Da Snippets Dey Be Snarky …

I remember the last day I was able to read the news without having to either take ibuprofen or check my blood pressure … it was June 15th, 2015.  The day before Donald Trump pompously rode down the elevator and announced that he was running for president of the United States.  The next day, I laughed.  I’m not laughing now.


A budget written by Abbot & Costello?

Trump’s latest budget was “unveiled” yesterday.  If Congress passes this one, then I shall recommend psychiatric evaluations for every one of them!  Surely, he doesn’t honestly believe he can get this one through!  It must have been written by a team of comedians.  A few of the key points:

  • Expands the 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations
  • Cuts Medicaid by $700 billion over the next 10 years
  • Cuts food stamps
  • Cuts farm subsidies
  • Cuts student loan programs
  • Cuts EPA funding by 27%
  • Cuts Social Security disability benefits and Medicare provider payments
  • Cuts foreign aid by 21%
  • Increases military spending
  • Increases NASA funding for ridiculous “space force” program by 12%
  • Allocates $2 billion for his wasteful, useless, hateful “border wall”

Notice a pattern here?  If it helps the 1% at the top of the wealth scale, he increases it, if it helps the 99% of us who don’t live in mansions and jet set all over the world, he cuts ‘n guts it.  Plain and simple.  Nancy Pelosi should do to this budget exactly what she did to his State of the Union speech.


Punishment for doing the right thing?  Only in the GOP …

More and more these days, I’m concluding that there is an intrinsic cruelty in some republicans.  I offer up as evidence the fact that Mitt Romney, the one lone republican who found the guts to vote to convict Trump of the impeachment charge of abuse of power that was more than proven, has been subjected to terrible treatment by those in his own party.  He has received condemnation, that there have even been calls for him to be expelled from the republican party!  WHOA, republicans!!!  The man did his job, he followed his conscience, he acted in the best interest of this nation, and you want his head on a pike???mitt-romneyThe latest, though, is just beyond ridiculous.  Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference, has “formally uninvited” Mitt to the Conservative Political Action Conference to be held the last four days of this month.

“We won’t credential him as a conservative. I suppose if he wants to come as a nonconservative and debate an issue with us, maybe in the future we would have him come. This year, I would actually be afraid for his physical safety, people are so mad at him.”

Wow … the man is being punished and threatened by his own party for doing his job, for being the only one with even half a conscience, for believing he actually owes something to the people of this nation in exchange for his salary.  See what I mean about some republicans?  They are just not very nice people.


And continuing along the theme that some republicans are not very nice …

Montana State Representative Rodney Garcia has a rather unique interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

Rodney-Garcia“So actually in the Constitution of the United States [if] they are found guilty of being a socialist member you either go to prison or are shot. They’re enemies of the free state. What do we do with our enemies in war? In Vietnam, Afghanistan, all those. What did we do? I agree with my Constitution. That’s what makes us free. We’re not a democracy, we’re a Republic Constitution.”

So, where did this guy get his education?  It’s true that the U.S. is not a pure democracy, but until recently was a democratic republic, not a “republic constitution”.  And as for his premise that the Constitution gives people like himself the right to shoot a person who is a socialist … well, I won’t even dignify that with a response.

I did some digging, because I really wanted to know where he went to school … Podunk University?  I didn’t find that out, but I did dig up something interesting.  He admits to having been convicted “years ago” on a domestic violence charge.  And … last year he attacked Children’s Protective Services (CPS) …

“CPS was a ruse…they violate the law. I think that they harm children. Child Protective Services do not protect the children. They kidnap them.”

He went on to say that caseworkers should be fined $1,000 per day for every child they “steal” and should be put in jail.  Then he continued, admitting that CPS had visited his own home when his children were young, investigating a complaint.  And, he further accused Planned Parenthood of “chopping up babies and selling their body parts.”

