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Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

harvey-korman-as-hedleylamarrI read this week that that Rex Tillerson, the president and CEO of Exxon Mobil who considers himself close to Putin, is at the top of the list as a potential Secretary of State in the Trump Administration.

Given the picks that Trump has made thus far, it makes perfect sense.

It’s not pay-to-play here.  It is actually pay-to-make-policy.

Nobody thought that when Donald Trump said he would not be appointing lobbyists to his cabinet it meant that he was simply cutting out the middle man. Why hire the spokesman when you can get  the real thing– the people who benefit most from the work of their lobbyists?

With each new pick, his chosen group has taken on an almost comic book feel.  Each departmental choice seems designed to pick the person that poses the most peril to the goals and purpose of that department.

It’s absurdity at the highest level.

Every pick makes me think that Trump sees himself as Hedley Lamarr, played by Harvey Korman, in the movie Blazing Saddles.  Below is the scene that brings this to mind.  Like Trump, Hedley is looking for some people to do some work for him. The title of this post is from this clip, in case you were wondering.

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change_-masp-fotolia-com_-640x229I hear all the time that this election is about bringing change to our country. While that sounds pretty good for some folks, especially those who feel like they’ve somehow ended up with the short end of the stick, I want to speak a word of caution:

Be careful what you wish for.

You may get something in the bargain that you could never foresee and find yourself looking back at these past few years with fond recollections and a bit of nostalgia.

First of all, what is so absolutely awful that we need to change everything? Where is this hellscape that America has become? You know, the one Donald Trump so often points to in his rants on the campaign trail, the one where you get shot the moment you set foot out in the street?  I live in an area that is not booming economically and has one of the higher crime rates in NY state but it certainly doesn’t feel  much different than it did in decades past.

Despite the claims and misrepresentations of Donald Trump, violent crime and murder are at the lowest rates since the early 1960’s.

The stock market in the month or so after Barack Obama came into office was down to around 6500.  It now stands at over 18000.  If you have a 401k for your retirement, your investments have no doubt grown appreciably.

Unemployment was around 10%.  It is now under 5% and real wages are actually rising.  The demand for labor is now exceeding supply.  Plain and simple: We don’t have the people needed to fill the good jobs that are open now.  Even in my area with an economy that often underperforms on a state and national level, a large CVS warehouse/distribution center has turned to running television ads looking for 60 new employees with starting wages from $12-15/hour.  You would think there would be lines of people waiting to fill these jobs.

Interest rates are still near historic lows and the housing market is strengthening as we move away from the horror story of the Great Recession.

Gas prices have remained relatively low and we are closer to energy independence than ever before.  The USA is the largest producer of oil in the world and we are adding huge chunks of solar and wind capacity every year.

More people have health insurance than ever before with fewer people with chronic conditions being denied coverage or being forced into medical bankruptcies.  You’re probably thinking about the reported rate increases at this point.  Let me tell you, being self-employed, I have been buying my own health insurance for many years now and long before the ACA, rate increases such as these were the norm.  Obamacare or not, you are going to pay a steep price for health insurance until there is some sort of comprehensive reform that encompasses the whole of the medical, health insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

There are many other ways in which we are not doing so badly after all despite what Fox News tells us.  Perhaps we don’t need to burn the whole thing down after all.  Maybe we need to affect change in our own perceptions of the world and our reactions to it.  Say , for instance, that we looked at the positive job growth that has been taking place for the past 80 months or so as a good thing, something to build on, instead of perceiving it through partisan goggles as just not being good enough.

Maybe if we stop giving in to fears and those who try to play on them, those who try to push wedges between us.  Maybe if we pay a little more attention to the world outside our little spheres of self, we would see beyond partisan opinion and see truth wherever it might be in whatever form it might come.

The general situation of this country has been much, much worse in my lifetime. Okay, there are problems in this country that have to be addressed.  There always have been and there always will be problems.  To think otherwise is foolish.  But there is nothing so terrible that we can’t figure it out if we work together.

That has always been our answer as a nation when faced with adversity in the past– we work past the obstacle before us and on to the next.

And that is why, despite what conservatives might claim, we are a progressive nation.  We have never settled for what might be good enough in the present.  We always strive for better.  We only look back in time for guidance in moving forward– not as a place to which we can return.

So, don’t let me down– get out there and vote.  Vote for a future that takes what we have built as a nation and moves forward. Please don’t vote for stagnancy and obstruction. Vote for people that want to help us all move ahead, that don’t want to return to a past that is long gone because of a fear of the future.

The future is what we make it.

