VISUALIZING MADAM PRESIDENT

VISUALIZING MADAM PRESIDENT

 

Perhaps you are feeling anxious that about 40% of the electorate still seems to be supporting Donald Trump. Everywhere you turn, the television, the radio, the newspapers give him constant publicity. And even though most of the attention is criticism, still doubt or fear lingers.

Here is the simple and powerful remedy to that anxiety.

Switch the focus of your thoughts and attention to being positive. Instead of focusing on what you do not want, feed the vision of what you do want for yourself and this country.

Let go of reading or listening to every denunciation of Trump. And, also, don’t even bother trying to persuade our fellow liberals, who are still lamenting Bernie’s defeat, that they should see the light and get on board.

If we continue to give our attention to fear and resentment, we help perpetuate the very climate in which Trump is nourished. It’s a very low vibrational level, and it depletes our own energies. Do you remember Michelle Obama saying at the Democratic Convention: “When they go low, we go high”?  This is exactly what I am suggesting.

GO HIGH!

Just focus on what is it that YOU want to bring about.

When millions of people bring their desire and their intention to create a positive outcome, the universe responds. Each of us is powerful, and together we are incredibly creative at manifesting the outcome we desire.  It’s the law of attraction.

Use your imagination to paint the picture…

It’s Friday, January 20, 1917.  Inauguration Day. A cold winter’s day.  A huge platform has been erected on the steps of the Capitol.  Hillary Clinton is standing, facing John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  Bill Clinton stands beside her. Thousands of people have gathered in front of the Capitol to bear witness. Tens of millions of people across the nation are watching on television. The Chief Justice intones each phrase of the oath of office. Hillary repeats each word.

“I, Hillary Clinton, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Congratulations, Madam President.

That’s it. It’s simple. Hold the picture. January 20th. Washington D.C. Hillary Clinton. Oath of office. Repeat three times daily.

The more people who focus their attention and visualize in this way, the more powerful the effect will be.  We all need to step up and be engaged.

So, please share this post with your friends, or cut and paste it and send out this idea in your own words.

 

5 Steps YOU can take to defeat Trump

 

This is the time of year when we get to pick our future political leaders.  Most of us do not go to rallies and do not have the opportunity to attend events staged by the Presidential candidates, which are only held in a few swing states anyway. But there are a few simple things that each of  us can do to shape and influence the course of events. If you do not want Donald Trump to be the next President of the United States, here’s how you can stop him.

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  1. Vote. Make sure you are registered and apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot. If you prefer to vote in person, vote early if your district allows for this. (You will appreciate not having to wait in lines on Election Day.) Even if your Presidential candidate is far ahead in the polls, vote anyway. Your vote also matters for many other candidates that need your support in the House, the Senate and in state and local elections. And help any friends or family members who need transport to get to polling stations.  Every vote is important.
  2. Republicans, if you cannot stomach Trump and yet cannot bring yourself to vote for Hillary, vote for the Libertarian Party. Gary Johnson and William Weld, the party’s candidates for President and Vice President, are both former Republican governors (NM and MA) who have executive experience and are moderate conservatives.
  3. Democrats, if you are still mourning for Bernie, remember that he has urged you to vote for Hillary and all the other Democratic candidates on the ticket. There is a lot more at stake than who is President. Control of the Senate and the appointment of Supreme Court justices who share your values are just as vital.
  4. Everyone, vote against anyone who has endorsed Trump or whom Trump is supporting. Let’s throw out the baby and the babysitters.
  5. Contribute to Democratic Senate candidates in the following states (even if you do not live there) where the Republican incumbents are up for re-election in states that usually tend to be liberal-leaning: Wisconsin, Illinois, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Ohio and Florida.

Choose one or two of these states and send a check for $27 or more (thank you, Bernie, for the idea) to the Democratic challenger.  I just contributed in this way myself.

