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!

Clinton vs. Trump: T Minus 8 Days

| by Ken | in Politics No Comments »

I haven’t written much about the 2016 presidential election.  Like a lot of people, I’m surprised that the USA can’t do better than Trump and Clinton.  Or Johnson and Stein.  Or Jeb Bush, Rubio, Cruz, Santorum, Huckabee, Fiorina, and so on.  The only two candidates who seemed to be presidential material to me were Sanders and Kasich and they were both laughed aside for being unelectable.  It’s all remarkable.  And there may be fixes for that involving removing the public element of a primary, changing the way people vote, and campaign finance reform.  But none of that matters for the 2016 election so I’ll save that for a future post.

Regardless of what has happened leading up to now, we are now down to two.  Yes, two.  Johnson and Stein aren’t going to get elected.  If with 8 days remaining, you think that either could get elected, you have too light a grasp on reality and should close this window and open a new one seeking professional help.  So let’s talk about the two we are left with.

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More Tough Talk from Obama

| by Ken | in Politics No Comments »

I’m really liking this “new” President Obama.  He is clear, concise, accurate, and confrontational.  He’s meeting the nonsense head on.  I feel like he has been too blah for too long on too many subjects.  I like this forthrightness.

Obama explained, again, that the budget is held up because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”) and that House Republicans are holding the government hostage.  He went on to describe that the health insurance exchanges that the ACA made possible go into effect today.  And that so far the only issue they have seen is that the web site was so slow because it had over a million visitors before 7:00am!  Even when you account for all the journalists who were experimenting and haters that were trying to find problems, that’s still a remarkable amount of site visits.  (I wonder if there was any kind of DoS attack or other automated site visits attempting to bring it down for political reasons?)

I’m a big fan of the ACA – how can you not like adding insurance for previously uninsured while not changing the private insurance that is already in effect?  (And even if you don’t care about other people not having insurance, if you say that you don’t want your taxes to pay for somebody else’s health care, well then you are too naive to realize you are already are; it is cheaper to pay through insurance than through government subsidies for emergency care.)

For a moment, let’s pretend that the contentious issue is not the ACA but is instead something we’ll call Grapes and the parties are named Bob and Frank.  Bob and Frank are driving down the road and Bob wants Grapes but Frank doesn’t – the Grapes are already in the car but they are just arguing over whether they should eat them or throw them out the window.  In fact, Bob has already started eating the Grapes while Frank is still arguing that they should go out the window.  They know they are running out of gas and they both know they need the gas but Frank decides that since he still doesn’t want the Grapes in the car, the best solution is to let the car run out of gas.  He’d rather be broken down on the side of the road than in a car with Grapes.  That’s how stupid the House Republicans are for conflating two unrelated issues and driving the car into the ditch for not getting everything they want.

It reminds me of the Jimmy Kimmel joke from when he hosted the White House Correspondents dinner:

You know President Obama wanted to move the dinner to the Kennedy Center this year but the Republicans wanted to keep it here at the Hilton so they compromised and here we are at the Hilton.

So I believe the Republicans are used to getting their way, even when in the minority.  And now they are in the unfamiliar place of not getting their way they and their childlike obstinacy to yielding at all is the result.

The question remains: what next?  And my prediction is some fake compromise that will mean no change to the ACA and yet will allow Republicans to save face.  I know when children get into a state where they have dug in their heels so deep that they can’t get out without a full personality collapse you need to give them something to help them along.  I don’t know what it will be, but I predict Saturday (4 days from now), the Democrats will offer something trivial and the Republicans will accept and then they will both be able to declare victory.  Except in this case, it will be the Democrats who actually emerge on the positive side of a compromise. Looking forward to that result and to more of this newly energized President.

As if working for Fox “News” wasn’t reason enough to want Scott Brown to permanently shut up, now he’s talking about the problem with the national political scene.  According to Brown, on a WBZ Radio interview last night where he announced that he will not be running for governor, we’ll have 8 years of Obama being divisive.  That includes, according to Brown, not only pitting Democrats against Republicans but even pitting blacks vs. whites.  Yes, that’s right.  President Obama, who is part black and part white and who brought a person of color to the White House for the first time is somehow causing racial division in this country.  The only reason I can come up with for Brown to say something like that is either Fox “News” has completed his sanity-ectomy or Brown is looking forward to continuing to reach national audiences by saying outrageous things.  While this blog is hardly read by anyone other than me (hi Ken!), doing what I’m doing is what Brown wants.  He wants national attention to bolster his own brand and he has learned well at Fox that saying outrageous things gets airplay. (Damn me for falling for his trap!)

Brown is still an airhead.  But the part of his head that is full of air is the part that makes policy decisions, not the part that makes personal promotion decisions – that part is going strong.  The last airhead that got elected as President was Bush 43 and of course, he had a Republican machine put him on the horse he rode into office.  Brown will have no such machine helping him into the White Hosue.

Oh, and as far as pitting Democrats vs. Republicans, Bush 43 started it.  Well, it started before him, but while he was in office, the Republicans perfected the ability to be the ones ostensibly leading the way and coloring any Democrat dissension as anti-progress.  And now, even with a Democrat as president and Congress now divided in majority control, Republicans including Brown manage to make it seem like they are leading the way and Democrats are in the way.  I don’t know how they manage to color the public perception, but that is the chief failure of the current elected Democrats, including Obama – not that they can’t pass things or that things that are passed are wrong but that the perception of what is happening is wrong.  And they now have has less than 3 years to fix that.

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