Alt-Facts or Alt-Universe?

VIEWPOINTS LETTERS TO THE EDITOR I have been trying to get my head around the current, politico-contemporary use of the prefix “alt”.

I grew up in the 1950’s in what I think was a Republican household, and my first recollection of national politics was the Eisenhower v. Stevenson debate. The 1950’s were kinder, more respectful times: politicians could debate among themselves, and neighbor could disagree with neighbor. But in the end, it was all about the overall good of the nation and not the selfie-ego-centricity rampant today.

The most frightening thing for me was the vague idea of some Cold War between the U.S. and the USSR. And I seem to recall a sense of uneasiness during the televised McCarthy hearings; I had never witnessed such anger. At some point, in our mid-last-century naiveté, I and multitudes of others were becoming participants to the end of the melting pot; a time when civility and acceptance were giving way to an increasing xenophobia that I thought had ended with the deaths of Auschwitz and Manzanar. One might say that the world lost its innocence during those and the next precipitous decades.

We may have matured from that far away and long ago galaxy, but we still are unable to create a utopia or to find the solution to any problem. There are no absolutes: even the sky is not blue; especially if you live in Hong Kong. And there is no one person who has an absolute “fix” for what ails us; not the Pope, not the Dalai Lama, not Kim Jong-un, not the Ayatollah, not Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Meryl Streep, Sean Hannity, Kelly Ann Conway, Chuck Schumer, Maya Angelou or even Donald Trump.

“Don’t Tread on Me.” “E Pluribus Unum.” “Send me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses….” “Time heals all wounds.” “We’re going to build a wall.” “The more things change….” “Blame it on rock ‘n roll.” “Do unto others….” “Don’t ask what your country can do for you, ask: ‘What can I do for my country?’” “Make America great [white?] again.” Do these sentences contain “the” truth, or are they guides during our journeys toward truth?

As it happens, I voted for Hillary; not because I fi nd her to be an unimpeachably honest person, but because of her Weltanshauung — her World View — and because I think she grasps the it-takes-a-village concept of inter-dependence. I also had the hope that our constitutional balance of powers would rein her in where necessary and spur her on where appropriate.

The one, prime reason I could not vote for Mr. Trump is that he reignited my old McCarthy era fears. I thought — and still do — that he’s too angry; he’s an undisciplined playground bully; he’s too full of himself; he’s a volatile and loose cannon, he seems to disrespect others; and he has no moral filter. He uses people, and, regardless of his tone, his message is still the same: “Me first.”

“Drain the swamp,” “take back the White House” and “build a wall” each shared prominence during Mr. Trump’s campaign. Since his inauguration, though, these and other talking points have been “walked back” through his — and his lackeys — use of alternative truths and alternative facts.

There is a rich human history of scientific and private/public discussions engaging their participants in searches for various solutions. When these discourses have been quashed, heinous consequences have occurred.

So, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I intend to write a true story about an actual alternative universe somewhere about 40 light-years away; basing it on the recent (Feb. 22) NASA announcement. NASA has pictures of the Trappist-1 solar system and its seven planets; three of which are in its “Goldilocks Zone.” Stay tuned: more alt-facts to follow. Cris Torp is a resident of South Beach.

Cris Torp is a resident of South Beach.

Newport News Times, March 17, 2017, A8

Hopes for a female president dashed, women take running for office into their own hands

November 26 at 4:40 PM
On Wednesday, she woke up inconsolable. On Thursday, angry. But on the Friday after the presidential election, as she prepared posters to join thousands in protesting Donald Trump’s victory, Mia Hernández came to a quiet realization: If she found her country’s direction intolerable, she would have to try to change it.

She would change it not just by signing petitions, or protesting, or calling her legislators. For the first time, she sketched out a plan to run for elected office.

In 2020, Hernández intends to make a bid for a seat on the San Jose City Council or the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. Her focus will be reproductive rights and community empowerment, she said.

