Observations Along the Road

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

Category Archive: 'rant'

A Week? It Seems Like a Year

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Jan 25, 2017 @ 11:34 am PST

userpic=trumpIt has now been a week since President Trump took the oath of office. What a week it has been! Threats and actions against journalists, scientists, immigrants, citizens, … you name it. As I read the news this morning before work, thoughts are swirling around my mind. I have to get them out. Excuse the length of this. And yes, that’s what Trump said (rimshot).

Topics:

  • Finding Focus
  • We Had Our Chance, and We Blew It
  • Not a Question of “If?”, But “When?”

Finding Focus

As I look at Trump’s actions all week, there are so many to get upset about. Attacks on a woman’s right to choose. Provoking a trade war with Mexico. Attacking immigrants. Attacking science. Where to begin? What should we fight?

I think is it useful to focus instead on the question of: From which actions will we eventually recover, and which actions will have long-term implications? For example, limiting immigration will not have long term impacts on our country. It will hurt the immigrants (which is a terrible thing), but our country will eventually recover and the pendulum will swing back. Similarly, although we’re up in arms about the attacks on a woman’s right to choose, it really won’t impact the number of abortions. Women will be hurt, unsafe abortions will be procured, but the pendulum will swing back. Attacks on LGBTQs are similar. Many many many friends will be hurt, but our country won’t be irreparably damaged. There are so many things this President has done — in just one week — that if we attempt to fight them all we will dissipate our energies to a meaningless level. (I’ll note this is similar to the fight against his Cabinet appointees: we have only so many silver bullets. We may need to let some bad candidates get through — Carson — to save our bullets for some even worse and more destructive ones — deVoss)

On the other hand, there are significant attacks that could be non-recoverable. For example, the attacks on science in general and the science of climate change in particular. What hasn’t gotten through Trump’s thick skull (and for a man with such thin skin, he has a remarkably thick skull) is that it doesn’t make a difference who caused climate change. What makes a difference is what we do about climate change, and our doing anything we can makes a difference in the long run. If we have it wrong on the cause, then we are no worse off and we’ve created new jobs in new energy fields. If we have it right, we potentially stave off significant natural disasters. But ignoring it could be deadly.

Similarly, attacks on the free press and the truth go to the fundamentals of this Nation. The ability to say what you want, the ability to petition to Government for redress of grievances, the ability for journalists to investigate and report the truth are fundamental. The belief of the public in fact-based journalism. The trust of the people in the government. These are fundamental. Trump has attacked these to the point where his followers no longer trust reporters, and no longer trust that government works in their interest. These are dangerous, long term, threats, potentially damaging to the heart of our Republic.

Then, of course, are our international relationships. These relationships go far beyond just trade, but the businessman sees only dollars and cents. There are issues of National sovereignty, of survival, or war and attacks. It is not a good thing to hurt long standing allies and partners, and to make them believe we do not stand by what we have said in the past. This could hurt us big time when things go south.

We Had Our Chance, and We Blew It

No, I’m not talking about the election itself. I’m talking about the Electoral College.

Our nation was built on checks and balances, but I don’t think the founders anticipated the level of primaries and voting we have today. They expected that reasoned (white) men would be choosing reasoned (white) candidates, not the huddled masses. They also expected the Electoral College to be that last voice of reason — if a rogue candidate arose, they were the change to exert reason and stop it. This is what our Electoral College should have done. I’m not saying they should have chosen Hillary — that ship has sailed. But opting to choose an interim Republican candidate, or even turning to Congress, would have been better than what we’ve got.

This election has shown some fundamental flaws in our election process, just as the early election showed fundamental flaws in how we selected President and Vice President. There needs to be the ability to recall a candidate upon the petition of a super-majority of the state legislatures, and there needs to be a provision for a special National election to replace the President. We should be pushing our representatives to introduce such a Constitutional amendment. Note that this must be independent of any effort to abolish the Electoral College or render it moot.

Not a Question of “If?”, But “When?”

Over this week, I’ve been reading the news (a dangerous thing these days). In particular, I’ve been reading about the actions of the Trump administration, and wondering how long it will be before Congress gets fed up with him and kicks him to the curb. Clearly, it won’t be immediate — the Republican leadership is too enamored of their party being back in power for them to give it up or admit their failure. It won’t be because of many of the Democratic concerns: climate change is really only an issue that drives significant votes in the cities (which are already Democratic), similarly, abortion and LGBTQ issues only drive vote along the current urban / rural divides and will be insufficient to shift the political climate.

