Friday, October 26, 2018

Illegal Space Aliens in the Caravan?

Donald Trump has claimed that there could be "Middle Easterners" in the migrant caravan from Central America.  Trump said "there's no proof of anything, but there could very well be" when pressed by CNN reporter Jim Acosta for concrete evidence that people of Middle Eastern descent or that suspected terrorists were among the group.

By that same logic, there very well could be space aliens "mixed in" with the caravan.  There's no proof of anything, but there could very well be.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Flashback Friday: Obama and Joe the Plumber

On this day ten years ago, a man named Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher approached then-candidate Barack Obama while campaigning in his Holland, Ohio neighborhood.  This famous exchange instantly vaulted Wurzelbacher to become known as "Joe the Plumber"  and the ensuing sound bite from Obama's intent to "spread the wealth around" would be played endlessly in the closing weeks of the 2008 election.

Whatever one thinks of Obama's tax policy ideas or Wurzelbacher's concerns about them, this video footage is striking by today's standards.  Just watch it with the sound off.  Both men are calm and collected.  They are friendly, the crowd around them is listening closely, they nod in understanding and remain respectful.  While they may not agree on their politics, everyone involved remained civil and good-natured.

Ten years later, this kind of exchange seems almost impossible.  To imagine Donald Trump having a reasoned dialog with anyone - particularly one of his critics - and for the surrounding onlookers to remain so relaxed and attentive, is a far-fetched political fantasy.  This video is barely recognizable by today's standards of violently clashing demonstrators, enraged, screaming crowds with a bellowing proto-fascist at the podium.

What have we lost in the past decade?  Our underlying information sources are so disparate, our cultural identities so fractured, and our willingness to listen and assume the best of one another's intentions so abandoned.  Much of the time, we cannot so much as recognize where the other person is coming from - and have no time to do so as the knives of invective and partisan rancor are instantly brandished.

Is it possible to get back to a place where two people who don't agree on a subject as granular as progressive taxation policy can at least listen to one another and have a good faith exchange on the topic?