some bi-partisan good news – uptick in crime is a bump in overall decline

We get plenty of bad news so let’s talk about crime trends again. From the article:

Using the FBI numbers, the (crime) rate fell 50% between 1993 and 2015, the most recent full year available. Using the BJS data, the rate fell by 77% during that span.

Click the image below for actual facts about crime in America (And here’s something to listen to while reading to make it more dramatic.)

Pew Research on Crime Decline in US

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/21/5-facts-about-crime-in-the-u-s/ 

More from the article:

Property crime has declined significantly over the long term. Like the violent crime rate, the U.S. property crime rate today is far below its peak level. FBI data show that the rate fell 48% between 1993 and 2015, while BJS reports a decline of 69% during that span.

and then there is the disparity created by the advertising supported media that influences our brains. We are gullible.

Public perceptions about crime in the U.S. often don’t align with the data. Opinion surveys regularly find that Americans believe crime is up, even when the data show it is down.

Although it’s not all good.

Many crimes are not reported to police. In its annual survey, BJS asks victims of crime whether or not they reported that crime to police. In 2015, the most recent year available, only about half of the violent crime tracked by BJS (47%) was reported to police.

Bottom line? Stay thirsty for the facts my friends. We can’t always drink the kool aid. Or the same thing. Stay thirsty for knowledge because knowledge is power.

There is no media really, only advertisers selling scary stories in the media. People Tweet alt-official-news, fake news or real news alike. So I think it’s healthy to point out (again) a few positive overall societal trends we are experiencing.

#peace

RESTLESS from Democracy in America

lady in red
“…IT IS STRANGE TO SEE WITH WHAT FEVERISH ARDOR THE AMERICANS PURSUE THEIR OWN WELFARE, AND TO WATCH THE VAGUE DREAD THAT CONSTANTLY TORMENTS THEM LEST THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE CHOSEN THE SHORTEST PATH WHICH MAY LEAD TO IT.

A NATIVE OF THE UNITED STATES CLINGS TO THIS WORLD’S GOODS AS IF HE WERE CERTAIN NEVER TO DIE; HE IS SO HASTY IN GRASPING AT ALL WITHIN HIS REACH THAT ONE WOULD SUPPOSE HE WAS CONSTANTLY AFRAID OF NOT LIVING LONG ENOUGH TO ENJOY THEM. HE CLUTCHES EVERYTHING, HE HOLDS NOTHING FAST, BUT SOON LOOSENS HIS GRASP TO PURSUE FRESH GRATIFICATIONS.

IN THE UNITED STATES A MAN BUILDS A HOUSE IN WHICH TO SPEND HIS OLD AGE, AND HE SELLS IT BEFORE THE ROOF IS ON; HE PLANTS A GARDEN AND LETS IT JUST AS THE TREES ARE COMING INTO BEARING; HE BRINGS A FIELD INTO TILLAGE AND LEAVES OTHER MEN TO GATHER THE CROPS; HE EMBRACES A PROFESSION AND GIVES IT UP; HE SETTLES IN A PLACE, WHICH HE SOON AFTERWARDS LEAVES TO CARRY HIS CHANGEABLE LONGINGS ELSEWHERE. IF HIS PRIVATE AFFAIRS LEAVE HIM ANY LEISURE, HE INSTANTLY PLUNGES INTO THE VORTEX OF POLITICS; AND IF AT THE END OF A YEAR OF UNREMITTING LABOR HE FINDS HE HAS A FEW DAYS’ VACATION, HIS EAGER CURIOSITY WHIRLS HIM OVER THE VAST EXTENT OF THE UNITED STATES, AND HE WILL TRAVEL FIFTEEN HUNDRED MILES IN A FEW DAYS TO SHAKE OFF HIS HAPPINESS. DEATH AT LENGTH OVERTAKES HIM, BUT IT IS BEFORE HE IS WEARY OF HIS BOOTLESS CHASE OF THAT COMPLETE FELICITY WHICH FOREVER ESCAPES HIM. ”

via Tumblr via http://www.sewanee.edu/faculty/willis/Civil_War/documents/TocquevilleRestless.html

thinking men think, and therefore change their minds

Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal. – Robert Heinlein

Leadership, I frequently say, is about “making good decisions with limited information.” Not perfect decisions. But good decisions. You don’t have a choice in business: move quickly or die. And unlike CEOs on Wall Street, the small business CEO’s worst nightmare is to fail their employees and customers. I am not afraid of risk or failure as an individual, but I do have obligations and those must be met and that requires leadership during trying times.

