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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

One of the most optimistic documents ever to cross my desk was a scoring guide for judges evaluating teams in high school “ethics bowl” competitions. It’s been much on my mind during the bitter blaming season that has overtaken holiday cheer since the shocking murder of two New York City policemen.

Ethics bowls might sound like an ivory tower exercise, but in fact they require students to think hard about many of the issues that fuel today’s polarized politics. Teams have sparred in recent years over gay-to-straight conversion therapy, paid maternity leave, illegal immigrants, veils that cover the face, prayer at school graduations, rising drone use, anti-terrorism tactics, euthanasia, abortion, voting in the other party’s primary, demanding a nurse of a certain race, and the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that freed corporations to spend heavily in campaigns.

In the political arena, such topics would be red meat and the “winners” would be those who came up with the most provocative quote, headline or tweet. The students are judged by a different set of metrics. Was the presentation clear and systematic? Did the team clearly identify the central moral dimensions of the case? Did the presentation indicate awareness and thoughtful consideration of different viewpoints? Did the opposing team offer a relevant, insightful response? Did the presenting team counter in a respectful, productive manner?

When I ran down the list this week for one of my sons, age 29, he interrupted before I could finish. “They’re going to be unemployable,” he said. “That’s not how things work these days.”

Tell me about it.

Civility and restraint were not the first instincts of the commentariat after officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were executed at point-blank range in Brooklyn as they sat in their patrol car. The suspect, a mentally disturbed Baltimore man who used the same gun to kill himself, had hinted on social media that he was seeking revenge for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of police.

With that, a difficult conversation about police-minority relations erupted into a raw, personal blame game. Among the chief targets were President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, and protests ignited by the failure of grand juries in Ferguson, MO and Staten Island, NY to indict cops responsible for the Brown and Garner deaths.

“We’ve had four months of propaganda, starting with the president, that everybody should hate the police,” former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani said on Fox News, a statement that earned him a “Pants on Fire” rating from PolitiFact. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said on the same network that “it’s really time for our national leaders, the president, it’s time for the mayor of New York [City] and really for many in the media to stop the cop bashing, to stop this anti-police rhetoric.”

Former New York Gov. George Pataki earned more than 4,300 retweets of this tweet: “Sickened by these barbaric acts, which sadly are a predictable outcome of divisive anti-cop rhetoric of #ericholder & #mayordeblasio. #NYPD.” Patrick Lynch, the president of a city police union, said there was “blood on many hands,” starting “at City Hall in the office of the mayor.” Police turned their backs on the mayor when he arrived at the hospital where the two slain officers’ bodies had been taken.

Obama has been a model of balance. He typically says that the police have a dangerous job, no one needs them more than high-crime minority communities, and there’s a “gulf of mistrust” that must be bridged. He seems to have come under attack for acknowledging the “reality” that sometimes people are treated unfairly and for encouraging peaceful demonstrations as part of a push for change.

De Blasio alienated cops by mentioning that he advised his teenaged, half-black son to be extra careful if he’s stopped. That’s just common sense, but it grated coming from a mayor who sharply criticized some police policies in his 2013 campaign and who, once in office, hung on too long to a top aide whose son and ex-con boyfriend posted social media rants against the police.

Still, whatever you think of Obama, de Blasio or Holder, whose Justice Department is investigating some three-dozen departments for civil rights violations, it cannot be off limits to analyze and try to improve police performance. And there’s no excuse for the harsh and irresponsible attacks unleashed by this tragedy, especially from current and former public officials.

I dug up the ethics bowl scoring guide because I needed an antidote to the lashing out. I needed a reminder that in some pockets of America, teenagers are being taught how to disagree without trashing the other side. These students are held to much higher standards than today’s headline grabbers. Right now, only 20 states hold high school ethics bowls and relatively few students participate. But if you are looking for a glimmer of hope, it will do.

Follow Jill Lawrence on Twitter @JillDLawrence. To find out more about Jill Lawrence and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

  • joe schmo

    “Obama has been a model of balance. He typically says that the police
    have a dangerous job, no one needs them more than high-crime minority
    communities, and there’s a “gulf of mistrust” that must be bridged. He
    seems to have come under attack for acknowledging the “reality” that
    sometimes people are treated unfairly and for encouraging peaceful
    demonstrations as part of a push for change.”