Now … needless to say, this man’s mental capacity is severely diminished, but what is equally disturbing is that … the people of his district elected this dolt!  The Montana Republican Party has called for his resignation, to which he replied …

“They can ask me to step down, but, no, I don’t think so. I’m going to run for the Senate and I’m going to win. People are going to have to eat their words.  I’m getting my head so big from people saying, ‘Thank you, Rodney, for bringing this up.’ If people don’t want me in the Senate they can say: ‘Well, I’m not going to vote for ya.’ That’s their prerogative.  The only way I would give my resignation is if God asked me to.”

People of Montana … please, vote this joker out, and then see if you can’t have him committed for psychiatric evaluation!


cheaters

Constitution Day???

Yesterday, September 17th, was Constitution Day, a U.S. federal observance that recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution. It is observed on September 17, the day in 1787 that delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document in Philadelphia.

The Constitution has served this nation well for 232 years, however its future is in jeopardy today, its fate in the hands of the last person to take the presidential oath of office.  The last one to swear to “uphold” the Constitution, has trampled it almost beyond recognition.  I came across an OpEd in The Week that makes the case as well as, if not better than I could.

Happy Constitution Day to King Trump

Windsor MannWindsor Mann

Happy Constitution Day! Or, if you’re President Trump, Happy Thing You Haven’t Read Day!

During the Obama presidency, conservatives fancied themselves “constitutionalists.” In 2011, members of Congress read the Constitution in its entirety on the floor of the House of Representatives, something that Congress had never done before. Rep. Michele Bachman (R-Minn.) said this proved that Republicans were “serious about respecting the Constitution.”

Indeed, Republicans were so serious about respecting the Constitution that some of them questioned whether President Obama had violated Article II, Section 1, which requires the president to have been born in the United States. Donald Trump was one of them.

Republican adherence to the Constitution evaporated as soon as Trump took office. No president in modern American history has displayed more contempt for — and ignorance of — the Constitution than Trump has.

Trump said that Article II of the Constitution gives him “the right to do whatever I want,” which is incorrect. He said he admires Article XII, which doesn’t exist. As Jonah Goldberg said, “Every time you hear him talk about the Constitution, it’s like he’s trying to remember his high-school French.”

Of the 27 Amendments to the Constitution, Trump has spoken contemptuously of at least 10. His least favorite is the first. Before becoming president, Trump promised “to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” By “they” he meant “anyone who isn’t nice to me.”

“It’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write,” Trump said in 2017. “And people should look into it.”

In July, Trump accused Google, Facebook, and Twitter of “discriminating against conservatives” and promised to use “all regulatory and legislative solutions” against them. In August, he complained that Fox News wasn’t “working” for him. Trump has more respect for his ex-wives than he does for freedom of the press.

He isn’t even a reliable advocate of the Second Amendment. In February 2018, Trump advocated illegal gun seizures. “I like taking guns away early,” he said. “Take the guns first, go through due process second.” Insofar as he defends the Second Amendment, he defends only the second half of it. Like the NRA, he has no interest in “A well regulated Militia,” which, of course, would entail regulations on guns.

Trump called the Fifth Amendment “horrible” and “disgraceful.”

Trump supports cruel and unusual punishment (proscribed by the Eighth Amendment), unless he is the recipient. He implored police officers to beat up suspects and suggested that drug dealers be given the death penalty.

He opposes birthright citizenship, which is guaranteed under the 14th Amendment. “So-called Birthright Citizenship, which costs our Country billions of dollars and is very unfair to our citizens, will be ended one way or the other,” he tweeted.

Trump really, really dislikes the 22nd Amendment, which limits a president to two terms. Last year, he expressed interest in being “president for life.” He recently said he’d leave office in “maybe 10 or 14” years.

As for the 25th Amendment, which provides for the removal of a president if he “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” Trump quoted Alan Dershowitz: “Trying to use the 25th Amendment to try and circumvent the Election is a despicable act of unconstitutional power grabbing.” According to this view, using the Constitution to remove Trump from office is unconstitutional.

