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Open Letter to My Liberal Comrades – Messages likely to resonate in red states


According to one study Democrats are more likely to be optimistic compared to Republicans https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/rampage/wp/2015/11/18/the-optimism-gap-democrats-vs-republicans/?utm_term=.994b99413a97 . It is not surprising that liberal polls indicate win for Democrats (at national level for Hillary Clinton, at state level for Jon Ossoff) but often result in electoral losses. I want to share below some issues that what we may want to focus on and the messaging likely to resonate with red state trump fans. But first, I will share my insight on Trump’s hold on his base and why it may be stronger than we may imagine it to be.

We have already known that it is one individual in Republican party who who has an unshakable base. Regardless of any scandals, stories and Congressional hearings, Donald Trump’s base of loyalists has been more or less stable. His stable base will continue to determine the outcome of the races in red districts and his hold enables Republican strategists to better predict it and better strategize where to target their resources. The reason for his strong hold on his loyalists is that many of them are not consuming much information from most of the media (which he has successfully labeled as fake media) and Trump’s tweets and speeches at his rallies provide them the information they know.  Trump speaks directly to his base through twitter. The likes and retweets of his tweets gives Republicans a pretty good insight into predicting the outcome of significant races and other issues. If Dems are not monitoring traffic around Mr. Trump’s tweets then they should begin to tightly monitor that.  If even Donald Trump goes down in approval ratings in polls, that still remains somewhat shaky predictor for various reasons. One, on account of a lot of hype against Mr. Trump, there are some people who still stick with him but are reluctant to publicly declare that. Then there are people who disapprove of Trump but they want Republican party to succeed and so reluctantly they stay put in the camp and when Trump tweets his support of other Rep candidates then they like and retweet these.  And then there are some who disapprove of Trump like a mother disapproving of her child and expecting the child to do better. I will reiterate, that for greater accuracy of electoral wins, Dems must strictly monitor the traffic around Trump’s tweets.

Democrats can’t win and may not be able to translate wins into effective government, unless we start talking to red states, to Trump’s base, to Republicans in general. We have heard a great deal that Dems just don’t have an appealing message. Some of this below information I am taking from my earlier blog titled “Open letter to Hillary Clinton Campaign” http://bit.ly/2bX40eU  Please click on that link for more detailed description of the two Americas and the messaging we need to begin to unite the two Americas.

Moving ahead, I will repeat that we need to stop focusing on Donald Trump and we need to stop obsessing that every time his approval rating goes down a point or two then we have achieved a significant victory. His base is largely unshakable and without meaningfully addressing their concerns, we can’t keep looking for lucky breaks in his lower disapproval ratings. That is a non strategy strategy. Trump created his base by appealing to their feelings and views based on feelings don’t change easily. Dems need to start talking with his base about things that matter with direct impact on their lives – job creation to put more money into their pocket, opioid addiction that is tearing down their communities, healthcare with simple and easy to understand messages with heart.

Messages that are unlikely to work.
* Here’s what Trump is doing and we are different
* Don’t support that candidate, he or she is too close to Trump
* Trump’s healthcare plan spells disaster

MESSAGES SUCH AS BELOW MAY RESONATE BETTER

Messages more likely to work should address issues crucial to them and their feelings. Only fact based messages are unlikely to work in red states. Messages must address people’s feelings of being neglected, rejected, stressed and speak to real danger of how lives and livelihood caught in a downward spiral are not sustainable.  Type of messages below should be delivered with real life stories. Oh… and seriously, DEMS NEED TO START FOCUSING IN BUILDING REAL, TACTICAL SOLUTIONS TO THESE ISSUES AND NOT JUST DELIVER RHETORIC FOR ELECTORAL WINS. 

Image result for chronic diseases* Obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease remain major killers in stressful modern world and particularly impact poorer families caught between making basic ends meet and having less access to healthy eating. We want to ensure that regardless of wealth or station in life, all Americans get access to care for management of these chronic diseases. It will help red states, blue states, and all Americans and will help lower healthcare costs for everyone, if we can allow ramp up time for more enrolees.

Image result for opioid epidemic* It is painful to see the impact of opioid addiction in our society; it is tearing apart communities and destroying families. It is intricately tied to the stresses of jobs, veteran’s health and impact on families, breakdown in family life and children growing up without the input of both parents. We want to address these in the healthcare changes we make. Instead of funding tax cuts for the wealthy with the health of the poor, we want to bring all sides to the table to understand imminent importance of addressing the growing opioid pandemic that threatens our society.

* Whites are productive members of our community who helped build this nation. We want to engage with you to achieve sustainable job growth.

Image result for sustainable prosperity for poor and wealthy* We are NOT a welfare party. We are a party of sensible economic policies because we cannot achieve sustainable prosperity by taking care of one group and neglecting the others’ needs. We want the wealthy to do well but we won’t stand for giving them tax cuts that are paid by poor’s health. To the extent that we may have ignored balancing everyone’s needs in the past, we are doubly committed to listening to everyone’s needs and bring everyone to the table.

Image result for dealing with terrorism* We see terrible devastation from bombs, gun and car attacks and we want to address safety using the tools of 21st century. We want to engage technology to monitor these. Instead of a physical wall, we can call this building virtual bridges where we can coordinate among our intelligence agencies and safety teams and coordinate with our allies to share information to enhance all our safety.

These are a few of the suggestions. Additionally, we, #Dems must stop excessive focus on Trump in our messages in red districts, although I concede everything about this administration is fascinating, when it is not infuriating or depressing.

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Legacy of Trump – racism & do I even want to understand?


You are wrong Michael Moore. Trump’s campaign was entirely run on racism. (No voters are not racist just like Ms. Elliot’s kids were not racist – see more on that below in paragraph 4). True that many of these same people who voted for Donald Trump had also voted for Barack Obama with the middle name Hussein.  However, Barack Hussein Obama did not simply run his campaign on the rhetoric of divisiveness; in fact, unification was a strong theme in his campaign.  Whereas Trump sought to divide.  He pitted groups against groups; #BlackLivesMatter against #BlueLivesMatter, Latinos against Whites with supremacist bents and so on. But then he went on to divide people from the group they belonged to, identified with, and took pride in. He sowed seeds of division within communities and families, where bi-racial families who had unity are now fighting based on people’s voting preference and invoking racism. Affluent and middle class blacks were pitted against blacks living in “imagined” ghetto communities.  Immigrants who find cultural similarity and likability with each other were pitted against each other based on legal versus illegal status. Whites were pitted against one another on gender lines. Even I read an articulate essay about a muslim woman who voted for Trump for a number of reasons but her emphasis seemed to be on his labeling of Islamic terrorists as opposed to Obama who had not labeled acts of terror as Islamic acts of terror.  Goldstar families who stand together no matter what, united by heart soaking grief of sacrifice that is linked to their love of the nation, felt divided and compelled to take sides, as Trump engaged in an ongoing war of words with the Khan family. Heck, I even know an undocumented immigrant who goes around badmouthing Hillary and talking up Trump (not quite sure why but I’m sure he wants to disassociate part of his identity that has been made to feel like “rapist and murderer”. (Honest to God this is a true story).

Image result for divisivenessPeople hate politicians, because ALL politicians create divisions. Political campaigns are run based on divisiveness not just in the US but in every democratic country.  Yes, #BarackObama, #RichardNixon #HillaryClinton #GoergeBush everyone did that and pretty much all politicians do that. That is how they differentiate themselves from their opponents and energize their base.  But normally, they are ALSO held accountable and are compelled to study issues and TIE THEIR RHETORIC WITH POLICY CONSIDERATIONS, and have to downplay their rhetoric of divisiveness. Understandably, people abhor this two-facedness of politicians. It was Donald Trump’s cunning to wage a war against “political correctness” because then he could speak without restraint and people just slurped up his rhetoric of racial hatered and bigotry, because they liked his honesty. He engaged in name calling of his opponents and the names stuck. Despite him not revealing his taxes, his ties with Russia, his concerns regarding health records, he called Hillary “crooked” and it stuck because labels stick without much effort; whereas going to Hillary’s website and understanding issues takes study and effort.

