December 6, 2016

Character Matters

The sun came up again today, leaving me a bit surprised. It had an orange cast to it like a giant cheese puff, lacking substance, but bright, shiny, and appealing albeit in an unhealthy way.

And then I remembered we elected a bigot, a buffoon, a bungler. A man with an easy sense of entitlement and fingers that go a tweeting.

It's probably true that Hillary Clinton should have focused more on the policy differences with her opponent than character. She gave the American People too much credit when she focused on Donald Trump's character which by any criteria is abysmal.

Trump supporters bought into the idea that as long as his issues are aligned with their's character didn't matter. But character is that which we rely on when deciding to trust someone or not, to believe that they will follow through on their promises. If one lacks character, there is no way to predict how they will behave but you can assume it will be in their interest, not yours. Honesty, empathy, and reliability are paramount.

If dishonest in one area how can we rely on it in another? Will his supporters suffer buyers remorse? Will they be embarrassed just a little?

I've asked. They seem reticent to answer. They repeat their assurances that they are not racists, they are not misogynists, they are not xenophobic, but they fail to answer the question. They've closed their eyes tightly hoping that when they open them, all will be well. I think they're embarrassed by him; I think they're having second thoughts, but like him, many of them lack the character to say so. Like a cheese puff left out in the rain, they are truly deplorable.

November 29, 2016

Staying Mentally Strong

My Republican friends, Trump supporters, the ones who aren't ranting on airline flights about Hillary Bitches but are more subtle in their celebration are posting this advice.

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And while I agree with the sentiment I'm not sure the motive behind it is pure.

When I first saw this I dwelled on the final suggestion that we should celebrate other's successes, I recognized that many times it was clearly the right thing to do. Your friend's daughter is accepted to Yale; their son just ran the marathon making a personal best. But that's not quite the same as it is in zero-sum games those situations where one's gain comes at the expense of another's loss. Did anyone expect the Detroit Tigers' fans to celebrate the win of the Chicago Cubs? Perhaps a better word here would have been to congratulate them on their win. To expect a celebration seems to me to be just another form of taunting, of poor sportsmanship and if the game were football rather than a national election, I'd expect a penalty. But to be fair, I'll just accept that celebrate is just a poor choice of words, that what they really mean is to congratulate them.

But there is an irony here too rich to pass by. Hillary Clinton is leading in the popular vote by more than two million votes. Is Donald Trump a mentally strong person, one worthy of holding the highest office in the land. The man who is now claiming that he would have also won the popular vote too if all the illegal votes for Hillary were subtracted, and he makes this claim with no evidence at all. Is he suggesting a recount? Maybe he should follow my Republican friend's suggestion and show us that he is mentally strong. He should celebrate Hillary's win in the popular vote by acknowledging that he has no mandate, that he recognizes that more people are for keeping Obamacare than are for destroying it. That more Americans want a livable minimum wage than the status quo. That being a poor winner is perhaps even worse than being a poor loser.

November 12, 2016

Fear and Loathing in 2016

We long ago agreed to disagree with our Republican friends on the basic differences in our world view. They that if you give a man a helping hand that he will come to depend on you and lose his will to work, a tough love approach to the world. One where if you failed it was because you hadn't done enough. You'd been lazy, and when you suffered the consequences of your laziness you'd learn and be better for it.

We, on the other hand, believed that if sometimes took more than one try. We knew what they called lazy wasn't always a lack of character but a lack of opportunity. They believe that we all have an equal opportunity to succeed. We watched as Donald Trump told us he was a self-made man, and although there are a few that are self-made, it is much more common that they got more than a little help from others, fourteen million in Donald's case. Sometimes that little bit of help was the right schools, or the network of friends who helped with the first job, and their sense of entitlement. They thought that everyone had an equal chance while we knew that there was no equal opportunity, the deck was stacked, and it was the role of government to level the playing-field.

But this election was about more than those philosophical differences. Their candidate who spoke of policy only in the most general terms, but spent the days of campaigning repeating his xenophobic, racist, misogynistic hate. Their candidate was a man who spoke of core values but had none. A candidate who asked not what he could do for his country but what he could get from his country. And we watched the hate grow.

Now they're surprised at how we react because in previous elections we accepted the results with equanimity, if not with delight. But this time we stand up, we protest, we wail because this man they elected doesn't just differ from us on a philosophical level but one of basic human decency.

April 1, 2015

Taking a Break

I don't know if I'll post to this blog again, it is possible for who can predict such things, but until that day you can find me on Facebook, Norm Jenson, and the little writing I continue to do atMostly Anecdotal >.

April 3, 2014

The Emperor's New Clothes

You remember the story. The king hires a couple of hucksters who tell him they can weave garments so fine that they are invisible to the stupid and those unfit for their jobs. The king hires them. His entourage all pretend that they can see the garment so as not to lose their jobs and appear stupid. It's not until the King displays his new clothes to the town that the problem is obvious. Everyone pretends to see the clothes but one young boy who points out the King's nakedness. Whereupon the whole town see's it for what it is, but the king continues unwilling to acknowledge his lack of clothes.

Richard Dawkins has been pointing out for a long time how the personal gods man has created are like the emperor's new clothes, but instead of being admired for his honesty, for his frankness, like the boy in the story. He is told that such things are just not said in polite company. And so there are those who continue pretending that the problem is with Dawkins and not them. They believe it is okay to pretend that their God exists They have faith (pretending to know something you have no evidence for) and that is enough. They are as hypocritical as the characters in Hans Christian Andersen's tale.

February 19, 2014

In Defense of Witlessness

The Utah legislature is in session. They're doing their best. They've turned down millions of dollars for health care. They're meeting with the teetotalers, the tea partiers, the pyramid schemers. They're meeting with each other trying to figure out how to benefit their own financial interests.

They've decided that the prison should be moved providing them with more real estate deals. They're supporting more technology assuring us that a computer can teach just as well as a human and that it doesn't need healthcare, just a maintenance contract that they can provide. They struggle with facts. They struggle with logic. They're suspicious of science. They're looking for a way to deal with these inconvenient truths.

It's the reason they were now rushing through a bill that will protect them, that will enrich them, that will keep the gravy train on track, a witless protection program. A program that will make the world right.

In its final act of the session, it is prepared to pass the Witless Protection Act. It is based on similar bills passed in like-minded states--Texas, Kansas, Ignorance.

The act will make it easier to defend the climate change deniers, the evolution skeptics, the society for the defense of bigotry.

It is certain to pass constitutional mustard, there being no constitutional dictate of rationality. The Bill of Rights protects ignorance, it protects stupidity, it protects them.

Yes, the Witless Protection Act, it's their defining moment.

November 14, 2013

Libertarians Morally Bankrupt

My son Chris and I have been discussing Libertarians, and frankly just don't get it. Perhaps we still have a libertarian reader or two that can justify their philosophy.

Libertarians think that the winners in society earn what they get fair and square. For that to be true, everybody has to have an equal opportunity. To think that there is equal opportunity is delusional. For example, consider race. "When researchers in the United States sent out identical résumés to prospective employers, some with white-sounding names (e.g., Emily and Greg) and others with black-sounding names (e.g., Lakisha and Jamal), the white résumés generated 50 percent more calls from employers."

Greene, Joshua (2013-10-31). Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them (p. 13). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

More to the point, Libertarianism naturally leads to unequal opportunities. The rich pass on their advantages to their children, who then begin life with a head start. That head start is based on an accident of birth, not talent or hard work. This always be the case, hence, libertarianism produces unequal opportunity. This undermines its moral foundation, the fair and square, of earning what you get.

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