What are We to Make of It?

Date: 5/12/2018

What a way to start the day!

Another disagreement.

Another temper tantrum.

Why does it always have to be this way?

I just open my mouth and the volcano erupts spewing hot venom from one end of the house to another.

Why do I feel challenged all of the time? Why can’t I just have a conversation in a normal tone of voice?

Paul Ratner guides us through the material first discussed by Paul Graham “How to Disagree Well. 7 of the best and worst ways to argue.”

But that will have to wait.

People Mentioned: Paul Ratner, Paul Graham, Evan Mandrey, Alan Dershowitz, Jeffrey Toobin, Mike Pence, Rudy Guiliani, Robert Mueller, Richard Nixon, Reagan, Chuck Colson; Paul Ryan, Norm Coleman, Corry Bliss; Jake Kasdin; White House Aide (no name), Mick Mulvaney; Senator John McCain; DID NOT VOTE; Senator Tammy Duckworth; Krish Vignarajah; Kelda Roy; Liuba Grethen Shirley; Joya Misra;

Major Topics: Discover two great sites; DRUMBEAT – efforts to derail Mueller Investigation, Republicans deserting the ‘rule of law’; Republicans on the hook for $1.5 trillion tax give away to the wealthy and corporations with no tangible increase in wages; AMERICAN TAXPAYERthe childrenthe 1%; very real threat to American Democracy; The Vietnam War; Today’s war; Veteran’s Statistics; “The Nation at War with Itself; The Beginning of the End – May 10, 2018; Economy of the North Shore of Lake Superior; THREE FORCES MOVING THRU HISTORY:Republican Corruption; YOUTH; WOMEN; VIETNAM INTO THE PRESENT; US ranking: Maternity Leave and Public Spending on Child Care and Education;Global Recession; Middle Class; the Middle Class disappearing act; FRUSTRATION;

 

 

I just discovered two sites that contain fountains of knowledge, “BigThink” and “The Conversation”. I want to devote a whole post just to pry open the lid on the information available on these sites. Amazing!

Both of these sites collect professional, academic topics and distills them for lay people. Very instrumental in explaining the hot topics of today.

Drumbeat

The drumbeat tempo is picking up. Faster. More intense.

I am speaking of Trump’s efforts to derail the Mueller investigation. How do we know that?

He has slammed his new mouthpiece –  Giuliani – shut.

The ‘Go-to-Lawyer’ renowned for successfully battling mob bosses into a whimper is now on the back burner. He is not up to corralling Mueller.

He has also sent the vice president of Donald Trump (in contrast to his title “Vice-President of the United States) to mouth words that first issued by Richard Nixon. Almost word for word. “It is time…”. “We have cooperated…”. and on and on.

C’mon guys. Such drivel.

Except that the base is lapping it up. As are the Republicans in Congress. Fox News is the lapdog panting at the master’s commands.

The American public or at least some of it has been here before.

Now a new iron in the fire to be wary of. The rush to war with Iran. Trump believes that a Commander-in-Chief will not be tried during wartime.

I sure hope he is wrong.

He has put the lives of so many young Americans at risk. It is unconscionable.

That the lives of Israelis and Iranians are at risk even sooner is unconscionable.

That Republicans are deserting the ‘rule of law‘ at an ever faster pace is even more unconscionable.

Why can they not do their jobs?

On the Hook

These members of Congress must be on the hook to Trump for something. I think it is mainly due to the fact that they want to continue to receive campaign funds from corporations and individuals that they gave such a huge tax break to back in December 2017.

Remember all the raises and bonuses that were going to flow out from the generosity of corporations big hearts?

Hah!

That money has rewarded the owners and stockholders by companies buying back stock so as to increase the value of the stocks they own. Some much for the windfall for the American Taxpayer.

And they are still trying to peddle that drivel.

These companies are thwarting the will of the American people. This has been going on since the first payoff to the wealthy and corporations by Reagan and now with the $1.5 trillion gift from the Republicans.

They have been very successful in thumbing their noses at the taxpayers. But I think that may soon end. Taxpayers put up with an immense amount of tomfoolery and criminality but even they will awaken.

What they forget is the stench emanating from Trump’s swamp is stronger even than during Nixon’s reign of the ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’.

Above the law. Wiggle out from under the law. Then Nixon found out he was wrong.

SAY WHAT???

A major thorn in my brain is the lawyer and Harvard Law professor and civil liberties lion, Alan Dershowitz.

Mr. Dershowitz is profiled in the article “What Happened to Alan Dershowitz” published on politico magazine.com.

