Sunday, December 31, 2017

A simple formula for happiness in 2018


By George Templeton 
Rim Country Gazette Columnist
A New Year’s Wish
“If I do not want what you want, please try not to tell me that my want is wrong.  If I believe other than you, at least pause before you correct my view.  If my emotion is less than yours, or more, given the same circumstances, try not to ask me to feel more strongly or weakly.  If I act, or fail to act, in the manner of your design, let me be.” David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates, Please Understand Me.
“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”  Theodore Roosevelt
It is not what we think, but how we think.  The personal God, thought to direct everyone identically, speaks differently depending on each person’s situation.  Treating others as we would have them treat us requires empathy that is both situational and cultural.  To see clearly the speck in someone else’s eye requires removing the plank in our own eye.  It requires understanding one’s self while standing in the same judgment we apply to others.
Just Joking
How is it that Don Rickles could insult us and that it would be a joke?  Why does President Trump insult us when he tells a joke?
In the recent YouTube video, Dinner with Don, Billy Crystal asked Don Rickles, “Why were you not part of the Rat Pack?”  Don Replied, “Because I was too talented”.
It takes skill to turn insults into humor.  Don Rickles was the master of that.  Contrast that with President Trump.  He used a celebration to honor the famous WWII Navajo code talkers for his personal political objective.  He called his political nemesis, Elizabeth Warren, “Pocahontas”.  The Indians did not laugh.  Trump was using them.  It tarnished the entire occasion.
Respecting Humility
Is humility a sign of weakness and failure?  A great America doesn’t chant “USA”.  It doesn’t need to rate itself against others.  To disagree with us is not to disrespect us as Nicky Haley, our UN ambassador, suggested.  She threatened the 128 UN countries that voted for diplomacy instead of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  Trump is taking names.  He will remember those who do not understand that they are not allowed their opinion.
Irresponsible Taxing
We are quietly leading Medicaid to the guillotine, ignoring the exponentially rising costs of eldercare, because tomorrow never comes.
The Republicans had a love fest following the passage of their boat-floating bill, said by Vice President Pence to be a “middle-class miracle”.  Like Wittgenstein’s duck/rabbit it can be perceived as either but not simultaneously both.  But it’s true and factual that it’s not the Mona Lisa. 
Facts and Truth
We have our truths, but they are not shared by all.  People once perceived that the world was flat and the stars rotated about it.  They could see that cannon balls fall faster than feathers and that objects come to rest when there is no push, but their sensibility was seriously incomplete.
Facts are simple propositions that have been verified by others and can be falsified.  There are also logical and mathematical facts.  But the problem is that you cannot take humanity out of explanations.  There is a higher order of truth, a moral universe.  Myths reveal deep truths.  The truth of a work of art may not be intellectually correct.  But neither the unconstrained supernatural nor wishing can replace evidence.
St. Anselm (1033-1109) thought that logic could find truth.  He wrote that God is “something than which nothing greater can be thought.”  It is a self-referential circular definition, defining in terms of the indefinable.
Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) wrote about the dilemma of living in relationship with other humans while being ultimately alone with one's self.  We get outside of our minds by our involvement with others, but that changes our nature.  What we become depends on our perception of the truth.  We are fallen, but only in the sense that we have not yet lived up to our potential.  Heidegger knew that empathy is more powerful than reason.
Old-time religion centers on Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden.  Death and suffering was God’s punishment for their disobedience.  It was delivered to all of mankind, but there would be a resurrection of believers with damnation to hell for all others.
Jesus’ life was about faith and empathy.  He taught rationally, in parables, not because he wanted to win, but because he knew he should not force his way down the throats of those who would of their own volition come to understand.
There’s Doubt about It
Because we can’t know everything about anything by looking only at a little bit, a statistical risk results.  There is a risk of accepting things that are wrong or denying what is right.
There are two kinds of probability in this world, heaven’s probability and the world’s statistics.  The former is sometimes called counting probability.  The probability of any outcome is equal to the number of ways a thing can happen divided by the number of ways it can’t plus the number of ways it can.  We know this intuitively.  But wait, there is a problem!  Each outcome has to be equally probable and no outcome should affect any other.  How do we know the dice are not loaded?  This is the beginning of the self-referential spin, underlying the canon of all thought.
The world’s probability calls us to roll the dice and see if the outcomes agree with how we counted them.  If they do, we could claim that we had verified our assertion and the dice were not loaded.  If they don’t, we might conclude that our claim was false.  But when others repeat this, some will not get exactly the same result.  There remains uncertainty.
The thing that unites heaven and the world is not a mathematical proof or logic.  It is the bell curve.  It is a consequence of nature aiming imperfectly at a target, but what target and why?