Trump’s supporters are NOT inherently racist people, certainly not a vast majority of them. Perhaps many of those who bought the birther lie and have stuck with him since, may be inherently racist. But many other Americans were invited to participate in the race based and other divisions. And everyone of us is racist at some times or another and depending on circumstances, we are likely to buy into it.  People are always looking to make meaning out of their circumstances, life’s twists and turns and calamities. People look for answers and explanation and Trump provided a powerful, emotion laden context. He tapped into the vulnerabilities of people and stuck the deepest chord based on his divisive rhetoric and coupled it with eliminating the need to share policy details, with simple slogans like “what have you got to lose”?. Yes, people are jobless and in pain, yes people are dying of opioid addiction more than ever before, and yes, we have crime in the US. But none of those issues alone could have driven people to vote for Trump in large numbers, because he gave no details to deal with any of the problems facing the country. What drove people was that he played to and invoked the hate towards others and he talked to them over and over, relentlessly. He fought his campaign alone, and like a Messiah his voice invoking the hate kept reverberating in people’s minds until they walked into the voting booth.

As a diversity and inclusion trainer, one of the most fascinating thing I learned very early in my professional life as a trainer was how easy it is to divide people based on groupism, even artificially introduced groupism.  In 1968, in a highly publicized exercise, a third grade teacher Jane Elliott tried to teach her class about race and discrimination through a two day “blue eyes/ brown eyes” exercise. (something that would not be allowed today).  Students with blue eyes were given preferential treatment on the first day; they received positive reinforcement, were made to feel superior, and this process was reversed the next day. The results were profound and when she repeated exercise in subsequent years, during one year, PBS went in and filmed the actual impact, in a well known documentary, “A Class Divided”. In just two days Elliot managed to sow deep seeds of hate based on completely artificially introduced divide. The group that was favored performed better in class, were quick to answer questions and the kids in the other group were hesitant and doubtful of their answers and performed poorly. What was also striking was that many of these kids who were friends for their entire young lives, started hating each other, were mean to the other group and the kids from discriminated group walked through the day with downcast eyes, feeling like s&^%*, feeling as if they had nothing more to lose. Ms. Elliot’s tearing down the divide and bringing the class together was just as impressive.

The lesson is that if seeds of hate and divide can be sown in a span of mere two days then consider how deep the hate is that was sown over a year ago and nurtured through Trump’s divisive campaign? And we don’t have Ms. Elliott to bring the country together. The only lesson is that if race based divisiveness gets to rear its ugly head and seems like a mild threat, it must still be quoshed immediately. It is hard to push this beanie down when massive groups of people are called to buy into it, as we know from history. Bernie could not have contained this monster. What is fueled by hate cannot be contained by logic and no policy discussions or understanding coal miners or ads focusing on jobs could have contained divisiveness fueled by hate and emotion.

So Mr. Moore you are wrong to say that it was not racism and hate that more significantly than any other characteristic or consideration played a role in outcome of #Election2016.  It is also hate and racism that people are rallying against in post election protests. It is not the win of the Republican party, the undoing of progressive agenda that may happen, nor the anger against hard to accept Electoral College imposition in an era where each citizen has access to information and must have equal weightage; instead it is against Donald Trump’s rhetoric of hate and division that brought the country to this stage, his basket of deplorable behaviors that now becomes our baggage for next several years, that is fueling the frustration.

Image result for safety pinAnd it is deep frustration. Part of me feels, now what do I care? I should just sit back and relax and enjoy the lower taxes; it’s not my problem any more. And part of me feels like I should walk about wearing those ridiculous safety pins. But for who am I an ally? For that Latino who is undocumented and went around talking up Trump and badmouthing Hillary; or that Hindu who voted for Trump because she hates Pakistan (strange where people connect the dots when hate enters the picture); or that Muslim who voted for Trump and may be attacked by a white supremacist; or for that white man who mostly enjoys many of society’s privileges (without knowing or intending to take an unfair advantage) and on this night is attacked simply for being gay? Why does it now fall on me? Is my safety pin even strong enough to withstand the power of chainsaw that literally cut our ties with each other and broke the humanity that bound us? Perhaps we felt anger towards one group or another at different times in the past, but we did not voice it; we thought before we spoke, and our political correctness allowed us to have polite discussions to understand one another. How do we understand one another now, and do I even want to understand what hate towards whom compelled you to vote for Trump?

In our dark moments, let us remember that more than 50% of voters did not vote for Trump. Remember that all #TrumpVoters are NOT inherently racist people; that Trump may also not be as racist as he is an opportunist. (In my language there’s a saying “a wise enemy is better than a foolish or evil friend” and he is narcissistic evil opportunist but too late for that wisdom now).. He played the most insidious racist/sexist campaign to his advantage, but his policies may not reflect that; he will likely look for personal gains and we must watch closely. #TrumpVoters with inclusive bent joined by #RegretVotingTrump and #RegretNotVoting groups have awakened and want to fight racism and be there for each other; are trying to don safety pins, take the anti-racism message to the streets, and trying to keep the voice of humanity alive. Please get on twitter, a low cost medium to spread awareness AND only tweet true & fact checked news. Retweet important news from @RealDonaldTrump so we’re never taken unawares; so we create a vast network focused on keeping issues and inclusion in forefront so that history will never be repeated.  I love this beautiful, diverse and welcoming country where (paraphrasing Churchill) we always strove for goodness, sometimes only after and perhaps because we exhausted the alternatives. But even so, after veering away, we know how to find our way back to goodness.

 

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Dems, we should accept #TrumpRule with Resolve, not Resignation


There is a lot of talk on Facebook on acceptance and reconciliation, after Trump’s victory, after Hillary’s gracious speech imploring people to give him a chance and after Trump and Obama’s nice photo op. On the other hand, there are protesters refusing to accept and are marching on the streets of most major cities for days. Hence I decided to share my thoughts.

Reconciliation with Trumpers, yes sure – we need to heal and come together, in time.  But no, do not speak to me of reconciliation and giving this man a chance. Let us not forget that people gave him chance after chance after chance and he kept lowering the bar and that is how he got to the world’s top bully spot. No, I am also not speaking of not accepting #TrumpRule. But it is ok to peacefully protest; to protest against his crass and crude racist and sexist remarks about almost every group of Americans. I am sure African Americans and Latinos and Muslims etc. feel the same way about remarks against the groups they belong to as I feel about his name calling, fat shaming, and sexabusing of women.

The crass and crude talk by Trump has been beyond all reasonableness. If he is a role model then what does he inspire? I am not willing to keep lowering the bar in order to accommodate the crudeness demonstrated by Trump towards 50%+ of population, women — and I hope other members of other groups speak up in their own way at their own appropriate time, as they have been. I feel that I must stand up for women and not allow such crude man who has talked of women in such crude terms to earn my respect. I can’t understand how any woman can. And I can’t understand how any man who respects his women, can.

Trump’s basket of deplorable behaviors is now our baggage for next several years.  If past is any prelude to what may come, belief and trust in him will only lower the bar further, now for the office of the Presidency.  While we endure #TrumpRule, we must never forget his deplorable words and behaviors that brought the country to its present stage. While we endure #TrumpRule, he must never get our respect. I am not wishing him to fail or our country to fail. But remember, a President never governs by himself.  Let us hope reasonable “ELECTED” Republicans will play a role and will show wisdom and enable the country to move ahead, in these difficult times. But meanwhile, do not speak to me of reconciliation with Trump or his coterie of gutless men (who are not elected officials) with idiotic chants of locking up political opponents.

Image result for resolveSo yes, we accept #TrumpRule. But we do not accept it with any kind of belief that this man will be different and be worthy of earning our respect, in the office of Presidency. We also do not accept it with resignation that now he won so we just accept and give up striving to be better. We accept #TrumpRule as a fact of life for the next several years. We accept it with clarity that during this time we need to watch each other’s backs, to look out for safety of those among us who may be more vulnerable, because the groups they belong to were directly threatened by him. We accept him while keeping a spotlight on who he is and what he represents and what stage he brought the country to, so we don’t allow him or anyone like him to repeat history.  We accept with the knowledge that if we rise up to it, if we volunteer, be there for each other, stand #StrongerTogether than we will emerge better and more worthy of our next leader.  

We accept #TrumpRule my friends, with resolve, not resignation; and certainly not gullibility that brought us here today…..

