Things we learned from djt

Our democracy is fragile

On Facebook last week, I made a request. What are things we learned from djt and his last four or five years in public life?

One couple has downloaded the Constitution, referring to it often for the past 4 years. Another has learned more about the document, “in particular the 12th amendment. But also the 13th and the 25th.”

Of course, I knew about the Electoral College, but prior to the 2020 presidential election, I’d thought of the post-Election Day aspects of it as often as I’ve considered gravity. The recent machinations on December 14 and January 6 are like the wedding guests storming the officiant’s office demanding to see the couple’s license.

A friend chimed in: “The legal meanings of the word treason and what distinguishes it from sedition; and the federal statutes regarding both. How martial law works.

Also, “the structure of the United States District Courts; how and the meaning of SALT (in addition to Strategic Arms Limitation Talks).” Are you referring to that Angelina Jolie movie?

My buddy Steve noted: “The difference between simple corruption and an actual impeachable offense.” I thought when he was impeached they should have gone after him over the emoluments clause.

A friend suggests “There are innumerable norms that have provided guidelines for presidential behavior.” That’s irrefutably true. Will the other members accept djt into the former prez club? Doubtful. It got me thinking of the fact that I can’t remember half the people in his Cabinet.

Who knew the Hatch Act was so ineffectual on the highest-ranking folks? Who has violated it? Ivanka Trump, repeatedly. Kellyanne Conway, ditto.  And others.

You folks have done well

A parent noted “The names of dictators around the world, as well as names of responsible world leaders.” Yow, me too, and I hadn’t thought about it. Their child wants to know whether “there is any better leadership anywhere in the world, especially related to COVID and climate change.”

“Inherently good people can become mean and vindictive when pushed to their limits. Let’s hope that’s just a temporary condition and they can heal.” Unfortunately, the “good” and “temporary” nature I’m just not feeling.

The January 6 insurrection one can trace to a time before djt. In the last four years, it runs from Charlottesville (2017) to the planned kidnapping of the Michigan governor (2020) and beyond.

Some other responses:
Our democracy is fragile
The danger executive orders pose for human/civil rights. Methods a political party uses to suppress the vote of American citizens.
The “loving thy neighbor” commandment is frustrating and confusing. I knew that already but nothing brought it home as these four years have.

What “deplorables” can accomplish when they work together and by extension what any group can accomplish when they work together.
Some people are happily embracing their prejudices, and that empathy is a quality to be embraced.
Misogyny is our biggest problem. The majority of folks would rather have a racist president than a woman President.
There are more bigots and haters than I could ever imagine. And it makes me sick

Our culture is suicidal.
There are no checks and balances in our government.
The process of the transition of the president on inauguration day.
How is it that nearly one-half of the country could support after living through 4 years of narcissism, bigotry, and daily lying?

[“I learned…”] Not everyone who lives in America loves America and respects the Constitution. The symptoms of malignant narcissism. How easily we could go from a democracy to an autocracy. That I could really hate someone with every fiber of my being.

His accomplishments

Someone I do not know says, “Anyone saying Trump didn’t do a good job as President is full of Fake News BS…Pelosi is promoting sedition and Treason…this Congress is a Malcontent Group of vindictive people…Hillary Lost…period…now listening to PBS. I’m beginning to think the Durham Durham investigations have found out WASHINGTON is Corruption…and the best way to avoid exposure is for the Corruption to Cheat and Lie. Shame on Congress…”

If you’ve read my blog over the past quadrennial, you’ll note that I have a different POV. I will give him credit for two things, though. The First Steps Act. “The act was… an effort to improve criminal justice outcomes, as well as to reduce the size of the federal prison population…”

The other is to pour money into getting a COVID vaccine. Unfortunately, he totally undercut that effort by denying the pandemic’s seriousness, contradicting CDC guidelines on mask-wearing, failing to provide any federal coordination for PPE acquisition, and holding superspreader events, among other failures.

The big lie

Unfortunately, lies can trump the truth.

There was a bit of dialogue:
“I have learned is how effective ‘The Big Lie’ technique can be.”
“A man said the bigger the lie, the more people believe it because a big lie has the quality of being unbelievable, therefore people don’t believe that someone would make it up. So they believe it’s true.”
“If everyone believes it then it must be true. I have been debating the election fraud story with believers of it. I have shown and proved how everything they believe is not factual but even then, they won’t admit to the lie or acknowledge even a part of the truth.”