    Model of balance? Peaceful demonstrations? Get real!

    The hands of the police were just tied. Of course you all didn’t hear the news cast where Giuliani stated that the police are in bad areas to protect the ethnics from themselves. The good people who live in places like Harlem want the police there. If they take the policing out of bad areas then….I suppose the African Americans will soon kill each other off. I suppose I can honestly say that the blood of good people living in the ghettos will be in your hands:)

    • pattreid

      Sig Heil, Joe! Obey the men in black armor or die! No such thing as bad cops who are racist? There are good cops and there are bad cops. It’s been that way as long as I can remember. If we don’t separate the wheat from the shaft, we’ll all be at risk.

      Your premise about blacks killing each other off is no different than our special brand of white mass murders, killing children in schools, theater-goers, shoppers at malls and marathon runners (yes, those guys were white, even if they were of Islamic descent…. Jesus was Palestinian, ). We have a pervasive violent culture that worships guns. And if we anoint the police with powers of control over some, it will soon be powers of control over all. Bad police should never be allowed to hide behind the badge, a legal system needs to be balanced and fair or it is without merit.

      • charleo1

        The rabid Right, usually all consumed with what they see as government power, run amuck, the coming Police State, and other surrounding bugaboos. Are now solidly on the side of Gov. And seem mysteriously unconcerned about what they would usually point out as clear evidence the Gestapo is on the way. And a good reason to hang on to your guns. And, of course, oppose as a default position, all big gov. mandates, regulations, and especially taxes! (ergo-Gov. stealing your freedom) Suddenly, a new narrative to suit the situation. Now they are the law and order party, of get tough policies, on an out of control, drug infested, welfare ruined, dysfunctional society, That needs a good whoopin’ and put back in their place. Along with their lawless leader in the WH. Who’d of thunk it? I would have.

    • charleo1

      This is not a conversation about the necessity of Police. It needs to be a conversation about the ever more deadly way in which police are carrying out their duties. The effects this is having in these communities between the residents, and the police. Where even the law abiding, are worried about the lives of their children, who may be killed by any interaction with police. Now, that may include a conversation about the proliferation of weapons, and how that effects the tactics police feel they need to use in these areas. The situation where a 12 year old carrying a BB gun is shot in exactly 2 seconds after the arrival of the first police unit. Or, the shopper in a Walmart shot dead for carrying a BB gun. And, maybe why the officers responding to the reports of a Black man carrying a weapon, never considered the possibility it was a toy he picked up in the store. Let’s have that conversation. His family insists. We all ought to insist.

    • pattreid

      Guiliani is an angry man, he cannot be mayor anymore and hates anyone who can. And, he’s annoyed by his pathetic showing in a run for the Presidency. He believes in strong control, manipulation and aggressiveness. Had it not been for 9/11, he would have had to leave office with his head hung in shame. He tried to ride that terrible disaster to fame, he disgusts me.

  • Dominick Vila

    When it comes to politics, the first casualty is the truth.
    Blaming President Obama, Mayor De Blasio, and everyone else for the societal failures that have plagued us throughout our history, and suggesting that the current racial climate is unprecedented is as logical as blaming President Obama for the Ebola “pandemic” that resulted in the death of an African immigrant in Texas.
    At this point in our history, what we need is reflection, making an effort to determine the root causes for the social problems we still have, and make a logical and honest effort to solve them. Distorting reality, and deflecting attention from our personal failures by blaming others, is not going to get us anywhere.

    • mike

      Obama and balanced approach, baloney! Having Sharpton in the WH is far from balanced and especially sitting next to Biden.
      Hearing nothing from De Blasio when the crowds are shouting “kill cops, NOW”, sure didn’t quiet the vitriol.

