Why Senator Jeff Flake, AZ?

Dear Senator Flake,

Healthcare is a complex issue that requires bipartisan efforts.  We cannot address the myriad of components in any single forum.  No plan or system will be “perfect” for everyone.

Like most legislation, ACA consists of positives and negatives.  Some people have benefitted from the law and others have not.  If ACA remains the law of the land, several parts need substantial revision, some need elimination, others need minor adjustment, and new sections need inclusion.

If ACA is repealed, any replacement needs to address a substantial portion of the numerous issues concerning healthcare.

My question Sir, is if you know that this Graham-Cassidy bill could allow states to undermine protections for people with preexisting conditions, what should give you, me, and citizens of your state and this country confidence that these protections will not be undermined?

In your interview on MSNBC, you cited some logical reasons such as 1986 with welfare reform.  You also state that in reality no governor or state legislature will deny protections even with waivers because of the political repercussions such an action would bring.  Whether de jure or de facto such an implementation would be disastrous for the elected official in a logical and rational environment.

  • Senator Flake, are we currently in such a logical environment?
  • Sir, did you expect a President of the United States to take to social media and brand you as toxic?
  • Would the Leader of the Free World feel it necessary to publicly refer to you as Flake Jeff Flake in a logical and rational political environment?

Sir, do you still believe in the statement you made on Twitter concerning the pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio?

I’m not asking or debating whether a pardon for the individual is warranted.  I’m asking about the process by which the President undertook?

Senator Flake, in your book, you wrote that Republicans need to take the long view when it comes to issues like free trade.  Shouldn’t the same apply to healthcare?

You wrote of the priority being to deny President Barack Obama instead of advancing a conservative policy agenda.

Can members of your party honestly say that supporting Graham-Cassidy is about promoting a conservative agenda when the so-called skinny repeal failed?

Or is a vote for Graham-Cassidy, regardless of what may or may not be in the bill, without CBO scoring, with limited discussion and debate, merely a vote because repeal has been GOP promise?

Is political party and reelection truly more important than the country?

Apparently, the President thinks so based upon his tweet this morning.

Sir, if there are reasons to believe that elected officials will, in fact, work for the best interests of all constituents, citizens, and country even if it means opposing their political base who is focused more upon the short term and not the long term, would you please enlighten this professor of history?

I never imagined seeing any White House rejecting the authority and validity of our own intelligence findings regarding Russia and labeling that as hoaxes created by the Democrats and perpetuated by the media.

Would a former US Senator from Arizona, Barry Goldwater, have argued the same?

 

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Harvey and about the Day of Prayer

Some off the top of my head thoughts after hearing some pundit comments this morning.

Call me, well whatever, but I feel that politics and religion should be separate.  I don’t go to church services to hear political messages that endorse or oppose a specific candidate, piece of legislation, or a governmental ideology.  To me a good sermon is one that causes people to ponder and to reflect.  The preacher presents an idea and does so in a way that encourages you to want to discover more.

Likewise, I oppose politicians who make it their mission to include extended specific religious ideology in their addresses to their constituents or voters from whom they seek support. I’m not debating faith versus works, but on the political spectrum campaign and legislate your faith by your works and not by your words proclaiming that you have faith.

I’m sort of a Golden Ruler in that I feel like if we would all just treat people in the same manner as we would hope others would treat us if our roles, responsibilities, and feet were in fact staring right back at us.  My own spirituality is personal.  Personally, I believe in a God, a son who died on the cross, and a Holy Spirit.  Each are different, but yet are one and the same.  I can neither prove nor deny existence without utilizing faith to explain what I think are wondrous miracles of beauty.  It’s true that I can break down some things that I attribute to faith into concise tangible bits that can be seen by all, but to me the sum is often even greater than the individual parts no matter how magnificent those pieces may be.

That’s only a miniscule portion of an abstract that in itself would be a tome trying to summarize what would be a never-ending continual series of manuscripts about my personal beliefs.

What brings me here are the statements being made by politicians, pundits, and so many people about the National Day of Prayer for victims and response to Hurricane Harvey created by Presidential Proclamation.  I see nothing wrong with such an idea, and nothing wrong with such a proclamation, but I do want and expect more from any President or Congress than a mere proclamation or words because action is needed for assistance, recovery, and rebuilding.

Rescue in my opinion starts with the local.  Sheriffs, Police Chiefs, Fire Chiefs, Mayors, aldermen, councils, police juries, and the local leaders are the ones who need to oversee operations on the ground in their respective neck of the woods.  They know the area and the people.  State and Federal should provide equipment, manpower, and other resources to assist, but they should not step on the feet of those who know what needs to be done in that specific locality.  Helping to coordinate to keep everyone on the same page is one thing, but usurping the authority from those most knowledgeable and connected to the area and those people in dire need is another.

Specifically in regard to the Presidential Proclamation, I think it is a positive.  Such a proclamation, however, is not unique.  If all people were doing was to promote the proclamation, I wouldn’t be responding.  What’s happening, however, is specific ideological media and pundits are turning this into political rhetoric and attempting to demean and belittle others in order to make their own status appear higher and superior.  That divisive BS irritates me.  They’re trying to equate religion and politics, and when someone questions or disagrees the deniers either become the targeted or are barraged with this juvenile behavior of “so and so did it, so why are you outraged now?”

One, two wrongs don’t make a right, and many of us were outraged back then but you were not because it wasn’t as interesting and sensational as the plethora of really stupid and far-fetched claims being pitched in opposition at the time.

Trump’s proclamation is correct that we have a long history of such days of prayer and reflection in this country and on the continent.  He cited the Constitutional Congress which makes sense, but he could have also cited earlier in colonial history.  Both are accurate.

The concept is tradition, and President Washington and President Adams called for National Days of Prayer.  I have not fact checked, but I believe the next president to call for a National Day of Prayer would have been Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, so you have a gap of approximately 60 years.  It wasn’t because the US became anti-prayer or anti-reflection; it’s because unless I’m mistaken historically none of the presidents issued any “formal” declarations during the period.  The time-period is not one of my regular research areas.

Now I can say without historical reservation that President Harry Truman signed a joint resolution passed on 17 April 1952 for a National Day of Prayer and issued a proclamation for such on 17 June 1952.

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=87332

36 U.S. Code § 119 – National Day of Prayer designating a specific day can be found below.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/36/119

As president, Donald Trump followed this decree with his own proclamation on 4 May 2017.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/05/04/president-donald-j-trump-proclaims-may-4-2017-national-day-prayer

He is neither the first nor the last, if we remain under the Constitution, US President to call for additional days for catastrophic natural disasters, accidents, or horrific events.

Barack Obama’s proclamations for National Prayer Day read similar to Trump’s and past presidents.  No, Obama did not cancel any.  A few examples below:

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2011/04/29/presidential-proclamation-national-day-prayer

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/05/06/presidential-proclamation-national-day-prayer-2015

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/05/04/presidential-proclamation-national-day-prayer-2016

When he spoke of prayer and reflection following such horrific events as the murdering of the children at Sandy Hook, some opponents deemed and still assert that massacre was a hoax.  Other opponents asserted that Obama was confiscating guns.

From an academic research perspective, if someone in the future were to read right-wing media articles and pundits remarks, it is a sad fact that they might come to the conclusion that decent, working class, “common” people not on TV or talk radio and who did not vote for Obama were happy as can be that these innocent children were murdered.  The truth is the exact opposite of course, but that’s how much influence the extremes have on society, and future generations will have a tough time figuring that out when doing true historical research.

http://www.npr.org/2012/12/16/167412995/transcript-president-obama-at-sandy-hook-prayer-vigil

Just an aside for all the pundits and media who still argue that Obama was anti-Christian and anti-prayer and so on:  Groups have challenged the National Day of Prayer signed by Harry Truman and the issuance of future proclamations coming from the White House.  In the court case that remains the deciding case about the legality, who was the defendant on the side of prayer?

