Facts are more important than opinions.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez catapulted herself into the limelight by being a firebrand, a torch-carrier for Democratic Socialism (which, I’m informed, is different than “Socialism,” and is definitely different than National Socialism), and an interview in which she offered this gem:

I think that there’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right.

CBS News, interview with Anderson Cooper, 2019/Jan/6

Now, let’s be straight up here: there’s more context to this quote than just the quote itself. She actually said that facts were important, and she acknowledged that she’s fuzzy on a few numbers here and there – apparently by orders of magnitude, but that’s okay.

After all: what’s the US national budget? I can manufacture a number in my head offhand that sounds vaguely right, but it turns out that I was wrong by a … few trillion as well. So never mind that she said that the Pentagon spent more than sixteen trillion more than the actual national budget as a whole – the idea is that there are really big numbers involved, and perhaps we should be thinking about that instead of fretting over whether a junior Representative knows everything right off the bat.

However, it does speak to her character that she’s willing to claim things without, like, knowing them; for example, I just tested myself in the previous paragraph, by asking myself: “What is the national budget?” and coming up with an answer… and then, you know, looking it up. I didn’t write my answer down, because that’s a truth claim, and I don’t like making truth claims without data.

Representative Ocasio-Cortez apparently has no such qualms, even when she has actual agency in the government of the United States.

Pardon me, but yikes.

Facts are wayyyyy more important than opinions, because facts give us the basis upon which to form those opinions. Facts should be able to change our opinions.

The idea that being “morally right” is more important than “precisely right” is… terrifying. How do you know if you’re morally right without reality backing you up? If reality disagrees with you, are you going to choose your morality over, like, what’s real?

That’s living in a fantasy land, where one branch of government spends more than six times what our actual government takes in every year. Where unicorns sprout elves made of gold. Where what would help one borough in one city will help every person in every village in a country that consists of more than 3.5 million square miles – projecting the needs of roughly 1.3% of a population across the remaining 98.7% of it.

I respect Representative Ocasio-Cortez’ chutzpah. I admire her fire. As a person, I’m sure she’s admirable – we need people willing to stand for moral positions, even if we disagree with them.But it’s important that morality is based on facts, absolutely and irrevocably. If the facts are wrong, point that out… with other facts. Correct the perceptions. Adjust the positions accordingly.

Don’t make up stuff to justify yourself. It’s one thing to be wrong, but another thing to stick to your guns despite your data being wrong.

In the real world, we call that “lying.” Representative Ocasio-Cortez can accuse President Trump all she likes – but unless her positions change as her knowledge of actual, precise, correct facts change, she’s lying too.

Deliver what you promise when you write

I’ve gone on a number of (hopefully mild) rants about clickbait in writing: “Seven Reasons Your Wife Will Leave You!”, “Trump’s Bat-Baby!”, and so forth.

Today I read with great interest an article on CNN entitled “Why Trump wants you to be afraid of high speed trains.” It’s… an interesting article, but I came away wondering why Trump wanted me to be afraid of high speed trains.

It wasn’t actually poorly written as an article – surprising given CNN’s Trump derangement – but I kept waiting for the delivery. The main takeaway I got was that California’s failure to deliver high speed rail from Los Angeles to San Francisco was a political football for Trump.

The whole point of the article seemed to culminate in this line for me:

But that wasn’t the only time the President dunked on rail this week.

… oh no! The President “dunked on” rail multiple times this week! Given rail’s centrality in the “Green New Deal,” is this surprising?

I wanted to read why Trump actually wanted me to be afraid of rail. I think rail’s a great idea for the urban areas – I can think of five or six regions offhand that would benefit greatly from more civic railways (centered in a metropolis, like a subway system) and they’d benefit from being tied together by rail, too.

That’d play fantastically in the densely populated areas that voted heavily Democratic in the last Presidential election… and be pointless for the wide swaths of United States geography that voted for Trump.

