Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Category Archive: 'rant'

To The Democrats / To The Republicans

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Nov 10, 2016 @ 6:29 pm PST

userpic=bushbabyTo My Democratic Friends: Take a deep breath and calm down. I’m seeing folks reacting just like the Republicans did when Obama was elected. He’s going to be a dictator! He’s going to take away all our rights! He’s going to undo everything the previous administration did! We thought the Republicans were unrealistic when they said that then, so why are we acting that way now? The same constraints exist on the office. Appointments must be confirmed by 60% of the Senate. The Constitution is still in play, and can only be changed by an amendment or a case that goes through the court system. The President is limited in what they can do. Here’s one good article on that. Congress will limit him further, because they have their jobs to protect. Further, Mr. Trump is going to be hit by the enormity of  the task he has taken on, which is very different than running a business. He’s going to want to win: which means not destroying America, but going down as the Best President Ever™. He’s probably feeling like a dog that has captured the car. I think we’re going to see the office change the man. It has happened to everyone else that has held the office.

To My Republican Friends: Just because Mr. Trump has been elected does not give you the right to act like he has in the past. There are still laws on the books regarding sexual harassment, sexual abuse, hate crimes, discrimination. These laws derive from the constitution, and are not going away even after Mr. Trump becomes President Trump. ACT LIKE ADULTS. Don’t gloat. Don’t be dicks. You’re only making it harder for our government to have a peaceful transition. You’re only making it harder for Mr. Trump to become a better man and this country to be strong. You are exhibiting the worst of America. Further, forget all this gloating about Sarah Palin and other unqualified people becoming cabinet officers. It didn’t happen with Obama, and it won’t happen with Trump, because the Senate cares about this country, and are part of the process to ensure that the right people go into office.

To America In General: Candidates change when they become President. The office changes them. They rarely achieve everything they promise; to do even 25% is remarkable. We all need to calm down, take deep breaths, hug our friends and be there for them. We need to let a peaceful transition occur, because that’s what America is. We need to have confidence in our system of government. It may zig-zag to goals, it may be slow, it may seen byzantine, but it is survived long beyond both good and bad Presidents, beyond honest and corrupt Presidents. Our founding fathers designed it very well, and that is why it has lasted so long.

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Don’t Panic

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Nov 10, 2016 @ 8:10 am PST

userpic=stressedI’ve been seeing a number of my friends on Social Media seemingly panicking over the election results (not to mention the protests in the streets). Please folks, if President Obama, Secretary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren aren’t panicking, why should you? Please keep the following in mind:

  • Mr. Trump does not take office until January. Until then, he is just a private citizen. He still has to testify in his upcoming fraud case, and he is not shielded from his legal problems. He still has to figure out how to address his conflicts of interest.
  • All those wild messages you see about proposed cabinet officers and Supreme Court Justices. None of them have been ratified, and they have to get through the Senate, where the Democrats have the power of the filibuster. Sen. McConnell, Majority Leader, has indicated he does not want to get rid of the filibuster. This means that the Democrats have the power to keep unqualified candidates, and those too far to the side ideologically, out of office (just like the Republicans did with them).
  • Trump cannot repeal Obamacare wholecloth immediately. He can do a partial repeal, but many regulations will remain in place.
  • The Military does not support everything Trump says. In particular, they will follow the Constitution, not unlawful orders.
  • Trump will be hamstrung by the nature of the Federal bureaucracy, and the ways the Congress works. He will discover — as Obama did — that the powers of the President are very limited.
  • All the existing laws on the books at the Federal, State, and local levels regarding hate crimes have not instantly gone away. His followers who commit hate crimes can still be prosecuted.
  • Trump does not have the full support of the Republican establishment. It is likely that in many areas they will not support his proposals, or will join with the Democrats to moderate them.
  • Trump will be held to task by those who elected him. What do you think will happen in two years when he hasn’t been able to “blow up Washington” as he promised? Remember, other Presidents have promised the same thing, and have been unable to do so.
  • Trump will also be held accountable by Congress. If he commits clear crimes or even somewhat crimes, the spectre of impeachment will be there. Moderate Republicans would be eager to do so, especially to get the more normative Pence into office. Further, Trump likes to win — and at this point, winning means going down in the history books as the greatest President. That won’t happen if he gets impeached or cannot get anything done. There is a high likelihood that the office, combined with the place he will leave in history, will change him.