That defendant was then President Barack Obama back in the year 2010:

https://ffrf.org/uploads/legal/SummaryJudgementGeitner.PDF

With prayers, kind thoughts, sympathy, hopes to offer encourage and to assist with recovery and rebuilding, for all impacted by this tropical system and other natural disasters, I am.

A Non-related aside:

We have a new member of the LAB LouisianaBoy Household.  My wife and I have returned from overseas with our 9-year-old son.  It was a trip with both highs and lows. The highs are obvious, but the low was that while overseas my Dad passed away back home in Louisiana.  It was a tough time emotionally, but I knew that Dad wanted me overseas to pick up his grandson.  In the coming days, I’ll try to come up with a few words as a tribute to Dad.  While he never got to meet his grandson face-to-face, he is here with us in spirit, I’ll try my best to teach my son as Dad taught me.  Dad will continue to live on through both me and my son along with all the people he touched during a full lifetime.  K&B has another of its old-school managers in Heaven.

I have never sought or accepted any payment or donations for this blog.  My position hasn’t changed, but if anyone would still like to make a monetary donation to help us with the airfare costs or other expenses associated with adoption, I will be keeping this PayPal donation account open for short period.  As I said on previous posts, any donation is appreciated but certainly not necessary to continue reading or interacting with me on this forum. 

 

https://www.paypal.me/LABLouisianaBoy

…and I Live on Maple Street Immigration Scapegoating

Given the remarks today by Stephen Miller today at the White House press briefing where he spoke about Trump administrations support of the RAISE Act sponsored by Tom Cotton and David Perdue, I thought once more about the Monsters on Maple Street.  I do not see such a difference in temporary workers such as the doubling of the H2-B visa applicant maximums if indeed legal immigrants posed such a threat to US workers with similar skills.  The US Department of Labor website currently has advertisements for H2-B workers for the “Southern White House,” Mar-a-Lago.

https://lcr-pjr.doleta.gov/index.cfm?event=ehLCJRExternal.dspJobOrderView&frm=lcjr&task=view_job_order&view=external&lcjr_id=116833

Is the White House suggesting that Americans do not have the skills to work in restaurants as servers and cooks or to do basic housekeeping?  Mr. Miller tried the seasonal argument, and yes these positions are seasonal but how do people get on the job training to move from part-time or seasonal to full-time?  If legal immigrants are the problem, why is it OK for President Trump to further the problem by his own discrimination of American workers.

It isn’t a problem.  Miller is correct that immigration has changed throughout our history with ebbs and flows.  He’s correct about the timing for the inclusion of the words penned so beautifully by Emma Lazarus.  Using Miller’s reasoning in his fury with Jim Acosta, the Bill of Rights would also be meaningless because they became part of the Constitution 2 years following ratification.  It doesn’t make sense.

The numbers do not bother me.  For good or bad we have had immigration quotas. Having criteria doesn’t bother me, but I will always be concerned as to who decides the criteria. For example, we all know that the old literacy tests were not to gauge literacy but as an excuse to disenfranchise.

To prevent any misunderstanding, my maternal heritage would not have been allowed into this country if the RAISE Act had been in place.  I would not be an American.  The Hungarians from Livingston Parish who built that community would not have become Americans.  They would not have served in the 2nd World War.  Even as a historian, I don’t know the actual number of American and Allied lives old Mr. John was credited for saving.  He didn’t boast about his stars and battlefield decorations.  When I was a kid he only talked of war as “Hell on Earth” that sometimes one must enter.  No, Mr. John would not meet the standards of an acceptable immigrant because of his lack of education and skills before coming to the US.  His son would not have served in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot.  His grandson, a few years my senior, would not be an oral surgeon today who does a lot of volunteer work using his skills to assist the elderly.  I would not have earned graduate degrees.

Yes, it’s personal but what really matters is that RAISE does zero to address actual problems.  Businesses hire cheap labor to increase profits.  They ship jobs overseas for the same reasons.  Sure the law allows them to, and Donald Trump does what most others in his position have done to maximize his profits.  Still, just because you can doesn’t mean you have to.

The problem isn’t caused by immigrant workers but because we no longer educate and train people with the necessary skill sets for careers today.  Some people will not work in the occupations that immigrants will.  Some demand a better salary because that paid for these types of jobs is not enough.

It’s another topic, but we need to work on education and job training and match those to opportunities.  We need to create opportunities.  The idea is quite simple although the implementation is not in that it is multi-faceted without an easy one size fits all application.

Blaming immigrants; blaming non-English speakers; is just throwing gasoline onto a fire that shouldn’t be burning in the first place.  It’s just to appease those who want the monsters to destroy Maple Street.

The Original Version: 

Maple Street, any town, any state, USA — a non-descript residential community, working class families, homes, America.  The time was 4 March 1960, 19 February 2003, but it also today, the present, and perhaps tomorrow, the future.  The types of cars have changed on Maple Street.  Music with its distinct rhythms and melodies plays from different devices.  Clothing styles have evolved or devolved depending upon who is commenting.  Houses have more modern conveniences.  The people today – their faces, types of work, interests, and leisure time are more diverse in the present, yet that core, essence of being, is consistent with those who lived before on Maple Street.

The Sun rises, sets, and casts shadows.  Passages of time are marked. We rely upon electrical power to the degree that only its absence is noticed.  That has not changed.  Technology for the sake of enjoyment increasingly becomes more prominent in our lives.  Despite the “necessity” to be “connected 24/7,” in many ways today is a rerun of days’ past, but within this loop resides the last moment of calm reflection for everything and everyone on Maple Street before the monsters return.

In 1960, the monsters were supposedly aliens from outer space.  In 2003, those monsters were thought to be terrorists.  Today?  Well today, the monsters take diverse forms.  Terrorists still exist as do aliens even though that term today often invokes visions of illegals from other countries instead of visitors from other planets.  But our monsters?

Our monsters are surprisingly more mundane.  Their appearance is just like that of you or me or if distinguishable to us not so easily to others.  All that we know is that our monsters are just dissimilar from you, me, or whomever has either floor or soapbox and their voice transcends through the air in a manner that causes us to want to listen.  We see and hear what we want, and why not?  We are independent and free.  Past generations who lived on Maple Street defeated great enemies and overcame tremendous obstacles so that we maintain rights that seem natural or bestowed upon us by the Creator, God.

Still…

The monsters aren’t just returning to Maple Street.  The monsters never left.

They reside on Maple Street inside the very homes we seek to protect from invasion, from takeover.

We, the residents of Maple Street, harbor these monsters, but we allow those who do not live on Maple Street opportunity to rattle cages, break down doors, and crash through windows to antagonize these ogres to wreck additional fear, chaos, and destruction.  Why?

Some say that it’s only a theory, make believe, a fantasy.  It must be because nobody is a stranger on Maple Street.  There are no outsiders, no monsters, here unless they invaded.

We’ve lived, worked, played, and reared children side by side on Maple Street.  No need to fear those we know. Nothing can sever the bonds of trust that have been strung and joined with the strength and intricacy of dovetails. Internally the wood has been honed and glue has cured within the tracings of each interlocking joint.

Security except — all it takes is a single seed.

A seed might take the form of a seemingly innocuous thought, word, or gesture.  It’s miniscule in any derivative to what it can produce.

But how can a solitary seed?  The idea with monsters seems outlandish. To grow a watermelon perhaps, but from which a monster can spring?

Often, we don’t see, hear, and fail to realize that a pebble has fallen into the water, and the slight ripple that rolls out consumes energy until a wake of solitude becomes a tsunami.  It’s the flapping wings of a butterfly creating a gentle breeze somewhere that develops into a hurricane that batters another hemisphere.  It’s a snowball rolling downhill, building into what becomes an avalanche.  In our isolation, we are neither immune nor protected. We cannot run and hide from doubt.