Here’s a map, based on geography, from the University of Michigan:

The primary beneficiaries of a heightened (and important) rail system are some of those regions of blue: high concentrated population centers, interconnected.

All that red? Left in the cold. They still get to drive their own cars, consume their own gasoline, and provide food for all the blue areas.

So why, then, is Trump wanting us afraid of rail?

I can still think of a few reasons, some actually reasonable from his point of view.

One reason he might be want us afraid of rail is because it cements beneficiaries of rail against “his party.” (This makes little sense, realistically; the GOP is not “Trump’s party,” for one thing, and for another, those areas voted against him anyway. They weren’t his votes to preserve.)

Another reason is that he didn’t come up with the idea – except he apparently did have an infrastructure plan (as published on CNN, and cited in the article about why he’s afraid of rail!) – so the high speed rail he wants us to be afraid of was actually something he’s wanted to create. As with the prior point, this makes little sense, if any, to me.

In both of these cases Trump needs to act like he’s completely unaware of self – which isn’t a stretch, given his history – and the worst thing about all of this is that CNN expects us to be unaware, too.

As usual: stop it, CNN. You have editors; use them, please.

The Grammy Awards ignored Rock and Metal!, Gordon Ramsey, Larry Hogan on CNN

Things I’m thinking about:

The Grammies

An article in “Ultimate Classic Rock” was entitled “How the 2019 Grammy Awards Basically Ignored Rock and Metal“.

I’m… a little bit surprised, considering how rap and hip-hop (are those different?) have been ignored by the Grammy Awards ever since they became significant art forms, and rock – historically – has not especially been ignored. Sure, it’s been ridiculous sometimes – I’m not really a super-duper Metallica fan but Jethro Tull’s Crest of a Knave should never have gotten the nod over ..and Justice for All.

But the Grammies at least have had rock and metal winners, regardless of how insincere those wins might have been. So… okay, 2018’s awards were not rock- or metal- focused, let’s wait 30 years and then complain, okay?

I’m not even really a rap fan, but the lack of rap artists winning Grammy awards is ridiculous to me.

Gordon Ramsey

I’m a big fan of Gordon Ramsey (and cooking shows in general, really) despite not being able to cook worth a flip.

I like Ramsey even though I find his confrontational style unnecessary in a lot of cases – because by golly I think he knows what he’s doing and I think he means well

“A Dose of Reality” by Gov. Larry Hogan, Maryland

Governor Larry Hogan, of Maryland, posted a really nice article on CNN, well worth reading: “A dose of reality for Trump, Pelosi and Schumer.”

Worth reading not only by the principals named, but by everyone. if I had any advice for the American populace, it might very well include “… everyone just calm down. Truth will be known, and God doesn’t care if your side wins.”

Outrage on Social Media articles; State of the Union

Things I’m thinking about, after switching back to a list-based list of thoughts because Gutenberg headers annoy me:

