To The Democrats / To The Republicans

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.


Don’t Panic

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.


There’s Got To Be a Morning After…

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:


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


Election Fallacies

userpic=political-flakesReading my FB feed over lunch, I saw a post berating the left in various ways. I felt that a number of statements in that post were wrong … and thus, this post.

In spite of poll after poll suggesting Bernie Sanders would do far better against Donald Trump, the DNC tilted its resources and will toward Hillary Clinton.

This is an example of a canard I’ve seen time and time again, especially from the Trump camp who believe the DNC rigged it so they would go against Clinton, as opposed to Sanders. What this forgets is the fact that the bulk of the reason that Clinton received the D nomination was that she got more votes. While the strong progressive wing of the party is perhaps the loudest, they are not the only folks voting. There is a large centrist and moderate wing. Some of these folks were strongly Hillary; some were anti-Bernie because they felt his past Socialist connections could be a major problem in the general election. All the manipulations of the DNC were not things that would change the needle for most voters.

White men overwhelmingly want Donald Trump to be the next president.

Not true. Not all white men. The surveys have shown that white college-educated men support Hillary. White non-college educated men tend to support Trump. In other words, those who have not been taught about the complications of politics and the need for critical thinking, and who have been hurt by the affirmative action and the loss of privilege — those are the ones who go for Trump.

Hillary Clinton should have really, like really pivoted hard left, which means she needed to legitimately change to blow this evil motherfucker out.

Again, no. America may like talk of change, but they don’t like change. In particular, they don’t like radical change or change that occurs too fast. Bill Clinton was successful precisely because he played to the middle, and was able to build a coalition of centrist Democrats and Republicans. Hillary is trying to do the same thing — incorporating some ideas from the left, but working to build that coalition that draws in Republicans because that is essentially how you govern a country that embodies all constituencies. What happens when you play to the radical base to get elected, and then win. You get what we’ve had in the Republican party for the last 20 years.

Left leaning white folks and MSNBC spent the last 8 years bemoaning what the right was doing wrong, instead of reckoning with the what the left failed to do for extremely vulnerable black and brown folk.

The United States is like an aircraft carrier. You can get it to change directions, but it is very slow to do so due to loads and loads of inertia and momentum. Many of us want to address the injustices in the world when we view the world through out social values glasses. But when we put on our pragmatist glasses, we know that if we do it too fast or before the bulk of the country is ready, it will be rejected. We’re seeing that in numerous areas. It has taken over 125 years just to start making the equality won in the Civil War a reality, and that still doesn’t address the issue of implicit privilege. Before we can get society to address the injustice, we have to work to get them all aware that the injustice (highlighted by things like #BlackLivesMatter) really exists.

In short, Hillary is far from the perfect candidate. In most other years, her actual lack of experience (a little over one term as Senator, one term as Secretary of State) might prevent her from succeeding against more experienced politicians. Luckily, for her, compared to Trump she has loads of experience. She brings loads of baggage — a small amount real, a large amount imagined into reality. Most Democrats would like someone not connected to the Clinton — it is not as if we don’t have qualified female governors and senators. But we have who we have. Further, as flawed as the Democratic primary process was, the Republican side was even worse for it resulted in the Donald.

Change is wanted — that is clear. But we often forget the big divide that is in this country — and it is not a black/white racial divide, but an urban / rural divide. If you look at how the states break down in their support of R vs D, you’ll see it is clearly rural vs. urban. Urban people are used to fast change, to seeing the racial divide, to pushing for racial justice, and social justice. They are used to the melting pot and do not fear it because they live it. Rural, other the other hand, live in a much more homogenous society. This society values hard work, pulling yourself up by your effort, and fears the stranger — especially the stranger who has not achieved through hard work. That alone should explain the rise of Trump, whose central campaign point has been battling the dangerous unspecified “other” who freeloads.

