One thing that I thought of today, and I don't know if I have written about it yet, is the lies that #45 tells. Some of them are blatant lies and easily disproved. For example, he insists that he won the election by a landslide. He didn't even win the popular vote. To that he says that 2 million illegal votes were cast in California; there is no evidence to substantiate that claim. On the day of his inauguration – and here's where it gets interesting – he told the CIA, while visiting afterward, that it had stopped raining during his speech. By all other accounts it rained all the way through his speech. The size of the crowd was also an issue, though not as easily rebutted. He said that the size of the crowd was historic and it went all the way to the Washington Monument. I did not see a picture that reflected that, though there were pictures reflecting a much smaller crowd than Obama's. 

Why? Why would he tell a lie about the rain when it would be so easily proved? The suggestion that I feel makes the most sense is that he was conditioning his base to believe his lies. Once they are used to believing insignificant lies, they will be ready to believe more serious untruths – about Russia, for example. 

I believe that this is the reason for the lies. However, I wonder if this is part of the game he's used to playing, or if he had help, training in how all of this works. It seems like a trick Putin would be familiar with.

Requesting Intervention from Russia

On July 27, 2016 at a press conference recorded by the Associated Press, then candidate Donald J. Trump said the following: "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press."

Inviting a hostile foreign power to interfere with our domestic politics is unforgivable at best. Given the financial ties that this man has with Russia, the invitation becomes that much more corrupt. This statement is tantamount to treason.

Foreign Policy vs Domestic Policy

In a class on the Cold War we discussed the habit of Presidents of the United States to mingle foreign policy with domestic policy. An example is President Eisenhower. Through the Suez Canal kerfuffle the theme was that the U.S. didn't want to mix with Egypt if they were going to work with the Soviets; that was one theory. Another thought was that in trying to rebuild the Republican Party, Eisenhower let the needs of the Southern states influence his foreign policy. Certainly one of the outcomes was that the South was placed in a better position to sell cotton – their cotton, which was arguably not as high a quality as Egypt's. Egyptian cotton is a longer bulb and can be made into a longer, finer thread for a superior woven fabric. Giving the cotton growers in the U.S. a boost went a long way to rebuilding the Republican party after the Second World War.

Then, there's now. Our current president has declined to divest himself of his business dealings, instead letting his children run the day-to-day operations. He assured the American public that he would keep the income from the official foreign visitors to his hotels separate from the rest, then he later said that would be too complicated and going to sort of do his best, without offending his clients. (NY Times Story

Today, the Washington Post reported that his oldest son will be going to India to do some of these day-to-day business dealings. He's going to India and people can pay to have dinner and a conversation with Trump Jr. Also, buyers of the condominiums have been told that the first 100 buyers will be invited personally by Trump Jr. to the United States to visit with him. As Jordan Libowitz, the communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, put it, "Trump’s company is literally selling access to the president’s son overseas." 

I long for the days when allowing domestic policy to influence foreign policy was considered problematic. That wouldn't even register in today's political environment. We have personal business influencing foreign policy, which comes close to breaking the Emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution. It's certainly unethical as all get-go and sleazy as hell. I don't like feeling like I'm being sold; I wish they wouldn't do it quite so blatantly. 

Trump Tweet Snit Fit

Tweets from #45 beginning February 17, 2018 at 2:18 PM EST
This page recorded on Sunday, February 18, 2018 at 1:25 PM CST

Sexual Harassment

I'm not saying anybody who has committed sexual harassment should be excused, but I do think that we should all be held accountable for our parts. Actors and actresses clamor for a career in the big league, and they're willing to put up with whatever they have to in order to get it. That, along with greed on the part of the people who make huge money on movies, makes for a toxic environment – one that is bound to foster the worst side of people. Also, all of us who pay to watch the movies; we do our part in creating the environment. We are the ones who make it so financially lucrative. More than that, the demand (and I mean demand in the literal sense, not just the economic one) communicates to everybody involved that we, as a society, are going to put up with nothing less than blockbuster after blockbuster. I wrote before about laws being there to keep people in check, and this is what I mean. Nobody was there to keep these men in check and they seem to have gotten progressively worse.

Salma Hayek writes about Harvey Weinstein having a good side, one that is jovial and warm. Who knows what he would have turned out like if people along the way had let it be known that his behavior was not acceptable. What if he didn't come into the business as such a monster? What if that part grew because it could? Actors and actresses were making money and becoming big names; others were making money off of him, so people just looked the other way. Read the New York Times article, Weinstein’s Complicity Machine. Nobody along the way did anybody any favors by letting this happen.

And, nobody does anybody any favors by looking the other way. We have a moral obligation to keep each other in check. 

I don't know what to say about Hollywood, though. I mean, politics (another hotbed of harassment and scandal) is a necessary part of our nation; movies and television shows, not so much. People could feasibly go into politics out of a true need to do public service. And, it just seems easier to hold people accountable in elected government. From my point of view, most people looking to Hollywood are looking for fame and riches. I am not pointing my finger at the victims, but this has been an open secret for decades. They made the decision that the end goal was worth the risk. Maybe it was, and maybe it is still. Maybe now we can move forward with a little more awareness. But, I have my doubts. If one actor or actress is ready and willing to seduce a producer in order to advance their career, then doesn't that start the cycle all over again? And I'll bet that there is more than one willing to do that. From looking at the NYT article, it seems that there needs to be a lot more communication and a lot less secrecy. But, I've stated my opinion about mankind before. We're flawed, greatly. I'm not saying that it's good or that it's acceptable or okay, but I believe that Hollywood will always be where the worst side of people shows itself.