Okay, for this Sunday’s musical selection I have a Beatles double-header.  First, there is Don’t Let Me Down followed by Revolution.  Have a great Sunday and when you’re listening to Revolution, remember: Be careful what you wish for.


 

 

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GC Myers- Adagio in BlueWow.

That’s about anyone can say after these last few days, days which may go down as some of the craziest ever seen in the history of our nation.  I am not going to say much here on the subject of candidate Trump.  There’s not much to say except that this is not a big shocker to me.  I’ve said it before: Trump has shown us who and what he is repeatedly over the past decades.

If you are surprised by any revelation about this creature– I hesitate to use the word man in this case– that has come out (or any that is bound to emerge because I have to believe there is plenty more in the bullpen just waiting patiently to be unleashed) then you haven’t been watching closely enough.  Either that or you are, as my father likes to say– even in his current state of Alzheimer’s–among  the most gullible people on the face of the earth.

And for those out there waking up this morning still believing that Trump is some kind of positive answer or agent of change, I feel pity for them.  That kind of denial of reality can only point to a life that will be further filled with anger, hatred and discontent.

And that is a sad thing for them. And for those around them. And for this country.

Okay, enough said on that for now.  I need some comforting on this ominously quiet Sunday morning.  The painting at the top is a new 9″ by 12″ canvas that is part of my upcoming show at the Kada Gallery which opens October 29.  I call this piece Adagio in Blue.  It has a calming presence in its colors and composition that fulfills my needs this morning.  I am coupling it with a classical piece this morning, the Adagio from Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 as played by French pianist Hélène Grimaud.  It’s a beautiful piece and a well produced video presentation.

Think of it as a peaceful respite from the crap storm cutting through our political world at the moment.  Relax and try to have a good day.

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A friend of mine posted the quote below, one that I have long admired,  online this morning and it set me off thinking how our indifference to so many things affects us in many ways.  For example, in the blogpost below from a couple of years back I wrote of how I was spurred on by the unknowing indifference of others to my work.  But we are also sometimes intellectually lax and this allows us to build up an indifference to things that we know in our cores are wrong and unacceptable.

Take for example the  words and actions of Donald Trump.  He often says and does things that deserve loud condemnation yet we have come to have an indifference, a tolerance, to his constant stream of untruth and divisive rhetoric.  It seems easier to accept something that should appall us, especially when his supporters are so loud and angry, than to step up and say that this is wrong.  So we let his many and well documented lies, his unfounded boasts and his vitriolic appeals to our darker angels slide.  In our indifference we don’t look any further into his words or past.  

We begin to accept him at face value.  

This sort of indifference is always a dangerous thing.  Elie Wiesel knew that from firsthand experience in the Germany of the 1930’s when Hitler’s appeal to nationalism and the indifference of those who saw him as a fool and not a threat allowed the rise of Nazism which led to Auschwitz and to the many other horrors of WW II.

Don’t go crazy here– I am not making that jump in saying that Trump will lead us to anything like Nazi Germany.  But to let disinterest and indifference creep into how we view our civic responsibility in voting is a dangerous thing.  Our indifference may have us thinking that this election doesn’t have much to do with our day to day life. But ask the vets who fight our wars or the families who are left to bury them.   

The point here is to fight indifference, to stop and be curious when faced with anything.  The world is too complicated for us to be careless and indifferent.  Especially now.
gc-myers-memory-of-night-sm“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

-Elie Wiesel

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I’ve been sitting here for quite some time now, staring at the quote above from Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel.  I had planned on writing about how my work evolved as a response to the indifference of others but now, looking at those words and putting them into the context of  Wiesel’s experience, I feel a bit foolish.  Wiesel, who had survived the Holocaust, was eyewitness to indifference on a grand scale, from those who were complicit or those who did not raise their voices in protest even though they knew what was happening to the personal indifference shown by his Nazi guards, as they turned a blind eye to the suffering and inhumanity directly before them on a daily basis, treating them as though they were nothing at all.

The indifference of which he speaks is that which looks past you without  any regard for your humanity. Or your existence, for that matter.  It is this failure to engage, this failure to allow our empathy to take hold and guide us,  that grants permission for the great suffering that takes place throughout our world.

So you can see where writing about showing a picture as a symbolic battle against indifference might seem a bit trivial.  It certainly does to me.  But I do see in it a microcosm of the wider implications.  We all want our humanity, our existence, recognized and for me this was a small way of  raising my voice to be heard.

When I first started showing my work I was coming off of a period where I was at my lowest point for quite some time.  I felt absolutely voiceless and barely visible in the world, dispossessed in many ways.  In art I found a way to finally express an inner voice, my real humanity,  that others could see and react to.  So when my first opportunity to display my work came, at the West End Gallery in 1995, I went to the show with great trepidation.  For some, it was just a show of  some nice paintings by some nice folks.  For me, it was a test of my existence.

