There are days when my focus is sharp, I’m on a story like a dog with a bone.  Then there are days when my mind bounces furiously from topic-to-topic and I cannot seem to concentrate on any one for more than 47 seconds at a time.  Then, there are days like today when I am introspective, have some thought that isn’t particularly apropos of anything, but it stays in my mind, begging to be let out.  Thus, I share with you today, two of the thoughts that are meandering through the crevices of my mind.

An incumbent president should not be spending massive amounts of time campaigning for the next election, especially when that election is nearly two years away.  First of all, a sitting president has a full-time, all-encompassing job to do … it is what he was elected for, what he gets paid for, and what We the People expect him to be doing:  running the country.  Second, and perhaps even more importantly, if … IF he is doing that job properly, he has no need to be on the campaign trail, for his record will serve as his campaign.

In the case of the current officeholder, he has been on the campaign trail virtually since before he took office on January 20, 2017.  He officially filed his campaign with the Federal Election Commission on the day of his inauguration and began spending on his re-election campaign weeks before even taking office.  Could explain why he never had time for all those pesky transition meetings that were scheduled to help him learn his new job.  In December 2016, the month before his inauguration, he held nine campaign 2020 rallies!  He held approximately 64 rallies in 2017-2018, and has held an average of one per month this year.

Now, it seems to me that if he were doing a great job, as he claims, he wouldn’t need to go out and rile the masses with rhetoric, for his performance in office, the results of his hard work, would convince people to vote for him.  One earns respect, and he is in a position that he has every opportunity to earn the respect of the nation, but instead he chooses to do a poor job and rely on campaign rallies to help him keep that job.  Hopefully, the voters of this nation are astute enough to see that he can somewhat talk the talk, but after two-and-a-half years, hasn’t yet learned to walk the walk.

There is some evidence that voters are waking up, for in eleven battleground states (seven of which Trump won in 2016), Trump faces a net approval rating that’s in the negative. Several of those states have net disapprovals that are in the double-digits.  In Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan — three states that helped propel Trump to victory three years ago — Trump’s net approval ratings were -13, -7, and -12, respectively.

In business, the best strategy for keeping your job is to do a good job, rather than pandering to the bosses.  Trump claims to know a lot about business, but that is a lesson he has failed to learn.

In one corner of my kitchen, we have a three-tier metal rack on which we keep canned foods, among other things.  Yesterday, I was looking for a can of ancho chilies in adobo sauce, a small can buried somewhere among the cans of corn, tomatoes, and green beans, and as I searched, I found myself thinking about labels … how happy I was that all these cans had labels to tell me what was inside.  (Yes, I have strange thought processes.)  Labels, like almost anything else, can be useful if used properly.  What if, though, every can had a label that just read “Vegetable”?  Confusing, yes?  Surely corn, peas, green beans and the like are vegetables, but beyond that, they have differences that are important.

People are much the same … no, Joe, I’m not saying people are vegetables, though some might as well be.  There are times we have no choice but to label a person.  If I am witness to a hit-and-run accident, it might be necessary for me to describe the driver of the car by saying it was a white female with blonde hair.  That is not to say, however, that all hit-and-run drivers are white blonde women!  And that is what we do when we refer to republicans or democrats or journalists or immigrants as “the enemy”.  Sure, most republicans have some things in common, but they also have individual beliefs that may or may not fit in the label as we perceive it.  Christians, presumably, all believe in a higher being, but beyond that, there are vast differences in their set of beliefs.  Most Christians I know, for example, are not homophobic and have friends within the LGBT community.  Yet there are those, like Franklin Graham, who give the impression that all Christians are anti-LGBT when he says that Christians are “offended” by the rainbow-adorned gay pride flag.

Most of us are able to laugh off the labels people assign to us, for we know there is much more depth to us than the colour of our skin, our religion or lack of, our hair & eye colour, or level of education.  But, when we crucify people based on any of those traits alone, we automatically give ourselves a label:  bigot.  A bigot is defined as a person who is intolerant to those who are different or hold different opinions.  It takes many forms from racism to Islamophobia to misogyny, but the one thing they have in common is that they are self-limiting and cruel.

I could offer a thousand examples, but you all know what I’m talking about.  It’s when we hear people in power say, “all democrats believe in socialism”, or “all republicans are against abortion”.  Or when the head of government says that all Hispanics are gang members and rapists, all Muslims are terrorists, all women are sex objects.  We need to try harder to remember that the members of every group are unique individuals.  If we praise or criticize, we should do so based on actions alone, not on characteristics.  Criticize the group that sets out to burn a synagogue or burn a cross on someone’s yard, but criticize them for their actions, not for the colour of their skin or their religion.

Okay, I’m done thinking for today.  Yes, I know that was rather a rambling bit of monologue, but sometimes I just need to clear the detritus from my brain.  Thanks for listening!

