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The Dangerous Act of Disrupting Hate

By JOHN BUTERBAUGH

In a world seemingly dominated by fear and hate, various groups come to arms and battle with one another. They hope that their side will be victorious in the culture war — a war of ideas. The liberals view the conflict as love versus hate. Hope versus fear.

And yet, “love” according to liberals is perceived as hate by many conservatives. And “hope” is perceived as fear. As liberals engage Trump supporters on the issue of immigration and Islamophobia, many Trump supporters feel they are the ones who are hated. Liberals will paint those who oppose the entry of Mexicans and Muslims as “ignorant,” “racist,” or “backward.” And those who call for stricter immigration standards end up feeling marginalized and discriminated.

Could those feelings be valid?

When engaging someone with an opposing view, it is important to view this individual as a human being with very human emotions — love, hate, hope, and fear. It is important to recognize their qualms, but that doesn’t require condoning hate. Hate is begotten by fear and anger, which are not begotten by apathy. Rather, fear is caring a great deal about what may happen. Anger is caring a great deal about a loss or injustice that already happened. People who feel strongly about something don’t like to be judged for the way they feel.

Bigotry by Americans toward Muslims does not exist in a vacuum. It is a learned behavior.

Muslims perpetrated 9/11, founded ISIS, and have orchestrated terrorist attacks — these are undeniable facts. Americans who have lost family members in terrorist attacks more easily learn to hate their enemy.

However, Christians attacked Muslim lands, tortured Muslim prisoners, and denied access to innocent Syrian refugees. These too are undeniable facts. Those who been attacked by Western nations more easily learn to hate their enemy.

What these two have in common is that they feel their homelands and cultures are in danger. If one senses danger, their natural response is fight or flight. Recently, humanity’s response has been fight. Yet, this response merely begets more violence and more hatred. It is said that a pit bull only becomes nastier with each beating. In other words, hate only reciprocates hate.

To love is to commit the dangerous act of disrupting hate. It does not always work, and that is why it is dangerous. Yet, hating others and expecting them to love you one day falls in the definition of insanity. Hate only ensures that the scar of disconnection never heals and that a hardened heart never softens.

To return our fellow human beings toward hope will be a challenge, but it will be worth it. When dealing with those holding opposing views, assuage anxieties; acknowledge anger. Do not trivialize or belittle their feelings. Discover hopes and fears you share. Guide them toward the beauty and the light. Help them recover from their pain. Give them someone to trust. Help them rediscover love.

Hate can never do that. “Only love can do that.”

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Concerning NFL Players Kneeling En Masse During the National Anthem

I certainly understand both perspectives on this issue — first that people have a constitutional right to protest injustice and second that doing so during the national anthem is disrespectful to those who defended that right. I personally find kneeling during the national anthem to be disrespectful. I always put my hand on my heart during the anthem. I have personally shed tears during the beautiful patriotic concerts on PBS. We all can be offended by the words or deeds of others, but I also believe that government intervention in this matter is a huge overreach. I see the kneeling as similar to Muhammad Ali refusing to fight for freedom in Vietnam when that freedom was not fully guaranteed to him or people of his skin color. The kneeling in the NFL is not just Colin Kaepernick; it is league-wide. That’s because it was never about Colin Kaepernick; it was about injustice against an entire group of people. It was about exposing the great hypocrisy in the “land of the free” — that people of color are disproportionately incarcerated or die in police shootings unavenged.
People have a lot to say on what people did wrong in this whole situation — left or right. However, instead of pointing out what people did wrong, why don’t we discuss what we all can do right? Why don’t we try to resolve concerns that individuals have and empower them in a healthy and productive way? Why don’t we look beyond what people do and look at why they do it? There is a reason that many resort to extreme statements or deeds. No one listens to quiet. No one cares about quiet. After all, “it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.” Even if they are met with MASSIVE backlash, the loud ones get the platform they were seeking all along. People are talking about racial justice because there are people out there standing up for it.
The problem is much more than the NFL. The problem is much more than kneeling during the national anthem. It’s that we often are fearful about our future, and we feel that no one is doing anything about it. Others have been listening to respond, not to understand why we feel a certain way. How can we expect to change someone’s mindset if we do not listen first? How can we expect those with opposing views to trust us if we pontificate through a screen, frame them in absolutes, and avoid engaging them in person with maturity and sincerity?
I believe it comes down to how caring and proactive we are. Sometimes we are kind, and sometimes we are vicious. Sometimes we act to ensure that things don’t get worse, and sometimes we wait until things hit rock bottom before we do anything. But we’re all human. Our free will means we will make mistakes, but it also means we have opportunities to do better. We can hold people accountable for what they do, but I think we all have an opportunity to teach others what they can do better. We should never rationalize negative behaviors, but we should understand their causes. If we work to empathize with each other, we can drive away a great deal of the fear and the hate that plagues this great nation.
What do you think?

Trump’s Missed Opportunity: North Korea

It’s no secret that Donald Trump campaigned on being a tough guy — a strong, bold, new type of leader that would get the world to respect and fear the United States of America once again.

If President Trump could finally do something about North Korea, a persistent annoyance to the United States for the last few decades, he might accrue a significant accomplishment, deliver his voters’ expectations, and build the foundation for a possibly positive legacy.

