Just Shut Up, Mr. President

There are indeed, in the present corruption of mankind, many incitements to forsake truth: the need of palliating our own faults and the convenience of imposing on the ignorance or credulity of others so frequently occur; so many immediate evils are

Samuel Johnson

Under normal circumstances, I abhor rude behavior. But these are anything but normal circumstances.

The one consistent aspect of American Democracy, one that many nations seek to emulate, is our peaceful transfer of power after an election. In every election, there are winners and losers, but this is not a sports contest.

Winning is not the only thing.

After an election, for the Presidency in particular, a candidate should shed his political persona, release his particular partisan label, and transition from a Democrat or Republican to an American President.

With the defeat of an incumbent, this peaceful transition and metamorphosis to the Presidency are even more critical. But Mr. Trump is anything but tradition or honor-bound.

 Since the inception of his candidacy for his first term, Mr. Trump raged about invisible forces arrayed against him. He claimed that there was massive voter fraud in the 2016 election without one scintilla of evidence and blamed it for his loss of the popular vote.

He even formed a commission to root out this fraud. After a year of tilting at windmills, this commission found nothing.

Now, on the cusp of defeat, facing an even larger percentage of the popular vote against him and the imminent loss in the Electoral College, Mr. Trump spews more of the same vitriol and lies. He rants about voter fraud, demands the stopping of vote counting (at least where he’s ahead, although the number is dwindling), threatens to use “his” Supreme Court, and pours fuel on the flames of falsehoods and lies.

It would seem the hope to see him seize his ultimate moment, take this opportunity to untarnish his place in history, demonstrate some sense of honor and respect for the sanctity of the office and the election process, is too much to ask.

When people like me speak, few people listen. Even those with broad public personas rarely garner much attention. But when a President speaks, the entire world listens.

When countries worldwide, who once saw the stability of our government transition as a symbol of hope, see a President unhinged and out of touch with reality, it causes great consternation.

The German Foreign Minister had this to say about the situation.

“America is more than a one-man show. Anyone who continues to pour oil on the fire in a situation like this is acting irresponsibly. Now is the time to keep a cool head until an independently determined result is available.”

Germany, a country that knows a thing or two about the dangers of usurping free elections, and one of our strongest allies, has reason to be concerned for the American Government’s vitality.

When an American President speaks, particularly in crisis times, the world could take most of what they said at face value. The world imbues the Presidency with credibility. But, with this President, such credibility has long ago evaporated.

By prattling on making claims of widespread voter fraud, by misconstruing the counting of mail-in ballots as “newly discovered,” by inciting the raw passions of those of his followers too ignorant or disinclined to look for the truth, Mr. Trump is committing a crime.

new york statue of liberty usa monument
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

He is inciting to riot those Americans who support him and see no need to respect the process. He is inciting violence and discord, which could tear this country apart. He is on the verge of causing significant damage to a country he claimed he would make great again.

When the final count was done in 2016, we accepted Mr. Trump as the President. While I may have found little he did as President of any real value, I never questioned the process’s legitimacy. It is the Electoral College that selects the President. While the popular vote is something worth noting, it is merely a footnote to the decision.

Mr. Trump should just let the process proceed. Suppose he, or his supporters, find any reliable evidence of voter fraud or other apparent violations of the law. In that case, he should bring it to the American people and present it to the courts.

Until then, for sake of this country and the continuity of this American experiment, I beg you.

Please just shut up, Mr. President.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

An Apology Long Overdue

I have this memory of a Cumberland High School English class in 1972 where the teacher—whose name I do not recall, but was likely just a few years older than the students— in an effort to be “cool,” asked about our thoughts on the lyrics to the song Thick as a Brick performed by Jethro Tull and written by Ian Anderson.

Instead of forcing us to embrace just the classics of literature, she tried to open our eyes with a more contemporary approach.

I recall only one moment, but it has stuck with me all these years. When asked what I thought about the line, “your wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick,” my answer was quick and without the least bit of thoughtfulness. 

I said, “it rhymes and fits the music.”