In Wisconsin, support Russell Feingold.  russfeingold.com

In Illinois, support Tammy Duckworth.  TammyDuckworth.com

In New Hampshire, support Maggie Hassan.  MaggieHassan.com

In Pennsylvania, support Katie McGinty.  katiemcginty.com

In Missouri, support Jason  Kander.  jasonkander.com

In Ohio, support Ted Strickland.  tedstrickland.com

In Florida, support  Patrick Murphy  murphyforflorida.com

 

Your vote and your financial support can make  a big difference.

 

 

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The Outgoing Tide: Bye Bye Donald

The red tide has changed.  It is moving out. And with it goes Donald Trump’s election prospects.  Over the last two weeks there has been a major shift in the collective consciousness of the country.

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Among independents, Republicans and Democrats alike there has been a noticeable and growing repugnance towards the Republican Presidential candidate as he has, by his own words and actions, shown that he is erratic, lacking in basic knowledge (he was unaware that Russia invaded Crimea two years ago), unable to be consistent even with his own professed beliefs, and incapable of resisting insulting anyone whom he feels has slighted him – whether it is the Muslim parents of a slain Marine, fellow Republicans or journalists who ask him to explain his policies.

Republican senators , House members and a huge number of  Republican officials from previous administrations have begun to announce they cannot support him, and this trend will grow quickly as Trump continues to act out in his own inimitable way. They see that he has alienated too many voter groups to have any reasonable chance of winning, and they fear that they will go down with the sinking ship. The Titanic is sinking all over again.

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Trump keeps trying to appear “presidential” by making speeches where he sticks to reading a teleprompter or script. And then, within hours, he lapses into tweeting or going off on a spontaneous rant where he demeans, threatens or vilifies someone.

He is, in fact, self destructive because he lacks the capacity to see how his own behavior impacts other people or what the consequences of his actions might be.  Many books will be written over the next couple of years about the classic narcissism in his personality.  And the attention deficit disorder. And the absence of impulse control. The list of psychological debilities is long. I can see psychology students salivating already about writing their theses on the Trump phenomenon.

And yet millions of white people who feel they have been left behind still see him as a man who tells the truth as he sees it. They believe that he, the scion of a New York multi-millionaire, understands their needs and will protect their interests even while he announces in his latest economic speech on August 7 that he will lower tax rates for the rich, for corporations and will eliminate the estate tax for the wealthy. Oh..and will also do away with most environmental protections that preserve our country’s clean air and water.

So, I am calling it now. The tide has turned.  He has already lost. The only two questions are:

  1. How big this loss will be. He has three more months to alienate even more people.
  2. How many Senate seats the Republicans will lose. I’m forecasting the democrats will control 54 seats, a comfortable majority. It could be more if Trump continues on his rampage. The Senate Republicans will regret the chance they had to approve a moderate Supreme Court justice in 2016.

 

 

The Terror We Create

I’ve noticed that some time ago I stopped paying attention to the huge numbers of people being killed in the Middle East and North Africa by my employee, the United States Government. As if  speaking to a house cleaner, I said: “Just clean up this mess, would you?”  I did not need, I thought, to be concerned with what cleaning products would be used.  I had other things to preoccupy me: vacation plans, for example.

So now I just pay the bill each year when I file my tax return.

But now, as always, reality has intervened with some inconvenient truths.

A few days ago the Director of National Intelligence released a report stating that the United States has killed up to 116 non-combatant civilians in counter-terror strikes in the seven years from January 2009 through December 2015. These deaths resulted from 473 strikes, including attacks by drones, in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya. However, the figures do not include strikes in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, which the U.S. considers areas of active hostilities.

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Many non-governmental agencies have come up with death tallies that are two to three times higher than the U.S. calculations. And, of course, if innocent civilian deaths in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan were also included, the numbers of casualties would probably rise into many tens of thousands.

So I seem to be getting my money’s worth for my taxes, right?

Probably, like you, dear reader, I have seen on television the gutted remains of Syrian towns destroyed by Syrian and Russian air force bombs. I saw with horror the bodies of hundreds of small children lined up, waiting to be buried. I saw the devastation of the families, and the incredible fear of the survivors, now homeless and still in danger.

Now, it is true that our government is not participating in mass uncontrolled bombing in the same way. We just pick our targets carefully.  Those 473 strikes also killed up to 2,581 combatants.

