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bully trump

Could Hillary have defeated a bully?

We’re not even three months into the Trump presidency but it behooves any one of us who voted for Hillary and are still numb at her loss to not continue to reflect about her defeat and what might we still learn from it. I remember watching the 2nd debate when Trump interrupted Hillary’s comments about fact checking (referencing his attack on her using a private email server while she was Secretary of State) with the words, “Because you’d be in jail.” Right then and there, I was ready for Hillary to respond to this preposterous assertion but not a peep came from her as she calmly sat back down. She decided to take, in Michelle Obama’s immortal words, “the high road” and respond to this bully with silent nerves of steel and grace. And for me, she lost the presidency, right then and there.

I remember being bullied at 12 years old in grammar school. It took the form of intimidating questions that I couldn’t respond to because I didn’t know the answers. This bully kept at me, making me feel stupid. He spoke to other kids about me behind my back. I remember the full name of my bully and the image of him remains firmly etched into my mind. This bully intimidated me for 3 + years. And nearly every time, I responded with silence. I was scared. I couldn’t summon the strength or energy to defend myself. I cowered in the face of this “bigger person” because I didn’t know how to answer him. Because of this bully, I ultimately changed schools as I tried to express to my mother, through tears, that I couldn’t take it anymore.

In my case, the bully won. So what was it that I was waiting for in Hillary’s case? Trump behaves like a bully. He makes accusations that are without merit or based upon any factual evidence. He impugns the character of individuals through his Tweets, including our former president, Barack Obama.

He enjoys intimidating and attacking his opponents without the least worry that he’s in anyway acting inappropriately as president. But here is what I learned:

When faced with a bully, you don’t remain silent. You don’t cower. You don’t behave politely in return. You use the language of your accuser back at them. While Hillary constantly referred people to her website in response to Trump’s attacks, what I wanted to hear from her during that 2nd debate was something like this:

“Donald, stop it! You’re a thug and a punk! How dare you! I’ve devoted the majority of my life to public service. And what have you done? You’re a billionaire real estate developer, who destroys unions, and have nothing but contempt for the average joe. You have ZERO credentials for running for the highest office in the land and you have the nerve to say you would jail me when you don’t even pay any income tax! YOU BELONG IN JAIL, Mr. Trump. You’re a tax cheat and a fraud. You ran a fake university and ripped off thousands of students. Your real-estate dealings have netted you billions but you’ve raped this country. And I for one will not have it!”

Now, imagine if you will, hearing words of this nature coming out of the mouth of Hillary Clinton. You wouldn’t expect it. None of her supporters would have expected it. Why? Because Hillary is a policy-wonk and she was coached by her staff to “take the high road” and not use the language of her attacker. Hillary was the more intelligent and sophisticated of the two candidates. She talked about her domestic programs and when she couldn’t take Trump’s appalling lies about her, she would shimmy and/or smile, trying to appear polite in contrast to Trump’s boorish behavior. While all Trump could do was make feel-good bromides about restoring America’s greatness, Hillary worked in Washington and came across like the establishment candidate that she was. But the biggest flaw of Hillary’s campaign was not appealing to those who were considering voting for Trump. Don’t forget that many Trump voters previously voted for Obama. Trump used the language of a bully to excite his voters and fan the flames of sexism, misogyny, and hate. By lashing out at Hillary with baseless accusations, he in many respects became a conduit for those Americans who felt economically disenfranchised and saw nothing to lose by voting in a billionaire real-estate mogul.

I’ve recently been attending swingleft.org meetings. I listened to several individuals who previously tried reaching out to Trump voters. The vitriol they were hearing from them was outright astonishing. “F-CK the bitch! She belongs in jail!” And I’m being kind. These are the words coming from a sample of Trump voters who were thrilled beyond belief to hear a man castigate a woman who was running for the highest office in the land. These voters were aping the language of their chosen hero.

