Exam   (2016Aug30)


Tuesday, August 30, 2016                                                 12:24 PM

A list of key-words, a chart of interconnections, a graph of differences—the idea of Algebra tries to worm its way into life. I used to make myself to-do lists, back when I did things—I’d have Top Priorities (things that needed doing right away), Regular things (a sort of ‘daily chores and maintenance’ list), Non-Work things (commitments I had made to people), Long-Term Projects (often becoming a list of things I never got to), and so on. Late at night, I’d still be scribbling away like John Nash from “A Beautiful Mind”—the list became its own project, keeping me from doing the things on the list.

Analysis can become a rabbit-hole from which there is no escape. Philosophical discussions that devolve into semantics—finding, at the end, that language is more personal than universal—can only be enjoyed so many times before we realize that life is to be lived. There is just as much value to experiential data-gathering as there is to mental wool-gathering, perhaps more—and certainly more stimulation.

Yet ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’—or so philosophers would have us think (no pun intended). So we think about what we’re doing while we do it. Occasionally we’ll find that we need to sit and think, to put down what we’re doing and ponder a question—maybe even draw a diagram or blueprint. My least favorite thing is to realize, in the middle of doing something, that I’m doing it wrong—or, worse yet, that I don’t need to do it.

Life is like a deep wood—we follow the trail without too much care, but where the trail ends, or forks, we have to stop and consider our options. Sometimes we have to trail-blaze where there is no path; sometimes we have to gamble on which fork leads in the best direction. Sometimes we have to micro-manage, such as making camp before the sun goes down; sometimes we have to macro-manage, such as planning where to get provisions over the next month’s travel. All activity involves thought, planning, decision, and judgment—we humans are rarely wholly physical—our actions are the physical complement to our calculations.

Examination, though, is a special case—it has no boundaries. We can examine something forever, if we wish. We can opt not to examine something at all—taking for granted that it is a known quantity or a known object. To walk the ‘tightrope of examination’, to do it well, being aware of the world around us without losing the context of our lives—that’s the trick. Too much or too little are both dangerous ground.

I’ve been speaking, so far, of learned debate—where people try to agree on terms and their usage, where both sides are actively engaged in a search for truth or meaning. Most of our public examinations, unfortunately, are not like that.

When I see a news-show’s panel of commentators about to debate the presidential election, I know I’m in for a heaping helping of snake-oil and tap-dancing. The pretense of fairness and balance becomes a shambles of illogical carping and condemnation—insisting on their opponent’s evil while excusing the same evil in their champion. It’s a virtual ballet of slippery memes, with a dash of shouting and derision. Both sides hold up their ‘true facts’ while we, the voters, recognize neither’s claims as either true or factual—we call them ‘talking’ points, not ‘thinking’ points.

One of the candidates has latched onto the new Media-philosophy and has based his platform on the idea that what he says is more important than whether there is any earthly reason to say it. His constituents are no better—a recent poll reveals that, of those who will vote for Trump, 4% think he can’t be trusted with nuclear weapons. As Rachel Maddow pointed out last night—that means that a certain number of Trump supporters don’t trust him with nuclear weapons, but want to give them to him anyway.

A hilarious recent article in the New York Times made the point that Trump supporters are loyal to a fault. In it, a supposed Trump advocate scolds the rest of us for pointing out Trump’s faults, assuring us that nothing anyone says will change the minds of his base. Funny as hell, except for the part about it being true–nothing can destroy democracy quite so thoroughly as an evidence-proof electorate.

The hypocrites in the GOP, the ones who, for years, have been shoving reason through a black hole, so that it always comes out backwards and upside-down, are caught flat-footed. They like Trump’s hypocrisy a lot, but they’re nervous about how unabashedly he exposes it, without a whisper of the usual serpentine reasoning they usually like to use, to confuse the issues.

He just says the stupidest things—and liberals are confused. They’re used to having a debate with someone who injects a lot of false data and emotional blackmail into their policy, requiring an exhaustive review of what’s actually true, to rebut. Trump’s bald-faced “Build a Wall” or “Ban the Muslims” leaves them with their jaws hanging, unable to process such public abandonment of adult responsibility. It’s an unexpected gear-change. Trump no doubt mistakes it for awe, or something.