“In Republican government,” James Madison said, “the legislative authority necessarily predominates.” Trump disagrees. As New York’s Josh Barro observed, Trump views congressional Republicans as his employees. Some congressional Republicans view themselves that way, too. A Republican congressman said that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Cal.) “works for” and “answers to” Trump.

Trump’s anti-constitutionalism runs through his party. Forty-three percent of Republicans think Trump “should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.” In 2017, 52 percent of Republicans said they would support postponing the 2020 election if Trump told them to.

There’s a good chance that many of these people call themselves “constitutional conservatives.” They revere the Constitution in the abstract, in much the same way they cherish the flag, the national anthem, and the pledge of allegiance. To them it is a symbol, not a mechanism for governance.

In 2016, the Republican governor of Maine reckoned that America needed “Donald Trump to show some authoritarian power in our country and bring back the rule of law.” This made no sense, of course. Defying the rule of law is no way to bring it back.

Trumpism and constitutionalism are incompatible. The former entails the concentration of power in a single individual. The latter entails the dispU.ersion of it.

Trump took an oath to uphold the Constitution and to see that the laws be faithfully executed. Yet he reportedly promised pardons to aides who knowingly broke the law to build his much-hyped border wall.

In 2015, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) wrote the foreword to a book called Lawless: The Obama Administration’s Unprecedented Assault on the Constitution and the Rule of Law. I hope he writes a follow-up about the Trump administration.

Trump Has Gone Off His Rocker By Declaring A National Emergency Over Funding His Wall

Gronda has said this as well as I could have, so I ask you to read her timely post. Thank you, Gronda.

Gronda Morin

Image result for images of the president declaring a national emergency PRESIDENT TRUMP

The republican President Donald Trump has gone and done it. On the 15th of February 2019, President Trump has agreed to sign off on the budget agreed to by the US Congress avoiding another US government shutdown but he has decided to declare a ‘National Emergency’ to use reallocated taxpayer monies to fund his SW border wall to the tune of an additional $6.5 billion for something that is a non emergency. He even started off this announcement with the words “I didn’t have to do it, but…

It’s the US House which appropriates taxpayer monies which the president has acted to usurp. Of course this action will be challenged in the US courts, but this high risk tactic should have been avoided as it sets a dangerous precedent.

See: Presidents have declared emergencies 59 times since 1976 – ...

See: What exactly is a national emergency

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And now, a word from George Will

Our friend Keith has once again written a post that is thoughtful and makes some very valid points, with a little help from George Will. Thank you, Keith, for sharing these seeds of wisdom!

musingsofanoldfart

I have noted before the significant number of respected conservative pundits and editorialists who have shared concerns over the President. George Will, a long time conservative, is among those who see the damage being done by the man in the White House. Like other conservative critics, his voice should be one that is heeded by those conservatives who are not totally in lock-step with the President.

In his most recent column called “Trump’s misery is also country’s,” Will is hypercritical of both the policies and behavior of the current President. He is also not too keen on the current Senate leadership for not doing their job to govern, being too interested in acquiescing to the President’s commands.

As for policy, he cited several examples, but two jump out. He is critical of the Trump and the GOP leadership as he notes, “Except that after two years of unified government under…

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What Is This QAnon Group All about?

For a week or so, I have been seeing snippets about a new conspiracy theory and its followers, called QAnon, or simply ‘Q’ for short. I dismissed the group out of hand, for I see it as some ridiculous thing created by ignorant people who have nothing better to do with their meaningless little lives. I still see it that way, but can no longer simply ignore it, for like other conspiracy theories that have come before, there is a very real danger that it will lead to violence. Our friend Gronda has provided some excellent information about what Q is, so please take a few minutes to read her post. One phrase, in particular, caught my eye: “… have come to believe that observable reality is false and the QAnon narrative is real.” Sounds rather like Trump when he told his followers not to believe what they are seeing and hearing, but only to believe what he tells them is real. Up is down and hot is cold. The games people play. Thank you, Gronda, for helping us to understand a bit about this bunch of nuts!