      • Dominick Vila

        The only thing I have heard from the President, all the way down to African American leaders and the relatives of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, are calls for calm and justice, which are not mutually exclusive. If you have heard them say anything that comes even close to promoting or condoning violence against cops or anyone else, please show me evidence to support your claim.
        Nobody supports the killing of police officers, regardless of ethnicity (the two officers murdered were Puerto Rican and Oriental). Opinions such as the one you voice contribute more to ethnic divisions and violence than the actions of disturbed individuals, such as the man who committed these crimes, after shooting his girlfriend, two officers who had nothing to do with abuses of power, and then committing suicide.

        • mike

          Dom, I never said he didn’t ask for calm, it was his lack of a strong voice saying “stop” using words like counterproductive” is far from condemnation of their action.
          To give Race Hustler Sharpton equal voice does little healing.
          So save me the crap that my critism is the reason for racial strife. Look at the polls, racism has grown not diminished under Obama.

          • Dominick Vila

            I am not a fan of Al Sharpton, but he has as much right to voice his opinion as we do. Since I haven’t heard Sharpton say anything that resembles a call to violence or revenge, I honestly don’t understand the Republican fixation with him, other than using him as a convenient tool to deflect attention from the issue at hand.
            Peaceful protests and demands for change are not the reason for the abuses of power we have seen since we became a nation.
            President Obama’s election may have unwittingly encouraged the decision of many ethnic minorities to stand up and oppose the status quo that has prevailed for so many years. In the eyes of the abusers, and those who condone or minimize the importance of what has been taking place, that may constitute evidence of worsening racial divisions. For the victims, and for those who believe in equal justice for all, what we are now seeing is evidence of progress, hopefully leading to desperately needed reforms or changes in attitudes.

          • mike

            There you go again! I never said he couldn’t express his opinions.
            What many do not understand is why he is Obama’s go to guy on race relations. Al Sharpton is a lying, tax cheater, anti-Semitic, race baiting, shake down artist. A man who defines the division between races and not what Obama said he stood for.
            Look at the polls, 53% say relations worse, 36% unchanged, 9 %improved.
            Ferguson decision, whites 64%,blacks 4%. Garner decision, whites 32%, blacks 6%.
            This country has come a long way in regard to race and we still have a ways to go, but the Sharpton’s make it much harder.

          • pattreid

            Let’s make a deal. We shut down Sharpton, and you shut down Levin, Savage, Limbaugh, and Fox News. That might be a fair exchange. Until then, quit yer bitchin’. They are just as responsible, if not more responsible simply because of their sheer number.

          • mike

            Typical left wing zealot, silent speech of others that disagree with ones position. No, let them speak and let those with intelligence make their own decisions.
            Fox the boogyman, now that is funny.

          • pattreid

            Oh, you funny boy. You trounce those you disapprove of and accuse them of all but treason, calling Sharpton a race hustler, but deny there are those on the right who are equally deserving on that title. I suggested an exchange that you might approve of and you fail to see the sarcasm in what I’m presenting.

            Touched a nerve about Fox News, eh? Fox is the only media to have gone to court defending its right to lie to its audience. They’ve been caught in lie after lie, and they work as hard at ginning up the hate as the radio hosts I mentioned.

            Let those with intelligence make their own decisions? With that, I totally agree. And I’ve made my decisions. It seems that many other Americans have done so as well, having elected the President twice.

            Something funny happens, the more you trash-talk Obama and Sharpton (lumping them together as if they are one and the same… shame on you), the more you create sympathy for them.

          • mike

            But yet the democrats were demolished in the mid-terms not only at Fed. level but at State and Local.
            If Obamacare had been implemented in 2012 he would have lost decisively. Look at his numbers now after the lies, implementation, etc..

            Sharpton and Obama are on the same page. Why is Sharpton his go to on race relations? He has only visited the WH 80+ times. So it is easy to lump them together. Actions speak louder than words.

          • pattreid

            And why do you suppose racism has ‘grown’ under Obama? Actually, it has risen to the surface with people proudly bragging, displaying their racism. What we are witnessing is the paranoid white fear as the nation comes to term with the fact that it is now not a ‘whites only’ nation. You call Sharpton a ‘race hustler’, which coincides with what Savage and Levin screech about day in and day out while they list all the reasons they justify racial hatred and fear. They are the race hucksters, schilling for the PTB to divide the races further. “How to control a nation 101”, keep the people divided amongst themselves.

