Posts Tagged ‘Trump’

PC is Dead. Long Live PC

November 14, 2016

Mr Trump, can I say naughty things now?

Of course you can, Billy.

“I don’t have time for political correctness. And frankly, neither does our country” *

Last week a classic, clear, crisp New England Fall day called for some trail exploration on my new bike. There is a large water tank at the top of a hill in my neighborhood accessible by a dirt road winding through the brilliant yellow, red and orange woods. Perfect.

I headed off, enjoying the climb and scenery as I rounded one last turn. My destination came into view and I can see lots of graffiti scraped into the mossy stains around the tank. Clearly I wasn’t the only one to use this road besides the town’s water department. Pedalling closer to read the messages I spy the usual – hearts with initials, hearts with initials scratched out (love is so fickle), and my fav – “heart Elvis Parsly” (fresh breath – thank you very much).

As I continue my circle I see “Malia Obama likes it sideways.” Hmmm – name spelled correctly and, considering the whiteness of my little town, an odd choice. Then I see it was just the build up to the N word – again and again and again. Sometimes alone, sometimes in combination. 

I’m not bothered by much – C word, F bomb – they were all there. I know hidden places like this are where drunken high school kids say whatever they want without any filter or spell check. But this got to me.

So today was another of those perfect autumn days and I hopped on my bike knowing what I needed to do. I rounded the water tank and parked my bike off to the side. Unzipping my backpack I pulled out two spray bottles of Mr Clean and an extension brush and went to work cleaning up my town. 

My part of the country still has room for political correctness.

Some before and after pics:

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*Donald Trump. Presidential Debate Sep 26, 2016 – Cleveland, Ohio.

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Let’s compare and contrast…

November 6, 2016

nintchdbpict000280104910-e1478358256253   Donald Trump

The other day at a rally for Hillary Clinton a man stood up and vocally advocated for Donald Trump. The crowd booed and shouted at him. President Obama, at the podium, reminded the Hillary supporters that this is America, the man has a right to express his opinion, pointed out the man was wearing a uniform, guessed he was a vet and reminded all that he deserves their thanks for his service. The crowd calmed and the rally moved on.

The other day at a rally for Donald Trump a man stood up holding a sign that said “Republicans against Trump.” The crowded booed and shouted at him. Donald Trump, at the podium, shaded his eyes and taunted the protester with questions of whether he was a paid Hillary plant where upon the crowd beat and kicked the man. Someone shouted “GUN!”, the Secret Service rushed the candidate off stage until the man could be taken from the venue.

Even more disturbing than this difference in reacting to an adversary is Trump’s retelling  of the incident with Obama at a later rally. He has Obama taunting and shouting at the man during the Clinton event, easily disproved with so many videos of the encounter, but this doesn’t inform Trump’s rhetoric.

This is not a case of liar, liar – that devolves quickly into the useless “how can you tell when a politician’s lying? when their lips are moving” meme. This is disturbing because this is the lens Donald sees the world through. A view that distorts reality so much that he believes that is how the event went; he believes the birther crap (retraction notwithstanding); he believes he is a supporter of women (especially the real lookers), and that Mexico will pay for a wall (even though, early on, he admitted it was just line to use when a rally got quiet).

Say what you will about Hillary, at least her eyes are seeing the real world (and not the one on MTV).

Pro-Am Election 2016*

August 15, 2016

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Watching contestants for the Mountain Biking World Cup event prepare at the top of Mont Sainte Anne I realized this is an elite group of athletes, not just alt boys and girls in dreads having fun on their parents coin. Warm-up routines were everywhere – bursts on portable resistance machines, hopping and stretching, meditating while pedaling backwards, slogging a Redbull and peeing just off the trial. These were the pros.

They may have started as those alt boys and girls, but they have honed their skills enough over the years to challenge a mountain face of loose dirt, trees, and rock walls at speed. I was not there race day, but on a practice day when teams walk sections of the course discussing the best line, runs are made to find and test that line, and ambulance teams handle the horrible results when that line was missed. This up close view of an unforgiving course it became obvious years of preparation are mandatory.

This also gave me a new appreciation for all the work the Olympic athletes have put in. The TV teases with montages of the childhood gymnastics classes and kiddie swim meets, but it’s the big leagues now and as cute as they were in those family videos, it is their ability to seriously focus the years of practice and coaching, to bring all of their learned skills to the moment of competition. This ability, along with some luck and appropriate gene pool, propels them into the elite rank of world class athletes.