There are three major factors that make leadership decisions difficult:

  1. Speed – you must make a decision and you never have enough information.
  2. Pressure – the pressure to make the right call, and make it now, is intense.
  3. Commitment – even if only 51% sure about a decision, commit 100%.

I suspect politicians face the same deadly triad when making decisions. And worse than letting their employees and family down, politicians risk being pilloried in the media, dragged through the hot coals of a PR disaster, and destroying the empire! Why anyone would want to be a politician is beyond me.

So it was with some relief this weekend when I read the letter to the editor in the Houston Chronicle by Charles Hamilton of Spring Texas titled “Thinking Men Think.” It was like someone with common sense finally stepped into the room. From his letter:

Regarding “Let’s give Romney time to sort out his positions” (Page B9, Friday), Gail Collins inaccurately notes a presidential nonqualifying trait in Mitt Romney‘s “not giving a fig” about undocumented workers clipping his lawn.

and

Non-objectively, she does not compare Obama’s many flip-flops (e.g., closing Guantanamo) with Mitt’s (e.g., abortion)…

Thinking men think. Man’s judgment of other men’s motives is often flawed.

Politician’s disparage each other to get elected because we the electorate remember bad stuff better. Witness the oft quoted and paraphrased “you get 10 bad reviews from an angry customer versus 1 recommendation from a happy customer.” Witness “if it bleeds it leads.” Witness Perez Hilton, the Drudge Report, etc… WE have trained the media and the politicians to feed us disparaging remarks about each other.

And the worst of those sound-byte-disparagements is she “s/he flip-floped on issue _____.” What does that mean in poli-parlance? It is slang for “the politician changed their position” with an implied “you can’t trust them.”

The White Houseflip-flopping,” by the media, is consistent with the actions of a rational human being. Feel free to ponder “what” changed. Be it pandering to the left or right. But SOMETHING changed in the politician’s world-view to have them logically take a new position.  The broad definition of flip-flopper can be painted on President Obama as well as on candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. And how does this help move us forward? It doesn’t.

Look, we all benefit from a healthy Presidential Election. Let’s talk about the issues in the primary and in the general election. But if you hear someone say “he is a flip-flopper” the person who is speaking is not thinking with acuity. Don’t we deserve a leader smart enough to move with the cheese?

As Charles’ said – “Thinking men think.” And thank God for that!

(this is a cross post – to comment please comment on the chron.com version here.)

I get why people are so angry

“I get why people are so angry at seeing Christmas commercials and why petitions are starting left and right and why regular, educated, hard-working Americans are taking to the streets to occupy and lend their voices to the movement.

These people are normal. They have kids and dogs and jobs that they’ve held for 17 years. They work in the lowest-paid but highest-required degree social institutions and donate money to social injustice to help other people. They take care of their sick parents. They help other people when they can by sending them to community organizations or by just paying a light bill. They do the best they know how to do. They never think they were going to end up here.

At least I didn’t think I would.”

(source)

1965

“the most important piece of legislation that no one’s ever heard of”

– Simon Rosenberg (source)

The Obama Doctrine – the Monroe Doctrine on Steroids

As I understand it, the Obama Doctrine is (these are my words):

We (America) can preemptively execute people we deem to be a national security threat even in allied countries without notice. In doing so, we accept collateral deaths of unknown people will occur. This targeted execution is done without any form of process beyond Executive approval. And we may or may not notify our ally or Congress before the strike.