I can still see the disappointment in her eyes. To this day, I don’t know if the disappointment was with me and my callous response or with herself for not being able to reach us on our level..

Still, it has bothered me since.

I now realize many of the songs I grew up listening to carry more than pleasurable rhythms; they contain a wisdom that escaped me at the moment, all to my diminution. Hindsight being crystal clear, I’d like to apologize to that teacher. Better late than never.

Back then, I was often a shining example of “thick as a brick.”

Really don’t mind if you sit this one out.
My words but a whisper – your deafness a SHOUT.
I may make you feel but I can’t make you think.
Your sperm’s in the gutter – your love’s in the sink.
So you ride yourselves over the fields and
you make all your animal deals and
your wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick.
And the sand-castle virtues are all swept away in
the tidal destruction
the moral melee.
The elastic retreat rings the close of play as the last wave uncovers
the newfangled way.
But your new shoes are worn at the heels and
your suntan does rapidly peel and
your wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick.

Thick as a Brick by Ian Anderson

Ian Anderson’s brilliant writing contained more gems that may have escaped me at the moment, but have since revealed themselves. Over the years, I have struggled with the simplistic, if well-intentioned, indoctrination in the Catholic Faith of my youth.  As I expand my appreciation for the almost infinite varieties of religious tenets, I’ve also come to see how they are more similar than different. This similarity precludes any of them from exclusivity with the truth.

The demands of a god for devotion and worship. The claims of physics-defying miracles occurring always absent any independent method of verification except eyewitnesses, the least reliable form of evidence. The almost exclusive male dominance of the hierarchy. The gender-specific rules for what to wear, how to worship, and who can lead a congregation.

Once again, Anderson’s writing offers some answers. In the lyrics of Wind-Up, Anderson wrote,

I don’t believe you:
You had the whole damn thing all wrong
He’s not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays
Well, you can excommunicate me
On my way to Sunday school
And have all the bishops harmonize these lines
How’d you dare tell me
That I’m my Father’s son
When that was just an accident of birth
I’d rather look around me
Compose a better song
‘Cause that’s the honest measure of my worth

Wind-Up by Ian Anderson

While most people are sincere in embracing their religion, even if they are somewhat less than consistent in its practice, they seem to miss the point that their faith was indeed “an accident of birth.” If that were not the case, we would offer our children an opportunity to learn about all religions and let them, “Compose a better song, ‘Cause that’s the honest measure of my worth.”

But that’s not what we do. Some have compared religion to a virus. One is exposed and develops the illness, then spreads it to others in proximity.  Some find this comparison offensive because they see malicious intent.  But nothing could be further from the truth. We have all unintentionally infected others with germs, not through intentional acts but through regular daily interaction.

No different than how religions are spread. While some convert from one religion to another, that happens when they are inoculated from the feverish philosophy of one religion by the vaccine of another.

Religion has its place in humanity. But when one religion is pitted against another, or integrated into government’s secular operation, the potential for religious orchestrated pogroms rises.

In this country, many would claim we are a Judeo-Christian based society with no room for Islam, Buddhism, or any other “foreign” religion. Some would argue we don’t need to include the Judeo part because Christianity is the one true faith.  The Catholic faith doctrine is more specific; if you are not baptized, confirmed, and fully committed to Catholicism, you cannot enter heaven.

This seems a bit presumptuous in light of the 4000-plus religions that have claimed to be the only truth at one time or another.

Anderson wrote it, and that teacher put it out there for me to see all those years ago. I just chose to close my mind to the possibilities—something I see in those who refuse to accept other religions’ equal validity.

All those years ago and the disappointment on that teacher’s face still lurks in my memory. I have no idea if she is even still around. But I wanted her to know the seed she planted finally germinated and broke through the brick of my ignorance.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

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The Policy of Deception Killing Americans

What America Needs is a Vaccination Against Presidential Malfeasance

Trump’s Timeline

February 25: We’re very close to a vaccine

February 28: Virus will soon disappear

March: Testing for all (no tests available)

March 24: shutdown lasting months was untenable (still ongoing)

April 10: death toll will be less the 55000

April 17: maybe 65000

May: I hope it is less than 100000

Statement to Woodward: “I always wanted to play it down”

Death toll climbs to 210,000

September 26th White House Event infects 34 people including the President and the First Lady

Cases begin to rise again, Vaccine still under development

President holds rallies downplaying the need for social distancing and precautions.