I didn’t support Trump; I didn’t vote for him. However, he has been elected, and I respect the office of President even if I don’t like the man (a lesson I learned in the Bush years). I remember the transition from Clinton to Bush in 2000, and from Bush to Obama in 2008. It was peaceful, and we survived. Our nation is stronger than Trump, and we can survive at least two years. Now is the time to start finding those Democrats — future-Congresscritters and Senators — and getting them elected into office. Now is the time to elect Democrats to state offices and the Governorships so that when the redistricting happens, we can make fair districts. The pendulum will swing back. It always does. As they sing in Sweeny Todd: “Wait…”.

As for the people most in danger under Trump’s administration: That is the reason not to run away, not to give up. We must stay here and help them, and defend them. What the Government chooses not to do, we can. We can show the power of the people of America.

PS: Gene Spafford also shared this interesting “Don’t Panic” link. Here’s another on why you shouldn’t be worried.

PPS: Here’s an interesting link on how the checks and balances can prevent Trump from becoming a dictator.

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There’s Got To Be a Morning After…

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Nov 09, 2016 @ 7:51 am PST

userpic=rough-roadSome thoughts this morning on waking to a presumptive President-Elect Trump:

1. Lament for a Lost Election

Let us begin by singing the “Lament for a Lost Election”, by Tom Paxton:

Shit.

2. We’ve Been Through Some Crappy Times Before

Let us continue by singing together with the Austin Lounge Lizards:

3. My Hopes for President Trump

Just as we wished Donald Trump would be gracious had Clinton won, and that President Clinton would realize there was hard work to unite this country, I feel the same way now towards President Trump. I hope that as he begins the transition the enormity of the office he is assuming hits him, and that he realizes he is governing a very divided country and he is the leader of all the people … not just those that voted for him. I hope he realizes that how he behaved on the campaign — and in the past — is not appropriate for a President, and that he uses this transition period to come up to speed on how government really works, and how a President needs to behave.

I hope he realizes that he was elected by people protesting what was wrong in Washington — and that means people who were tired of the partisanship and gridlock. They wanted to break that up by electing an outsider. He cannot continue to be partisan and angry without inciting a further revolt. That means he will need to figure out how to reach out. It will be outside his comfort zone, but he is a smart and a shrewd man — and I believe he will do what he needs to do to win over the country.

I hope that he surrounds himself with smart and talented advisors who also want to repair the divide, and that he listens to them. I hope he thinks carefully before speaking and acting.

I hope that the moderate Republicans in Congress, together with the Democrats, and serve to temper Trump’s excesses as much as they can. This is not to say that I expect Trump to abandon his agenda; however, Congress can serve to turn an ideological agenda into a realistic compromise that all the country can accept.

I worry about the preservation of the separation of Church and State. I pray that the justices of the Supreme Court go above their personal ideologies and ensure the constitutional separation remains intact.

I’m worried about the Supreme Court, but again, I hope that Trump thinks carefully before he nominates, and that the Senate really does its job. I pray for at least 6 more years of excellent health for the current justices of the Supreme Court.

I also pray that President Trump does not give into the radical elements that backed him: the KKK, the White Power movement. I hope he realizes that America is acceptance of all religions, colors, and orientations, and protection of the minority. While protection may not advance under President Trump, I hope and pray it does not regress. I also pray that Trump does not take revenge on his detractors and opponent; revenge is not an American value.

We never saw Mr. Trump’s tax returns. I hope he can extricate himself from his businesses and realize that, come January 20th, America is his only business. The Trump business empire will just have to do for four years without him at the helm. Hopefully, he can put good businessmen in charge there. I pray that he can govern America working in the interest of the Nation, and not the Trump family.

4. What We Must Learn

This election demonstrated much that we must understand:

  • There was a seething, underestimated current of discontent with “Washington Establishment” in this country. I believe that Trump was elected less for his policies, and more for who he was — and what he wasn’t. This discontent must be addressed quickly if the country is to heal.
  • Almost every polling and poll aggregation site got it wrong. In this age of the Internet and cell phones, can we ever effectively poll the people? Have robocalls and ignorance of the “Do Not Call” list doomed telephone polling? Our statistical gathering organizations needs to do some major methodology reevaluation.
  • The Tom Bradley effect is real. I believe people were unwilling to admit to pollsters they were voting for Trump.
  • This election highlighted the divide between the urban population in most cities (very diverse in so many ways), and the rural population (mostly homogeneous, white, with a Bachelors degree at best). I believe it demonstrated that the pace of change of the last eight years — from healthcare to societal issues such as gay marriage to #BLM — was far too much for the rural population. Too much. Too fast. They reacted with a backlash, or should I say, a white-lash.
  • We have sliced and diced our demographics in so many ways, and this has just served to divide us. I think both sides were trying to send a message — the Trump side by blowing up the system, the Clinton side by voting for someone who promised to reunite us — that we must find a way to come together.
  • Our media is broken. Just look at the shock and awe last night as returns came in. There needs to be a strong reexamination of how our media works, and how punditry and opinion is clearly distinguished from fact-based journalism.
  • Our social media is broken. I’ll have more on that in a day or two, but organizations such as Facebook, Twitter, and others must realize that have moved from a place to share family pictures to a national news aggregation source — and as such, have the responsibility to label what is what — from objective journalism, to partisan sites, to parody sites. We, as users of social media, must learn to think before we share.
  • We must investigate the extent of outside meddling in the election: from WikiLeaks to Russian Hacking to the timing of Comey’s announcements. American elections must be fair and free from such interference.
  • The Democrats must take the blame for having a clearly flawed candidate, whose flaws were of her own making. Instead of grooming the next generation of leaders, they put all their hopes on this flawed candidate. Major mistake. The Democrats need to do some soul searching (and no, Bernie would not have been better — with the veiled antisemitism in Trump’s campaign, going against a New York Jew would have been ugly ugly).
  • The Republicans must take the blame for having a clearly flawed candidate. They could have blown up the system without all the flaws. They must also take responsibility and rein in his excesses, while thinking about what their party wants to be.
  • The political pendulum swings, and it is very rare for a two-term president … of any party … to get an effective continuation of that term through election of a successor in the same party. Often, the pendulum swings from one candidate to the exact opposite. Clinton was the opposite of Bush 41, and Bush 43 was the opposite of Clinton. Bush 43 to Obama was a sea change, and if you look at Trump, he is the opposite of Obama. The pendulum swings.
  • Both parties need to consider the extent to which realignment is needed of what they stand for. Just because Trump was elected, does he represent the Republican position. Just because Clinton was the nominee, does she represent the parties values. We need a realignment: edges and the middle. Right now, the edges have control and the middle is discontent and scared.

5. Moving Forward

As I wrote yesterday, we must move forward recognizing that we are all Americans doing what we believe is right for the country. We must move forward recognizing that what built this country, and made it strong, was not partisanship but compromise. We must strive to find what we agree on and urge our leaders to move forward in those areas. Most importantly — and I pray that President-Elect Trump learns this — we must learn to listen to each other. We must step outside our echo chambers and our comfort zones, and interact with those on the other side of the spectrum (and interact with respect). We must listen to what they say without knee-jerk response; it is heart-felt to them and thus important. They must listen to us the same way.

We pray (or, for those who don’t pray, we hope) that our new Leadership finds a way to move beyond the partisanship to figure out a way to make our Government serve the people again. If they don’t, well, there’s 2018.

P.S.: If you didn’t get the reference in the title of this post: Morning After was the title song in The Poseidon Adventure, a movie about a luxury cruise ship sinking and a motley collection of passengers making their way out and surviving:

There’s got to be a morning after
If we can hold on through the night
We have a chance to find the sunshine
Let’s keep on lookin’ for the light

Oh, can’t you see the morning after
It’s waiting right outside the storm
Why don’t we cross the bridge together
And find a place that’s safe and warm

It’s not too late, we should be giving
Only with love can we climb
It’s not too late, not while we’re living
Let’s put our hands out in time

There’s got to be a morning after
We’re moving closer to the shore
I know we’ll be there by tomorrow
And we’ll escape the darkness
We won’t be searchin’ any more

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The Oldest Echo Chamber

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Nov 08, 2016 @ 12:54 pm PST

userpic=angry-dogWe’ve just come off of a far-too-long immersion in the echo chambers of the Internet. We’ve hidden in our Liberal or Conservative cocoons, reading our news sources, looking at our favorite satire site, being gullible enough to fall for our fake news sites, and listening to our friends extoll the virtues of our views. We’ve also poopooed or discounted their news sources, found their satire sites not funny, wondered how they could have such fake news written, and gotten to the point of defriending those that disagreed with our view. We probably believe that these chambers are the fault of, and started with, Facebook.