Remember Eddie the Eagle? In 1988 Winter Games he became the first Brit to compete in the Olympic Ski Jump since 1929. Eddie’s dream was to compete on the world stage – the Olympics. He was a good downhill racer, but couldn’t make the British race team; however, there were no applicants in ski jumping. Eddie could ski, he could jump. All he needed to do was put it all together and dream realized! Cramming in as many jumps as he could (sometimes nearly sixty a day) prior to coming in dead last in both the 70m and 90m ski jump in Calgary. He became a hero to us all as an example of the little guy with the audacity to dream and make it happen no matter how badly he performed. As Bill Murray tweeted, “Every Olympic event should include one average guy for reference.” Eddie was our reference.

Now we have the Donald the Developer running for president. Has he run for a political office before? No. Has he always been a staunch Republican? No. Has he a long history involving himself in political causes? No. He is the outsider. But he claims to have made contributions to some political candidates (both major parties) and he has plenty of opinions. He’s just like us, but with a TV show and born into oodles of wealth.

People take pride in the Donald’s plain speech, using “the best words.” His meaning is always clear, until he says things like “By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know…” or Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing, I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” or “ISIS is honoring President Obama. He is the founder of ISIS. He is the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder. He founded ISIS.

Didn’t he just encourage an armed insurrection, foreign cyber-invasion, and claim our current President is a traitor? Like any good marketer he repeats these comments louder and more forcefully until a few days later, when pressured, he changes the facts around what he said. Media bias… Sarcasm… Jus’ sayin’…?

He likes to change facts around a lot. He says he remembers days after September 11th when he saw on thousands cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center on TV –  

TRUMP: It did happen. I saw it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You saw that —

TRUMP: It was on television. I saw it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: — with your own eyes?

TRUMP: George, it did happen.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Police say it didn’t happen.

TRUMP: There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down — as those buildings came down. And that tells you something. It was well covered at the time, George. Now, I know they don’t like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time. There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As I said, the police have said it didn’t happen.

Or this when asked about the goings on in the Ukraine and Putin –

TRUMP: He’s not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not gonna go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he’s already there, isn’t he?

TRUMP: OK, well, he’s there in a certain way, but I’m not there.

Trump has his facts straight on one point – he’s not there.

He then threw Europe into a tizzy when he said he would first check if NATO countries were paid up before fulfilling our treaty obligations. If they weren’t “…then yes, I would be absolutely prepared to tell those countries, ‘Congratulations, you will be defending yourself.’” Anybody want to invade Europe? Russia – if you’re listening, sounds like an all-clear if you check the financials country by country.

I know it’s fashionable to hate elites, but why? Just like the pro mountain bike racers and Olympic athletes I’d rather my sports played by the best. Not somebody who tells me they’re the best, but folks who have actually been tested and come out on top. I expect the same for my plumber and mechanic. I want someone who knows what they’re doing, someone with experience – that stuff really matters. Why should my President be any different? Why should the job with the potential to do both the most good AND the most harm in this world be left to someone who can’t discern fact from fiction? I love the Eddy the Eagle story – full of pluck and can-do spirit – but his success or failure on the slopes did not have the potential to destroy a thousand years of civilization. The Presidency of Donald the Developer does.

Please vote – just don’t vote for Trump (the elections rigged anyway, right?)

 

*I have been trying to write this for nearly two weeks, but Trump just keeps saying more and more outlandish things – I started when he went after the Kahns after they addressed the Democratic Convention. I’ve decided he will just keep going so I have to just work with what I have to date…


 

The alternatives:

The Democratic ticket: Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine. Hillary has spent her entire life honing her skills for this job. She has been Secretary of State, a senator, wife of a former president, lawyer, and political since high school. She has gotten plenty wrong (haven’t we all?), but she learns and moves forward. She understands a political bargain means not getting everything you want, but moving things in the right direction. Even Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) says, “When you’re working outside of staff and outside of the press she is somebody I can work with,” though he will support the entire GOP ticket this Fall. She listens, she learns, and is pragmatic enough to get things done. She has learned to be incremental in her efforts and speaks in the precise, nuanced language of a lawyer knowing every word she speaks will generate an investigation.

Tim Kaine has been a senator, governor, lieutenant governor, and chair of the DNC. He is a Harvard trained lawyer, was a university lecturer and city councilor.

The Libertarian ticket: Gary Johnston and William Weld. Both have been governors (new Mexico and Massachusetts). Before being governor Johnson was a successful businessman and afterwards formed Our America Initiative, a political action committee. He was ranked among the nation’s seven top governors in each of the Cato Institute’s fiscal report cards between 1996 and 2002.

His running mate, Bill Weld, is a Harvard lawyer, studied economics at Oxford, was the US Attorney for Massachusetts. Weld began his legal career as a counsel with the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate impeachment inquiry, where one of his colleagues was Hillary Clinton. Reagan promoted him to head of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department in Washington. He resigned in protest over misconduct of the Attorney General Ed Meese before running for governor.

