Thursday, February 20, 2020

Driving with Miss Jane

You are surrounded by interesting people.  We all are, but it is only a few that we really get to know.  This is a fictionalized account of my conversations with a real woman twenty years my senior.  The incidents are real, but to protect some privacy the names have been changed. Let's call her Jane.

It happened by surprise.  I was not being given more assignments at work and what was my main source of revenue was being squeezed.  One of the partner's mother was in need of a regular ride.  She had recently had her license taken away by the family after an accident and wanted to visit her ill husband in a retirement home.  It worked out to my advantage as not only did it give me something to do I was also able to keep in touch with my remaining contacts and the office by using WiFi at a nearby library. If you know me you know I like to spend time at librairies.  In fact this is how I came to renew my library card for my work city so that I now had two library cards.

She usually stayed upstairs napping and used a stair lift to meet me.  As she was hard of hearing I watched to see if the stair lift was up or down. 

The partner joked that it could be an adventure like "Driving Miss Daisy."  Although I had seen a stage version as well as the film version I was a little hazy on the details.  Although our conversations were mostly limited to about two ten minute drives each trip they became fairly candid.

Over time I came to know Jane quite a bit and in fact some things her own family didn't know.  I will relate a variety of things I learned.

She told me about an experience where she and her husband drove to a friend's house to return a scarf.  It was obvious they were home, but nobody would answer the door and eventually they gave up.  She and her husband agreed the couple were probably having a fight and then told me about one fight she had with her husband.  One was over a toothpaste tube and while they were at it some neighbors attempted to visit, but were ignored at the front door.  Eventually the neighbors tried the back door and got their attention.  Jane said her husband during a fight usually tried to make a joke, but that just made her madder.

Her husband had been engaged before when they both lived in England and his fiancee had tried to marry him before he left for the European mainland as World War II broke out.  His mother sent him a marriage notice and awhile after sent a birth notice.  Jane met him after the war and said she was careful to not let him get away.  Eventually after marriage he left for Canada and the two built up a family in a mid sized Ontario town.  Later he formed his own company and moved to her present city.

Once I told Jane about an experience I had booking a hotel room for a celebrity visiting town.  I was stunned to be asked if they wanted a double bed or twins and even more surprised to learn twin beds were preferred.  Jane had a different experience.  A co-worker in England had been asked to book hotel rooms for her boss and a girl friend and was instructed to always order a double bed.

Deciphering vanity car license plates had become a favored activity which I joined in, even to the point of asking the driver.  It was fun and in some cases I learned some things of interest.  In one case I met a man who had his car license attached to a walker and it detailed airplanes he had piloted.   One man bragged on his plate that he had done a 8 ender in curling and a hole in one in golfing.   One identification showed me she remembered a tv show (Hawaii Five-0) that we had both watched way back in the 60's and 70's.  We were mystified by one plate but I suspected a sticker was a clue and it turned out a fan of an Australian football team in Adelaide.  Having married into an Italian family I was able to identify a fellow outsider labeled a cake eater (an Italian reference to non Italians is mangia cake).  Another plate from a co-worker led to a personal revelation.   One I recalled and told her was "2hot4U"

Learned the sister of her husband died several years ago but everyone was afraid to tell him.  He kept asking when visited and she made up an excuse.

Sometimes I picked her up from a hairdresser.  She had a favorite, but one time someone on the phone told her her favorite had left and made an appointment.  On another visit she learned her favorite hairdresser was still there and had been and she booked her appointments more carefully.

She had a sister from England (from the original city Jane was born in) who liked to visit, let's call her Mary.  I took the two of them back and forth.  Mary was younger by about ten years and very protective.  I watched a number of British tv shows and we had mutual favorites.  She recommended one I had not heard of "In line of Duty,"  It became one of my favorites.  Jane's two sons, and a niece took her out dining and somehow the two sisters developed a liking for quesadilla.  The English sister was disappointed she couldn't find any in England.

I learned a bit about a significant city in England.  Never been to England and have a warped view centered on London and a few cities I've watched on tv.  Until you actually travel to a place you have only a vague idea.

Jane trusted me enough to leave the front door unlocked when I was expected.  Part of her concern was that she had trouble hearing and didn't want me to freeze during the winter.  One time I found her in pain and undecided about to go or not.  I persuaded her to go to a walk in clinic.  She was given an x-ray that I had arranged to be sent to her family doctor who she was visiting the next day.  She was in obvious pain, but it turned out not to be a break.  The doctor did notice that she had had previous breaks that had healed.  It was awhile before the pain subsided and made an extra effort to avoid bumps.

Apparently her husband at one time suggested to the oldest son he should get a vasectomy, but was brushed off.  Not too long afterwards his second wife (who also already had a family of children) got pregnant.  Several years later I met their new son.  My wife had met him earlier through a medical visit and was impressed at how polite he was.