Not exactly the Monroe Doctrine. In fact it is an extension of US Foreign Policy far beyond any previous policies. Yet the editors on Wikipedia describe the Obama Doctrine as: (emphasis added by me)

Generally speaking, it is accepted that a central part of such a doctrine would emphasize negotiation and collaboration rather than confrontation and unilateralism in international affairs. This policy has been praised by some as a welcome change from the more interventionist Bush Doctrine.[1] Critics, such as former United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, have described it as overly idealistic and naïve, promoting appeasement of the USA’s enemies.[2] Others have drawn attention to its radical departure from not only the policies of the Bush administration but many former presidents as well.[2][3] Meanwhile, additional political pundits have disagreed entirely, accusing Obama of continuing the policies of his predecessor.

Blowing people up from space can hardly be called “emphasizing negotiation and collaboration rather than confrontation.” To be blunt, the Wikipedia entry on the Obama Doctrine is WILDLY wrong. The Wikipedia text above does not in any way match up reality as I see it except for the “continuing the policies of his predecessor” part. Why? Perhaps the aggressive narrative doesn’t work well for the 2012 election. It turns out our current President CAN answer the “call at 3 AM” and he answers it more aggressively than any previous President.

I have made no secret that I have called President Obama “Bush 44” since he was elected. You keep the same economic and military advisors as your predecessor, you repeat the same bailouts, and (SURPRISE!) your politics and results are identical. There has been no “change.” Which makes the screaming critics look silly. The only thing you could possibly say changed is Obamacare (as the critics call it) which is watered down to be similar to the policy Texas has for Auto Insurance. (Wow, radical departure. Hold me back. I can’t handle the change. And can someone give me $500 for the last uninsured guy who hit one of our family cars please!? I guess he didn’t read the law.)

Don’t get me wrong. As a very proud American I am glad the evil one is dead. I know I am supposed to forgive and everything, but I’m gonna have to let God handle that one as I am incapable of forgiving such a weak and cowardly monster. And I never heard of the guy we got in Yemen, but I have to assume he deserved it based on media reports. (Disclaimer: I also believed and supported the invasion of Iraq at the time. The turning point for me was when General Powell addressed the UN because I trust Powell. Heck, I still wish he would run for President.)

What started this post on the aggressiveness of the Obama Doctrine? On August 29th I posted a link to FB regarding criticism of President Obama that I believe wasn’t Republican or Fox or Tea Party punditry speak but actual legitimate intelligent criticism. My original text associated with the link I posted was:

Many times my conservative friends criticize our President with punditry-speak & incorrect-facts… BUT, here is some legitimate FACT based criticism of true problems with our current President.

In response, one of the comments I received on Facebook from X (you can identify yourself in the comments and I’ll update this post but I did not want to assume it was OK to blog your identity) begins with

Intellectuals have great difficulty understanding what makes our political/economic system work because very little of what makes it tick is cerebral in nature. Obama is a failure as president for reasons that can’t be explained by tearing apart public policy matters and breaking down statistical data. He will not succeed at rebooting our economy because of what’s in his heart – he does not believe our economic system has virtue. He sees capitalism as unfair, harsh and too random in its distribution of power. Further, he has contempt for the kind of people that make our economic system successful (unless they choose to appear to subjugate themselves to him, as Warren Buffet and Jeffrey Imelt have.) Obama not only fails to inspire our captains of industry and aspiring entrepreneurs, he makes them feel fearful and discouraged.

Lots of philosophy there, but perhaps not framed in a historical context or anything close to quantitative. My response (with a few corrections in wording and links added) follows:

I would say at this point my conservative friends agree on that point. What is also interesting is that my progressive friends are also hugely disappointed because they did have “hope.” And that hope has not been realized.

