Sunday, October 19, 2014

Looking At History To Determine Our Future

PPTS has completed the groundwork of a 24 week series entitled "The War On The Poor!". In retrospect, the arguments raged, even for the series title. Many on the team, and from listeners wanted the series to be called "The War FOR The Poor!". I chose the final series title because the alternate option seemed to be more appropriate for those who would come to disagree with the information presented in the series.

I did, however choose for each "battlefield" to include the word "for" because these eight investigations, each lasting (at least) three episodes deal with areas of our nation's life which seem to be at risk. Women, equality, healthcare, education, Justice, etc. ...these battlefields all seem to stand in the gap, at risk.

That's because they are. Forces well above the abilities of the average citizen, those who make up the 99 percent of us all are engaged in a very uncivil war to capture each battlefield, not for the greater purposes of increasing the lives and living in America of all her citizens, but rather for the taking by oligarchs, corporatists, plutocrats and theocrats for nothing more than the joy of refusing their bounty to any but themselves.

This is, in the end democracy itself at risk. Mine is not the unthinking cry of the vain, or the timid. These are not thought experiments or some laboratory exercises.  Nor are these inscrutable mysteries innoculated from our thought and reason. They are the vanities of man.

Has this ever happened before, anywhere?

Of course it has. It has happened since time immemorial. Power has been defined, denied, refused and won by man over man, but to what end? In some cases, for the betterment of all. In other cases, for the vanity of a few.

The cost of democracy has, is now, and will always be nothing less than diligence. From even before our experiment began, we were warned of dangers to democracy by those very same founders (and many others) of our nation. History has, so far, proven their warning prescient and timely. Strangely enough, even ancient warnings are holding sway today across our land. There has been, and remains to this day, only one power strong enough to overcome those who would simply take from democracy and The United States of America all they can hold before tossing aside the vestigial remains of what once was.

That is the voice of citizen.

During this month of October, 2014, we are investigating realities from our past, from even before the founding of this nation to the present day to see, and realize just exactly what it is we have accomplished, what it is we stand to lose, and what we can/should do about it right where we live "...within 12 miles of where you live."

Thomas Jefferson believed that his generation must win the independence, and the next must win the equality for all. From the enlightenment of the world, we faced the eventual necessity of addressing our inhumanity to our fellow man directly, painfully, and finally. That task remains, to this day, unfinished. Equality is a noble ambition, yet one fraught with difficulty and danger. Thus, our investigation quickly moves from the "know about" to the "know how" of democracy in our time.

Victorian and Edwardian England have much historical significance to our goal as a true liberal democracy. If every person, every citizen matters then we must understand how nations have failed at proving it. Yet, the history of that time in England reverberates with the words and feelings--and actions which we must deal with now. Those same words and feelings from way back then are being heard in our own country today, but not only where we live, but across the planet. As repugnant as we may find them, we do not create service for ourselves or our fellow citizen by ignoring them. We've been trying that for a very long time, indeed. It is also important to note that many great and wonderful things came through those desolate days, as well.

By investigating the thoughts and mores of those times in England (primarily due to their overwhelming presence at the time, and the clear historical record which remains of them), we can get a more observable view of ourselves today. We might even understand that the "War ON the Poor!" of those days has not changed very much, much to our national shame.

I promised a video that would be very difficult to watch, yet one I believe we must see in order to begin a genuine conversation and discourse about what WE should do about it, right now. Here is that video. It's approximately 90 minutes long. It is very difficult to watch, and is not safe at work or for children. Nevertheless, I urge you to view it. Take notes. Make observations. Look around our national landscape today, and see if you can hear, or see anything akin to what this documentary presents to you.

From the days of the workhouse/poorhouse, we visited the history of America and the world from 1900 to 1950. Two World Wars, planetary economic collapse, and the folly of greed and avarice. Why one assassin's two bullets killed tens of millions of humans in the search for power and economic superiority was investigated. I stopped the series here, because I believe we have enough reason just from these few episodes to take seriously the series which came before it.

From this point until November 9th, 2014 (following the national general elections), we will be looking for your response to both series, and your election stories. Do you agree, or disagree with the views expressed by PPTS during these past two years? Why, or why not? How did your voting go? Was it important enough for you to do what was required to experience the sanctity of the ballot box, to actually "exercise the franchise"? Were you citizen?

As this is written, early voting is under way. What will be the story we share on November 9th, and beyond? What have we, as citizen, determined to be the foundations of our nation's future history? Will democracy be preserved, or have we chosen to allow our land to slide over the abyss, not into war, but into Hell itself? How shall we answer the world, and the ages?

That will be decided one of two ways. Either citizen will show up, and show off, or citizen will not. There is no other possible conclusion to this most important election in 2014. We hope we have explained why we hold this conviction. We hope you have become sufficiently informed, and we now look to you to share with us YOUR reasoning, and YOUR actions.


The Tennessee Progressive

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

One Series Ends; Another Series Begins

It has taken PPTS 28 weeks to present a 24 week series we call "The War On The Poor". During this series, we looked at eight principle battlefields upon which this war is currently being waged. Having now looked, in three week "chunks" at each of the eight battlefields, we have completed the research, but have not yet determined any useful conclusions, talking points, or action plans for this war. We will, but we want you, the progressive soldier to have some time to consider how this information can be of the best use to you in your cause, where you live. That got the team talking.

Without "finalizing" and putting to bed this issue, one we obviously believe to be singularly important to us, because we do absolutely believe it to be of the greatest importance to you, our conversations have turned to what many would believe to be the next important question:

How do we use this information to determine our future actions? How can we implement a determined strategy in time to have the impact we wish on the November, 2014 elections? Who should lead us? How should we communicate with those leaders effectively, in a timely manner so as to create the opposition against our adversaries? What would victory look like?

It was that last question that had a bunch of people looking squarely into my face, as if I should, somehow not only be able, but willing to forcefully and passionately discourse on THE answer. Hundreds of pairs of eyes, mind you, from across the nation are looking at me like I'm somehow the Shell Answer Man.

I gave that job up some long time ago now. Having had the position for more than four decades, I felt that I had done my part; that it was well time for someone else to pick up the ball and run with it, as it were. The trouble was that I did have a few answers. I thought they were good ones. I want(ed) to put them out for consideration. (Note the sliding transition?) I think they should be considered; moreover I believe they are such correct answers that they should be immediately employed across our nation, right now.

Where are we going, as a nation? That's a huge question. While not necessarily the answer many would accept in 2014, I do happen to be a bit of an historian by nature and education. If you want to truly understand the nature of a thing, look at the people involved in, subject to, or affected by that thing. In 24 recorded 2-hour events, PPTS has done just that. But, there lies at the heart of our nation today a much more, I would contend, fundamental question than our show's mantra of "What are YOU going to do about it?"

In our latest show, we begin to search for not merely a functional or useful answer to this question, but one which compels us, as citizen, to act. That is, after all, the Progressive way. (It's available for you here, on the right sidebar under our "Current" shows listing.

In the coming weeks we will look both to history AND current affairs to come to some fundamental conclusions about the answer to this question. Through our staff research and (hopefully) yours, we should have some civil discourse  about the answer to this new question. In fairness, this question is not new. It has been answered on several occasions before, in (and before) our history as a nation.  We'll use that historicity to look at some potential answers to this notion of where we are, or at least where we should, as citizen, be leading our nation into the decades and centuries ahead.