In the primaries, Presidential candidates can win by playing to the loyal bases. Democrats can focus on change in the cities, because they will outnumber the rural democrats voting. Similarly, Republicans can play to the rural votes and amplify their fear, for they will outnumber of urban Republicans (in many areas). But to win the Presidency, a candidate has to appeal to the entire country.  Sanders could not have done that. Consider all the antisemitism on the Republican side — and now imagine that instead of running against a Methodist, they were running against a New York Jew, who used to be a Socialist. Trump would have loved to run against Sanders.

The Conservatives, over many many years and many many investigations, have built a false picture of the Clintons as crooks and thieves — never mind that they actually didn’t do anything. Similarly, they have convinced the Conservative side that Trump’s wrongdoings were excusable because he was a businessman (and we know that is how businessmen behave), as opposed to a politician (who are supposed to be all sweetness and light and honesty).

By the way, this is why it is important to listen to your Conservative friend: you learn these things. Now that you know, you can counter them.


Setting Aside the Unproven Crimes: Reconsidering the Candidates

userpic=obama-hillary-california,politicsFor those of you that haven’t voted yet, I would like you to re-consider (or just consider) your pick for top of the ticket. Innuendo has been flying hot and heavy about potential crimes committed by one candidate or the other, and all of these accusations has made it difficult to make an informed decision. I’m here to help. In this country, one is innocent until proven guilty, and none of these charges — against either Trump or Clinton — have yet been proven in court. So, let’s presume both are innocent. Although there might have been classified information on Hillary’s server, it didn’t reach the level where it was intentional and broke the law. All those accusations against Donald — just hot air until proven. For the sake of argument — and this post — let’s consider both innocent.

I’d like you to take a look at the candidates fresh, taking the following into account:

  • Experience. If you were looking at a random candidate, for the sake of argument, white male, with the experience of both candidates, who is best qualified to run for public office? Candidate 1, Howard Carlin, has been secretary of state, a senator, has worked in the executive branch, and has been working for the public good his entire life. Candidate 2, Darren Towers, has been a private businessman, never elected to a public office, and never worked in a public corporation where he had to answer to a board of directors.
  • Diplomatic Style. How do they react under pressure? Do they study an issue and present a reasoned response? Can they be goaded into a response by an adversary? Do they carry grudges, and do they use the power of their office to retaliate?
  • Knowledge of how Government Works. Do they have a demonstrated knowledge of civic affairs and government processes? Do they understand where revenue bills start? Do they know checks and balances? Do they understand the limitations of each branch of government? Do they have the ability to compromise with those with whom they disagree?
  • Positions. Do they have stated positions for the most pressing issues facing this country? Are these positions both reasonable and realistic? Can they be implemented without major financial impact on the Federal Budget and Deficit? If the candidate doesn’t get the issue how they want it to be, can they live with a compromise?

I know, when I look at the two candidates Howard Rodham Carlin (HRC) and Darren James Towers (DJT), I know who I will choose. I hope you’ll make the same decision when you consider the issue. Certainly, in the first three areas, there is a distinct difference between the candidates — and much as some may hate government, we need it to work and work effectively for our society to function.

Next, if you haven’t seen it, here are the links to my ballot analysis:


The Power and Misuse of Social Media

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,, 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.


Decision 2016: An Encounter with a Trump Supporter

userpic=obama-hillary-california,politicsI’m working from home today as I have some doctor’s appointments, one of which was with my neurologist on my migraines. While I was there, talked turn to the crazy elections, and it became clear I was with a Trump supporter, if not a sympathizer. I just tried to listen and bite my tongue (as I didn’t want to create a migraine), and what I heard was very illustrative. I believe it is important to understand the other sides even if you don’t agree, so I would like to share with you what I heard and my thoughts on it.

My doctor is an ethnic Chinese immigrant, with a son near college age, who runs a small medical practice. The first concern she expressed to me was affirmative action: how Hispanics and Blacks are more easily accepted to colleges and get promoted over whites, and Asians who are treated as white. When you think about it, this is one of the major complaints of the white populace that is supporting Trump: the push for diversity is taking away our jobs — he is directly feeding on that anger and resentment. Now, those of us on the liberal side of the spectrum know this happens to some extent, but we also see the value of diversity, and the value of making up for past wrongs in the area of diversity. We also see the implicit privilege that comes from the lighter skin. But when faced with this question from the right, what do we say? We can’t make the promises that Trump makes to those folks — that we’ll go back to the way we were. The world is changing, and a world based only on merit does not exist (as if it ever did, for many lower-income people with merit never had the means to sharpen that merit or to make that merit known).

