Sunday, July 31, 2016

Job Application

Almost everyone has applied for a job at one time or another.  Job application forms usually follow a similar pattern.  They require the applicant to state his/her qualifications for the job, educational status,  accomplishments in the field, and, most important, his/her employment history or experience.  Quite often a background check is required as well as a credit check.

I started thinking about what an ad for the job of President would look like and who might have the qualifications sufficient to gain an interview.

According to Geri Zabela Eddins in Our White House, Looking In, Looking Out,  the president has two primary functions.  One is to serve as CEO of the federal government and the second is to serve as commander in chief of the armed forces. As Chief Executive, the president must work with his staff, his Cabinet, and the enormous bureaucracy that is the federal government to ensure that laws are carried out.  It is important to remember that the president does not make laws.  The Executive branch is responsible for carrying out the laws that the Legislative branch enacts.


Specific job responsibilities require expertise in a variety of disciplines.  Negotiating treaties with other nations requires diplomacy, establishing a budget requires knowledge of economics and social science, and formulating policy involving energy requires a knowledge of science.  One of the most important attributes of a president is the ability to form and work with a team since no one person can possibly possess all the knowledge necessary to perform the job.  Finally, the president as commander in chief can send troops into combat (presumably under the advice of his military advisors) but cannot declare war. 

So, now, let's pretend that you are in charge of hiring the person who will do the job of president.

In her Parade magazine essay “The Secrets of America’s Great Presidents,” Doris Kearns Goodwin, a prize-winning historian,  encourages citizens to consider ten qualities when choosing a president. We will look at those qualities and then examine our two candidates for how well they demonstrate those qualities.  You are welcome to add your 2 cents worth of opinion.  Finally, you will choose which candidate you think should have the job.

1.  The courage to stay strong in the face of adversity.
      Secretary Clinton has been in public life for more than 4 decades.  She has been scrutinized, criticized, blamed, and shamed.  But here we are, she is still standing, still fighting for those who can't fight for themselves, and is the Democratic nominee for President.  Donald Trump has never engaged in public service, but has sought the spotlight often in his life.  His response to adversity is to attack those who find fault with him.  He uses the language of a bully, and never, ever, admits a mistake or apologizes for having hurt someone. He is quick to use Twitter to hurl insults out into the Twitterverse.

2.  Is confident enough to seek different viewpoints.
     In this campaign season, we have seen HRC work with her opponent, Bernie Sanders, and agree to incorporate some of his ideas into her own campaign.  DJT says, "I alone can fix" this country's problems.

3.  Can learn from his or her mistakes. 
     The best example is that HRC made mistakes in 2008 that caused her to lose to Barack Obama. She did not make those same mistakes in 2016 when it came to the formidable Bernie Sanders.  DJT's company has filed for bankruptcy four times.  Trump borrowed too much money at interest rates he could not afford, and ended up having to give up his ownership stake in various ventures.  Obviously, he didn't learn from the first bankruptcy to be more fiscally responsible.  

4.  Is willing to embrace change.

       The motto of the Trump campaign is "Make America Great."  The implication is that America used to be great, but no longer is.  So, I guess you would say DJT hasn't embraced change.  HRC celebrates progress made in civil rights, the rights of women, the rights of the LGBTQ community, and promises to work together to keep moving forward.
      
5.  Is emotionally intelligent (willing to share credit with others, accept blame, and convey strength).
     Example 1: HRC accepted responsibility for the email snafu.  Example 2: DJT never accepted responsibility for the debts of his casinos, saying he, personally, had never filed for Chapter 13. Consider two phrases: "I Alone," and "Stronger Together." 

6.  Can maintain self-control in the midst of trouble.
     During 11 hours of intense questioning about the tragedy at Benghazi, HRC calmly answered every question, faced every attack.  If getting yelled at for hours without losing your cool is a requirement for the presidency, Hillary Clinton checked the box on Thursday. (Glenn Thrush and Gabriel Debenedetti, Politico, 10/22//15).  On the other hand, when confronted with his own words by Megyn Kelly in a debate, DJT responded the next day with a statement so inappropriate, so vicious, and so misogynistic that it drew severe criticism from his own supporters. Totally lost his self-control.

