Thursday, October 26, 2017

What we learned

What we've learned with Trump's presidency is frightening. We have a president who's a narcissistic, spolled, whiny man-child whose sole interests are personal attention and adoration, and now we're seeing has memory problems. He keeps changing his mind because he can't remember what he previously said.
We have a president who wants to establish an authoritarian presidency simply because he thinks it's his right. He's shown he's the laziest president in post WWII history with no interest to learn or be involved in governing this country.
We have a president who has played golf ~30% of his days in office, and played golf on weekend leaving the country and people of Puerto Rico devasted after the hurricane. He has verbally attacked people on Twitter in the face of the facts of his lies, all for his ego and self-image. 
We have an administration staffed with wealthy (American) oligarchs who will undo decades of regulations and laws making America a good country and helping Americans. From worker rights and safety, to environmental protection, to healthcare, to jobs, to financial protections, to human and civil liberties, all being destroyed by them with no remorse, often with smiles.
We have a republican party that isn't hiding is sole goal is to enrich corporations and wealthy people, many donors to their campaign. They'll bleed the American people and drive the country into deeper debt to achieve their goal draining America and Americans of our resources.
We have a republican party which refuses to doing anything to address the obvious corruption and criminal activities by Trump, his family, and his administration. They refuse to address the effect the Russians had on the 2016 election and refuse to protect future elections from further hacking by Russians.
We have a democratic party which after facing a humilitating loss is fighting change by the old guard who created the problems and won't resign to open the party and leadership to the next generation. They're dying politically and refuse to their meds to revive themselves.
We have a democratic party in turmoil to accept they too are the party dominated by old, white people. Obama challenged them and proved them wrong. And now they have to get their political head out of their ass and get out the vote for next two elections with a real message, not slogans or promises, but results.
We have a media that is being gobbled up and corporations owned by wealthy conservatives and private equity firms, which could leave the vast majority of our media owned by elite repubicans. And the GOP is helping them by dismantling rules restricting ownership.
We are becoming more an oligarchic corporate government and economy. Even the most social conscious companies (eg. Google and Facebook) support republicans as much as democrats, because they know owning Congress regardles of the majority wins for them.
And worst of all we are becoming a country where the voting rights of minorities are being restricted to guarantee white republicans will always have a majority, even in states they're a minority. We will lose the basic foundation of our democracy if they succeed.
Let understand what's at stake here. The democrats are no angels. They're corrupt too, only less than republicans, and eqaully beholding to their wealthy and corporate donors, but for now they're the only hope of change.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

And So it Goes

Come January 21st, after all-night partying when the revelers go home, the new President will wake up to the reality it's no longer a political campaign or the free-for-all of the president-elect days, but being the leader of the United States.

It will start, or we hope, with the first official President's Daily Briefing (PDB), informing him of events, situations and circumstances of the world. Everything is on the President's plate to know, understand and decide.

Or so we can hope the seriousness of the office, job and work will sober the new president into reality, but in reality, many Americans aren't holding their breath he'll learn and change. He hasn't shown any signs to date.

And so the next four years will be a challenge, not for him, he thinks he's over prepared, over experienced, and over talented, but for us. The country will change considerably and very significantly with the Republican-controlled Congress and the Republican President.

There is no doubt in anyone mind it will be a contentuous presidency, even with republicans doing everything they want on their wish list, and not because of the democrats in Congress, who don't seem to have any good ideas of a strategy or tactical plan to fight republicans.

It will be contentuous because of the American people, many angry the president's opponent won the popular vote by 2.9 million voters, only losing the Electoral College by 3 large states by 100,000 votest combined.

It will be contentuous because the majority of the American people don't like or approve of the president (to be), the majority don't trust him, and the majority think he's unfit and unqualified to be president.

So we'll learn who's right, but you can bet, as some have already noted, his honeymoon was over before he was inaugurated because of his antagonistic view and relationship with the media and his propensity for alienating people with his remarks, often tweets.