Sure, we live in a Democratic Republic.  Maple Street is no different from Main or First or even Second Street.  We elect men and women to represent our interests.  We have a foundation for government in our constitution.

Our forefathers declared and won independence to live as they pleased.  These were exceptional individuals, but they were not infallible and learned that with government too much slack and reliance upon promises instead of establishing obligations would not be sustaining.  There had to be some sort of balance of power with checks to maintain that equalizing.

The Declaration of Independence listed natural rights.  It justified a revolution by enumerating the reasons to make this military conflict distinct from being just another rebellion against authority.  It proposed ideas for a new type of government.

The Articles of Confederation became this government and that government managed to obtain the surrender from Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown.  With this government, we gained from others the undeniable recognition as being independent with the signings of the Treaty at Paris.  We had personal responsibilities but limited duties to one another.  We were free to govern and live as we pleased.  We only needed to prove it to others and more importantly to ourselves.

The promises of the Declaration, however, did not translate seamlessly into practice.  How could it?  For example, In plain sight yet hidden as the Purloined Letter the document told of monsters near, “the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”  All men were not created equal.

Yet as John Adams penned to Hezekiah Niles years later and with the power of hindsight on 13 February 1813:

“The Colonies had grown up under Constitutions of Government, So different, there was so great a Variety of Religions, they were composed of So many different Nations, their Customs, Manners and Habits had So little resemblance, and their Intercourse had been so rare and their Knowledge of each other So imperfect, that to unite them in the Same Principles in Theory and the Same System of Action was certainly a very difficult Enterprize. The compleat Accomplishment of it, in So Short a time and by Such Simple means, was perhaps a Singular Example in the History of Mankind. Thirteen Clocks were made to Strike together; a perfection of Mechanism which no Artist had ever before effected.”

That Singular Example in the History of Mankind, however, almost imploded under the same generation who accomplished the “perfection of Mechanism which no Artist had ever before effected” before a Miracle at Philadelphia occurred.  That miracle was the Constitution, but it was not ratified by the existing state governments but specially called conventions.

  • See Catherine Drinker Bowen, Miracle At Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention May – September 1787.
  • Paperback: 346 page
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; 1st edition (September 30, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1299961029
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316103985

The Constitution was another revolution whose success depended upon acceptance, not battling a foreign power to gain independence, and obviously neither tradition nor force which were the traditional roots for other governments.  To perpetuate, the Constitution had to work and become recognized as legitimate.  That was a long road full of unseen, unknown, and untold obstacles.

It was a road that nobody had traveled successfully prior, but one upon which we on Maple Street have trekked for now for 228 years.

Yet with 140 characters at a time, that road leading to Maple Street crumbles.  It’s akin to 140 jackhammers concentrated upon a single square inch of pavement.

It isn’t just the tweets.  Backhoes in the form of pundits on radio, television, and in print take swipes.  Social media has given most of us access to sticks of dynamite to use for our own satisfaction and sometimes our usage is absent of consideration for others.

It would be hypocritical to suggest that this is the first time someone has attempted to sow seeds on Maple Street.  Others have:

“And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:”

  • Matthew 13: 4-7, KJV

Hence, the reason for jackhammers trying to create fertile ground within a square inch in the middle of Maple Street.  The seeds cast, however, are to bear dissension, discord, and hate instead of fruit.  For the sower is powered by and recognized for amassing personal wealth of which these seeds bring hefty prices upon the open market.  Being loud and flamboyant draw more recognition than skill.

Again, these techniques are not new.  In Southern US History there is a phrase “revolt of the rednecks” that characterizes the rise of the flamboyant Southern politicians such as Theodore Bilbo and James Vardaman in Mississippi, Pitchfork Ben Tillman in South Carolina, and the Kingfish Huey P. Long in Louisiana among others.  Presentation in a carnival like atmosphere attracted crowds who feasted on messages tailored to their emotional hunger.

Even the Bible told of such days:

“Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about?

They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;

None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:”

  • Psalm 49: 5-7 KJV

Some people inquire, why do you have this fixation, this interpretation today as opposed to administrations past?

Despite what some may think, this fixation is not new.  History is littered with examples.  Many became far more horrific and destructive than is likely or even has a statistical possibility beyond that extreme outlying data point of occurring.

One worry is our growing ignorance of history.  That’s a criticism of us as a people, but it’s also an understandable product of feeling overwhelmed and human limitations.  When learning ceases, we cease to exist.  Another is that some exaggerate history.  Both scholars and those with only a cursory knowledge embark upon that route.  Monsters do not need to be created from windmills for the windmills themselves have problems that because of neglect present their own dangers.

Why today?  Today is the present.  We may learn from the past, but we do not live there.

We may prepare for the future, but that future is not the present.  The future does, however, come faster than we often anticipate because it is only the next line of text and doesn’t even require a flipping of page.  We live in the present, so it matters.  It affects us directly and will mold our future.  That is why today.

The man elected as leader per the procedures established in the Constitution implies scandals or weakness at every turn.

It escapes some, but to become “great again” means that failure occurred.  The question is when and the fingers are pointed elsewhere,  but weren’t we on Maple Street around for that failure?

He campaigned that the election would be fixed, rigged against him. In fact, he would not commit to accepting the results prior to but only after the Electoral votes showed in his favor.  That was unprecedented.

Even with victory, he is not accepting and moving past for the loss of the popular vote count is considered an obvious sign of fraud.  He made that charge, not opponents.  Opponents made excuses and lamented their loss, but it was the victor who originally alleged fraud.

Many will say false, and chant Russia, Russia, Russia.

Russia is still an unknown.  We don’t have all the facts, yet the President and supporters deem even the premise that Russia could have influenced our election as a witch hunt.

The other night a pundit who went to great lengths to demean and to discredit everyone else (although he did acknowledge Politico positively before blaming them of stopping what they started to report) whined about the past.  Why didn’t the media cover Hillary Clinton and Ukraine?  Why didn’t the media cover Barack Obama and Israel?  Why the outrage about this email chain and no outrage about Clinton’s server or “lost” emails?

If there was no coverage, how or why did the preceding Congresses engage in so many hearings and conduct so many investigations?  I can only assume about specifics, but some investigations are continual and ongoing.

Why didn’t this pundit’s television network and the platforms that host many of his commentators and experts flood the American public with these stories?  Did they really believe that propagating birtherism was more important?  Did they really believe that repeated detailed accounts of Barack Obama on the golf course should take precedence to potential election interference?

If CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, Washington Post, New York Times, and others are free to investigate, why isn’t FOX?  If “mainstream” silences opposing views, why can I tune into the Blaze and similar on television?  Why do I watch Sinclair push these recorded spots on local news that might be an affiliate of any network?

At Metro stations, there are print newspaper boxes for WAPO right next to a box containing print copies of the Washington Times.  Alternative platforms and outlets exist, and one does not need to search for them.  It’s impossible to avoid them just as one finds it impossible to avoid mainstream media.  Either side rains down enough talk and print to flood entire communities and states.  Together that amount of flooding is unprecedented in all of history, not just here in the United States.

When anyone clamors “no coverage,” I think that person must have been marooned on Gilligan’s Island and even then, had zero clue as to what that little white radio was, let alone how to turn it on and tune it to a station.  Seriously this pundit may only be a commentator, except for the times when it’s convenient to refer to himself as an investigative journalist or reporter, but he appears on a major network that is widely distributed.  FOX News cannot be confused with my high school class news report that at best could reach an audience of about 50 of my classmates all of whom knew each other because our hometown didn’t even have a large enough population to be classified as a town.

Instead this pundit like the President, and the White Communications staff continually informs us that any disagreement in the media from what they say is “Fake News.”  The topic doesn’t matter.  For example, it was the largest inauguration crowd in history, the photos are false, doctored.  Apparently, size must matter more than the people or their feelings.

Cries of why wasn’t this person or that person investigated are continual.  Everyone before failed as President.  America stopped being great, but he alone is great.