Death toll

10

50

500

1000

10000

15000

25000

50000

100000

150000

210000

Final Death toll?

When do we stop listening to a President whose only skills are mendacity and self-delusion?

Are 213,742 214,771 deaths not enough?

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If you liked, or hated, this piece, let me know why. Comment, criticize, and share. While I have your attention, here’s some more for your entertainment.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

The Price of Willful Ignorance

First, let me preface this by saying I wish the President and First Lady a speedy recovery. I wish this for all people affected by this virus. But as the President, Mr. Trump owed a duty of responsibility to the American People to lead them in times of crisis, and he has failed in this.

He had a responsibility to protect this country and to do what needed to be done. Still, the evidence of failure is right before our eyes. He couldn’t, or more troubling, wouldn’t even protect himself.

How Bayesian methods embody Occam's razor | by Felix Laumann | NeuralSpace  | Medium

I take no stock in the nonsense of fate, or karma, or even poetic justice as an explanation for Mr. Trump being infected by the virus. Like Occcam’s razor, the answer is always simpler than that, and it is based on science. Something that has become an anathema to many Americans.

Mr. Trump contracted the virus because he ignored the straightforward guidelines of wearing a mask in public, maintaining social distance, avoiding large crowds, and minimizing physical contact with others.

But more egregious than placing himself and those around him at risk, he is pandering to the conspiracy lunatics who see political motivations in any criticisms of Mr. Trump handling the pandemic or the jingoistic malcontents who take pleasure in blaming China while ignoring the evidence right before their eyes.

Suppose one were to review the list of the most popular shows on TV in America. In that case, it goes a long way to explain many Americans’ warped perceptions of reality. These “reality” shows are anything but real, but they are telling.

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe. 

Albert Einstein

One of the most tragic ironies in Mr. Trump disparaging the CDC and other agencies that recommended these precautions based on science is his complete faith in the rapid development of a vaccine. When such a vaccine becomes available, and we all hope it is sooner rather than later, it will come from long-established scientific methodology not Presidential directives or boastful claims.

Though some believe they might master the virus simply by the contempt of it, willful ignorance is nothing but an analgesic for the scientific reality of viral pathogens and how we should be dealing with it. They drank the Kool-aid offered by Mr. Trump and now can’t understand why the world doesn’t blindly follow this foolish course of self-deception.

Mr. Trump failed. He ignored common sense, and he is now suffering the consequences. More importantly, his actions have directly placed more than American lives at risk. He has put the entire government of the United States at risk by his careless actions.

Mr. Trump had a golden opportunity in February to get out in front of the pandemic. It would still have taken lives and livelihoods but at a much lower cost. Instead, he placed the false rhetoric of his “economic success” over the long-term health of a nation at the cost of 200,000 American lives.

The real irony lies with him in Walter Reed Hospital. There, Mr. Trump benefits from the best medical care in the world. Something he and those in Congress (who also have such access) would deny to most Americans in the pursuit of repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Perhaps the knowledge he would be whisked by helicopter to such a facility at the moment of any medical crisis made ignoring the risk much easier.

As I said in the beginning, I wish Mr. Trump and the First Lady a speedy recovery. I do not wish him ill; I wish him gone from the position he holds. I hope he recovers and finds it within himself to act Presidential at least once in his time in office and peacefully hand over power to the next President on January 20, 2021.

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JEBWizard Publishing (www.jebwizardpublishing.com) is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at info@jebwizardpublishing.com or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

The War on Cops: Wrong Enemy, Wrong War, Wrong Headed

Cops have become the focal point of the failure of society to address the cause of violence in America. This results from the unfiltered flood of social media stories lacking any corroboration or factual basis, even though overall violence has decreased in America and within police agencies.