Alas, an under-developed Communist nation with an economy the size of that of Birmingham, Alabama, has managed to outsmart the man at the helm of the most powerful military in the world.

Last April, the North Korean regime was still struggling to successfully test-launch missiles into the sea. It was doubtful the regime could strike any target outside the Western Pacific Rim. At that time, I advocated for war with the Kim regime on both moral and strategic grounds — to “quash the menace in its infancy” before the North Korean arsenal could catch up.

In the meantime, however, North Korean missile technology has become more impressive. It appears as though North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) could strike not only Guam and Alaska but the Western contiguous states as well. Worse yet, the North Koreans have discovered a way to miniaturize nuclear warheads and mount them onto these ICBMs. For the first time, North Korea stands unquestionably capable of striking the United States with a nuclear weapon.

And it happened on Trump’s watch.

Trump’s legacy, which already has a number of black marks, could soon bear one of the most unfortunate: “Allowed North Korea to become a nuclear rival in earnest.”

Welcome to Cold War II. All the rules from the first Cold War now apply. Say hello again to Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).

Let me be clear about one thing: I am glad that Trump did not preemptively nuke the entire country of North Korea into oblivion back in April. North Korea civilians are as worthy of life as nationals of any country. Such devastating action is not necessary and would deservedly face condemnation from the international community and lower Trump’s historical ranking as a president.

In addition, it is impossible to talk seriously about North Korea today without discussing China. While China has recently been a more reluctant ally of North Korea, U.S. aggression against North Korea could lead to a hot conflict with nuclear-equipped China, whose military power easily dwarfs that of North Korea.

However, back in April, the U.S. still had leverage to push for a denuclearized Korea, if not complete regime change. Before entering the Gulf War, George H.W. Bush threatened military action if Saddam Hussein did not end the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Likewise, the U.S. could have threatened North Korea to dismantle their nuclear program or else the U.S. would bomb their R&D and artillery facilities without fear of nuclear retaliation. Indeed, China and the United States were involved in negotiations regarding North Korea over the summer.

One wonders if we were willing enough then to negotiate with China over North Korea. In my view, North Korea’s growing threat to its own people, the United States, and the world would justify significant concessions to China in exchange for their help in pressuring North Korea. Trump promised to renegotiate trade deals with China, but that option is now off the table now that China has new leverage.

Much like climate change, U.S. leadership has waited too long to find the right solution, and the consequences are soon to follow. Now that North Korea can retaliate against the U.S. with intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Kim regime is less vulnerable than ever.

Second U.S. Civil War Unlikely

There will not be a second civil war. Sure, racial and ideological tensions are escalating. However, I find it highly unlikely that a civil war on the level of the one in 1860s will occur.

First off, the Civil War of the 1860s had very well-defined cultural regions that were highly polarized. In the election of 1860, most Southern slave states so strongly opposed the Republican’s antislavery stance that they excluded its candidate Abraham Lincoln from the ballot. Needless to say, when Lincoln ended up winning, these states seceded from the Union and formed the Confederacy.

Today, the South is still largely conservative, but it’s not a monolith. There are pockets of liberalism forming what is the New South. Northern Virginia today would shun its Confederate battle flag. A lesbian couple can comfortably hold hands in Asheville, North Carolina. Modern professionals dominate the Research Triangle of central North Carolina. Northerners un-ironically enjoy Atlanta. Southern Florida is not even remotely “Southern.” It’s more likely you’ll hear New York accents than a Southern drawl. Miami is a hub for Spanish-speaking immigrants. Austin, Texas, is one of the hippest cities in America. Oxford, Mississippi, is a hub for poets and authors. Nashville, Tennessee, is one of the few places you can spot an African-American man wearing a Tupac shirt and a cowboy hat. Meanwhile, there are several counties in Pennsylvania that voted as strongly for Trump as those in Alabama. And Kid Rock is from Michigan.

In reality, division in America doesn’t simply come down to regional differences but rather differences in population density, income, and education. Democrats can pull a lot of votes in cities, even in much of the South. Republicans rely on rural voters who oppose much of the change occurring in cities. With the election of Trump, differences between white-collar and blue-collar Americans has become a part of the national conversation. In many cases, these groups segregate themselves geographically. Cities and suburbs attract professionals, while rural areas and small towns attract working-class Americans.

As far as racial differences, wealthier white families often send their children to private schools while lower-income African-American families remain in public schools. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is notorious for having a mostly white private school system and a mostly black public school system. It’s not the only place that’s like that. Even in Northern cities, segregation is rampant in Milwaukee, Detroit, and Cleveland. However, for some reason, that’s not good enough for white separatists who promote even further separation of the races. The point is that segregation isn’t regional, it’s local. That complicates the possibility of a civil war between regions.

Next, soldiers stationed at any military base in the United States originate from several regions, not just the base’s region thereof. In other words, soldiers stationed at Fort Drum, New York, will not just be from the North but also from the South. Soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, will come from not only North Carolina but also from the North. If any soldiers stationed at a base started an insurrection, there would be loyalist troops there to respond promptly.

