Archive for June, 2017

The Weekly List

I’ve started an online subscription to the Washington Post.  It’s my first online subscription to any secular news outlet (after having surfed the web for years, taking advantage of websites that offered news at no cost to me), and I chose the WaPo because I have long considered Washington, D.C., the center, if not the heart, of the government of this great country that I love.  It’s also motivated by the race for president last year, and the result of the election last November.  As in, “what just happened, why did it happen, and what’s going to happen four years from now?”

Apparently, the Trump win – or was it the Clinton loss? – motivated Amy Siskind to start a list of “changes” (“Trump won, and Amy Siskind started a list of changes.  Now it’s a sensation,” WaPo, Margaret Sullivan, June 25 @ 2040).  I read the article agreed it was a great idea to keep track of the bits and pieces, and was further encouraged when I read that one of her readers constructed a database to keep track of the items.  Then, I went to her Twitter account and read her list from Week 32 ½.

The first item on her list is: “1. For the first time since taking office, Trump visited Camp David.”  I put this in the same category as the president who didn’t like broccoli (President George H.W. Bush, as reported by Maureen Dowd, the NYT, 1990 March 23).  Personally, I like broccoli and couldn’t care less what the president says about it.  As to Camp David, I care less about that than I do broccoli.

Amazingly, I got past her Item 1, and read, “2. Russia renewed six unused Trump trademarks in 2016.  Four of the six approvals were officially registered on November 6, Election Day.”  Well, ok, something I can get excited about: Russian trademarks.  See my comment about broccoli, above.  It’s nice that Amy needs to tell her readers that November 6 of last year was Election Day.  Even I remember that.

I do like that Amy starts every posting with, “Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.”  I have no idea who those nameless, alleged experts are, and so am skeptical.  However, the sentiment is extremely valuable.  And is echoed in the WaPo motto of “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”

Margaret tells us that Amy’s “Weekly List” is to track the ways “in which she saw America’s taken-for-granted governmental norms changing the in Trump era.”  The water is getting deep.  In the first place, “governmental norms” can be pretty well summed up in one word: “growth.”  Not “progress,” just “growth.”  I won’t bore or insult anyone with a laundry list of how many people work for the government, or how much money the government spends.  Frankly, I don’t know how anyone can just accept the sheer size of government.

Sadly, I have adopted an attitude of voting no for every issue that increases taxes.  Simply because the people in government are just so clever at finding new ways to spend the money the tax payers are compelled to give them.  Am I willing to pay more in taxes?  Yep.  I would have no problem at all with an increase in the cost of gasoline, if the money went toward exploring and developing alternate energy.  Having grown up in the era of muscle cars, I still enjoy the smell of the gasoline-powered internal combustion engine.  But, a lot of people don’t care, and would be perfectly happy with an all-electric, or hybrid car.  Cars aren’t bad, but the pollution is.

Increase taxes on alcohol and tobacco.  Fine.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (a very good thing paid for by taxes): “Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.”  That statement on their homepage is immediately followed by: “More than 480,000 deaths annually (including deaths from secondhand smoke).”  Also, the CDC states that excessive alcohol use accounts for approximately 88,000 deaths per year.  That’s well over half-a-million preventable deaths of Americans per year.  And some people say guns are bad.

Since these statistics are from the years before Trump took office, I have to wonder what Amy is trying to accomplish: (1) trash Trump, (2) deflect blame from his predecessors, or (3) have us eat more broccoli.

I don’t disagree with everything on Amy’s list (for the most current week – which is the only one I’ve read).  For example, I could not disagree more with so-called “sanctuary cities”; so one might think I am an enthusiastic supporter of Trump’s efforts deport all undocumented aliens.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Any effort to deport otherwise law-abiding, tax payers is a waste of my tax money.  People who leave their homes for something they perceive is better have already made a significant statement about the government of their home countries.  For the most part, they come to the States, not speaking the language, and without an education that will get them higher-paying jobs.  But, they come and keep a low-profile and they break fewer laws than those born here.  (I’m going out on a limb here: I am assuming that most laws and most of those in prison were born here.  I haven’t seen any documentation on this.  Sue me if I’m wrong.)

It should not be for the otherwise innocent to worry about deportation.  It should be for those that break the existing laws.  Don’t put the bad guys in our jails, send ‘em back home.  Oh, document ‘em first: fingerprints, DNA, whatever.  Put chips in ‘em, I don’t care.  Just get rid of them.  But, breaking more laws – the “sanctuary cities” – is not the answer.

Number 7, “A Muslim teem was brutally beaten and killed while walking to a Mosque with her friends in Sterling, VA.  A funeral vigil drew many, while the murder has yet to be charged as a hate crime.”  First, my most sincere condolences go out to the victim herself, and her family.  Second, the girl was with a group – but she was the only one attacked?  I know nothing about this tragedy, but a so-called “honor killing” is the first thing that came to my mind.  If that is the case – and that is a big if – then maybe local authorities are reluctant to charge another Muslim.  And as to making a distinction between murder and a “hate crime,” what can murder possibly be but a hate crime?