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Our country is not at war with Pakistan, Somalia, Libya or Yemen. Yet the people we elect and the armed forces we pay for are sanctioning the deaths of thousands and the wounding of tens of thousands in these countries.  And we are spending hundreds of millions each year in the pursuit of these “combatants”.  Who knew that Libya and Yemen were a threat to the United States?

I ask you to ask yourself if we are suffering an outbreak of mass moral blindness in America.  Is it justifiable to be killing these thousands because they are “Islamic terrorists” even when there is no clear and present danger to the USA? Is it acceptable to kill hundreds of non-combatants – just collateral damage – in the hunt for terrorists? Would we be as unaware of these deaths if it was Europeans we were killing? Is their religion and skin color enough to make them invisible people with no rights, no significance?

Did you know that there are algorithms to determine if an aerial strike should take place that factor in the likely number of innocent bystanders who will be killed if a specific target is bombed? Yes, a calculus for weighing deaths.

We were horrified at the end of World War II to see how many Germans were complicit or turned a blind eye to the murder of millions of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, communists and other targets of Nazi violence. Are we not now also turning a blind eye to what is being done in our name? We are full of fear and loathing for the indiscriminate killings by Islamic State and Al Quaeda. Do you not imagine that the citizens of these Islamic countries also feel the same towards us for the terror that we inflict from the sky?

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Our government still conceals the identities of people it has killed, how many were killed in particular strikes, the specific methods it uses to decide who can legitimately be targeted and how it investigates wrongful killings. In brief, we have no way to check even the accuracy of the numbers we are killing. Can you imagine Donald Trump being in charge of this power?

Many of the attacks seem to be used to support particular factions or destroy opponents of our favored regimes in these countries.  We are the professional hit men.  And we are asking our military and CIA personnel to shoulder the moral responsibility and the psychological trauma of carrying out these sanctioned killings.  That is a burden that is causing huge mental health problems for these young people.  They get to watch the deaths real-time on video displays from cameras in the drones they operate. And they see the bloody aftermath.

The Administration justifies these ongoing killings by referring to legislation that was passed after 9/11 fifteen years ago to authorize the pursuit of those responsible for that horrific event. It seems that no one in Washington wants to examine the legality or the morality of prosecuting a never-ending war against any kind of radical Islam or take the responsibility for the deaths of innocent people in far-away places.

How long will we look the other way?  The terror we ourselves create is also going to create more terror coming our way.

 

Brian Gibb

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THE DISUNITED KINGDOM

Goodbye, Great Britain. Hello, little England. This might be the greeting today after UK voters decided to leave the European Union.

The vote shows a country disunited. Scotland and Northern Ireland voted decisively to remain in the EU. England and Wales voted to leave.  It seems certain that the Scots, wanting to remain part of Europe, will demand another referendum on independence from the UK, and this time it is probable that the vote will be in favor of splitting up with England. The United Kingdom Independence Party, which pushed so hard for the vote on Europe, may discover to their chagrin that they won this battle but end up with the UK disintegrating in the next 2-3 years. A Pyrrhic victory.

There are a couple of lessons for Americans in this outcome with regards to our own upcoming election.

First, the UK vote is a huge repudiation of the political party elites, the business community, the academics and the economists who all supported remaining in the EU. 52% of the country ignored the leaders of the three main parties: Conservative, Labour and Liberal, and voted with their guts. The easy response would be to say that these millions of people were motivated by fear, scaremongering and ignorance. Fear and resentment of immigrants, distorted and untruthful stories in the big tabloid newspapers, ignorance of the benefits conferred by EU membership, all played a part.

But, something else is clearly happening. Many ordinary people are witnessing a massive change in the way their country feels. They see traditions, common values  and a sense of belonging to a community disappearing. In England in particular, they feel that their Englishness is being eroded and lost.