In the near term, a war between the U.S. government and a Southern separatist government is next to impossible. Unlike in 1860, Southern politicians won’t support secession when they support the current president (Donald Trump). Liberal voters elsewhere won’t rise up against the U.S. government in military fashion. Their opposition toward gun use means they would be thwarted easily, and the government could simply throw them in prison for disturbing the peace.

Even if opposing ideological groups became militant, those groups would be formed locally as opposed to regionally due to high ideological diversity within one state and even one metropolitan area. There may be self-declared militias that attack their opponents, but you won’t see separatist tanks rolling through city streets. Politicians themselves won’t commit individual acts of violence, but their tolerance of oppression can further divide our country. America will not plunge into a second civil war, but we need to condemn hatred, fight systematic oppression, and understand why people support a position that opposes ours. If we don’t do this, there will continue to be more instances that make us say, “I don’t want to live in America anymore.”

Voter Fraud: The Facts

By executive order, President Donald Trump launched the Pence-Kobach Commission to identify and combat potential voter fraud.

The Commission requested access to voter lists, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, political party registration, felony status, military status, prior states of residence, and a list of elections in which a voter previously participated.

Despite 1.8 million registered voters being deceased, the Commission did not request the death certificates thereof.

If the Commission wants lists of registered voters, many states already offer them publicly.

However, the Commission requested access to Social Security numbers and political party registration.

In most states, releasing this information is illegal.

As such, at least 41 states have declared they will not share private voter information even if the Commission requested it.

Additionally, the Republican Secretary of State of Louisiana said that Donald Trump is trying to politicize voting fraud with the Commission.

The Republican Secretary of State of Mississippi shared the sentiment, saying, “They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Kris Kobach runs the Commission, and the spokeswoman for his office of Secretary of State of Kansas said they would only provide public information.

In effect, Kobach did not even comply with his own request.

In reality, voter fraud is extremely uncommon. If you would like more information on voter fraud, please click here.

An Open Endorsement of War with North Korea

By PATRICK WOOD

I’m no hawk. I opposed military action in Syria and Libya and call myself a progressive humanitarian with respect for international law and norms.

I am completely convinced that going to war with North Korea to depose the Kim regime is the right thing to do for the world as a whole.

North Korea is desperately trying to pose a larger threat to the international community than it currently does. Its current floundering and almost comical attempts to intimidate the rest of the world with missile launches and bomb tests, most of which fail, is a temporary stage. Given enough time, North Korea will discover how to use its arsenal successfully.

It would be wise to quash this menace in its infancy. The North Korean regime has given ample justification for its destruction, including direct threats to South Korea and the United States, as well as humanitarian justifications by starving and killing their own people. North Korea’s neglect of its own people is so extreme and the malnutrition of its own people is so severe that we are beginning to see human beings born in the country develop smaller statures to compensate for the lack of nutritional intake. While this is a fascinating glimpse at human evolution and adaptation, the cause and effect of this change is quite grim. On average, North Korean men are already an entire 3.25 inches shorter than South Koreans. North Korean males born today will attain an average height of only 5’2″, earning this generation the nickname “The Stunted Generation.”

North Korea has admitted to placing members of its population in labor camps. Refugees reveal that their crimes, notably escaping the country, will subject three generations of their family to death or imprisonment in a labor camp. The Kim regime has taken authoritarianism as well as restriction on freedom of thought and expression to a twisted high.

When North Korea allows foreign nationals to visit, these tourists are typically only allowed to see Pyongyang and are accompanied on any excursions by a government minder. The U.S. State Department warns that the government has subjected Americans to “arbitrary arrests and long-term detention,” but Americans are still technically allowed to visit and generally avoid trouble as long as they follow all the rules.

Pyongyang may be the only city in North Korea where starvation isn’t completely rampant. Of course, if the Kim regime doesn’t like you or your family, you don’t get to live in Pyongyang.

After World War II and the Holocaust, an international principle called R2P (“Responsibility to Protect”) was articulated. The objective was not to allow a genocide like the Holocaust to occur again.

Admittedly, the actions of the North Korean regime may not meet the strict definition of genocide (some definitions exclude anything less than an attempt to completely exterminate a demographic group), but the similarities to a genocidal regime are apparent and in my view strong enough to invoke the principle of R2P.

Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans have died or are dying of starvation due to the government’s unwillingness to concentrate on feeding its people. Labor camps, resembling concentration camps, are operating in North Korea, and political critics and their families are being butchered by the state without so much as a trial.

The safety and security of North Korea and the world depends on the toppling of the Kim regime. The American government, frequently speaking through Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Vice President Mike Pence, has done a lot of posturing and line-drawing on this issue recently. Mike Pence has warned North Korea that “the sword stands ready.”

For the sake of “The Stunted Generation” and the world, I hope we are one missile test away from the sword swinging.

Tuesday Talks: Tuition-Free College and Education in General

JOHN BUTERBAUGH:
The main argument Governor Cuomo makes for tuition-free college is that it prepares the workforce of the state for the future. It is quite clear that automation and outsourcing has put pressure on American workers to seek employment outside of manufacturing. More and more jobs will require college degrees. However, what this bill doesn’t do is combat rising student loan interest rates that can keep students in debt for decades. Sure, it helps prevent debt. Yet for many New Yorkers, this bill comes far too late. College graduates who are in debt now will still be unable to renegotiate their student loan interest rates. College students will continue to have to pay for room and board which is becoming more expensive.