We will never know, ultimately, if Hillary would have won if she had behaved any differently throughout her campaign. We do know that she did not spend nearly sufficient time in the Rust Belt meeting with unemployed white voters. Trump did so. But we also know that she ran against a bully. And this bully proved to be far more powerful than anyone ever realized. I, for one, kept wondering. Will Hillary ever fight back? Will she use the words of her opponent?

I can’t say for sure if Hillary would still have defeated Trump if she had spoken and behaved any differently towards him. But I know that what I was hoping to hear from her, never materialized. And I believe to this day that the only way to defend yourself against a bully is to not take the high road.

Peter Leyden’s wishful thinking and America’s woeful democratic experiment

image credit: New York Times

Trump’s inauguration is the canker sore that won’t go away

Hillary Clinton won the 2016 popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. If it weren’t for the antiquated electoral college, she would be president today. Even though I felt Hillary was the wrong democratic party presidential candidate at the wrong time. I never imagined she would lose to Trump. But now that we’re forced to live with it, what are we to make of the 60+ million people who voted for Trump? What are we to make of a media that openly gave a billionaire real-estate developer oodles of free publicity for the sake of profits? I would like to agree with Peter Leyden’s assessment that the ascent of Trump is actually the end of an era but upon reading his Medium essay, I found him to be too representative of the Silicon Valley bubble, and I’m not sure what sufficient value technology brings into the equation if it can’t educate and influence the minds of Red state voters.

Dysfunctional American democracy

The majority of Trump’s voters are not college educated. They are disaffected, unemployed or underemployed white men and women,  and get their information from right-wing media sources, such as Fox news. They are part of a segment of the American population that has fallen under the sway of the Republican party, a political organization that continues to fan the flames of anti-government ideology. Republicans feed the minds of voters with the premise that government regulations and taxation are bad and hurt job creation. The majority of Southern states, along with the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho, & Wyoming, remain republican party strongholds. These are states that lack any significant type of “Silicon Valley cultural mindset” with a majority of voters who have little reason to believe that technology is going to create new employment, especially when technology and automation continue to eliminate jobs.

While Peter Leyden is correct in how easy it is to whip up fears about globalization and digital technologies that are or will replace human employment, where I believe he’s mistaken is thinking that Trump’s ascendancy to the White House will alienate so much of the republican party agenda that there will be a backlash. Actually, the Republicans, if they are shrewd, can actually do some manipulation of Trump on their own, and when they are ready, pull the trigger.  While Congress may ultimately impeach Trump, the Republican party will continue its ugly tirade against government spending and foment resistance to new regulations. This is a principal reason why democracy is so dysfunctional in America.

We have one body of thought that embraces government as a force for good and devoted to the public interest and one that is contemptuous of government and views it as a constraint on personal freedom. This is what keeps the United States from flourishing as a democracy because this cultural divide prevents the country from tackling complicated problems in a progressive manner. In addition, the lack of quality, heavily invested public schooling across the nation promotes extreme ignorance and a myopic understanding of the role government plays in a democracy.

Transformational leadership and changing minds

I agree with Peter that Hillary Clinton, if she had won the electoral college, would not have been the transformational leader that our country so badly needs. Bernie Sanders was and remains that person (for now). I also previously wrote about the terrible damage done by this country’s 4th estate in giving a man like Donald Trump so much free publicity leading up to the actual election. In a democracy, the press must act on behalf of the public interest and not its corporate stakeholders. It failed.

While California may be filled with progressive democrats that is not the case in Southern states or in regions of the upper midwest. I don’t think the evidence is there that the “next economy,” as Peter describes is working for everyone. It certainly isn’t working for those deprived of the skills necessary to take part in it. We live in the software age. In order to flourish and thrive with gainful employment, it is advantageous to know how to code and learn other software-related skills. You don’t see the start-up world headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi.

I like that Peter has created an organization that seeks to alter the political dynamic in our country. Peter’s company, Reinvent, seeks to further conversations within the Democratic party and with progressives on how to overcome today’s Trump and any future Trumps. I’ve fine with that. But what is missing, or what needs to happen is a deep level engagement in those Red states where progressive change is next to non-existent. It’s painful to read how some of these Red states openly rejected President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, legislation designed to encourage more citizens to get health insurance and do so affordably.