My contention is that we do have the opportunity to reevaluate the conditions which led to previous answers, so we can understand how to make current decisions that will make those answers better for us as citizen. This is neither easy, or easily dismissive work. Yet, in my view it is the most immediate and necessary work citizen can do for our nation, and for our democratic republic. We do stand to lose both. The fact that you do not fully appreciate the truth of that statement so alarms me that I am putting the resources available to me into full use. This isn't play time, and the work required is absolutely NOT for the feint of heart, or for the "sunshine patriot".

I hope you will join us for these next weeks as we hear from history as we ask, and answer this most compelling question of our time.


The Tennessee Progressive

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Politics of High Summer--And Why You'd BETTER Care!

On our last show, we reviewed the last week's Primary action, which represented the largest number of Primary elections remaining until November. The week began on Tuesday, stretched to Thursday, and came home on Saturday.

Today, Primary elections are contained in this 24 hours for the week. We'll do a review of these activities, focusing on the upper Midwestern US with some hum-dinger, doozy of some races in, among other places, Minnesota.

We hope you will join us this  coming Sunday, beginning at 2PM (Central Time) for a full review of some Hi Summer Politics, and the Hy-jinks and hilarity that go with them.

We will also cover the leading news of the day, and offer our respect, gratitude and thanks to one of the most amazing comedic minds of this, or any other time: Robin Williams.

Sometimes, things just happen at the speed of life.

Sometimes, there's no way to get out of the fast lane in time to avoid a collision. Sometimes, life wins. Sometimes, it doesn't.

We're on the air!

We'll see YOU there!

Monday, July 28, 2014

PPTS: July 27, 2014 "The Battle For Coffee Party USA (Part 2 of 3)

Comes to us now the question that is most often uttered by the non-believer:

"What Can I Do About It?"

Here's one man's answer:

This is one of the more important speeches of my adult lifetime. It should be one of yours, as well. Why?

As much as I believe it gives clear and convincing evidence of the fantasy of the question above, it also speaks directly for--and to the Coffee Party USA. This speech was delivered by Rev. Dr. Barber the evening immediately following the "March On Detroit", a Netroots Nation action addressing the plight of some 90,000 Detroiters who found themselves without water.

Amazing as this peroration is, it also addresses the central (core) question of today's investigation of the Coffee Party USA:

"Why Should I Care?"

There are many who believe that everyone believes the implicit answer to the first question, and that no one fancies answering the second. Yet, if we were to pay just a bit more attention, with our unique ears, the ears of "citizen", we might well see proof that there ARE individuals who are not only activists in their speech, but in their direct action as well.

From a single comment, from one single person on a FaceBook page has grown a movement of more than 1,100 members, more than 400,000 "likes" on FaceBook, multiple local organizations, and significant national, regional, state and local activism. Regardless of what you may believe, that's a lot of result for one person's single comment on social media. One person.

The amazing journey has seen tremendous victories, and dangerous failings. That's the way of movement birth. Trying to consolidate a unified message around so many prevailing needs, activities, and activists is very much like herding cats. Even on a good day, it can seem nothing more than disorganized chaos (the worst kind of chaos, after all!). Passionate activism is difficult to contain, and even direct. The Progressive tent is perhaps the largest among them all, but even this canopy cannot always contain those individuals who seek a wrong, and try to make things right. The progressive movement is not one defined by, or restricted to political ideology: it is all about action that helps those with passion and purpose become the change they seek.

Bringing resources to bear on those things that matter most in a land so often divided can be a daunting task in the best of circumstance. Coordinating, or even defining a message that will be shared and agreed to by so many requires many skills. Perhaps the greatest among those skills is flexibility.

"Now!" is a very important term when you are discussing movements of change. The Coffee Party USA has found itself squarely in the sites of its own members at times, who care much more for relevant activism than the mundane affairs of organization. So it is with new movements. Flexibility matched with patience and perseverance are hallmarks of activist organizers. Leaders often find themselves more the victim then the victor. When so many issues of such great weight and importance assail a nation--or a world, time is often the greatest of all enemies. Every month paced as details and plans are made, it is inevitably people who have to pay the greatest price. Sometimes, when that people is enshrined in a person you know, and care about, time is mostly measured in time lost. While it is easier to see that reality in far away places, it is sometimes as close as your own small rural community. You will often hear a quote by Former U. S. Speaker of the House of Representatives Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neal, Democrat from Boston, Massachusetts who said that "All politics is local." But, very few ever complete the quote. The full quote of Mr. O'Neal is that "All politics is local--and personal!"

While much can be forgiven or overlooked when the first part of that quote is bandied about, the same is not true for the second and concluding part. It is true that the closer to the roof under which you live, the more politics matters, when it becomes personal for you is when politics matters the most. War is not such a terrible decision until your child dies in combat. Education is a large, nebulous issue until your school closes because the citizens of your community refused a mill levy increase to provide salaries for teachers. Poverty is endemic, and a reality in every nation that doesn't "touch" you until you are living under a bridge, hungry and unable to receive the medications you need to live.

Issues and news items become depressing, and untrustworthy as you see them on the evening telecast. We feel, but we are very likely not to care as much as we would if we were the news that evening. It is quite difficult to empathize with a mourning mother until it is your child laying on a Mortician's table. Politics is local--and personal. We as citizen have for years tried to insulate ourselves from the "tyranny of the urgent" so prevalent in our news. Not only as citizen, but as humans our life experiences have been impacted for so very long, and to such a very great degree that we repair to the seeming illusion of safety within our families and even our towns.

We have, for four generations now, failed to teach our progeny the important lessons of citizen. One of the guiding principles of democracy has been that it is citizen who defends and protects that same democracy. Like it or not, there are times when citizen is called upon to live up to the demands, obligations, and privileges of that same democracy as citizen. One person, acting in accord with others who not only understand the term, but are somehow hard wired to live it out. It is not when being citizen is convenient that we find our best measure, but when being citizen is so very, very hard.

When those hard times come calling, citizen seeks citizen for comfort, for understanding, for guidance and leadership in ways and areas that polity does not tread. Our political ideology fails us, and we seek out the knowing eye of citizen standing beside us to find our strength to stand up, step out, and through transformative action renew a pledge made long before by those who have paid, even with their blood.

It is at times such as these that communities of activists seem to emerge from the fog of the irrelevant, from the long gone veteran to the child taught that citizen is not merely a word, but a birth right. We grow within it, most often without even knowing that it is citizen being prepared for "that" moment when not one more moment can pass without our activism. From protecting our planet when the aggregious and casual arrogance of mankind makes the damage (and the potential results of that arrogance) so very clear that we can no longer avoid or ignore it, to discovering that the failure to expand Medicaid in your State is directly impacting hundreds of thousands of your fellow citizen, those moments do come. When they do, it is through movements such as the Coffee Party USA that we rally around each other because we must. It is who we are. It is what we do. It is why America matters, not just to citizen, but as a citizen herself to a global community screaming in agony for hope.

The original founders of the Coffee Party USA have confidently left the organization to its membership, to have the battles that will rage for so long as anyone has that moment. In good times, and through some presently very bad times, the significance of the Coffee Party USA lies within the vision, mission and purpose of the organization. That is where citizen matters. That is where citizen gathers. When it is your moment, the organization should rally to your cause, just as you rally to another member's cause in their time, their moment. Now, these visionary Americans are doing what they do in other areas of our land, calling other citizens to their very best moments--and their worst.

What Tip O'Neal knew so many years ago is that "Now!" is very real, and a time any self-respecting politician should always watch for. Of course, his was a history where some citizens arose to greatness, while others simply had greatness thrust upon them. We today are no different. We are no less citizen and we share the responsibility for our national life and identity. Beyond the sometimes terrible strife and angst of party ideology, or the "sturm und drang" of national life, citizen still receives the call. That call is inevitably local, and very personal. It has always been so.