  • Gutenberg headers annoy me. I’m thinking of switching back to my comfortable editing process where I’m not constantly griping about my editor. It’s a flow thing.
  • Good article from Medium, paywalled (so if you don’t have a Medium account that you pay for – it’s $5/month – you may have to open this in a private window): The Power of Not Retweeting. Both the article and the subject are recommended. It’s very easy to be outraged by something that lacks context, and the context might make all the difference in how you actually react – but by the time you get context, it’s too late, you’ve committed your reaction to history and told all your friends.
  • Another excellent Medium article, this time from the New York Times’ Medium account: This Is Your Brain Off Facebook. It’s a little ironic that the NYT published this, given how manipulative they are for their readers… but the king of manipulation is still CNN in my opinion. Those guys should be ashamed. Their editors should be doubly ashamed.
  • I did not watch the State of the Union, but having people tell me that I shouldn’t watch it as a form of protest annoyed me and tempted me to endure the farce anyway. I want our politicians to love country over party, and that’s… not what we have right now.
  • Why didn’t I want to watch the State of the Union? Lots of reasons:
    • It’s Trump. His mode of speaking annoys me greatly. His inability to stay on topic annoys me. His stupid self-propping annoys me. I used to think George W. Bush wasn’t a particularly effective speaker because he always seemed to be searching for words – and now I find that I’d far prefer a President who actually searched for the right words to one who blathers out whatever foolish crap crosses his brain at any given time.
    • Do I need another reason? Oh, yeah.
    • The endless politicization of everything, and the seeming need to turn everything into a protest. I’m all for protesting police brutality, but sometimes a football game (or a State of the Union address) is … just a football game, and the protests don’t really make a difference besides signalling.
    • Circling back: I don’t trust Trump… or his opponents. They both lie. They both choose truths based on what plays to their bases. What’s funny is that Trump told us what he’d do in his campaign… and he’s actually held to that pretty strongly, for better or for worse. That’s somewhat commendable. His political opponents are changing their long-held opinions on lots of things just so they can oppose Trump – I’ve said before that he should just start echoing their campaign positions just to force them to change stances.
    • This is a lot less relevant of a list than I thought it might be.
    • Every State of the Union I’ve ever watched has bored me! There, there’s my best reason right there.

Intersections with Politics

Things I’m thinking about:

I’m changing the format up today, because one of the entries is longer than usual.

Trump and the Patriots

It’s really annoying that people are mad at the New England Patriots because Trump likes them. I dislike the Patriots myself – I nearly cost myself a job after they lost to the Giants – but for people to root against them just because of Trump speaks to a lack of basic reasoning on their parts. I don’t like thinking that my fellow humans are idiots. They’re acting like idiots.

Redemption is Being Considered Impossible

Speaking of politics, this thing with the governor of Virginia is making me angry.

Look, I’m not here to excuse the governor’s… anything. I don’t know exactly what happened; I think he’s been accused of being in either blackface or a KKK hood in an unidentified picture from a yearbook in 1984, and as I understand it, first he confirmed it, then denied it, then apologized, or… something.

Being in blackface is dumb. Being in a KKK hood is even dumber. Let’s get that out of the way immediately; I can’t condone either one, and won’t, even as a joke. Jokes are supposed to be funny, not threatening or harmful. Whoever was in the picture really should be ashamed of it, period, whether it was meant seriously or in jest.

But here’s the thing: it was in 1984. Thirty-four years ago! When he was a student! He may have been an idiot then – but who is he now?

With all the outrage, is the assertion that he’s a racist today? That’s what it looks like and should be. “Resign because you did something dumb 34 years ago” is… an idiotic thing to say, no matter what party he’s a member of (Democrat, if you’re curious) or what party the ones crying for him to resign are members of (both Democrat and Republican).

The implication is something we’ve seen shadows of before: There is no such thing as redemption. We’ve seen it mostly from the Left, although the Right is starting to pick it up as a useful political tool.

But the Left had better watch itself, very carefully… because if there’s no such thing as redemption, the Democratic Party itself is damned.

This is the party that fought for slavery… and after slavery was made illegal, overthrew the Republican government in North Carolina to restore the old order.

If there’s no redemption possible, then what in the world would make the Democrats think they can ever remove that stain from their history? They’re saying people can’t change – in 34 years, Governor Northam can’t have changed how he views people with different skin colors, Brett Kavanaugh can’t have become a decent man since he was in high school, and so forth. (Apparently Bill Clinton’s the only human being for whom redemption is a thing?)

If people can’t change, then people who claim the label associated with slavery are endorsing slavery. That’s the Democratic party, folks. There’s no sea change possible, is what they’re saying… and they chose a label that is by their own declaration and action irrevocably associated with endorsing slavery.

We’ve hit the slippery slope. Pandora’s Box has been opened, as I feared… I just hope that the cancer it represents eats its way to the extremes and leaves the middle confused but otherwise unaffected… until the extremes are eliminated and the middle ground can take care of its own with love and reason again.

