LGBT Concerns to America

U.S. Senator Harry Reid wrote an essay about newly elected President Donald Trump this week. Here is what Reid said.

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U.S. Senator Harry Reid wrote an essay about newly elected President Donald Trump this week. Here is what Reid said:

“I have personally been on the ballot in Nevada for 26 elections and I have never seen anything like the reaction to the election completed last Tuesday. The election of Donald Trump has emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in America.

“White nationalists, Vladimir Putin and ISIS are celebrating Donald Trump’s victory, while innocent, law-abiding Americans are wracked with fear—especially African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Muslim Americans, LGBT Americans and Asian Americans. Watching white nationalists celebrate while innocent Americans cry tears of fear does not feel like America.

“I have heard more stories in the past 48 hours of Americans living in fear of their own government and their fellow Americans than I can remember hearing in five decades in politics. Hispanic Americans who fear their families will be torn apart, African Americans being heckled on the street, Muslim Americans afraid to wear a headscarf, gay and lesbian couples having slurs hurled at them and feeling afraid to walk down the street holding hands. American children waking up in the middle of the night crying, terrified that Trump will take their parents away. Young girls unable to understand why a man who brags about sexually assaulting women has been elected president.

“I have a large family. I have one daughter and twelve granddaughters. The texts, emails and phone calls I have received from them have been filled with fear – fear for themselves, fear for their Hispanic and African American friends, for their Muslim and Jewish friends, for their LBGT friends, for their Asian friends. I’ve felt their tears and I’ve felt their fear.

“We as a nation must find a way to move forward without consigning those who Trump has threatened to the shadows. Their fear is entirely rational, because Donald Trump has talked openly about doing terrible things to them. Every news piece that breathlessly obsesses over inauguration preparations compounds their fear by normalizing a man who has threatened to tear families apart, who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and who has directed crowds of thousands to intimidate reporters and assault African Americans. Their fear is legitimate and we must refuse to let it fall through the cracks between the fluff pieces.

“If this is going to be a time of healing, we must first put the responsibility for healing where it belongs: at the feet of Donald Trump, a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate. Winning the electoral college does not absolve Trump of the grave sins he committed against millions of Americans. Donald Trump may not possess the capacity to assuage those fears, but he owes it to this nation to try.

“If Trump wants to roll back the tide of hate he unleashed, he has a tremendous amount of work to do and he must begin immediately.”

What struck a note with me is how Trump seemed to connect with the LGBT community well before his presidency campaign. Today Trump chose Mike Pense, perhaps one of the most anti-LGBTQ evangelical Christian political crusaders to serve in Congress and as governor of a state. Then there is Ben Carson, who compared homosexuality to pedophilia and incest, is a vice chairman of the transition team and so is Newt Gingrich, who has attacked what he called gay fascism around LGBT rights. Reid is perhaps reminding America a great history lesson on what is to become possibly. After all, Ronald Reagan had many gay friends and came out against an anti-gay state initiative while he was governor of California before becoming President. But once Reagan became president all that changed not with Reagan, but with those in Reagans circle.

It will be tough to roll back many issues such as same-sex marriage and gays serving in the military. The U.S. Supreme Court has decided much of those laws. But Obamacare non-discrimination provision that includes gender identity and sexual orientation could change affecting many transgendered people. Perhaps the division of our nation will foster a carte blanche attitude to remove our politically correct filters a return to certain hate speech such a faggot, dyke, tranny, queer and so on. I must remember that words don’t hurt me but guns, violence and discriminatory legislation will. Members of the LGBT community are acutely aware that bigotry and homophobia are filled with dishonesty, deception, and predatory games. Ideology like Pense, Carson, and Gingrich provides latitude for judicial prejudice, police, and citizens hell bent on discrimination to continue.