While a troubling number of cops engage in unnecessary and unlawful violence, most are responding to situations and circumstances of violence beyond their capacity to prevent or control. By focusing on just the violence-prone officers, we run the risk of overlooking the essential function police officers provide to society.

A society that presumes a norm of violence and celebrates aggression, whether in the subway, on the football field, or in the conduct of its business, cannot help making celebrities of the people who would destroy it.     

Lewis H. Lapham

Some criminal behavior is pathological, little can be done absent intense psychiatric intervention. But the overwhelming majority of people who commit crimes are motivated by several common factors; poverty, poor education, lack of family support, drug use, discrimination, or other identifiable and rectifiable circumstances.

Because society does not want to face its responsibilities for fostering and ignoring the causes behind such criminality and violence, they need a convenient scapegoat. Instead of recognizing that drug abuse, one of the most significant causes of criminal acts, is primarily a health issue, they prefer to criminalize it and dump the responsibility of solving the problem on cops.

It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Enormous sums of money made in the drug trade cause those in control to arm themselves to protect their assets. Cops then face the reality of dealing with armed resistance to their efforts, setting the stage for violent confrontations and increasingly dangerous situations for the public. The violence breeds more violence and the police endure the criticism for their inability to control it..

We are treating the symptom, not the cause. Like injecting morphine into a broken arm. It no longer hurts, but it is still broken.

The violence surrounding the drug trade, and the criminal behavior it engenders among users and dealers, creates violence-prone territories within cities that are more combat zones than neighborhoods.

We have turned police departments into armies of occupation, failed to provide them with adequate resources, tasked them responsibilities outside their area of expertise, then blamed them for their failure to solve the problem.

A society that thrusts cops into violent neighborhoods and expects them to endure violence against them only with restraint is abdicating its responsibility.

We would not send a carpenter to teach History in a high school class, or a Doctor of Philosophy to repair a plumbing problem. Why do we send cops into our neighborhoods and expect them to be social workers, counselors, medics, priests, surrogate parents, and disciplinarians without the least bit of training or support to perform these functions?

So now, still refusing to address their own abdication of responsibility and failures, the solution they offer is to defund the police? To take the one societal resource that answers the phone twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, and reduce their already limited ability to deal with society’s problems?

This is the height of idiocy.

Let me abundantly clarify a couple of things. Implicit racism is endemic to Police Departments because it is endemic to society. The difference is simple. When a carpenter or a bartender or a priest acts in a manner prejudicial to another because of the color of their skin, sexual orientation, or ethnic origin, it is not replayed in the news and blasted across social media ad nauseum.

While I would concede police officers, because of their position, should expect close scrutiny, they do not deserve condemnation absent a full understanding of the conditions under which they operate. Nor should their actions be automatically assumed to be motivated by prejudice.

Here is another hard and fast rule. If officers are guilty of pre-judging a person simply because of the color of their skin, they deserve to be punished or charged for acting unlawfully in such a matter. But, until all the facts are clear, the actions of officers should not be pre-judged simply because they have become a convenient target for the ills of society.

If you want to defund things and provide resources to actually change things, here are some suggestions.

Defund the politicians who turn elected public service into a lifetime welfare system

Defund the mindless feel-good programs in schools and government that only create patronage jobs for the well connected with little results.

Defund an educational system that rewards mediocrity, avoids placing challenges on students, and ostracizes those who excel at learning.

Defund the nonsense of forced racial balancing at the expense of education and eliminating the ignorance of prejudice. These stop-gap efforts, while well-intentioned, fail to address the fundamental causes of racism; ignorance, lack of education, and inability to embrace differences.

Defund any state-sponsored support of religion, be it tax exemptions, feel-good legislation, or the best-intentioned but misguided efforts of tacit acceptance of its efficacy in secular matters, at the expense of science and secular progress. These matters further exasperate the separation of individuals into segregated groups who suffer from the lack of experiencing different ideas, cultures, and histories.

