August 18, 2017

TGIF 8/18/17

I've been tinkering with a post all day long, without getting past my own objections to my writing, so I'm throwing in the towel for now on that, and instead will just noodle about some random things tonight.

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump's main accomplishment,will be speaking to a conservative group at the end of September.

At Trump's Washington DC hotel.

Now, I've always been squeamish with SCOTUS justices giving speeches to ideological organizations - regardless of the ideology in question; something about that just doesn't smell right. Gorsuch's address to the Fund for American Studies at Trump's hotel comes just days before the first Monday in October, when the Court's term kicks off; their docket includes Trump's travel ban. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth, to go along with the smell.

In contrast, some organizations are coming to the decision that holding big charity functions at Mar-a-Lago, Trump's Winter White House and home of the 'Have Your Photo Taken with the Football' event. David Farenthold, a reporter for the Washington Post who has been focusing on Trump businesses and charitable acts (or the lack thereof), is reporting that seven organizations have moved from the 'yes we'll be back' column to the 'no, we won't' column. Groups include the Susan G Komen Foundation, the Cleveland Clinic, the American Cancer Society, the Salvation Army, and the Red Cross, which has cancelled its event all together.

So here's a question for you: how long before the president starts attacking these organizations on Twitter? We all know how he hates when people do mean things to him, and taking high profile events away from his beloved Mar-a Lago sure counts as mean.  This has to be way up there on his list of acts requiring retribution. And not only that, but will his base stop donating to these organizations?

On another topic, it seems historians and others have noticed a striking resemblance between monuments to Union soldiers and to Confederate soldiers.  The Washington Post has a story today that includes these two pictures. I know people have long said that the Civil War had brother fighting brother - can you tell who's Blue and who's Grey?

from the Washington Post
That's Union on the left as you look at the pic, and Confederate on the right. The difference? The belt buckles - US for the North, CS for the South. As the article notes,
To the Monumental Bronze Co. in Bridgeport, Conn., it was all just business. Union or Confederate, a customer was a customer, another $450 for a zinc statue that could mean whatever you needed it to mean. It was a business model that could appeal to president Trump - a highly profitable product that could dress up a drab little town and make many Americans feel great again.
One American who's not feeling great again is Susan Bro. The mom of Charlottesville terrorism victim Heather Heyer, Bro has said in an interview that she has received death threats sand that she's not interested in talking to the president.

It seems the White House has reached out a few times, including the first time which might have actually been during Heather's memorial service; there were others after that as well. Bro was too tired to watch the news, and when she did, her opinion changed dramatically - after all, she had thanked Trump earlier in the week for his kind words. But now?
I hadn't really watched the news until last night and I'm not talking to the president now. I'm sorry, after what he said about my child. It's not that I saw somebody else's tweets about him, I saw an actual clip of him at a press conference equating the protesters...with the KKK and the white supremacists. You can't wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying "I'm sorry." I'm not forgiving for that. 
She also offered some advice for Trump:
Think before you speak. 
And finally, one more touch on the #MAGA theme. Trump has been telling us that Foxconn, the foreign company that makes electronics (including Apple products) in Taiwan, was going to be opening a factory in Wisconsin. Jobs, jobs jobs, he told us - that'll keep us from treating each other like crap, quell the racism and white supremacy and whatnot.

For some reason, when I heard the president going on and on about these great Foxconn jobs, I wasn't thinking we were buying those jobs through a massive corporate welfare program, did you?
Well, that's exactly what happened.

The Wisconsin state Assembly reached a deal on the economic development package for Foxconn, which will be putting its new factory in House Speaker Paul Ryan's district. I kid you not. Anyway, the deal is worth $3B -- billion with a B - in mostly cash incentives. The plant will eventually employ 13,000 people (less than the 50K the company said they wanted to create here) and average wages will be around $54K for the first 3,000 hired.

Oh - those incentives? The break-even point on that investment is not expected to hit for at least 25 years.


August 16, 2017

Wondering on Wednesday (v99)

As I write this post, on lunch break from my day job, things seem pretty quiet out there.

Oh, sure - people are calling for Trump's impeachment or resignation; defenders are defending and detractors are detracting, and there's still a ton of head-shaking going on about the press conference yesterday. That all matters, somehow, but something else that happened today matters more.

A memorial service was held today to honor and remember Heather Heyer, the Charlottesville "road rage" victim. Honestly, that's how some on the alt-right are describing her murder. I won't go into details on other comments, nor will I provide the link to the article, but it's out there.

Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, spoke eloquently about how her daughter should be remembered.
My child’s famous Facebook post was: "If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention." She paid attention. She made a lot of us pay attention. Oh, my gosh, dinner with her, we knew, was going to be an ordeal of listening. And conversation. And perhaps disagreement, but it was going to happen. And so, my husband would say, "OK, I’m going to go out in the car and play on my video game for a while." And we would sit and would grill. And she and I would talk, and I would listen. And we would negotiate, and I would listen.
And we talked about all this stuff. We talked about politics. We talked about anything that caught her eye that she felt was fair, unfair. She’d talk about her feelings about the office and how things were going. I mean, she just talked. The girl loved to talk. And she was single, so there was nobody to listen at home, so mama got a lot of it. And that was wonderful.
You never think you’re going to bury your child. You never think to take those pictures. They asked me for pictures for this, and I struggled. I had pictures from her childhood. But I had to go to Facebook to find pictures of my child, because we were always together. I saw her a couple times a month, at least, and we would text each other fairly often, and we would Facebook message at bedtime, "I love you," "I love you. You doing OK?" "Yeah, I love you." So I have no regrets on that part. Take pictures of the ones that you love, because you don’t know when they’re not going to be there. 
But here’s what I want to say to you today. This could be a storm in a teacup, and it could all be for nothing. This could have—I could have said, "Let’s don’t do this publicly. Let’s have a small private funeral." But, you know, that’s not who Heather was. Anybody who knew Heather said, "Yeah, this is the way she had to go, big and large." Had to have the world involved, because that’s my child. She’s just that way. Always has been, and she will continue to be.
Because here’s the message. Although Heather was a caring and compassionate person, so are a lot of you. A lot of you go that extra mile. And I think the reason that what happened to Heather has struck a chord is because we know that what she did is achievable. We don’t all have to die. We don’t all have to sacrifice our lives. They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what. You just magnified her.  
So, here’s what I want to happen. You ask me, "What can I do?" So many caring people, pages of pages of pages of stuff I’m going through. I’m reading pages of pages of pages how she’s touching the world. I want this to spread. I don’t want this to die. This is just the beginning of Heather’s legacy. This is not the end of Heather’s legacy. 
You need to find in your heart that small spark of accountability. What is there that I can do to make the world a better place? What injustice do I see—and want to turn away: "I don’t really want to get involved in that. I don’t want to speak up. They’ll be annoyed with me. My boss might think less of me." I don’t care. You poke that finger at yourself, like Heather would have done, and you make it happen. You take that extra step. You find a way to make a difference in the world. 
My child had a high school education. My child was no saint. She was hard to raise, because everything was a negotiation. Not kidding. But you know what? She was a firm believer in whatever she believed. And let’s do that. Let’s find that spark of conviction. Let’s find in ourselves that action. Let’s spread this. Let’s have the uncomfortable dialogue.
It ain’t easy sitting down and saying, "Well, why are you upset?" It ain’t easy sitting down and going, "Yeah, well, I think this way. And I don’t agree with you, but I’m going to respectfully listen to what you have to say. We’re not going to sit around and shake hands and go 'Kumbaya.' And I’m sorry, it’s not all about forgiveness. I know that that’s not a popular trend. But the truth is, we are going to have our differences. We are going to be angry with each other. But let’s channel that anger, not into hate, not into violence, not into fear, but let’s channel that difference, that anger, into righteous action." 
Right now, down the road, there is a blood drive going on in Heather’s name. Right now, there are people who are here willing to listen to one another and talk to one another. Last night in New England, they had a peaceful rally in Heather’s name to have some difficult dialogues. If you ever want to see what one of those dialogues looks like, look at her Facebook post. I’m telling you, they were rough sometimes. But they were dialogues. And the conversations have to happen. That’s the only way we’re going to carry Heather’s spark through.
So, remember in your heart: If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. And I want you to pay attention, find what’s wrong. Don’t ignore it. Don’t look the other way. You make it a point to look at it, and say to yourself, "What can I do to make a difference?" And that’s how you’re going to make my child’s death worthwhile. I’d rather have my child, but, by golly, if I got to give her up, we’re going to make it count.
You know what I'm wondering today, right? The questions are right in front of us.

Will we poke that finger at ourselves, and make something happen, 
make a difference?

Will we find the spark of conviction, and be true to our values,
even if it's hard?

What about those difficult dialogues? Can we have those? Will we?

Will we pay attention, or just turn on the TV 
and watch football, as a friend of mine suggested (probably correctly)?

Will we really make Heather Heyer's death count for something? 

The alternative, as the president seems to have suggested, is that we go back to our selfish worlds, focusing on those great jobs, our great deregulated economy, our own individual universes, Made Great Again? 

I wonder: Are we Heather, or are we Trump?