the donald

Last week I posted about Trump’s rhetoric, which as I mentioned, as awful as it is, it is not that different from the GOP’s standard spiel these days. However, I think there are boxes you need to be able to check off to be qualified to be President that go before even any consideration of political views and policy positions. In my view, not just anybody can be President (or maybe I should say, not just anybody SHOULD be President). I think to be considered for the office of the Presidency, you must have the ability to reason. You have to have good analytical skills (no one can know everything about everything, but as President, you do need to have the ability to understand what your team of experts is telling and make sound decisions based on that information). I also think a President needs to have an intelligent curiosity. They need to have a good grasp of history, economics, sociology, civics, etc., both on a domestic and global scale. A President needs to have empathy, as he/she has to remember that they represent 324 million people, who obviously have different backgrounds, needs, desires, etc. than the President himself/herself. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

I think there are a lot of people who are saying “anyone is better than Hillary Clinton”. The implication of that statement is that either everyone has the qualities required to be President or that amazingly Hillary literally possesses the least amount of qualifications of every single eligible adult in this country. Now I’m not a Hillary fan by any stretch. I disagree with many of her viewpoints (her penchant for military use comes to mind) and do have trust issues with her, not to mention that having the Clintons back in the White House just feels so oligarchical. Still, is she qualified to do the job? Personally I think that’s an easy yes. She has the capability of doing the job, even if I don’t think I’m going to like the way she does it.

So in my view, the “anyone is better than Hillary Clinton” statement just simply isn’t true. Some? Yes. Many? Possibly. All? Of course not. So I really think that comment can be better translated to “I’m voting for the Republican no matter what”. If Bernie Sanders was the nominee, it would be “anyone is better than Bernie Sanders”. It’s a rationalization for voting for somebody that’s not a strong candidate. It means that in your view, political affiliation is by far the most important thing, and without the proper affiliation, none of the other things matter.

The flip side of the argument is “anyone is better than Donald Trump”. Statistically speaking, it is also pretty much impossible that literally everyone is better than Trump. The question really should be is Trump qualified enough (or closely enough as qualified as his opponent) to be considered for the highest office of this country?  In my mind, the answer is a clear no. (At which point, you don’t even move on to comparing policy/political positions….you don’t have to.) Here are just a few things that has led me to this conclusion:

Now maybe this is my own bias and I am not thinking clearly. But I would like to think if somebody like Barbara Streisand or Alec Baldwin somehow was the Democratic nominee (or heck, Donald Trump himself as I think he could have easily decided to run as a Democrat…I don’t think he personally cares that much), I wouldn’t support them because “anybody is better than the “R” candidate”. All I know is I think Trump’s main “qualification” is that he is a celebrity who the press is obsessed with. Otherwise he is not qualified at all. On top of that, he is a very bad person. Not “anyone” would be better than him, but the list of people who are is large enough that it most certainly would include Hillary Clinton.

 

It's one louder.

It’s one louder.

Trump may say things that seem out there, but at least some of what he says isn’t much more than a natural conclusion of the standard GOP rhetoric. For example:

Abortion:

  • What the GOP says – The unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. Fourteenth Amendment rights apply to the unborn child.
  • What Trump said – There should be “some form of punishment” for women having abortions.

If the fetus has the same unalienable rights as everyone else, then it stands to reason that laws against the killing of others would apply. The woman purposely sought to have the procedure, so it wouldn’t be any different fundamentally than hiring a hit to take someone else out. It sounds outrageous to say, but the logic does follow.

Immigration:

  • What the GOP says – Illegal immigration undermines and affects American workers. In the age of terrorism, drug cartels, human trafficking, and criminal gangs, the presence of millions of unidentified persons in this country poses grave risks to the safety and the sovereignty of the United States.
  • What Trump said – “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Reading those two statements together, I have a hard time seeing much of a difference. Trump referenced Mexico in particular, but let’s be honest, in this country when we talk immigration, we aren’t talking about Norwegians. The GOP may be more vague. But they aren’t talking about jobs and/or depressed wages. They are talking risk to safety and the very sovereignty of the country. That can’t be true if we aren’t talking significant numbers of people with “lots of problems”.

Muslims:

  • What the GOP says – “Muslim group[s]” say “that Jesus Christ and all the people that follow him are a bunch of infidels who should be essentially obliterated.” and “a religion that promotes the most murderous mayhem on the planet in their so-called holiest days.”  – both from Mike Huckabee. “We are at war with radical Islam, with an interpretation of Islam by a significant number of people around the world, who they believe now justifies them in killing those who don’t agree with their ideology.” – Marco Rubio.
  • What Trump said – “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,”

If a primary goal of the Muslim religion itself was to “obliterate” all Christians and promote “murderous mayhem”, and if, as Rubio also added, this is a battle of civilizations, is a travel ban against those that call themselves followers of that religion not a reasonable response?