Defunding the police as a wholesale solution to the problem is like turning the radio up loud to drown out engine noise. It might mask the problem, but eventually the engine will seize up and nothing will move.

Truth vs Facts: Who Knew There is a Difference?

The President’s campaign has funded a site called The Truth Over Facts. (https://www.thetruthoverfacts.com/)

When I read about it, it took me aback. Surely even the President knows that Truth and Facts are, or at least should be, interchangeable. But since he is the President—and has access to vast amounts of secret things like the alleged “Presidential Book of Secrets”—I thought due diligence required a more thorough look into the matter.

Could the President and his campaign be correct? Is there a difference between Truth and Facts? Could he be doing the country, nay the world, double nay the universe, great service by telling us the Truth over Facts?

I investigated the real meaning behind the words, Truth and Facts.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary—which, in Truth, might be under the control of the Deep State but I don’t know this for a fact—the definition of these two words are, as I suspected, remarkably close.

Truth:

(1): the body of real things, events, and facts: ACTUALITY
2): the state of being the case: FACT
3) often capitalized: a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality: a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true
truths of thermodynamics
c: the body of true statements and propositions
2a: the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality
archaic: FIDELITY, CONSTANCY

Fact:

a: something that has actual existence
space exploration is now a fact
b: an actual occurrence
prove the fact of damage
2: a piece of information presented as having objective reality
These are the hard facts of the case.
3: the quality of being actual: ACTUALITY
a question of fact hinges on evidence

Now it would seem these words are so close in meaning as to be interchangeable. Could it be there were finer differences between them? Differences so subtle yet critical that Truth could hold sway over fact?

I turned to history to see if I could find an answer. There I found many examples of Truths that were, in fact (pun intended,) not Facts.

In Ancient Greece, the birthplace of Democracy, the Socratic method, and a host of other pinnacles of human achievement, the accepted Truth was a host of Gods ruled the world. They required devotions, worship, and sacrifice to appease their vanity and avoid their wrath.

It turned out not to be a fact.

In 17th century Europe, if one approached the most educated gentlemen—for they were all men as a related “truth” was women were unsuited for the rigors of intellectual pursuits and better suited to producing male heirs—and asked about the cause of shipwrecks, they would tell you the Truth. The accepted Truth was, shipwrecks are the work of Sea Witches.

It turned out not to be a fact.

In 18th and 19th century America, the accepted Truth was black men, women, and children were mere chattel, to be bought, traded, or disposed of as suited their masters. These people of color were inferior to the white man and in need of care. Good for manual labor and little else.

It turned out not to be a fact.

In the mid-20th century, in an educated, mostly Christian (if such an appellation carries any positive validity) Germany, an entire culture of people were slaughtered because the accepted Truth was the Jews were responsible for all of Germany’s problems. In Truth, the Jews were an inferior and debilitating race.

It turned out not to be a fact.

This brief romp through history caused me much consternation. If some closely held and accepted “Truths” could turn out not to be Facts, how can Truth over Fact be anything but the propagation of the opposite of Truth, which is lies?

According to Webster, an archaic meaning of Truth is: FIDELITY, CONSTANCY.

By creating a website inferring that there is a validity to Truth over Facts, Mr. Trump shows his Fidelity and Constancy to embracing anything that suits his purpose. As long as he and many of his supporters see it as Truth, they can ignore the Facts.

But I will give him this, the political process we embrace in America fosters creating truths that may conflict with facts.  People want to hear things they believe despite any facts to the contrary, and whoever fills that void we vote in. Mr. Trump understands this better than most.

I suppose Mr. Trump and his campaign strategists also deserve kudos for such a creative and inspiring title for the website. TruthOverFacts sounds infinitely better than ShitWeMadeUp.

Perhaps it is also time for Merriam-Webster to redefine Fact.

Fact:

The once precious, now lost, art of telling the Truth.

