Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Noam Chomsky on the new Trump era - UpFront special


Saturday, November 26, 2016

LITERATURE - George Orwell


National Geographic Megastructures Super Sub USS Submarines Ultimate Str...


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Democrat's have lost their connection to the working class. Although I like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren going further to the left will only further alienate those that earn less a week than the going price a single ticket to "Hamilton"(about $850). A look at any election map shows the a sea of red and blue strips or dots around urban areas. We are in a cultural battle between urban elitist diversified liberals and rural working class mainstream conservatives. Underneath Donald's bluster and bravado he is essentially a right of center Republican. Hillary was a left of center candidate before the "Bernie or bust" movement forced her to move further to the left which did nothing to appeal to moderate voters. Democrats will need to find a leader in the the next four to eight years that can bridge the gap between elite urban liberals and rural working class conservatives.

Noam Chomsky on Madison and Aristotle


Monday, November 21, 2016

Perfect Storm 2016


Like many I was shocked at the outcome of the recent presidential election. Though I was nervous I had expect Hillary Clinton to pull off an election night victory. Close perhaps but still I was fairly confident of a victory for our first woman President. Like many others who saw the battle ground states that were suppose to turn blue turned red instead that expectation came to a halt. By the wee hours of the morning it became evident that the unthinkable had happened....Donald Trump would be the next President. The most despicable and unqualified candidate in our history had defied the odds and won.

Somehow the polls who had Hillary with a narrow 3-4% lead,depending on which one, were off just enough to throw almost everyone off, even the "The Donald". A lot of humble pie has been eaten since that including myself. How could this have happened? I don't think it was any one event but a perfect storm of circumstances gave Hillary a surprising defeat.  Here are some of the things which I feel contributed to our election of an unqualified President:

  • False Equivalency - The treatment by the media that some how Donald Trump was a"normal presidential candidate". In 1988 Senator Gary Hart's Presidential aspirations were derailed by a single story of sexual indiscretion yet Donald Trump endures not one but twelve alleged instances of sexual harassment(if not assault) and just seems to just brush them off without apology. Grant you Hillary's husband Bill had his issues with women but he was not the one running for President.
  • Empty Podium - This was where television news coverage failed. Too much coverage of Trump just for the sake of ratings. I have to guiltily admit that Donald has his entertainment value. He's the three car pile up you slow down for on the highway. You just can't help it. One such glaring moment was during "Super Tuesday" in March 2016 the news networks stayed glued to an empty podium waiting for Donald to shaow up(which he never did). Yet at the same time Senator Bernie Sanders was giving a speech about his evening(which didn't go that well but still news worthy) went uncovered by the news networks. 
  • Email - She must wake up at night crying "Damn emails!". Although none contained any smoking gun like evidence of criminal wrong doing, just the mere mention of the word "email" and 'Hillary" in the same sentence was enough to send the press, mainstream or right-wing, into a frenzy. Although FBI director James Comey isn't fully to blame for Hillary's defeat, in sending a letter to Congress, about just the possibility of more Hillary emails, was enough to remind Republican voters of Hillary's faults. Given the closeness of the election this may have played a part.
  • Clinton Fatigue - Although I supported her I can't help feeling perhaps she had passed her time. It wasn't entirely her fault. She's smart, hard working and ambitious. Unfortunately she also carried her husband's baggage, former President Bill Clinton, who had his own issues. Although never convicted or proven guilty in anything they had been accused of so much that it was implicated that they must be guilty of something. Her moment may have passed in 2008. Benghazi and the email server stories may have been one or two scandals too many. 
  • Rural verses Urban - You look at any post election map and you'll see that Hillary won the urban areas and Donald won the rural areas. Rural won(at least Electorally). This demographic shift isn't entirely surprising even though Obama was able to win some of these voters over in 2008 and 2012  but Hillary was not. I think it was a combination of sexism and perhaps the lack of Obama's white blue collar appeal. 
  • Change - Donald was the the "change" candidate. Almost every eight years or so since President Truman voters have opted for the opposite party every eight years. President Jimmy Carter(77-81) and George H.W. Bush(89-93) being the exceptions. Despite President Obama doing a decent job Hillary just represented more of the same. She was in a no win battle. If she separated much from Obama she could lose support and if she differentiated from him the same could happen. 
It's like I said before, it was a perfect storm of event's that landed Trump in the White House. It's not what I wished or hoped for but it's what we've got. I don't wish him failure but I don't have much confidence in his success. God help us.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in CrisisHillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After seeing this book mentioned all over the place in regards to this year's election I had to see what all the excitement was about. Although it doesn't necessarily answer why poor white working class are attracted to the Republicans and the Donald Trump phenomenon this may give some clues as to what their experiences are and why they are angry.

Even though Vance is from hillbilly country in Kentucky and Ohio but it could be almost anywhere in our country. Some parts of it even reminded me of my own up bringing in Massachusetts as a child of a working class mother who was divorced with three kids. We also were helped by grandparents and are very thankful for them.

The authors story is also one of overcoming hardships and battles he fought along the way. One theme that comes out of this book is how others who support us along the way can influence us and give us a step up. Vance got it from his grandparents, the Marines, his sister and others who helped him overcome his situation. It reminds me of the Hillary Clinton book "It takes a village" in part that our success is built with the support of others.

Vance does credit his success with the help of others but even he doesn't have a single catch all answer for the majority of others in a similar situation to overcome poverty, addiction, joblessness and just plain poor decisions. No one government program, education initiative or jobs program will solve all the problem's which some of the blame also lies within their own attitudes. Though though the author does say that doesn't mean we shouldn't help "put a thumb on the scale" to help those in need. That one time may just mean the difference in someone's life.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

This New Yorker cartoon is pretty much how I feel at this moment. This election can't be over soon enough.

 Emails? You can't be serious. In Donald Trump we have a person who is perhaps the least qualified temperamentally and intellectually we have ever nominated for President. Brags about sexually assaulting and harassing women. Makes fun of disabled people. Bankrupted 4 casino's. Is being sued for a fraudulent "University". Has had at least twelve women come forward and say they were sexually harassed by him. Feuded with a Gold Star family. Withheld donations to Veteran's charities and only paid(partially) when called out on it. Used his own foundation to pay off lawyers fees and reward a Florida Attorney General to look the other way in one of his lawsuits. Wondered why we don't use nukes. Had the honor of winning Politifact's "Lie of the year" 2015, not just for any one lie but his whole campaign. Let's not forget the wall he wants build to keep the Mexican rapists out. Let's keep out those Muslim's too. Had to think about disavowing David Duke, a former KKK leader. Thought women should be punished having an abortion. Thought a Federal Judge, born in Indiana, should be disqualified because of his Mexican heritage. Accused rival's father of being involved in President John Kennedy's assassination.

Yet we worry about emails sent from a wrong type of server. November 9th can't get here fast enough.