            The demonstrations in NYC recently were very racially diverse, which goes to the point that we are becoming more and more a racially diverse and potentially unified nation. That scares the bejeebus out of the PTB.

          • mike

            From day one if you didn’t agree with Obama’s policies you were called a racist by the Democratic party, in their eyes it was all about Color and not policies which people have a right to disagree with. Which was a load of horse manure. Have noticed all the Independents and Millenniums that didn’t like his direction move away from Obama? Are they now racists??
            Sharpton is a race baiter, anti-Semite, black mail artist, go to guy for Obama(80+ visits to WH), if not his support and funding would dry up.
            Not all whites believe or even listen to Levin or Savage where Millions of blacks listen to every word Sharpton says and does. So don’t try to say they are even equal in audiences.

          • pattreid

            You are delusional. Before Obama was ever elected, the internet was flooded with offensive pictures and comments that were blatantly racist, often making the comparison that the communist in N. Korea made recently. Mr. Kim knew exactly how to make his point, as did the racists LONG before President Obama was elected. I’m surprised that Obama has been so silent on what he and his family have had to endure. This is shameful behavior on the part of some Americans, and to try to deny racial prejudices that flourish in this country is dishonest at best.

          • mike

            And who played a major role in getting Obama elected? Whites!!!!
            No delusion here on Dems. calling anyone who disliked his policies, racists.

      • 788eddie

        Hey, Mike, “the crowds are shouting ‘kill cops, NOW'” was a total LIE broadcast from a FOX news affiliate in the Philadelphia area. You can find the unedited news clip at other news stations and then play the FOX news clip for comparison – same scene; different words.

        Look, news should be news, not somebody’s agenda. We need a law against this being allowed in our country.

        Canada, our neighbor to the North does have such a law: the Canada Broadcast Act. It says, in effect, that any news show may not knowingly nor intentionally broadcast false or misleading news. It is the reason that FOX is not allowed to be broadcast in Canada.

        I’m not just picking on FOX. There may be other news groups, on both the left and right that may share in the guilt. I do think,however, for the betterment of our country, this kind of law would be very useful here.

        Disagreement is healthy and okay; dishonesty is not.

        • mike

          Are you confusing Washington/Baltimore protestors with NYC protestors? NBC in NYC SURE REPORTED THE CHANTS.
          I KNOW you can document your claim, Right???

          • pattreid

            There were a comparative tiny number of protester who shouted this chant, about 500 out of 25,000. The FACT is that Fox and friends have greatly amplified both the volume of the chant and the numbers of those chanting. Anything to promote their agenda.

          • mike

            Amplified, Baloney!!! They said it and shortly after two cops are assassinated.
            Rhetoric needs to be toned down and Leftist like De Blasio and Sharpton should lead the way to set a better conversation. But they won’t because they are anti-police and it doesn’t fit their agenda.

          • pattreid

            They did amplify the sound. And they played it over and over again, every day, multiple times a day. I know, because I heard it with my own ears on Fox and on the radio, both of which I listen to/watch (know the enemy). The first tapes that came out, you could barely hear the offensive chants among the other chants. Then suddenly, the offensive chants were all you heard, loud and clear. There was no longer a whisper of the dominant chants. This is not the way the original tape played. In fact, it was some time before anyone ‘figured out’ what they believed was being chanted. This is fact, but I guess it doesn’t fit YOUR agenda.

          • mike

            Thank you for admitting they did say it while being protected by police, the same police that they wanted to kill.
            Now whose march was this?? Wasn’t this part of Al Sharpton’s “Million Marchers”?
            They said it they, they meant it. Sharpton and De Blasio encouraged this behavior and protest.
            Glad the right presented it to America to let them form their own opinion as to intent of protestors.

          • pattreid

            You’re an idiot. Sharpton did not organize the march. There were several marches that day. And Sharpton himself called such chants unacceptable. You’re just so filled with hate you can’t find a way out of your dark fears.

