Monday, April 21, 2014

We Are A Nation Of Narcissists

People have been saying the country is "going to hell in a handbasket" for decades. It's sort of a rite of passage for every current generation to look at the next one and think it will screw up things so badly everything will be ruined. But the handbasket this current generation is creating may well be the one that sinks us.

Every generation is the product of the previous one - its culture, morals, priorities, everything. In the 20th century, that meant passing on a work ethic, the importance of family and the American Dream that each generation will do better than the last. That optimism hit a wall with the baby boomers.

Baby boomers, the generation born between 1946 and 1964, are the current leaders and, as such, set the tone for what comes next. The example they've set as the "me generation" planted the seeds for what we're seeing now in the news, and those images do not bode well for the future.

Baby boomers pioneered the "if it feels good do it" mentality prevalent in the `60s and `70s - sex, drugs and rock and roll; a lifestyle that lived for the "now," future be damned. They seemed to lack an appreciation for consequences; the hangover never sets in if you don't stop drinking.

But the bills will come due; the piper must be paid.

Baby boomers are the credit card generation, living on money borrowed - taken, actually - from their children and grandchildren. They're also the generation that placed emphasis on self-esteem above all.

High schools and colleges across the country have, and are, graduating little monsters who've never heard the word "no," who've been told they're never wrong and every choice is equally valid. These kids don't have parents, they have "best friends."

Parents aren't solely responsible for this, although they are individually responsible for their own children. The culture they created, accept and celebrate is the main culprit.

We once celebrated success. Now, we simply elevate being. We once shunned certain behaviors; now, they are the yellow brick road to the future.

Andy Warhol famously said "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes," and he was nearly right. Nearly because "famous" is no longer a result of actions; it's the goal. Celebrity is heroin, and we have a generation entering adulthood as addicted as any junkie.

Talent or achievements are no longer required for fame; it's now as easy as being willing to make an ass of yourself on video and post it online. Successful people in the working world were once admired and held up as positive examples; now they are the object of scorn and ridicule. Unwashed children of privilege "occupy" parks and protest at their homes while networks cover these actions as if they're accomplishments.

The media is an unindicted co-conspirator in the dumbing down of the future. It's not just the news media - though it's possible to watch all three major network newscasts and not learn anything worthwhile - it's all the media. We are collectively dumber for knowing what a "Snooki," a "Chrisley," or a "Honey Boo Boo" are. How many brain cells committed suicide rather than be dedicated to remembering which inflated bimbo the vacant Juan Pablo hooked up with? Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian would've been cautionary tales 20 years ago; now they make millions for existing. The collective IQ of "reality TV stars," musicians and celebutantes is dwarfed by the number of teeth in the mouth of a newborn baby, yet these are people admired by tens of millions of people who will assume the reins of power in the not-too-distant future.

People magazine doesn't outsell every news magazine in print by accident, it outsells them because it is more interesting than news magazines. Why drink no-brand cola when Coke is available?

Self is all-encompassing - but it's not the individual, it's the collective "self." The pursuit of attention, the need to make everything about "me" is overwhelming people now. If it isn't shared on social media it didn't happen.

Twitter and Facebook are the Holy Grail of this new narcissism, and we've all been ensnared in it to one degree or another. Having a good meal? Post a picture of it or it didn't happen. Have a thought on a news story? Tweet a link or it doesn't matter. Have a solid bowel movement? Well, you get the idea.

We are over-sharing like a drunken uncle at the family Christmas dinner talking about his ex-wife, and there will be consequences.

Recently, the president of the National Organization for Women clumsily tried to make to make an irrelevant point about how bad employees have it nowadays. But in the process, she accidentally made a good point. She told MSNBC employers have an advantage, "They know everything they need to know about their employees . all they have to do is go on Facebook." She's right, but who put it there?

If you smoked a joint with Snoop Dogg last weekend, it will make for a fun story to share with friends. But when you share it with the world, complete with pictures, it may have consequences when it comes to getting a job in the future. Stupid moments are fleeting; the Internet is forever.

When a student went on a stabbing spree in a Pittsburgh-area school, one of his victims posted a picture of himself in his hospital gown on Instagram. The "stabbing selfie" brought about a small firestorm of criticism, but it's what society created.

Reality is being reduced to a series of 140-character tweets and a "like" button. Get punched in the face by a comedian? Don't defend yourself, tweet it! A madman shooting up a mall? Forget getting to safety, the world must know your every thought.

There is nothing not shared on social media anymore - from births to birthdays, dates to break-ups. Everything is fodder for the attention monster we're all becoming. Facebook is full of profile pictures featuring everything from people's most intimate moments to their latest appearance on cable TV as if they'd cured cancer, Foursquare lets the world know where you are at any given moment. It's hard to tell if people truly are upset the NSA is tracking their every move or if they're simply mad the NSA beat them to the punch. Privacy isn't being stolen as much as it's being voluntarily traded for a quick fix of micro-fame.

We have become a nation of narcissists - attention junkies measuring our success by the number of Facebook friends and Twitter followers we have rather than our accomplishments. None of us are immune - to one degree or another we've all been affected by this attention seeking. What that will mean when the next generation assumes power remains to be seen, but it can't be good. I opine about it regularly on Twitter. Give me a follow!



Continued High LEGAL Immigration Steadily Erodes GOP Prospects

The nation's prolonged flow of legal immigration has changed - and continues to change - the political landscape. A new Center for Immigration Studies report, "Immigration's Impact on Republican Political Prospects, 1980 to 2012", finds that each one percentage-point increase in the immigrant share of a large county's population reduces the Republican share of the two-party presidential vote by an average of nearly 0.6 percentage points.

