Musings from George

Postcards from the Ledge
January 21, 2017, 10:04 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

While I choose not to go protest Trump’s ascension in public (did any good come from blocking Uber’s HQ or preventing commuters from going to work?), I am a flawed human who cannot find anything to be hopeful about in Trump’s words. His press conference was a train wreck, where he demonstrated that he cannot speak in complete sentences. His statements after meeting with knowledgable, respectable sources (including Obama and the generals soon to be in his cabinet) reveal how little #DopeyDonald has actually thought about real issues facing the US today. Ignorant about what Obamacare actually is, unaware of our nuclear assets, blind to the complexities of the relationship between Taiwan and China (yes, it takes more than 140 characters to capture that complexity).

So, we are each tasked with the difficult decision as to whether we want to actively oppose our new president or if we trust in democracy and sit silently. As an old white guy, it is easy to take the approach of “not my problem”. Yet how can we not hear these words from Martin Niemöller echoing from 1937, when he was arrested for protesting the ascension of the Nazis (they too enjoyed 32% support in the polls of their citizens):

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

So, #DonaldPorkPie, you have divided and insulted the vast majority of our nation. Rather than the broad brush used by your opponent (“deplorables” doesn’t deserve its own hashtag), you have singled out Muslims, Hispanics, war heroes, Hollywood stars. You doubled down by insulting the parents of a slain soldier, several sitting Senators and a handful of sitting Congressmen, a disabled reporter, and citizens brazen enough to challenge you for the highest public office.

#DodgerDonald has broken with tradition in so many ways, and many enjoyed the lack of common courtesy and the rejection of political correctness so much that they are willing to overlook the many troubling things he has said. #GropyDonald on tape, celebrating sexual assault AT WORK … Bush got fired, and Trump should have been fired too (he was at work that day).

#LyingDonald hides behind an audit to say he can’t release his tax returns, while everyone knows that is patently false — the IRS is not restricting him from doing so. #CheatingDonald deducted a billion dollars from his tax bill that … wait for it … were not his dollars. He borrowed and spent a billion dollars of other people’s money, then cheated to declare that a loss on his taxes. #FraudulentTrump should be locked up, just as Al Capone was, for tax evasion.

Ignorance is not a virtue. Tweeting hateful and divisive things is not a skill. Breaking glass when you have never glazed a window in your life is just destructive — Trump’s new campaign promises are all about what he is NOT going to do (he will not enforce Obama’s policies, he will revoke rules to protect the environment, he will pull out of trade deals). These are the actions of an obstructionist and Luddite. What does he actually want to build? A wall. And he can’t even make that happen.

The powerful forces that prevented Obama from closing Guantanamo are now arrayed to thwart #PowerlessDonald. Congress won’t pay for a wall, and Mexicans laugh every time it comes up (build a thirty foot wall, and they will build a thirty-one foot ladder). What does #OrangeToughy plan to do about Guantanamo, Syria, ISIS, and the loss of jobs to automation? He has given no indication.

#DandyDonald now owns the broken glass of health care, and chooses instead to celebrate 2,700 manufacturing jobs that are staying or being created (Macy’s will lay off 10,000 workers before those manufacturing jobs are staffed — Obama created more than 2700 jobs every day of his administration). Ford, Carrier, and GM did not reverse course because of an election, they gave in to coercion and $700M in tax incentives and payments. We can’t afford to buy jobs for $200K each that pay $40K … but #DummyDonald is not an economist or mathematician, and he doesn’t even play one on TV.

People say that #DandyDonald is deeply tied in with #PowermadPutin. People say that his empire is riddled with Mob ties. People say that Melania is the real Manchurian candidate, deployed years ago with a plot straight out of Orwell’s 1984 (her secret was safe, since Trump doesn’t read books … only right-wing and alt-white blogs).

My virtual poster, which I am not holding aloft in Washington DC or San Jose today: “Trump is what happens in a democracy when people stay home.” And for now, he is our President. I last felt this sense of alienation when #43 was re-elected in 2004, understanding that so many in America don’t have the same dreams and hopes that I do.

I just can’t keep quiet – Trump is a buffoon
January 21, 2017, 12:42 am
Filed under: Politics, Uncategorized

Others are more poetic, others are better spoken. But I feel the need to try to capture my emotional state right now, with Donald Trump’s ascendancy.