Rather, I think the dissolution and pushback will come from one of the following places:

  • The Deficit. Trump’s desire to build “the wall” and Mexico’s refusal to pay for it will result in a significant increase in the Federal Deficit. This will annoy the budget conservatives in the GOP, who will start to push back on any Trump proposal that isn’t actually paid for. If the elected budget hawks don’t do it, then those who elected them will.
  • The Uninsured. Unless Trump carefully crafts the replacement for the ACA, those who lose coverage will take it out on him. The problem is that the people that supported him don’t want Obamacare, but it is more the “Obama” they don’t want vs. the “care”. They want lower insurance rates, ideally subsidized, with coverage in the face of pre-existing conditions, affordable deductables, affordable prescriptions, and the lot. If that was easily achievable, it would have been done — and Trump is going to find that out. These folks will fight back and vote in 2018.
  • Narcissism. Let’s face it: we have elected a pathological narcissist — so much so that he is doing anything to justify his belief that he won with a majority. This will trip him up in the end, especially as he discovers that his theories are not borne out after investigation, and that his powers are much more limited than he thought.

Resistance has already started: there are already numerous unofficial / rogue Twitter feeds to broadcast facts to get around orders for agencies to maintain social media silence. We have other government refusing to play along with Trump’s beliefs and ideas. As time passes, the courts are going to start to weigh in and rule his orders unconstitutional (I already believe that directing deportation with only the accusation of a crime may be borderline unconstitutional, but I’ve got to check the words guaranteeing a right to a trial).

Resistance is effective, but resistance alone is insufficient. Nor is pointing out the Executive Orders are unconstitutional — President’s issue unconstitutional orders all the time without impeachment. The courts just rule them invalid.

There are two things that must happen in order for Trump to be removed from office:

  1. The Republicans in Congress must get sufficiently fed up to want to investigate him. A week in, he’s advancing their agenda forcefully, and so they are sticking with him. That’s a win in their books. What will change their mind? Not online petitions. Not calls from Democrats. Not calls to their office from non-constituants. What will change their mind is having the people who voted for them indicate that they won’t do so in the future, and seeing their fundraising dry up. To do this, the point needs to be driven home to the Republican voters and donors that the positions that Trump takes are contrary to Republican values of lowering the deficit, paying down the debt, being fiscally responsible, ensuring the safety of America, and negotiating from a position of respect. Republican candidates need to be found willing to challenge the Trump-Toadies, and these candidate need to be supported. Faced with siding with Trump or staying in office, investigations will be opened.
  2. Trump must be resisted, and resisted in a way that will provoke him to do something clearly illegal or treasonous. At the present time, Congress has indicated that it doesn’t care about things that would have been problematic for a Clinton or Obama: use of a private electronic device to conduct government business, significant conflicts of interest for personal gain from government actions. There will need proof of foreign powers influencing Trump in a way that he goes against Republican goals, or significant mischief in the White House (including movement of US funds for his personal use). Not being experiences with the rules for a US government official, he is very likely to run afoul of those regulations.

I think both of these things will eventually happen — it’s not a question of “if”, but “when”. We just need to keep nudging. In particular, we must present evidence to Republicans that their Congressional leadership no longer represents core Republican values, and that they restore the Republican party to those values, and reject and replace Trump, if they are to stay in office at the mid-Term and subsequent elections. Parallel to that, the Democratic Party must continue to resist peacefully but forcefully, speaking truth to power, in numbers too great to ignore. That will get under Trump’s skin the most, and will provoke the high crimes and misdemeanors necessary to convince Congress to impeach Trump and remove him from office. What might be such a crime? Consider directing the US military to attack the American people on American soil. That is a direct violation of law. If Trump gets fed up enough…. and believes he is powerful enough….

Additionally, getting under Trump’s skin could increase the evidence that he is mentally unbalanced and unstable, and there the constitution can work in our favor. The Constitution very clearly allows for the removal of a disabled president; Article II establishes this possibility, and the 25th Amendment further clarifies the process. Here is the wording of Sec. 4 of the 25th Amendment:

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

There, friends, is the ultimate way out.