Trump supporters and far-right wackos of all kinds worry about an invasion of ‘foreigners’ in the USA. But people like me see past the surface of a person’s skin color or faith—we worry about an invasion from within, by the ignorant. America believes in equality—so the ignorant have as much of a say as any high-school graduate or PhD. Even the willfully ignorant, proud of their dismissal of science and logic, proud of their bigotry and chauvinism, eager to kick over the sand-castles of the liberal progressives—even these troglodytes have an equal say in the making of America. They are the cup of sugar in the gas tank of democracy.

Nothing I say will change them. Nothing I write will even propel them towards thought or questioning. So I’m not writing for them—I’m writing for you. You can grade my examination now.

36th Anniversary   (2016Aug29)


Monday, August 29, 2016                                       9:57 AM

For some reason, 36 years ago, I married a Bear. She married a Clown. We did the things that other families do—house, kids, pets, Christmas, birthdays—but we did something you don’t see too much of—we were silly. I find silliness to be precious—it’s something a lot of people don’t have time for. Some people even have an aversion to silliness—though that makes them the perfect people to be silly in front of.

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Bear is not always relaxed enough to get silly—she spends most of her time being quite serious and busy. She’s lucky she has me—I know the value of silly. I’ll check—but I’m pretty sure she feels the same way—yeah, pretty sure…

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I told her last night that I had forgotten to get her a gift. Bear doesn’t care—Bear doesn’t like a lot of gift-giving. She likes Christmas presents and birthday presents and she doesn’t mind a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day—but that’s it. No Mother’s Day, no Easter, no wedding anniversary, nothing where she feels a gift would cheapen the day. I try to get gifts anyway—silly ones, of course—but when I forget, it’s not the end of the world.

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She said, “When I go shopping tomorrow, I’ll get myself some flowers.” That’s what we do—I tell Bear I didn’t get her a present, and she gets it for me (for her). I think she prefers to do her own shopping and decide what she wants—silly gifts are all well and good, but….

To the outside observer it might look like I get most of the benefit of being married and Bear gets most of the work—but only because it’s true—and I have an excuse—and a note from my doctor. But I do bring something to the table—old world queens had their court jesters—and Bear has her Clown. Plus, I kill spiders and fix toilets.

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I don’t even want to think what my life would have been like without her. So that worked out pretty good. I am the lucky one.

Sunday, August 28, 2016                                         12:33 PM

It’s Addictive   (2061Aug28)

I’m having trouble getting any work done on the computer. My wife is having trouble leaving the house. Friends come over and when they try to leave they just can’t walk out the door. It’s a real problem. We’re all addicted.

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I’m a nerd by trade. My usual PC-monitor backgrounds and screen-saver slide-shows have always been NASA images—false-color galactic spectaculars, grandiose launch-fireworks, awesome celestial bodies—you know the drill. But I have recently received an influx of my granddaughter’s baby-pictures, which reminded me of younger times, when my computer graphics included our own infants—before they grew old enough to be self-conscious about being on daddy’s screen-saver. So, now, only occasional close-ups of solar storms or galactic star-cradles interrupt the steady stream of baby worship.

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If you’ve had kids, or grandkids, then you know that your baby pictures are the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen—and it’s hard to look away. This is especially true when the actual enfant is on the opposite coast, unavailable for grandparental doting. Well, it turns out that having a slide-show screen-saver of such images is pretty close to graphics heroin.

I finish my typing or Facebooking or whatever, I go to leave the room, and I find myself caught, in glancing backward, by the full-screen splendor of our little Seneca. I walk into the same room later on, and I can’t bring myself to hit a key, stopping the screen-saver—I just sit and watch. When Claire (or anyone, really) tries to walk past the computer on their way out the door, they find themselves stopped in their tracks. She’s a cutie, what can I say?

I have piano recordings I’ve put off for days now, because I won’t edit the video without some fresh Seneca graphics to replace the image of me sitting and playing (with over 1,900 YouTube videos, I’ve seen more than enough of myself). Claire is holding out on me—but that’s between us, we’ll work it out. In the meantime, I have one recording that I really like—I may have to post them as is—or at least this latest one.

