Merican AF: The Five Reminders I Received Driving Behind A Chevy Truck

While driving down the street in my quaint little suburban neighborhood, I noticed a raised 4×4 Chevy truck in front of me displaying a license plate that read, “Merican AF.”

For those of you who may not be in on the lingo, it was shorthand for, “American As Fuck.”

Ahhhh, good ole Chevy and apple pies.

As one who is intrigued with language, I cannot help but deconstruct not only the intent of this license plate moniker, but also the more general implications it reflects in an increasingly divided political landscape.

I understand the “Merican” title over the traditional “American” as originating from George W. Bush and his quirky Texan, “rednecky” pronunciation of the word. It has since come to reflect a very deep, patriotic, non-nonsense association with middle America and its love of Budweiser, bullets, and border walls. Just as AF is replacing the adverb “very,” the Merica replacement is the dropping of the A in America; and, voila, we now have America on steroids. Let’s face it, to state that you are “Very American,” just doesn’t pack the patriotic punch that, “Merican AF,” lands.

So much for my deconstruction. So what are the implications in the larger sense and why did this license plate create such a negative reaction within me?

My first reaction was to stereotype the shit out of this person- of which I caught myself and now try to practice a more critical and reasonable reaction.

Why did I react this way? What was the trigger? I am confused AF.

Since when does expressing love and commitment to country must mean you are a psycho right wing nut with a very limited education…albeit when communicated in a vernacular that would arguably warrant just a wee bit of patriotic overindulgence?

Is it not ok to “love” your country and not be thrown in with dangerous nationalists?

Or to be “progressive” demands that we “hate” America? Since when? Why?

(BTW…I really despise the word “love” to describe a relationship with anything other than a person. So I do not “love” this country, nor my house, cell phone, my precious Nilla wafers or even the computer I am writing on at this moment. Nothing personal, though I believe “love” should be between people, not things or ideas).

The following are the five reminders and lessons that Chevy truck caused within me that day.

  1. It reminded me that to hold an impartial or moderate view in terms of “loving” country is becoming increasingly rare. There is an ever growing divide between those who might think America is a corrupt, unfair, capitalist piece of greedy shit country, say the Occupy Wall Street crowd, versus those who think it can do no wrong and is the greatest country on God’s green earth. You know, the Merica AF crowd. Is there room in the middle? Cannot I believe something more nuanced along the lines that America has some absolutely wonderful virtues as well as some insidious history and practices? Do I have to fully buy into one or the other?
  2. It reminded me that human beings are just creatures searching for meaning…some kind of meaning. Many find this meaning through religion, relationships, volunteer work, and, yes, some find meaning in national identity. I am not one to find meaning in national identity and do believe it can have some damaging effects (check this out) yet is it not better for some to find meaning in national identity over something much more dangerous and sinister…like gangs or drugs for example?
  3. It was a stark reminder of the growing gap between liberals and conservatives. In my nearly 55 years of life, it would seem the conservative side is not moving all that much further right as the liberal leaners are moving at light speed toward the further left. I do remember a day when “normal” citizens (both left and right) could display an American flag and not be considered the radical right. That said, I still believe the Pledge of Allegiance is just weird…but that is a different topic for a different day.
  4. It served to remind me that I do live smack in the middle of a very blue, left coast, Southern California bubble. Perhaps nothing reminded me of this more than the last election from which I am still in shock. It reminded me that all of us live in a self-created bubble in which the contents are conveniently aligned with our preferred worldview. My guess is the Merican AF dude has so bought into the American Patriotic ethos that even if–by any political standards–the United States does something horrendous, his filters and bubble would prevent him from acknowledging it at any critical level. Every single one of us lives in a bubble. Some just prefer not to admit it.
  5. It reminded me that one could be patriotic for either all the right or wrong reasons. Patriotism run amok can turn very quickly into ugly nationalism in which we believe all those who are not American are somehow inferior or in some sense not worthy human beings. It can have us believing that some countries are “shitholes” and America is the gold standard. On the other hand, a certain amount of positive adherence and loyalty to a country is really necessary for it to survive. If we all hated this country there would be no one or reason to defend it…and, for some, they might consider that a good thing –I do not.

I really like to think I have no dog in the political fight. I would rather affirm or negate individual ideas over general political ideologies. Which might explain why some very close to me believe I am a raging right winger while still others believe my left liberalism is off the charts.

And I think this schism is good thing as it reflects a non-partisan take on ideology.

It is amazing the thoughts that can be conjured up simply by driving behind a Chevy.

That damn license plate has me reflective…AF.

 

The Preferred President Reactionary Principle: Or How I Knew Trump Would Win The Election

I have held a political theory of rhetoric for many years and up until this point have never put it in print –as I was hoping before the last election my theory would be proven wrong.

It was not.

I believe human beings, at least the westernized version of which I am most familiar, are generally reactionary and not proactive creatures. Typically our actions are in response to something perceived as negative as opposed to being in anticipation of creating something positive. So, for example, human beings wait for a child to be kidnapped and murdered before they institute some new stricter legislation that may have curtailed this tragedy.

I find this reactionary principle at work when it comes to selecting the President of the United States, or the POTUS, as some of the kids are calling the office today. In my lifetime of political cognition, I have seen eight presidents come and go; yet if you count my political pre-cognition days, this number would be ten as I was about six months old when President Kennedy was shot.

Since Gerald Ford replaced the impeached Richard Nixon over the Watergate fiasco in 1974, I have found my Preferred President Reactionary Principle (PPRP) consistently at work over the last forty-three years. It seems the American public prefers a particular rhetorical style –and that style would be the most diametrically opposed to whoever the incumbent president to be at any given time.

Let us put PPRP to the test in my lifetime, shall we?

Gerald Ford replaced Richard Nixon in 1974 and ran for election in 1976. One might describe Ford’s rhetorical style as excessively boring, conventional and lacking wit or any hint of charisma. Remember WIN buttons? (Whip Inflation Now)…Ford is probably best known for this cheesy acronym. So who did the American public elect in reaction to the drab Ford that year? A somewhat charismatic -in a charming, innocent, “undrab” kind of way- unconventional outsider, a peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia named Jimmy Carter. One would argue the exact rhetorical and political opposite of Ford.

Whereas Ford could put you to sleep within a few words of a sentence, Carter raised eyebrows with his southern drawl while at one time admitting to Playboy magazine that he has lusted after women in his heart.

