graduate school

It seems the only traffic my site gets anymore is when I post a video of my lip syncing to songs I like. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the time (or much energy) to make any new videos in the last few weeks. Sorry.

School. The legislative session. Trying to wrangle supporters for a fight on a $15 minimum wage for Hawaii. The Kuleana Academy. All these efforts have sucked up so much of my energy, that there’s little left. I’m working to increase my efficiency and time management, but adjustments to my routine are slow to come; I’m a creature of habit. So, until that happens, not only can I not promise regular posts, but I can’t promise regular videos, either.

Still, it’s (mostly) for my intellectual and career betterment, so I hope you’ll understand.

I’ve got a few minutes while my phone and iPad update their software, so I thought I’d share with you a recent assignment I completed. It’s a mock speech I wrote for Donald Trump. This past week in class, we studied the construction of speeches and how people make (political) decisions. The lesson’s final assignment was to write a speech, using polling data from 2015 and the lessons we learned to write a speech for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

At first, I thought writing a speech for Trump would make my skin crawl and my guts and progressive instincts would revolt if I attempt a speech for the cheeto man. But after thinking about it, I thought it would not only be easier (less wonky) and could actually be kinda fun. And so it was.

Hopefully, it will tickle you as much to read it as it did for me to write it:

There are so many wonderful people here today. There are thousands of people here today and all of you want America to be great again. I will make America great again!

Over the past eight years, crime has risen, violence against Americans around the world has risen, the cost of health care has risen, our economy has stagnated, and good jobs have been hard to find. These are all bad things and all are the product of a President and a Congress that has failed too many ordinary, hard-working Americans.

But Wall Street has done gangbusters. They have done terrific while everyday people, ordinary Americans like you good folks here today, have fallen behind. You have struggled. You have lost jobs. And you have lost faith and hope in the America we all love. I love this country!

The politicians in Washington have done nothing. Nothing! They are all talk. When they come home to tell you what they’re doing, what they are going to do to make your lives better, they say all sorts of things. They make promises and do not keep them. When I am elected President of the United States of America, my first order of business, on day one, will be to make sure government is working for the people, not Wall Street and the corporate lobbyists.

You know, I saw a poll the other day. I Pew poll, I think it was. This poll said half of all Americans feel like they are falling behind. Half! And the other half? Well, they are doing ok, but most of them do not see things getting any better for themselves or for their families. If you are not making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and most of you are not, you are struggling. Your families and your friends are struggling.

This same poll, the Pew poll, found that more than eighty percent of you who are making less than one hundred thousand dollars a year, view the economy as poor.

Too many of you believe there aren’t enough good paying jobs. How can this be in the country with the greatest economy in the world? Well, I will tell you. Those good jobs are being given to illegal immigrants. People are crossing our borders, entering our country illegally and taking good jobs from folks like you.

For the greatest country in the history of the world, this is unacceptable. What happened? How did we come to this?

For starters, this country has been taken over by status quo politicians. Lobbyists and banks have rigged the system for themselves. The Washington establishment and Wall Street elites have forgotten about you and have utterly ignored the cries and the needs of good, hard working ordinary Americans. All of you here today because you are being left behind by a system and by leaders who don’t care about you.

The Democrats’ front-runner Hillary Clinton, says America never stopped being great. She says America has always been great. Wow, is she wrong. She is so wrong! She is the queen of the Washington elite. She is bought and paid for by Wall Street and the big banks and she is so out of touch with ordinary Americans. Even Democrats aren’t thrilled with the economic prospects of the country; only about one quarter of them think the economy will improve in the next year.

But I am not like Hillary. I am not a career politician intent on maintaining the status quo. I am not a high-paid Wall Street lobbyist looking out for the interests of my clients. I am not a member of the political establishment. I am a political outsider.

I am in the race for President, not for myself or my family. I am already a very successful businessman with billions of dollars. I am in this race for President of the United States because I love this country. I love its citizens. I love the hard-working people of this country and I want them to be prosperous and successful. I am in this race for President to make that happen, to help all of you who are here with me today.

How can we fix everything that is wrong with our country? How make this country great again?

First, I will start by getting the government out of the pockets of ordinary Americans. Your taxes are too high! And how does the political establishment in Washington spend those hard-earned dollars? They spend them by sending money around the world to help people you have never met in countries you have never heard of. They use your tax dollars to subsidize banks and corporations; the wealthiest among us. I should know. I pay so little in taxes it is unbelievable! This has to change.

As President, I will make sure the government is working for ordinary people. Government will stop taxing to death people like you, people who work hard to support their families.

Second, as President I will make sure good paying jobs stop getting taken by illegal immigrants. We need to put a stop to this right away, but the Washington establishment has done nothing about it. They triangulate, they posture, and they compromise. They worry about how they will be perceived by pollsters and by people around the world. They are more concerned about politics than about doing what is necessary to help Americans now. When I am elected President, I will see to it that our borders are secure and that jobs right here in America are going to hard working citizens!

It is true, too, that too many American jobs are being sent overseas. We are losing too many jobs to places like China. The Chinese are laughing at us. American businesses, tired of wages that are too high and government regulations that are too stringent, are sending their manufacturing jobs, their call center jobs, and even their high-tech jobs to countries all over the world. All the while, the career politicians, the Washington establishment talk to us about free trade and globalization.

And everyone is talking about the minimum wage being too low.

We do not need to raise the federal minimum wage! We need to reduce regulation! We need to get government off the backs of businesses so they can create good paying jobs and bring back good paying jobs to America. Businesses will be set free from burdensome regulations. There will be good paying jobs for Americans, not illegal immigrants. I tell you, when I bring those jobs back from places like China, there will be so many good paying jobs in this country, it will be amazing!