This shift is relatively uniform throughout the country, from California to Texas to Florida, regardless of the local party's stance on immigration. It is due to immigrant communities' lopsided support for big-government policies, which are more closely aligned with progressives than with conservatives. As a result, survey data show a two-to-one party identification with Democrats over Republicans. Increased immigration also significantly expands the low-income population, making voters overall more supportive of redistributive policies championed by Democrats to support disadvantaged populations.

See the report here

"As the immigrant population has grown, Republican electoral prospects have dimmed, even after controlling for alternative explanations of GOP performance," wrote James Gimpel, author of the report and a professor of government at the University of Maryland at College Park. "Republicans are right to want to attract Latino voters," he continued. "But expanding the flow of low-skilled immigrants into an economy ill-suited to promote their upward mobility will be counterproductive."

Over one million legal immigrants enter the United States each year. If this number were drastically increased, as called for by the Gang of Eight bill (S.744), the decline of the Republican Party would be accelerated. "The impact of immigration is easily sufficient, by itself, to decide upcoming presidential elections," Gimpel wrote.

Email from CIS


Leftists undermine campaign finance solution

By Charles Krauthammer

The debate over campaign contributions is never-ending for a simple reason: Both sides of the argument have merit.

On the one hand, of course money is speech. For most citizens, contributing to politicians or causes is the most effective way to augment and amplify speech with which they agree. The most disdainful dismissers of this argument are editorialists and incumbent politicians who — surprise! — already enjoy access to vast audiences and don’t particularly like their monopoly being invaded by the unwashed masses or the self-made plutocrat.

On the other hand, of course money is corrupting. The nation’s jails are well stocked with mayors, legislators, judges and the occasional governor who have exchanged favors for cash. However, there are lesser — and legal — forms of influence-peddling short of the outright quid pro quo. Campaign contributions are carefully calibrated to approach that line without crossing it. But money distorts. There is no denying the unfairness of big contributors buying access unavailable to the everyday citizen.

Hence the endless law-writing to restrict political contributions, invariably followed by multiple fixes to correct the inevitable loopholes. The result is a baffling mass of legislation administered by one cadre of experts and dodged by another.

For a long time, a simple finesse offered a rather elegant solution: no limits on giving — but with full disclosure.

Open the floodgates, and let the monies, big and small, check and balance each other. And let transparency be the safeguard against corruption. As long as you know who is giving what to whom, you can look for, find and, if necessary, prosecute corrupt connections between donor and receiver.

This used to be my position. No longer. I had not foreseen how donor lists would be used not to ferret out corruption but to pursue and persecute citizens with contrary views. Which corrupts the very idea of full disclosure.

It is now an invitation to the creation of enemies lists. Containing, for example, Brendan Eich, forced to resign as Mozilla CEO when it was disclosed that six years earlier he’d given $1,000 to support a referendum banning gay marriage. He was hardly the first. Activists compiled blacklists of donors to Proposition 8 and went after them. Indeed, shortly after the referendum passed, both the artistic director of the California Musical Theatre in Sacramento and the president of the Los Angeles Film Festival were hounded out of office.

Referendums produce the purest example of transparency misused because corrupt favoritism is not an issue. There’s no one to corrupt. Supporting a referendum is a pure expression of one’s beliefs. Full disclosure in that context becomes a cudgel, an invitation to harassment.

Sometimes the state itself does the harassing. The IRS scandal left many members of political groups exposed to abuse, such as the unlawful release of confidential data. In another case, the Obama campaign Web site in 2012 published the names of eight big Romney donors, alleging them to have “less-than-reputable records.” A glow-in-the-dark target having been painted on his back, Idaho businessman Frank VanderSloot (reported the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel) suddenly found himself subject to multiple audits, including two by the IRS.

In his lone dissent to the disclosure requirement in Citizens United, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that American citizens should not be subject “to death threats, ruined careers, damaged or defaced property, or pre-emptive and threatening warning letters as the price for engaging in core political speech, the primary object of First Amendment protection.” (Internal quote marks omitted.)

In fact, wariness of full disclosure goes back to 1958 when the Supreme Court ruled that the NAACP did not have to release its membership list to the state, understanding that such disclosure would surely subject its members to persecution. “This court has recognized the vital relationship between freedom to associate and privacy in one’s associations . . . particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs.”

A different era, a different set of dissidents. But the naming of names, the listing of lists, goes on. The enforcers are at it again, this time armed with sortable Internet donor lists.

The ultimate victim here is full disclosure itself. If revealing your views opens you to the politics of personal destruction, then transparency, however valuable, must give way to the ultimate core political good, free expression.

Our collective loss. Coupling unlimited donations and full disclosure was a reasonable way to reconcile the irreconcilables of campaign finance. Like so much else in our politics, however, it has been ruined by zealots. What a pity.



Murderer was ANTI-Republican

Glenn Miller, a KKK extremist and founder of the White Patriot Party, was arrested and charged for the murder of three Jewish Christians in Kansas City. The Leftmedia was quick to brand the crime a "hate crime," in part because he reportedly yelled "Heil Hitler" upon his arrest, and authorities will charge him with one.

Of course it's a hate crime -- he murdered three people. Miller has a checkered political history, running for office as both a Democrat and a Republican at different times. He also wrote in 2012 that Israel was trying to "buy the presidential election for the neo-con, war-mongering republican [sic] establishment."



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