Immigration is one of the causes. Last year 335,000 immigrants entered the UK: half from the EU and half from other countries, including refugees. Over the last 15 years several million immigrants, many from Eastern Europe, have settled in the UK, drawn by its prosperous economy.  Ethnicity also matters. Many cities in the Midlands and Northeast have very large Muslim immigrant populations, many with their origins in Pakistan.  By and large, they have not integrated well.  Seeing more than a million Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans flooding  into Germany, Holland and Sweden in the last year as well as the EU negotiating with Turkey to allow Turks to enter the EU without visas, many Britons want to close the doors to the uncontrolled flow of movement within the EU that is one of its core principles.

In the United States, Donald Trump is playing to this same fear with his attacks on Mexicans and Muslims. But he goes even further: he wants to deport 12 million undocumented immigrants, mainly Hispanics, back to their own countries. He wants to stop Muslims entering the USA altogether “till we can figure out what the problem is.”  Trump is rarely well informed. He conveniently ignores the elaborate screening process that refugees need to go through to enter the United States: it takes about 2 years for a refugee to be vetted and approved for entry.

That said, many Americans still fear that Muslim immigration will mean a higher risk of terrorist attacks in the USA.  That fear will not be dispelled by logical arguments about how few mass killings are committed by Muslims or by pious statements about the peaceful nature of most Muslims in the world. People see Al Quaeda and Islamic State murdering thousands of people, and they are afraid.

So how can we address this fear? Let’s start by admitting that both Al Quaeda and Islamic State are products of the United States’ prolonged intervention in the politics of Middle East countries. ISIS, in particular, sprang up in Iraq after the United States invaded that country in 2003, got rid of Saddam Hussein (a Sunni), and supported the creation of a Shiite majority government, which quickly turned to persecuting Sunnis in retaliation for their own subjugation under Saddam. We helped to create this Frankenstein. We are not an innocent party. We share some but not all of the responsibility for Islamist terrorism.

Let’s also have a debate about our Constitution. The USA was created as a refuge from religious persecution in Europe. The Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state. Although the USA has been a predominantly Christian country, we have welcomed millions of Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, Muslims and other religions into the country. The Republicans love to venerate the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Are we now willing to amend the Constitution to keep members of one religion out of the country?  Remember the statue of Justice? A blindfolded woman holding scales in her hands. Blindfolded because Justice is blind to the color of skin, the religion, the sex or the origin of people who come before her. How dedicated are we really to those principles? Let’s have a debate.

Let’s also talk frankly to Muslims. Over the last couple of hundred years successive waves of immigrants have faced problems in being assimilated into the USA: Jews, Irish, Poles, Italians, Mexicans. All have been confronted with discrimination and suspicion at some time. Muslims face a particular challenge because, overseas, we are at war in several countries with Muslim populations, and because the 9/11 attack was committed by Arab Muslims. That’s a big hurdle to overcome.

Most Americans think that Congress is doing a terrible job and that we should throw the whole lot out. Yet when it comes to our own representative or Senator, we often have a better opinion of him/her and keep voting for their re-election. There is a dislike for the group as a whole and an appreciation for the individual.

I believe this might also be true for Muslims. If it is, then Muslims would integrate more easily if they do not clump together in ghettos, as previous immigrant groups have done. Spread out. Become an individual. And, probably most important, let’s make sure that all your family members learn to speak English, including all the women. Being able to communicate and to relate is the simplest way to be understood and accepted. Anyone who cannot do this is always going to be an outsider. You do not need to apologize for your religion, ever.  You do have to speak the language of your country if you want to be part of it. If Londoners can elect a Muslim as mayor of their city, let’s see American Muslims running for office like every other minority.

The second big lesson for Americans from the UK vote yesterday is that many people feel unheard and ignored by the politicians in power. While residents of London, the richest part of the UK, voted to remain in the EU, large regions of  England voted to leave. They feel left behind. They feel that government caters to the privileged few. It is the same narrative that has fueled the campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, at different ends of the political spectrum.

The vote is a demand to be treated better. It is a demand to create more jobs and better schools. It is a demand to end tax cuts for the rich and benefit cuts for the poor. It is a demand to invest in infrastructure in all regions of the country. It is not unlike what many Americans are demanding now too.

Back in the 90’s Bill Clinton ran for election on the slogan: “It’s about the economy, stupid!”  in reaction to the trickle-down economics policies of George Bush the Elder.  It still is true today. We are slow learners.

