Bob Schwartz

Tag: elections

Day of National Healing: November 9, 2016

Day of National Healing

Day of National Healing

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And all the world will live as one
John Lennon, Imagine

I declare November 9 a Day of National Healing.

Please stop snickering. Or pitying my naiveté in the face of so many unpleasant realities.

Our need for national healing is massive. Huge. We are literally sick and tired of this election. The thought going around, and it is not ridiculous and I’ve said it myself, is that things may actually get worse after the election.

Another thought, also not ridiculous, is that we might still want to find a way through this. In fact, we have to. If we are sincere about getting on with our lives, personal and national, we have got to start somewhere, sometime. The day after Election Day seems as good a time as any.

I am inspired and informed, as I often am, by the I Ching. Here is what the text says to us today:

Hexagram 38
Kui/Diversity

Diversity.
Little things:
Good fortune.

All beings diversify,
But their functions are the same.
Great indeed is the time and significance of diversity.

The superior person seeks common ground on major issues
While reserving differences on minor ones.

“In the course of diversifying, there is still similarity—this is the unique wisdom of the I Ching….Diversity is natural and unavoidable. The key is in seeking harmony. To the Chinese, all diversity can be harmonized, no matter whether it is between members of a household, or members of a society, or between nations of the world. The clue lies in one’s attitude. If both sides are willing to come together in sincerity and truthfulness, no problem cannot be solved.” (Alfred Huang)

In one sense, it is hard to see how the day after the election will be an unconditionally good day for many people. Millions will celebrate having avoided whatever horror they foresaw, millions of others will plan ways to deal with the horror they see taking place. That is not a formula for healing.

We have got to try something, something else than what we’ve been experiencing. A new way on November 9 can’t come soon enough.

After 70 Years of Progress, America Must Face Itself Again

Church

Black Church Burned, With ‘Vote Trump’ Scrawled on Side

In 1945 America helped defeat Nazi Germany, a global force that threatened to engulf the world in virulent hate and tyranny. In the aftermath of a brutal but noble victory, and despite deserved self-congratulation, America was forced to look at itself. It was not immune to or unfamiliar with similar levels and types of hate within—in certain places, among certain people.

We worked at identifying and eliminating that sort of hate, institutionally and individually, to the extent that is ever possible. There were missteps and resistance, along with denials and rationalizations. Progress was made, sometimes in fits and starts, and the work goes on.

This has been a year of staggering, stupefying realizations. Among the things we know better, as if we weren’t aware, is that there are plenty of people with hate in their hearts who for a long while have felt marginalized and silenced by a degree of public decency. Another thing we learned, and should know, is that once public decency is called into question or invalidated, those same people will be encouraged and emboldened.

I wrote about this eight months ago, in a post Unleashing the Dogs of Hate. If you haven’t noticed, that hate is barking louder and starting to bite.

Like it or not, these are our countrymen. Pretending they are not has never worked, nor has giving up because there’s nothing to be done. Progress has been made, and though it would be comfortable to believe things inevitably move forward, they don’t. Backwards happens, but not if we start by facing up again to who we are and hope to be. And then get back to work.

Making America Crazy Again: How to Survive and Thrive After the Election

make-america-crazy-again

You don’t want to hear this, but things may get crazier after the election.

If Hillary Clinton wins, she will be the least liked, least trusted President to ever take office. All the assumptions and suppositions about how the Clintons’ good intentions have been mixed with and compromised by expedient centrism, ambition, greed, secrecy and overall ugliness have been confirmed.

Progressives who tried an insurgency within the Democratic Party will learn that if they have a place at the table, it will be set with modest meals, if not mere crumbs.

Republicans will be gleeful at the prospect of obstructing everything and unwinding anything, without much of a plan of their own. Their glee is misplaced, since there is no Republican Party left, not one recognizable as such. Instead, it is merely the shaky platform for another set of would-be Presidents to start jockeying for position as the candidate in 2020.

And then of course there’s Donald Trump, whose hat should have first read Make The GOP Crazy, then Make The Election Crazy, and finally Make America Crazy Again. He is good at each of these. There is no doubt, whatever form his public pathology takes, he will help make 2017 a year we will not forget, just as 2016 is an election we will not forget, no matter how we try.

And so, some suggestions for getting on with our lives, not just surviving, but thriving, after the election.

  1. Religion, spirituality, philosophy, or something like them. Principled views of reality and the world can be very helpful. There is nothing inherently wrong with making stuff up as we go along. Except that when the wind blows, which it does pretty much all the time, and sometimes with hurricane force, we might want to have something to keep us steady.
  1. Media diet. When I see the ad for that cheeseburger with six strips of crisp bacon on top, something in me wants one. Except I don’t eat cheeseburgers any more, don’t eat bacon anymore, and if I did, I don’t think it would be in that particular configuration, since I plan to live a long and healthy life. The news media, even the supposedly respectable ones, are mostly offering us the equivalent of 1-pound burgers with an entire package of bacon on top, hour after hour. If you don’t want to be crazy unhealthy, please watch what you eat.
  1. Learning. You don’t have to learn about anything or anyone. You can learn exactly as much as you need to get on with your life and through the day. If you do choose to be interested in something, including public affairs, do try to learn and discern. We have spent the past year in a storm of misinformation and disinformation, lies and nonsense. That is not going to stop after the election. In fact, it could get worse, hard as that is to believe.
  1. Silence.

