It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. It’s been a combination of a few things, including work-related travel, being busier at work, and being really disheartened by the state of the world. This blog has helped me handle that feeling in the past, but over the last couple of months, trying to put fingers to keyboard seemed to make it worse. The state of things is so upsetting to me that I’ve even moved away from my morning routine. This routine includes sticking my iPad into a resealable plastic bag and setting it on a ledge in the shower so I can get my morning dose of news, flipping between CNN, MSNBC, and FoxNews. I still have most of this morning routine, and still put my iPad in plastic and bring it into the shower with me, but instead of news, I turn on a West Wing rerun to start my day. The policies from the White House bother me, and the shootings hurt my heart, but I think more than any of it, the division is what pains me the most.
I did it. I unfriended a Facebook friend. A person who was a peripheral part of my friend group in high school. A person who re-entered my life through Facebook years ago. A person who I have seen in person about five times in the last eleven years, but who I conversed with regularly on Facebook. This is a person who is the poster child for some of the awfulness of the GOP. He will tell people in “private” that he hates Trump, but takes to Facebook repeatedly to defend him, and to belittle those who criticize (in the same kind of name-calling tone that Trump embraces). He considers himself to be socially liberal, and fiscally conservative, but he genuinely believes that he is discriminated against for being a white male. The string of text messages calling me a “pussy” that followed (and led to me blocking his phone number also) made me more comfortable in my decision, but I still have mixed feelings.
Notre Dame burned yesterday. It’s a beautiful place, that I’ve only seen from the outside, but even if you’ve only seen pictures its beauty is impressive. The President of the United States responded with a tweet. A mind-numbingly dumb tweet.
In contrast, Pete Buttigieg (the democrat running for president) issued a statement in French (one of EIGHT languages he speaks: English, Norwegian, Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, Dari, and French).
The past week has been an interesting time in US politics. Attorney General William Barr was given what I assume to be the final report from Robert Mueller’s investigation of the 2016 election. Barr wrote and released a four-page summary of the report, indicating that Mueller did not establish that members of the campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities. The memo also indicates that the question of obstruction of justice was considered and investigated, but explicitly decided against making a prosecutorial judgement. In the absence of that, the Attorney General made the decision that there was no obstruction of justice. The Trump team ran with this as a win, and has now started a full-throated attack on the media.
I know Josiah (“Jed”) Bartlet is a fictional character, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to use him as a role model, as an ideal version of what we could have. I am a Bartlet Democrat (not to be confused with anybody who idolizes the real Josiah Bartlett, with three t’s in his last name — a member of the New Hampshire delegation to the Congressional Congress and signer of the Declaration of Independence). In the same way that kids use superheros as role models, I think it’s healthy to imagine what Barlet would do under real-life situations. Of course, this isn’t always possible and the situations we (or a president) encounter will be vastly different from those Bartlet would have faced. And, of course, this is all up for interpretation because nobody (except maybe the writers of the show) would know for sure what Bartlet would do. But there are some scenarios that are easier to imagine than others. His reaction to President Trump’s tweets fall into that category. Let’s play.
It’s clear to anybody who knows me, or who reads anything I write, that I don’t like President Trump. I don’t like the person I see him as, I don’t like things he’s done, I don’t like his style, I don’t like his approach to issues, and I disagree with his worldview. Even more than that, I am saddened by how many people like him not in spite of these things, but because of them. All that said, I dislike the fight over the wall even more, and I simply can’t find myself getting riled up over it. I’m not a politician, and my interests are different from many politicians (who have jobs to do), but in many ways, as I wrote earlier, I think the democrats should have given him the wall earlier, reopened the government sooner, and let him run on that being his crown achievement. He wants the fight, and his supporters seem to like him more when he’s fighting. So don’t give him the fight. All that said, I think the current outcome might be a little more interesting to watch…
I got a new car a few months ago and it came with a subscription to Sirius XM. I had never had it before, except in a rental, and never appreciated it. Now I have it, and it’s fueling my news addiction. That only matters because it’s directly responsible for me writing something this morning, for the first time this month. A former Congresswoman, a republican, was on CNN. I was listening in the car, and didn’t recognize her voice, nor was I listening when they introduced her and told us who she was. Without the chyron below, showing her name, the piece ended and I was left not knowing who she was. She was asked about the difficulty being a republican in Congress in the time of Trump. She spoke, more frankly than most republicans do these days, about the clear evidence that there was bad behavior by the Trump campaign. She said something like, “honestly, we have to be concerned about the people surrounding the President who were involved with the Russians.” But, in the end, she drew the line and differentiated between what the President (then candidate) knew and did. It’s a funny line to draw, and leaves me with some competing narratives: dueling perspectives…which in my head quickly pivoted to Climate Change. Follow me for the ride.
Gillette is now enemy number one in the political world. Why? Because they made an ad about being men, and about how men can be better (by being kind to others, and by stopping other men who are being mean or hurtful to others). This is controversial, for some reason, in today’s world. Let’s dive in a bit.
Yes, you heard that. I think the democrats should give Trump the $5 billion he requested for the wall. I think the wall is a dumb idea. I think we already have physical (natural and man-made) barriers that do good where they’re needed. I think the eminent domain issues will be tied up in court for the better part of a decade, at least. I don’t think it’s a good use of our funds, but it’s about 0.13% of the proposed FY2019 budget, it’s a fraction of important things like the $39 billion budget for the National Institutes of Health, and I just don’t care enough about it to advocate keeping federal workers from getting their paychecks.
The American spirit is about aspiration. We don’t talk as much about this as being uniquely American, but our society embraces the idea that we should encourage our youth to aim high. We can be anything we want to be. The problem is this, that idea has two parts to it: We can be anything we want to be, if we work hard to achieve our goals. It seems like the second part is too often overlooked. Donald Trump is a perfect symbol of this mistake.