U.S. President James Monroe
U.S. President James Monroe

I am greatly bothered by the “noise” that prevents looking at larger policy issues with objective eyes. Example: A preemptive military strike in an allied country (without telling them) on the other side of the globe to kill Bin Laden is great news in the US. But wait, you can’t call that part of the:

  1. the Monroe Doctrine (keep the Europeans out), or
  2. the Roosevelt Corollary (we can intervene in Latin America if their checks bounce) or
  3. the Bush Doctrine (preventive war is OK if we think you are a threat like Iraq).

No, this is a new policy that is called “the Obama Doctrine” by the media. And like Roosevelt and Bush, Obama has extended the original Monroe Doctrine on our use of military force.

The challenge is we don’t have an explicitly written “Obama Doctrine.” But from a military perspective, our current President is in fact the most aggressive Presidents we have ever had. Thus when the right calls him weak, when his actions speak otherwise, we prevent educated dialog about the limits of the military aspects of the Obama Doctrine.

Can we drone strike in France a mosque if we know the leader has anti-US beliefs? Technically within the Bush Doctrine that would be allowed, but it would be considered war on France, a nation-state. Not good. Yet, it would fit within the Obama Doctrine from a military perspective based on our relationship and actions in Pakistan.

I’m simply pointing out that the “Obama is weak” narrative pushed by the right is designed for an election campaign. Yet it does NOT agree with the facts and prevents educated dialog about our current foreign policy.

While working on this post I saw this article today by Cheney saying the President should apologize to Bush. In the quote Cheney is referring to the drone strike in Yemen to kill an American Terrorist living abroad. From the CNN article:

“I think it was a very good strike. I think it was justified,” Cheney told CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union.” But “I’m waiting for the administration to go back and correct something they said two years ago when they criticized us for ‘overreacting’ to the events of 9/11.”

The Obama administration has “clearly … moved in the direction of taking robust action when they feel it is justified,” Cheney said.

OK people, if Dick Cheney is describing President Obama’s administration and policies as “taking robust action” then everyone needs to pause and think about it.

In summary, a few key points to emphasize:

  1. The Obama Doctrine is MORE aggressive than the Bush Doctrine. Agree or don’t agree, but let’s at least talk about the Obama Doctrine or ask for a written copy before we go and launch drones over Sweden.
  2. The expansion of the Bush Doctrine by the Obama Doctrine suggests to me that in this case the former VP is right. If President Obama is doing not only the same thing but more, he probably should apologize at least privately to W.
  3. Republican pundits need to stop the “weak” narrative to describe the current President if they want to have any hope of having a chance in the next election. You can’t use that paint-brush successfully on the guy who killed the devil.
My 2 cents as an independent. Anyone want to start a third party for us?
(Note: this is a cross post. To comment please visit the post on Chron.com.)

until that day comes, there will be gridlock and dysfunction

“In their new book, “Millennial Momentum,” they explain how the millennial generation (born from 1982 to 2003) will remake America in education, politics, entertainment and every other conceivable endeavor. There will be more compromise, they predict, and more tolerance for different points of view…. But until that day comes, there will be gridlock and dysfunction. And our government will stay broken” – CNN

#agree

Egypt Social Media Activity Unexpectedly Small

I have been digging into the background story on the 2011 revolution in Egypt. Follow that last link for a good recap of how the police beating of Khaled Said created a maelstrom that has turned into massive protests and labor strikes in Egypt. A man named Wael Ghonim has emerged as a symbol of the revolution in Egypt after his CNN Interview as a rebuttal of Omar Suleiman, the General now promoted to a VP, did an interview with ABC News.

Regarding the politics of Mubarak’s autocracy, I think we can agree on some fundamentals:

  1. The killing of Khaled Said was unjustified and horrible.
  2. The government response to these allegations in Egypt was insufficient.
  3. The protests are right to object to 30 years of “Emergency Rule
  4. Mubarak should step down immediately
  5. The US historical support for Mubarak, while unlike the situation with the Shah in Iran, will likely not win us many friends in post-Mubarak Egypt.
  6. Social media has played a key role in the protests as evidenced by the Internet blackout implemented by the government.

Wait. I’m not so sure about number 6. The role of social media is unclear.