Trump as Political Philosopher: The Conceptual Endorsement

hegel

From The Hill:

In an interview with Florida’s WJXT-TV, Trump touted his endorsement from the national Fraternal Order of Police as well as other groups and organizations.

“We had a fantastic meeting with the folks, [a] pretty large group of folks, and they’re very upset about the way they’re being treated, and I understand that fully,” Trump said.

“And they’ve endorsed me, endorsed me fully. I’ve been endorsed by virtually every police department and police group. And I’ve been endorsed largely, conceptually at least, by the military and by the vets,” he continued. (emphasis added)

It’s time to stop talking about Donald Trump as a candidate. Now let us consider him as one of the most creative political thinkers of this or any era.

There are so many examples of how he has turned conventional political thinking inside out and upside down. It is sometimes hard to tell whether he does it out of cleverness or by accident and ignorance. Either way, we continue to be exposed to one novel thought after another.

The latest is this idea of the “conceptual” endorsement. As with many advanced political philosophers—Hegel and others come to mind—it is sometimes hard to tell exactly what he means. He knows, but even he struggles to make it clear to lesser minds like ours.

So we now have some sort of endorsement that isn’t “actual” in the conventional sense. Instead, these military folks have “endorsed” him without technically “endorsing” him. Instead, they embrace a “concept” that endorses Trump, if concepts could endorse a candidate. That might totally misconstrue what Trump meant. But no matter what Trump meant, the idea of conceptual endorsement, as with so many innovations he has given us, will live on long after this election is over.

Are we all happy and enlightened now?

The Political Opera Isn’t Over Until the Fat Cats Sing

Fat Cat Singing

If you were wondering whether the Trump soap opera/nightmare would end sometime before the actual vote, it is now official.

Cut Ties to Donald Trump, Big Donors Urge R.N.C. reports the New York Times:

Several of the Republican Party’s most generous donors called on the Republican National Committee on Thursday to disavow Donald J. Trump, saying that allegations by multiple women that Mr. Trump had groped or made inappropriate sexual advances toward them threatened to inflict lasting damage on the party’s image.

To an elite group of Republican contributors who have donated millions of dollars to the party’s candidates and committees in recent years, the cascade of revelations related to Mr. Trump’s sexual conduct is grounds for the committee to cut ties with the party’s beleaguered standard-bearer, finally and fully….

Bruce Kovner, a New York investor and philanthropist who with his wife has given $2.7 million to Republicans over the same period [since the 2012 election], was just as blunt. “He is a dangerous demagogue completely unsuited to the responsibilities of a United States president,” Mr. Kovner wrote in an email, referring to Mr. Trump.

It is indeed unfortunate that money speaks so much louder and more forcefully than the voice of ordinary people in current, post-Citizens United America. But if at this moment, this helps us to move on, even just a little, from this bizarre political hell we seem to be stuck in, I’ll take it. When the fat cats sing, the parties listen. And this particular song should be music to our ears.

Donald Trump Jr.: The Only Time Normal People Pretend to Talk and Act Decently Is When They Are Running for President. Otherwise…

I can’t resist unpacking this statement from Donald Trump Jr., talking about his father’s infamous Access Hollywood comments:

“I’ve had conversations like that with plenty of people where people use language off color. They’re talking, two guys, amongst themselves. I’ve seen it time and time again. I think it makes him a human. I think it makes him a normal person, not a political robot. He hasn’t spent his whole life waiting for this moment to run for the presidency.”

Off color: This is sort of a quaint description, usually meaning foul or coarse language. It is true that Trump used coarse language in his otherwise highbrow conversation with Billy Bush. But that is hardly the issue.

A normal person: Normal is a moving target, of course, both in terms of culture and of time, i.e., the old normal v. the new normal. To quote a favorite line from Arcade Fire’s Normal Person, “If that’s what’s normal now, I don’t want to know.”

He hasn’t spent his whole life waiting for this moment to run for the presidency: This is the best one. It implies that everybody—or at least “two guys”— always talks this way, unless they are going to run for President, in which case they keep it all behind closed doors. Junior doesn’t explain how a guy and a girl might talk, or how two girls might talk, if they are running for office. Presumably, the same rules apply.

Political Insanity Defense

People have watched enough criminal trials on TV to know about the insanity defense—or actually defenses, since it differs state to state:

THE INSANITY DEFENSE

  • What are the legal standards for insanity?

