Posts Tagged ‘Trump’

Trump’s Moral Confusion

February 8, 2017

I’ve delayed my promised wrap-up of the dangers inherent in artificial intelligence till my next rant to explore a topical failure in human intelligence, or at least human values.

 

At a gathering this past week I had a conversation with an acquaintance who appeared to share many of my world views. However, when the subject of Israel and the Middle East came up, we had a spirited discussion about equating loss of innocent lives during military action versus the intentional targeting of non-combatants (an argument I’ve heard before). To me, this was an otherwise reasonable man attempting to assert equivalence between collateral damage and terrorism.

 

Which brings me to President Trump. This past week he took a brief break from tweeting to sit down for an interview with Bill O’Reilly. During that dialog, he was asked if he respected President Putin, and while he acknowledged it remained to be seen if they would get along, he maintained that he respected the Russian leader. When reminded by Mr. O’Reilly that the man was a “killer,” Trump replied, “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?”

 

It behooves all of us, especially our president, to get our heads above the moral fog that seems to have enveloped us over the past few decades. No, we are not perfect; as a nation of human beings we never can be. And we should strive to be better. But even with our mistakes and missteps we’ve come the closest to assuring human rights and dignity of any system devised in the history of mankind. The principles upon which this country is based (and which, paradoxically, seem to foster this moral confusion), have created the most powerful meritocracy the world has ever known. If we lose sight of this, and focus more on our shortcomings than on our successes, as our enemies hope, we will become progressively immobilized as a people by the toxic cloud of moral confusion.

 

The slogan of Trump’s campaign has been “America First.” If he continues down this road he can join ex-President Obama on the second “Blame America First” tour.

POST ELECTION BLAH-BLAH

November 14, 2016

I breathed a sigh of relief the morning after with confirmation that Trump had, indeed, achieved the seemingly impossible and threaded the needle to greater than 270 electoral votes. Like the majority of conservative voters, I was not a Trump supporter; but I was not a “never-Trumper,” either.

I believed, and still do, that people who truly liked either candidate are uninformed, immoral, or amoral. Of course, I disagreed with the progressive left on who posed the greater danger to our country. They allowed themselves to believe the propaganda that Donald Trump was worse than a coarse, sometimes juvenile candidate and mischaracterized him as bigoted and unstable. They falsely proclaimed reprehensible actions (Hillory’s) as less consequential than inexcusable words (Donald’s). The demonstrations/riots that followed the election serve to illustrate that belief, although it remains unclear what proportion of his detractors share this level of angst (there are talking heads that proclaim these demonstrations are not spontaneous, but bought and paid for, like those at the pre-election Trump rallies).

In the past, winning an election has been declared a “mandate,” and this election is no exception. Now, I support the concept of the electoral college and the rationale for our founders crafting a republic rather than a democracy (yes, we are the former, not the latter). But the success of our country moving forward hinges on our net values. It is not lost on me that small majority of the popular vote went to Hillary. This is the result of decades of government growth, expansion of the welfare state (handouts), and liberal education that fails to educate our children on the reasons an electoral college and a Senate exist (I recently laughed as a liberal senator was quoted as decrying the existence of the electoral college, the same concept that was responsible for giving her a job). Because both candidates were so flawed, it is difficult to determine to what extent this muddies the waters in terms of the electorate’s core beliefs.

At this point, is it in the realm of possibility that changing course, if this occurs, will reverse the steady decline (I recognize the left does not see a steady decline)? I don’t know. Already the cries for “unity” and “compromise” that have derailed previous attempts to move to the right ring out. You cannot unify mutually exclusive, disparate beliefs, only compromise on how quickly and to what extent you get there. While I strongly believe a constitutionally conservative Supreme Court will benefit the country in the years ahead over a liberal progressive one, unless we get a handle on our spending and debt and calm the turbulent international waters, a peaceful, evolutionary healing will be impossible. Historical cycles indicate we’re approaching a Crisis, and there may be no way to stop it, only overcome it.

And it will extract a great cost.

ELECTORAL PSYCHOSIS: OR THE HILLARUMP-TRILLARY SYNDROME

May 25, 2016

I came across an op-ed piece in our local newspaper recently by Eliot Cohen. His commentary boiled down to a call for a third-party candidate. He termed Hillary Clinton “easily the lesser evil” and posited that a third-party candidate would send her a message to “govern from the center.”

A bit later in the week I had a brief political sidebar with a patient (this seems to arise more often these days), and he expressed disgust with the current polarization and voiced a similar wish for more cooperation and a move to the center.

Now, I’ve been persistently perplexed by the rise to the top of two deeply flawed candidates who share at least one thing in common: They have the highest unfavorable ratings of the pack. So what would possess the American public to ostensibly rally around their least favored candidates? The call for a move to the center gelled a theory I’d been harboring.

But first, getting back to the patient, I inquired if he were $100,000 in debt, would he reduce his spending to neutral, “governing from the center,” as it were, or would he tighten his belt in an effort to climb the uphill road to fiscal recovery?

For decades now progressive Democrats and Republicans have doubled down on unprecedented “grow and spend” policies that have become so entrenched that much of the electorate cannot imagine a viable alternative. Many have adopted a similar personal fiscal policy, planning little for the future while enjoying the moment. The lines for $5 and $6 dollar Starbucks’ beverages grow even while we hear of increasing joblessness and a shrinking economy. The illusion of the status quo is buttressed by a growing welfare state supported by unprecedented borrowing, printing, and their associated campaign promises.

But the odd bird of an election we’re witnessing reflects an unease that’s starting to ripple across a growing segment of the country: a realization that things are not working. For many, the solution has taken the shape of a call for an outsider; someone who will do something—anything—differently. For some this “savior” takes the form of a blustering, fist-shaking, non-politician who talks a lot about “winning,” with populist catch-phrases in search of elusive policies and substance. For others, it’s the siren call of wealth redistribution, the indomitable phoenix of socialism and its comrade “social justice,” once again rising from the ashes even as the world watches its demise again…and again. And yet others crave a return to the only normal they can fathom after decades of intransigence, just a few more years of comforting printing and spending, and things will eventually work themselves out. This, even if the promises come from someone they don’t really trust…and who might be indicted. Finally, a growing but stunted group made an aborted attempt to place a voice that spoke to the only solution that makes sense: Shrinking government, reducing spending, stopping crony capitalism, and growing the private sector economy. But this messenger was tainted ideologically. Those on the left are conditioned to see this this viewpoint as espoused by narrow-minded bigots who love only corporate fat cats, and many in the center were put off by exhortations weighed down by right-to-life and other perceived religious undertones.

When faced with the knowledge that something must be done and the one obvious solution you’ve been told is evil, cognitive dissonance occurs, and the paradox creates…the Hillarump-Trillary Syndrome. Side effects include mini-riots at campaign stops and spending an inordinate amount of media time distracting oneself with the pros and cons of a minute fraction of the public’s right to choose which bathrooms they may enter.

A third party candidate? Americans have always been an exceptionally innovative people. Given time, I’m certain we can come up with a someone we like even less.