PS: Good discussion on @maddow @MSNBC – her guest shares we have a tendency to think we’d be ok even though everything that’s preceded indicates that it’s not so even though he has already started flaunting traditions – http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show
Russia applauded & congratulated Trump & has come out and confirmed that Russia was in contact w. Trump campaign throughout the entire campaign. Now he is getting intelligence briefings, including intelligence on any American spies in Russia. Whole intelligence operations in all countries center around stealing information.  I pray our spies remain safe. http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show
And a day earlier, Elizabeth Warren @Warrenolizer on Maddow said we will need to stay connected so that we’re ready to mobilize should a time come.

 

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You must think of the company you keep #Election 2016


After all the arguments are done, and when I have asked if none of the things that Trump has said or done bothers them enough to not give their vote to Trump in #Election2016, then I have heard from some people still planning to vote for Donald Trump that they feel all right because nearly 50% of the country feels that way too.  Aside from the fact that it is the lamest argument in a democracy where the responsibility falls individually on each one of us, and historically people have given away their lives and livelihood for the privilege to vote and not be led through a herd mentality, even then, you must also think about which 50% you want to be with.

Image result for election 2016Atlantic Monthly a relatively new anti-slavery magazine, three years after it was found in 1860, endorsed Lincoln, a Republican, for President, and then after 104 years, in 1964, they made another endorsement for LBJ for President (out of horror of the opponent Barry Goldwater and his cavalier attitude towards nuclear weapons and civil rights). For the third time in its history, the magazine endorsed Hillary Clinton and unendorsed Trump.

USA Today has never taken a position on a presidential election in its 34 year history as a newspaper that you often get at your door in most hotel chains. In its first ever endorsement, it urged readers to vote for any candidate not named Donald Trump. Since its start in 1890, Arizona Republic has only endorsed Republican party candidates and never ever endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president. Saying that “this year is different”, for the first time, it endorsed Hillary Clinton, over Trump.

You have heard it all.  From media outlets to newspaper publications to journalists to business leaders to billionaires, to political leaders (including eminent Republicans) have given their endorsements to Hillary Clinton.  As far as I know, only Ted Cruz, one Silicon Valley business leader, and one apparently little known magazine has endorsed Trump.

Image result for basket of candiesYes Hillary Clinton’s word choice was very poor in calling some of Trump supporters as “basket of deplorables” but really — think about it…………… ALL of Trump’s words and actions have hovered on utterly trashy and deplorable.  Now do you want to stand with him and his basket of deplorable behaviors, simply because nearly 50% will do it?  Just imagine this basket filled with skittles where each candy stands for Trump’s “deplorable” behavior like sexism, lewdness, sexual harassment, racism, mocking physical disability, fat & age shaming women, insulting gold star veteran family, and the basket is now overflowing.

If it was any other Republican candidate, then I would fight vehemently against them but also BUT I would understand why you’d want that person as your first choice.  I would understand that we differ in values.  While I would fight to uphold my values, I would also understand that you are fighting to uphold your values. But you must ask, does Trump reflect your values; your character as a person? He has never stood firm on any issue, so which of your values he reflects? For instance, if you care for immigration reform then do you seriously believe that a man who has flip flopped his entire way through the campaign and advanced the most bogus, impractical, unenforceble solution of an expensive, physical wall, reflects what you stand for? If you believe in law and order then what specific solution he has proposed and stuck with it, besides rhetoric? If you believe in his toughness and his leadership in the world then what strategy proves his skill other than him saying “he’ll take a walk from negotiation” and praising thugs like Putin?

I am going to turn around his rhetoric of “what do you have to lose” and ask you, what do you have to lose in NOT VOTING FOR TRUMP? You are afraid Hillary will appoint liberal judges? Well then what? If you are against LGBT and afraid that they will get a right to marry then I understand your fear. But wouldn’t a small part of you say, well how bad would it be? In any case, the nation is moving towards that and after Barbara and Jenny moved in next door, you’ve realized that they are great neighbors and what they do in their bedroom does not affect you in any way?  

What have you got to lose in not voting for Trump? Even someone Trump had mentioned and might have nominated for Supreme Court judgeship, has now requested Donald Trump to step down. I am trying to say that I understand your fear because I would fear that my values will not be upheld with a conservative leadership. But shouldn’t it be more important to us all that a leader is wise and mature, cares for the country, behaves with some minimum decorum and propriety and has some experience in leading the nation?

If you would not leave your young daughter in a room alone with #DonaldTrump, is he the man you’d want to lead our country? If you are a woman or respect women then do you want a man to lead us who has called us worst imaginable names, fat shamed us, age shamed us, engaged in sexual harassment using his position as a lever, claimed to have sexually overpowered (assault) women (just because he can), and objectified us by referring to us as our genitals with words like c*&^ and p&%$^. Haven’t each of us women experienced at least some of that in real life and want our leader to move us forward, not backward in time? If your brother, sister or friend struggles on a daily basis with physical challenges, do you want a man who mocks handicapped people to lead our nation? We all owe a deep debt of gratitude to our veterans and do you want to send our sons and daughters to war, under the leadership of a man who has ridiculed a gold star family, flip flopped on his being pro and anti war?

In fact, even if you are vehemently against illegal immigration and are ignoring all deportations done by Obama administration, EVEN THEN, I AM SURE YOU ARE NOT A RACIST, because I refuse to believe there are 50% racists in this greatest and most diverse nation in the world. Would you want a man to lead our country who has branded an entire group (with the exception of some), with a broad brush and called them murderers and rapists?  In your heart do you believe that even all illegal immigrants are murderers and rapists? You know it is wrong and you know that someone who stereotypes so many groups of people in most “deplorable” terms, will do that some day to you, to your group, to the group that you love or belong to.

I ask you millennials: you may be somewhat unfazed by what he dubs are his “locker room banter” comments; you are young and you may have heard it all; but think again. It is as if your grand father talks like that and speaks of grabbing your girlfriend. And you must know, Donald Trump doesn’t care for your future. One wonders if he even cares for his own children, discussing his own daughter’s breasts and ass in a public forum. Donald Trump is no Bernie Sanders. Imagine your parent discussing your body in a public forum. Think of how many of you could have gone to college without raking up loans, if he paid nearly a billion dollars of his share of taxes. Girl friends, if his latest, most demeaning comments on women bother you then as woman to woman, I implore you to not give this man your vote. 

Don’t fact check, don’t listen to what you hear from the media that you don’t trust. But at least listen to Donald Trump’s own words and let your conscience guide you in doing the right thing. Pay close attention and listen to him speak in the debate. All of you are bothered, very much concerned, annoyed and have agonized about all he has said and more. I am reaching out and asking you, “what do you have to lose” if you don’t give your vote to Trump? Let the chips fall where they may.  Put a small crack in that number – “nearly 50% of the country voting for him” and it will crumble faster than you can blink an eye. 

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Tale of two Americas influencing #Election2016 & Open Letter to Hillary Campaign


Here’s something to think about… the country is soooo divided that Americans are living two distinctively different realities; it is almost like they are living in two different nations.

America 1

Imagine that you live in the Appalachian mountains off of Virginia or Ohio.  Jobs in mining and manufacturing that were once plentiful are gone and no one has offered you re-training to operate in a different reality that has been emerging.  Opioids & alcohol are easily available to dull your pain (in fact, in parts of Ohio, first time more people are dying from opioid addiction than natural causes).  You see yourself as having no future; the best is behind you. You are enormously proud of your heritage, hard work ethic, and your religious values.

Church used to be your anchor but now church attendance has fallen; you have no anchor. You just want someone new at helm in this country, to shake things up – you don’t care how or who it is as long as the person talks to you in a language you understand and holds someone; an outsider responsible for your plight. Your current reality is so painful that you believe you once lived in a phenomenal nation, and you are losing it to outsiders who steal your jobs. Perhaps you don’t see many immigrants where you live, but you hear statistics of jobs being offshored, terrorists rarely target your geographical areas and you don’t often see women in hijabs but you hear about terror attacks when they happen and it scares the s*&^ out of you. Lowering or raising federal minimum wage has no impact here because there is no economy, no jobs. If someone tells you they will build a wall to keep immigrants out then it resonates with you.  If someone promises to bring back outdated mining jobs back, you are filled with hope.