Lorelai, Maven changelog plugin, the government shutdown

Things I have travelled across:

  • github-issues-maven-plugin generates a markdown file with a list of closed issues for a target milestone. Useful for creating release notes.
  • The death of a child is always heart-wrenching. 🙁 Rest in peace, little one, even though I only knew you through friends of friends.
  • Bless social media for bringing people together… except social media as a benefit assumes that people are basically good. If we can learn anything from the arc of human history, it’s that many people are basically good… and the bad actors ruin it for everyone. Social media is affected negatively by the presence of a few bad actors, and there’s no real way to fix it that I can see. Every fix is worse than the original problem.
  • I don’t quite understand why people are feeling victorious over Trump ending the government shutdown: all this means is that – for once – he adulted first. He, unlike his political opponents, managed to put the good of the country above his political aims. Sure, it was late… but he still got there first. Way to “win,” Democrats?

Flit, Trump’s Address on 19 Jan, Elite: Dangerous

Things that are crossing my path lately:

  • Flit, in context of “Python Packages and You.” Python packaging is not a strength of mine.
  • I hate to say it, but the Democrats’ rejection of Trump’s offer to open negotiations about the government now look kinda stupid, based on their oppositions. They’re saying that a three year suspension of some of the deportations and other such hot-button issues … basically, getting the things they wanted was not enough. They’re idiots. Sure, he is one, too… but the whole three year delay for the application of law gives Congress three years to fix the law, which is what Trump said they should do when he said he was going to resume deportations in the first place! In other words, from me to them: Congress, do your flippin’ jobs. If Congress wasn’t relying on executive power to do what Congress was meant to do, a lot of this mess would have gone away, but they keep digging in their heels and saying “no.”
  • The worst thing about Elite: Dangerous is how long it takes to get into a gaming session. The best thing about Elite:Dangerous is “pretty much everything else.”
  • I just realized I can select a region in WordPress’ editor, and then paste a URL – and the region is converted to an HTTP anchor automagically. Now that is useful.
  • Few things are both more and less amusing than watching someone stomp about, screaming “I am not a prima donna!”

Big Time!, Politics and Empathy, Football

Things I am observing myself thinking about:

  • I can’t listen to Peter Gabriel’s “Big Time” these days without thinking that it’s something like Donald Trump’s theme song.
  • I’ve hit a wall in exercising. Need more motivation. Need to push harder. (Oddly enough, my annoyance at having hit a wall was motivating.)
  • I think a lot of the United States’ political dysfunction is rooted in the ability of either side to say “I see your point.” What we need is both sides to be able to say that – and for them to attempt to say it, and for them to say it willingly.
  • It’s not just politics – in programming forums you see a lot of “I know more than you, therefore you’re an idiot” responses. Someone may know more than someone else, but that kind of response is unnecessary, regardless of truth – and the conclusion of idiocy is stupid.
  • I have seen a ton of interceptions made over the last few years where a fairly easily catchable ball bounces off of the receiver’s hands and into a defender’s arms. I think it’s time we blame this on the receiver instead of the QB; the QB threw the ball well!
  • Yes, I Could Care Less” is a fascinating read for one like me. There’s a balance between being correct and being readable, especially in context.
  • I’m still unimpressed by WordPress’ Gutenberg editor.

Roy Moore

The Republican Party has decided to back Roy Moore for Congress in Alabama.

I am very conflicted by this, for a few different reasons. I’m conflicted because I can understand why the support has been granted – in a few different ways – and yet I also struggle with the idea that such a person is considered as being tolerable for what should be the primary voice of the people in their own government.

The Story

Roy Moore is a judge from Alabama. He’s had an interesting history; he was a Chief Justice for Alabama’s Supreme Court, removed for violating sanctions against the separation of Church and State (first for installing a monument for the Ten Commandments in a state building lobby, and then removed again in a later term for telling judges to enforce a ban on same-sex marriage that had been deemed unconstitutional.)