It was interesting as I stood off to the side, watching as people walked about the space.  It was elating when someone stopped and looked at my small pieces.  But that  feeling of momentary glee was overwhelmed by the indifference shown by those who walked by with hardly a glance.  That crushed me.  I would have rather they had stopped and spit at the wall than merely walk by dismissively.  That, at least, would have made me feel heard.

Don’t get me wrong here– some people who are not moved by a painting walking by it without a glance are not Nazis.  I held no ill will toward them, even at that moment.  I knew that I was the one who had placed so much importance on this moment, not them.  They had no idea that they were playing part to an existential  crisis.  Now, I am even a bit grateful for their indifference that night because it made me vow that I would paint bolder, that I would make my voice be heard.  Without that indifference I might have settled and not continued forward on my path.

But in this case, I knew that it was up to me to overcome their indifference.

Again, please excuse my use of Mr. Wiesel’s quote here.  We all want to be heard, to be recognized on the basic levels for our own existence, our own individual selves. But too often, we all show indifference that takes that away from others, including those that we love.  We all need to listen and hear, to look and see, to express our empathy with those we encounter.  Maybe in these small ways the greater effects of indifference of which Elie Wiesel spoke can be somehow avoided.

It’s a hope.

The painting at the top is a new piece that I call Memory of Night, inspired by Wiesel’s book, Night.

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Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery

What is sacrifice?

There has been a lot of talk about this word over the past several days as Donald Trump tried to somehow equate the service of a fallen Muslim soldier and the loss felt by his family to those things in his life he views as “sacrifices”—working hard, hiring people and building buildings.

I wasn’t going to comment but yesterday morning I heard one of the many Trump surrogates [ for a man who so readily proclaims his own brilliance he requires an army of people to explain and interpret his often incomprehensible words] saying that opening a business is a sacrifice, similar in many ways to serving one’s country in the military or public service.

It is not similar.  It is so different that it is offensive to even try to defend his statement in that way.

Yes, opening and operating a business is a risk and a gamble.  True, there is a choice made to do this rather something else and devote time to this.  But it is not done for altruism but with the desire and goal of creating personal gain and wealth for the person taking the risk.

When a businessperson hires an employee (or thousands of employees) it is because they are necessary to create and maintain profit.  I doubt that Trump has ever hired a person who did not serve his personal goals or could not serve his needs or help enrich him in some way.  This is an expense and an investment.  This is not sacrifice in any form.

Erecting buildings is much the same.  It is done with the desire for wealth creation and sometimes, as in Trump’s case, self-aggrandizement.  It is not done to serve the public good unless that somehow coincides with increasing one’s wealth and brand.  This, too, is an investment, not sacrifice.

And as to working hard, I consider myself a hard worker.  I consider it a positive personal trait but would never consider it a sacrifice.  Working hard is a privilege, a right and, to many, a pleasure.  It is the opposite of sacrifice.

Sacrifice is the giving of that which is precious to you for something greater than yourself.  It can be, as in Captain Khan’s case, the giving of one’s life to save his fellow soldiers or it can be in giving up personal gain and rewards to serve the greater good.

I didn’t want to write this.  I want to stay a million miles away from this whole thing.  I would much rather focus on painting and almost anything else.

But it must be addressed.  We have someone who is so close to attaining so much real power in this world yet does not understand the meaning of personal sacrifice and displays so little empathy for those less privileged than himself.  This is a man who has had advantages and privilege in every aspect of his life from the day he was born yet doesn’t even recognize that simple fact.

His goals are his goals alone and not ours.

The only things he has sacrificed in his vain and cynical grasp for power are dignity, honor and truth.  But realistically, even that has not been a sacrifice for Trump—those were never of any value to him in the first place.

And still there are people who ignore these most basic character flaws and his almost endless ( and proven) lying, still believing that he has their best interest at heart when there is absolutely no evidence beyond his empty boasts.

It is beyond my comprehension.

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Margaret Chase Smith

Margaret Chase Smith

Moral cowardice that keeps us from speaking our minds is as dangerous to this country as irresponsible talk.

Margaret Chase Smith

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One more word on the current political scene and then it’s back to business as usual here– a little Sunday Morning Music tomorrow and basically art thereafter.  I promise.