Opposing voices are demeaned with the objective to discredit.  Cable news personalities are “crazy,” and “dumb as a rock.”  They are bullies to the leader of the free world.

It doesn’t make sense that the most powerful with the most resources are not just threatened but bullied by others who are so small that they can be knocked out by that small seed cast.

Many readers are of age to remember first-hand, and those of my age and younger should have been taught McCarthyism in their US History courses.  Admittedly Edward R. Murrow might be disappointed in the overall state of journalism today, but would the current administration and its pundits be forever in hiding if they faced probing less than even 10 percent of what Murrow did less than four score ago?

What if Joseph Welch posed the questions in the hearings of today?  I’m scared to think the reaction because hollering, denigrating, and attempting to intimidate Mr. Welch by any means didn’t seem to work effectively.  Partisanship existed at that time.  Regionalism had a greater influence in Congress than political party as the Solid South still existed.  Racism and other such ideas that imbued society were out in the open.  Yet the people of the generation recognized the monsters and managed to distinguish monster from man and survived this critical period.

Today, however,  in non “Fake News” we have accusations such as:

“How low has President Obama gone to tapp (sic) my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

 When is enough finally enough?

Here on Maple Street the reality is that our elected leaders are not calming fears and promoting cooperation and humanity.  It’s suspicion and division to open chasms for those seeds to germinate.  Everyone else is blamed or denigrated.  The example from the top is everything should be about me.  Everyone else receives breaks, gets rewarded, is given free passes, but what about me?  Remember, I’m President and you are not.

Opposing views of this description retort that Barack Obama did the same or worse.  He was the divider in chief.  Crooked Hillary Clinton committed more crimes and atrocities but never faced the same level of scrutiny.  Bill Clinton lied.  Loretta Lynch, James Comey, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and others have gotten away with everything and nobody noticed, complained, or cared.

Here’s a shock.  I feel no need to argue those points.

Let’s just agree that everything you want to say about the previous administration is true.  Everything you want to say about the Clinton organizations is true.  Everyone is unfairly attacking our elected leader today.  I’ll accept that with no argument.

Say that it’s true, but how does that justify doing the same bad things?

Just because others did it, isn’t a valid reason.  If I had a nickel for every time one of my schoolmates from K through 12 listened to their Mom, Dad, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, or our teachers answer us with some version of “just because ______ is doing it doesn’t mean you get to do it,” I could probably pay a mortgage payment at least.

Continuing that type of lame excuse only slides us closer to falling off the slippery slope.  How is that making us great again?  Progress needs to start someplace, and progress doesn’t mean pulling those with opposing views down or blaming everyone else for not asking immediately “how high” when you say “jump.”

Regardless of personal political ideology, as an American, doesn’t it seem strange that some profess disgust at the public perception of a President and First Lady who have celebrated many anniversaries and are rearing two daughters together.  How many scandals appeared in opposition media with promises to that the information would “cause liberal heads agony,” “make the left furious,” “incriminate all Democrats?”  [I purposely chose to downplay the wording of these “news reports and sources”].

That was common practice with Barack and Michelle Obama.

Honestly, we don’t know about fights and stuff behind closed doors just as they don’t know about your family or my family squabbles.  Here on Maple Street we see everything that happens outside, but not under another family’s roof.  We see the public image and hear what they say about themselves.

Likewise, we don’t know everything about Donald and Melania Trump and their young son behind closed doors.

We do know that the President had been married twice previously.  Sadly good people get divorced, I’m not making judgments.  I’m pointing out that as recent as the 1950s with Adlai Stevenson, a president who had been divorced was unthinkable for many Americans.  That changed obviously with Ronald Reagan.

This reordering of the importance of various traits and characteristics by candidates and electorate are not new nor relegated to a single party or ideology.  In the 1980s, Gary Hart’s political career and hope for the presidency ended because of sex scandals.  By the 1990s Bill Clinton won consecutive terms despite sex scandals.  Clinton defeated a man with a distinguished military service record in George H.W. Bush even though Clinton dodged the draft.

Today our Commander in Chief is regarded by supporters as a military advocate even though he also dodged the draft.  Supporters excuse him for criticizing a Veteran like John McCain and apparently accept the President’s reason that he doesn’t like individuals who were captured by the enemy.  He only respects those who were not captured is considered “reasonable” for the President to say about an American POW.

It doesn’t make sense.  Perhaps in a cult it makes sense, but has partisanship and our own level of discourse really disintegrated to that level?

We can all talk about “locker room banter,” but would you accept your son saying that he would walk up to a woman and grab her by the #%$$*?  What if someone said that to your daughter, wife, or Mom?

Does it matter?  Perhaps not, but isn’t it traditional to hold Presidents and leaders to at least the same standards as we hold ourselves and our children?   Inside a classroom, I expect more from myself than I do any of my students.  As a student, I gauged my success by how well I performed, not what my classmates did.  As a child those with authority over me practiced the “do as I do” philosophy.  The concept of “do as I say, not as I do” was inconceivable.  I know I’m not the only one reared in that manner.

As far as we know, Barack Obama has never admitted to having extramarital affairs.  Donald Trump in his own books has bragged about past affairs that played roles in his divorces.  Who are we to judge, but how can Obama be described as surely not Christian while Trump is a true Christian?  Perhaps both, perhaps neither, but would you rather your child set a goal for multiple marriages and affairs or for in sickness and in health until death do us part?

We seem to accept and sadly justify standards of a public figure who many only know as the character he played on the Celebrity Apprentice.  Most people I know would be appalled or offended if someone they actually knew behaved in the same manner.  Tweeting insults is not hitting back hard.  Dodging the draft does not make one understanding, sympathetic, and supportive of the military.  Excessive boasting, bragging, whining, complaining, and making everything about me are not attributes that we equate to success and leadership.

Here on Maple Street our views are obscured.  We used to be a group.  We used to care about one another.  Now it’s suspicion, jealousy, and animosity.  Things aren’t going as we think they should so it’s Don’s fault, and we run to stop him.  He fights back and yells that Charley is the bad person, and the crowd moves toward Charley.  Charley becomes frightened and points his finger at Steve.  You’re the one; you started this and as Steve backs away he cries out that it’s Tommy, it’s the kid, remember he knew.  Everyone is a danger, but the one taken down first is the one with the least resources or skill to fight back.  One by one, we succumb.  It’s a mob scene, a riot on Maple Street.

Martin Niemöller wrote:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Caught within the chaos we cannot see the big picture, but on the top of a hill overlooking the brutality, bloodshed, and destruction, everything becomes clear…

“Understand the procedure now? Just stop a few of their machines and radios and telephones and lawn mowers …. Throw them into darkness for a few hours, and then just sit back and watch the pattern.

“And this pattern is always the same?”

“With few variations. They pick the most dangerous enemy they can find … and it’s themselves. And all we need do is sit back … and watch.”

“Then I take it this place … this Maple Street … is not unique.”

“By no means. Their world is full of Maple Streets. And we’ll go from one to the other and let them destroy themselves. One to the other … one to the other … one to the other –”

Lastly:

“The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices-to be found only in the minds of men.

For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy. A thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own for the children …

and the children yet unborn, (a pause) and the pity of it is …

that these things cannot be confined to … The Twilight Zone!”

And I live on Maple Street, and so do the monsters, for those monsters are part of me.

The title and thought of this essay came from The Twilight Zone, Season 1, Episode 22, “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” that aired originally on 4 March 1960.

Readers can most likely catch the episode being rerun in local television or networks.  It is also available on many streaming sites.  I’m linking an episode guide entry from The Twilight Zone Wiki for additional information.

In the year 2002, a remake of the Twilight Zone debuted on the UPN Network with Forrest Whittaker assuming the Rod Serling role as narrator.  This remake should not be confused with the remake that aired for two seasons on CBS beginning in the year 1985 with a third season produced for syndication.