P.S. I didn’t think this was necessary to say, but it is likely the site is a poorly orchestrated parody and not intended to be real. The first hint, which I thought would be self evident to most, was the fact there is just the one page. Nevertheless, when the parody closely mimics the actual behavior of the creator it blurs the line. In simplest terms, he may have meant it as a parody or sarcasm but his reputation, for once, gave the site credibility in the sense that it was not out of the realm of possibility for Mr. Trump. Such are the tribulations of a fool who believes the pronouncement of a stable genius.

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American Svengali

“What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?”
Trump looked down and shook his head while this question was asked.
“I think it’s a very nasty question. And I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people. The American people are looking for answers, and they’re looking for hope. And you’re doing sensationalism and the same with NBC, and Concast, I don’t call it Comcast (the parent company of NBC News) for whom you work. You need to get back to good reporting.”
“Let’s see if it works.”
On chloroquine, Trump said: “We ordered them. We have millions of units ordered.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease since 1984, however, told the same briefing there was no evidence the anti-malarial drug worked, and its safety risks are unknown.
Trump predicted: “People may be surprised.” * (source multiple outlets)

Mr. President, that is an understatement. I dare say it will shock the entire country.

John Barrymore as Svengali , A still from the 1931 eponymous movie

Mr. Trump is allergic to facts and prefers a sycophantic propaganda-driven media to fawn over, and accept without question, his every word, pronouncement, and declaration no matter how absurd or contradicted by facts. This President cannot handle basic questions that anyone in his position, under these circumstances, would know a reporter will ask.

This man is not responsible for this “Chinese” flu. Still, his ineptness and resistance to early decisive action—considering his well-known disdain for intelligence briefings (which alerted him to the potential crisis with Covid-19 as early as January)—is barely mitigated by VP Pence and Dr. Fauci. History may show the actions of this President failed to prevent increases in hospitalizations, deaths, and the unprecedented collapse of the American economy. (Story link)

In those same intelligence briefings, some Senators—both Democrat and Republican—were smart enough to see the looming financial crisis yet acted in a manner devoid of any sense of honor or decency.

They worried more about their personal well-being than the rest of the country. It will be interesting to see the names of others, privy to the same briefings, who took similar actions.

Regardless of who they are, anyone who used their positions of trust to insulate themselves from the coming financial collapse should resign immediately.

Now there are many rational Trump supports who make cogent and articulate arguments to support the President. Different perspectives, and differences of opinions, are what drive this country to greater achievements.

The very nature of the national emergency may have forced Mr. Trump into taking action. Still, his supporters are correct in arguing he is doing something. If he learned to let someone else have the spotlight, VP Pence and Dr. Fauci, it would mitigate much of the criticism directed at him.

He just cannot help thrusting himself into the spotlight–everything is “beautiful”–even if his statements are devoid of facts, or are outright falsehoods. Yet that has been his pattern since he entered the political forum.

His supporters’ parroted argument that they knew what they were getting—a crude, inarticulate, bull-in-a-china-shop personality—and wanted this politically inexperienced outsider to drain the swamp, falls short under scrutiny. It doesn’t pass the smell test.

If they were seeking such a candidate, they could have done better than this accident of circumstances. The swamp is getting deeper and murkier, it is not draining and the snakes are now poisonous.

Here’s a prediction. However this all plays out, Mr. Trump will resort to his usual course of behavior. He’ll blame all the negative consequences on VP Pence and Dr. Fauci and kick them to the curb. You heard it here first.

For those in the administration and Congress who went along with this Svengali-like personality, when the judgment of history comes on how you followed Trump lemming-like over the cliff, you can invoke the Svengali defense.

In court, a Svengali defense is a legal tactic that purports the defendant to be a pawn in the scheme of a greater and more influential criminal mastermind.

Convincing people he is a “mastermind” might be a stretch. You may have to work at that.

Or, you can say you were just following orders…

*Author’s Note: There is much discussion and disagreement over using Social Media for political discussions. I see the forum as the perfect opportunity to reach a wider audience than might be available to newspaper opinion pieces (which I also write) or other traditional forums.

