Tag Archives: Donald Trump

donald Trump – what concerns me

When I was a young lad, my high school football coach would say that if we were to ever lose a game, it wouldn’t be because we were sucking wind on the field, it would be because the other team was simply better than us. What he meant was that the fundamentals of the game required that we at least be in shape. 

Getting the fundamentals right is the first step towards winning championships, while getting them wrong could mean that otherwise inferior teams will eat your lunch.

The same is true for basically everything else in life. There are fundamentals that must be met before one can at least have a decent shot of expecting desirable outcomes–no matter what one is doing or hoping to achieve.

Which brings me to our current president. Many people voted for him because they felt he was the best hope for our country. Some saw in him a Supreme Court seat. Others saw in him an answer to the prevailing, and at times heavy handed, liberal order of the past administration. And still many more saw in him an unlikely alliance to advance a value system often at odds with the way the candidate himself has lived his entire life.

And who am I to judge them for voting according to their own interests? That’s exactly what democracy is all about. And it is to this that I return to the point of my post.

You see, my problem with Donald Trump is not that I disagree with his politics. In fact, there have been times I have even agreed with some of the things he has said. And my problem with him is certainly not because I can’t see how so many saw in him a rejection of the establishment norms they had come to so revile (often for good reason). 

No. That’s not my problem with Donald Trump. And what a merry day it will be when I can return to just being concerned about matters of policy. My problem with Donald Trump is that he does not even come close to possessing the most basic fundamentals that are required for our country to avoid getting beaten by even the inferior teams. 

And my fundamentals list is a very short one, because I have to allow for the fact that many people have different preferences for the qualities they seek in a candidate. It’s not that he’s authoritarian, because there are many folks who see nothing wrong with a strong leader who can get things done. Not my cup of tea. But a democracy must allow for the occasional strong leader personality types. And it’s not any one of his many other personality tics, because, as I said, I must allow for the fact that many people have diverging points of view about what they want in a president.

Rather, the two most basic fundamental qualities I think our country needs in a leader, regardless of that leader’s politics, personality type, or competency level, are humility and inquisitiveness. With those two in place, even incompetence can be managed with qualified enough surrogates.

By humility, I don’t mean someone who is always second guessing, because sometimes it’s better to have a leader who is decisive, especially during national emergencies. And by inquisitiveness, I don’t necessarily mean brilliance, because great leadership is not always about being the smartest person in the room, so long as the room is full of smart people. 

What I mean by the two is that we need a leader who is humble enough to appreciate that they don’t know what they don’t know, and inquisitive enough to want to learn more about the highly complex world they will inherit as the President of the United States. Perhaps the least qualified candidate for office then, would be a candidate who was basically incompetent, hard headed, and completely uninterested in even the most basic facts about the world. And in Donald Trump we have exactly that candidate. By any objective standard he is incompetent (and there is bipartisan agreement on this), and no reasonable person would deny that he is totally infatuated with himself, and not really much else.

And this is really a dangerous situation for the most powerful country with the most powerful military the world has ever seen. I really can’t overstate the dire straits this puts us in. And for those who see this as nothing but partisan blindness that prevents me from seeing the real, qualified candidate he is, I might add that the existence of the whole Never Trump phenomenon is proof that concerns about this president are bi-partisan, and cannot so readily be dismissed.

grapes give you cancer (and climate change is a serious problem)

97% of climate scientists agree that climate change is real and that humans are causing it.  And this consensus holds even in response to anonymous surveys, which is salient because it indicates that the scientists are not simply self-censoring their true views due to political pressure.  In other words, 97% of the people who actually know what they are talking about believe climate change is a real thing.

Substitute “climate scientists” with oncologists, and make climate change cancer, and how would you feel if 97% of oncologists believed that eating grapes increases your chances for some type of fiercely deadly cancer by 60%?  How often would you continue to eat grapes?  Would you say, “Well, we need more science into whether grapes really do give people cancer?” – and go on eating the same amount of grapes you ate before?  Or would you reduce the amount of grapes you ate, if not stop eating grapes altogether?  More than likely, you’d probably change your behavior (assuming you like living).

Now, within the community of climate scientists, there is a wide range of views as to just how severe we can expect climate change to be.  While some are skeptical that it will be as severe as the consensus predicts, the vast majority believe that the data says we should be concerned.  So, in other words, the vast majority of oncologists are screaming, “probably want to worry about them grapes!”, even though some (but only some!!!) of them are saying, “Although the cancer may not be as bad as our current models are predicting.”

Therefore, since we can’t reverse the effects of human caused global warming, and because there are no other viable planets for our species to relocate to if the high end projections for anthropogenic climate change turn out to be true, it makes sense that only our best and brightest climate minds should be responsible for government agencies charged with managing our policy responses to this human problem.  It also makes sense that we take a conservative approach to how we interpret the data, and assume that the more severe projections are worth worrying about.  Again, because we can’t reverse the effects.

So why is the Trump administration considering a radio talk show host and non-scientist “climate skeptic” (I put that in serious quotes since he likely doesn’t actually know much at all about the actual science part) in charge of a USDA post that oversees research into climate change?  A position, mind you, that is supposed to be headed by an actual scientist?  Perhaps because the Trump administration has demonstrated a profound disregard for expert knowledge, or knowledge in general?

