An America I Do Not Know

9 Nov

November 9, 2016

I awoke this morning to an America I do not know—an America that just elected as its next president a man whose only qualification for this high position is that he conducted a campaign that appealed to the basest instincts of our many of our citizens.

I believe it is universally agreed that Donald Trump has no other qualifications for the presidency. He has absolutely no experience in governing. He says he is extremely rich, a claim that could not be verified because he refused to release his tax returns. He is best known by the public as a reality TV star. Many of his statements lead many to believe he is a racist and an anti-Semite. He is a misogynist, as demonstrated by his vulgar comments about a variety of women during his campaign. To some, he is a failed businessman, capitalizing on three bankruptcies that stiffed contractors and employees in the process. I could go on, but I believe there is a solid case that Trump’s election is a monumental departure from electing someone with the qualifications and characteristics that defined nearly all of his predecessors in the office.

Yet, 59,041, 250 Americans—47.53% of those who voted—voted for this man who by any reasonable person’s definition does not represent the best in what our nation purports to represent to the world.

The political pundits will now set out to dissect Hillary Clinton’s defeat and to explain why Trump’s victory defied the pollsters’ predictions and was based on a campaign strategy that bore no resemblance to the commonly held views of how a presidential campaign should be run.

The temptation will be to blame Clinton’s loss on her own character flaws, which seemed to get, for some unexplained reason, more attention in the media than did Trump’s, in my opinion, more egregious flaws, especially in the later stages of the campaign.

I suggest, however, that Clinton’s loss is more rooted in the election of her fellow Democrat Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012. Those elections, especially the 2008 election, unleashed myriad forces in this country that had not been seen since the days of Jim Crow, forces that resulted in treatment of a sitting president in ways never seen before in this country.

Obama’s election precipitated the creation of the Tea Party, an ultra-reactionary movement that took control of the Republican Party’s right wing and is racist at its core. And, Obama’s election in 2008 prompted the majority leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell to state unabashedly that the Republican-controlled Senate’s main objective for the next four years was to vote “no” on everything proposed by the President. Other than the first two years of Obama’s presidency when his party controlled Congress, the Republicans in Congress lived up to this threat with its obstructionist strategy that earned the last three Congresses the dubious distinction of being called a “Do Nothing Congress.” Few can argue that this was not the major cause for President Obama’s inability to enact the majority of the agenda on which he ran for the office.

In his book The Black Presidency, Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson, quotes Chicago University law professor Geoffrey Stone, who has argued:

‘[N]o president in our nation’s history has ever been castigated, condemned, mocked, insulted, derided and degraded on a scale even close to the constantly ugly attacks in Obama…[Obama] has been accused of…refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, of seeking to confiscate all gun, of lying about just about everything he has ever said, ranging from Benghazi to the Affordable Care Act to immigration, of faking Osama Bin Laden’s death and funding his campaign with drug money.’[1]

Dyson also quotes former UN Ambassador, Atlanta mayor, and trusted aide of Martin Luther King aide Andrew Young’s description of the treatment of Obama:

‘Obama has faced levels of resistance that no president before him has confronted. No president has had his faith and education questioned like Obama. No other president has dealt with racial politics in Congress to the extent of being denied an automatic raise in the debt ceiling, causing the nation’s credit rating to drop. No other president has had a representative has been so persistently challenged that he had to produce a birth certificate to settle the question of citizenship.’[2]

Even more recently, Donald Trump continued to give life to the birther movement by continuing to question the legitimacy of Obama’s citizenship until he suddenly admitted that Obama is a natural citizen after Trump had won the nomination.

And, the racist rejection of Barack Obama continues even as his presidency is in its closing months. For example, a November 8, 2016 article in the online newsletter InsideHigherEd, reported that University of Wisconsin Madison chancellor Rebecca Blank apologized for the university’s inadequate response to the actions of two Wisconsin fans at a recent football game. The fans wore costumes and had props depicting the lynching of President Obama (see the photo in the referenced article).[3]

So, I have concluded that the fundamental cause of Hillary Clinton’s defeat was not that Donald Trump was better qualified but that Hillary Clinton finally was the avenue by which the racist and nativist elements of our country’s citizens could finally get to Barack Obama because Clinton was seen as his surrogate and, if elected, would represent a continuation of the Obama presidency, something the Tea Party and the AltRight and their racist/nativist instincts could not tolerate.

