Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Letter To My Granddaughters On The 2017 Inauguration

First, my best wishes for all of my granddaughters for a very happy and satisfying New Year.  I want to express to you my thoughts about the upcoming Presidential Inauguration and the Women's March On Washington on the day after, January 21.  This because so many women in my life are converging on our nation's capital on that day to stand up for their rights, your rights and to celebrate the major fight ahead for equality and justice for not only women, but us all.

Most of the women in my life were crushed on November 8 when Hillary Clinton was defeated in our most bizarre electoral college vote.  Crushed not because they agreed with Ms. Clinton 100%; no seriously thinking person would agree with a candidate 100%.  But they respected her preparation for this huge responsibility, her very significant service to her countrymen and countrywomen and the dignified, intelligent and graceful way she presented her case for election.   Now they and I respect the dignified and graceful manner in which she is accepting the results.  No bloviating, no bitter statements of recrimination against her opponent nor those who rejected her candidacy.

I for one had hoped this well prepared and experienced leader might stand before us on January 20 and provide inspiration for all of us as the first women elected to lead this powerful nation.  But, by the tightest of margins in three states she did not prevail.  I will be writing a blog soon entitled Defeat By A Thousand Tiny Cuts.

But for you, the three most important women in my life in addition to my beloved Julia Jackson, I have a few thoughts.  Hillary never gave up, even under withering and demeaning, baseless attacks.  You must not give up either.  Not in any of the pursuits life leads you to, nor complete control over your own destiny and the choices that are ahead for you.  You own your own being.  Every aspect of it.  Mind, body and spirit.   Don't ever give up that control.

Never stop dreaming.  Imagine your futures.  Your highest aspirations.  work like hell to realize and actualize them.

Look the the inspiration the women who came before you offer.  The black women in bondage in America who broke out and not only became free, but gave some much back to us all.   The suffragettes  who labored for 80 years for a right that was always due them, the right to vote and participate in their governance. The Feminists of the 50's, 60's and 70's who fought for your right to control your own destiny, your own bodies and demanded equality.  Their dream of an Equal Rights Amendment to codify their rights and yours is still unrealized.  Help them get it done in your lifetime, if not for yourselves, for your children and those to come.  For your sisters in the cause.

And speaking of inspiration, I want to honor the two women in my life who did their homework, hit the streets in protest, gathered with other women to demand justice, served in community leadership positions denied to others before them and never, never stopped advocating for what is fair and right.  Equality.  Took risks, spoke out and stood tall demanding justice.  Mary Kaye Merriman and Julie Jackson.  Two activists who worked not only for themselves, their families but also for the sisterhood still diminished by misogyny, predatory sexists, ignorant racists and worst of all, silent bystanders who are complicit with their silence.

Do what you can to further the cause of ending the suppression of half the earth's population.  Speak out. Write.  Set examples.  Excel.  Lead if you can.  You are up to the task with the way forward paved by selfless others.  Now it is your turn. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Losing by 80,000 Votes In Three States Is Not a Repudiation

 I'm mad and still in shock that we have a  racist, fascist sexual predator now likely leading our country somewhere that is likely not a good place.  But I'm not so mad or shocked that I cannot discern that this was not some sort of landslide and macro repudiation of the economic policies of the Democratic Party.  It was a stunning example of evil manipulation of our lesser angels and damned effective communications by a master of theater.

Hillary is currently on her way to somewhere in the vicinity of a 3 million popular vote margin.   That's bigger than most in losing American Electoral College election history.  It is a repudiation of lousy emotional connection, policy communications and lousy party GOTV in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.   Our DNC leadership was embarrassing to say the least.  But the margin of victory was hairline thin.

We haven't lost touch with "the people."  Yes, we've lost touch with the white racists, many who escaped from the horrors, in their minds, of having to be in a party with those other people to stake out a new life in ex-urban areas.  Trumpites and their parents started migrating to the ex-urbs back when Daddy Bush in the late 60's started recruiting Wallace people out of the Democratic Party into the current iteration of the Republican Party. The migration  was accelerated with the earlier voting rights and civil rights acts. Likely half the Trumpites fit into this category and good riddance.  The others  are so low information and unengaged outside of their own miserable lives that they fell for a con artist.  Most of them are beyond help.  This is not a mass repudiation as some pundits would have you believe.  This was a very geographically selective failure to turn out our base, in keeping with dismal turnout trends for Democrats at all levels for decades.  It is the continuation of a trend, salvaged by the brilliant Obama campaigns of 2008 and 2012 where he found a way to work around this trend and voter suppression with a determined army of loyalists.

