Biden’s schedule

I hold the view that Biden should resign — and it might take a little time for him to do that. Personally, I think Kamala Harris could finally be the person to stand up to Trump in a debate and totally kick his ass. At this point, that’s the only thing that will save the remnant of democracy that’s still here.

I’ve always liked Kamala Harris. She might confuse the culture warriors a bit. It’s a risk to run a candidate with her smarts. We know how some people feel about Dr. Fauci. By the time they get through with Kamala Harris, 35% of Americans will think she was born in Kathmandu.

Since Biden told Trump to shut up, and beat him, in 2020, Trump has been found to be a rapist, by a jury, and a felon, by a jury. And of course the massive fraud.

But none of that compares, in my view, to him bragging about ending Roe v. Wade. The only thing worse than ending Roe vs. Wade, is being a rapist and ending Roe vs. Wade.

I have a hunch that a female candidate could make a pretty strong case against Trump. Women in this country have mothers and daughters, and I have faith that American women are not stupid, and it seems to me they are paying attention.

I think Biden was perfect four years ago. He was the exact person the country needed to defeat Trump and begin to hold our democracy together. He’s done a brilliant job, getting the country through COVID, heating up the economy and recovering without a recession, and passing historic legislation, while doing battle with a larger-than-normal fascist cult that’s committed to chaos.

Alas, Trump has prevailed in stopping Congress from working using the courts to advance his efforts. We’ve had huge setbacks in human rights in the United States, and we have many more on the line in this next election.

The Supreme Court has taken away a woman’s right to privacy. They have taken away rights from minorities by ending Affirmative Action. They have taken rights away from black people by gutting voting rights and allowing racial gerrymandering and voter suppression. But it’s hard to gerrymander women, and they still have the right to vote. I still have hopes that we’ve reached the bottom and the upcoming election will mark the beginning of a new era in American politics — that being the era of women’s rights.

That said, I’ve been panicking. I know that panic accomplishes nothing, but that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been thinking that Biden should be criss-crossing swing states by air and bus, giving rally after rally, or lots of TV interviews or other public events, in order to prove that he’s OK. But he’s not. I’ve invented theories in my head about him spending a last few days with his family at Camp David and in the White House, before retiring in a few days. That’s what my imagination is doing. But Biden’s schedule is actually pretty normal for this stage of a campaign.

I asked my good friend Chat GPT to compare these dates to Obama’s schedule June 29, 30, July 1, 2, and 3, 2012, and the equivalent dates for his two-term re-election. And while we’re at it, what was Bush’s schedule at this point in 2004, and Clinton’s in 1996. Here’s what they were doing on these dates in history, prior to their re-election.

Biden’s Schedule, June 29 – July 3, 2024:

  • June 29: Attended three campaign fundraisers in New York and then returned to Camp David.
  • June 30: No public events scheduled.
  • July 1: No public events scheduled.
  • July 2: No public events scheduled.
  • July 3: No public events scheduled.

Obama’s Schedule, June 29 – July 3, 2012:

  • June 29: Delivered remarks at a campaign event in Roanoke, Virginia.
  • June 30: Held campaign events in Pennsylvania.
  • July 1: No public events scheduled.
  • July 2: Delivered remarks at a campaign event in Roanoke, Virginia.
  • July 3: Private time at Camp David.

Bush’s Schedule, June 29 – July 3, 2004:

  • June 29: Campaign events in Ohio.
  • June 30: Attended events in Pennsylvania.
  • July 1: Campaign events in Michigan.
  • July 2: Campaign activities in West Virginia.
  • July 3: Campaign events in Pennsylvania.

Clinton’s Schedule, June 29 – July 3, 1996:

  • June 29: Engaged in campaign activities in the Midwest.
  • June 30: Continued campaign trail in key states.
  • July 1: Participated in public events and fundraisers.
  • July 2: Campaign activities in New York.
  • July 3: Continued campaigning in key states.

This comparison shows that the schedules of past presidents during their re-election campaigns included a mix of public events and private time, much like Biden’s current schedule.