A recent discussion with a FB friend reminded me that’s not the case, as we delved into one of the oldest echo chamber battles of the Internet: the legitimacy battle between Reform Judaism and Orthodox Judaism (which were once referred to as RCO battles, including Conservative as trying to straddle the middle — and hence the term Progressive is used as a catchall for RC). For those unfamiliar with these battles, you could likely find something in the legitimacy battles between Protestantism and Catholicism — which was permitted to call themselves “Christianity”. Of course, we all know how well that turned out, and how accepting different Christian groups are of other flavors of Christian groups.

But the RCO battles are classic echo chambers, and mirror quite heavily the divide we see politically today. Many (but not all) Orthodox groups exist in an insular news vacuum: they tend to read only Orthodox-approved media, move in Orthodox circles, and have little exposure with the theology and current approaches of the more progressive movements. Note that I did not say they don’t have exposure to Progressive Jews. They’ve met a few in their lives, and have read about them in their publications, and have extrapolated from there what they believe the entire Progressive movements to be.

Is it better on the Progressive side? Do Reform Jews, with their supposed pluralism, accept the Orthodoxy? Some do. Others are in the Progressive echo chambers that portray Orthodoxy as rigid, insular, and unchanging. Their image of Orthodoxy comes not from participating in their communities, but from portrayals in movies and the occasional Chabadnik they met while in college who forced them to wrap tefillin.

Each side extrapolates from a small number of instances what they believe the whole to be. They don’t realize that there is a range of practice and belief within both, as well as a range of acceptance (spoken or silent) of official doctrine. Doesn’t this sound like politics? Haven’t you heard “All liberals are…” or “All conservatives are…”? Further, there is belief that each side aligns 100% with particular political views. I’ve seen Orthodox write that all Reform Jews are Liberals or Marxist or Socialist, and I’ve seen Reform Jews who believe that all Orthodox Jews are of a political Conservative bent. Of course, this is utter nonsense — there is a range of political views of both, and the official organs (movements, synagogues) are carefully non-political to retain their IRS status.

Why am I reminding you of this now? Simple. For over 15 years, I maintained a mailing list that attempted to eliminate the echo chamber — that operated under the supposition that we could talk to each other with respect. We could accept that the different movements had studied and come up with their own path to the divine. Even if we might believe the movement as a whole was on the wrong path, we did not discount the individual. We believed that if we operated in a way that respected the individual, what they had to say, and their right to say it, we might be able to understand our differences. This required the ground rules be applied to both sides. It was hard work, but we did it. We were able to discover that although we still had significant doctrinal differences, there was a lot that was the same. We all rested and worshipped on Shabbat. We lit Chanukah candles. We came together and told our story on Passover. We worked to make the world a better place, as we saw it. We maintained that respectful dialogue.

As we close down our precincts, and the noise from our various echo chambers die down, I urge you: remember this example. Treat those with whom you’ve disagreed with respect. Understand that we were seeing different paths to the same goal: a stronger America. Understand where we agree (which is probably in more areas than you think). Realize that the person you might think is trash due to their political views is the loved child of someone, the parent to someone else, a sibling, and possibly someone’s partner. They work and love and cry and try to make sense of this crazy world, just like you do. They try to do what they believe is right and moral.

Let’s figure out how to heal.

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The Power and Misuse of Social Media

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Oct 31, 2016 @ 4:59 am PST

userpic=socialmediaWhen I started blogging/journalling back in 2004, we were in the midst of Kerry vs. Bush. Facebook was still pretty much restricted to college campuses, and the hot place to be was Livejournal. I don’t remember much political discussion online then. Certainly, we didn’t have the explosion of pundit and commentary sites, we didn’t have the heavy satire sites and such. We still got most of our news from less partisan sources (I won’t go so far as to say non-partisan) such as broadcast and print media. But there was still a heavy amount of criticism of George Bush, and all the memes about village idiots and such started circulating. I’m sure you could find all the icons from that era and you would see the large amount making fun of Bush (and I’m sure there were equal ones making fun of Kerry, but I didn’t see those).

By the 2008 election, Livejournal’s star was starting to fade and Facebook’s rise, but I still remember loads of political discussions on LJ. Many of my political icons come from that era — especially during the primaries where it was Obama vs. Clinton. In my admitted progressive circles, there was lots of criticism of John McCain (especially when he chose Sarah Palin). Online news sites and prediction sites were starting up, but I don’t remember the large number of partisan sites and pages.