I have people who read, and comment, on my pieces from all over the world. It opens a line of communication and exchange ideas well worth pursuing.

I also see Social Media as the perfect environment for choice. You can read what I write, respond, agree, disagree, or ignore it completely. The reader has full control.

Polls show a range of opinions on the use of social media for political discussions.

Some of that may be generational where younger generations use social media like my generation used the telephone and my parents generation used cards and letters.

Some of it may be most people are more concerned with being entertained on Social Media by goat videos, sophomoric memes, or jokes than as a source of information.

But what is undeniable is Social Media can have a positive impact when used with proper caution. While using single source reference sites such as Google or Wikipedia may offer some fact checking, accepting the content on Social Media as reliable on its face is dangerous.

But it does offer a platform to stimulate the consideration of multiple points of view. I don’t write these things because I believe I can persuade anyone to change their minds. I write these things so that everyone who reads it will know there are differences of opinions out there.

People often fall into the trap of confirmation bias. If they read something the agree with, they accept it at face value. If it is something they disagree with, they ignore it. By reading different points of view with the intent of understanding–not accepting but recognizing–different perspectives, it opens a door to further understanding.

If I write something that later proves wrong or inaccurate, I try to correct the error. I can admit mistakes. Yet I still see the social media platform as beneficial for the discussion of all topics.

The tone of the discussions is also problematic. Keyboards instill unwarranted courage in some. In a face-to-face discussion, no one tolerates name calling. Most participants would be reluctant to engage in such crass public displays. The anonymity of the online presence acts as an invisibility cloak, masking identity.

My posts all go on my blog, in my name, linked to a variety of Social Media sites and shared by those who follow my blog. I enjoy a polite if intense discussion on differences. I try to be polite and if I cross the line, I apologize, but I still see the platform as beneficial. It gives voice to people who may not otherwise have it.

To make a comparison to when I was growing up. I watched 3 channels, 6, 10, and 12. Then Channel 38 and 56 came along. Once again, I liked them for their entertainment value.

I didn’t watch PBS Channel 36, I wanted entertainment, not enlightenment. I wanted the Three Stooges, not a history lesson. If I wanted to be informed, I watched the news.

Yet, over time I did begin to watch more serious shows. The TV, once just a source of entertainment, became a widespread source of communicating information and bring the wide world into out living room.

Social media, just barely into it’s second decade, is a changing phenomenon.

I think many would prefer Facebook and Twitter and the plethora of others to be just another form of entertainment. As those accustomed to using Social Media almost from birth take over positions of responsibility and political office, that may change as it adapts to their particular preferences.

For myself, I will continue to post and welcome agreement and disagreement from anyone who wishes to take part. I do hope the discussions can be civil, I try to resist–not always with success–resorting to sarcasm, but sometimes I cannot help myself and for that I apologize. But we should still use the platform to express our ideas.

For it is in our differences we find solutions. Perhaps Social Media may be the platform where we once again embrace compromise.

Here are some links to polls addressing the situation.

A Deep Hypothetical Dilemma Needing Resolution

Please consider the following two scenarios (this is completely hypothetical and bears no resemblance to anyone in or out of political office.)

Situation 1

Let’s say person W sees person T commit what he believes to be a crime. Person W did not support person T for political office, so he reports the crime because he finds person T reprehensible and undeserving of the position.


Situation 2

Let’s say person W sees person T commit what he believes to be a crime. Person W supported person T for political office, thinks keeping him in office at all costs is important, so he does not report the crime out of a sense of political loyalty.

In each scenario, is the offense committed by T still a crime? Does the motivation or political affiliation of the person reporting the incident mitigate or accentuate the crime?

Let’s say persons A-S come forward and corroborate the accuracy of W’s report of the incident. Does that change anything?

Asking out of a sense of fear we are losing the soul of a nation.

P.S Public service educational opportunity . Makes for interesting reading..://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistleblower_Protection_Act

The Continuity of a Lie: Failed Reaganomics Morphed into Trumpenomics

President Trump loves to claim credit for the positives and deny any blame for the negatives that have occurred since his election. He likes to brag about matters that, if true, require no expression of fact, i.e. his being a stable genius.  Such things are self-evident, or lacking, as the case may be.

