See, I have the hat AND the pea shooter. Clearly I’m qualified for the position of U.S. Cowboy! Wait, I’m not running for cowboy? There’s no such thing as U.S. Cowboy?

Well, I have a feeling a lot more people have heard of Roy Moore now! Since I live in Alabama, perhaps I can give a perspective from inside the state.

Why are these allegations of sexual misconduct just now coming out?

Important things to note here…these women really didn’t “come forward”. This is the result of investigative journalism from the Washington Post. The reporters found them, not the other way around. Were it not for that, it’s probable that this story would have never come out. Frankly the local Alabama papers have never been bastions of investigative journalism anyway, and nowadays those papers are shells of their former selves. So it took a national paper to actually look into this and it took Roy Moore running for a national position rather than a state position for them to care. So yeah, the timing does kinda have to do with him running for U.S. Senate. But it really doesn’t matter, it’s either true or it’s not.

Because it has taken so long for the story to come out, that means it must not be true, right?

Well let’s look at Louis C.K. The accusations against Louis C.K. are from all the way back to at least 2002. Yet he admits now in 2017 that they are all true. We have to come to grips that women (and kids and even men) are reluctant to come forward for all kinds of reasons (fear of not being believed, embarrassment, having their own reputation ruined, facing repercussions, etc.). Just because someone doesn’t come forward immediately (or at all) doesn’t mean it didn’t happen and most definitely doesn’t make it okay.

Should we wait for more evidence?

Obviously that’s up to you. My feeling is that in these particular instances there’s not going to be any more evidence to be had, especially before the December 12th election. I suppose if there are more instances of sexual misconduct, those victims may feel embolden to now come forward. That said, as it stands it’s really going to be a situation of who you choose to believe. For what I consider the most damning accusation regarding the 14 year-old girl, family and friends back that it’s a story she told them years ago. For me, that adds credibility. On the other side, Roy Moore’s own self-defense has been less than credible in my opinion (he definitely is allowing for dating underage girls, which tells me he at least did that). But it is also true that I never had any like for Roy Moore. So your mileage may vary.

Will Roy Moore drop out?

No. Not a chance. That’s not who Roy Moore is. Roy Moore gets forcibly removed from office. He doesn’t resign, he doesn’t step aside.

The defense of Roy Moore?

Is just bizarre. I of course expected the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ type stuff that is fair enough. I also expected the “I know Roy Moore and he would never do such a thing” type of stuff which is also fair enough. What I didn’t expect was for defenders to actually say his actions were justifiable even if true. Did they even read the article? The worst accusation is most definitely NOT okay (the others probably are better defined as at least creepy). For an Alabama public official to actually invoke the Bible and Joseph and Mary and the birth of Jesus and say it’s all good? Good grief!

How has this changed your opinion of Roy Moore?

Me, I was never going to vote for Roy Moore. Ever, ever. This is a guy who was removed from the Alabama Supreme Court not once but twice for misconduct. This is a guy who believes that if you don’t fit a certain mold, you literally have no rights. This is a guy who thinks judges should be kicked out when they make decisions he doesn’t like. This is a guy who believes you should be banned from serving in public office based on your choice of religion. This is a guy who somehow decided that athletes exercising their free speech rights was against the law (after apparently just discovering the existence of the U.S. flag code and then badly misinterpreting it, this despite being a state Supreme Court justice). This is a guy who thinks preschool is a liberal attempt at Nazi-style indoctrination. This is a guy who thinks when this nation gets attacked and/or suffers tragedy, it’s God punishing the country. This is guy who claims to believe in the rule of law but then says only “God’s law” matters, which funny enough allows him justification to ignore the rule of law when he disagrees with it (God doesn’t seem to actually speak up so much publicly, so I suppose we just have to take Roy Moore’s word for it regarding His rulings). I already had plenty of reasons not to vote for Roy Moore. But it’s not my opinion that matters.

Can this change the outcome of this election?