With the 2012 election, the shift to FB had begun in earnest, and online journalism sites were rampant. This was the battle of Romney vs Obama (and Obama had no serious primary opposition). Memes — as in the stylized photos with the large bordered text — were beginning to circulate. Romney certainly made sufficient gaffes to feed them.

It is now 2016, and social media has become the influencer of elections, not the reporting outlet. Parody news sites are rampant, as are partisan meme generators. In fact, memes have been the source of news for many people, believing any text they see on a meme. It has gotten really really bad folks. People have turned off their critical thinking; they are sheeple, willing to do or think anything the Internet says. This becomes a vicious circle, and the echo chamber that FB is has increased the partisan nature of discourse.

Reading my FB feeds brought this all back to me. I see posts about the situation at Standing Rock, about people should post their location as Standing Rock to confuse the police. I see memes going around expressing political opinions, and loads of sharing from hyper-partisan, non-journalistic sites. As I’m up early due to a headache, seeing this leads me to post the following reminders:

  1. Facebook is not the world. Police do not have the time to monitor everyone’s FB feed to determine who is where and who to arrest. Showing your location as someplace in solidarity with an action does not benefit those you are supporting. Similarly, liking or sharing positions pieces is only benefitting the “likes” of someone you don’t know. It is often a trick to entice you.
  2. Just because text goes around on top of an image doesn’t make it true. Anyone can claim something is a quote or a statement, pop it on an image, and people will believe it. Don’t keep circulating those, no matter how enticing. Confirm (or double confirm) anything you read, focusing on confirmation from well-known broadcast and print media, and especially international and multiple sources.
  3. Recognize satire sites. If it is from The Onion, Andy Borowitz at the New Yorker, or a number of other sites, it is likely not true. Very likely.
  4. Recognize partisan sites. Many of the sites that pose as news these days — e.g., Occupy Democrats, Partisan Report, Red State Blue State — spread news in a hyperpartisan manner. Don’t repeat what they say, you only make it worse. This article has a good summary of such sites from the progressive side; On the conservative site, such sites include Breitbart News, Wall Street Journal (oh, how the mighty have fallen), NY Post, and I’m sure there are more. Again, always double or triple confirm what you read.
  5. Remember that if you see it on the Internet, there is no guarantee that it is true. People can make up anything and easily make it look real. Confirm everything before you reshare or react.
  6. Facts are non-partisan. Do not believe the innuendo regarding the fact checking sites. Snopes, FactCheck.org, and such are not partisan mouthpieces — they call out all sides for incorrect use of facts.

We have just about a week to go in this election. As you see all the mud being slung, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. For those that like Trump, if his past and behavior were on the part of any other candidate, would you still support that candidate? For example, if it was a white, male Democrat such as Gary Hart, John Kerry, or Ted Kennedy, would you be calling for them to drop out of the race? Trump is not special; your hatred of Clinton should not blind you to the foibles of the man that disqualify him. Consider Bill Cosby: he’s had a lot of the same accusations and has fallen from grace; Trump has had similar accusations, and yet has grown in support. Double standard, anyone?
  2. Similarly, if all the behaviors that make you hate Clinton were attributed to a Republican candidate, would you accept them? Would you be demanding the emails from George Bush, Mitt Romney, or John Cain? Would defunding embassy security have disqualified Bush for a second term? Recognize that the FB echo chamber has made this worse, and that your hatred is inflamed because she is Clinton, or because she is, well, “she”.
  3. Are you reacting to manufactured news, or news slated so as to play to your biases and hatreds? If so, just say no. This is true from both sides.

Hopefully, this has given you something to think about, as we start the last week of the campaign.

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A Welcoming Congregation

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Oct 13, 2016 @ 6:38 pm PST

round challah userpicGood news: This post is not about Decision 2016!

If you’ve been reading my blog long enough, you know I typically wait until I have at least three articles on a subject before writing up a news chum post. But two articles crossed my feeds today, and I feel they are important enough to break that rule. They both concern areas where we have failed to be sufficiently welcoming — or overly welcoming — in our progressive Jewish congregations.