America 2

Now imagine  you are living in a place like Silicon Valley in California, a place on the cutting edge of innovation.  There is a different social and economic reality.  You work with Muslim engineer, Chinese American scientist, Mexican American patent attorney, Iranian American realtor and your child’s teacher is lesbian.  These people are not aliens but your next door neighbors and share similar interests and values, as you.  Price for 2 BR condo in newly built (and fraught with problems), millennium towers in San Francisco costs around $2M and when economy tanked in 2009 (right after George Bush left office), California was hit harder than Ohio and Indiana.  The number of people filing for bankruptcy protection in the first quarter of 2010 ranked California at number one for bankruptcy protection. Right after Florida and Nevada, California also had one of the highest foreclosure rates with 1 in every 192 houses being foreclosed.

I can personally vouch to the impact of extremely high unemployment, while living in a state where everything is more expensive.  Both my businesses died.  I offered recruitment and soft skills training, but no one was hiring and no one had budget for soft skills training.  In 2009, I made less than $10,000.  I sold my house and while my business continued to remain in a nearly dead mode, in 2010 and 2011, I pounded the pavement for hourly jobs at Starbucks etc. for which I was always considered overqualified.  But California is back in business and so am I; better than ever before.

How did California do it?  I think California did it by leveraging the global trends and with a unique blend of cutthroat captialistic competition and compassionate socialism.  Corporations may not be people but both companies and people in CA exhibit this blend of competition and compassion.  I have some more thoughts on this and if I am not distracted by other things, I may study this more and write another blog.  But for this post, I want to focus on what is required of a political leader to bring the two Americas together. 

Open letter to Clinton Campaign

Henceforth, Ms. Clinton must maintain a laser sharp focus on issues that matter in the swing states.  All focus should be solely on large percentage of undecided voters who swing back and forth between Trump and Hillary.  Stop talking about how racist Trump is or that he is adhering to Alt-Right.   More people learn how racist he is, more votes it is getting him. Trump’s entire candidacy is based on inciting hate and division and taking his message to the masses is only enabling him.  Besides, he has so much air time, everything he does and says is covered.

While American women would largely care for issues like equal pay for equal work, do not focus on sexism in Trump campaign.  In California, I saw ads targeting women, with mention of Trump’s abominable remarks denigrating women.  But California is tuned in already,  In the swing states, there are likely to be more women in committed relationships and more than right to choose and equal pay, they care more for jobs for their husbands.  Still for many, it is a man’s serious and primary responsibility to earn a living.

Do not mention immigration.  Trump has made entire immigration dialog in the country about sound bites (big wall, beautiful wall, Mexico will pay for it, deporting etc.) and more confident and more racist his sound bites, more they are striking a chord.  He effectively created an environment of fear where soundbite solutions are very appealing.  I don’t believe Ms. Clinton can give any effective soundbites on immigration.  That is simply not her style and people are not in the mood to listen to logic on this issue.

Do not mention environmental issues.  While this has been President Obama’s crowning achievement, it does not figure in top 10 priorities when you put it on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  Americans are generally more present oriented but are certainly focusing squarely on short term and immediate benefits during this election season.  The more Trump talks about how things will change on November 8, less concerned people are about benefits to future generations.  

Also, do not focus in the debate on Trump’s lack of foreign policy experience.  Americans often care little about foreign relations.  President GHW Bush made great strides in foreign relations and he got little credit for it.  Besides Trump scored a victory looking Presidential in Mexico.  More than that, no one cares.

Image result for maslow's hierarchy of needsThink of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that goes from fulfillment of basic needs and only after they are satisfied, it progresses to focus on social needs.  When people’s basic needs of healthy food, clean water, and safety are not satisfied, focusing on social issues like women’s rights, race relations, immigration, pay equality, and equal rights for LGBTQ, are a luxury they can’t afford.  While Trump may be trigger happy to get access to the nuke button, for America 1, it does not feel like a looming disaster; instead, it enhances their feeling of safety.

Here are the issues that Clinton campaign should singularly focus on.  

Focus on JOBS

Image result for jobsForget all incredible and horrific things said and done by Trump that make him unfit to be the President. Stay singularly focused on jobs and the economy and his lack of concrete plan to create jobs.  In his post convention interview with George Stephanopoulos, Trump was questioned about jobs.  See clip below at 11 minutes, where Trump when asked why he brings in people from overseas to work at Mara Lago resort in Florida, he tried to duck the question by taking talking about other companies offshoring jobs and Stephanopoulos keeps bringing the discussion back to his issuing almost 500 offshore visas since 2010 and Trump deflects it again saying everyone does it because they can’t find American workers.  Hummm, they can’t be re-trained for low level jobs then how is he going to pressure Samsung and Apple to bring skilled jobs outsourced to Indian and Chinese engineers at fraction of the cost, back to America?  Use this clip with Clinton’s concrete plan to continue to create job growth in America.  This is not a sensational piece of news that elite media (largely favored by America 2) will play over and over but you must capitalize on.

http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/video/donald-trump-41028199

Respect & concrete benefits to America’s Veterans

Image result for war veteransAmerica owes to our veterans.  But that sincerity must be expressed with something more tangible than “America loves you and is deeply grateful to you for your service”.  If one vet feels strongly enough to give away his purple heart to Trump then that is one too many vets disillusioned, and whom we must re-engage with.  Our vets must have certain level of job security, access to constant retraining, access to healthcare, including easy access to mental healthcare.  There must be early intervention before PTSD takes an enormous toll on their lives and the lives of their loved ones.  Talk about how Obamacare has enabled easier access to healthcare for so many people.

Access to mental healthcare and PTSD treatment

Image result for PTSDTrauma has become a significant part of modern life.  It is not only our vets who need access to treatment for PTSD, but also foster care children who are often shuttled around from family to family, from one location to another.  Children who witness domestic violence, often suffer from PTSD, while their needs may be completely ignored at home and outside.

Concrete plan to deal with opioids and other drugs

 Image result for opioid addictionAs mentioned above, in parts of Ohio, first time more people are dying from opioid addiction than natural causes.  Obama administration and FDA has been deeply concerned about escalating use of opioids and other drugs but how frequently do we hear from Hillary campaign about the plan that is in process?  For instance, the Obama administration is making it easier for doctors and law enforcement to use anti-addiction drugs.  FDA is putting in place steps so that companies seeking approval of any new opioids, must include abuse-deterrent properties and appropriate labeling. But more importantly, there are concrete steps in place to deal with current trends of opioid abuse, including additional training to prescribers on pain management and safe prescribing, encouragement for abuse deterrent formulations, make naloxone more easily available to treat opioid overdose, and encouraging new class of pain medicines without the same risks as opioids.  Ms. Clinton must relentlessly address opioid abuse and significant strides being made under Obama administration to counter that.  

Finally, I humbly suggest that Hillary campaign and the media stop playing over and over and over Trump soundbites that show his racial, gender and other biases – contrary to people being turned off by such bigotry, in the climate of fear he has created and the foundation of hate he has laid, his bigotry gives people a feeling of safety and hope. Considered dialog detailing the history of events and people as done by Rachel Maddow and others and late night shows (Colbert, Noah, Bee, Oliver and others) that point out ridiculous aspects of Trump messages with humor, are however excellent.

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Tips on preparing for Trump Presidency


For Dems, #DNC2016 is the time, right down to the wire, to get on board with our hearts & minds to save our soul and support whole heartedly #ClintonKaine. But if we don’t do that, then here are some tips, how I am getting ready for Trump Presidency.

To my Muslim friends: I want to take the opportunity to bid you teary farewell.  It’s been a pleasure knowing you – some of you lived here, before I stepped foot in America, some of you were born here and some chose this as a path to your own spiritual journey. You will all be sorely missed. As American refugees, you will have to find a friendly country, to take you in. All of you please don’t go to Canada, lest we are forced to build another wall at the other border or worse still, force our friendly neighbor to pay for the wall.  I’ve heard, there is an island somewhere in the Pacific, but as an American, I don’t have much more information – despite Galileo’s insistence so long ago, we in America, tend to believe that we are the center of the universe and have very little information about the rest of the world.  Feel free to check google, for information and directions to a friendly nation to take you in.