A community discovers to its collective horror that a corporation, interested in nothing more than corporate profits, intends to remove any semblance of health or medical care from thousands of its citizens. With the absolute assurance that in only months, communities who have survived the worst the world had to offer could begin their death throes for no reason more or less than the profit of a not-for-profit business entity wanting to pump up its paid insurance collections, to dilute its mix of medicaid payments and poverty-stricken patients who, while being diverse, are also pretty poor overall. The community looks for direction, for the leadership to help them avoid this dangerous cliff.

Welcome to Belhaven, North Carolina, 2014. The community looks to it's local government and its mayor to keep its citizens alive, and healthy. And together. The Mayor reaches out to the hospital corporation, seeking discussion. Nothing. The Mayor reaches out to the Governor of his State, and his Statehouse delegation. Nothing. He reaches out to his federal delegation. Nothing. The hospital is going to close, and the closest medical care will be 109 miles away. If that's a problem...move.

Suddenly, national conversations around Medicaid expansion, The Affordable Care Act, and Medicare have come home. These issues are now local. And then? While waiting for an hour to be airlifted to the closest hospital facility, a member of the community dies from the ravaging effects of a myocardial infarction (MI), a heart attack. She expired in an ambulance, in the care and company of EMT's who had done all they could. As the helicopter landed, this community citizen died.

Politics is personal. A family of three children and a loving husband have lost their waystar. A community has lost one of its own. The Mayor? He determines that, for himself, this must not stand.
Hear Belhaven Mayor Adam O'Neal (R-Belhaven) (no relation), and his continuing story, in his own words:

This is one man's journey to citizen. Tomorrow morning, around 10 AM (Eastern Time), he will cross the 14th Street Bridge into the bowels of Foggy Bottom. They wouldn't come to him. He is coming to them. I hope he has just a ton of fellow citizens who will complete the last five miles of this walk with and for him. The Coffee Party USA didn't create Mayor O'Neal, but the Coffee Party USA is cognizant of the truth that one person can make a difference. One person can even change the world. Bus loads of the members of his community will be waiting for Mayor O'Neal tomorrow. So will Rev. Barber. A local, personal saga continues for one man. I hope his walk will ignite citizen across this land.

That's why you should care.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Personal Battlefield: The Battle For Coffee Party USA

Over the past 24 weeks, this show has been focused on a national war, namely "The War on the Poor!". In our investigations, we have looked at, defined, and given citizen calls to action for seven "Battle Fields" of that War.

Beginning on Sunday, July 20th, 2014, "Progressive Politics:Tennessee Style" (PPTS) will begin a three episode investigation into the Coffee Party USA. We will look at the origins and founding of the Coffee Party USA from an historical perspective, why it was begun, who began it, and what the expectations for Coffee Party USA were.

We'll discuss the activities, activists and activism of the Coffee Party USA since its inception as a comment on a FaceBook page. More than 400,000 "Likes", and more than 1,100 members later, we'll look at what challenges and successes face the Coffee Party USA today, and tomorrow.

For both clarity, and for the purposes of fair play and disclosure, I am a member of the Coffee Party USA, and was recently recruited to stand as a candidate to become President of the Board of Directors of the organization. This, and future episodes of PPTS will look not at my personal dealings with CPUSA, but the organization as a whole. (In fact, I received a letter this week from the current Board of Directors informing me that my membership in "that" organization has been revoked, my sustaining financial contributions "banned", and advice to consider becoming a member of some other (any other) organization. I now feel completely free to investigate professionally the organization of today, and look at the possibilities and plans for the organization of tomorrow.

This is my personal space. I use it as I see fit. I will not be silenced, or have my activism challenged by individuals who do not, in my professional estimation, have the knowledge, expertise or experience to adjudicate my worthiness--for anything. Nor should you, and that is why YOU should do something about it. Gaining insight and information about an amazing group is a really great "first step" to your own activism, within twelve blocks of your home.

We're on the air!

We'll see YOU there.

PS: Three items have been added to this blog's side bar today. One is a donation site for PPTS itself. We need your help to remain on the air for the next 12 months. Your donation of a small portion of your treasure will insure that our more than 50,000 listens this year can double across America in the next twelve months. Without your help, PPTS will be forced, once again, into an involuntary hiatus. Never has there been a more important time for us to be on the air. Please help us.

The other two new items are self explanatory. Please consider them as means to your personal activism. Thank you.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Three Themes from Global Connectors +SocialGood

One of the great sadnesses of our time is that we fail to see the amazing among us. Fix it

Three Themes from Global Connectors +SocialGood

Highlights from the Connectors and Advisors convening in Washington DC.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Global Cities+Social Good

Having no apparent solutions to real problems is what makes us citizen. Join in!

Global Cities+Social Good

It is not news that the urban sphere is becoming ever important. By 2050, over 70 percent of humanity will be living in urban centers, in the greatest shift in humanity's living conditions since the shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture. But more than that, urbanization—just like globalization—has become a fundamental process affecting the landscape of international affairs, defining the human experience in the 21st century as never before. This innovative half-day summit will explore the nexus between technology and policy and how they are contributing to better and more sustainable urban living. The summit will bring together mayors, public policy experts, leaders in technology and city design, and influencers in...Read More

Sunday, June 29, 2014

PPTS For Sunday, June 29, 2014: "The War on the Poor!":The Battle For Equality" (Part 1 of 3)

For the majority of 2014, PPTS has been investigating a series of realities in the United States, and around the globe. We have chosen the title "The War on the Poor".

As we begin the seventh of a planned series of eight particular investigations, "The Battle For Equality", I'd like to give you our framework for every episode in this series. It's nothing magical, or ultra-intelligence at play. It's very simple, formulaic, and something we highly encourage anyone to use if they wish to look into something of both value AND substance. It's been a long look for us, and we've had to remain flexible to current news and activities. Periodic interruptions have put the series into a "time out" of sorts along the way. So, following the PPTS Rule #1:

Rule #1

Flexibility is the first requirement of success.

With a really good plan, things happen intentionally. There is no doubt that sometimes, unanticipated things just happen. But things tend to happen at the speed of life. If your plans are so fixed that any deviation causes your plan to collapse, you have not planned properly or realistically.

On our show, we have learned the skills of flexibility well. I'm proud of our teams who have come to understand and adopt for themselves the necessity of flexibility. One member gets very ill, and must be hospitalized. Someone fills in, without complaint. The team continues forward, according to the plan. Or not. If we cannot viably cover that team member's role (and we should be able to, normally.) then the activity is temporarily suspended. Other activity, which is possible, is pursued until all is well, the team re-united, and we move forward together.

It's not because we have, as a team, committed inflexibly to some rule, or policy, or procedure. It is rather because we have committed, as a team, to each other, the show, and our listeners. As we do find our show's origins generally within the scope and sphere of politics in America from the Progressive viewpoint, the production values of an episode are vital to our success. One of those production values is current relevance to our listeners. Natural disasters, crime, war, and many other new realities upon us as a nation may show a need to create an entirely new episode, on the fly. This team has learned to do that very well. Flexibility continues, sometimes even in the midst of a live show.

The Questions

From a "clean screen" to the final edited show for the archives and replay, the following questions are always in play:

1. What do we think we know? (Opinions, the "noise" of the moment, etc.)

2. What can we prove we know? (What is truth, versus opinion, versus lie?)

3. What do we know we know? (The difference that will become our episode.)

And then, a second series of questions guides our team through the final production of the episode:

4. What does our listener know? (Have we correctly parsed the issue(s) into sufficiently useful information for our listeners in a way they can use correctly?) 

