Franken Too? Nope

| by Ken | in Politics, Soapbox No Comments »

Sexual assault is wrong.  Let me start with that.  Also, what Senator Franken did is sexual assault.  And he has admitted as much in his apologies.  But “Franken Too?”?  No, not “too”.  At least not when we are talking about Moore and Weinstein and Trump and Spacey and Rattner and Wieseltier and Nassar and Toback.

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Trump & the JFK Papers

| by Ken | in Politics No Comments »

Not being a conspiracy theorist, I had not marked the date on my calendar.  But when I heard that JFK Papers were due to be released, I thought it sounded like about time to make all known facts about it public.  Now, as some of the JFK assassination documents are withheld a couple of thoughts occur to me.  Most interesting to me is that all of these years later, somebody has identified something that is still not appropriate to be released?  Perhaps it is because whatever that thing is would largely change the collective understanding of what happened?  In other words, the only stuff that is interesting is the stuff that has not been released?

Or perhaps it is because some of the information would tell the world something about our security apparatus that we don’t want the world to know.  And while I understand that we want to keep our intelligence gathering methods secret, it would seem to me that whatever was unearthed in the 1960s would have to be irrelevant to today, right?  If not, the implication is that we are still doing something somewhat similar to what we did 50 years ago?  Surely our nation’s security is not dependent upon 50 year old security measures.

And the issue of revealing our nation’s secrets about intelligence gathering is especially interesting considering that the man making the ultimate decision, theoretically, is Trump – the same guy who told the Russians information that leaked Israeli sources.  And that got me wondering, does Trump know what he is withholding?  If he was made privy to the content, one would think that Oliver Stone is trying to arrange a meeting between Kislyak and Trump.  And surely the people who want to keep this information secret are smart enough to not want President Blabbermouth to know the contents.

So, it’s more likely Trump does not know what is being withheld.  Which means that he is trusting the intelligence community even without digging in to the details?  Why would he do that now when he hasn’t trusted them before?

I’m still not a conspiracy theorist but I have to confess that there’s a lot of weirdness here.

Much of the country has been puzzled about Trump’s choice of his attention in the recent week.  There was the failure of the GOP to repeal the ACA and Tom Price’s inappropriate spending of taxpayer money, but a great deal more of his attention went to professional football players.  Why was he not primarily focused on helping Puerto Rico?  Shouldn’t that have been the thing that needed the most attention and where he could gain the most points?  And now that he is talking about Puerto Rico, his focus isn’t on what is being done to help but on how the criticism of what he has done is unwarranted.

I think I have it figured out.  Trump has lived for years on the outside with opinions about what he would do if he were on the inside.  He’d see something he disapproved of and tweet about it.  He knew what should be done – if only he were in a place where he could do something about it.  Trump is our first armchair president who actually got called up.  Like somebody who criticizes the NFL quarterback they watch on TV suddenly finding themselves wearing the helmet in a huddle on a real football field.

Except in this case, Trump has discovered that he cannot just decide to throw the ball somewhere else and immediately impact change – there’s another team on the field, after all.  Presidents don’t govern as Kings.  And he is still watching TV seeing what people say about his presidency and deciding where his focus should be based on that.  As though he was the quarterback who was supposed to be in the game but instead he’s up in the booth yelling at the TV about how the game he is supposed to be playing in isn’t going well.  And it’s clearly not his fault since he’s not on the field.

So he didn’t tune in to a channel showing coverage of Puerto Rico – partly because the devastation was so bad that there wasn’t plentiful TV coverage.  Instead he watched a football game with people kneeling.  That got him worked up so that was his focus.  And then that created a feedback loop.  Now that he is seeing coverage about PR, it is about how he isn’t doing enough, so that is his focus.  Which creates a new feedback loop.  Somebody just needs to turn his TV to a channel that only shows suffering in PR so that will be his focus.  So Fox & Friends, how about a story on Monday morning about how these American Citizens in Puerto Rico are without food and water and electricity weeks after Hurricane Maria destroyed their cities and homes and lives?

