Saturday, November 19, 2016

Crying Wolf

There is a blog post making the rounds entitled "You Are Still Crying Wolf". The thrust of the piece is that it is inaccurate and unfair to call Trump a racist, and that doing so is counter-productive and scares people unnecessarily. It argues that calling out Trump is calling wolf.

If it is, then let me join the call. There is a wolf.

To me, the piece reads like holocaust denial literature. It uses statistics and clever argumentation to convince us to deny the evidence that has been placed plainly before us.  Trump made a name for himself in politics by peddling the "birther" lie. During the Republican primary he jettisoned all conservative orthodoxy and boiled it down to the different groups of brown people we need to expel and be afraid of. During the general election he advocated for targeting racial minorities for voter suppression and mass incarceration. In the early days of staffing his administration, Mr. Trump has already appointed a racist, rogues gallery who openly oppose the civil rights and sacred laws they will be entrusted to defend and enforce.

These choices will have terrible consequences for real people. American citizens, lawful residents, and people, whose only crime is a desire to live and work in America, are going to be persecuted. They will be intimidated, insulted, beaten, disenfranchised, and have their rights denied. They will be detained, imprisoned, deported, tortured and killed. Some of this will come from people who have been inspired and energized by Trumps rhetoric. The worst of it will come from the administration itself and be backed by full force of executive and law-enforcement authorities.

This is not based imagination or speculation. These are promises that were made. Looking at the what's going on, day by day, it is clear that the pledges of persecution are promises Trump intends to keep.

I fully expect, indeed I am counting on, the majority Trump voters to say this is not what they want. That they are not racist. That they do not support it when people are attacked based on their race, color, or religion. Trump voters are not some unknown other. You are my friends, colleagues, neighbors, gaming-buddies, and family members. I know you and have always known you. You say it's not about race. And I believe you. I live in New Hampshire. We've really only got the one race. Why would it be all about racism? I believe you.

But you had a choice. And you made a choice. And you chose the wolf. You may have had any number of reasons for your choice. You didn't hear the cries. You didn't trust the crier. Whatever the reason, if you voted Donald Trump, then this is the choice you made. It may not be what you want, but it's a consequence of your choice. And you are responsible for those consequences.

If this isn't what you want, if these aren't your values, then you need to stand up. And you need speak up.

We chose the wolf. We need shepherds more than ever.





Crying Wolf

There is a blog post making the rounds entitled "You Are Still Crying Wolf". The thrust of the piece is that it is inaccurate and unfair to call Trump a racist, and that doing so is counter-productive and scares people unnecessarily. It argues that calling out Trump is calling wolf.

If it is, then let me join the call. There is a wolf.

To me, the piece reads like holocaust denial literature. It uses statistics and clever argumentation to convince us to deny the evidence that has been placed plainly before us.  Trump made name for himself in politics by peddling the "birther" lie. During the Republican primary he jettisoned all conservative orthodoxy and boiled it down to the different groups of brown people we need to expel and be afraid of. During the general election he advocated for targeting racial minorities for voter suppression and mass incarceration. In the early days of staffing his administration, Mr. Trump has already appointed a racist, rogues gallery who openly oppose the civil rights and sacred laws they will be entrusted to defend and enforce.

These choices will have terrible consequences for real people. American citizens, lawful residents, and people, whose only crime is a desire to live and work in America, are going to be persecuted. They will be intimidated, insulted, beaten, disenfranchised, and have their rights denied. They will be detained, imprisoned, deported, tortured and killed. Some of this will come from people who have been inspired and energized by Trumps rhetoric. The worst of it will come from the administration itself and be backed by full force of executive and law-enforcement authorities.

This is not based imagination or speculation. These are promises that were made. Looking at the what's going on, day by day, it is clear that the pledges of persecution are promises Trump intends to keep.

I fully expect, indeed I am counting on, the majority Trump voters to say this is not what they want. That they are not racist. That they do not support it when people are attacked based on their race, color, or religion. Trump voters are not some unknown other. You are my friends, colleagues, neighbors, gaming-buddies, and family members. I know you and have always known you. You say it's not about race. And I believe you. I live in New Hampshire. We've really only got the one race. Why would it be all about racism? I believe you.

But you had a choice. And you made a choice. And you chose the wolf. You may have had any number of reasons for your choice. You didn't hear the cries. You didn't trust the crier. Whatever the reason, if you voted Donald Trump, then this is the choice you made. It may not be what you want, but it's a consequence of your choice. And you are responsible for those consequences.

If this isn't what you want, if these aren't your values, then you need to stand up. And you need speak up.