He’s made multiple attempts at Alabama’s Senate seat; in the current (as of 2017) race, he’s trying to win the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions upon Sessions’ promotion in Trump’s administration. His opponent was endorsed by President Trump (and the larger part of the national Republican Party) but Moore won despite the lack of national popular support.

Based on his two removals from the State Supreme Court and his founding of the Foundation for Moral Law, he believes in a code that supercedes United States law, and I assume that means a sort of Christian moral code.

I do not know if he believes that Christian ethics should serve as the basis for United States law. I think it’s fair to assume that he thinks it already does, but I don’t know if he thinks it should be encoded as law; the ban on same-sex marriage (despite unconstitutionality) makes me think he does. I have thoughts on that, but not in this section.

He’s a Birther – one of those people, like President Trump, who asserted that President Obama was not born in the United States and therefore was not a legal candidate for his office.

He’s apparently one who, um, pursues women (or sexually harasses them, which is probably a more proper term); there have been a lot of claims lately (backed by evidence) that he’s pursued women who were underage legally (or barely legal in some cases). He has offered various defenses against these claims; many of his supporters have rationalized this pursuit in various ways. Some of those ways have been defensible (if not exactly reassuring, or effective, or even “good”); others have not.

Reaction

First off, Roy Moore repels me. I am not in Alabama, and I have no vote to offer him or his opponent, but I can say with all honesty and fervor that his opponent would have to be an incredible cretin for me to consider voting for Moore. (I don’t know much about his opponent, other than that he’s a Democrat; if he was a jerk, surely the GOP would be shouting “He’s a terrible person too!” and since they’re not doing that, I assume Moore’s opponent is an actual human.)

With that said, there are positive and negative reactions to Moore – mine may be horribly negative, but I can rationalize the positive reactions as well (even if I don’t find them convincing). Some of the positive reactions I find to be spurious and would be embarrassed to echo them; some of the negative reactions I find to be similarly ignorant of some harsh realities (even though I, too, have those same negative reactions.)

Let’s cover the positive reactions first. They’re shorter, and probably need less explanation.

Being For Moore

There are a few reasons to be pro-Moore, that I can see. One is political expediency (with two primary variations), another is raw party affiliation, another is personal association.

In one sense, political expediency is a matter of saying “We’d rather have a GOP vote in the Senate rather than a Democratic vote.” Moore isn’t a “normal Republican” but as we’ve seen in the 2016 Presidential election, that’s not much of a problem for the GOP these days; Trump isn’t a “normal Republican” either. (In fact, he’s more of a “normal Democrat” but had an easier path to power in the GOP.)

I don’t really like this, but I understand it; the party lines are drawn so severely that on controversial issues Senators seem more likely to vote with their party rather than based on actual conviction. (I’m aware that there are some blurred lines here; in many cases the conviction matches the party line.) Moore is more likely to vote with the GOP than with the Democrats, so the GOP has little choice but to continue its pursuit of power. “Better an ally you despise than an enemy you respect,” is one way of thinking of it.

In another sense, political expediency is based on the actual issues Moore has stood for – and paid for – historically. His personal morals aside, he’s taken a hard stance for the Ten Commandments, for example (losing his seat over it); the same is true for same-sex marriage. For many of his potential constituents, these are easy things to support (“What’s wrong with the Ten Commandments?” and “Why do them gays want to get married anyway?” along with the various conflicts such changes imply. Nobody wants to be told what they should endure, even if “enduring” those things matters very little.)

So for a significant part of the voting populace, voting for Moore might not be all that important, compared to voting for someone who will support the things the voters support, like the Ten Commandments. (Most voters don’t see how a monument with the Decalogue on it is “establishing a state religion,” and I personally agree with them; if someone put up a monument with Islam’s equivalent I could appreciate it without feeling like I was being pressured to be a Muslim.)

