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The Irony With Lawsuit By Robin Van Ert Against UW-Madison Officials

November 27, 2016

I was surely not the only person reading the Wisconsin State Journal on Thanksgiving and needing to put the coffee cup down while saying out loud, “Give me a break.”   The reason for such a response was due to the back story concerning Robin Van Ert’s lawsuit against UW-Madison officials in connection with men’s basketball coach Bo Ryan.   Ert and Ryan were romantically involved from 2009 until 2014.

There is certainly reason to suspect that a lawsuit over the questions of due process and the invasion of Ert’s privacy has foundation.  There will be some legal hurdles to clear but no one doubts that folks are taking this lawsuit very seriously at the UW.  And for good reason.   The release of her name to the press was a step that does deserve more than a mere explanation.

But all that was not what made me place my raspberry chocolate coffee on the counter.    No, rather, it was these sentences from the story.

Van Ert alleges the scope of the “sham” investigation wasn’t broad enough, claiming Ryan was “unfit” to mentor student athletes and violated university policies and a “morality clause” in his contract.

“…she ended the relationship in part because she thought he was “manipulative, deceptive and abusive toward Van Ert and other women,” the complaint alleges.

This is where I am going to sound a lot older than I am.

Ert claiming that there was an issue with Ryan’s “morality clause” misses the mark by a mile.  The issue with the UW is second to the fact that Ryan was a married man and his first contract and overriding obligation was that little sticking point called a marriage vow.

As a gay man who has had to fight for the right to marry I am not now–nor have I ever been in any way–lackadaisical when it comes to the meaning of ’till death do us part’.  My parents were just short by a few months of celebrating 60 years of marriage when my mom died.     So when it comes to the ‘other woman’ talking about Ryan’s lack of morality in relation to the UW it strikes many who believe in the sanctity of marriage as most odd.

As to Ert’s claim that she ended the relationship due to Ryan being  “manipulative, deceptive ” must be due to someone not editing the final wording of that document in a  meticulous fashion.  The very act of cheating on one’s spouse is, by its very definition, manipulative and deceptive.  So from day one Ert had ever reason to leave Ryan!

I fully understand that a large segment of society will not ponder this at all and perhaps if they do think I am living in some Victorian land far from reality.   But I would argue that foundations still matter.

While there are legal arguments as to why Ert has a most reasonable chance to prevail with her claims about privacy it can not be left unsaid that all this would not have happened had two simple rules been followed.

Spouses should not cheat on their partners and no one should ever think dating a cheating spouse will ever bring anything other than misery.

All In The Family As Richard Nixon’s Grandson To Be Ambassador To China

November 27, 2016

I found this interesting to read today.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend Christopher Nixon Cox, the grandson of Richard Nixon, had time with Donald Trump in Florida.  Cox is being heavily promoted to be the next ambassador to China.

It was the work of President Richard Nixon that opened China’s diplomatic doors.   And it seems now the circle comes back home with the forthcoming news of Cox’s assignment.

The problem I have with Cox is his lack of state department background.  I have long argued against the idea of political supporters being made an ambassador.  It not only cheapens the job but gives real workers at state the willies.  While there is a charming aspect to his grandfather being central to a major foreign policy initiative, and now the grandson having the high post it also needs to be said that Cox does not have a resume to support undertaking such a job.

Minefield Of Scandals Ready To Explode During Trump Administration

November 27, 2016

Since the election one line has bounced about in my thoughts in relation to the messy and most troubling collision of America’s interests and the large business world of Donald Trump.  The line that keeps going through my mind is “When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal”?

The person who uttered those words years after leaving the White House was Richard Nixon.

It does not take anyone any length of time to conclude there is a minefield of scandal just waiting to explode day after day once the new administration takes over.  Simply denying the problem exists, or that is does not matter, or that there is no legal issue at play is simply wrong.

Today The New York Times has one of those must-read stories that lays the ground for where we are headed.

Potential Conflicts Around the Globe for Trump, the Businessman President, by Richard C. Paddock, Eric Lipton, Ellen Barry, Rod Norland, Danny Hakim and Simon Romero is the lead story in this morning’s paper.

And in Turkey, officials including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a religiously conservative Muslim, demanded that Mr. Trump’s name be removed from Trump Towers in Istanbul after he called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. More recently, after Mr. Trump came to the defense of Mr. Erdogan — suggesting that he had the right to crack down harshly on dissidents after a failed coup — the calls for action against Trump Towers have stopped, fueling worries that Mr. Trump’s policies toward Turkey might be shaped by his commercial interests.

Mr. Trump has acknowledged a conflict of interest in Turkey. “I have a little conflict of interest because I have a major, major building in Istanbul,” he said during a radio interview last year with Stephen K. Bannon, the Breitbart News executive who has since been designated his chief White House strategist. “It’s a tremendously successful job. It’s called Trump Towers — two towers, instead of one. Not the usual one. It’s two.”

Some former government officials from both parties [are asking] if America’s reaction to events around the world could potentially be shaded, if only slightly, by the Trump family’s financial ties with foreign players. They worry, too, that in some countries those connections could compromise American efforts to criticize the corrupt intermingling of state power with vast business enterprises controlled by the political elite. …

Mr. Trump’s companies have business operations in at least 20 countries, with a particular focus on the developing world, including outposts in nations like India, Indonesia and Uruguay … What’s more, the true extent of Mr. Trump’s global financial entanglements is unclear, since he has refused to release his tax returns and has not made public a list of his lenders. … Even if Mr. Trump and his family seek no special advantages from foreign governments, officials overseas may feel compelled to help the Trump family by, say, accelerating building permits or pushing more business to one of the new president’s hotels or golf courses, according to several former State Department officials. …

In April, even before Mr. Trump had secured the Republican nomination, his business moved to trademark the name American Idea for use in branding hotels, spas and concierge services, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It was one of more than two dozen trademark applications that Mr. Trump and members of his family filed in the United States and around the world while he was running for president.

