Trump

The Presidency

I started my paid professional career working for a Republican legislator from Fairbanks, AK. I respect him for his commitment to study the issues and the work he gave to his constituents ever day. I remember the time I put in to preparing briefing notes for every bill that came before him that came before committees. He read them. He asked questions. He took the time to see how policy proposals would affect his constituents and the State of Alaska. I did not agree with every vote or comment he took or made. However, I found great pride that I was working for someone who took the time to analyze the issues and understand the nuance of the problems facing his constituents.
 
I have no clue how this Republican I used to work (way too long ago) for feels about the current presidential election, nor will I ask. However, I have taken my experience to realize that our next President needs to study the complexity of issues, listen to the smartest minds in their field, gets the history of our county and makes difficult decisions while thinking about human consequences of their actions.
 
After watching the most recent debate, and paying very close attention to the diatribe of this election, Mr. Trump ain’t a thinker, a study nor does he have any understanding of the issues affecting his potential constituents.
 
People holding public office should understand the nuance of policy and be willing to learn the issues facing them when making the most crucial decisions while sitting in the oval office.It’s pretty evident from these debates (ask his former staff) that Mr. Trump doesn’t have the attention span or the ability to learn and comprehend the immense issues facing the next President of the United States.

The Petulance

The Petulance

Senator Ted Cruz addressing an arena full of Tea Party activists, (formerly known as the Republican National Convention) in Cleveland, OH: “vote your conscience”  

Crowd Response – “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”

Senator Bernie Sanders addressing a room of supporters about voting for Secretary Clinton prior to the start of the 2016 Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, PA: “Trump is a danger to our country and must be defeated.”

Crowd Response – “BOOOOOOOOO, NO, NO, NO, BOOOOOOOOO.”

The rationale may have been different, but the protests, outcomes and vitriol are the same. If you don’t hear EXACTLY what you want, you are staying home in the next election. More than that, you’re going to make sure the next election doesn’t happen. Am I talking about the Tea Party or am I talking about “Bernie-or-Bust” aka #BernieBros (a minority but highly visible and vocal group of Sanders supporters)? These groups are, one-and-the-same. Is the only difference the cars they drive and whether they watch FoxNews or MSNBC?

Bernie Bros are supposed to be liberal, rational people who believe in climate change, equality and basic human rights. Tea Partiers are supposed to be people who support racism and sexism, refuse to compromise, and have a fundamental misunderstanding of the ideals that the US was founded on. These two groups seem vastly different on the surface. In fact, they should hate each other. However, the temper tantrum #BernieBros displayed over the past few months toward the democratic nomination process looks and sounds identical to previous Tea Party Behavior; this isn’t new, ask Al Gore.

#BernieBros and Tea Partiers actually have some important ideals in common. This was no more evident than the 2010 health care debate. The (admittedly not perfect) Affordable Care Act would provide health care access to 20 million more Americans. This has been a partisan battle field since the turn of the 20th century! But through employment or retirement, a majority of both Tea Partiers and liberal ideologies already had access to health care. So liberal idealogues stood arm in differing arm with Tea Party foes to oppose what Congress and President Obama were trying to accomplish.

Throughout this primary election, #BernieBros have likewise ignored the complex process of politics, and a 240 year history of incremental changes in this country. Like Tea Partiers, there has been a fundamental failure to understand that you don’t get what you want in this democracy by waiving a magic wand. Both groups have equally little clue about how Congress actually works: holding lawmakers you agree with 97 percent of the time hostage to the other three percent of your whims isn’t how progress is made in the U.S. political system, and isn’t how bills of consequence get passed. Both sides know this only blocks meaningful action, just ask former Speaker John Boehner.  

I am not dismissing the necessity of two parties, or even factions within the two parties. Read Federalist Papers, No. 10: Madison stated that divisions are and will always be an essential part of our political discourse. It frames the conversation of our Republic. The far left of the Democratic Party is just as essential in moving progressive ideals forward as the Tea Party is in helping the Republicans move the country backwards.  