Worth noting: I’m not advocating for the Ten Commandments (although I’m Jewish, and therefore they’re pretty important to me). I’m also not against same-sex marriages. Personally, I think if people want to get married, let them; I would, however, say that forcing private businesses to support those marriages against the religious convictions of the owners is wrong. Homosexuals can and should be a protected class in many arenas, but this is not one of them. A church that has a forceful belief against homosexuality should not be forced to conduct same-sex marriages; likewise, a bakery whose owner feels that same-sex marriages are an affront against God shouldn’t be forced to bake for a given wedding. Let them miss out on the business instead.

Another reason to support Moore is because he’s running on the Republican ticket and not on the side of those “Godless Democrats” – party affiliation, straight up. This one ignores actual actions or voting points, and just focuses on party; I know people who vote this way for both parties (“Which one’s the Democrat? I’m voting for him… or her, whichever.”) I find this reason for voting to be idiotic. I’d rather not vote than choose to vote based on party alone.

(I’m not perfect in this regard… but I do try to at least determine something about a candidate before voting for him or her. At the very worst, I’ll choose voting for the challenger just to create churn in government. I’ve done it; I’m not proud of it; I’m trying to be honest about it. I also try to do better than that whenever I can.)

Personal association is probably the easiest to understand: it’s people who know Moore and identify with him (maybe they voted for him, maybe they’re from his neck of the woods, maybe they know him personally or attend his church or something?) These people vote for the person they know, more than based on political idealism or on issues. This is the same kind of reason one might vote for a family member, even though you might disagree on some core issues.

Being Against Moore

The reasons to vote against Moore… this what I imagine shooting fish in a barrel would be like.

The reasons I can think of being against Moore: party affiliation (which is as dumb a reason to be against Moore as it is to be for him), political expediency… and then there are the actual reasons to be against Moore specifically, which are his actual ideals, his ability to get along with others (his statesmanship), and his personal behavior and response to his own flaws.

One can be against Moore for many of the same reasons one can be for him, of course; maybe you vote the straight Democratic ticket (which is just as dumb, in my mind, as voting the straight Republican ticket simply because you’re a Republican.) Maybe you know the political opponent; maybe you identify more strongly with the Democrat, politically speaking. These are valid reasons, even if one of them is S-T-U-P-I-D dumb. (Namely, the “I vote for a Democrat, always” – that one’s dumb. No matter what party you vote for, that’s stupid. Stop doing that. It’s dumb if you vote Republican, it’s dumb if you vote Democrat.)

I wouldn’t vote for Moore personally because of his inability to separate the Constitution from his idea of a Moral Law. That’s not to say that I don’t think there is a Moral Law – I do. But it is separate from the Constitution and the two coincide but do not serve each other.

For example, same-sex marriage… it is Constitutional, whether one likes it or not (or even if you feel like marriage shouldn’t be an issue for the State to decide.) Once it’s been determined as being legally Constitutional, the discussion of enforcement stops, in the judicial and executive sense. It might still be a legislative issue, but it’s not a legal concern, whether an individual feels like it is or not. Moore’s edict to ban same-sex marriage despite its Constitutional status violates his role, crucially.

He has every right to campaign against same-sex marriage, in the legislative sense. He has every right to disapprove of same-sex marriage, to speak against it in his private life, to feel whatever he feels… but as a Supreme Court Justice, his public stance must be and has to be to support the Constitution.

His inability to separate his mandated neutrality from his personal views makes him a poor Justice and would make him a poor Senator. He needs to represent everyone he serves, not just the ones who voted for him. That means supporting those same-sex couples in his constituency, too, as well as any Muslims, Jews, atheists, Sikhs, or any other such people regardless of faith or lack of it. As it is, I find it difficult to believe he’d actively protect the rights of people who don’t believe as he does.

His personal behavior, though, adds an exclamation point to the “don’t vote Moore” sentiment. He’s been accused of pursuing women whom most would consider underage, in some cases even legally so. His reactions have been defensive in nature, and many of his supporters have tried to justify his predatory nature, using some arguments I find abhorrent.