Economics and Civil Rights Are Not Mutually Exclusive

My younger brother, I have found out, lives and breathes politics. My older brother as well. They are on opposite ends of the spectrum. My older brother is just about as liberal as they come, and the younger is following closely in the Libertarian footsteps of our father (may he rest in peace.) Every once in a while there is a heated debate on social media between the two brothers, which I find strange because the two rarely talk about the same things. Younger is all about economics and Older is civil liberties. There are areas of civil liberties that affect the economy, but for the most part they are separate things. Older Brother wants protections for minorities and the disenfranchised, while Younger Brother wants smaller government. This is where the friction begins.

But, I can't help but wonder, why does economic conservative thought contradict civil rights? What does one have to do with the other, really? Republicans are currently known for conservative economic policy (in theory) while – from my point of view – tossing civil rights to the wayside. Democrats are the fierce protectors of civil rights and want to tax everybody into the poorhouse and create a social protection system that borders on socialism. I get it, we need to take care of those who cannot care for themselves, but we need to only spend what we earn. Robbing from the rich and giving to the poor is only appropriate when the poor truly do not have the opportunity to make it on their own, in which case there are many other – and better – ways to address the situation. 

Here's my take. Sound economic policy is in everybody's best interest. Juxtapose that with the fact that – and I truly believe this – people are deeply flawed and for the most part cannot be trusted. So, yes, create an economic environment that allows new ideas and technology to flourish, but you gotta keep people in check. Our current president goes on and on about how regulations are strangling our growth. The way I see it, while over-regulating is detrimental, we gotta have these rules written down. Rules that make sense on paper and that work in real life. Rules that we can refer back to. Because we're gonna stray. One set is going to do everything it can to take advantage of another set, while yet another set is going to coast along on everybody else's coattails. Unions grew out of a need (to protect workers), and then the unions felt their own needs (to stay relevant) and have gone a little bit haywire. We still need unions because businesses will still try to take advantage of workers, but unions are also made up of people and something needs to keep them in check. The check-keepers need check-keepers of their own.

A Southern Baptist preacher once told me about Original Sin. I'm not certain that he used that term, but he talked about the concept. In that thought, the eating of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was the Original Sin, a crack in our soul's foundation that has been carried on (in our DNA – presumably and ironically at the same time) since the first people until today. In Catholic thought the Virgin Mary was born without the Original Sin, which is how she was able to bring the Christ into the world. (Mary's was the immaculate conception.) If you read the Old Testament, God was banging his head against Mount Horeb because he would prove himself to be The Lord and holy among his people, and then five minutes later they were building a golden calf to worship. He'd get them all lined up, and then not one generation had passed and all those youngsters who hadn't seen – first hand – the wonders He performed lost interest and would only lay around playing with their latest iTablets.

That's the biblical perspective of why we're not to be trusted. I believe that psychology probably has its own version and set of reasons. History, though, has shown us that, whatever the reason, people need constant attention. This is where laws come in handy, because they're written (metaphorically) in stone. As I said earlier, we can refer back to them. Regulation will be necessary as long as people are people, which is to say, for the foreseeable future.

But, this tax overhaul that just happened, have people lost their minds? Would anybody want to pay 40% of their earnings as tax? Probably not. I don't understand why trying to get that stupidly high number down to a reasonable rate is wrong. Close loopholes and it should be feasible. Frankly, a 10% tax rate for everybody with no deductions sounds like a good place to start for me. The ability to use tax as a way to manipulate behavior is taken away, though, so that will probably never happen. I'm not an economist, and I'm not a psychologist. If I were to be anything it would be an historian. (Don't laugh, people don't change and we can learn from that past if we want to.) Let's say that we had 0% corporate tax. That would make the US a great place for people to keep their companies and it would be fertile ground for an organic rise in pay for workers. (Without the need for an artificial 'minimum wage'.) Would that happen, though? Would the executives just pocket the savings amongst themselves instead? I'm sure they would be tempted to, because people are horrible things. But, lots of businesses in the US would mean lots of competition with each other and workers could have the ability to win. Would this actually happen? I think it's worth a try. A lot of people in congress thought so, too, but we didn't quite make it. I still think, though, that there has to be something in place to make people behave – something in writing that we can refer back to because people, left to their own devices... etc. etc. 

But, tell me something. Why is it that one person can discuss sound economic policy and then tell me that because I'm gay I have fewer rights – I shouldn't be allowed to marry a man, employers shouldn't have to treat my spouse the same as the spouse in a straight marriage? Why is it that the idea of making (and enforcing) a law dictating that you can't have institutions that discriminate against Blacks is somehow out of sync with their economic policy? I sometimes get the feeling that my younger brother thinks I'm hysterical for some of the things that I say, but the Republicans currently governing the State of Texas (where I live) seem to think that electroshock therapy to cure me of being gay is a fine idea. Yes, I'm hysterical. I wasn't before they said that, though. It's like they're constantly putting their finger one millimeter from my face and taunting, "I'm not touching you..." Yes, any living human being is going to go off the deep end after putting up with that. Yes, I think parents should keep their children from treating each other that way, and yes, I think we need to have laws in place stating that people in power can't decide that my sexual orientation, or skin color is wrong and therefore I have to be 'fixed' or subjugated. People are messed up. They will treat each other that way, so yes, we do need to have these laws. It's not the government overreaching, and no, I don't feel that it should be left up to the individual states to address these situations because I live in Texas and left to their own devices this state would still have slavery. Have you heard of Juneteenth? 

I don't know what the answer is, but I'm pretty sure that we're nowhere near it. I think that a lot of what 45 says and is trying to do when it comes to economics and the size of government makes sense, but I don't trust him as far as I can throw him, and I can't help but think that lining his own pockets is behind 100% of what he does.