Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Putting the Extreme in Vetting

I’m the son of an immigrant and I know very little about immigration. My father came here from Hungary at the end of World War II. He came in on a ship through New Orleans (not everyone saw the Statue of Liberty) with a suitcase and a wooden crate that was 18” wide by 24” tall and 36” long.

He never talked much about what it was like to come here or what meant to become a US Citizen. I didn’t even know about the crate until after he passed  away. He never spoke Hungarian in the house (unless he hit his thumb with a hammer) and didn’t teach me Hungarian either. I never asked him why, but have always assumed he believed in assimilation, because he just wanted to be an American, not a Hungarian-American.

So I don’t know what he would have thought about “Extreme Vetting”. But it seems to me, that when it comes to who we allow to come into this country there are some pretty extreme positions coming from both sides.

If you were to ask those that are against whatever it is President Trump’s idea of vetting is what they believe will be on his “vetting questions” I believe they think it will be something like this:

Trump Extreme Vetting Questionnaire

Note: As you ask these questions stare menacingly at the “immigrant”. Make sure they know you mean business and if they hesitate in any way they must have something to hide; reject them immediately. They must answer no to every question but even if they do, go with your gut.

  1. Are you or do you know anyone that is a Muslim?
  2. Do you own a prayer mat?
  3. Do you know which way Mecca is?
  4. Do you like bacon?

If you were to ask the folks that support the Trump immigration policies what they people who oppose them would like their vetting questionnaire to look like they would tell you this.

People That Oppose Extreme Vetting Questionnaire

Note: Hold the hand of the person you are interviewing. Make sure you empathize with them and validate them as a human being. Your chance of approving someone that would actually do anything is virtually nonexistent. Remember, there are no right answers.

  1. What is your favorite color?
  2. Do you like kittens?
  3. How do you feel right now?
  4. Do you want to enter the United States?

As with everything political, the answer probably is somewhere in the middle ….

Friday, January 27, 2017

From the Peanut Gallery

I have to admit opposition to Trump has become quite entertaining. It really boils down to this … the louder they yell, the less they’re being listened to. The humorous part is that they can’t seem to understand why.

I’ll even identify who I’m speaking of. If you have ever done the following on social media:
  • “Not my president”
  • “Trump is a misogynist, racist, homophobe”
  • “If you voted for Trump you are a misogynist, racist, homophobe”
  • “He didn’t win the popular vote, he shouldn’t be President”
  • “The Electoral College should not exist”
  • Used the term “pussy grabber”
  • Posted the image of the Obama/Trump Inauguration crowds side by side
  • Posted an image of Trump tinted orange
  • Can’t engage in a civil exchange with someone who voted for Trump
You are wasting your energy and time. For the next 4 years you should take up a hobby, like Doomsday Prepping. After all, aren’t you sure that's what’s going to happen?

I can’t blame you; your feelings are being echoed by the media, which seems to be fueling your anger. With the exception of Fox News and some conservative web sites, the media seems obsessed with showing Trump in a bad light.
As evidenced by what happened on day 5 of Trump’s Presidency:
  • By Executive Order he reactivated the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines. An extremely controversial project that had been halted by President Obama.
  • A report surfaced that many governmental agencies may be subject to a “gag order”
  • He removed the US from TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership), also a very controversial action
  • He had instituted a federal hiring freeze
Yet at that day's Press conference what topic seemed to get focus? Questioning if Trump really believes that there is voter fraud and if so, will he call for an investigation. Clearly, just wanting to make it look like he’s obsessed with insignificant issues, while he should be focused on the business of running the country.

Did they not notice what he had done that day?

It’s like the press is saying “AHA! See, we TOLD you he wasn’t going to be a good President. All he cares about is his image. He’s not politician, he’s just a Reality TV star”

Exactly … that’s why he doesn’t care. He’s not a politician. I’ve come to the belief that he could care less if he’s re-elected. I believe he sees his Presidency as his service to the country. If it lasts 4 years, so be it. Make no mistake, during the time he has he will do what he feels he been tasked to do.

Scream all you want, the only people listening are those who agree with you. Your attempts to get your point across by demeaning and name-calling his supporters has gotten you tuned out. Your actions have made you look like a bully to these people and they are treating you as such.