“Everybody says organize, don’t mourn, make a change,” said Hernández, 22, a student at the University of California at Santa Cruz. “So I said to myself, ‘How am I going to be an active member in this? You know what, I need to run for office. I need to be a part of that decision-making. I need to make sure Trump’s voice is not the only voice out there.’ ”

Among young, liberal women who expected to see the country elect its first female president Nov. 8, Hernández is not alone; many are responding to Hillary Clinton’s defeat with a new sense of obligation to seek political power. After years of never imagining a career in the public eye or only vaguely entertaining the idea of working in politics, these women are determined to run for elected office.

They don’t speak for all women, many of whom voted for Trump — 42 percent of them, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Research. Notably, a majority of white women favored the Republican. But Clinton still benefited from an overall gender gap, and young women supported her by a margin of 32 percentage points.

For many of those rooting for Clinton to break the glass ceiling her campaign repeatedly invoked, her loss, painful as it was, could be an even greater mobilizing force than a victory might have been.

“It’s incredibly ironic,” said Alexandra Melnick, a 22-year-old from Florida who recently decided to run for a spot on a local school board after she obtains her master’s degree in education. “But to think this could inspire women like me to run for office — it’s the only belief one can have without losing hope.”

For Hernández, the ascent of a man she sees as menacing to her full inclusion in American society as a Latina — and menacing to the safety of her undocumented friends — has changed everything.

Her focus had not been on electoral politics. She considered herself an activist, concentrating on rent and eviction issues in her home town of San Jose. She used to spurn city council members and state legislators, politicians against whom she had “spent so much time fighting.” But the election convinced her that these offices wield unparalleled influence, and it made clear to her the scope of the power she could exert and the scale of her responsibility.

Michele L. Swers, a professor of government at Georgetown University who specializes in gender and policymaking, said this response has historical precedent.

In the early 1990s, televised hearings brought the Senate debate over the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court into living rooms across the country. The all-male Judiciary Committee’s treatment of Anita Hill, who accused Thomas of sexual harassment, helped motivate women to run for office, Swers said. In 1992, four successfully ran for the U.S. Senate, increasing the number of women in that body threefold. They were Patty Murray of Washington, Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois and Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California, all Democrats. Their electoral success branded 1992 the “Year of the Woman.”

“You had people who decided they didn’t like what they saw,” Swers said. “In general in politics, anger is a very motivating factor.”

Swers said this year’s election may be another pivotal consciousness-raising event for women “deciding the only way to change things is to get into the halls of power.”

The volume of calls and the amount of cash coming in to Emily’s List, a political action committee that seeks to elect Democratic women, testify to this effect, said the organization’s spokeswoman, Marcy Stech.

“We have heard from women across the country who are raising their hands to be part of the solution,” she said.

Motivated but directionless

Although women remain underrepresented at all levels of government, Stech said, young women searching for role models can look to the slate of Democratic women who found success on Election Day. She pointed in particular to Stephanie Murphy, who unseated Rep. John L. Mica, a Florida Republican nearly twice her age, to become the first Vietnamese American woman elected to Congress. Women like Murphy, Stech predicted, will play a major part in the evolution of the Democratic Party as it aims to represent the growing diversity of the electorate while making renewed overtures to working-class voters forfeited to Trump.

“We’re going to have to fire on all cylinders,” Stech said.

More than 1,000 miles from Santa Cruz, where Hernández watched the election returns in her dorm room, Emily Sheridan, a student at the University of Colorado at Boulder, sat in a crowded theater and watched Trump notch a victory in Florida. Then she saw Pennsylvania begin to take on a red tint.

It was then she decided she would stay in Boulder after graduation and run for a position at the county level.

“I wanted desperately to be able to do something but I couldn’t. . . . I felt so powerless as something so historic for all the wrong reasons was happening,” said Sheridan, 21, who studies evolutionary ecology and biology and serves as president of the campus’s college Democrats.