Each state, and the District of Columbia, has its own statute setting out the standard for determining whether a defendant was legally insane, and therefore not responsible, at the time his crime was committed. In general, the standards fall into two categories.

About half of the states follow the “M’Naughten” rule, based on the 1843 British case of Daniel M’Naughten, a deranged woodcutter who attempted to assassinate the prime minister. He was acquitted, and the resulting standard is still used in 26 states in the U.S.: A defendant may be found not guilty by reason of insanity if “at the time of committing the act, he was laboring under such a defect of reason from disease of the mind as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing, or if he did know it, that he did not know what he was doing was wrong.” (emphasis added) This test is also commonly referred to as the “right/wrong” test.

Twenty-two jurisdictions use some variation of the Model Standard set out by the American Law Institute (A.L.I.) in 1962. Under the A.L.I. rule, a defendant is not held criminally responsible “if at the time of his conduct as a result of mental disease or defect he lacks substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality (wrongfulness) of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law.” (emphasis added) The A.L.I. rule is generally considered to be less restrictive than the M’Naughten rule.

Some states that use the M’Naughten rule have modified it to include a provision for a defendant suffering under “an irresistible impulse” which prevents him from being able to stop himself from committing an act that he knows is wrong.

Three states — Montana, Idaho, and Utah — do not allow the insanity defense at all.

PBS Frontline: A Crime of Insanity

What if—and I know this is far-fetched and fantastical—some political candidate was suffering from what some of the states call “mental disease or defect”? Could that candidate claim no responsibility for behavior on or off the campaign trail? No responsibility for behavior in office, if by some chance elected?

Such a candidate might claim—and again, far-fetched and fantastical—that ISIS will be taking over the United States if he is not elected. That Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is part of a “secret deal” and a vast conspiracy to defeat him. That he, the candidate, is a savior, and that he and he alone in all the world is capable of saving the nation.

This is fertile territory for legal, psychological and political scholars, as far-fetched and fantastical as it may be.

No Photos of Donald Trump Standing with or Hugging Republican Women Governors, Senators and House Members

Women for Trump

This was supposed to be a post containing photos of Donald Trump hugging, or just standing with, Republican women Governors, Senators and House Members. The point is that these women will have to hug, or just stand with, Donald Trump if he becomes President, because he will be the leader of their party.

I can’t, however, because I was unable to find almost any such photos. Why do you think that is?

Note: The photo above is from the Trump campaign website. The page for these Women for Trump shirts includes this:

Please refer to Fitting Guide when ordering; these are very form fitting shirts.

Trump and Triumph: The Insult Comics

Triumph

Donald Trump said Wednesday that derogatory statements he has made toward women were all for the sake of “entertainment” and did not reflect his true feelings. “A lot of that was done for the purpose of entertainment; there’s nobody that has more respect for women than I do,” the real estate mogul told Las Vegas’ KSNV-TV.

Or, as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog would say: “I keed. I keed.”

The first thought—the only rational thought—is that Trump considers himself a sort of insult comic. In his day, Don Rickles entertained millions by unmercifully insulting celebrities. In real life, it is reported that Rickles was actually a sweet guy.

Today, if you think of insult comics, the one that comes to mind is Triumph. Triumph is outrageously entertaining, because he is funny, he speaks with a Russian accent, he knows no limits, he is a dog, he is a puppet, and he smokes a cigar. And because his catchphrase is the perfect exclamation for any insult: “I poop on you.”

And now here’s the really weird thing about thinking of Trump as Triumph: they share the same letters in their name. Seriously. T-R-U-M-P is found in both Trump and Triumph.

Is it possible that somebody is trying to tell us something? I would like to think that this is absurd, but given the way things are going with the campaign, is anything really absurd?

Another Cool Way to Show Support for Our Veterans

IAVA Lifeline Flex

I’ve written a number of times before about veterans issues and about the Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), which last month sponsored a televised Commander-in-Chief Forum featuring the presidential candidates.

It is an old song, but worth repeating. Our treatment of those we have asked to fight is a national shame. If we don’t want to fight and defend, and don’t ask others to do the job for us, fine. Peace is wonderful. But once we ask, we have to provide virtually infinite support for those who answer. This should be at the top of any policy priority list, because it is a moral test, not a partisan talking point. For a grade, I’d consider giving us an E for Effort, but really, it’s more like an F.

If you want to show your support, IAVA has a very cool and inexpensive wearable. It’s the IAVA Lifeline Flex:

IAVA Lifeline Flex
$14.99

Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) Lifeline Flex in Night Vision Yellow and Black with engraved logo on a metal toggle clasp. Hand-wound from the same 550 lb tested parachute chord used in WWII to attach men to their chutes, these cuffs give you up to 15ft of usable paracord when unwound. Not just an all purpose survival tool, the 550 cord also looks killer on your wrist. Don’t leave home without one of these killer bracelets.

ITEM DETAILS:
Hand-wound from military grade 550 cord
One size fits all “Flex” interior with IAVA closure clasp