TMI. PPRP.

Arguably Carter turned out to be one of the worst presidents in US history, yet that is not the point. We needed a good, down to earth Southern simpleton to save us from the big city corruption of insiders Nixon and the Ford who pardoned him of his crimes. However, voters did decide that southern charm was one thing though incompetent southern charm was quite another. After four years and a failed Iranian hostage crisis rescue later, we longed for some much needed eloquence and guidance as the whole southern boy thing wore out real fast: Welcome former actor and silver-tongued, Ronald Reagan.

Reagan was the complete opposite of Carter in nearly every way –stylistically, politically and most important to PPRP, rhetorically. Eloquent and charismatic, Reagan was the wise grandpa we all wish we had in our lives and was deemed, “The Great Communicator” by some of his contemporaries. Love him or hate him politically, he was certainly an excellent statesman. Of course I will never forgive him for burying his head in the sand ostrich-style for many years during the AIDS crisis, yet one cannot deny the rhetorical dignity he brought to POTUS office, which waned a bit during a his last couple years in office when small hints of his Alzheimer’s became somewhat apparent.

After the Reagan years were completed, was it just coincidence that voters elected none other than the rhetorically challenged, quite uncharismatic, “naht gonna da it” George Bush Sr.? PPRP thinks not.

Are we beginning to see the pattern here? Bush Sr. was so rhetorically challenged that his incompetently uttered phrase, “Read my lips, no new taxes,” sealed his POTUS demise after only one term.

Now kids, can you tell me the rhetorical style of the next incoming president when applying the PPRP? Of course you can –someone charismatic, slick, eloquent and one who you might say was so smooth he could charm the dress off…well, he was charming indeed. Enter stage left, Bill Clinton, better known as Slick Willie by his adversaries.

This guy was good. He could sell snow balls to Eskimo’s (or is it “Inuit’s” now?) and any used clunker car on the lot. Of course his eloquence with the ladies was his biggest downfall and, as one of my students recently observed, he was the first president to be impeached over a blow job and a very poor blowie at that (Whoops…did that just hit your dress?).

Years later my very own daughter testified to his undeniable charm as she sat and listened to him speak at an engagement in Orange County, only to immediately come down after the address and hint at joining him to his next stop at UCLA. Apparently this suave man spits game to all and without prejudice.

So, what next? Enough with the charm already! We needed someone a bit more down-to-earth, rhetorically rough around the edges, while longing for the days of simplicity and southern comfort, so to speak: Enter George W. Bush.

During Bush’s first campaign in 2000, the consensus among many liberals was that he was an idiot, a barely literate simpleton in the vein of Chauncey Gardiner (look it up kids). Many of the greatest Bushisms date from those early days. “Rarely is the question asked: is our children learning?” Bush noted during a campaign stop in South Carolina, a couple of weeks before inviting a New Hampshire audience to imagine themselves in the shoes of a single mother “working hard to put food on your family.”

Perhaps my favorite is, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee—I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can’t get fooled again.”

Nothing like pulling out The Who lyric card amidst a brain fart. Oh how we misunderestimated the level of Bush’s rhetorical incompetence.

Yet for all his rhetorical snafus, unlike previous southern boy Jimmy Carter, Bush did have a simple enduring charm about him. And as PPRP would predict, after eight years of super smooth (Bill Clinton), we needed another eight of super rough to get us back to even, and so we did.

So what next? How about the smoothest, most articulate, sweet sounding, beautiful music to the ears rhetoric of any POTUS in history? Yes, enter Barack Obama. I remember shortly after he was elected listening to him give a speech and thought to myself just how inept W was in comparison. If Clinton was considered the smoothest, Obama just set the bar that much higher as he was smooth with a conscience and could keep things where they belong, so to speak, at least to the best of our knowledge.

And, now, this is why I knew circa August, 2016 who our next president was going to be. My original PPRP was going with overweight ruffian and overall school yard bully Chris Christie up until that point he was officially “Trumped” by the single biggest rhetorical blithering bully in US history. PPRP informs us that the stronger the rhetorical trait, the more extreme we must go in the opposite direction as a corrective measure in response -and extreme we did. Perhaps the biggest problem with Obama was he was just that good that it warranted a follow up rhetorical style that was just that bad in equal measure.

If you are a Trump supporter this is welcome news. If not, the good news is PPRP boldly predicts a reactionary vote in 2020 and it will likely not be the bombastic divisive rhetoric of Donald Trump. However the one aspect of PPRP must take into account is the influential factor of incumbency. Since 1976 our only presidents who have only served one term were either in the rhetorically challenged (Bush Sr.) or politically inept (Carter) categories, which are both the case with our current POTUS, IMHO; therefore my theory predicts one term and our current president will be replaced with a Clinton/Obama-like mixture of charm and sweetness, in the same way Carter was replaced in one term by Reagan and Bush Sr. replaced in one term by Slick Willie.

The question is, who is it that will be the smooth and inclusive rhetorician that will attract our strong desire to vote against the volatile rhetorical temperament of the current POTUS?

I can’t tell you that though this I can tell you, I can’t wait.

And I hope now my theory once again proves right.

The New Nationalism: Why?

(Disclaimer: Since writing this blog a few days ago, I have heard the theory I am about to express just mentioned on the latest Sam Harris podcast with guest Yuval Noah Harari, just as I am now sure it have been espoused through other sources as well. Not sure this adds credibility to it or not…though it was original when I though of it!)

Curiousity. I love it. I am all about it. In particular when it comes to human behavior and the choices we make and why.

More specifically, I am very curious in regards to cause and effect relationships. Like one of my favorite podcasts, Freakonomics, does on a weekly basis, I like to posit theories on why something is the case. For example, since 1990 violent crime rates have dropped significantly and, outside of certain particularly violent pockets, continue to do so.

Why?

What correlating factors have transpired in society that explain, at least in part, why this phenomena is occurring? The above Freakonomics podcasters have drawn a correlation between the legalization of abortion in 1973 with the drop in violent crime rates. The logic behind this thinking is that those who are more likely to perform violent crimes -unwanted children- would be entering prime violent crime age in 1990 and, well, simply did not exist to do the evil deed.

Agree or not, it is reasonable theory. At least someone is attempting to make sense of social events.

