Friday, February 20, 2015

New Mexico's Education Secretary, Hanna Skandera, has been confirmed by a 22-19 vote in the state senate.

The former deputy Education Commissioner for Florida under Governor Jeb Bush, Hanna Skandera was appointed by Governor Susanna Martinez in 2010, although the state senate is only now confirming her.  NM Senator Pete Campos (D-District 8) defended Skandera saying that her experience as the state's "Designate Education Secretary"qualifies her for the official position.  This is despite Skandera's unpopularity with New Mexico teachers and teachers' unions and reports of a lower education record for state since her appointment to the position.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the aftermath of the Civil Right's movement, and the new Jim Crow.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. may be one of the most influential figures in American history, not just for his involvement in what is now known as the Civil Right's movement, but also the aftermath of that movement.  Born decades after the end of America's civil war into a nation still bitterly divided by racial tensions, Dr. King recognized the injustices around him and had the courage and honorable conviction within himself to say, "this is wrong and things need to change."  What's even more amazing is the fact that Dr. King devoted his cause to peaceful methods of civil disobedience, constantly affirming the idea that "darkness cannot shine out darkness, only light can do that."  Unfortunately, advocates for social change usually make many enemies and on April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated.  The act of violence stirred up anger in a lot of Americans, especially Americans of more colorful ethnicity.  Dr. King's death may have stirred people who shared his vision to act in his name, but it also drove many people to violence for the sake of retribution.  While I can sympathize with the anger that so many Americans felt on that tragic April morning in Memphis, Tennessee, I think committing violent acts to further the cause of a man who devoted his life to peace by non-violent means is ultimately insulting that cause.

It is now the year 2015, four decades after Dr. King's death, and America is still bitterly divided by racial tensions.  And, yet, it's not discussed as much anymore.  In the aftermath of the Civil Right's movement, silence fell upon Americans, as if to say, "we're done with this."  However; it has been a false peace - for, in place of the fervor of the Civil Right's movement, a new political agenda arose as a backlash to that movement.  The violence that occurred in response to Dr. Kings death provided an opportunity for the presidential election of 1968 to initiate a strategy would become commonplace in every election following; the strategy of "tough on crime" politics.

One of the architects of this new political agenda was a political adviser to the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon and George H W Bush: Roger Ailes.  Ailes crafted a brilliant strategy to create an image of crime in America, appealing to President Nixon's "silent majority."  In America, change doesn't have to come with a full consensus; it just needs a 50 + 1 consensus.  That leaves plenty of room for opposition and, in the case of 1968, that opposition was people who resented or at least were naively critical of the idea of civil rights.  That opposition, President Nixon's "silent majority," is what Ailes took advantage of, creating a political machine that would bend media coverage to the advantage of the "silent majority" - President Nixon's "war on drugs" would provide the fuel for that machine and it would disproportionately affect communities of color in America; even today, four decades after Dr. King's death.  The idea behind Ailes' agenda was simple: make crime a top priority for American politics while using media to target low-income communities that are also communities of color.  As the "war on drugs" and "tough on crime" politics came to dominate the political atmosphere in America, becoming a main focal point in the campaigns of Democrats and Republicans alike, an atmosphere of criminality would form around poverty-stricken areas.  Ailes would go on to co-found the Fox News network and today the strategy of "tough on crime" politics has largely worked, aiming a media coverage campaign at poverty-stricken areas with the intent to display Americans of color as criminals.  It is only in recent years that Americans have started to fight back against this racist stigma calling it the "new Jim Crow."

This blog post was inspired by this:

Sunday, November 16, 2014

America's rising surveillance apparatus and the future of telecommunications as a global force for peace.

     An American journalist by the name of Shane Harris has written a book entitled “@War: the Rising Military-Internet Complex” and it's about the in intracracies of the United States government's surveillance apparatus and the collusion of our law enforcement and spy agencies with American telecommunications companies.  Salon has posted an excerpt of the book that talks about the National Security Agency's relationship with Google, AT&T, CenturyLink, and other telecomm companies under the justification of cyber protection and warfare.