There are a helluva lot more folks who have dropped out of the voting process, about half the voting eligible population, that fit the profile of people who can be helped by the Democratic Party and who help themselves by helping the Party win elections locally and nationally.  It will take massive grassroots work, but that is the real work of the Party so let's get on with it.  Restore grass roots party leaders, train them, support them in their neighborhoods and to the degree possible, empower them with the old fashion ward heeler power of yesteryear.  This is the guy or gal in the neighborhood who can help with a job, a problem, a lawyer, whatever is needed.  No, don't rely on brand loyalty.  Rely on old fashioned patronage and damned good communications.  Lord knows we have the communications tools needed.  We have to do this ACORN style.

As for the populist message.  Sure.  As the co-founder of the Progressive Populist Caucus of the Texas Democratic Party 15 years ago, I know something about that movement.  But  know that it doesn't have to mean blowing up Wall Street, big banking and corporate America.  It means limiting their control of our government and candidates at all levels with their money and lobbying.  We do this by restricting their ability to influence our electeds and getting rid of those unwilling to wean themselves from their influence.  Yes, that means a Party that both rewards and punishes when necessary.

Yes, break up the big banks and separate speculation banking from consumer banking, but do it to support local community banks serving  their communities.  I know about this too as a small business person for a significant part of my working life.  I learned long ago that a big national chain  bank manager is barely a cut above a fast food restaurant manager in power, knowledge and authority.  My neighborhood local bankers knew how to advise me and how to judiciously lend me money to grow my business.

Let Wall Street commercial bankers create and move capital around to create and grow businesses, just  regulate them from taking advantage of consumers, punish them when they break the law and tax them when profits and incomes become obscene.  You still need these people, the honest and good ones to advise you on your savings and your retirement.  And you're going to need retirement investment help to a greater degree than before as pensions and defined benefit retirement plans are replaced by 40l Ks and the like.  Just regulate them to keep them honest, properly compensated but not obscenely so and punish them when they screw you.  Yes, we still need the good ones and someone to keep a sharp eye on them.  Those would be your friendly regulators, who should not be from their ranks, but independent of them in background.

This also goes for corporations.  Don't buy their loyalty to keep their production facilities here at home.  Give them incentives and regulations with good reasons to put customers first and shareholders next in line behind consumers and customers.   Tax them not as punishment but as an opportunity to be good citizens. This was mostly the corporate way of the 50's through the 70's  before Reagan turned them loose to turn on us.   Help them innovate and create new ideas, new products and new and better ways of doing commerce.  That will create new and better employment opportunities. Punish them economically when they leave us for foreign lands, excepting those producing goods intended for foreign lands, not to ship back to us.  That production should be here by and for us.

The Party and its candidates must restrain itself from over promising  easy fixes to the macro economic trends that explain our current underemployment/middle class stagnation.  Yes, too much capital has flowed to the top of the capitalistic pyramid.  Tax policy can fix some of that.  But globalization of trade was originally well intended.  It was supposed to provide expanded growth  through new markets.  It did to some degree, but with unintended consequences of offshoring and outsourcing.  We screwed up.  But rewriting some of the rules and some new regulation can address some of the needed solutions.   And trade can provide economic benefits to workers and put the focus on human needs and away from human conflict.

But the biggest culprit in economic stagnation are the decades long trends toward automation and greater industrial production efficiency, reducing the need for hands-on human labor.  We also failed to protect the sacred right of people to collectively bargain for better wages, retirements and employment stability.  