In the second remake (2002), an episode titled “The Monsters Are on Maple Street,” Season 1, Episode 32 made its debut on 19 February 2003.  It offered a contemporary take of the original.  I’m linking the IMDb entry for more information.

Episodes from this series remake are not as prevalent on our airwaves today as the original Twilight Zone.  Still, one can find this episode many streaming sites.  Myself, I find comparing these episodes quite interesting, but I would rate the original as the superior version.

A Non-related aside:

I have never sought or accepted any payment or donations for this blog.  My position hasn’t changed, but I wanted share some good news.

After 10 years of marriage, my wife and I are in the final stages of adopting a son from an international orphanage.  We would most appreciate your thoughts and prayers for our son and us as soon-to-be parents to more than fur babies.  I hope that people read and follow because you either gather some information or at least see something that causes you to think.

We’re not conducting any fundraising with crowd sourcing sites or other means.

Nobody goes into the education field to become wealthy, but it’s a valuable reward when former students remain in communication or drop in unexpectedly to say that you made them think, believe, or made a difference.  Students, colleagues, peers, readers, and others have inquired so if anyone would like to make a monetary donation to help us with airfare primarily or other expenses associated with adoption, below is a link to a PayPal donation account that I have set up.  It would be appreciated, but it is certainly not necessary to continue whatever connection we share.

https://www.paypal.me/LABLouisianaBoy

Appointment Neglect or Confirmation Obstruction

I watched the morning news shows the other morning where pundits blamed any and everyone else for all.  My aggravation at the “simple” partisan excuses led me to some quick thoughts about this Donald Trump tweet.

First some numbers for context.

The last time I looked up this information, the President had 1,212 appointments to make that require Senate confirmation. The President has 353 appointments that do not require Senate confirmation. Exact numbers may be different today, but I’m confident that mine here are in the ballpark.

The responsibilities of these appointments vary obviously. You’ll often see people cite numbers in the 550 range as “Key” positions that require confirmation. I think that number is subjective for a reason I’ll type in a moment, but I wanted to clarify why my appointment number is approximately triple what one might see or hear from other sources.

The number is subjective in my opinion because while the general public sees Cabinet Members, Ambassadors, and others with tremendous responsibility on television and at events, most of us don’t see the people who actually do the work behind the scenes. In practically any occupation or endeavor there are folks who never receive recognition but without them nothing would be possible. Our own lives, work, and experience  illustrate that one does not have to be in the limelight to be “key.”

The US Senate confirms nominees, and the Democratic majority at the time under leader Harry Reid changed chamber rules to make most confirmations a simple majority instead of a 3/5 vote. During the current 115th, the GOP majority under leader Mitch McConnell furthered that change so that a simple majority applies to all confirmations.

Technically, the filibuster for confirmations no longer exists. I say technically because procedurally it is possible to require one to invoke cloture although that is more or less pro forma in the modern Senate.

There are several ways, however, for the minority party to obstruct and delay a confirmation. One which FOX news harked on the other day was to boycott committee hearings and thus prevent a quorum. The Democrats did this with 3 Cabinet nominees, Price, Sessions, and Mnuchin. All, however, would be confirmed and statistically within similar timeframes to Cabinet appointees of previous presidents. For other appointments, this tactic has not been used and if it were used the changes to chamber rules by both parties in recent years allows the majority party to force a vote. In the past, such boycotts meant something; today, they are akin to a pufferfish. Outside the posturing with these Cabinet appointments, Schumer has not tried this tactic again.  I’m not trying to read his thoughts, but the tactic doesn’t work and sadly has become a normal procedure of both parties.

The President’s tweet and the outrage of his supporters’ neglects that:

  1. The Senate cannot confirm anyone if nobody has even been nominated and;
  2. Once nominated, a number of forms must be completed by the nominee and nominator (the President). Among these forms are financial disclosures, certifications about any potential conflicts, committee questionnaires, and so on.

It’s paperwork which is a pain, but much of it has been SOP in various forms since the days of George Washington. One of the reasons for the boycotts of the Price and Mnuchin hearings was that the potential conflicts of interest were incomplete and under investigation. Suspected, but not known at the time, was that Sessions neglected to disclose information. Again, the boycotts did nothing to stop the nominations, but they saved us from silly bickering because the nominations could not move to the Floor and that fact had zero to do with any committee vote.

[I can’t be alone with despise of going to meetings where nothing can be done because the needed materials or such aren’t available yet. Such meetings or hearings in this case have to be repeated, so why waste everyone’s time]?

The Partnership for Public Service which is a non-profit established in the year 2001 maintains a tracker of “key” positions that in recent years WAPO became connected.

From the graphic, it’s obvious that Trump has far fewer confirmations than his predecessors by this point in his presidency. It’s also obvious that the average wait time is 7 days longer than that of an Obama nominee. I do point out, however, that the average wait time for an Obama nominee was 8 days longer than that for George W. Bush.

My feeling is that wait times will continue to increase for future presidents. It’s partisanship but also with technology, social media, and such, there is more paperwork to fill out and review with a greater chance of neglecting areas by honest mistake.

The Senate has made 46 confirmations for these “key” positions. An additional 130 individuals have been nominated. Of that 130, only 4 await confirmation. We do not know how many of the remaining 126 have not submitted all required paperwork. We know that 4 have, and we can figure out how long it took from formal nomination to submitting all required paperwork necessary to proceed to a hearing that will then lead to a vote.

If any of the remaining 126 have submitted all required paperwork, the power rests entirely with the majority party to schedule a hearing (to move into the awaiting confirmation column).

The numbers show that 384 of these “key” positions have no nominee.

If the President, current Members of Congress, talking head pundits, and regular ole folks don’t like the confirmation process, place the blame where it starts. Blame George Washington and the Congresses under his administration.

If anyone wants to blame Democrats for obstruction, do so, but at least point out that no matter how much they might desire there just ain’t nothing to obstruct in terms of confirmations.

In common speak, they may have this big ole levee, but if the flood water is still 20 miles away that levee ain’t obstructing the flow. If the levee fails when the water gets there, then the minority who constructed the levee has failed. If the levee holds with water pushing against it, the levee has obstructed the path of the water. That could be good; that could be bad; as y’all know some depends upon whether there is a spillway and if it’s opened which side your property is on.

To give another perspective without the “key” question, the American Foreign Service Association tracks US ambassadors. Just glance at this list, and you’ll see a few of the 1,212 positions I typed in the initial post. Look at how many of these positions still lack an appointment.

There’s just more to the story than some are wanting to accept.

A Non-related aside:

I have never sought or accepted any payment or donations for this blog.  My position hasn’t changed, but I wanted share some good news.

After 10 years of marriage, my wife and I are in the final stages of adopting a son from an international orphanage.  We would most appreciate your thoughts and prayers for our son and us as soon-to-be parents to more than fur babies.  I hope that people read and follow because you either gather some information or at least see something that causes you to think.

We’re not conducting any fundraising with crowd sourcing sites or other means.

Nobody goes into the education field to become wealthy, but it’s a valuable reward when former students remain in communication or drop in unexpectedly to say that you made them think, believe, or made a difference.  Students, colleagues, peers, readers, and others have inquired so if anyone would like to make a monetary donation to help us with airfare primarily or other expenses associated with adoption, below is a link to a PayPal donation account that I have set up.  It would be appreciated, but it is certainly not necessary to continue whatever connection we share.

https://www.paypal.me/LABLouisianaBoy

Campaign Promise Update for the Forgotten

Accomplishment is a subjective term.  Still, I question the ability of “experts” who are also touting the brilliance of 266 blank pages and people buying such to make it the #1 bestseller on Amazon.  Many of these experts argue that President Donald Trump has had “unprecedented” success in the early days of his administration.  White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer agrees with that assessment of the administration.  The forgotten individual is supposedly represented and championed unlike ever before in our history.