This insightful article on article on Mr. Dershowitz was written by Evan Mandery, May 11, 2018.

Alan Dershowitz has been a lion as a strong advocate for civil liberties.

As a criminal defense attorney, he was on the legal team of OJ Simpson. He defended and gained the acquittal of Claus von Bulow.

His career goes back to 1963 when he was a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg.

He drafted a memo crucial to the death penalty being overturned when it was ruled unconstitutional.

Evan Mandrey portrays his public persona as “loud, provocative, brilliant and principled.”

Mr. Mandrey also notes that Mr. Dershowitz  is ‘relentlessly self-promoting” and tolerated by the legal profession because his “legal arguments have been acknowledged for their moral seriousness.”

Recently he has been arguing “that a sitting president could not be guilty of obstruction of justice.” (WHAT ???)

He has been shunned by friends of the civil libertarian persuasion.

Indeed, Jeffrey Toobin, a legal analyst for CNN confronted him directly on Anderson Cooper 360, “I don’t know what’s going on with you…this is not who you used to be.”

Mr. Dershowitz does not see himself as a turncoat. He’s waging war against what he sees are liberals who have “dropped their principles in a moment of political threat and are taking out their anger on a man who has been their (the liberals) staunchest ally.”

Alan Dershowitz Google Images
Alan Dershowitz

From a constitutional rights perspective, I can’t give a qualified answer on his positions regarding Trump since I am not an attorney under White House retainer.

From a civil rights perspective, I can’t give a qualified answer since I am not an attorney under a branch of government.

My understanding is: under the rules of governing you have to perform on the world stage in a manner that is above suspicion and reproach. Even a hint of a scandal should end your career.

I am not going to get into his legal arguments because I can’t accept them let alone try to explain them since they are foreign concepts to me.

Suffice it to say, I reject his positions as a ‘cop-out’ against a very real threat to American democracy.

I don’t understand how a legal scholar and practitioner can, in good conscience, fight on the side of Trump.

Back to my positions on Trump

Just as Nixon found that he was boxed in by his illegal actions, I believe Trump will be found out for his collusion and even treasonous actions.

Whether the Republicans in Congress will vote with their conscience or their wallet remains to be seen.

Trump with his abdication of the Iran deal which prevented them from building nuclear weapons has aimed the children of the United States and Israel and Saudia Arabia on a course that will end in combat.

The children of the United States won’t have to worry about all the jobs being lost (to artificial intelligence and machine learning) and because of Trump’s ill-considered trade war with China.

What better way to take a person’s mind off not having a job – throw them in a foxhole.

I wrote a blog post regarding the children of the United States being relentlessly killed by mass murderers. In that post, I also laid out a way to return our country from the grips of the 1%.

I also showed how, by standing up to wealthy and the corporations, the citizens of this country were able to wrest control from the greedy and return it to the real wealth of this country – its people. For a short time but nonetheless, the will of the people overcame greed.

The future our democracy is at risk. That is hard to say and harder to imagine. But the trend speaks for itself.

The children won’t have to worry about jobs – they will be sent into combat instead.

Since the gutless and immoral wonders that are the Republicans in Congress won’t stand up to Trump the die is cast.

Citizens United has freed money to flow from the wealthy to politicians without regard for controls, influence pedaling and outright fraud and corruption.

We are witnessing the results of that horrific Supreme Court decision in 2010. The Supreme Court opened the spigots of uncontrolled money to influence politicians to the detriment of the ordinary citizens.

But it will not continue forever.

I cannot see how any other administration can be more corrupt than this one.

What will stop the deepening of the swamp?

Is it ever going to be drained?

No.

It will implode from the weight of its corruption. 

What the pundits are missing.  And what the current Republicans are ignoring is that sons and daughters will be sent into harm’s way.

Voter suppression? Republicans believe in it.

Racism? Republicans believe in it.

Bribery? Republicans believe in it.

 

Guideposts to War

Vietnam

Those of you that are old enough, remember the build-up in January 1967.

The first of the large-scale operations.

The first Search and Destroy campaigns.

The first large numbers of US troops killed.

There were 480,000 US troops in South Vietnam at this time.

At its peak, the number was 549,500. (1969 and the war cost $77.4 that year; Total killed in Vietnam: 58,148; One out of Ten was a casualty; Total Wounded: 304,000; Severely Disabled: 75,000; Homeless in 2018: 39,471 on any given night (all conflicts); PTSD: one study showed TWO THIRDS of Iraqi War and Afgan War suffer from PTSD ( other surveys show between 8 and 13%

 

Veteran’s Crisis Line 24/7: 1-877-424-3838

agent orange patch

Asia, Europe, Africa

We are now fighting in Syria, Afganistan, Iraq, Africa (Somalia, Niger). Additionally, troops are in Poland, Ukraine, and Kuwait

There are currently 1.3 million military personnel. 450,000 are deployed overseas.