She was concerned about her children and grandchildren  Both her sons divorced.  She had become so upset that she burst out crying at her doctor's who prescribed a tranquilizer.  She was very grateful to maintain a relationship and talked to one grandson who had been worried.  She was concerned that one grand-daughter had broken up with her boyfriend.  My experience with her family had been very positive

I never met her husband, but learned he was suffering dementia.  She confessed to me that he sometimes swore very offensively to her.  She mentioned that he also had poor fitting teeth and I suggested that perhaps that added to his irritation.

All good things come to an end.  I took a vacation (to New Zealand to see my son.  When I came back I learned that her husband had died.  I learned at my office, but she also phoned and thanked me for giving her rides.  When I started out with an 88 year old visiting her 94 year old husband I realized the odds weren't on the side of longevity.

She had kept me informed of her medical problems which included cancer.  She was told that she a slow developing variety and the doctors had decided against surgery.  I was informed by my old work place after I retired that she had died in her sleep.

PHOTO from her driveway I heard a woodpecker and this time I had my camera handy--I had missed a chance at some more colorful birds.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020


It is illuminating to understand how some admirable people got pointed in a direction we have come to admire.  Samantha Power reached my attention as a worker with Barrack Obama which automatically makes her a person to be admired.  But she didn't reach that status without a lot of twist and turns.

She is candid about relationships with Obama and other politicians that often involved not getting her way.  She also writes about the problems of a mother of young children trying to have influence with the government including breast feeding while overseas with and without her daughter.

Born in Ireland, she was more interested in sports than studying, but did enjoy reading.  Her mother overcame many obstacles to be a medical doctor.  Her father was a dentist, but spent too much time at a local pub where he also took his kids.  Her mother was distraught over her husband's alcoholism and developed a relationship with a doctor and moved to America.  She was able to gain custody of her two children.  Samantha felt very guilty when her father died, but had developed a good relationship with her mother's husband.

She lived in Pittsburgh and Atlanta and was very active in sports.  While attending university she had gone home to Atlanta to intern with a tv station.  For one game she had been asked to note about an Atlanta Braves game off a tv. screen.  At a studio surrounded by many other tv screens she got distracted by events at Tiananmen Square and was stunned.  It changed her focus to politics and world events,

She went on a trip to Europe with a boyfriend and further opened her eyes to international tensions.  After graduation she taught English in Berlin and became aware of Bosnian refugees  Working with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace she managed to get herself a journalist pass and went to Bosnia.  She spent a lot of time in combat zones and made friends that she kept in contact with.

While Barrack Obama was Senator, Samantha developed a relationship with him as he seemed to enjoy batting ideas around with her.  She had been concerned with the Balkans, Rwanda, Sudan but the conversation veered in many different directions.  When he made the decision to run for president she eagerly joined the battle.  Unfortunately in the midst of it an eager reporter picked up something she said about Hilary Clinton that forced her resignation.  Later, after an apology to Hilary they worked effectively together.  Before and during this crisis she had met another Obama supporter, Cass Elliott and while away from the campaign they got married.

I thought I had seen that name somewhere and it turned out he co-authored a book I had stumbled on and was impressed enough to write a blog: 

She got involved with many important issues and left her mark.  She campaigned to make public announcement acknowledging the Armenian genocide with limited success.  Involved with the Russian negotiations regarding Syria's use of chemical weapons.  Formed relations with other ambassadors, especially women, but also notably Vitaly Churkon of Russia.  One issue she was successful  was getting support for LGBT issues despite Russian opposition.  During the Ebola crisis she traveled to Africa to the most affected areas.  Another issue (of many) she was involved with was Libya.

One of her goals was to influence Obama's announcements working with Ben Rhodes who helped her understand the constraints trying to deal with many different international concerns.   Sometimes the input was very slight and only arrived after much wrangling.  See more on Ben;

Near the end of her book and of her term as UN ambassador she recounts her experience with the 2016 election.  She had invited several women ambassadors to watch the election results thinking it would be an  historical moment.  Some of the women lived in dictatorships and had not really seen a democratic election before.  Unfortunately Donald Trump who promised to undo many of Obama's accomplishments won and spoiled the moment.  He is still a blot on American democracy.

Many ups and downs and some disappointments.  It is well worth reading to appreciate the persistence necessary to influence policies starting from an idealist base.

I would like to end with her ending "People who care, act, and refuse to give up may not change the world, but they can change many individual worlds."

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Vice President Question

Why write about Vice Presidential nominee right now?  First, it is quite often a critical factor in the final ballot in November.  Some examples I would suggest include Sarah Palin, Joe Biden, Al Gore, and Mike Pence, each who had a crucial role for significant niches of voters.  Second, although it is premature to make a public announcement it is always timely to look out for logical possibilities and
work towards them while at the same time maneuvering for one's own benefit.