The bell curve’s peak is the most probable value.  Things that are not typical are called outliers.  They exist in the wings of the bell-curve.  Statistical thinking is a complex abstraction that does not represent the behavior of any individual.  Numbers are not humanitarian or ethical.  Exceptions to the rule are difficult to predict.  We need something different to measure them.  That requires a change of focus from triumphalism to failures.  Because the failures are a tiny minority, we require a very accurate yardstick to classify them.  A rubber ruler leads to delusion and bigotry.
Classifying Empathy
The Dec. 2017 edition of the Scientific American reduces empathy into different regions of the brain.  The Jan. 2018 issue of the National Geographic treats the same subject.  Scientists find that children less than one year old are empathetic.  Even dogs have empathy. 
Emotional Empathy
Do we have to think about what is right or wrong instead of feeling it?  Emotional empathy is the gut fear we feel when we watch mountain climbers who scale sheer cliffs without ropes.  It is the fear you feel when you see acts of terrorism.  It is a paranoid fear of immigrants that demonizes the many because of the actions of a few.
Cognitive Empathy
Cognitive empathy understands feelings.  It is at the root of the debate concerning abortion.  The mother, child, and State’s interests are at stake.  Justice, with her balance arbitrates, but families agonize over difficult decisions.  One size does not fit all.
Lawyers love personhood.  It is profitable if a person becomes created at the instant the sperm meets the egg.  A miscarriage could be murder.  Viability, the earliest time when a baby can survive out of the womb is a legal issue, but that changes with scientific progress. 
Neither science nor the law can make moral judgments.  Science cannot tell us when life begins or ends, but it has artificial means for prolonging life.  What are the chances?  Nobody knows what kind of life a disability could mean to the mother, child, and family.  How will a child deprived of love and parenting, grow up?
Planned Parenthood has reduced the number of abortions by education, providing birth control, and finding childcare options.  Why should we refuse women control over their motherhood when the father is not punished for failing to use contraception?
Compassionate Empathy
Empathetic concern desires to alleviate another’s suffering.  It is biblical love or the ancient Greek “agape”.  It is different from romantic love.
Chinese philosophy, depicted by the dynamic balance of the yin-yang symbol, is process (envy or gratitude) rather than object.  The starving homeless man, eating a fragment of a discarded sandwich, might not appreciate his poverty!
Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah has commented that people on welfare make more money than Trump’s forgotten man who is working three full-time jobs.  But Republicans claim that their tax law, that throws a bone to the middle class, has canceled envy.
Where have all the sociologists gone?  Perhaps the same place that the Trump administration would send the words “evidence based” or “science based”.  Their preferred wording would say “… recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.”
Senator Hatch should realize that there are two kinds of welfare outliers; those who are getting more than they deserve and those who are not getting what they ought to.  Instead of focusing on the typical he should take those failures and see what went wrong.  Unfortunately pride, with its notion of superiority, promotes selfishness. 
Biblical Empathy
The focus so far is group identity, not the resolution of rivalries.  Biblical empathy is about altruism, humbly working together with one mind and purpose, bearing each other’s burdens, and being considerate of others.  It is not about winning and getting revenge.  It isn’t an unjust law that punishes instead of redeeming.  The bible teaches us not to fear (the 23 Psalm).   But this is not Republican politics.
Sociopathic Empathy
Can we learn from psychopaths?  “Their personalities.., a grandiose sense of self-worth, superficial charm, ruthlessness, lack of remorse, and the manipulation of others … are often hallmarks of success.”  Kevin Dutton, The Wisdom of Psychopaths, Scientific American, Oct. 2012.
Empathy is bad for short-term business.  The person who is amoral, callous, confident, persuasive, egocentric, charismatic, and determined becomes successful.  The sociopath’s predatory instinct zeros in on the weakness in others.  He has fake emotion.  His group helps itself instead of others.
Republicans say that to balance the budget we have to cut entitlements.  Tax cuts are claimed inconsequential.  Social support cuts will go after the peak of the curve because that is where the money is.  One size fits all.
Our state will not talk to a lonely, broke person who is suffering from twenty years of disability caused by early onset dementia.  No one will accept what the state pays.  They will break their word the instant the money runs out.  Our Republican legislature is beholden to the closet industry they created.  Mandatory high priced lawyers assist people to game the system and cheat the taxpayer.  Is this a well-balanced society?
The November 2017 issue of the National Geographic discussed our search for happiness, and how we could learn from Costa Rica, Denmark, and Singapore, the most joyful places on the planet.  It is a simple formula:  People must feel secure, have a sense of purpose, and enjoy lives that minimize stress.  They have government supported education, health care, and a financial safety net.  They respect hard work and live in harmony with each other.  They live lives of involvement that provide time to socialize with family and friends.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