Now add in hotspots that are quickly escalating. Watch Israel, Saudia Arabia, Nigeria in addition to Iran.

Watch again the Vietnam experience.

Less than one year after the first large-scale operations in Vietnam, the March on the Pentagon woke people up. October 21, 1967, 2,500 US soldiers watched as 100,000 protesters descended on them.

March on the Pentagon  2,500 troops against 100,000 protesters

Flower Power was born!

One year later the Tet Offensive exploded. The American public started to not believe what the military and the government were telling them. America was NOT winning the war.

May 4, 1970

Mary Ann Vecchio a 14-year-old runaway at the body of Jeffry Miller

The Murdered at Kent State and the fuel it fed to protesters “They Can’t Kill Us All”

The result of the Massacre?

450 college campuses were closed as protesters increased the drumbeat.

Chuck Colson, Counsel to Nixon went to the basement of the Executive Office Building and encountered the 82 Airborne which was on standby. He remarked ” This can’t be the United States of America. This is not the greatest free democracy in the world. This is a nation at war with itself.” “Nixon: A Presidency Revealed” Broadcast February 2007

By 1973 there were 50 US troops in South Vietnam.

The Beginning of the End

How do the words of Chuck Colson resonate with you? (He would later serve prison time for his role in the Watergate Breakin)

” A Nation at War with Itself”

It is always a challenge to affix the label “The Beginning of the End” after the fact. To label is at it happens is, even more, a fool’s errand.

I will spare the pundits the chore of affixing the label in future years.

I will affix it for them.

May 10, 2018.

In a pre-dawn interview, Mike Pence called for an end to the Mueller Investigation.

He used almost the exact words of Nixon those many years ago.  Nothing has changed.

Money still rules.

Corruption is at a scale never seen before, even in the Nixon years.

When politicians, probably unknowingly, use the same words used by a major crook that was brought down. A new beginning is taking place.

Faced with the documents showing that not only AT&T and Novartis among other companies engaged Michael Cohen, “Trump’s attorney for favors”, but also a Russian Oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg also channeled money to Michael Cohen in the amount of $500,000, Pence has the gall to accuse Mueller to ‘wrap up’ the witchhunt?

By extension, Pence is also calling on all Americans that are lining up to accuse the Trump administration and it’s unholy cohorts, to cease and desist.

Americans don’t have the right to hold their government accountable?

The drumbeat increases in pace and volume.

More Republicans start to beat down Mueller and the investigation as merely a witchhunt.

Why am I so bold in my labeling May 10, 2018, as the beginning of the end?

First, it is the day I started to write this post.

Secondly, there are powerful forces working in the undercurrent of Trump’s wave “Make America Great Again”.

The Forces Now Moving thru History

Two very important forces are moving thru history. There is a third but it is not as much as the other two.

Reason #3: Republicans are more corrupt now than at any other time I have watched politics unfold. Not even during the Nixon era were the Republicans as corrupt as they are now.

Paul Ryan may be leaving Congress but he is still leaving his corrupt footprint for history to follow.

Three days ago a party led by Ryan and including Norm Coleman a Minnesota politician who chairs the Republican Jewish Coalition, Corry Bliss who oversees the super PAC and Jake Kasdan. Ryan’s wife Miriam was also along for the ride of a lifetime.

Ryan pleaded the Republicans case with Sheldon Adelson to pry money out of this mega wealthy donor.

Since Ryan can’t legally solicit or accept a seven-figure political donation he left the room after his jawboning.

After he left, Norm Coleman made the ask and secured a $30 million contribution.

Aren’t political crooks fun to watch? I have often wondered whether Ryan or McConnell or Trump for that matter ever consider how history is going to record their actions?

Maybe it won’t condemn them. Maybe they will be the torchbearers heralding a new era in American politics “Come Feed My Bank Account” as opposed to ‘Come feed my children’ as Jesus requested.

Of course, we know that Sheldon Adelson acted out of the kindness of his heart and expects nothing in return for his $30 million. My goodness no. That would be a quid pro quo which is illegal in finance contribution regulations.

But wait! We now know that Mick Mulvaney, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and now also the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that he is dismantling, announced to a roomful of bankers that he only talked with people that donated to his campaigns when he was a member of the House of Representatives.