This bill also doesn’t seem to acknowledge a very large group of people – blue-collar workers. The state government and society often claim that college is the way to go. It often seems it is the only way to go. However, for many workers, college is irrelevant and a waste of time. It doesn’t achieve their goals. This comes at a time when many trades cannot be outsourced. You can’t, for example, send a bridge to China for a worker there to weld it. It’s impractical. Welding is an insanely high-demand job. We place a lot of emphasis on education, but where is the leadership for training people for these jobs?

Governor Cuomo realizes that his plan doesn’t help a lot of people. He even calls his plan a “fight for the middle class.” It doesn’t provide free tuition to wealthier families who should be able to foot the bill themselves. But, what about the working poor? What about concerns about dwindling social mobility in our post-industrial economy? What about the fact that there continue to be people who work long hours every week and still cannot make ends meet? My qualms over this bill are not related to the residency requirement after receiving the tuition scholarship. This requirement is pragmatic in that it aims to make a return on its investment through taxation of graduates’ income. Plus, 80% of graduates in New York state stay anyway. My real issue with this bill is that it does not address key concerns facing working-class New Yorkers. They will also be paying the taxes that support the ability of young middle-class Americans to remain in the middle class.

My hope is that this bill, despite its imperfections, shines a lot on our true intentions when it comes to bettering our society. My hope is that low-income high school students will have more of a reason to graduate high school so that they can go to community college or a four-year program. Many students give up because high school diplomas aren’t good enough for most jobs, and they couldn’t afford college anyway. However, we can’t always predict future decisions. Humans are irrational beings after all. Despite all this, I support this bill because it is leadership in the right direction. It understands that education is not an entitlement program but rather an empowerment program. We invest in students so that they have the skills and power to improve our society. I pray that this actually happens, and if the program fails to deliver improved outcomes, we must be mature enough and courageous enough to demand some changes.

PATRICK WOOD:  Well said, John. The bill isn’t perfect, and leaves a lot of issues unaddressed, but before delving into that, I think it’s important to celebrate this monumental step forward. After many of our peer nations offered free 4-year university for citizens (and in the case of Germany, even non-citizens), the USA finally has a state that has gotten its priorities straight and offered the same. Hopefully this gives credence to a movement and the momentum of the free college movement spreads. I absolutely agree that we are continuing to overlook the great value of vocational schools.

Unfortunately, most bachelors degrees are worth less than they used to be in terms of relative earning potential and the proportion of graduates who find work in their fields quickly. Those who know they don’t want to pursue a STEM field or a graduate program may actually be in a better position having taken a couple years to learn a trade than the person who spent four years getting a bachelor’s degree. There will always be a need for mechanics, beauticians, plumbers, electricians, and other specialized services – it’s a wrongheaded approach to push high school graduates away from these careers.

JOHN: I think one possibility is that it might open up unintended consequences. If a lot of students go for the scholarship, it might make the value of their degree lower than before. This is because job markets are competitive in that you must be “more qualified” than another person. Social sciences have a lot of students, but you need even more education to stand out because an undergraduate degree is simply not enough in most cases. For a political science major, you might need to get a law degree. Most psychology students will need postgraduate education, maybe for research, therapy, or a school psychologist.

We know automation is happening and we know outsourcing is happening. I definitely believe that we should promote professions or vocations that are the least prone to those happening. We need to prepare students for a world that has less routine skills and more critical thinking and creativity. Instead, in many cases, we are teaching students to simply accept information and not challenge it. This is setting them up for failure. If not failure, we set them up for a career where they only have to accept orders. In many cases, this is law enforcement and the military.

PATRICK: I don’t see NY state providing free higher education as a bad thing, even though it certainly puts a vocational schools and a private colleges in a worse position. Teaching students to accept information and not challenge it is more a problem related to current campus political atmosphere and less inherent in the concept of university.
If these are the only jobs, the government will have a lot more motivation to conduct military operations where we don’t need to be.
JOHN: What I’m talking about isn’t necessarily college’s fault. I’m discussing education before that. In many cases, schools are run like businesses where we value productivity far more than creativity. Why? The students aren’t going into fields like manufacturing where they do something repetitive. “Do your work” is the mantra far more than “Oh, that’s unusual and interesting. Tell me more about that.”
PATRICK: I agree. I think students feel very constrained in how far they can push boundaries in expressing themselves. Both just in expressing opinions and in their formal work.
JOHN: I’m not encouraging disrupting class. The students have to remain on topic. What I am saying, however, is students should have an opportunity to look at an issue in new ways.
PATRICK: I think my issue here is that students are typically afraid to go against the grain. They think they’ll it’ll be a stain on their record and rightly or wrongly often believe that more creative and unique thinking isn’t “what the professor is looking for.”
A friend of mine at law school told me on the day of the final “just quote the damn professor in your essay and you’ll get an A.” Whether that’s the truth of not, it’s the prevailing belief.
JOHN: I think a lot of it comes down to how we assess student learning. It’s far easier and more objective to grade a student using a Scantron. It’s far more difficult to grade a student on creativity or critical thinking through essays or projects. I also don’t believe everything needs to require novelty in thought. Sometimes common sense suffices. I think the common sense perspective should remain a part of the discussion to keep people grounded. I also believe people should seek out new information and new ideas.
I think in scientific research, for example, it helps to take risks. You are required to find something new. If you just memorize a textbook, you’re not really contributing much to the field.
PATRICK: I think introductory level classes should be structured to develop basic understanding of underlying principles and common sense, trying to stick to objectivity
JOHN: But absolutely you need a scientific foundation
PATRICK: And upper-level classes are for seeking something new and really branching out.
JOHN: You have to be able to connect new information to old information.
PATRICK: Exactly!
JOHN: I think there are simply excellent, excellent universities with a lot of talented faculty members and students. I think America has some of the best-performing students in the world. But we also have a lot of low-performing students who are impoverished and might act out because they don’t feel school can do anything for them.
It’s very difficult, and I work with these students personally, to teach them positive behavior. In many cases, teachers will outline expectations and then the students go home to a difficult home life that unteaches them everything school did about behavior.
It feels like a battle honestly. What can we do?

