Tag Archives: Trump

Knock It Off

In my time as an aircrew member in the Air Force, the most valuable training I received is a course called Crew Resource Management, or CRM. The short version is “this is how you talk to people so that you probably don’t die.”

Put multiple humans together on an airplane (or a flight of single-seat aircraft working in conjunction) and communication becomes essential, vital to both mission success and safety.

Even though we’re all in the same metal tube hurtling through the sky, getting this many people to communicate in a critical situation is more difficult than it seems. (This crew was awesome at it.)

In CRM, we learn the common causes of human error, the contributing factors in safety accidents and incidents, the price of breakdowns in communication, and the expensive cost in equipment and human lives when someone doesn’t take the time to listen to and recognize the importance of information that could avert disaster.

All too often, a jet slams into a mountain or wanders into an unsafe situation even despite the fact that people on board were aware of the problem and vocalized the impending danger. That’s the other side of this training—learning that you might be the one standing in the way of safety, ignoring the information that could keep your mission from failing or save your life.

We must be able to talk and get each other’s attention. We have to be able to focus everyone’s minds on the key bits of information that might mean life or death.

To that end, we learn key words and phrases that every aircrew member knows. “I am concerned about what we are doing right now. I feel unsafe because of this situation. I don’t have a clear picture of what is going on and where we are headed as a crew.”

The phrase to trump all others? “Knock it off.

In a training environment, that means “Stop playing whatever game or exercise we’re doing, everybody shut up a minute, and let’s make sure we’re doing the right thing.”

When a crisis develops, it means “everybody, cease all the distractions and focus on the critical situation taking place right now.”

One might think that the training solves all our problems, but that’s not the case. Despite every aircrew member receiving the same recurring briefings and classes, some people still don’t get it and drop the ball when a moment of miscommunication arises.

I’ve said all these terms to an aircraft commander on behalf of a dozen peers in the back end of the jet, in conjunction with support and agreement from other officers onboard, only to watch the guy in charge ignore what’s an ingrained response. Sometimes we get stubbornly convinced of how right we are and nothing can dissuade us, no matter how many people say it, no matter how they put it into words.

CRM and Knock-It-Off are designed to help us see those weaknesses, but they can’t fix everything.

This morning I read headlines about George H. W. Bush and some of his negative thoughts on President Trump’s performance. Apparently, George W. Bush has also expressed some disapproval about this administration’s performance.

Judging by the comments section, both the Bushes are traitors, or political hacks, or so arrogant as to presume that the Oval Office was owed to one of their family members. It’s an all-too-familiar turning upon and tearing apart a member of the pack when they go against the grain.

I used to be amazed watching conservatives eat their own—shifting from “they’re awesome” to vilifying and condemning as traitors anyone that didn’t support the party’s pet issue or candidate.
No one is safe from this shifting allegiance. Go against the accepted view, and you’re a RINO, you’re the swamp, you’re bleeding from your whatever, you’re a hack, you’re a liberal in disguise, you’re finally revealing your true colors and you should have been hated all along.

Whatever you are, you’re never a person expressing your convictions or concerns out of faithful devotion to what you understand as conservative ideals. You’re never a person asking serious questions because you want your political party to succeed and do well.

I guess let’s add both George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush to the ever-growing list of people not Right enough for the Right.

Reagan himself could rise from the grave today, declare his disappointment with what the Right has become, and yet people would say, “I always knew he was just another big-mouthed Hollywood blowhard actor who thinks their movie career means people should listen to them.”

(President Reagan speaking in Minneapolis 1982, by Michael Evans. Public Domain.)
Well, Hollywood, there you go again… 

This is why I can’t identify with anything coming from the Right Wing anymore… because for so many of them, it’s a one-strike, you’re-out system demanding mindless devotion to whatever the core of the party does or says. Agree or get out of here, you faker.

We have to be able to talk in order to succeed. We have to be able to raise concerns and those need to be addressed in a serious manner if there’s going to be a foundation of mutual trust within the party’s ranks.

We make fun of the Left for expecting everyone to fall in line on certain issues (try surviving as a pro-life Democrat, for example). We’re just as guilty if not worse.

Conservatives, I am concerned about what we are doing right now. I feel that our party is moving into unsafe territory, putting ourselves at risk. Many of us in the base don’t have a clear picture of where we are headed as a party.

Conservatives, knock it off.

