Musings from George

My head exploded again
February 3, 2017, 12:41 am
Filed under: Nonprofit, Politics, Volunteering

As I listen to the “press secretary” tell us that Trump is simply implementing Obama’s decisions and policies, I have to object.

Somehow Trump’s entire platform is about *cancelling* Obama’s actions and orders, yet he uses the odd attribution that he is banning immigration from countries identified by Obama as sponsoring terrorism. So … why does Trump care what Obama said or did in this matter, if he completely disregards what Obama thought about health care or about Merrick Garland? Totally Orwellian.

We listen to Trump’s staff dismissing the “weak” efforts made by Obama to enforce border control, yet they announce restrictions that do not affect the real perpetrators of violence. NEVER has an immigrant from those seven countries committed an act of aggression in the US; somehow the immigrants who did (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan) are still flowing in. HYPOCRISY never smelled as bad as it does with @DopeyDonald

Trump lives in an alternate reality, supported by his alternate facts. We need to recognize that our President is a predator, a narcissist, and a bankrupt fraud. THEN we can react to his rants, Tweets, and self-dealing. The obvious answer is lawsuits and prosecution. Where do we sign up to make that happen?


1984 – Pence / anyone in 2017!
January 28, 2017, 10:17 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Nonprofit, Politics

From the NYT today (yes, I do):

For Ms. Goodwin, Mr. Trump’s week of reality distortions brought to mind Lincoln’s address to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Ill., on Jan. 27, 1838, where he made an appeal to Enlightenment values as the best antidote to what he called the “mobocratic spirit.” “Reason — cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason — must furnish all the materials for our future support and defense,” he said.

“He was worrying about authoritarian behavior,” Ms. Goodwin said.

Many of us who precede the web thought that equal access to information would drive more intelligent conversations. We fell for the appealing illusion that everyone wanted to be better educated, and that an educated citizenry would be an enlightened citizenry. We felt sorry for those poor ignorant citizens repressed by rulers and fed a state-sponsored version of the truth. Citizens of the USSR didn’t know they were poor, aging alcoholics; North Koreans didn’t know they were starving. We though that the truth would make them free.

The joke’s on us. Trump has enlisted support (even begged for it on the air) from the Russian government to expose other’s truths, while refusing to reveal his own. His promise to release his tax returns if he got the nomination turned out to be as worthless as shares in his casino empire. His gag orders in settled law suits outnumber his properties, and his conflicts of interest radiate to many countries (notably, he has no business interests in the countries from which he banned immigrants; notable as well is that none of those countries were involved in 9/11, and the countries that *were* are not on the list).

So, what to do? Bloomberg suggests that residents of five states could make a huge difference by letting their Senators know that they need the health care delivered by ACA

Five Senators are willing to break with Trump on ACA. We need to contact all of them, and donate to all of them.

Bob Corker of Tennessee, 
Rob Portman of Ohio, 
Susan Collins of Maine, 
Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and 
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska 
Trump’s executive order denying funds for any organization that provides health care is equally disturbing. The best way to counter this is to donate to those very organizations. Here are a few that will be affected, give if you can “in memory of” Trump:
National Public Radio (and find your local affiliate and give there)
Doctors Without Borders (because they are where the bombs are falling)
While the rallies last weekend were reassuring, we woke up to #DopeyDonald and his flurry of ill-planned executive actions.
Last, we *must* support those who deserve justice for Trump’s past sexual misdeeds. The precedent was set by the Senate when they prosecuted Clinton. My outreach to Gloria Allred failed — if someone can convince her office to run a GoFundMe account to enable every woman who was (and will be) mistreated by Trump to seek justice, many of us would like to do our part. We don’t need Peter Thiel if we get enough well-intentioned people to act — Gawker was less offensive than Trump is and will be.

Former ‘Apprentice‘ contestant Summer Zervos filed a defamation suit in NYC Tuesday, claiming Trump defamed her when he publicly called her a liar, claimed the assault never happened and referred to her allegation as “totally made up nonsense.”

In the docs, obtained by TMZ, she also calls him out as a “sexual predator.”