Is Trump Racist?

| by Ken | in Politics, Soapbox 2 Comments »

Is Trump racist? He says he is not. But his actions indicate otherwise. If you ask a white supremacist if they are racist, they will either say they are or say that they merely believe that whites are superior and they don’t see that as racism. (Actually, that’s conjecture – as far as I know I’ve never met one and if I did, I don’t know if I’d ask.)  But Trump really thinks he treats all people fairly when he obviously does not. And that should not be surprising to anyone. Trump is the least self aware person ever. He claims he is really smart in such an non intellectual way it is almost tragic.

And for this reason, I cut him some slack. I see his lack of being self aware as a sort of mental disability. And even if he was more typically self aware, there are many people who grew up thinking they were treating everyone equally when they were not.  So can you be racist when you are not self-aware?  Yes, definitely.  In fact, I think the majority of racism in America is exactly that.  People thinking they are treating everyone equally even when seemingly small choices may tend to be different depending on skin color.  And those small choices when taken together can have big consequences.

However, that’s a far cry from overt and self-aware white supremacy.  Trump’s defense of the people who were at Charlottesville and at least adjacent to the white supremacists was certainly weird.  But I don’t think that even Trump, as terrible a President as he is, is actually a self-aware white supremacist.  Nor does he actively endorse those who are.  So I think the rhetoric indicating that goes too far and has the unfortunate result of somewhat normalizing the un-self-aware racist that he actually is.

My advice for Liberals after the first week of President Trump:  I think it’s time to lay off the pressure a bit.  Dial down the hysteria.  It’s time to see how things play out.  I know these statements seem strange for people who know me.  But I think this is the best way to simultaneously battle against Trump and set the stage for 2018 elections.

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We all remember Rick Perry’s “oops” moment from his 2012 campaign.  He famously forgot the third governmental department he intended to get rid of, the Department Of Energy.  Now, 5 years later, Trump is looking for people to fill cabinet positions and he seems to be using the method Michael Che describes as “You know what would be hilarious”.   In Trump’s view, the best person for the Secretary of the Department of Energy is the person who wanted to eliminate the department and then couldn’t remember it.

Earlier this week, we learned that when Rick Perry accepted Trump’s offer to be Energy Secretary, he was under the impression that the job would entail being an ambassador for the oil and gas industry.  It was only in the days following his accepting that he learned the Energy department is primarily responsible for the management of nuclear weapons and nuclear waste.  During his confirmation hearing this week, Perry made a statement saying that he regrets the suggestion to eliminate the department:

“My past statements, made over five years ago, about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking.  In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”

Let’s recap.  In 2011 Rick Perry recommended eliminating a department whose primary purpose, he has now admitted, he didn’t understand until just this week.  A few weeks ago when Trump asked Perry to lead the department, Perry accepted while still not understanding the Department’s mission and still believing that it was unnecessary and Trump asked somebody to lead the Department who has no understanding of the Department.  And now that Perry is educated about what the Department does, he regrets his plan 5 years ago to eliminate it.

That neatly sums up the early days of the Trump Presidency, and indeed, the current state of Republican politicians.  All too happy to make a political decision based on what they believe – until they are educated about the facts and then are inclined to think differently.  Good for Perry for being able to come around, even though it was initially only motivated by getting a job.  Now if all of the Republicans in office could follow Perry’s lead and learn the facts behind all matters being considered, we’d have much more productive debates.

(Note that this revelation about Perry’s recent education about what the DoE does changing his prior view, where apparently he didn’t know reinforces my point in my prior post about how Conservatives make decisions based on some personal faith rather than on facts.  In this case, it was Perry’s belief in small government that helped him reach that decision to eliminate without ever learning the facts.)

The Political Divide Explained

| by Ken | in Politics, Soapbox No Comments »

Time for some blunt talk about politics.  Some are certain to be offended but I’m just really frustrated about how people keep talking about how polarized the country is and how it is a matter of some people feeling one way while others feel another.  The typical discussion about the polarized country describes the situation without reaching any conclusions as to why it is like that.