Regardless of your personal thoughts on this rather controversial cause and effect argument between abortion and crime rates, it is imperative for a culture to be asking such critical questions and attempt to find hidden and unintended correlations between various social manifestations.

If we are not continually asking the question “why?” a trend is taking place, we will forever be enslaved to the consequences of that which goes unexamined.

So today I look at our world and see a wave of nationalism sweeping over the majority of countries.

What is nationalism? I understand the word to mean a type of patriotism run wild and amok. It is the presence of strong ethnocentrism that is much more than having a sense of pride in one’s nation – it such pride accompanied with xenophobia, hatred expressed toward particular outgroups, and the suppression of such groups. It is the protection of national identity at nearly all costs…blood and war included.

The point of this blog entry is not to inform on where, or if,  this is taking place (for a good read on this check this Economist article…after which you will no longer have any doubt of its global existence) rather it is to ask the question as to why it is taking place.

Why, in 2017, are countries resorting back to isolationist type policies, fearing immigration and feeling compelled, perhaps more than ever, to protect itself at all costs including the coveting of its own sense of ethnic and racial identities? Why is pure patriotism morphing into dangerous nationalism? It is so much more than Trump’s victory, a victory that promised walls and protection, or even Brexit, which was fueled over the issue of immigration. We see this happening everywhere, including France, Austria, Hungary, India and, of course, totalitarian nationalism in North Korea, just to name a few.

I am far from an expert on global politics though I am a person who is very curious. Why this? Why now? Why nearly everywhere?

As is the answer for most social phenomena, it is hardly as clear cut as a single determining source. Such complex activity is typically the result of a confluence of complicated factors, probably best answered by political scientists. Yet, hell, someone very close to me even suggested it may be the alignment of the planets -as the last time we saw such a wave, in the 1930’s, the planets were aligned in a similar fashion.

I must confess that this astrological theory is somewhat outside my intellectual comfort zone. But who knows?

As one who is paid to observe human behavior and the communication process, I would like to throw my (more grounded?) communication-based theory into the ring and propose something a bit more down to earth.

I would begin my inquiry by examining what all of these countries have in common and, as a communication guy and quasi-Neal Postman disciple, I must look to the idea of our technological mediums as the answer to the question of what common denominator might be shared around the globe.

It is indisputable our world is becoming an increasingly global village as a result of our technological advances largely due to social media. As our world continues to move in this direction of global oneness, it does what each of us do when faced with drastic change in our life: We fight back and attempt to preserve what is, or, in some cases, what was…in spite of the oncoming inevitable new technological world and the threat of potential global unification it may usher in.

Where there is a big push there is a pull; an action, a reaction; a thesis, an antithesis.

Could the macro movement towards isolationism, protectionism and anti-immigration be the micro equivalent of the resisting child screaming with their hands over their ears when her parents tell her the unwelcomed news that they are perhaps moving, or worse, divorcing?

Perhaps we are experiencing a natural human push back against the effect mediums are having upon the globe –effects that include the breaking down of communication walls, a more global economy and the impending consequence of eroding needs for a strong nationalistic identity, including less need for demarcating lines in the sand distinguishing “us” from “them.”

And those who push back to this new world reply with, “Not on my watch.”

An overreaction is typically driven by the feel of a threat with fear at its core, while typically operating at a subconscious level. As technological media imperialism makes its way through the globe and brings all humanity in contact with each other, such an overreaction to build walls and preserve strong nationalistic identities seems a natural reaction to the “threat” of globalism, fueled by technology.

Could it be that the current wave of nationalism is an unintended consequence of Google, Facebook, Couchsurfing, Twitter or, hell, even Craigslist among nearly countless other social media sites? Individuals can now connect with each other, bypassing mainstream media (some might contend the indoctrination of mainstream media) to form their own identities, free from ethnic or nationalistic overtones.

We can now, more than ever, associate with our own personal identity group first and foremost, perhaps LGBT or Buddhist, for example, while the need for a strong national identity wanes as a thing of the past.

What we see today is a major push back against this new world of potential new identities.

I am not naïve enough to believe that far more complicated and compelling political theories that may have far greater explanatory power do not exist; I am certain they do. However, perhaps this unintended consequence of internet access plays some role, however minor or major, and should not be ignored in the discussion. I hardly doubt I am the only one who has made this connection.

Perhaps it is an inevitable -and temporary- consequence on the road towards a global village, or, at the very least, a more global village.

So I am a curious guy who likes to find correlations between seemingly unrelated phenomena.

Hell, it might even be the alignment of the planets.

And if you have a better theory, or would like to add to it, I look forward to your response.

The Top Ten

Every semester I ask most of my classes to reflect on the past term and identify the Top Ten things they learned for the semester. I ask them to select a concept or idea learned, who was responsible for it, a short definition and why they selected it.

I would like to share with you a few of the comments I recently received from a couple of classes. Why do I share these?

First off, I do NOT share these with you to in any way make myself look good or be at all self-congratulatory. In fact, I am not naïve enough to believe that my manner of conducting a class works for all students…it most definitely does not. Therefore, for as many who take to my style while bringing out the best in them, I am certain there are a number of students whom I hinder in equal proportion…albeit unintentionally with a constant earnestness to continually minimize this, perhaps inevitable, number.

I do share these with you as a result of our current political climate and the great need for sane, productive, reasoned and open minded dialogue. All college classrooms should be providing such a place–a place, by the way, where it should be happening–not through the safety of social media where it is easy to muster up courage to espouse an idea, an idea that largely goes unchallenged, or a bullhorn, which produces not a collection of reasoning individuals, rather a meandering mob.

So I was delighted when a student responded with the following:

Discussion can be civil and not get nasty. This class was so diverse in culture and politics, that I thought it was going to be a tough class to be in. It was nice to be able to have civil conversations even though we disagreed on a lot of stuff. I think having our comfort level pushed has really made me a more understanding person

Ahhhhh, such music to my ears.  Others produced similar sentiments:

That we can all get along. I learned that there are others like me who can disagree but get along. The whole class showed this to me. It was important to me because at times I feel kinda hopeless because it seems that people cannot coincide with so many different views, in current times.

So true.

The next response comes from student who, earlier in the semester, was visibly upset over a very conservative student’s remarks in the classroom. When I asked her if she spoke with him about it she essentially said it would be a waste of her time as he does not listen.