Very few will stand up to a bully, most will choose avoidance. That’s what’s happening to you now. They’re going about their business. They’re not discussing politics at work and they’re watching Fox News at home.

So good luck with your strategy; you’re getting what you have earned. Try the Xanax, I heard its amazing …

Saturday, January 21, 2017

If You Want To Be Heard

I don’t know if this is a saying or not, but it makes so much sense to me I have to believe someone before me has said it.

“If you want to be heard, you need to have a seat at the table”

That seems simple enough to me. I don’t know a thing about politics. I suppose that’s why I am so perplexed at the reaction coming from the legion of “I Hate Trump” Democrats. At the time I type this there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 Democrats in the House of Representatives that have refused to come to the Inauguration of the President-Elect Donald J. Trump. Citing reasons anywhere from “He has said inappropriate things” to “ Her is Illegitimate”.

All of these politicians must have a clear understanding of how things work in Washington. They are completely outnumbered. The breakdown in the House of Representatives of the 115th Congress will be

- Democrats -  194
- Republicans - 241

They are clearly outnumbered. Yet the have decided to display a big middle finger to Donald Trump. Doing so they are doing the same to the Republican party. This on a day that is supposed to be a day of unity.

My thoughts on this particular situation come from my years of dealing with people in a non-political environment. Specifically, the many years I spent in lending. As distasteful as it was, a good amount of my time was spent working with people who we’re paying on time.

It was my job to make sure these people made their payments and honored the commitment they made when they signed their loan papers. I’d like to think I was pretty good at it. I believe that it was mostly due to my approach.

I learned early on that you cannot force anyone to do anything by using insults, threats, or intimidation. It is also impossible to convince someone to do anything if there is no conversation or you make yourself unavailable to them. The only way to get your message to someone is to develop a dialog with them.

The only way you have a chance to convince someone of anything is through respectful dialog. You have to acknowledge that they have an opinion. You have to speak with them in a non-aggressive way.  You have to win them over.

These Democrats aren’t doing that. What they are doing is an aggressive act that I believe will be taken into consideration when it comes to future votes in the House. If they thought they had a difficult fight before, they have really made things much worse. It’s my belief that they are creating a wall that will block any real communication they could have had with those that they so vehemently oppose.

The only end result I can see for them is that they will be completely ignored by the Republicans in the House. They will become unnecessary and their ideas, even if they are good, will be ignored. It’s my belief that they have only made things worse.

But I’m not a politician, so what do I know …

Sunday, January 15, 2017

And the Substandard Performance Goes To ...

I owned a video store for 20 years. So I used to watch awards shows, even though I’ve never enjoyed them much. From an industry perspective, I understand the importance of the show. They are there to promote their industry by showcasing the best of the best and to occasionally give an “atta-boy” to the most respected in their industry. No one watches an awards show hoping to hear a narrative on politics.

Unfortunately, they are becoming exactly that; a platform for people who have no political relevance. I don’t say that to minimize their opinion. My issue is when and where they choose to give it. If you’re receiving an award for your abilities in music or acting, stick to that. I’m not interested in your opinion on global warming, the seals or politics.

The latest example comes from the Golden Globes, specifically Meryl Streep’s acceptance speech when receiving the Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievements. This is a BIG deal and has been given to the who’s who of Hollywood. Recent recipients include Denzel Washington, George Clooney, Woody Allen, Jodie Foster, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese.

Instead of discussing her art, she felt it was a better use of the time to enrich us all by expressing her disappointment in president-elect Donald Trump. Even my 82 year old mother, a life long Democrat who has never voted for a Republican and HATES Trump grunted while she changed the channel.

I have no issue with her opinion; she’s certainly entitled to it. My issue is with the disrespect she shows to the Golden Globes and the audience watching by hijacking the time given to her. The choice for who receives an award like this are taken seriously and not just given out to anybody. I’m sure the committee awarding this had the expectation that her acceptance speech would be about her experiences as an actor. Instead she choose to discuss how she felt about the President Elect.

What people like Streep don’t seem to understand is that we (the public) don’t care and have no need to know what they think about political issues. I’m also willing to bet that you’d have a difficult time finding anyone who has been moved to change their opinion on any political issue based on what a “celebrity” thought.

If they really wanted to get their opinion out there they should call a press conference. Why don’t they do that? It’s because no one would show up, that’s why.