The Perfect AI Candidate to Defeat Trump in 2024

It looks like the upcoming election won’t be Trump vs. Biden. I think Biden may drop out or resign, and release his delegates before the convention, and there will be an open convention. Or he may resign and Kamala Harris will serve as president, and Biden may endorse her such that all of his delegates go to her. But there could still be an open convention.

Suppose you were to create an AI candidate that would be the perfect candidate to defeat Donald Trump in the 2024 election in November. You would consider the person’s age, gender, geography, background, history, trends — everything known about politics in the world and in the United States. Here’s a profile for the perfect AI Candidate to defeat Trump and move America forward.

Demographics

  • Age: Early 50s – Energetic and experienced but not too old.
  • Gender: Female – To appeal to voters looking for gender diversity in leadership.
  • Ethnicity: Multiracial (African American and Hispanic) – To connect with diverse demographic groups.
  • Geography: From a battleground state like Pennsylvania – To have strategic electoral advantages.

Background

  • Education: Ivy League educated with degrees in Law and Political Science.
  • Career: Former prosecutor and current governor – To show strong legal credentials and executive experience.
  • Military Service: Served in the military – To appeal to voters who prioritize national security and military experience.

Political History

  • Party: Democrat – The candidate would need to align with the Democratic Party to have the best chance of securing the nomination and defeating Trump.
  • Experience: Two-term governor with a record of bipartisan achievements – To appeal to both liberal and moderate voters.
  • Previous Roles: Former Senator or Congresswoman – To demonstrate legislative experience.

Policy Positions

  • Healthcare: Advocates for a public option within the existing healthcare system – To appeal to both progressive and moderate Democrats.
  • Economy: Focus on middle-class tax cuts, small business support, and infrastructure investment – To resonate with working-class and business-oriented voters.
  • Education: Strong supporter of public education and affordable higher education – To attract younger voters and families.
  • Climate Change: Aggressive yet pragmatic policies to address climate change – To appeal to environmentally conscious voters.
  • Social Issues: Progressive on social issues such as LGBTQ+ rights and criminal justice reform – To maintain support from the Democratic base.

Campaign Strategy

  • Messaging: Emphasize unity, competence, and forward-looking vision – To contrast with Trump’s divisive and backward-looking rhetoric.
  • Digital Presence: Strong social media presence with a focus on engaging younger voters through platforms like Instagram and TikTok.
  • Ground Game: Robust ground operation in key battleground states – To ensure high voter turnout and engagement.
  • Debate Performance: Poised, articulate, and able to effectively counter Trump’s arguments – To win over undecided voters during debates.

Personal Traits

  • Charisma: Charismatic and relatable, with a strong public speaking ability.
  • Integrity: Known for honesty and transparency, with a scandal-free record.
  • Resilience: Demonstrated ability to withstand personal and political attacks.

Conclusion: By combining these traits and strategies, this hypothetical AI candidate would be well-positioned to appeal to a broad spectrum of voters and effectively challenge Donald Trump in the 2024 election.

This content was generated with the assistance of ChatGPT, an AI language model developed by OpenAI.

It’s not the movie I clicked on

The Netflix screen promotes a movie with a somber Asian woman looking tearfully at the camera. The description reads, “In hiding and living off the grid, an antiwar activist agrees to take care of three fugitives, including a kidnapped heiress. Inspired by real events.” It stars Hong Chau, Sarah Gadon, John Gallagher Jr, and more. The running time is listed as 1 hour and 52 minutes. The title? American Woman.

I clicked on it, but that’s not the movie that began to play. After watching for a while without seeing an Asian or an antiwar activist, I embarked on a journey that included closing and reopening Netflix, searching for the movie that had been advertised.

Eventually, however, I found myself engrossed in a different film also titled “American Woman”. It’s a remarkable movie about surviving in rural Pennsylvania as a single, working-class mother. Even with significant family support, it’s a challenging journey. Add to that the dramatic twists and turns of relationships, breakups, and tragic loss, and you’ve got a 2018 film that’s heartbreakingly human.

