ties with the continent in the coming years.
Xi was the first Chinese head of state to visit the Republic of the Congo since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1964. Two-way trade between China and the Republic of the Congo jumped to $5 billion in 2012 from $290 million in 2002.
In a speech in Dar es Salaam, the seaside economic hub of Tanzania, Xi set the tone for the future of Sino-African relations, reassuring that China's own growth and rising international stature will not change the bilateral relations, and "the importance of Sino-African relations will not decline, but will instead rise."
China faces up to the new circumstances and new problems in Sino-African relations, the Chinese leader told the audience. "China has and will continue to work alongside African countries to take practical measures to appropriately solve problems in trade and economic cooperation so that African countries gain more from that cooperation."
Xi reassured continuing investment from China by announcing a plan to provide training for 30,000 Africans over the next three years, including 18,000 scholarships.
Xi also said China will strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation with African countries in agricultural, manufacturing and other areas, helping these countries convert their resource advantages into developmental advantages.
Xi's pledge for "never-ending support for Africa" at the BRICS summit is not surprising, given the history of Sino-African relations, says Jon Taylor, a political science professor at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas.
"To be frank, China differs from the US and Europe by providing more infrastructure construction and investment in exchange for development, with an eye on trade relations. With such strong economic ties, it should come as little surprise that China's development model is viewed by African leaders as viable as the Western development model," says Taylor, an avid China watcher.
Key economic player
Douglas Zeng, a senior economist who focuses on the global market and the Chinese and African economies with the World Bank, says while China is rapidly emerging as a key economic player in Africa, its overseas activities are closely scrutinized by international media, research institutions, and donor agencies, "Yet much of the conventional wisdom about Chinese development finance rests on untested assumptions, individual case studies, and incomplete data sources".
In 2006, China announced that it would help establish as many as 50 special economic zones in Africa. So far, China has developed eight of those, including six in Sub-Sahara Africa.
"These zones can help jump-start the manufacturing sectors in Africa," says Zeng.
"Some of these zones have made good progress in terms of building infrastructures and attracting investments," Zeng notes, adding that they also face some challenges, including improving the management capability of the zone developers and difficulties in coordination with host government counterparts.
There were more than 1,600 Chinese development finance projects worth $75 billion in 50 African countries from 2000 to 2011, according to data from the Center for Global Development, a Washington-based non-profit think tank that focuses on international development, and AidData, which collects information on individual foreign aid projects financed by governments and aid agencies. Health, education and transport and storage projects received the largest Chinese funding.
"The sectoral distribution of Chinese aid to Africa stands in contrast to the pattern of traditional donors, which have channeled the lion's share of their funding — nearly 50 percent — into social and humanitarian sectors. In this sense, Chinese aid is complementary to assistance from Western donors," says Zeng.
Most recently, China's HNA Group, the largest privately owned air transport company and the fourth-largest airline in terms of fleet size in China, signed a partnership with the United Nations World Food Program to help provide take-home rations to promote girls' education under its school meals program in Ghana.
Last year, HNA Group extended its Brightness Action - a 10-year charitable program
the company launched with Beijing Tongren Hospital in 2004 to tackle avoidable blindness — to the African continent. The program helped restore the vision of more than 1,400 people in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique.
HNA Group also has business projects in Africa. Last year, it signed a cooperation agreement with the Ghanaian Africa World Airlines to launch a joint venture co-financed with the China Africa Development Fund among others. It was the first-ever aviation investment made by a Chinese company in Africa.
HNA's involvement in Africa reflects a new trend of Chinese investment of carrying out corporate social responsibility on the continent, and it could foreshadow where Chinese investment is heading.
"China's investments in Africa have come primarily from state-owned companies. In the future one key area to look out for is private Chinese companies and individuals making investments in Africa," says Ranaweera.
"The next great wave will come when medium to large private enterprises from China deploy capital in partnership with Africans to make money," he says. "An example of this might be in the future a large Chinese property developer links up with an African partner to develop commercial and residential real estate in a fast-growing African City."
