Thursday, September 29, 2016

Not Even Close

You're taking it way too seriously, Mr. President.  Politico reports that when asked Wednesday about the San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback

“Sometimes out of these controversies, we start getting into a conversation, and I want everybody to listen to each other,” Obama said. “So I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee, I want them to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat, and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing.”

The president added, however: “I also want people to think about the pain that he may be expressing about somebody who’s lost a loved one that they think was unfairly shot.”

Kaepernick has thought about such pain in taking the advice of a former colleague and Green Beret to kneel in respect rather than sit.  Additionally, his protest has nothing to do with the military.  "The draft is gone," Boomani Jones wrote a month ago, "but we’ve all been conscripted as unquestioning devotees whose gratitude can be demanded by anyone at any time. Kaepernick wasn’t addressing the military, but that was widely and predictably inferred."  (We're looking at you, Mr. President.)  He recognized

the most disingenous answers tend to come from those who defend his right to ignore the national anthem while making sure the world knows there were better ways for him to makehis point, while, of course, stopping short of addressing the point itself.

Yesterday, Obama asked people to contemplate pain, not issues. A month ago, Jones on ESPN's "Mike and Mike" explained

That's a dirty, historical trick with all this- that I didn't like the way you said it. It's very important for us to understand we asked him about not standing for the National Anthem... The statement was not in not standing for the Anthem. Not standing for the Anthem is actually a neutral act. Standing for the Anthem is a statement. That doesn't mean that not standing is necessarily a statement. The statement is in his words.

In print or on broadcast medium, Jones understood that sitting or kneeling for the National Anthem is not the revolutionary act supporters, critics, or- now- President Obama imply it is. So, too, does the man who does what he does better than anyone in the world. Noting that he himself will stand for the Anthem, Lebron James remarked

I'm all in favor of anyone, athlete or non-athlete, being able to express what they believe in a peaceful manner and that's exactly what Colin Kaepernick is doing and I respect that....  You have the right to voice your opinion, stand for your opinion and he's doing it in the most peaceful way I've ever seen someone do something.

Quiet dignity is not prized in today's culture, including in professional sports, and should be welcomed in the rare insances in which it's demonstrated. Whatever his views of racial justice or criminal justice, Colin Kaepernick is not grandstanding, strutting for the camera, or displaying a lack of respect for the military. President Obama probably knows all this, and he shouldn't pretend otherwise.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Trump Obsession

Stereotypes are no good. They are to be avoided whenever possible: Hillary Clinton as man-hater and sexual enabler, Donald Trump as racist, xenophobic, and misogynist.

But it's possible for someone to foster a stereotype, whether intentionally or unintentionally.. At Monday night's debate, Mrs. Clinton noted

and one of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest. He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called this woman "Miss Piggy." Then he caled her "miss Housekeeping" because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name.....

Her name is Alicia Machado.

Lester Holt tried to let Trump out, tried to pivot to a final question. However, the candidate would have none of it, interrupting Holt in order to ramble on about Rosie O'Donnell.

Appearing the next morning on Fox and Friends, Trump- without being prompted- stated

That person was a Miss Universe person, and she was the worst we ever had, the worst, the absolute worst.  She was the winner and, you know, she gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem.

He added Clinton "went back into the years and she found this girl ... and talked about her like she was Mother Teresa, and it wasn’t quite that way, but that’s okay.”

One could almost hear Kellyanne Fitzpatrick Conway, who knew the character of the man she signed on to, nevertheless telling her client "Let it die, Donald, let it die..."

But that wasn't the only situation of its kind on Monday night.  Asked how we "fight" cyberattacks, the GOP nominee cited support for his candidacy from military officers and the union for the border patrol, then added

I don't think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. She's saying Russia, Russia, Russia, but I don't -- maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?

Sometimes you stop in your tracks and go: huh?   This was not necessarily a crack about women- the 400-pounder may be a male- but neither Edward Snowden, nor the then-Bradley Manning was particularly overweight. Clearly, the stereotype of the computer nerd is not somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?

The simple explanation is that this man has something against people (other than himself) he considers overweight.   And as someone whose income tax returns are being (allegedly) audited for (allegedly) several years and has been a plaintiff or a defendant in approximately 3400 cases, he has put a target upon himself by choosing to run for President.  Victory- or defeat0 in November may have a great impact upon the legal issues swirling around him.

Trump's tendency in this campaign toward self-destructiveness could be critical in its outcome. What possesses him?

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Little More Information About Trump

The first presidential debate of the season may have gone a long way in answering two mysteries about Donald Trump.

Media Matters, created by "former right-wing journalist-turned-pro-Clinton crusader" David Brock, last month summarized five reasons Trump has not released his income taxes. They "could show," it noted, his ties to Russia, that he is not as wealtthy as he claims, has paid nothing in taxes some years or at least less than the Clintons, has committed tax fraud, is hiding offshore bank accounts, or is not contributing much to charity.

They might show also his wheeling and dealing with La Cosa Nostra. However, in a climate fostered by success of "The Sopranos," the coziness Trump previously enjoyed with organized crime of the Italian-American sort might be considered a virtue.

We now know with near-certainty, however, that at least one of the explanations cited by Media Matters, and mentioned by anyone looking at the matter, is valid.   Mrs. Clinton at Hofstra University stated that her opponent

owes about $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks. Or maybe he doesn't want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he's paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody's ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn't pay any federal income tax.

Trump could have accused his opponent of "throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks" or of having spoken "a damnable lie," or maybe asserted "I have paid federal income taxes, and quite a bit more of them." (For extra, disingenuous points, he could have added to the last remark "which has allowed me to understand what damage your plan to raise taxes would do to America.")

But he didn't. Instead, he spoke over Clinton and charged "That makes me smart."

Paying no income taxes might have been smart; admitting it was not.

That was not the only thing, however, we learned about Trump last night. We learned also how he captured the GOP presidential nomination.  MBC News reports

When asked by reporters after the event what he thought of moderator Lester Holt's performance, Trump said: "I felt he was fine."

But he then lamented having a "defective mic."

"My mic was defective within the room," Trump told reporters.

He added: "I wonder ... Was that on purpose? Was that on purpose?"

Trump was heard adequately through the television screen. Few if any viewers, projected to be roughly 100 million, had any trouble hearing or understanding what the candidate was saying. While it's tempting to say that his message and lack of ideas, not his microphone or voice, were the problems, Trump's concern over his microphone highlights the difference between this debate and the multitude of debates he participated in while winning the nomination.

Trump probably was worried that individuals in the arena did not hear him.   And although that audience was but a drop in the bucket compared to the 100-150 million people who will be voting for President, it is critical for this candidate. Through the primary season, he fed off the reaction of debate attendees as they cheered him and booed his opponents. That was his adrenaline, more effective than the cocaine some tweets (and Stephen Colbert) implied was at play on Monday. It also gave the home audience of Republican viewers the sense that this guy is not only making good points but is a credible candidate for President of the USA.

With audience reaction discouraged last night, Donald Trump was denied a major advantage. Attention was placed on his ideas and prior comments, implausible with a format that included many rivals. Those are his Achilles heels, focus upon which illuminates his extreme sensitivity, sometimes known as "political correctness."

At Hofstra, Donald Trump was chewed up and spit out.  Fortunately for him, the first debate rarely matters, as Presidents Kerry and Mondale could tell him.

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