Supporting the New England Trumps

Supporting the New England Trumps

I think it’s safe to say that most of you know my political views. I’m fairly liberal on social issues, pro-2nd amendment, pro-free trade/capitalism, anti-neoconservative, anti-right-wing-nationalism. But today, I write to tell of you a position that will prove to be controversial in all but the most backward parts of this country. I will be supporting the New England Patriots in the Superbowl.

I do not come to this decision easily. Like other Americans did on November 8, 2016, I hold my nose while making this particular choice. I do not support the Patriots’ core philosophies. They are a morally bankrupt machine, having continually thumbed their nose at authority and been caught cheating multiple times. Read more about Supporting the New England Trumps

The Un-Civil States of America

The Un-Civil States of America

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the death of civil society and what it means to sound right in the course of attempting to ackrite. One of the biggest bogeymen in American life is the concept of political correctness. In its most original (and I would say benign) form, political correctness demands that we use “language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society”. Such an approach is ripe for abuse and often shuts down debate on those same sensitive topics.

However, the backlash itself against political correctness has gone overboard and squashed reasoned and nuanced debate in this country. Instead, we have replaced debate with a level of coarseness that goes nowhere and leaves almost everyone feeling enervated. We use our best rhetorical cudgels to shout down any dissent on the very topics which require the most civil and thoughtful debate. We’re screaming past each other or not talking at all. Read more about The Un-Civil States of America

The Significance in Populism, Jihadism and Communism

The Significance in Populism, Jihadism and Communism

Why do individuals turn to extreme solutions in their quest for a life of significance?

There is a current running through right-wing populism which links with the insecurity experienced by those in the Middle East who have lashed out against the West. People yearn for a life of significance. To belong to something greater than themselves. This is the offer of religion, which cannot be matched by atheism, scientism or any -ism which strips the sacred from daily life. Read more about The Significance in Populism, Jihadism and Communism

My President was a Third Culture Kid

My President was a Third Culture Kid

Although he may not have meant it, Ta-Nehesi Coates’ article on President Obama in The Atlantic pretty much names him a Third Culture Kid (TCK) without explicitly saying so. According to Wikipedia, TCK’s are “children raised in a culture other than their parents’ (or the culture of the country given on the child’s passport, where they are legally considered native) for a significant part of their early development years. They are exposed to a greater variety of cultural influences.”

Third Culture Kids often learn to live in two spaces without fully occupying one or the other.  Without being capable of occupying one or the other. President Obama was raised a black man by a white woman and white grandparents. But his racial characteristics are not simply what has helped him appeal to white and blacks (and other minorities). From Coates’ article:

To simply point to Obama’s white mother, or to his African father, or even to his rearing in Hawaii, is to miss the point. For most African Americans, white people exist either as a direct or an indirect force for bad in their lives. Biraciality is no shield against this; often it just intensifies the problem. What proved key for Barack Obama was not that he was born to a black man and a white woman, but that his white family approved of the union, and approved of the child who came from it.

Click here to read the whole thing. It’s well worth your time.

Being a Third Culture Kid is perhaps analogous to being bi-racial in some aspects. There is a marked cultural difference between being Black in America and being of European/Caucasian ancestry. And so President Obama has learned to how to code-switch between worlds. He was taught to see the positivity of his white side by grandparents who embraced him wholeheartedly.

Obama’s early positive interactions with his white family members gave him a fundamentally different outlook toward the wider world than most blacks of the 1960s had. Obama told me he rarely had “the working assumption of discrimination, the working assumption that white people would not treat me right or give me an opportunity or judge me [other than] on the basis of merit.” He continued, “The kind of working assumption” that white people would discriminate against him or treat him poorly “is less embedded in my psyche than it is, say, with Michelle.”

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Taking President-elect Trump Seriously

Taking President-elect Trump Seriously

I heard an interesting quote the other day,

Donald Trump’s supporters took the man seriously but didn’t take his words seriously. Trump’s opponents took his words seriously but didn’t take the man seriously.

I have been assured by friends who voted for Donald Trump that they don’t agree some of his more divisive rhetoric. That, yes, they realize he is an “ass”, to use one friend’s term. (Seriously, being a fanboy of Trump or any other politician is naive). Okay, I take that to heart. I’ve known some of these people since elementary or middle school. I believe they have good intentions. But now that he has become our President-elect, what promises and policies of Mr. Trump’s should be taken seriously? The following is his 100-Day Plan, taken directly from his website. Read more about Taking President-elect Trump Seriously

Political Parties aren’t Religions

Political Parties aren’t Religions

One of the issues I have with the political debates in this country is the misguided notion that political parties’ philosophies are monolithic. They just aren’t. Political parties aren’t religions. They have shifting alliances and priorities and philosophies throughout time. No matter that the parties themselves will try to tell us otherwise. Parties are private entities whose aim is to get into power. They will use whatever means necessary to get that and if it means shifting their constituencies from time to time, they’ll do that too. If you are a Democrat now, does not mean you would have been a Democrat 200 years or ago or even 40 years ago. Same with Republican. Parties will compromise internally with the greater goal of getting into power.