The Green ticket: Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka. Jill Stein is a Harvard educated physician. She advocated for campaign finance reform, and worked to help pass the Clean Election Law by voter referendum. She has twice been elected to town meeting in Lexington, Massachusetts. She is the founder and past co-chair of a local recycling committee appointed by the Lexington Board of Selectmen. In 2008, Stein helped lead the “Secure Green Future” ballot initiative to move subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy and to create green jobs. She also served on the board of directors for Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Baraka served as the founding executive director of the US Human Rights Network, a national network that grew to over 300 U.S.-based organizations and 1500 individual members. He is currently an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. He has also served on the boards of several human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Africa Action.

 

Is It Safe?

July 30, 2016

Leviathan of Hobbes

Is it safe?

All I can think is Sir Laurence Olivier offering oil of clove to Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man after jamming a dental pick into a cavity – even his henchman had to turn away – after asking that question.

That is the question I ask myself as the 2016 presidential election unfolds. Rights and freedoms are are being buried in a campaign of innuendo and factless smear.  We were taught our founders created a nation built on the writings of the great Enlightenment thinkers (unless you’re from Texas, where textbooks have that tidbit edited out).  Starting with Thomas Hobbes who began a century long conversation on how government should work. This dialog includes such great thinkers as Rousseau, Locke, Voltaire, and Montesquieu – all refining the idea of government and natural rights. Their writings inspired our writings – our Declaration, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights.  

What were the major concerns of those writers and our founders? Balancing individual freedoms while creating a government for protection. It began with Hobbes rejecting the divine right of kings and suggesting we willingly give up all our freedoms to one all-powerful leader who would keep us safe. This evolved into Rousseau’s idea that we should only give our freedoms to each other creating “We, the People.” Rousseau’s ideal of a direct democracy becomes Madison’s practical republic, rebuking most of Hobbes’ writing (except for his concept of man being a selfish asshole if left to his own devices).

Over the past nearly two and a half centuries, this system has worked reasonably well in the U.S. with some glaring exceptions (think slavery, Civil War, the Japanese internment). It has slowly refined itself and grown to accept the labor movement, the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and LGBTQ movement; closing in on the promise of all being created equal with certain unalienable rights.

Now, nearly 400 years after Hobbes, we have a candidate who is running on the Leviathan* platform and leaving the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason behind. Trust him, he’ll fix everything all by himself. He’ll self fund his campaign while raising money through emails and online pledges. He’ll protect our religious freedoms by knowing your religion before he allows you to enter our country. He uses his freedom of speech to bully and belittle those who speak against him. He promises to protect the freedom of the press by threatening lawsuits and refusing to credential journalists who question him. Just give him your vote and trade in the ideals of the  Enlightenment for a great wall of safety.

This spring we traveled to Italy and the first thing we were asked by the man who arranged to get us to our hotel was how was it possible a person like Trump could be so close to winning the nomination. It is now summer and Trump has the nomination and we are vacationing in Quebec, Canada. The topic that keeps coming up is possibility of Trump actually getting elected and did anyone seriously think this was a good idea. I wince when I tell them yes – many Americans do. They all look at me in horror. America will elect Trump to the most powerful position in the world? Ashamed, I have to turn away.

Is it safe? Can the world absorb a Trump presidency? Can our already strained republic overcome its base, nativist underbelly? Does anyone have a giant vat of clove oil?

 

*In the Leviathan the English writer, Thomas Hobbes, said the only way for us to be safe is to give up our freedoms to a badass Chuck Norris-like leader because man’s natural state is that of constant war – making life “nasty, brutish and short.” This leader would need to be so terrifying that no one would dare incur his wrath. Enemies from outside would keep their distance fearing his deadly roundhouse kick and those inside would avoid any and all commotion to save themselves from a righteous spinning back fist. With a leader like that, Hobbes reasoned, people could then go about their day in complete safety building businesses, creating infrastructure, growing a society for the next generation. He had a major flaw in his reasoning. The leader would be a human and humans are a greedy lot (which Hobbes acknowledged).

Hobbes is one of the early Enlightenment writers during the Age of Reason, a time when superstition was swept aside, replaced by a belief in logic and reason. Provable facts, able to be verified and refined, were the touchstone in that age – not so much this one.

Musings after a fitful night

March 10, 2016

bernSleep eluded me after this last Republican not so presidential debate. All the shouting and name calling reminded me of the fights my parents had when I was little. And just as frightening – the fear my world would be destroyed having to live with one or another of the combatants.

So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. ~FDR

Thanks, Franklin, your words were a downy pillow for my head and I drifted off to sleep, perchance to dream…

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain… ~MLK, Jr

Oh, the dream of beautiful possibilities, Martin. Inspiring words laying out a better future. We resolve to remake our world, your words direct our efforts. For we, the people, American achievement is near limitless; like when Jack said, “We choose to go to the Moon and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…”

Now the trumpet summons us again – not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need – not as a call to battle, though embattled we are – but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation,” a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.  ~JFK, Jr

I hear the trumpet, Jack. Those common enemies are still with us; we are not yet in the full light of day, nor have we been swallowed by the night. Fifty years later the shimmer of twilight is still on the horizon outlining each of the enemies.