Dialogue is welcome in the U.S. political process. But, dialogue gets dangerous when groups like the Tea Party or Bernie-or-Busters are willing to throw their self-proclaimed revolutions in the toilet in order to make a misconstrued and blurry point. In the case of the 2016 democratic election, this was yelling at Senator Elizabeth Warren that she betrayed their trust, and vowing to sit out the election. It’s sure a helluva lot easier for white, male, otherwise privileged idealogues to sit out this election as their principled stand; they won’t be directly marginalized by a Trump Presidency.

The Tea Party has been effective at eliminating the ones they mostly agree with in the Republican Party. They’ve ousted Republicans in any primary election who agree with Democrats on anything, including the thickness of dental floss. Bernie-or-Busters are using virtually the same logic in their actions toward Secretary Clinton.

This small sect of Sander’s supporters, despite personal appeals from Sanders, think that threatening the fabric of our nation with a Trump Presidency is somehow noble. That is to say, they find protesting Clinton noble. And, in effect, they are ignoring coalitions Clinton has spent 30 years building. This is not only dismissive of her statesmanship, it prevents her from effectively advancing her life’s work of helping those less fortunate.

Let’s make this simple. Clinton isn’t a criminal; fortunately, in this country, you can’t be tried and convicted on Fox News. Clinton won the primary election by more than 3 million votes. This was decided in June.The Democratic National Committee can’t rig elections (or tie their shoes) and, according to newly disclosed primary results from 2008, either can Clinton. Clinton also isn’t a corporate shill. She takes campaign contributions from Wall Street but you need money to win elections. Until “Citizens United” is overturned by liberal Supreme Court Justices (which she supports and which she will nominate), this is a fact. Clinton has built consensus her entire career (Sanders has never been much to build coalitions). Clinton has a more proven track record of fighting for progressive causes than any other presidential candidate in the nation’s history.

The petulant children who booed and hissed liberal speakers through the Democratic convention ignored this in their fervent display of immaturity. But they did expose the lack of depth and thoughtfulness needed in today’s political climate. It wasn’t  different than what Tea Partiers and liberal idealogues alike did in town halls throughout the country in 2010.

It’s not a “principled” stand when you choose not to vote for someone you agree with 97 percent of the time, or when you stay home and bemoan the first woman nominee in our country for disproven flaws and because, according to the men, she needs to stop yelling and smile more. It’s a stand that lacks both principle and basis in fact. Primary elections are a part of politics and there can only be one winner. Losing primaries are a fact of political campaigns that only neophytes don’t understand.

Let’s make this even more simple. Trump and his collaborators want to take this country back to the 1950’s. What the fuck do you think “Make America Great Again” really means? Make America great again for white men with money and position and worse again for everyone else. Worse for worker’s rights, LGBTQIAP+ rights, women’s rights, civil rights, religious freedoms, economic equality and any other fundamental human rights. Are #BernieBros willing to sacrifice the progress of the last 70 years because they ultimately lost or don’t they feel warm and fuzzy toward Clinton?

The small group of protesting #BernieBros may be suffering from ignorance and immaturity, but it sure as hell isn’t rooted in any kind of liberalism I’ve heard of. At this point, it’s become indistinguishable from the Tea Party.

The Scotch is ready to join the fight and is #withher. And anyone who considers themselves liberal, believes in science or is smarter than a box of crackers should be too.   

The Running of the Roses

The Scotch is back!

It’s been a hectic few months of following the primaries and pouring over the intricacies of water adequacy legislation. There is a lot to write about. This Trump thing is actually real. This #feelthebern thing is still a thing, even though it really shouldn’t still be a thing. State houses across the country have gone completely bat shit with the laws they are passing and the U.S. Congress is taking the opposite approach by doing absolutely nothing (The Speaker is too busy whining to the media about The Donald). The Scotch will get to that and you can also look forward to an epic hike adventure  soon.

But for today – The Ponies! Destin

The Kentucky Derby, the first horse race of the year the casual horse racing fan cares about. It’s the first leg of the overrated triple crown and always the first Saturday in  of the year. Churchill Downs is the most famous horse racing track in the world. Unlike other races and many other sporting events, The Derby has a feel of ungawdly privilege. There is the pageantry, the mint juleps (try one, they’re disgusting) and the hats! Who doesn’t love the hats?!?