We'll learn what we believe is true, but will have to live with him for 4 years. We will have, though, a way to show him our view of him in 2018 should we get out and vote the democrats in control of at least the Senate and maybe the House of Representatives too.

The Congressional republicans know this, but too many want change now and not after the 2018 elections. But if they change they'll see the voters expressing their buyers remorse of the President through the mid-term Congressional elections.

That's the conumdrum for the republicans, do now for their base, angering the opposition, or do after 2018 to be re-elected first, before changing everything but angering their base. The bets are on the former, they're betting the House and Senate they can do what they want and still be re-elected.

But that's a bet the president doesn't blow up their reputation and encourage more democratic voters to come out and reject them. That's the historical norm, the party in power loses seats in the House and the Senate in mid-term elections.

The question is how much. That's the unknown now and will be until November 2018. Makes for an interesting next two years, happy for the minority of repubicans (by voter registration) and angering for the majority of democrats.

And so it goes. As Bette Davis said, "Hang on, it's going to be a bumpy ride."

Thursday, November 10, 2016

What We Know

What we know from the presidential election of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton and what he'll bring to the office and do as President is both everything and nothing.

First the election. Trump won with less popular votes than Clinton, 47.5% of voters for him but 47.6% of voters for her. She won the national vote but lost the Electoral College, namely a few key states (FL, MI, PA, OH), which put Trump over the 270 minimum to win.

This is because only 55.6% of eligible voters voted, meaning neither won more than about a quarter of all eligible voters nationwide. That's not a sweeping victory for Trump or a catastrophic loss for Clinton. Only a lot of voters chose neither candidate by not voting.

While the media and democrats will do all the postmortems on the failure of the Clinton campaign, which boils down to a two factors, she is better at being President than running for President and Trump is the complete opposite.

The Clinton campaign didn't have a clear strategy and worse didn't have a plan to encourage voters to her side. She is more than experienced and competent to be President, but just didn't demonstrate the personality to capture voter enthusiasm.

They also didn't have a good slogan or nutshell presentation to describe her views. The slogan, "Stronger together", doesn't work to invite people in and raise enthusiasm, such as "We're stronger together", would be to invite voters to her candidacy.

Anyway, that's left to the pundits and political operatives to sort out the failures to work. She should have trounced Trump in the major states and didn't get her message out well enough nor get enough voters excited to vote.

That's what we know. What we don't know is Trump, someone the media has clearly described as unfit to be President, who will now have to prove he is fit. We know all his business experience, good and bad, is completely useless and irrelevant for being President.

Being President means you have to govern the administrative branch of government, and work with Congress to get your plans into law. There's much a President can do through executive action but most requires Congress, and Trump didn't help himself attacking them in the campaign.

What we know will be the government is completely run by republicans (yes, even the Supreme Court is and will be conservative with more republican appointed justices than democratic ones). And there is little the democrats can do to stop them except the filibuster rule in the Senate.

What we don't know is what they'll achieve, which for now is speculation, but with a some good measure of certainty of their intentions. That is Congress. Trump is the unknown for he's favored some democratic views on Medicare, Social Security, infrastructure spending, etc.

And that's what Trump has to do, not convince people he can do the job, it's too late for that, but actually govern as President. The skills it takes has been clearly shown, and not shown, by past presidents, Trump should learn.

And that's the complete unknown. His personality doesn't fit someone to be President for the longterm, something he's demonstrated and the media has shown. The reality of being President will test him to show if he has the capability (doubtful to many, even some republicans) to stay the course in politics.

That's the reservations people have about him. He seems to like quick decisions, easy answers, and short periods to finish. World events are none of that, either requiring years of building trust with foreign leaders and governments, or working in places with no good solutions involving many nations and much diplomacy.

We saw what happened to the Bush (or Bush-Cheney) administration there with their failures to get things right, let alone finished. Does Trump, with his staff and cabinet, have the necessary people and tools? Consensus to date says no.

