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Holding our politicians accountable.

In Local News on July 3, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

You can’t mention “presidential tapes” or recordings without thinking of the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. His secret Oval Office recordings were considered a threat to the transparency and legitimacy of the executive branch.

Add to that just over 18 minutes that had been “accidentally” erased, a failed attempt to hide the tapes and controversy was bound to erupt. Of course, Nixon wasn’t the first U.S. President to record his private conversations. That tradition began in 1940 with Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Today President Donald Trump is under fire for secret recordings of his own. Most in question are those that might have shed some light on the sudden, yet predictable, firing of former FBI Director James Comey.  He was let go, in this writer’s opinion, because he’s not a “yes man.” Comey may have been the last independent mind anywhere close to this bizarrely-manned administration.

But these mysterious recordings are creating more mistrust of Trump’s presidency and already being compared to Watergate, almost by design, by the unpredictable Commander-In-Chief himself. So far, no recordings have been released and no special prosecutors have been named to continue the Russian election tampering investigation.

It’s highly unlikely that no other presidents kept secret recordings of calls and personal conversations. To think so would just be ignorantly naive. So why is it such a big deal to people now, and begs the question, do Americans really care? The answer is … complex.

As with any political issue, it’s more than likely the only people who care about these issues are those in opposition to whomever the controversy is aimed at in the first place. In Trump’s case, it makes sense that the Democrats will call him on this, and every other issue.

Plus, he’s earned a great deal of criticism from his own party so those Republicans who don’t support this president will also have something to say on it; partly to hold him accountable and partly so they get a few minutes behind a microphone somewhere.

It’s logical to assume that opposing parties would want to push this issue. Most people probably believe the men and women at such a high government level are untouchable and pretty much do what they want to do, however, and whenever they feel like it. That’s probably true to a point and Trump has certainly made it clear that he will remain off of his tether for the duration.

The citizenry depends on those we send to Washington to keep the president, and each other, accountable for his or her actions. Unfortunately, to do so might also mean political and professional suicide. Crossing someone in your own party, particularly the party leader such as the president, could cost you any future support from within, regardless of your public popularity.

If Senator John Q. Public wants to be re-elected next term, he’s going to have to keep his head down, support his party leadership, and vote like they, and his contributors, tell him to vote. That’s how politics is done and if you think otherwise, once again, that’s a bit naïve.

In a way, we all figure it will work itself out and our democratic system of checks and balances will keep things moving in the right direction, but I’m not sure that’s wise. To be clear, nothing that is going on right now is new, not by any stretch of the imagination. But what has always kept the balance of power were people willing to stand up to the status quo and hold our politicians accountable.

It is pretty disappointing to accept that the average American has absolutely no interest in what’s going on and feels so out of control. But even if you don’t have a newspaper column, you can write to Congress and your party representatives.

Whatever your party affiliation or your feelings toward the Trump administration, the only way to make a difference is to get involved and that starts by speaking your mind. The only way to keep our elected officials in check is to constantly remind them that we are their employers, and they’re obligations are to us.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More online at gerydeer.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A matter of alternative fact

In history, Media, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized, World News on January 30, 2017 at 9:24 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOThere has been a great deal of discussion in the media of late about “facts” and the incomprehensible notion of “alternative facts.” Considering such dialogue, it’s only fitting to review what constitutes a “fact” and if, indeed, there can be any possibility an alternative to any fact. Confused yet? We’re just getting started.

First, we need to define the word, “fact.” What does it mean? Where does it come from? Is a fact out of context still a fact? Is a fact the same thing as the truth?

Well, according to merriam-webster.com, the definition of the word “fact” is listed as follows.  Pronounced, “fakt,” it is a noun meaning: 1. A thing done 2. Archaic 3. The quality of being actual 4. Something that has actual existence or an actual occurrence and 5. A piece of information presented as having objective reality. OK, that’s a lot of material, so let’s focus on definitions 4 and 5 from our list.

Trump advisor, Kellyanne Conway spins the "alternative facts" from the White House.  Photo courtesy NBC News

Trump advisor, Kellyanne Conway spins the “alternative facts” from the White House. Photo courtesy NBC News

Starting with number 4, “Something that has actual existence or an actual occurrence,” we might best illustrate this in the following phrases. “It is a fact that water is vital to life,” or “prove the fact of damage to the house after the storm.”
If you stop watering your plants, they die. Stop drinking water and you die too. These notions are “facts” because we know them to be impartial. If a house is destroyed by a storm, the wreckage is visual and cannot be disputed. These things are all “facts.”