Sunday Morning Musings From The Mind Of Filosofa

I wonder why the phrase ‘den of iniquity’ keeps coming to mind when I think of the White House these days?  Could it be because it seems that everyone who works or resides there has some form of sexual perversion in their past, and maybe even in their present?    And yet, those evangelical Christians, the very same ones who are dead set against a woman’s right to choose whether to have a child or not, the ones who would smite those who love a person of their own gender … those very same people are applauding the perverts who have taken over the White House and are turning it into a cesspool.  Think about that one for a few minutes.

seperator 2Thinking that surely Trump’s approval rating must have dipped after this week, his defense of his aides who were found to have abused their wives, his rants and tirades, not to mention the instability of the stock market, I headed over to FiveThirtyEight to check the aggregation of polls.   Imagine my shock when I see that his average approval rating is actually up from about 38% a week ago to 40.8% this weened.  Somebody needs to find that big stash of Kool-Aid and destroy it!  So much for my good humour.seperator 2The pseudo-drama of a government shutdown every month is getting old, people.  It has become a tool of manipulation between Trump, the republicans in Congress, and the democrats in Congress.  It is a game for them, and we are quickly becoming immune to the drama, shrugging our shoulders and saying, “whatever”.  The last one lasted five hours and those were while we were sleeping, so nobody really noticed.  If most of us did our jobs as poorly as members of Congress and the ‘man’ in the Oval Office do, we would be fired. A government shut-down is not a toy to play with.  We truly must be the laughingstock of the world.seperator 2Trump got part of his wish, an additional $500 billion in military spending, about which he tweeted …

“Just signed Bill. Our Military will now be stronger than ever before. We love and need our Military and gave them everything — and more. First time this has happened in a long time. Also means JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!” – 8:39 AM – Feb 9, 2018

With unemployment at only 4.1%, and some portion of those being people who either cannot work, or have retired, and with the plan to deport a portion of the work force soon, I’m not sure who will take all those “JOBS”.  And, I have no idea why we needed to increase military spending while allowing people in this country to go without affordable healthcare.  Perhaps some republican can explain this to me?seperator 2Why does it have to be ‘them’ vs ‘us’?  Is not the purpose of every government to see to the best interests of the nation as a whole, and its people?  Why is compromise so very difficult for those we hired to do this job?  Perhaps it is because we are not holding them accountable for doing their job, but instead are cheering and applauding their grandstanding, their showmanship.  The ‘Great Divide’ is only worsening, and as I predicted two years ago, the chasm is so wide now that the people of this country may never again be unified.  The name of this nation, the United States of America, is truly a misnomer these days, for there is nothing united about us.seperator 2Does anybody in the U.S. know or care about the water crisis in Cape Town, South Africa?  As of February 1st,  new water restrictions limit households to 13 gallons of water per person per day, and even at that, they are likely to be further reduced.  In fact, people in Cape Town are anticipating ‘Day Zero’, when the government will turn off the taps to homes and businesses to ensure that hospitals have water.  Residents will then be issued 6.6 gallons at communal water distribution points.  I can and likely will write a post about this grim situation, but for this morning, suffice it to say that I am disturbed that there is little, if any, concern among the people of the U.S. over the water crisis in Cape Town.  First of all, the people affected are our brothers and sisters, a part of the human race, so how can we not care?  And second, as a result of climate change, this situation is going to spread and even the U.S. at some point will begin to face water shortages.  Take the blinders off and stop drinking the Kool-Aid, folks … climate change is real, is being exacerbated by humans, and has very real-world consequences.seperator 2The 2018 Olympic Winter Games have begun in  Pyeongchang.  Typically, the winter Olympics excite me, though I am not a sports enthusiast, but this year I am decidedly ‘meh’ and have not even tuned in yet.  Why?  Partly because I am a glum person these days, but also because the U.S. has succeeded in putting politics over teamwork, over sportsmanship.  The U.S. is not capable of setting aside differences for a few days in order to support young athletes from all over the world who have worked so hard to get to the Olympics, to realize their dreams.  On Friday, at the opening ceremonies, Mike Pence refused to stand for any country except the U.S.  In a historic moment, North and South Korea joined together, putting differences aside for this moment, and marched under a common flag in the opening ceremonies.  The moment was emotional and was greeted with great enthusiasm and a standing ovation.  By all except Mike Pence and his wife.  They alone remained stony-faced and seated. What a message we are sending the world, eh?

seperator 2Clive Bundy and his sons are out of prison and back on the streets, and nothing has changed.  They are planning more mayhem in the near future, and ol’ Clive is already encouraging his fellow ranchers and other followers to disregard any laws they don’t agree with.  Stay tuned for more on the Bundy clan who are apparently stuck in the days of the old West and haven’t yet entered the 21st century, nor even the 20th.seperator 2And finally, here’s something to make you shake your head and say, wtf???  I was Googling for a website that a friend had asked me to check out, and I accidentally happened on this pen …penThe price?  Hold on to your jaw .. $17,800.00!  GULP.   And they don’t even offer free shipping!