“Do you listen to him? I mean REALLY listen?” I asked her.

She confessed she does not. Therefore, it was no surprise that one of her Top Ten final responses was the following:

Hearing people out.  It’s important to listen to others even if their view is different from our own. Be open minded. If you expect others to listen to you, you need to do the same. Otherwise people just butt heads.

My students know full well that argument is a wonderful, welcomed and anticipated activity in my classroom –as arguing does not mean fighting, rather it means sharing with others with an anticipation of finding some common ground while proactively practicing some good, old fashioned give-and-take.

It’s okay to argue. This class revolved around arguing that was mature and mostly meaningful. Give reasons or cite evidence in support of an idea, action, or theory, typically with the aim of persuading others to share ones view. Argument can be used a good way as long as it has supporting experience, or evidence and is meaningful.

They get it! I love it.

This final comment comes from an older woman (yet still younger than myself!) who confessed her mind and world had been blown open by this course. Thus, I was pleased when she wrote:

The whole class is infinitely different in age, social class, stage of life and what they intended to get out of the class.  Through a series of exercises and much communication we really became a community of people trying to increase our communication skills.  Every person came from a different beginning and progressed to new levels of personal growth because of the relaxed and engaging atmosphere in the room. Any teacher can teach, some teachers can coach and few can create the perfect learning environment to have the students want to grow and change for personal gain.

Like I said, my style does obviously work for some and if we can create this environment in the classroom, is it too much to believe we can foster these environments elsewhere?

Perhaps I am blessed to have a flexible point of view, or that I love cognitive dissonance, or that I am more about process than I am result…but I can’t be the only one. Whatever your lot in life, I challenge each of you to be the spokesperson for sanity and reason while understanding that those who disagree with you are not demons; they are, well, others with a different understanding…and that is OK.

You might even make someone’s Top Ten one day.

 

 

Respect The Race

(Full disclosure: I wrote this blog entry shortly after the November election. Now that today is Inauguration Day and, for better or for worse, people are accepting -I use this term loosely- of our new political reality, I would like to offer up my sociological perspective on the election. That said, I am quite certain I will have my fair share of  disagreement. By way of introduction I want to share with you a recent social media post I shared that reaffirms my sentiments from November. “I find it affirming when really intelligent people, with whom I may overall agree or disagree with on certain issues, articulate (far more eloquently) sentiments that I have been espousing for years. As a balance theorist, I love former global Islamist Maajid Nawaz idea that, ‘The easiest way to hand a victory to your political opponent is by doing in excess the very thing that is going to fuel their rise, providing them to things to point to, to say we told you so.’ Welcome to the planet, 2017.” Now to the blog…)

What does a marathon, the 1969 Super Bowl and the 2016 Presidential election have in common?

Before this article begins sounding like a bad “Freakonomics” chapter, let me explain.

I was never much of a runner until I hit my mid-20’s, and my weight hit the mid-200’s, when I realized that running was the most expedient and easily accessed exercise ever invented. With only a good pair of running shoes necessary, there was no fancy equipment, gym membership or uniform needed. Hell, you did not even have to rely on anyone to make this sport happen, just an open road and an agreeable, operable set of legs.

I started running circa 1992, started competitive racing a couple of years later, dropped around 40 lbs., and firmly self-identified as a runner. It was circa 1997 that I decided I was going to attempt my first marathon; that is, 26.2 miles of foot pronation (supination?…its been a while) as I dysfunctionally struck pavement for well over 3 hours. Prior to this I went and asked an old friend of mine, Dave Delong, a marathon runner himself and an esteemed track coach, what his advice would be for a new marathon runner.

He never skipped a beat:

Simple. Respect the race.

“26.2 miles is a long distance. Respect every mile, every inch,” he told me, “Or the race can eat you alive.”

He meant that you might feel great at mile 21 or 23 or 25 and think that you got this…that you have beaten this race into submission.

Bad idea.

Respect the race, he told me. Respect that 26.2 miles is a very long distance. Respect the last few miles, respect the last few feet as at any time, the race can come back and bite you in the ass as one could hit the dreaded wall at any time. It is only then one realizes the nature of the foe you are attempting to defeat.

I never better understood the concept of respecting your opponent better than after my first few marathons. Dave was so absolutely correct that it taught me one of the best lessons I could have learned in life, let alone racing: Always respect the nature of your opponent….no matter how superior you think you might be.

I could not help but think of all the times in sports history when the David killed the Goliath due to this lack of respect, yet I will not bore you with sports trivia…though trust me, it is  common. Be it the 69 Super Bowl, Ronda Rousey or the 2016 Warriors in the finals…one must unrelentingly respect the race till it’s over.

So, alas, fast forward to the 2016 Presidential election.

Apparently some never have learned the simple value to “respect the race,” in this case, the presidential race. Please understand I am not suggesting you must respect the person, just as much as I am not suggesting you must respect the particular landscape or city of a particular race; rather, respecting the race is to respect the nature of the race, respecting the competition of the race, respecting the importance of the race, and to humbly realize the race is greater than you and to succeed begins with humility towards the race. After all, the goal is to win -nothing more, nothing less.

If ever there was a time in political history where the overwhelming favorite entirely disrespected its opponent, to its own deficit, it was the 2016 presidential election.  Trump’s chance of winning usually hovered around 25%, pending which poll was taken after which ill- advised statement was made Trump.

Among those who utterly dismissed and disrespected their opponent (if you have a few minutes please watch this video…it is fascinating) and who should know better include President Barack Obama -the guiltiest of all parties as his disrespect set the tone for a Trump victory; Bernie Sanders –and Bernie is so much better than this; Nancy Pelosi, the house minority leader who needs control of her tongue; Ron Reagan Jr., Harry Reid, Mark Cuban, Bob Beckel and nearly every leading political pundit in the soundbite world.

Some of those who stuck their egotistical foot in their arrogant mouths who are well known, yet whose only qualification is popularity, include George Clooney, Tom Hanks (“That man will become president of the United States the day space ships come down with dinosaurs and men with red capes”…whoops), nearly every late night comedian and the loudest of mouths on The View.

Anyone who even remotely suggested that Donald J. Trump would be our next president was laughed out of the building (please see Anne Coulter getting mocked and scorned at 2:00 in the linked video above, on the Bill Maher show, Politically Incorrect). Please watch as we can learn a thing or two about hubris gone wild.