The first, from Kveller, talks about how painful Jewish holidays can be for an introvert. The author writes: “Three times a day every day, we’re supposed to pray in a group consisting of at least 10 people. In my community, there are daily classes and one-on-one sessions of Torah learning where attendance is strongly recommended. Having Shabbat guests at your table is considered a must. Mind you, this is just during the course of a regular week. The holidays—especially the eight-day ones—barely allow for breathing space between parties.” I saw this first hand during Yom Kippur, when the mass of people at our High Holy Day services was too much for an introvert I know, and they had to retreat to the quiet of the office, away from the service. As Jews, we come from a culture that emphasizes the value of community, and community being there to support you. Yet for some, being in that community is overwhelming — and our urge — to go over and welcome them — is just what they don’t need. They need the quiet, the space. Somehow, we need to create worship spaces that are both communal and yet apart; spaces that permit people to join the community without being surrounded by the masses that make them uncomfortable. It is a different way of welcoming — recognizing that welcoming may be something different than a hug or a handshake. The article concludes: “remember the introverts this holiday season and give them credit for hosting meals and going to synagogue and not walking in the alley to avoid seeing you. Take the time to praise and encourage your introvert friends—preferably in a non-confrontational way such as an e-mail or text, as opposed to showing up at their door unannounced. And may all extroverts and introverts alike be blessed with a happy, healthy, and sweet New Year.”

The second is an NPR piece about a black, Jewish woman and how she never felt a part of her progressive Jewish congregation. She writes: “I’m a black woman. No one ever assumes I’m Jewish. When I talk about Judaism, people look at me in a way that makes me feel like I’m breaking into my own house. Especially the people inside the house.” This reminds us of yet another hidden incorrect assumption we make: just as not all Jewish are the hugging community type, not all Jews are white Eastern European — the stereotype the media has created of Jews. Not all Jews are Semitic (which is why one writes “antisemitism”, not “anti-Semitism”). Jews can come from all ethnicities; further, non-white Jews are not all converts. Jewish communities have existed around the globe for centuries, and we should not question or make assumptions about people of color in our congregations. Especially we should not assume based on gender. This woman wrote about visiting a congregation with her non-Jewish white boyfriend, “As soon as we walked in, I started feeling like an accessory. This was a superprogressive synagogue, and I wasn’t the only person of color in the congregation. But the way people greeted him first, always; the way someone explained to me what to expect of the service (It will be an hour long with portions in Hebrew and English); the way an usher smiled and asked me, not my boyfriend, What brings you here?

If, as progressive Jews, we envision our sanctuaries as safe, welcoming spaces, we must recognize that Jews come not only in all shapes and sizes, but in all varieties of skin colors and genders. They all have their different comfort levels about community, and we must grow in sensitivity to be aware of this. We must figure out ways to be welcoming without causing pain, welcoming without preconceived assumptions. Only in that way can we create in our congregations a tent of welcoming, and more importantly, a culture that welcomes.

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Experience and Demeanor — A Message to Trump Supporters

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Oct 13, 2016 @ 11:38 am PST

userpic=political-buttonsThis is a message for all my readers who are still — for whatever reason — supporting Donald Trump. I would like to present two reasons for you to reconsider that choice: experience and demeanor.

Experience

As I wrote in my post where I endorsed Clinton, she hands down has the most and best experience: “She has an experience as an executive, from running the State Department. She knows intimately the demands of the office of President, having been First Lady. She has been in the legislature, having been Senator from New York. She hasn’t been a judge, but she is an attorney, so she knows the law. She knows foreign policy, having been Secretary of State and having negotiated with world leaders. ”

But what about Donald Trump. He has never held elected office, he has never negotiated with world leaders, he has never worked in a legislature, and he is not a lawyer. He has only been a top-level executive in the corporate world. To some, this is a plus, but it really is extremely bad. As an executive in his companies, which have been privately held, he had full power. He could hire and fire at will, and set corporate direction without having to consult and win the approval of governing boards. In fact, if the boards said no, he could fire the offending board members. As President, this is not true. A President has extremely limited authority. For almost everything, the President has to obtain approval of Congress — and that means demonstrating the ability to work with both sides, even those he does not like.  His appointments might not be approved, and his policies may be changed or modified by Congress.

A President also has to work within the legal confines of the office. He has demonstrated here, through his remarks, that he doesn’t understand this. His constant claims that Clinton wants to repeal the 2nd Amendment demonstrates that he doesn’t understand how amendments are either ratified or repealed. His argument that she should have been able to, as Senator, change tax law also demonstrates lack of understanding of the office: Revenue bills must originate in the House, and a single Senator does not have the ability to either originate a revenue bill nor ensure its passage. His call for a special prosecutor for Clinton ignores the fact that special prosecutors are called by Congress, and must operate within the rules of evidence. In fact, his constant calls that Clinton is guilty misunderstands the proof that is required in a courtroom. His threats to sue newspapers for making negative reports on him demonstrate a misunderstanding of the 1st amendment. His bringing up claims that Clinton was wrong for defending a rapist demonstrates he does not understand the 6th amendment.