I no longer fear being locked away for being a member of the LGBT community. I figured out long ago that free speech in America also protects dishonesty, deception, and predatory practices within homophobia. Americans desire to separate church and state but embrace religion all while excluding a commandment of “Thou shalt not covet.” When the United Kingdom, Germany, France and New Zealand issues a warning to its citizens traveling to the United States about homophobic behavior, then I know our nation is far behind and out of touch with the rest of the industrialized world. While I have a love for my country, I also have a concern that we are no longer global leaders of liberty and freedom. Our political ideals are no longer Democrat or Republican. Today we seem to be an a la carte society filled with particular vigilante behaviors and unfiltered choices.

I have watched eight years of Obama and witnessed the LGBT community thrive and challenge America to connect and catch up to the rest of the world. But America had a divided change of heart. Like any good roller coaster ride eventually, the ride gets old only to be torn down and replaced with a new rollercoaster. This time I will have to keep my hands and feet in the ride once in motion and pray I nor others get hurt along the way.

“President-Elect Trump, you pledge to Make America Great Again. As an American, Democrat and Army veteran I don’t want to be excluded, sidelined, or have to pretend to be somone else in order to participate in that plan. My hope is that you will count me in.”

Election Conspiracy Theory

When I hear “Conspiracy Theory” I tend to roll my eyes and shut down my listening ability. To be quite honest I don’t find much if any credibility at all in conspiracy planning. Today I was in the car running some errands and noticed a few lingering campaign signs along the roadway. What struck me was during the entire election cycle there was not one Trump or Clinton sign visible. I shrugged it off thinking perhaps the television ads alone were enough. But as I was listening to the radio I heard something about Vice-President Elect Pense saying, “If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences.” I began to think perhaps our general election could have been hacked but not in the traditional sense.

Naturally, all eyes are on voting machines and ballots. But there are strange anomalies during the canvas stage. For example, when Britain held a referendum on whether to leave the European Union (Brexit) all polls seemed to lean on remaining. The result was a shocking exit plan. Immediately afterward media outlets were trying to understand or interpret polls versus ballots. Nearly the same circumstance occurred with Trump versus Clinton. All polls appeared to lean towards Clinton, but the result flipped traditional blue states to red.

What if, just what if the canvas data and polling information were skewed and adulterated by Russia or another nation? Of course, this would be the most surprising identifier of events to alter an election and perhaps the most ridiculous theory. But it could be possible.

What presents an argument for my case is the Stuxnet program. Stuxnet is a computer worm that was developed to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program. What is most intriguing about the virus was its ability to go undetected. The worm also infected a nuclear power plant in Russia. The Stuxnet program was not intended to harm computers and networks. Instead, it was designed to alter and reverse data calculations. That program ran during the George W. Bush years until 2015. That is a long time to go undetected.

Here is something to ponder. What if hackers took the original code and altered it to shift election data results. Of course, election officials at the state level are not concerned with polls and data. Instead, they are watching ballots and machine data carefully. But many polls use standard software platforms and continually share random samplings of purchased or shared consumer data. The same data that seems to be frequently hacked at banks, stores, and online. If there is a similar virus introduced and designed to manipulate canvas and poll data, then that would affect any election result. Perhaps the beta test was Brexit? The ultimate test was the recent U.S. elections – If that theory is correct.

I certainly hope that my question about conspiracy theory is not taken as an interpretation of a sore loser. I will recognize whoever is our national leader. But perhaps there may be a clue that something is wrong with our data. We had every indication that another nation may try to influence our election process. Perhaps this was how it was done?

Dan Rather Essay

When I was a little boy, I wanted to be like Dan Rather. In my ADHD childhood, he was my “Bob Ross” for television. I would stop and listen to what he said as if he were talking directly to me. I learned much from watching Dan Rather. He was and still is a brave and courageous interviewer. When I was provided an honor in writing for a college newspaper, I tried to write in the spirit of Rather. I wanted to pull the curtain back further to show all angles to an issue. That was the level of transparency I sought even if it brought scorn or unfounded actions upon me. Today I read an essay that Rather submitted to the New York Times. I wanted to share it on my blog because it should be a warning to anyone that respects the journalistic code and freedom of information our nation relies on.

As the administration of Donald Trump starts to take shape in Washington, I find myself thinking back again of that historic city and where we may be headed.