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I’m Fed Up With The Lot of You

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Jan 16, 2017 @ 6:46 pm PST

userpic=trumpThis is my political post of the day. It is brought to you by the fellow who responded to a post on Rep. John Lewis by saying “Those who refuse to accept reality are welcome to leave.” The bad mood is brought to you by having to do a whole house repipe on top of a reroofing on top of having to replace a double wall stove on top of having to replace the struts on my wife’s car and all other such similar expenses.

To the Conservatives:

  • I am sick and tired of being called a libtard.
  • I am sick and tired of watching you count down until Trump’s inauguration.
  • I am sick and tired of you calling our legitimately elected President names.
  • I am sick and tired of you wanting to take health care away from people that really really need it just because you hate anything Obama has done.
  • I am sick and tired of you wanting to shove your religion down my throat and enforce it on everyone else because you believe you are the arbiter of whether we go to heaven. Related to that, I’m tired of you believing in Christ so much you feel you need to hasten Armageddon.
  • I am sick and tired of telling people to shut up simply because you don’t like what they are saying.
  • I am sick and tired of you spreading false news just because it appeals to your biases. You can check your sources. Further, Snopes is a legitimate fact checker who cites their basis, so check their facts if you don’t believe them.
  • I am sick and tired of you discounting our journalists. They may not be perfect, but they are the best we have.
  • I am sick and tired of you wishing all liberals would die, or that all people from a particular minority group would be locked away.

To the Liberals:

  • His name is Trump. Not Drumpf. Not “He who will not be named”. Not any of these silly names you make up. Didn’t Harry Potter teach you anything? You use the name of your opponent; not naming him gives him more power.
  • He is President. If you claim to believe and support our constitution, you have to accept that. However misguided, the Electoral College voted for him. So don’t call him illegitimate or any other such nonsense. We have to accept that he is President.
  • He is doing enough stupid things that you don’t need to go around spreading fake news. All of these stories of “oh that’s gotta hurt” and other fake news. Don’t spread them. Don’t be like the Conservatives were during the Obama administration. Here’s a simple test: Would you have wanted a story like that spread about Obama? If not: Don’t share.
  • Act like an adult. Pure and simple. If you are behaving as childish as the other side did during Obama’s presidency, you’re only perpetuating the partisanship. You’re better than that.
  • Protest like an adult. Do you want to go out and peacefully protest? Go for it. Do you want to write letters and petition Congress? I’m all for that. Call your congresscritters. Write letters. Protest and exercise your right to free (adult) speech while you have it.
  • Insist that Congress behave towards President Trump as they did for President Obama. Just because the President is from the same party doesn’t mean he gets a “Get Out of Jail” card for himself or his nominees. Investigate, investigate, investigate (but only for legitimate crimes). Insist on ethics disclosures and no conflicts of interest. Insist on the absence of influence from foreign powers.
  • Remember that President Trump has a very thin skin. When pressed by legitimate free speech and criticism, he will do something impulsive and stupid — impulsive and stupid enough to get Congress to investigate, and potentially impeach and remove him from office. President Obama was able to deal with the pressure from the haters. If Alec Baldwin can rile Trump, just imagine how he will deal with 4 years of pressure. This is why you must behave like adults. Childish taunts can be ignored, and responded to childishly. Adult legitimate criticism creates investigations.

 

 

 

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Consistency

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Jan 11, 2017 @ 12:06 pm PST

They say that foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Sometimes, however, consistency is not foolish; in fact, it should be a priority of a conclave of little minds. Specifically, consistency should be the hallmark of Congress. The behavior and beliefs of a party should be consistent. The ethics and behavior that is demanded of the President and his executive officers should be the same independent of the party of the President — or of Congress. Further, the electorate should be demanding this consistency, because otherwise, they are wasting taxpayer money doing investigations of one official that they wouldn’t pay for another. To put it another way, we shouldn’t be paying for partisan witch hunts. So I’m dismayed with what I’m seeing from our new Congress. Here are some examples:

Going back to the days of Ronald Reagan, one consistent thing about the GOP is that they are concerned about deficits. Hell, they’ve shut down the government because they didn’t want to increase deficits or the debt ceiling. They have been constantly harping on the Democrats because they feel their actions would increase the deficit, and have passed laws requiring that any new spending be covered by revenue. So why is the GOP suddenly abandoning this mantra, wanting to keep the expensive parts of the Affordable Care Act while remove the parts that pay for them?