Sarah Palin is a lesson by herself.  Loved by many, but she turned off enough people who were concerned that John McCain could die and leave the presidency to her scatterbrain that it affected the election.  The other three all added something positive to the package, but I would like to draw attention to Mike Pence.  Paul Manafort saw a weakness in Trump that he rightly thought could be rectified with a strong evangelical.  Trump has done a lot to suck up to evangelicals, but many feel more assured that one of their own would help pursue their agenda.

The field is narrowing, but it seems likely it will be several weeks before the Democrats nominate a presidential candidate and many will hang on due to hope or a feeling of obligation or pride.   They  have unfortunately also been narrowing the diversity of their candidates.  The Democrats have built much of their strength on diversity and need to get a turnout. to seize power.  Black women are supposedly their most reliable voters.  Of course policies are critical, but getting the vote out is decisive.

The question is probably being negotiated right now.  Candidates are trying to figure out if they can make a deal to eliminate a competitor or give up the battle and try to get the vice presidential nod.  And naturally each is assessing possible running mates to maximize their chances of winning the presidency.  They have to be careful not to offend someone they might later pair up with.  It is a delicate balance because they also have to attack rivals.

There are a limited number of possibilities for the top of the ticket and each one has their own needs.  White man, older, younger, gay, white women, Asian, billionaires, moderates, democratic socialist.

Comparing policies is useful and many seem ideal.  Realistically they will run into resistance from voters (in the form of polls, protests, etc), the Republicans, their own party plus businesses (with logical arguments or corruption).  And it depends on how much power the voters give them on November 3rd, 2020.

My favorite candidate is still Kamala Harris, not so much for diversity or even policies, but her style.  She demonstrated very well on congressional hearings that she is prepared and is good at sequencing questions.  Understands root causes.  I do like the way she handles questions.  She has appeal to blacks, Asians and women.  She would do well in debates and give a practical balance to a ticket with almost any presidential candidate.

Another favorite candidate is Cory Booker.  Well liked, but likely the assumption another black man would not likely beat Trump.  He is well liked and even regarded.  However he would boost any non black nominee with a prime audience for the Democrats. 

Still on the minority client Julian Castro has positioned himself well by endorsing Elizabeth Warren and pulling over his Hispanic endorsers.  He would be a good match for others.  He may have squandered chances with other candidates, but depending on circumstances he could be what gives the Democrats enough credit with Hispanics to win the election.

Jay Inslee would prove the seriousness of climate crisis soldier.  He might work best with a woman or minority presidential nominee.  Governors carry executive experience.

Andrew Yang is not likely to get the top position, but has one of the best ideas which I see is inevitable.  Future jobs are threatened by automation and artificial intelligence  I am not sure that he would attract enough minority voters, but he would attract the youth vote and intellectuals.  He is the most future oriented of the candidates.

Overlooked another significant candidate, Deval Patrick who since dropped out.  He certainly is worthy as a former governor with a good record.   From where I view the contest he is too far behind, however that could change fairly quickly.  As the last African American in the race it would take only a few good breaks and he could win it all.  Or he could make himself a logical Vice President nominee.  His Governor experience would give executive credibility.

I am reluctant to favor the two billionaires, although they both have merits.  They will be seen as protectors of Wall Street.  Inevitably Wall Street money will be part of the equation, but the Democrats should project concern for the masses, not the wealthy.

Are there are others besides rejected candidates.  Stacey Adams  is well regarded and working successfully on voter registration, an obstacle that she has identified.  
Alexncria Ocasio-Cortez is young, articulate and atrracting attention.  She would be risky for Sanders for the socialism angle, but age counter balances
Sharod Brown  projects experience and is a very good talker.  Beto O'Rourke has appeal for Texas which would be a big win for the Democrats plus he also has appeal for Hispanics.

Among the remaining candidates:  Elizabeth Warren fits the bill as a progressive (consumer protection) woman, but would not be suitable should Bernie Sanders win as it will put too much emphasis on socialism which we know will be ignorantly used against them.  On the other hand she might well be good for a male moderate as a reassuring balance. 

Pete Buttigieg has a realistic shot at the top job and has earned a lot of respect and name recognition. As a moderate, gay, veteran, and very articulate, young liked by intellectuals he could balance any of the older candidates or a woman.

Amy Klubochar, after New Hampshire seems more viable for the top as she is moderate, articulate, mid westerner female with a never losing record.  She has also improved her leverage for Vice President.  A moderate woman she might be a good pairing for a progressive male (Sanders) or a newcomer (Pete Buttigieg.  Two women would be risky.

