• Posted on Mar 05, 2017


      A few takeaways from the GOP Forum at VGM which I attended on Saturday, Feb. 25 in Waterloo.

    • Conservative social proprieties were evident throughout the two-hour meeting: decorum, orderliness, hierarchy and authority (one man controlled the discussion for all two hours), religiosity, (they began with a prayer), patriotism (they also began with the Pledge of Allegiance and placed an open American flag on their table) and tradition—no signage, no disorder of any kind were allowed.  The message was:  we’re in control. 
    • No criticism of (m) President Trump* was allowed. When a young women asked about how anyone could support him, the moderator cut her off. 
    • Walt Rogers insisted that “collective bargaining has not been damaged” in his response to a UNI faculty member who insisted that the University’s United Faculty union’s bargaining rights had been gutted. When the hooting and loud disagreeing started, the moderator immediately shut them down.  This is a long argument that I’ll continue elsewhere.  (See “Did Walter Rogers Lie?” above) 
    • Several bills which are on the table in the current legislator may or may not get anywhere: allowing mentally ill people to purchase guns, the bottle/can deposit bill, capital punishment and others which have been part of the fabric of Iowa life for decades.  The message here was:  contact your legislators and tell them what you think.  (Unfortunately, the GOP’s recent track record of actually listening to constituents is utterly dismal.)
    • Waterloo City Council member Pat Morrissey told the panel that “Home rule has been eviscerated” by the legislature with their recent actions on a state minimum wage, civil rights, and other new initiatives.  Morrissey asked them why they would overrule a city’s initiatives to make life better for citizens—and that home rule was a big step toward doing that.  The panel had no real answers—Rogers citing competition as though it were bad. (And here I thought Republicans were all for free market competition—which home rule does encourage.)
    • One interesting exchange occurred between Justin Scott, a local atheist and activist, and Walt Rogers.  Scott asked if GOP legislators are basing legislative decisions on scientific evidence and not faith—using abortion as an example of faith-based objections that might become law.    Rogers insisted that religions do run institutions for the general good—such as hospitals.  “What’s the difference between a religiously-run hospital and religiously-run school?” he asked Justin Scott.    Scott gave no clear answer—and I wish he had:  It’s ideology.  A hospital, no matter who runs it, is bound to abide by health care rules and laws.  Their religious ideology makes no difference to the care of patients.  In a religious school, in contrast, religious ideology pervades everything—from classes to lessons to prayers during school hours.  This should be unconstitutional if supported by taxpayer dollars. 
    • How is the GOP going to avoid misusing their power?  Do they have any checks and balances in place other than their own good will?   When one party has all the power, very bad things can happen.  That’s the question that needs to get asked, over and over. 
    • The contrast between Friday morning’s Parkersburg town hall with Senator Grassley and this “forum” could not be more stark:  this one was controlled, managed so as to keep questions within narrow parameters, and clearly meant to show that the GOP is the party of tradition, authority, and control.  The Grassley town hall was exciting, engaging, freewheeling, and open to all thoughts of anyone on anything, and ranged from eloquent to silly and all points in between.  
    • Parkersburg was democracy in action; the VGM forum was the Iowa Republican party in action. 

    * (m) before President Trump serves as a reminder that he was elected by a minority of the electorate.  

    Go comment!
    Posted in
    • Personalities
    • Hot Button Issues
    • Religiosity
    • Politics
    • Conservatives/Liberals
  • Snake Oil is Still Snake Oil

    • Posted on Jul 31, 2016
    Here's this morning's Courier column--seems many of us are behaving like suckers buying snake oil from a billionaire salesman.  He's fooling a lot of a people a lot of the time.  

    We’re surrounded by problems and suckers for solutions.   That’s life.  

     So when we face problems, we seek solutions, and gravitate toward finding the best with the least effort and expense. 

     This makes us vulnerable to fake solutions, always and everywhere.   

     Old-time traveling medicine shows promoted cure-alls, often concoctions of alcohol and opiates.  Headache?  Two measures of Dr. Miracle’s Kure will fix it.  Ulcers? Dr. Miracle’s Kure has helped thousands.  Cancer? Five measures of Kure will make your tumors disappear. 

     Suckers, I mean customers, might feel cured for a day or two. Then problems returned, worse than before.   

     Snake oil, quackery, con, flim-flam, it’s been a constant.  Selling hope to the problem-ridden fearful.  

     The GOP behaved exactly like a traveling medicine show in Cleveland.   

     One drumbeat kept booming: Be afraid. We’re in big trouble. 

     Trumpeters passionately seem to believe in Trump’s vision: immigration laxity, ISIL fanatics, companies shutting down to move offshore for cheap labor, stagnant economy for the middle class.  Then there are gender/sexual orientation problems, the race problem—these falling under the category of political correctness and racial animosity.  

     These challenges were wildly exaggerated, made to look downright dangerous with misleading statistics and the usual bag of huckster tricks. 
    What’s the solution to this fearsome decline?  There’s only one: Donald Trump.  

    How does he know?  He consulted Himself.  
    Obviously it’s snake oil. When you ask for specifics, you get incoherent assertions that add up to “Trust me, I will make them happen.”  

     There are solutions out there, but they’re long-term, complex, and require collaboration. 

    Not once has he mentioned working with congress or our allies to move toward real solutions. Trump promotes his ego-based solutions—usually a fantasy of some kind (the wall) or illegal (torture, bombing noncombatants deliberately) that any real leader would seriously question. 

     Very wealthy people have to resist becoming states in themselves, virtual dictators.  

     A dictator, for a time, can impose his will on the world.  As the saying goes, 
    “dictators have nothing but friends until the last ten minutes of their rule.”  
    The U.S. President, in contrast, has limited power to change anything without congressional cooperation and collaboration.  Nothing Trump proposes could get done without it.   Is he a cooperator and collaborator?  No evidence so far. 

     A ghostwriter named Tony Schwartz recently confessed to having created a Frankenstein in his Trump book, “Art of the Deal.” 

     Having kept quiet until now about his research in 1987, he tells all in a recent New Yorker interview. Trump bears almost no resemblance to “Donald Trump” that Schwartz created in “Art of the Deal.”   Schwartz says he would have called it “The Sociopath.”  

     Here’s his conclusion: “If Trump is elected President . . .the millions of people who voted for him and believe that he represents their interests will learn what anyone who deals closely with him already knows—that he couldn’t care less about them”

     If elected, Trump will create the world’s biggest problem, with no solution in sight. 

    Go comment!
    Posted in
    • Politics
    • Conservatives/Liberals
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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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