In this series, this is the focal point of the first of the three episodes around each battlefield.

5. Why should he/she care? (Have we truly engaged our listener in a manner conducive to a passion of interest that will change their lives?)

This is the second focus, and usually (but not always) grounds the show's second of the three episodes.

6. What are they now empowered to do about it? (What confidence do we have in our product that our listener will "buy into", and take personal ownership responsibility for in their lives of activism?)

This is the final focus, which brings together the previous two episodes in the series, and hopefully catapults our listeners into action.

When we begin to tackle the whole arena of "Equality", we very quickly began to understand that this is a very active word, with multiple meanings to multiple constituencies. We saved it for the seventh "Battlefield" because of the potential universal application of the term across many fronts. We will give voice to several areas of equality in this investigation, and we will focus, beginning today, on some of them.

However, this is the point in our investigation where our listeners can really "bring us home"! There is not even a reliable textbook definition of some forms of equality that we live with every day. The correct use of the term completely depends upon context. Mine is not yours. Yours matters.

We looked, as we began planning for this series, for impressive and knowledgeable Special Guests to help us all speak as one voice, equal. We learned that this particular goal is simply not possible: impossible, in fact. The strongest voice is not necessarily "The" voice required. Yours is.

We hope you will join us on Sunday, June 29, 2014, for a two-hour conversation about "The Battle For Equality" and let us know your answers to the questions which drive PPTS.

We'll see you there!

For Progressive Politics:Tennessee Style, I am

The Tennessee Progressive

Monday, June 16, 2014

June 14th, 2014 "The War on the Poor:The Battle For Religion" (Part 2 of 3) "Dialogue"

Today's show now posted for your viewing and commenting pleasure, is a "raw" cut, which means it has not yet been edited. When that edit is complete, I will reload the edited version to the Blog Talk Radio site, and this blog as well.

In a quick re-listening (always a difficult task for me), I must tell you I was not drunk. That being said:

The working title for this episode was "Dialogue".

The term comes from two Greek words of origin. The first is "Dia", which is most correctly translated as "two". The second word is "logos", which most correctly translates to the English word "words".

The rather common definition of the term, then, comes to us as "Two words". The words themselves are each owned by another than yourself. The idea behind it is that it takes two to have dialogue, or discourse on some subject or another.

Before the words matter, the concept of dialogue should be addressed. Sometimes, by voluntary participation, two different words, or ideas, or positions find each other in the same place at one time. In these days, many feel compelled not to speak at all. Most of those who feel a significant allegiance to one position or another may not come to that position from a logical path. When faced with the option of participating in discourse, any number of emotional responses might immediately feed the mind, while completely ignoring the voice. Words make us think. They also make us feel. Emotions do not think. Logic does not feel.

It would therefore make some sense that these two relational differences might at first seem to be antithetical to the entire notion of dialogue. That's because they are. These two worlds exist as polar opposites, yet they do feed into the human determination of what in politics we call "position". Do you have a position on ____?

How many times will your initial response be something like "Well, I'm not sure. Let me give that some thought (and emotion) and I'll get back to you. Would that be alright?" Why should it be? Why not?

Asking for, or offering a position on virtually anything can nail you forever to that particular spot, no matter what the topic may be. It may be a voluntary assignment, or an involuntary determination placed upon you by another. We have this overwhelming competitive spirit as humans (well, at least those of us with a belly button!) that we will most often immediately gravitate to the internal opinion that we are needing to be "right" (correct). Our opinion or understanding of a topic really takes a back seat to our intent to win.

Politics is filled with this dangerous paradigm. We must, however recall that, across the arc of human history, politics has started or ended many fewer conflicts between humans than religion ever has. Human secularism has sought to fill it's population from that perspective, namely if religion has wrought this, then religion just is not for me. Further, and in these days more commonly, we hear that having a religious identity or a personal faith is an outward sign of our ignorance. I refer to such thinking as "fleeing to the extremes" because that is precisely what we do. How can dialogue exist in such an environment?

Oddly enough, that very truth has become a defensive weapon on one side, and a powerful offensive weapon on the other side of the Battle For Religion. One reason fleeing to the extremes is so potent for both sides is that the middle ground is vacant. It is the middle ground where dialogue potentially exists. As a result, dialogue just doesn't happen.

Is it possible to create dialogue in such a place with views, opinions and/or convictions are so concretized as if hard wired within us? What is it that we fear losing, and at what cost? If we can come to grips with this answer, not only does dialogue become possible, but so does dialogue about pretty much anything else. Therein lies the hope of some, and the greatest possible danger to others. The ideology surrounding this concept is the power center for both. When we exit the possibility of dialogue, we give up the possibilities for dialogue, consensus, and compromise. We need not give up our religious or faith beliefs to have such a dialogue, yet we constantly feel threatened at the notion.

Abortion. Marriage Equality. The Death Penalty. These are but brief examples of a very long list of issues which are, or are alleged to be centered around the idea of "religious liberty". Some look at our First Amendment to The Constitution as giving American citizen the freedom OF religion, while others view the statement as insuring the American citizen the freedom FROM religion. Sadly, there are very few better examples of fleeing to the extremes. The First Amendment prohibits the establishment of a State Religion. This comes from history, specifically feudal and fiefdom theology of Europe, where towns were said to belong to a specific religion. We said that we would not have such a thing as a State Religion here in America. Some States and Commonwealths did establish official "State" religions upon their founding. Pennsylvania and Massachusetts come to my mind. Utah comes to mind. Pilgrims were considered to be a religious sect. That notion, and those constitutional foundations have since been repealed.

Bring us forward through the annals of our national history, and you arrive at the notion of religious liberty as it applies to virtually everything, and usually in a most negative way. The Catholic Church is excoriated for it's denial of child sexual assault while protecting the perpetrators from the world of Justice. Many Catholics now face the wrath of ignorance by those who tell them that being Catholic automatically implies their support of pedophilia. This is the cultural insanity that can originate in one wrong logical thought. Why bother having a dialogue about this, or any other religion-centric topic?

For the same reason we should come together, and reason together.  The American citizen is not asked which side should win. The American citizen is not asked who is right in the position they hold.

The American citizen is required to answer the question that asks "What is the best result for the citizen?"

If we can just come together with our different opinions and convictions, especially with the answer to this question as the basis (and limit) of civil discourse, there is much we can do. There is much we cannot do, issues we cannot reasonably arrest and force into the common marketplace of ideas, debate and discourse. But there are many things we can do. Having a reasoned, civil, respectful, honest discourse is something we can, should, and must do. We must determine that we will not flee to the extremes.

Even in conversations about religion.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Where Have The Blog Posts Been?

Interesting question. More interesting answer.

Note To Whom It May, or May Not Concern: 

You chose to allow me no respect, civility, courtesy or rational discussion on your blog. No problem. I'll do it on mine. Come and find me. Just remember, I know where you write, as well. It ain't over until I've had MY say, too. Deal.

I am, after some serious discussions with several different groups of individuals, corporations, national affiliations, etc., choosing to stand as a candidate for the Presidency, Board of Directors, Coffee Party USA. (I KNOW!) :)

Should I be honored enough to win this election, I will immediately be 2,847,091.06789st in the line of succession to the Presidency of The United States. So, I believe we're safe. No, I'm sure we're safe.

Because of that particular diversion of my life, the previous two PPTS shows have removed the show from the intended track just a bit.