And in fact, part of that quote is attributed to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. It probably wasn’t him, though he is cited on millions of webpages.

Conversely, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” That’s a quote by Maya Angelou

Back in August of 2020, he said, “The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.”‘ He was announcing his strategy for undermining the election, attacking the postal service, et al. That was the birth of the series of baseless post-vote challenges.

In the midst of a 2020 election debated, he made a statement to the Proud Boys. “Stand back and stand by.” That dog whistle was blown just a few months later. Afterward, he tells the insurrectionists, “We love you. You’re very special. Go home.” How sweet.

Facebook: “I don’t see color!”

#ProdigalSonsMatter

all lives matterThough I was not looking for it, I came across messages of people trying to explain white privilege and why All Lives Matter sucks. One thread started with a friend of mine, a woman of color, reporting about a conversation she had.

My friend: “I don’t see color when I look at you, I don’t see color when I look at anyone.” An actual quote from someone I was speaking to yesterday. But I’ve heard this my entire life. As has every person of color. If you’re guilty of saying this to us – stop it.

Color is a part of an individual. Saying you don’t see it is to deny the beauty in which we are all made. Also – claiming to not see color serves as a justification for the stance that people of color aren’t mistreated. And further allows for the normalization of inequality. See where this is going?

Be educated about the experiences of people of color. Ask questions. See color. Embrace it. It’s beautiful.

Me: OMG, all my damn life. I’ve never done it, but I’ve been sorely tempted to walk up to a white person and say, “I don’t see color when I look at you.” And it’s almost always well-meaning people.

A friend of hers: Your friend is far from woke. But I also have heard people say it as a way to spiritually bypass racism. Including the statement, we are one… I don’t see color… the list goes on and on.

“Be color brave”

Another friend of hers: Growing up I was taught in school, society and my parents NOT to see color. To treat everyone equally. I don’t think it was malicious but what people thought was best at the time. Now being a teacher in the DOE they have made the conscious effort to train staff to SEE color, appreciate the difference and struggles that come with it. They say “be color brave, not color blind”. It will take time to ‘retrain’ but to me, it’s a start.

Some of the links that were shared included these:

How White Parents Can Talk To Their Kids About Race

Jimmy Kimmel Addresses His Own White Privilege: “To me, white privilege was what Donald Trump had – a wealthy father and a silver spoon in his mouth. It wasn’t what I grew up with. So, I rejected it because I didn’t understand what white privilege meant. But I think I do now. I think I at least understand some of it and here’s what I think it is. People who are white – we don’t have to deal with negative assumptions being made about us – based on the color of our skin. It rarely happens. If ever. Whereas black people experience that every day.”

In another conversation:

Imagine your house was on fire and when the fire truck came they began spraying water on each house on your street. Because all houses matter, right? But only one of them is on fire.

Scripture

Or the Jesus variation about having 100 sheep, one is lost, so he leaves the 99 to find it. Doesn’t he care about the 99? Of course, he does.

One of my pastors subsequently posted another great Biblical one:
The father was waiting there with a sign #ProdigalSonsMatter
When the older son saw it, he was angry, wouldn’t attend the party, and moped around with his own sign: #AllSonsMatter
Father: “Dude, It isn’t about you right now.”

Yet despite the efforts of a couple women, one guy kept insisting “ALL lives matter to me as a Christian.”

Shared links:

Not seeing race does little to dismantle racist structures or improve the lives of people of colour. In order to do so, we must see race. We must see who benefits from their race, who is affected by negative stereotyping of theirs, and on whom power and privilege is bestowed – not just because of their race, but also their class and gender. Seeing race is essential to changing the system.

Streaming Shows That Will Help You Examine White Privilege

James Corden: It’s Time for Change in the US. “How can the black community dismantle a problem that they didn’t create?”

Embracing the technology, right?

Why did I NEED Venmo?

every-virtual-meeting
Every Virtual Meeting: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 3.0 Unported License
When I was talking to a librarian friend of mine recently, it occurred to me that embracing the technology is often a cost/benefit analysis. So I’ve been pondering my adoption, re-adoption, or rejection of the same in the calendar year 2020.

Zoom/Skype/Google Hangouts: I had Skype over a decade ago. I didn’t use it much, didn’t like it. But since March 15, 2020, I must have used one of them at least four dozen times. BTW, EVERYTHING in the cartoon above I have witnessed.