The universe is a big place (he said, apropos of nothing) and if we are honest with ourselves, our individual selves are such a minute part of the planet—itself a minute part of the whole—and we must accept that ego is entirely a biological-evolution thing—it is as misleading as our perception of the Earth as a flat surface—ego is a special case, only valid to one person in a specific point of time and space—certainly not any part of the larger reality around us.

We accept ego as a driving force, giving us the confidence to move forward, the sense of self-worth that allows us to believe in our goals and dreams—just as we move across the earth as if it were a table-top—it’s practical. But an overabundance of ego in one person is usually recognized in those around him or her—as delusional. So we conclude that ego, like glandular balance, is a healthy thing, and egotism, like any metabolic imbalance, is unhealthy.

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Our egos are like our faces—other people see them clearly, while we cannot. And there is no mirror for an ego—except perhaps the brick wall of harsh reality, though sometimes even that has no effect. I’m not sure how big my ego is—I can’t be certain if my ego is in balance or not. It troubles me. But then, I’m out of shape too—no question, yet I can live with that—more easily than I can get myself to exercise every day. Sometimes I have to accept that I am what I am.

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My point? I don’t know—my point is that it’s hot—too hot for this heavy, long-sleeved shirt I wore in the air-conditioned part of the house. My point is that I’ve gone down the rabbit-hole of presidential politics and it’s virtually impossible for me to write about anything else. But it’s Sunday, so I’m trying to take a day off from all that. Still, I catch myself nibbling around the edges of it.

For me this political ‘rumpus’ is about human nature, about character, about strength of purpose and clarity of vision—it’s not a party to me, it’s not a hootenanny where I get off on the sheer emotional energy of it. I’ve always been too damned serious—and this election is an exaggeration of that side of me. Don’t think that, because I’m taking a day off, that I don’t have a lot more scolding and griping to do—but that’ll wait.

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In the meantime, I only have eight measly photographs with which to make four videos—I guess if I can’t squeeze any new shots out of Jessy or Claire, I’ll have to fall back on photos I’ve already used—we’ll see.

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Damn Good Woman (2016Aug28)


Sunday, August 28, 2016                                         6:52 PM

Lately a lot of people are saying the election has gotten very ugly, that the rancorous back-and-forth is getting out of hand. To me, this is just more unconscious misogyny. Trump has said some very ugly and thoughtless things—it’s most of his platform, really—and lots of ugly things are being said about Hillary, the Clinton family, and their Foundation. But Hillary herself has done nothing but point to Trump’s record, and quote his own words—is that really Hillary being ugly, or just holding up a mirror to her opponent? I know people like to say that politics is a rough business—having one ugly candidate in the race is enough to tar them both—but that seems pretty facile to me.

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There has been nothing underhanded or resentful in Hillary Clinton’s attacks on her opponent and his positions. She was very careful, recently, to outline the facts that reflect racism in Trump’s history, without ever calling him a name. Trump did that—and he’s the only one, Dem or GOP, that has had the foul grace to do so. News-chyrons trumpet his sensationalism, feeling no need to add that it’s a childish and baseless claim. But again, Trump is being ugly, so the news-folk are being ugly—still no ugliness from Hillary.

When are Americans going to give this woman a fucking break? When was the last time enemy-agents destroyed this country by donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a luncheon invitation? Umm, never. What office-holder doesn’t have a network of contacts that help them serve their constituency? Umm, none of them—not if they’re doing their jobs. Who the hell, in or out of government, can guarantee us that all their cyber-comms are completely un-hackable? Nobody. Since when does an FBI head criticize the State Department for being sloppy, without it being taken with a grain of salt for the political elbow-in-the-ribs it most likely is? When it’s Hillary, that’s when. Why has every single, silly, stupid charge the far-right can raise against her made headline news? I’ll tell you why—because it’s two stories. First they can dazzle us with the exotic claims, then, they can report on the dull facts that belie the stupid claims—that’s why they do it. Two for one—and fuck the poor lady’s feelings.

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She does have them, you know. Yes, even you, with the sore throat and the spittle on your lip from screaming her damnation—you have to admit that she has feelings. Successful strong women have just as many feelings as any of us. Imagine what it’s like to be a political football, having to take time out from the very hard, very complicated work of serving the nation at the highest levels, to answer a bunch of rabid barking from the most thoughtless group of people ever known. You couldn’t pay me.