          • mike

            I asked the question if it was part of Sharpton millions march, which was wrong to include Sharpton.
            It was still said and represents the mind set of many blacks.
            My mistake still does not take away from the fact that both De Blasio and Sharpton have encouraged this behavior.
            Of course, Sharpton is going to condemn the rhetoric but actions speak louder than words.

          • mike
          • pattreid

            You should take the advice of 788edie and find the tape other networks showed, listen to the difference. I realize that being proven incorrect is not acceptable to you, but being wrong and proud of it makes you look a bit foolish.

      • pattreid

        DeBlasio DID speak to those chants, he condemned them. Of course, you missed that piece of news, didn’cha mike? DeBlasio, like the parents of most young black boys, knows to teach his son how to act around cops. This is not something white parents have to worry about so much.

        And why is it bad for Sharpton to be sitting next to Biden? You may not like Sharpton’s opinions, but he does have some valid opinions and, like the rest of us, he has the right to express them. Every Prez has entertained people you or I may not agree with, that does not mean they have no place there.

        • mike

          Yes, De Blasio did but with little conviction or force to their remarks.
          You seem to have missed his anti-police position during his campaign, or his staff and their anti-police positions. Staffer Kicy Motley tweeting F-k, the Police, or Rachel Noerdlinger living with a convicted killer and her son on social media making anti-cop remarks. No, his anti-cop position runs deep in his administration and his allies like Al.
          Valid opinions by Al, not really, he is just a race-baiter and shake down artist, nothing more nothing less. Yes he has his right to express his vitriol but that doesn’t make it good for the country.

          • pattreid

            Your subjective opinion that DeBlasio showed little conviction or force is just that, subjective. I disagree. Further, opposing police violence and stop-and-frisk blacks only is NOT the same thing as being anti-police. As to your comments of Al Sharpton, I disagree that he has no valid points. However, the same you decry about Sharpton can be said of Mark Levin and Michael Savage. Those are two of the most hatefully racist, vile and divisive commentators alive. As they daily stoke the hate on their shows, they decry others as ‘stoking the hate’. Their right to free speech certainly does nothing good for the country. The sh..(um, ‘crap’) floats in both ponds.

          • mike

            And where do you put Farrahkan?? Black Panthers??

            Now how many people did Levin and Savage say they wanted to kill.

            De Blasio or Sharpton never came out and said “knock it off” in reference to Killing Cops, Now, or even tried to set a civil tone for the demonstrators act upon.
            You also seemed to forget the tone he set in the campaign in regard to police and his son. He set the tone for anti-police rhetoric.

          • pattreid

            Really, so who did DeBlasio say he wanted to kill? If that’s your defense of the hate-mongers Levin and Savage, then that defense applies to Sharpton, DiBlasio, even the Black Panthers (who, by the way, are defunct). Or is ‘stoking of hate’ something that can only be applied to people you don’t like?

            If stating the FACT that his son needs to be especially careful when confronted by the police, and that he can expect to be confronted by the police because of his skin color, is anti-police rhetoric, then every black parent has done the same. And why? Because it’s true. Every black male must anticipate the likelihood of being stopped based on skin color, and must be prepared to know how to speak and how to act. This is regardless of whether he is in a black neighborhood or a white neighborhood. But being black and driving a nice car, or entering your own home in an otherwise white neighborhood will guarantee that he will be stopped.

            Similarly, if you are a white male youth and found in a black neighborhood, the cops will assume you are out to buy drugs. In that case, the white youth will be stopped and frisked. See how neatly that serves to reinforce the racist view of black people? But you’ll never hear of that same white male youth being stopped for simply driving a Mercedes, not breaking any driving laws. Only if he’s speeding, and then if Daddy is influential enough, he’ll get a simple warning.

          • mike

            There you go trying to put words in my mouth. I never mentioned De Blasio wanting to kill any one.
            Tell Hashim Nzinga the “New” Black :Panther Party doesn’t exist. It is still a hate group like the Nation of Islam, which you conveniently ignored.
            De Blasio shows his true colors by reappointing judge who released without bail a man threatening police. Actions speak louder than words.


