Friday, April 7, 2017

President Trump Reacts In a New Way

Last night, President Trump called on our military to fire about 60 Tomahawk missiles on an airbase in Syria.  This is a response to the chemical attacks on his own people by Assad and his government. This was a message to the Syrian and Russian government that these kinds of attacks must stop. There is a lot to say about this action and the fact that the Trump administration did it.  It actually is a surprise that he did this as he has been so vocal about not attacking Syria, including earlier this week. In fact the voices of the voice of the Secretary of State and the President earlier this week may have figured into the equation of the Syrian military to go ahead with this attack.

So what do I say?  Well, the first thing is the old saw that you campaign in poetry and govern in prose.  This is the first time in the Trump administration that I see a President acting like a grown-up and leader of the free world.  The irony of it is that President Trump did exactly what Sec. Hillary Clinton suggested that he should do and the opposite of candidate Trump said over and over again.  I think what the President did shows that we must all, supporters and critics, that governance is not easy.  I am glad that the President decided that he had a role in the world when a leader decides to begin killing his or her own people with weapons of mass destruction.

But the politics come into this. In 2013 when then President Obama wanted to respond to the Syrian dictator using gas on his own people, he went to Congress for approval and was denied.  That hung around his neck and will be part of his legacy.  But today we hear many in Congress and the internet foreign policy self-appointed experts hear people saying the President acted illegally and should  have gotten Congress's approval.  While likely technically true, the Congress has long since given up holding Presidents accountable when they simply state there actions are in the interest of US security. I am happy to see some Democrats saying that the was a necessary response but an escalation would require the Congress to be involved.  I assume the GOP will agree.

There is a lot I could say about the politics of this, I can make jokes about the tsunami of old tweets by the President and many on the right that sound so hypocritical today.  I could discuss the fact that the same President that wasn't moved by dead babies drowning to flee the actions like the gas attack now is moved by the gas attack.  I could talk about the supporters of this President who were isolationists and now cheering this on.  But I won't, yet.  What I will say that this use of force was something that while terrible, was probably necessary in light of the war crimes he committed.  Now we can see what happens next and if the President wants to do more.  This is complicated, one air strike is not the answer, but it sets up a table that will get more complicated and I hope that our government and especially our President will use brain and not play to the crowd.  That we focus on the issue and develop something of a plan moving forward.  My fear is as it has been all along with President Trump, he is way out of his depth.  Glad that this time he listened to smart people who work for him.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What I Learned on My Vacation and Why Alcohol is Dominating the State House

So I took an entire week off from work last week.  Dianne and I went to Nashville, TN for a few days and then did the end as a bit of a staycation.  It was fun.  There were some things I learned this week.

I didn't shave and no matter how long I go, my facial haie simply looks like subsidized farming. Daytime TV is fun, lots of Dr. Who and of course politics.  Must see was the daily press briefings by Sean Spicer.  They are like high-production value  hostage videos and by  Friday I started watching his blinks to see if they were in Morse code.  I also learned that the state of Indiana has a legislature that is vindictive.

You see Indiana has some weird alcohol laws, no sale on Sundays, and no cold beer sales unless you are a restaurant or liquor store.  A convenient store chain, Rickers, has slowly been moving into providing hot food at it many gas stations around the state and realized that they have evolved into a defacto restaurant.  As a growing business they realized they met the legal requirement for a license to sell cold beer both in service and packaged for take-away.  They followed the law, trained their employees and petitioned for the license which they received.  At two of their stores they started serving and selling cold beer.  The state legislature lost their freaking minds, likely because of the liquor store lobby and partly because there are many who still cling to the notion that government will help define morality.  So the GOP led state house, with many other issues to address, attacked this so-called problem to make stop a gas station store from selling cold beer.  The irony of this is that I read about the action on my phone not long after shopping in a store with a large cooler of beer and realizing that I miss seeing that back home.  Many people comment on this, including local radio/print personalities Tony Katz and Abdul Hakim-Shabazz, conservative voices locally.  But the State House knows best apparently and created a compromises which will in fact once again make places like Rickers out of compliance and also make some other long established businesses fail to reach a sales threshold to keep their liquor licenses.  This is nuts and does absolutely nothing to safety.  You see the argument is that we don't want groceries or convenient stores selling cold beer because it could encourage drinking and driving.  Seriously.  That is the argument that is the cover for the liquor store lobby which is looking for a government supported monopoly.  But here is the thing. There is a liquor store that shares a parking lot with the each of the two closest gas station stores, including a Rickers, near my home.  There are also restaurants with liquor licenses in the same plaza of at least one.  Indeed, there are many places to get served a beer near gas stations every where I regularly go.  If someone pulls into a gas station and goes inside to pay, sees they serve beer, will they really sit down and drink before continuing on the road or worse buy cold beer and drink in the car?  And if so, do you really think this law would stop them from going a few 100 feet doing the same thing?  It is silly and there are places in the country with drive-thru liquor stores, can someone show me data that this increases drunk or impaired driving.  This is not a good argument.

Now what is more amazing to me is the lack of Sunday sales. Part of this story has brought up the no sale on Sunday conversation.  Again, this is an old law, but people are revisiting it.  Again this one is interesting because it is liked by liquor stores because they can close for one day a week and not have to worry about that effecting its customer base.  But the real reason appears to be that about Christianity.  You see if it was just about having one day without the sale of alcohol.  Why not Wednesday?  I would think that it is more likely someone might pop into your home on a Sunday and you might need a quick trip to get some brews than say a Wednesday.  But this is not the issue.  The GA is trying to punish Rickers and uphold a strange attempt to make it their job to tell us what we should buy, when and where.

If alcohol is a legally purchasable product, we should regulate it for sure but let's pretend that the government has our best interest in mind when it comes to regulations.  I think perhaps we should blow up the laws and start using common sense.  I would be happy to help.

I Don't Wear My Kippah at WalMart

Several years ago I was sitting in a cafe with someone who suggested I take off my kippah.  The neighborhood we were in was a predominantly...