New Year's Update for Trump Voters

Former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich. (photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star)
Former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich. (photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star)

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog


lmost one year in, it’s time for another update for Trump voters on his election promises:

1. He told you he’d cut your taxes, and that the super-rich like him would pay more. You bought it. But his new tax law does the opposite. By 2027, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the richest 1 percent will have got 83 percent of the tax cut and the richest 0.1 percent, 60 percent of it. But more than half of all Americans — 53 percent — will pay more in taxes. As Trump told his wealthy friends at Mar-a-Lago just days after the tax bill became law, “You all just got a lot richer.”

2. He promised to close “special interest loopholes that have been so good for Wall Street investors but unfair to American workers,” especially the notorious “carried interest” loophole for private-equity, hedge fund, and real estate partners. You bought it. But the new tax law keeps the “carried interest” loophole.

3. He told you he’d repeal Obamacare and replace it with something “beautiful.” You bought it. But he didn’t repeal and he didn’t replace. (Just as well: His plan would have knocked at least 23 million off health insurance, including many of you.) Instead, he’s doing what he can to cut it back and replace it with nothing. The new tax law will result in 13 million people losing health coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

4. He told you he’d invest $1 trillion in our nation’ crumbling infrastructure. You bought it. But after his giant tax cut for corporations and millionaires, there’s no money left for infrastructure.

5. He said he’d clean the Washington swamp. You bought it. But he’s brought into his administration more billionaires, CEOs, and Wall Street moguls than in any administration in history, to make laws that will enrich their businesses, and he’s filled departments and agencies with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who are crafting new policies for the same industries they recently worked for.

6. He said he’d use his business experience to whip the White House into shape. You bought it. But he has created the most dysfunctional, back-stabbing White House in modern history, and has already fired and replaced so many assistants (one of them hired and fired in a little more than a week) that people there barely know who’s in charge of what.

7. He told you he’d “bring down drug prices” by making deals with drug companies. You bought it. But now the White House says that promise is “inoperative.”

8. He promised “a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.” You bought it. But foreign lobbyists are still raising money for American elections.

9. He told you “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.” You bought it. But he and House Speaker Paul Ryan are already planning such cuts in order to deal with the ballooning deficit created, in part, by the new tax law for corporations and the rich.