The suit goes on to claim Trump used his platform as a presidential candidate to denigrate and verbally attack Zervos and other accusers.

She’s asking for a retraction and/or an apology, plus damages.

Zervos and her attorney, Gloria Allred, announced the lawsuit with a news conference … where she reiterated her claim Trump sexually assaulted her during a 2007 business meeting.

A Short Random Walk Through Topics I Never Covered
January 18, 2014, 6:10 pm
Filed under: Charity, Nonprofit, Random walk, Uncategorized, Volunteering

Every so often I am notified that someone found and read my blog, which is a little like hearing from a high school friend after many years. My first reaction is “really? they must be horribly bored” and the second reaction is a twinge of guilt that I have not stayed in touch and indeed feel guilty that they had to take the first step because I am too self-involved to go back and check in with old friends. I know that I stay in touch with many more people than your average engineer, but I also wish I could see Nick and Katie more often and could squeeze in an adult play date with Mike and Michelle. There are about two dozen people on my “wish I could spend time with” list that I haven’t connected with in a year, and that just makes me sad. So, the random walk that was promised in the title… questions and topics that I think are worthy of discussion, even worthy of monologuing (watch The Incredibles for an awesome example from Jason Lee of monologuing). Herewith:

  • When is a white lie simply a lie? When are you shielding someone else from pain they don’t need to experience, and when are you just being a coward because you don’t want to tell the truth?
  • When is it wrong to invest in your own children, when there are others that are in much more need? When your elementary school PTA asks for a voluntary donation, if you don’t give are you a free-loader? If you give the same amount to a school across town in the poor neighborhood, is that an equivalence? Should you feel obliged to give to both?
  • When you are asked to keep a secret, what obligations come with that request? You may be thrust into a position of knowledge you did not see, which can put you in the uncomfortable position of  having to lie about your knowledge to keep that secret. Why should someone be empowered to pull you into their world?
  • Euthanasia and end of life decisions. Since most of us avoid hard decisions and hard realities, many of us end up in a terrible health care crisis late in life. When should the government (or some other power) be enabled to end someone’s life because there is no upside left (dementia, without family, in an unheated homestead house without plumbing… yes, it is real).
  • Money. If you have some, and people you love do not, how much should you share? When should it be a gift, and when a loan?
  • Alcoholism. Runs in may families (we famously have an alcoholic lumberjack in the family, which just makes Monty Python a MUST SEE for our generation), and is difficult to manage and almost impossible to stop. Yet it is easy to buy alcohol, parties are better with an Open Bar, and we accept the drunken idiots, sloppy drunks (“I love you man!”), and dangerous drunks (so many deserving DUIs, so few cops!) as part of society.

Let me know if you have written something insightful on any of these topics, and I promise to read it (caveat: no books, just blogs!) Let me know if you want to hear my perspective on any of these things. Today’s rant: volunteering and non-profits. I have volunteered my entire life, crossing many different organizations targeting education, homelessness, animal welfare, hunger, micro-lending, sports, international poverty and health conditions, I have given for breast cancer research, for rebuilding in the Philippines and  in Honduras, to Doctors Without Borders without restraints, to MIT and for stroke victim recovery. I have also volunteered many many hours as a coach and as board member for sports organizations. The challenge — almost all of the money comes from a few donors, and the same 10% of the people do all the volunteer work. If Karma is real, most people are negative. How does a modern Mother Teresa volunteer at the PTA *without* recognizing that the same few people do everything, and why don’t we have some obligation to give back? Our current approach enables freeloaders to skate (voluntary contributions are, of course, voluntary) and doesn’t give any advantage to those who do the work (the 10%). So why don’t those of us in the 10% just give up and stay home? Why do I keep coaching, and reffing, and writing checks? Maybe *I* am the stupid one… What do you do for others that they could do for themselves? When do you find yourself frustrated with your volunteer efforts (e.g. delivering presents through a charity to a family with a TV bigger than yours, because they filled out the forms…)? When have you STOPPED helping a charity because you took issue with something they did or didn’t do? That’s all for now. Let me know what to read, and what to write, that would be interesting to both of us. George