A. Two weeks ago, the Acting President of the Coffee Party USA, Debilyn Molineau was my Special Guest. We spent the show discussing all things CPUSA from primarily her point of view. We talked of her plans and goals for the movement in the next two years, as well as her feelings of the accomplishments the Coffee Party has been able to achieve in the 2 months since her coming to the Board of Directors, having been appointed by a greatly reduced Board to the position. Mine was an offer to the Acting President of Coffee Party USA to face our membership, answer some important inquiries of concern to the organization's membership, and try to smooth some ruffled feathers within the membership.

Great show. No problem.

Last week, I invited several potential candidates to share the show with another potential candidate (myself), to perform together a bit of Kabuki theater. My idea was to have an educational experiment, whereby:

B. Potential candidates might seriously reflect upon the roles they would assume in the Coffee Party USA organization with a successful campaign and election. To that end, I believe most of the candidates did a superb job of genuinely considering the responsibilities and obligations of leadership, generally and within a fractured Coffee Party USA membership, specifically. There were some developments into particulars regarding current or future potential (or both) members of the board that came up, and I take full responsibility for every one them. It was not, as has since been falsely alleged, a "campaign ploy using Coffee Party USA Radio to further candidates in favor of other candidates". It was not "ill-conceived and unfortunate timing" by myself or anyone else, for that matter. Two things on that:

     1. We responded to questions from our audience about specifics. This was absolutely intentional. Having my Special Guests interact from the potential capacity as a sitting member of the Coffee Party USA Board of Directors was a specific educational intent of this particular show. I specifically informed my guests that, if a specific question arose, either from the audience OR the panel, it should be addressed by the person(s) whose position should most likely be responsible for handling it AFTER the election.

     2. I was on that panel, as well. I understood from the beginning that this might get "dicey" down the road, and spent many hours with many people arguing that the educational value for these potential candidates, and our general membership outweighed the potential for unnecessary drama from the ... anything.. After hearing all the arguments for and against, I went with "For" the motion. As much as this was an educational experiment for the potential candidates, I also wanted there to be a real sense of what it feels like for these candidates, now loosely confederated into some ethereal (at the time; it would concretize on this show!) entity loosely referred to as "The Civility Slate". The goal was to have real-time interaction to, and from our membership. Who are our members? What do they truly and passionately care about? I don't know, let's ask them--and listen intently to their response. They spoke, as did we, the potential candidates. We listened, as did they, the audience of PPTS. The experiment proved successful, purely on those grounds.

Not so good.

CPUSA pulled the show. CPUSA excoriated the show, myself and staff, the episode's panel--and the membership--on the (then) front page of the CPUSA blog. These actions were, according to Debilyn in a subsequent, and completely uncivil conversation on my part, the work of both Debilyn and CPUSA current Vice President Egberto Willies.

Both of these events were undertaken and completed without preamble or notice to me. I learned of them as I was preparing to leave for an emergency medical consult with my Physician. I learned of them as my Facebook page exploded in front of me. I stayed and dealt with it, and lawyers, and corporate Boads of Directors wanting some serious CPUSA financial blood. I'm dealing with the medical stuff still. I was angry then. I'm sore now. I'll most likely, at this particular point survive both. No problems. Moving on....

I own the show, not CPUSA.  It is the proprietary intellectual property of a corporation NOT CPUSA. It is my corporation's intellectual property, not CPUSA. Courtesy matters where I come from. Respect is due those who give their time, talent and treasure to your cause. Yadayadayada.

For some mysterious reason, the show suddenly reappeared. I had nothing to do with either occurrence. It disappeared, and reappeared. Again. It disappeared and has not, as of this writing, reappeared.

CPUSA used the blog post to refute the show, the candidates opposing them in the upcoming election, screaming of "unfair advantage" "incivility", etc. While I would have LOVED to respond with a Blog post of my own, I was not afforded so much as the courtesy of an opportunity to reply to that blog post. Evidently, I am persona non grata on the Blog. Time out for bad behavior. Please see item A above.

So, a potential candidate for the Presidency, Board of Directors CPUSA comes on my show, at my invitation and spends two hours presenting herself in every possible position, and it's all fine and good. "Her" camp approves. (By her own statements after the fact, just so ya know. It was honestly a tough show to host, and my guest stood in the face of an ill wind with considerable aplomb. She deserves credit for that, and I happily give what I can of it to her.)

C. We are all, as I write this, potential candidates. No applicant has been given that status of "Candidate" yet. HER candidate vetting committee is currently determining for themselves who will be found worthy to stand for the general membership to choose which candidates (that survive the vetting process) will be on the ballot. The deadline has passed (currently) for applications. The applications closed on the midnight, Hawai'i time following the show last Sunday. No more applications would be accepted. You didn't pay your membership dues until two days following the deadline for financial or other reasons? Sorry. Thanks for the bucks. Hope ya run next year. (Twice). Yeah, some of my Special Guests last week, in fact. Don't know, but haven't heard of any others.

Well, except the one person who my Special Guest from two weeks ago "supposedly" begged to run...yesterday. (Pease carefully note the quotes. This is nothing more than pure, unsubstantiated speculation--except for the email, the sworn testimony of the allegee, the eyewitnesses to the events and those immediately following the alleged incident, etc.) Are their others? Who knows? Only a few select persons (Members of the current BoD, and some 3 "volunteer members", one of whom was a previously paid employee of CPUSA, but I do digress...

Yus, I haz a sad. I'm sorry, does it show? Ignore, move along. Nothing to question here.

Ergo, the basis of why about 40% of the known general membership has been demanding for some time now that the current board step down.

Which is why I chose to run in the first place. Choice matters when you speak truth to power. Things change, or at least they can change. Silence changes nothing other than the irrational belief that there is now consent. If the membership of Coffee Party USA are willing to vote me to be the next President of our organization, it will be because I have earned their vote, I didn't buy it, or intimidate it, or promise in return for it. If I have not done so honestly and honorably, I should not be elected to this important (and volunteer) position. Nobody should. Ever.

Given that, in light of these and other difficulties over the past couple of weeks, the PPTS you know and love has gone forward to what will be, this coming Sunday, a continuation of our originally intended show's operation and investigation on "The War On The Poor: The Battle For Religion" (Part 2 of 3) PPTS is safely and permanently ensconced, once again, in our previous digs at Progressive Politics: Tennessee Style" (PPTS). The show will no longer, for at least the foreseeable future, reside or be a part of Coffee Party USA Radio Network. Why?

1. Call me names. Don't take my stuff. I don't like it when you take my stuff. Ever. Call it Hillbilly Privilege. Don't hurt my people. As in, stop hurting my people. People say that I'm not significant enough to worry about. They are probably correct. They are correct in the exact same way as when they say a Mother Bear is not significant to anyone threatening her children, the baby bears. Probably. Well, close at least. Close enough? We'll see.

2. In all honesty, whether or not I am "vetted" and allowed to stand as the opposition candidate for the Presidency of the Coffee Party USA, having my show on Coffee Party Radio Network in it's current form is simply lightening waiting to strike. I learned this last week, as well. It's not Conflict of Interest which worries me, although that has already emerged as an issue for some people. Some people have told me that do not listen because they do not care for the theme music. Some say that, while they love the show, they are hesitant to recommend it to others because of the first word in the title.

Simple. Problem solved. It's not about any "unfair advantage". One potential candidate got two uninterrupted hours with me. Problem solved. You will find that show here. You will no longer find that show there. Fairness for all concerned is only fair.