Facebook: I have no idea how I receive the items I see first in my feed. Lately, I’ve found it necessary to delete people, almost always friends of friends. Actually, I like to keep people I know and disagree with so that I don’t get caught up with too much confirmation bias. I tend to retain the ones I know IRL. But stupid stuff, usually with misspelled graphics, not so much.

Twitter: I still don’t “get” Twitter. My blog posts go there daily, but that’s it.

Cellphone: I eschewed getting one at all for years. Then when I did, it was a dumb phone. I finally yielded and got a smartphone when I lost my flip phone a few years back. But because I often misplace it AND the battery drains too easily, it was often off. And I wasn’t going anywhere anyway.

Necessity is a real mother

That changed, not because of the COVID-19 but because of my father-in-law’s illness. My brothers-in-law and their wives were discussing issues via text. I wasn’t on the chain, because they didn’t have my number. I learned to have the phone on, and charged, regularly. My wife had a phone from the Pleistocene period, so she traded in her phone this calendar year. The kicker is that while I would receive the group texts, my wife would not. She could get individual texts, though. We don’t understand the issue.

Here’s a problem with being behind the curve. When getting instructions from the manual, or from other people, they operate on the assumption you’re just upgrading. The truth is more prosaic. I HAVE NO IDEA how to fix these things. Fortunately, I have a teenager. Still, I’m going to get ANOTHER phone for me, because the memory is so poor, and because I can seldom see images people text to me.

What’s App?: When I went to a conference in Indiana with kids from my church and others from the presbytery last summer, it was decided that we’d use What’s App. to communicate on the huge Purdue campus. On my phone, at least, it operated slowly, and occasionally not at all. So…

Why do I need this?

Venmo: When I needed to download the Venmo app, I had to dump What’s App and two others. And why did I NEED Venmo? Because the teachers at her school use it. They collected money back in March because they thought a couple of non-teaching staff were going to get laid off. As it turns out, they weren’t. Meanwhile, a couple of teachers are retiring at the end of the semester.

So we (I) had to get the money from Vera, who had collected the first $30 and then transfer it to Chuck, who was collecting for the retirement gift. This took about three hours, my phone is so wonky. Now why Vera couldn’t have sent the money to Chuck, keeping us out of it, I don’t know. Venmo is a sister company to PayPal, which I’ve had for years.

eBay: I’ve had it for years, but seldom use it. I wanted to get cards for our SORRY game. I could have bought a new game, but the rules in Fire and Ice are very different. i figured out my password and got new cards for $5 plus nearly as much for postage. But it’s good. We use them.

Instagram: Even my daughter couldn’t help me with this.

When your blog provider says upgrade

I got this message recently: “Debian and Ubuntu are operating systems that power a huge chunk of DreamHost. And, like any operating systems, they receive regular updates to fix bugs, improve stability, and add features. We will be upgrading your Virtual Private Server from version 14.04 (also known as trusty) to Debian 9.12 (aka Stretch!)”

OK! I have no idea what that means.

Date of upgrade: Tuesday, June 9th
Maintenance Window: 8:00pm-10:00pm Pacific Time
Expected downtime: 5 minutes
You may notice that your sites become unreachable for about 5 minutes while we perform the upgrade. Don’t worry – this is normal!

And I was working on the blog RIGHT AT THAT TIME, losing a bit of work. But it’s all good now.

Music albums for the year 1966

I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times

East-west_coverA couple of months back, I was nominated on Facebook “to post 10 albums that affected my life. No stories, no reason.”

That was unpossible, as someone said. I did it anyway, but I limited it to albums released in 1966. I didn’t necessarily BUY them in 1966, or even in that decade.

Watchout! – Martha and the Vandellas. I’m pretty sure I bought this as an LP cutout from some store – Woolworths, maybe?
Jimmy Mack, #10 pop, #1 RB in 1967.
I’m Ready for Love, #9 pop, #2 RB in 1966.
Full album.

Daydream – the Lovin’ Spoonful. I got this album on the Kama Sutra label from the Capitol Record Club because I didn’t send the card back in time. And a good thing, too, because I LOVE this album.
It’s Not Time Now – I took this as a conversation among Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy, and Jerry Brown fighting for the 1980 democratic nomination for President. Brown: “I can’t seem to get a word in edgewise anyhow.”
Jug Band Music.
Full album.