When President Obama submitted cabinet nominations, then minority leader McConnell insisted on a set of requirements for each candidate. These requirements included appropriate vetting, submission of appropriate paperwork, elimination of conflicts of interest, and so forth. Yet now McConnell is seemingly abandoning those principles — for what purpose. Why should our cabinet officials be any less ethical?

For past Presidents, there has been a custom for them to put there assets in such a trust that it wouldn’t influence their actions. If that didn’t happen, Congress would make a fuss. Yet they seem to be rolling over and letting President-Elect Trump retain the conflicts under some light promises. Would they have let Obama or Clinton get away with this?

Imagine there were unverified claims of Russia having compromising information on President Obama — oh, like there were unverified claims about Benghazi or emails. Or there were claims about Russia interfering with the election to influence it in favor of Obama or Bill Clinton. Wouldn’t Congress be hopping to investigate that? Yet there is no move afoot from Congress to do so? Why wouldn’t they investigate this?

With any of these claims, the question should be simple: If this was a Republican Congress with a Democratic President — such as Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, or Hillary Clinton, would Congress act this way? If the answer is “no”, then why is it acceptable to act this way for President-Elect Trump?

Congress’ responsibility is to be a check on the President and the Executive Branch of the government. They certainly did so during the administrations of Barack Obama or Bill Clinton. Why are they rolling over and giving in to President Trump (who many did not support until it looked like he would win)?

President Trump has promised to do many good things for segments of this country that have not benefited from the economic recovery or the actions of the Obama administration. I understand that. From listening to the conservative side, I’ve learned what we missed — that agendas were promulgated that helped some without helping others. That the notion of “Social Justice” has drastically different meanings throughout the country. I also understand that new leadership is coming in that plans to address those deficiencies.  But these things must be done legally and within the constraints of law, and our President must set the ethical example for the country with respect to leadership.

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The Cost of Doing Business

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Jan 10, 2017 @ 11:40 am PST

I just received an email from AT&T/DirecTV that said:

Your February 2017 DIRECTV bill will include a Federal Cost Recovery Charge of $0.67. This charge is included on your bill to recover fees paid to the FCC in 2016 and 2017 for providing DIRECTV service (subscriber fee and earth station and satellite fees). The FCC does not require AT&T or DIRECTV to collect this fee or surcharge from its customers.

Hows that again‽‽

Not that $0.67 is a large amount, but why isn’t this included in the cost of doing business, just like the launch cost for the satellites, the ground leases for the tracking stations, the pay of the support engineers and technicians, the amortization of the service trucks. Those aren’t broken out in your bill. This isn’t a mandated FCC surcharge. So don’t pretend it is by saying “Federal Cost”. Eat the cost, until you do one of your regular rate increases that your love so much. Loads of little fake fees hides the real cost of your services, and just annoys the customers.

We return you to your regularly scheduled idiocy.

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What Have We Become?

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Jan 08, 2017 @ 7:17 am PST

I want to start this post by pointing out that I am not a Trump suppporter. My posts over the last year should have made this clear: I do not support the man, I did not vote for him, and I sincerely wish the election had gone a different way. I also note that it is sad I must make that particular point in so much of what I say.

But that said.

What have we become?

I mean, seriously, what have we become?

I was reading through Facebook this morning, and across my various groups and pages I’m seeing the following:

  • “Rosie O’Donnell tweets “F*CK U” to Paul Ryan – Internet explodes in laughter.
  • “Michelle Obama, we thank you for the inspiration you’ve been. We’re going to need it as we get through this crazy time in our world – not just our country…”
  • Office of Government Ethics – Donald Trump nominees not properly vetted
  • Keith Olbermann Finally Says What Nobody Else Will Say About Trump. Keith Olbermann is willing to go all the way to take a stand against our country’s unconscionable choice for 45th President where others haven’t.
  • The Most Extreme Party Coalition Since the Civil War
  • A Nobel Economist Just Compared Trump To Hitler
  • Let’s Impeach Him Now: The Case for Preparing for the End of Trump’s Presidency Before It Even Begins
    The president-elect has already committed criminal offenses. Democrats can’t let them slide.
  • “We have to throw everything at this. This man is slightly unhinged,” Michael Moore said of the president-elect.
  • Breitbart Just Got Caught–And Slammed–For Making Up A ‘News’ Story
  • Why we need to fight Trump, every inch of the way!
  • PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP IS A TRAITOR

These are just some of the headlines – the one I could cut and paste. The visual memes are similar. I am sure, that if you are liberal as I am, that you have seen similar things on your news feed.