Personally I think Trump says the things he does partly because he doesn’t give anything much thought, so he tries to parrot what he hears from the right. But he also doesn’t give enough thought to realize some of the things said on the right is more rhetoric to capitalize on fears and prejudices than anything that is supposed to lead to an actual proposal for action. And make no mistake, while there is some opposition to him from the right for the same reasons as I oppose him, that as David Brooks put it, he’s epically unprepared to be President (and as such, what passes as “views” and “policy” from him is really irrelevant, because at his core, he’s just a dumb television celebrity), there is plenty of opposition more because they don’t trust him not to be really a liberal (because historically, he has sometimes parroted things that sound “liberal”), not that they are really against his “views” as he generally spouts out today.

In fact, I think that is a good bit of what some people find appealing about Trump. He’s taking the things the GOP has been talking about all along, but doesn’t sugar-coat it. He’s turned the dial to 11.

target

Dear Valued Customer,

And by “valued”, we mean we value the money you give us. We could care less about anything else.

Speaking of caring less, it has come to our attention that there is some confusion about the primary services we provide. The reason we exist is to sell you merchandise at a price that exceeds the cost of goods and the costs of providing the logistics of selling you those goods. In that way, we turn a profit. Contrary to what seems to have become somewhat popular belief, restroom services is not a primary service we provide.

Restroom services do not make us any money. Heck, we probably wouldn’t even have restrooms if it wasn’t required by law (if we serve food) or if we didn’t fear that there’s a slight chance that nature’s call will force you to leave the store without spending money first. Therefore, while it may seem like we have the security of Fort Knox controlling who can and cannot go into the restroom, really we don’t monitor it at all. (In as such that we monitor restrooms, it’s just to make sure you haven’t ignore the “no merchandise beyond this point” sign.  See, stealing our merchandise does cost us money, so yes, we actually care about that.) We instead put our trust in the society to be able to figure out which restroom to use.

So while we may release a statement regarding our “inclusiveness” of restroom use, it’s actually that we just don’t care (we are very pro-inclusive as far as buying stuff from us….we want everyone’s money!). This is not new. We’ve never cared. The only reason we released that statement is because of a rash of recent silly state laws, and we have a public relations department that thought it would be a good idea to remind everyone that we want everyone’s money….er….I mean that we welcome everyone!

As far as any fears of “pervs”, unfortunately “pervs” have always existed and certainly some of them are not very discouraged by the laws on the books banning such “perv” activity. As such, as you might imagine, they aren’t very discourage by store policies or stick figures on doors either (and that’s ignoring the fact that some “pervs” prefer the same-sex anyway). The good news is that there are very, very few people of this nature, and even fewer that choose big box department stores to participate in this activity. If you do fear for your kids privacy or protection, we do allow adult supervision in our restrooms. We also encourage you to report any suspicious activity to us and we’ll call the police. We believe the difference between using the restroom as it is intended and perving is generally really obvious, and we trust you will know the difference too.

We hope that clears everything up.  In summary, we care about making money. We don’t care which restroom you use. In the extremely unlikely event you run across a “perv” (whether in the restroom or not), please report it.

Thank you and have a nice day (of spending a lot of money in our store)!

 

See Montgomery Burns as Robert Bentley in House of Cards: Sweet Home Alabama.

See Montgomery Burns as Governor Robert Bentley in House of Cards: Sweet Home Alabama.

Really, at this point, Alabama state government has become just an awful soap opera….even more terrible than “House of Cards”.  I mean, check out the characters….er….I mean real actual people (….how is this really happening????  How could we have elected such terrible folks that the Onion couldn’t have made them up any better?).

Governor Robert Bentley – The main protagonist….the Frank Underwood if you will.  After a career in dermatology and a short stint in the state’s house of representatives, Bentley was first elected governor in 2010.  One of his big hooks is that he doesn’t accept the salary offered for the governor’s position (he says he won’t take it until Alabama’s unemployment is 5.2% or below, something that hasn’t happened during is tenure….but don’t pass around a collection plate, he regularly reports six-figure incomes….he’s doing fine).  Reelected in 2014, he decides a couple of days after the election would be the ideal time to announce the state had a budget crisis (wouldn’t want that getting in the way of a campaign you know).