East-West – The Butterfield Blues Band. Another cutout, and an outstanding find.
Mary, Mary – a Mike Nesmith song that the Monkees were criticized for recording in some circles!
Work Song.
Full album.

Itching

The Supremes A’ Go-Go – the Supremes. The one album on the list that I didn’t/don’t own. My sister Leslie did, so I heard it a lot.
Love Is Like an Itching in My Heart, #9 pop, #7 RB in 1966. Possibly my favorite Supremes song.
You Can’t Hurry Love, #1 for two weeks, both pop and RB.
Full album.

If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears – the Mamas and the Papas. I probably bought this debut album in a store. The first of two 1966 albums by the group, the other being the eponymously-titled one.
Go Where You Wanna Go – Leslie and I would sometimes sing this in our green Family Singers days, a rare pop song in the repertoire.
Got a Feelin’, B-side of Monday, Monday.
Full album.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme – Simon and Garfunkel. A store purchase. Did my father buy this? He was really taken by 7 O’Clock News/Silent Night.
A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara’d into Submission).
The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine, B-side of the Dangling Conversation.
Full album.

Aftermath – the Rolling Stones. A cutout. The first real Stones’ album, I thought, as opposed to hits and filler.
Lady Jane, B-side of Mother’s Little Helper, #24 in 1966.
I Am Waiting.
Full UK album.

The Cream

Fresh Cream– Cream. Probably a cutout. Our 7th-grade history teacher, Mr. Stone, referred to the group as The Cream. My friend Karen quickly corrected him.
I Feel Free, #116 in 1967, not on the UK album.
N.S.U., B-side of I Feel Free.
Full US album.

Blonde on Blonde – Bob Dylan. I heard this a lot – my HS girlfriend was a big Dylan fan – but never actually BOUGHT it until the CD era.
I Want You, #20 pop in 1966. This appeared on a Columbia compilation album called Best of ’66.
Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again.
Full album.

Revolver – the Beatles. The last Beatles album I got from the Capitol Record Club. I first owned the UK version on a The Beatles Collection.
Got to Get You into My Life, #7 in 1976.
Tomorrow Never Knows.
Full UK album.

Pet Sounds.
I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times.
Wouldn’t It Be Nice , #8 in 1966.
Full album.

That Cambridge Analytica Facebook thing

I wouldn’t have known the niece was in Memphis for the MLK memorial without Facebook.

My wife has never been on Facebook. Occasionally, she had considered joining, as it would be a way for her to be part of interest groups with some of her teaching colleagues. In fact, I’m friends on the platform with some of her teaching buddies.

But she said, correctly, that she could not fit Facebook into her busy schedule. And indeed, it can be a time suck. Someone criticized me on FB recently for making some point then not arguing it to death. But, as Carly said, “I haven’t got time for the pain.”

Although it is true that I generally cannot just let an item with false information, posted by someone I know IRL, go unchallenged. Usually it’s about the death of someone who isn’t dead, or died a dozen years ago. Or something about autism and vaccines from a shady website I’ve never heard of.

My wife also worried about issues concerning privacy, VERY correctly, as it turns out. I mean, I wasn’t worried about sharing my views – hey, I have a daily blog – but even
Neil J. Rubenking of PC Magazine was surprised by things the social networking giant knew about him.

Still, the Cambridge Analytica data debacle led to changes in procedures. The problem for Mark Zuckerberg now is having to sit before the U.S. Congress and explain how 87 million Facebook users’ data got in the hands of a third party app, and whether there are other entities out there with similar data mined from them. He was slow to apologize, and only after stock prices started plunging.

I understand why more than a few people I know IRL have decided to abandon the platform over this. In my cost/benefit analysis, I still like reconnecting with old friends and remembering birthdays. For instance, I wouldn’t have known the niece was in Memphis for the MLK memorial without Facebook.

I’ve discovered people with common viewpoints, and more than a few with divergent ones, none of whom, BTW, I’ve convinced of anything.

The thing is that, yeah, something else could, and maybe should, rise up and replace Facebook. From 2007: Will MySpace ever lose its monopoly? (HT, Dan.) But it isn’t going to develop overnight.

I guess I’ll stick around on Facebook for now, even with the invitations for Candy Crush, et al. that I studiously avoid.