And speaking of pay—Secretary Clinton never twisted anyone’s arm for her speaking fees. If I may quote “Moneyball”: ‘High salary says the same thing about you that it says about other top players—that you’re worth it.’  I suspect Trump’s camp picked the speaking fees as a target because it gives them an extra free hit—suggesting that Hillary isn’t really worth what she was payed, therefore it had to be ‘influence money’. Please—just because no one ever has, or ever will, pay Trump the same amount—try again, losers.

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Yet Trump gets a pass. Every day, we get to hear foolish back-and-forth over immigration and inner cities. Let’s go back to the original problem. Trump has no experience and no empathy. Trump hasn’t the preparation or the knowledge for the office he seeks. Trump hasn’t the temperament or the self-control to be fit for the office he seeks. He’s a narcissist who wouldn’t be running for president, if he really knew what the job was all about. His daily feed of BS may divert us from this core problem, but it will never make it go away.

So, we can go on picking apart the fifty-year career of a political master, and continue to ignore the wreck that is supposed to oppose her, but it’s all just misogyny at this point. I’d appreciate anyone who can convince me otherwise—this is all very disheartening. Even a gay guy wouldn’t have to take this shit. And, speaking of taking shit, it’s a good thing both Donald and Bill are old farts, or Trump wouldn’t be talking so fast and loose about a damn good woman—he’d be swallowing teeth.

Alt Right There (2016Aug27)


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Saturday, August 27, 2016                                                10:28 AM

Every once in a while, someone remembers that electing our first woman to the presidency would be an historic breakthrough—and immediately, someone else will pointedly comment that they’re not going to vote for someone just because she’s a woman. We suffered from no such timidity when Barack Obama was elected the first African-American president. Sure, people would carp that Obama was ‘half-white’—but, that being a distinction no racist had ever before bothered to parse, no one took them seriously.

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And much has been made of late about the racism of the Alt Right fringe—as if these troglodytes were mostly concerned with what Larry Wilmore calls “The Unblackening”, i.e. replacing President Obama with a Caucasian. But what both the Clinton campaign and the media are overlooking is the Alt Right’s far greater interest in maintaining male chauvinism. Both Trump and his new campaign-head, Steve Bannon, have been explicitly and publicly misogynist in both word and deed.

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“All men are created equal” was confined to men-only for so long that there are women alive today who were born before women had the right to vote. The discrimination against women in America—even after Suffrage was granted—included property, banking, police protection, the workplace, and exclusion from any social or business group or meeting place deemed ‘men only’. And the feminist movement has made slow, tortuous progress towards gender equality for the last fifty years—but even gay men were allowed to serve in the military before women were accorded the same privilege in full—what was it, days ago? Maybe weeks ago?

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One could easily make the case that, when the Democrats nominated a woman presidential candidate, the GOP was taken over by the “He-Man Woman-Haters Club”, known today as the Alt Right. They must have pinched themselves when a man renowned for his public misogyny (and not ‘just against Rosy O’Donnell’) was nominated by the Republican Party. How perfect for them that an enemy of ‘political correctness’ was able to slip his chauvinism under the media’s radar. Even better, the Democrats have mistaken them for racists, when their true, core agenda is the unwinding of Women’s Liberation.

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How else does a woman, who statistically is more honest than most politicians, find herself confronting an electorate that has 63% of its number believing her to be wildly dishonest? Why else would a woman whose first job was sneaking into Southern schools to expose their refusal to de-segregate, end up being called a ‘bigot’ by the most morally bankrupt opponent ever to run for office—and the media repeats his claim 24-7, as if it has even a whisper of credibility?

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Now, full disclosure—I want a woman. I think our entire political system can only benefit from an increase in femininity. Women are less likely to internalize power—and more likely to remember the weak and helpless, and, of course, the children. They are at least as smart as men—and far less likely to lose sight of their goals by getting involved in dick-measuring contests. Men consistently point to menstruation, pregnancy, and child-rearing as ‘handicaps’ of the opposite sex—but ask yourself this: Would you rather have a human race that doesn’t bother with all the inconvenience of reproduction? That’s a short-lived dynasty, bub. Just because women do all the work of perpetuating the species doesn’t mean that creating new lives is some sort of ‘accessory’ that only girls fool around with. Get a clue.