Chaos in Creation

My lunchtime view as I wolfed down a sandwich:


Thank You, Lord, for the beauty of Your creation in the midst of all our chaos.

As calming as this should be, I am not calm. After all kinds of discussion about immigration and security, I can’t help but think of the image of a three year old Syrian boy face down in the sand. He was one of the few out of the throng of people displaced by the crises in our world, one circumstance that caught our attention.

I can’t picture what his life was like. 

But I can picture my youngest boy, now six, the way he lights up every room he’s in and every face he sees. I try to picture him lying face down on the beach, but I don’t want to see that. 

So I try to picture someone explaining to me, in that circumstance, that “we’re worried about Trojan Horses and terrorist threats, that’s why we couldn’t help you.”

I try to imagine how absolutely hollow and self-serving those words would sound.

It’s hard. I don’t have answers or good policy suggestions. I just have these feelings on my mind that I need to get out.

Yeah, it’s a base appeal to emotion trying to stir up compassion. I always thought compassion was pretty exceptional. I always thought America was too.

But at least we’re sort of safe or something.

Don't Drink the Water

As I watch (and I admit, occasionally engage in) the meltdowns on Facebook and other social media, here’s a non-partisan thought on politics:

It’s not weakness to admit the shortcomings of the candidate or party you support. It’s not treachery to admit where the other candidate or party does well. Rather than making you a traitor to your own, it reveals you’re a person of consideration and character, refusing to be swept along by a stream of half-true headlines or news bites that tell you exactly what you might want to hear.
More than the evils of either (IMHO abysmal) main party candidate, I fear the drones on both sides who refuse to see anything that disagrees with what they want to believe.

Those who dismiss everything their candidate does wrong as if it isn’t on record and readily available for public review.

Those who turn on and savage public figures who they counted as allies for years prior to some perceived slight or difference of opinion.

Those who rely on the most suspect and sketchy source as fact when it is not supported by even one mainstream media outlet (and I include Fox in that).

This year I feel left with two horrible choices and perhaps a couple slightly better options that have no realistic chance of winning.

I want to blame the parties, the system, those in power.

But in my dealings with friends on both the right and the left, it’s all too clear that we’ve got the election the American people asked for.

I don’t unfriend people on Facebook. I may not agree with everyone but I like the variety of viewpoints (which I thought was one of the strong points of social media).

In light of willful, repeated ignorance in the face of several corrections or challenges, I’ve had to consider it several times now. Even people who concede one day that their extreme points take it too far–these same people will repeat the exact same words the next day as if it’s some obvious, unassailable truth.

In Rio, some sources report the water is tainted with sewage. Athletes are reportedly being advised: “Particpate, but keep your mouth closed to avoid contamination.”

I feel like that is good advice for social media over the next few months, as well as for the voting booth in November.

100 more days. (Followed by four years of further baseless and myopic vitriol on both sides.)

Good luck, America, and good night.

America, It's Malignant

This is a little old (early March), but it popped up in my Facebook feed and triggered some thinking. 

I don’t get Trump’s candidacy, in much the same way I don’t get how some people still support Clinton. It amazes me what we’re willing to overlook when we decide someone is the best choice–or the least horrible choice.

In this Vocativ article, they look at Twitter data to see how people are treating Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly throughout all the debacle between her and Trump over the last few months. Since the start, Kelly has been treated to a fairly constant stream of vitriol, much of it from people I’d bet thought the world of her prior to her brazen and irrational questioning of a Presidential candidate about behavior that could affect his performance in the election. 

It’s more proof, as if we need any, of the downside of social media. Just because everyone has a voice, it doesn’t mean we should listen. 

I want to point the finger at Trump and say, “Look at yet another example of what this man produces.” I don’t see him as Presidential.

But the article is challenging, because it points out how Trump might not even use a particular sexist term… yet data show usage of that slur spiking on Twitter in the wake of Trump’s comments. His mistreatment of Kelly got the ball rolling. Now he can sit back and his supporters “take care of that,” rushing to his defense by attacking his victim online, like a noisy protestor at a campaign rally.

Trump is merely the symptom, the bump on otherwise smooth skin that reveals there’s a tumor spreading beneath the surface. The real problem is that there’s too many of us happily encouraging and engaging in the same kind behavior under cover of the Internet’s relative anonymity.

PLEASE STOP IT.