Here We Are Today, We Africans In South Africa,Celebrating The Chinese New Year... I guess We are really being helped and we are now Celebrating Chinese Culture in south Africa... Very Interesting Indeed...
This is what is called Chinese Soft-Power. Anyway, a quick glimpse would reveal that Whatever the Chinese government and business and our local African elite are conjuring-up, it might be a good diplomatic and business deal in the short-run… In the long run, the close association — diplomatically, in business and in the people's minds - of China with The African Elite(Mzantsi tightly included), has become an obstacle, The Builders from China are pressed to give some more thought on how to make it image positive(but still that of a bankroller/sponsor), but is short-circuted because it has not made inroads on the Mozambican masses, media, also on Chinese Culture and language.
Since China has some of the extreme laws about corruption, it is going to be hard for them to be a positive force when they act like, or play down the illicit resource extraction and corruption in Mozambique, and the Authoritarian governance in China.
But if one were to do a casual read of what China is doing In Africa, one would find them having invested in agriculture in Zambia, but if one reads for the position announcements, the slight requirement that one speak Chinese, is another issue that is going to cause many problems with the Masses in Africa.
I thought I should throw in this piece to be pondered upon
To understand the drivers of burgeoning South-South economic interactions, however, it is imperative to go beyond the aggregate headline numbers in order to grasp the underlying dynamics at play and to better identify the strategic developmental opportunities in South-South relations and cooperation (SSC).
First, optimism surrounding “South-South” ties is not new. Writing at a time of heightened interest in South–South cooperation, Arthur Lewis, in his 1979 Nobel lecture, presaged much of the recent discussion around global economic decoupling and catch-up growth. In his lecture, Lewis argued the South could continue to grow at 6 per cent per annum if the North slowed down sharply.
The critical link for Lewis was trade; sustained rapid growth would require strong export growth, but if demand was shrinking in Northern markets, where would the demand come from? Lewis suggested that South–South trade could fill the gap, in the aggregate, but also for potential sectoral bottlenecks in agriculture and capital goods. In particular, Lewis argued that expanded production in developing countries in five key sectors — food, fertilizer, cement, steel and machinery — could lessen dependence on advanced industrialized countries for key industrial inputs and buttress “self-sustaining growth” in a critical number of developing countries (Lewis, 1979).
Second, neither the “South”south nor the “BRICS” (Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa) are homogenous entities. Differences in country growth strategies and domestic economic conditions among leading countries of the South determine to a large degree their pattern and extent of economic relations with other developing countries (not to mention advanced industrialized countries as well).
To be sure, the implication of individual BRICS growth models goes well beyond the neat labelling of China, Brazil and India as the respective factory, farm, and back office of the world economy (Milberg et al., 2014). For now at least, convergence among leading emerging markets is led by China, which accounts for 67 per cent of total BRICS trade with the world, and whose economy accounts for 56 per cent of total BRICS gross domestic product (GDP) (in current US$) in 2012 (Freemantle and Stevens, 2013a).
Even among the BRICS, China acts as the bilateral trading partner in 85 per cent of intra-BRICS trade flows (Freemantle and Stevens, 2013a). At the regional level, for example, China is by far the leader among BRICS countries in exports of goods to Africa, accounting for a growing share of total BRICS exports to Africa, from 37.4 per cent in 2001 to 56.6 per cent in 2012. China’s exports to Africa surpassed the combined exports to Africa from the other BRICS countries as of 2007 (figure 1).
This state of affairs, it will be argued, is closely linked to China’s ability to wield unorthodox policy tools — for example, capital controls, stable and competitive exchange rates, low interest rates, State banks and enterprises — that have been decisive in tilting the economy towards sustaining high rates of domestic investment over the course of three decades and export growth since the 1990s.