10. He promised “six weeks of paid maternity leave to any mother with a newborn child whose employer does not provide the benefit.” You bought it. But the giant tax cut for corporations and the rich doesn’t leave any money for this.

11. He said that on Day One he’d label China a “currency manipulator.” You bought it. But then he met with China’s president Xi Jinping and declared “China is not a currency manipulator.” Ever since then, Trump has been cozying up to Xi.

12. He said he wouldn’t bomb Syria. You bought it. But then he bombed Syria.

13. He said he’d build a “wall” across the southern border. You believed him. But there’s no money for that, either. Chief of staff John Kelly says it is “unlikely that we will build a wall, a physical barrier, from sea to shining sea.”

14. He promised that the many women who accused him of sexual misconduct “will be sued after the election is over.” You bought it. He hasn’t sued them, presumably because he doesn’t want the truth to come out.

15. He said he would not be a president who took vacations. “I would not be a president that takes time off,” he promised, and he called Barack Obama “the vacationer-in-Chief.” You bought it. But since becoming President he has spent nearly 25 percent of his days at one of his golf properties for some portion of the day, according to Golf News Network, at a cost to taxpayers of over $77 million. That’s already more taxpayer money on vacations than Obama cost in the first 3 years of his presidency. Not to mention all the money taxpayers are spending protecting his family, including his two sons who travel all over the world on Trump business.

16. He said he’d force companies to keep jobs in America, and that there would be “consequences” for companies that shipped jobs abroad. You believed him. But despite their promises, Carrier, Ford, GM, and the rest have continued to ship jobs to Mexico and China. Carrier (a division of United Technologies) has moved ahead with plans to send 1,000 jobs at its Indiana plant to Mexico. Notwithstanding, the federal government has rewarded United Technologies with 15 new contracts since Trump’s inauguration. Last year, Microsoft opened a new factory in Wilsonville, Oregon, that was supposed to herald a new era in domestic tech manufacturing. But in July, the company announced it was closing the plant. More than 100 workers and contractors will lose their jobs when production shifts to China. GE is sending jobs to Canada. IBM is sending them to Costa Rica, Egypt, Argentina, and Brazil. There have been no “consequences” for sending all these jobs overseas.

17. He promised to revive the struggling coal industry and “bring back thousands” of lost mining jobs. You bought it. But coal jobs continue to disappear. Since Trump’s victory, at least 6 plants that relied on coal have closed or announced they will close. Another 40 are projected to close during the president’s four-year term. Utilities continue to switch to natural gas instead of coal.

18. He promised to protect steel workers. But according to the American Iron and Steel Institute, which tracks shipments, steel imports were 19.4 percent higher in the first 10 months of 2017 than in the same period last year. That import surge has hurt American steel workers, who were already struggling against a glut of cheap Chinese steel. For example, ArcelorMittal just announced it will soon lay off 150 of its 207 steel workers at its plant in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.

19. He said he’d make America safer. You believed him. But according to Mass Shooting Tracker, there have been 377 mass shootings so far this year, including 58 people killed and hundreds injured at a concert in Las Vegas, and 26 churchgoers killed and 20 injured at a church in Texas. Trump refuses to consider any gun controls.

20. He said he’d release his taxes. “I’m under a routine audit and it’ll be released, and as soon as the audit is finished it will be released,“ he promised during the campaign. He hasn’t released his taxes.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Does Record Snowfall Disprove Global Warming? 'Exactly the Opposite,' Scientist Says

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch
28 December 17
he lakefront city of Erie, Pa. has been inundated by several feet of snow this week, “shattering many records," the National Weather Service said.

The historic storm—a whopping 62.9 inches since Dec. 23, with more flakes to come—prompted the city's police department to declare a “Snow Emergency" due to dangerous and impassable roads.

While climate deniers might point to the cold weather as more proof of the "global warming hoax," climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe begs to differ.

"What's with all the snow?" she tweeted Tuesday. "Does it mean global warming is finished? Nope; it's exactly the opposite, in fact. Warmer temperatures are increasing the risk of lake-effect snow."