          • pattreid

            mike, did you or did you not bring up the fact that Levin and Savage never said to kill anyone? I respond that Sharpton and DeBlasio also never said to kill anyone either and you claim I’m putting words into YOUR mouth? That was your defense of the hate mongers, as if the “other” people we were discussing HAD said such a thing.

            The “new” Black Panther Party has maybe a dozen members, if that. And yes I am ignoring them as they are irrelevant to our discussion. Nation of Islam is also not relevant. If I were to list the KKK or any of the other white hate groups, what would that prove? Who would be proven to be right by dragging in every hate group that exists in the US? You’re throwing anything you can grasp to “prove” that black people are bad, hoping it will stick. Your thinking is convoluted and non productive. I’m done here.

          • mike
  • towercam

    Jill needs a major vacation…maybe some re-schooling.
    The article ended in a naive grandmother’s imaginings, that an ethics bowl – whatever that is – could be part of the solution.
    Yeah, right. So could the boy scouts. Get real, Jill.
    Want to be a real journalist? CARE about what you’re writing! Sheesh!

    • bobnstuff

      In your posting you just said you didn’t understand what they are talking about. Ethics in your world is a cub to hit the other guy with. And yes the Boy Scouts can be part of the solution. The study of ethics and ethical behavior should be core to our education but is very rarely taught to our children. Ethics involves doing the right thing, what’s wrong with that?

  • charleo1

    First off, if the killer that assassinated these two policemen in NY. thought he was advancing the cause against the abuses of minorities by Police. Can we just agree, he speaks for no one? That he was mentally, and criminally deranged. And shot his ex, before moving on to the Police, to settle the next score with his other perceived tormentor? And if the representative of the Police Union thought he was advancing the the Police position, by putting the blood of these slain officers on the hands of those protesting the abuses. Then, let’s also make allowances for his mental state, and question his judgement, and lack of basic understanding of the problem, as well. And, moreover, there’s no doubt the Right has used a double standard in this case. In characterizing the murders of these Cops, as a result of the wide spread protests, raising the hackles, and passions of the Black community. Which then, supposedly a member, of that community lashed out, and senselessly killed. But, I failed to hear the outcry from Fox News or anyone on the Right after the assassinations of two Policemen in a Cici’s pizza parlor. By two anti-government zealots, who laid the T-Party adopted, “Don’t tread on me,” flag, along with the Nazi Flag, across the bodies of the two slain officers. Jarrad Miller, and his wife, had just come from spending several days at the Bundy ranch. During, and after the stand off with Federal agents, over Bundy’s refusal to pay land fees to the Federal Government. In which he says, he doesn’t recognize as a legitimate authority. An opinion Fox eagerly supported. Jumping on an already raging anti-government movement, they played no small part in inflaming themselves. But this is the Right, and this is a minority, Black/Brown, social justice issue. Could we really expect any different?

    • 1standlastword

      Nothing is forever. The lights of the shining city on the hill got dimmer every year after 9/11, the wars, the great recession and the first Black POTUS. 9/11 was when Pandora’s box officially opened and all the evils that flew out manifested an us v. them paradigm:
      Christians v. Muslims
      America v. those “who were not for us must be against us (GWB)
      Democrats v. Republicans
      Congress v. the Executive
      Rich v. the poor
      The people v. the corporate “people”
      Poor minority urbanites v. the police
      The liberal media v. the conservative media
      First world nation v. first world nation
      Religion v. Science
      Males v. females
      Man v. nature
      This short list of oppositional forces and the conflicts that arise are staging the end of a way of life that once defined America.
      Our leaders have made dreadful miscalculations and in some ways commit crimes against citizens and other peoples of the world.
      At this time in our nation we have too much corruption, incompetence, greed, fraud and abuse in our institutions starting with government all the way down to states and city institutions.
      The consequences of historic evil is so potent that we have now nothing much beyond the least bad of bad options to choose.
      If we bother to notice, it’s apparent that every policy that comes from our institution is intended to divide one class of American against another class of American, country against country: We have an existential crisis born out of institutional policies that engender DISUNITY

      A sense of optimism is hard to come by when our leadership can’t lead because the left hand opposes the right hand: Omnibus with it’s “swap push out” law and it’s preferential bias towards wealth is the most recent example of how the interests of the wealthy are pitted against the needs of the working and middle classes: Our leaders endorse this breakdown in the society of America.
      When people figure out harder times are ahead we will see the resurgence of the Occupy Movement on steroids.