Many young people are motivated but directionless, Sheridan said. They’re angry but lack an outlet for that anger; they flocked to Bernie Sanders but disengaged from the election after he failed to win the Democratic nomination. Sheridan said the election’s outcome could be a wake-up call.

“I’m hoping the revolution starts the day after. That’s what Bernie said,” Sheridan said. “What I’m hoping is that the biggest thing that comes out of this is a change in the idea that it’s not cool to be in politics.”

It wasn’t concern for her social capital that kept Lindsay Fletcher, 30, away from politics. It was the sleepless nights staying up with her two children. After four years in the Air Force, Fletcher now cares full-time for her children — a 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son — at Sheppard Air Force Base in north Texas, where her husband is stationed.

She feels called to politics, which she sees as an extension of her responsibilities as a parent. After the election, she started a list on her phone of military spouses who have run for office.

“I want to show my little girl that you stand up for what you believe in,” she said. “I’ve never been involved in politics. My focus has been on my home. But my kids are getting older, and I’m getting antsy. I’m ready to get out and do something.”

In a year and a half, Fletcher and her family will relocate. Once they’re settled, she plans to explore local races, perhaps starting at the city level. Fletcher said she would like to focus on women’s issues — from parental leave to health care — as well as the treatment of veterans.

Years from now, she sees herself competing for a seat in the U.S. Senate, she said, in the model of Elizabeth Warren, the liberal firebrand from Massachusetts whom she admires.

For young women with more long-standing political ambitions, the election results solidified their plans — while also laying bare the obstacles they may face.

It has been Aurea Bolaños Perea’s dream to be a congresswoman virtually since she immigrated to the United States from Mexico about a decade ago. On Wednesday she set a deadline: A graduate student at California State University at Chico, she plans to run for a local position in the San Joaquin Valley or San Diego area in the next four years, before ultimately moving to the federal level.

She sees her life story as a refutation of Trump’s rhetoric. For immigrants who fear for their safety under his presidency, she said, “there needs to be someone in power who will understand. That has to be me.”

But she now knows how difficult her path will be.

“You see men who do not internalize failure like women do,” Bolaños Perea said. “If before I thought I would need to prove myself five times over, now I see that it’s more like 10 times.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/hopes-for-a-female-president-dashed-women-consider-entering-politics-themselves/2016/11/26/1620b182-b043-11e6-be1c-8cec35b1ad25_story.html

 

Indivisible We Are Invincible

Sunday, October 30, 2016

diverse-americaI often consider America’s  future and how far apart so many Americans are -whether it is Trump vs Hillary, GOP vs Dems, Greens, Libertarians -I thought it important to weigh in with my observations.

We seem to have lost our way. We argue vehemently for Trump or for Hillary. Or some argue Republicans and Democrats are just two sides of the same coin. We fight about “Big Government”, immigrants, guns and abortions.

When I think of all of the ways we are divided -the phrase that keeps returning to my mind is “focus on outcomes“. And when we do -suddenly -we become united again.

Consider the following:

When we think of America’s future -we know the world is a rapidly changing, competitive and volatile place. If we want a strong America -one outcome we need is to make sure our education system is among the best in the world. We know how to accomplish this -smaller class sizes, great teachers, curriculum focused on teaching and inspiring children to want to learn more throughout their lifetime.

When we think of campaign finance -no one I talk to wants candidates that are bought and purchased by the wealthiest Americans. Regardless of political side -we want political integrity as an outcome.

Regardless of how you feel about guns -we should all agree that the outcome we want is to feel safe in our homes or in our travel. And we don’t want terrorists, the mentally ill, or criminals to possess weapons and use them against innocent Americans or law enforcement. We don’t want all of the accidental deaths we read about almost daily when a child finds an unlocked gun in the home.

Together we respect our elders -after a lifetime of work and responsibility -we want to make sure they have the financial resources they need to have a decent lifestyle -with affordable access to healthcare, housing and transportation.

None of us wants a “Big” Government. We want an effective and transparent government that is responsive to us -that provides the common services we need for all of America, Oregon and Lincoln County.