But be realistic.  Many of those industrial  jobs are not coming back, certainly not in the form of massively staffed production lines.   We need to give those in areas like the rust belt and ex-urban counties the truth about the magnitude of the fixes available, whether they choose to comprehend the truth or if they'd rather embrace desperate fantasy.  And we need to raise the money from the affluent to sustain the lives of those families so impacted until at least some of them can be retrained for tech and service industry employment with a just wage.  Whether Democrats will be rewarded for telling the truth and providing sustenance for the negatively impacted remains to be seen.  But it is necessary because both truthfulness and help are the humane thing to do.

It is possible for this dynamic economy to multi-task.  Democrats can advocate for the rights of workers simultaneously with encouragement of capital to provide growth and innovation in the economy.  Yes, there have have huge abuses from Wall Street with dodgy products and absurd risk.  That can be contained and punished.  But remember, it takes capital to generate new products, idea, services and businesses to employ people; that comes largely from Wall Street.

Repeating, this was not a landslide against Democrats in any sense.  It was a tiny edge won by a Republican party that conned us into believing that they were too much in disarray with the undisciplined Trump to put together an effective ground game in the right places.  And they appealed to our latent sexism and racism with very effective, albeit evil messaging, plucking at emotional chords among the disillusioned and disappointed in the right places.  We Democrats did our usual lists of complex policy statements with overtones of altruism and little emphasis on our economic insecurity and struggle to maintain an economic lifestyle over promised with illusions to the mythical American Dream.  And we did not provide a presidential candidate with an uplifting persona that gave us hope for the possible.  This is a cruel reality of American politics.

Trump at least gave us one positive thing.  He proved that our really ineffective consultants and pollsters are mostly a cruel joke.  Authenticity won.  Fascist authenticity but which our media failed to call out for the manipulation game it was and too many of us thought really was not possible in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Deplorables: Economic or Racist Anxiety?

 Before I concur with some who suggest we try to bring back the Deplorables, at least some of them, into the party of the people, I first want to see credible research on a classical chicken or egg question.  Which comes first, your economic anxiety over very credible long term economy trends in the good ol' US of A or your racist attitudes?  Now I might agree that at least some of you are not racists, but rather, are concerned about racial favoritism; government help/regulations that might be directed to  protect non-Anglo racial groups and don't actually believe non-Anglos to be inferior or undeserving of at least equality.

I have to candidly share my biases from personal experience.  As a kid in Marin City California, there were two groups associated with a nearby town with low/income/public housing. Some were "Okies," rednecks from rural Oklahoma escaping their devastating drought.  Others, maybe most, were African Americans.  My town looked down on them both and deplored, not their plight, but their proximity and numbers.  We actually had "gully fights" with bands of them, mostly the Blacks who came to our town and mocked our little league baseball games, I guess because they didn't have a little league.

In the military, in nearby East Baltimore, I saw first hand segregation, including in nearby strip joints who barred Black military, including those in my officer ranks from frequenting their establishments.  That is until a couple of my Notre Dame grad buddies and I, in uniform, took our Black friend and a Captain who outranked us (and outclassed us in smarts) to those joints, crashed them and elbowed all of us in.  No more segregation there.

Later, in Roanoke Virginia, my pro-integration buddy who owned the local radio station, recruited me to sponsor a Black friend, a very successful physician, to apply to become a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus, a venerated organization of the Catholic Church.   The mostly rednecks who ran the organization welcomed us and our Black friend to drink at the K of C Hall private bar/club but in a stunning secret vote, blackballed our Black friend from the 4th Degree.  This was a defining experience for me.  Our friend exceeded all of us in IQ, education and professional accomplishment but he wasn't worthy.  The Deplorables sure feel to me like the ilk I dealt with back then.

Later in life I experienced first the Wallace Democrats, then they Reagan Democrats when I lived in Texas.  They were mostly working class people, all white and overtly racist as they saw African Americans getting civil and then voting rights in the 60's.  They were not deploring their economic situation caused often by educations that stopped at high school.  They were certain the African Americans were inferior and were loudly vocal about that belief.  They left our party and were recruited by George H.W. Bush and Rep. Bill Archer to swell the ranks of a future dominant Texas Republican party.  This era sure felt like today's Deplorable atmosphere.