Working in social media I was curious and looked up the facebook group and the twitter accounts. What struck me was that for a country with a population of 77 Million, the page and the twitter account have relatively few followers. Right now Wael Ghonim on twitter has 46,035 followers

and the Khalid Said page on Facebook has 61,687 fans

Both of those numbers seem small to me given the scope of the protests. My first thought was “you must be looking at the wrong page. Surely there is an arabic page that is the real FB connector. I emailed a politically active Egyptian friend (Fayza!) and her response was:

I think that’s probably as good as you’re going to get. It’s a very active page, so my guess is that it’s the best resource for his supporters that Facebook has to offer. Lots of Egyptians speak fluent English because of the prevalence of tourism. It doesn’t surprise me that the primary FB presence is in English at all.

Perhaps Gladwell is right that the Revolution will not be tweeted. When Gladwell in his post talks about networks he says:

The drawbacks of networks scarcely matter if the network isn’t interested in systemic change—if it just wants to frighten or humiliate or make a splash—or if it doesn’t need to think strategically. But if you’re taking on a powerful and organized establishment you have to be a hierarchy.

So either social media isn’t the huge driver for change, or it is a very small subset of the population communicating through social media that is facilitating the action. But you certainly can’t say that hundreds of thousands are responding to direct tweets with a central call to action.

So to me the role of social media in the revolution is still a conundrum. And as I type this, it looks like the rumors of him stepping down tonight on 2/10/2011 were false.

More to follow….

stultifying effects of social proprieties

James Turrell's The Light InsideLess fairy tale than fable about the consequences of collective hypocrisy, Andersen’s story bears a message that has become a proverbial truth… Choosing to ignore what is in plain sight and blindly acting as if there were nothing wrong are the targets of Andersen’s satirical barbs. That it takes an “innocent” child to divine the truth that “His Majesty” is unable to discern is a reminder of the stultifying effects of social proprieties and the way in which culture and civilization produce duplicity and hypocrisy.

The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, Maria Tartar on The Emperor’s New Clothes

Can we get a debate for Texas Governor?

I have to agree with Bill White’s campaign on this one. Why isn’t Rick Perry going to debate? Mayor Bill WhiteYes he would have to answer some tough questions, but you know, being Governor isn’t supposed to be easy. From Bill’s latest email:

Rick Perry won’t answer for nearly doubling state spending, doubling state debt and helping create an $18 billion budget deficit. Don’t you think Perry should answer questions about his record?

Yet it isn’t all one-sided. Rick could ask Bill some really tough questions about paying pension obligations in Houston with bonds, for example.

Governor Rick PerryI understand an incumbent is theoretically at a disadvantage debating a new candidate (safer to ignore), but I don’t think that applies in this case, as Bill White has plenty of public history being Mayor of Houston. He has a track record you can examine, which suggests to me the playing field is more level, and in this case I’d like to see Rick rise to the challenge.

From one Aggie to another, can we get a debate Governor?

Social Media Training for Political Campaigns Presentation

Busy weekend. From the Bill White Social Media Training post on the Schipul blog

We had a super morning this Saturday, meeting with Mayor Bill White, his WONDERFUL wife Andrea White, their staff and a great group of volunteers.  The topic was telling Bill White’s Story online and responding to less-than-wonderful commentary on Blogs, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Monica Danna (Cosmopolitician) coordinated the event at HTC – including @kolachefactory breakfast and @coffeegroundz coffee.  Awesome small group leaders included Maggie McDonald (Magsmac), Laura Mayes (Girl Con Queso), Grace Rodriguez, Katrina Esco, Ashley Minor, Julie Pippert and the lovely Jennifer Rebecca Stephenson (LolaJRS).

I have to say teaching the class with @happykatie was a blast. And quite an honor. Thanks for the support Houston!

I’d also like to add a HUGE THANKS TO MARC NATHAN! Mr. marc1919 did an awesome job of getting the Houston Technology Center ready on a Saturday. Very much appreciated Marc!