It is no accident that our monuments and institutions of government in our nation’s capital are made out of marble. They are cathedrals to our democracy – impressive, imposing, and built to last. They are also beacons to our improbable aspirations. When our predecessors planned and constructed these buildings, our republic was still quite young. It still is, by the measure of most societies on earth. The old saying may remind us that Rome wasn’t built in a day, but much of Washington D.C. was built over the course of a few decades.

Rome is a provocative comparison because the remnants of that ancient society remain standing centuries after the empire that built them crumbled and died. For while buildings are important, the heart of a nation lies with its people. Marble may last but the strength of a society must be constantly reinforced.

For the years I lived in Washington, and ever since on return visits, I have loved walking amongst the city’s wide boulevards and past its famous addresses. And yet covering the men and women who wielded power from their marble perches is to be reminded that as permanent as our nation can seem, we can never take its future for granted. The strength of our institutions lie within us, and our representatives.

I have seen this nation’s spirit of self evidence challenged in the past, with World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam, and Watergate, just to name a few. Some of these struggles were largely foreign in origin, others sprouted from our own imperfections.

I believe that we are once again at an inflection point. This presidential election, with its bitter partisan divide and often irresponsible rhetoric, threatens to crumble some of the foundations of our democratic institutions. We now await to see whether the president-elect’s actions will match his words. We cannot simply slough off these worries with incantations that everything will work out. The dictionary lists “democracy” as a noun, but because it requires action to be, I like to think of it more as a verb.

We should not expect or even hope to agree on policy or priorities. Fostering healthy and respectful debate is one of the strengths of our system of government. But when we seek to undermine our political adversaries by attacking their right to participate in our national discourse we risk causing longterm harm to the rationale behind the nation we all claim to love.

And the marble of Washington might cease to be cathedrals to democracy and more like mausoleums. Anyone who considers himself or herself a true patriot cannot allow us to head down this dangerous path. It is in our hands to demand that we re-water the seeds of our highest national morals and ideals.

There is no denying that the media is embroiled in controversy these days. Donald Trump made so-called media bias one of the biggest themes of his campaign. Now, judging by the President-Elect’s refusal to allow journalists to travel with him to DC for his meeting with President Obama, it looks like his “relationship” with the press hasn’t changed yet. With that in mind news organizations are no doubt scrambling to come up with plans on how to cover Trump’s time in the White House.

Today, in a rather unusual move, the publisher of the The New York Times directly addressed readers to defend the way the paper covered the election (and both campaigns). In a separate note sent to staffers he addressed their coverage of the Trump administration going forward.

Dan Rather – published November 11th, 2016

Responsibilities of the Media

Sometimes when in inclement weather strikes we think we are prepared. However, we find that perhaps we aren’t as prepared. When the remnants of Hurricane Matthew hit our area, the rain and winds didn’t seem dangerous at first. In fact, our city suffered little damage. But when the power suddenly left us in the dark due to fast rising flood waters and cyclone based whipping winds then we became to realize that we weren’t as prepared as we would have liked. Suddenly we were without power. My first call was to the power company to register a complete power outage request. Many in our neighborhood didn’t know the telephone number to the local power company. As a good planner, I had the power company phone number programmed in my mobile phone. Like a good neighbor, I would attempt to register a power outage for my neighbors. This was not an easy task because the power company wanted the social security number, telephone number or account number of the home with the outage. This created a bit of frustration especially when it was just as difficult to get a live person on the phone to assist. My lesson learned from this particular experience was to stay focused on only my issues.

Next was the news reporting. Our local news was broadcast on a regional radio station. Perhaps the newsroom forgot that nearly half of its audience was listening rather than watching because of power outages. As I listened, I would regularly hear the newscaster phrase “As you see here” filled my a colorful description. It made me wonder how the visually impaired view our news reporting? The most distressing part was the media was so consumed with reporting the most devastating areas that if failed to become a community service to those in need. Many were without power, water, and communications. Those same were prepared with limited food, supplies, funds, and a Red Cross radio. News sources kept saying shelters were open but would say, “you can see the numbers at the bottom of our screen.” No, we can’t see the numbers because over a million residents are without power! Clearly, news sources must learn how to get back to basics for its listening audience. Particularly during a state of emergency.

