Wednesday, January 25, 2017


So many issues; so little space on a page.
Every culture or religion in the northern hemisphere it seems commemorates the winter solstice, and for what seems like a good reason to the primitive mind.  The days were getting shorter.  What happens if they keep getting shorter and it becomes night all the time?  What will happen to us?  Of course the more astute tribal members were aware of the cycle and had learned to predict almost to the day when the days would start getting longer, a time for rejoicing, or perhaps penitence.  This has taken many forms; I’m sure far more than I am aware of.  Is there a Southern Hemisphere equivalent?  One of these ancient celebrations has settled into a complex form usually known in the modern western world as Christmastime.
There it becomes an unnecessary controversy.  Some insist it is a religious holiday requiring certain reverence others want it to be just a fun time for spending money, and possibly even licentious behavior at least on New Year’s Eve.  Some have different holidays that they want to celebrate independently of Christmas. My personal wish is that everyone gets to celebrate this wonderful time of year in the way that brings them the most joy to share.
America is unusual among nations in that it did not evolve from a unique tribal culture, but as an amalgam of many.  Now it is true that the most powerful factions have not always been kind to the powerless, however our founding documents say we should.  Some of us try to blend, while others feel put upon that some minority wants equal (special?) treatment.  One faction’s religious display in a public place becomes offensive to another.  The other wants equality, but does not have comparable resources.  There is not enough choice public space to please everyone.  A minority’s humble display might look tacky (or respectful) next to a wealthy sect’s ostentatious display.
So many things to disagree over.  Some are obsessing over coffee cups that are too sectarian, or not sectarian enough. Is it right to put a Christian Christmas tree in a public park?  Wait! the tree was a harmless Pagan symbol that northern Europeans elected to keep, when they were Christianized over 1000 years ago.  In fact if you look into the past of many religious symbols you find will that in one way or another they were adopted from another culture.
To me whatever faith my friends and neighbors choose to follow, or to not follow is their business.  I hope it gives them hope and comfort, but I do insist they not force it on others.  I do not have faith in a divine being, nor do I deny one; I do notice a lack of evidence.  Perhaps “God is an imaginary playmate for grown-ups,” Morgan Freeman, The Big Bounce. “He who made kittens put snakes in the grass,” Jethro Tull, Bungle In The Jungle. 
I have my faith that the laws of math, physics and chemistry will always have predictable outcome; that the laws of the soft sciences, if we ever understand them, will be similarly predictable and that human curiosity and ingenuity to solve what problems we still have, that almost everything can be scientifically explained.
I do believe: There was one miracle: Somehow, improbably, unexplainably, life started spontaneously, on this insignificant lonely planet.  There is no evidence of anything like it within the observable universe.  Evolution via natural selection is a viable explanation for the adaption of a variety of life forms to their environment leading from inexplicably simple life forms to one that attempts to understand it all and appreciate one another.
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do. They're really saying I love you.”  Louis Armstrong, What a Wonderful World. Although I may not share another’s faith I am never offended by a friendly greeting whether it’s Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Mele Kalikimaka, Shalom Aleichem, Aloha, simply Hi or Happy New Year it’s all the same.  They're really saying in a small way I love you.” 

What will change with Trump

“Every country has the government it deserves" and "In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve."   Joseph-Marie, comte de Maistre 1811.
Now, like it or not, we are getting President Trump, thanks largely to the liberal media, that he excoriated, giving him free publicity.  There will not be as much change as people fear, or hope.  After the outrageous things he has said, almost anything else may look reasonable.
Previous Presidents have learned, changing the Government is like turning a battleship, with a canoe paddle.  Let me explain.
There are almost 22million government employees.  Almost all of them civil service; he can’t fire them, or stiff them like contractors.  For the most part they will do what they always do as covered by their job description, habit and long standing department policies and procedures.  Never forget the prime mission of a bureaucracy, like any organism, is its own continuation. Those with the power to make changes have sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution, not the President, and see that the laws be faithfully executed.  Hmmm, even the President swears to support and defend the Constitution.  He might have to have someone to read it to him. Most Civil Servants do not work for the Federal government but state and local government; they get their direction from governors, judges and local officials, who have sworn a similar oath.
So the President has a Cabinet plus a few thousand appointees at his beck and call, but they in turn have to work through 1.4 million Civil Service bureaucrats who, see above.  He has a similar number in the armed forces who also have policies and procedures that change as often as rivers flow backwards.  All the officers and enlistees have taken the oath.  While the grunts might not appreciate it, most of the officers take it very seriously.  They understand from Nuremberg what executing an illegal order can mean.
Trump likes to say he’s not a politician.  If I might paraphrase Mayor Kenoi, ‘If you run for office, you’re a politician.’  Politicians have a history of broken promises. Trump has a history of broken promises. Why would Politician Trump be any different?  If he could not keep a promise then, why should anyone think he can now?
"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." - H. L. Mencken. Trump has made these brash promises in a factual vacuum. Whether or not he was aware of that no longer matters. Now he will have to deal with reality where there are no simple answers, no quick fixes, no do overs.  You can’t manage an entire country the way you bankrupt a casino (or hotel). Everything about a country affects everything else, everything.  Even things you can’t imagine, because the whole world’s involved.  A decision to isolate Iran could precipitate another Pearl Harbor.  Every proposal will require the consent of someone, Congress, the Senate, the Joint Chiefs, Governors, NATO; all the people in the chain of command who, like Clerk Kim Davis in Kentucky, can monkey wrench anything that goes against their principals. 
For example, to overturn Roe v Wade he would have to pack the Supreme Court. Unless another liberal Justice dies or retires that’s almost impossible.  Republicans decry activist courts, and some conservatives become liberal Justices, e.g. Earl Warren.  He will need someone to file a lawsuit claiming Roe v Wade has deprived them of their right to, to what, their right to not have abortion?  That will take some creative lawyering.  Then it goes through the system starting with a State Court that might just kill it, and get past Federal Judges including a Supreme Court reluctant to overturn previous decisions.  It could take 100 years, or 1000.
I hope, against evidence that he will do right.  If not we still have the ACLU, courts and a Congressional election in two years.