Donald Trump is the Republican Party’s Presidential candidate.  We know exactly who this man is now and who he has been over the past 30+ years he has spent in the public eye–  an immensely vain and amoral blowhard and bully with little regard for those who cannot serve his selfish personal interests.  He has appealed to the electorate with a blend of ugly rhetoric rooted in division, fear and anger and has assembled a fair sized group of equally angry, fearful and hateful true believers behind him.

But you know something, I don’t blame Trump for who he is, as much as I deplore him.  There have always been and will always be figures like him.  That can’t be helped.

No, the people who are most responsible for his rise are those who enabled the intolerance, group thought and uncompromising  partisanship that has taken over the Republican party over the past few decades and created an environment that gave him the opening he could exploit

I’m talking about those Senators and Representatives and other politicians who simply went along, never taking a stand or speaking out against even the most egregious and often hypocritical actions of the party as it tried to gain short sighted political gains, ones that only served their own selfish interests and not the general welfare of the American people.  They were against any form of compromise, entirely intolerant of any opposition to their short term goals and would remain quiet as the most outrageous claims were repeated and repeated to the American people, their notable silence acting in itself as an acceptance of those claims.

Their silence allowed a demagogue to grab the helm of their ship away from them.  Some sheepishly have gathered behind their new ship’s captain and shamelessly assented to much of his nonsensical babble.  But shamefully there are those in that party who are horrified by the words and actions of this man as well as the direction in which he takes their party who still refuse to speak out and denounce the man.  Perhaps they hope he will somehow avoid the rocks towards which he is steering them and that they will be able to rip back the helm from him and come out unscathed.

But their silence and inaction could lead to more dire consequences not only for their party but for this country and the ideals on which it was formed.

Speak up.  Put aside your self-interest and serve your constituents, not your party.  Be a citizen first and protect those ideals.

Speak up.

Below is an excerpt from a speech,  Declaration of Conscience, that is considered one of the great American speeches of all time. It was given by Maine Republican Senator Margaret Chase Smith in June of 1950 when the dark days of Joe McCarthy and his Communist witch hunts were taking hold.  She saw what McCarthy was and the great harm that could come to this country if he was allowed to continue his campaign of rampaging character assassinations. She spoke out against him and those in her party who remained silent and simply went along.  She did not endorse the other party but pointed out that any victory for their party that was based on ignorance and fear and  that came at the expense of their true principles would be a disaster for their party and the country.

If you don’t know who Margaret Chase Smith was, it is worth taking a moment and looking her up.  She was a tough but moderate Republican who made a habit of reaching across the aisle and of backing bills that often went against the Republican ideology of the time.  She believed in doing what was right for the American public first, regardless from which party an idea emerged.  She was also the first woman to be placed into nomination for the Presidency by a major political party.

Margaret Chase Smith would most likely not be welcome in the current Republican Party.

Read these words from her Declaration of Conscience in 1950 and I think you will see how they apply to this election over 65 years later.  While I don’t agree with the assertion that our current Democratic administration needs to be replaced I do understand that there are those that do.  But to replace it with a morally dishonest alternative is not the change that will best serve the American people.

Surely these are sufficient reasons to make it clear to the American people that it is time for a change and that a Republican victory is necessary to the security of this country.  Surely it is clear that this nation will continue to suffer as long as it is governed by the present ineffective Democratic Administration.

Yet to displace it with a Republican regime embracing a philosophy that lacks political integrity or intellectual honesty would prove equally disastrous to this nation.  The nation sorely needs a Republican victory.  But I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny — Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.

I doubt if the Republican Party could — simply because I don’t believe the American people will uphold any political party that puts political exploitation above national interest.  Surely we Republicans aren’t that desperate for victory.

—–Margaret Chase Smith, Declaration of Conscience speech,  Delivered June 1, 1950

This is perhaps the most important election of our lifetimes, folks.  Pay attention and speak out against fear, ignorance, bigotry and smear.

Back to our regular scheduled programming tomorrow.  I promise.

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DNC 2016Yesterday, I heard journalist Carl Bernstein call this election the Gettysburg in America’s cultural wars, meaning that this election might very well determine the nature of our future existence as a nation.  I found that a very striking  and fitting analogy for this race.  This race entails two very different visions for America, one filled with light, the other darkness.

For example, the difference between last week’s Republican convention and this week’s Democratic convention was breathtaking.  The Democratic convention was a showcase of diversity across the spectrum of America– there were even many longtime Republicans that spoke to the crowd.  It had substance.  It had optimism and a positive message that spoke to the ideal of the American can-do spirit.  It was uplifting and inspiring with too many awe inspiring speeches and stories that I can’t even begin to list them here.

It was about us, about our love for this country and not the love for the hate-filled rhetoric of an angry reality star.

It was filled with light.