I fully understand that Hillary Clinton lost, and I understand why. She has none of Obama’s charisma, and is dragging a semitrailer full of baggage from her three decades of public service followed by eight years at the feeding trough of celebrity (huge speaker fees and the Clinton Foundation = wow, you are so 1 percent).

But today, a uniquely unqualified man ascended to the most powerful position in the world. Donald J Trump, of  #DaffyDonald / #DeceitfulDonald / #DodgerDonald (something is going to stick) is now our President.

Canada gets a good-looking, young, athletic political scion. We get a sclerotic, weirdly orange-hued misogynist who supposedly would have kept his second and third wives (yes, they were from countries with Islamic troubles) from coming to America. I can overlook the sex tapes of Melania in eastern Europe (we have all had bad jobs), and I can overlook the gag order that Trump forced on Invanka. But … not publishing your income taxes, and not even pretending to comply with guidelines from the ethics office? Really? How absurd is that.

So, I’ll go Trump. His wife worked in the US without a work visa (breaking the law) — she should be deported (no amnesty, right?). Many of his employees are illegal immigrants, and we should enforce the legal penalties  … (wait for it) … against the EMPLOYER. Trump and Mar-el-Lago should be sued by the INS. Tax evasion is a crime, and there’s a reason Trump has been audited every year since 1995 … he is a crook, and he took tax deductions for others’ losses (he should have to repay). Let’s drag his lies out into the light. Bill Clinton was impeached over less than truthful statements he gave in depositions about his sexual wanderings — let’s multiply by twelve and invite #GropyDonald and #GrabPussyDonald to the party. Maybe we can “speed-date” with the ten plus women who have accused him of impropriety, and they can split Gloria Allred’s legal fees (contingent, of course).

And last, let’s explain the difference between conflict of interest (which the constitution says cannot exist for a president) and THE APPEARANCE of a conflict of interest, which #LittleFistDonald appears not to recognize. 2017 lawsuits may have to stick to emoluments, but voters are very attuned to APPEARANCE. That explains #DopeyDonald’s cratered approval ratings right now. #DinosaurArmsDonald can’t reach the check, so we just have to sit and watch him wave his paws.

We have insisted on much higher standards of performance and behavior from our past public servants (notably John Kerry and Hillary Clinton), and it is time for the current powers-that-be (all Republican) to hold their own party to the SAME STANDARDS they insisted on for the last eight years. Make #theDonald share his tax returns before you vote for a single motion that he proposes. Else, you own it suckers.

Yes, we expect more. See you in 2020 either way!

Stumbling towards misery
January 5, 2017, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Politics

We all know that elections have consequences, and many of us have been waiting for the Trump shoe to drop. It is hard to react to Tweets, since many contradict each other and are intentionally vague. But it is clear that we have elected a petulant buffoon who is going to antagonize our potential allies with his 140-character burps late every night. It is hard to accept that the leader of the free world views Julian Assange as a more credible source than … the heads of every US intelligence office.

Trump has chosen to antagonize just about everyone, except Putin. He has insulted career diplomats and intelligence officials, fought against the party establishment, and pissed on just about every precedent from modern history (1. Keep your mouth shut during the transition; 2. Treat those in power with some respect; 3. Accept decades of established wisdom in China and Israel until you really have a plan). It is time to say … gee, Donald, until we see your tax returns and understand your conflicts of interest we are going to oppose you every step of the way.

How can anyone accept Trump’s assertion that Julian Assange (a traitor, liar, and fugitive) could be the source of information so valuable that Trump can say “I know things no one else knows!”? The clown elected to lead the circus is now bringing out the spotted dog and calling him a hyena. We know Assange is a duplicitous traitor LIVING IN RUSSIA, protected by Putin. How can anyone (even a buffoon) think that this exiled traitor is a more reliable source than the many paid professional intelligence officers in the US government?