Rev. William Barber, chair of North Carolina’s NAACP and founder of Moral Monday said it best when he said (and I paraphrase): The problem with the angry old white men in this country (the primary element of Trump’s support) is that they could not stand the idea of two little Black girls having pajama parties in the White House.

Today, I am extremely depressed to live in an America that I do not know or recognize and of which I am truly ashamed.

[1] Dyson, Michael Eric. The Black Presidency, Barack Obama and the Politics Politic of Race in America (2016) New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, p. 5.

[2] Ibid, pp. 4-5.

[3] Scott Jaschik, November 8, 2016, https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2016/11/08/wisconsin-will-change-rules-fans-stadium

 

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Someone Explain This to Me

5 Apr

RealClearPolitics.com provides the current approval rating for the U.S. Congress as reported by six polls. The reported ratings range from a high of 19% (reported by the Monmouth poll) to a low of 13% (as reported by both the Economist and PPP (D) polls). The average approval  rating reported in these polls was 15.2%.

By any measure of satisfaction, these ratings are abysmal. Any worker given that kind of rating would be fired immediately.

p.s. The most recent weekly average job approval rating for President Obama reported by the Gallup poll was 51%. And, this is the man being excoriated by the candidates of the opposition party for what they call his poor job performance.

Can someone explain this to me?

According to The Center for Responsive Politics (as reported at www.opensecrets.org/bigpicture/reelect.php), the reelection rate in the 2014 mid-term election for incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives was 95% and 82% for incumbents in the US. Senate.

Does anyone else find this to be baffling? Is this an example of NIMBY (Not in My Backyard)? Voters give an poor rating to Congress as a whole (presumably for the Congress’ obstructionism and failure to produce any meaningful legislation) but, when it comes to their own Representative and Senator, they are satisfied enough with their performance to reelect him/her.

Thus, the cycle of inaction and gridlock continues.

God, save us from ourselves. Please!

DONALD TRUMP: A FASCIST?

8 Dec

In a December 8, 2015 article by Henry Giroux published in Truth-Out.org, Giroux presents a strong argument that the content of Donald Trump’s candidacy for the U.S. presidency consists of “a blatant appeal to fascist ideology,” and his proposals are based in the fundamental principles of totalitarianism. Giroux draws vivid parallels between Trump and the fascist demagogues of the past such as Hitler, Mussolini, Pinochet, and others of that ilk.

This article should serve as a wake-up call for America’s electorate to recognize the content of Trump’s  proposals for what they are–a call for a totalitarian state reminiscent of Hitler’s Germany–and to demand that the other candidates and the media call out Trump’s candidacy for the anti-democratic movement it is.

Giroux’s article can be read at:

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/33951-fascism-in-donald-trump-s-united-states

 

 

The Higher Ed Scam II

28 May

In June 2014 I offered the view in “The Higher Ed Scam” that higher education in this country is no longer about “education” but should now be called The Higher Education Industry [https://lookingatthingsthrumyeyes.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=442&action=edit].

My goal now is to continue this theme in regular updates that provide evidence to support my thesis garnered from news reports about higher education.

Today’s update features actions by the Republican controlled Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina system. An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education dated May 27, 2015 [http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/as-degrees-are-cut-critics-continue-to-decry-dismantling-of-u-of-north-carolina/99587?cid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en], reports the UNC Board’s continuing actions to strip large numbers of degree programs from the system’s 16 campuses. The latest action taken last week, a continuation of such actions every other year for the past two decades, eliminated 46 degree programs.

The rationale for these draconian cuts, and the evidence that UNC is no longer an institution of higher learning, can be found in the words of Steven Long, vice chairman of the Board’s educational planning committee, as reported in UNC’s The Daily Tar Heel: “We’re capitalists, and we have to look at what the demand is, and we have to respond to the demand,” Steven Long, vice chairman of the board’s educational-planning committee.

How do these words comport with the historic purposes of higher education in our nation? Have these purposes been replaced so that colleges and universities are now to be only the utilitarian instruments of our capitalist system and governed by the laws of supply and demand?

“Schools and universities are (as in a body) the noble and vital parts, which being vigorous and sound send good blood and active spirits into the veins and arteries, which cause health and strength; or, if feeble or ill-affected, corrupt all the vital parts; whereupon grow diseases, and in the end, death itself.”  Thomas Hughes, Tom Brown at Oxford.

I submit that the education UNC’s Board of Governors designs to offer its students is “feeble and ill-affected” with nothing but diseased results for both the state and its students.