At the end of her twitter thread, Hayhoe joked, "When two feet of snow's just been dumped on our driveway, we all think—I'd like a little global warming now, please!"

Recent studies have shown the effect of climate change on regional precipitation. In a study published earlier this month, researchers from Dartmouth College, the University of Maine and the University of New Hampshire revealed how they were shocked to find that the Alaska Range has received an average of 18 feet of snow per year—that's more than double the average of eight feet per year from 1600-1840.

The likely culprit is none other than climate change. The authors suggested that warmer waters from the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans caused a strengthening of the "Aleutian Low" pressure system with its northward flow of warm, moist air, driving most of the snowfall increases.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Republican Party Has Bowed, Completely, to the Mad King

The Republican Party. (photo: Getty)
The Republican Party. (photo: Getty)
By Charles Pierce, Esquire
28 December 17
They're now running interference in the Russia probe and kissing the Trumpian ring.
fter Wednesday’s extended carnival of sycophancy, in which the leaders of the institutions of American government did everything except toss a virgin into a volcano in tribute to the president*, it seems almost too obvious a thing to point out that the Republican Party has handed itself over to this president* as his personal chew-toy. They have figured out that flattering this walking ego is the way for them to get what they want, and he can’t live outside a constant bubble of counterfeit affection. It’s a marriage made several levels lower than heaven.

But there’s more to it than the revolting spectacle to which we were treated after the Loot the Joint Act of 2017 was passed. Over the past week, there has been a staggering welter of reporting about back-channels, hidden agendas, and covert shenanigans that makes the opaque creation of the tax bill look like a town meeting in Vermont. The phrase, “a small group of influential Republicans” has come to mean something very dark and crooked.

The inevitable assault on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is hardly a secret anymore. It’s the second stage of Paul Ryan’s grand plan, and everybody knows it. But there is a general effort now to prop up the administration*, especially as Robert Mueller and his hounds get to baying more audibly outside the wrought-iron fence.

On Thursday morning, for example, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, who previously recused himself from “all aspects” of the investigation into the Russian ratfcking of the 2016 presidential election, apparently has decided that the Uranium One “controversy” is not one of those aspects. From NBC News:
A senior law enforcement official who was briefed on the initial FBI investigation told NBC News there were allegations of corruption surrounding the process under which the U.S. government approved the sale. But no charges were filed. As the New York Times reported in April 2015, some of the people associated with the deal contributed millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation. And Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 for a Moscow speech by a Russian investment bank with links to the transaction. Hillary Clinton has denied playing any role in the decision by the State Department to approve the sale, and the State Department official who approved it has said Clinton did not intervene in the matter. That hasn't stopped some Republicans, including President Trump, from calling the arrangement corrupt — and urging that Clinton be investigated
(Here I would like once again to congratulate The New York Times for getting into bed with Bannonite apparatchik Peter Schweitzer, whose book-like product, Clinton Cash, jump-started all of this nonsense.)

At the same time, according to Politico, Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and midnight White House creeper, has been running a parallel “investigation” apparently aimed at pre-emptively discrediting whatever it is that Mueller finds.
The people familiar with Nunes' plans said the goal is to highlight what some committee Republicans see as corruption and conspiracy in the upper ranks of federal law enforcement. The group hopes to release a report early next year detailing their concerns about the DOJ and FBI, and they might seek congressional votes to declassify elements of their evidence. That final product could ultimately be used by Republicans to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether any Trump aides colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign — or possibly even to justify his dismissal, as some rank-and-file Republicans and Trump allies have demanded. (The president has said he is not currently considering firing Mueller.) Republicans in the Nunes-led group suspect the FBI and DOJ have worked either to hurt Trump or aid his former campaign rival Hillary Clinton, a sense that has pervaded parts of the president’s inner circle. Trump has long called the investigations into whether Russia meddled in the 2016 election a “witch hunt,” and on Tuesday, his son Donald Trump Jr. told a crowd in Florida the probes were part of a “rigged system” by “people at the highest levels of government” who were working to hurt the president.
There is an undercurrent of shared fantasy now driving a Republican Party that controls all the institutions of the government and can do pretty much anything it wants, as long as it doesn’t get in its own way, for which it also has something of a gift. It is armored in unreality, which protects it from all the checks and balances to which this system of government is heir. Clinton sold all our uranium to Russia. The FBI conspired with the Clinton campaign against the Trump campaign. And all this unreality is being weaponized now to one purpose: to protect the presidency* of Donald Trump.

