ACTION ITEM: Jan. 20th – “Unfriend” the White House Facebook Page

The Obama Administration will be handing-over the keys to the White House Facebook page — don’t let Trump blowup your newsfeed with his childish rants. 

Just over 8 million devoted citizens — myself among them, have had the pleasure of following the Obama administration and the First Family on Facebook over the course of many years as they presided over an era of prosperity and growth. The content was always respectful, informative, and inspired. A class act, through and through.

Thank you President and First Lady Obama.

But, at 12:01 pm this friday, January 20, 2017, that stream of uplifting messaging will be silenced. In its place, Americans can expect a steady assault in the form of vitriol, misinformation, and utter immaturity. The incoming Tweeter-in-chief’s unhinged communications — from both himself and his surrogates, will be a toxin to the soul of our nation.

Action item: At precisely 12:01 pm, “unfriend” the White House Facebook page. But first, post a civil message expressing your rejection of the incoming wave of corrosive hatred and ignorance, couple those words with a fond farewell to the decent people who have given us so much to be hopeful for over the years.

Why send a message? White House communications are subject to the Presidential Records Act of 1978 — meaning that your words, in this era of the terabyte and beyond, will absolutely become part of the historical record. The WH Facebook page offered the following cautionary notice in 2014:

“Comments posted on and messages received through White House pages are subject to the Presidential Records Act and may be archived.”

WH FB page

From the White House Facebook page

Keep it decent and smart. Trump’s people may attempt to block you, and possibly delete your message, but they will be in violation of the law, and at odds with the directive of the Archivist of the United States at the National Archives and Records Administration.

Under Trump, we can expect a whole new look for the page. Predictably, the long list of White House accomplishments (currently found on the “About” page) under President Obama will be scrubbed from public view. See recent entries below, because they will be gone soon — both on social media and possibly in reality.

  • Nearly 200 Countries Reached a Global Agreement to Combat Climate Change
  • Every Student Succeeds Act Signed Into Law to Fix No Child Left Behind
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations Concluded, Supporting American Jobs
  • Clean Power Plan Finalized—Our Biggest Step Ever to Combat Climate Change
  • Deal Secured to Prevent Iran from Acquiring a Nuclear Weapon
  • The Supreme Court Held that Same-Sex Couples Can Marry
  • The FCC Voted for a Strong Net Neutrality Rule to Keep the Internet Open and Free
  • The End of Our Combat Mission in Afghanistan
  • Statement on Charting a New Course with Cuba
  • Address to the Nation on Fixing Our Broken Immigration System
  • Historic Joint Announcement on Climate Change Forged with China
  • Prohibitions Against Workplace Discrimination Extended for LGBT Contractors
  • President Obama Launched My Brother’s Keeper
  • Minimum Wage Raised to $10.10 for Workers on New Federal Contracts
  • The Supreme Court Held the Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional
  • Announcement on the ConnectED Initiative Bringing Students into the Digital Age
  • Violence Against Women Act Reauthorized
  • Second Inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama
  • Middle Class Tax Cuts Made Permanent, Tax Breaks Ended for the Wealthiest Few

After this friday, the tone of the page will reflect the brittle, thin-skinned social media persona of the new president, and it should be of no surprise if it’s pressed into service as another platform for his threats, lies, and attacks.

Life in the rarefied air of Trump Tower has left the incoming First Family at a loss on basic nuances and ironies. The somewhat clueless new FLOTUS, Melanie Trump, has stated that the primary focus of her tenure in that position will be to combat the epidemic of social media bullying. In that spirit, send her the message that you are in full agreement, and are taking a proactive approach by “unfriending” her loathsome and hateful husband and his flying monkeys as they gain administrative control over the WH page.

America is tired of Trump’s talking-heads and paid pundits indignantly sputtering all over the media stage — insisting that the public must ignore their man’s puerile gaffes and insults,  while demanding we unquestioningly trust him to (at some unspecified point) start behaving like a grown up.

He’s a mentally disordered child, and he’s not changing. Unfriend him.

DSCN0444Amy Kerr Hardin



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Trump’s Army of Deplorable Flying Monkeys

“I’m getting threats and everything else from some of his supporters. I’m getting them all day long — now they’re kicked up a notch.” —  Chuck Jones on being attacked by Trump.


Among those millions of gormless voters who opted to obtain their “news” from pimply Russki-backed Macedonian teenagers and late night Twitter rants from the great American Putin puppet, few are prepared to accept the consequences of their ignorance. It’s much easier for them to persist with their risky gambit, buttressed by their unpatriotic embrace of a bare-chested sociopathic dictator on horseback. Donald Trump, the rapacious casino tycoon, understands their compound human failings all too well, and thrives on exploiting those character flaws.

He’s playing Russian Roulette with our Constitution while buffeting America with a constant stream of mendacious bluster. Even those who find him utterly repugnant, and they are the majority, discover themselves distracted by his circus showmanship — or, as the media now calls it: the latest “shiny thing.”