These celebrities also run the risk that when someone sees their performance they may have a difficult time enjoying it, (or possibly even skipping it) because they hate their opinion on a particular subject or issue. There is no real upside for them, but they don’t seem to realize that or care.

But I suppose when you are in a profession that requires you to “play pretend” the majority of the time you must lose your ability to function in a “real world” …

Saturday, January 07, 2017

The Effect of Social Media #hate

Let me start off by saying … I don’t care who you voted for. Trump, Clinton, Stein or Snoopy; it really doesn’t matter to me. Before you ask … yes I voted. Am I going to tell you who it was? Absolutely not.

Why? Because it doesn’t matter and it’s not relevant to what I have to say.

Today it was all over the news that four young black adults tortured a mentally challenged white 18 year old and actually streamed it live on Facebook hoping it would go “viral”. I'm sure they believed they believed that there were many people that would cheer for them. In the footage, one of the four suspects screamed, “F--k white people!” and “F--k Donald Trump!” A second video, released Thursday, showed the attackers forcing the teen’s head down inside a toilet bowl, making him drink the water inside.

Like it or not, you can blame this one on all the hateful rhetoric going on in social media. Yes, there are other issues at play here; bad environment, bad parenting and a bad family unit. You can even say I’m stretching. But even if I am, it’s not by much.

I say social media is putting it over the edge. It’s a constant chatter of negative rhetoric and name calling. It’s coming from people they know, people they don’t know, people they respect and famous people.

Here is what people of color, women and the LGBT community are hearing:
  • “If you voted for Trump you are a misogynist, racist, homophobe”
  • “The reason Trump won the election is that white people voted for him”
In the beginning Trump’s candidacy was discounted as a “publicity stunt”. Then once he received the Republican party’s nomination he was dismissed as being “unqualified for the job”. Finally about a month out when it appeared that even though Clinton was ahead and it could be close, the name calling started. What made this name calling different from the name calling in the past was not only was Trump a “misogynist, racist, homophobe”; the narrative became that if a person voted for Trump, they were too.

It drove Trump voters underground where they patiently waited for election day. I would submit to you that driving them underground actually strengthened their resolve to vote for Trump.

Trump’s win only made the situation worse. Instead of the negative rhetoric dying down, it’s now been amplified … against those who voted for Trump. It solidly takes blame off of the Clinton campaign, because someone had to be held responsible. It’s also an accusation that covers EVERYTHING.
  • If you’re a white male, you could be all three
  • If you are a white female you could be a racist and homophobe
  • If you are a male person of color, you could be a misogynist homophobe
  • If you are a female person of color, you could be a homophobe
The beauty of this accusation is you can’t prove you’re not what you’re being called. Deny it and you have just verified it in their minds. Because even if you’ve never done anything misogynistic, racist, or homophobic there is no way you can prove you don’t secretly AGREE or SUPPORT these ideals. After all how can you prove to anyone what is inside your head. You are automatically guilty based on your gender or race.

The phrase “misogynist, racist, homophobe” has been used to describe Trump voters so often that it is now almost accepted as fact. In addition to that, after the election another reason for Clinton's lost was added. It was because Trump received the majority of the “white vote”. Which is true, but not in numbers much different than any Republican candidate before him. I think it’s common knowledge that the ambivalence of the Democratic base was the reason Trump won.

I believe that for people that are not Caucasian the statements “If you voted for Trump you are a misogynist, racist, homophobe” and “The reason Trump won the election is that white people voted for him” have been combined. What is not being heard is “if you’re white, you probably voted for Trump which means you are probably a misogynist, racist, homophobe”. If you think this is not possible all I have to do it point out that most people of color believe that if you're white, you're probably a racist. The same goes for many women. Many do not believe that men really believe that woman are equals.

So all of you that are blowing up your and your friends social networks with these accusations, you’re just making things worse. You need to stop. Eventually this is going to turn into real violence. And like or not, that violence is going to be against white people. There is a segment of our society that already feels depressed and all they need is a target. These accusations are developing that target for them.

Mark my words … the day IS coming. Soon there will be news about some white person that is beaten to a pulp by a group that “assumed” that person voted for Trump. You will have no one to blame but yourselves and there won’t be any turning back …