This election matters to many thousands of members and interested persons looking to the Coffee Party USA to be dispassionate arbiters of compromise. As it's potential President, one of the conditions of my candidacy (and every other person's candidacy, too!) is that my obligation as Candidate (if and when that happens) requires something of me that would be only marginally required otherwise as PPTS. Here, I'm not a freakin' public figger, for cryin' out loud. I'm just a Hillbilly with a big mouth and a microphone. Who cares?

As a leader of Coffee Party USA? Yeah, that's an equine of an entirely different hue! (A famous line from one of my novels.) The show's separation does offer a couple of distinct advantages in this regard. Candidates have been urged not to campaign at all until the official ballot is released. Great, if not hilarious. Yeah, right.

We'll see you right here, on Sunday, June 15th, 2014. We'll be on the air (and we'll STAY on the air!)

We'll see YOU there!

The Tennessee Progressive

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The War on the Poor: Religion--The Sixth Battlefield (Part 1 of 3)

We move this week onto the heights overlooking a new battlefield in "The War on the Poor: The Battle For (On?) Religion!".

Consultations during the framing of this conversation have seen many prefer this particular battlefield ranked higher, discussed earlier, and perhaps even longer than our 3 week format would allow. We begin what I hope will be, for each battlefield (and the war itself) a continuing dialogue leading participants with differing viewpoints to the "Golden Moment" opportunity to arrive somewhere apart from the edges (or fringes) of this battlefield with a newly discovered understanding of other points of view, other positions and other possibilities. First, however, we must begin.

As I look out upon this particular battlefield, it is one which I know well, and perhaps best. I would like to put it to you that this battlefield is laid out in quadrants. Without any particular order (or bias), they are:

The Humanist/Secular Viewpoint

The Divine Viewpoint

The Social Viewpoint

The Practical Viewpoint

While it may not at first seem to be the case, there is a lot of overlap among and between these various viewpoints. Rather than try to place politics, issues, candidacies or candidates into a box of my qualification only, I would much rather make some garrishly over-generalized definitions, and allow you to do that. 

Firstly, about this whole religion thing. There are two principal schools of thought currently enjoying popularity amongst moral ethecists such as myself from which our opinions, ruminations, perambulations and prevarications tend to arise. 

From a religion standpoint, these differing schools do offer one grotesquely common border: The definition of religion as it pertains to humanity. Specifically, Human Rights and/or human dignity. This is going to be fast, so don't lay about. This is, after all, a blog: not a book.

The Humanist/Secularist Viewpoint tends to espouse the view (that is, a complete spectrum of belief systems) that mankind derives human rights because mankind as an individual exists in nature. "Natural Law", or more appropriately "Natural Rights". This is to say, generally that mankind determines what are human rights based upon schema of his own design and definition, and upon a variety of other external, ancillary or even barely tangential fields of knowledge or expertise(Biology, Sociology, Anthropology, Humanities, etc.) 

There are several and even ancient writings on this particular subject. (Plato, Bentham, Locke, etc.) As these humanist folk are doing a lot of current work in political science, political theory, education and philosophy, I will leave it to you to discover where the conversations within this particular school are currently situated. 

Under this scientific/social/philosophical/religious construct, human dignity is automatically absent--or at least sub-serviant to other autonomies which validate or give legitimacy to the definition(s) the holders of this school either create for themselves, or accept from others whom they hold in great esteem.

Strangely, (and in an ongoing conundrum for these thought leaders) the economic, social, religious and political solutions they most usually create, or at least accept from others are solutions of utility: "The greatest good for the greatest number". 

This is at best odd, and at worst contradictory because it lies in direct opposition to the tenets which make their choices acceptable to them. 

The resulting dilemma for these folks is that they must somewhere accept both the legitimacy of human dignity and human rights in terms, and applicable to degrees they can neither fully comprehend nor accept. They certainly do not control them; a most perplexing reality, indeed.

Actions, programs and policies they would tend to create and accept sound very rational and fair, but have a great tendency to fail for lack of clarity and purpose with no "exit strategy".

As for the second (and final for today) viewpoint, a lot of folks who mainly identify themselves as being with the "Religion Viewpoint" accept the reality of both human dignity and human rights as arriving with them (humankind) at some point which lies somewhere between conception and birth--and some self-defined "age of majority" that may even include the moment of death. (Talk about an exit strategy!)

These terms are not merely societal or dogmatic: they are proven and confirmed experientially for these actors. As such, these subjects are always fluid, based upon some pre-conceived notions of accuracy or comparison to theological teaching or religious dogma. This teaching, dogmatic theological structuring and experiential living is very seldom in harmony, even between two members.

These folks view their rights and dignity as being passed along to them by a Creator, who gives these traits to His created beings. Even the definitions of "human rights" and "human dignity" are widely varied, even within the same community or group affiliation. 

Where such terms should naturally find agreement, it is rather dilution, specialization, or superiority (forced or enforced) over "other" which tends to create multi-faceted layers on the spectrum which can change from religion to religion, or sect, or cult. 

The creator either pre-ordains, peri-ordains, or post-ordains human value, dignity, and worth depending on who you talk to. As for human rights, these tend to get so glossed over as to make your eyes a bit fuzzy. 

Those who ally themselves with this camp also see both human rights and the concept of human dignity to be absolute definitions, with clear scope and limit. If someone does not meet the terms of the definitions, they are outside the scope which affords either human dignity or human rights to others. They are deemed to be off limits.

Strangely enough, this group tends to advocate the most directly for social and religious justice, for programs that protect and advance the human condition within their communities. I know, go figure!

One of the primary reasons these two identity groups (and again, remember that I am warning you, in advance that these are grossly over-generalized definitions) seem to be talking past one another is that the results of the practice of their beliefs on the really important issues is that they must each go "through" the other camp to arrive at determinations, choices, and actions they would nominally prefer to create themselves. Kantian moral philosophy is instructive for these communities (among many others). 

Make no mistake, there are very strong religious components ready to align themselves on this battlefield for not only scientific, but also altruistic purposes. The argument tends to break down the dialogue right about the point where one group declares itself to be "the right one" on a particular point. 

Because each camp has highly favored viewpoints that each would really never voluntarily lay aside, this battlefield is one which is paved with the gold of those who would buy the power of a strong moral position. This has virtually nothing to do with being either right, or in the right. Both camps are arrayed with diversionary attacks, feints, and defenses which they see as, perhaps if not convincing, at least convincing enough.

This is what you must consider. The greatest assets of each school comes with a vast number of powers and weaknesses which are both, on the battlefield, used for nothing more than distraction. 

For instance: Abortion. 

Does the federal/state/local government have an inherent right to force its way into a young pregnant woman's examination room and dictate what course of action she will/must take? Does the Church?

And, there you have the issue. Pro Choice and Pro Life camps are the distraction. 

As a final consideration for today try this one:

What about homosexuality, the LGBT communities, and marriage equality? Are we all equal in both our human dignity and our human rights, that all of both must necessarily extend to even those groups who are "other" across this globe?

What do you think each of the two groups I've defined today would say about each of these issues? And where, and how do we stand both socially and practically on them? How does our living testify to not only our beliefs, but our actions? Our policies? Our programs and direct actions every day? 

What are YOU going to do about it?

We'll be talking about things like this on our next show on Sunday, June 1, 2014. I hope you will come prepared to share with us in an open, civil dialogue about these and other pressing issues of the day on "Progressive Politics: Tennessee Style" (PPTS). We begin at 2:00 PM Central Standard Time. I look forward to seeing you there.

Bud Fields

Thursday, May 8, 2014

What Can YOU Do About It?