Gronda Morin

Image result for PHOTOS OF QANON FLORIDA TRUMP RALLY

On August 1, 2018, Justin Bank, Liam Stack and Daniel Victor of the New York Times penned the following report, “What Is QAnon: Explaining the Internet Conspiracy Theory That Showed Up at a Trump Rally” (“Do you remember Pizzagate? It’s a little like that: a web of baseless conspiracy theories. And its supporters were highly visible at an event for the president in Florida.”)

“Those watching President Trump’s rally in Tampa on Tuesday couldn’t help but be exposed to a fringe movement that discusses several loosely connected and vaguely defined — and baseless — conspiracy theories.”

Image result for PHOTOS OF QANON

“In one shot on Fox News, the president was partially obscured by a sign in the crowd reading “We Are Q.” In another shot during the president’s speech, a sign promoting the debunked Seth Rich conspiracy theory, with the hashtag #Qanon, came into focus in the center of…

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Whodunnit?

Okay, who’s the wise guy?  Somebody is pranking me, for all of a sudden I am getting a ridiculous amount of mail from “Donald Trump” … both email and ‘snail’ mail.  Miss Goose, the keeper of the mailbox key (and the only one of us who can actually get the darned mailbox open) is getting tired of carrying home mounds of mail, only to have me give it a cursory glance and point her in the direction of the trash can.

Today’s mail, however, took the cake.  A big window envelope with an official air about it.  In the upper left-hand corner, in lieu of a return address, it reads “Form 0903 (2018); Official Republican Party Document”.  Say WHAT???  And then, it states:

“Notice:  This DOCUMENT IS REGISTERED to the individual named below and must be accounted for during tabulation.  If you choose not to represent your district in this official Presidential Platform Survey, you must sign and return this Document using the pre-addressed envelope provided.”

Says who???

The ‘document’ is a 33-question survey in six sections:

  • Presidential Leadership
  • Economic Issues
  • National Security Issues
  • Healthcare Issues
  • Values Issues
  • Politics and the Media

Now, I am torn.  Miss Goose says I should tear it into shreds and/or burn it.  My first inclination was to agree with her, and that is likely what I will do.  I considered actually answering the questions, sending a message, but I’m fairly certain these things are tallied electronically, and my small voice of dissent would not even be heard.  Frankly, I can find better ways to waste my time.  And besides, since they said it must be returned, I am making a defiant stand by pitching the thing, right?

At the end of the final section, there is, predictably, a space to enter one’s credit card number for as much money as one would like to donate.  I told Miss Goose that I might tape a penny onto the form, and she said, “why waste a perfectly good penny?”  Good point … she gets her frugal nature from her Grannie, y’know!

I’m still curious, though, about why I am getting all this mail from the republicans all of a sudden.  I am a registered Independent!  I have made a few enemies over the past 2 years … I wonder if somebody put my name on a list somewhere, just to be ornery?

An Article of Impeachment Against Donald J. Trump

This afternoon I read an article by New York Times writer David Leonhardt, dateline January 28th.  In this article, he enumerates what an article of impeachment against Donald Trump would look like, though he also warns that there is no chance such a process would be successful as long as republicans maintain control of both chambers of Congress.  He has done such a concise and thorough job with his piece that I am taking the liberty of sharing it here today.  The very last line is chilling.

There are good reasons to be wary of impeachment talk. Congressional Republicans show zero interest, and they’re the ones in charge. Democrats, for their part, need to focus on retaking Congress, and railing about impeachment probably won’t help them win votes.

But let’s set aside realpolitik for a few minutes and ask a different question: Is serious consideration of impeachment fair? I think the answer is yes. The evidence is now quite strong that Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice. Many legal scholars believe a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime. So the proper remedy for a president credibly accused of obstructing justice is impeachment.