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We worry about national defense, upholding the law, strength and power—we forget that life also requires caring, sensitivity, and tolerance. Men can even feel embarrassed for showing any recognition of these necessities. Yes, a lot of women would be embarrassed to show strength and toughness—but it’s not as overwhelming a barrier to women as men’s desperation to maintain their machismo. The most important strategic value of the female broadness of vision is that they are more likely to see both sides of an issue—they are less likely to pick a side and fight blindly for conquest, without any regard for other points of view. I don’t want to profile, but it would be ingenuous to pretend that the sexes think the same way, or perceive things the same way.

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But forget all that difference business. Let’s say men and women are exactly the same—for argument’s sake. By that logic, it doesn’t matter what gender our president is—only that they are fit for the job. So let’s say the Democrats had a candidate, a man, with a lifetime’s experience in public service, with a stellar reputation among his peers, and accolades galore from nearly everyone he’s ever helped or worked with. Would you vote for that guy—or would you vote for Trump? Better yet, imagine that Hillary Clinton wasn’t a political nerd, a policy wonk who is uncomfortable in the public spotlight—imagine she had the charisma of Trump, or her own husband. Imagine she had a voice like honey and the presence of Angelina Jolie—would you vote for Trump? I don’t think so.

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The trouble with Hillary is that she is our national medicine—it would help us, it would make us all better—but we don’t want to swallow it. We want something more fun, more attractive. Yet the things that make Secretary Clinton so desirable as our head of state are the very things that make it hard for her to appeal to us on a ‘popularity-contest’ level. She is serious. She is tough. Worst of all, perhaps, she is very intelligent. Of course we don’t want to vote for her—we don’t even want to date her. But this isn’t a date. This election is serious business—I would appreciate it if all my fellow Americans would be serious about their vote. That would not only be one more reason to vote for Hillary, but also one more reason not to vote for Trump. Let that poisonous clown bleed out of his ‘wherever’.

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Racists Have Feelings, Too (2016Aug26)


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Friday, August 26, 2016                                           12:08 PM

Racists Have Feelings, Too   (2016Aug26)

Trump is a product of the reality-TV movement—in his world, Simon Cowell could insult, demean, and destroy a little girl’s or boy’s lifelong dream—and it was all a part of the show. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat—an unavoidable feature of sports—now available as social interaction! Those voted off of American Idol, or ‘You’re Fired’ by Trump, would staunch their tears as they walked off, to mouth obligatory approval of their own dismissal, and the good judgment of Cowell or Trump—because that was still part of the performance. It’s all show-biz—no harm, no foul.

This suited Trump’s persona well—he’s an unfeeling sort. Being capricious, overbearing and cruel towards others—and far from being criticized, as you or I would be, but rewarded with big ratings—suits him down to a ‘T’. His romp through the Republican primaries was just more of the same—though the GOP curated their base to include many who confuse reality TV with reality—and it seemed, for one brief, horrifying moment, that his inertia would carry him into the White House.

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That his campaign is being shredded in the national one-on-one with a cogent, serious opponent is cause for pride amongst American voters, and no little shame for the GOP, to have the Tea-Party portion of their base be so shamefully exposed as insensitive mouth-breathers who see a kindred spirit in the Donald. His promise to eject millions of Mexicans from our country—and build a big wall to keep them out—had his faithful near hysteria with joy. His promise to ban Islam was just the cherry on top.

When we look more closely, we see that we’re talking about persecuting huge numbers of Americans, along with the ‘bad ones’, and that most Americans are not comfortable with a complete reversal of our traditions of equality and fairness. Good for us—wouldn’t it be tragic if our two-centuries-plus of idealism could have been squashed virtually overnight by an ignorant celebrity?

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And now, while Trump engages us in a hypocritical debate over who is a bigot, we all ignore the Native Americans protesting the invasion of an oil pipeline through their land. Our original sin of genocide returns to us, over and over, resuming its place in our present—because the original target of white bigotry is still getting shafted, even today. The urban pockets with decaying schools, without access to fresh, healthy foods, with landlords who feel no compulsion to repair their tenements—these dead-traps for minorities have persisted for decades. But they are still spanking-new issues compared to our ongoing persecution of our nation’s original residents.