In the 2000's, right after the historic Obama election, I had direct, first hand experience with the Tea Party in Texas.  Many do not know that its epicenter is in Texas, with Dick Armey, funded by the Koch brothers in north Texas and True The Vote, also funded by Koch,  headquartered in Richmond, Texas in suburban Houston.  True The Vote is the minority voter suppression arm of the Tea Party. I did hand to hand combat through the Harris County Democratic Party with these clowns.  Oh, I'm sure their racist founding coinciding with the first Black American president is pure coincidence !  Today's Deplorables sure feel alot like these early Tea Baggers to me. 

So excuse my skepticism. You're going to have to show me some well researched evidence that it is the economic anxiety of the Deplorables that drives their attraction to Trump and his very sketchy economic platform.  So somehow returning American company factories to our shores, I guess by edict, will lessen their anxiety?  Or relaxing the few consumer protection regulations we have in place will free up companies to massively increase their workforces?  Or taxing corporations less so they will immediately pass those savings down to their employees, rather than their shareholders?  Yes, I'm skeptical.  Or getting rid of Obamacare, thus causing insurance companies to reduce their premium charges to companies and their employees?  Yes, I'm skeptical.  I'm skeptical too that the typical Deplorable making a household income of $72,000 is dumb enough to believe that shit.

Now, can we develop income and retirement supplements at the Federal level to provide economic justice to people whose employment was disrupted/diminished due to government policy enabling companies to screw their American workers?  Sure, justice requires we should until new policies allow the creation of new industries and business groups are put in place and good jobs/wages become available again.  But I'm not holding my breath that either racism or race resentment  will diminish.

Researchers, social scientists, the task is yours to rid me of my skepticism that we can build the ranks of  Democrats or some comparable liberal/progressive party with very many of these folks to make a difference.  I sincerely doubt many of them will seek out the cultural/ethnic rainbow coalition that is the Democratic party the reflects the best of American values.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

My Friend and Mentor Sam Keeper. RIP

 Sam Keeper left us on October 24.  But he didn't leave us empty handed.  He left a legacy of commitment to truth and justice and improving the human condition.  He endured unimaginably horrific pain in his last year or so but with his beloved spouse Cele at his side, and bedside, he showed us how to celebrate life.

Sam spoke to me years ago about his interest in the Hemlock Society and thoughts that someday he might wish to be in personal control of the end of  his life.  I am certain that his abiding, passionate and sweet love for his spouse of 67 years steered him away from that course, letting nature and hospice take its course to give them as much time together as possible.  This was a great love few of us will experience.

Sam was brilliant, certainly at the gifted level.  He majored in Physics and wound up supporting his family through journalism and public relations.  Sam was renowned for his mentorship of communications professionals; three come to my mind, all with brilliant careers resulting from Sam's care and feeding; Ward White, Helen Vollmer and Steve Barnhill, all at one point in Houston with Sam.  These are some of the communication industry superstars as a result of Sam's work with them.   A minor league player compared to these three, I owe much of my ad career to Sam's help.  I am grateful beyond words;  my offspring I hope are as well. As a result of my successful career, Mary Kaye and I were able to give them a pretty good start.

Sam was fluent in Spanish as well as his native tongue.  He read in that language constantly and engaged speakers in conversation to hone his spoken skills.  He was a brilliant writer and an even more incredible communications and PR strategist.   I had the privilege of working with him on countless projects and can attest to his amazing talents in that area.  He took his own firm and two major communications companies to the top of their fields with his management skills.

But my most compelling critique of Sam's work in life was the community and political service he lent his talents to.  He was an early adopter of sophisticated information technology  and brought those skills, even as a very senior citizen, to fundraising, political campaigns, voter registration. All at a scale only a few can claim to have equaled, civil rights movements and social reform causes successful only because of his professional gifts and grit.

I know of some of these first hand working side by side with Sam.  Through our work and reform through Citizens For Good Schools, we accomplished HISD integration and defeated a public school breakaway effort by racists trying to create the Westheimer Independent School District.  Sam helped defeat the Wallace and Tory Democrats and led takeover of the Texas Democratic Party by progressives.  He led massive voter registration drives with decades of work with the League of Women Voters.  He worked toward mental health reform in Harris County and Texas.  He assisted minority voter registration and mobilization of that vote for the Democratic Party. 
Sam pushed fundraising for the party and its candidates.  The list goes on, including major work with the Houston Grand Opera, The Houston Symphony, the Houston Chamber of Commerce.  Houston owes Sam so much for helping make it a major league urban center.