The next area of discussion was immigration — not immigration from Mexico, but Muslim immigrants. This is an area where the fear and uncertainty was amped up. There was fear of Muslims in society, of Muslims in the neighborhood. Drawing upon the attacks in other countries, there was the fear that all Muslims were jihadists and radicals. This is one of those irrational fears — you can say that it isn’t true, but that won’t be convincing. You can quote statistics, and those aren’t convincing. Especially coming from her strong Christian background, there just is scant knowledge of Islam and its precepts — I’d venture to guess that Jews know more about Islam than Christians. I think for many progressives, there just isn’t that innate fear of the stranger, of the Muslim, that there is on the conservative side. How do we combat that fear? It will take time — think about how long we had Jews on radio and TV before they moved from stereotypes to accepted. We haven’t even started that process with Muslims — name a mainstream TV show where the lead or major characters are really Muslim.

Another topic was free speech. She expressed the position that all media was biased, and there was no free speech anymore. She mentioned how bedroom talk (such as between Donald Sterling and his mistress) was made public and then used to destroy a man, and how every had to be politically correct in everything, to the point of having the news on a x-second delay. Now, we know that most real, journalistic media (as opposed to many internet sources) are relatively fair and unbiased, and often “political correctness” is just awareness of the impact of our words on others, but again, I could see her point of view.

Other points of contention was government spending to defend other countries, whilst veterans receive poor medical care and little mental health care. There was concerns about gun control, and the upcoming rules that will restrict ammo purchases. There was concern about immigrants coming to this country and taking taking taking. There was a general opinion that the country is going in the wrong direction.

Mind you, I did not agree with any of this, but kept my mouth shut. But her concerns, I believe, are important to hear. They underlie the support for Donald Trump. These are concerns about what is wrong with Hillary (although I’m sure I could have gotten some). They are areas where someone who is privileged middle class is seeing a direct threat to those privileges, and believes the best way to address that threat is a leader who promises to restore America to what it once was. Remember: Trump’s slogan isn’t “Make America Great”. It is “Make America Great Again“. That “Again” is key — it means we are going back to a safe and comfortable time when everything seemed good (if you were in the right group), and all those pesky and petty concerns of today (sexism, racism, abilism, antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia, etc) were just not considered.

Edited to Add: An interesting realization I had discussing this on FB: Trump appeals to his supporter’s fears. Clinton appeals to her supporter’s hopes. That difference — fear vs. hope — is the vital distinction in this election.

It is vitally important for us to see why the Trump supporters feel that way, and what they want. We then have to ask: What will allay those concerns in the Clinton era? How do we convince people that diversity improves life for all, not just those not of the predominant spectrum? How do we show why political correctness and addressing the various -isms are important to society? How do we get the message across that Clinton’s plans will do these things, will make society better for all.

If we fail to do this — if we fail to know Clinton’s plans well enough to address the fears and discomfort of the other side — we’re going to remain divided. As progressives, we need to be able to make the case of not just why Trump is wrong, but why Clinton is right — and more importantly, why her approaches (although different than Donald’s) will still benefit them.

The political discussion did not turn me off of a good doctor (I just will be more cautious on politics). It did make me realize how much of the people with whom I interact are an echo chamber, so I don’t see the other side. We need to embrace (within reason) the contrary voices around us, hear them (but not necessarily agree), and learn from each other.


Decision 2016: Adding Abortion to the Heap

userpic=bushbabyAs I’m home sick today, I’d like to share some election related thoughts over lunch. In particular, I’d like to share some thoughts as to why Donald Trump’s stated position on abortion, as expressed during the final debate, should be yet another factor that causes you to vote against him and to vote for Secretary Clinton.