He reminds me of the old Road Runner cartoon and Wile E. Coyote.wileecoyote

The latest claim is the positive increase in the Stock Market. Now, there is no question the market is booming.  But the factors which impact such growth are infinitely more complex then Presidential tweets and as yet to be fully appreciated tax cuts.

But, for comparison purposes, let’s see how Mr. Trump stacks up.

Here’s a fascinating analysis, http://www.macrotrends.net/2481/stock-market-performance-by-president, and remember historical market numbers are easy to verify.

At this mark in the Obama Presidency, the market was up 25.8%. Mr. Trump is at 27.3%.  That’s as far as we can measure to this point. So how is it Mr. Obama was able to nearly match the performance and be the reported “big spender” in government Mr. Trump and others portray?

Because he wasn’t, more on that later.

As a point of interest, at the same point in the Reagan administration, the market was down 8%. At the 2-year mark, the market under Obama was up 48.6%, 16.1% under Clinton, and 13.6% under Reagan.

Gives one pause. To put a final perspective on it, at the end of the four previous administrations, the market performance was as follows.

Clinton + 228.9%

Obama  + 148.3%

Reagan  + 147.3%

GW Bush -26.5%

Mr, Trump claims the tax cut will benefit businesses and spur economic growth al la Reaganomics.

Let’s look at that. The last President to have a balanced budget was Clinton.  The Office of Management and Budget estimate the budget will be balanced again in 2027 (this was projected BEFORE Mr. Trump assumed office and based a variety of complex economic, social, and financial factors.)

Federal spending grew more under Reagan than Obama. spending2_1https://mises.org/blog/federal-spending-grew-more-under-bush-and-reagan-under-obama

Any success of Reaganomics was as much to do with increased government spending as his perceived tax cuts.  One aspect everyone forgets about during the Reagan years was Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI  aka Star Wars).

While the SDI program never achieved the expected level of success, one can argue it stimulated the development of Silicon Valley and other technology gains.

Now Mr. Trump has succeeded in passing similar tax cuts with the idea that this will stimulate growth. Trump touts the benefit of reduced government spending as another stimulus to economic growth.

The analysis of the previous effort by President Reagan would say otherwise in the absence of government spending.

It remains to be seen how Trumpenomics works out.  But a review of the past does not bode well. Mr. Trump lacks the ability of Reagan to build coalitions (his ability to work across the aisle with Democrats), the calm, analytical manner of President Obama, or the characteristics of a statesman given his casual references to nuclear war as a realistic national policy.

I fear we are in much trouble given all of the complexities of the world.

 

 

The “Gift” of a Life?

How do you gift a human life?  Someone’s interpretatBible Quranion of the Bible says you can. Read these stories,

Giving my child away because the Bible says I should

Six wives and counting

If there’s an urgency to destroying radical Islam, shouldn’t there be an equal or greater urgency to target fundamental Christians who “gift” a human? Why is it so easy to recognize a twisted interpretation of a Christian doctrine as contrary to most Christian beliefs, but not so when it is within Islam?

Why are we willing to act out of fear and destroy those we do not understand because we see them as broadly representative of an entire religious tradition, yet, when confronted with similar examples of a “Christian” atrocity, we argue it does not represent most Christians.

Where’s the outrage? Where’s the slobbering vitriol to “destroy” these enemies of all that is good?

My issue with religion is the certainty of adherents that their own theology is the correct one and all others are wrong. They hold this secret despite protestations to the contrary. As I am often reminded,

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Those who embrace the fundamental aspects of any religion are equally dangerous in my mind.

One lashes out with bombs strapped to brain-washed adherents who believe they’ve booked a trip to a “Virgin” nirvana.

Another will use cruise missiles or perhaps nuclear weapons to blanketly target 1.5 billion adherents because of the actions of a few.

All in the name of God.

Where’s the “Christianity” in that?