Yes, America might be built on people escaping persecution, on the basis of race and religion, but under Mr. Trump, we are doing a flip on everything we had believed in:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMbBYd7gz40

I would like to remind my Muslim friends to take enough food to last for 8 years (hope it is enough time to memorize the phrase “I don’t believe in Sharia”; meanwhile we will work to get you in at the end of eight years. But just in case we are not successful, please learn to grow your own food.  Don’t think however for a minute that like Japan, you will get away with exporting your surplus food to the US, unless you are willing to take… err let’s see what America exports… one of our top exports is art and antiquities (some of which can include our highly prized guns that are now antique items as we all use semis…  Yes, so be prepared to import our stuff. Oh and don’t ever go celebrating the attacks on Americans, like you did, after 9/11.

To my “Mexican” friends: It doesn’t matter how long ago you came to this country, you might as well start packing your bags too. Think about how fortunate you are —- unlike my Muslim friends, at least you don’t have to waste time trying to find directions to a friendly nation — you can take the same tunnel back (the one you used 55 years back) — or President Trump might even open the BIG DOOR to let you out.  Also he has promised that you will be “rounded up in a very nice and humane way”.  About your children born here?……. Errr well….for the time being, feel free to leave them here…(but don’t quote me, I’ve to check the policy on this one).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUPdVTMwOGo

To my Mentally Unstable friends: I am sorry, we are not likely to have mental health services in the budget.  But fear not, we are making America safe again, and we plan to build more prisons.  Should you happen to put your hands onto one of those easily available weapons of mass destruction, we will house you in our state of the art penitentiary with solitary confinement cells.  But please be in the state with no death penalty laws, else you are out of luck and you can pray that the drug cocktail you receive will be sound enough to do a quick job.

To my African American friends: What!!!  Where did you come up with “black lives matter” concept? What an original and absolutely foolish idea?  We may not believe that “all men are created equal” or in the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but come on, everyone knows that all lives matter. I’m sure Trump’s African American knew that. So please get a handle on yourselves.  Oh and haven’t you seen Mr. Trump’s retweets of crime statistics with much higher rates of black people killing whites. Ok, so these inflated statistics and most of all other stats quoted by Mr. Trump are wrong, but we all know statistics lie. So just believe it, because Mr. Trump says so, just like the 70% of us voting for Trump know in our hearts “he will shake things up” and as long as he says so; we don’t ask him or care to know “how” he will do it.
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/cover_story/2016/07/donald_trump_is_unfit_to_be_president_here_are_141_reasons_why.html
BTW watch at 1:45 on how white people don’t get locked up – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpgupYoTZXc

To my Japanese American friends:  First of all, let us defend history, history is always right and Japanese internment might have been the right thing to do.  If you have pledged allegiance to the United States then you should agree that it is important to win at all costs.  Come on, join Mr. Trump and “win a few wars”, then you’ll get the idea.

To my LGBT and Q friends: Please don’t consider yourselves special interest group. “One thing that distinguishes President Trump from the other Republican leaders are his liberal views on LGBTQ issues”.  He even congratulated two men on their marriage, in 2005.  Some time back, Mr. Angelo, President of a Republican group that supports gay rights, said about Mr. Trump that he will be the most gay friendly President ever.  Yes, Mr. Trump did bring in an evangelical, Mr Pence as his running mate (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99WSEFUy-2o) , but Mr, Trump is not in the habit of listening to anyone, or backing down from pressure; so fear not.  He does do flip-flops depending on his mood but he also does flip-flops on his prior flip-flops; so be optimistic.
Trump vs. Trump on Stephen Colbert: (watch around 3:20)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpKiP_gmDS8

To my Police officer friends: You will get all the help you need from President Trump, except for gun reform. Please forget about your demands for restrictive gun laws.  Mr, Trump has said that the “police are the most mistreated people in America and we have to give the power back to the police, because crime is rampant in America”.  Now you might say, you’ve been doing a great job and crime rates have actually been falling for decades.  But numbers lie, and we all need to have blind faith in President Trump; with rhetoric, he will make America safe again.  So relax, don’t worry about snipers perched atop tall buildings targeting the cops, they are expected to run when they hear Mr. T’s rhetoric.

To Parents: New rules… aww just as we learn to raise kids, the rules change upon us.  But it is now proven that teaching kids violence, rudeness, lies, and equipping them with inflated ego, will get them places. Oh also plagiarism is in and they must never take responsibility, if caught doing any of these. If you want your children to succeed in life, then it falls upon you to impart proper values as exhibited by Mr. T, (as help, look out for soon to be out “A child’s first book on Trump” that can help explain to a child what a trump is).  Your children will never again have to think before saying something (it is called political correctness and it is out). See how our President has perfected the art of lying, we may offer degrees in lying at one of the Trump universities: (he lies every 5 minutes (must-see): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmne8r2sIFA
CNN busts Trump on lying https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vz1F58BvlE0
Trump’s top 10 lies from his pausing as his publicist, to inflated crime numbers to deflated employment numbers to his bankruptcy to his stance on women to his donating money: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrf9H97PiQk   

To job seekers: As a recruiter, I have to add this little piece of advice. While Mr. Trump is going to make America work again, remember, when you apply for jobs, you shall be judged on the basis of your heritage and your race will be invoked when assessing your qualification to do your job.  Consider your vocation carefully – if you are a Mexican American then forget about aspiring to be a judge….
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4U7yRHZIz4

To Mr. John McCain (decorated Vietnam war veteran – before Mr Trump brought us to reality): How can you be captured? Don’t you know that winners never get captured? Mr. Trump has lied and lied and lied and has totally evaded capture — now that defines a winner, doesn’t it?  I could have picked any number of hundreds of thousands of leaders but I picked you Mr. McCain, as an example to send the message out to the entire military – please evade capture, under all circumstances because if you do get captured by the enemy then you will have more to fear from your own countrymen than the enemy.

To my technology sector friends and leaders (except our prominent gay person, Mr. Theil):
We have read your letter and seen your fears that Trump Presidency could mar innovation.  But fear not…. Or remember, there is lot more to fear than that… For instance, watch Seth Meyers at 2 min. (on death, destruction, and weakness):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGKcIIm_VeU  And remember, innovation is not all what it’s made out to be… After all, Melania Trump’s speech was the best speech at #RNC2016, wasn’t it?

To my lawyer friends: Relax, President Trump will love you, your jobs are secure.  From being sued for defamation etc. to suing people, Mr Trump will keep you busy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGPvwdrlzCM (watch at 7 minutes)
John Oliver on Trump’s 3500 law suits https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abh00vu1mVA  President Trump will also likely pay legal fees for all who incite or engage in violence, on his behalf https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiZ_YP–mIg .

To my girlfriends: Come on…. If his views on women bothered you then we wouldn’t be here, would we?  But how much do you want people to trust you, “with blood coming out of whereever”; which may be the reason that every time President to be Mr. Trump insulted one of us, his ratings only went up.
Trump’s views on women: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGPvwdrlzCM  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uM19yt7MbN8  But still to appease you, he has engaged his daughter to vocalize some women’s causes, now and then, so you are expected to be on board.

To young people: Same as above — if you cared, we wouldn’t  be here.
But then again… shame on you Hillary, for not connecting with our young people and their many causes:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7dxBlTC_9c As our young people, you are the only group, we are not yet certain of; if you are on board with Trump Presidency.  But those of us getting ready for Trump Presidency are not too worried as the Hillary camp has also not yet figured out how to get you on board. I’ve heard people say that you want free stuff that dad Bernie promised. But I think, you want to be heard and understood and you want others to appreciate your challenges. Now, that’s asking for too much! My advice? No one’s listening in this election; if you just sit out and don’t vote then we anticipate that should ensure a sure victory for President Trump.  So please stay out, nurse your pain, (opioids are easily available) and see you in 8 years when you are older and more disillusioned – then you’ll just want to be right, rather than do right (as Mr. Tim Kaine said), so our party will get  you then.
Watch at 28 min. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HK9AmZftdWw

To my friends in the media: To Washington Post, Jack Tapper, Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Seth Meyers, John Stewart, Bill Maher, Rachel Maddow, Hasan Minhaj (in fact, I did not find one Trump-friendly media source — so you all out there) – you should start fearing for your jobs.  Many of you are banned from President Trump’s media updates and President Trump has promised to sue the media for libel (yes, one of the first things he plans to work on is to repeal the law that bans politicians from suing the media for spreading accurate information – so beware!