PATRICK: I’m not a great person to ask, but I think part of the value of school is keeping kids safe while they are attending.

JOHN: What do you mean by safe?
PATRICK: Mostly physical safety but perhaps also refuge from a difficult home life
Even if, as you say, a lot of what is taught in school is unlearned.
JOHN: A lot of students take pride in demonstrating challenging behavior because they see it as power. And a lot of students don’t want to come off as vulnerable, they act tough. Or they are so used to conflict and drama that peace and quiet is boring; so, they engage in drama to keep themselves entertained. It’s a big deal when kids get into a fight because it’s exciting.
PATRICK: Fair point but I think the fights and conflicts are perhaps better had within the confines of the school building instead of the home or the street. There are more adult figures who care about the safety of the students there.
JOHN: I haven’t seen as many physical fights, but students often battle teachers to refuse work or deny that they were talking when the teacher was trying to do a lesson. I will say the students are much better behaved 1 on 1 because they aren’t trying to perform. What I mean is a lot of students act bad because it makes them cool to their friends. So, they’ll talk back to the teacher or even curse at them. Then there’s the times the teacher talks to the student, and the student doesn’t even respond to the teacher and continues talking to their friends.
PATRICK: Right. Better to look “hard” than like a suck up to the teacher.
JOHN: I don’t need students to suck up to me or another teacher. I just want the students to focus on learning.
PATRICK: That can be perceived as sucking up or worse. You certainly face a real challenge.
JOHN: A lot of the students come to school and want to learn and get good grades, but then you have a handful of kids who don’t care about that. They end up disrupting and distracting other students. Just a handful of students in a class can make a big difference in the classroom environment.
PATRICK: It will be interesting to see how New York’s private colleges respond to SUNY tuition becoming free. They will most likely have to up their scholarship offers considerably to keep enrollment numbers up, we’ll see how they respond to this narrowing of their income stream.
JOHN: They definitely don’t like the bill because it will hurt their enrollment, but they might end up having to reduce their tuitions to compete.
PATRICK: We’ll soon found out just how heavy that blow is, and what they plan to do to compensate.
JOHN: They might want to boost their postgraduate programs because the Excelsior Scholarship doesn’t apply to postgraduate studies. I think a shift is very likely.
PATRICK: Their hand will be forced.
JOHN: Postgraduate tuition is higher than undergraduate tuition anyway. Prospective jobs requiring postgraduate coursework are generally higher-paying and more competitive.

Tuesday Talks: Trump’s Transition

John Buterbaugh and Patrick Wood chatted via Facebook regarding Trump’s transition and the future of the party system in America.

JOHN: Okay, we have to deal with the confusing situation that is Donald Trump’s presidency. Brought to you by Trump Industries. “If a politician does it, it’s corrupt. If I do it, it’s good business.” Let’s start off with his transition team. FiveThirtyEight is saying the nomination process is the fastest of all time. I think he’s rushing. I think he’s clogging the pipes for the swamp he’s trying to drain. Your thoughts on his transition and what his presidency might look like?

PATRICK: I can’t say conclusively what strategy he’s employing. I can say however that all his cabinet picks so far have been terrifying, and his potential picks for other positions are just as bad if not worse. This is a far-right cabinet.

JOHN: This is truly an awful Cabinet nomination process. You have alt-right Steve Bannon of Breitbart News as his Chief of Staff, an earshot from the presidency. He says he’s not a white nationalist, he’s a nationalist. Well, Steve, you’re white and a nationalist. And you say anti-Semitic things. So, stop splitting hairs. And you, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions? Were you frozen in an ice capsule in the 1950s with the strict instructions: “Do Not Open Until 2016”? Who jokes about supporting the KKK until he found out they smoked marijuana? Mnuchin as his Treasury Secretary will be a disaster. You don’t hire a Wall Street banker if you’re putting America first. You’re putting the top 1% first.

However, I am pleased that he is still strongly opposed to TPP. I am for free trade because China has things we don’t, and the U.S. has things they don’t. So, naturally we need to trade. However, you don’t sign onto a trade deal without knowing what the heck is in it. (I’m talking about you, Gary Johnson.) So, I’m hoping Trump is careful with trade. He also said that he wants to legalize medicinal marijuana and allow states to choose their policies, but he has a Attorney General nominee who wants to do the exact opposite.
Trump has not been consistent on most issues except trade. He has denounced trade deals since the 1980s. I think he’s biased though because he’s never had to outsource real-estate jobs. Most of his workers have to be on location pretty much.

