Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Have You No Shame?

July 12, 2018

The “made for TV” performance this week by President Trump during the NATO meetings leaves anyone with a heart beat breathless.  How could a grown adult behave so boorishly and so out of touch with reality?  President Trump’s ranting over how much NATO countries spend as a percent of their GDP defies current reality and even more amazingly, historic facts.  Suggesting that Europe rearm demonstrates the President is not a student of history.

During the President impromptu news conference Thursday morning, President Trump referred to himself as a “genius”.  Have you no shame?

In between President Trump’s NATO rants, the President found time to insert threats of imposing new tariffs on European produced automobiles.  Think BMW or Mercedes for starters.  This is akin to the “luxury boat tax” which has virtually no impact upon the sale of yachts.  American style automobiles do not appeal to Europeans while BMWs and Mercedes appeal strongly to Americans who can afford them and will pay the price.

The President’s actions around NATO and trade, at first glance, seem like a death wish.  The consequences of miscalculation would be horrendous for the US security and economy.  But, world disorder combined with economic recession could increase fears across the country.  Many Americans, especially in a time of uncertainty, gain comfort in turning to a strong leader.  (Remember Mussolini is credited with making Italian trains run on time.)  Hmmm.

Could it be that President Trump is a genius?  Could it be in the dark recesses of the Trump mind plays a video of America awarding him a second term simply out of fear from the mess that President Trump has made of foreign affairs or domestic policy?  Could it be that President Trump sees a weary country even welcoming the elimination of the 22nd Amendment.  Hmmm.

Could it be President Trump is a genius even with no shame?      

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Happy 4th

July 4, 2018

The 4th of July celebrates the Declaration of Independence, the date when the American Colonies banded together and said “enough” to Great Britain (and its King).  The Colonies sought to become free States and throw off the yoke of power held by Britain.          Happy 4th.

The resulting experiment in a democratic republic built upon certain freedoms (first 10 Amendment) has been hardly a perfect union. In comparison to other nations, however, the United States has grown and prospered enabling Americans to become some of the wealthiest people in the world.  Happy 4th.

The path from 1776 has not been trouble free.  For sure, hypocrisy has abounded.  Just compare the virtues and aspirations of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to the treatment of First Nation Americans (American Indians), slaves and blacks in general, and first generation immigrants from almost anyplace (Ireland to Italy to China to Mexico).  And the idea that now the American melting pot will suddenly see the errors of its past ways and do better today is not going to happen.  Happy 4th.

South America has been a poster child for countries inherently rich in land and resources which seem unable to narrow the gulf between the rich and poor.  These nations have been victims of dictatorships, military take overs, and experiments in communism/socialism, each failing to raise the standard of living of the average person.  Why couldn’t these South Americans simply follow the example from their north?  Happy 4th.

History has also recorded that reasonable access to a nation’s wealth (even if only the perception of access) is a key to stable governments.  If the masses (or the common man) thinks the rules are fair and if he does X, Y, and Z, then he can succeed, the country as a whole benefits.  While the growth in wealth of an immigrant segment is good for everyone, those who currently hold wealth and power normally become frightened.  With fear comes attempted repression.  Hmmm,  Happy 4th

The Donald Trump phenomena which has been labeled the random results of a narcissistic, ego maniac could also be viewed as an allegory of a Pied Piper responding to the call of many Americans fearful that their wealth, status, and property are under threat of being taken by others.  For this worried cut of Americans, the messages contained in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the written record of America’s brightest and darkest days melt away.  These Americans, supporters (or accepters) of President Trump, instead prefer the words of fear, distrust, and outright animus towards others not of their tribe.  Happy 4th.

The Trump populous movement is a clear threat to all Americans’ liberties.  America will not be a better place if women are denied control of their own health, or if it becomes acceptable to use “deeply held religious beliefs” to discriminate and treat others as lesser people, or if tax codes are jiggered to enable the already wealthy become even more wealthy.  More to the point, the cross section of Americans, not all wealthy, that have fallen under President Trump’s trance and think their current life styles are more secure, instead are beginning to walk down the same path that others in other countries have done and unwittingly traded their liberty and freedom for a more authoritarian government that tells them what they want to hear but delivers less than before.  Happy 4th. 