How does one stay hopeful in the face of a country that is so badly polarized?  How do we once and for all do away with the Republican party mantra that government is the problem? How do we sway the minds of those voters who get their information from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, or Newt Gingrich?  When you listen to some of the reasoning behind Trump voters, it’s enough to make you shutter for the future of our nation’s democracy.

Obama’s place in history

What of Obama’s achievements will still remain in existence if the country is forced to endure four years of Trump?  One week into his administration, Trump has already signed a series of executive orders, attempting to undo Obama’s legacy. I believe it is too early to say whether Obama’s achievements as president will have laid the groundwork for a sustainable civilization. I wanted Obama to aim higher and fight for even greater achievements, such as Medicare for all and a reversal of Citizens United. But he did not champion either of them. Without getting money out of politics, it’s hard to imagine how democracy will not continue to erode under its own corruption and greed.

If we are to achieve what Peter describes as “the all-digital, fully global, sustainable civilization of the 21st century,” then there needs to be an American body politic that is not engaging in open warfare over the purpose, role, and function of government in a democratic society. We must be uniform in our thinking that government, while not perfect, can be perfected to fulfill the dream that democracy remains the best choice to improve the quality of life for the people it serves.

RIP, Foursquare – you were a solution in search of a problem

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 9.26.01 PM

Today’s post is about the irrelevancy of Foursquare. Remember when it was all the rage? Back in 2009, Foursquare debuted with the public at large and “checking-in” caught on as the big trend in social media apps. I remember when all of my marketing peers jumped on Foursquare and were happily on their way checking-in everywhere they went. Well, Foursquare didn’t fool me. I wasn’t ready to give up my privacy and show off to my network or the world where I was and what I was doing. Talk about a loss of privacy!

Check-ins were such a shallow idea to begin with. I could never understand what attracted people to need or want to share everywhere they went. The problem was Foursquare never developed its “checking-in” functionality into something more compelling, like what else would I want to be sharing with people now that I’ve checked-in? The oysters I just ate and am now puking?

The social utility of checking-in is tied to the act of discovery and Foursquare is desperately trying to remake itself into a discovery app. But guess what?  They are a little late to the game. Apps like Yelp and Groupon already help users find great deals on all kinds of products. And let’s face it. Checking-in is a drag. You can check-in via Facebook. Why do I need to check-in via Foursquare? At some point, when does checking-in become a boring, uninteresting event? Even marketers whom I know on Facebook are not using the checking-in feature much. It’s simple.  Who cares?

Foursquare also split into two apps back in 2014 and by all accounts it was the worst decision the company ever made. The new Foursquare is trying to branch out and become a Yelp-like recommendation service, suggesting places based in part where your friends have checked-in. The new Foursquare focuses on those recommendations and moves the check-in part to a separate app, called Swarm. I haven’t used Swarm and why the hell should I?

Some people still use Foursquare and like the recommendations feature. If you’re not happy with Yelp, go back to Foursquare, I suppose. Yelp, for the most part, has never steered me wrong so I don’t see why I would abandon it. Foursquare has entered into a partnership with Twitter and is supplying its data to the company allowing Twitter to beef up its own location-based functionality. That’s probably one of the reasons why Foursquare is still alive as a company. Foursquare used to offer discount coupons to places when you checked-in. That’s gone the way of the dinosaur. But the company primarily makes money off of selling your keystrokes and transaction data to all of its advertisers.

In all honesty, Facebook helped kill Foursquare. The audience of one billion plus is where the action resides. And let’s face it. There are so many other compelling apps to be messing around with. Why are you wasting time on Foursquare?