On the next installment of PPTS, I would just love to hear callers taking this battle to heart, and choosing to do something with this information. I do understand the "curb appeal" of sitting on the sidelines, and letting others do the heavy lifting. The entire engagement idea can be  hypnotizing to consider, and certainly can be interesting to watch. These choices, however, are insufficient for citizen. Choosing to observe engagement is a much safer (usually) option, until you come to understand that this is where democracy fails. More specifically, this is where citizen fails democracy.

Democracy is not--at least for citizen--a spectator sport. Neither is argument. Both only occur when you are engaged, involved, and passionately active within them. Snarking, or sniping from the sidelines is not participation in either democracy OR reasoned argument; it is evasion. This, too is a choice. I know this may sound a bit "preach-ey" as you read it; it is not meant to be. It is truth.

So, as for the title. The first thing YOU can do about it is to clearly understand that the choices are many, and as diverse as there are people reading these words, hearing our conversation, or walking upright. It's easy to create a list of possibilities, and I will--after Sunday's show. What I'm really looking forward to is to hear from, and share with you those ideas YOU are working on, or have employed in YOUR reasoned arguments. Innovation within ethical, moral and legal boundaries has been the exciting lifeblood of American democratic politics from the beginning. That has not changed, and there are those near you (or very far away) who are creating new opportunities to become engaged in reasoned argument every day that are valid, that are making a significant difference within twelve blocks of where they live.

While I will highlight a few of these, I'm really looking forward to hearing from those who are engaged, who are presenting their reasoned arguments for that which they passionately believe should be the change they seek.

This is perhaps the biggest lesson to be learned, and the most effective reason for any truly significant argument you create: Become the change you seek. You must understand that this truth stands at the center of the opposition against you, your idea(s), your plans and/or actions.

That's really true. It is also the most important thing YOU can do about it, no matter what "it" is. That is the power of citizen. Speaking truth to power, things change.

Friday, May 2, 2014

An Opinion on Reasoning

There are a couple of statements which I feel need to be made. One of them kept me awake last night.

When you are on a battlefield, it is sometimes difficult to see everything that is happening around you, especially when you are attacking someone else's position--or defending your position ON the battlefield. Make sense?

The smarter person will rather situate themselves on the highest possible position overlooking the battlefield before engaging the opponent. I encourage you to do this. 

The view is neutral from the highest point, and allows you to "see", often with the added luxury of time, more (if not all) of what is actually (or most likely will be) occurring on the battlefield. More importantly, this "bird's eye view" of the battlefield can help you prepare for battle. You can see topographically, spot landmarks, choose your own position(s) based upon their strength or weakness, and actually anticipate an opponent's defensive positions, create a fallback position, etc.

I know this sounds very militaristic. It is, and it isn't. Here is a great example to consider:

NB: I will admit that I love the optics here. Generally they make sense as they were the original topic of Campbell's speech. Here, however, the board behind him is just epic. :) Nevertheless, there is much to be learned here!

Just consider this example for a moment. What was the Proposition? What was the Opposition. Who wins here? Why, or why not? 

When you are engaged in true rhetorical argument, your intent is not to "win" the argument without your opponent's consent and agreement. Winning in this regard means that you will convince your opponent that your argument is a more correct one. That may (hopefully) happen because your supporting statements for your position are stronger and more legitimate. That may happen because, through your carefully crafted argument, your opponent will see or at least discover the weakness in their own position. 

Rhetorical argument does often have a "winner", but can also have multiple "losers" (including your argument!).  While a weak argument is precisely that, it is not as relative as you may think. Some arguments are weaker than others, without a clear or decisive "winner", or convincing argument. The greatest difficulty here is that we do want to convince others that our arguments are the best ones. 

This is why we hold the opinions we do. Proposition presents, and then Opposition presents their reasoned argument. But then, proposition presents counter arguments to the opposition's argument. BEWARE!

If the Proposition and/or Opposition arguments present weaknesses, these weaknesses can sometimes create "easy" counter-argument. This is where logical fallacy loves to play! Logical fallacy ALWAYS guarantees a losing argument!   

If you adopt a purely militaristic view, bad things will happen. Your intent in this case is not to share and participate in civil discourse. It is to win. Your proposition will not be available to counter-argument, OR civil discourse. Telling your opponent to shut up, or grow up, or just get over it is not an invitation to civil discourse; it is slamming the door leading to it.

You really do not want to hear, and are not interested in what your opposition has to say about the subject and it will come through in your argument, especially if you should find yourself guilty of logical fallacy. "You're just too stupid to understand reality!" is but one such example. 

Sitting high on a summit is not having superiority in the discourse because that is not where battle occurs. It does, however provide you with both time and space to carefully craft your argument, consider and perhaps even prepare for (or eliminate, in advance) potential opposition arguments and counter them. (The earlier this can be done, the better, but realize this is not positive argument! Don't waste your points in counter-argument!) Saying things which indicate your beliefs about your opponent's points is not a good idea. "Never interrupt an opponent when they are making a mistake!" is good counsel--especially in your own Proposition!

 "Please proceed, Governor." Remember that? You should. It won an election!

The entire purpose of the exercise is to create YOUR argument in such a way as to be convincing to your opponent. The success of your argument will be that it causes your opponent to consider--not adopt--your argument. That may (or will not) happen over time. That's the "juice" of reason! 

The juice of reason is consideration, which is the only path forward to agreement. Respecting your opposition is to grant them the intellectual space necessary not only to abandon some part (or all) of their argument, but to peacefully adopt all or part(s) of your argument. Discourse despises vacuum. Let your opponent fall into that trap. Silence can be your strongest ally in reasoned discourse.

That is what civil discourse is all about! If your argument has no exit, you have no argument. You may have a rant, or an all-out attack. You will NOT, however have an argument. That is very sad. It is nothing more than a wasted opportunity, and everyone suffers for it.

Another important point for finding the high peak before descending to the battlefield is that you may discover (and, usually to your shock and horror) that your argument cannot reasonably be defended. (Isn't that what you are hoping for in your opponent, after all? So is your opponent!) Declarations are the most usual culprits here. For example:

"The United States is nothing more than a Welfare State!", or

"Anybody who thinks we should tax the poor is a maniac!"

are two strong examples of declarations that just do not lend themselves to reasoned argument. These are, of course, logical fallacies. Logical fallacies stop reasoned argument dead in the water. 

You really want to get and understand this truth: that's why logical fallacies are most often used. The sadness is that they do sometimes occur "innocently", through ignorance. Yet, the result is the same. 

Logical fallacies can most often be avoided or eliminated from your own arguments with a little time on a high peak of consideration and planning. If you can see them before your opposition sees them, you can eliminate them from your argument entirely. By definition, having a stronger argument from the beginning is to serve your advantage. But, it also gives a greater possibility for reasoned argument and civil discourse. That is the goal, after all. I'd like to make the second point now.

Arguments are NOT personal. Beliefs may be, and convictions usually ARE personal.

"I believe that abortion is murder, because that is how my faith tells me I must view it if I am to be consistent in my faith."

What are you going to do with that one? Attack the intelligence of the person? Attack the faith they hold? Well, that is most often what weak reasoning does. The discourse stops. Why?

Because both responses are logical fallacy, that's why. This example is used because it will elicit a personal, emotional response from you! Can you instead create a meaningful, reasoned counter-argument that will move the discourse forward? That is your task. 

Remember that retreat may have one meaning to you, but to the successful military leader, "tactical withdrawal" may be the linchpin of a successful campaign. Not re-direction. Not abusive braying. 