Yet it’s difficult to find anyone who gives specific examples that one can connect directly to this success. Stock market, jobs?   Obviously, there’s a seemingly unlimited scope of variables with some areas, but I have no issues giving whomever the president might be credit for favorable job reports and stock market increases.  Admittedly I am bothered more when whomever is president is blamed for unfavorable reports or problems in the markets.  Still, the imagery exists as to who gets credited and blamed regardless of their connections, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to meaningful involvement.

What could be cited as direct actions of success are 16 Executive Orders and hodgepodge of additional memoranda, but neither Spicer nor supporters discuss these.  Why not?   Among those was the rollout of a travel ban that did not go smoothly to say the least and quickly faced legal hurdles.  The justification for the immediate rollout was a safety argument.  It would seem, however, that the revised order would have been issued more quickly and without a 10-day delay before attempted implementation since it would have been too “dangerous” and counter-intuitive to announce and delay the first for even a 24-hour period.

New guidance for immigration enforcement has been implemented.  Instead of focusing resources to apprehending the most dangerous which sometimes required the cooperation and tips of those who have committed no crimes to provide assistance and information to law enforcement to help locate those who have already committed violent crimes, we have moved to a first-seen, first-apprehended practice.  Instead of talking a rifle and firing a couple of rounds at a target, we have begun firing shotgun shells at the same target regardless of distance in the hopes of multiple strikes by the pellets.  We might get more marks on paper, but we do not pierce the bullseye.  Also, anything near the target is often struck by the shot as well.

Financial advisors are no longer required to work in the best interest of the client paying for their services.  If that advisor receives an incentive to push a riskier investment or one that will likely result in a loss for that specific client, it is the client’s responsibility again to discover the motives of the professional.

Small interior waterways no longer have federal government regulations that would require specific businesses to divert runoffs and pollution from entering.  Responsibilities for cleanup and damages to the surrounding environment and wildlife falls upon those who want to enjoy that environment or say hunt or fish in that area.

If companies such as ATT or Verizon have their accounts hacked and the personal data of customers compromised, the FCC may not be able to demand accountability since the bar of expected security has been lowered to “reasonable measures.”  The chances that your internet searches will be available for purchase from the largest providers has increased tremendously.

Foreign companies can use eminent domain regulations to take private property from citizens for “just compensation” in the eyes of the business.  Rights granted by the Fifth Amendment and later expanded to provide protections from entities other than the government have been curtailed in the name of capitalism.  Despite promises on the campaign trail and more importantly despite provisions written into the disputed legislation from the previous administration, US products are not required for usage of this usurped land as for all intents and purposes foreign products have been grandfathered in.

We do not know yet what will become of healthcare.  If the current proposals do not pass Congress, the blame will be upon Speaker Ryan.  If the proposals do pass and prove disastrous the blame will be upon Speaker Ryan.  If we remain at the status quo, all efforts will be made to harm individuals with blame then being cast upon the previous administration and minority party.

We do not know yet of budget suggestions from the Executive, but we do know that one proposal to finance the construction of the border wall is to cut anti-terrorism activities and training for the US Coast Guard and the TSA.  FEMA and other disaster aid will also be cut to fund this wall.

We still do not know if Congress will ever pass any legislation as they have yet to do so.  Attention has been focused on potential Russian hacking and connections to control our government.  Attention has been focused not on the non-disputed results of the election and Electoral vote count, but to prove that millions of illegal votes changed the popular vote tally.  Attention has been focused on crowd size on inauguration day and that of various marches following inauguration.  Attention has been focused on merchandise with the Ivanka Trump name.

Perhaps accomplishments can be read in the #1 bestseller on Amazon, “Reasons to Vote for Democrats.”  The text need not be changed, and the title could be “Ways the Presidential Administration Has Assisted the Forgotten American.”  Many people argue that’s why they voted for Donald Trump, and political rhetoric aside forgotten remains forgotten despite what the experts spew.

The Problem With Ambassador Excuses

It’s true that Members of Congress and others employed in some fashion by the federal government meet ambassadors from different countries.  Private citizens do as well.  Even a huge honkered Louisiana boy has been an invited guest to embassies and engaged in private conversations with ambassadors from foreign states.  Topics of discussion have run the gamut from historical matters such as the life of Theodore Roosevelt, Reconstruction and Jim Crow in the South, life growing up in the Hungarian Settlement, how my high school is no longer located in a village but a town, and techniques with a spokeshave to current events.  Heck the better half will tell you that a major event in our marriage was walking maybe 20 yards through a congested outdoor patio to interrupt her speaking with others to say Mr. Ambassador may I introduce you to my wife.  The reason that was a milestone had nothing to do with the ambassador, but it was the first time since I had been bedridden for a year that in such an environment that I acted in the same professional manner as I had before illness.

Now I don’t expect the same of many others in terms of memory that I do with myself because I am my Grandpa’s youngest grandchild.  I remember conversations with random people that occurred years ago.  In fact, the subtler or seemingly “common” a person is, the more vivid my memory.  I cannot memorize dates; I forget names; I often draw momentary blanks about what I’ve read recently; I may not be as intelligent as Grandpa was or have his kind of memory, but I can hold my own against most when it comes to recollection.

What’s the point?

The issue today is less about speaking with the Russian ambassador or other Russian officials, it’s the failure to disclose those events.  To not disclose under sworn oath is even worse because if the person who is the chief legal officer for the country is confused by questioning or cannot remember personal events from the past year, I’ve lost confidence no matter what my opinion of that individual might be.

The issue is trying to deflect by saying “others did the same.”  Maybe they are hypocrites, but that doesn’t change what others have admitted to doing.

Sure, when those hypocrites lie under oath let’s prosecute the others as well.  I’m not opposed to doing that.  When they have potential conflicts of interests of any sort, let’s investigate and either disclose the conflicts or debunk any suspicions.  Again, let’s do that for all.

Regardless: 

When those potential conflicts of interest are connected directly to the very foundations of our government, domestic and international security, and very essence as a nation, we should not justify a cover-up and do everything possible to keep the record secret.

Whether someone thinks another person has done the same or even if other people have done the same, that fact does little to protect the integrity of this nation and its citizens and is not excuse to overlook the present.

Yes, I know that Russia is not the Soviet Union.  I also know the biographical outline of Vladimir Putin which crosses back into the USSR.  Is it naivety or hatred of the past administration to support keeping the tax returns secret?  Is it naivety or hatred to blow off the possibility that a foreign government has infiltrated?  Many people took ole Tail gunner Joe McCarthy at his word and believed that our government was infested with communists, but for the good of the country even the supporters of the idea expected him to prove those allegations.  We had hearings.

For those who forget the economy of the Ronald Reagan presidency and how many people lost jobs because of the drop in oil prices and maintain the Teflon Ron American savior image, OK.  I admit that I like several of his campaign commercials and the attitudes and imagery conveyed within.  I was a supporter of George H W Bush in both campaigns for President.  The first time I could vote for president, I pulled the lever for then President Bush.  Historically I would argue that only John Quincy Adams had the same level of experience in areas germane to being president. Both, however, had troublesome terms in many respects so qualifications are not a certainty for success.

Still what ushered in the Reagan era was Barry Goldwater.  I wasn’t around at the time, but in my study of history Barry Goldwater still scares me because I wonder if the world would have become engulfed in a fireball in the actual war that ended all wars if he had been elected.  Honestly, I think my impression is too negative in this area but fortunately the country survived all the uncertainty from that decade.

Still:

Doesn’t it say something about how the ideas of “conservatism,” being patriotic, and loving our country has changed since being brought to the national stage by Barry Goldwater to today?

Watch for yourselves as Senator Goldwater spoke for himself during his candidacy for the presidency.

http://www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1964/we-will-bury-you

Unlike 1964 in 2016 and 2017, the conservative position is that the Russians are the good guys and any investigations or scrutiny about connections is some anti-American plot.

Why?