(Count me as someone who doesn’t believe that the president* will fire Mueller. Absent an uncontrollable fit of Trumpian pique, even I don’t think the president* is that stupid. I think the campaign to delegitimize Mueller and his investigation will go on as long as the investigation does. It will be said to be a waste of time and money.

Smokescreens and squid ink will fly thick and fast until most of the country loses the plot entirely. The Russian ratfcking will be yet another something on which Experts Disagree. This was the game-plan the Reagan people used against Lawrence Walsh in Iran-Contra and, by and large, it worked. Of course, it all depends on sane people being able to keep this president* from having a nutty.)

I am sure that, among conservative intellectuals, there are some people sincerely and seriously opposed to the current president*. But among conservative Republican politicians of any influence, there are none. Bob Corker pretty much called the president* a lunatic, and now he’s profiting handsomely from being a performing seal like all the rest of them. Lindsey Graham is conceding putts at Bedminster and dreaming of being Secretary of State. Orrin Hatch may well be seen within the month, climbing up Mount Rushmore with a chisel between his teeth, ready to get to work.

The Department of Justice is now acting as an adjunct to a Breitbart comment section.

And the members of the responsible committee of the House are acting at cross-purposes with each other, with some members meeting secretly to undermine their own investigation. (The Senate committee seems marginally more reasonable, for now, anyway. At the very least, they found someone to put gunpowder in Mark Warner’s oatmeal.) There is no such thing as #NeverTrump among Republicans anymore, and, because of that, the essential destructive corruption that is the very nature of this presidency* now has spread so widely that rooting it out completely may well be impossible. There is the shadow of ruin hanging over everything.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

One year later . . . Trump supporters are STILL not welcome in my house this holiday.

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 5: Supporters cheer as republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at the CFE Federal Credit Union Arena in Orlando, FL on Saturday March 05, 2016. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
You are still not welcome in my house.

The past 12 months have proven that my worst fears about Trump were well founded — and that people who continue to support him are not worthy of being called my friends.

On December 25, 2016, I posted my first Daily Kos story, “Why Trump voters are not welcome in my house this holiday” explaining that my wife and I had cancelled our 20 year tradition of a “post-Christmas” party because I did not want to welcome Trump supporters into my house. 
The original story appeared on December 25, 2016 in the Daily Kos
The story appeared early on Christmas Day, and — to my shock — went semi-viral. Within 48 hours, It generated about a thousand comments on the DailyKos site, as well as tens of thousands on Facebook. There were nearly 70,000 likes on Facebook from people who linked to the article, and it was read by hundreds of thousands worldwide. I heard from long lost friends and even people in the Dallas area offering to be NEW friends.
One of several examples of right wing nut jobs going crazy 
Right wing nutjobs went predictably crazy. I was flattered to have my story featured (and reprinted nearly word for word) on multiple conservative sites, with headlines like the one here.  You know the old adage:  “all publicity is good publicity”.  I was also honored by one right wing site by having my comments (linking Trumpism to the early days of Nazi Germany) associated with liberal luminaries ranging from Rachel Maddow, to Paul Krugman, to Charles Blow — who had made similar comparisons. 

Now a year later, I was asked by several people to reflect on the past 12 months — and to state whether or not i now welcome Trump supporters Inside my house.

the answer is still NO.

As I noted 12 months ago, my objections to Trump supporters go far beyond political differences.