Here’s the problem: Change references to Trump to references to Obama, references to Obama to references to someone like Reagan, references to right-wing media to the New York Times, and references to Democrats to Republicans.  Now go back in time two years. Wouldn’t you think you were reading one of the pages from the right-wing, rabid anti-Obama foamers that we made so much fun of? That we looked on as part of the problem?

Much as this may be fun and laugh inducing, we do not win if we adopt the tactics of those we hated. Utilizing hyperbole at every chance, fighting and impeding the work of government at every get-go, demonizing at every opportunity. This only increases partisanship, makes it harder to move forward and have effective government, and makes us seem as idiotic as the Republican anti-Obama folk did during the Obama administration. It is the way children act, and aren’t we better than that?

But, you insist, I hate this President. I can’t stand him personally, or anything he and his party stands for.

I hear you. But hear yourself. They were saying the same thing about Obama. That’s not how we move forward and break the cycle.

Much as we may hate it and find it hard to do, we need to treat the President-elect as we wanted (and we want, for the next two weeks) the other side to treat Obama during his Presidency. Not to unquestioningly agree or roll over, but to respect the office even if you disagree with the man. Not to object to everything, but to pick the worthwhile battles. Not to blanket block and obstruct, but to follow the laws and insist that the other side does.

It is hard to do. I so want to make fun of Trump and his administration — it is such an easy target. But am I an adult, or am I a child? Am I behaving like those whom I abhorred?

Someone has to be adult enough to break out out of this cycle we’ve been in since Bill Clinton was first elected. Our current incoming President makes it so hard, but I can guarantee that the rabid Republicans said the same thing just prior to Barack Obama’s first inauguration.

I don’t know the answer, but behaving like those we thought were childish is not it.

P.S.: Over on the Facebook comments on this, a friend referenced Jim Wright’s Stonekettle Station: Resolutions. It says something similar, and my reactions was “Yes, Yes, Yes.”. Read it. Follow it. Live it.

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Dear Donald: It Isn’t Always About US

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Jan 07, 2017 @ 8:19 am PST

userpic=trumpEarlier this week, Donald Trump (who isn’t the President yet) threatened a Japanese automaker, Toyota, about a plant they were building in Mexico. Specifically, Trump tweeted: “Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax.” Now, irrespective of the fact that Trump got a number of facts wrong:

  • Toyota’s factory in Baja assembles Tacoma trucks, according to the automaker.
  • The new Toyota new plant in Guanajuato, Mexico, will manufacture Corollas.
  • The new factory is shifting work from a facility in Canada, and there is no change in employment and production in the United States as a result of the new operations.

Further, irrespective of the fact that Toyota is a Japanese company, and thus has global operations and can (and has) manufacture its parts in Japan, as it would want to bring income to Japan.

As I said, irrespective of all that, Trump is demonstrating that he doesn’t understand business, in particular, the global automotive and manufacturing business. That’s actually not a surprise — his expertise (if he has that) is in real estate development, which is a very different beast. Any manufacturing he has done has been outsourced (often to foreign manufacturers).