American theology in disarray, survey shows

22 May

James is a very devout Christian who cares deeply about his faith. His blogs on Christian topics are well worth following.

judicialsupport

This is from anglicansablaze.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“A recent survey by Ligonier Ministries shows how inexact the label “Christian” can be. Among Americans, 77 percent say they are Christian. But what does that mean?

To try to answer that question, Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of popular theologian R.C. Sproul, conducted a benchmark study to try to discern “The State of Theology” in the United States.

Ligonier notes that, while more than two-thirds of Americans agree on a few biblical truths, often more than half of Americans disagree with many statements expressing orthodox Christian doctrine. One such statement is the scriptural belief that humans are, by nature, sinful and under the judgment of God for sin. Read more

From a historic Anglican viewpoint as well as an Anglican Reformed perspective the theology of the Anglican Church in North America is also in disarray–at odds with the Scriptures…

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WHY DO THEY RUN?

27 Apr

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has not made a formal announcement that he is Republican candidate for president in the 2016 election, but he sure is acting like one. As such, he has joined an unprecedented number of Republicans who are either announced candidates or are seriously thinking about it.

The current numbers break down as follows: formally announced (5), announcement pending (2), exploring (11), and have expressed an interest (5).

Much has been written over the decades regarding what drives a man or woman to seek the presidency of the United States. There seems to be at least one common thread among those who aspire, and that is an incredible over supply of ego that acts to exaggerate his/her qualifications for the job and override any and all reasons they are not qualified.

Christie is an excellent case study to demonstrate this point.

Christie is in the last half of his second four-year term as Governor of New Jersey. He won both of his elections quite handily, based mostly on his combative style in dealing with anyone who disagrees with or criticizes him.

Over the last year he has spent a good deal of his time outside the State of New Jersey campaigning for other Republicans across the country as Chair of the Republican Governors Association. He is also traveling to early presidential primary election states as an unannounced candidate for the presidency.

While he has absented himself from his job, Christie’s approval rating as governor has plummeted to an all time low according to a Quinnipiac University poll published on April 20. “The 1,428 New Jersey voters surveyed between April 9-14 said they disapprove, 56 percent–38 percent, of the job Christie is doing. Further, they said by 65-29 percent that they do not believe he would make a good president, and said by 64-33 percent that he should not run for president at all.” http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/chris-christie-new-jersey-polls-president/2015/04/20/id/639477/.

To add insult to injury, the New Jersey economy is tanking. According to NJ.com, “A gaping $807 million hole in the state budget. Warnings that the state may not be able to make its promised pension payments. The threat of slashing property-tax rebates or school funding. And yet another downgrade of New Jersey’s already-low credit rating — the fifth one under the Republican governor’s watch.” http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/05/for_christie_jerseys_economic_woes_may_be_biggest_roadblock_to_white_house.html.

So, why does he run? Why does a man who, by most measures, is and has been a failure as a governor for nearly two terms, think he is qualified to lead the entire country?

Which of the other announced, pending, thinking-about-its fit this model?

Does this model describe the qualities we desire in our leader? I think not.

So, why do they run?

It’s blind ego, my dear Watson. Ego!

Health or Jobs?

30 Jul

A recent news report about the reaction of some officials in Alabama to the EPA’s new standards for carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants [www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/29/alabama-coal-epa-god_n_5630945.html] states:

“Pushing back against new Environmental Protection Agency standards limiting carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, Alabama officials gathered Monday to argue that the new federal policy flouted the Almighty’s will by regulating a God-given resource.

“’Who has the right to take what God’s given a state?’ Alabama Public Service Commission (PSC) member-elect Chip Beeker asked during a news conference held in the offices of the Alabama Coal Association on Monday, according to AL.com.

“By 2030, the Obama administration’s new rules would require Alabama to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants by 27 percent from 2012 levels.”

The use of a resource of the earth in coal-fired and polluting power plants is God’s will????

This is just more example of how Republicans at the state and federal levels are choosing jobs and profits over any long-term positive benefits that might accrue to the common good, such as the long-term health and climate benefits of the EPA’s new standards.

In reality, this is a false choice. If, for instance, we permit coal-fired power plants to continue spewing pollutants into the air, eventually those who would fill the jobs would be too sick to do so and illness and death would reduce the number of potential buyers of the coal-produced power.

Unfortunately, too many Americans (especially those watching Fox “News”) will vote the short term (jobs) rather than the long-term good for all.