Presidential Words

Yesterday I posted something on Facebook that sparked a discussion. I’ve made no secret of my contempt and disagreement with President Trump. However, I was rightfully called out for my statements that, while reflective of many Americans impression of the President, were not factual.

If I am to expect truth and rationality from the President, I should hold myself to the same standard.

Here’s what I posted,

Let me get this straight.
Some individual Muslims commit acts of terror.
We must ban all Muslims, says our President.
Some people enter this country illegally and commit crimes.
We must ban all immigration, says our President.
Some white, racist, supremacists kill and injure people exercising their First Amendment Rights and cause the deaths of two Virginia Troopers. And the President says nothing about banning such violent dangerous un-American idiocy.
The reemergence of racist white vitriol falls squarely on Trump’s shoulders. After all, they are the poster children of “Make America Great (White) Again”

Mr. Trump never said, “We must ban all Muslims.”

Mr. Trump never said, “We must ban all immigration.”

One could argue my last two points, but that is not my purpose here. I am here to set the record straight about what our President has said and why his Presidency puts America at risk.

Muslims.

Mr. Trump has expressed a fundamental misunderstanding of the Islamic faith. Long before he was a candidate, he offered the fallacy of President Obama being a Muslim as something that should concern Americans.

This came in the wake of “fake news” about the “birther” lies of President Obama’s citizenship. Trump finally, I would argue begrudgingly, abandoned that lie when confronted with the evidence.

His vitriolic pre-candidate attention grabbing press releases came back to haunt him when the Supreme Court ruled against his travel ban.  (https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/16-1436_l6hc.pdf)

Here’s the language,

The majority concluded that the primary purpose of §2(c) was religious, in violation of the First Amendment: A reasonable observer familiar with all the circumstances—including the predominantly Muslim character of the designated countries and statements made by President Trump during his Presidential campaign—would conclude that §2(c) was motivated principally by a desire to exclude Muslims from the United States, not by considerations relating to national security. Having reached this conclusion, the court upheld the preliminary injunction prohibiting enforcement of §2(c) against any foreign national seeking to enter this country.

On his stance on immigration reform, in his words.

In August 2015, he retweeted a crude remark aimed at then-presidential candidate Jeb Bush, whose wife is Mexican-American and who is fluent in Spanish. “So true. Jeb Bush is crazy, who cares that he speaks Mexican, this is America, English !!”

“The Mexican government is much smarter, much sharper, much more cunning. They send the bad ones over because they don’t want to pay for them. They don’t want to take care of them,” 

Words have meaning and one can infer intent. The man is a bigot. As a bigot, he exemplifies what bigotry involves, ignorance.

On Muslims, in his words.

“A total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-muslim-immigration-us_us_5665f75de4b072e9d1c7252b

So now we have a bigot, which implies being uninformed, ignoring the situation in Virginia and we expect him to be the one to deal with North Korea.

Hopeless doesn’t even come close.

 

 

Drake’s Equation: The Key to Stopping Terrorism

drake-equation-540pxI’m sure most of you immediately recognized the reference to Drake’s Equation and wondered, what does this have to do with terrorists?

Briefly, everything.

For my Red Sox fan friends who may be struggling with the analogy, Drake’s Equation was the brainchild of Dr. Frank Drake. In 1961, to stimulate discussion on the probability of intelligent life in the universe (leaving aside the argument if it exists here), Drake came up with a way to hypothesize the number of intelligent civilizations in the universe.

This is an inexact science.

But the salient point is one element of the equation, i.e. the fraction of intelligent civilizations who develop sufficiently advanced technology to make themselves known in the universe. We did it with television. Signals of everything from Hitler’s opening speech at the 1936 Olympics to Moe, Larry, and Curly are winging their way bringing tidings of our culture to ET.

The other element implied, but not explicitly stated, is the fraction of civilizations who develop advanced science such as nuclear technology and survive it. Thus, the link to radicalized fundamentalism and terrorists.

In 1956, the year of my birth, the idea that one day I would carry around a device capable of storing 128 gigabytes of data, or that the entire Library of Congress and almost every printed book that ever existed could be accessed by this same device, was the stuff of science fiction.

Such is the proliferation of technology in the intervening years.

In that same year, 1956, three countries had nuclear weapons. Today, there are at least nine. The US developed them first, followed by the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom. The technology proliferated through cooperation and espionage. The point being is it could not be contained.