Donald Trump was not only predicted to lose, he was mocked and laughed at by a, quite smug, untold millions more…in a strange twist, he was absolutely bullied and humiliated by those who should really know better. I suppose it was ok to bully the bully….but, then, you can see where that got us. The point the smug left forgot is that when bashing Trump you were bashing his supporters, calling them ignorant idiots—problem is their votes count just as much as anyone else’s.

If the American electorate could teach ANY politician just one critically important lesson, it is that the American public always finds and locates the middle ground…and stays there. If one side pushes too hard in one direction, the public will overcompensate in the other direction. The left bully pulpit, led by 8 years of Obama, just got a little too big for its political britches.

Did it seem odd to anyone, other than myself, that those who were anti-Trump felt free and safe to be mean, disrespectful, and outspoken (the President very much included…see President Obama on the Jimmy Kimmel “Mean Tweets”… bad choice Barack) while the general Trump supporters, sans those diehards at political rallies and few extremists, remained generally quiet and reserved to openly express their support for fear of being ostracized via social media and otherwise?

It seems those who were bullied quietly went to the principal’s office (the voting booth) to report the bullies…and they won.

It seems the left forgot the very important lesson to respect the race…to respect the office of the opponent…to be gracious until such time there is something to gloat over, namely victory.

A few days after Trump’s infamous secret recording came out about how he just grabs women by the, ah, “kitty,” a presidential debate commenced. Not realizing Trump’s words were obviously offensive, inappropriate, and quite unpresidential all on their own accord, Clinton felt the need to explain, as if we did not know already, just how wrong those comments were…thanks Hillary, yeah, we get it.

I was so hoping, when asked about these comments, she would take the high road and respond that those comments speak for themselves and the American public will decide how to interpret those lewd comments, now let’s get back to the issues.

You all tried to beat a bully by being a bully. Damn…don’t ya hate when hubris bites you in the ass?

As we adjust to 4 years that will bring a new meaning to the term, “bully pulpit,” I will be out on a run, respecting each step I am able to respectfully take.

Why This Privileged White Male Refuses To Write About The Election

While enjoying a wonderful birthday lunch for Rene’s brother Nick at a swank eatery in Silverlake, (Cliff’s Edge, check it out) it was agreed upon at the outset of our meal that there would be no discussion of the presidential election.  The thickness of the tension was, and is, still in the air and the mood was to be festive…and nothing like raining on the festive parade when addressing issues that deeply divide us.

Of course we then proceeded to have a discussion about NOT discussing the election…kind of a meta-discussion about the lack of discussion.2016-election-logo

I suppose you can throw this article in that same “meta” basket, as this is an article about not writing an article concerning my thoughts on the election.  I actually have several reasons why I do not believe now is good time to throw my political two cents into the social media world, among other places.

To begin this meta-article, in Communication Studies courses the first thing we teach our students is that the most important aspect of the communication process is knowing your audience. It is impossible to tailor a message knowing little to nothing of whom you are attempting to communicate.

Keeping this in mind, judging by the tenor of social media, personal discussions and general observations of life in general at this moment, my audience analysis tells me this: Shut up. Leave it alone. Don’t go there.

Probably the worst thing you could possibly tell an upset, venting woman would be something along the lines of, “Well, you are just on your period,” or, “I guess Aunt Flo is going to be visiting soon.” I believe the reason these statements are not a good idea is obvious…and right now many of us are most definitely on our post election, president-elect periods.

Many people are upset. Even for those pleased with the election result, they are upset about the upset reaction (protests) of the election.  As I write, many local Los Angeles high school students are marching the streets in protest because they are upset, scared, fearful, etc.

When people are upset they are overly emotional. When people are overly emotional, they tend to listen with their hearts and not their heads. When you think with your heart and not your head you cannot objectively and rationally listen. If you cannot objectively and rationally listen, I have no interest in attempting to send you a message.

Please understand this…I could offer my opinion and you could fiercely disagree with it and that would be fine. Wonderful. No problem.  I would love to engage in that thoughtful and rational dialogue. However if that opposition is fueled with a highly emotional rage, I have found that this is not time for a discussion rather it is time for an entirely different, and completely valid, type of communication: Pure expression.

Now is not the time to reason, it is a time to express.

Pure expression is a very good thing…a great thing in fact. Without means by which to blow off steam, vent our feelings and/or verbalize our frustrations, we would all be dangerous psychotic messes.  Although this is my first presidential election that I find myself steeped in social media, I cannot recall the need to vent ever this strong in my lifetime…and I’m 53 1/2.

Please do not interpret my unwillingness to engage in political dialogue as somehow dismissive nor disrespectful. Sometimes the need to vent “Trumps” (did I really just write that?) the need to sit and reason. There are many, many times in my life that I am simply not ready to address an important issue as my personal emotional context is not quite ready for that discussion, whatever the reason driving my emotional  condition may be.

I suppose the final reason I find it counterproductive to discuss the election at this time is something that has been thrown in my face quite a few times this past week and, apparently, I have committed the greatest evil I could possibly have committed: I was born a straight, white male. They tell me this somehow disqualifies me from uttering any word that remotely implies, “Please do not panic.”

“Easy for you to say,” they tell me. “You are a non-Islamic white male.”

If racism is defined as allowing or not allowing a person a basic human right, in this case, freedom of speech, based purely on racial characteristics, well then, this would be racism.

But I get it, periods can be funny that way.

Hey, I can be pretty self-centered at times though I am definitely not that selfish of an ass that I cannot empathize and feel for those unlike me.

I recently told a very scared and fearful former undocumented student of mine, who was brought to this country as a small child and considers this her only country, that I would engage in the most severe form of civil disobedience in the event immigrants are torn from their homes and deported to a country they know nothing about. Yes, this straight, white, privileged male would stand up for an innocent brown person being threatened with deportation against their will.

Regardless of one’s position on immigration, I would hope most citizens of any color, religion, ethnicity or class, would act as decent human beings and stand up against any perceived social injustice as well, even if that injustice is perpetrated against one of a different race.  And I believe the great majority would.

I have never, and will never, pretend to know what it is like to walk in another person’s shoes. I will never know what it is like to be a woman and experience objectification or admiration, or a black person in a white neighborhood, or, hell, even a Hispanic in the grocery store. I have no idea of the verbal or nonverbal treatment I would receive. The glares and stares or lack thereof. I have no clue what it is like to be you. And, guess what? That is correct, you have absolutely no idea what it is like to be me.