But all of this work, professional and civic, pales by comparison to his loving skills as a spouse, father and family member.  He adored his family as the centerpiece of his life.  Sam was charming, prickly, challenging, kind, loving and always caring about justice and repairing injustice.  He was doggedly determined, relentless in his pursuit of successful completion of a project and tireless in his endeavors to do what was right.

Thank you, Sam for bringing so much to my life and seldom letting me rest when you consistently outpaced me on things we were doing together.    I'll relish our time together for the remainder of my life.  I loved you so. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Some Conservatives Believe We No Longer Need Public Libraries

To my amazement, a family member once argued that we ought to do away with libraries in the digital age. This is one who has few books in the house but as a child was taken to children's reading gatherings by their mother and whose household was full of books on a wide variety of topics.

That same mother, on one of my first tours of her home town, took me proudly to the Free Public Library that was the center of this historic city.  I'll never forget that about her or that city.

 Libraries are more than storage facilities; they are community gathering places.

A place where many people access the internet.

A place for children's reading gatherings.

A place for story tellers, public readings by authors and poetry contests.

A place for public meetings for those engaged in their community. and for writers to share idea and for adult and summer education. 

A place for low income people without money for Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble books, digital or otherwise to go and borrow books for free, perhaps the group that might benefit the most from enhanced education through reading. 

A place for people with noisy or inhospitable household to study and read in quiet and peace.

Many libraries across the country give refuge to the homeless during the day. 

A place for performing and visual arts and so much more. 

 There is now some research that says cognition is still better with reading from hard copy. They are one of the really good things tax dollars support, making small thinking bigger and a place to share ideas face to face.  Or alone, reading and absorbing knowledge. 

This encounter has gnawed on me for a long time and a Facebook share from another family member inspired this defense of free public libraries.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Meet David Brock, The Guy Who Made You A Hillary Hater

I have just finished a book you Hillary Haters, left and right, really need to read to understand how you got that way.  Not that Hillary is by any measure a perfect person.  But then, neither are you or me.  But if you possess even a modest amount of curiosity about your own biases and how they got implanted in you regarding Hillary, KILLING THE MESSENGER, The Right Wing Plot to Derail Hillary and Hijack Your Government, is strongly recommended.

What is particularly interesting about this book and the author is that this is a guy who started it all, deeply embedded in the so called Right Wing movement that Hillary and Bill liked to call the vast right wing conspiracy.  According to Brock, they really got that right.  This massive industry got its start with the Clinton campaign for the Presidency.  Ironically, Brock was a product of Cal Berkley, more noted for left wing stuff than right.  But, my own Santa Clara Political Science Department Chair was a rightist and product of the graduate program at Berkley.  So this is not unfamiliar territory for me.

But unlike many ideologues practicing the dark art of political myth-making, Brock, in the middle of a very successful career on the right, saw truth and was unable to discard it for his personal gain.  Right wing political operations are very profitable and he was doing very well.  Commissioned by one of the 90's wealthy right wing financiers of the Movement to build a major hit designed to ruin Bill and Hill before they really got started on a national level. As Brock dug deep into their dealings, lives, and character, he had an epiphany.  His own character and moral compass kicked in because all he found in Hillary was intelligence, decency, idealism and motivation to do good.

As Brock investigated the manufactured dirt on the Arkansas era Clintons, he found, as an investigator of integrity, that indeed all the Little Rock stories were completely manufactured.  This book deals with the ones about Hillary. The verbal abuse the Arkansas State Trooper Security Detail allegedly heard and  took from  the Arkansas First Lady, for one as well as her role in the allegedly illegal/unethical  real estate deals in Arkansas.  The Travelgate non-scandal and alleged Hillary role in the death of Vince Foster, all deconstructed.  Like a poorly knitted sweater, the stories unraveled and fell into a heap of tangled yarn.