Zero Sum Crowd

July 3, 2018

President Trump’s “America First” gang sees the world as a zero sum game.  One country wins and one loses.  Real simple.  And for the President and his Administration life is all about winning.

Arguably if one goes back far enough in history, where waring marauding nations either conquered their neighbors or were conquered by them, win-lose was the law of the world.  Today, however, the world is far more complicated.  Nuclear weapons have neutralized the larger nations’ ability to simply force their will on other nations.  While larger nations still try from time to time to exert their will on smaller rivals, there is usually an effort to gain broad support first (eg United Nations resolution) for the use of force.  Going it alone is discouraged and if necessary, non-involved nations will band together to sanction economically the offending country.

The world is different in other ways too.  With the relatively free flow of capital, modern  highly productive manufacturing methods, and the low cost of labor in undeveloped countries, goods can be made where ever an entrepreneur wants.  So, as is often the case, someone in America has a brilliant idea on a widget thought to bring high demand in the US.  But where will that widget be made?  The answer is normally where it is the least costly to produce and ship back to the US.

What happens then when President Trump applies his “win-lose” formula to trade deficits?  From his speeches and “tweets”, one must conclude the oceans will recede and other nations will accept more expensive US goods or will sit back and accept US tariffs on goods exported to the US.  Not going to happen.  

The WTO rules have allowed nations to negotiate trade partnerships, including tariffs, which protect certain industries in one country while a different set of tariffs protect other industries in the other trading partner.  The goal remains fair and reciprocal trade. The real world, however, often does not allow for total open, unrestricted trade due to local political conditions (like with steel workers, coal miners, soybean farmers, for example).  Central governments often determine it must take steps to protect certain segments or face voter recall.  Without some protections governments fall and the world order becomes unstable.  

In essence, without a less than perfect solution (the perfect solution being open boarders and no tariffs), unconstrained protectionism will reign and each country will be worse off.  In this real world there are only win-win or lose-lose solutions.  For black-white thinkers where win-lose is the goal understanding that both side must win is a tough sell.

America First is about to get a bloody nose.  As usual the top 1/2 of 1% won’t suffer, but everyone else will feel some unnecessary pain.  Americans have the elections in 2018 and 2020 to eliminate the “zero sum” crowd and get America back on course.

Root Causes

June 28, 2018

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced today his retirement.  This, not so unexpected announcement, was never the less a bummer for moderates and progressives.  But viewed in the American way, his replacement will be a result of a fair process, and a consequence of our political system.  President Trump was elected, and to the victor go the spoils.

While it is not known at this point who President Trump will nominate, smart money is on a very conservative jurist which the President has promised.  Confirmation is extremely likely since Republicans control the Senate.   Should the President pick someone from the extreme right, confirmation is not assured.  Never the less, in short order, the likelihood that the Supreme Court will tilt partisan and dramatically conservative will be known.

In tangible terms, the new Court is expected to be pro-business (anti-union), pro-States Rights (less powerful Federal Government), and pro-evangelical (anti-abortion and anti-gay rights).  It is the religious element which should mainly concern Americans since over turning Roe v Wade and striking down gay marriage are two long stated goals of the religious right.  Here’s why.

Roe v Wade is a sad story of millions of Americans being mis-lead by their chosen faiths. 

Of course, abortion should not be like candy and sought after by the masses. Simple ethics should lead one to take necessary steps to avoid unwanted pregnancies.  Once pregnant, however, there are many reasons why carrying the pregnancy to full term may not make sense (health of fetus or mother, for example).  Americans truly concerned about the unborn would be expected to attack the reasons leading to unwanted pregnancies but that is not the case.  

Gay marriage is a similar issue in that gays marrying creates NO harm for heterosexuals.  Whether married or not gay Americans should have every right to civil benefits handed out heterosexual couples that marry.  If not, why not?

IMO, the underlying driver behind the religious energy against abortion and gay marriage is one of control.  Keeping a woman in her place drives one effort and marginalizing gays keeps a large creative portion of Americans on the sidelines.  And both of these drivers can be played masterfully by religious groups’ leaders to control their flocks.

Religions above all else are businesses.  Full churches translates into full collection baskets, and the opposite leads to pastors and clerics needing to get real jobs.  Hmmm.