7.  Is aware and in touch with popular sentiment. 
     This quality is one in which DJT does excel. Those Americans who feel disenfranchised, who feel they've been forgotten for too long, gaze at him as if he is the Messiah.  Unfortunately, they are totally ignorant of the workings of government and don't realize that the promises made by Trump are not promises he can keep.  HRC appears to understand that the voters who agree with her on the issues don't really care about the email issue.  She spends her time discussing the issues she believes are important and telling voters her plans to address them. 

8.  Possesses a strong moral compass.
     DJT has been married 3 times, cheating on the present wife with the future wife each time and still claiming to be a moral, honest, person.   HRC chose to keep her family together in spite of marital problems.  You may not agree with her decision, but she did set a moral example. 

9.  Is able to relax. 
     We know that Grandmother Hillary loves Facetiming with her granddaughter, Charlotte, and reading to her.  Donald plays golf.

10. And finally, communicates well and inspires others.
      Maybe it's just me, but I don't think DJT can speak in complete sentences.  He starts a thought, but then cuts himself off, relying on his favorites "believe me," "trust me," "we're gonna win," and "huge."  HRC speaks like an intelligent, well-informed, public servant.  If Trump inspires others, it is to violence.  If Hillary inspires others, it is to help those less fortunate.

Based on these qualities, you decide who is best qualified for the job. And I hope you're right.




Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Just the Facts, Ma'am

The Republican nominee (I refuse to use his name, just like I think we should refuse to use a mass shooting perpetrator's name) loves to spout off using social media, especially Twitter.  What he fails to appreciate, though, is that the internet allows anyone to fact-check anything he says in an instant.

Years ago, we listened to candidates' speeches and had to wait for the next issue of Time, Life, Newsweek, or the opinions of our local newspaper editor to tell us whether the candidate was being truthful or not.  This year, the Washington Post published "Fact-checking Donald Trump's acceptance speech at the 2016 RNC" on the morning of July 22, only hours after the actual speech.  

Turns out the nominee "cherry-picked" data to support his claims about the crime rate.  Ditto for Immigration.  On the issue of the economy since President Obama took office, he used out of date statistics (which actually reflected data during the Bush administration).  Fact checkers state that the nominee's statement that "America is one of the highest-taxed nations in the world," is just flatly not true.  Likewise, his criticism of allowing refugees into the country because there is no way to screen them is also not true.

Now, I know some will say that the Washington Post is a liberal newspaper, so we'll see what some other fact-checking sites say.  Politifact is a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics.  

Rudy Giuliani characterized Clinton's proposed immigration policy as "open borders."  Politifact says this claim is False.

Jeff Sessions claimed there are about 350,000 people who succeed in crossing our borders illegally each year."  Politifact says this claim is False.

The nominee told Bill O'Reilly that he wanted the convention to be in Ohio; that he recommended Ohio.  Strange, because the RNC announced Cleveland back on July 8, 2014 when the nominee wasn't even a candidate!  Politifact says False.

Sean Duffy said "Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have left us with $19 trillion in debt."  First, about half of that debt was from before Obama took office.  Second, the Secretary of State has almost no role in deciding issues of fiscal policy.  Verdict: Mostly false.

As for accusations that President Obama "is a Muslim," Politifacts rated this "Pants On Fire!"

Had enough yet?  I recommend everyone bookmark a fact-checking site and do your research before arriving at a conclusion about whether or not a candidate is telling the truth.  

TGFTI - Thank God For The Internet

Friday, July 22, 2016

Only Guns Matter

On the CBS news tonight there were two videos that showed police officers exhibiting violent attacks on people with absolutely no provocation.  (http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/austin-officers-investigated-for-disturbing-arrest-video/) (http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/21/us/miami-officer-involved-shooting/index.html)  (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/07/21/fla-police-shoot-black-man-with-his-hands-up-as-he-tries-to-help-)  It's hard to judge which is the most outrageous - the man lying on the ground with his hands in the air, who still got shot by the officer; or the one where the officer threw a slight, 120 lb. woman to the ground not once, but twice, after a traffic stop.  There is no report that she threatened this police officer with a gun or other weapon.  Her only weapon was the color of her skin.  The health-care worker stretched full-length on the pavement tried explaining that he presented no danger to the officer. We can hear his words on the video.  He asked the officer later, "Why did you shoot me?"  The officer's answer?  "I don't know."