Seth Meyers’ closer look – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8rVfTAwi_M
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGKcIIm_VeU  Watch at 2 min (death, destruction and weakness)
141 things he has said that makes him unfit to be a president http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/cover_story/2016/07/donald_trump_is_unfit_to_be_president_here_are_141_reasons_why.html
MSNBC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdagdK0O0GM
John Oliver: watch from 2 min. On https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNdkrtfZP8I – (understandable that politicians may wish to go with feelings of people but if you plan to vote, are you going to with feeling or fact?)

TO TERRORIST ENEMIES: Just like Hillary Clinton, freshly elected President Trump is not likely to be friendly towards you, at least not initially.   While you will be water-boarded and while we are working on “becoming you”, “becoming evil”, you may want to consider this…, we don’t have a real strategy to deal with you but we have faith that Mr Trump is our law and enforcement guy.  Also, President Trump has never been against all Muslims.  He has given a ringing endorsement to former President of Iraq, Mr. Saddam Hussein, who was in fact a Sunni Muslim.  No promises here, but if you can figure out how Saddam Hussein emerged as Mr. Trump’s role model (even while Mt. T acknowledges that he was a bad guy) then you may figure out how to get Mr. Trump to be your friend. With Hillary Kaine ticket, it is absolutely not going to happen – she has experience and resolve to quosh terrorists.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxUYfjuLkQg  

To WHITE SUPREMACIST TERRORISTS: Oh… you are one step ahead and well on your way to bonding with Mr. Trump.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7u3fFhOf3o
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5q1cxIU01M

Finally to all my friends: If I could, I would reach out individually to all of my 10,000+ friends and contacts on various social media channels, because Trump presidency is likely to touch each one of us in various ways.  But really, consider this an advance notice and start preparing…. However, if you feel overwhelmed with how much all our lives will be shaken up and there just isn’t enough time to prepare for it, then there is still time for an alternative.  With #ClintonKaine ticket, there may also be some disorganization but there is less rhetoric and more strategy and experience; there is humility and respect for the top job; there is experience in building alliances to get things done; there is genuine inclusiveness and respect for differences; and there is respect and promise to reach out to those more fortunate and privileged and there is real compassion and caring for those whose lives can be made better.  In short, they have a recipe for moving us forward. Clinton and Kaine will reach out and tap into their colleagues’ experiences for a stronger, forward-looking America.  If you get on board for voting with your conscience and give a strong endorsement to Clinton and Kaine then you can relax.  The pressure is off.  But former President Mr. Bill Clinton better start learning how to throw the right kind of parties and pick out the right china.
Seth Meyers: It’s funny, but it’s serious, how he’s funding his campaign: Seth Meyers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnpO_RTSNmQ
Trevor Noah (no Clinton has weeknesses but Trump?:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NS3Ow6V1htM
Seth Meyers (ClintonKaine stay off of engaging with Trump on social media & stay focused on and tweet us your strategy) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJWIbxZmwMA
Bill Maher (at 3 min): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YWGc_4ZcTM
Bill Maher: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnK8Z6oAmjE
Bill Maher: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OblrmGQzMLQ

 

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Individualism and America’s love affair with guns – make America safe again


Individualism and self reliance are deeply rooted values in America and these are wonderful values.  Women like me who come to the US from a more traditional, paternalistic culture, find opportunities to excel, and appreciation of their individual worth in this culture.  However, this deep rooted individualistic perspective also impacts lax gun laws, in this country.  

Americans contend that they want to feel secure INSIDE their homes and therefore they favor legal gun ownership.  Who are the people sitting inside the homes, homes that are attractive to intruders?  Most likely they are older people of some means or sometimes they are people living in good neighborhoods keeping a watch that no one wearing a hoodie ambles into their space.  Who are the people who are out and about, are in schools, colleges, in shopping malls, movie theaters, and clubs?  Often these are young people. (http://bit.ly/QZOh2a,  http://bit.ly/TlaQN2) And sometimes they are people of lesser means in wrong clothes, in wrong neighborhoods http://bit.ly/15EInJ4 .   No parent will knowingly want to arm themselves to be more secure while their children are running around exposed to threats outside, and yet that is exactly the effect created.  As we arm ourselves to create security in our small living spaces, we forget where our loved ones are; our individualistic perspective only enables us to see that if we are armed then we can defend our loved ones.  We want to control our fate and that of our loved one.  We forget that fewer intruders now attempt to break into increasingly more secure homes; more enter through open windows or doors.  While we don’t need guns to protect ourselves in our homes, with lax gun laws, more people heavily armed, seek out crowded places where young innocent people are studying, mingling, shopping, enjoying a movie, finding love.

During intense discussion and postmortem on the news channels, after the Orlando shooting, I watched with fascination, the overwhelming interest in analysis, re-analysis, post analysis and continuous repetition about the life and actions of the individual shooter, Omar Mateen. I understand that the law enforcement would be interested in such analysis in order to ensure that attacks like these may be prevented in future, and in order to bring any other accomplices to justice.  But why should the public hear for the umpteenth time what the shooter texted to his wife and what his father thought of the attacks?  Does it come from a false illusion of safety that if we would only understand fully this individual attacker then we can prevent other attackers, despite even law enforcement people saying over and over that it is very hard to stop lone attackers, with semi automatic weapons?

Even when it is clearly evident that we have no control, we assume control.  Ironically, Donald Trump tweeted “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism”.  Trump has insisted on using the phrase “radical Islam” and sure we must acknowledge radical elements responsible for the attacks, but then why not use a more appropriate term “radical ideology” so that we can understand a broader range of mass shooters including those like Mateen but also those like Boston marathon bombers, the Tsarnaev brothers and Wade Michael Page, the white supremacist who engaged in the Sikh temple massacre?  And should we also invent a term for those with guns, with mental illness, like Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook shooter), James Holmes (Aurora, CO shooter), and Seung-Hui Cho responsible for the Virginia Tech massacre; people who should get easy access to health care, not easy access to guns.  Also, Orlando shooter, Mateen like Sandy Hook shooter, Lanza, grew up in the US.  For how many generations are we going to consider people to be immigrants, when many young people are easily acquiring radical ideology vastly different from the environment they grew up in?  Consider also the information below that may be contradictory to many of our tightly held beliefs. While two young girls in Erbil, invented a fast bomb detection system to counter terrorism threat http://rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/280620141 , some young people having grown up in Christian homes in the US and Europe have been attracted to join ISIS. The threat my friends, comes from any extremist ideology that can target our disillusioned youth. 

In the age where world is getting smaller, in an age where people leave their homeland by boatloads and risk their lives to escape their grim realities, in an age of extensive air travel (because more illegal immigrants in the US, enter legally), in the age of fence jumping, drones and tunnels, we want to resort to the primitive; and build walls, because we believe in creating our small safe zone domain.  In an era where Chinese hackers can get into our military databases, where hackers from Nigeria can steal our credit card details, ISIS can steal the souls of our young people through social media, and engineers from Brazil, China and India can steal our jobs, without stepping foot on the US soil; in an era where boundaries are getting extended or disappearing altogether, we wish to create security by building a wall, that gets bigger on a whim. (Unfortunately Great Britain’s vote to exit the EU this morning, is along the same lines).

And finally, there is no case for increasing the safety against home intruders with a semi automatic rifle versus a handgun.  The design of first semi automatic rifle is attributed to a German gunsmith in the year 1885.  The second amendment was adopted in the year, 1791.  Clearly the second amendment does not pertain to semi automatic weapons; it only pertains to the right of the people to keep and bear arms, supporting the natural rights of self-defense; not to support unnatural obsession for annihilation of others.

Once again in conclusion, guns give us a false sense of security, but enhance the real danger of unintended and innocent victims, often younger in age.  According to some recent stats on gunviolencearchive.org, the number of people killed in home invasion incidents is smaller than number of people killed accidently, and each of these numbers were higher almost by 10X than the number of people killed in mass shootings.  Most deaths in the US by gun violence happen in ways we don’t read about in a newspaper; and all of these shooting incidents have only one thing in common, typically a gun is involved.

