Saturday, July 20, 2019

Is Donald Trump a Racist?

"Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." ~ Jesus

Racist: A person who supports or practices racial discrimination, segregation, etc. (Webster's New World Dictionary)

Since the recent rally Donald Trump held in North Carolina, the topic of racism is drawing attention.
According to Meriam-Webster racism is a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. It is a doctrine or political program based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles.

Based on the above definitions, I cannot state that Donald Trump is a racist because I do not know what he believes. H. L. Mencken wrote that belief is faith in something that is known. Faith and belief are both inner workings of the the heart and mind, and who can tell what another person has going on inside. For me to call Trump a racist is like him saying that the four congresswomen of "the squad" hate America. He doesn't know that!

That being said, I do think–based on his words– that Donald Trump is very unkind. He says and tweets hurtful and unkind words. He is someone with whom I would not willingly keep company. That he is the current President of the United States is discouraging. I wish we had someone nicer occupying the White House. Is it too much to ask that the president be a kind, gracious, compassionate, and thoughtful human being?

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Map of the Journey ~ Cutters

Truth takes time. It takes time to tease out the separate threads of truth from the tangle of life. Unfortunately one of the grand illusions of modern culture is that people do not have enough time for the amount of time that truth requires.

"Tomorrow makes today's whole head sick, its whole heart faint. When we should be still, sleeping or dreaming, we are fretting about an hour that lies half a sun's journey away."
George MacDonald ~ Phantastes

Take Eve, for example. According to the book of Genesis, she ate the forbidden fruit because "it was desirable to make one wise." She wanted knowledge, and she wanted it NOW! Silly girl. Life's journey would have given her what she wanted if she only would have waited for it; however, she was in a hurry. The serpent played on her fear of missing out, and there you go.

I read somewhere that all the trees in the world are one huge organism, connected by an integrated root system. I think all human are like that, connected by an invisible "root" system. The evidence for this idea is found in our attempts at isolation. Our divisions make us bleed through self-dismemberment. We are "cutters." We are bleeding.

Cutters are people who cut themselves. The pain of the cut distracts them from the more painful emotional pain they feel. The thing is, it takes time to negotiate with emotional pain. That sort of pain is complex; it takes time to tease out its individual threads, examine each one, and determine which one is the source. It demands more time than some people want to give, so they cut themselves. They create a manageable pain; they are the god of the pain and thus know its source. They bleed and are satisfied because it is by their own hand.

We are not meant to bleed. If we cut ourselves, the blood immediately coagulates at the site. If we continue to bleed, we die. I think we are not meant to isolate ourselves, to cut ourselves off from other human beings. I think we need the truth of one another; this takes time.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Why I Vote For My Dentist

“How to Vote Purple in a Red and Blue World”

Does anyone out there vote for the candidate who is best qualified for the job based on education, experience, and expertise? Does anyone choose their representative with the same care that they choose their dentist?

During the 2018 midterm election, I got my usual minimum daily requirement of campaign flyers in the mail. I don’t know why the candidates sent me so many; they are all pretty much the same. On one side is a beautiful color picture of The Candidate looking honest, sincere, and willing to fight for me. There are also pictures of The Candidate’s family and of The Candidate looking concerned pontificating to a group of Interested Citizens.

(Note to self: If there is anything more tiresome than listening to a politician pontificate to a group of people, it is seeing a picture or watching a video of it.)

On the other side of the flyer in dark, sepia-tinged tones is an ominous depiction of the world of The Opponent—a fusion of Armageddon and the Apocalypse. Superimposed is a photo-shopped image of The Opponent’s worst head shot ever showing how corrupt, vile, dishonest, etc. he or she is. (I think they use the opponent’s driver’s license photo.) In my opinion, both parties could save a lot of time and money if they culled it down to this simple message:  “I am God, and my opponent is Satan.”

There was also a flyer for a local dentist in the mail. One on side was a picture of the dentist and another picture of smiling people, showing the great work the dentist had done on their teeth. On the other side was a list of the services that the dentist provides for dental care; there was also an address, a phone number, and a map of the dentist’s office. That was it. There was no dissing of any other dentists in the area, no ominous predictions of what would happen to my teeth should I choose another dentist. It made me wonder what would it be like if voters took the same care choosing a representative as they do choosing their dentist, or their auto mechanic, or their hairdresser. What if they cast their vote for the candidate best qualified for the job based on education, expertise, and experience? The “E-Ticket.”