Richard Nixon Looking Down, But Not Smiling, As Monica Crowley Considered For Press Secretary

November 26, 2016

Donald Trump’s inner circle is tossing around the possibility of Fox News analyst Monica Crowley as press secretary.   This is not the first time she has been posted about on my blog.

Crowley wrote the fast-paced and most enjoyable Nixon Off The Record which illuminates the views and perspectives of Nixon in the final years of his life.  His time was filled with thoughts about international relations, political calculations, and reflections about the meaning of leadership and his role over the decades on the world stage.  As Nixon talked with Crowley there is the sense that he is also speaking to the history books.  After their conversations she would write the content of what the two discussed.  It was not ‘talking out of school’ as there is every indication that Nixon was aware of who the final audience would be when conveying his thoughts to Crowley.

One not need to be a fan of Richard Nixon to enjoy this book, and that also goes for Monica Crowley.  While I found her charming in the book I found her far less so over the years as she agitated her way on television with anger and often meanness.   It should be noted that Nixon was a determined political fighter too, but was always mindful of the past and determined to rise above it  while continuing to serve the nation.  That lesson did not take, it seems, with the one taking notes.

Crowley would be no worse than others who have been talked about for the important job as press secretary in the next administration.   But Nixon, I am sure, is thinking how such serious matters of international weight are being placed in the hands of those who have not proven they can handle even the small needs that a White House must deal with on a daily basis.  

Must Be A Third Name For Secretary Of State

November 26, 2016

I have been of the opinion that Mitt Romney would not accept a position of Secretary of State due to the fact there is no way his inner being would allow for that to happen.  Also there is no way he would want to travel the globe and explain Donald Trump’s outlandish ideas to the diplomats in international capitals.

There is also no way that the bombastic, and ever-more absurd personality of Rudy Giuliani could be placed in the position without the world community coming unglued.  America, after all, will still have to lead a most chaotic world.

What we have witnessed over the past two weeks is a most off-putting sight as Giuliani engaged in an unusually public fight to land the job in the next administration.  It has been most unseemly.  Even after this election season the antics of former mayor of New York City is simply embarrassing to watch play out.

While I think Romney would be a fine choice, given what a Trump administration will resemble, there is just no way he will lower himself to such a place.  Therefore deep consideration needs to be given to another name bandied about.

Senator Bob Corker from Tennessee.

The bottom line is there needs to be someone with a face on our foreign policy that has some credibility, a face who has the ability to be taken seriously in times of upheaval.  I fully understand that Trump is in over his head and has no depth on the great complexities in the world.  That is why the Secretary of State position must be filled by someone with gravitas.

It All Comes Down To Temperament

November 26, 2016

Upon hearing the news today that Cuban President Fidel Castro had died there were two separate expressions given.

President Barack Obama, who has made restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba a hallmark of his administration, offered America’s hand in friendship to the Cuban people following the passing.  ‘History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him,’ Obama said in a statement.

Obama was mature and speaking to the future needs of the international community.

Meanwhile Donald Trump tweeted at 8:08 a.m.: “Fidel Castro is dead!”

The tone of his comment will also be noted.

Tom Friedman Ponders The New World And Dancing In A Hurricane

November 25, 2016

The following was the type of discussion our nation required this past year.  Tom Friedman remains one of the great thinkers of our time.   I so respect and admire this man.  I wish there was a way to provide the video directly to this post, but that seems not to be possible.  Therefore this link provides the full interview from the Charlie Rose show.

So if you look down from 30,000 feet you see that technology, globalization and, I would add, Mother Nature (in particular, climate change, biodiversity loss and the impact of population growth) are all accelerating at the same time, and feeding off one another: More Moore’s Law drives more globalization and more globalization drives more climate change. And together, climate change and digital connectivity drive more human migration.

I recently met with economic and climate refugees in West Africa who made it clear to me they didn’t want aid from a rock concert in Europe. They want to come to the Europe they see on their cellphones — and they are using WhatsApp to organize vast illicit migration networks to get there.

No wonder many in the West feel unmoored. The two things that anchored them in the world — their community and their job — are feeling destabilized.

They go to the grocery store and someone there speaks to them in a different language or is wearing a head covering. They go into the men’s room and there is someone next to them who looks to be of a different gender. They go to work and there’s now a robot sitting next to them who seems to be studying their job. I celebrate this diversity of people and ideas — but for many, diversity has too fast for them to adapt.

That’s why my favorite song these days is Brandi Carlile’s wonderful ballad called “The Eye,” the main verse of which is: “I wrapped your love around me like a chain/ But I never was afraid that it would die/ You can dance in a hurricane/ But only if you’re standing in the eye.”

These accelerations in technology, globalization and Mother Nature are like a hurricane in which we’re all being asked to dance. Mr. Trump and the Brexiters sensed the anxiety of millions and promised to build a wall against the howling winds of change. I disagree with them. I think the challenge is to find the eye.

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