If we wish to take collectivist responsibility for safety of all citizens versus creating tiny islands of assumed safety in our homes, then we must pass sensible #gunreform laws to institute background safety laws. But remember, this is a small and partial measure.  People with mental illness or disillusioned kids falling through the cracks become temporarily more radical in teen and young adulthood years; at this point they many not have any established patterns of behavior.  We must ban semi automatic weapons; no civilian needs to own them.  We must create a safety net for our children during impressionable years, so we don’t lose them to radical elements.  We must make mental health easy and available for anyone who seeks it.  Pacifists like me must work with law abiding gun owners who also favor sensible gun laws, while protecting the 2nd amendment.  Let us take a collectivist stand to support leaders who are actively speaking out with our voice, our votes, and money so that our children can be free to learn and give those stealing their jobs, a run for their money; so that they can go to the movies and shopping malls, without fear; so that they feel free to find love, because love always triumphs hate.  Let us think beyond creating our small island of safety, and build a safer country for our children and for future generations.

 

 

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Gratitude Journal: June, 2016


Previously I shared gratitude post http://bit.ly/ZaXuYj on identifying things within ourselves that we are grateful for and identifying others around us whose presence in our lives nurtures and sustains us.  Today, I am writing a gratitude post on things and people that have not worked in a beneficial way, because each of those relationships and experiences often leave valuable lessons behind.  

IMG_20160420_172431429_HDRI am grateful for those people whom I have encountered in life’s journey, who have been abusive and ungrateful.  Sometimes they have apologized and I have realized that we are all human and make mistakes but there is enormous power in accepting our mistake and apologizing for it.  Once when my son was in Kindergarten and he did something wrong (I can’t remember what) but when I was picking him up, he told me that he had done something wrong and he wanted to apologize to the teacher and asked if I would go with him.  I forgot the actual conversation but remember crying and hugging him.  

I am grateful for people who have never apologized for the wrong done and the pain caused.  I can credit some of those experiences for so much that is positive in my life now.  When going through the harshest of circumstances when you stay true to yourself and when your values and sense of integrity goes through a very real test, then you come out at the other hand with remarkable persistence, courage, and strength of character, that needs no external validation.  I am also thankful that through the challenges, I focused on maintaining compassion, because courage without compassion is like a ship in the open seas, without a compass.

wpid-20140820_125612.jpgI am grateful for people who were challenging for me because we are so so different – like apples and potatoes.  And because of their efforts and mine, we bridged the divide, accepted and sometimes learned from our differences, and created those strange bonds that are stronger and may be more lasting than if we had not had an opportunity to work through our differences.  

As my life blossoms, I wish to remember those challenging circumstances with gratitude and humility.   And here is one small example where nature shows us how humility is indicative of great inner strength.  Once when I was on an expedition in the Himalayas, we walked through totally frozen areas, before progressing to mountain climbing.  After a month, on our return, we noticed that snow had melted and in some areas there were 100+ feet tall trees.  I asked a Sherpa about that and he explained that when the snow falls the trees just bend and lay buried under the snow.  As the snow melts, they once again stand tall.

Please add comments on what lessons you learned when going through your challenging circumstances and what are you grateful for.

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Understand & Inoculate aginst Donald Trump Effect


A potential voter recently declared “I will vote for Donald Trump (and to a lesser extent Bernie Sanders)”.  Another one said, “He will expect greatness from us, he will tell us how to get to great, he will inspire people to be better than they are and have the hope that their efforts will not be thwarted by bigger government.”   Yet another one said, “Many are right; it’s not about trusting Trump; it’s a collective middle finger to the establishment….”  Here are some more comments on why people are enamored with Trump and would vote for him, “ONLY TRUMP has ever BUILT any REAL THINGS”; “Trump makes brash and uncompromising statements about issues many people feel very passionate about”; “On the two primary issues as to why I’m supporting Mr. Trump he has remained stunningly consistent.”

One can’t argue with the fact that Mr. Donald Trump has remained “stunningly consistent” in insulting his way through to the top of his party.
So what is the lure of Mr. Trump in the US?
Unlike what the liberals would like to believe, it is not because Trump has the support of white supremacists, or right wing conservatives, or the religious right, that he is beating his rivals to a pulp.  Many potential voters are also very liberal and many of them voted for Mr. Obama in the past.  I have listened in on some call-in shows where potential voters call in, gushing about Trump as they declare that they are changing parties to vote for Mr. Trump.

Here is a feeble attempt to understand this curious phenomenon based on the messages Mr. Trump sends out and how he sends them out.

  • Sharing information about threats makes one appear more reliable.  Trump’s entire candidacy is based on making assertions about how everyone else has put the country in harm’s way.

In one study, people read two descriptions of the same product.  However, one had an additional sentence “If you press control keys during installation, the software may damage your hard disk”.  People rated the writer of the threatening description to be more competent.  Trump’s entire campaign is built on how the world is a big, scary place and he can make America great again.

Consider these statements: Hillary Clinton was the worst Secretary of State in the history of the country. The world came apart under her reign as Secretary of State”; “Obama has no solutions. Obama has failed the country and its great citizens…”; “What a waste of time being interviewed by@andersoncooper”; “Jonah Goldberg @JonahNRO of the once great @NRO#National Review is truly dumb as a rock”; “What people don’t know about Kasich- he was a managing partner of the horrendous Lehman Brothers when it totally destroyed the economy!”.  Speaking of Mexican drug lord, he tweeted, “Can you envision Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton negotiating with ‘El Chapo” and said he however, “would kick Chapo’s ass!”.  About McCain, “He’s not a war hero”; about Mexico, “US has become a dumping ground for everyone else’s problems”; about Bernie Sanders,  “[Sanders] knows the country is ripped off. And I know the country is being ripped off, The difference is that I can do something about it and he can’t”.

  • Research shows that messages of concrete threat (as opposed to vague threat) are deemed more believable.  Trump makes threats very explicit, concrete and immediate:

In one study, concrete threat message like “the site you are about to visit has been confirmed to include software that poses a significant risk and will infect your computer and will try to steal credit card details” was found to be much more believable than vague threat like “we have blocked your access to this page because it is possible that he page contains software that may harm your computer”.  Now consider this message from Trump about people from Mexico, “they are bringing drugs, they are bringing crime, they are rapists” versus this statement from Governor Kasich, in one of the debates “I’ll tell you about Wall Street: There’s too much greed.”  Trump gets specific about the threats. including threats from things that did not happen.  For instance, he has repeatedly asserted claims that he watched television footage of “thousands of Muslims celebrating 9/11 in Jersey City”.  The more he makes specific assertions like that, the more believable and therefore Presidential, he appears.

  • People who talk big are more likable and appear more reliable. Trump is nothing but empty big talk.  

These big talkers  make our problems appear simple and easy to solve, even when they are not.  Trump said, “If somebody has no money and they’re lying in the middle of the street and they’re dying, I’m going to take care of that person.”

  • Identifying concrete action steps for real or potential problems, makes one appear more reliable.

Trump is not just being specific about the threats but he also givens specific action steps to deal with the problem.  For instance, to secure the border, he says, “I will build a great, great wall on our Southern border and I will make Mexico pay for that wall”.  Of course, if he would be asked to break down his assertions on further specifics on how exactly he plans to do what he says he will do, then it would crumble like the Berlin Wall.  But there are two things that work for him.  1) He follows the principle “attack is the best form of defense” and so he is rarely on the defensive end and 2) He has refused to participate in the debate where potential candidate would be put on the spot regarding such whimsical assertions.

  • Repeat statements of threat (even when known to be false), can still go viral and carry significant weight.  If this finding is stretched a bit further, Trump’s ongoingly throwing random insults at people, make his insults more credible, instead of less.

In one of the most disturbing findings that has emerged in recent research, it was found that reading a false statement (for instance, “The Atlantic Ocean is the largest ocean on Earth”) made people more likely to rate the statement as true when they read it a second time, even when they were told on both occasions that it might be false and even when they later showed that they knew that the Pacific was the largest ocean.  Trump’s repeated false assertions are now getting carved in people’s minds as if they are truisms and not Trumpisms.  

  • To persuade people, one can use arguments that fit within the moral framework of the constituents, rather than the opposing candidates – exactly what Trump does.  

Most candidates campaign as if the entire campaign is a debate against other candidates.  Short of hurling insults, Trump never responds to any substantive remarks by other candidates.  Instead, he tries to identify with simplistic statements that resonate with his beaten down, anti-establishment constituents. For instance, consider these statements, “I feel a lot of people listen to what I have to say”; “A certificate of live birth is not the same thing by any stretch of the imagination as a birth certificate”; “All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected”; “You know the funny thing, I don’t get along with rich people. I get along with the middle class and the poor people better than I get along with the rich people”.  