The answer that Democrats, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, or even Donald Duck or Bugs Bunny is worse isn’t an answer because if that’s considered the solution then this country has only a few gasps of air left.  That should worry everyone, and it shouldn’t matter if you identify as Republican, Democrat, Conservative, Liberal, Libertarian, Constitutionalist, Christian, Muslim, Agnostic, Atheist, or any other group.  It should matter because we are human beings.

[Note:  I do not know if any conflicts of interests exist.  I do not know if Russia or any foreign entity influenced our electoral process.  I just know that there is an insane amount of time trying to justify the innocence of what had at first been denied as to ever even occurring.  You can have smoke without a fire, but smoke can cause harm all by itself].

Birth of a State Poor Sequel

1)  According to Donald Trump, Indiana born U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel allegedly could not rule impartially because of his Mexican heritage.  Donald Trump would settle that lawsuit against Trump University by paying plaintiffs in the neighborhood of $25 million.

2) President Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates for declining to defend the travel ban that numerous federal judges appointed by both different presidents have concluded as unlawful.

3) According to President Trump, U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle, nominated in the year 2004 and confirmed by a vote of 99 to 0, is a “so-called judge” who made a “ridiculous” ruling, and Press Secretary Sean Spicer called Robart’s ruling “this outrageous order” before later amending the statement with the deletion of “outrageous.”

Disagreement, dissent, failing to follow quickly and without question, and one is demeaned, ridiculed, discredited, punished, and terminated.

One, two, three, examples of freedom such as history notes only with different names in describing the birth of an authoritarian or totalitarian state.

Words for thought:  First they came for…I did not…for I wasn’t…finally they came for me…and no one was left….

Integrity and Rhetoric Don’t Mix Well

Donald Trump as the candidate for the GOP stated that he might not accept the results of the election.  To his credit, he most likely meant only if he there was reason to believe the results had been rigged.  The manner in which he made the statement, however, resulted in many supporters believing someone, somehow, would rig the election causing Donald Trump to lose.  One can argue if Joe Walsh’s reference to muskets meant bloodshed or civil disobedience, but it is difficult to deny that at least on the fringes supporters planned for armed violence if the tally found Trump trailing.

Hillary Clinton as the candidate of the Democratic Party stated that if Donald Trump refused to accept the results of the election that would be a threat to our country.

We have seen protests about the election by individuals who do not want to accept Donald Trump as president.  While I have no issues with peaceful protests, a few individuals have destroyed property and interfered with the rights of others.  On the other hand, some supporters of Donald Trump have intimidated and harassed people who they deem as different.  Yes, there have been false reports, but I have also witnessed the verbal harassment of students for nothing more than their Muslim faith.

Idiots are not confined to either the GOP or Democratic Party.  Idiots come in every skin color, gender, shape, size, beliefs, and everything else.  No group has a monopoly on idiots or reprehensible individuals for that matter.  Fortunately, sincere and caring individuals exist in those groupings as well.

With the preliminaries addressed…

Efforts at voter disenfranchisement and voter suppression are not unique to either the GOP or Democratic Party.  Both at times in our history have worked independently and in conjunction with one another to limit the voting power of specific groupings of people.  This history is at the ballot box directly and does not include efforts such as gerrymandering.

Most recently, the GOP has pushed for various Voter ID laws and applauded the SCOTUS ruling in Shelby v. Holder that deemed Section 4 (the coverage formula) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 unconstitutional.  That ruling also made Section 5 (preclearance) of the same act invalid.

People argue, but Voter ID laws are a non-solution to a problem that has been statistically irrelevant.  What is an acceptable form of photo identification?  If enforced as contended, then state identifications that were not in compliance with the REAL ID Act of 2005 should not have been treated as a valid ID for voting purposes.  It is true that many activities today cannot be done without having a photo ID, but it is also true that for a number of senior citizens especially there is no pressing need for them to have a current photo ID.

Unfortunately, arguments about inconvenience typically devolve into the reasoning that nothing is inconvenient as long as it affects people other than ourselves.  Seriously we could have actual hard to falsify identifications by incorporating biometrics, but many people argue that is either an inconvenience, invasion of privacy, or a potential infringement upon freedom.

Perhaps, but can anyone believe that nobody has ever made a fake ID “way back when” to buy beer or watch an R rated movie before reaching the ages of 18, 21, or 17?  It wasn’t that long ago when many boys lied about their age and had papers so that they could join the military and go into combat.

Practically every election, and the presidential election of 2016 adhered to the pattern, reports of machines changing votes are heard.  While some reports are fictitious, some are true and the fault is not a result of nefarious scheming but legitimate issues with the machines.  Occurrences as simple as oils from voters’ fingers accumulating on touch screens or humidity changes within polling locations can cause inaccurate inputs.  Simply machines need to be checked and recalibrated on location on a regular basis in every location.

While the notion is popular and it is true that hacking of the software at voting terminals is possible, in many locations these terminals are not connected and so the malware would need to be installed on each machine individually.  This type of effort to alter election results is more likely to occur in the tallying process.

Likewise, other attempts (physical) to alter election results can occur by either preventing people from casting ballots via written law, personal intimidation, or even during the tallying process.  If done during tallying, however, for all intents and purposes for a physical misrepresentation of the votes to occur everyone in the room has to be involved.  Everyone has someone watching every move.

This type of direct skewing can happen even when machine counts have paper backups as either optical scan or “paper packs.” Unfortunately, all machines do not have such “paper trails” in a physical form, and sheer numbers make it impractical to physically count each ballot.

A technological attack, however, could in theory occur at that point.  From my perspective as a history professor, we don’t have enough data to determine the likelihood of such an occurrence.  That methods are beyond my areas of expertise.

I can state, however, that seemingly everything and everybody can be hacked.  Statistically I have nothing cite, but I think most people are at least aware of the risks involved with having certain accounts.  Some people reading probably had information stolen by attacks on Target, Yahoo, and who knows how many businesses.  Academic institutions have been hacked as well with Michigan State University being just the latest for which I have a personal concern.

Should there be a recount?  That’s what this boils down to.

The other day on social media, I linked this writing from Professor of Computer Science J. Alex Halderman at the University of Michigan.  In addition to being one of the individuals involved in this questioning of vote integrity, he also provides a good outline of the actual procedures to have a recount or validation of results in these respective states.

https://medium.com/@jhalderm/want-to-know-if-the-election-was-hacked-look-at-the-ballots-c61a6113b0ba#.ajgruu2nr

I’ll leave Jill Stein’s efforts to readers to debate.  Despite what anyone might believe about the fundraising efforts, one cannot deny that she has standing to request a “recount.”

Since private individuals are paying the costs as predicated by the system, I really don’t understand the opposition.  Regardless of candidate each should want fair results, and we should expect them to abide by those results.  If concerns about the integrity of the election existed on either side, shouldn’t we all want those concerns addressed.  Once investigated, however, we expect all to accept the results.  Everyone will not be happy, but we have to move along.

It should not matter if Trump won or if Clinton won; if the election was fixed then We the People lost.  That’s what I think too many of both sides fail to understand because we have become so partisan.

In some ways it’s like instant replay in sports.  For years the call on the field, regardless of how blatant an error the call was stood.  Then we had instant replay.  Yep we all agree that the right call comes out of the replay booth, right?  Still, we move along just as we did before instant replay even though “instant” has gained a new definition.

For this election, I think a validation process is a good thing.  We need to know if someone hacked these systems.  We need to have voting terminals that have “paper trails” in the form of optical scan or “paper packs.”  When states purchased their voting equipment, people were too impressed by bells and whistles because they really had no way of anticipating reliability.  Unfortunately, it took an election for many to see the potential holes.

Should the results be overturned if these recounts / validations change the tallies?

In a normal world, I would say yes regardless of candidate.  As divided as the country is today, however, I think more harm than good would occur by changing the results.  I would hope that Democrats and Republicans would refer to themselves as Americans and not as members of their party.  I would hope that Americans see themselves as residents of a country within a world of other countries, cultures, and beliefs.  We cannot be isolated.  Historically, we may have been buffered by two oceans but with modernization that buffer no longer exists.  Nobody is immune to that pebble dropping or butterfly or bird flapping its wings anywhere on the planet. The waves or wind will reach us.