The film features an outstanding performance by Sienna Miller. I’m surprised she didn’t receive any nominations. I’m wondering if it has something to do with gender. The writer and director, both men, have crafted a movie that’s a true showcase for a female lead. She isn’t just a leading lady. Miller’s journey includes various partners, but the narrative is the story of a single mom and grandmother. She is forced to transform herself, repeatedly, to survive — and we see her do it, step by step.

Even though it wasn’t the movie I initially intended to see, “American Woman” proved to be a great watch.

Then, another strange thing happened. I read a review of the movie. I typically look at Rotten Tomatoes ratings before watching a movie but read about the film afterward to form my own opinions first.

I found this review on Observer.com, and it’s quite intriguing. The review is interesting, but the plot synopsis is completely off. I don’t want to spoil the film by giving away the plot, but I promise, having just watched the movie before reading this review, that the character arc of one of the characters is entirely off. It’s as if the review was written based on a different version of the film, or the reviewer cut and pasted a synopsis from an early draft of the screenplay. The actual events in Bridget’s life, as depicted in the movie, are different from those described in this review.

I thought it would be interesting to point this out. Despite not receiving great reception, and being randomly misrepresented, “American Woman” is a worthwhile movie.

The Echoes of War: Examining the Cultural Impacts of the U.S. Occupation in Afghanistan

Before delving into this exploration of cultural influences, it is essential to acknowledge the sacrifices and experiences of the many veterans who have served their country. The theories and ideas presented in this essay are not intended to generalize or categorize all veterans’ experiences. Each individual’s experience is unique, colored by a myriad of personal and contextual factors. The aim here is to explore the potential macro-level cultural impacts of prolonged military engagement in foreign countries, without making definitive statements about the experiences of all veterans. This exploration is grounded in a deep respect for those who have served and an understanding of the complexities inherent in their experiences.

Introduction

As the world grows more interconnected, the influences between cultures become increasingly complex and significant. This is not only true in the realm of global commerce or social exchange, but also in the arena of geopolitics and warfare. The United States’ prolonged military involvement in Afghanistan, which saw thousands of young Americans spending their formative years in a drastically different cultural environment, provides a case study worth examining. There are claims that the rise of right-wing authoritarianism and a shift in Evangelical culture in the U.S. could be linked to this overseas engagement. This essay aims to explore these potential cultural influences and their implications.

Historical Context

The U.S. involvement in Afghanistan began in response to the 9/11 attacks, marking the start of the longest war in American history. Over the course of two decades, thousands of troops were deployed to a country with a vastly different cultural landscape, shaped by tribal rule and religious fundamentalism. These interactions between the U.S. military and Afghan culture form the backdrop of our discussion.

Understanding Afghan Culture

Afghanistan is a country with a strong tribal culture, where tribal and religious laws often hold more sway than the central government. This tribal culture is characterized by strong loyalty to the tribe or clan, a stringent honor code, and a hierarchical structure that often leans towards authoritarianism. In addition, the prevalence of religious fundamentalism has shaped societal norms, influencing everything from education to governance. This cultural milieu is what many American troops found themselves immersed in during their deployment.

Impact on Soldiers

The impact of war on soldiers is profound and multifaceted, involving not only physical injuries but also psychological and cultural transformations. Living in a different cultural environment can reshape worldviews, as soldiers adapt to the local norms and customs. Moreover, the experience of conflict can lead to a shift in perspectives, often resulting in a more authoritarian outlook as a means of establishing order in chaotic circumstances. This adaptation to the local culture and war-induced shifts in perspective could potentially have long-lasting effects on returning soldiers.

Homecoming and Cultural Transmission

Upon their return, soldiers often bring back more than just physical reminders of their time abroad. The experiences, attitudes, and ideologies shaped during their deployment can seep into their interactions with family, friends, and the broader community. This subtle transmission of ideas can, over time, influence local culture, leading to shifts in societal norms and political leanings.

