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Posts published in August 2016

Professionals required

rainey

I’ve recently undergone serious surgery. (Is there any other kind?) But, before they wheeled me in, I told the physician I didn’t want him in the room at the time. I’d already asked the guy in the next suite of offices in the same building to handle the cutting and snipping. He sells mutual funds and has no medical background. But better him than those damned professional doctors.

Such is the current nutball thinking abroad in our land with all those poll responders who say they won’t vote for a presidential candidate who’s a “professional” politician. “NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY” is their mantra. So, they’re jumping on the loud, three-wheeled Trump bandwagon in record numbers. Suffice to say, a more unqualified, doomed-to-fail, ego-scratching candidate for the office of commander-in-chief has not appeared on a national ballot since that damned Palin woman.

If one knows nothing about how our political system works, if one is uninformed or misinformed by a favorite right-wing media, hasn’t spent the time to understand how our government works or is ignorant of the whole process and determined to stay that way, I can understand the dumb and dangerous response to national pollsters. But it would sure play hell with our country if that ignorance prevailed.

There are, I think, four major reasons for such misplaced anger. First, our higher and lower educational systems are graduating students who have absolutely no idea how our government works. I run into it every day in conversations with white collar, blue collar or no collar folks. Even many PhD’s are “civics challenged.” Simple queries about government form and function draw off-the-wall responses or blank stares. Too often - far to often - the response is “I have no idea” or “I don’t know.” Makes it damned tough to call yourself an educated voter or to cast an intelligent ballot.

The second reason for a sizeable part of the uneducated electorate being mad at “professional” politicians is they’ve elected too damned many of ‘em who should’ve never been candidates in the first place. We’ve filled our legislatures and congress with nice looking, smooth talking people. They either have no idea what their job descriptions are or they have singular agendas for or against something and don’t give two hoots in Hell for governing or anything else. They are strident, ignorant and dangerous voices with nothing to say. And, an elected platform on which to say it.

A third factor is loss of respect for anything challenging a person’s thinking. We’ve developed a media system and, in some cases an educational system - to which people can turn for reaffirmation of whatever philosophy they have. Fact or no fact. I get in more arguments lately when I challenge someone. Their favorite media source or favorite politician or even their favorite bartender has convinced them of the “rightness” of a certain view and no other facts need apply. Further, their challenge to me is to “convert” to their thinking. There is no middle ground. No acceptance of the right to disagree without being disagreeable. No thought they could be wrong.

Finally, we’ve created a political system where winning is the goal - not filling an office with someone who both understands and can do the job. Go with someone who can win - not necessarily someone more qualified. Both parties do it but Republicans have become masters of the process. Cruz, Lee, Cotton, Ghomert, Bachman, King, McCarthy et al. are just a few who’ve contributed nothing - will contribute nothing - and who’ll muck up the process every day of their tenure in office.

People have a right to be mad at “professional” politicians. But they have a prior - and larger - responsibility to assure an intelligent and qualified person is elected and given the opportunity to become “professional” by fulfilling the duties of that office in a “professional” manner. If they don’t, chase ‘em out. Then find another real professional.

Imagine a Trump presidency. Who would be in his cabinet? Would it be a John Kerry or a Colin Powell at the State Department to conduct delicate but dangerous negotiations with nations we oppose? Would Joe Biden or a John McCain be vice president to assure smooth continuity of an administration? What professional voice would be at Treasury to guide the country’s money policies? At the Pentagon?

Professional politicians - really professional with no quotation marks - are necessary at all levels for this country to survive. The political stakes are no longer simple enough for just anyone to fill elected office. Our universities should be turning out trained, talented and qualified graduates ready for careers in public service - careers in politics. We need “best and brightest” in the Capitol, the White House, city hall and the court house. To a very large extent, we’re in the divided and uncontrollable mess we find ourselves because we made poor choices. Wrong choices. Tragic choices in too many elections.

No, I had the surgeon do the cutting and snipping. He’s a professional and right for the job. Upon recovery, I may wander over to the office next door and talk to the fella there about an investment opportunity. He’s a professional, too.

Right people in the right jobs. Seems simple enough. Why have we screwed it up so many times at the polls? Because a lot of folks were not “professional” in their voting. And look at the mess we’ve got!

Trump 99: Convenient ignorance

trump

How ignorant would an American have to be to not know what the Ku Klux Klan, the KKK, is? More even, surely, than is Donald Trump, which would mean he's simply not telling the truth about a substantial piece of American, and American political, history.

Interviewed on CNN, he said, "Just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, OK? I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists."

He also pleaded ignorance on the subject of David Duke, a one-time Klan leader now running for the Senate in Louisiana. This is the same David Duke whose participation in the now-defunct Reform Party (on whose line he then was considering a presidential bid) led Trump to abandon that effort in part because the party “now includes a Klansman, Mr. Duke.”

Maybe he forgot . . .

Although Duke's supportive statement to his fellow travelers that a vote for anyone other than Trump would be "treason to your heritage" ought to have jogged his memory at least.

The probability is that Trump wasn't telling the truth. Or was he joking? Or was this sarcasm? You can never be sure. Regardless, the plain statement drew plenty of attention.

Joe Scarborough - a Republican - of MSNC's Morning Joe, said that "It’s breathtaking. That is disqualifying right there. To say you don’t know about the Ku Klux Klan? You don’t know about David Duke?"

He went on: “I mean is he really so stupid that he thinks Southerners aren’t offended by the Ku Klux Klan and David Duke? Is he really so ignorant of Southern voters that he thinks this is the way to their heart — to go neutral, to play Switzerland when you’re talking about the Klan? And to say he doesn’t know enough information about the Klan to condemn them — exactly what does Donald Trump expect to learn in the next 24 hours about the Klan?”

In an op-ed, highlighting this comment from Trump, he asked if "this how the party of Abraham Lincoln dies?"

The Occam's Razor explanation for Trump's comment was that any question about the Klan and Duke put him in a pressure spot between some of his white supremacist supporters and, well, almost everyone else. And he didn't know how to handle the pressure.

But it also suggests that his response to almost any such uncomfortable topic may be to pretend that it simply doesn't exist.