Moving on to definition number 5, “A piece of information presented as having objective reality,” the key word to focus on is, “objective.” To be objective something must be taken impartially and without bias.

For example, two people could easily agree on the color of a house, in this case without worrying about a specific shade. Bob says the house is green. Mary says the house is green. Bob and Mary aren’t looking at the location, style or anything else that may prejudice their judgment of the structure, only that it is green. That’s what it means to be objective. Therefore, for information to be factual, it must be viewed objectively.

Somewhat confusing, however, is that a fact can be argued for its validity of context, but not as to whether it is a fact. A great example of this is the idea of global warming.

Politically, there’s a good deal of disagreement between liberals and conservatives about this concept. Scientists have factual evidence that the earth is, “in fact,” growing hotter, over all. But the context of the facts is where the disagreement lies.

Is the fact of global warming a direct result of man’s poor energy choices and pollution? Or, is global warming the natural result of the planet’s life cycle and nothing we do will have the slightest effect one way or another? This is where the argument takes the facts and places them in opposing context.

Where does “truth” come into all of this? Most people make decisions about politics, religion, and just about every other emotionally-charged concept, based on what they believe to be the truth, with little thought to what might be factual. That’s where this all gets a bit murky.

Indiana Jones may have offered the best explanation of this idea, from a scientific perspective. In “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” he said to his class, “Archaeology is the search for ‘fact,’ not ‘truth.’ If it’s truth you’re interested in, (the) philosophy class is right down the hall.”

What he meant was that in something like philosophy, as in religion and politics, “truth” is largely dependent on your point of view (a subjective belief). While archaeology, and other sciences – physics, meteorology, chemistry, etc. – are based on objective, factual study, unemotional and unbiased.

What all of this objectively leads to is the conclusion that a “fact” cannot have an alternative – it either exists or it doesn’t. It’s logical then to deduce that an ‘alternative fact’ can likely be only one other thing – a lie.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com.

 

 

 

 

No One Is Qualified To Be President

In Education, history, Media, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized on October 3, 2016 at 6:08 am

By Gery L. Deer
Deer In Headlines

DIH LOGOThere is a great deal of debate going on as to whether the current presidential candidates are “qualified” to hold the office. Good question, but the answer is a bit more ambiguous than we might want to know.

The American system of representation is not based on educational or experience qualifications. It is, instead, dependent on general popularity of the vote. There is no list of professional requirements to run for either president or congress, arguably two of the three most powerful branches of government.

To be president, there are age and citizenship requirements. We’ve heard enough from Donald Trump over the years challenging President Obama’s citizenship that the actual law warrants a look. The U.S. Constitution, in Article II, Section 1, reads as follows.

“No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.” Other than that, the office has fewer qualifications than someone applying for a job as a Walmart stock boy (woman, person, whatever).

Jefferson and Lincoln were prime examples of the varied backgrounds and qualifications of those who would be president.

Jefferson and Lincoln were prime examples of the varied backgrounds and qualifications of those who would be president.

The point is that no one is really qualified to do the job until they’ve already done it. The only people who have the practical experience to be President of the United States have already sat in the big chair. If you don’t believe it, let’s review the backgrounds of some of the most prominent presidents in history beginning with the man who most Americans would agree was our greatest president – Abraham Lincoln.

Now we’ve all heard this tale a million times. A Kentucky-born backwoods boy grows up in hardship, teaches himself to read and goes on to become president during the bloodiest time in American history. He had spent most of his young life in manual labor having also spent time as a lumberman, shopkeeper and postmaster.

It was only after having been elected to the Illinois state legislature – again with no formal education whatsoever – that he became a self-taught lawyer. The rest, as they say, is history. Lincoln is forever seen as one of the greatest Republicans who ever lived. But when he was elected president, he had served on a state legislature, so he was more qualified than many others.

Our next case study into presidential qualification is, in an effort to be fair and balanced, the Democrat favorite – Thomas Jefferson. In many ways Lincoln’s socioeconomic opposite, Jefferson was born into one of the most prominent families in Virginia.