I don’t care about down-the-line party politics much anymore. I have voted Democrat because I’m mostly a social liberal. Sortuv. But there was a time when the Republican party had liberals in its midst. There was a time when the Democratic Party had segregationists in its midst. Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Jefferson Davis, a Democrat, was President of the Confederate States of America. The segregationist Dixiecrats moved from the Democratic party to the Republican party. Richard Nixon launched the Southern Strategy. I don’t care. Read more about Political Parties aren’t Religions

Reconciling Drumpf with President Donald Trump

Reconciling Drumpf with President Donald Trump

I want to give Donald Trump a chance. I don’t want to turn back the clock or rejigger the electoral college or somehow throw the nation into chaos because I didn’t vote for him. I think it’s important to try to differentiate the need to give President-elect Trump a chance to confound expectations, so to speak, while still continuing to oppose any divisiveness which results from this election.

To wit, Dave Chappelle had a very powerful monologue on last week’s Saturday Night Live where he talked about the Trump Presidency. His concluding passage echoed a lot of what I feel:

“So in that spirit, I’m wishing Donald Trump luck. And I’m going to give him a chance. And we, the historically disenfranchised, demand that he give us a chance too.”

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Can we talk foreign policy now?

Can we talk foreign policy now?

… Or Ya know, Governatoring! Donald Trump is the President-elect of the United States of America. Yesterday, I wrote that I disagreed with Hillary Clinton’s neoconservative foreign policy but did not trust (now) President Trump’s temperament:

Whatever negative views I may hold about Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy views, I at least trust her with the nuclear launch codes. I trust her not go on flights of fancy about her ability to railroad and rearrange the world to her liking through sheer force of personality. I trust her to have a plan and to seek sober counsel about the global challenges she will inevitably face; unlike Trump who once claimed that he knows more about ISIS and other issues than the America’s Generals.

I trust Hillary Clinton not to unilaterally end Muslim immigration or denounce Latino immigrants or call to register Muslims SS-style. I trust her not to pick fights with SNL over how she’s parodied. I trust her to respect women.

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At Least Hillary Clinton isn’t Donald Trump

At Least Hillary Clinton isn’t Donald Trump

Or … She Ain’t That Muchuva Jagoff

I’m not all that broken up about Hillary Clinton getting my vote for President on Election Day. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not disappointed. In liberals, in Democrats, in Republicans, in our country.

My main voting issue has usually been foreign policy. In the first two Presidential elections in which I voted (2000 and 2004), the Democratic Party supposedly represented a stark choice to the Republicans. They advocated a more cautious, diplomatic approach. They didn’t bloviate about forcing the rest of the world to respect us or make naive assumptions about the instant transformative power of Democracy. FREEDOM! No, the rest of the world doesn’t hate us for our freedoms.

It wasn’t difficult to vote for Barack Obama in 2008 either. He made the same assurances that Gore and Kerry did. Respect for international institutions and our allies. Perhaps a pullback from using the military as the blunt edge of democracy promotion. And then he went and cocked it all up. Sending troops into Libya in the first place, not closing Guantanamo, nearly getting us into a war in Syria. President Obama got my vote in 2012 but with much less enthusiasm. And behind many of his most hawkish decisions was his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Read more about At Least Hillary Clinton isn’t Donald Trump

Colin Kaepernick, Woodrow Wilson and Effective Protest

Colin Kaepernick, Woodrow Wilson and Effective Protest

The Colin Kaepernick protest reminds of a recent episode of Malcolm Gladwell’s new podcast series, Revisionist History. In an episode called Generous Orthodoxy, he examines what it means to protest. His first example was of a 98-year old Mennonite minister took on his church over gay marriage. The minister supported his gay son’s decision to marry and was subsequently excommunicated from his local church. For a man who had dedicated his entire life to that church and still believed in Jesus, it was a tough blow. His son had left the Church but at his father’s gently urging, he had eventually come back to Christianity, to Jesus, through a different road. The minister wrote a letter to his church which gained a lot of attention for its grace and humility. He didn’t lose his religion but nor did he stand down from loving and supporting his son.

new-exhibit-at-princeton-university-revisits-woodrow-wilson-cad14d32dab77f46The other example was from campus protests at Princeton where people battled about whether to remove references to Woodrow Wilson. Wilson was a former President of Princeton, former President of the United States and failed architect of the League of Nations. A significant man, by any measure. He was also an avowed and committed racist. (Srsly it’s pretty bad). Students at the university protested against naming the School of Public and International Affairs after Wilson. They claimed that his very mention was an affront to the ideals of the university; that references to him left them feeling unwanted. Others supported keeping Wilson’s name at the university and only emphasizing his great achievements. And still others tried to suggest a compromise – keep his reference and mention both his great achievements and his racism. Those who protested did so vociferously and with great stridency (screaming that the university owed them nothing! and that they were owed everything by the university!). There is real pain in their voices when you hear it. But ultimately, they lost and Wilson’s name has stayed prominent at Princeton. Read more about Colin Kaepernick, Woodrow Wilson and Effective Protest