Joe Biden could improve in more favorable states, but it is an uphill battle.   He might not be ideal, as already been Vice President.  It would be weird if asked Barrack Obama, but I think Barrack should be offered Supreme Court position

Is there an advantage to publicly announcing a VP choice in advance?  Risky?   Yes, but  the candidate needs to assure primary voters that they recognize the need to represent everyone.  Possibly near the end of the process.  Vetting process takes time.  A handicap Democrats will endure is that while the Republicans are settled on Trump who has already long been on the campaign trail, they have to wait until the presidential candidate is decided.  The Vice Presidential candidate also has potential to create attention.   The presidential candidate has to be comfortable with the running mate.

Geography should only be a minor consideration, but a candidate has to represent everyone.

After the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries trends will develop and decisions will have to be made.  Some are dropping out and with the bandwagon effect it seems like a three person race with possibly two outsiders and perhaps Mike Bloomberg.  Bloomberg seems less likely as a Vice President although with his money if he wanted it it might happen.

Sunday, February 9, 2020


This is my fourth book by Lawrence Hill and the first non fiction.  I had read  "The Book of Negroes" before I actually met him.  It was in a library setting giving me a chance to ask questions and have him catch me out on a prejudice of mine (regarding a specific subset of blacks).   I remember learning some of what he had planned for the near future and some of his writing background.

I had read many books about the black experience and was aware of mixed races, but not thought about it.  As Hill explains each person has an identity concern.  I grew up white, not conscious even of white privilege as there were no blacks to compare myself to.  As I grew up I encountered more blacks and other races including mixed.  It was easy to be self righteous about prejudiced people, especially when they were distant and not real.

Lawrence grew up with a white mother and a black father who had moved to Toronto and lived in a white neighborhood .  His father's family, even though mostly in the States had kept up relations, but his mother's family had mostly disowned her and after awhile there were visits, but they lived further away.  Because he lived in a white neighbouhood and attended white schools he naturally developed "white" interests  One of them was squash which upset a cousin who described  it as a "white sport" but Lawrence really enjoyed it.

An element that escapes most people is that it is difficult for a mixed race person to be fully accepted by either race.  Barrack Obama labored under the fact that many whites would never accept a black president and that many blacks felt he was not black enough.  Part of his problem was that his father was born in Africa and had no history of slavery.  Interviewing dozens of mixed race people  Lawrence found that in many situations (following a one drop rule) they were discriminated against by some whites while seeming like outsiders among blacks.

Lawrence's father was a prominent human rights government officer and was able to provide lots of opportunities.  Lawrence has lived in many Canadian cities, partly to learn French.  From Quebec he got involved with a student group in Niger where he met Africans some of whom were surprised he considered himself black. 

Hair was an issue almost as serious as skin colour.   Long straight hair was considered a mark of beauty and many blacks tried to adapt with often frustrating results.  When I made it to university one of my  proctors (residential room supervisor) often talked of black pride and I believe hair was part of the movement.  Don't try to be something you are not, but take pride in who you are.  White mothers of black daughters are sometimes criticized for lack of mothering skill regarding hair care.  After reading the chapter on hair I was able to pick up "Embracing Da Kink" DVD from the library to get a better idea of how important hair was to personal identity. 

Black men dating and marrying white women cause resentment and at one time fear.   Black men  have been taught to think white women were more beautiful.   Realizing this fact some black mothers encouraged their sons to ask black girls to dance reminding me of mothers of tall boys have been known to advise their sons to date taller women as they lose out to male prejudices against taller women.  In some circles mulatto women were favored as mistresses of prominent white men.

Many black women are better educated and have better career paths than black men meaning that such  women are competing for the more desirable men.  At the same time they often find the men are pursuing white women.  The author really didn't know any suitable black women to date when in high school, but when reached university still date almost exclusively whit women.

 The N word  When I was in high school my Latin teacher took a popular verse and rendered it in Latin.  Like many I was familiar with the "eeni meeni maini mo"  little ditty often used to decide between two options.   The n word used, "nigrum"wasn't as offensive as the more common version, but it helped perpetuate the slurring.  I think my teacher who otherwise seemed a fair minded person was just trying to get our attention for what was a declining academic choice.  "Huckleberry Finn" was a book that impressed me and in some ways didn't notice the n word as any more than a old, quaint way of talking that indicated lesser educated people.  Mark Twain portrayed blacks as humans. 

There were virtually no blacks in my world in my first two decades, but I was very conscious of derogatory words, many of which I learned from the subjects of these terms.  They are all meant to downgrade the "other."  The n word  has probably more impact than any other term.  Another term  "wop' had an impact on my life.  I once used it sitting between my half Italian wife and an Italian co-worker against another Italian who in my opinion put down somebody who didn't deserve it.  I ended up apologizing for it but my wife and co worker thought it was merited.  I realize that it offended my boss and a man I greatly admire.

