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Monday, October 17, 2016

Trump: Dead in the Water or Just Stalled?

Ah, The Donald. What can I say that hasn't already been said? I didn't vote for him in the primary election; most Republicans didn't. Still, he won just enough votes to outshine the rest of the candidates individually. Had those with little hope of victory dropped out earlier (I'm talking about you, Bush, Kasich and Christie), Cruz or Carson might be the nominee. Instead, we have a mess of a candidate who subverts his own campaign by saying the most idiotic things imaginable.

Well, some say, he's a celebrity, and people love celebrities. That's wrong, by the way. What Americans love is celebrity itself, not the individuals to whom the label applies. We are fascinated by the foolish antics of the famous. They demonstrate that wealth is no predictor of intelligence or refinement. You may know exactly how to use each of the seven utensils arranged around your plate, but that doesn't make you a classy  person. Celebrities often assure us that our lack of monetary or social affluence has no effect on our value as human beings. So many of them are boorish idiots that we feel better about ourselves as we vouyeristically pry into their lives via our television screens.

While name recognition is useful, it can also be a liability. In Trump's case, he has been exposed to a great deal of media attention. He has too many ill-chosen words on tape. Witness the recorded exchange with Billy Bush. Yes, it was merely immature locker-room talk. However, we expect better from our presidents. A bunch of women claiming sexual harassment doesn't help either. I doubt Donald Trump sexually assaulted anyone in the technical sense. Still, paying a woman unwanted sexual attention is classless and not representative of what we Republicans stand for.

Nevertheless, I believe Donald Trump has a good chance of winning this election, primarily because Hillary Clinton is at least as bad a candidate as he is. She has scandals associated with her that relate directly to how she would run the country. We know that she is dishonest in her government dealings and insincere even with her political peers. We know that she collaborates with the media in a way that betrays their complicity with the Democrat party. We know she is willing to blackmail people in order to get what she wants. These are not personal behaviors only, but things she has done in government or to government officials.

According to Allen Lichtman, who has developed a system to predict the president known as the thirteen keys to the presidency, Donald Trump will win the election. The operating theory to his system is that American voters are ultimately pragmatists. They will vote for their perceived self-interest regardless of polls or other trivial matters. In this case, they will vote for Trump because Obama did not achieve anything of note during his last term in office. The Republicans gained seats in Congress during the last midterm elections, which reveals which way the wind is blowing. Lichtman's system has never failed to predict the winner. It is not subjective, not influenced by the polls, which themselves are a mere snapshot of the mood of the public.

Donald Trump is an ego-maniacal idiot. However, he is less liberal than Hillary Clinton. For this reason, he is the lesser evil. He will appoint strict-constructionist judges to the Supreme Court, which is the most important and longest-lasting thing the next president will do. I'll vote for him while holding my nose and praying for forgiveness. I'd feel guiltier still if I didn't vote and Hillary won.   

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Melting Pot and the Salad Bowl

It used to be common to refer to the United States as a melting pot. It was considered a place where the people and cultures from around the world blended and melded into one united entity. Assimilation was assumed to be the goal of immigrants; they came here to be American, and they were expected to become such.

Sure, there was racism and xenophobia at times. Primarily this was due to fear of job competition and political power struggles. Irish immigrants reduced demand for labor, lowering wages and affecting working conditions. Therefore, anti-Irish sentiments developed and were expressed. The same was true of each wave of immigrants. Gradually, however, they melded into the common culture and identity as Americans.

In the past few decades, however, something important has changed. I experienced this in college, and it bothered me quite a bit. I was majoring in ethnic studies at the time, when I realized that each class was simply a gripe-fest about being mistreated at some point in the past. I also realized that each ethnicity I studied found it an imposition to be asked to assimilate. Professors claimed that learning English was an unreasonable expectation, that the adjustment of old attitudes and thought patterns to fit the American paradigm was cruel and insulting. It didn’t take me long to decide to change my major.