The first article of impeachment against Richard Nixon argued that he had “prevented, obstructed and impeded the administration of justice.” One of the two impeachment articles that the House passed against Bill Clinton used that identical phrase. In both cases, the article then laid out the evidence with a numbered list. Nixon’s version had nine items. Clinton’s had seven. Each list was meant to show that the president had intentionally tried to subvert a federal investigation.

Given last week’s news — that Trump has already tried to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the Trump campaign — it’s time to put together the same sort of list for Trump. Of course, this list is based only on publicly available information. Mueller, no doubt, knows more.

  1. During a dinner at the White House on Jan. 27, 2017, Trump asked for a pledge of “loyalty” from James Comey, then the F.B.I. director, who was overseeing the investigation of the Trump campaign.
  2. On Feb. 14, Trump directed several other officials to leave the Oval Office so he could speak privately with Comey. He then told Comey to “let this go,” referring to the investigation of Michael Flynn, who had resigned the previous day as Trump’s national security adviser.
  3. On March 22, Trump directed several other officials to leave a White House briefing so he could speak privately with Daniel Coats, the director of national intelligence, and Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director. Trump asked them to persuade Comey to back off investigating Flynn.
  4. In March and April, Trump told Comey in phone calls that he wanted Comey to lift the ”cloud” of the investigation.
  5. On May 9, Trump fired Comey as F.B.I. director. On May 10, Trump told Russian officials that the firing had “taken off” the “great pressure” of the Russia investigation. On May 11, he told NBC News that the firing was because of “this Russia thing.”
  6. On May 17, shortly after hearing that the Justice Department had appointed Mueller to take over the Russia investigation, Trump berated Jeff Sessions, the attorney general. The appointment had caused the administration again to lose control over the investigation, and Trump accused Sessions of “disloyalty.”
  7. In June, Trump explored several options to retake control. At one point, he ordered the firing of Mueller, before the White House counsel resisted.
  8. On July 8, aboard Air Force One, Trump helped draft a false public statement for his son, Donald Trump Jr. The statement claimed that a 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer was about adoption policy. Trump Jr. later acknowledged that the meeting was to discuss damaging information the Russian government had about Hillary Clinton.
  9. On July 26, in a tweet, Trump called for the firing of Andrew McCabe, the F.B.I.’s deputy director, a potential corroborating witness for Comey’s conversations with Trump. The tweet was part of Trump’s efforts, discussed with White House aides, to discredit F.B.I. officials.
  10. Throughout, Trump (and this quotation comes from the Nixon article of impeachment) “made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States.” Among other things, Trump repeatedly made untruthful statements about American intelligence agencies’ conclusions regarding Russia’s role in the 2016 election.

Obstruction of justice depends on a person’s intent — what legal experts often call “corrupt intent.” This list is so damning because it reveals Trump’s intent.

He has inserted himself into the details of a criminal investigation in ways that previous presidents rarely if ever did. (They left individual investigations to the attorney general.) And he has done so in ways that show he understands he’s doing something wrong. He has cleared the room before trying to influence the investigation. He directed his son to lie, and he himself has lied.

When the framers were debating impeachment at the Constitutional Convention, George Mason asked: “Shall any man be above justice?”

The same question faces us now: Can a president use the power of his office to hold himself above the law? Trump is unlikely to face impeachment anytime soon, or perhaps anytime at all. But it’s time for all of us — voters, members of Congress, Trump’s own staff — to be honest about what he’s done. He has obstructed justice.

He may not be finished doing so, either.

A Disturbing Trend …

A couple of weeks ago, two headlines grabbed my attention:

A Majority of Republicans Think College Is Bad for America – The Week, 10 July 2017

Sharp Partisan Divisions in Views of National Institutions – Republicans Increasingly Say Colleges Have Negative Impact on U.S. – Pew Research Center, 10 July 2017

The headlines, I believe, say much about why our nation is in chaos today. 58% of Republicans now say that colleges “are having a negative effect on the way things are going in the country,” while just 36% think colleges positively affect the country, Pew reported. The other 6% presumably are scratching their heads asking “what’s college?” A short two years ago, 54% of Republicans thought that colleges had a positive effect, while 37% said they had a negative effect. Two short years … what changed?