Trump is not going to make US great.  United States of America IS a great country because we have a vibrant democracy, with a healthy respect for diverse perspectives.  Regardless of the entertainment that ensues from the campaign theatrics, in the end, people take their responsibility to vote seriously.  In the end, people study the issues and cast their votes to reflect their position on substantive issues. Big money plays a big role in America.  But in the end, “internet” and “google.com” were born in America; majority here supports “net neutrality”, and “Wikipedia”; people often check facts on sites like “snopes.com” and “factcheck.org”; all that going to show that there is great value for substantive facts and information.  and In the end, often silent and honest people who may not have time to attend the rallys, exercise their most precious democratic right; the right to vote.  It is no small feat that it is the people who make and keep America great.

Source:  I used the article below in Atlantic Monthly as a jumping off resource and then researched more for other information via google search.  http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/11/tall-tales/407836/

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Gujarati Essay – “Crossing boundaries & new experiences contribute to growth”


ગુજરાતી: સમગ્ર જીવન દરમ્યાન શક્ય એટલી મા ગુર્જ...

ગુજરાતી: સમગ્ર જીવન દરમ્યાન શક્ય એટલી મા ગુર્જરીના ચરણોમાં સેવા કરવાની ખેવના (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

જિંદગી નો ખરો આનંદ વર્તુળ માં થી બહાર નીકળવામાં છે. નકલી રેખા જે આપણને ક્યારેક કેદી  બનાવી નાખે  તેને તક મળે ત્યારે તોડવી જોઈએ.  કૃત્રિમ રેખા ને ઓળંગી, સીમા પાર કરી અને જીંદગી ને વિવિધ દ્રષ્ટિકોણથી માણવાની મજા અનોખી છે.  નવા અનુભવો, જાત પાંત ની રેખા ઓળંગી ને કરેલા જુદા જુદા મિત્રો, વિવિધ લેખકો, કવિઓ, અને જુદી જુદી ભાષામાં આપણે જીવન ને અનુભવીએ ત્યારે આપણને ઘણું જાણવા અને શીખવા મળે છે.  નવા દ્રષ્ટિકોણ થી નવી લાગણી અને સંવેદના નો કેળવાય છે.  મારા બે નાના અનુભવ પ્રસ્તુત કરું છું જયારે મને બે વખત કૃત્રિમ રેખા ઓળંગવાનો મોકો મળ્યો।  તે માટે એક વ્યક્તિને અને બે સંસ્થાને મારો ખાસ આભાર વ્યક્ત કરવા માગું છું.

ઘણા વર્ષો પહેલાની વાત છે.  મેં એક સેમીનાર માં પ્રવેશ કરેલ. તેનું નામ છે Landmark Forum (www.landmarkworldwide.com) .  તેમાં આપણી ઝીન્દગીને ઉચ્ચા દરે કેમ પહોચાડવી તે ઉપર શિક્ષક વાત કરતા હતા.  તેમણે કહ્યું કે ઘણી વખત આપણે જે જીંદગી વીતી હોય તેનું પ્રમાણ લઈને એક  બાઊંડરી અથવા એક રેખા દોરીને આપણે ઝીંદગી તેમાં વિતાવીયે છીએ.  તેમણે કહ્યું કે આજે તમે તે રેખાને ઓળંગો અને શું શક્ય છે તેના આધારે તમારી ઝીંદગી નું એમ માનસિક ચિત્ર દોરો અને પછી તે સેમીનાર માં બધાને પોતાની એક નવી ઓળખાણ ઉભી કરીને તે કાલ્પનિક ચિત્રને કેમ વાસ્તવિક બનાવવાનું તે ઉપર assignments આપેલ.  તે વખતે મારી નવી ઓળખ મેં બનાવેલ – creative self expression અથવા સર્જનાત્મક અભિવ્યક્તિ.  ત્યાં સુધી હું એમ માનતી હતી કે મારામાં creativity નો અભાવ હતો. પણ તે સેમીનાર પછી મેં અંગ્રેજીમાં લખવા નું શરુ કર્યું અને ઝીન્દગીમાં દોરેલી એક રેખાને ઓળંગી.  (તે પછી તો બ્લોગ પણ શરુ કર્યો અને અત્યારે 2000 જેટલા લોકો મારો બ્લોગ follow કરી રહ્યા છે.)

તે વાત વિત્યાને ઘણા વર્ષો પછી મેં કેલીફોર્નિયા માં થયેલ ગુજરાત ડે માં ઝવેરચંદ મેઘાણી ની રચનાઓને માણી।  તે પછી મેં બીજી રેખા ઓળંગી. http://tinyurl.com/on7rodx  જયારે હું આફ્રિકામાં મોટી થઇ ત્યારે ગુજરાતી શાળામાં જતા હું એકદમ ગુજરાતી પ્રેમી હતી.  પરંતુ છઠા ધોરણ માં ભારત આવતા એવો નિર્ણય લેવાયો કે અંગ્રેજી ભાષા અને કોન્વેન્ટ શાળામાં અમારે જવાનું.  અંગ્રેજી શાળામાં ન જવા માટે મેં ખુબ ધમપછાડા કર્યા પણ છેવટે મારે તે સ્વીકારીને અંગ્રેજી શાળામાં જવું પડ્યું અને તે દિવસથી મેં ગુજરાતી છોડી દીધું. લગભગ તે પછી પાત્રીસ વર્ષથી ઉપર મેં ગુજરાતી ભાગ્યેજ વાંચેલ.  મેઘાણી  ના કાર્યક્રમ માં ગુજરાતી સાથે મારી ફરી ઓળખાણ પાકી થઇ.  અને મેં ગુજરાતી વાંચન અને ગુજરાતી માં લખવાનું શરુ કર્યું.

પ્રજ્ઞાબેન  દાદભાવાળા Milpitas ICC માં જે બેઠક નામની સંસ્થા ચલાવે છે તેમાં આવતા, ગુજરાતી ભાષા સાથે તુરંતમાં તાજી થયેલ ઓળખાણ મૈત્રીમાં બદલી ગયી છે.  કેમ કે બેઠકમાં માત્ર ગુજરાતી માણવા જ નહિ પરંતુ ગુજરાતીને આત્મીયતાથી અનુભવવા મળે છે.  બધા પોતાના અનુભવ અને પરિપેક્ષ્ય પ્રમાણે એક જ વિષયને જુદી જુદી રીતે લખી લાવે છે – તે રીતે બેઠકના ઘણા પ્રેક્ષકો માણ્યો નરસિંહ મેહ્તાનો આસ્વાદ અને કહેવતો અને અરરર અને હાશકારો જેવા વિષય ઉપર જુદા જુદા શબ્દોમાં રચનાઓ લખી.  તેમાં માત્ર ભાષાને નિષ્ચેષ્ટ રૂપે અનુભવવાની બદલે સક્રિય રૂપે તેને આપણી પોતીકી કરી.  તે છે પ્રજ્ઞાબેન નો મોટો ફાળો કે તેમણે ભાષાને કંટાળાજનક રીતે પ્રસ્તુત કરવાની બદલે, બધાને પ્રોત્સાહન આપી ને દરેકના શબ્દોના સર્જનથી જીવંત ધબકતી રાખી.

મારી જેમ ઘણાએ આ રેખા ઓળંગી છે અને પહેલી વખત સાહિત્યકાર બન્યા છે.  આટલું મોટું રૂપાંતર અને છતાયે તેમાં નથી પૈસા ખરચ્યાં અને ઉપરથી સુંદર ભોજનો અને એક બીજાનો સાથ અને મૈત્રી નો ખજાનો કેળવ્યો છે.  તો બેઠક અને ગુજરાત દે તેમજ શબ્દોનું સર્જન બ્લોગ એ છે પ્રજ્ઞાબેન ના નિશ્વાર્થ, સતત અને નિરંતર પરિશ્રમ નું પરિણામ, જેના આધારે મારા જેવા કેટલાયે કૈક રેખા ઓળંગી છે અને ગુજરાતી સાહિત્ય અને કાવ્ય ના કુવામાં ડૂબકી મારી છે અને ઘણીવાર રતન શોધી લાવ્યા છે.

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