But this isn’t fit for television.  We need some plot twists.  So Bentley’s wife leaves him in August, 2015.  Rumors swirl over a supposed affair by the governor.  Hogwash he says!  Ah, but then audio tapes surface, and it has recordings of him talking ‘sweet nuthings’ to another woman!  Bentley is all ‘ok, that’s me….but I swear that it’s……just very imaginative talk……nothing physical….after all, who among us can say they haven’t talked dirty to their senior political advisor????’  Still, he gets booted from his church and now there are those who want to impeach him.  The scandal!

Of course, you need celebrity cameos. And a crazy Vegas episode. Like the one where the governor and his mistress/not mistress went to Las Vegas to see Celine Dion. Hey, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, amirite? Oh, and you need wacky hi-jinks.  Like the one where the governor gets in an argument with his wife and leaves in a huff to the beach (to hook up with/not hook up with his mistress/not mistress). But oopsy, he forgot his wallet! Oh what to do, what to do? Going back would be SO embarrassing! Ah, just send security back to go get it…it’s just taxpayer money!  (“But sir, what do I tell everyone???”  “Tell them it’s a matter of state security.”  Hilarious!)

Rebekah Mason – The mistress/not mistress.  Or top political advisor….with privileges! Whatever the case, she clearly had won a lot of influence with the Governor, even if that advice was often terrible. So, how did she get paid, anyway? Why, dark money from a shadowy non-profit, of course!  The organization, called ACEGov, was first established using leftover campaign funds under the pretense that it would be used to help good causes, like foster children. Or apparently, a source for the mistress/not mistress’s pay check. I guess “good causes” are in the eyes of the beholder.

So was Rebekah Mason married? Of course she was! So what of her husband you ask? He says he has resolved this issue with his wife a long time ago. I am sure that the $91,000 position with the governor’s office helped.  I’m sure the hundreds of thousands of dollars his consulting firm received from the University of Alabama that the Mason’s didn’t want anyone to know about helped even more. But who’s to say?

Mike Hubbard – Speaker of the State House. He would be leading any impeachment hearings for Governor Bentley. But alas, he has his own problems. He has been criminally charged with 23 counts of felony ethic violations. Hogwash he says! Hey, if you can’t use your office for personal gain and make votes for your own interest, what is the point of being in government anyway? To serve the people? Pfft.  But along with this, there’s another plot twist that makes this important.

Spencer Collier – Head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.  Well, actually former head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. Why former? He was fired by Bentley. Bentley says he fired Collier for misuse of funds.  But Collier says he was fired because Bentley asked him to interfere with the Hubbard investigation (specifically, he asked him to sign an affidavit claiming that an investigation of claims by Hubbard’s defense against the AG’s office were still ongoing rather than say they found no wrong doing) and he refused. Whatever the case may be, once he was fired, he decided it was time for all the secrets to come out, including the Bentley/Mason affair/not affair and the tapes (which do definitely exist).

Heck, with all these twist and turns, maybe this wouldn’t be terrible television after all.  But it’s really terrible reality.

Easter

Posted: March 27, 2016 in Miscellaneous
Tags: ,
"Hey, we chocolate bunnies have also made sacrifices on Easter...deep, deep sacrifice!

“Hey, we chocolate bunnies have also made sacrifices on Easter…deep, deep sacrifice!

So it’s Easter today.  But so what?  What’s it about?  I mean, yes, for Christians, it’s the celebration of the day Jesus is said to have arisen from the dead after his crucifixion.  That’s cool and all, but what does that mean for us in the here and now, in 2016?

Bear with me, as I make no claims to be any sort of theologian.  I guess one takeaway is that if you believe this, you believe there is a path for us all to heaven.  And while there are different conceptions of what heaven exactly is, the general agreement is that heaven is pretty great and, better yet, forever.  So yay us!

But another takeaway, at least for me, is that as the story goes, the reason Jesus was in the position to arise from the dead in the first place was that he had died for all of our sins and so the rest of us may be forgiven.  In other words, he made a sacrifice for the greater good of society.  That’s a lesson that’s appealing to me, because that’s something we can apply to the here and now.  I think that’s a lesson we can take and apply, whether it’s toward public policy or toward our own actions just in daily life.  Doing good, doing the right thing, often does not benefit us directly and sometimes isn’t even free. (By not being “free”, I don’t even necessarily mean it costs money.  It can be things like time.  Or convenience.  Or security.  Or even just comfort.)  Some sacrifice for the greater good can be worth it.

I’m not here to suggest we can all be Jesus.  We aren’t perfect and never will be.  However I don’t see the harm of striving to be more like him (or the stories of him if you choose not to believe) though, even if the sacrifices and good are just small.  No reason why we can’t make the world we live on now the best world we can make it, even if our time here is temporary.