Then of course there is the gambling (despite ethical qualms). As you know, The Scotch LOVES to dabble in the world of sports gambling.  “You’re a fucking degenerate” may have been directed this way once or twice. Today is no different. The best thing about betting on the ponies, is that there is much more to horse betting than simply picking the winner. The Scotch isn’t an expert nor one of those 76 year old, über knowledgeable, horse junkie shaking a whittled pencil making complex bets, on the 4am races in the sportsbook at the Mirage. However, there are so many simple and affordable bets to make it entertaining to make this the most enjoyable 2 minutes of the year. Plus, last year’s Superfecta win at the Belmont Stakes will keep us afloat for a while.

If you are fortunate enough to read this prior to gate time; find a buddy to scam (you can also find a hipster trying to sip a mint julep at a local bar) or use the Google machine to find a way to put fake internet dollars on the following:

  • Outright win: Bolo in the undercard race
  • Win/Place/Show: Gun Runner and Suddenbreakingnews
  • Trifecta Box: Nyquist (hate taking the favorites), Mor Spirit and Gun Runner
  • Superfecta Box: Exaggerator, Suddenbreakingnews, Danzing Candy and Outwork
  • Outright win: Destin @+1600

There is your multitude of winning possibilities. It didn’t rain last night so ignore any advice from Kramer! Be careful not to bet more fake internet dollars than you can afford. Keep it fun! And remember there is nothing better than yelling at your teevee  and at a horse you never met, to run faster. 

Oh, and of course – THE HATS!!the hats

 

 

The Nationals

The United States Curling National Championship kicks off this weekend in Jacksonville, Florida. That’s right, Jacksonville. FLORIDA. For my Canadian curling friends: if Winnipeg is the curling “Mecca” of Canada, Jacksonville, Florida is its U.S. equivalent [insert sarcasm font here]. 

The United States Curling Association (USCA) brain trust is trying to grow the sport in non-traditional curling locales. And exposing the southern half of the U.S. to curling could increase national exposure, thus benefiting the future of the sport. But they’re trying too hard. By half. At least. There are far better destination cities, ones that are more accessible to the base of curling fans, than the armpit of Florida.

I’m sure the USCA will declare this a successful event. The gate will exceed their extremely low expectations. The stands will look like they’re filled to the rafters… because it’s an elementary school hockey arena that’s been vacant since the Vanilla Ice comeback tour.

This is not the venue to showcase the best curlers in our country–but it is the best venue if you’re trying to hide the complete fiasco you turned the National Championships into.  *Spoiler Alert* to the tens of Jacksonvillians about to watch a week of curling: you’re about to witness a farce. And the National Championship should be of consequence to the tens of Jacksonvillians cheering a sport they’re likely befuddled by already.

Side Note: this is not a condemnation of the athletes (yes, curlers are athletes now), some of whom are my friends. Many of those competing this week are dedicated individuals and playing a sport they love.

Because of the new points system instituted by the USCA, the men’s champion team won their right to represent Team USA at the World Championships in September at the Grand Slam of Curling (an exclusive field). Future Team USA made the semi-finals of this event and secured enough points so that all they need to do now to advance to the World Championships is not die. Over the course of the year, they amassed an insurmountable points lead over any other US team and, because our world representative is decided on total points and not by winning the National Championship game, Future Team USA will be Team USA this time next Saturday.

The fucked up points system isn’t Future Team USA’s fault. In fact, congrats Future Team USA, you had a great year. You’re clearly the best, having the best year, and you had the added bonus of not getting dead between September and today. You still have to show up and place third or higher to be named Team USA, but that’s a feat I’m sure you’ll accomplish. (I just called my retirement guy and had him take out all my money so I can bet on you. It’s booked.)