I think we all know the answer to that question and it can be summed up in two words:  Donald Trump.  In mid-2015, Donald Trump threw his proverbial hat into the ring as a contender for the office of president, and since then nothing has been quite the same.  Donald Trump spent a year-and-a-half telling America how successful he was, even though he had more business failures than successes.  He spent a year-and-a-half telling America how rich he was, even though he is far less wealthy than he would have us believe, and at least a portion of his wealth was not acquired honestly.  And he told the country those things in rambling, bumbling half sentences, using words that do not exist in Merriam Webster, and he somehow made it seem okay to be uneducated.

Donald Trump convinced Republicans that making lots of money was more important than things like honesty and integrity, knowledge and compassion.  More important than protecting the environment, helping people, accepting and understanding other cultures, or even understanding how our government actually functions.  Donald Trump showed America that literacy is not essential to ‘getting ahead’.  Unfortunately for all of us, a majority of Republicans believed what Donald Trump said.

The value of a college education is multi-fold, and I have neither time nor space for a full analysis, so I will focus on one aspect.  A college education does, or at least should, teach the students to think for themselves – to sort fact from fiction, to assess the facts, and then to make decisions based on that assessment.

My blogger-friend Hugh Curtler1, a retired college professor, has written a number of articles lamenting that colleges these days are not doing a good job of this, and in large part, I agree with him, and his theory is supported by the U.S. decline in worldwide ranking.

education-ranking-2.pngHowever, I would also argue that rather than abandon the idea of a college education altogether, society and government need to work together toward fixing the problems by returning the primary focus to academics rather than sports, holding students accountable rather than giving praise for substandard or average work, and returning the institutions to places where many and varied ideas are presented and discussed openly.

Donald Trump is not an educated man.  Yes, he graduated from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics.  However, an education is what you make of it, and one need only listen to him for about 30 seconds to realize that he is uneducated in even the most basic language skills.  But to take it a step further, he focused only on real estate and economics, eschewing what higher learning had to offer in such subjects as history, science, literature, cultural studies and basic civics.

The fact that so many Republicans are following his lead, viewing a college education as being detrimental to the state of the nation, is highly disturbing.  It also explains a lot.  It explains, at least in part, the reason so many are turning a blind eye to the facts, such as climate change.  Scientists have proven that human activities, often those that are involved in a pursuit of wealth, are damaging our environment, killing both animal and plant life essential to our very existence, but rather than listen, research and learn, rather than support policies that may save the planet, some choose to believe Trump when he says climate change is a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese.

Another Pew study in October 2016, found that only 16% of Americans (across all political parties) think that a college education prepares students very well for a well-paying job in today’s economy. Americans view workforce-relevant skills and knowledge as more important than personal and intellectual growth. That is disturbing to me.

Certainly I do not deny the need to earn a living.  One must have a home, food, clothing, transportation and the ability to do those things that make life enjoyable.  Those are requisite.  But beyond that, there is more to life than money.  If you look at some of the very wealthy … and there are plenty to look at on the front pages every day … they may have millions or even billions of dollars, own real estate and investments, but they are poor in the ways that matter.  They are without values, they care not about humanity, they do not understand nor care to understand cultures that exist beyond the walls of their mansions.  Money, status and power are their worlds.  To me, that is a very sad, shallow, narrow existence.

If a college education is allowed to fade into oblivion, what pool will future leaders be drawn from?  We have elected a president who is basically uneducated, who does not understand how the government he is supposed to lead even operates, and has never even read the Constitution, the foundation of our government.  The result has been chaos – chaos that could lead to the erosion of a governmental structure that ensures our citizens certain ‘inalienable’ rights.  And yet, the majority of Republicans do not see the value in a college education.