Craft your argument with at least some awareness of what your opposition is most likely to offer. Allow your opponent to make their own argument--just be prepared to counter-argue their points reasonably, respectfully and effectively. That's how civil discourse and reasoned arguments work. 

That's why I feel it is just so important to spend some time on the peak when and as you can.  You can do this before, during and after an engagement with the opposition. Hopefully, spending time on the high ground will be nothing more than mere points of punctuation in an ongoing civil discourse.

You really have no idea just how hectic and chaotic the battlefield will be when you jump into battle. 


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The War on the Poor: The Battle For Reason (Part 1)

Since moving to the Coffee Party USA Radio Network, I have been seeking conversation regarding what is generally referred to as "The War on the Poor".

In order to offer insight on that War, I have spent several three-show blocks investigating some of the particular battlefields of this ongoing war. On our most recent show, I began another three-week block on the fifth (of eight) battlefield: "The War For Reason". This can be a quite dangerous battlefield to investigate, so my purpose is to travel slowly through as much of it as time will allow. 

As with each of the previous (and future) battlefields in this particular war, the concluding weeks of this series will bring all battlefields into the overall focus of this ongoing war. So, in order to truly understand and comprehend the conversations, I urge you to listen to the previous conversations. The ending general conversation will be built from the conversations around each battlefield. 

I must warn you that these posts will not recount the information given during the live show. As my sainted grandmother used to say, "I don't chew my cabbage twice!" There is a simple reason for this. My listeners will already have questions and comments for this discussion. We move forward from the show to the next show. 

As a brief recap, however (and in order to have these posts make some sense) I did explain the title: "The War For Reason" on the show. "Reason" in this context is not merely used to infer "excuse", but more specifically the term describes the nature of argument, or "reasoned discourse". I explained that, one of the most important demands of reasoned discourse is the necessity to understand some of the tools used in reasoned discourse--in the honorable art of reason itself. 

Because of time limitations, we will most likely not be discussing marketing, framing of argument, or public relations using either. But, I did tell my listeners that only using a few simple rules of reasoning, one could quickly identify some of the tools (and pitfalls) of any argument. I urged my listeners to look at, and work to understand the terms and basic rules of rhetoric: the art of persuasive argument/communication.

You can find a list of some forty-five terms of rhetoric here. I urge you to bookmark the page, and learn these few terms by heart.  By mastering them, you will begin to see both truth and (logical) fallacy jumping out at you as you read, see, or hear rhetorical argument in political life. And, rest assured, political life is absolutely filled with rhetoric. 

It's not a bad thing when used correctly. However, there are several false arguments (logical fallacies) commonly used within rhetorical arguments which, when used effectively, cause you to believe something absolutely false to actually seem (or to be) true. Learning these fallacies can only assist you IF your intent is to have reasoned discourse; to create a superior, honest and convincing argument--about anything. 

These are not difficult to understand, or hard to learn. In fact, I would guess that as you come into contact with these fallacies, obvious examples of them will jump into your mind. You will find the basic fallacies here. I like this list, because it very simply defines the twenty-four most common logical fallacies in use today. 

This is by no means a complete list, but a more encompassing list is not usually required. Again, I urge you to bookmark this page, as well. You can do further research as you decide on each type of logical fallacy. I can only tell you that well over 95% of the logical fallacies used today will be found in this basic list. 

That's a lot of "stuff", isn't it.?  That's precisely the point

Most who would disrespect you by offering a logical fallacy, a false argument or who would use an otherwise normal rhetorical tool badly actually believe you will not discover their arrogant and casual abuse through communication. In fact, they spend many millions of dollars to guarantee this.

I believe you will learn, and master these basics to create logical, powerful and convincing arguments for those positions you hold to be of the greatest value to you. Communication, conversation, discourse all happen at the speed of light these days; especially here. 

After you have done a little work on the terms and logical fallacies, I would urge you to use them (or distance yourself from them) by using the following topic to create a short, three-point argument which clearly, concisely, and convincingly states your position on the following topic:


AP Photo|Eric Shelzig

The generally accepted form of a three-point argument:

A. State the issue to be argued simply, clearly, and distinctly.

B. State each of your three points of argument. 
    1. Present three compelling statements for each of your three points of argument supporting your position. 

    2. Use the most authoritative sources you possible can, and footnote them at the end of  your written argument. 

    3. Links are generally best practice.

C. State your conclusion. Use your argument (strongest to weakest points above) in your conclusion.

The primary argument in favor (Proposition) says that voting is a fundamental right of citizenship, and must not be infringed by any person, system or device. Some would go so far as to say this is required for any reason, including felony conviction. "Outrageous attacks on the right to vote are underway all across America!" (From today's email).

The primary argument against (Opposition) says that we must clamp down because of rampant voting fraud, and voting by non-citizens. They say we must have the capacity to insure "clean elections". (Same source as above). 

The easier position to argue may at first seem to be the one you agree with. Form that argument first. For extra credit, after you form the argument you agree with, form the same type of three-point reasoned argument holding the opposite view. 

If you want, feel free to email me your argument and tell me whether or not you would like it to be used on the show next week. (Not required) If so, you will be credited. If not, your argument will not be used on-air, or in our chat room. 

We'll make our air available to you on Sunday, May 4th, 2014's show to present (and defend) your arguments. Have your research and resources at the ready! We will. :)

Moving Forward Together,

Bud Fields

The Tennessee Progressive

PS: The purpose of "reason" as it is meant in this fifth battlefield sense is to convince you that one and only one argument is the correct one.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Every Opinion Matters

A lot of my life is spent soliciting opinions from others. For about 9 hours every week on internet radio, in my writing, and in my daily living. 

I am passionate in my desire to understand things of this world from the personal perspective--of others. My wish is to create a space where others can offer, discuss, present, or debate their personal opinions and professional representations of those opinions with others.  Sometimes my own opinions are affected, one way or the other, by the opinions of others, and especially those opinions of others I consider to be thought-leaders in one space or another.

This blog is specifically designed to be dedicated to my opinions. Many people ask me what I think, or what I am going to do about those things that I care so much about. My opinions are informed (as I would hope yours would be, too!) from many sources, and from many different perspectives. Here, I hope to see how my opinions remain, or change over time. 

The one (and only) thing which finally matters to me is my opinion--as citizen. I hope that mine will be a well-informed and reasonable presentation of what I believe to be true. I cannot help being born where I was, or where I now live, or my background in (primarily, but not always) Democratic Party ideology. It fits more closely with my world view. 

Having made that clarification, I am a Progressive. I am a writer at The Daily Kos, The Nation Magazine, and other outlets for my thoughts. I am a member and radio show host for The Coffee Party USA. I am actively engaged in the political process. I am a reasonably intelligent American Citizen. 

I broke with political dogma a very long time ago. It was, in large part, due to the times I was living in at the time. People want to know my opinions on things. Here's the most basic opinion I hold.
(See post below). 

I hope you will read, and interact with this blog. I ask that you observe my two, universal rules:

1. Play nice.

Remember that this is my space, not yours. It's the home for my thoughts, views and opinions. It's like being a visitor to my house. Be respectful, honest, and available for discussion. Don't drop a load on my living room floor. My ban hammer is always at the ready, and immediately used when I deem it necessary. It's not your beliefs or opinions that will ever feel the crushing blows, it is your demeanor. 

2. Come Prepared.

Your opinion will be respected here, so long as it is identified as such. If you wish to discuss, debate, refute or agree as fact one thing or another, be ready to defend it. I will be.

Welcome to my blog.