No behind the scenes snarking for him. He even had the gall today to defend the White House aide that made a snide remark about John McCain ‘dying anyway’.

Apparently, the Trump base laps this stuff up. In that case, they are correct in their threat that if Trump goes down there will be armed rebellion.

If you doubt what I am saying check this site for the newest news on the latest and greatest #MAGA.

Please get a good breath of clean air before dumpster diving!

I have taken to calling Republicans and others who promote the ‘share the love’ campaigns of Trump – dumpsters.

I am sure none of my Facebook ‘friends’ follow me any longer. Just as I am sure that when Trump goes down and evil is always pounded at some point there will be an armed rebellion by the dumpsters.

So that was my third point – Republicans are more corrupt now than at any time in history.

My second important piece that is moving thru history and will give Americans a chance to reclaim our country.

YOUTH

Republicans have passed voter suppression laws in many states to keep minorities from voting.

A glaring case from Texas concerns teens registering to vote. You can use a conceal/carry license to register to vote but not a student ID! This includes college student IDs.

Due to the confusion surrounding the requirements and opportunities to vote, only 43% of eligible youth voted in 2016.

This year there are major campaigns to register young people to vote. I read that one state is even 16-and 17-year- olds to vote. They can’t vote until they turn 18 but the paperwork will already be completed.

In California, they can even register to vote online.

 

WOMEN!

I hope that all the people that did not vote in 2016 (AND YOU WERE THE ONES THAT ELECTED TRUMP!)   will reconsider their choices for 2018 and 2020.

The Graphic 'DID NOT VOTE' was the deciding factor in the results of the 2016 elections Google Images
The voter ‘DID NOT VOTE‘ was the deciding factor in the results of the 2016 elections

As women were a major deciding factor in electing Trump (46% of white college-educated women voted for Trump in the 2016 election!) I do not know why.

The same margin held true for the election involving Roy Moore in Alabama except that he did not win.

Why women have voted that way I do not know. Nor do I know why so many women are now on fire to defeat Republicans. But that news is always good news.

Some big events that are shining light on women in politics:

Senator Tammy Duckworth is now permitted to nurse her newborn on the Senate floor!

Maryland’s Krish Vignarajah and Wisconsin’s Kelda Roy made waves with their campaign ads showing them nursing their infants.

According to an article in ‘The Conversation” a Democratic congressional candidate in New York, Liuba Grechen Shirley was just granted permission from the Federal Election Commission to use campaign funds to cover the cost of childcare while she runs for office.

However, it is still very discouraging to read in “The Conversation” of April 19th in an article by Joya Misra, Professor of Sociology & Public Policy, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst that parental leave and maternity leave are so dismal in the United States to the rest of the world.

Paid Maternity Leave around the World 'The Conversation'

As you can see Finland rates as the most generous country in the world by giving 161 weeks of paid maternity leave. The US? ZERO WEEKS! Other countries that share the same position as the US? Lesotho, Liberia, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland.

I wonder if Trump-land is going to introduce legislation to fix this stark and unflattering discrepancy? Your thoughts?

Public Spending on Child Care "The Conversation"

In a world lead by France where 99% of children age 3 thru 6 receive support for child care.

The US ranks below Hungary and above only Chile, Mexico and Turkey.

The only way this conversation will be changed is for women to enter politics at all levels and get elected so that the real cultural values of this country will be recognized.

Women don’t have to be elected to office in order to have a voice in how this country is run?  There are so many opportunities to get involved and legally influence the legislators across the country.

Please follow this link to the World Economic Outlook website to find several eye-opening statistics and trends regarding the topics above and others such as how globalization is spreading tech across borders.

IT PACKED A WALLOP

While I am still out of sorts from the preceding topics I will close with what I consider a major disaster.

The global recession may technically be over but it still casts a black shadow in the United States.

This dragtline represents the darkness over the United States that still prevails from the last global recession. Google Images
This drag-line represents the darkness over the United States that still prevails from the last global recession.

Nighttime is still here for the middle class.

In fact, the middle class was the big loser in the last economic downturn. The rust belt is disappearing at an increasingly faster rate.

A study by Joseph Morreale, Dyson College of Arts & Sciences, Pace University with Julia Young, Pace University depicts the loses of the Great Recession (late 2000s).

The middle class in the United States of America is only a shadow of its earlier self.

Their analysis showed that from 1970 to  2010 the middle class shrunk by 6.9%.

In the same time period, the Top 20% of all households rose 6.9%.

The Pew Research Center published an income calculator which stated that “half of the American adults lived in middle-class homes in 2014.”