     Twenty-first century computers and an establishment of an interconnected online world of communication, commerce, gaming, and espionage and be the defining characteristics of the turn of the twenty-first century and they will most likely have lasting consequences that Generation Y will be forced to deal with in the coming decades.  The generation that has come to be called the millennial generation views itself as so-called “digital natives,” meaning that we have grown up with technology in such an instrumental way that we've grown more comfortable with it than any generation prior.  However; this can have potentially dangerous side-effects in regards to how we use the technology that we've come to be reliant on.  Many current heads of state and corporate giants (in the US and abroad) are still operating under Cold War mentalities of intelligence-gathering, surveillance, and proxy warfare; but this mentality looks to keep the world locked in a state of bitter distrust with each country looking to gain something on others.  The American War on Terror was designed to prevent the rise of another world power with the capability of challenging the US and is driving US foreign policy with the intent to maintain American dominance throughout the world.  As a result, we are seeing the internet and World Wide Web becoming tools of government/corporate espionage and modern warfare rather than tools of peaceful aims like international communication/diplomacy and humanitarian work.

     In the coming decades, as more torches are passed from the baby boomers to the younger generations, it will be up to us (millennials) to decide what direction to take the world, which will involve questions about how to regulate the emerging virtual apparatus that we are calling the Web.  Will continue the culture of fear that was bred by our forefathers during the Cold War, or will we make an effort to move away from that and attempt to unify humanity through technology?

     Sacrificing freedom for security leaves with neither freedom nor security, so governments need protect their people from outside threats while maintaining civil liberties of each of its citizens.  If maintaining civil liberties means being slightly less protected otherwise, I choose to maintain liberty.  The Web is becoming a larger part of people’s lives every day and privacy allows for the purest forms of self-expression; privacy is crucial to liberty.  Millennials have the power to advance human societies to their next level of consciousness, a more peaceful interaction.  We need to use our voices now and demand universal civil rights protections, not just for Americans, but for every human being.

     There is nothing more important in a democracy than well-informed electorate.  Journalism is the tool the people have to hold their leaders accountable.  Be a citizen journalist.

     In a democratic society, voting is the least one can do as an active citizen.  Being political is a constant state of mind and, in an ideal democracy, everyone is political.  That is why an effective news media, so important; the media is supposed to be person  the arbiters of honesty and accountability.  That's why I want to be journalist, so I can educate Americans to and give the knowledge and know-how to make reasonable decisions on school boards, in the audience of a debate, and in the voting booth every 2-4 years.

     You can say that the system is broken because we don't get  the leaders that want, but that's only because most Americans don't actively participate in the process.  Americans can make their system better if we all come together and demand it to be better.  And, if you don't participate in the process, that gives the wealthy elite classes even more power because the majority's voices are not being heard.  Good luck trying to overthrow the current system (that's not going to happen).  We have to change society from the inside.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The 2014 midterms are behind us!

The Republicans now have control over both houses of the Legislative branch of the United States government and President Barack Obama is now in the "lame duck" part of his presidency.  He will most likely see a few crazy bill that do nothing but deregulate the financial sector arrive at his desk and, if has any sense, he will veto them.

Hopefully, the spanking that that Democrats got in 2014 will wake up Americans to the various disingenuous antics the Republicans use to play progressive as they cozy up to corporate lobbyists.  If every American citizen cast in their ballot on Election Day, gerrymandering and voter suppression techniques would have less of an effect.

#Election2014 results via HuffPost.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Is ISIS a product of the American CIA?

     The American #WarOnTerror is a blowback to the Cold War of the 20th century because it displays the same "us versus them" mindset and reinforces the false ideology of American exceptionalism.  Humanity needs to to progress away from its nationalistic way of thinking and try to see itself as it is, as we are, a species of many lifestyles and cultures.  I believe that archaic sentiments like nationalism and patriotism are anachronistc to humanity's survival on the planet.  If we do not learn to co-exist amidst diversity of culture, humans will eventually destroy themselves.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Politics and art.

"Politics" is the practice of influencing other people on a global, civic, or individual level.

"Art" is a diverse range of human activities and products of human activities characterized by its representation of reality, expression, communication of emotion, or other qualities.