Not that Hill and Bill were totally true to their early idealism, they learned by political loss in the world of arcane Arkansas politics, if they were to succeed going forward, they were going to have to abandon the progressive instinct to commit Hari Kari for truth and justice. They'd adjust to fight another day and defer some grand progressive plans for immediate change and reform for a future day when circumstances were more amenable to fixing what was broken.  Thus progressive pragmatism.

In 1997 Brock switched to the far less lucrative Democratic political operations on principal and abandoned the likes of Ann Coulter and Grover Norquist. He began the process of building Media Matters, the left watchdog designed to head off the continued right wing assault on truth so effectively executed since the beginning of the Reagan era.  By the time of Brock's defection, the right had built several so called think tanks like the Heritage Society and the Cato Institute and communications machines routinely trashing hapless Democratic campaigns and political icons.  Brock was as the heart of this machine building process and chronicles it in detail in this book.  Here you can learn the psychological manipulation these Machiavellian operators have done to your brain that makes you believe and hate Hillary the way you do.

Their methodology plays off an endemic amount of misogyny in all of us, male and female.  Our culture and history programs us to view smart, ambitious women as vicious, driven harridans set on dominating the rest of us.  The Movement adds myth making, untruth and fear mongering to round out the package. And here you are, hating, though really fearing down deep.

It took nearly twenty years for Democrats to move beyond their penchant for making long lists of programs to help you, appealing to your obvious intelligence and begin to understand how to head off bald face lies manufactured by Republicans designed to make you mistrust and judge Hillary a conniving woman bent on dominating you.  Thus the rapid response truth machine built by Media Matters to at least minimize the damage before the myth becomes solidified in the concrete of lies.  That concrete has set firmly in your brain, unless you dislodge it.

He gives you all the truth background to very current lie manufacturing in the infamous Benghazi and the  State Department email capers.  He chronicles Hillary's efforts to put distance between the Clinton Foundation and her duties at the State Department and interactions with those international figures having business with both.  This required finess and often difficult potential conflicts of interests Hillary strove to avoid.  Welcome to the real world, haters. Such potential conflicts are loaded with gray areas. He sets the record straight that she never shied away from addressing human rights issues with world leaders with whom her State Department had to do business and the Clinton Foundation accepted contributions from.   Brock shows you the brilliantly conceived Rovian technique of turning Hillary's strengths into flaws.  This is the same technique Rove created to do Kerry in; turning him from war hero (I'd rather view him an an anti-war hero anyway) into hero imposter.  In Hillary's case, ambition becomes cat claws shredding all that stands in her way.  Super caution and lawyerly word crafting into  habitual lying.  Life long Methodist values to do good to self-aggrandizement.

You get the idea.  All the negative, bad stuff you believe about her in spite of the truth and fact-based narratives you choose to ignore because the bad stuff is just easier to process.  Somehow, the Clintons both managed to muster a cherished value, forgiveness, in creating a non-adversarial relationship with the contrite Brock.  Just maybe you have the self discipline to at least rethink your hate.  Just as Hillary, unassailably the most scrutinized  and publicly flogged woman in American history Brock points out, has somehow managed to navigate through her life without obvious bitterness or retaliation against those who oppose her assent to political power.  Do you have this much character? 

So, those few of you haters out there on the left (I've given up on the crazy right haters long ago), chip away at the concrete in your brain to allow at least some truth to seep in.  Try to get your powerful women fear under some control.  That will enable you to read this book with new eyes and perhaps not wind up loving Hillary, but at least  having some grasp of the reality of her character, morality and good values that those who know her intimately attest.  It will give you some understanding that, yes, Hillary has changed her personal position on some issues.  But, you might better understand after reading Brock that part of the political craft is adjusting your issues based on what your constituency tells you its wants of you, as long as you don't abandon your moral compass.  If not, if you are just too comfortable being a left hater of this alleged corporate Democrat, lapdog for her Wall Street buddies,  neo-liberal and interventionist, go ahead, give us Donald Trump via your non vote, write in vote or vote for a third party candidate with no reasonable chance of winning.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Trump/Johnson Libertarianism vs. It Takes A Village/Clinton

The 2016 Campaign embodies the classical American conflict between Liberalism and Conservatism, Democratic values vs. Libertarian values.  This is really nothing new.  It's just louder and more extreme today than perhaps yesteryear's conflicts and political contests.