Again, this is not to take away from the spectacular year Future Team USA had. Arguably, it’s the best an American team has ever had on tour. Sources close to The Scotch say Future Team USA has worked extremely hard all year; they played an extremely aggressive schedule and their effort paid off. The Scotch got to watch a few of their games at the Golden Wrench Classic in Phoenix, AZ. They played better than any other American team. It really wasn’t close.

Another Side Note: The Golden Wrench Classic was a twrench photoremendous event: the top rated teams from across the world didn’t disappoint. The members of the Coyote Curling Club put on a helluva spiel. The hospitality was amazing. The ice was pretty good. Not Grand Slam ice but, for Phoenix, AZ club ice, it was mostly predictable and the speed was consistent. Arizona (of all places) should be the southern state to host a national championship. The Golden Wrench proved that. The club was filled for most draws with every silver haired Canadian snowbird in the Phoenix Valley. They actually had to turn some away at the door, as if it was the 4 p.m. early bird dinner special at the Del Boca Vista.

The Women’s curling side was a similar story. Future Team USA qualified in all of their tour events, earning enough points to lap the rest of the women’s field 6 times over. Congrats Future Team USA on a great year! They also didn’t die and, if they get to the podium this week, will be adorned with red, white and blue at the Women’s World Championships (where I expect they’ll medal, if not win the damn thing).

The Scotch will still watch (with the sound muted) as much of the tournament as possible via the Twelfth End Sports Network live webstream. I love to watch curling that much. However, I shouldn’t already know who our World Representatives will be. They should be determined on the ice next Saturday. Sports fans want drama and the glory. We want to see brooms thrown to the ceiling in pure joy after making the last shot of the game, to hear the roar of those 13 people in the Jacksonville stands. It’s what athletes train and compete for.

The Carolina Panthers are 15-1 in the NFL this year. They have a better record than the Denver Broncos, and yet millions of people will still gather around their giant teevees to watch the game tomorrow. We always want our National Champions to make the game winning shot, to hit the game 7 walk-off homer, to score the go-ahead touchdown in the “Super Bowl.” The USCA brain trust is making a mockery of our sports culture with this system. It’s counterintuitive to everything enjoyable about competing against one another. Devaluing what we love about sports.

Side Betting Note: The Scotch is taking Carolina (-6), the first half under (23), a team will score three times in a row, over 1 times the Golden Gate Bridge is shown during the broadcast, and over 2 minutes and 20 seconds for Lady Gaga to sing the National Anthem.

We still haven’t talked about the USCA’s other brilliant idea: the High Performance Program. Sources tell The Scotch that this very loosely defined “program” is a debacle. It’s a self preserving, unaccountable, unmitigated disaster. Think the Bush Administration during Hurricane Katrina. Only worse.

The High Performance Program holds mock tryouts for an exclusive group of athletes in the summer. They then select teams from this “tryout” and fund them on tour. Most of these athletes are great curlers and great people. And most are dedicated to the sport and make huge sacrifices to follow their dreams. They aren’t the problem. The program is.

The High Performance Program doesn’t coach athletes to be better. There aren’t dedicated team practices where coaches analyze athletes’ deliveries and sweeping techniques. Coaches do berate players after a game about the shots they missed (I’m pretty sure the players already know about the shots they missed). But the off-ice training program is no more than a piece of paper athletes fill out stating that they went to the gym. While lifting a pencil can be a chore, it shouldn’t qualify as an “High Performance” workout.

If the U.S. wants to get to the medal stand of the Olympics and World Championships, the USCA needs to build a program with trained coaches and fitness experts. And it needs to be a truly accountable program, staffed with people who know what they’re doing. Hiring directors that know how to win and have a basic understanding of the American sports dynamic would be a nice start. The director they have now doesn’t fit either of those basic qualifications. His failure as director of the Scotland competitive curling program pales in comparison to the titanic shipwreck he has created here. Donald Trump says he knows how to win and he’ll have more free time shortly—Hey USCA, give The Donald a call.

The U.S. may never be able to consistently win titles on the World Stage like the Canadians can. The numbers just aren’t in our favour. We just don’t have the depth, and plus our youth have too many sports options. But if we aren’t going to win medals, let’s not win medals doing it the right way.