When we turn on our kitchen faucet -every American wants safe, good tasting water for themselves, families, friends and community -not a flammable toxic sludge or water tainted with dangerous chemicals. Similarly -when we breathe our air -we don’t want our lungs to burn, eyes to water -taking in some dangerous pollutants from a nearby plant or refinery. When we buy food –we want food that is fresh, safe and free from dangerous chemicals.

Together we believe in an America where if every person works hard -they can improve the quality of their own life and family.

We believe there is great beauty in America –our coasts, rivers, valleys, mountains, forests and national parks. It’s part of what makes America a special place –and we believe in preserving and protecting them for future generations of Americans.

Most of us believe in the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty –“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” -we accept those fleeing from horrific violence with open arms and without fear.

We may have very different ideas about how to achieve the results we want -and that is what Democracy is about. We honor the fact that we can decide these things with our vote -and not with violence. America is not about Kings, Queens or Oligarchs. It is about all of us talking about what our vision of America is -and then electing people to represent us in shaping that future -while we stay involved to make sure they do represent our interest and vision.

Let’s stop yelling over each other with political slogans. When we consider and talk about the America we know is possible –we won’t agree upon everything however I think you will find we have far more in common than not. And when we unite –together we can get closer to realizing the American dream for ourselves, families and communities.

Posted by George A. Polisner at 6:28 AM

http://alonovo.blogspot.com/2016/10/indivisible-we-are-invincible.html

 

Indivisible we are invincible

I often consider America’s future and how far apart so many Americans are — whether it is Trump vs. Hillary, GOP vs. Dems, Greens, Libertarians — I thought it important to weigh in with my observations.   

We seem to have lost our way. We argue vehemently for Trump or for Hillary. Or some argue Republicans and Democrats are just two sides of the same coin. We talk about “big government,” immigrants, guns and abortions.   

When I think of all of the ways we are divided, the phrase that keeps returning to my mind is “focus on outcomes.” And when we do, suddenly we become united again.   

Consider the following:    When we think of America’s future, we know the world is a rapidly changing, competitive and volatile place. If we want a strong America, one outcome we need is to make sure our education system is among the best in the world. We know how to accomplish this — smaller class sizes, great teachers, curriculum focused on teaching and inspiring children to want to learn more   throughout their lifetime.   

When we think of campaign finance, no one I talk to wants candidates that are bought and purchased by the wealthiest Americans. Regardless of one’s political side, we want political integrity as an outcome.   

Regardless of how you feel about guns, we should all agree that the outcome we want is to feel safe in our homes or in our travel. And we don’t want terrorists, the mentally ill or criminals to possess weapons and use them against innocent Americans or law enforcement. We don’t want all of the accidental deaths we read about almost daily when a child finds an unlocked gun in the home.   

Together, we respect our elders. After a lifetime of work and responsibility, we want to make sure they have the financial resources they need to have a decent lifestyle, with affordable access to health care, housing and transportation.   

None of us wants a big government. We want an effective and transparent government that is responsive to us, that provides the common services we need for all of America, Oregon and Lincoln County.   

When we turn on our kitchen faucet, every American wants safe, good tasting water for themselves, families, friends and community, not a flammable toxic sludge or water tainted with dangerous chemicals. Similarly, when we breathe our air, we don’t want our lungs to burn and eyes to water, taking in some dangerous pollutants from a nearby plant or refinery. When we buy food, we want food that is fresh, safe and free from dangerous chemicals.   

Together we believe in an America where if every person works hard, where they can improve the quality of their own life and family.   

We believe there is great beauty in America — our coasts, rivers, valleys, mountains, forests and national parks. It’s part of what makes America a special place, and we believe in preserving and protecting them for future generations of Americans.   

Most of us believe in the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty — “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” We accept those fleeing from horrific   violence with open arms and without fear.   