The Rise of Authoritarianism

Recent years have seen a noticeable rise in right-wing authoritarianism within the United States, particularly within the Republican party and Evangelical culture. This shift, characterized by an emphasis on strict obedience to authority and a rejection of perceived threats to traditional norms, bears striking resemblances to the tribal culture witnessed in Afghanistan. While it’s not definitive, it is worth considering that the cultural impacts of the Afghanistan war might have contributed to this shift.

Historical Precedence

Historically, military occupations have often resulted in cultural exchange. Consider the American occupation of Japan post-World War II, which led to a Western influence on Japanese society and vice versa. Thus, the idea that American soldiers could have been influenced by Afghan culture and have brought that influence back home is not without precedence.

Conclusion

As we approach the 2024 elections, with democracy seemingly hanging in the balance, understanding the various influences shaping American society is crucial. The impact of the Afghanistan war extends beyond the realm of foreign policy, potentially influencing domestic culture and politics. Although the exact degree of this influence is hard to measure, the cultural echoes of this prolonged military engagement warrant careful consideration. As we continue to navigate the ripple effects of these complex cultural interactions, it becomes increasingly important to scrutinize the state of democracy.

The current state of U.S. democracy exhibits both strengths and weaknesses. On the one hand, the country continues to have a vibrant political system, a strong rule-of-law tradition, and robust freedoms of expression and religious belief. However, these features are increasingly being challenged. Over recent years, democratic institutions have suffered erosion, reflected in rising political polarization and extremism, partisan pressure on the electoral process, bias and dysfunction in the criminal justice system, harmful policies on immigration and asylum seekers, and growing disparities in wealth, economic opportunity, and political influence​1​.

As the country navigates these complex dynamics, understanding the multifaceted influences on its culture and politics, such as the potential impacts of the Afghanistan war, becomes ever more crucial. The potential ripple effects of war are not only physical and psychological but also cultural, seeping into the fabric of society in subtle yet profound ways. As we grapple with the challenges of our time, this lesson from history serves as a reminder of the intricate interplay of local and global forces shaping our shared future.

This essay was developed with the assistance of OpenAI’s language model, ChatGPT. While the original idea was mine, the structure, research, and drafting of the essay were significantly aided by this AI tool.

How did Hitler’s Nazi regime treat the gay and trans community in Germany?

I just watched a report on CNN about Mom’s for Liberty, which is a hate group comprised of concerned and misled young mothers. And with DeSantis announcing a candidacy that seems to be based on hate, I had the thought to ask Chat GPT a question. I think the answer is quite interesting in light of laws being passed in Florida and other red states. You can see Chat GPT’s answer and continue the conversation here:

https://chat.openai.com/share/fc8b537e-2c1f-4707-bb62-25371088b48a

This old bong

I don’t remember buying this bong, or stealing it. I just remember having it, ever since my junior or senior year in college. It was just there, in the house I lived in, a couple of blocks from campus.

The house, as we called it, is where I lived with other guys for three years of college. We played a lot of music and threw a lot of frisbee and had a pretty good time. We called this bong the Blue Buddha, there in that house, hidden in a patch of woods, just behind the faculty apartments at Wake Forest. It was a 4-bedroom house with a big, wooded yard and a screened porch upstairs, giving one the feeling of being in the trees.

I remember reading Shakespeare on that porch, sometimes two or three plays per sitting. I had a habit of waiting until the night before a test to do the reading for most any course. I probably would have comprehended more of it had I not been accompanied by this bong.

My original roommates were a few guys I knew from being in Venice a semester. In Venice, I was the youngest person in the dorm. I also had two senior years, sort of. So, alas, I had some good friends that graduated before I did. In my memory, college years were fun years, and this bong is a reminder of younger days and great people.

How kept it all these years I do not know. I pretty much stopped smoking pot when I became a parent and a teacher, at the age of 25. I revived the bong last year when we started carrying THCA flower in our store. It was used one other time, in the movie Coffee Therapy (which reminds me of another very wonderful group of people). Other than that, it went unused for 46 years. It needed a good cleaning, but it’s still working great.