On the domestic front  the Trump version of Republicanism is nearly identical to the Gary Johnson version of Libertarianism.  The only difference of consequence is that Johnson is less crass, less noisy and less bombastic.

Those shared values, in contrast to Liberalism and the Democratic Party's values, are about me, myself and I.  I, me and mine.  This strain of Americanism is all about rugged individualism.  I'll take care of mine, you take care of yours.  We have heard it every day, thanks to a lapdog media from Trump.  How great he is.  How wonderful his family is.  How beautiful the women in his life are.  And how he knows how to "make America great again" just like he and his family are.  Greatly wealthy.  Greatly successful.  Greatly white.  Greatly smart and really good at helping themselves at the trough of life,  taking as much as possible.  Woe is the business associate who gets in Trump's way or threatens his bottom line.  Ruthless is good because it helps me and mine.  Greed is good as expropriated from the Reagan era.  This is just the Reagan era on steroids.  You're on your own out there, buddy, good luck.  But don't get in my way.

Read Atlas Shrugged.  Listen to Paul Ryan.  Hear Ron Paul and his Senator son.  It is the same tune, different singers.  Gary Johnson is the soft Irish tenor of the song; Trump the heavy metal version.
Johnson-government with a soft touch on our lives, letting us do it our way, regardless of public/social consequence.  Keeping the immigrants in line so as to not interfere.  Weed is OK, very appealing to the millennials.  Let the market do its thing without a cleanup crew following behind, this kind of stuff.
Trump is just more harsh, more intemperate, with chest beating and loud bellowing.

The people this message and life-vision appeals to are those who see themselves as captains of their own ship, owing no one for their success or failure, loyal to their family members who they see as their only responsibility.  If they experience failure, it is usually a government or government policy to blame, not themselves.  They take care of  themselves and their own and deplore those whose performance in that area is less than theirs.   If others fail then they're usually deserving of their failure.  Thus worthy of being cut loose or disenfranchised, lesser beings.

Now contrast that with the first major Party nominee who is a woman who authored a book entitled It Takes a Village.  In spite of being vilified for decades for being a liberal, a bleeding heart liberal who endured a humiliation on a massive scale before the world by her spouse and summoned the energy and self confidence to write this amazing book to share with her countrymen.  This book and this woman of many imperfections (like all of us) gives us the core message of her life.  And the core message of her political tribe, the Democrats.  Both are about taking care of oneself, taking care of one's family but also making a life which shares its abundance and grief with the village, the village of the United States of America.

This is the core difference between Democrats and Republicans.  The core difference between liberalism and conservatism and Libertarianism.   Some times liberalism is expressed this way...."we are all in this together." In my view, and if you have heart, you view this as the glue that binds a workable society.  The alternative is dog eat dog.  Here are a couple of examples:  Some in our society are excluded because of race.  Some among the excluded adopt a dog eat dog lifestyle out of desperation and rejection, shooting it out on the streets in drug deals gone bad.  This is nothing more than Libertarianism taken to a Trump extreme.  Or, as I so well remember in my first trip in Mexico in the 60's, affluent people living behind concrete walls and electrified iron gates to keep out the rabble.  American developers adopted this lifestyle in the Reagan era.....they called them gated communities.
Or in rural areas,  people who buy acreage surrounding theirs to prevent neighbors from being too close.  It is the same mindset.   People preferring to go it alone, without the village.  This is their right.

But when things go wrong, it is usually the village who comes to their rescue.  So they too ultimately reap the benefit of the village but don't pay the price by contributing back to the village.  These are the people who do not volunteer, do not run for office or work in political campaigns.  They isolate.  Many do not vote.   Or if they do--that is all they do in the political order.  And if all they do is vote, they make a big deal out of the lousy choices they had. But they'd done nothing to put forth better candidates in the village.  Usually their excuse is that they are too busy taking care of their own.

So the contrast and choice is really clear for me.  A perfect village? Of course not.  A mayor of the village with imperfections?  Sure.  A village idiot here and there?  Sure.  But it beats living it out on an island or behind a really big wall alone, in my humble opinion.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Assault Weapons Assault Logic

So, Orlando, here we go again.  In addition to the massacre of native populations by our ancestors, we Americans have now achieved a new milestone in our killing culture.  This is public madness achieving new heights exceeded only by our record as the only culture ever having used nuclear weapons on other human beings.  This is our killing culture and we are damned proud of it.