We may have very different ideas about how to achieve the results we want, and that is what democracy is about. We honor the fact that we can decide these things with our vote, and not with violence. America is not about kings, queens or oligarchs. It is about all of us talking about what our vision of America is and then electing people to represent us in shaping that future, while we stay involved to make sure they do represent our interest and vision.   

Let’s stop yelling over each other with political slogans. When we consider and talk about the America we know is possible, we won’t agree upon everything. However, I think you will find we have far more in common than not. And when we unite together, we can get closer to realizing the American dream for ourselves, families and communities.   

George A. Polisner is the chair of the Lincoln County Democratic Central Committee (http://LCDCC.org) and the founder of Civic Works (http://civ.works)

Reprinted from Newport News Times, October 26, 2016, Page A9

Donald Trump Reveals Evangelical Rifts That Could Shape Politics for Years

OCT. 17, 2016

When Jen Hatmaker speaks to stadiums full of Christian women, she regales them with stories about her five children and her garden back in Austin, Tex. — and stays away from politics. But recently she took to Facebook and Instagram to blast Donald J. Trump as a “national disgrace,” and remind her legions of followers that there are other names on the ballot in November.

“Trump has consistently normalized violence, sexual deviance, bigotry and hate speech,” she said in an email interview. “I wouldn’t accept this from my seventh-grade son, much less from a potential leader of the free world.”

In the nearly four decades since Jerry Falwell Sr. founded a group called the Moral Majority, evangelical Christians have been the Republican Party’s most unified and reliable voting bloc in November presidential elections. The leaders of what came to be known as the religious right were kingmakers and household names, like Pat Robertson, James C. Dobson, Ralph Reed.

But this year, Ms. Hatmaker’s outraged post was one small sign of the splintering of the evangelical bloc and a possible portent of the changes ahead. While most of the religious right’s aging old guard has chosen to stand by Mr. Trump, its judgment and authority are being challenged by an increasingly assertive crop of younger leaders, minorities and women such as Ms. Hatmaker.

“Those men have never spoken for me or, frankly, anyone I know,” said Ms. Hatmaker, the author of popular inspirational Christian books. “The fracture within our own Christian family may be irreparable.”

The fault lines among evangelicals that the election of 2016 has exposed — among generations, ethnic groups and sexes — are likely to reshape national politics for years to come, conservative Christian leaders and analysts said last week in interviews. Arguments that were once private are now public, and agendas are no longer clear.

Photo

The audience at Ms. Hatmaker’s event in Tampa. Credit Loren Elliott for The New York Times

“The idea of a monolithic evangelical voting constituency is no longer applicable in the American electorate,” said Samuel Rodriguez Jr., the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, who represents about 40,000 congregations and declined to join his friends and allies on Mr. Trump’s evangelical advisory board.

The big names who sit atop organizations that function largely as lobbying groups and mobilization squads for the Republican Party have stuck with Mr. Trump despite the lewd comments he made in a 2005 recording, even though he was never their preferred candidate. He wooed them and convinced them that he would appoint Supreme Court justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia, the conservative who died in February. To these pragmatic players, the election boiled down to only two issues, both that could be solved with Supreme Court appointments: stopping abortion and ensuring legal protections for religious conservatives who object to same-sex marriage.

But the evangelicals now challenging the old guard tend to have a broader agenda. They see it as a Christian imperative to care for immigrants and refugees, the poor, the environment and victims of sex trafficking and sexual abuse. Many support criminal justice reform and the aims of the Black Lives Matter movement. While ardently opposed to abortion, some are inclined to be more accepting of same-sex marriage.

“The next generation of evangelicals craves a less partisan, less divisive and more racially inclusive expression of political engagement that addresses concern on a range of issues, not just abortion and gay marriage,” said Jonathan Merritt, a young evangelical who writes on politics and culture.

The religious right’s machinery is still primed to turn out evangelical voters for Mr. Trump, said Johnnie Moore, a publicist for many Christian leaders and groups, who serves on Mr. Trump’s advisory board. But he doubts that the machinery will produce as it has in the past.