Every time the insomnolent president-elect decides to shape public policy through a 3 am 140-character salvo, stocks tumble and death threats are made. For those who think inciting instability and incivility is clever statesmanship — they could benefit from a little shoring-up in the values department and a lesson in history. Yet, instead of engaging in serious self-examination, Trump loyalists persist in their adoration of the petty dictator without question. Fran Lebowitz scathingly characterized the vulgar pull of Trump:

“He’s a poor person’s idea of a rich person. They see him. They think, ‘If I were rich, I’d have a fabulous tie like that. Why are my ties not made of 400 acres of polyester?’”

While he’s permanently destroyed the words “great”, “fabulous” and “terrific” for the entire english-speaking world, his real crimes against humanity continue to draw scant attention.

Here’s another word that should be inextricably linked to Trump: Provocateur.

He’s effectively weaponized his cult members — painting targets on those subject to his churlish ire on any given day. Trump’s gone out of his way to publicly pick fights with individual citizens, journalists, Muslims, the entire intelligence community, the military, the judiciary, Mexico, most of the Middle East, and our second largest trading partner — China. Additionally, he’s scaring the living crap out of the whole of Europe.

On the campaign trail, Trump openly suggested that 2nd Amendment advocates could take care of the threat of Hillary Clinton and her potential Supreme Court nominations. At a rally, he unashamedly ginned-up the crowd with a thinly veiled lone wolf threat to incite the assassination of Hillary Clinton, or perhaps a Supreme Court Justice:

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is I don’t know.”

Within minutes of his public statement, there were cries of foul play, including an assertion from former NSA Director Michael Hayden that Trump should be cuffed and taken downtown:

“Well, let me say if someone else said that outside of the hall, he’d be in the back of a police wagon now, with the Secret Service questioning him.”

Then after the election, Trump mean-tweeted at Chuck Jones.

Who’s that ? It’s hard to remember. There have been so many.

He’s just one more among a host of individuals finding themselves in the crosshairs of our tantrum-prone commander-to-be. Jones is the president of the United Steelworkers Local 1999. He criticized the president-elect for telling falsehoods regarding the Carrier Corporation deal.

Remember that? It was only four weeks ago. So much has transpired since then. Trump tweeted that Jones was doing a “terrible” job. Then, he dashed off a follow-up tweet criticizing the whole of the local union membership for its laziness saying they should “spend more time working-less time talking.”  True to form, Trump supporters rushed to their dear leader’s defense. The fact that Trump knew what would happen next is not in doubt. Jones told NBC News:

“I’m getting threats and everything else from some of his supporters. I’m getting them all day long — now they’re kicked up a notch.”

And just this week, Trump tried to release his monkeys on the esteemed Meryl Streep. She, along with all of Hollywood can hold their own. No worries. Good on them for speaking up.

Among Trump’s more serious proxy threats is the time he treasonously invited the Russians to engage in espionage and hack the emails of Hillary from the time she was Secretary of State. His followers roared their approval, while the media pondered and delicately postulated, unable to publicly utter the “T” word — Treason.

When the incalcitrant president-elect didn’t like the content of his security briefings regarding Russian interference in our electoral process, he insulted the competence of the intelligence community, thereby damaging that critical connection well into the future — a relationship that is key to the safety of every American.

Now this week, he tweeted that intelligence officials are acting like Nazis.

Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham will have none of this from the presumptive leader of their party. This is much bigger than politics.

It’s clear we’re not in Kansas anymore when FOX News Tweeted Michael Moore’s comments on the grave danger of Trump snubbing the intelligence community.


It’s not just FOX News recalibrating their moral compass. Glenn Beck has had his own come to Jesus revelation. He remains among the very few Republicans who have stood firm in their opposition to the evil forces which swept Trump into office. Warning that a Trump presidency would be an “extinction-level event” for America, Beck has been an unexpected voice of sanity in a dark, dark time for our democracy.

Trump Fake News Tweet

Trump Tweet

The baffling press conference (if we can call it that) this week should be a clarion call for all in the media. Trump stunned the room when he launched into textbook bullying, calling CNN “fake news.” A claim he followed-up with, naturally — a tweet.

The incident prompted FOX News anchor Shep Smith to call out the president-elect over his lack of decorum, saying that journalists should not be subject to “belittling and delegitimizing” by someone in his position.

The press should take note that the only news outlets that are thriving in this corrosive environment are those willing to step-up and call it like they see it. The New York Times, Washington Post, and Vanity Fair are in ascension while other papers and networks continue to sink.

This is a president who has vowed to curtail the freedom of the press, yet squeamish reporters and their shortsighted editors are focused on protecting their limited access to Trump and his stable of loathsome surrogates. It is obnoxious when television reporters use implied inflection when reading his tweets on-air. They’re aiding and abetting the inarticulate charlatan. They should boycott his immature social media rants and demand a full schedule of real press conferences.

I’m not holding my breath.

DSCN0444Amy Kerr Hardin


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A No Confidence Vote on Trump

Do you live in a state, city, town, or village where voters rejected Trump? If so, please urge your state and/or local leaders to entertain a resolution expressing no confidence in Donald J. Trump and in the process which led him to become the apparent president-elect.

We encourage you to share this article with your elected leaders to entrust them to put a public voice to the growing national concern over the pending Trump presidency. It would additionally be advisable for civic-minded corporate and non-profit boards to consider adopting a similar resolution.