He was provided the best education, studied Latin and Greek and spent leisure time (something Lincoln would never have had) practicing his violin. He grew up learning from some of the elder statesmen and scholars of the time, formally studying law as an apprentice before being examined by the bar as a fully qualified attorney; again, a sharp difference from his presidential counterpart here.

Of course Jefferson went on to draft the Declaration of Independence and played a pivotal role in the separation of the colonies from England. But the point of all this is that here are two completely different men upon whom fate and providence moved to sweep them into the history books.

But for all their differences, they had two things in common; characteristics that should be the most important qualifications of anyone seeking the highest office in the land. Both were very smart men and both were compassionate and cared about the fate of their country and its citizens.

There was no glory seeking or publicity hounding in these men. They believed they had an honorable duty to carry out and the people agreed. Today we choose candidates because of race or gender or the gibberish they spew from the debate podium. The only way to make America great is for our citizens to wise up and demand more from our leaders.

There are still Lincolns and Jeffersons out there but their voices will forever be squelched by the unqualified noise of the media-obsessed political machine. Integrity, intelligence, humility, humanity are the best qualifications for president.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Listen to Deer In Headlines on air at MyGreeneRadio.com, October 2016. More at deerinheadlines.com

 

If Trump gets nomination, I’m done with GOP

In Business, Economy, history, Jobs, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics, sociology, State News, Uncategorized, World News on February 25, 2016 at 9:37 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOBecause I’ve always tried to get people to think about my subjects from more than one perspective, I’ve rarely shown my personal political leanings within the wording of my columns. In fact, I so often take opposing views in any given article, after any given Deer In Headlines column is published, I could be called, in the same day, a “bleeding heart liberal,” and a “right wing conservative.”

But, here it is, for the record and publicized for the first time anywhere – I am a registered Republican. (If there was a pool going somewhere, I’d like a cut please.) I am certainly not, however, what you might think of as a typical modern conservative. In truth, my considerations often demonstrate a far more liberal position but I’m also frequently sickened by the level of hypocrisy in both parties.

So, I should explain, “why Republican?” Well, I didn’t go with the GOP from any ideological position. Many years ago, during the first presidential election for which I was old enough to vote, I had to choose a party in order to participate in the primary election. At the time, I knew more about the Republican candidates, so I picked that one. Really scientific, wouldn’t you say?

No, it wasn’t the best way to choose, but I was 18 and had to make a fast decision. As the years went on, I always avoided just blindly voting the party line and chose whichever candidate I thought was best based on the facts at hand. So, my party affiliation really didn’t make much difference. But today I think that affiliation does matter, possibly more so than any other time during my life.

Trump rise indicates hateful path of GOP. Photo courtesy NYTimes.

Trump rise indicates hateful path of GOP. Photo courtesy NYTimes.

Donald Trump has managed to do exactly what he set out to since the day he announced his candidacy for president. However caustic and cartoonish his campaign, The Donald has ripped through the fabric of the Republican Party and scattered the conservative base.

My problem here is that any group that would allow and encourage a self-aggrandizing buffoon like Trump to climb to the top of the party has obviously lost its way. Poking around in the dark for the lesser of who cares, people have desperately searched for a non-politician. Sadly, they think Trump is that person. Still, Americans need a good leader and someone who understands the complexities of the world stage on which America is just one player.

To be an effective president, Trump would have to work on a team, listen to more knowledgeable advisors and make decisions based on the best interests of the people, not just to get his own way. I believe, as do others, that Trump is totally incapable of this behavior.

As Trump plowed through the rest of the party making his way to the top, he has repeatedly shown he is not ready or personally equipped to be that kind of leader. As a businessman, he comes across more like a dictator. In other words, it’s his way or nothing. Ironically, Republicans have repeatedly criticized President Obama for the very same behavior citing executive orders.

At this point, I need to be clear about something else regarding my political leanings. I don’t like Hillary Clinton either. She’s a proven liar from a deceptive family and a political insider. Bernie Sanders isn’t much better. His blathering on about so-called democratic socialism is idealistic nonsense lacking even the most basic economic foundation.

So why come out about my party affiliations now? Well, there are a couple of reasons. Over the years I’ve watched in disgust as this party that revels in moral values seems hypocritically more bigoted, angry and hateful than ever. A fact made more clear every time Trump opens his mouth to denigrate Muslims, minorities, women or whomever he’s attacking that day and is met with unbridled cheering from ignorant followers.