Yali’s Question: why we had so little cargo of our own?

Yali’s famous question from the book Guns, Germs, and Steel:

“All of those things must have been on Yali’s mind when, with yet another penetrating glance of his flashing eyes, he asked me, “Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own?” – pg 14

and

“The, questions about inequality (Yali’s question) in the modern world can be reformulated as follows. Why did wealth and power become distributed as they are now, rather than in some other way? For instance, why weren’t Native Americans, Africans, and Aboriginal Australians the ones who decimated, subjugated, or exterminated Europeans and Asians?” – pg 16

and the conclusion

“Yali’s question went to the heart of the current condition, and of post-Pleistocene human history… how shall we answer Yali? I would say to Yali: the striking differences between the long-term histories of peoples of the different continents have been due not to innate differences in the people themselves but to differences in their environments.” – pg 405

Ecosystems matter. Our environment matters. And in fact it becomes a matter of human rights in the long term. Yali was a wise man.

Visualization of Social Issues – Block by Block and Random Visuals

Cadoracharles_swartzVia this post on we-make-money-not-art, to the left is an awesome map indicating the cost, by block, of incarceration.  The map is a graphic by Eric Cadora and Charles Swartz helps you understand visually the expense of lack of education and incarceration.

The artists clearly thought about visual representation and included source data (Tufte emphasizes source for legitimacy regardless of authenticity).

On the flip side, the actual project web site is close to unusable with all links launching frames without an address bar.  What were they thinking?

If you force the issue with "open in new window" you can dig down into additional graphics on social issues like this one, or this one

F_kurgan_tlyang_sp05_06While the visuals are compelling, I am not sure about how intuitive the communication of issues is for a user who is not motivated to review and read the legend at length.

This design does require the user to work and renders the information secondary to the display, which is not an ideal result.

Keyword Density of Presidential State of the Union Addresses 1996 to 2006

The political graphs below are word counts of interesting words and phrases from Presidential State of the Union speeches from 1996 to 2006.  This is mostly an exercise in political keyword density calculations and fun with graphs.  I manually added similar terms like "Iraq" and "Iraqi" or "terrorist" and "terrorists" (note the "s") in the Excel file.

Souiraqvsterroristkeywords

This first graph compares Iraq vs Terrorist vs Saddam vs Al Qaeda.

The method was to locate a web based version of primarily text (print view in this case) from the state of the union addresses.   The date range was 10 years and includes both the Bush presidency and a portion of Clinton’s presidency.  The range was an arbitrary decision. 

I was able to find the last five years (Bush) state of the union addresses on whitehouse.gov but prior to that found the remaining speeches at http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/sou.php.  As a result, there are some differences in the data from other text on the HTML pages.  To really repeat this micro-study you would want to isolate the content without any navigation or reference links.

Sousocialprogramskeywords This graph shows a variety of terms related to social services including; tax (es), Health, economy, budget, social security, medicare, retirement

I do suggest that speech writers and public relations professionals run their content through keyword density generators to verify they are ON MESSAGE.  Yes clearly the content should be written in natural language that focuses on your political objective, but it doesn’t hurt to hit a link to verify how google views your content.

The full Excel file with the graphs and source data is posted below if you want to remix it or double check the content.  Be sure to check all of the tabs with the pasted versions of the SEO keywords.

Download schipul_state_of_the_union_keywords.xls

And here are the links to the state of the union speeches by date.

23-Jan-96 SoU, 4-Feb-97 SoU, 27-Jan-98 SoU, 19-Jan-99 SoU, 27-Jan-00 SoU, 27-Feb-01 SoU, 29-Jan-02 SoU, 28-Jan-03 SoU, 20-Jan-04 SoU, 2-Feb-05 SoU, 31-Jan-06 SoU

SouparsingtoolAnd speaking of visualization, while researching this post I came across the State of the Union Parsing tool which has some nice visualization as well.  Definitely worth a visit if you are into the whole politics crossed with search engine optimization and messaging thing.