While this type of proposal is purely symbolic and would carry no legal weight, it is intended to send a clarion call to Republican leadership advising them that the citizens of this nation reject the legitimacy of a Trump election, and find him, along with his cohorts and cronies, unfit for office.

Republicans have a long history of offering “sample legislation” through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). So, it’s long overdue for progressive interests to broadly advance proposals of their own. Let’s start with one that supports the democratic process and reaffirms a commitment to the highest level of integrity in the executive branch.

Here’s a sample resolution:

A Resolution Expressing No Confidence in the Presidency of Donald J. Trump

Whereas, Donald J. Trump has repeatedly expressed admiration for ruthless leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte — individuals whose words and actions embody that which is wholly antithetical to the values of our American democratic principles, civil liberties, and rule of the law, and who are known for their strongman tactics and human rights violations, including state-sponsored murder; and

Whereas, During the course of his campaign Donald J. Trump has: mocked disabled citizens; incited violence threatening the safety and wellbeing of journalists and those who exercised their 1st Amendment right to criticize him; savagely insulted Gold Star families; expressed contempt for minorities and immigrants; openly disparaged the integrity of the judiciary and the competence of military leadership; demonstrated a pattern of blatant sexism and misogyny; employed racism and xenophobia to encourage divisive and violent behavior; and shown a willful disregard for truth and honesty in his words and deeds; and

Whereas, Donald J. Trump, during the course of his campaign, publicly incited 2nd Amendment supporters to act against his opponent, Hillary Clinton; and

Whereas, Donald J. Trump has exhibited a flagrant disrespect for well-established foreign and domestic policies and protocols thereby jeopardizing the American economy, the safety of its citizens, and its prestigious international standing; and

Whereas, Donald J. Trump has allied himself, and his potential administration, with known White Supremacists, Nationalists, Wall Street tycoons, climate-deniers, and those whose express goal is to erode the civil liberties of minorities, women, Muslims, the LGBT community, immigrants, and refugees; and

Whereas, Donald J. Trump is on record boasting about touching women’s genitals against their will; entering beauty contestant dressing rooms uninvited and unannounced; and publicly speaking of his own daughter in sexually explicit terms; and

Whereas, Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization’s worldwide business interests and holdings present a serious threat, through conflict of interest, to our national security and to the economic stability of this nation; and

Whereas, Donald J. Trump has refused to disclose his income tax returns, and has yet to produce a credible report on the true status of his health; and

Whereas, Donald J. Trump’s propensity to litigate, and make threats to do so, in lieu of diplomacy and the careful application of basic conflict resolution principles, demonstrates his profound inability to rise to the level of statesmanship required of the Office of President of the United States; and

Whereas, Donald J. Trump’s undignified use of social media to bully individuals and groups who question him, and to spread falsehoods, is a national embarrassment and a danger to the office to which he aspires; and

Whereas, Donald J. Trump has repeatedly indicated his intention to curtail 1st Amendment protections of a free and open press; and

Whereas, Donald J. Trump’s refusal to engage in security briefings and his public statements against the CIA are a grave danger to national security, and a threat to global stability; and

Whereas, The viability and integrity of our election process has been rightfully called into question, and the exposed Russian hacking and interference casts doubt on the validity of the results; and

Whereas, The inappropriate pre-election actions of FBI Director James Comey may have influenced voters against Hillary Clinton when he publicly stated that the FBI was reopening a fruitless investigation into her emails — an empty endeavor which proved to be of no merit. Mr. Comey disclosed the FBI investigation while he refused to go public with the CIA’s findings; and

Whereas, Donald J. Trump and Republican operatives actively attempted to thwart efforts to examine potential voting anomalies through hand recounts in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania — a process initiated with the intention of ensuring the integrity of the system; and

Whereas, The CIA has affirmed that the Russians covertly influenced the outcome of the election in favor of Donald J. Trump. Multiple experts have testified that our voting machines are vulnerable and remain an open door to hackers, particularly through unsecured municipal computers which are used to transfer software and data to electronic ballot readers and touchscreen machines; and

Whereas, Donald J. Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by an unprecedented margin of well over 2.5 million votes; and

Whereas, Donald J. Trump, his campaign staff, his transition team, and his cabinet nominees and hopefuls, collectively display a manifest disdain for basic decorum, the democratic process, and our Constitutional values, thereby rendering them unworthy of the highest office of the land; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, on behalf of the voters of (name of municipality), we submit this resolution expressing No Confidence in Donald J. Trump as President-elect of the United States of America. The people of (name of municipality) possess no confidence in his ability to lead with the necessary integrity and dignity befitting the Office of President of the United States, nor do they have confidence in the integrity of the election process by which he became the apparent president-elect.

Every United States citizen, hand-in-hand with their elected and appointed officials, has a sacred duty to speak up, loud and clear, to protect the Constitution, and the values for which it stands. Trump is a clear and present danger to all they hold dear.

DSCN0444Amy Kerr Hardin

Related: City of Baltimore passes a resolution condemning Trump’s bigotry.

Also: Harry Reid calls for Comey’s resignation.

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Pence: King of Corporate Tax Subsidies

Trump would have America believe that he and Gov. Pence are wizardlike job-saving innovators with their $7 million tax bargain with United Technologies to save about 1,000 Carrier Corp. jobs — at a cost of $7,000 per job over ten years, and with the employee concession package remaining an x-factor in the deal.