What is Trump missing? Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • First and foremost, why do you presume that a plant in Mexico is making cars for the US market, especially with a manufacturer like Toyota? There are car-buying adults living in Mexico, Central and South America, and none of those countries have domestic automakers. Toyota could very well be building cars in Mexico for the Mexican market, which the Mexican government might encourage because, you know, domestic jobs and all that stuff.
  • If you impose a larger tariff on cars imported from Mexico than cars manufactured locally, then you raise the price of those cars sold in the US (because — and you’re a businessman and should realize this — the company won’t eat the costs out of the goodness of their shareholder’s pockets). If you do that, you’ll sell fewer of those cars in the US marketplace. When you are talking economy entry-level cars, that’s a big deal. It might not matter on a Cadillac Escalade, but for a Toyota Corolla or Ford Fiesta, you’ll make the car overpriced for the features. Who will pay for this? Not the manufacturer: in the car business, the manufacturer sells the car to the dealers (which is when they make their money). The dealer sells the car to the public, so it is main street — your local car dealers — that will be hurt. Eventually, they will order less cars of that variety, and the manufacturer will sell that production in other, growing, countries.
  • Especially for vendors like Toyota, the profits from sales (and they make their money in sales to dealers) goes to Japan. Not taxed — which you should know as you operate foreign companies. The dealers will make less money, which will impact the local, state, and federal tax income.
  • Unlike real estate, car manufacturing is a global business. This means that what you consider “manufacturing” is often no more than the final assembly and possibly painting. The parts themselves are manufactured all over the world; in fact, a car assembled in Mexico could be assembled from predominately US-manufactured parts, transported to Mexico by US companies purchasing US gasoline. So how does manufacturing in Mexico cost US jobs?
  • Further, as you pull manufacturing from Mexico, what happens to the jobs in Mexico? You probably don’t think about that, with your focus on US-first. But as those jobs — good paying jobs, from the Mexican point of view — go away, unemployment increases in Mexico. What happens when there is lots of Mexican unemployment? Let’s put it this way: Why are you building your wall? That’s right: taking jobs from Mexico effectively forces people in Mexico to want to come to the US (often illegally) for work.

In short, your simplistic analysis of the situation, built upon jingoism and your limited expertise in real estate (which is always manufactured locally of primarily locally sourced materials) leads to overly simplistic answers of increasingly complex situations.

Mr. Trump: This isn’t 1917. We live in an era with a globally intertwined economy. “Domestic” companies sell globally; “Foreign” companies sell domestically. Manufacturing occurs across an increasingly diverse and global supply chain, and assembly is different than manufacturing. Manufacturing jobs are increasingly lost not to foreign workers, but to technical advances in automated manufacturing — machines may cost more initially, but don’t require breaks, sick leave, vacation, or medical benefits. Machines also take fewer people (higher paid, requiring degrees) to support them. This means different approaches on corporate taxation — both on income and investment. As for free trade: often the problem with deals like NAFTA and the TPP is not the free trade aspects, but in all the side trade-based negotiations that are essentially earmarks for special interests. Free trade itself is beneficial: it permits domestic corporations to sell to a growing global market without the competition-hurting tariffs, and permits foreign corporations to attempt to sell in the US (and their sales-critters are domestic employees, paying taxes on their markups, on income that might not otherwise have occurred).

In short: economics today can’t be done in 140 characters. Government by Twitter is overly simplistic, and a sign of a grownup that just doesn’t understand. That may have worked for you in your real estate, casino, and other business ventures that can go bankrupt and stiff suppliers, but the Nation cannot go bankrupt.

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Stop Blaming 2016

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Dec 27, 2016 @ 1:02 pm PST

With Carrie Fisher’s passing, folks are at it again:

  • “2016? Really?”
  • “2016 – You’re so fired!”

Folks, 2016 had nothing to do with it. 2016 is an artificial construct — a number that we put (and I emphasize, *we put*) on a collection of days starting at some arbitrary point. In this case, where ever the Pope decided to put January, and counting from what was then around the birthday of some Jewish carpenter. Why aren’t we saying, 5777, you’re so fired, or whatever Chinese year it is, or whatever the Islamic calendar is.

Furthermore, if  you’re the religious type, why aren’t you blaming God? After all, doesn’t God dictate what happens in the world? Doesn’t God work in mysterious ways, bringing people up to heaven (or sending them to you-know-where) for whatever reasons he wants? When a loved one dies, don’t we say, “There, there. They are with God now, in his warm embrace.” So go ahead, get pissed at God for taking Carrie Fisher and George Michael and Prince and all these other people. While you’re at it, get mad at God for taking all those good people that did nothing to deserve it, the children around the world, the people in Aleppo, the babies that dies of Ebola and Zika and Cancer and all sorts of horrible things. Oh, and blame God for taking Castro as well.

But we don’t blame God, do we? We blame 2016.

We can’t admit the truth. Neither God nor 2016 had anything to do with it. God may not even exist (or if God does, he (or she) might have a deistic view of things, setting the universe in motion and letting it play out.

Blame Time. After all, they named Trump “Man of the Year”.

Seriously, blame time and coincidence.