In raising three boys, two of whom are now adults, my wife and I always tried to teach the right values. Perhaps the single thing I am proudest about is how many people tell us what a good job we’ve done raising our kids.

We’re not perfect parents, nor are we a perfect family. However, our home does have its own creed. It’s not spoken like the Boy Scout Oath (BTW, we have two Eagles and a third on the way), but we do try to live it every day.
In our home, we . . .
  • believe in Patriotism. 
  • require Honesty. 
  • revere Integrity.
  • cherish Honor.
  • demand Respect.
  • treasure Dignity
  • insist on Charity
To welcome anyone still supporting Donald Trump into our home would be a betrayal of those values.  Donald Trump is an illegitimate President, birthed by a father of bigotry and a mother of fear. He is supported by a basketful of deplorables, nourished by a combination of ignorance, resentment, hate and lies — all of which were nurtured by a Russian conspiracy to wreck our Democracy.
How can any person with a decent moral compass continue to support a monster who:
  • is a Traitor — since he apparently favors the well-being of Russia over America
  • is a Liar — since starting on day one, the compulsive deceit has emanated from the White House (remember the inaugural attendance “alternative facts”?)
  • is Corrupt — since he lines the pockets of his friends and supporters with tax cuts and friendly deregulation
  • is Immoral — since the only value he adheres to is what’s in his own self-interest
  • is a Bigot — since he treats people who are different with contempt, based simply on their nationality, creed or religion
  • is a Buffoon — since he has debased the sacred dignity of the Presidency and the Oval Office
  • is Greedy — since he places his own well-being above that of the less fortunate
I am not so naive as to believe that I can totally avoid Trump supporters. I cannot close off my life from all people with whom I disagree, no matter the hypocrisy of their value systems.

I will continue work with them professionally in a business setting, and speak to them cordially in the streets and stores and schools. I cannot change their narrow-mindedness. 

But my home is different. It is the one place where a set of core values can remain sacrosanct.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Christmas Eve Discussion With My Fox Addicted Mother in Law

I have been married for decades to the most wonderful, caring, worldly and liberal woman who grew up in Memphis and whose family have lived in Mississippi for 30 years. I grew up in NYC and am Jewish but have lived in many places, currently GA.

Somehow I have managed over the years to never discuss politics and societal subjects with my mother in law because I knew we are polar opposites and so why create the disharmony.

We crossed the Rubicon last night and it did not go well. I have to say it was amazingly disheartening because while I knew her feelings on so many topics or at least could take an educated guess, actually being confronted with someone from the FOX world saying these things out loud was both disturbing and disheartening.

Not because I have not heard all this before but rather because it was coming out of the mouth of someone who is not stupid and in general is a caring person. It also pinpointed in my mind the total waste of time to try and speak with those so far gone or to try and reason with them or discuss in an intelligent way. My learned message to those who say we have to coddle the Republicans and try and win them over, for a large segment they are too far gone and trying to do so is both a waste of time and resources.

Let me share with you some of the pearls of wisdom I was dealing with:
  • The Civil War was not about slavery (Yes my mother in law, although she would swear she is not, is an abject racist). I heard all kinds of excuses such as well it is their own fault because their own countryman sold them to us. Of course as I tried to focus on facts such as the fact that 100% of the states that seceded sighted Slavery as the reason, facts fell on deaf ears
From Mississippi Declaration of Secession
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery - the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product, which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.Let me begin with some background.
  • She also felt that the inability to impose her version (because of course she hates Catholics) of Christian values on society violates her protection from the constitution of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. My efforts to point out that I support 100% her right to live her life however she chooses but that right does not extend to imposing those beliefs on others was a waste of breath
  • Business should have the right to refuse service to gays. All efforts to point out how problematic this was, i.e. so then it is also ok to refuse service to blacks etc fell on deaf ears
  • She lamented how terrible it was that the government has forced all these cities to rename historic roads MLK. Of course my effort to point out that there is no law requiring this and it is instead a local issue decided by each municipality was met with, “No this is the Federal Government forcing the cites”. I said let’s Google it and see but I am pretty sure there is no federal law as it would totally violate state rights. Her answer, no don’t look it up because you are only trying to prove me wrong. So I said to her, you know there are roads, streets and schools all over the country named after John F. Kennedy does that bother her or has that ever entered her thought process
I could go on and on but what I learned is that those who are in the Fox Cult are for the most part lost to any sense of reason and in this dangerous time we live in I am no longer willing to coddle or ignore these dangerous and disgusting thoughts. Society needs to spend less time trying to bring these people along and instead unmask them with the door open to return if they wake up.

