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

David Bowie’s Under Pressure and the Challenge of Love

David Bowie’s Under Pressure and the Challenge of Love

david-bowie-zoolanderAs much as I loved David Bowie’s role as Cultural Icon David Bowie in Zoolander and would have enjoyed seeing him do a cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, David Bowie’s collaboration with Queen in Under Pressure is one of the most influential songs I’ve ever heard and has remained in my all-time Top Ten for years now. It’s the ending that gets me.

In a cold, cold world, Bowie’s slowly rising voice at the end of the song define love and strife and struggle in a shared fashion that doesn’t so easily lend itself to platitudes and thoughts of ‘happily ever after’:

‘Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves

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Mike Vick and the Agency of Dogs

Mike Vick and the Agency of Dogs

Michael-Vick-Humane-Society

Personalamente, the difficulty of the Mike Vick case is isn’t as simple as my love for animals. The reason is agency, which is the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices.

Dogs do not possess agency in the same way that humans do. A dog doesn’t get a choice of his or her master. A dog doesn’t have or even truly understand the choices it makes. It simply makes them. Often out of conditioned loyalty to its master. A fighting dog is still a pet. It still depends on its master, its owner, for every single thing in its life.

Human beings have a separate moral responsibility to the so-called lesser life forms of this world. To be good stewards of our environs. To guarantee the intrinsic dignity of animals and to ensure whenever possible that we do not inflict excessive torture on them. Read more about Mike Vick and the Agency of Dogs

Catholic Muslims: The Pope and the Qur’an

Catholic Muslims: The Pope and the Qur’an

Pope Francis released an encyclical today discussing the environment and humanity’s responsibility to be good shepherds of it. Quoth Rod Dreher:

What Francis has written is an encyclical that celebrates life as harmony, communion, and incarnation. He calls on all persons to revere nature as gift, and to think not as atomized individuals, but as stewards who owe a debt to others, as well as to the past and to the future. [Emphasis is Dreher’s]

110307-F-PO994-001There are of course many, many similarities between the religions of the world. One of the most striking, to me, is the Catholic doctrine that, “Man is not saved by faith alone. Faith must be combined with good works.”

This is also a central tenet in Islam. There are stories of the early sahabah (companions of the Prophet), who, during Ramadan, would want to stay at the mosque all day and night praying, such was the fervor and zealousness of their faith. But Prophet Muhammad admonished them to get out of the mosque, to attend to their families and businesses and lives. Not to just sit around and be all religiony. Read more about Catholic Muslims: The Pope and the Qur’an