We chose the wolf. We need shepherds more than ever.





Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Do Not Vote for Donald Trump

After everything that has been said and done in this campaign, I know that nothing I can say is going to sway anyone. But everyone who cares about the country has an obligation to say this. So, I am saying it.

Do not vote for Donald Trump.

If you already hate Donald Trump, then this isn't for you. If you're on the fence, or you don't like Trump but kinda agree with what he's saying, think maybe he's the best of some bad options, or are a sincere Trump support - then I am asking you-  Please. Think about this. 

You should only vote for Donald J. Trump to be President of the United States if you can honestly say he is prepared to honorably and capably serve in that office. He is not. Trump has shown us time and again, in so many ways, that his not someone well-suited to be President of the United States.


Donald Trump is a horrible person. We require many virtues in our president: Wisdom, sound judgement, intelligence, eloquence, the ability to soothe the American people during times of trouble. Trump lacks all of these virtues. He is thin-skinned, cruel, vindictive, paranoid, undisciplined and self-centered. He associates with bigots and conspiracy mongers. Trump has been enthusiastically embraced by our nation's racists and white nationalists. His treatment of women make him, at best, a foul-mouth, pervy, serial-adulterer. At worst, he's a sexual assault repeat offender. He lacks the temperament and good judgement to be president.


Trump does not know anything. About anything. Most people running for President don't start out as a expert on every issue. There is a certain expected learning curve. Trump has not shown even a rudimentary understanding of any of the issues facing the nation. Time and again, in interview after interview, debate after debate, Trump has shown the same pattern. He gets a question, he spouts some vacuous campaign slogan, pivots to some nonsense on a vaguely relevant or unrelated topic, and then just spins to whine and complain about something he thinks Democrats have done. 

On issue after issue, Trump claims he knows more than anyone else on the topic, and then demonstrates he knows nothing at all. He has no idea what his wall will cost or what impact it will have. He has no understanding the economy, how to craft a trade deal, or how to bring back manufacturing jobs. Trump's foreign policy consists of insulting, alienating, and abandoning our military allies and economic trading partners. His military strategy consists of vague notions that vary from naive, to childish, to dangerous.

His ignorance could be mitigated if he surrounded himself with "good people" and accepted their guidance. He doesn't. He surrounds himself with sycophants and yes-men and isn't interested in their advice.


His secrecy and corruption should trouble you. Trump's primary claim to the presidency is that his successful and reputable business career has prepared him for the office. And yet, in defiance of decades of tradition, he has refused to release any of his tax returns. Without them we can't evaluate how ethically, honorably, and effectively he has run his business. It is expected that the President of the United States will place his assets in a blind trust to avoid conflicts between his self-interest and the interests of the nation. This too Trump has refused to do. Trump has business interests around the world and, incredibly, he wants to serve as president without severing these ties or even revealing his debts, obligations, holdings, conflicts, domestic and overseas partners and debtors. The reason he won't release his tax returns if that if we knew the truth, we would find it unacceptable. We can't accept that.

This might be tolerable if Trump had a history of ethical behavior and putting others before himself. He has no such history. He's been avoiding paying his taxes with dubious loopholes. His charitable foundation is a sham. His "Trump University" was a fraud designed to con money out of the poor dupes who put their faith in him. Trump has been involved in thousands of lawsuits. Many of them stem from his failure to honor contracts and willingness to stiff, rip-off, and abandon the individuals and business, large and small, that are foolish enough to work with him or put their trust in him. 


Donald Trump does not understand or respect the constitution. There was a time when Trump supported reasonable gun control measures. He doesn't any more. For some people, that'll be enough to say he supports the constitution. He doesn't. Trump opposes freedom of speech. He has repeatedly tried to use the legal system to silence his critics. He opposes freedom of religion and plans to persecute religious minorities. He opposes freedom of the press. He supports torture, the very definition of cruel punishment. He supports "stop and frisk" searches without a warrant. Trump advocates voter suppression and voter intimidation efforts to deprive people of their right to vote. 

Trump's admiration of authoritarian leaders, like Vladimir Putin, is well established. His unwillingness to stand up to an aggressive, expansionist Russia should be deeply concerning. His emulation of Putin's tactics is even more disturbing. Democracies can die. They can become dictatorships. Trump has put up plenty of signposts to indicate where he wants to take this nation. When politics is criminalized and political opponents are imprisoned; while minority rights are not respected and leaders focus more on stoking resentment against some scapegoat "other" than trying to address the real problems in the country; when a free press is attacked and discredited; when the truth no longer matters; when the electoral process itself is threatened - then we are on our way to tyranny.