But, alas, who is really thinking with their head right about now anyway?  I am quite certain that even in this very vanilla blog, someone will take exception with something. Which is why this privileged person will just shut the hell up…for now. And when thine ears are ready to be taught, a teacher will appear, post period of course.

 

Cultural Critics: Who Are They And Why Do We Need Them?

Those of you who know me realize I love to dissect issues and challenge existing norms. I suppose the motivation for such behavior rests in the fact I believe culture to be a socially constructed phenomena built on many faulty assumptions while richly embedded in various mythology.

As I think about it, this is somewhat the common thread throughout all my blogs at their core.

Therefore, be it politics, religion, education, materialism, capitalism, etc…we design symbols (think the American flag, star of David, cross, academic degrees, fashion labels, etc…) to inspire and lend meaning to an otherwise existential existence. We need cultural critics to come along and challenge these meanings, ask questions and be what Neal Postman refers to as, “culture watchers and worriers” -I love to surround myself with such folk.

It is for this reason that I love to read/listen from cultural critics whom I believe to be thoughtful and honest in their approach to examining underlying assumptions about life and culture. Today I offer you five cultural critics I believe to be intellectually honest, who question nearly everything and, again, who I believe, most importantly, to be genuine and without an agenda (insofar as human beings can be without an agenda)…meaning they will not necessarily tow a political line even if it means not conforming to the group who holds many of their own ethical/political beliefs. In other words, intellectual honesty drives their conclusions rather than political expedience.

Some on this list are liberal and some, two in particular, are quite conservative. Liberal or conservative does not concern me as I hold intellectual honesty up as the highest ethical standard to which a cultural critic must hold. I love to read and listen to those I fundamentally disagree with first and foremost. As the famous utilitarian John Stuart Mill once said, “He who knows only his side of the argument, knows very little of that.” And besides, simply because one’s intellect drives them to one side or the other on any given issue, perhaps I can be persuaded toward that side as well.

So, as I present five culture critics that I appreciate, please know that though these five hold a huge diversity of beliefs and are all on both ends of the political spectrum, I still fully realize all these people are quite male, quite white and even quite around my age. If you are reading this blog and follow other culture critics that do not fall into this demographic, please share! I do follow others who do not fit this demo, namely Neal deGrasse Tyson and Glenn C. Loury, yet I find these men to be more science and economics, respectively.

Sam Harris. Love me some Sam Harris and his devout atheism. Yes, there are other atheists who I greatly admire, such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, yet I believe Harris, a Phd in Brain Neuroscience, is more forthright in his approach -even if it means being very unpopular among many of his own ilk. Many years ago -when I did subscribe to a particular rigid form of faith- I read his book, “The End of Faith,” and I recall one of my fellow believers asking me why I would read such a book. tumblr_m8wxjvFNtq1rb8qy1o1_500I knew at that moment he did not get me nor my approach to life. Even as a person of faith I would much rather read a book from one who honestly challenges my belief system rather than a book cheerleading my existing belief structure from someone on the same team. Please note that to this day I am NOT an atheist yet concurrently still very much admire this guy’s brain and brilliant reasoning. Please check out his podcast, “Waking Up With Sam Harris.” Do not expect a lot of bells, whistles and sound effects. He is smart man with a mic who not only challenges prevailing norms, but your vocabulary as well.

Dennis Prager. Ok. Full disclosure. I do not want to include Dennis Prager, from an emotional perspective, as he rubs off on me as a very arrogant, pretentious and abrasive religious intellectual snob slash asshole. But, damn, this guy is extremely bright, very articulate and one of the best debaters I have ever heard…perhaps some people deserve to be arrogant? Do I agree with him on the majority of issues? No. Not even close. Yet, I need to give the man a lot of credit for well reasoned and brilliant arguments while taking callers who disagree with him as priority on his radio show. I may completely disagree with him on a conclusion -for example he is supporting Donald Trump (actually he would argue he is not supporting Donald Trump as much as not supporting Hillary Clinton) yet, he will offer a very reasoned and insightful argument as to why….which, again, I do not agree with  yet, when one gives thoughtful and reasonable explanation-in a democracy continuing to be plagued by unwarranted emotional idiocy over reason- I must say, well done. As brilliantly as Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens have argued for atheism, Prager has argued equally as powerfully for the existence of God. You can get a feel for his views here.

Leonard Shlain. God rest his soul. Shlain, an amateur historical anthropologist and a world class brain surgeon, is, in my view, a one-of-a-kind cultural critic as he examines contemporary culture through the lens of history, the function of the human brain and technology. His book, “Art and Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time and Light,” creatively connects great advances in science as coinciding with great advances in art; relating the different regions of the brain working in a type of yin/yang harmony.  My favorite book of his, “The Alphabet vs. The Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image,” is a one-of-a-kind examination of the role human evolution plays with the role of emerging technologies and the resulting cultural unintended consequences. Sadly, Shlain is no longer with us, though I do look forward to reading his final book, “Leonardo’s Brain,” an examination of the brain of arguably one of the most intelligent human beings to ever live, Leonardo Da Vinci, soon. I also currently follow his daughter Tiffany, who I find to be a provocative feminist documentary filmmaker, among other talents.

Cal Thomas.One of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politician’s objective. Election and power are.” Thomas is an unabashed conservative who is not afraid to take some pretty serious potshots at his evangelical brethren. I was first drawn to Thomas with his 1999 book, “Blinded By Might: Why The Religious Right Can’t Save America,” where he criticizes the church for caring more about political power than personal pious living. I love the way comedian Jay Leno summarizes Thomas, “You know that old curmudgeonly uncle everyone ignores at holiday time and then someone asks him a question and you realize he knows what he’s talking about? That’s Cal Thomas.” It is difficult for me to endorse any cultural thinker who has Sean Hannity write his forward or be endorsed by Rush Limbaugh, yet I sense Thomas is very genuine and forthright in his ideas and is not afraid to go strongly against the flow of his own political affiliation at times. Anyone who can be critical of their own political ideology is a respectable cultural critic in my economy.