Time is relentless. It marches on, and we have no way of stopping it. People grow older, and they die. Furthermore, as we grow older, our icons grow older as well. We reach a point where a lot of our icons — from stage, screen, literature, and politics — are growing older as well. Growing older has a price. Death. It is something we will all face one day. So we grow older, our icons grow older, and the seemingly all seem to die in a bunch. Or at least those of whom we care more die in a bunch, and it hits us harder. It makes us realize that they are near our age, and as they are passing away, could we be next?

But all of these celebrities, and even Fidel Castro, have one thing we may not have. They’ve done big things, and these things will live on long after they die. Castro will live on in his impact on the people of America and the people of Cuba. John Glenn will live on for his achievements. So will Justice Scalia. As will Carrie Fisher, who will live on forever in the Star Wars mythology. As will George Michael, in his music.

But will we? Who will remember us?

So go on. Do something big. Make it so that you are remembered in this world even after you pass. Live on — not in a highway name or a name on a building, but in the hearts of those you have touched through your actions. Create the stories that they will tell in the future.

But stop blaming 2016.

My condolences to Debbie Reynolds, the Fisher family, her friends and their families. My condolences to everyone who has lost someone they have loved this year. They will live on in your memories and the stories you tell about them to your children and others.

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Exploring the Tension

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Dec 27, 2016 @ 10:24 am PST

userpic=trumpA friend on Facebook recently posted about the situation with the Rockettes performing at Trump’s inauguration, contrasting it with the situation of the baker refusing to make a cake for a gay couple. My response touched upon a number of the tensions inherent in our American Experiment, and so I decided to expand it into a post.

When considering this issue, there are a number of “rights” that come into play. There is freedom of speech, which generally gives you the right to express your opinion, whether that expression is through words or through action (as the courts have recognized that certain actions, be it flag burning, pornography, or silent protests, are all forms of protected speech). There is your freedom to practice your religion, which generally applies to what you do, as opposed to imposing your beliefs upon others (although there is a recognized tension there). There is equal protection under the law, which generally means freedom from discrimination for protected classes. These classes are typically based on things like race, creed, sex, sexual orientation, and so on.

So let’s look at the baker who refuses to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. He’s a businessman who has the right to serve whomever he wants, right? Actually, based on the sign, it is to refuse service to anyone. If you are his establishment, causing a ruckus and harassing other patrons, he can refuse to serve you and ask you to leave. If you aren’t wearing a shirt and shoes, he could refuse to serve you. But could he refuse to serve you just because you were black? Just because you were a woman? Because you were Jewish? No. Those are protected classes, and equal protection under the law trumps (so to speak) his right to refuse service. The courts have ruled that sexual orientation is a protected class, so he couldn’t refuse to bake you a cake just because you were gay (irrespective of his personal beliefs). The same is true for a government worker issuing a marriage license.

Let’s look at the Rockettes. In general, when you work for someone you need to follow your employment contract and what your employer says, unless it bumps into equal protection under the law. Individuals can exercise their freedom of speech by refusing to work for Donald Trump’s inauguration; this refusal isn’t based on Trump being a protected class, but because of his political actions — his speech, in other words. You have freedom of speech in America, but you don’t have freedom of consequences from that speech. Depending on what you do or what you say, those consequences could include losing your job. That’s the risk.

With respect to the Rockettes, in general, if their employer has signed a contract for them to perform, they need to perform. They don’t have to be happy about it. Within the boundaries of their contract, they could express their speech through costume modifications, signs, etc. They could individually refuse to perform, but their employer would have the right (but not the obligation) to terminate their employment. They are free to express their speech, but the place they express it may come with consequences. In the case of the Rockettes, their employer has indicated there will not be consequences if an individual refuses to perform, but that ultimately was the employer’s choice.

As for Mr. Trump: The refusal of so many performers to perform should give him pause, and to ask himself, “Why?”. He should be aware enough to realize that his speech during the campaign and his speech as demonstrated by his cabinet nominations has had an impact. He should be asking himself if perhaps he should rethink what he said — and even more importantly, how he said it. Perhaps he might get more respect — and more performers — if he pledged to respect equal protection under the law, asked his followers to respect equal protection under the law, and perhaps eschewed the effort to speak within 144 characters (going instead for more nuanced and well-thought-out speech).

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