I will do all this and more to make sure Americans can work in jobs they can be proud of. Jobs that will allow them to provide for themselves, for their families. When I become President, Americans will not have to struggle just to get by. And you all will be proud of your country again.

Vote for me and I will take away this rigged government system from the Washington establishment and from Wall Street lobbyists, and giving it back to the people. I will make this country great again.

Vote for me and I will make sure America’s economy is the greatest in the world again!

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It seems my streak of irregular posts continues….

Right now I’m sitting in Kahului airport catching one of the last flights back to Honolulu. I’ve been here roughly 12 hours, spending time with an old friend for his birthday. And while I’m sitting waiting to board, I thought I would at least start a new post.

Last Monday (1/16) I started graduate school. While I’m enjoying it so far, it hasn’t been really what I expected; though to be fair, I didn’t really know what to expect. The last time I was in school was 15 years ago for my undergraduate degree.

Nothing I say here is meant as a complaint; I’m thrilled to be a student again. Thrilled to be pursing a graduate degree and thrilled to be doing so from such a prestigious school as George Washington University. But it hasn’t been without its stressors and frustrations.

Maybe that stress is a product of participating in the first weekend of Kuleana Academy during the same weekend my before first “big” assignment for school was due.

So first, school. I knew it would be self-directed study. I knew I’d have to set my own schedule and complete assignments at my own pace within certain parameters. That’s all true. But I also expected that assignments would have a natural progression, that assignments would build on previous lessons. At least for the last assignment of my first week, that didn’t seem to me to be the case. So I ended up spending significant time just trying to figure out what was ultimately expected.

After spending more hours that I thought would be required so early in the course and with a deadline looming, after several rewrites of my paper, I finally just submitted the assignment. Thoroughly unhappy with the final product, I was sure it wouldn’t garner me much better than a C, I uploaded my paper and had a twinge that maybe I was, in fact, not cut out for this.

Add to all of this a non-stop, fully busy weekend with a great bunch of people for my first weekend of Kuleana Academy. I don’t get stressed very easily, but last weekend and rewarding as it was, was also one of the most stressful I’ve experienced in quite some time.

I’ll try to write more about my experience in that program later.

In the end, my grade on that assignment was much higher than I expected, which is definitely a good thing. But maybe even more importantly, I gained some confidence from the experience. If I can do well (I got a B+) while being so disappointed in my own work, then I know I can do well in the program. I just need to prioritize and manage my time better. It’s easier than it sounds, but I’m on my way.

Right before beginning to write this post, I my first assignment for Week Two of my first course. Because I knew I was coming to Maui for the day to hang out, I made sure to complete the assignment early. It may not sound like much, but it feels like a big deal to me.

Alright. Well, I should be boarding shortly. Hopefully you enjoyed this quick update.

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Music Monday returns with a cover of “Selfless, Cold, and Composed,” by Ben Folds Five.

It’s taken me a while, but I’ve started to reestablish a working routine which I hope will continue to include these videos.

And it’s not a coincidence that my online graduate program at George Washington University began today. I believe that if I can keep myself motivated with multiple online projects, I’ll be more likely to stay engaged, productive. When I’m not working, not motivated, not only am I less productive (obviously), but I also more easily fall prey to depressive moods, which makes it even harder for me to work.

Anyway, Ben Folds Five’s second album, Whatever and Ever Amen was once a favorite of mine. Released in 1997, I vivid memories of driving around listening to the album over and over. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this song of theirs, as lip-synced by me.

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I’m I start graduate school classes on Monday.

The 2017 legislative session begins on Wednesday.

Kuleana Academy begins the following weekend.

I’m also trying to take a leading role in organizing efforts in support of a $15 minimum wage.

I’m excited about all these things for different reasons and in different ways. But the combination stands to make my life busy… and challenging for the next several months. I’m looking forward to all of it. Though graduate school has commanded much of my attention in the last few weeks and months.

Since receiving my acceptance letter from the GW School of Political Management in November, I’ve spent a fair amount of time weighing the pros and cons of starting the program this month or deferring to the summer.

Ultimately, for a number of reasons, I decided to start in January.

I’ve already received my first invoice from the university. I knew when I applied, when I received the admission letter, and when I accepted, that the costs would be considerable. And while I believe the value of the education (and degree) will ultimately far outweigh the initial costs, the financial reality nonetheless weighs heavy on me.

The next six months are likely to be some of the busiest and most challenging that I’ve faced in a long time. I always work hard on everything I do, but school will absolutely be my priority.

In a lot of ways, I had a great experience in college. But my last year at Miami was, I think, the most challenging of my life. Saying I had “relationship troubles” is overstating somewhat, but I’m not sure how else to briefly characterize the situation I faced. Couple that with deep depression and that tough end to my college career casts a dark shadow over the rest of it.

I wasn’t the most committed college student to begin with, but after nearly flunking out in my last year, my final GPA is embarrassing.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve looked for ways to redeem myself. Prove to myself that I can be academically successful. Now I have a chance to do that, in a field that I’m passionate about. But while I’m confident I can do well, there is always that little voice in my head that is fearful about failing.

Self-doubt is something I’ve long struggled with. But I don’t really doubt my intelligence, or my ability to perform well. I am (obviously) much older now, more mature. I’m also more confident and comfortable with myself than I was in college. Ultimately, I want to meet this challenge and prove to myself that I can do well in school. Prove that I can do well with all of it.

I’ll spend what is likely to be my last weekend of total freedom for a while relaxing and making whatever last-minute preparations are needed before class actually start…. And session…. And Kuleana Academy….

Oy. Here we go.

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