Yes! Based on things I’ve been reading from people outside this state, there is some believe that all GOP candidates are equally and wildly popular in Alabama. This is not true. Roy Moore is not a particularly popular Republican, at least relatively speaking. When he won the Supreme Court chief justice position again in 2012, he did so while winning 52% of the vote while Presidential candidate Mitt Romney won 60% of the vote and other GOP state candidates won 60-65% of the vote. There are voters in Alabama who normally vote Republican who won’t vote Roy Moore. On the other side, Doug Jones is unusual in that he is an actual very solid Democratic candidate (GOP candidates in Alabama often run either unopposed or against token Democrat opposition who can sometimes be also complete crackpots). Polling even before this story showed Doug Jones within 6 points or so of Roy Moore, which for this state is a virtual tie! (usually GOP  candidates run 20 points ahead if anyone bothers to do polling at all, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 28 percentage points in Alabama) I had always thought Doug Jones had a chance to pull an upset even before this. I believe there’s a base of voters who are voting Roy Moore no matter what and there was already a group of voters who were never going to vote for Roy Moore. It’s just a matter of a) does this flip anyone in the middle and b) on the other side does this somehow cause a backlash of voters who are energized to oppose the Washington Post and the “liberal elites”?

I think now it’s going to be a very tight election that can go either way. We shall see on December 12th.

 

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Wormholes? No, everybody doesn’t have wormholes so that can’t be it.

My opinions (FWIW as they say):

  • Supposedly John Kelly and James Mattis have discussed what to do if Trump ordered a nuclear attack. Now I don’t know if this is true, I don’t work in the White House and I am sure they would call this “fake news”. But if this is even remotely true, there is only one answer: the 25th amendment. A President that can’t be trusted with the nuclear codes isn’t fit to serve office.
  • A better person in office could and would avoid the spats with the NFL and Gold Star families and friends and North Korea, etc. It would require thinking beyond one’s self though. President Trump not only can’t avoid these spats, he doesn’t even want to.
  • NFL and other players who are kneeling during the National Anthem aren’t protesting or disrespecting military service people. The military doesn’t own the National Anthem. It belongs to all Americans. I believe the protests are protests against injustice in general and against the African American community in particular. Further, since I do not believe anybody was really doing any knelling during the National Anthem before President Trump made his comments in Mobile, many of these acts of protest more generally are actually speaking out for the right to protest at all. I believe that preserving this right, the freedom of expression, is one of the selfless things military persons are fighting for. I would hate to think they are actually just fighting for the “right” for citizens to honor them during National Anthem playings, which would come off as an awfully selfish endeavor (I don’t believe that to be the case. But to me that would be the logical conclusion from some of the arguments I am seeing an hearing.)
  • You can’t actually “fix” health care without looking at the prices no matter what system you use. Anyone that has a “solution” that doesn’t address prices is just blowing smoke.
  • Asking President Trump about his policy is a waste of time. He doesn’t know what it is. In as such as there is any policy, other people are responsible.
  • The recent speech given by former President George W. Bush is more proof that he is a much, much better man than President Trump ever thought of being. For as much as I disagreed with Bush’s policy decisions, I do believe that in his heart he is a good man who cared about this country. I do wonder if he (among others) was too vilified at a personal level (rather than just questioning and criticizing his administrations policies) that when it came to warning people about Trump that it came off as the boy who cried wolf?
  • I am beginning to think working for the Trump administration precludes one from being the so-called “adult in the room”.
  • We in society are not doing enough to protect women, children, LGBTQ, minorities and other disadvantaged groups from harassment, abuse, and assault.
  • I really fear things in Puerto Rico are going to get worse before they get better.
  • A Democrat becoming Senator in Alabama? I think it could happen and I’m not the only one.

Focus People

Posted: September 24, 2017 in Current Events, Politics
Tags: ,

 

In fairness the resemblance is undeniable.