Lawrence was aware of racial discrimination and brought up Indians.  Until recently if an Indian women married a non Indian she lost her Indian status, but if a non Indian women married an Indian she gained Indian status.   Indians were not allowed to vote either federally or provincially until recently.

One chapter was devoted to an event in Oakville, Ontario in the 1930's regarding a marriage between a black man and a white woman.  Eventually they were able to get married, but not until after a Ku Klux Klan contingent from Hamilton intervened.  My embarrassment is that I once worked for the main Oakville paper, known as the Journal Record and although not identified as such undoubtedly was involved in supporting the efforts against the marriage.  We have all been guilty of associating with questionable entities.

Race is a nebulous term.  Blood types are found globally as are most body parts.  Of those born mixed race, many find themselves identifying with the minority race.  Lawrence found some examples of people who self-identified as black, even though they had a white parent as well.  A famous example is Barrack Obama.  Lawrence also self identifies as a black, but clearly his mother was an important part of his life.

Thursday, February 6, 2020


These are the views of an outsider, not even American.  Definitely not an expert on caucus, but find it interesting and this particular one important.

The mess reflects poorly on Democrat organization.  Republicans are jumping on it (deflecting from the impeachment "trial."  As I try to wrap up thus post Thursday, Feb 6, 2020 at 1:10 pm there is 97% of district reports in. 

The Iowa caucus is critical, but maybe not crucial on the path to the presidency.  Mike Bloomberg skipped it, but has spent massive amounts on advertising that is starting to have an impact.  Tension between progressive and moderate with each wing having more than one candidate.  At some point voters will have to gang their votes together for their wing and at the end some people will have to accept someone from the other wing.  There are two women left who have a realistic shot, one from each wing and it is possible either one could be a vice president, if not go to the top.

First the idea of a caucus appeals to me.  In the final process it is necessary to reach 50% +1 to be declared the winning candidate and obviously before that it is necessary to sort through a variety of preferences.  I bet a lot of 3rd party voters in 2016 wish they had a chance to vote again.  Small states do give lesser known candidates a chance to be better known.  I prefer the opinion of voters who have a chance for one on one conversations than media giants.  Jimmy Carter, Barrack Obama and Pete Buttigieg proved to people on a one on one basis they deserve a bigger audience. Voters are pulled in different directions,  but can work towards consensus that gains more acceptance.

Public voting can be intimidating with your neighbors, friends, etc maybe differing in opinion.  Transparency is at a premium as at one level those participating know how many voted and for whom.  A problem is the time required which has to affect workers and parents.   This year satellite locations including Paris, France, Arizona and Florida allowed those who travel in the winter, mostly retired people to vote.  This means the voting is slanted towards older people. 

Jimmy Carter was relatively unknown on a national scale when he announced his presidential candidacy in late 1974 there were over 10 others with some waiting to announce.  With the low number of delegates to be won, none of them took Iowa as seriously as Carter.  He knocked on doors, left notes, followed up, but his goal was to get national media coverage.  Tim Kraft was hired to organize small committees across the state and encouraged small donations.  His campaign had a policy of carefully budgeting.  With his wife he was able to lure media to many of his events and made efforts to attract national media that yielded positive results.  He won the caucus and with the media attention he gained momentum that carried him all the way.

Since then any serious candidate has made Iowa a priority.  It has been critical for such as Barrack Obama and John Kerry and perhaps Pete Buttigieg.

As the first state will help create  momentum ideally it should be representative of America as a whole.  Problems with Iowa are that it is mostly white which probably hurts the Democrats more who need to attract a strong black turnout.  Another concern is that it is very rural.  In order to attract Iowa voters politicians make promises of state interest.

It is very tight at the top with 0.1% separating Pete Buttigeig and Bernie Sanders.  A very subtle difference, but could be magnified.  Below them are Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden.  They have all been boasting how they were going to win, but now reality starts to set in.  Fifth and still in the running is Amy Klobachur who I think actually could win it all as she has the best combination of age, experience and practicality.  Like Kamala Harris she performed very well at the Brett Kavanagh hearing.  Joe Biden's strength was supposedly that he was the one who could best beat Trump.  He has been hit by Trump with an alleged scandal in Ukraine which I recognize is way overblown, but the nepotism is real.  On a CNN town hall for the first time he talked about his stuttering and was very impressive, making him more human, but also more open and intelligent.

They all (including almost all of the non winners) would be very acceptable to me.  I especially liked Kamala Harris, but also like Andrew Yang and Pete Buttigieg. Both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have proved themselves smart and hard working warriors for workers and have been denigrated for socialism which somehow most Americans misunderstand.