PATRICK: It was interesting to see Trump move to left for a quick second after being elected, only to make these cabinet picks after. He is suddenly okay with parts of the ACA, is rethinking the mass deportations but then appoints a white nationalist as chief of staff, a racist as AG, and is thinking about putting Sarah Palin in as Interior Secretary. Can you imagine? That’s the department that heads the Bureau of Indian Affairs! I’d be hard pressed to name ANYONE who would be worse pick. This is one of most marginalized demographics in the US. To put Palin in charge would be an insult.

JOHN: Really I believe Trump thinks the presidency is about negotiating everything. He’s claimed to be a negotiator in everything he does. He took a really harsh tone in his campaign and really harsh positions. Now he’s backpedaled on a lot of his big talking points (thank God.) Now he’s starting to move toward the middle because he’s opening up the negotiation process. And also because he is starting to face reality. Trump realizes he has a loyal following that will never leave him. Period. He can do whatever he wants, and they won’t leave him. I’m not sure people took his promises literally — although saying he would not pursue prosecution of the Clintons (which he can’t do by himself anyway) might ruffle some feathers, even with his diehard supporters.

PATRICK: I’m glad to see he’s not pushing for it, though. Maybe democracy will survive in this country after all! This man really has undermined American democracy by threatening to jail his opponent and refusing to accept unfavorable election results. That’s not behavior befitting a U.S. president.

JOHN: Fox News comments seems to show they are letting the “I don’t want to hurt the Clintons” decision slide. Hillary losing is enough OR other people can prosecute Hillary. However, I don’t believe she will run for president again. I honestly don’t see Republicans trying to take her down anymore. They only seem to do that when she is in a political position or seeking one.

I’m starting to see a pattern though. He is taking these really ridiculous statements like saying he will imprison political opponents, but then he backpedaled on that with Hillary. It’s good negotiating. He takes an extreme position so that he negotiates to where he actually wanted to be in the first place. Although I don’t see how you could negotiate on Cabinet picks. The Republicans control the Senate. Trump has some leverage there. I’m not sure compromising would be in his cards.

PATRICK: This is true. He takes an absurd position and then is applauded when he moderates it slightly. He plays that game quite well.

JOHN: “We’re gonna build a wall” became “Some of it might be a fence.” There is already fencing! “We’re going to deport all 11 million immigrants” became “We won’t deport all of them.” Obama is already deporting more immigrants than Bush did. Trump will probably take credit for all immigration reform when a lot of it was already taking place under Bush and Obama. I will add, you can see fencing on the border with Mexico on Google Earth. 580 miles of it.

PATRICK: It’s almost sad how little difference there is with regard to the physical border among our politicians. They pretend differently, but Hillary voted for a “fence” twice, I believe.

JOHN: Yeah, I think a non-Hillary candidate will be great next time. Maybe Joe Biden. Common touch, straight talker, good salesman, loves people. Only baggage is the plagiarism incidents (during his campaign and during college) and the fact that he is a bit of a loose cannon. But hey, America should be used to that by now. Melania and Donald have shown us the light. “All the words you just used were taken from the dictionary. Isn’t everything plagiarism?” Anyway, what is the left-wing equivalent of Donald Trump’s strategy? Tax Donald Trump at 100% and settle on $25 million?

PATRICK: There was a fair bit of demagoguery coming from my preferred candidate Bernie Sanders to be completely fair. He would have had to come to the center from his original positions if he was to get anything done.

JOHN: Do you think the Democrats should use the same strategy? They keep negotiating with themselves it seems. They have only gone right in the past 10-15 years, allowing the Republicans to go so far to the right they need to extend the wall so that the Republicans can have more space. But Sanders was right to say he will never compromise on key social issues like sexism, xenophobia, etc. I can live in peace knowing that he is what he stood for. I can live with compromising on tax reform as long as we the people get a good deal. It’s so unsexy and it’s so numerical, who really cares?

PATRICK: It’s also certainly less important than “who gets to be treated with dignity and respect?”

JOHN: The president is a role model. People watch. It’s important that Trump realizes that. Not sure he will. I’m pretty sure he’s simply a megalomaniac sociopath bent on using the presidency for personal gain and to subjugate historically oppressed people. But I could be wrong. Zootopia is about that situation. Have you seen it?

PATRICK: I haven’t, unfortunately!

JOHN: It’s funny and timely. A kid’s movie explains the fear of people who are different and the political exploitation of that fear quite poignantly.

PATRICK: That’s certainly extremely relevant to what’s happening and what has happened.

JOHN: However, I don’t think Trump’s only appeal to his voters was the race-baiting. A lot of Trump supporters didn’t want “another career politician” or bought all the theories of Clinton criminality and decided Trump was better than electing a criminal.
He spoke simply and toughly. That plays well with people who speak simply and toughly. If you’re not college educated, you don’t need jargon and nuance in your life. You just need a simple job like everyone else.