My dentist is great. I trust my teeth to him. He is the only person I allow in my mouth with sharp instruments, needles, and drills. Why? Because he has the education, expertise, and experience to know what he is doing! That’s all I care about—not his gender, age, race, religion, political preferences, or sexual orientation. It’s the same for me with political candidates. I always vote the E-Ticket:  Education, Expertise, and Experience. It’s how I vote purple in a red and blue world.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

States, Get Educated!

"How To Crochet During the Apocalypse"

“Complicated rules to adjust behavior are a weak substitute for simple principles.”
Mary Wollstonecraft ~ A Vindication of the Rights of Women

Some states really get it. When it comes to the Big E’s—Economy, Education, Employment, and Environment—they get the “A.” So why don’t the states who are not doing that great take a lesson or two from the states that are? Is it so hard to visit another state and take notes?

In March 2018, Business Insider combined six measures of labor market and economic health for all the states and Washington D.C. and ranked the states according to unemployment rate, job growth, per-capita GDP, GDP growth, average weekly wages, and wage growth. The top six states are Washington, Massachusetts, Texas, Colorado, California, and Utah. Note the diversity of the states in terms of size, location, geography, and political preferences. Both Wyoming and New Jersey have a per-capita GDP of $69,000, and both Idaho and West Virginia have a per-capita GDP of $43,000. Why the discrepancy? Why aren’t the governors of Idaho and West Virginia having lunch with the governors of Wyoming and New Jersey to ask “Dudes, what are you doing?”

Right now the abortion debate is raging. Are some states successfully navigating the issue? If so, what are they doing? For example, Colorado has been conducting a social experiment with long-acting birth control. Teens and poor women were offered free intrauterine devices and implants in order to prevent unwanted or unplanned pregnancies. As a result, the birthrate among teenagers fell by 40% from 2009 to 2013, while their rate of abortions fell by 42%, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. There was a similar decline in births for unmarried women under 25 who had not finished high school. Are any of the other states paying attention? I wonder.

In my classroom, I encouraged my students to help each other out. It was not unusual for a group of students to cluster around the desk of another student to see how he or she was doing the math. Perhaps the states’ politicians and elected officials could do the same thing. Get together and share what works. Cluster around the desk and take notes. North Dakota could show South Dakota why its per-capita GDP is almost $14,000 higher than its southern neighbor. Connecticut and California could do a power-point presentation explaining why size is not the primary factor in having a strong economy. Colorado could distribute complimentary birth-control bags. Just saying.

There is a lot of shared ignorance going around made possible by the Internet and social media. I recommend that we discover the power of shared knowledge.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

How to Crochet During the Apocalypse


“The world, I am convinced, could be materially improved, but even as it stands, it is good enough to keep any reasonable man entertained for a lifetime.”
H. L. Mencken ~ “What I Believe”

There is a lot of grumbling, grousing, and grieving about Donald Trump. I get that. He did not win the popular vote; in fact, when you look at the population of the United States in 2016 and the number of people that voted for Trump, 19.5% of the people managed to put someone in office who wants to tell the other 80.5% of us what to do. Who wouldn’t be annoyed at that? The thing is whatever people think about Trump, he is always good for a laugh.

For example, in the aftermath of an unproductive meeting with Nancy Pelosi, he held a series of press conferences during which he declared that he is “an extremely stable genius.” Now that’s the kind of joke I appreciate. He’s hilarious. At one point, Trump called on two of his aids (both women) to testify of his calmness, his goodness, and his stable genius. Oh my goodness, I was rolling on the floor.

I realize that some people are concerned about what Donald Trump is doing to the country in terms of the economy, foreign trade, health care, the environment, human rights, etc. I get that. However, power in Washington is an illusion. The real power in this country is with the people—the great washed and unwashed masses who, no matter who sits in the Oval office, uphold the social compact. They do not have to live by Washington’s complicated rules because they honor their own simple principles. It’s not that they are above their laws; they are beyond them.

In Philip Pullman’s series His Dark Materials, a witch encounters a group of angels flying in the air. The witch is proud, powerful, and the queen of her clan; she is wise with the knowledge of hundreds of years of living. When she meets the angels, she recognizes that they are older, wiser, and more powerful than she. Nevertheless, she orders them to act as her honor guard, and because the angels are older, wiser, and more powerful, they comply. It’s no big deal to them to make allowances for the witch queen’s youth, inexperience, and ignorance. The people of the United States are the angels.