In truth, Indiana has been handing-out corporate tax breaks like candy to multiple large and successful ventures, the bulk of them since 2011. Good Jobs First, a non-partisan, non-profit organization, tracks corporate subsidies. They report that Indiana is the sixth worst in the nation in terms of ceding revenues to the private sector. The state has forked-over nearly $8.3 billion in recent years to over 9,000 companies.

Below is a chart listing the top ten corporate welfare queens in the Hoosier State. Good Jobs First reports that the vast majority of these deals occurred in the past 5 years. For the full report click here.


Indiana’s top ten corporate welfare queens. Source: GJF

Pence has sucked his gullible boss into a scam.

DSCN0444Amy Kerr Hardin

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Trumpism: You Can’t Fix Stupid, But You Can Call it Out

Trump voters, while not an entirely monolithic group, do share certain commonalities — among them are an acceptance of racism, hatred, xenophobia, sexism, misogyny, among a host of other deplorable traits.


Trump swag vendor. Source: NYT video still

Additionally, it can be argued that this basket of demographics is noticeably lacking in the department of intellectual dexterity. Rust Belt, Deep South, Evangelical — all to the last one are rigid of mind and impervious to reason. There is little point in the Democratic Party attempting to engage them in “conversation” — as so many have suggested was the missing ingredient in this electoral cycle.

On last friday’s “domestic news roundup” of The Diane Rehm Show, CBS White House correspondent Major Garrett spoke about the utter futility of pressing Trump supporters with actual facts. He explained that while working the campaign trail, they behaved exactly as conspiracy theorists categorically do — any challenge to their beliefs led to a deeper conviction and embrace of their dearly-held falsehoods:

“Any fact checking I did for them, or for many of them, was prima facie evidence that I was biased. And that I was wrong. So fact checking Trump was proof, not that he was wrong, but that he was right, and that anyone who would raise a question about the underlying relationship between what he said in the facts was biased.”

Democrats are not immune to harboring their own strained, yet quixotic, version of reality. They have a long and storied history of believing that if they just explain things slowly and simply enough, the electorate will understand — because surely good sense will prevail. After all, they are the party of inclusion — ever so nice and always politically correct, tolerant of other people, even with those whose ideas and “values” are an abomination to this great democracy, and to humanity as a whole.

This is exactly why the far right heaps ridicule on progressives. They laugh at them.

Democrats need a new playbook.

Stop coddling and cajoling those who deal in the currency of hate speech. Even if only by proxy, all Trump voters struck that Faustian bargain.

You can’t fix stupid, nor can you fix mean, and there’s plenty of the latter among the Trump crowd.

We hear reports daily of people feeling emboldened by Trump’s acrimonious rhetoric — and of those same individuals subsequently paying the price for publicly parroting their chosen leader. Here’s a short list from recent news:

It is imperative that each and every public display of hate be called-out for what it is, and punished accordingly.

Another frontline war of words that needs to be fully engaged is in the media. They must call lies for what they are, and name the monsters for who they are — white supremacists, fascists, nazis, KKK members. It’s not the “alt-right.” The Associated Press has instructed journalists to use the term cautiously and within very specific parameters — with quotation marks, and the qualification that the title is “self-described.” They offer this advice to reporters:

“We should not limit ourselves to letting such groups define themselves, and instead should report their actions, associations, history and positions to reveal their actual beliefs and philosophy, as well as how others see them.”

Google Chrome now offers an extension to users which will automatically convert the term “alt-right” to a more accurate moniker: “white supremacy.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center held a press conference this week focusing on the proliferation of hate crimes and speech since the election, noting that all too many of these events are occurring in academic settings — children acting-out on what they hear at home. The SPLC made a largely symbolic plea for Mr. Trump to denounce these acts of hate, and to apologize for his role in fostering the vile behavior.

Sadly, our soon-to-be sworn in president is more focused on an imaginary epidemic of flag burning, and on how he’s being lampooned in the most recent SNL skit.

True patriots have a job to do. At every turn, and in every dark corner, Americans must shine a light on the ugliness, expose it, and eliminate it from our culture.

DSCN0444Amy Kerr Hardin



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See All of Trump’s Deleted Mean-Tweets

President-elect Trump appears to have no more self-control than candidate Trump. This orange cat just can’t manage to change his spots. Legal questions about maintaining presidential records were raised when he deleted a Tweet critical of the cast of Hamilton last week.


Trump’s mean-tweet

The Tweeter-in-Chief won’t be able to hide his regrettable tweets though — for two reasons.

First of all, it’s the law.

Back in 2009, the White House issued an official determination that social media content, specifically citing Facebook and Twitter, is subject to the Presidential Records Act of 1978. Trump is legally compelled to obtain the consent of the Archivist of the United States at the National Archives and Records Administration prior to deleting any public communication.

Of course, we all know that the letter of the law won’t prevent Trump from hitting delete. That brings us to the second reason the impulsive president-elect’s gaffes and blunders will remain in the public domain.