Saturday, February 1, 2020


Democracy has taken a big blow with the impeachment "trial."

In some ways the Republicans know they did wrong, but felt helpless to do anything about it.  Many admitted that indeed the charges had been proved.  In some cases they felt what Trump did was bad, it just wasn't bad enough to upset the status quo.  Others were aware that they could protest (at some harm to themselves) and in the end the result of acquittal would prevail.

These are intelligent men and women who did something disagreeable to themselves.  To me, it is because of mob rule and corruption.  The Republicans feared the consequences of offending Trump who has proved to be very vindictive.  The arrogance of Trump is supported by a stubborn base, the electoral system, media support and corruption.

The stubborn base feels they have been treated unfairly.  Why are they poor and powerless while obviously selfish people hurt them?  Many of them are essentially one issue voters who feel very strongly about their concern and overlook how Trump (and the Republicans) have packaged their concern together with economic concerns of the rich.  (   Trump is a vocal liar who has achieved celebrity status.  He uncovers prejudice that many are reluctant to admit.
The electoral system was set up by slave owners who feared the industrial north would outvote them and curtail their economic system.  Slavery has been abolished, but there has been a long legacy of pride and prejudice that is still part of human nature. In Canada to lure Prince Edward Island into Confederation they were offered and accepted a guarantee of 4 members of Parliament that was disproportionate to their population.  In America small states are able to fight above their weight class and to some extent it can be justified.  They have a different legitimate viewpoint that should be heeded.  But sharp politicians realize they don't need to cultivate a majority vote, but with a winner take all in most states can squeeze a winning combination.  Opinions are so set that presidential candidates do not waste precious resources in states that are consistently on one side or another.

The media often is quite strong in their condemnation of Trump and his policies, but it seems tempered.  He is so controversial that he draws attention and thereby gains a relatively cheap platform and it seems to reinforce his celebrity status.  Wealthy interests are increasingly in control of media outlets and in some cases are very slanted and in others soften their criticism.  They are increasingly sophisticated how to manipulate using massive amounts of data.

One of the problems of unregulated capitalism is that it tends to concentrate wealth.  The wealthy have power that they naturally tend to use in order to maintain their wealth.  They are the ones who pay for lobbyists to persuade those with legislative power to pass laws that favor the rich.  Taxes are one area that can be modified so the rich can grab a larger share of profits.  Regulations are a restraint on their ability to squeeze more profit.  Unions and minimum wage laws impact their ability to boost profits.  Discrimination laws impact working conditions and in many cases affect their feelings of self righteous superiority.  Health regulations affect what we eat, drugs we use and how safe we are.  Trump is especially vain and selfish and favors his personal and family interests above all others.  Campaign laws have loosened so that the very wealthy can get their message out and to some extent without attribution.  Corruption has now reached the stage where a dishonest politician can gain help from foreign entities who have their own agenda.

He may not be acquitted in the next few days as predicted, but it certainly seems likely.  The Democrats are in the midst of selecting a candidate to oppose Trump and have to be concerned how this impeachment effort affects their choice.  One of the biggest single factors is the ability to defeat Trump.  Joe Biden as the subject implied as corruption may be tainted, but others feel he is the one most likely to defeat Trump.  It is certain whoever wins the nomination will be slandered viciously by the Trump team.  Other Democrats feel that Trump can be defeated by any candidate, so why not go for a more progressive candidate.

To me where Trump is more vulnerable is his base.  They have been lied to and in many cases hurt badly.  All the talk about stock market records and job reports hides many economic realities.  Wealth is being more concentrated, Americans are not protected as much as before and important problems  such as the climate crisis are being ignored.

Bolton's book, at this point seems like it could make a difference.  An unlikely Democrat tool he has his own motivations and policy preferences.   Although it supposedly contains some explosive information with the credibility of a true insider.  There have been other incriminating books that have probably dampened Trump's approval, but have had almost no effect on his base.  He has proved most of the time that he can use his base to gain his preferences.

Part of me is outraged at the many insults he has delivered and the harmful policies he has helped arrange.  To others they are amusing or helpful or ignoreable.  Not enough impact.  It is sometimes difficult to convince someone they have been lied to or worse, manipulated, but that may be the most effective.   If they are really upset about abortions they can easily forgive infidelity or a tax break for the rich.  They accept that Trump exaggerates, embellishes, distorts and outright lies.  Some rationalize that he does something really important to them or is entertaining.

The hope is he will lie about something that is important to them and they become aware of it.  What is important aside from the one issue?  One possibility is betrayal of the nation, not just accepting help.  There have been lots of examples---ignoring his own intelligence agencies and accepting the word of Putin--abandoning the Kurds who were essential to U.S. policy, delaying much needed aid for the Ukrainians to resist the Russians, poor treatment of immigrants who have helped America.  It won't affect some, but if really hammered home which maybe Bolton's book may help with it will affect some.