Politicians come and go; they are like a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow. They fuss and fume and make all sorts of plans for other people’s lives, but in the end, everyone does what he or she thinks is right. The powers in Washington think they are in charge, but it’s really We the People.

 In the end, I am not too fussed about the show; after all, that’s entertainment.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Tucker Carlson's Illogical Logic


Some of the members of Donald Trump’s staff have been disregarding his orders, even to the point of taking documents off his desk and hiding them . Tucker Carlson is extremely miffed about this. He sees is as an “assault on democracy” and “thwarting the will of the people.” Interesting.

Democracy is defined as: a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. It is a state governed by a democracy or control of an organization or group by the majority of its members.

I think Mr. Carlson reasoning is this: The majority of the American people elected Donald Trump to be president. What Donald Trump wants to do reflects the will of the people who elected him. Therefore when some members of his staff ignore what he wants to do they are actually ignoring the will of the people.

Note to self: This is a good example of the Law of Syllogism.

There is a flaw in Mr. Carlson’s reasoning. The majority of the American people did not vote for Donald Trump for president, only 19.5% did.  20.4% voted for Hilary Clinton, so Donald Trump in the White House does not technically reflect the “will of the people.” I don’t see Tucker Carlson getting too fussed about that.

One might argue that 19.5% is based on the number of people who actually voted in the 2016 election, that there are many more people who did not vote who support Donald Trump’s policies. Okay, then, let’s look at approval rating. Various polls put it between 39 and 48 percent of people surveyed. It’s still not a majority of the American people, which is sort of the key feature of a democracy.

I am not out to bust Tucker Carlson’s chops; however, when I see people like him fussing and fuming about an issue, I do the research to see if its worth the effort. In this case, it’s not. I can think of a lot more things that are truly an assault on democracy—taking a paper from the Oval Office isn’t one of them.

This reminds me of a scene from Star Trek: The Movie in which Admiral Kirk finagles himself on board The Enterprise as its new captain. He is unfamiliar with the ship because it has been remodeled. At one point he orders Sulu to fire a proton torpedo, and his executive office yells, “Belay that order!” Later when Kirk (who is fuming) demands an explanation for his order being disregarded, the officer informs him that with the new ship design, the torpedo would have blown them to smithereens.

Perhaps that is what is going on in the White House. The staff members are belaying orders from a captain unfamiliar with the ship of state and are trying to keep it from being blown to smithereens. We should thank them.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Why is Bernie Sanders Running for President?

Bernie Sanders is 76 years old. He is running for president of the United States. Why? Isn’t he tired? Doesn’t he want to kick back and enjoy his senior years?

I don’t know about you, but I would be seriously depressed if I had to occupy the White House at my age–and I’m not near as old as Bernie Sanders is. I don’t get it. Why do he and Joe Biden and the like want to be president? I get it with Donald Trump. Based on his words and actions, I think he just wants the title and to be able to tell people “you’re fired.” However, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden act like they want to actually do something…presidential. How tiring is that!

In the first place, presidents have to dress in their best clothes all the time. They can’t run around the Oval office in their sweats. In the second place, they have to deal with everyone wanting them to do things for them ALL THE TIME! It’s always “buy me this, get me that, stomp on this guy for me that I don’t really know, but I don’t like anyway.” Who wants all the drama?

I’m at the age where I am into being mellow. I don’t think a mellow president would cut it–although it sure is an interesting idea to think about. Imagine a president that was a really nice guy–intelligent, well educated, resourceful, creative–but overall a really nice guy, one who doesn’t get too fussed about things. What a relief that would be! It would be a nice break from all the drama, drama, drama.

Unfortunately, there is no hope of that with all these fiery guys and gals launching their hats into the ring. Young or old, it doesn’t matter; they are all out to bust some chops. Having done my share of chop-busting in my youth, I am very happy be done with it. Busting chops and being fiery takes a lot of time and energy; it really is a game for the young. They deserve it. They haven’t earned the right to kick back and be mellow. Which brings me back to Bernie. Why is he running for President? I’m not interested in where he gets the energy. That he gets it is evident. What I want to know is why is he spending the precious energy he has running for president. I certainly wouldn’t.

That being said, I am appreciative of his efforts. I mean, someone has to be president of the United States. Better him than me.