This policy framework has allowed China to mobilize, channel and accumulate capital resources over time to the point where it can now deploy this capital not only in accessing natural resources and foreign technologies and brands, but also as a competitive advantage in diversifying its trade and investment patterns, creating beachheads to previously lightly-or under-served markets as part of its overall “going out” strategy that began in the early 2000s (Freemantle and Stevens, 2012; Wolf Jr. et al., 2011; Salidjanova, 2011).
A key question in assessing China’s overall economic trajectory, with likely ramifications for SSC, is the extent it is deepening its industrial capabilities and diversifying into productive sectors and activities up the industrial value chain, and at what pace.
At this point in time a definitive answer is not possible, but China finds itself at a crucial crossroads where it is at once the preferred low-cost assembly platform of many global value chains (GVCs) — the low value-added “workshop” of the world — as well as a stronghold for heterodox economic policymaking, mixing degrees of openness with protection, including through the use of industrial policy and State ownership that on some accounts threatens to “buy the world”.
With industrial policy in the leading economies of the South likely to gain more prominence in a post-crisis setting (Salazar-Xirinachs et al., 2014; Gereffi, 2013), whether China is able to work through this stage of its development process will likely resonate with other developing countries actively seeking their own viable path to growth and (shared) prosperity.
In many ways, the variety of analytical and empirical interpretations of China’s development experience (and its consequences for other developing countries) represents a replay of the heated debate in the 1990s over the lessons from earlier successful East Asian economies, such as Japan, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan Province of China.
During that time, the World Bank (1993) published its landmark report of these experiences, the East Asian Miracle: Economic Growth and Public Policy, which controversially recognized the significant role of government in guiding growth and fostering strategic sectors, but ultimately denied the effectiveness of such measures — much to the chagrin of many heterodox economists and policymakers (Poon, 2009: 6–7).
Analysis of China’s experience was largely left out of the World Bank report, leaving the field open to the growing number of studies on “policy lessons from China” that have been published in recent years (OECD-IPRCC, 2011a, 2011b). As in the 1990s with East Asia, there appears a tendency to assess China’s experience mainly in terms acceptable to conventional neoclassical economic prescriptions and Western donor government preferences, rather than using China’s experience as an objective “complement to imperfectly developed theory” (El-Erian and Spence, 2008: 27) to improve decision-makers’ sensitivity to relevant variables that drive growth and other specific policy outcomes.
And it remains just as pertinent that this time around, “Real headway in understanding China’s variety of capitalism will come by analyzing the system on its own terms, rather than principally by reference to something it is not” (Lin and Milhaupt, 2013: 4).
The Cited Research above was done by Daniel Poon(China's Development Trajectory: A Strategic Opening For Industrial Growth In The Souths"(Discussion Papers)… [Is it Really In The Interest Of Africa?]
Where does this leave us as co-members in BRICS and here we are in it with a hope and trust that we too will be like China and chart our own course? This brings me to the question I have asked above, Does African "Really" Need Another Investor? Who then, if looking at the History of Africa, has not used Africa as the breadbasket of and for their own Civilization, and not of Africa? Who? I ask this because, I still have to see and believe that all foreign investments into Africa, did Africa no good after the investments are made.
85% of BRICS's investments come from China. Have we not seen that picture before? Massive capital infusion into projects that serve the interests of the investors, and some which might trickle down to the armies of the poor where they have invested, whilst, in the top echelon of management and so forth, you need to be able to Speak Chinese? A change of languages, but same method of "Extraction," and forge some development whilst emptying Africa of all vegetation and natural resources, Wild game and then some.
Anybody who writes about their history and sees success they are experiencing as a nation as power, and they are going to assume some modicum of Self assuredness and importance about themselves-that has been proven to be amongst our new investors in Africa and Mzantsi. There have been many-a-videos shown on YouTube, of Chinese workers in various countries throughout Africa, looking down upon their hosts, and saying some of the meanest racist things about their hosts. Yes, these are there and can be seen in many places if one searches the Web very well-there is always tow sides to a story.