I ask you to consider something.  Donald Trump’s policies are contrary to what most thinkers and humanitarians believe.  Is it not, then, to the advantage of Trump and those like him to keep the populace uneducated, unable to think and reason for themselves? To be, instead, content to follow what Trump says, rather than having the ability to study and understand the issues and thus draw our own conclusions?

We need more, not fewer, thinkers in our nation.  We need people capable of working with other nations to solve environmental problems.  We need innovators in science to educate and find solutions for problems that threaten to destroy our very future.  We need educators to open the minds of our young so that they are able to see the world and its possibilities, rather than live in their own narrow confines. People like Donald Trump, Betsy DeVos, Scott Pruitt and Rex Tillerson have only one vision and see no value in anything that does not have dollar signs attached to it. If we allow our institutions of higher learning to become defunct, or to become cost-prohibitive simply because our government leaders tell us they have no value, then we are destined to lose our place as a developed nation.  More importantly, we are destined to lose our humanity and our humility.  Think about it.

1 Links to a few of Hugh’s posts:

Trump and American Education

Democracy and Education

The Business of Education

In Defense of Educaton

 

Use that filter before you speak

Blogger-friend Keith has written a most excellent post that needs no introduction from me. Thank you Keith … you hit the nail on the head with this one!

musingsofanoldfart

In my efforts not to curse, the above title is a euphemism for what I would prefer to say. My message is to those who have decided to bypass any filters and say the most inflammatory things.

Two public figures – Johnny Depp and Kathy Griffin – decided that they should make suggestions about the demise of the President. And, a Democrat official was appropriately fired for making a statement about how he was glad Representative Scaliae was shot because of his role in passing unfavorable legislation.

There is no call for these comments or actions. I fully understand the President has incited, promoted and condoned violence against others. He has failed to call out violence against minority groups, but has a quick comment for when a Muslim may be the perpetrator. This is not right, either.

So, let me be frank. One set of actions does not condone the…

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Filosofa Thinks …

snowflakeI don’t really mind being called a ‘snowflake’ … snowflakes are beautiful, each one unique, delicate and lacy.  The term in itself does not offend me.  However, I resent the meaning that has been attached to the term, resent the fact that people who would call me this assume they know how I think on every issue, when they will not even be bothered to take a moment to listen to me.  Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about what I have referred to as ‘The Great Divide’ in our society.

In doing a bit of research, I found articles about what is now called ‘hyper-partisanship’ dating back to 2012, during the time of the election in which President Obama was running for his second term of office.  Wikipedia defines hyper-partisanship as “A sharply polarized situation in which political parties are in fierce disagreement with each other.”  Sounds about right. I would add, “… to the extent that neither is willing to listen to the other or even consider compromise.”

Our two-party system has been around since 1796, although both parties have evolved throughout the years.  The two-party system is not, in and of itself, a bad thing, and in fact may well be the only thing that stands between a democratic republic and a dictatorship.  However, even the best of concepts, taken too far, can spell disaster.  Today, the two parties seem diametrically opposed.  There is no longer any middle ground, no longer any place for those who are not radically opposed to all the ideas of the other.  No one side is 100% right, nor 100% wrong, but there is no room in the middle. The space that used to be the middle, the moderates, is gone, leaving in its place a wide chasm – a no man’s land.

great divide-2During the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Thomas Jefferson was away in France, but he nonetheless objected to a formal provision in the Constitution for a two-party system, saying …

jefferson-2“Men are naturally divided into two parties. those who fear and distrust the people and wish to draw all power from them into the hands of the higher classes [and] those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise, depository of the public interests.’’