His deleted Tweets will be archived through a cooperative agreement between Twitter and ProPublica — who are currently in the process of taking over the service which originated at the Sunlight Foundation. (Sunlight isn’t dropping the ball, but passing it to another excellent organization, while they are refocusing on blunting the effects of the Citizens United ruling.)

The Twitter project is called Politwoops, and it collects and publishes the deleted Tweets of all high-profile politicians. Most of them are examples of poor grammar or spelling, but there are some real gems to be found too.

The hand-off appears to be a work in progress, leaving the data a bit spotty at this time, but we can be confident that as ProPublica gets its tech labs up and running, there will be plenty of ill-thought Tweets to consider from the future President.

DSCN0444Amy Kerr Hardin

While we wait for Politwoops to go fully online, there’s always the NYTs compilation of Trump’s mean-tweets to review.

And of course — apologies to orange cats.

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Open Letter: Chief O’Brien Must Fire Officer Peters

An Open Letter to Traverse City Police Chief Jeff O’Brien:

Dear Chief O’Brien,

Fire Officer Michael Peters.

With an understanding that you are committed to the often lengthy path of due process, note that the officer’s recent conduct was dangerous to the safety of the community which your department is sworn to protect, and it has damaged trust in local law enforcement.

While Traverse City does not boast a wide range of racial and ethnic diversity, it has a small but growing community of color, and is a town known for its progressive culture of inclusivity, and for the thoughtful quality of its public sector servants.

Many area residents were shocked and saddened by the conduct of Officer Peters when he chose to fly a Confederate flag on his pickup truck at a peaceful Veterans Day Love Trumps Hate rally held in opposition to Trump’s abhorrent policy pledges and his un-presidential private and public behavior.

In addition to Peters’ gross public display of such a deeply offensive symbol, the off-duty officer reportedly parked his vehicle illegally and was seen drinking a Bud Light at the scene before driving away. His actions were clearly meant to intimidate rally-goers and are unbefitting of a member of the Traverse City Police Department.

Some may argue that his actions were within his 1st Amendment rights — that it was protected speech. As a public servant though, he is held to a higher standard as a condition of his employment, even while off-duty.

Most police departments have in place a written code of ethical conduct which extends to off-duty behavior. We understand the TCPD has adopted a generic code borrowed from the military — Conduct Unbecoming of an Officer, which specifically states a violation (in an off-duty capacity) would include:

“[An] action or behavior in an unofficial or private capacity which, in dishonoring or disgracing the officer personally, seriously compromises the person’s standing as an officer.”

Typically these codes will include things like personal grooming standards — tattoos, hair length, etc., but more broadly they demand that officers conduct themselves within the bounds of the department’s overall mission — with the primary goal always being public safety.

As a former manager of a financial institution in the same community, I was required to sign a code of conduct pledge that said, as an officer of the bank, I was prohibited from engaging in any conduct which could adversely impact the image of the institution, including my dress, manners, affiliations, and financial transactions. A violation would have led to termination.

In an article in, a professional trade publication, on the topic of police ethics and disciplinary actions, the author finds that courts rarely challenge the terms of these agreements, and give police departments wide discretionary authority to implement, interpret, and enforce their codes. Citing a 1976 Supreme Court case as precedent for maintaining a vigorous disciplinary role for administrators, PoliceOne notes that the case touched-on freedom of choice questions for off-duty officers:

“In a footnote to the decision, the Court even gave a nod to the department’s Code of Ethics as an example of those regulations which may “infringe on…freedom of choice in personal matters” but which nonetheless are related to the department’s overall mission and organization. Regulations upon officer conduct when off-duty have been similarly upheld to the extent those regulations did not pry into personal matters.”

Under your watch, Traverse City has recently moved to a “community policing” model — a system intended to strengthen trust between law enforcement and the people they serve.

Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, under its guidelines states the primary goal of the program is to promote community trust in police departments, as explained in their handbook, Community Policing Defined. Simply put, trust builds better, stronger, and safer neighborhoods.

Officer Peters’ behavior has cast aspersions on the integrity of the TCPD, offended and frightened the public, violated the core tenet of Community Policing, and likely was a breach of code of conduct rules at several levels. And now word comes that this isn’t the first time he has put the TCPD in a bad light. At Chief O’Brien’s press conference on the topic we learned that Peters was reprimanded for flying the same flag on his vehicle while parked in the city police parking lot.

Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers has issued a social media statement on the ongoing process of investigation:

“As many may be aware now, a very unfortunate situation between peaceful protestors in the Open Space and an off duty city police officer occurred Friday evening. After a long day on the phone with the City Manager and our Chief of Police, I can report that an investigation is forth coming and that the officer in question will be suspended pending an investigation and dealt with accordingly. This type of behavior is not something we inTraverse City accept from our employees and especially from a member of our police force. Chief O’Brian [sic] assures me he is working toward a speedy out come to remedy this and that Traverse City citizens will be safe and free from discrimination.”

By way of a small example of the collateral harm the actions of Officer Peters has inspired — when I shared the news story on social media, it immediately attracted a number of disturbing comments which others found offensive and frightful, prompting one of my friends to private message me with the following:

“Wow, you have some really sick guys commenting on your post today. Very scary. Be careful.”