  • Important issues going on right now: The disasters in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, etc.; the current GOP healthcare bill; the situation with North Korea; not to mention long-term issues like racism and pay inequality….on and on. Not an issue: black athletes with opinions (a right that is Constitutionally guaranteed by the way, as long as we are discussing what is and what is not “American”).
  • If President Trump’s Twitter is any indication, we all know what the President has chosen to focus on. Shouldn’t this be beneath the office of the Presidency? Shouldn’t he have better things to do? Is there anything similar we can point to involving President Obama? (Or President George W.Bush? Or Clinton? Or Bush Sr.? Or Reagan?….)
  • The media should not be sidetracked by the stupid tweets. Leave the stories about the pissing battle by our celebrity President against our celebrity sport starts to TMZ. Instead, we need stories regarding how our response has been to the recent hurricanes. Has it been adequate? Are we doing a good job? We need stories on the impact of the GOP healthcare proposal. We need stories on the handling of North Korea (speaking of which, is school grade name calling of North Korea’s President supposed to be considered “tough”?) If the current thing between the President and sport athletes is to be covered, it should be within the larger societal context of free speech and racism, not in a ‘you won’t believe what LeBron James just tweeted and then what President Trump tweeted back???!!! Oh my!!!!!’ context.
  • We also shouldn’t be sidetracked by this. The President needs to be held accountable for what he does and how he performs, which goes far far far beyond his divisive tweets (honestly if somebody proposed a new Constitutional amendment that banned Presidents from having Twitter accounts, I would probably support it. Geez!)

For the most part I think the only purpose (beyond dividing this country) President Trump’s Twitter account serves as is being a squirrel. Let’s try not be the Up dogs! (Wait…this whole post…..SQUIRREL!!!!! Darn it!)

  • Republicans have no idea what to do about health care (other than the cut taxes part), “repeal and replace” was just good campaign jargon with nothing behind it, and none of the propose plans are better than just leaving the original Affordable Care Act alone. Further, no dramatic improvements to health  are will occur until the issue is discussed in terms beyond insurance, instead with the goal of making health care affordable and accessible to all. (This will probably also require agreement that access to health care is a right, not a privilege.)
  • “Trumpcare” is a stupid name for any of these bills. Trump doesn’t know what are in these bills and doesn’t care. Heck, it seems he might not even know what health care insurance even is. “Obamacare” made sense, as President Obama was heavily involved in the crafting of the bill and shepherding it through Congress to passage. Trump wouldn’t even know how to do this. Call it “GOPCare” or “Republicare” and place the accountability where it belongs (not to say Trump is 0% responsible, he is a Republican after all, just that we all need to start realizing more that our other leaders matter, not just the President).
  • Trump is very ignorant about most subjects but his massive ego doesn’t allow for him to admit (or perhaps even be self-aware enough to even realize) that he is very ignorant about most subjects so he doesn’t bother to try to learn. (The recent New York Times interview can serve as exhibit ‘A’ as evidence of this ignorance.) Further these are bad traits for a President to have.
  • Trump asserting that his power to pardon is absolute should be concerning.
  • Trump’s failure to really remove himself from his private business dealings both domestically and abroad and the conflicts of interest that has created/creates should be concerning.
  • The police shoot too many people and the criminal system is not going to solve this. We as society in this country need to reevaluate what we want policing to be. The current system seems to dictate that police safety comes before all else. Does that mean too many errors are made in the name of police self-protection?
  • What other people do, as long as it doesn’t harm others, is nobody’s business.
  • Our military is way too active and has been since World War II (we call it a defense department rather than an offense department for a reason).

I actually think it’s only a matter of time before the color of the sky becomes a partisan issue.

Philando Castile was a 32-year-old young man who after graduating high school as an A-student worked for the local school district and had been promoted to cafeteria supervisor only a couple of years prior. He was well-liked by both his coworkers and the kids. He was the kind of guy who knew all the kids names and knew what they needed. He served as a role model for the kids to look up to. This is to say that by all accounts, he was one of the ‘good guys’.