Additionally, that one news broadcast can be the difference between life and death to some. Many mobile devices have incredible battery power. But that is not to say that resource is readily available. When power begins to diminish and requires a recharge, then this is where many start to panic, especially when listening to news broadcasts. No power means no internet and perhaps no land line if lines are affected. Crucial news and up to date resources were filled with dramatic rescues. When dam levies in Lumberton were beginning to peak and cause a fracture, the story failed to deliver appropriate resources and instructions leaving many trapped when the dam broke. I am mindful that citizens should arm themselves with resources. However, the media has a level of responsibility in providing emergency resources to assist authorities. If news agencies create a business plan for weather phone apps, then they owe its community a resource of open shelters with policies such as pets, restrictions, contact information and potential hazards affecting that area.

A valuable lesson learned from this experience is that some of us follow the Red Cross suggested planning for emergencies. However, it is not a perfect plan of execution. A tough lesson learned is that technologies such as phone apps and portable devices have far outpaced the practical user guide of the average citizen. All agencies should grasp an understanding that all citizens are not entirely connected to Facebook, or the app indulged world. Many seniors during this storm expressed a strong feeling of disconnection because they are not up to date with technologies. They also have concerns that they must invest in high-level device plans to stay abreast with police, fire, media, and emergency authorities. Basically, there should be a firm plan in place making a bit easier for all. If we choose to use our electronic devices then, it should be a complimentary part of the service rather than the requirement.

Letter to the Editor -University of South Dakota

As a retired Army veteran, I would like to share that I hold various memberships in military organizations to advocate on my behalf. Sometimes the expense for that advocacy can be pricey and not as useful as I desire. However, without it, I am left with no voice and no representation of my concerns.

Recently the University of South Dakota Student Government Association drafted a bill to withdraw from the South Dakota Student Federation tentatively.  As a graduate student, I have some concerns about this path. On the one hand, USD provides more than its fair share of funding and proxy of equal voting.  Another issue is the poor use of funds by the Student Federation. On the other hand leaving the association reduces our vocal and visual footprint. Perhaps the remedy is simple. Public opinion and perception may be in our favor if we can persuade South Dakota State University to join our fight. I would suggest our first step requesting an independent audit of the South Dakota Student Federation by Steve Barnett; South Dakota State Auditor. This will allow the Student Federation to justify its expenses. After all, shouldn’t student government be a diplomatic extension of government to advocate for all students and its extended communities?  I implore student government to act and perform in strategic resolve and legislative advocacy with the State of South Dakota to press the issues. Utilize its resources and take control of a situation instead of passing the problem on to other universities. Our student population is robust enough to warrant a call to action instead of displaying a white flag out of desperation or antagonism.

Before our student government hastily closes the door on an issue. Shouldn’t we be opening other doors to find a reasonable solution? Once we accomplish this then will the state take notice and appreciate that our University is not a liability but an asset of transparency for the future of South Dakota.

Message v. Audience

Tim Kaine and Mike Pence duked it out at the Vice Presidential Debate. My initial impression of Gov. Pence was he sounded like a confident baritone. However listing to Sen. Kaine was sadly similar to the television character Barnie Fife. Kaine’s tone was interrupting at times muddled with lots of information to provide in response to rhetoric delivered by Trump. Instead, the debate was lost in transit. Kaine seemed to fail on delivering an effective punch line despite having a dossier of Trump failures and past poor performances.

However, when it came to practical answers, Sen. Kaine connected with solid answers. This is where it is tricky. Kaine had the answers, but I feel he did not connect them well to the audience. Gov. Pence did not engage in response to some questions. In some instances, Gov. Pence was either speechless or quiescent. For example, during the debate, Sen. Kaine responded to a question about Mr. Trump and his contentious bias. Instead of responding, Gov. Pence turned away from the camera without providing any comment. It was an extraordinary and restrained moment that may raise further questions or inquiry. However, a remarkable silver lining appeared for Pence. I feel Pence was able to score well with the audience. While it may be true Pence was using up the clock a bit to agitate Kaine; it may prove to be effective and a solid overall tally that Pence may have won the debate.