Everyone has friends, acquaintances, fellow workers who have been betrayed by Trump who proclaims otherwise.  Parents, children, siblings have been hurt through de-regulations, or abusive powers.  It is easier to ignore the abuse of immigrants even if that issue is not your core issue.  Some will come to realize they have been bought so that others (including some they care about) can suffer.

Sincerity is a key component to acceptance.   Trump does many things to undercut his sincerity.  His infidelities should shock more people.  His coverups are also an indication of his deception.

What he really thinks of his base which is not as amusing as his usual insults.   He loves the poorly educated.  He knows better than the Generals.  He is undermining health care.  He is doing away with protections to favor big business. 

It is true that the Democrat policies (pretty much any of the candidates) are superior in my opinion than what Trump is actually doing.  They also are tainted with wealthy money trying to influence the country, but their policies are directed at actually helping the majority.  They should argue for their policies and offer contrasts.  That may not do it.  Much as I admire Michelle Obama, especially when she said "when they go low we go high" it is time to draw the contrasts in more than just style. 

Thursday, January 30, 2020


If I had to pick one issue it would be HONESTY.  If I didn't agree with a politician I would vote for someone else.  The problem then is maybe they are not honest--a basic problem for all politicians and consequently for all voters.  We know by past action what a politician has done, although many will admit it was a mistake or they have changed their mind.  You can more easily determine which way a politician is inclined and take that into calculations.

Most politicians gain power by offering to fix a problem.  It might be high taxes, it might be a deficit, it might be a threatening foreign power, it might be freedom for some group that is persecuted, it might be to restore or build needed infra structure or it might be to replaced a disliked elected official..  Most of us recognize that although we might identify with the offer the politician gains power in many other areas.

Some voters are wary of politicians and focus on something they understand.  The assumption might be if the politician takes care of my concern, they will have to please other people with different concerns with the assumption that other people are concerned.  In some cases the voter doesn't care or doesn't have the resources to understand all the issues.

Smart politicians can not do anything unless they get power.  Being honest is not enough as anything you offer is likely to bother at least some voters.  A determination is calculated as to what gets the voter's attention.  Emotions carry more weight than reason, although both factor into a a voting decision.

My concern is one issue voters.  In honesty I have a view on these issues and have feelings that are mixed.  Like anyone I wish someone I vote for would take my side on every issue, but in fact I don't have a side on many issues such as if we give more money for a particular concern do we take from another concern or raise taxes or borrow money.  Is everyone from a persecuted group deserve to be treated as equal?

To me every politician has there own agenda some of whom just like power, but most every one has their own idea of what is important.  Many have adopted positions on emotional issues that they may or may not really believe.  Below are a number of one issue concerns that I feel have been abused.

ABORTION;  Probably the most hard rock concern for voters.  It is doubtful that anyone thinks abortion is the ideal solution.  It is killing a living being which also has to be frightening to any human.  Many decisions are just as life and death such as war, executions, laws regarding safety, in fact many laws that impact lives.

As a male it is relatively easy for me to condemn any woman foolish enough to get pregnant when they don't want to be.  But because I am male I understand how sex driven men are--for the physical pleasure, for the dominating ego trip or for their own emotional insecurities.  Married males may find a pregnant woman a burden, but most accept it.  A woman may have sex to please a man, for the pleasure or against their will or consciousness and they may want a child.

The reasons why women want an abortion include the shame, especially if unmarried.  Another shame may result from rape or incest.  Married women with other children may feel guilty that they cannot properly support another child.  There may be health concerns that may or may not relate to a previous pregnancy.  Some reasons may seem frivolous to others such it might ruin their figure, might disrupt their career, might be the wrong sex.  If a major birth defect is detected it may be the greed of not wanting a deformed child or possibly bringing another being into a suffering existence.  As outsiders we do not have to live with the consequences of either unwilling or desired sex.

We know that many "sins" will be sought disregarding restrictions.  Such activities as gambling, alcohol, drugs and sex have a universal demand that is often met outside legal bounds.  Criminals thrive in such conditions.  There are illegal abortionists, many of them of questionable experience that can compound the harm by infertility or maternal damage.

What can be done in the case of an unwanted pregnancy?  Have no doubt unwanted pregnancy not only causes stress for the woman involved, but often for others as unwanted children come to know it and the shame evoked paints others.  The best thing of course is to prevent them, but many of the same people who oppose abortion also oppose contraception and sex education.  What they seem to be upset about is promiscuity which admittedly is not usually good.  Trump at one time stated he felt the woman needed to be punished.  Some argue that the only purpose of sex is procreation, but that is short sighted.  Sex is a bonding activity that often helps keep parents together and in general cements relationships.

