Friday, July 29, 2016

Hillary issues a call to our better selves

The Democratic Convention spent three days presenting a positive message of America, of themselves, and of the future.  This was a clear contrast to the dark, paranoid vision presented by Trump's Republican Convention.  The Dems had inspiring speeches by top Democratic politicians, notable civilians, and a former and present president.  The Trump convention was notable for an absence of Republican notables and politicians.  

Hillary capped it off with a determined, workwomanlike, display of competence, knowledge, and caring. It was a sharp contrast to the dystopian harangue of the Reps.  

Hillary's main point is her deep knowledge and a lifelong engagement in the issues both domestic and foreign. She and her party spoke to their commitment to national security, and her primary message was one of caring and compassion.  This is the natural home of the Democratic Party - caring.

Her message is that she, and her party, have a lifelong commitment to making people's lives better.  That people are not on their own in a cruel world, but rather we can all create better lives by working together, by helping each other, by caring about and for each other.  She contrasts that with Mr Trump who offers only tweets and bumper sticker slogans - a man without a clue, and a man without a plan.

Hillary, on the other hand, is full of plans.  She could lay them out for 24 straight hours.  She laid out a bunch of them in her acceptance speech.  That doesn't end up with a big bumper sticker moment to remember her speech by, but the point is still important.  Hillary's message is that it takes more than bumper stickers, it takes hard work, caring, compassion, toughness, determination.  Her message is her life of service and determination.  Her message is that she will work her tail off and get things done to help and protect the American people.  She doesn't have soaring rhetoric, she has a lifetime of service and engagement in all aspects of government.

She promised to be a knowledgeable workhorse. Underneath it all is her main message - I am not a flibberty gibbet, and I am not crazy.  Which is her real distinction from Donald Trump.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Don't brief Donald Trimp on security issues after the conventions!

Donald Trump has shown, repeatedly and in many ways, that he can't be trusted to keep his big mouth shut.  His only motivation is the spotlight.  He will do and say remarkably harmful things with no thought to the consequences.  Today, he stepped into the land of traitorous felony by directly asking Putin and Russia to hack Hillary's 30,000 missing emails.  He is asking a hostile foreign power to hack an American presidential candidate's account. What?  It's hard to be astonished at this childish man's utterances, but this is truly astonishing to me.

His motivation is pretty standard, people weren't paying attention to him.  So, he did what he always does, he created an egregiously shocking and inappropriate headline.  He is no longer acting like a nine year old, he has descended to the level of a "terrible two" having a fit to get attention.

OK. So, isn't that just Donald being Donald?  Yes.  That is THE problem. Donald being Donald is a terrible thing if he is the nominee of the Republican Party.  

The tradition is that each candidate is given a top level security briefing after the conventions.  In this case I urge that Donald Trump not be given that briefing. This child has no impulse control. He will very, very likely spill top secret strategy or info at the spur of the moment with no thought that it is something he shouldn't do.  Spoiled children don't consider consequences, they just do what they want right now for their very self centered reasons.

He has only one motivation - whatever helps Donald Trump, whatever has people notice him. If it gets him a one day headline, he will do it.  If it gives him a way to attack someone who he feels offended him, he will do it.  If he is just bored and wants some attention, he will do it.  He could, and does, say anything. 

Don't tell him real secrets.  He will not be able to keep his big mouth shut.

Friday, July 22, 2016

America is better than Donald Trump

OK, so Donald Trump took advantage of a deeply flawed Primary System that political parties use to nominate their candidates and used his media skills to sweep into the Republican nomination.  So what? America is better than Donald Trump.

This is a land of dreams, of opportunity, of cooperation and community, caring and innovation.  This is a country that stands tall in the world as a beacon of freedom, a land of vision, character, vitality, and dignity (to borrow an idea from a dear friend). 

The United States of America is not a banana republic that elects a thug who promises to imprisons his political opponent upon victory.

I understand that a significant group of people in America feel hopeless and afraid.  This is not a country that elects authoritarian dictators.  This is not a country that elects a child with a limited attention span who calls out the worst in it's people.  This is still a land of hope, a land of dreams.  

We will not be sucked down into the dark vortex of the fears pounded into some of us day after day by the likes of extremist talk radio, right wing television, ridiculous conspiracy mongering, and promises of a violent authoritarian government that is going to come to the rescue of the frightened.

America is better than Donald Trump, and it is time for America to speak against his dystopian blatherings.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Republican Voters Over-rule the Republican Party and Nominate Trump for President

So the amazing inevitable has happened and the Republican voters over-ruled the Republican Party and nominated Donald Trump to be the Republican candidate for president of the United States.  Whew!

First, some good things about this.

2016 has been the year that an overlooked and forgotten minority has raised its voice in a crude shout – what about us?!?.  The theme “Make America Great Again” speaks to the lives of these people.  For many people, America is NOT great.  For many people, the America they believed in is gone and they are scared and angry.  These folks are the aging, white middle and lower middle classes who have lost their jobs and their lives to globalization, de-industrialization, and the Great Recession. Trump blamed immigrants, Bernie blamed Wall Street, and both messages attracted a lot of votes.  Trump’s was more successful than Bernie’s and Trump won his nomination. 

