Another Astro hits the Hall!

Congratulations, Jeff Bagwell: the Houston Astros’ all-time leader in homers and RBIs and chin hair was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame today, leading the field with more than 86% of the vote on his seventh time around! t1_bagwell

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I say he deserves it: some of his power numbers don’t reach the level of obvious Hall of Famer, but they’re damn close…but he was also an all-around player, a great fielder and baserunner, and a respected team leader.  This Astros fan will be proud to watch him join the best of the best in Cooperstown this summer.

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"I have a dream"

This was my post in August 2013 on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, including a YouTube clip of the entire speech; I repost it to honor the holiday is his memory and to remind us of his call to a virtuous future…I think some of us could use the reminder about now.

Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., took the podium at the Lincoln Memorial and delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom; it is still one of the most profound and moving speeches in the history of American rhetoric, on top of what it meant to the civil rights movement.  King did not dream that his children would one day be able to watch the speech on their desktop computer or smartphone, but they can, and so can we.

The whole thing is remarkable, including the peek you get at what a slice of America looked like in the early 1960s; go to the 12:00 mark to catch the dreams, and then on through to the end for the ad-libbed “let freedom ring”s and the promise of ultimate freedom which still stir my emotions.

“…let freedom ring.  And when this happens…and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Out of the coverage leading up to this week’s anniversary I’ve pulled a couple of gems: from Brian Naylor at NPR, a look at the little segregated southern town that was Washington, D.C. 50 years ago; and from Robert G. Kaiser in The Washington Post, a reporter’s remembrance of the event he covered 50 years earlier, with a quite remarkable admission—that the local paper blew it when it all but overlooked King’s speech in its coverage of the march!

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Playing a favorite

It’s three great tastes that taste great together: something that’s been a favorite of mine for many years—“It’s a Wonderful Life”—combined with something that’s become a favorite more recently—“Tom the Dancing Bug”—and something I expect will be one of my new favorites very soon—occasionally and gently pointing out to America that we made a bad decision electing Donald Trump as our president.

Because shouting a warning for months before the election was…ineffective.

But maybe a slow, good-natured drizzle of satire over time will better seep into our consciousness and lead to a smarter decision next time.

If it takes that long.

Which it may not.

But it might.

’Cause you know how we are.

td161223

Thanks Ruben Bolling, Tom the Dancing Bug, and gocomics.com

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…but don’t forget what you know

Since I wrote last week about the need to give Donald Trump a chance to act as president, I’ve read about more mass protests and more people lamenting the end of days for our republic.  So I want to clarify and expand: giving Trump a chance to govern does not mean wiping the slate clean and forgetting everything we know about our new leader.

You don’t have to pretend that none of the last year and a half ever happened, or forget everything you’ve ever heard or read about Donald Trump the New York real estate tycoon and TV star, to give the man a chance to do the job to which he was elected.  We can’t undo the election, and out of a sense of fair play if nothing else we owe him an open mind as he takes over.  But that “taking over” is already underway, so it’s fair to start keeping score, with things such as recognizing the conflict of interest that will result from having his children, who he says will take over running his business interests rather than have them be put into a blind trust (the business interests, not the children), be part of the team that will choose the members of the new administration.  To say nothing of the potential financial conflicts of interest we suspect Trump has with foreign banks, but can’t know about for sure since he never released his tax returns.  (Wonder if starting in late January he can get the IRS to speed up the audit?)

The point was made elegantly by David Frum in a Tweet storm yesterday taking off from a comment that it is time for a fresh start in Washington (thanks to Dan Solovay for Storify-ing it, for ease of display); a few examples:

There is another interesting compilation, by Frum’s colleague at The Atlantic James Fallows.  He created a time capsule, a list of things that happened during the campaign.  The posting explains itself this way: “People will look back on this era in our history to see what was known about Donald Trump while Americans were deciding whether to choose him as president. Here’s a running chronicle from James Fallows on the evidence available to voters as they make their choice, and of how Trump has broken the norms that applied to previous major-party candidates.”  It’s worth taking a look, and keeping it as a reference.

I also think it’s important that we’ve got to keep our perspective and our sense of humor, so I offer this

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Eyes open, moving ahead

To be an American and believe in the American system is to respect the outcome of elections, especially when your side loses or, in this case, when the side you especially fear and detest wins.  The right to vote does not come with a guarantee that the majority will make a good decision, but I believe we have to give the winners their chance.

Let’s start by giving the Donald Trump voters the benefit of the doubt, and assume that most of them are people with legitimate concerns about how our government has operated in recent years, who have worries about the dysfunctionality of our system that many of us share; that they are people who voted their conscience for a positive change.  You may feel, as I do, that they made a poor choice of candidate, but the truth is they won and they get their turn at bat.

Trump won the election fair and square; there was no rigging, or at least, none beyond the whole Electoral College thing for which we have the founders themselves to thank.  Congratulations, Mr. President-elect; I join with President Obama’s sentiment that “We now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed because if you succeed, then the country succeeds.”  To me, that means starting with whatever common ground we share and all working together to make changes we agree on; next, we discuss the issues where we do not agree, and work toward a resolution we can all stand behind.  I’m not saying that Trump deserves to be immune to criticism or opposition to his statements or actions, but that we judge him on his actions as president and president-elect; give him a chance in the new job.

He started on Thursday with a pretty low-key trip to Washington to start the transition of power, and I got the impression that he was a little in awe with the realization that this all is real.  Right after that he reminded us of his proclivity to a lack of restraint when it comes to any criticism.  In light of the large protests of his victory the past couple of days, the “real” Trump returned to Twitter Thursday evening:

Of course the best part of this is that the protests we’ve seen this week are exactly the thing Trump called for four years ago:

The totally unsurprising irony, though, is that Trump himself called for a march on Washington in the wake of President Obama’s 2012 win.

“We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!”

He also tweeted, “He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country!”

Trump finished the full hypocrisy circle nine hours later (degree of difficulty, apparently: zero):

And it took four more hours after that before he tweeted a perfunctory Veteran’s Day message.  S.E. Cupp summarizes:

…in Trumpland, there are no consequences for rank hypocrisy. This is the total lack of self-consciousness that was once disturbing and now only merely amusing. Remember, Hillary Clinton would make a great President, he once said, until she deserved to go to jail.

The Republican primary was rigged, until he won it. FBI director James Comey was a Clinton hack, until he was very fair and professional. Trump would contest the election results, unless he won. It’s impossible to keep up with Trump’s in-the-moment justifications and hyperactive moral relativism.

But, we must try.  It’s our job as Americans to participate in our own governance; that includes working together for common goals and the general welfare, and calling bullshit on our leaders when it’s deserved, and Trump needs to learn that.  Religion scholar William Martin put it this way in Texas Monthly in 2007: “Whether in Mormons or Methodists, prophets or presidents, distaste for dissent and opposition to open inquiry are not admirable qualities and do not foster freedom.”

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