Monday, June 18, 2018

I Find Myself Torn

 Mr Donald Trump New Hampshire Town Hall
Subject: Mr Donald Trump New Hampshire Town Hall | Date: 08/19/2015 | Photographer: Michael Vadon |This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
Like all good liberals I've been watching Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign for over a year. I've been cheering Mueller along, "Get him! Lock Trump up." However, I've come to wonder when is enough enough.

So far, the investigation has resulted in twenty indictments and five guilty pleas. Most recently, Paul Manafort had his bail revoked for asking witnesses to lie.

The actions of Donald Trump and those around him are actions of guilty people trying to avoid the law. The liberal in me wants them to be held accountable. The liberal in me wants Mueller to uncover every little secret so Russia can never again influence our election.

The realist in me has a different take on things. Like it or not, 30 states cast their electoral votes for Donald Trump. Donald Trump won the election. Ever since the results came in, people have been trying to analyze the election. Multiple books have been written trying to explain why Trump won. A large portion of America is in a state of denial, unable to believe that a non-politician won the election for our country's highest office.

We could analyze until the cows come home, but like it or lump it, the man won. He won. Do I like it? No. I think he is a selfish, heartless brute with no understanding about how the government works. But he's our president.

I keep having flashbacks to the Obama administration. During those eight years, the GOP did almost nothing but try to nail Obama with some kind of charge. They tried to claim he was not born in America, therefore he was ineligible to hold the office of President.  Then there was the claim he was working with al-Queda to overthrow our country. I remember thinking how un-American they were for going after Obama instead of trying to compromise with him to get actual work done.

OK, the charges against Trump's campaign hold a bit more water than the conspiracy theories involving Obama, but I'm not sure the actions of today's Democrats are any more American than the actions of yesterday's Republicans.

Some people argue that if we can make a charge stick against Donald Trump, that he'll lose the next election. While that may be true, I believe he'll lose on his job performance alone.

Forget the fact that he practically tripped over himself in a mad rush to boot millions of people off Obamacare. Forget the fact that Donald gravitates toward dictators such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un,  while simultaneously alienating democratically elected leaders of traditional allies. Forget all that. Well don't forget it, but put it aside for a moment.

This man, this bastion of morality, has succeeded in institutionalizing child abuse. Under Trump, the federal government is taking children for parents seeking asylum. The children are being housed in a series of mass housing facilities. One such facility is an outdoor tent city, which can be found in Tornillo, Texas where the temperature routinely reaches 100 degrees or more. If the living conditions weren't spartan enough, staff members at these Gulags aren't allowed to hug or comfort the, already scared and confused children.

If this inhumane treatment of children isn't enough, all by itself, to defeat Trump in 2020, then America deserves what it gets. No joke. If the Democrats can't nominate Mickey Mouse and win in a landslide, people aren't paying attention.

Do I think The Donald broke the law?  Yes I do.  Do I think we should keep the investigation going in the hope of nailing the President?  I'm just not sure.  I don't want him to skate, but Mueller could investigate for another year and only ever make cases against Trump's capos.  Sometimes the top dog evades formal charges and dies of old age while spraying insecticide on his grape vines with his grandson.

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Paragon Of Animals?

"What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
world! the paragon of animals!
" - Hamlet: Act 2, Scene 2

Hamlet uttered these words with contempt in his voice, meaning the opposite of what he was saying.  Yet, for most of my life I've embraced these words at face value, believing humanity is a fundamentally noble lot.  Such a viewpoint is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain these days.

Video captured by Canita Adams shows the Saraland Police Department officers arresting Chikesia Clemons at a Waffle House at 2 am on Sunday, April 22, 2018. During the arrest, Ms. Clemons top slides down exposing her breasts.
Chikesia Clemons was tackled by police at a Waffle House at 2:00 AM late last month. What was her crime? She was arrested for asking for a fork for her waffles. No kidding, that's what set events into motion.

When she asked for a fork for her waffles, she was told it would cost a $0.50 utensil fee. She asked for an address to write a letter to complain about the charge, at which point the manager called the police. The police found it necessary to wrestle Chikesia to the ground, exposing her breasts in the process. All because she wanted a fork for her waffles.

In a similar vein, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson are the two African-American men who were recently arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks for just being there. They were sitting quietly waiting for their friend to come before they ordered. The manager of the Starbucks thought they were there too long and called the police, who arrested the two men for loitering.

Hell I've done that. I spent the better part of the 1990's hanging out in coffee shops. If that's a crime I should have a record a mile long. The difference is I am white.