Sen. Kaine did an excellent job of answering questions and was prepared. What I would have hoped for is for Sen. Kaine to speak to his audience as if he had to assume the role of the President and to slow his delivery in a calmer manner. I felt Kaine missed many opportunities to deliver a simple message. Instead, he sounded a bit like the “guy invited to prom by the girl making it sound as if it is his car in the parking lot- not his dad’s.”

Gov. Pence seemed just as prepared. What I found most interesting was his use of the camera, mannerisms, and control. Pence commanded the camera and audience tone. He delivered a very clear and straightforward message without any supporting plan, proof or confusing statistics. In fact, I felt comfortable with Pence that his performance was fresh and calm. In fact, it felt as if he should be running for President and Trump would be on the Vice Presidential ticket. Reality set in later and my notes could not provide one proof concrete plan by the Trump-Pence ticket. Pence repeatedly mentions to the audience about a “The Trump Plan” mixed with Trump’s enormous business successes without ever delivering validation that it exists for review. It somewhat felt like an episode of an old western movie where the snake oil salesman came to the town. However, what I did connect with is that Pence may have his sights on something greater after this election. Tonight I think he proved that he is a strong future candidate for President.

The poor moderator, Elaine Quijano, didn’t have much control over the debate. Her questions seemed ignored or rejected altogether because of back and forth nit picking. Nearly each issue that Quijano asked didn’t receive a proper answer because the standard answer by each candidate was, “can I respond to that last question?” A moderator should assume control like a good reporter and project manager by remaining focused on the agenda at hand. Maybe town hall debates might put candidates back on track and allow America to get to know candidates better.

Sure, both candidates appeared polished and scripted. However, the bigger issue at hand is not “a heartbeat away” from becoming the next President. However, how will they influence policy and the Senate as a presiding officer and powerful part of the administration? Instead, I think this debate may set the national tone and its impact. What is more important? Getting the message right or connecting with the audience? It should be interesting how poll numbers change after the debate to determine that strategy.

Letter to NCSU Technician news

Chancellor Randy Woodson says he wants to protect free speech for all students. He claims that the current student conduct code prohibits the University from engaging in free speech. Perhaps Chancellor Woodson should begin to practice what he preaches in his leadership role at North Carolina State University. Woodson’s Univerity biography says “Equality and diversity are all our responsibilities. Working together [we] ensure a truly diverse, inclusive and supporting campus culture.” This is an incredible vision, but for people of color, Hispanics, and LGBT students this is an unsupported catch phrase.

First of all the university position on First Amendment rights is flawed and seems to preserve hate speech. The free expression tunnel and campus affiliated blogs have been a continual controversy sporadically making headlines usually with racial or homophobic slurs, yet suspensions or expulsions never occur. The same rhetoric by University leadership is “expect change.” The change will not come until administration challenges the First Amendment versus Hate Speech. Perhaps the University should take a step back and look at its leadership demographics. It may see a culture and pattern of habits and slogans such as ‘Students First” or “Embrace Diversity” In reality, the University just has no real vested interest in truly creating a diverse campus. Otherwise, it would not continue to repeatedly allow forms of hate speech on its campus each academic year. It would instead have a very clear student conduct policy backed by leadership with policy improvements on how to stay abreast with technology.

When I hear Chancellor Woodson speak to media outlets about “free speech protections” then why did the University 2015 expel African American students of Pi Kappa Phi? The University said the students were expelled based on racially and sexually offensive language? Why the double standard Chancellor Woodson?

Diversity should be the symbol and objective at N.C. State University. Loosely shielding what is defined as hate speech should not be a reason to defend it. So far, Chancellor Woodson, you had not put students first or listened to your African American student body. Instead, you passed up an opportunity to learn from your esteemed student body and display your leadership. You chose to hide behind your unchallenged interpretation of freedom and allow hate speech to continue for the next season.

Sam Daughtry

Technician Viewpoint Columnist alumni (’11)