On the flip side, the Republican convention was the darkness, somehow both an angry and low energy affair  filled with a crowd that lacked the vitality and diversity that makes us America.  There were only 18 black faces out of the over 2400 delegates, a number so low (that’s only about .07%, folks) that the black delegates were asked to not  congregate so that they could better disperse through the crowd. The whole event terminated with Trump’s dismal vision of America and his assertion that he alone could solve the problems of this country.  He couldn’t even deliver on his boast to make the Republican convention a “showbiz” convention, packed with flash, celebrities and a “winner’s night.”  I must have somehow missed that part of the convention.

No, he portrayed this country, including our military, as being filled with fearful cowards who are not up to a challenge. He certainly didn’t offer one to the people of this country in his rambling diatribe.  No, he offered to take over with an air of authoritarianism that is all too reminiscent of  Mussolini and the rise of Fascism in Italy in the 1920’s.

You do know how that turned out, don’t you?

He says we must believe him when he says that he and only he has the answers and solutions we need, though he has yet to offer any tangible plan for us to see.  Nor has he any evidence of having any answers in the past as a so-called businessman.  He is a businessman in the way that the Kardashians are celebrities– all flash and little substance.  He is all about brand.  That’s it.

Take for example, his only experience in operating a publicly owned corporation, Trump Resorts (DJT).  If you had invested $100 dollars in it at its IPO in 1995 and cashed out ten years later you would have been left with $4.  Four– a  loss of over 95% of your investment.  This company lost staggering amounts of money every single year from 1995 until 2005 at a time when other casino stocks boomed and the stock market index was doubling.  A $100 investment in his competitor MGM Grand turned into $600 over the same time frame.

But he made money.  He stripped every cent he could get his tiny little hands on from the corporation until it finally collapsed in bankruptcy.  Great articles on this in the Washington Post and  MarketWatch.

And while he says he will put Americans to work, only this past week he and his Palm Beach resort filed for 65 guest worker visas so that he could fill staff with foreign workers, even though there are hundreds (according to local labor stats, there are actually over 1300 who are looking for work in the same field) of nearby resident in need of jobs.  His record of filling his staffs with foreign workers is astounding.  There is nothing illegal in it but it certainly doesn’t jibe with his boastful rhetoric.

His proposals and his resume are short on facts because the facts are not his friend.  His word is not his bond and even contracts to which he set the terms are subject to being challenged when he feels it is to his benefit.  This is not a man of honor.  This is a many without empathy and little reason, a man who seeks to punish those who he believes have slighted him.  In fact, even last night at a rally, he spoke about his desire to retaliate against the speakers at the Democratic convention  who pointed out his flawed life and ideology.

At one point last night he said, “I was going to hit this guy so hard his head would spin, he wouldn’t know what the hell happened.”  This is last night, folks.  This man wants the power and strength of the US military at his beck and call.  God help our troops if this man somehow continues to hoodwink those Americans who refuse to see the evidence of his reality.

And it is there for all to see.  He has shown what he is, who he is.  He is a lifelong bully, a spoiled petulant manchild who is fixated on his own image and his own voice in the grandest form of narcissism we may have ever witnessed.  He uses the lie as tool.  He has never taken any personal responsibility for any of his failures, always finding a scapegoat on which to lay blame.  Nor will he take responsibility for his failures if, God forbid, he becomes President.

And there will be failures.  That is the nature of the job.  That is the very nature of life.

Do your research and don’t believe his vapid promises without first considering the reality of them.

Now for the record, I consider myself a Liberal who is proud of the many accomplishments of the progressive movement.  I like and respect Hillary Clinton very much.  I believe she will work harder for us than any President we have seen in our lifetime.  That is just how she goes about things. But she is not perfect in any way.  She has made mistakes but that is  often, unfortunately, one of the risks in taking on great tasks.

Nor is she the caricature from the Right that has been formed over the last 30+ years, a period of time in which her every word, her every action, her every look and even her appearance have been put under a microscope and dissected.  Think about it, how many of us could hold up with that kind of constant inspection over that long a time?  If you’ve not made a mistake, spoken a wrong word or didn’t do things that you deeply regret then you are either a better person than me or you have not lived a life of consequence out among the people.  I know I couldn’t survive that kind of constant examination.

I will end by saying that I would rather have Hillary Clinton fighting for me than nearly any other person that comes to mind.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Trump fighting for any other person than himself.

If you must respond, I will respect your opinion because in America it is understood that there is often a difference of opinion.But  please be civil.  No name calling.  No broad smears or conspiracies. Use facts please.  That is something I seldom see when reading comments from Mr. Trump’s supporters.

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