Just as Trump’s words and actions have served as a catalyst for hatred and bigotry across the nation, so have Officer Peters’ in this Northern Michigan community. The ramifications of his poor judgment won’t dissipate with a dock in his pay and a few extra hours of sensitivity training. His behavior has created a dangerous ripple effect, not just in Traverse City though, because news of his disgusting display of intolerance has spread worldwide and will surely have a negative impact on tourism — the bread and butter industry for our town. The National Cherry Capital’s diversity swells during the summer months as guests from all over the world converge to enjoy the Cherry Festival and the Film Festival. Adjacent communities could be negatively impacted too. We want all to feel welcome and safe here.

Officer Peters is not fit for the important duty of protecting the residents and visitors of this welcoming and peaceful community. His behavior is antithetical to the values we hold dear.

Chief O’Brien — fire Officer Peters.

DSCN0444Amy Kerr Hardin

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A Bad Moon Has Risen — A Sociopath in the White House

How I Intend to Survive This — And You Can Too.

One of the perils of being politically plugged-in is the personal price exacted for having that kind of knowledge constantly swirling around in one’s head, even while asleep.

A few months ago, a sense of foreboding over the fascist specter of Trump began to settle in on my spirit. Although I was still producing essays on politics and public policy, it became increasingly difficult to hit “publish.” Writing about municipal finance, fiscal and social policies, legislation, and campaign shenanigans seemed unimportant in the face of our looming national crisis.

Aficionados of the television show The West Wing may recall the episode in which press secretary C.J. Cregg upbraids her coworkers for obsessing on the minutia while they were teetering on the precipice of utter catastrophe — likening it to Butch and Sundance “peering over the edge of a cliff to the boulder-filled rapids below, thinking you better not jump because you might drown.” Cregg said:

“It’s the fall that’s gonna kill you.”

That’s the fear that had slithered its way into the very core of my being — it weighed like a cold, heavy stone on my chest. The electorate was falling for a sociopath, and nothing I said or wrote about was going to change that. Who cares about what PAC spent money on whatever issue, or whichever lawmaker was fighting the scourge or virtue of this public policy or that?  If a fascist was about to occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — none of it mattered anymore.

The cold stone grew heavier. I was having palpitations.

Two weeks ago, I went to a walk-in clinic with a headache and over-sized heartbeats. My typically normal blood pressure (120/75) was now at 150/96. They sent me straight to the emergency room. Upon arrival I clocked-in at 199/106.

A visit to the special cardiac section of the ER involves many intense-looking people wielding numerous needles, vials, and enough monitors that the patient looks like they’ve just lost a desperate struggle with a tangle of Christmas tree lights.

It’s called a “hypertensive crisis.” Try not to have one. They are often associated with heart attacks and strokes. Mine though, seems to have been associated with the Republican’s toxic nominee.

So, now my worst fear has proven all too real. I was among the 60 million progressive American voters who were shoved over that cliff on Nov. 8, 2016.

But, we didn’t die on the rocks below.

We are hurting badly, yet we will survive to fix this.

I saw a good many of my fellow walking-wounded yesterday. They were at the bank, the restaurant where I had lunch, but the most shell-shocked among them were those middle-aged white women, like myself, that I encountered in the aisles of T.J.Maxx. (Okay, it’s a weird indulgence of mine — I go there often, really to just wander about looking at random and mindless things, particularly when I need to think. The 20-minute drive to-and-from is also spent reflecting — frequently about the politics of the day.) The home-dec section was bustling with dozens of women picking-up objects, considering them, and putting them back. Their carts were empty — just props to lean on in their confusion and despair. They, like me, were desperately grasping for an elusive sense of normalcy.

I did make a purchase. It’s a ceramic star-shaped knick knack — for me, a talisman intended to heal my broken spirit.

At the check-out, I was assisted by a kind man in his early twenties. He inquired of my plans for the sunny day. I replied that was the only good thing about the day — the sunshine, and he hinted with raised brow “Some retail therapy?” Yes.

Also on my daily rounds, I found myself more intensely scrutinizing those individuals who looked suspiciously like Trump voters. No, that’s not mean-spirited to imply someone might possess telltale signs of appearing to be of a particular political persuasion. In the past, while canvassing door-to-door, we used to play a game: Democrat or Republican? Beside the obvious signs like bumper stickers and flags, we’d look for other subtle tells — silk flower wreaths with kitschy placards = Republican, unchecked dandelions and uncoiled garden hoses = Democrat. We had a list that usefully proved accurate once the homeowner opened the door and expressed how they intended to vote.

I contemplated the older gentleman at the table across from mine at lunch — he was a toss-up, until he slung a backpack over his shoulder when he departed.

Surely, I’m not alone in casting an eye of suspicion at fellow citizens, as if in some sci-fi movie, trying to determine if they’re one of us, or the embodiment of evil in human flesh. Okay, with few exceptions, they are not truly sinister, but their poor judgment will assuredly visit a certain hell on this fine nation. And I blame them.

As for those third-party voters — sure, they fucked-up. But only millennials get a pass on this one. They’re entitled to a learning curve, and they will certainly do just that — the hard way. I am confident they will rise-up and make this a better nation just as every last stupid, angry old white male turns toes-up over the next decade.

However, for those Stein/Johnson voters in their middle years — they knowingly enabled the potential destruction of our country over their precious “conscience.” As it turns out, their vote really was one for Trump. Shame on them.