PATRICK: Right. Neither candidate was a person of the people or the working class. Trump however was much better at talking like it. You don’t win elections by talking at length about intricate details of politics unfortunately. That’s lost on most people; it’s the flashy headlines and insults that people remember.

JOHN: Bernie Sanders was very much of the working class. But he didn’t really talk like it. He did every speech like a college lecture with passion, but it was still more professorial than conversational.

A Jewish carpenter who pays his taxes, includes people of all stripes, and wants to give to the poor. How did they not see him as Jesus? I suppose a prophet is never excepted in his hometown as they say, or home party as I say.

PATRICK: The DNC colluded against Jesus to prop up… struggling for an apt historical figure here.. perhaps King George?

JOHN: No, I’m thinking Biblical… King Herod.

PATRICK: The only advantage is the knowledge of statesmanship.

JOHN: Go on.

PATRICK: I said King George originally because there was a lot of distaste between the American commoners and the King. No secret. The King took a rather patronizing approach. But at least he had experience and knew something about statesmanship. But Americans then and now decided to flip everything on its head, to defy order and perhaps even conventional wisdom in the hope of attaining something GREAT and very new
In the name of avoiding taxes! And it sucked at first. Originally our leaders didn’t know what they were doing. We had to suffer through the Articles of Confederation (states’ rights!) Eventually we came to realize that “new” isn’t always good. Letting states coin their own currency was a mistake.

JOHN: You can’t do interstate commerce that way! Horrible idea.

PATRICK: And the best political system is one that protects and guarantees basic liberties for everyone including, especially, unpopular minority groups.

I think Hillary lost for five reasons
1. The Electoral College
2. She wasn’t exciting in the same vein as Obama — so this stifled favorable turnout at the polls
3. The opposition painted her effectively as a crook
4. Liberals overplayed their hand on campus safe spaces and transgender issues
5. The DNC is corrupt and was caught rigging the primary

In a way, this result was foreseeable. The DNC was always going to get caught. Hillary was winning mostly red states she had no shot at taking during the general election, and Bernie was polling better against Trump in the head-to-head polling.

JOHN: We need a palate cleanser and we need to fix the party. It keeps losing. It lost the presidency, Congress, and most state legislatures. How the hell are we supposed to reverse Citizens United with a party led by a supposedly populist billionaire running the show?

PATRICK: It doesn’t stand for anything. We need a popular extremist. A Bernie or a Warren. Someone fiery with solid, easy to understand convictions. I think Bernie would do well with working-class voters.

JOHN: How do you think Elizabeth Warren would do with them? I am not sure a liberal woman would be their cup of tea.

PATRICK: I actually agree. I hate to admit it, but our next champion may have to be male.
A lot of voters described Hillary as “shrill.” And honestly I think they just don’t like the female voice talking about leading the country.

JOHN: Hillary’s voice doesn’t strike me as totally unusual. It is a bit shrill and knowing Hillary says one thing and does another aggravates that view.

PATRICK: What do you think about Keith Ellison as chairman of the DNC? Do you feel that the Congressman’s religion makes it a better or worse choice? The DNC chair will be a response to Trump. And to a lesser extent, meant to address problems of corruption within the party.

JOHN: Politically? Possibly. Although I don’t think he’s a big name. He’s going to be more exposed as he becomes more famous naturally.

PATRICK: I think Howard Dean may have been too closely tied with Hillary to be a good pick.

JOHN: There needs to be some fresh faces — new blood. Also, Cory Booker needs to become a better speaker. I love him, but he is too loud all the time during his speeches to be the future of the party.

PATRICK: Good observation, I agree (and also share your affinity for him)
If that improves I think Cory could be wonderful. He has down to earth charm, youth, and is perceived as honest.

JOHN: Right. He is energetic, positive, and has no known baggage. But he is technically urban and he’s from a suburban state. He’s not the best face of rural voters.
There isn’t really a good representative for rural voters in the party other than Bernie. His state is among the most rural in the country.

PATRICK: I suppose this is all true, but most rural states go are deep red, beyond the reach of almost any Democrat.

JOHN: Right. But Wisconsin’s rural population was more Democratic than its suburban population. But then Trump changed that. Bernie would have won it. It’s important that we not take the Midwest for granted. The rural voters are more reachable in the Midwest.

PATRICK: I think that is an area where people actually do listen to both sides, before generally picking the one that seems most the most honest and the most like them.
Which one *would want* to have a beer with me?

JOHN: Ironically, Trump says he doesn’t drink alcohol; so, good luck drinking beer with him.

PATRICK: Haha!!

JOHN: I would say I would rather have a beer with Bush then Gore. Bush would be more easygoing I think. Gore is too stiff.

PATRICK: Stiffness is a major political liability. Candidates deemed robotic almost always lose.

JOHN: That killed Jeb Bush. He was too conscientious.

PATRICK: And many other people. Jeb appeared a little timid at the debates. And debates are about presentation more than substance. So Trump exuded strength, bullied Jeb with monosyllabic words, and won. It was over as soon as Jeb stuttered (which he did several times.)

JOHN: He also broke a rule the others wouldn’t — never speak ill of another Republican.

PATRICK: Trump broke every rule in the book. Originally wouldn’t even commit to running Republican.