What in the world has happened to law enforcement?

I think the answer is that the Republican party in conjunction with the NRA has encouraged every American to carry a gun.  (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/apr/13/nra-weakened-gun-control-laws)  States have open-carry laws where a police officer has no idea whether the person with a weapon is a "good guy" or a "bad guy." (http://blogs.wsj.com/numbers/map-where-is-open-carry-legal-1715/)  Even Chiefs of Police have spoken up against open-carry, saying that it makes their job much more difficult.  (http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-dallas-chief-20160711-snap-story.html)  Years ago, when an officer stopped someone for speeding or running a stop sign, they didn't really have to worry much that the driver might pull out a Glock and start shooting.  Now they do.  When law enforcement is operating in fear of their lives, they preempt violence with more violence.  The rule now is "shoot first, ask questions later."

Unfortunately, sometimes the weapon carried by a 12-year-old turns out to be a toy.  And chances are the murderer - and, make no mistake, this child was murdered - will never face any consequences.  (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/23/us/in-tamir-rice-shooting-in-cleveland-many-errors-by-police-then-a-fatal-one.html?_r=0)  Because he is a protected class - the ones who wear a uniform and a badge.  There are a myriad of reasons why law enforcement officers are not charged and convicted, even when a video exists that shows unarmed men being shot in the back while running away from the officer. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2015/04/11/thousands-dead-few-prosecuted/)

If you are still naive enough to listen to politicians for information, you will hear that all the violence we see on the evening news is due to ISIS.  That in some way it's all related to terrorism.  This is the coward's reasoning.  If you can blame the death of so many Americans on some foreign entity in a turban, then you do not have to face the consequences of your own inaction.  So many times Congress has been asked to take even one small step for our country, one small step to keep assault weapons out of the hands of those who want to kill.  But no, the problem is ISIS.

Therefore, those susceptible to persuasion begin to believe that every time they leave their house some crazed Muslim is going to start spraying their local Starbucks with armor-piercing bullets shot from an AR-15.  So they need to buy an AR-15 so they can shoot back and not hit any innocent person, but only the dark-skinned madman.

Finally, it seems that "Black Lives Don't Matter," "Blue Lives Don't Matter,"  "Gay Lives Don't Matter," "First Grade Lives Don't Matter," "Bible Study Member Lives Don't Matter," "College Student Lives Don't Matter," "Movie Goer Lives Don't Matter".  Only "Guns Matter."

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Where Was The Good Guy?

I woke up this morning to the news of yet another mass shooting in the U.S., in Orlando, Florida.  50 people this time.  And the death toll will increase because another 53 were injured.  And, as usual, the product that produced this carnage - performing exactly as it was meant to - was an AR-15.  

There was a time when the Congress recognized that this was not a hunting rifle meant to go out and hunt Bambi, and they sensibly banned it.  The following quote is from a Wikipedia article on the Assault Weapon Ban of 1994.  (The reviewing court held that it was "entirely rational for Congress ... to choose to ban those weapons commonly used for criminal purposes and to exempt those weapons commonly used for recreational purposes."[18]:10[22] It also found that each characteristic served to make the weapon "potentially more dangerous," and were not "commonly used on weapons designed solely for hunting."[18]:10–11[23])  Any product designed to kill as many humans as possible in as short a period of time as possible is meant for warfare, not hunting, and not for personal protection.  Unless you really believe the zombies are coming.

Now the NRA says the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.  In the nightclub last night, I guess there were no good guys with guns.  Most normal people don't want to walk around carrying a weapon that could more likely cause harm to themselves or a member of their family than protect them from some madman.  I cannot envision myself killing someone else.  Can you?  Honestly, can you?  

Where are the good guys with laws?