230 years ago, yet those words seem to perfectly define today’s two parties, the Republicans and the Democrats.  The Great Divide may be a bigger problem for the continuity of the United States than even the person currently sitting in the Oval Office, for he will be gone soon enough, but the divisiveness in this nation will remain.  What happened to those who, just a few short years ago, were considered moderates?  The went to the left, or to the right … they were actually pushed left or right, as there could be no middle ground.

Though I largely blame the current occupant of the Oval Office for the depth of the divide, in truth, it has been a long time coming.  I could write a small book on the history that has led to this moment, and perhaps I shall do so one day, but for this humble post, I am limited by constraints of time and space, and would prefer to focus the remainder on … how can we fix it?  Or can we?

Obviously the divergence of socio-political ideologies is not going away, so we must find ways to work within that framework.  The solution must come from two groups:  the federal government AND We The People.  Yes … WE. The. People. Obviously there need to be level heads in government to fix that which is broken, but who chooses those heads?  We do.  The heads need to understand that their job is to re-unite a nation divided, to heal the wounds of the past 10 years or so, and to sincerely debate the issues, arriving at solutions that, if they do not please everybody, at least accommodate the citizens.  Healthcare, for instance … no healthcare plan that causes 24 million people to lose their insurance coverage can be considered viable.

The next thing that leaders in Congress and the executive branch must do is remove the influences of big business and lobbyist groups from both the election process and the legislative process.  As it currently stands, big business and lobbyists give millions, nay billions, to candidates who, in exchange, promote the interests of those businesses and lobbyists in legislation.  This is not … I repeat this is NOT … a service or a benefit to We The People.  Elections need to be about what the people of this nation stand for, not what will put more profit in the hands of CEO’s and the NRA.

And then we come to us … me, you, the family down the street.  We played a large role in creating the Great Divide … now it is time for us to put away our petty differences, our greedy desires and try to help heal a nation torn asunder.  We must, once again, remember that we are all in this together and sometimes we may not like decisions that are made, but it is a nation of We The People, not ‘I The Person’.

What can we do?  First and foremost, we can … we must … educate ourselves, at least in the most basic ways in which our government works.  Then we must take it upon ourselves to learn about candidates, not just in presidential elections, but perhaps even more important, in the elections of our senators and representatives to Congress.  We must realize that everything we see on social media should be considered false information unless it can be verified through reliable sources.  98% of it cannot, therefore it is a falsehood.  We must stop listening to friends, relatives, and Facebook groups, take out our brains, dust them off and learn to think for ourselves.  That done, we must then vote for the candidate whose ideology seems destined to help the nation … it may not seem to help you as an individual at the moment, but if it helps the nation, it is still in your best interest. We must all learn to think on a more global, more long-term basis.

The other thing we all must do is learn to listen.  My observation in the past year, and I admit to being guilty of this also, is that we only listen to those whose ideas mirror our own.  We cut off ideas that we disagree with, boycott information that is contrary to our own ideology, and close not only our ears, but our minds to the thoughts of others.  What if, instead of saying “you’re wrong”, we said, “okay, but tell me why you feel that way”.  Or … “but what if …?”  We might just find that our beliefs are not as different as we thought.

Okay, yes, I know that by now you are saying, “Wow … Filosofa done gone and lost her marbles … she thinks she’s Miss Pollyanna.”  No … I am a realist, a pragmatist, and I know this is all pie-in-the-sky for most people.  But the reality is that this nation is ripe at the moment for a strong, autocratic leader to come in and completely change the structure of the democracy (democratic-republic, for those politico purists) that we have enjoyed for 230 years.  Donald Trump is not, was not, that leader, for his flaws are many and his honesty is a joke.  However, if somebody such as Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Vladimir Putin, or Norbert Hofer, someone with intellect, charisma and dreams of grandeur were to appear on the scene, I can easily see the demise of the United States of America that we have always known.  I know my solutions are pipe dreams, but perhaps they make us start to think … perhaps at least it is time for us to wake up and acknowledge that we have a real problem and that each and every one of us must contribute to the solution.  All I ask is that you think about it.