 

Taking Pity on Trump (or What would Sigmund Freud say?)

 

As long as Donald Trump keeps the debate on his preferred level of insult, lies, personal attacks and narcissistic boasting, and as long as the compliant media giants such as CNN, MSNBC and Fox News continue to give him unlimited time on their programming, and as long as he is able to keep away from having to discuss his own policies in depth, Hillary Clinton cannot hope to match him in air-time, free publicity or monopolizing the direction of the election campaign.

Although Trump seems the perfect target for criticism for his attitudes, his prejudices and his policies, nobody so far has been able to make a dent in either his own self-confidence or the massive following he has attracted by preaching fear and hate. None of the traditional approaches of rational argument, fact-based critique, indignation, or even matching him insult for insult (Thank you, Marco Rubio) have worked.

Is there a more effective way to take him on? I think there is. Trump’s persona is built on a massive mountain of ego-inflation. (So massive, for example, that he claims his book, “The Art of the Deal”, is the most important book in the world after the Bible). Everything he owns, does or says is the best – the very, very best. Or the biggest!

 

The desire for self-development stems from “narcissistic” desires ...

On a psychological level, Trump seems stuck, somewhere between ages two and three. The incessant demands for attention, the bragging, the need to be loved and admired, these are all infantile stages of development.

... people should know about <b>narcissism</b> on Pinterest | Narcissisti

A 2012 book by David Thomas on power-hungry narcissists suggests that narcissists typically display most, and sometimes all, of the following traits:[7]

  • An obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges
  • Problems in sustaining satisfying relationships
  • A lack of psychological awareness
  • Difficulty with empathy
  • Problems distinguishing the self from other
  • Hypersensitivity to any insults or imagined insults
  • Vulnerabilityto shame rather than guilt
  • Haughty body language
  • Flatterytowards people who admire and affirm them
  • Detesting those who do not admire them
  • Using other people without considering the cost of doing so
  • Pretending to be more important than they actually are
  • Bragging(subtly but persistently) and exaggerating their achievements
  • Claiming to be an “expert” at many things
  • Inability to view the world from the perspective of other people
  • Denialof remorse and gratitude                (Source: Wikipedia)

 

Trump fits many of these criteria. The choice we have is whether to respond through anger or compassion to this very rich but also very poor man. I say “poor” here because Trump is deficient in many of the common qualities that make for a complete individual – such as self awareness, empathy for others, and even the use of language that goes beyond a child’s vocabulary. If you study his unscripted talks, his range of descriptive language – adjectives, adverbs, polysyllabic words – is very limited. He sounds rather like a 10-year boy pretending to be a man.

I have no idea what trauma Trump may have suffered as a child. But it is clear that at some stage his emotional and psychological growth was stunted. He holds now a lot of rage that plays out in a variety of ways. And we in turn feel outrage as he rages.

Righteous anger toward him is the easy response, but as I described above, it has not worked because this is the dimension that Trump loves to play in. He has become an adept.  The way to counter Trump is to feel and express pity and compassion for this suffering being.

Since his ego is built on the core identity of being rich, a billionaire, to be seen and treated by the world as poor and deficient is the kind of ju-jitsu move that he will not be able to handle. Witness the strong reaction he had when Rubio teased that he has “small hands”.

If enough people begin saying, “Oh poor man, he needs help;” or “I feel so sorry for him. How unhappy and lonely he must be to need this kind of attention;” or “What a terrible childhood he must have suffered to turn out this way”, Trump will wilt.

To have people feel sorry for him, to sense that he is pitied not admired, and to know that we all see though his façade to the stunted, unhappy  inner child, will side-step all his usual ego defenses. In fact, to be pitied is probably nightmare territory for him.

Of course, we still have to go on rejecting his policies and behavior. Hillary Clinton has been saying recently that Trump is “temperamentally unfit to be President”.  But this terminology seems to suggest that his behavior is a matter of temperament or tendency – as in being grumpy, or reclusive, or pessimistic. Let us all see and and begin to say that he is psychologically unfit.