It is time to be afraid of Trump, and to figure out what opposition is most effective and least disrespectful. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. A wealthy American could choose to fund every suspended lawsuit against Trump ever filed. Bonus points for buying the true story behind any settlement with a gag clause (where Trump pays someone like Ivanka not to tell her side of the story);
  2. Gloria Allred should file twelve sexual assault charges tomorrow. The Republicans established the precedent with Bill Clinton (a sitting President who had to sit for depositions over Paula Jones), and the Democrats need to develop the guts to use the same razor against Trump.
  3. FORCE Trump to reveal his taxes. Offer a reward to Guccifer or Assange for posting recent Trump taxes online, even if he trusts them to couriers with wax seals … someone has them.
  4. FORCE Trump to divest his holdings, or sue him (more precisely every member of his extended family) every day for conflict of interest. Each meeting with a foreign leader should result in a new lawsuit; each seat at the meeting with Silicon Valley titans should have been rented out at $400M per seat, the Trumps owe $1.6B (and are again, bankrupt).

That’s all the anger I can muster tonight. Trumps BS this week about his secret sources and insider knowledge being revealed as Assange is a bridge too far. Who can defend this buffoon, and why do they keep trying? I really hope that he collapses like Sarah Palin did, and just resigns so we can move forward without him.

Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst-


UPS really let me down today
December 3, 2016, 12:11 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

So, UPS promises a four-hour delivery window. That’s great. Then they send an email well into that window, saying the package is delayed for some unknown operational problem.

That’s a problem. It’s a costume, ordered two weeks ago for a costume party tomorrow night. But hey, as long as it is here by the party…

Then, another email saying delivery has been slipped out to Monday. No longer okay. The  package (a costume) is no longer worth ANYTHING to me.

What can I do? I’ll return the package. I’ll cancel / dispute the credit card charge. The incompetence of UPS is going to cost this vendor a sale.

So sad.

A week later, some perspective
November 14, 2016, 9:17 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Politics

We have spent a few late nights with friends, sharing drinks and perspectives. It has been helpful to hear what others have heard from friends and family, and to get the salient summary of things they have read.
Brett Miwa offers a great summary here, which is well-written and informative. He points out that a majority of white women opted for Trump, which is something I had not realized.
Interesting observations from others include concern about the death of the Voters Right Act, with significantly fewer people voting in certain states that tried hardest to restrict voting. The drop in participation was greater than Trump’s margin of victory in every swing state, and fewer people voted for either candidate than voted for Romney four years ago.
The Democratic party has suffered the largest ever loss of power during Obama’s reign — more Republican governors and congressmen than ever before.
The last time the Republicans had complete control (under George W), we ended up with the Great Recession and two un-funded wars. A surplus in 2000 turned into a huge deficit and fiscal meltdown by 2008.
Yet we are one nation, undivided. This statement from the California Democratic leadership leaves me wondering how they can ignore the voice of the nation, and why they cannot look at the blue / red split by county in our own state and recognize that our neighbors share the same frustration (for varied reasons) that so many others do around the country.

I noted last week that Bush’s reelection in 2004 left me speechless for many reasons. A week of listening to new voices and perspectives has led me to accept that many are not living my happy life, and their concerns are urgent and painful. While some of us can lament global warming, some are unable to find a job that they want or which will do more than pay the bills. One paycheck or injury away from homeless, burning coal doesn’t seem all that bad.

We’ll see how Trump rules, which starts with the team he names. We may find that he has the courage of Lincoln, and that he recruits a team of rivals to field an awesome cabinet. Maybe he can renegotiate deals that have changed the world, despite his party’s commitment to those principles of free trade and open markets. Perhaps unleashing innovation in education will work this time.

We owe it to democracy to give Trump a chance to succeed, and I sincerely hope he does.

I am sick to my stomach
November 8, 2016, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Politics, Uncategorized

Trump is going to be our president, defying gravity and common sense and every political poll that I have been following for six months.
The man is a misogynist, racist, hate-filled buffoon. He has consistently answered any challenging question with “trust me” — no plans, no details. He has more personal bankruptcies than a third world nation, and a sad personal love-fest with a dictator from Russia.
I cannot believe or accept these results. Since Hillary has not been claiming that the election is rigged, we have to accept that American voters in Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan want Trump as their president.
From my perspective in California, this is the worst outcome of any election I have voted in. I am embarrassed for our country, as we offend Muslims, Hispanics, and women by electing this troglodyte (a nice term for a lesser evolved human). I am embarrassed for our country to my many friends around the world, who have counted on the US to be a sane refuge of intelligent democracy.
My lone strand of hope is that Trump will be in jail and unable to take the oath of office — what the Republicans sowed for Bill Clinton is equally toxic for Trump today. A dozen rape allegations, two lawsuits over Trump University, and very apparent tax fraud (remember, that’s what put Al Capone in Alcatraz) is going to take the Donald down. The vote apparently wasn’t rigged enough, but the people who know how to work the system are going to move into real action.
I personally am repulsed by everything Donald Trump stands for and has said, and I apologize to my friends around the world for the way our democracy works. I will do what I can to undo a surprising and upsetting outcome. The schaudenfraude resulting from this election in no way offsets the horror I feel in watching an unqualified buffoon become president.
Ugh. Let’s hope for better in 2017, when we have a new election.