Going in, let’s have some stipulations:

Hillary Clinton is not “Pro-Abortion” — that is, she does not support the notion of removing a healthy, viable infant from their healthy, viable mother through anything other than the normal birth process or caesarean section in lieu thereof.

Hillary Clinton does not want you to compromise how you apply your religious beliefs to your body. In other words, if you do not believe in abortions, no one is going to make you have one.

In those stipulations above, however, are the reasons why you should support Clinton in this area and not Trump. In fact, they are the primary reasons why you should join what is called the “Pro-Choice” camp. Let me go over them, perhap in reverse order.

  • I can completely understand if your religion tells you that abortion is wrong, and that you shouldn’t do it. How you practice your religion is up to you completely. Where the difficulty comes is when one religion attempts to use Federal law to force its religious values on others. I’m Jewish. There are groups in Judaism that insist on keeping Kosher. Would it be right for that group to insist that everyone in the country keep Kosher? No. In the same way, it is wrong to say that just because your religion thinks abortion is wrong, it needs to be prohibited at the Federal level.
  • Further, a central teaching of Judaism and Christianity is that one commandment is not greater than another. It is equally wrong to eat bacon, mix linen and wool, or commit murder. Similarly, in Christianity. So unless you are going to impose complete religious law everywhere (and of course you see the problem with that), there is no point in banning abortion. Understanding this make clear what the real abortion fight is about: those in power (typically men) wanting control over women by dictating what they can do with their bodies. That’s appropriate for a farmer in a stable dealing with a pregnant cow that they own, not a man to a woman.
  • There is the belief that if abortion is legal, everyone will be having one. That’s completely wrong. Legal does not mean “everyone do it”. It is legal to own guns, but everyone doesn’t own guns. For some, it is against their beliefs. Similarly, with abortion, people will follow their beliefs, and if their religion or other beliefs dictate to not have abortions, they won’t.
  • Just as with guns, the issue is not banning them, but putting in reasonable restrictions. In this situation, there are primarily four, emboded in “healthy, viable infant” and “healthy, viable mother”. First and foremost, the courts have ruled that abortions, in general, can’t happen after a certain point — basically, when the fetus could live on its own outside the womb, independent of its mother. That’s the distinction between fetus and infant/baby, and why abortion is not killing babies. The second distinction is healthy. If giving birth to the child would endanger the life of the mother, abortion is generally permitted. Similarly, if the fetus is not healthy (i.e., exhibits significant abnormality or genetic deformity), abortion is permitted.
  • Note that it is the “health” issue that is the “slippery slope”. Where does mental health come into play — a fetus that is the result of a violent rape can have significant mental health problems for the mother. Where does degree of disability of the fetus come into play — is it right to abort a fetus that clearly will have a mental or physical deformity that is not life threatening. The answer here is that it should not be the government’s place to decide this. This is a hard decision, and should be made with in consultation between the mother, her family, clergy (as appropriate), and medical professionals.
  • But what, some say, about abortions of convenience. We all know those happen as well. But even in such cases, it is the mother’s decision to make, not the government’s. Such abortions will happen whether they are legal or not — changing the law will not change that. So is it better that they happen with medical supervision in a health-care environment so that both mother and child are not lost.
  • Nothing related to permitting abortion makes adoption less emphasized; adoption should always be encouraged as an option if the mother is willing. Similarly, increase availability of birth control can reduce the need for abortions.

During the most recent debate, Donald Trump indicated he wanted the Federal government to not have abortion as a right by overturning Roe v. Wade. This would put the decision back in the hands of the states, and it would be equally wrong for states to impose a religion-based law. It must be legal at the Federal level (which is Hillary Clinton’s position), and left to the individual mother to decide. If you are religiously opposed to abortion, look at how Hillary’s running mate, Tim Kaine, is addressing the issue:

Kaine, a Roman Catholic who worked as a missionary in Honduras reiterated his personal opposition to abortion, but maintained the practice should not be outlawed.

When asked if he’d like to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe the Governor answered, “I don’t think the Supreme Court should.” He continued, “Roe vs. Wade is ultimately about saying that there is a realm of personal liberty for people to make this decision.”