• Still Standing, Getting Stronger

    • Posted on Nov 13, 2016
    Here's today's (11-13) Courier column--written the morning after the election. Probably the hardest piece I've ever written--just wanted to wallow in self-pity and anger.  But that goes nowhere, so I wrote this.  It helped me, and it may help you, non-Trump supporters.  

    As my dear old friend Dale Phelps used to quip, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  Clinton supporters, you’re still alive. 

     So get stronger.  I write this the day after the election.  I’m still angry and shocked that a con artist will be our leader, a loudmouth who seldom knows facts, who cheats when he can, who bullies and whines and uses name calling instead of logic and support, who never should have gotten near elected office. 

    Oh, and as of Wednesday noon, Hillary won the popular vote by nearly 225,000 votes.  Without the Electoral College, she would have won.  

    There, I feel better.     

     Now, how to get stronger?   Five ways: 

    (1) Give up blame and self-pity.            
      Blaming and pitying work for blowing off steam, but when it becomes 
    wallowing, you have a problem.  Tuesday night I raged on.  Who to fault for Clinton’s loss?  Who didn’t do enough?  Who should get jail time?   I woke up Wednesday in a terrible funk, realizing I couldn’t get through the day by blaming and feeling bad.   So I moved on by writing this.  
     (2) Help solve community problems.   
    I’d like to see health care costs come down, and I’ve been volunteering with “Senior Medicare Patrol” to help identify and warn senior citizens all over NE Iowa about fraud, errors, and abuse in Medicare.   We lose some 60 billion dollars a year that can be saved if we pay attention to scams and errors in Medicare billing. 
    Instead of complaining, I’m doing something about it.  
    (3) Remember balance.                            
    In his own way, Trump brought a touch of balance in his post-victory speech when he spoke about healing.   “We’re a very divided country,” he said, and he’s right. Of course he was the divider in chief, but that’s getting into blaming, so let’s give him a chance to try healing.   There’s a chance he means it.  

     (4) Collaborate and Cooperate.  
     American can’t get great (again?) without massive collaboration and cooperation from all quarters, so for Trump to fulfill his promise, he’s going to have to work across the aisle.   Otherwise, it’s a hollow slogan.  Let’s hold him to making it happen, and I look forward to that.  

    (5) Introspect.  
    I’ve spent hours trying to examine my own beliefs and behavior all through the election and realize that I’ve been too complacent, and frankly, smug.  All along I felt comfortable with the Clintons and their approach to everything, not really examining whether they could change anything. 

    Now I’m wondering about my former certainties. Would she have been able to work with an opposition that despises her?  Or her own party, which distrusts her? 

    Besides, as Thomas Frank points out in his disturbing book “Listen, Liberal,” the Clintons presided over a long period of middle-class economic stagnation, and didn’t help that much.  That’s partly why voters are furious.   Can Trump do better? 

    Trump’s a fool walking in where angels fear to tread, and sometimes that actually works. 


    Go comment!
  • Sign Thieves are Anti-American

    • Posted on Oct 30, 2016
    Here's today's (Sunday, 10-30) Courier column; below, my pre-stolen Clinton-Kaine sign.  I expect it to disappear any time soon, and have already lost one to local anti-free speech thieves.   This time, I'll be watching.  

    We love the idea of free speech.  The exercise of it?  Not so much.   

     A timely case in point: political yard signs.   Every four years, citizens exercise their right to proclaim their candidate of choice with colorful signage.  

    Major roads become red-white-blue splashes of color, the larger the better.  

    Smaller yards the same, often with rows of same-party signs.    

     It’s our election year ritual, this placing of party loyalty signs.   Some people put them up.   A few misguided people steal them.  

    Stealing signs is a petty crime, though it can turn ugly and major.  Waterloo friends lost their sign, then thieves became potential felons by spray-painting their door and front porch, and the next night throwing used motor oil on it.  That’s serious vandalism, and police are investigating.   

     Most often, though, it’s just the annoyance of disappearing signs. I was sorely tempted to retaliate after my Clinton/Kaine sign was stolen.   

    Stealing and destroying a few Trump signs would be downright satisfying now that I have a grievance.  But that would make me a thief too.  

     Going low with my opponents only makes me low too.     

     So other than retaliatory revenge, how to deal with sign thieves?  

    Here’s one idea: Tie signs top and bottom to a nearby tree or post with invisible wires or fishing line. When thieves grab the sign and run, they find themselves pulled down and must leave the sign behind. 

    A Trump supporter actually did this and posted a video on YouTube.  It’s hilarious.

    A young woman grabs his Trump sign and tries to dash away—and fails to get away with either the sign or her dignity. 

     Even though I abhor Trump as a candidate, his supporters have a right to publically proclaim their support, just as I do with Clinton/Kaine.   

    The most obvious solution:  Security cameras with night vision.  Here’s a chance to actually catch thieves and make them pay for their crime, or at least post a video to show the world their moral bankruptcy.  

     It’s expensive and a technological challenge, but a satisfactory solution for those with time and money. 
    The best solution, and thanks to a creative friend for this: For every verifiable sign that disappears and gets reported to me, I’ve donated to my candidate’s cause. 

    I asked friends on Facebook to tell me about their lost signs, and within a day, I had contributed a substantial sum to my candidate.  This may give stealers pause to know that their theft benefits opposing candidates.  Besides, it makes me feel better.   

     Thus I’m giving thieves another chance by replacing my stolen sign with three more.  Knock yourselves out, you thieving petty criminals.     

     You’re not just thieves, you’re anti-American, since free speech remains a core American value. 

     And by the way, the camera is on.   

    Go comment!
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“Even before the advent of the Internet, Cawelti’s columns went 'viral' in the Cedar Valley… the role of a columnist is to be thought provoking, to take tacks that shed a different light on an issue or possibly cause a reader to reevaluate a position. At the very least, it should bring clarity to a particular perspective, whether you buy into the commentator’s worldview or not.

Scott's work does just that.  Enjoy this collection of his writing.”

-Saul Shapiro, Former Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier Editor
Read Shapiro's entire introduction.


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