You know what else Easter is about?  Cadbury Eggs.  Lots and lots of Cadbury Eggs.  Mmmmm…..Cadbury Eggs……*droooooool*……….um, what was I writing about?  Oh….yeah…..Happy Easter everyone!

“No Matter Who You Are….

Posted: March 13, 2016 in Uncategorized

I was going to post about another topic, but in light of the recent events at the GOP front runner’s rallies, I’ve decided to re-post an entry I wrote about 3 months ago. But I did want to add a little commentary.

In this post, I reference the rhetoric “as of late”, as if only most recently the rhetoric had gotten ugly. But that’s not really true. It has been years and years of rhetoric from politicians, radio and television talk show hosts, bloggers, etc. that has in my opinion culminated into the Trump phenomenon. Trump doesn’t happen out of the blue. For instance, when you have had years and years of rhetoric regarding the President purposely damaging this country, pitting people against one another, literally destroying the nation, then isn’t a civil unrest movement the natural reaction to that if it was actually true?

Still, Trump’s own rhetoric is definitely playing a large role, and it is disappointing to me that he seems to have decided to pour gasoline on the fire rather than to at least attempt to disarm the situation. I am fearful that somebody is going to get very seriously hurt (if not worse) at one of Trump’s rallies (if not elsewhere, as I am also worried that this is going to escalate and spread).

So finally, I will just invite all to read my earlier post. I think it’s important to remember that we are all people (as cheesy and idealistic as that might sound)….and I think we need to start holding our leaders and all of ourselves to a higher standard of respect toward one another and differing views.

World's (Not So) Funniest Blog

different…or where you come from, or what you look like or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God….”  President Obama said this during his prime time speech regarding ISIS.  A church I attend semi-regularly goes further, “No matter…no matter what your standing is in the community, or where you live, no matter your age, no matter your gender or race, no matter who you are, where you come from or where you’re going, no matter what you believe or doubt, no matter who you love, God loves you, and you are welcome here.”

With the horrible acts and hateful rhetoric as of late, I think it is time we try to put things back into perspective.  While we have all kinds of different experiences and circumstances, the bottom line is we are all people.  Men, women, and children.  And it’s in all of our best…

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alabama constitution

The state of Alabama recently passed a bill which in my mind is the worst kind of state legislation, the kind that tells city/local governments what they can or can’t do.  In this case, the law they passed says that cities/municipalities in Alabama can not set its own minimum wage.  This was in direct response to the city of Birmingham passing an increase of its minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

This is just frustrating to me as a Birmingham resident.  First, the city of Birmingham continues to struggle economically, with over 30% of its population living below the poverty line.  The city leadership has been pretty useless when it comes to actually doing something about this.  And then when they finally actually try to do something, ANYTHING, to affect change, the state steps in and says no?  Geez louise, the city is “do-nothing” enough even without the state squashing one of the few actions the city actually managed to pass.

Seconds, as a voter who supports this increase, what am I supposed to do?  Obviously the elected leaders of the city supported this.  Additionally, the state representatives from the city ALSO supported this.  The state representatives that killed this all represent OTHER communities.  I can’t cast a vote against them (and convince my fellow members of the community to do the same).  I suppose I could call these others, but they really have no reason to listen to me.  After all, they don’t represent me in the first place!

Of course, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.  The state’s very constitution was created to consolidate power with state legislators at the capital of Montgomery (and to help ensure that “power” remained with well-to-do whites).  Almost any local legislation has to go through Montgomery first, often requiring a state constitution amendment to so (for example, there is a state constitutional amendment up for vote Tuesday that would allow Shelby County to allow alcohol sales on Sundays).  This has led to the creation of a ridiculous constitution document that now has nearly 900 amendments.  It has also led to ridiculous situations where local provisions have been approved by the impacted voters, but overruled by other statewide voters.

Still, Alabama is not the only state that does this sort of thing.  For instance, the state of Tennessee passed a law forbidding cities/local governments from being able to ban guns from its own public parks.  The Missouri state government says that cities can’t ban plastic bags or set minimum benefit requirements.  In Nebraska, the attorney general said that its cities can’t pass ordinances designed to protect the LGBT community.

One of the ideas that proponents of small federal government often push is the idea that local governments can be “laboratories of democracy”,  where ideas can be tested without having a larger impact on the larger population.  And what better laboratory could there be than at the city level?  If it works, great, maybe others will adopt the same ideas.  If not, then we the local citizens can push for change and hold our representatives responsible and meanwhile no one else would have really been affected by the failed policy at all.  Yet it seems when the ideas go against the political beliefs of those in charge at higher levels of government, all of a sudden the idea of “big brother” stepping isn’t a violation of small government principles after all.

Let Birmingham (let us!) give its minimum wage increase a shot.