The bong scene is cued up here. The bong itself appears at 26:11 in the movie.

Debunking Anti-Semitic Tropes and Conspiracy Theories: The Truth About George Soros and Beyond

By Sam Post, with assistance from ChatGPT by OpenAI

Introduction:

Misinformation and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have long been used to target Jewish individuals and communities. One of the most recent targets is the philanthropist George Soros, who has been falsely accused of being a Nazi sympathizer. This essay aims to debunk these falsehoods and provide accurate information about Soros’ life, as well as address other anti-Semitic tropes and conspiracy theories, such as the myth of Jews controlling the world’s banks and the supposed “Nazification” of Ukraine. By presenting reliable sources and facts, we can help counter the spread of misinformation and promote a more inclusive and tolerant society.

George Soros: Life and Philanthropy

George Soros, born in Budapest, Hungary in 1930, is a Holocaust survivor and a renowned philanthropist who has dedicated his life to promoting democracy, human rights, and open societies around the world (1). Soros was only 14 years old when Nazi Germany occupied Hungary in 1944, and he managed to survive by hiding under a false identity and escaping the atrocities of the Holocaust (2). After the war, Soros moved to England to study at the London School of Economics, and eventually, he became a successful investor and billionaire (6).

In 1979, Soros started his philanthropic activities by providing scholarships for black South African students during apartheid (4). In 1984, he established the Open Society Foundations, which now operates in over 120 countries worldwide, supporting various initiatives that promote democracy, transparency, and human rights (3). Over the years, Soros has donated billions of dollars to support these causes, reflecting his commitment to building a better world (2).

The Falsehood of George Soros as a Nazi Sympathizer

Despite his philanthropic work and personal experiences as a Holocaust survivor, George Soros has been the target of baseless conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic attacks, including the false claim that he was a Nazi sympathizer. This accusation is not only incorrect but also deeply offensive to his own history and the Jewish community at large.

Contrary to these false claims, Soros did not help the Nazis during the Holocaust. Instead, he survived by hiding under a false identity in Hungary, as mentioned earlier. The accusation that Soros helped the Nazis in Greece is also baseless and unsupported by any credible evidence. Soros himself has spoken out against this false claim, stating that he has no connection to the Nazis and that his family, like many other Jewish families, was victimized by them during the Holocaust.

It is important to recognize that such conspiracy theories and accusations are often rooted in anti-Semitic sentiments and serve to perpetuate harmful stereotypes and misinformation (7). It is crucial to debunk these falsehoods and encourage a more inclusive and tolerant society.

Debunking the Myth of Jews Controlling the World’s Banks

Another common anti-Semitic trope is the belief that Jews control the world’s banks and financial institutions. This conspiracy theory has its origins in the infamous and debunked text, “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion,” which falsely claimed that a secret Jewish cabal planned to dominate the world through controlling the financial system (10).

The truth is that Jews, like people of all other ethnicities, have been involved in various professions and sectors, including finance. However, the idea that they collectively control the global financial system is baseless and rooted in anti-Semitic prejudice (11).

Putin’s False Claims About Ukraine’s “Nazification”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has also been spreading misinformation about Ukraine, falsely claiming that the country is undergoing “Nazification” and requires “denazification” by Russia (8). This is a blatant distortion of the truth, as Ukraine has a democratically elected government and a diverse, pluralistic society. Moreover, the country’s current President, Volodymyr Zelensky, is of Jewish descent and has been a strong advocate for Holocaust remembrance and combating anti-Semitism (9).

By promoting this false narrative, Putin is not only spreading misinformation but also exploiting anti-Semitic tropes to justify Russia’s actions. It is essential to challenge these false claims and recognize the reality of Ukraine’s political landscape, which is far from the distorted image Putin portrays.

Other common lies and myths that have been used to promote antisemitism throughout history.