The Latest Polls …

I had a post written for this morning.  I am postponing it, for I am still debating on it.  But … that left me with … nothing for this morning.  So, I had in my archives a piece by Washington Post writer Jennifer Rubin from last week, titled “Americans as a whole haven’t lost their minds, but the GOP has”. I think it is well worth reading in its entirety, so I decided to share it with you this morning.

Jennifer RubinThere is only abysmal news for President Trump and Republicans in the latest Quinnipiac poll. Voters say Trump is not “fit to serve as president,” by a 56 to 42 percent margin. Voters disapprove (57 to 36 percent) of his performance (so 6 percent think he is fit, just not doing a good job). It gets worse:

Voters disapprove 57 – 36 percent of the job he is doing as president. . . . American voters disapprove 62 – 32 percent of the way President Trump is handling race relations. Disapproval is 55 – 39 percent among white voters, 95 – 3 percent among black voters and 66 – 28 percent among Hispanic voters. President Trump is doing more to divide the country than to unite the country, American voters say 60 – 35 percent.

The anti-Twitter sentiment remains high as voters say 69 – 26 percent that Trump should stop tweeting. No party, gender, education, age or racial group wants to follow the Tweeter-in- Chief. Voters say 51 – 27 percent they are embarrassed to have Trump as president.

More than 55 percent of voters say he is not honest and lacks leadership skills. Some 61 percent say they do not share his values, and 67 percent say he is not level-headed. Less than 40 percent think he is doing a good job on foreign policy, immigration, the environment or health care. A plurality narrowly approves of this handling of the economy and of terrorism.

There is no good news here for Republicans in Congress either. “American voters disapprove 78 – 15 percent of the job Republicans in Congress are doing, worse than their 70 – 25 percent disapproval in a June 29 Quinnipiac University poll. . . . Voters say 47 – 38 percent, including 44 – 32 percent among independent voters, that they would like to see Democrats win control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 Congressional elections.”

Americans it turns out:

  • Are not bamboozled by his NFL and flag histrionics;
  • Do not think it’s all the media’s fault;
  • Know he is not making America great (stressed and anxious maybe, but not great);
  • Have figured out he’s botching most policy matters — and is a bad person to boot; and
  • Don’t buy into his race-baiting act.

Americans are neither brain-dead nor moral vagrants. In voting for him many probably hated Hillary Clinton more, engaged in wishful thinking about Trump and/or figured incorrectly a rich guy and his friends must know how to do things. But they do not like him now, and that speaks very well of the American people.

The bad news is Republicans overwhelmingly like him, his policies, his distractions, his character, his racial appeals, etc. Among Republicans 79 percent approve of his performance, 79 percent think he is honest (!), 85 percent think he cares about ordinary Americans, 62 percent think he is level-headed (!!) and perhaps worst of all, 78 percent think he shares their values.

Now, it’s possible that having voted for him these Republicans don’t want to admit he is, as LeBron James eloquently put it, a bum. But it’s also possible that a declining share of voters identify as Republicans but that those who do, by and large, live in a Fox News-created political universe in which Trump is just the best. They refuse to see Trump as a bigot or an incompetent narcissist. They believe what he tells them about immigrants, the world and the “liberal elites.”

The question that many #NeverTrump Republicans or now former Republicans face is whether that GOP base has become so divorced from their own world view that they cannot consider themselves Republicans any longer. To be a Republican these days is to be at the very least an apologist for Trump and at the worst a cultist. Maybe these Trump fans were always there in the party, but now they are the dominant voice. That leaves a two-way struggle between stringent conservatives (e.g., Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz) and Trump/Bannonites. Many disaffected Republicans have no Republicans to root for anymore other than a handful of members of Congress and a small batch of governors. They may like the idea of the GOP, but they cannot abide by the actual GOP of 2017.

It doesn’t seem possible that logic or experience will change the minds of the 75 percent to 80 percent of the GOP who remain in Trump’s quarter. (Some hope that Trump is like a high fever that will pass, leaving the patient back to being his old self; I think that’s unlikely, but it’d be nice if the fever theory turns out to be correct.) You can change a president or a presidential candidate but can you change a party’s composition? I find that hard to believe. Trump’s beliefs and views are their beliefs and views.

That leaves distressed Republicans and ex-Republicans with three options — recruit new non-Trumpkins to the GOP (but which Americans would want to join?!) to out-vote Trump’s base; start a new center-right party (with an invitation out to moderate Democrats); or set up shop across the aisle as the new Blue Dog Democrats. Much depends on the direction the Democrats take (will it be the party of Sen. Bernie Sanders or the party of Truman/JFK/Bill Clinton — policy-wise, that is).

In short, the GOP that was, is no longer, and we really have no idea what if anything will take its place.