It is impossible to reason, discuss or make sense with someone whose thought processes have no basis in reality and we as a country are wrong to coddle them in the hope they will wake up, they will not.

I am an avowed liberal and I will no longer hide in the corner and not speak out to keep the peace; instead I will speak out at every opportunity. The survival of the country rests on invigorating the silent masses and totally steamrolling the 25%-35% who are crazy.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Christmas Cat

It is 4 PM. Where are my caterers?
Two years ago, life for an old tabby cat turned ominous. One day she was fat and happy, at home with her doting human. Then the old lady, a neighbor, succumbed to a mix of maladies. The heirs emptied the house, locked the doors and left. Fortunately, across the fence was another kindly lady, who fed the cat and let her bunk on the back porch lounge chairs. But nothing, as the cat knew first hand, is forever. Lady #2 went ill, and then died.That locked house, too, awaits a new life, but at least the lawn chairs stayed in place. No food though.

Two separate neighbors saw the cat parked out front of its old home, looking lost and hungry. Food was bought and brought,  and we fed her nightly. The tabby wanted the food, but not the humans. So, for about a year, that is what she got.Then, gradually, she realized that these folks might be OK. And maybe their brief touch could be tolerated, if followed by her hearty hiss. Many brief touches and hisses followed over several months. Meanwhile, the house was bought by a realtor, whose team busied itself with renovations. The cat stayed invisible during the workday. She reappeared in the dusky shadows, ears cocked for the sound of her caterers. We came, we fed, we went.

A For Sale sign went up. Furniture went in to make the newly-painted house look homey, at the Open House. People came. The cat hid.

Today, the house still awaits new owners. The cat didn't wait.

She decided to find her own new home.

That seems to be our house two doors down. She began coming to our front door about two weeks ago. Just sitting. Waiting in the cold for her food to be delivered to her old dining spot. She happily, but at a distance, walked back with us, and warily ate her dinner there. Hissed, then disappeared until the next night.

Slowly, the dining area came to be our front step. Invitations to step inside were declined, as Bryce, our Australian Shepherd peeked out the door occasionally. He is cat tolerant, to a point. He now knows the plan, and cooperates by tiptoeing about, avoiding eye contact, being very quiet.

Today is the cat's fourth sleepover in our laundry room, our traditional cat bedroom. Probably the first nights in a house in two years...and the first cat to spend the night since our old tabby, Kate died a year ago. We uncovered Kate’s old carpeted cat perch, the feeding dishes, the litter box. All were installed that first night, as the cat cuddled in my wife's arms in the recliner. The tabby still spends her day outdoors, probably on that lawn furniture several doors down. But if I'm outside in front, she comes over to explore the garage, and just to hang out. She is still very suspicious of the dog, and declined his attempt to sniff noses. He got a hiss for it, so he knows she is not to be messed with. But they are OK with one another.

Update: It is now a few days before Christmas. The new cat has been sleeping at our place for about 10 days now, and some days doesn't even go back to her old backyard. Just as well, it is hectic there, as a nice and new young family are busily moving in. ‘Good that we still had the toys, beds and tools. All are being purred over again, as if new.

I did buy “Greta” a new toy, stuffed with catnip. It is being batted across the living room now.

Merry Christmas for all.