These great men, their words of inspiration tossed and turned in my head. Lofty words, soothing words, words that speak to a higher calling, words so compact and powerful. A flicker of light tickles my eyes open, an orange blur of morning sunrise. No, light is from the TV and what words do I hear?

My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body… We won with poorly educated, I love the poorly educated!… I know words, I have the best words. I have the best, but there is no better word than stupid.  ~ DJT

This is the new American oration? In my stupor I begin to sing to myself to try and unhear what I just heard:

O beautiful for spacious skies / For amber waves of grain / For purple mountain majesties / Above the fruited plain! / America! America! /God shed his grace on thee / And crown thy good with brotherhood / From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet / Whose stern impassioned stress / A thoroughfare of freedom beat / Across the wilderness! / America! America! / God mend thine every flaw / Confirm thy soul in self-control / Thy liberty in law!  ~ Katherine Lee Bates

The morning has come and the bright light of this new day revealed my Bernie lawn sign has been stolen. Word, America, word.

Bullies and Bystanders

August 15, 2015

trump

“And then [Megyn Kelly] hit me with a very, very hard question. That was when I came up with the Rosie O’Donnell statement, which really got a tremendous applause. That was the biggest applause in the evening actually, so it was sort of interesting.”
– Donald Trump on Fox and Friends

As a school teacher I am a mandated reporter of bullying. While watching the Republican debate I felt the need to report the Donald, but the audience response was even more vile.  In bullying seminars and workshops they point out that whatever the bully’s problem is, it can’t be easily be rectified; so the focus is on appealing to the bystanders, the bully’s audience and source of power. They make the bully the center of attention and their presence amplifies the humiliation heaped on the victim. Change the attitude of the bully’s audience and you can stop the bully.

The Donald’s crowd increases with each insult he launches. It’s giddy fun; – after all,  calling everybody a “fat loser” is great stuff to your inner twelve year old. Is this frustration with predictable political correctness? But now those government-sent Mexican drug lord rapists have been called out and anyone who has ever been given a hard time by their wife/girlfriend/mother knows that it was because she was pre-menstrual/menstrual/post-menstrual. Thanks, Donald – It’s not our fault. The Donald even spoke his version of the truth to Fox power and has all the other nattering nabobs of negativism in the news declaring him unelectable making him ‘Merica’s underdog and we love the underdog.

We may love the Donald right into the White House, despite the protestations of the pundits. Despite our fear and distrust of the big buck bankers and cartels, we may be electing one of their co-captains. Many despise the limited experience of the current occupant of the White House yet we may elect someone with NO experience. The more we are told it’s a stunt, he can’t possibly make it past the primaries, he is a plant by the Democrats; the more he gains in the polls.

“I must have heard at least 15 times today that the thing people like about Trump is he says what we are all thinking but can’t bear to say,” said State Rep. Fred Doucette, the co-chairman of Trump’s New Hampshire campaign. “He’s a straight talker. He says what he thinks and thinks what he says and sticks to it and tells the truth.”

There are a lot of things that I think, but don’t say. I learned this by having my mouth washed out with soap by my folks a few times. The Donald’s dad must have been too busy building the inheritance to do the same.  What dad says “…if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her” even if she “has a nice figure”? Seriously? Is this the kind of straight talk we want running the country, our own inappropriate American version of Putin? Maybe the Donald will commission his own macho version of the Russian hit, “A Man Like Putin.” Of course his version would be the best.

This bully knows how to enlist the bystanders and how to turn statements that would cause most politicians to fall into the abyss into a rise in the polls. So here is a test: Who are his victims? A – Civility? B – Sensibility? C – Political discourse based on policy not pompous personality? D – All of the above? (The correct answer is “D – all of the above.”)

So how do we, a civil, sensible electorate who would like to base our vote on policy, appeal to the ever increasing crowd of onlookers ready to snicker at the next left handed compliment or wildly cheer for name-calling? I’m not sure this translates to the national stage, but here is some advice for dealing with school bullies from Stompoutbullying.org:

Whether you know the victim or not, there are things that you as a bystander can safely do to support the victim:
• Don’t laugh 
• Don’t encourage the bully in any way
• Stay at a safe distance and help the target get away
• Don’t become an “audience” for the bully
• Reach out in friendship
• Help the victim in any way you can
• Support the victim in private
• If you notice someone being isolated from others, invite them to join you
• Include the victim in some of your activities
• Tell an adult

As a teacher of History I have always wondered how some of the great villains of past rose to power and popular support. I think I may be living through the answer to that question. I’m going to tell an adult.