 

Fosters Cafe Restaurant

Fosters Cafe/Restaurant impressionist painting for sale

Fosters Cafe Restaurant
Fosters Cafe/Restaurant in San Francisco, circa 1960s

I’m the owner of this painting. It was painted by American artist, Robert ‘Bob’ Herlitz. It’s a painting done inside of Fosters Cafe/Restaurant, a well-known eatery in San Francisco back in the 1950’s and 60’s. I’m interested in selling it. It was painted sometime in the mid 60s. Should you find this painting to your liking, please feel free to contact me via my website.

Benevolent Centaur

Are you a benevolent Centaur?

Benevolent Centaur
Benevolent Centaur

 

I wonder sometimes if being a benevolent Centaur is not exactly the most ideal social type to be associated with when it comes to job hunting. Dapperjobs was a website designed to factor in your cultural values to help you identify the types of company you want to be working for. You answered a short list of questions and upon submitting your results Dapperjobs informed you of your personality trait.

How would you describe your personality trait in the working world?

personality questions
personality questions

 

Facebook

Facebook is NOT the world’s biggest waste of time

 

I LOVE FACEBOOK

 Is Facebook productive? 

Bill Robinson published back in February a damning critique of Facebook. Robinson writes, “Facebook isn’t real or productive, it’s just an advanced version of the electronic bulletin boards that have been around since the Internet dawned.”

That’s where Robin is wrong. Yes, Facebook is an electronic bulletin board. But it does bring people together on topics, issues, and interests that they care about. And a meaningful exchange in dialogue occurs. For example, I’m a member of a Jimi Hendrix fan page group called Electric Guru. There are more than 1,000 members and I’m an administrator. I love this group. It is filled with extremely passionate Jimi Hendrix fans; these are the types of fans who can discourse about Hendrix each day of the year and never get tired of it. Photos are shared; recordings are shared. Sometimes there are disagreements but overall, the vibe is most welcoming to all who share the passion of Jimi Hendrix’s music. To say that this human exchange is not “real” or “productive” completely misses what is actually going on. Is it productive?  Yes. I’m choosing to spend my time discussing and reacting to photos of Jimi Hendrix. I enjoy spending my time doing so. I don’t spend all day on FB. But I check in several times a day. I choose to do so. And it rewards me by providing me with quality content.  I follow influential thinkers, like Sam Harris or Lawrence Krauss. For example, I enjoy the posts of Robert Reich, former secretary of Labor under President Clinton. I share Robert’s politics. And I enjoy reading his posts about the rising tide of inequality in the United States. I agree with just about everything he writes. He has forged a strong community on Facebook. I’m glad to be part of it.

Next Robinson writes: “A real ‘social network’ wouldn’t be virtual. It would involve real people, meeting in a real, tangible, bricks-and-mortar building or outdoor place, where they might have food, drinks and conversation.”  I’m surprised Robinson would make such an ignorant remark. As if people who live across countries can just get on a plane and meet with members of their social network at a cafe or restaurant and share conversation? Facebook is global. I communicate and chat with members of my Hendrix group who live all over the planet. It is a virtual network and I’m engaging in real dialogue with real people.

Robin writes: “What’s not real is an online place where there’s no exclusivity or discernment about who gets in, and all manner of riff-raff voicing their opinions, exchanging links to news reports, photos of kittens playing with string, comic books and jokes, while espousing how great it all is that they’re meeting and making so many “friends.”  Wrong again, Robin. There is exclusivity and discernment about who gets in. My Hendrix group is a private group and there is a waiting list for those who want to get in. And we’re not sharing photos of kittens playing with string; were not espousing about how many”friends” we’ve made. We’re talking about the topic of the fan page. Facebook can and does connect people wanting to discuss specific topics.

Is Facebook a waste of time? 

Gotta love Robinson’s provincial take on Facebook. Describing it as “a waste of time,” he writes about what people have stopped doing, including “reading a book for instance (or, reading online to educate oneself). Or doing a crossword puzzle/Sudoku. Play chess. Improve your resume. Learn a new language. Teach your child how to ride a bike. Talk to your mom and dad. Surprise your wife. Go to church. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen. You get the point–there’s SO MUCH more to do in real lifethe real world than destroy your brain cells with fleeting FB chatter and fake friends.”

