Monday, February 22, 2016

Playground Bully for President - 2016

The more I read comments by Trump supporters (especially self-identified "Evangelical" Christians and conservatives) explaining their support of the man, the more I'm convinced it's time to move away from the cities into rural hideaways and start building the old end-of-the-world bunker.  

And I'm not really kidding here.

People who should know better are flocking to get behind a candidate who is essentially a playground bully, hoping he will do for them what they lack the will or access to power to do for themselves. It's sad to watch people who claim to support the Constitution and the Bill of Rights hand the reins of power to a man whose business "experience" is a sickening record of strong-arming competitors, bullying partners and stiffing those who trusted him. Trump has historically been long on hubris and confident promises and short on delivering on those promises (save the promise he made to himself to make himself richer).

I'm sorry, but however much you think Trump will protect us from the ravening hordes of Muslims and Mexicans, that "protection" will come at a price. If you seek safety and protection from a casino and strip club owning shady real estate developer who is up on racketeering charges and has ties to the Mob, you are no better than those who seek peace and safety from a mythical altruistic socialist elite who promise to give you free stuff. Don't forget how it works in the real world for those who pay for safety and protection from powerful thugs.  

First you pay for protection from outside enemies and then you pay for protection from your "protector". As in medieval times when armored feudal barons "protected" groups of serfs and peasants, those who are strong enough to protect you are also strong enough to enslave you. Like Trump, the ancient nobles were "beholden to no one". If that's what you like about Trump, that he's so rich he is beholding to no one, then you should not be at all surprised when, once he is in power, he isn't beholden to you either.

Attack dogs may give a few burglars pause, but if they have no reason to obey you, they make very poor masters. It's like Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill both said. Depending on appeasing a bully or waiting for someone else to make things go right for you is like feeding the crocodile hoping it will eat you last. 

That doesn't always work so well.

Just sayin'.

Tom King © 2016

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Trumperor Has No Clothes

What does Donald Trump have to do to shock his supporters back to reality - grow a toothbrush moustache and sing Trumpster, Trumpster Uber Alles? He recently said his followers are so loyal he could shoot someone dead in the middle of the street and not lose a single vote.

I'm beginning to fear that he is correct.

Supposedly, Trump speaks for mainstream American conservatism. Okay let's look at his record.

  1. Conservative?  Trump has been alternately a Democrat, Libertarian, Republican and Independent, depending on the shifting political winds. He's poured millions into the campaigns of both Clintons and Obama. He claims the economy does better under Democrats.
  2. Family Values?  Trump is on his third wife. He's a serial philanderer, owns strip clubs and casinos, and has an ego the size of Texas.
  3. Business Acumen? Trump has bankrupted 4 businesses leaving hundreds of investors in the lurch. His resort management company was ousted by business partners in Panama for massive misdirection of funds into Trump's other holdings leaving the partners in the lurch. Hundreds of small investors lost funds in his Mexican land deals AND his "Trump Academy" business school up on racketeering charges.
  4. Belief in Smaller Government? Trump is a big fan of the use of imminent domain to seize property from private individuals to give to wealthy land developers. Uses it frequently. Says he won't be beholden to business lobbyists?  Well no, because he IS one. The Donald prefers complex government because it gives billionaires a distinct advantage in the market over small business and the poor schmucks he skins out of their money. He's a dealer alright and big government is like crack for people who love to deal.
That's just the surface of this incredibly corrupt egomaniac. How anyone can assume The Donald can be trusted any farther than a 4 year-old little girl could throw him is beyond me.  Apparently if you are on reality TV and go on TV every chance you get to tell people how wonderful you are, that's all you have to do. Dangle a shiny promise or play a pleasing tune on your flute in front of some people and they wander after you like rats after the Pied Piper. What are they teaching in schools these days.

God help us if it's come to that. I pray that Americans wake up. I fear that they will not.

Tom King © 2016

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Free Racism for All - It's Easy If You Try

Racism? Doesn't that have something to do with treating
people like they are less than human? (Burundi)

In my morning reading I came across a bizarre statement. It's not the first time I've seen it, but it is no less bizarre for being repeated. The writer made the astonishing claim that black persons, in fact, all persons of color cannot be "racists". 
I weep for the children. As C.S. Lewis' Professor Digory once said, "What ARE they teaching in schools these days?" It's certainly not logic and history by all accounts.