Trumpeting his new-found tolerance and pity for non-whites at all-white rallies is Donald’s way of staying in his comfort zone—but he may find that he prefers an audience of color once it sinks in to his most zealous advocates that, like the rest of what Trump says, he didn’t really mean it about deporting all the Mexicans, American-citizen children and all.

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They supported him because, like him, they are insensitive to the suffering of others—their hate trumps their love—and they want America to show strength by being cruel. Their fear and hatred of having a woman control their lives has been slow-baked into them by the same parents, preachers, and culture that convinced them of the superiority of the light-skinned and the absolute need to carry a gun at all times. But bottom line, most of them are not financially secure themselves, and resent any comfort to the poor while they struggle to avoid their own poverty.

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Such people’s hatred of Hillary Clinton is a steady-state thing, they do it nightly at a bar or watching FOX-News at home—but this bait-and-switch of Donald’s just might rouse them to active hatred. Donald once joked light-heartedly about Hillary and her liberal SCOTUS nom-pick—“maybe the second amendment people can take care of that”—well, let’s hope he doesn’t find out that such things cut both ways. Calling together the most iron-hearted misanthropes in the country under a banner of law-and-order, only to turn around and say, “I was being sarcastic” is not the safest thing I can imagine.

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Substituting brash statements for policies has been a winning strategy so far for the Donald. It matches well with his total absence of experience. While he can snipe at a multitude of choices and missteps in Hillary’s long career, he offers no complementary points of attack upon himself. That might have worked, had Donald, like most villains, not had the seeds of his own destruction already within him.

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But policies can be re-worked, modified, changed in detail while leaving the message intact. Trump’s bold statements may not have been policies, but his supporters certainly took them as such. Having a policy of deportation would have allowed some wiggle-room, but the simple statement, “We’ll deport 11,000,000 people” is difficult to walk back, especially if your constituency has set their hearts on that promise. The fact that the majority of Americans see that as impractical and inhumane means that he has to court them with a ‘softening’ of his stance—yet he cannot ‘soften’ on the one thing his existing base agrees on—not without betraying them.

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So Trump has finally retreated to the political landscape of policies—and solved this paradox by having a policy ‘in flux’, i.e. he’s pleasing everybody by saying nothing definite. But there is an even greater danger for him in adopting a policy approach. Just as he left it until after his ignorant interviews to bone up on geopolitics; just as he left it until 75 days before the election to learn about minorities; he is switching to policy-planning virtually on the eve of debating Hillary Clinton. I would quake with fear to face Hillary Clinton in public to debate policy—and I’m a fairly informed person, unlike Trump. I almost feel sorry for him. But his would-be supporters won’t.

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I Can’t Look (2016Aug25)


Thursday, August 25, 2016                                               12:08 PM

Slowly we turn, step by step…. Please, God, let this fuckin election be over. The Congress decided to sleep for eight years and the media have decided the people should sleep through these last two years (in solidarity?), mesmerized by the incessant drumbeat, ‘Clinton or Trump? Clinton or Trump?’

Completely outside the issue of that question being similar to ‘Gourmet Meal or Shit Sandwich?’, surely there are other things, other issues, other people in this world that we could spare a few seconds of attention on. I am constantly frustrated by so-called journalists reporting on the squeaky wheels of the world—has Research become completely forbidden? Is it impossible for newspeople to report anything other than the voices of spin-doctors, to find a story that doesn’t already have armed camps facing each other with oppositional memes? You know—actual news (as in new information).

The TV News has a tradition of arriving at the scene of an event, finding the stupidest person on the sidewalk nearby and asking their ‘opinion’ about what just happened. Nobody likes it, nobody gets any smarter because of it, but no one can seem to stop them from this exercise in inanity.

But today, they have a new thing—they don’t have to go looking for the stupidest person anymore—they just quote Trump’s blather-of-the-day, and call it news reporting. That’s beyond lazy—especially as they inject no hint of judgment or fact-checking—they simply parrot his words—as if they had meaning. News Fail. Get it together, cable news.

The thing that really gets me is when the media harps on Hillary Clinton’s ‘untruthfulness’—they can’t say her name without repeating this popular theme. And don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying she’s a paragon of honesty. But if they must add that ‘popular opinion’ to every mention of her, can’t they also always add that studies find her exceptionally honest compared to other politicians? Can’t they add mention of the fact that while it’s popular to call Clinton a liar—it is also incorrect? Why is that so hard? Are they afraid that confronting their listeners with the facts might turn them away?