The party of Lincoln would certainly cringe if he were here today. In recent times, the GOP has argued harder for the right of someone to own an AR-15 assault weapon than for women and minorities to be treated equally. Honestly? It’s just embarrassing.

Trump’s shocking rise from joke to frontrunner proves that the Grand Old Party is nothing of the kind. It has become, instead, little more than another corporate sell-out run by rich, old white guys with followers who seem to thrive on hate, bigotry and fear.

A Trump nomination will be the last straw for me. When it happens, although I disagree with a great many liberal policies and ideals, I will march myself to the board of elections and change my party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.

Since, I tend to think for myself rather than be a political lemming, I’d obviously rather go “independent” but I wouldn’t, for two reasons. First, the idea of an “independent party,” is an oxymoron. You can’t be independent about something if you’re just going to follow a group. Secondly, I still want to have an effect in the primaries.

Many people are angry about the direction of the current administration and the country and I sympathize. I have many friends, family and business associates who are Trump supporters for those very reasons. And for them, I am simultaneously surprised and disappointed, but I still support them and their right to choose the candidate that best reflects their views.

So, I certainly hope these revelations have not put you off of reading my work, but I felt this was important enough to make a stand and let you, my readers, know where my head is in this election. In the coming weeks, I’ll be discussing more about what happens next in my political participation, so stay tuned to Deer In Headlines.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at deerinheadlines.com.

Saving the mythical middle class

In Economy, history, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics on February 1, 2016 at 9:38 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGODuring the post-war euphoria of the 1950s, Americans were convinced of a concept that has carried through into the next century. The “middle class” was a figment of someone’s imagination – probably a politician – and sold to the public as the ideal life. But the idea of a middle class has become as mythological as the Leave It To Beaver universe that created it.

As the presidential election year kicks into high gear, saving the dying middle class will be the subject of countless speeches. But how do you preserve something that no longer exists, if it ever did at all? The truth is, you can’t.

But who is the middle class? As it turns out, there is no consistent definition of this mythical group. Depending on the source, the middle class can be defined in a number of ways, from economical status to age and race demographics. So when you hear a politician spout off the words, “middle class,” the context is vital, otherwise it’s meaningless.

According to CNNMoney.com, one definition by the Pew Research Center is based on income. It lists the middle class as those Americans who earn between $46,900 and $140,900. Another marker has to do with aspirations.

Most people who consider themselves middle class want to own a home, send their kids to college, have proper healthcare and investment savings, a car, vacations, and so on. Obviously, that means that the money has to exist to make any of that a possibility so we’re back to financial definitions once again.

Photo courtesy NBC News

Photo courtesy NBC News

The simple fact of it is the concept of the middle class is a myth; a myth we have all been trapped into believing to the point of mass hysteria. The American dream does exist, but it’s far less detailed than we’ve been taught over the last 70 years or so, and it’s not as tied to the middle class as once thought.

Between the American dream and the middle class, I’d much rather focus on the former; at least I know it’s ambiguous and depends on my own efforts, choices and aspirations. The American dream is different for each person.

Yours might be to own a bookstore while your neighbor’s may simply be to be healthy and happy in his or her own way. But trying to be part of the middle class has done countless families harm over the years, struggling to “keep up with the Joneses,” and fighting the never ending war to amass “stuff” so as to appear successful.

As a political hot button, the idea that the middle class is suffering provides unlimited opportunity to yank at the heartstrings of conservatives. Liberals don’t seem to care as much about it. It all goes back to that subliminal mental tie-in between the middle class and the American dream.

The question remains, how do politicians evoke emotion over a group that doesn’t actually exist? Or, stated more correctly, a group that encompasses so many different kinds of people as to eliminate any particular demographic. Actually, it’s easier than you might think.

If politicians can keep that apple pie imagery flowing and preach doom and gloom over its demise, people will flock to the polls to protect it by voting for them. It’ll have the same effect as the anti-communist films of the 1950s and 60s depicting a family on a nice summer picnic when suddenly the nuclear bombs start dropping. Destroy the middle class and America dies.

But, once again, it’s impossible to destroy what doesn’t exist. The middle class is defined by whoever wants to use it to their benefit, to push their agenda. Oddly, I’d say the middle class is more about a state of mind of the individual than actual numbers.

We all just want to be normal, average Americans in similar status to our neighbors so we can relate to each other. In the end, I think we all just want to be financially stable and happy with our lives.