On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was shot and killed by police. His crimes? Apparently having no criminal record beyond minor traffic violations, being the same race as a robbery suspect, maybe or maybe not having a broken tail light, and having legal possession of a firearm, which he told the officer about.

Beyond all else, surely we can all agree that contact between this man and police shouldn’t end in his death, right? It shouldn’t end in shooting up his car at all (keep in mind his girlfriend and her 4 year-old daughter was also in the car…lucky not to also be shot…and if that 4 year-old would have taken a bullet, what would we all said then?).

If we can all agree on that, maybe next we can agree that too often police and citizen contacts end with gun violence. And maybe then, given that a) given the acquittal in the above situation and b) that it can’t act until somebody is already injured or dead anyway, we can agree that the criminal justice system is not going to solve this problem.

Maybe if we can agree to all that, we can start having a much wider dialogue about what we want policing to be in this country. I do think the goal needs to be as little shooting and killing as possible. I certainly don’t have all the answers (or maybe none of them), but do know that the ideas at Campaign Zero seem worthy of discussion. Something has to change if we want to get different results.

Last week Republicans discovered it’s a lot easier to complain about how the other side is getting it all wrong than it is to figure out what is right when their own health care plan went down in flames. I think a lot of that is because it’s a lot easier to get people to rally around generic slogans that fit nicely on bumper stickers than it is to agree on the specifics of a plan. Also, the specifics of a plan takes a while to put together and if you haven’t done any of the ground work for that, it’s hard to throw that together in just a couple of weeks.

“Repeal and Replace” makes for a wonderful rallying cry, but it’s not a policy you can implement. Replace with what is kind of a big deal. “Build the Wall” is a great representation that you are going to get tough on illegal immigration, but it’s not an actual immigration policy. “Make America Great Again” sounds awesome! But it’s not an actual plan. “Drain the Swamp” is easy to chant, but what does it actually mean?

That said, I think people heard those things and said ‘hey, Trump and the GOP is going to do something’ and they just either weren’t worried about the details and filled in the gaps with their own details. And you could make the case that why should the average voter be worried about details. Isn’t that why we have a government in the first place, to deal with the details? Meanwhile the Democrats may have better policy detail, they have lousy slogans and bumper stickers.  “I’m With Her” is not really that much removed from “Vote For Me…Just Because”. “Stronger Together” doesn’t really point to any particular policy. More than ever, we are discovering that elections are really all about marketing, period.

The GOP may learn a thing or two from Democrats about policy making. But the Democrats could learn a thing or two from the GOP about marketing.

trump-gop

After about a month of President Trump, it seems to me that Trump actually cares about very few things and certainly doesn’t have much of any actual policies in mind, so he mostly delegates all that and as long as he gets to pretend to be the big man in charge by making a ridiculous show out of signing things and showing them off, he really doesn’t care much about what he’s actually signing off on. That means in such as policy is actually being driven, it’s mostly being driven by the people around Trump. Here’s how I see the breakdown:

WHAT TRUMP CARES ABOUT:

  • Trump (and the “brand”) – Trump has little ability to see beyond himself. (Plenty of evidence for that, but here’s an example. Trump has already filed his candidacy for the 2020 Presidential election. Why? So he can legally begin fundraising for his campaign. Why hasn’t this been done before? Because by fundraising for himself, he takes away from fundraising for other GOP candidates for the mid-term elections. But of course he really doesn’t care about that.) He desperately wants to be taken seriously (which I believe was his whole point of running for President, not for any particular agenda and vision he had or the nation). So most of Trump’s care is simply to be seen as the most awesomely awesome President (and thus most awesomely awesome man) the world has ever seen.
  • Trump Organization – In as such as he’s interested in using Presidential powers, it’s simply to enrich himself and his organization. So if being President helps him win a long sought after trademark in China, great. If it can help him drum up business for his hotels and resorts and for his daughter’s business, all the better. And that’s my concern with Russia. Trump is not necessarily wrong that good relations between the U.S. and Russia is not a bad thing. BUT, my concern is that we are really talking about good relations between TRUMP and Russia, and Trump is simply looking out for the good of his business in Russia and may be willing to sacrifice what’s best for the nation for that purpose.
  • The Wall – And I mean the wall itself. I’m not sure how much Trump really cares about immigration. But he wants that damn wall…not a virtual wall, a tangible wall you can see and touch. I think this has something to do with the idea that Trump likes buildings and slapping TRUMP on them…it’s almost as though it doesn’t count if it’s not a physical tangible thing. Heck, if that wall does get built, I wouldn’t be surprised if he slaps TRUMP on top of it. Probably thinks it can be a tourist attraction he can sell tickets to see.