The whole idea that a particular brand of human beings categorically cannot be racist is preposterous both in terms of its logical foundation as well as its historical accuracy. Logically, the concept that a person cannot be racist if they possess a certain skin color is, in and of itself a racist idea. Such an idea posits that there is a fundamental difference between persons of color and persons of another color which exists because of the person's race (white by the way is a color - check your crayon box). You cannot claim there is no fundamental difference between persons based on their skin color and then turn right around and claim that there actually is a fundamental difference in that persons of a certain color are congenitally unable to be racists. The ability to be or not to be a racist is a pretty fundamental difference. As to the Marxist theory that certain classes of oppressed people cannot be oppressors themselves has been shown to be a flying load of hoodoo, or would be if anyone bothered to read a non-sanitized history book anymore. Stalin's communist workers party did rather a lot of oppressing in their day as did Chairman Mao's People's Party. Several hundred million folks could tell you that if they were alive to do so (which they are not).

Hitler wasn't the only one to bury
folks in ditches (Rwanda).

The idea that black people can't be racist is a logical fallacy. For proof one need only visit the recent history of racist violence between Hutus and Tutsis in in Africa in which the protagonists took as an unquestioned truth that one tribe was racially inferior to the other and possessed of inherent evil tendencies - essentially racist beliefs.

The only problem with taking the time to explain all of this is that the Twitter generation quit reading this post back at about 140 characters. Too bad. They will miss my favorite Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote.  The good Doctor, whose holiday we celebrated just a few weeks ago, famously said, "I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Me too, Doc.  Me too.

Tom King
© 2016

Monday, February 15, 2016

Why I Give Liberals and Other Minions a Hard Time

Liberals have their own view of how thing work and everything they do is in large part, determined by that ideology. That said, hard right conservatives do much the same thing. It's getting worse every year to the point that things are beginning to grind to a standstill as we wait to see who is going to win the ideological Hundred Years War that's been going on in America. I've met a lot of political ideologues in my earlier career as a volunteer community organizer. I was not paid by Acorn (they had a horror of me) and I am a conservative politically, though probably a good deal less doctrinaire than my Libertarian friends would wish me to be.  My parochial school education probably had a lot to do with my attitude toward problem solving. I believe in looking for problems in need of solutions rather than solutions in need of a problem. I'm kind of contrary like that.

I spent two years on the TxDOT Public Transportation Advisory Committee. We changed the funding formula for the distribution of federal transit dollars to make it more equitable for rural areas that are NOT around Austin and Houston. Austin and Houston are where we keep our liberals. They like to congregate around big cities. Big city liberal lobbyists are quite formidable and had been successful at steering federal transit dollars to their areas to the detriment of more conservative rurals area elsewhere in our vast State of Texas.   I showed the House transportation committee a graph of how much money each rural transit district was receiving and then pointed out that the two men who had testified that the status quo must be maintained were lobbyists representing the transit companies who received the appropriations represented by the two bars on the funding distribution graph that looked like the twin towers standing in a corn field.

That got a laugh from the Republicans on the committee. And then the TxDOT commissioner stood up after me and called the two of them "liars". It was very gratifying. It was a bloody fight against entrenched and experienced political infighters, but with the help of two hard-nosed conservatives on the commission, we got the funding formula rewritten and a plan in place that made the distribution reflect population needs rather than who got to the trough first with the best lobbyists. Me and my chart were universally hated.

It certainly made the distribution of funds fair and effective for small towns and rural areas not associated with Democrat strongholds. It's one of the reasons why I have had problems with Democrats. My little old people I worked with were stranded. I lived in the part of the state with the highest density and percentage of elderly and disabled without access to transportation. One in five adult East Texans at the time had no reliable access to transportation and were, in effect, stranded. We helped stop that. Two of my chief allies in the effort was a taxi company owner named Jamal Mohrer and a savvy city bus company director named Norman Schenck.