But if we can also use compassion, saying for example, “The poor man: Why would he be so afraid of Mexicans?” rather than, “What a racist!” or “What terrible pain he must carry inside to want to torture Muslim prisoners or to punish women who have abortions,” we may find a way to change the nature of the debate from Trump’s bullying and self-promotion to public recognition that we have here a man who is deluded, who is in pain, and who needs spiritual and psychological help.

 

Brian Gibb

June 10, 2016

This article is an update on an earlier post I made on my personal page on Facebook. If you like this commentary, please LIKE this page, and share it on your timeline. Also published on my website:   theleftcoastview.com

 

So Bernie lost. Now where do you turn?

Bernie Sanders will not be the candidate of the Democratic Party for President. The numbers speak for themselves. Even disregarding super-delegates, Hillary Clinton has won more pledged delegates and has won by far in the total number of votes cast. If you are a Bernie supporter, what do you do now?

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The Senator says that he will persevere on to the Convention in late July and will try to persuade super-delegates to vote for him rather than the candidate who has won the most votes and delegates. Herein lies the great logical contradiction of his campaign: for many months he has railed against the super-delegate system as un-democratic – and now he is appealing to the same super-delegates to disregard what voters have already decided.

Thousands of Bernie supporters, many of my friends included, have been pledging that they will never vote for Hillary if she is the Democratic candidate.  I am interested in looking at the logical and moral implications of that pledge.

Let’s begin with the assumption that you say you are a progressive and will not vote for either Hillary or Trump. However, you will vote for other Democratic candidates for the Senate, the House and state government.  And, you say, you still want Bernie’s policies and programs to be enacted.

In order for those progressive policies to be adopted, you will need Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate.  But if the President is a Republican and can veto those bills, you will now need a two-thirds majority in each chamber to override this veto. A virtual impossibility.  Therefore, simple logic, having a Democratic President is a much more certain way to ensure that the policies you want can be turned into law. So, the moral dilemma is: will you choose the immediate “feel good” pleasure of saying “Never!” to Hillary or the maybe uncomfortable but pragmatic option of  voting for all the Democratic candidates including her, knowing that it will take all branches of government working together to give your dreams and Bernie’s any chance of being legislated.

I hear you say: “I will not vote for Hillary out of fear about a Trump victory.”  Abstaining from voting is a possible choice. And choices have consequences.  Are you saying that by not voting, you see no difference in the future of this country if either is elected. No difference for immigrants? No difference for Muslims? No difference for women? No difference for international relations?

Have both Hillary and Trump urged supporters to beat up protesters and say they will pay the legal bills if they are arrested?  Have both of them said that women who have abortions should be punished? Have they both attacked a federal judge born in Indiana as being biased because his parents came from Mexico?

Have both of them said they are comfortable with several other countries getting nuclear weapons, including Saudi Arabia? Have both of them said they will torture suspected terrorists and kill their families?

There is a moral difference here.

The election is about who gets to exercise power. Neither the Green party nor the Libertarian party stands a chance of being elected. Power means, for example, who gets to fill the open seat in the Supreme Court.  This is an appointment for life and will affect crucial rulings for many years to come. A couple of other Court seats may become open in the next 4 years through retirement or death.  If it is Trump or Clinton who will be President, which of them do YOU want to make this choice that will affect so many lives?

It may be up to the Supreme Court to rule on future legislation on gun control, voting rights,  electoral campaign financing, and other legislation.  If you negate your own voting power by abstaining, are you not also disempowering your own party’s goals and dreams?

West façade of the Supreme Court Building.

Bernie says that he is starting a revolution. Some revolutions take time to succeed. This campaign might be just the first battle in winning control of the Democratic party’s soul.  Will you walk away because you lost the first battle?  Can you envision the many young people supporting Bernie running for election themselves in the next few years for various levels of government?  And do you think you will be more influential and persuasive in that continuing debate if you stay engaged, if you accept, with regret, who the majority of your party has voted for, and still vote straight Democrat across the board,  or will turning away in disgust serve you and Bernie better?