Eric Schlosser. Schlosser is certainly not as well decorated as any of the above cultural critics, yet this reasonable liberal voice has provided a couple of somewhat recent cultural cornerstone books with his well-known, “Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side Of The American Meal,” and the book that really inspired me to put him on this list, “Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, And Cheap Labor In The American Black Market.” In this work, Schlosser discusses three of the strongest black markets in the country that, if collapsed, would undermine the entire American economy: The sex industry, illegal immigration and cannabis. This 2003 book has had a tremendous effect on my feelings toward immigration as he literally goes out into the strawberry fields of central California (known to migrants as “la fruta del diablo) to see first hand the plight of the immigrant workers. Schlosser is not afraid to get his hands dirty and presents some compelling arguments concerning the dark side of America’s economics.

There are a few others that came close to this list of five. Those who know me well might wonder why Neal Postman is not on this list -this is due to my opinion that Postman, though legendary in his critique of mediums, namely television, is not always intellectually honest and does have an unabashed agenda in many of his works, most specifically, “The Disappearance of Childhood” and “Amusing Ourselves to Death.”  I really respect an “oldie but goodie” like Marshall Mcluhan and even more recent stuff from Malcom Gladwell (Blink, The Tipping Point, Outliers), yet I find the former somewhat dated and the latter not a true critic of culture rather one who observes and opines on human psychology.

So everyone, let us never stop questioning cultural norms, conventions and assumptions -and this will never happen if we always surround ourselves with the like-minded. To my religious friends, go out and hang with an atheist for a while, and for my atheist friends, get your ass to a church, mosque or synagogue and see what it is all about. You might just be surprised…

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Immigration

I recently viewed the movie, “The Big Short” with Ryan Gosling and Christian Bale among many other major stars.  A line near the conclusion of the fantastic film struck me pretty hard.  After the worst housing economic collapse in US history, it was asked what people were going to do next. The Ryan Gosling character commented, I have a feeling in a few years people are going to be doing what they always do when the economy tanks. They will be blaming immigrants and poorthe-big-short-2015-mark-baum--i-have-a-feeling-in-a-314573-bg__0 people.”

Hey…easy targets are easy targets. Even innocent ones.

As our global village continues to shrink smaller and smaller, the issue of immigration has never played such a central role in our cultural and political landscape.  Elections will be won and lost through the pandering toward a specific group’s “immigrant” sensibilities and, some would say, fears.

This has never been more evident than in the recent British, “Brexit” vote in which the UK voted to leave the European Union…the primary concern? Immigration, of course.  I realize one’s feeling about immigration is closely tied to the perceived economical strain immigrants may place on a country’s economy (more on that fallacy in a bit), still, one’s attitude towards immigration is a direct reflection of how one might believe their country ought to best spend its resources. Hence, what at face value appears to be an economical issue is, at its core, an issue of immigration and our feelings towards “outsiders.”

As Simon Tilford put it, prior to the vote, “But if the UK leaves the EU, the reason will be of British politicians’ own making: popular hostility to immigration.” They did and it was.

As one might guess by reading through my blog posts, I possess a very liberal position on the subject of immigration. I do not see people as anything but people first and foremost.  Just because one might be born into a different language, culture and country, does not equate them to being any less deserving of everything that I enjoy as an US citizen. I could not help that I was born on American soil…I had no say in the matter. I believe a fellow human being that was born on impoverished soil, of which they had absolutely no control, should have every opportunity to the privileges and freedoms that I enjoy so dearly.

Why would I be so shallow and superficial as to base my opinions on what others should or should not have–based on a rather arbitrary, manufactured line in the sand…called borders?

Let me make this very clear: I am NOT proud to be an American. I am pleased to be one. I am, in many ways, fortunate to be one. Yet proud? No. I am proud for things I have ACHIEVED…like a couple post grad degrees and raising 4 awesome children. I am not proud than I was born white, Hungarian or with curly hair…but you can read more about real achievement here.

I completely understand why one would completely disagree with me. I have no desire to demean or demonize those who possess an “America First” understanding on immigration–you know, the “let’s build a wall” people  who call those who are undocumented “illegals” (I refuse to address anyone by their citizenship status as location does not define a person, btw). My own mother, who is one the kindest and most giving people I know, shares this point of view. Most “America First” people are neither intellectually inferior (though I am sure many might think I may be) nor necessarily products of xenophobia –the unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange- they simply share a different opinion and priority of resources than I do.

Of course it is a bit curious that we never discuss building a wall from our white neighbors to the north, only our brown neighbors to the south…hmmmm.

That said, overall I find these people to typically be conservative in their politics, far more patriotic ,  law-and-order types, and are commensurately skeptical of anything that is perceived to be coming from the left…usually practiced under the banner of fiscal responsibility.  Is it motivated by xenophobia as some might contend? Though some evidence suggests it may, only the individual alone could know that.

I want as open a border as possible, while still maintaining one for the purpose of organization. I want it to be very easy and inexpensive for hardworking achievers to migrate to America, or, at the very least, to vastly simplify the now expensive and complex process. Certainly, I am for a screening and vetting process in the age of terrorism –though recent terrorist attacks were performed by US citizens. The overwhelming majority of those who desire to migrate to the US are honest and hardworking people who only seek a better life -–and are willing to work their asses off to get it.

We NEED immigration. Our economy depends on immigration. We could not survive without immigration.

According to US News, undocumented “illegals” who supposedly drain our system, contribute nearly 12 billion dollars per year to the US economy, with California receiving nearly 3.2 billion of this pie. This does not include their labor contributions.

My grandmother, Elizabeth, migrated to the US from Hungary circa 1932.  I remember being a young child at her small apartment in Burbank when she came home from work in her nurse’s outfit. It was not until years later that I learned she was not a nurse at all…she was a janitor, who mopped, swept floors and cleaned toilets for Burbank Community Hospital; her son, my dad, worked for the studios for years as both a payroll employee and then a driver. His son (me) was the first to get a college education and now is a professor writing political blogs that very few actually read.

If this cycle of progress continues, hopefully one day my children will write blogs that people DO actually read.

This is a typical cycle. First generation immigrants do those more menial jobs very few want to do…it is a way, like my grandmother, to pay your dues. Yet, in time and with generational cultural acclimation, education and new skill sets, these migrants move from more physically demanding jobs to the more cerebral workforce. We absolutely need first generation immigrants to uphold the labor backbone of our economy.

The good news is that you do not have to stay there.