  1. Blood libel: This anti-Semitic myth claims that Jews murder non-Jews, particularly children, to use their blood for religious rituals or in the preparation of Passover matzah. This lie dates back to the Middle Ages and has led to the persecution and murder of Jews in various countries. There is no basis for this claim in Jewish law or tradition.
  2. Jewish world domination: A common anti-Semitic conspiracy theory suggests that Jews are secretly plotting to take over the world, often by controlling governments, financial institutions, and media organizations. This myth is closely related to the notorious forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” which I mentioned earlier.
  3. Jews as Christ-killers: This myth accuses Jews of being collectively responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This belief has been the basis for much of Christian anti-Semitism throughout history. In 1965, the Roman Catholic Church officially repudiated this claim in the Second Vatican Council’s declaration “Nostra Aetate,” which acknowledged that the Jewish people as a whole could not be held responsible for Jesus’ death.
  4. Jews poisoning wells: During the Middle Ages, Jews were falsely accused of poisoning wells and spreading the bubonic plague. This myth led to the mass murder of Jews during the Black Death, particularly in Germany and Spain.
  5. Jews as moneylenders and usurers: Throughout history, Jews have been stereotyped as greedy moneylenders and usurers. This stereotype arose partly because Jews were often forced into moneylending due to restrictions placed on them in various societies. The myth has been used to justify anti-Semitic discrimination and persecution.

Misinformation and the Importance of Debunking Anti-Semitic Tropes

As shown in the case of George Soros, the myth of Jews controlling the world’s banks, and the supposed “Nazification” of Ukraine, misinformation can have harmful consequences on individuals and communities. By debunking these falsehoods and providing accurate information, we can help counter the spread of misinformation and encourage a more inclusive and tolerant society. It is crucial to remain vigilant in recognizing and challenging anti-Semitic rhetoric and stereotypes, and to promote understanding and respect for all communities.

Sources:

  1. Soros, G. (2017). Soros on Soros: Staying Ahead of the Curve. John Wiley & Sons.
  2. Open Society Foundations. (n.d.). George Soros. Retrieved from the Open Society Foundations website’s “Who We Are” section.
  3. Open Society Foundations. (n.d.). Where We Work. Retrieved from the Open Society Foundations website’s “Where We Work” section.
  4. Soros, G. (1997). Open Society: Reforming Global Capitalism. PublicAffairs.
  5. The Economist. (2018, October 27). The enduring influence of George Soros. Retrieved from The Economist website.
  6. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. (2018, June 20). George Soros: The ‘God’ Who Carries Around Some Dangerous Demons. Retrieved from the ICIJ website.
  7. Reuters. (2022, February 24). Putin says he aims to ‘denazify’ Ukraine, Kremlin cites ‘genocide’ threat. Retrieved from the Reuters website.
  8. Office of the President of Ukraine. (2021, April 19). Statement by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky on the occasion of the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust. Retrieved from the official website of the President of Ukraine.
  9. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (n.d.). The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Retrieved from the USHMM’s Holocaust Encyclopedia website.
  10. Anti-Defamation League. (n.d.). Jewish Control of the Federal Reserve: A Classic Anti-Semitic Myth. Retrieved from the ADL website’s “Resources” section.
  11. Ehrenfeld, R. (2004, October 4). Soros’ Deep Pockets vs. Bush. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from the Los Angeles Times website.

Maybe more guns is the answer

The heartbreaking Nashville mass shooting and ongoing congressional constipation over gun control have left us wondering if there’s a way to preserve the Second Amendment while making our society safer. The answer may lie in embracing technology, much like how smartphones replaced flip phones or computers replaced typewriters. Recent events, such as the batshit crazy TikTok hearings and the North Carolina General Assembly’s decision to do away with handgun registration, emphasize the need for solutions that don’t involve the government.

As someone who personally supports strict gun control like most countries have, I recognize that repealing the Second Amendment seems unlikely. Instead, we could uphold both guns and the Second Amendment by embracing technological advancements. Just as technology has driven progress in industries like social media and transportation, it could revolutionize firearms, making them safer and more secure.