Trump has not worked within our political system, and has demonstrated that he neither knows how it works, or knows the constitutional limitations of his office. Indeed, he does not understand what the Constitution actually says, he appears to know only what he’s read on the Internet. He simply does not have the experience and knowledge for the job.

Clinton, on the other hand, does. Disagree with her policies if you will, but the best way to fight those policies is to elect House and Senate members that are congruent with your views who will work the way you want in Congress. Clinton has demonstrated the ability to work with Congress and find a middle ground. That will not happen with Trump. In terms of experience, you should vote for Clinton and the down-ticket candidates with whom you agree.

Demeanor

Let’s turn now to Trump’s demeanor — what some call his temperament. Further, for this discussion, let’s set aside his racism, sexism, and all the other -isms he embodies. Yes, they are horrible. Yes, it appears that he uses his power to make sexual advancements against women (which might be harassment in many contexts). Yes, it appears that either the candidate or his supporters are racist or antisemitic, and he does not denounce such behavior. Ignore all of that. Set it aside, as many of his supporters do. For if you ignore all of it, he still doesn’t have the right demeanor for the office. Here’s why:

He doesn’t put his brain in gear before he puts his mouth in motion.

A President, in public speech, must be measured. What you say is important, and how you say it is even more important. Words must be chosen carefully, and be chosen to convey and exact unambiguous meaning. Trump simply does not do this. He speaks off the cuff, and seemingly has no filters in what he says. He tweets at all hours, and those tweets are not reviewed. He often says things that are misinterpreted. He speaks without thinking, and then has to scramble to apologize for it later. He does not realize when his words are being recorded, and that they might be used against him later.

Although in a candidate this may be refreshing, in a President, they can start a nuclear war.

Now, add back in Trump’s attitude and speech towards women. Consider what happens if he slips up with a female head of state or prime minister, or makes a pass at the Duchess of Cambridge. What happens when his stereotypical attitudes erupt during a formal meeting with mid-east leaders. When he calls Hispanics names when meeting with a Latin American dignitary. Will it be easily excused, or an international incident?

Clinton has been cast as cold and calculating. That may be the case, but that is what you want in a President. You want a President that thinks before she speaks, that considers the possible impacts of what she is saying and how she is saying it before it ever leaves her mouth. The last thing you want is a President who has to apologize for saying something that is stupid, or that was interpreted the wrong way. Whether you like what Trump says or not, you must agree that he does not always think about the consequences before saying something. That is dangerous, for the leader of the free world.

Conclusion

Donald Trump simply does not have the knowledge of the position, the experience, or the demeanor to be President. Hillary Clinton does, but (at least to you) she has policies that you don’t like, and you don’t trust her. So what should you do that is best for the country?

The answer is simple.

Vote for Hillary Clinton as the only candidate with the right experience and demeanor. Then… vote for congressional and senate candidates with whom you agree, and who will represent your position in Congress and hold Clinton’s “feet to the fire” for your views. That is why we have Congress, and that is why we have a President with limited constitutional authority.

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The Erosion of Trust

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Oct 12, 2016 @ 9:33 am PST

userpic=observationsI wish I knew who to blame.

Ever since I read “Denial”, I’ve been talking about the convergence of the facts. That we must go where the facts tell us; facts are not swayed by opinion. Facts just are, they are true, they point the way.

Alas, there’s a big problem with that. A gigantic problem. A yugggge problem. No one trusts the facts anymore.

I wish I knew who to blame. I can point to various culprits. Fox News is a big one, having introduced the notion of putting a particular political spin or slant on the news. As such, many people started discounting news from that source. Another culprit is the financial decline of print media, which forced newspapers to eliminate many editorial positions, including fact checkers and editors. As such, newspapers were no longer bastions of truth, but often presented the news either inaccurately or with particular political slants. Yet another culprit is the Internet, which has allowed anyone and everyone (including moi) to become a publisher, resulting in even more biased or slanted news sources camouflaging themselves as the truth. As such, people chose their curated news source without seeing the bias, and thus refusing to believe any other. The Internet is a culprit in yet another way, by creating echo chambers for news. As such, people don’t even realize they aren’t seeing the full stories or only selected sources that they “like”. A final culprit? The growing distrust of authority in society, making even the formerly reliable news sources now untrustworthy, whether that particular appellation is deserved or not. As such, authoritative papers of records or fact checking sources are now not trusted.