Good Curling.   

Prediction Segment for Entertainment Only (until The Scotch finds a curling sportsbook)

Women:

  1. Brown
  2. Christensen
  3. Roth
  4. Sinclair
  5. Anderson
  6. Lindgren
  7. Meechai

Men:

  1. Shuster
  2. Brown
  3. Clark
  4. Corbett
  5. Birr (in a tie break)
  6. Dropkin
  7. Fenson
  8. McCormick
  9. Clawson
  10. Leichter

The Words Matter

The MerriamWebster online dictionary definition of discourse : The use of words to exchange thoughts and ideas.

The way our society communicates and shares ideas defines our public policy.

Faggot,” butthurt,” libtard,” n—-er,” femiNazi,b—h,” c—t,” “illegal,” bigot,” homophobe and, for the uber-intellectual, “troglodyte.

Disagreement can be edgy and effective without offending entire races, religions and classes of people.

But our discourse is now littered with these words and often accompanied with vitriolic attacks on the identities, affiliations and associations of the speaker. Find a popular social media post featuring President Obama and read the comment section. There’s a good chance a commenter will state that the President is a Muslim (derogatorily) and then connect his “religion” to his ongoing effort to destroy the U.S. (while conveniently omitting evidence).

Aren’t interweb comment sections where good ideas go to die?

Unequivocally, YES. The odds of changing the heart and mind of someone on social media by typing in a pithy comment (no matter how brilliant you think it is) are about as good as cracking aces holding 7-2 off-suit (poker reference). I’m sure it happens (as my laptop goes flying into the teevee), but it’s rare.

If social media was the only place where this dialogue was found, there might be less reason for concern. However, vitriol seeps. The same language is used on cable news, in opinion pieces in major newspapers, in political campaign ads, in presidential debates and even in the well of the U.S. Congress. This language, in some cases, digresses into more aggressive behavior, overt discrimination and violence against groups of people.

So why does this matter?

Policy discussions shouldn’t be measured the same as discussions you have at the neighborhood bar. Calling a buddy a “fucking idiot” for muting the game and cranking out three Journey songs in a row isn’t the same as debating the biggest issues facing our society. Words matter, especially when they affect public policy. Aside from being immature, labeling someone a “Socialist Muslim” to discredit their policy idea demeans their humanity, and it doesn’t validate your point in the discussion.

It also isn’t productive to simply call someone a “bigot” because they say ALL Muslims are responsible for terrorist acts. This may be the dictionary definition of bigotry, however, name calling doesn’t change the experience, which led to their discriminatory statement. It only creates a confrontation where both parties go on the defensive and retreat into their stubborn ideological corners. Elevating the discourse and changing the anecdotal experience of the perpetrator (obviously more difficult), will have a better chance of unrooting the cause of their hate.

When vitriolic language is used across the political spectrum, it makes it easier to dismiss the impact policy decisions have on a subset of people.

For example, the media will often dehumanize people by calling them “illegals,inferring they are on the wrong side of an arbitrary line (probably decided by killing someone else). This overt language makes it is easier for policymakers to take away liberties and displace families: they are no longer fellow humans sharing the Earth, they are merely “illegals.”

Another example is not so subtle. In recent comments at a town hall, Governor of Maine Paul LePage uses words such as “G-Money” to insinuate black men are travelling to Maine (I’m assuming from places where he thinks black people live) to deal drugs and impregnate “young, white girls.” The Governor is placing blame on a specific race of people for the perceived ills of his state. Instead, he could have easily used the opportunity to expand discourse into a productive policy discussion on drug addiction and criminal justice reform.

Donald Trump, who is the leading Republican for the Presidential nomination has used words to prey upon the fears of a segment of the electorate who are disenchanted by politics. The Scotch will explore this phenomenon in more depth in an upcoming post.

 I chose discourse specifically as my first topic. Analyzing the use of specific verbiage in the media, on the campaign trail and in policy making will be a pillar of this blog. Not attacking the attacker is of utmost importance and the way we use words will ALWAYS matter. 

Swearing: effective. Name calling: not so much.