“I do not think there’s any way to get evangelical women in any force to show up for Donald Trump at this point,” Mr. Moore said.

Photo

Wyatt Drake, a Liberty University student, registering to vote. Students at the evangelical university in Lynchburg, Va., have started a petition criticizing the university’s president for backing Donald J. Trump. Credit Chet Strange for The New York Times

Several polls show that Mr. Trump is underperforming among evangelicals compared with previous Republican nominees, who commanded about 80 percent of the white evangelical vote. Mr. Trump received 65 percent to 70 percent of white evangelical support, recent polls show. A new poll from LifeWay Research, which specializes in surveys of churches and Christians, found that nonwhite evangelicals overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton over Mr. Trump, 62 percent to 15 percent.

Significant opposition to Mr. Trump has also come from evangelical leaders who are white and baby boomers or older. Many younger evangelicals said they took note when Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention and Erick Erickson, a conservative writer and radio host, rejected Mr. Trump early in the campaign. Last week, both Christianity Today and World magazine ran editorials rejecting Mr. Trump.

Kate Shellnutt, 30, the online editor of Christianity Today and editor of the CT Women section, said she had observed that “the millennial generation has a lot less patience for Trump.” Of the 33 influential millennial evangelicals she profiled for a cover story two years ago, she says she can now find only one, Lila Rose, who is pro-Trump, and even she has been publicly critical of him. Several have been using the hashtag #NeverTrump, Ms. Shellnutt said.

Students at Liberty University in Virginia, which was founded by Mr. Falwell, started a petition on Wednesday criticizing the university’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr. (the founder’s son), for endorsing a candidate who is “actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose,” and tarnishing the school in the process, the petition said.

“Liberty University is not Trump University,” said Dustin Wahl, a junior majoring in politics and policy, who wrote the petition. “We don’t stand with our president on Donald Trump. It’s embarrassing because most people here realize that Trump is a joke.”

Mr. Wahl said that more than 2,500 people had signed the petition in two days, including more than 1,100 who used email addresses affiliated with Liberty University. There are about 15,000 resident students at Liberty, and an additional 90,000 online.

Photo

Dustin Wahl, a student at Liberty University, has criticized the university’s president for his support of Donald J. Trump. “We don’t stand with our president on Donald Trump,” he said. “It’s embarrassing because most people here realize that Trump is a joke.” Credit Chet Strange for The New York Times

Mr. Falwell, Mr. Reed and Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, who have all stood by Mr. Trump, did not respond to interview requests. However, Mr. Falwell issued a response to the students’ petition, saying that it represented the views of only a “few students,” and that he had endorsed Mr. Trump as an individual, not on behalf of the university.

The student body president, Jack Heaphy, as well as some students interviewed on campus, defended Mr. Falwell and Mr. Trump.

“I believe the vast majority of students on campus will be voting for Mr. Trump on Nov. 8 — not because he’s the perfect candidate, but because his policies align most with the viewpoints of students,” Mr. Heaphy said.

While evangelicals on both sides are alarmed at the vitriol and division, not everyone agrees that it signifies a long-term split. Some maintain that the dissenters will return to the Republican Party post-Trump, and those who supported him will be forgiven.

“I don’t think it is permanent,” said Mr. Moore, the publicist who sits on Mr. Trump’s advisory board.

But the petition is one sign that the traditional reverence among evangelicals for authority figures has fallen by the wayside. On social media, there are calls for Mr. Perkins to step down for continuing to back Mr. Trump.

“It’s inconceivable that someone could run an organization named the Family Research Council and support a man like Donald Trump for president,” said Matthew Lee Anderson, 34, the author of several books and the blog Mere Orthodoxy.

Four years ago, he spoke on a young leaders’ panel at the Values Voter Summit, which is sponsored by Mr. Perkins’s organization. Now, he said, “I don’t have any trust in his judgment any longer. And that’s the sort of loss of trust that lots of younger evangelicals are experiencing toward people like Tony Perkins, and it will not be rebuilt quickly.”