I forgot where I read it, but someone noted that Trump respects his voters.  He “respects” them by paying attention to them, by not criticizing the way they talk or behave, by being overtly “politically incorrect” (largely racist and misogynist),  by speaking as crudely and simply as possible in a language that attracts and arouses the dispossessed.  He speaks for them and they think the will help them.  ??  Why they think he will help them is never illuminated, it is enough just to be a vessel for their outraged voices of protest.

The second good thing to come from the Trump triumph is the shattering of the obsolete, rigid, unworkable conservative ideologies that the purists have enforced upon the Republican Party ever since Reagan had been turned into to a demi-god.  The Republican field has a plethora of true believer dogmatists running and they all got creamed.  The fundamentalist Christian social conservatives, the Libertarians, the budget scolds – all got creamed. The Republican voters are not loyal to the ossified ideologies, they could care less, and  they proved it in 2016.

Now for some bad things about a Trump candidacy.

He is a child.  He has no impulse control.  He continually says “he has no choice” when he attacks someone who he feels has wronged him.  I do not want a Commander in Chief with nukes at his disposal to be someone who thinks “he has no choice” if his manhood is challenged.

ISIS wants the United States to be drawn into their attempt to establish a Middle Eastern Caliphate, and Trump is the most likely to rise to the bait.  ISIS, and al Qaeda, and the rest of the extremists, know that the way to explode recruitment for their fanatical religious cause is to have the West, and especially the U.S. attack them.  Then, real hell breaks out.

He is not only ignorant, but he has no desire to become informed.  He has a delusional ego based notion that he can walk into a situation and intuitively and instantaneously and miraculously find the genius solution to any problem.  This is pathologically delusional, I am afraid.  And unbelievably dangerous for us all.

He is unconstitutional.  One of the things he is remarkably uninformed about is the Constitution and the nature of the Federal Government.  He thinks he can change libel laws so he can imprison media that are critical of him. That is a violation of the First Amendment.  He thinks he can keep Muslims out of the country based upon their religious beliefs.  Another violation of the first amendment.  He has promised to torture prisoners - an actual promise to be a war criminal.  And he has no idea how bad these ideas are, he just sees himself as bravely uttering common sense “politically incorrect” declarations.  Astonishing.

Worst of all, he doesn’t understand democracy.  He promises to imprison his political opponent, Hillary Clinton.  That is not how democracies work.  The heart of democracy is peaceful transfer of power.  His more rabid followers call for her death by firing squad or hanging – and he doesn’t slap them down.  Hard to believe.

Donald Trump  is campaigning as a tough guy, an authoritarian.  It is natural for a country frightened of terrorists to turn to authoritarian rule.  He might be authoritarian, but I am pretty sure he would also be stupid. He has already disavowed our alliance with NATO, and he has supported a nuclear Japan and South Korea.  America First (says Trump, his rabid followers, and the pro-Nazi movement of the 1930s). His lack of knowledge leads him to remarkably bad ideas.  And he thinks this makes him brave rather than tragically wrong.

It would be hard for me to imagine that he would use the power of the military in anything resembling a judicious, thoughtful, way.

Donald Trump is a danger to the United States and to the world.  The voters who are attracted to him, those who have been left behind in a country that no longer has jobs for them, deserve someone much, much better than him to give them the respect and dignity that they need.  

They have chosen a pretender.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Three crimes, three tragedies, maybe one problem - the War on Drugs?

America has had a bad three days after our Independence Day celebration.  

Two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, were killed by police in what appeared to be criminal acts.  This was followed by a sniper killing five police officers  and wounding seven others who were guarding a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas, TX. Terrible bloodshed.  Hate crimes in all likelihood in all cases.  I know we are supposed to wait for the investigations of the killings by police before we "rush to judgement", and indeed they may end up not being charged for the killings, but there is no doubt that the black community sees these as typical examples of what is racially motivated killings of young black men in their communities.

There is no excuse for any of the three killing incidents.  The sniper was the worst by far since it was a premeditated hate crime. The officer shootings were likely fueled by fear and perhaps racism. But what is going on?

My African American friends will say, at least amongst themselves, that the killings by the police is part of a very long history of racist oppression that has not stopped up until this day.

My conservative white friends will say, at least amongst themselves, that the police live in an extraordinarily dangerous world where they put their lives at risk every day.

Both are true, it seems to me.  I think there is one underlying issue, and I'm not just talking about racism.

There are parts of our cities that are war zones.  The people in the war zones are fighting life or death battles every day.  Because of our War On Drugs initiated by the Republican President, Richard Nixon, inner city blacks and browns live in the war zones of that war. Combatants get killed. Mass imprisonment is part of the war.  There is collateral damage of innocents. Maybe it's time to call off the war.

Most people who live in these drug war zones are not part of the war, they are civilians caught in the crossfire.  There are terrifying drug gangs, who are the warriors on one side of the war, and there are the police who are on the other side of this war.

Why not end the Drug War?  Some countries are trying this with some degree success, I believe - the Czech Republic, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal... I don't think there is an easy solution, it needs to be thought out and experimented with and smartly applied.  I don't have a great plan, but the way things continue to go in the inner city war zones is just not sustainable.

I would like to see some political leadership nationwide on this, and that means, to me, calling off the War on Drugs and to start dealing with drug addiction as a disease to be handled as a medical issue with assistance in rehabilitation rather than incarceration.