We also know that China is suffering from "Over-building" and they have Ghost Cities, uninhabited, because this brand of so-called Chinese-Capitalism, is the one that existed before Mao trampled-it-out with his Cultural Revolution. Studying that Capitalism, I would not be so sure that the present one that we are witnessing, is any better or different, kinder or more sensitive to the needs of African people. Thus far, It's business as usual, and we are being robbed blind, and our African elite is happy with the crumbs…
Now, As an African people, we are even neglecting our own culture,history, customs and the whole bit, and celebrating Another Foreign culture, celebrating the New Year of China… Whereas, here in Mzantsi, we still have to celebrate your year which Starts in August, but no one has even been able to talk about that or figure that our…
Analyzing China on its own terms, won't do for African people, until this whole thing becomes an analysis of the African Mode of Development. Drop has written a very powerful book.
Have many of us ever taken this whole copy and went through it with a fine [reading] comb… Well, I think before we start getting carried away with "Another Investor", checking out the Book of Diop below would maybe help us with very important Ideas that we can originate and develop from our own cultures and natural wealth
The Struggle Is Still Going On....
New Masters - Dejave-China
Replacing The Present Oppresor With An Old, But New Oppressor: The Chinese
African governments are in a Gridlock too. We are now exchanging one Capitalist, to a neb-communist capitalist one inspired by the United States and Europe: China. That is why I am wondering aloud if whether is African ready for the next Capitalist phase. Well, speaking for myself and what I have seen so far, this Chinese Largesse does not come at a zero-sum-gain price. It might not be owing Trillions of Billions of Rands to the Chinese, but it is what they 'barter' for their investment and help.
For instance, in my Township, which had so many citrus trees of all sorts, these have been hauled from our Ghetto to China, and our Township looks barren and treeless. Many of us think that if we shed-off ourselves of the Western Master, maybe we might become China's equal partner. Short cuts, that's been our modus operandi in doing so many things here in Mzantsi. If, as the research above reveals that China is responsible for the budget of BRICS, and we are okay with that, what is the difference between the Chinese Capitalist, and the Western Capitalist. The Chinese Development is American and European inspired. It is still being caricatured in the likeness of its model of development: meaning, Chinese Capitalism.
But the Chinese people are not new in this game of Capitalism. I have made mentioned elsewhere that Mao Cultural Revolution, was an attempt to squelch this brand of capitalism, that many of us need to read much more intensely so's to wrap our brains around this new "Investor" in our Country(-ies). Much is speculation, as has been shown in this cited article above by Zhang and, that they think and imagine that Chinese Capitalist investment is for the good of the African people. Well, I have seen differently, and there is no Good Capitalism, period! Especially when it involves African people who are mere onlooker whilst their lands are being pilfered and depleted of the natural resources, in the name of Making Africans better-Yes, broke Africans will end up being good Africans.
Here are some comments regarding the issue of China in Africa from the Web:
"Africa needs more infrastructure, no one denies that. I just have one question. Why is it that it is only foreigners who can build this infrastructure? Why can't we Africans rise to the challenge of learning how to construct the infrastructure we need? Is constructing infrastructure too hard for us Africans?"
"I agree with you. Africans have the capacity to build infrastructure. The problem is that the Chinese are sending many of their people out of China to get jobs because there are too many people in China. All over the continent you have well qualified African engineers who can design new infrastructure and people to actual do the construction. In addition, most African countries have the monetary resources to pay for the needed equipment and supplies.
"The real issue rest with African leaders who are not serious about African development and would rather allow foreigners, like the Chinese, to do the work. This has been the problem with Africa since independence. Noted brilliant African scholar, now deceased, Claude Ake in his book on Democracy in Africa says,"..the assumption so readily made that there has been a failure of development is misleading. The problem is not so much that development has failed as that it was never really on the agenda in the first place. By all indications, political conditions in Africa are the greatest impediment to development…"
We learn the following from Austin Strange:
China is of particular interest to researchers and policymakers because of the perceived scale and opaqueness of its activities in developing countries. Western policymakers have accused China of expanding its presence in Africa for largely self-interested reasons: securing access to natural resources, subsidizing Chinese firms and exports, cementing and expanding political alliances, and pursuing global economic hegemony.2 China counters that its investment in Africa “[...] is based on respecting the will of Africa, listening to the voice of Africa and caring about the concerns of Africa, thus earning the trust of most African countries.”