JOHN: He briefly ran as a Reform Party candidate in 2000.

PATRICK: And he did the fake out quasi-runs in 2008 and 2012. Do you think we’ll be seeing Kanye in 2020?

JOHN: Dear God, Trump vs. Kanye. What an absolute disaster. Just what we need. More narcissists. Kanye is the hip-hop Trump.

PATRICK: This really seems like the end of civilization. Rome 2.0.

JOHN: Our hubris will be the end of us. Or at least the hubris of a handful of idiocrats will be the end of us.

PATRICK: This will be our fate if we don’t take all this as a wake-up call and respond appropriately in four years. The electoral college worked exactly as it was designed to
and then plunged the country into the alt-right abyss.

On Trump Winning

First of all, I would like to congratulate Mr. Trump on his victory. It was a tough, brutal campaign, and I am glad that process has come to an end. I am faithful in the legitimacy of the votes, and I am thankful that we will be having a peaceful transition of power.

For months on end, we have viewed Hillary Clinton and/or Donald Trump as a tough pill to swallow. I supported Bernie Sanders in the primary and tepidly supported Hillary Clinton in the general election. I was still absolutely shocked to see that Trump was winning in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

However, this was a huge wake-up call to the Democratic Party. I will admit that my party deserved to lose because we did not do right by the people of these states. We have spent so much time trying to win the votes of wealthy, educated suburbanites that we have taken the working-class citizens of our great country for granted. We have abandoned our progressive roots by supporting unbalanced trade deals and cozying up to big corporations.

My hope is that Trump will adopt a positive and cooperative tone. I hope he will resolve the issues caused by ObamaCare (about which people on both sides of the aisle have complained). I hope he will reform federal education law regarding Common Core and allow schools to do what they do best.

I hope he bridges the deep divides in our country. I have never defriended anyone for being a Trump supporter. If you are a good person who cares about others, that is good enough for me. I hope he cracks down on sexual assault to show that he is serious about his self-professed respect for women. He could also do much of what his daughter Ivanka said he would do at the RNC this summer.

All I have left to say is good luck, Mr. Trump. You are our president-elect now. The world is watching.

Our Real Problem? The Moderate Always Loses

By PATRICK WOOD

In 2010, one midterm election was enough to unseat half of the so called “Blue Dog Democrats” (more moderate/conservative Democrats) from Congress. This statistic is pretty amazing for a few reasons. One, as an advantage of incumbency, members of Congress have extremely high reelection rates. They are reelected roughly 90% of the time. Second, this happened when there wasn’t even a presidential election occurring. People generally don’t give a damn about these elections, voter participation is lower than it is during presidential election years, and one would think this would boost the incumbency advantage for members of Congress.

But 2010 saw blue dog after blue dog fall.

In 2012, the Republican Party flirted with more extreme conservative candidates before nominating Mitt Romney, who struck many as a much more vanilla, centrist choice. Romney was initially perceived as a wise pick, as it was thought he had the greatest chance of appealing to voters who identified as anything other than “very conservative.” Romney ended up losing his bid to Barack Obama, and in truth, the contest wasn’t that close.

This was reminiscent of 2004 when the Democrats did the exact same thing with John Kerry, who mounted an unsuccessful bid to defeat George Bush. “Boring,” “lackluster,” “flip-flopping,” “calculating,” centrist Kerry lost both the popular vote and the electoral vote to a vulnerable incumbent president.

So, who does win elections? Extremists, populists, hard party-liners, and those who appeal to the party’s base. People like Donald Trump. Why? They’re exciting. They bring out their supporters on election day.

For moderates, like Kerry and Clinton, this is much harder to do. Soaring ideals are simply more inspiring than calculating pragmatism.

While more people might align more closely with a moderate and not care for the more extreme candidate, these people need an additional reason to come out to the polls. Their emotions and passions are not stirred by vanilla establishment candidates.

Meanwhile the extreme, populist/demagogic, or hyper-partisan candidate enjoys the advantage of soaking up most of the media attention. We have to concede they’re exciting, and we’re hanging on every word.

So what does this mean? – It’s bad, bad news.

The level of partisanship in Washington is only going to get worse. To illustrate this, take this year’s senatorial elections. The Democrats managed to unseat two Republican senators. Maggie Hassan just barely eeked out a win over Kelly Ayotte, a somewhat moderate Republican from New Hampshire. The only blowout against an incumbent Republican was Tammy Duckworth’s victory over Illinois senator Mark Kirk, the most liberal Republican in the entire Senate.

The moderate always loses in the USA. Senator Kirk had a strong record on LGBT rights, reviled Donald Trump, and voted with the Democrats on numerous issues.

With Kirk gone, are any remaining Republicans going to compromise and work with the Democrats? It seems very unlikely. The Democrats have eliminated their only friend from across the aisle. Expect countless strict party-line votes once the new Congress begins.

While Kirk was defeated, a senator in Wisconsin managed to defy the expectations of forecasters and hold on to his seat in Congress. This man is Ron Johnson, who defeated progressive darling Russ Feingold in the purply/blue state of Wisconsin after suggesting that impeachment motions should be brought immediately if Clinton were to win the presidency.

The extremist wins, the moderate loses, and the country suffers.