We survived the fall — now it’s time to swim.

Me, I have an important piece to finish writing (and publish) on the looming municipal fiscal debt crisis in Michigan.

DSCN0444Amy Kerr Hardin

Update: I offer this article to the gentleman who is plaguing my comment box, and violating my no ad hominem attack rule.



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Something is Very Wrong With Trump Women

Why Would any Woman Support Such a Boorish Creep?


Photo: Sociological Reflections

Several months ago, I had the unique experience of my step-mom agreeing with me on a critical political issue. Married to my ultra-conservative father, who came to his political convictions at the intersection of his retirement and the birth of FOX News, my step-mom of four decades also eventually succumbed to the constant drumbeat of negative rhetoric. So, it came as a surprise when she spoke up over dinner, right there in front of dad, expressing her strident opposition to Donald Trump. Notably, our conversation occurred many months prior to the GOP candidate’s multiple groping scandals.

She’s a practicing labor law attorney who marks the bulk of her billable hours consulting on workplace practices and policy — and yes, harassment and discrimination are prominent topics of concern. Trump must be a sea of red flags to her.

This election cycle, American women find themselves on the cusp of the centennial of women’s suffrage, and nearly five decades in the wake of the women’s liberation movement, conditions remain little improved. Polls consistently demonstrate men are supporting Trump — a revolting misogynist of the worst stripe to any intelligent women’s estimation.

The trending hashtag among his male supporters is “repeal the 19th.”

Why does the modern male embrace this caveman attitude? We must have that discussion about men (and we will) — it being a time-honored tradition among women since the stone age, but at this juncture we must call-out women who support the reprehensible beast.

The 2014 documentary, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, a film about the 1960’s feminist movement, has a segment of particular prevalence. The topic was the pervasiveness of rape and assault and the routine blaming of women in that time. They cited a specific incident, emblematic of the culture, in which the victim was told by police she was not to be believed because she was not attractive enough to have been raped.

That vile attitude is pure Trumpism, 2016.

Those of us who recoil in disgust at Trump over the repugnant, mendacious, spoiled buffoon that he is, can’t fathom why any woman would support such a dangerous monster. Perhaps seeing Trump for the foul person he truly is might be like those Magic Eye posters of the 1990s, where only perceptive individuals could see the 3D image. Or maybe Trump supporters are Amelia Bedelia literalists, completely unaware of duplicity or ulterior motives — but, in this case the result isn’t comical in the least.

Science points to a phenomenon reported last year in Scientific American in which certain vulnerable individuals are attracted to pathological personality traits — particularly of the likes found in the cornucopia of odious characteristics displayed by Trump.

Or maybe these women are just plain stupid.

Luckily, a majority of women seem to see through his narcissistic facade. What I observe is a deeply troubled man who, had he not been to the manner born, would be clad in an ill-fitted plaid suit while wafting clouds of cheap cologne. However, the rich man/poor man contrast ends there — both Donalds would be grabby braggarts, who apparently bathe in a vat of tikka masala, are awash in too much hair product, and make a living off of cheating and swindling easy marks.

His wife Melania was all over the media this week doing his dirty work, blaming everyone but her loathsome spouse. She threw Billy Bush under the bus, claiming the clueless giggly young man had goaded her husband into “boy talk.” She whined and whined about everyone being mean to her husband and telling all those lies — it’s everybody’s fault but his.

When queried about what cause celebre she would champion as first lady, Melania replied: bullying on social media. That’s rich, coming from the wife of a man who, had he not been well-known and a presidential candidate, would certainly be banned from Facebook and Twitter. Melania sloughed-off his behavior, claiming it was his prerogative.

Michelle Obama, an exceptional first lady and class-act in every way, capsulized the frustration and disgust felt by thinking women in her moving speech last week. Her words were a salve on the wounds inflicted on the American psyche every day by this vulgar cheeto-encrusted manbaby and his apologists and sycophants — of both genders.

DSCN0444Amy Kerr Hardin

For idiom geeks: Yes, it’s “to the manner born”, not manor. The former is a Hamlet phrase which was cleverly twisted for the BBC series: To the Manor Born — both bearing roughly the same meaning: born of means.



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Trigger Warning — We Don’t Have the Right Not to Be Offended

Freedom of speech is front and center again on American campuses as the Department of Education continues to abuse its authority over university policies. Dirty jokes are now banned, as are expressing suicidal thoughts.

The flawed notion that “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” are healthful, wise, or even vaguely constitutional is not only disturbing but dangerous for the safety and well-being of all students.

Last year, when I was working on an article about 1st Amendment rights on college campuses I asked my son, who attends the University of Michigan, what were the arguments being advanced among the student body in favor of prohibiting certain speakers from addressing college-sponsored gatherings? He explained that some students didn’t want their taxpayer dollars benefitting speech they found disagreeable at a publicly funded institution. Okay, they’re entitled to that opinion, and certainly their freedom to voice it, but no, students and the citizenry at large do not possess the authority to ban campus speech, including that of paid speakers. Complain – yes by all means, ban – not so much. By way of analogy — I don’t much care for my tax dollars going towards war machines and corporate welfare, but that’s not within my direct authority to change.