There is a difference, of course, between being an expert skeptic, and being a radio talk show host who believes that climate change is “simply a mechanism for transferring wealth from one group of people to another.”  Keep in mind that, as stated above, 97% of the actual scientists agree that climate change is a real thing.  So the oncologists are saying, “grapes give you cancer”, and Trump is considering the appointment of a radio talk show host and “grapes give you cancer” skeptic in charge of the government division responsible for the research into whether many thousands, if not hundreds of thousands (or even billions) of people’s livelihoods may be at risk by grape eating.  Let me just say that this seems pretty stupid.


king donald the terror

If 90% of the things liberals say about Trump are over reaction, the remaining 10% are easily enough to disqualify him from office (using reasonable standards).  His flouting of basic decency norms, which are NOT the same thing as political correctness and in fact ARE necessary and important to a diverse society, which is what America is and forever will be (even if we stopped all immigration tomorrow), is enough to disqualify him from my vote literally ever.  In fact, as one who rejects extreme forms of political correctness, I also equally reject extreme forms of Donald Trump anti-political correctness (although I support and will fight for your right to be a terrible, good for nothing ignoramus if you really must).  Furthermore, Donald Trump’s ability to normalize flagrant, abusive, over the top lying would be enough for the Republican version of myself to have voted independent in any parallel universe where I maintained any sense of principled adherence to rational, critical thought.  And we are not just talking about stretching the truth, or getting caught in a minor fib here or a hypocritical flip flop there, no.  We are talking about the kind of lying my parents brought me up to never engage in.  The didn’t eat any cookies even though my hand is in the cookie jar kind of lying.   The my teeth are covered in chocolate, my hand is in the cookie jar, and a carton of milk is spilling over on the counter, “but what cookies do you mean” kind of lying.  The narcissistic and manipulative “hey I did some good things too so it’s OK if I totally make shit up that is totally blatantly obviously false in order to con my way into people’s hearts and minds” kind of lying. If any given president is some percent corrupt, Donald Trump has vastly exceeded the average by the distance to Mars and back (3x).  His form of populism (which is not the same thing as patriotism and is a complete over correction to whatever liberal excess did exist under Obama) has encouraged the authoritarian mindset around the world, where leaders look to sitting US presidents to define what standards they too must at least feign in order to maintain good standing with the world’s foremost democracy.  It is a sad day that such a man has risen to contaminate our highest office with his ignorant brand of national populism (cough fascism cough), and it is my mission in life to ensure that his ability to sully our sacred office is a very short lived nightmare, not a long lived terror.

deserved scrutiny

Donald Trump has brought the scrutiny on himself in his well documented words and behavior since he started campaigning. And I’m not even getting into the speculative stuff.

Nobody can dispute that he has engaged in an extreme form of politics of division (a dangerous thing to do in a diverse nation), nobody can dispute that he routinely lies in broad daylight without any remorse for his actions and how they reflect upon this country and our highest office (do you seriously want your kids to model their behavior after that???), nobody can dispute that he literally called for an American foreign adversary to spy on his political rival, nobody can dispute that he has a very weird and suspicious love affair with Putin (out of all the world leaders Putin was the one Trump decided to fawn over during his campaign), nobody can dispute that he has called the media an enemy of the people and the dangerous implications of those words coming from that office, nobody can dispute that he won’t release his tax returns, nobody can dispute that he uses Twitter carelessly and with little regard to the power of his words on world affairs, nobody can dispute that it is impossible to know what his strategy is from day to day (although some people think that flying by the seat of your pants as POTUS is a legitimate strategy).

For all these reasons (and many more) I don’t feel sorry for him, and believe he is getting what he deserves. Furthermore, I would argue that if you’re a supporter you should own the fact that this kind of behavior is fundamental to his character, and just be honest that a) you don’t care or b) it’s worth making deals with the devil in order to advance certain values positions and or other policy strategies. I get it. Maybe it was the Supreme Court? Maybe it was immigration? Maybe you like chaos? Maybe you actually think he’s going to “shake things up”? (Whatever the hell that means) But don’t try to reason your way into convincing yourself that Donald Trump is somehow a gentleman and a scholar who is the next best thing since Abe Lincoln. No. He’s a habitual liar and a narcicist. He is what he is. We got what we got.

hallmarks of an authoritarian

​A truly depressing sign of the things to come:

President-elect Donald Trump, a harsh critic of U.S. intelligence agencies, is working with top advisers on a plan that would restructure and pare back the nation’s top spy agency, people familiar with the planning said.

The move is prompted by his belief that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has become bloated and politicized, these people said.

It’s clear then that if you don’t tell Trump what he wants to hear, you can expect him to do the following:

1) Position himself as the victim

2) Undermine your legitimacy by publicly dismissing you as politically motivated and irrelevant 

3) Quote your enemies if they happen to be saying the things he likes, even if those enemies have a long standing history as being adversarial to American interests (up to and including leaking American national security secrets).

4) When and where possible, severely weaken your ability to continue to disconfirm his theories and challenge his rhetoric.  In the case of the media, he has threatened to do this by “opening up” the libel laws, which would make it easier for him to sue news organizations, thus increasing the risk, especially for cash strapped publications, of criticising him in certain ways.  In the case of the intelligence community, there is nothing like a little “reorganization” to put people in their place.