The problem with principles

I’m not a man of principles. That’s not to say that there aren’t things that I believe that are near universal, but it’s just that I don’t tend to view policy decisions and other things through the lens of principles. It seems we get ourselves into trouble when we do that, and I wonder if there’s some kind of a liberal/conservative divide on how we let principles guide us. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit in the Trump era (which I hope won’t be a real era, but nevertheless feels like one already).

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When (flawed) theocracy comes to town

I posted this on Facebook, along with a video that might still be available here.

I’m opposed to theocracy, and I don’t think religious law should ever be the basis for civil law. That said, many Americans claim to want laws based on Christianity. Oddly, many of these same people are now so enshrined in the cult of Trump, that they can’t even see how they’re being led so far astray from their religious teachings.

What’s even more strange to me is how often some groups of Christians talk about fearing the devil, and how he will lead them away from Christ if they aren’t super careful. I can’t imagine these folks following anybody less Christ-like than Trump, but there they go, without a fear in the world that they might be falling into the trap they’ve been warned of over and over.

Of course, I don’t believe Trump is the devil. I don’t believe either exists. But if I believed in those things, I can’t imagine not being very afraid to watch people following the obviously wrong guy, without thinking twice about it. If you made a movie about the devil, his life story could look a lot like Trump’s

I wanted to hold on to this post, outside of Facebook, but I also wanted to preserve one comment on the post, that came from a Jesuit Priest I’ve known since I was a teenager. I don’t know if he would be OK with me sharing his words outside of Facebook, so I won’t credit him by name, but I want to preserve his message nonetheless.

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Political prediction of the day

crystal ball

Predicting the future is very difficult. I’m doing this for fun, not because there’s any reward for being right or wrong, but just because I’m having this thought this morning, and it would be a lot of fun if I nailed it (OK, not fun, because it’s not a rosy prediction). Here it is:

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Suicide

In the past week, two famous people died by suicide. This is not the first, nor the last time that a celebrity will take his or her own life. As humans, in our culture, we feel sad about this. When it is a celebrity, we feel sad because we feel a connection to celebrities, and it is as if we lost somebody we knew, even if we didn’t really know the person. For some celebrities, especially those who are still making music or art or film or theater, we feel a justified loss because we know that we lost the chance to ever hear a new song by Prince, or see (or own) a new design by Kate Spade, or learn about a new fascinating place by Anthony Bourdain. It seems reasonable to be sad about that, even if it’s not the loss of somebody who is in our real lives. Suicide is complicated though, and I have very mixed feelings about it, and my thoughts aren’t entirely consistent with each other, but like other things I write about, I find it a bit cathartic to put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard) and try to flesh things out a bit. The relative anonymity, and low volume traffic of this site of mine helps bring out the honesty too. Here goes…

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Are we the same? Dislike of Trump and dislike of Obama.

I really do not like President Trump. I don’t know him personally, but I don’t like what I see on TV and on Twitter. I don’t like what I read, and I don’t like what I hear. He doesn’t seem like somebody I would want to spend much or any time with, and I’m sure if he worked in my department I would want little or nothing to do with him. I find him very self-centered, with a narcissistic personality disorder vibe. I don’t like his speech pattern, and an article from Vox in October 2016 sheds some light on how unusual it is. I don’t like many of his policies, but I am even more bothered by his unpredictability and the lack of clarity that he thrives on related to what his policies actually are. He generates a real visceral disgust in me, and I am looking forward to the day his presidency is over, whenever that may be. People clearly felt a similar disgust over Obama. It makes me think about the differences.

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Politics and brand loyalty

I spend a lot of time writing about politics, thinking about politics, and conversing about politics in person and on social media. I am liberal in my approach to most things, and I almost always prefer the candidate from the democratic party over the candidate from the republican party. The things I write about, and comment about on social media, have a pretty clear left lean to them. Even if you don’t know me, and haven’t read anything else I’ve ever written, you would probably guess that I’m pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-immigration, pro-universal health care coverage, I support safety net programs to help those in need, and I am against tax cuts for the rich. I fit the identity in many ways. You’d be wrong to guess that I was vegan (I love to eat, and love to eat a variety of foods, including meat), and you’d be wrong if you guessed that I was against agricultural innovations like GMOs. But here’s what got me thinking about the topic of this post: I don’t feel the need to hide it when I disagree with the democratic party, or when I disagree with something said by a politician that I otherwise support. I also don’t feel the need to hide it when I agree with something said by a politician that I otherwise loathe. That doesn’t seem like it should be shocking to anybody, but I’m not sure that it’s the norm.

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Words (should) matter

I’m a stickler for using the “right” words for things. I’m sure I get it wrong myself, especially when speaking, but I try. There are a few things that I find particularly bothersome (perhaps because of their widespread use). Students I mentor have to deal with my routine correction of them, and they often pick the “incorrect” usage just to tease me, which is fun, but the poor usage bothers me when it’s not an attempt at humor. This is, admittedly, pedantic in some respects, but I think it matters, and I’ll explain why, after describing some of these nuisances.

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