The reports to date suggest he'll surround himself with people who are "Yes" types to compliment his ego or who will agree to get their goals done through his approval. This was Bush's failure and probably will be Trump's failure too.

This is because his personality, his ego, controls his thinking. Everything is about him and his name. He's shown he has problems with facts, the truth, complex issues, criticism, opposing views, and so on down the line of character qualities.

Those are not the character qualities you want in a president. He's also shown as short attention span on issues, admitting he doesn't read much in depth, less than Bush who only read summaries and briefs on issues to make quick decisions, often wrong.

Trump is more the extreme. He's admitted having an assistant print all the news stories about him everyday for him to read. That's his focus, himself, his name and his image. A president focuses on others and the issues. The "we" and not the "I".

He's also said how smart he is, smarter than even the best experts, on issues he's almost, if not completely, ignorant about. He assumes what he's gleaned from TV and other sources works for him, but leaves no doubt to the obviousness of his arrogance and ignorance.

And that's the big unknown, what will happen starting the day after the inauguration when everything is presented to him in daily briefings and as events happen. He's not shown the stamina, dedication, discipline, intelligence or interest for it.

Which leaves the question, will he just be a show president, who delegates everything to others and takes the credit for successes and blames others for the failures. If so, it will be a short presidency for him when everyone sees he's the emperor with no clothes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Chemex

This last weekend I used a 40% discount coupon from my local (Seattle-based) Metropolitan Market which they give regular customers (freebies or discounts for each week for a month 2-3 times a year) to buy a 6-cup Chemex drip coffee maker.

I've always wondered about the Chemex claim their filters reduce the bitterness in coffee over other drip filter brands. I've long used Melitta filters since buying a Melitta Vintage coffee maker in the mid-1980's (two repairs to date), along with using their standard 1, 2 and 6 cup drip coffee system.

So, twice (separate days) I made pots with the Chemex system and a comparable Melitta system. I use a Braun coffee grinder (burr type with a 1-16 scale set for 3) with Starbucks Kopelani coffee.  I use espresso grind because it reduces the amount of coffee you need per cup and still not clog filters.

And the very subjective taste test results for the two type two times were the same. The Chemex-made coffee had just a slightly less bitter taste than the Melitta-made coffee. Slight enough for me to barely taste the difference, maybe more for some and less for others depending on your taste sensitivity.

So my initial conclusion is that it does make a difference which changes the taste just a bit, but it is worth for the price of the Chemex and filters (about $9-10 per box of 100)? Maybe, if you want to have one, but not if you don't need one unless it's on sale or for a discount.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Photographers

Everyone has a list of photographers who have made them learn and think. They start with those that got them started, those whose work they admired, and those whose work makes them think. I prefer that last group, photographers who make me look at their images and ask myself what makes it good and what can I do with my photography, not to emulate them, but make mine different.

Every photographer has their innate strengths in their photographic eye and the weakness, those things they just don't see or have to think to see. We're all in this camp. It may reflect some aspects of their personality and perspective or the opposite. For example, I tend to look and see whole scenes and struggle looking at the small things, or even the asymetrical images. So I like to see the work of photographers who do see differently than me along with those who are far better than me at what I like to do.

And so, like everyone, I have my list. And who are they?

Galen Rowell.

Sam Abell.

Pat O'Hara.

Walker Evans.

Henri Cartier Breeson.

1890's photographers, especially those working around Mt. Rainier.

Ansel Adams, but for one image, View of the Sierras at Sunrise from Lone Pine, California.

I have a poster print of this image by Adams because I've been in the area of where it was taken, but more so admire the whole scene to capture a moment. I don't know if this was an instant see and capture photograph, like the one, Moonrise of Hernadez, New Mexico, or a planned one, often his method working in the Sierras.

These are photographers I keep going back to and looking at the body of their work and their books, and also at their character and work as a photographer, clearly far more than I have done or will ever do, but still something to admire and inspire.