We are now told that America is more of a salad bowl, that cultures are to touch but not necessarily blend. This is a tragedy. Cultures are dead when they cease to adapt and evolve. Indeed, to deny that is to deny the history of mankind itself. English came from a blend of influences, primarily proto-German, Latin, and French. The primary religion of the United States came from the Middle East—Jesus was a Jew living in Israel, after all. Our cuisine is a blend of dishes from all over the world, including quite a few from right here in the Americas.

Lately, it seems, we are hearing more about our differences than our common purpose as a culture. Organizations that exist for the sole purpose of creating animus between the races have driven a wedge between segments of society that were beginning to merge. It serves no useful purpose to perpetuate grievances from past generations, especially when those issues do not apply to the current generation. It creates a Balkanized society instead of unity based on a commonality of purpose, a state in which each subgroup sees itself as being in a state of competition with the rest. Thus it is that we feel we must hold one group back so that another may rise; in an ideal world, we would realize that we can all rise together.

There are those who benefit from the current state of affairs. These leeches prey upon old wounds, opening them up time and again so they can offer their services as physicians. Like the worst examples of medical malpractice, these quacks keep their patients sick in order to keep the money rolling in. If their patients were well and the symptoms gone, they would be out of business. Therefore, they exacerbate latent conflicts in order to set themselves up as false messiahs. It’s a good scam, but it’s terrible for America.

Somehow we’ve got to heal these wounds. We have to offer hope instead of defeatism, forgiveness instead of anger. We must demonstrate that the alternative to self-segregation is superior, that therein lays success. To accomplish this, we will have to expose the opportunists for the lowlifes they are. It will take a while. President Obama squandered a unique opportunity to lay aside past injuries and start anew. He could have paved the way to a fresh start for millions of youth, promoting the message that America is a land of equal opportunity for all. Instead, he has only made things worse.

I hope to see a united America one day, a nation in which all races and creeds celebrate their commonalities more than they worry about their differences. We will have to regain much ground on that front. Our leaders and opinion-makers have the opportunity to make great strides in this endeavor.

Here’s hoping they make the effort.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

I saw it coming: Trump surges right on schedule.

I love to say "I told you so." Anyone who pretends they don't is a liar. Everyone loves being right and loathes being wrong, unless we're talking about doubting a lottery win.

With this in mind, I will refer you to a NY Post article about Trump closing the gap due to independent voters. Then, just to toot my own horn, I'll refer you to my expert analysis of polling trends and what the media wasn't telling you. Go ahead, click the links. See for yourself.

We'll see how my trend line analysis plays out in the long run.I suspect it will be fairly accurate. Trump's brashness becomes less jolting over time and with the opportunity to seriously and rationally consider his message. Hillary has nothing new to say. She's a less-likable Obama with health issues. Granted, I'm not holding those against her. We have no guarantee that any politician won't die from a sudden stroke, even some 150 pound, 35-year-old health nut. Life is unpredictable, and death even more so.

The L.A. Times has Trump at a 3-point lead. That must put a chill up the spine of a rather large portion of Los Angelinos. There are so many illegals and Mexican citizens in L.A. that Mexican candidates regularly campaign there. Heck, there are current U.S. residents running for office in the Mexican government.

Maybe if El Trumpo wins, that will change.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hillary's Ethos of Pandering

Hillary Clinton is a chameleon. She can't help it; she's been around Bill too long. The difference is that Bill Clinton could pull it off. People actually thought he was one of them. He was called the "first black president," and not altogether ironically. When he said "ah feel yer pay-uhn," a good number of Americans felt it was sincere.

Hillary wants that so badly. She tries, you've got to give her credit. Recently, she boasted about her love of hot sauce to Charlamagne Tha God in an interview to build up her base in New York. Granted, she's mentioned this before, but in this context the intention was obvious. I love hot sauce, too, but I'm not going to randomly bring it up in an interview with a couple of African-Americans.