With increasing development activities all over the African continent, China’s development finance has come under intense scrutiny over the last decade. To analyze recipient perceptions, Milner et al. (2013) have conducted a field experiment that included 3,600 participants suggesting that in Uganda public opinion about Chinese “aid” projects is worse than opinions about US or World Bank aid projects. African policymakers are divided on the issue of whether, to what degree, and how Chinese development finance impacts social, economic, environmental, and government outcomes.
While some leaders perceive Chinese financing as better suited to Africa’s needs, others feel threatened by China’s growing presence in their countries. Adjudicating between these competing claims has proven difficult because Beijing discloses very little official information about its development finance activities. In the absence of reliable and comprehensive data about Chinese development finance, much of the conventional wisdom about Chinese development finance rests on untested assumptions, individual case studies, and incomplete data sources.
As a result of this lack of data, scholars cannot account for China’s development activities in quantitative studies of the allocation, effectiveness and (unwelcome) side-effects of aid. Since China is said to have emerged as the most important non-Western source of development finance, this omission may considerably bias research results. To understand the allocation pattern and consequences of development aid and similar activities, scholarship needs to get the whole picture to give reliable answers to research questions involving aid and conflict, geopolitical competition, and connections between aid shocks and violence.
SuggestingTo address these critical information gaps, we (a) systematize a web-based, open source methodology for collecting project-level development finance information; and (b) create a comprehensive database of Chinese development finance flows to Africa from 2000-2011. We then use this database to replicate the findings by Nielsen et al. (2011), who show that aid shocks significantly increase the likelihood of conflict onset. Building upon these findings, our new empirical results suggest that sudden withdrawals of “traditional” aid are only more likely to induce conflict in the absence of sufficient alternative funding from China.
We find that China’s financial commitments exceed US$ 73 billion over the 2000-2011 period.
The Chinese government does not release detailed, project-level financial information about its overseas aid activities. The establishment of a comprehensive aid reporting infrastructure is challenging as flows come from various ministries. Chinese officials have argued that publishing country-level data will draw attention to which countries are the largest recipients and result in pressure from other governments for more aid (Lancaster 2007).
Moreover, publishing total volumes of Chinese aid may also provoke domestic criticism about spending abroad when there are so many Chinese still living in poverty (Lancaster 2007). Beijing’s resistance to aid transparency may also reflect a broader disinterest in complying with Western (OECD-DAC) standards (Grimm et al. 2011). As a result of this lack of transparency, China’s aid to Africa is the subject of much speculation, confusion, and misinformation.
China states that its foreign aid “[f]alls into the category of South-South cooperation” (State Council 2011); however, it does not provide precise definitions in the 2011 White Paper or other official publications. The White Paper provides five “basic features” of Chinese foreign aid, but these are more about principles for how to give aid. The White Paper does not explicitly address how China classifies different development finance flow types and classes (State Council 2011).
It also states that Chinese financial aid flows include grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans, and also lists eight-forms of aid: “complete projects, goods and materials, technical cooperation, human resource development cooperation, medical teams sent abroad, emergency humanitarian aid, volunteer programs in foreign countries, and debt relief” (State Council 2011).
What is more, there is no consensus as to how to classify many Chinese financial instruments that lack OECD-DAC counterparts such as natural resource-backed loans. So-called Chinese “package financing” means that development finance often consists of agreements that mix aid and investment, and/or concessional and non-concessional financing (Grimm et al. 2011).
Chinese state-owned enterprises also blur the line between official government finance and private flows; FDI or joint ventures can come from firms that are either private or state-owned. Finally, there may be substantial discrepancies between Western and Chinese considerations of the cost of aid for the donor country. Western aid budgets include administrative costs which might inflate statistics on aid.