I don’t consider spending time on FB as destroying one’s brain cells. Quite the opposite. Facebook, when properly used, can be very worthwhile. It can serve to validate one’s opinion, especially when you have dozens or even hundreds of people liking your comment. It’s reassuring to know that others feel and/or share your views. I also know that many people have now established their social networks on Facebook, in particular, sharing daily posts about their lives with their actual friends (not people whom they have never met, BTW).

I don’t go on Facebook to necessarily “learn” new things. Learning on Facebook is serendipitous. I’ve sometimes learned something new on FB that I did not know about. I follow news stories as posted by Bill Moyers. I enjoy following Bill in this manner. I click on a particular story if I want to learn more about it and get taken to his website. You are “old school,” Robinson. I just don’t think you want to like Facebook because you hate it so much.

Just how obnoxious is Facebook? 

Robinson derides Facebook for “locking in” its users. Facebook is by no means perfect. It has done a number of obnoxious things. I never liked the development of Facebook gaming apps. I never liked Facebook advertising. I agree that both served to only irritate FB users. But FB is providing a free platform and it must be paid for. Facebook is not a charity and Zuckerberg is no Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist. I know that if the bulk of my social network left Facebook than I too would leave Facebook. I don’t use Facebook to “meet new people.” I’ve used Facebook to get in contact with people I once knew (former college classmates, for example) and I’ve met new people on Facebook who share my passionate interests, like Jimi Hendrix, for example.

Is Facebook sucking you in? 

Now comes the part that really ruffles Robinson’s feathers. He calls it “dangerous” and “pathetic” when he reads that FB users are getting so much of their news from FB. Then he says that FB is “sucking you into their little world” because you end up exclusively there for your news and information and FB will then control your thoughts and further indoctrinate you into their revenue streams.

I’ve got news for you, Mr. Robinson. Is what you’re describing any different from, say, what a right wing republican will read for their news and information? Who are the types of people that listen to Rush Limbaugh? The right wing republicans who listen to Limbaugh enjoy doing so because he speaks for them on pretty much all of the issues that matter to them. Rush is “their truth.” And Rush Limbaugh is on Facebook. He has more than a million FB fans. FB isn’t “controlling their thoughts.” Limbaugh is. FB is just the platform serving up all of the content as provided by those who are on it, lest you forget. Facebook is a content platform. It’s nothing without the content of its users.

Will Facebook users abandon it?  

Robinson, you parrot the study by Princeton University that  Facebook users will lose 80% of its users by 2017. Facebook hilariously debunked this study. Yes, youth are fickle and there has been a drop-off in young users of FB. But guess what? It’s the adults who have settled into Facebook and now make up more than 70% of users. That’s no small percentage by any means. Why are you so concerned about the youth? They are off spending, no WASTING their time on such apps as Snapchat. And what kind of content are they sending to each other? Could it be porn? 

Bill Robinson:  You’re old school. You’re old hat. You’re a square. 

In conclusion, I find Bill’s rant about Facebook to be coming from someone who truly is of another generation. Someone who didn’t spend time online to socialize; someone who wishes it were 1990 again. Yes, Facebook has awful ads. Yes, Facebook continues to run a fowl of privacy laws. Facebook isn’t an ideal platform. And Facebook won’t be around forever. MySpace died because it had an awful UI, among other things. When FB came on the scene it was a breath of fresh air. The UI was clean and the notion of getting back in contact with your college classmates was appealing. Who knew that it would take off the way it did? No one.

You write: “If you love FB, then don’t blame me because a growing tide of people clearly do not. While my ‘dislikes’ above are only my attempt to bring everything in my mind together, there does seem to be a thriving–and growing–‘Hate Facebook’ community.”

I don’t love FB. I accept it. But I also don’t enjoy hating it the way you do. My social network, people whom I am in contact with, are on Facebook. I will continue to use FB as long as the people I now care about are on it. The ‘Hate Facebook community’ can take a long walk off a short pier, as far as I’m concerned. And the same, I may add, applies to you.