      • charleo1

        Very well summed up. I have been ruminating along those same lines myself these past few days. And everything you say is true. And all worth a good hard individual look, as to why these issues, many of them we’ve struggled with for eons, are in fact dividing us so completely at this time. Some like religion vs. science, are divisive. But the intention I believe, is to discredit science. Because science is saying some very inconvenient things about some very powerful interests in the fossil fuel industry. Would they lie to us for money? I think the question answers itself. But in a more fundamental way, I think a lot of issues are divisive, because the very wealthiest people, who have very little in common with the vast majority, are largely determining what is being discussed, as it relates to their very different agendas. The problem is, the majority, which in far too many instances, have very few issues where we share any common concerns, agree in principle with what they believe, what they would like to see done. What, in the long term, is best for the Nation. Now, I live in a middle class suburb in Miami Fl. Just a few miles from where I live, is Star Island. An exclusive enclave of movie stars, billionaires and others of great wealth. Do they care, or think about the cost of sending middle class kids to college, the affordability, or access to healthcare, what to do about the growing disparity between the super rich, and everyone else? The crime in the inner city neighborhoods, or the deteriorating public schools in those neighborhoods, just a few miles on shore from their homes? Some do. But, do they have to? No, they are very self sufficient. Their kids go to private schools, with every advantage. The finest College is paid for. So do they have concerns, and things they want from the gov.? You bet, just not the same things. And I think that’s where a great deal of the divisions arise. That, and how the people they hire to advance their concerns, ultimately decide how to, “sell,” them to other 99% of us.

        • 1standlastword

          Thanks for your thoughtful reply. Hope you and family are having a nice holiday season.
          I ponder how globalization has hurt us as it has been the vehicle for policy that has almost completely changed America from a producer economy to a consumer economy.
          Since the economy has become a partisan issue, corporations have gained more rights, freedoms and greater government support as lobbyist encamp within the corridors government.
          Lawmakers are too easily accessed and seduced by corporate lobbyist: not to mention that most of the lobbyist are retired policy makers: this should be OUTLAWED!
          Regarding those that have v. those that don’t of course the concerns are different since people with resources are naturally concerned about different lifestyle issues. But for me this is the consequence of government policy favorable to big business: Congress and SCOTUS have almost 100% to do with the high level of income inequality today.
          I also think the nature of big business has changed the relationship business has with Americans.
          When companies are headed by CEOs who have no investment in the company beyond stock options and short term gains v. the old days of a patriarch at the helm who cared about the integrity of the corporation we see how human capital has become considered a liability or externality and profits have been promoted to the highest level of concern for corporate principles: Take healthcare as a prime example.
          The way it is now many corporations may as well be considered like computational machines completely without moral agency!!!!
          (Open the pod doors HAL….I can’t do that Dave)
          We see some high-tech companies with smart advertisement trying to reverse this phenomena but they are one by one being exposed for exploiting their offshore human capital.
          Lately Apple, Starbucks and many other perceived guardians of the ecosystem and the under privileged societies have been exposed for the harm their production processes cause other humans and their homelands
          I think humans are at a stage in our evolution when we have to start thinking and DOING things very differently…more inclusive less biased more fairly more sensitive more caring.
          Unfortunately, I don’t see a hard turn in this direction happening with the kinds of politicians we like to elect but a long slow turn down the avenue of greater hardship for us until some thing breaks and we have catastrophic event: Unfortunately American corporate gangsters have learned how to make catastrophy profitable (modern examples included Enron, KBR, Haliburton) so where is the incentive ;-(

          2015 is a make of break year. Paul Ryan and friends have lots to unpleasant things for us to experience

  • tdm3624

    I agree. Thoughtful debate is always much better than the narrow minded, hateful comments.