Instead of combining aid and investment projects into one omnibus category, we have attempted to create more precise classifications and definitions that capture the diversity of Chinese development finance modalities. We classify all projects according to one of eleven flow class categories: ODA-like, OOF-like, Official Investment, Military Aid without development intent, Joint Ventures with Chinese State involvement, Joint Ventures without Chinese State involvement, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) with Chinese State involvement, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) without Chinese State involvement.
Methodological approach is informed by previous attempts to use media reports to track Chinese official development financing and expands on these previous methods by supplementing media reports with additional information sources. Bartke (1989) was the first scholar to track Chinese aid – from the first donations in the 1950s until 1987. In 2008, New York University’s Wagner School and the U.S. Congressional Research Service produced a report on Chinese assistance to Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America over the 2002-2007 period (Lum et al. 2009).
However, the dataset used to generate this report is not publicly available and the authors did not provide details about their methodology. In 2008, researchers from the World Bank’s Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) also published a media-based methodology to identify Chinese infrastructure and natural resource extraction projects in Sub-Saharan Africa (Foster et al. 2008).
MethodologicalThe PPIAF team provided far more methodological detail than the NYU Wagner School team, but did not document its data collection procedures in a way that could be easily replicated by other researchers.14 Also, subsequent efforts to collect data about China’s development and investment activities from media sources (Gallagher et al. 2012; Scissors 2012; US EX-IM Bank 2012; Wolf et al. 2013) did not document their data collection procedures in a systematic, transparent, or replicable way. In spite of the scientific benefits of transparency and replicability, researchers who generate novel Chinese aid and investment data have a strong disincentive to disclose their sources or methods in order to preserve reputational benefits and/or the commercial value of their data.
Previous efforts to classify or collect Chinese development finance data have encountered six primary challenges, although many Chinese projects are cancelled, mothballed, or scaled back afterwards. I will not go further into this subject, but was merely pointing out my earlier assertion, which was originally coughed by Professor Clarke: "No foreigner that ever came to Africa did her any good; Africa has always been the Breadbasket of the Western Development and their so-called Western Civilization. The Chinese are not better-of in this regard.
The Chinese Puppet And Lackey: Their Clown, Zuma
The Chinafication Of South Africa
Just to add up something, I have read somewhere else that the Education system in south Africa is going to introduce Mandarin as a compulsory language. ow, this is more than one can bear, becasue, for one, many of our children today cannot evenspeak our Afrian languages in south Africa. I have heard some talk, in south Africa that we should teach our Africa Children Swahili, and I have objected vehemently about that. Now, they are talking of introduicn Madarin to African speaking children who cannot even speak their own lAfrican languages of Mzantsi.. Really?
This Is What China Wants...
While China's dramatic economic and trade impact on Africa has caught global attention, there has been relatively little focus on its role in education.
But there are important questions raised by China's education push into Africa. Why does China run one of the world's largest short-term training programs, with plans to take 30,000 Africans to China between 2013 and 2015? Why does it give generous support to 38 Confucius Institutes teaching Mandarin and Chinese culture at many of Africa's top universities, from the Cape to Cairo?
And why is China one of the very few countries to increase the number of full scholarships for Africans to study in its universities, with a total of 18,000 anticipated between 2013 and 2015?
At its simplest, China's efforts can be seen as just an example of "win-win" cooperation, or as an illustration of "common development." In other words, it is claimed to be just one side of a process of mutual benefit: China is gaining something from Africa, and Africa from China.
According to the Chinese embassy in Pretoria, China currently sends 100,000 tourists to South Africa, and 1,000 students annually. These are not aid projects, but private initiatives. There are similar examples of win-win cooperation with many other countries in Africa.
Cooperation in the development of human resources is part of China's soft power engagement with Africa (as opposed to its considerable "hard power" of infrastructure development, trade, or material resources — still a large focus of China's engagement with the continent).