Bill Clinton, on the other hand, really did love a good Southern-style barbecue. He was from Arkansas, after all. His nickname as president was Bubba. He didn't randomly mention to black people how much he loved ribs and fried chicken--he just ate it at every opportunity. (Besides, anyone with a lick of sense knows that virtually all Southerners love that stuff. People just attribute it to black people because much of Southern culture migrated to the cities during the Great Migration.) Now I think he's a vegan, but he still gets credit for growing up a poor Southern boy.

This is far from the first incident of pandering that backfired for Hillary, however. Perhaps her most infamous episode was when she slipped into a "blaccent" when quoting James Cleveland. Actually, it was an attempted urban African-American accent that evolved somewhere in the middle of the quote into something that resembled a Massachusetts, Kennedy-style accent. You can witness it here.

She wants black people in America to see her as a sympathetic friend, and thus she portrays herself. Sadly, according to insiders, she's not the same person in her private views. In 1994, her more authentic feelings emerged, possibly on accident, in a speech on "super-predators." (See her in context here.) Dick Morris and other insiders constantly heard her and Bill using racial slurs, especially with regard to Jesse Jackson.

Hillary wants to be everything to everybody. Obama managed to accomplish that, she thinks, so why can't I? Both of them suffer from the same dilemma, though--in trying to stand for everything, you really stand for nothing.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Race and Ethnicity in Grammar

"A grammar post? Brain...officially...bored."

Okay, I get it. When we think of interesting subjects, grammar is usually among the most remote. However, I have some questions and concerns over how we refer to racial and ethnic groups in written English and what that says about our inherent biases.

I'm a Spanish teacher. In Spanish, racial and ethnic groups aren't capitalized. Granted, lots of things aren't capitalized: languages, months, days of the week, words in a title besides the first one... Still, that fact both reveals and shapes how people consider issues of race and ethnicity. Most Latin-Americans are racially mixed. In fact, it's often difficult to impossible to nail down your racial roots, although it's safe to make a few broad generalizations in most cases. For example, if you are from Mexico and have naturally dark-brown skin and very Caucasian features, you are most likely part Spaniard and part Indigenous. I notice that I'm confused even now--do I capitalize the word Indigenous in this case? In Spanish, I don't. My theory is that nobody cares what race you are enough to capitalize it. Heck, we don't say "white people" in Spanish, we say "people light-in-tone" (personas rubias)-- the color comes after the fact that they're people.

So why does the APA style guide say we need to capitalize colors when they refer to race? It doesn't make any sense to me. Besides, as humorously noted in the film Cry Freedom, "black" people are more brown than black, and "white" people are more pink than white. Why reinforce these artificial extremes by making them proper nouns, names rather than adjectives?

You will notice that I go back and forth between capitalizing these terms and omitting that capitalization. My natural inclination is not to do so. I will capitalize nationalities; it seems close in intent to capitalizing the names of the countries from which people come. Luckily, I am not alone in my opinion of capitalizing racial labels. College campuses are gradually coming around, although they still capitalize in the case of African-Americans, but advise not to do so when referring to races in general. I personally don't comprehend that distinction. How are races imaginary colors in one case, but legitimate names of ethnicity in another? Also, such usage assumes that all American black people feel part of a common ethnic culture. This is false and, frankly, demeaning, just as demeaning as suggesting that there is one uniform white ethnic culture in this country. It is so obviously untrue as to be laughable.

I will try never to capitalize races in this blog again. Capitalizing them seems unnatural, so it shouldn't be that hard. If I do, it will be evidence that political correctness is still lodged in some deep, undeveloped crevice in my psyche. I apologize for that if it happens. I blame my Liberal college professors. (Liberal is capitalized here to demonstrate that they are not liberals in the classical sense.)