Little kids are given toy guns at the earliest age.  They are frequently seen in film cartoons.  Oh, it is only childhood fun we say.  Just stretching little imaginations.  TV shows and action adventure movies aimed at more adult populations, loaded with firearms and killing so to speak.

Gun shows, gun shops everywhere.  War movies galore, glorifying people discharging firearms and much, much more.  Oh, it is just fantasy we say.  Or story telling for amusement.  But the images of armed soldiers and cowboys are everywhere.  Video games with characters shooting one another?  Just more of a healthy fantasy outlet?  This is totally nuts.

Come on, people.  We display the killing culture everywhere from infancy onto decrepit old age in America.  2nd Amendment?  We fantasize that this translates into a basic human right to bear arms when the real historic intention of this language so obvious and so clear.   The reinterpretation of this Amendment is very recent in our history in the interest of maximizing our distorted sense of liberty and freedom to do whatever the hell we want to whomsoever we want.

This is a killing culture and we all know it.  But it is now time to put aside the fantasy and myth and address this madness.  We rolled back a perfectly reasonable automatic weapons ban not too many years ago in the interest of some whacked out sense of liberty.  Some actually think a brigade of patriots armed with AR 15's can save us from a tyrannical government armed with every conceivable form of weapon by land, sea and air.  Get real.  This is total fantasy.  Peddled by a twisted bunch of armed self appointed militia members and supported by a totally sold out Congress and a gun lobby loaded for bear.  Or is it bare?  It doesn't matter linguistically.  It matters financially to Congressional campaign coffers.

Yea, sure, sport shooting, target practice.  How the hell do you know how accurate you are when dozens of rounds shred your target with an AR 15.  This is a weapon of war.  Darts are a much more accurate measure of target accuracy.  This is a weapon designed not only to kill, but shred a human body.  It is a killing machine and you using them are a killing people.  Sick.  Disturbed.  Delusional and not in touch with humanity or reality.   A hunting weapon?  Oh, you say you do it for sport and the meat to consume.  But you know an animal doesn't have any sporting chance to get out alive.  And you know, if you spent any time thinking, that AR 15's shred a carcass and render it inedible.

We've been sold a fantasy, people.  Get your feet on the ground and heads screwed on and do a moment of thinking, not feeling.  We are killing one another.  Congress, it is way past time to restore some sanity and get us some gun control.  You are pledged to keep us safe.  This is not safe and you know it.  Yes, smart guns, thorough background checks, gun registration and ownership tracking and stiff penalties for not reporting change of ownership when you sell it to a similarly crazed buddy.  And for sure, banning of all automatic weapons of war.  Maybe even a requirement to keep semi automatic long guns and high capacity magazine revolvers registered and stored at the local National Guard Armory, not your hall closet.  And qualify and insure people for their use just like we are required to do with automobiles.  That seems reasonable, doesn't it?  Get on this people. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Getting A Trivial Matter Off My Chest.

This will be quick.  Much is made of fashion trends of our youth and racists like to equate course behaviors with "ghetto culture".  Well let me tell you, especially readers under fifty that not much really changes over the decades in my experience.

This really pisses people off today.  But I hate to pop your comfortable bubble but when I was growing up in the 50, a very similar fashion trend hit at least my home town of San Francisco and I suspect many other areas.

Levi's were made there and very popular among particularly anglo pre-teens and teens.  But we modified them by cutting off the belt loops,  folding the waist band in half and pulling the somewhat oversized jeans down our butt.  Yes, right over the butt crack.  We thought that made us look cool and tough.  Couldn't find butt pictures of this era to show you but to assist your imagination, a parallel fashion trend usually went along with this.  That was the flat top, but with long sides combed into a "duck tail" with a "widows peak" in the front.  Most of us kept this in place with a greasy petroleum jelly type hair dressing.  Here is what it looked like, accompanying the but crack Levi's.

The point?  I suppose just to piss off older people.  Nothing really changes, now does it?