Historically, the NRA has opposed smart guns, but imagine a world where their opposition becomes irrelevant, all because of an ingenious invention that takes the firearms market by storm. Picture the next Thomas Edison or Steve Jobs stepping onto the scene, unveiling a groundbreaking firearm as revolutionary as the iPhone. This game-changing creation wouldn’t just pique the interest of gun enthusiasts – it would be irresistible to them.

Envision a non-profit organization stepping in to subsidize the purchase of these cutting-edge weapons. Americans want a safe country and would donate to the cause, making the superior product easier to buy than the earlier generation products. This would shake up the entire industry, rendering traditional firearms manufacturers obsolete in the face of a cheaper, better product.

Ironically, this unique solution in the United States might involve selling more guns rather than less – but a different, smarter kind. This innovative force would not only disrupt the market but also redefine the entire conversation around firearms, safety, and the Second Amendment.

If these advanced firearms became dominant in the market, schools could be safe zones where all firearms are automatically deactivated using geofencing technology. Of course, there will still be existing weapons and ammunition in circulation, and traditionalists and criminals will keep the older models. However, if the new gun is significantly better and more affordable, companies may go out of business. Those AR-15s without smart technology, the weapon of choice for mass murderers, will be harder to buy and more expensive. The market will eventually decide in favor of a safer America where children can attend school without fear.

By giving control to the real market, the American people, we can take it away from organizations like the NRA, which, despite having a limited number of backers, has managed to wield a significant amount of power. In fact, there’s evidence that the NRA receives funding from foreign sources, such as Russia.

The idea flooding the market with smart guns and smart rifles at low cost is far fetched, for sure, but it could create a path toward protecting schools and other public places.

Plato, Milton Berle, and Ali — an AI conversation

I told ChatGPT to write a funny, one page argument between Plato, Milton Berle, and Muhammad Ali. I don’t think the material is ready for the Comedy Zone, yet.

———————————————

Plato: Greetings, Milton Berle and Muhammad Ali. It is an honor to meet both of you.

Milton Berle: The honor is mine, Plato. Your philosophy has influenced countless individuals throughout the ages.

Muhammad Ali: And your comedic talents have brought joy to millions, Milton Berle.

Milton Berle: Thank you, Muhammad Ali. Your own talents as a boxer and public figure have inspired many.

Plato: Yes, Muhammad Ali, your determination and fearlessness in the face of adversity are truly admirable.

Muhammad Ali: Thank you, Plato. But I must say, I find your philosophy a bit outdated.

Plato: Outdated? How so?

Muhammad Ali: Well, for starters, your ideas about the perfect society seem impractical and unrealistic.

Plato: I beg to differ. I believe that a just and fair society is not only possible, but necessary for the well-being of its citizens.

Milton Berle: Hold on, hold on. I think both of you are missing the point. The most important thing is to make people laugh and bring joy to their lives.

Plato: I agree that laughter is important, Milton Berle, but it should not be the only goal of society.

Muhammad Ali: And I agree that a just society is important, Plato, but it should not come at the expense of individual freedom and self-expression.

Milton Berle: Well, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

Plato: I suppose so. But let us not forget the power of dialogue and the exchange of ideas.

Muhammad Ali: Agreed. We may not always see eye to eye, but the act of coming together and engaging in respectful debate can only serve to improve our understanding of the world and each other.

Milton Berle: And hopefully, along the way, we can crack a few jokes and have a good time.

Plato: Indeed. Laughter truly is the best medicine.

Muhammad Ali: Amen to that.

Memories of Watergate

I watched a lot of news tonight. It’s a historic day when a former president’s home is searched for classified documents.

I was thinking about my dad and remembering how we setup the reel-to-reel beside the TV, in August of 1974, to record Nixon’s resignation speech. That was a momentous event.