This bothers me because I empathize. If the world thought me a liar, and I wasn’t, and all I heard from the news was repetition of the opinion that I lie, without any mention of the fact that I didn’t lie—well, I’d be pretty unhappy about that. Wouldn’t you? And what ever happened to being wrong? If Hillary Clinton says anything that turns out to be incorrect, she’s never wrong—she’s always ‘a liar’. If we follow that logic, we must elect Hillary Clinton—we could use a president who is never wrong.

I wouldn’t even be writing this rant right now—I was trying to relax and watch the news on TV. But rumor, fallacy, and claptrap are not my idea of news reporting. I can’t watch it. But I keep going back, vainly hoping for some common sense. What a fool I am. Journalism as a popularity contest just doesn’t work—telling people what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear may be profitable, but it hurts us, where it used to help us. It distracts us where it used to inform us. Like reality TV, it shows a semblance of reality that has been curated for entertainment value.

The death of print journalism has gutted the research departments of all the great journalism sources—the news today practically feeds on itself, working as hard, now, to share from other sources as they used to work on out-researching other sources. Reporters are flying blind, with virtually no back-up troops to dig into records, archives, interviews, analysis, or do good old shoe-leather research.

Yet the media has more news-channels and more hours of the day needing to fill those channels. It’s not a good situation. The public is no longer being informed—we are being curated by different media-moguls, fighting each other to indoctrinate their audience in their private agendas—journalism as a public service is nothing more than a legend from our glorious past. I miss Huntley & Brinkley. I miss Cronkite. I miss the news.

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Pay For What Now? (2016Aug24)


Wednesday, August 24, 2016                                           4:46 PM

Trump calls the Clinton Foundation a ‘pay for play’ scam. While overlooking the nature of the presidency, Trump has apparently also failed to grasp the concept of a charity. This is where his business background trips him up—he’s never been involved in charity, except for the access his donations brought him—which is no doubt why he contributed $100,000 of his own money to the Clinton Foundation, not too long ago. Perhaps it is just wishful thinking on Donald’s part—he’s hoping the Clinton Foundation is a charity in the same way that Trump University was a school.

The AP reported a very specious bit of data: ‘Half the non-governmental meetings Secretary of State Clinton held were with Foundation donors’. That may sound like half of her meetings, but as you may expect, the vast majority of the Secretary of State’s meetings were with government officials—I believe the Clinton camp has estimated 1,700 of those meetings—leaving the non-governmental meetings a rather smaller part of it—and half of those meetings an even smaller part.

Trump has gleefully damaged the United States’ image globally, he has off-handedly thrown doubt on our election process domestically, and has, of course, even less scruple to trash the Clinton family’s possibly greatest achievement—their li’l ol’global charity to fight AIDs, provide health services to the underserved around the world, and promote the struggle of women and girls worldwide. People who donate to such a charity (for the most part) are deeply involved in these causes—giving them ample reason to seek the advice of our Secretary of our State Department—to consult on best practices, to coordinate efforts with other governments, etc. The thing Donald conveniently overlooks is that neither the Clintons nor their donors are getting fat off the struggle against the AIDS epidemic or other global health crises.

The Donald gleefully shreds our traditions and values, disrespects our most sacred cows, and shows a frightening lack of empathy—what’s the destruction of one little force-for-good amongst all that? All he knows is that the place has her name on the letterhead—ergo: target. He likes to win—remember? He never said he wanted to do good—he wants to win. Perfect presidential material—we’ve always fallen for reasonable people before—time for something new—as he says, “What the hell do we have to lose?” Uh, America!? God, can’t someone please make him stop?

The millions of people whose lives are better because of the Clinton Foundation’s efforts will find their lives that much bleaker for the pressure that seems will inevitably force the Clintons to close up shop. Does Donald care? No. And the shame of it is, he still won’t win the election—he’ll just cause as much damage as possible while losing. This jerk, who never lifted a finger to help another human being in his seventy-year long life, is actually destroying people’s lives during the campaign—just imagine what he would do in office. Jeez—the horror, the horror….

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