Currently, my own daughter is one of those unwanted immigrants in the UK as she is currently working towards dual citizenship.  The UK is extremely lucky to have Rosie, both in terms of what she brings to the country as a person and the economic benefit she provides as well. Since her move there some 7 years ago, that country has received tens of thousands of dollars –turned pounds–from this Yank and his family. I alone have likely kept Pret-A-Manger in business (look it up).  Simply put, most immigrants, and tourists such as myself, are very good for business.

Sure, I would love it if more people possessed my point of view on this matter–though I understand there will always be differences of opinion. At the very least we can learn to understand and respect where others are coming from and question whether our position is motivated out of patriotism run amok, fear, or, let’s hope, sound reasoned analysis.

Our country has problems. Immigrants are not one of them. In fact, they are a solution.

America Is Becoming A Big, Fat Joke. What Is One To Do?

Let me be clear…I am not, nor have I ever been, a cultural dystopian, aka, “doomsdayer” whose pessimistic outlook of our country spells certain future disaster.  Nor have I ever been a cultural utopian who believes our future is a yellow brick road leading to Nirvana.  I like to believe I am a critical thinker who calls it as I critically see it—dystopian or utopian be damned.

Thus, when I contend that America is turning into a big fat joke, perhaps some context is in order.

In my Critical Thinking course I teach the 1985 classic book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, by author Neal Postman. In this 31 year-old insightful piece of literature, Postman posits that the television is turning our country into a culture of entertainment addicts: A world in which all of our areas of supposed serious cultural discourse—our news, politics, education and religious institutions, to name a few, are transforming into conduits of entertainment while providing fodder for the amusement-feeding frenzy of the American populace.

I first taught this book circa 1989…when I believed it to be an interesting argument. I continued to teach the book through 1999…when I then believed it was on to something fairly huge.  In 2009 I believed it was more relevant than ever. Now, in 2016, by simply including that television also means the internet, I believe it to be a cultural prophesy that has tapped into the present zeitgeist of a generation. The older the book becomes, the more relevant its application. My students clamor for it… other than the movie, “Back to the Future,” what else from 1985 is clamored for by today’s 20 somethings?

Postman has no problem with entertainment. In fact, he would likely argue that entertainment shows are the best shows on television. Why? Entertainment shows do not pretend to be anything else but entertainment. The danger, he suggests, are those programs which purport to carry meaningful substance and are, in reality, portals of amusement under the guise of serious discourse.

Postman bemoans the political debates of the 1980’s, yet, by today’s standards, those were exhibitions of the highest intellect—a political candidate referring to the size of his genitals? I doubt even the great cultural cynic Neal Postman would have ever predicted that one on even his worst, pessimistic day.

CBS president Leslie Moonves, referring to our current state of insane politics, could not have said it more clearly, It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” Spoken like a man clearly leading the charge in a country bent on amusing itself to death.

Of course I thought I did see the presidential silliness writing on the wall when the state of California elected an action star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to run one of the largest economies in the world, though, alas, I was wrong. It was when the great state of Minnesota conveniently one-upped us Californians with its electing wrestler, Jessie “The Body” Ventura, to its highest office, that the writing on the wall became truly legit.

We had to see this coming.

Oy vey. And I’m not even Jewish.

Moonves continues, “I’ve never seen anything like this, and this is going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going.”

According to Moonves, CBS profit “Trumps” our nation’s dignity and decorum.

Contemporary politics is only one example of our big fat joke. Our nation’s biggest star is only known for a porn video, a reality show and a fat ass. Today’s pop music largely centers around “niggers,” asses, bitches and hoes. Now is when my grandpa Jimmy rant really gets good: In my day we used to play video games for fun, today we watch hours and hours of others playing video games for fun.

When I was growing up the greatest threat to our country came from outside influences, namely the Cold War and Russia. Then President Ronald Reagan proposed a “Star Wars” defense shield that literally would be a dome-like structure over the nation to protect us from incoming missiles. However, today’s greatest threat, save for isolated terrorist attacks, does not come from outside missiles but from inside insanity. Our country is not set to explode due outside forces, rather, we are on the course to implode due to inside sources. Who is going to save us from us? Does there exist a protective shield for that?

A friend of mine, Dominick, recently wrote sarcastically on his facebook page “that it’s some kind of shocker to learn we live in one big Jerry Springer episode set in an enormous Walmart…” Believing in this cultural milieu is one thing, yet what am I to do with this understanding of America becoming one big, fat joke?jerry-springer-large-643x441

Do I grow a beard and stand on street corner shouting the end is near? Do I laugh? Do I cry? Panic?

Please understand that when I say I will do absolutely nothing -outside my normal daily routine and life- is not a sign of apathy nor concern, rather a sign of accepting reality on realities terms.

I could argue with gravity or with the necessity to breathe or with the entropic nature of the universe, but I would lose all of those arguments.

I could argue against the decay of western civilization…but what would be the point? It is what it is.

Perhaps my cultural observations might lead some to sorrow and despair, yet for me it leads to the necessity to live life with a fervency and passion; to continue to take responsibility for opening minds and educating those around me to critically think; to write my thoughts and communicate my mind to others; to spread positive energy to all those within my small sphere of influence while being eternally grateful for each breath I take on this floating round ball in space; all the while continuing to know the difference between observing, complaining and truly living.

Accepting the big, fat joke for what it is does not at all mean that I am pleased by it, nor enjoy it, nor embrace it.

Perhaps if I were aboard the Titanic I would be one of the guys enjoying the wonderful sounds of the violinists as the ship slowly makes its way into the watery grave that awaits. The ship is going to sink whether I panic or not.

In the paraphrased words of Henry David Thoreau, “I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. To put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Hey, things could change, or not. Or, hell, I could even be completely wrong about all this.

I want to live a rich life and make a difference with those with whom I am able. Perhaps if we all did so, the course can be changed. Or not.

A cultural dystopian? Perhaps, but in a clearly utopian kind of way.

Podcast With SBCCD Chancellor, Bruce Baron, Part I

Jimmy sits down with a San Bernardino Community College District Chancellor, Bruce Baron, for a frank talk concerning the San Bernardino shootings, the vote of no confidence, perceptions of people, and quite a few other issues. This podcast ends rather abruptly due to technical difficulties though part II is coming soon! Enjoy the first part of this two part interview.