John Ellison, the dean of students at the University of Chicago, recently sent a welcoming letter to incoming freshmen admonishing them that the administration has no intention of catering to their delicate sensibilities. The only surprise in this communication is that it was deemed necessary at all. Several years ago my son and I attended a campus tour there, and the overarching message was that this was an institution dedicated to the flourishing of a diversity of ideas — both in the classroom, plus, in and off campus. No shrinking violets admitted.

Ellison’s letter specifically cautioned:

“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called “trigger warnings”, we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual “safe spaces” where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

Janet Napolitano, the former Secretary of Homeland Security and current president at the University of California, penned an op-ed this week in the Boston Globe expressing similar concerns on the topic. Although mildly critical of Ellison’s stance against triggers and safe zones, she was spot-on in her assessment of the danger of policy creep leading to 1st Amendment violations, reminding us that exceptions to free speech, such as yelling “fire” in a crowded theater “should be narrowly construed because history teaches us that even narrowly drawn exceptions to free speech inevitably lead to broader limitations.”

This is exactly what is occurring under the cover of expanded and unconstitutional Title IX regulations.

The otherwise laudable and simple intent of the 1972 law has been hijacked over the decades by political appointees at the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), a division of the Department of Education. Sometimes for better, but mostly for worse, they’ve repurposed the law’s original meaning through a series of surprise regulations — blindsiding schools and bypassing the legal standard of “notice and comment” which requires full disclosure of the question at hand accompanied by an open comment period among stakeholders prior to enactment.

The OCR derives much of its power through Title IX, and they have been wielding it like the Sword of Damocles in the realm of higher education.

In 2011, through new rules they shut-down basic due process for those accused of sexual harassment. Then in 2013, again by fiat, they completely redefined the term to include any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including speech.

Yes, that includes dirty jokes, watching objectionable videos (including the likes of Amy Schumer or Chris Rock), asking a person on a date, casual pick-up lines, films with nudity or strong language….you get the picture — anything college students do on a regular basis.

As if lumping harassment in with honest to god sexual assault isn’t bad enough, redefining harassment to include the petty everyday behavior of students is the height of absurdity.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) reports that approximately 300 cases are pending under these OCR regulations — with frivolous claims taking-up critical resources needed to investigate serious crimes.

Robert Sibley, FIRE Executive Director and author of Twisting Title IX, offers a number of compelling examples of recent abuses, among them:

Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis penned a 2015 op-ed in the Chronicle of Higher Education critical of Title IX’s sketchy interpretations where it comes to faculty members involved in consensual relationships with former students.  She was charged by the university for violating Title IX after several students complained about the content of her essay. When another person stepped forward in her support, he too was similarly hit with charges. Ironically, it wasn’t until she wrote a follow-up piece in the same publication, titled My Title IX Inquisition, that the university was shamed into dropping their harassment case against her.

In his book, Sibley cites another egregious overreach which recently occurred in Oregon to a female student who, while studying during exam week, blew off a little steam by yelling from her dorm room window “I hit it first” to a couple outside. The couple, whom she did not know, complained to her RA, resulting in a personal apology. End of story? No. The student was slammed with five conduct charges over the silly prank, including sexual harassment under Title IX.

The important question is why are schools cowering under this abusive and arguably unconstitutional tyranny? Sibley explains that schools have become more focused on the possibility of OCR punitive actions than lawsuits from students and faculty because the OCR holds the purse strings to federal funding. He estimates that there are currently 60 to 70 lawsuits from students over possible Title IX overreach, saying:

“OCR is the agency that has the ability to go to the Department of Justice and ask them to go through proceedings to cut-off federal funding to a school. At most schools, that’s a death sentence  … Whereas, a lawsuit is most certainly not going to be the death sentence for most schools.”

So, schools continue to settle with litigants, with every party understanding that the OCR would lose in a Supreme Court contest were a school to challenge the rules. FIRE refers to the legal dance as a “game of chicken.” The hostility between academia and the OCR has created toxic environments on campuses where students who are in dire need of support are denied, while minor offenses result in harsh punishments.

At Baylor University the Title IX apparatus has become utterly dysfunctional with one lawsuit calling the school a “hunting ground for sexual predators“, and this week brings news of the resignation of the Title IX coordinator and her lawsuit against Baylor claiming the administration prevented her from doing her job.

It seems that it’s mostly individual students who pay the price for the incompetence of college administrators and federal regulators. And in the case of Northern Michigan University, they may well pay with their lives.

The Marquette, Michigan school had, until very recently, a long-standing policy prohibiting students from discussing thoughts of self-destruction and suicide with fellow students. Known for its academic rigor, NMU had been sending disciplinary letters to students suspected of communicating personal troubles with classmates. Beyond being a clear violation of protected speech, the policy is appalling given that suicide is on the rise in our nation with about 43,000 deaths a year, and many more incidents of failed attempts. A recent exposé revealed that Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in particular suffers from a suicide problem — a situation only made worse by the lack of available counseling. Friends and family are typically the first line of defense. Under intense media pressure, including warnings from FIRE about the constitutional issues, the university has scraped the policy.

Clearly, this battle isn’t over by a long shot.

DSCN0444Amy Kerr Hardin


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