I have yet to see him accept his past behavior (if it even is solely in the past, the actions of a younger man who was unwise?) and I haven’t seen him offer a redemptive narrative – and I think a redemptive narrative is necessary.

That means that all of these people saying “Joseph was much older than Mary” are enabling such behavior, accepting and excusing it, even though if an older man were to pursue their own young daughters they’d probably be reaching for a shotgun.

If it’s not okay if it happens to you or your family, it’s not okay if it happens to someone else or their family. That’s the thing these people are missing, it seems. And if it’s actually not something they’d reject, well… maybe their licenses to parent should be revoked.

I’m aware that this is a cultural norm that is fairly recent in nature; as little as one hundred years ago, such May-December romances would have been considered more mainstream. That’s fine; I’m not saying that an older man paired with a younger woman, in context, is in itself wrong (although it can be, regardless of time period; a man of thirty should never, ever, ever marry a woman of… eight. If the lady in question is prepubescent, that’s… gross and I can’t countenance it.)

But whether the norm is recent or not, it’s still the norm. It’s not something that’s done today or should be done today; even if you find people you respect or like who’ve done it in the past (Jimmy Page, Elvis Presley) it’s still not something you do. (See also: Glitter, Gary.)

It’s not that I think that his past behavior necessarily invalidates his candidacy; I think that people are able to be redeemed through their acceptance and their behavior. If he had owned it and accepted it as a failing in his past, and had done better since, he might be considered as redeemed and the issue would be far less critical than it is. But that hasn’t happened. Instead, he’s been unable to accept censure for behavior that most people, including those who generally believe the same things he does, find reprehensible.

A man who’s been banned from a mall for gross behavior should have done everything he could to address that publicly … at the time. It was too late to address it once he started running for Senate, and he hasn’t really bothered.

Another Facet

The problem I’m having is one of context.

Moore is a jerk. I don’t think I could vote for him.

But at the same time… people are jerks. People are awful. There are few such paragons of behavior that even in their times they couldn’t be censured for being terrible, much less in our own time.

Look at George Washington: a man whose behavior was nearly impeccable, a President so beloved that political opposition was nearly entirely pro forma. (“We can’t have him unopposed… can we?”) Yet today we excoriate his memory – the man without whom we’d not have a country so free that we even are allowed to resent him – for owning slaves. (He owned them; he set them free upon his death; from what I understand he treated them humanely. He still owned slaves.)

In his time, slave ownership was seen as distasteful by some, but not many; for most it was a necessity for a man of wealth and means. But today it makes him anathema.

If you look at most other historical figures, you’d find even time-relative flaws; this one carried on an affair with his mistress against cultural norms even of his time, that one blackballed an enemy, this other one stole advances from his commercial rival, and this fellow created a monopoly to prevent that one from taking business from him. It’s nearly impossible to travel the seats of power without stepping on toes of some sort.

My concern is that Roy Moore is suffering from a lack of perspective; in fifty years, we might roll his eyes about his skirt-chasing, but not recoil in horror as we do in this moment. (I’m imagining an extremely unlikely future where he turns out to be a giant of statesmanship.) That’s more or less the Clinton effect; we’d say that his sexual harassment was awful, yes, but look at all the good he did!

I don’t know how to fix this, either. My fear is that sometimes you need an axe to get something done, and sometimes that axe is unpleasant.

Yet I’d still be unable to vote for Moore.

Trump might be my new favorite President

I really do think Trump is working hard to become my favorite President — his position is solidifying every day.

This august position used to be Bill Clinton’s. Bill snatched it from such luminaries as Washington and Lincoln, something made possible only in the modern era where the common man had a chance to observe and admire (or abhor) the President on a regular basis.

Since Kennedy, we’ve really more or less converted our Presidents into kings, you see. For a country of individualists, that’s a bad thing; it gives the President much more responsibility and power than he (or she, if you like) should have.