What can society do to lessen abortion and increase their population strength.  Contraception and sex education have proven they cut down on unwanted pregnancies.  Some governments concerned about losing population have found financial support is critical.  If government wants more people (as cannon fodder, pliant consumers, or prestige) paying regular payments to help support children is helpful.  Immediate concern is affect on income which is dealt with maternity leave, paternity leave which can provide some income and protect job security.  Mothers can be more productive (and happy) with affordable child care and flexibility in working conditions.

Rich people will be able to get abortions when they feel the need.  Poor people will either take desperate measures or accept other consequences.  They will suffer in various ways.  Perhaps some of the unwanted babies will be loved, but many will be seen as a burden.

Adoptions have for all history provided a way of turning unwanted babies to wanted babies.  There may be a trade off between high standards for approval and available adopters.  One area that has expanded is the acceptance of gay couples. 

GAYS:  Most heterosexuals feel what they consider normal sexual drives and may feel threatened by someone who feels differently.  Sexual identity is important to everyone, but it is only a part of our identity.  I grew up where homosexuals were objects of ridicule but I didn't really know any.  As I got older homophobia crept in.  Fear that someone else's sexual drives would be imposed.  Gradually gays came out of the closet, usually in cities where they might find safety in numbers.  The AIDS crisis was instrumental to breaking out as they fought against ignorance in an effort to cope.  Those who have come into more contact with gays have found there is common ground and this recognition makes each more productive.

RACISM/IMMIGRATION:  The world has never been more aware of its diversity and integrated, but many feel uncomfortable.  Others feel threatened.   The feelings are natural but have been harnessed by others who need someone to blame for problems they are responsible for.   Lyndon Johnson, a Southerner, actually descended from "poor white trash" once pointed out:  if you can convince the poorest white man he is better than any black man you can pick his pocket.  It is not automation or offshoring tht caused your poverty, but the blacks and the browns. After Lyndon Johnson signed the civil rights legislation the Republicans developed a southern strategy that used symbolic gestures and code words that suggested they would keep blacks and other minorities in their place.  They were able to use the old slaver founders influence on the constitution to leverage their power.

To me the most effective way to lower racism is to have more contact between different races.  Not quite as effective, but supportive is education, 

 GUNS:  It has been proven that loose gun laws increase homicides and suicides.  But there is protest encouraged by the National Rife Association that feigns big concern for the Second Amendment.  The second amendment can be interpreted in many ways, but it is not a license to do away with restrictions.  My argument would be that a car is also a valuable asset, but is recognized as potentially dangerous.  We accept many restrictions in the interest not only protecting ourselves, but also society.  Protection is a basic right of every human but at some point too many guns in fact leaves more people vulnerable.  It is true that those who don't respect the law or think they are smarter than enforcement will get guns, but that is a poor reason to loosen the law.

APOCALYPTIC:  This is hard to understand among outsiders.  It is the belief that we are approaching the second coming of Christ in which Christians ascend to heaven.  The catch is that  Israel must be controlled by Jews.  There is a section of American voters and others who are doing what they can to ensure that Israel remains a Jewish state which means a toleration of Israeli claims on Palestinian territories.  This has permeated American media where Palestinians are pictured as backward and hateful.  It is difficult to argue against the extreme views of evangelicals who see their eternal salvation at stake.  They have proven that they can in fact support Israeli domination.  Trump is not the first politician to suggest he can boost Israeli dominance, but he has been the most active with action to please the Israeilis and the evangelicals, but upsetting to the Palestinians and Mulsims.  For me it is hard to take their contentions seriously and I do appreciate that they are causing tension instead of easing it. 

It has to be added that many of these one issue voters understand they have more power if they support other one issue groups.  Some politicians understand they can also get more power if they can join these causes together.  The Republicans representing big business and the wealthy understand this and have long added social hot buttons to their official policies
Yes there is an alternative universe, although the inhabitants mostly are not as adamant or united with others.  Some one issue concerns include climate crisis, gun control, nuclear arms containment, campaign finance, pollution, minority rights and discrimination against a variety of people.  Most of them would be classed as liberals.  In general liberals are seeking change while conservatives feel comfortable with the status quo.  What complicates it is that the very wealthy want to set the rules so they come out on top.  It would be easy for the masses to vote for lower taxes and greater benefits and to actually limit the ability to pile up more wealth at their expense, but they don't.

Human nature being what it is there will always be a wide variety of opinions and there will always be some who are better able to marshal circumstances to gain power .  If voters are able to study every issue they would make better decisions.  It is easy to be self righteous, but the more time and effort put into studying the closer we will come to good decisions.  As there are no end to issues of concern it is necessary to balance them.  Education (not just vocational education) is critical in a nation's ability to make rational decisions.