WHAT TRUMP AND GOP CARE ABOUT:

  • Hatred of the media – Actually for Trump, not hatred of the media in general. He loves being on tv and craves the attention. Trump hates critical media (defined as anything short of gushing praise for Trump). No doubt Trump can’t even handle the minimum of criticism (not a new development, he never has), and since getting criticism is just part of the job of being President, it is truly driving him crazy (and that’s his one and only concern, how they report on Trump, he could care less about reports on policy and the GOP). But many on the conservative side of the fence have also long tried to discredit the “mainstream” (as they like to say derisively) media in favor of outlets such as Fox News, Breitbart, & Drudge that more actively push their agenda. So I think Trump’s war on the media is very welcomed by many on the right.

WHAT THE GOP CARE ABOUT:

  • Repeal of Obamacare – There will be no policy in regards to healthcare coming from the White House. I mean, I don’t think they have the ability to produce one if they tried, but they also don’t care enough to try. Trump repeated this over and over because that’s simply a box you have to check if you are running as a Republican politician. But anything that actually happens will be the result of the GOP itself. While there’s no doubt that Obama was the driving force behind the Affordable Care Act (so “Obamacare” was apt), the GOP will be the driving force behind anything that happens going forward so the result should be called “Republicare” or “GOPCare”.
  • Immigration Policy – Steve Bannon is who comes up with this stuff. Trump just signs off on it. It’s Steve Bannon’s world view that drove the refugee/immigrant executive order debacle. It’s Steve Bannon’s belief that the United States is being overran by immigrants (both illegal AND legal) that leads to his belief that extreme actions are necessary.
  • Pulling Support From Transgender School Children Bathroom Rights – This has Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions written all over it. In fact, reportedly even Besty Devos was reluctant to go along with it, but Jeff Sessions pretty much made it a ‘either me or her’ situation and Devos relented when it became clear it was either go along or lose your job. While I don’t think Trump has strong views on this, it is important to note when push came to shove which side of the fence he landed. He’s mostly surrounded by far right advisors and he will go along with what they say.
  • Supreme Court nominees – Trump released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees during his campaign which basically mimics lists from the Heritage Foundation and other conservative think tanks. Trump doesn’t care enough to put any thought into this, so copying a list from a conservative group is the ‘easy button’.

I think the bottom line is this, if the issue involves Trump personally, then Trump is driving the boat. If the issue is anything that involves actual policy, then it’s somebody on Trump’s team, like Mike Pence, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Jared Kushner, Jeff Sessions, etc. and Trump is just going along. In fact, that seems to be the deal. The far-right tolerates Trump’s selfish tendencies and in return Trump goes along with their far-right agenda.

So you have a lot of bad here. A selfish President who doesn’t give a damn about conflicts-of-interest. An administration who has far-right viewpoints who don’t get any push back as long as they show their loyalty to Trump. Add to the fact that Trump and his team (which were picked based on loyalty, not knowledge) seem completely incompetent (though at times that probably accidentally works in this nation’s favor, as they are less effective as they could be at implementing their far-right agenda), and we are in for a very messy chaotic few years.