“In percentage terms, 51% of adults lived in middle-income households, 29% in lower-income households and 20% in upper-income households.”

The PEW Center’s new analysis “shows that the American middle class lost ground in the vast majority of metropolitan areas from 2000 to 2014.

The share of adults in the lower-and upper-income ranks in most areas rose in most areas.

“There was more movement into the upper-income tiers in about half of the areas, while in the other half there was more movement downward.”

I entered my personal data similar to my status.

Based on household income and the number of people in your household, I was in the lower-income tier, along with 20% of adults in the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington area.

The lower tier in this area was 20% in Minnesota compared to 29% for the US.

“Among  all American adults with my education, age, race, ethnicity, and marital status,  11% are lower income, 58% are middle income and 31% are upper income.”

(The calculator is weighted so that each household’s income is equivalent to a three-person household (this is the whole number nearest to the average size of the U.S. household which was 2.5 in 2014).

A comparison of the results of the two studies are similar to the Pew report which designated 11% more people to the upper-income bracket.

Morreale and Young, after a lot of testing, settled upon the variables that were most significant:

Percent of college education (2 or more years in college)

Single-parent households (Female Householder)

Unemployment

Real GDP (in billions).

This demonstrates the birth of the discontent among middle and lower income levels as to government not listening, loss of middle-income jobs and increases in economic and social strife.

No longer is the belief held that if you worked hard enough, smart enough and long enough you would achieve middle-class standing.

The worse the economy got the worse a lot of the middle class got.

The more the economy grew (small but steady during Barack Obama’s term) the worse a lot of the middle class got.

People could not and still cannot get ahead.

Unless they can get the education necessary to learn the new technology namely machine learning and deep learning, and neural networks they now will realize the loss of a dream.

I spoke with two men in the waiting room on a recent afternoon. One was an auto mechanic that owned his own shop and the other was a retired man living north of Grand Marais in Cook County, Minnesota.

The comments of these men centered on the cost of new equipment or updating the equipment used to run his business so he decided (as do many other mechanics and small business owners)  not to invest many thousands of dollars in computer equipment and training.

Manufacturer’s certified technicians were nonexistent in rural Cook County

A dealer of recreation vehicles and equipment such as snowmobiles, chain saws, lawn mowers complained bitterly of training mechanics from no experience to manufacturer certification only to lose them to the lure of more money in the city of Duluth, MN.

Cook County is a favorite place for big city folks who travel the 3 or more hours to the wilderness of Cook County. They are fleeing the rat race of the ‘big city’ to recreate in the many lakes, forests and yes, even a  ‘mountain’ or two.

The real bite is that manufacturers of the equipment used in the playground of Cook County (and no doubt across the nation) require that warranty work must be completed by certified mechanics.

The Frustration Runs Deep

At almost every new thought, the mechanic I was speaking with, took off his obligatory baseball cap (grease stained and crumpled so it was almost not recognizable as a baseball cap! MAC TOOLS was emblazoned on the front) and ran his hand through his hair, raised an arm in frustration and slammed it down into his lap.

The retired gentleman recalled the small business owner as saying that since he would train new technicians only to lose them to a car company or something else in Duluth, he was his highest paid technician.

Frustration at not being able to have any influence on one’s destiny runs deep and wide.

While this frustration may account for many of Donald Trump’s supporters, I still do not understand how these smart, intelligent men (they claim to be not smart or tech savvy except for the mechanic who admitted that he had a smartphone “but only for business” but said that he could go on the internet and learn something) find the gumption or whatever the elusive connection is called, to support #MAGA.

Good, honest, decent men ensnared in the massive changes underway in the current market and not desiring because of age, health or another reason, did not/could not learn all the new technology, “there is no way to keep up with the changes.”

What a massive, unexpectedly complex post. One topic was encased in another so that both had to be acknowledged, however briefly.

But that is the way in today’s world. The Fourth Industrial Revolution stomps on. Sometimes it ravages people’s live. Sometimes it increases the options for other people. But always under the HARSH gaze of politics.

Footnotes:
Morreale, Joseph, and Young, Julia, "Impact of the Great Recession on
Middle-Class America" (2012). Student-Faculty Research Projects. Paper 2
https://digitalcommons.pace.edu/ugfacprojets/2
Richard Fry and Rakesh Kochhar: (https://pew research.org/staff/richard-fry);
https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/5/11/16/are-you-in-the-american-
middle-class/

Thanks for stopping by.

Craig

Black and white hydride tea rose with water droplets on it's petals. Svetlana Manic 282267 Unsplash!
Svetlana Manic 282267 Unsplash!
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.