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Today is the day that the Electoral College “votes” for our next President. I’ve long said the Electoral College is stupid. I had not previously realized, however, that the electors could actually choose to vote for somebody other than the individual that “won” the state. I only began reading about this as a potential hail-mary to keep Trump from getting elected. And why is it possible for an elector to do that? Apparently, the people who created the Electoral College had the sense that from time to time, the voting populace could be duped by a charlatan and that it would be smart to add a layer of protection between said populace and the Presidency. (Also, there’s likely a slavery aspect to the Electoral College too.)

To review, we’ve had a nonsensical way of choosing a President for over 200 years and for all of that time, we have not exercised this protection option.  The people who are electors don’t seem to have had cause to stray from the voting populace in the past.  But if ever there was a time when the voting populace needs to be protected from itself, now is the time.  In the weeks since Trump was elected we’ve seen him back down from promises he made during the campaign all but stating for the record that much of what he said during the election was merely to get elected.  And we’ve learned that Russia’s hacking extended to both political parties but only information that would be damaging to Clinton was leaked for the express purpose of putting a thumb on the scale for Trump.  All this has been happening while the vote tally for Clinton continues to increase her “win” over Trump.

Just today at the bank, I overheard a customer saying to a bank teller who was reluctantly engaging in conversation that he was a Trump supporter and even owned “a few Make America Great Again hats” but is now starting to question Trump.  He seemed surprised.  I’m sure this is a typical sentiment among Trump voters.  It seems to me that there was an instant in time when Trump could have won the electoral votes and that instant was voting day.

Assuming that the Electoral College does not change the expected outcome, there’s no question any more that the Electoral College is dumb and needs to go.  The only reason it wouldn’t is because for it to disappear, the people who benefited from it would need to advocate for it to be destroyed.  One thing we know about elected politicians is that they like power and anything that would reduce that power is a nonstarter.

So, Electoral College, prove your worth.  Show that you are not an irrelevant extra layer of bureaucracy.  This is your chance.  Miss your chance and the world will know the pointlessness to your existence and that you only serve the politicians that you elect, not the nation and it’s people.

Clinton vs. Trump: Postmortem

| by Ken | in Politics No Comments »

Hello world.  It’s the USA here.  Hey, listen, I know we look like a bunch of idiots.  I can understand how you would think less of us now.  We’ve done something really wrong and we have some making up to do.  But before you write us all off as a lost cause, let me try to explain why we aren’t all as bad as the results might make us seem.

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Clinton vs. Trump: T Minus 3 Days

| by Ken | in Politics No Comments »

I don’t usually revisit the same topic so soon but I had to comment on the purported lying equivalency. On Thursday (Nov 3), I heard an interview with a Millennial that went something like this: “It’s tough to choose because on the one hand Trump says a lot of things I disagree with and has positions I disagree with. On the other hand, I can’t vote for Clinton because she’s a liar.” While I understand why people believe Clinton is a “liar”, I don’t understand why people don’t think Trump is. Maybe the bar is higher for her because she’s a politician whereas Trump doesn’t seem to understand “facts” when they pertain to his statements.

Whatever the reason people feel this way, remember your choice is between two liars and as the story here points out, Clinton’s are fewer. Also, as a bonus, with Clinton there is no misogyny, we get to stay in NATO, and there will be no state-sanctioned religious discrimination. So for anyone thinking that their best option is to not vote, that’s a cop out. Most elections are about choosing the lesser of two evils so be a grown-up and choose the one you think is “better”. Even if on a scale of 1 to 10, with one a 3 and the other a 1, 3 is still more than 1 and therefore you prefer the one you give a 3 to so that’s who you vote for. The only reason to not vote, or vote for somebody other than these two is if you really believe that Clinton and Trump are equal. And I’m pretty confident that most people don’t truly believe they are really equal!

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