With the tremendous and invaluable help of private transportation providers like Jamal, visionary public transit directors like Norman, church groups, nonprofits, sturdy East Texans who care about old people and disadvantaged families, people with disabilities, and a pair of unusually bipartisan Austin liberals experienced in the ways of government, we helped land a federal earmark for an after hours home-from-work and extended bus hours program to benefit transportation challenged families and individuals with disabilities who worked and/or wanted to participate more fully in local life. The partnership between the private cab company and Tyler Transit that came out of it was a wonderful example of what could be accomplished when a diverse stakeholder group puts aside political ideology and solves problems. Unfortunately, I didn't remain there long enough to see the program survive the damage done when aggressively left-leaning members of our local stake-holders group piled on the city council about "rights" and entitlements and completely missed the far more effective argument that without transportation, people who can't drive can't work and can't hope to break free of dependence on entitlements. It's an important argument that my liberal friends habitually missed when they were busily chaining themselves to light poles in front of the governor's mansion and to downtown buses in Austin and Houston which are already liberal towns. Which brings me to today.

In this current election cycle, we conservatives need to broaden our stakeholder group if we want to get things done (i.e. elect a sane person to the highest office in the land). If we don't we're doomed and speaking of doomed.  Sadly, Donald Trump is the only "Republican" who is doing this particularly well, though the folk he is drawing unto himself are not the sharpest pencils in the desk drawer. Ben Carson is also trying to do that, but with less success. Personally, I think that the GOP bosses are terrified of someone like Carson - you know, someone honest and incorruptible. To the country club GOP leadership, and honest man is the last thing this country needs. Honest men are notoriously difficult to "deal" with. So the only one appealing to the broad tent successful is a pseudo-conservative flim flam man with a bad combover. God help us (and I'm not being flip about that).

Left and right agree on a surprising number of things, but disagree primarily on method. When you figure out what you all agree on and focus on that, it becomes considerably easier to come up with a way to make it work. Ronald Reagan had a striking ability for articulating the problem and convincing people that there were rational solutions to those problems.

And, I have found that if you do make a solution work it infuriates the good old boys of both political stripes who depend on no one meddling with their "system".  I've seen the system at work. It is designed to maintain the power and profitability of the political incumbent. A dear friend of mine said the reason he wanted the government to managed things like transit was because they don't run out of money - they can just take more from our taxes, he said. Bless his heart, this man, with a PhD to his credit, believed that the government was trustworthy because, as he pointed out, the government doesn't make a profit (as though making a profit were evil).

Dr. Bob was wrong about the government not being a profit-making concern, though. I mean when is the last time you met a poor elected official.  The government make profit in two ways - directly through graft and indirectly through the accumulation of power and power always equals cash, whether you are writing the checks for those wild parties in Vegas or the taxpayer is writing them. The closer we keep our money to the local level, the more effectively we can manage it and the more efficiently we can address our community's problems. It's harder work and takes effort to get people involved. I did thousands of hours of free work or work that my nonprofit paid me to do in the interest of their clients.

East Texas had 20% of its citizens without transportation in rural areas. So we worked very hard and got our transit budget tripled. A lot of people helped make it happen, both Democrats and Republicans and people who'd never participated in anything political before. My great concern is that we too often  spend our teaching time trying to indoctrinate the new generation into one party's system for doing things. How much better would it be if parents and teachers were to teach our kids how to work with their legislators and with stakeholder groups without reference to politics If we brain-wash our kids, teach them to parrot an ideology; to regurgitate canned answers a'la Bernie Sanders rather than to seek for them on their own, then we wind up raising a generation of something worse than yuppies.

We're raising minions, capable of following a charismatic leader without critical thinking and that frightens me. I first wrote that last sentence years ago - long before Donald Trump came along as a socialist in Republican's clothing. Well before the Despicable Me series hit the movies.  I was cruising through some old blog drafts and came upon this piece. It struck me that we are seeing in this election cycle, the consequences of teaching ideology rather than critical thinking.

I'm on the track to leaving this planet in the next couple or three decades. I just hate to leave behind a culture that, thanks to our failure to pay attention to educating our kids and ourselves, is on track to becoming the worst of Orwell and Huxley's dystopian nightmare futures.  If you'd told me when I first started on this piece that in 2016 we'd have a shifty strip club owner and reality TV star and an open socialist vying for the office of President of the United States back then, I'd have laughed at you.

Not so funny, now though, huh?

Just one man's opinion.

Tom King © 2016