Even as private citizen, Trump abuses the legal system to extract revenge and silence his critics. We should be fearful of what he will do with the full powers of the executive. He can not be trusted to be an impartial executor of the law and to safeguard our democracy.


Trump is not a protest vote. You might be hoping to "send a message" or that, somehow, Trump is going to work some outsider magic in Washington D.C. He won't. Trump is the nominee of one of our two main parties. The main arguments for supporting him are: the supreme court, passing the Ryan agenda, and that he's "better then the alternative" (because the alternate is a Democrat). Notice that these arguments could be made no matter who the nominee is. They allow you to rationalize and justify overlooking Trump's own failures and shortcomings. Voting for Trump sends the message that you'll vote for literally anyone the GOP chooses to nominate, no matter how awful. That's not a protest vote. That is a puppet vote.


This is your vote. Who you support is a reflection on you. It is a reflection of your priorities and on your values. Donald Trump is not worthy of your vote. Whatever your principles are, he does not share them, and he does not live by them. Whatever your standards are, he does not rise to them. Whatever you want for America, he cannot provide it. Whatever qualities you look for in a President of United States, Donald Trump does not have those qualities.


Do not vote for Donald Trump.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Second Thoughts


A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.


The founders of our country included the right to bear arms in the Constitution's Bill of Rights. That 18th century decision has serious, often tragic, and too-frequently horrific repercussions in the world we live in today. It is past time to consider the text, meaning, limitations, and implications of an amendment that, for better and worse, still has its hold on us today.

It was included as a bulwark against tyranny, as protection against internal and external powers that threatened the fledgling Republic. The founders were suspicious of standing armies and, having just won a war with them, felt that the individual states' citizen militias were indeed necessary for the security of a free country.

Beyond authorizing state militias, the amendment states that "the right of the people to keep and and bear arms shall not be infringed". Keep. This implies ownership and that the 2nd amendment confers rights upon individuals as well.

On first consideration, the 2nd amendment appears to be quite broad in scope, and specifies a sincere restriction on governmental gun control. On further inspection, we can see the limitations.

We relied on armed militias at the nation's founding. But things have changed. The stated premise of the amendment is no longer relevant or true. Armed, citizen militias are not necessary to the security of the state. More often they are a threat to it. The US has a substantial and very well equipped standing army that is perfectly capable of protecting the nation and projecting power abroad. The old state militias have been folded into a National Guard that is funded, armed, deployed by, and effectively under the control of the federal government. It is no longer the case that a well regulated militia is necessary to have a free country.

Even if the premise is no longer valid, the amendment can still have force. It's text still holds meaning. It confers a right but, like all Constitutional rights, it is subject to limitation.

There is already a consensus agreement that citizens do not have the right to own any weapons they may desire. Explosives, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and all manner of military equipment, are banned from private ownership. It is illegal to own these things because we recognize that there are obvious, practical limitations to the 2nd amendment. Allowing everyone to access the means of mass murder and wanton destruction is a threat to a free society. It is not required by our constitution. There is ample precedent for restricting weaponry simply because of its lethality and destructive capacity.

There is also precedent for controlling not only what weapons are available, but who may have them. Guns are designed for the purpose of killing other people. We can lawfully attempt to keep them out of the hands of dangerous individuals. Felons, fugitives, and convicted domestic abusers are currently prohibited from owning guns. This list could be expanded. People are rightfully aghast that someone being investigated for terrorism ties can still lawfully purchase a semi-automatic rifle.

The Bill of Rights was intended to place limitations on the powers of the federal government. Typically, its restrictions apply to the states as well. Freedom of speech is protected against actions by both state and federal legislatures. The 2nd amendment is the exception. And the exception is written into the amendment itself. The militias were state entities. The amendment plainly states that they are to be well regulated. It's a straightforward reading of the text to see that it does place limitations on federal regulation of firearms. It is also clear that the amendment confers not only the right, but the obligation of the states to regulate access to weapons. Mental gymnastics are required to read the phrase "well regulated" and conclude that it means unregulated. The 2nd amendment gives states the authority to regulate firearms as they see fit.

The second amendment prohibits the federal government from fully disarming the states and their citizens. It does not prohibit a national ban on military weapons that can be used to commit murder on a massive scale. It does not stop us from enacting stronger background checks and keeping deadly arms out of the hands dangerous and unstable people. It does not mean that the states can not regulate guns to any extent that they desire, including creating a total ban. We can create gun-free states.

Honoring our constitution does not require inaction after each horrific slaughter. It is not true that there is nothing we can do. That is our choice. We can make a different one.