Brian Gibb

June 7, 2016

The Virgin, the Crone, and Distressed Leather

I was pulling on my favorite jeans this morning, appreciating the lightly worn, soft look they now have. They seem as if I have been wearing them for years – although they are relatively new. It’s the result of stone-washing. Launder the denim fabric with some stones and, behold, the finished product is aged, lightly discolored and feels softer.

You see the same trick with distressed leather. That beautiful leather bomber jacket that looks as if it has been worn since World War II was made just a few months ago in China. And, often, leather goods will come with a printed disclaimer that says that leather is subject to natural imperfections (i.e. scratches or striations in the cowhide) that is part of the natural beauty of this fabric.

Image result for distressed leather jacket

I used to live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I had friends who were cabinet and furniture makers who used similar “distressing” methods to make tables and other furniture appear to have been left behind by a Spanish conquistador hundreds of years ago.

There is definitely a market for making some things look older than they really are, by beating them up.

This year, however, it appears that the fashion for well-aged products does not apply to politicians. Much of the public is demanding that candidates be virgins, unsullied by Washington politics, innocent of any executive experience with government, and reticent about revealing their intentions.

In the Republican race, all the governors, senators and former Cabinet members fell by the wayside as the Colossus of New York, a real estate developer, a reality television personality and an organizer of Miss Universe competitions, dazzled and bamboozled his way to the top by boasting that he was the only one who knew how to manage the most powerful country in the world. His very lack of experience in government, his dearth of knowledge, his absence of  policies, his bragging about his assets, all confirmed that here was, at last, the perfect Virgin, the Immaculate One, who could make all well with our nation.  Just by making a deal or two…

In contrast, Hillary Clinton is the political Crone. She has been around forever. She has a long track record. She has had great successes and has made many mistakes along the way. She has been First Lady of Arkansas for over 10 years, First Lady of the United States for eight years, a U.S. Senator for eight years and Secretary of State for four years.  Thirty years of public service makes for leather that is naturally distressed. No need for other abrasives.

I find it curious that someone with so much experience is polling so low for trustworthiness. Just four years ago, as she was finishing her stint as Secretary of State, she had a 65% popularity rating in most polls. But, this year, experience, whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, is scorned as being part of  “the Establishment” that has failed. Never mind that the U.S. economy is doing much better than nearly every other country. It’s not good enough.

All of us make many mistakes as we grow though life. Some small, some major, but all of them often turn out to be the way we learn lessons about who we are and what we value. We make mistakes about jobs, bringing up our kids, marriages and relationships, dealing with our own parents, hair styles, lapel widths, money, and people we trust.  How we all loved you, Lance Armstrong.

Those mistakes become the compost for us making different and better choices. If we are sensible and compassionate, we do not spend our lives beating ourselves up for those mistakes. We forgive ourselves, our parents, our old loves, our lack of wisdom. It’s possible to learn to appreciate the value of the many wrong steps that led us to be in the right place now. Experimenting and taking risks might not always work out the way we hope.

Which brings me back to Hillary. She too has made many mistakes, large and small. Her vote for the Iraq war (large), her decision to use a private email server instead of the State Department email system (small), her advocacy for helping rebels in Libya to oust Gaddafi (large): these choices have come back to haunt her. But set against these mistakes her lifelong commitment to empowering women and children. As First Lady, she helped create and guide through Congress the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a key program that brought health care coverage to millions of children. As a Senator, she worked across the aisle to provide full military health benefits to reservists and National Guard members. As Secretary of State, Clinton accomplished the seemingly impossible task of getting China, Russia, the European Union and many other countries to support crippling sanctions against Iran. This is what brought Iran to the negotiating table.

Like all our lives her life is a mixed bag. What intrigues me is how so many of us choose to see only one side of the picture. She is either totally wrong, corrupt, and a serial liar or she is caring, determined and an experienced woman leader.  We reduce our judgment to this binary choice when, as with all of us, the truth more resembles a chocolate and vanilla ice cream swirl with a few toppings thrown in.

Shakespeare says in The Merchant of Venice:

The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

We could all do with some of that blessed mercy, that forgiveness: both the giving and the receiving.

 

Brian Gibb

June 2, 2016