What is going on with this election?
September 18, 2016, 12:57 am
Filed under: Politics

I hear the panic. Trump should be polling single digits, and should be as rebuked as David Duke is (remember when Trump could not remember why he should rebuke David Duke?) The press appears to finally be wetting their respective beds, since they have failed completely to focus the spotlight on the Donald’s absurd claims and defenses. How has a major party candidate managed to lie consistently without being questioned by reporters? How has a questionable business leader (see Trump University) been granted the freedom to withhold his income taxes? Why has a man who eats Burger King and KFC not been forced to have an independent health evaluation?

Donald Trump offends every single social norm about political candidates. He is a racist, with forty years of provable offenses and lawsuits to justify that statement — which might be libel to a real candidate, but is provable about Donald. He is a misogynist, perhaps the MOST offensive man to ever walk this planet (who says things like that about a conservative talk show host like Megyn Kelly? I may not like Megyn’s politics, but WTF?) He is completely out of touch with real people, asking blacks “What do you have to lose?” as if he is going to do *anything* to actually help a black person (read his plans. … oh sorry, he doesn’t have any). He is a fascist (“build a wall, charge the prisoners rent”) with no connection to reality. He built his early empire with illegally imported laborers (mostly from Poland) who pretends that he can find the 2 million criminal aliens in the US (overcounting by a factor of ten, and … guess what … Obama has been hunting those folks down and deporting them already).

I spoke with someone recently who said that he cold not vote for Hillary because he was a successful businessman, and he did not want to pay more taxes. I threw up in my mouth just a little (sorry, borrowed from the movie Dodgeball), and asked about the rest of the toxic package that he was willing to support. He accepts it. So … if someone thinks Donald Trump will help their business, they should go verify the employment status of all of their employees. It is likely that someone in their orbit (house cleaner, landscaper, nanny, janitor or receptionist) is going to be hurt by Trump’s policies. When Supercuts shuts down because every barber from Asia is deported, and mowing a lawn costs $50 rather than $20 (but you *will* get that lawn mowed by an angry white man), you will have gotten your just desserts.

My latest information is that Canada is more expensive than most of us have assumed. Have a backup plan after Election Day — Vancouver doesn’t want you.

I sincerely hope that every voter is thoughtful, and everyone shows up to vote. Vote your interest, not your heart. I read with horror that Hillary has less support among Hispanic voters in Florida than Obama did … WHAT? How could any self-respecting Hispanic vote for Trump, after his denigration of Mexicans and his repeated vow to punish Mexicans because they … work here in the US? have the gall to get educated here in the US? because they send so much money back to Mexico? Trump is a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) for our international relations, and I will be despondent if American voters cannot see it. Educate yourself, register to vote, and vote … your self-interest.

If you are worth $10 billion, and Trump’s promise to eliminate the estate tax is meaningful to you, vote for him.

If you are NOT worth $10 billion, recognize that Trump is proposing to keep $4 billion for himself rather than paying this tax. For the record, we have NO IDEA what he will save, since he is too cowardly to share his tax returns and prove how dependent he is on foreign investors in his properties (and to document how he has illegally avoided paying taxes). Trump is a criminal, and the crimes should not come out after the election (see Nixon, the only president ever to resign).

We are better than Trump. Democracy works. I trust that women, Hispanics, and blacks will elect Hillary. I just wish that she could also get the votes of every intelligent and articulate voter, since NONE should vote for Trump. Polls don’t lie, but they certainly under-count and mis-represent.

But I really didn’t think W could win a second term, and I lost money betting that Trump could not become the Republican candidate. Clearly I am not the median or average voter in our country today.

Looking back through my posts, I recognize that I have said “more soon” incorrectly many times. So I will not do that this morning … just thank you for reading, and remember that friends don’t let friends vote for Trump.