By the way, I also resent capitalizing, and referring to in general, hyphenated Americans. I'll do it so people will comprehend what I'm writing, but I long for the day when it will no longer be necessary.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Hillary's Leaky Campaign

Uh-oh... They're on to me.
It's no secret that I'm anti-Clinton. Let's put that out there. No secrets, unlike other commentators who pretend to objectivity. I'm also a resigned Trumpist; I would have preferred Carson or Cruz, but if I have to pull the switch for a lesser evil than Hillary, so be it. Trump will be amenable to working with a Republican legislature. If Hillary is elected, we'll have at least four years of the legislature serving simply as damage-control.

Still, it can't be denied by even anti-Trumpers that the Left is in full defensive mode over the Wikileaks so far and the promise of more to come. "Crap! They outed us to Bernie's folks! What if they go beyond the tip of the iceberg?"

No Democrat administration is going to convict a Democrat presidential nominee. The hope this would happen is like hoping for a Star Wars sequel as good as the original trilogy. Ain't gonna' happen. Neither are the problematic emails in question going to be released, ever. They weren't classified, but they're too classified for the public to see, as if such a position makes any rational sense.

So who comes riding in astride a white horse but a shirtless Putin. Okay, we can't prove it was him, but come on. Should we care who it is? No. We're inventing enemies out of thin air here. We're even coming around to admitting that Syria might not be as bad, at least for our interests, as we've cast them, so Putin's support of Assad shouldn't be a factor except as an embarrassment to "red-line" Obama. Forget the Russians--the truth about the people we're voting for is what should matter, but the media don't want us to know that truth. Indeed, they are angry that someone has managed to circumvent their control over what the American public is allowed to know. They've felt that way ever since Rush Limbaugh busted through their Iron Curtain in 1992. (By the way, 1992 is the year I started caring about politics. Thanks, Rush!) So now we get to find out about people besides Republicans like Nixon. Dang it!

I, for one, am ecstatic about this particular Wikileak. The site is generally anathema in my sight, but it's having a redemptive moment. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Even Hitler loved animals and passed laws against animal cruelty (unless they belonged to Jews, in which case losing your beloved master isn't exactly happy time). We get to know exactly what Hillary cares about and what she's saying to her co-conspirators! Awesome! We get to see the Democrats' opposition research on Donald Trump! Score! We get to know the good, the bad and the ugly about both sides. This means we get the truth about both nominees. Why is it that the Left is apoplectic over this? Don't they want us to know Trump's dirt? Or is it perhaps that Trump's dirt pales before Hillary's infected filth?

We'll see, I guess. Donald Trump doesn't seem worried. He seems to be an open guy--too much of an open guy, if you ask me. The man can't shut up! However, in that way he reminds me a bit of George W. Bush. When asked the name of the prime minister of India, Bush admitted he didn't know it off the top of his head. He didn't pull the classic political maneuver of answering the question he wished they'd asked. That's how Trump would handle the situation as well. In fact, he'd call them out and lambaste them for using gotcha journalism.

(By the way, it may seem conspicuous that there is no link to Wikileaks here. There are, after all, usually a good number of relevant links in my posts, and there are a good number in this one. However, on principle, I won't link to an organization that endangers U.S. personnel by revealing our classified information about them. You'll have to find them, rather easily, on Google.)

Friday, July 29, 2016

A Green Bernie?

The Green Party is angling to grab up Bernie Sanders as its presidential nominee now that it's become obvious the Democrats used him as a tool. (See link here.) Hillary just lost a lot of support; why not redirect that support away from Trump and into another channel? From a liberal perspective, that would be the best bet.

Sanders has already left the Democrat Party. (I can't bring myself to call it democratic considering the super-delegates.) Read the comments in the following article. (Link here.) The liberals are angry. Sanders supporters are not going to flock to Hillary--Bernie's speech was like that of a hostage with a gun to his head in an ISIS video. It fooled no one.

I hope Bernie runs. I disagree with him on everything, but he's sincere. You can't say that about Hillary Clinton.