The greatest enemy is if we only care about integrity when we are the one who lost or who suffers.  Everybody will accuse the other of being the hypocrite.  If Clinton had won…because Trump won…should not change our values.  The fact that everyone is pointing their finger at someone else and calling that person the hypocrite illustrates our own hypocrisy and our own lack of integrity.

BTW:  I’ll type about the Electoral College another time.  I’ve analyzed a number of elections using various forms of proportional allocation, and it doesn’t have as great an impact as some may believe.  When people in favor today talk historically, they tend to ignore the impact of slavery in the creation of the system even when they are correct about the fears of a direct democracy.  Oddly enough, however, these same people often desire direct democracy over representational styled approaches in local and personal matters.  Those who oppose the Electoral College often fail to see the advantages of such a system.  The Electoral College, whether viewed at the point of its creation or today, has both positives and negatives.  It needs to viewed beyond the implications of a single election.

Yes 2016 is different from 2008 but some things are not

There are several major differences between 2008 and 2016, and no I’m not referring to how bad the job market had gotten by 2008.  I don’t blame President George W. Bush.  There were factors within his control, within the control of Congress, but the country is no longer isolated and no entity can control every event and stop the proverbial butterfly from flapping its wings.  I’ll let y’all in on a secret that shouldn’t be a secret.  It’s true that Mitch McConnell did not make his “one term” statement about Barack Obama until 2010.

It was September 2009, however, when Joe Wilson shouted “you lie,” and Louie Gohmert wore his ridiculous “what bill” sign hanging from his neck.  Even before Barack Obama took the oath of office, it was obstructionism, not opposition.  As per his predecessors in the Oval Office, only John Quincy Adams faced similar sabotage of our government, and like his Dad did not attend the inauguration of his successor.  Still both father and son continued to work for the good of this country after their presidencies just as George H.W. and George W. Bush.

Barack Obama appears to be of the same attitude.

In his fourth press conference in a week of sounding out to Americans and world leaders what he thinks they should think about President-elect Donald Trump, Obama urged congressional Democrats not to follow Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) model of lockstep resistance against him eight years ago, but to quickly activate all over the country and avoid “micro-targeting.”

“I want to be respectful of the office and give the president-elect an opportunity to put forward his platform and his arguments without somebody popping off in every instance,” Obama said, but “as an American citizen who cares deeply about our country, if there are issues that have less to do with the specifics of some legislative proposal or battle but go to core questions about our values and our ideals, and if I think that it’s necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals, then I’ll examine it when it comes.”

Still the conservative and alt-right media along with its followers find fault with President Obama’s statement.  Is it because Americans are not supposed to speak out and to follow blindly?

Was Barack Obama perfect?  Of course not.

What strikes me about the opposition to President Obama, however, is few can cite the EOs, EMs, EAs that he actually issued which they oppose.  I’m not even referring to knowing the differences between the three, but just the subject.  Some of these issues existed long before Barack Obama took office, and many more were more akin to “tilting at windmills” in Don Quixote lore.

Most of the conservative and alt-right media and its fans tend to cite stuff that never happened or stuff that had to be done based upon conditions set prior to his presidency in their criticisms

Most from this side fail to differentiate between an issue where the US was the sole operative versus one where the US was one of many involved.

I admit that much of what I’m contending about the opposition to Barack Obama can also be said of the opposition to George W. Bush.

Society has become that polarized, and fewer and fewer seem willing to acknowledge both positives and negatives. Both individuals as President of the United States made mistakes, but I find it difficult to consider either as anti-American.

It’s not that all Americans are supposed to follow blindly as some of the more vocal proponents of Donald Trump have been asserting, but with Barack Obama it’s difficult to not admit that race has played a role in how he has been perceived.

Many people, regardless of where they might be on an ideology scale, become disheveled at the mention of race.  They think race is an excuse or some type of easy out.

My point is that if race were an excuse or easy, we would not be having discussions about race relations today.  Whether things happen in the darkness or beneath a spotlight; whether words are whispered or shouted from the rooftops, racial issues have been and will continue to play a role in our lives.

Why?  My opinion is that we as adults somehow lose the knowledge and wisdom of the smallest of children.  At one time all of us had that ability to overcome such shortcomings, but as we got older, albeit to differing degrees, we either forget or lose the ability.  Why?  I wish someone would tell me.

From Scott Woods Makes Lists:

“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes Black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you.

Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another, and so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe.

It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”

Admittedly, I know next to nothing about Mr. Woods except that he and I have different skin colors.  He describes an ugly topic eloquently, and I cannot say that I disagree even though I’m looking from a different perspective.

Using the term racism does not label either you or me as people who hate.  Just for the sake of argument, leave race out and think only in terms of privilege.  We are all born with certain privileges.  While I had food and shelter as an infant, I never had the physical attributes to say play in the NFL.  I never had the ability to be a great musician or artist even if I had been immersed within that environment as babe.

With that perspective I’ll expand upon Mr. Woods’s thoughts so that another aspect, discrimination, is considered.

Discrimination may know race; it may know gender; it may know identity; shape; size; it is another creation that manifests itself throughout multiple layers.  Discrimination imbues us all, and the stains cannot be washed away.

Consider my birth state of Louisiana.  Attorney General Jeff Landry and a growing number of Republicans in the state legislature are suing Governor John Bel Edwards because they are “unhappy” with an executive order that adds protections against discrimination and harassment.  Specifically, the protections offered against discrimination and harassment on the basis of gender, race, religion, et al, now include the same protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender state government workers.

Look at the Executive Order:

“No state agencies, departments, offices, commissions, boards, entities or officers of the State of Louisiana shall harass or discriminate on the basis of….”

“All contracts for the purchase of services by any state agencies, departments, offices, commissions, boards, entities, or officers of the state of Louisiana shall be awarded without discrimination on the basis of….”

“Further, all such contracts shall include a provision that the contractor shall not discriminate on the basis [of]….”

I don’t know what’s sadder:

A) that governmental policies have to include such statements because honestly we should not tolerate harassment and discrimination.

B) that the AG along with a cackle of state legislators who campaign against safety net programs, argue that others have removed God from the public square, yet promote a message of no special treatment, and let the “best” succeed, are suing to allow discrimination and harassment for others.

Could it be that they really do not “hate” people in the LGBT community?  Could it be because some people are not racists because we do not “hate” someone with a different skin color?  Could it be that we are not bigots and so on?

I wonder if Mr. Landry and his fellow plaintiffs fear having the privilege they have always been afforded removed.

It’s like Mr. Woods alluded to with racism.  It isn’t simple and easily understood because it is multi-faceted and exists throughout multiple generations.

To explain using my own style of verbiage.

Some of us have been awarded a running start while others must begin their race after getting set in the starting block.  Think of the race taking place on a football field.  Some of us because of things in the past, not of our doing, only have to travel 10 yards to reach the endzone while others must travel 40, 60, or 99 yards to reach that endzone.  Still more have to find a way to make it out onto the field before they can even see the endzone.

Nothing will ever make it possible for everyone to start from the same point.  We should not pull those who start ahead of us back.  We should try to catch up with those who are ahead.  We should try to assist and to encourage those who start behind us.

Often where we end depends upon where we started.

I may have rambled with the combinations of 2008, 2016, racism, and discrimination along with Barack Obama, Donald Trump, George W. Bush, John Bel Edwards, and Jeff Landry.  Sadly, the topics and individuals are connected.

What does this mean to me?

People are people, nothing more and nothing less.  We are different, yet we are all the same.

I’m concerned because when we combine what has never been solved with a decreasing knowledge and perhaps even a decreasing interest in the study of history and people, where do we go?

Historically, the precedents are scary.