I was a senior in high school and remember it vividly, and warmly, as a dad time. The whole family watched Nixon resign, but I got to help my dad configure the tape recorder in preparation. Those moments, memories, really, of tutelage from my father (whether it be hitting a backhand, straightening a shoe stock room, doing the snow plow, developing a negative, or prepping a reel-to-reel tape recorder, are wonderful memories. (I still wonder whatever happened to that tape; we never listened to it).

I was a big Watergate fan from the beginning, even before Nixon’s 2nd inauguration in January of ’73, which I attended. I went to that inauguration, and parade, with Tapi Hayrinen, our exchange student from Finland, and Boyd Gilman, a great high school friend. Exchange students were less common back then, and we got special treatment from our Republican Congressman, Earl Ruth. I remember being fairly close to the front, unlike the other inauguration I attended — Clinton’s first. I went to that one with my friend Robert Jones. We had tickets, but Bill and Ms. Angelou were a long ways off. I was close to Nixon, but not a fan. I did respect the occasion, however, as a historic event, and only joined the hecklers a couple of times.

In the summer between my junior and senior year of high school, Peter Tennent and I attended two days of the Watergate hearings, watching Sam Ervin grill Bob Haldeman. Peter was a beloved classmate of mine who unfortunately passed away last year. In fact, Peter and I were close friends before we were classmates. We went to different elementary schools — but our parents were best friends and our families did everything together throughout our childhoods — including some extremely large and eventful Post/Tennent beach vacations. Both families had five children. Peter and Boyd and I were all on the tennis team together.

Peter and I stayed up all night, keeping our places in line with other Watergate hearing audience members, listening to political types share their takes, two nights in a row, on the sidewalk in front of the building. This was in August of 1973, almost exactly one year before Nixon’s resignation.

The last time I saw Peter was at his mother’s funeral, less than a year before he passed. He brought up that Watergate experience and we talked about it, remembering it differently. Oddly enough, the thing I remember most about the trip is a terrifying hitchhiking experience that involved a pot smoking driver, a blue light, and a speeding car that took the cop away from us. Peter remembered other things about the trip, but that part of it did not make an impression. It’s interesting how we remember the stories that we share, and as we share them, we shape them, until what actually happened is so long ago and completely ethereal, such that the story is its own creation. I remember that Haldeman and CIA Director Helms testified, but I only heard about the contents of those hearings later, on TV. After standing on the sidewalk all night, two nights in a row, I pretty much dozed through the hearings.

We certainly don’t need a tape recorder to capture events these days. In the age of iPhones and unlimited storage, everything is available anytime. As the talk of political violence gets louder, every moment of this civil war is being captured on video.

Watching Fox News is upsetting, but I did watch a few minutes last night. It’s amazing to see the different views of the same event: an FBI search of Mar-a-Lago (which is all we really know).

On CNN and MSNBC, it’s exciting news. Lots of talking heads are speculating about what classified documents were illegally removed from the White House. You could say that we progressives are excited because we think Trump is a con man and a mob boss, and we want him punished for what he did to our democracy. 

Or you could say that we want the 2020 election to be over. If Trump were convicted of a crime that prohibited him from running again, then he would be done running — and we’re tired of it. An election ends when a candidate concedes, and Trump has denied this country the experience of completing 2020. People need completion.

On Fox, the context is Biden doing something to Trump, making Trump a victim. Being a victim, of course, is a default context for living life. It’s not satisfying, but it’s powerful in the realm of politics. All stories need sympathetic characters, and every show has a victim. It’s also easy. While being responsible is much harder, being a victim is natural and takes little effort. Both sides are good at it. Trump is the master. He can spin anything into a victim number, and the FBI search is great material for that.

As the helicopters swirl around Mar-a-Lago (presumably hoping to catch sight of what Trump called a raid, we see the being of victim become reality TV performance art. He could turn over the documents or say something about why he won’t — but claiming raid is better TV. He’s also nurturing and developing a large group of apprentices and opening acts. That said, victimhood in leadership leads to danger when the vicim-in-chief presents violence as a positive thing.