Technology, once released, acts much like a virus. It infects the host (just look around at the cell phone addicts.) Jumps to the next host (because they desire the technology rather than by infection,) and the virus spreads exponentially.

Here’s how Drake can illuminate the solution.

Our response to terrorism is a single dimension solution. Kill them. However, like a virus, you can never quite kill them all. Now imagine if just one small cell of fifty radicalized virulent terrorists, intent on riding the mushroom cloud to the virgin happy hour, obtain a nuclear weapon? The inevitability of such an occurrence, given the unstoppable proliferation of technology, is sobering.

We need to fight more than the symptoms of radicalized fundamentalism. We need to identify and eliminate the underlying cause.  Therein lies the greatest risk. We have lost our ability to face complex issues. We want a 144 character answer for a problem requiring a doctoral dissertation.

Given the current inherent disdain for deep rational thought, I wonder if we have it in us as a people.

There are no simple solutions to this problem. How can we kill them all is the wrong question. We need to ask a different one.

Why do otherwise rational intelligent humans see killing themselves and innocent humans as a path to a better life after death?

The answer is simple. Because life for them and their families is not good. It would seem that trying to kill people who believe they would be better off dead is not a viable solution. Despite sophomoric cries to the contrary, it is not our job to arrange their trip to visit their god.

In the short term, we have no choice but the react and defend. But what about long-term?

If we want to survive long enough for the universe to know we are here, we must craft a long-term solution before we flunk the math of Dr. Drake.

drake-equation-540px

Selective Outrage

Once again this country is subjected to a dramatic incident of violence. In the rush to be first, the media outlets broadcast a constantly changing cacophony of half-truths and rumors.

Compounding the problem are the bloggers and reporter wannabes in their insular  agenda-driven worlds.

They were practically salivating at the conveniently ethnic origin of the suspect’s name. Whether it has any bearing on the truth or not.

Better to be first, than right.

The inevitable outcry by competing interests will flood the broadcast, print, and social media.

“More Gun Control!” “Less Gun Control!”

“Take away guns and only criminals will have guns.”

“Stop the Insanity”

“Guns don’t kill people, GMO’s do”

They’ll be the usual talk from the opposing political views that either this whole thing is Obama’s fault, or this is the consequence of interpreting the Second Amendment as inviolate.

And then it will fade away. The headline will be replaced, as it always is, by some other tragedy or scandal.

What happened in San Bernadino is a tragedy. A sad example of how much mankind has to go before they can truly be called civilized. Whatever fruitcake philosophy compelled these actions, be it a misinterpretation of religious doctrine or simple prejudice against those who are different, is repulsive.

How we respond will either set the course for positive change or doom us to an uncertain future.

Many will focus solely on classifying this as terrorism and incite the country to use its powerful military forces and bomb something, anything.

Somewhere else of course.

Nothing like the satisfaction one gets from watching the video of a cruise missile launch or a night-vision view of a target being obliterated.

But that will only mask the underlying problem.

The real tragedy here is that we fail to notice this is happening almost every day in our cities. In Chicago for the month of November this is what we apparently missed in the FOX, MSNBC, and CNN headlines.

Thirty-two people were shot and killed

One hundred and sixty-six were shot and wounded

That’s almost two hundred people and that’s just one city. That sounds like the statistics from a war zone. I dare say it is more dangerous to walk some neighborhoods in Chicago than it is in Kabul.

America can, and should, be better than that.

The necessary discussion on dealing with the very real problem of violence in this country will never happen as long as it is headline driven.

Be it a rational approach to firearms, the issue of racism or the propensity toward violence to settle differences, we need to use our intelligence and common sense here.

Not emotionally driven hyperbole.

We need to focus on the underlying problem. It is critical to the survival of this country. More so than idiotic causes that politicians so love to use to divert us from the real issue. The solutions are not easy, they are not found on Facebook and Twitter. They require thinking and courage. Surely there is an abundance of that in a free country.

Many good people turn to prayer at a time like this. But as the Dali Lama so well said,

“We cannot solve this problem only through prayers. I am a Buddhist and I believe in praying. But humans have created this problem, and now we are asking God to solve it. It is illogical. God would say, solve it yourself because you created it in the first place.”

Whether you believe or not, doesn’t matter to me. Whether you care enough to think this problem through and seek a solution does.

And one last point. You know who ran toward the carnage and danger when everyone else ran away?

Cops.

There are some dramatic images of the courage demonstrated by the officers involved. It would be nice if more people understood that is what cops do every day. And appreciated it.