It is this soft power that Lu Shaye, director general of African Affairs at China's ministry of foreign affairs, commended in 2013 as an "indispensable" element in China's diplomacy with Africa. Essentially, for him soft power means "strengthening the cultural exchanges between China and Africa."
It is for this reason that education and training cooperation has been one of the "red threads" of China's engagement with Africa since 1956 when China established diplomatic relations with Egypt.
Power in numbers
This whole discussion about the exact purpose of China's provision of training awards and of scholarships has been overtaken by the growth of trainee and student numbers. In 2011, there were almost 300,000 foreign students in China — the great majority of who were actually self-supported.
Exactly the same is true of African students in China: While scholarship numbers in 2011 were just over 6,000, the self-supported students were more than double, at over 14,000. In other words, China is evidently an attractive destination for international study for Africans, quite apart from its scholarship provision.
The same point could be made about China's formal promotion of Mandarin and Chinese culture and history via its Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms. This is possibly the largest language promotion project the world has ever seen, taking place in just nine years since the first Confucius Institute was opened in Seoul in November 2004. Yet it too is dwarfed by the sheer numbers of students worldwide who are deciding to learn Chinese, outside the framework of the Confucius institutions.
A final point about China-Africa training is that it is even harder to calculate the large number of Africans who are acquiring skills in Chinese firms, large and small, from Senegal to Ethiopia, and from Egypt to Zimbabwe.
This is very different from training in enterprises associated with other countries such as the U.S. or France in Africa. This is because of the presence of perhaps as many as a million Chinese "settlers", traders and entrepreneurs who have turned up in almost all the countries of the African continent over the last decade.
Of course their main purpose is trade, rather than training Africans — similar to the purpose of the Europeans and Indians who came to Africa in earlier decades. But there are still more and more opportunities for Africans to learn on the job in Chinese firms and to use Mandarin.
And then there's this report by Nkepile Mabuse:
Mandarin Chinese isn't a language you would expect to hear on the streets of South African cities.
But as trade with China grows -- worth a record $20 billion in 2010 -- more and more children are being encouraged to learn the language.
Students attending a special school in Pretoria start at the very beginning, counting to 10, and as they get older they graduate to Chinese etiquette and simple conversation.
By the time they get to high school, these South African kids can read and write simple sentences in Mandarin.
The Pretoria Chinese School was established in 1934 to cater for what was then a small Chinese community. Today, it has morphed into a multi-racial embodiment of Nelson Mandela's rainbow nation.
School director Seew Hau says China's economic growth and its huge investments in Africa have had a direct impact on the school.
"We know of big companies offering bursaries to children if they had a Mandarin background," Hau said.
Parent Philisiwe Ngoetjana is confident her decision to bring her son and daughter to the school will one day pay off.
"They could go to the Far East, they could study there. China is investing all over the world and in Africa particularly, so they can have great careers with that skill," Ngoetjana said.
While many of the kids complain that writing and pronouncing Chinese words is difficult, they enjoy learning about the culture.
"For Chinese New Year for example, a lot of different things symbolize different things," student Nicolene Steenkamp said. "Noodles symbolize something -- the longer the noodle the longer your life."
Last year, trade between China and Africa as a whole exceeded $100 billion -- mainly to feed China's appetite for African commodities.
And while learning Mandarin is still something of an exotic rarity in South Africa, it could be the smartest investment these kids make.
This is then what is taking place in South Africa, according to China.org:
Simple Chinese words can be heard when walking the main streets of Cape Town, arriving at passport control at Johannesburg airport, and while negotiating commodity prices in Durban.
An increasing number of South Africans are willing to learn Chinese language, culture and philosophy, and Confucius Institutes, a global Chinese-language learning network managed by the central government, is committed to teaching foreigners the language and immersing them in oriental culture.
Confucius Institutes, named after the renowned educator and thinker in ancient China, cooperate closely with foreign universities and schools to promote Chinese-language learning and cultural exchanges.