Whatever the culprit, people no longer believe the facts. And that, dear friends and readers, has brought us to where we are today. A society that has given us Donald Trump, and the lies he spreads as facts. It has given us a populace that no longer believes in science; it views science as merely an opinion. It has given us a populace that no longer believes in objective historical fact; it discounts historical facts unless they have been processed by a particular spin.

I could cite numerous examples of the result of this. Climate change deniers. Anti-vaxxers. Conspiracy theorists.

What brought this to a head for me was a discussion prompted by “And Hillary Clinton laughed at a 10 year old who was raped.” This is a particular like that has been promoted by the right wing media, by the Trump news establishment, by the establishment that has ignored facts consistently to build up a picture of Hillary as a demon. A media market that has played the populace just like the antisemitic media in Germany painted the picture that it was the Jews who were responsible for all of Germany’s problems. With today’s media, of course, it isn’t just the Jews. It is those demon Clintons and the liberal establishment.

Because of the distrust of the media, the folks to whom I indicated that statement was wrong did not believe me. You see, I had cited Snopes (which now seems to have a fake-“you’re infected” warning), and Snopes (of course)  is a conspiracy of the left. Of course, there are multiple sources pointing out the same thing:

Note that the ABC News article is from 2014, well before this year’s campaign.

What are the facts that all these sources agree upon? Clinton did not take the case willingly; the court appointed her based on the 6th Amendment’s guarantee that all parties in a case are entitiled to legal representation.  Getting the rapist off? She actually didn’t; she got a plea bargain to a shorter sentence because the prosecution mishandled the evidence, making it suspect. The laughter, not at the victim, but at the prosecution for being sloppy with the evidence, and at the polygraphs for not being as reliable as juries believe they are.

The same people who disbelieve the news believe what they are told: that Clinton was responsible for strongly defending the rapist, even though she knew he was guilty. Never mind the fact that a lawyer in a trial has a legal obligation to defend their client to the best of their abilities, even if they may know that are guilty of the crime. This is especially true when they are a court-appointed legal counsel — they have no choice, no ability to opt out of defending the person. And guess what: if you were that person — perhaps wrongly accused — wouldn’t you want your lawyer to give you the best defense possible. Our country has the legal standard of innocent until proven guilty, and that is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Today, we no longer look at multiple facts to draw our conclusion. We no longer trust our news sources, relying instead on the court of public opinion, on memes that circulate on the Internet, on the small set of sources that we “trust” despite their slant.

This political season has been built on a scaffolding of lies and innuendo, much of it built by the right wing establishment against the Clintons (Bengahzi, Email Servers, Rape, Murders), and to a lesser extent against Trump by the left-wing media establishment. People have become so ensconced in their lies they no longer recognize fact checking from neutral media. They no longer look at where the bulk of the evidence points.

When news services across the political spectrum denounce Trump and endorse Clinton, when pundits and politicians across the political spectrum denounce Trump and endorse Clinton, when there is almost universal acknowledgement that the stories going around about Clinton are patently false — these should people people to a particular conclusion. But when their leader — Donald Trump — denounces all these sources and individuals as the product of a conspiracy against them, and as a result people no longer believe them, well, there’s the biggest danger to our democracy. The erosion of trust in our media, because you can never disprove a conspiracy theory. We have a society that has become susceptible to demagogues, believing unquestioning what they are told, instead of checking for themselves.

Get it through your head: Our mainstream media — major television channels, major market newspapers (not tabloids), and such, are trustworthy. Further, checking a variety of sources and seeing the bulk of them pointing to the same conclusion should further support the theory that the conclusion is right. Believing multiple fringe sources that all bend their reporting should make one suspicious.

Postscript

Just after posting this, I see one of my extreme conservative friends on FB post the following:

Folks, the Constitution enshrines Freedom Of The Press so that it may freely inform the public of the abuses, lawlessness and tyranny of our government when it becomes corrupt.

But what are we to do when the Press itself becomes just as corrupt, giving itself over to the regime in order to deceive the people to accept despotism, rather than guard against it?

Now you see why I’m worried? When our mainstream media is viewed as corrupt, when people believe mainstream media deceives — that is the opportunity that demagogues and despots pounce upon, for then they can convince people of anything. Perhaps one source is corrupt. Multiple mainstream sources, doing independent reporting, are trustworthy.

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