I’m old-school. I don’t want a king. I want a citizen as President, nothing more, nothing less. I want my statesmen to be my peers, although hopefully better-informed and wiser than I am.

So President Clinton, through not being able to keep himself zipped up appropriately, did a lot of damage to the power of the Presidency; he illustrated the idea that a President was just this guy quite well — I wish the “guy” had been more upstanding, I guess, but we needed someone willing to take an axe to the root system of the office.

Perjury strikes at the very heart of the Presidency; Clinton, by perjuring himself in ways that would embarrass a third-grader caught with his hand stuck in the cookie jar, made his own office something to ridicule.

Then George W. Bush came along! For someone like me, Bush was a perfect candidate. Thick-tongued, a man of faith… here was someone who might not be a fantastic statesman but seemed to be a better human being than Bill Clinton, and that’s more or less what I thought we needed in the post-perjury years.

And then along came 9/11 and our President was converted right back into a king.

Obama was a good statesman and from all appearances quite a decent fellow, regardless of whether you approve of his political choices or not… but he still managed to cultivate a cult of personality such that he remained a king. Maybe that’s what he needed to do in order to be elected; I don’t know for sure, and if that’s the case, our system is broken. (Which is, of course, my core assertion; when the President is a king, we encourage only those who are willing to become a king to become President. And we don’t need that.)

Now we have The Ironically Titled Honorable Donald John Trump as President… and I’m not even sure where to begin.

A businessman of, um, let’s call them “pragmatic political beliefs,” Trump’s sigil isn’t ideally an eagle or a bull, a bear or a tiger — his best representative from the animal kingdom would be a boar, its head stuck in the trough, unaware of and uncaring about what crap went into its slop, as long as the slop keeps coming and coming and coming.

A man whose career was built on being observed, he apparently never quite caught on that America does actually have core political beliefs, and also has demonstrated a remarkable inability to read the crowd at a national level. His observational skills are limited to being in person at best, and asking him to speak to a wider, heterogenous audience is inviting disaster.

This is a man who employs Jews, whose daughter is a converted Jew, whose grandchildren are Jewish. I don’t believe he’s an anti-Semite in any way (again, because of pragmatism; committing to a belief such as anti-Semitism would require more effort than he’s demonstrated towards anything but the pursuit of the almighty Dollar.)

But at the same time, this same person was unable to recognize that “X is as bad as the Nazis” is untrue for any given value of X in human history thus far.

Further, this President is amazingly polarizing.

His support is bound up in all kinds of jingoistic, often racist-tinged publications. Those who support him politically and wholeheartedly have already had to do some soul-searching to figure out what’s wrong with themselves.

And those who oppose him… it’s hard to express the joy and horror I feel watching people oppose the President.

The joy is because I don’t want a king; opposing the President is a pastime that United States citizens are able to enjoy more than almost any other citizens on the face of the earth. And after watching the Left coronate Obama (“He can do no wrong”) for eight years, it’s good to see that they remember how to resist. And given that a lightning rod for the past few weeks has been racism and nationalism, it’s good to see the Left remember Jews positively for once.

The horror is in the form of resistance that it has taken. Images of the President beheaded in effigy; calls for his assassination; violence against those with whom disagreement has had; requests to dismantle the First Amendment, disregarding that this makes the United States a police state, and hands the keys to what is acceptable to think and say to… Trump.

At this point, I think the Left has as much to search its soul over as the Right does. They protested (rightfully) the calls for harm against Obama, and now they’re doing the same thing, in a sort of eye-for-an-eye reaction that does little but embolden their critics and diminish their own position.

So… yes, I think Trump is working hard to take over the position as “Best President” from Bill Clinton. (What’s odd is that George Washington, from whom Clinton took the title, was relegated to #2 for me… but when Clinton is toppled, he’ll drop to #40 or so. It’s all or nothing when you’re a cad, you know.) I just hope that the United States can emerge from under Trump’s Presidency in 2020 with its soul restored.