Professor Wu Qianlong, Confucius Institute director at the University of Cape Town, says the institute isn't new in South Africa or elsewhere in Africa, as many people, especially university students, have already begun learning Chinese through this platform.
Before arriving in Cape Town in 2010, Wu was a professor of English literature at the English education faculty of Guangdong-based Sun Yat-sen University.
The Confucius Institute he leads has three Chinese lecturers and one local administrative officer. His wife and son are living in China and have visited him each year since 2011.
Under the management of the foreign language department of the University of Cape Town, the Confucius Institute was set up there in 2010.
It holds two Chinese-language classes as a selective course for first- and second-year undergraduates. Eighty-five students are learning Chinese in these two grades and more than 220 have signed up for the course since 2011.
"We have seven classes each week and exam results will be logged as credits to students' academic records," Wu said.
After giving several lectures in 2010, Wu found South African students speak different native languages because they have different linguistic backgrounds. This presented a strong challenge.
South Africa has 11 official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu, with languages such as Dutch, Korean and Hindi also spoken in major cities.
Despite the fact that English is recognized as the language of politics, business and science, it ranked fourth and was spoken by only 9.6 percent of South Africans at home in 2011, according to the census released by Statistics South Africa in 2012.
"In the beginning, teaching Chinese in this multilingual environment was really tough,'' Wu said.
"People who are proficient in English have a better understanding of the course content as it is taught in English."
Wu later realized the course instructor should have the ability to communicate with students in more local languages such as Zulu and Sotho - two languages spoken by 40 percent of the country's population - to make them learn Chinese in a flexible way.
"Another challenge is that Chinese characters are symbols and students have difficulties comprehending and remembering them, because they have been reading and writing words in letters for years," he says.
Wu, aiming to let more people discover the richness of Chinese and its culture, has been studying Zulu for more than six months to improve his interpretation skills between Chinese, English and Zulu.
"For us, having a certain knowledge of widely-spoken languages will not only help us teach students in an efficient way, but can also create a new teaching path under such a multicultural background," Wu said.
Wu also teaches short-term classes to adults who want to travel or do business in China. The six-week course is designed to enable students to acquire basic written and oral competence in Chinese to greet people, introduce themselves, understand short descriptive sentences, and read and write short simple texts.
Wu has started to recruit more qualified lecturers and university volunteers from China to teach Chinese in three nearby middle schools.
Foreign And Local Gridlock in South Africa
Gridlock Whichever Way One Looks At it
For me, this is simply a gridlock of a 'type'. I say so because Mandarin is now being taught in South Africa to African Students, at the expense of Zulu and other 9 african South African languages. Right now, we have a serious problem of the African children who are taught in White private schools and cannot speak one African language or Township slang. Now, we have a serious problem of an educational system called "Outcome Based" Education, and African children filling up what is called Model C Schools.
Meanwhile, African children do not know nor care about African languages and culture, and customs, etc. On the other hand, our leaders in government are contracting with Chinese people/volunteers to come to South Africa to Teach Mandarin, and give scholarship to African South African Africans. The article above estimates about 30,000 getting Chinese Education, whereas, here in South Africa we have fewer,in any Teachers Colleges. We have relegated the teaching of our African languages to our children to the 'dustbin of history,' and we have leaders who have no compunction to bringing about a very foreign and hard language with its writing and begin to teach African Children who do not even know their African languages?
Our children are not cognizant nor aware, neither knowledgeable about our History, Culture, Customs, Traditions, Sacred practices and execution of our rites, have a serious loss of cultural and historical memory, yet, they are moving on to introduce Chines Language, Mandarin, and culture, history, traditions, and so forth of the Chinese. Our own indigenous history, culture and so on is ignored and deemed not to exist. The very people in our African collective who trumpet such falsities, don not even bother to know or seriously study and know our own history, culture and so father here in Mzantsi.
Because power is using an approach it calls "Soft Power," which it sponsors and subsidized for trillions of Dollars, it still