We watch movies such as "In the Heat of the Night," "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," and "Selma" and we pat ourselves on our collective backs for having come such a long way. We tell ourselves we no longer lynch African Americans, we no longer use "the N word, " and African Americans are allowed drink from the same water fountain as the rest of us.

How far have we actually come though? Just last year the Supreme Court undid key components of the Voting Rights Act of 1966, making it harder for African Americans to vote. We have the two cases I talked about above. Can we all agree that these people were not arrested because they wanted utensils or they wanted to hang out at Starbucks?  Can we admit these people were arrested for being African-American?

We are still a nation of racists. We might not all be goose-stepping, swastika wearing, cross burning fanatics demanding that  African Americans obey us white folks, but a lot of us look away when it happens. We tell ourselves we've evolved beyond racism, then we turn our backs and eat our waffles.

Ignoring racism is as bad as actively committing racist acts. If we really want to feel good about ourselves we need to make it known that such acts are 100% unacceptable. I still believe most people are basically good but the good people among us need to take an active role in shaping the laws and attitudes of our society.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." -Edmund Burke

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Shifting Gears

This blog will be a bit different than most of my blogs, namely because this whole blog will be different from now on.

Me at a Pink Martinis concert
10 years ago, I began this blog as a writing and literature blog.  I had just written a novel and I wanted to build an online following, to make myself more attractive to publishers.  It didn't work.

Publishers didn't want to look at my book until I had an agent, agents didn't want to represent me until I had been published.  Talk about a catch-22.  The reality is I am not going to get published.

Back in the day,  I used to do the occasional political/current events Op-Ed in between my writings about books and the writing business.  Gradually, the opinion pieces began to outweigh the literary posts.  Truth be told, it's become harder and harder to care about the newest American novel when we live in a country run by a buffoon.

No kidding, when our president is constantly under under investigation and we're poised on the brink of war, I can't get worked up about the next Victorian thriller to hit shelves; I don't care what kind of sexual metaphors are in the book.

Therefore, I have redesigned the look of this blog to reflect what I actually write about.  Keep in mind, THIS IS NOT a news blog!  I can no more break a hot story than I can run a marathon.  If you knew me, you would know how impossible running a marathon would be.  All I can do is give my perspective on the news that's already out there.

I'm under no illusion that my opinion will actually change the world.  The most I can hope for is that I can change the way a few people think.  If I can do that, then maybe I can influence one election to some degree.  We'll see.

Monday, April 9, 2018

I Don't Care!

In a world where the EPA is being gutted like a trout, innocent Syrian; men, women, and CHILDREN; are being gassed, our kids are being gunned down in their schools, and 13 million children in the United States live in "food insecure" homes, there are many truly legitimate things to care about. Yet, we find ourselves being constantly inundated with trivia trying to pass itself off as important news.

Subject: Stormy Daniels | Date: 01/12/2009 | Photographer: Gary | This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

First of all, I don't care, even a little bit, who our president has sex with. Boil it down, and we have a story about a rich man having sex with a pornstar. Ooo, that's never happened before.  It's just not news.

OK, the guy in me is a bit envious.  Who would want to take a turn with a pornstar?  It's a fantastic story to tell friends over a beer, that's as far as my interest goes.

I didn't care when Bill Clinton did "it" when he was IN office. I certainly don't care what Trump did a few years BEFORE he even RAN for office.  It has nothing to do with the job of running, or not running, the country.

I also don't care that Facebook gives our data to advertisers. To listen to the news, one would think everybody's bank information has been hacked. That's not what's happening.

Facebook records what we post and sells that data to advertisers. As a result, we see ads for products we're interested in. So, I see ads for detective novels and comic book t-shirts, and somebody else sees ads for aerobic videos and Jane Fonda movies.

This is not a new concept. Every time the cashier scans grocery card, the grocery store records everything you buy and uses that information to do advertising in your geographic area.  It's the way advertising works in the 21st century.  Facebook didn't invent the concept, they just found a way to make billions of dollars doing what other companies already do.

 It's not an evil plot. Yet the news keeps harping on it as if they have uncovered a vast criminal conspiracy.

OK, pro-Trump Russians used the data to target users with deceptive pro-Trump ads.  Yet, I find it hard to blame Facebook for not censoring content, while arguing to protect net neutrality so my online experience won't be censored.

The news, when reported well, can educate a population into an informed electorate. Yet, they spend a bizarre amount of time reporting trivia. Stories about pornstars boinking are sexy. Stories about our data being hacked sound critical. Yet, when you peel away the glitz it's clear neither story is worthy of being on the news. Can we please save the news for stories that actually matter, and put the sexy sensational tripe in the Enquirer and the Globe.