Should politics and art be combined?  I think they already are.  If politics has to do with human interactions and art has to do with human activities and their outcomes, the result would simply be society itself.  Many people say that politics should be all about objective reasoning and deductions while art should nothing more than indulging expression.  But, that limits the human experience to a false dichotomy.  Why can't art personal expressions influence politics?  People are shaped by their peers and their environments and creates a unique picture of a particular society as well as the world in that specific person.  An artist is born with talent, talent is shaped within them.

I guess one could make make an argument that specific individuals have a unique neural chemistry that may give them abilities that more average human beings don't have, but that doesn't mean that any individual isn't able to achieve that same level of intelligence through passionate hard work.

Regardless, individuals are shaped by  their respective environments, with the strongest influences usually being family ties.  While we can debate about what is "good" art all day and night, we have to acknowledge that even art we don't particularly identify with is still a representation of what that specific artist sees in the world around him.  And, since politics simply refers to people interacting with each other using our own spheres of influence, art seems like a natural byproduct of that interaction.

People combine politics and art every day just by writing a story or a poem, drawing a political cartoon, or singing a song about what they enjoy about life or why they think life sucks.  An artist is is trying to influence you through their art by giving you an glimpse into how they view the world, and that view of the world has been influenced by how that person grew up in their respective society.

So, . . . .

What is art?  Anything.  If you want to showcase your view of the world, then that creation is a work of art no matter what form of media it is being showcased in.  Every person has something to say and a unique way to say it.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Shadow of American Slavery is on Ferguson.

     The shooting and death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last August has been perceived a number of ways, but race and social inequality must be factored into the discussion.  The issue of race relations in the United States stems from America's more shameful any chapters of its history involving institutionalized slavery, Jim Crow, and social inequality caused by a capitalist infrastructure that places profit motives above human dignity.  Many more privileged Americans prefer to believe that social inequality does not exist, but this attitude only deepens the division between the privileged and the poor.  Ignoring a problem does not solve it and diverging resources to the poorest of society, not as a handout but a hand-up, improves the quality of life for everyone in that society.  The protests in Ferguson represents the overall sentiment of the African-American community toward the US government.

     The history of institutionalized slavery in America and the Jim Crow laws that followed has sewn seeds of distrust among African-Americans and their government, adding to that distrust is the fact that African-Americans are more likely to be arrested for a non-violent crime than a person a lighter skin tone.  A biased justice system is not justice and, because of this, African-Americans feel abandoned by the US government and alienated by American society.

      The election of Barack Hussein Obama to the US presidency was a symbolic action for Americans, it was a step toward a more diverse, and open-minded society.  But we still have a long way to go toward a society with no racism (if that is even possible).  If Americans want to work toward the goal of a society with no racism, then it is going to take a collective effort. The president is one person within a large bureaucracy that is very susceptible to corruption.

     The recent unrest in Ferguson has also shed some light on another issue that is prevalent, not just in America, but throughout the world: the tension between journalists and police forces.  While the nature of the profession of journalism is centered around obtaining information even if it is at the expense of another person or group, authority professionals need to respect the need for journalism in an open, democratic society.  A the goal of journalism is to simply report the truth and it is left to the public to sort out the truth.  When authority figures start to intimidate journalists in an attempt to prevent the public from receiving factual information, that is a sign of a dying democracy.  Information must be free and open to the public in any democratic society.

     I believe that journalism is the most important job in a democratic society.  It stems from one of the founding ideals of Western civilization: that every individual deserves the right of free expression of his or her own ideas and morals, the idea that individuals can come to together and improve their society based on what the people need, the idea that we should not kill the messenger.  Journalism is how people improve their environment by the way of research and information distribution.  If the people know the truth, they can respond accordingly given a proper discourse.  Americans overcame their sin of institutionalized slavery by creating a narrative that allowed us to see all variations of human beings as equal; that narrative is still being written and it will continue to be written as humans continue to evolve into a more globalized, diverse, and tolerant species.  I believe that a better world is possible – a world where humans are no longer fighting amongst themselves over petty differences.  Journalism is how we get to that point.