So back to the Supreme Court selection.  Conservatives of many stripes have found that banning together is mutually beneficial.   Imagine a libertarian who does not want anyone making them do anything, bonding with a evangelical who gets excited telling others what to do.  Hypocrisy grows and lives well in Washington, DC. 

The pillar of Christianity, Donald J Trump will get to select the next Supreme Court Justice.  Hmmm.

Little Efficiencies

June 25, 2018

President Trump has proposed no longer granting undocumented immigrants judicial “due process”.  If someone is found without proper documentation, in Trump’s world, authorities would simply deport them without any hearing or appeal.  Trump’s world is so simple and easy to understand.

There are two questions, however.

  1. How will Republican Congress members view this?  Will they salute the President or denounce Trump’s proposal as a step down the slippery slope to dictatorship?
  2. And, should this immediate denial of rights not deter further attempted immigration, would the President resort to summary executions and save the expense of transporting the undocumented back to their home country?

Where Is The Voice?

June 23, 2018

There is a television show called “The Voice”.  This post is not about that show.

  • The Voice, this post is referring to, is an currently invisible speaker and his/her’s words of clarity. 
  • Who will call out the President for his constant use of fiction while calling his words facts. 
  • Who will reason thoughtfully that the President’s polices and actions are neither original nor brilliant, and are pointing the US in an unwanted direction?  
  • Who will point out who benefits from the President’s While House actions and how the President acts deliberately to distract the public’s attention? 
  • Who will amplify the glaring hypocrisy the President dishes out gratuitously each and every day?

The President is a 5 deferment, Vietnam dogging American who has absolutely no room to criticize anyone on the basis of patriotism.

 

His constant labeling of Mexican immigrants (including undocumented ones) as “rapists, thugs, and murderers” bares no connection to the truth.  Crime rates among this immigrant group is lower than with permanent citizens. 

 

Prior to the recent tax cut, the “effective tax rate” for American corporations compared to European ones was about the same (18-ish%).  President Trump, however, claimed American corporations had the highest tax rates in the world at 35%.  What the self described “smartest man in the world” did not tell fellow Americans was few if any American corporations pay the top 35% and instead use a host of exemptions, deductions, and credits to reduce their tax bill.

 

Or how about healthcare.  “Worst ever”, pronounced President Trump.  Ask those with “pre-existing conditions” how bad Obamacare has been.  The Trump Administration has pushed, under the guise of affordability, new low cost (and less coverage) healthcare policies.  Hmmm.  Guess what’s not included… how about pre-existing conditions.

So where is the spokesperson, the Walter Cronkite, the Bill Bradley, the George Clooney-looking, articulate politician who in a few words can exposed President Trump’s statements’ falsehoods and correct the record?

Maybe Democrats will have to begin with three or four voices… but not those of Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, or (from the past, Harry Reid).  Democrats need a new voice and new face(s).  There is no need for much policy research, the President kindly supplies each and every day a host of untruths which can be debunked, and with a little thought, can be shown as a cover to obscure some other scheme to enrich Trump, Trump family, or close Trump friends/supporters.

Following Orders

June 20, 2018

There are several popular justifications that are put forward when government programs run amok, and those in the chain of command try to escape blame including criminal penalties.  For example, “I was just following orders”, or “I need this job”, or “my bosses know better than me”, or maybe, “rules are made to be followed”.  Pick one, but be prepared to defend yourself just in case you are asked to separate children from their parents.

The Trump White House is following a playbook which begins with executive orders unsupported by law or past practice.  Consider next that the Cabinet Secretary charged with carrying out the Trump demand is “on Trump’s team”. And lastly, President Trump sees no limits to his authority and is thinking mostly of pleasing his “base” and not the majority of Americans. In short, Trump White House orders skirt the borders of ethics, morals, and customs and could require a subordinate to act unethically or immorally.  So what does one do?

As has always been the case, the most junior level is where the “rubber meets the road”, that is, the agent who actually takes the infant or child from their parent or guardian.  Usually this lowest level hands the child off to another lower level person, maybe for transportation to a holding area.  At the holding area, another lower level person takes custody.  These people all follow orders and thereby keep their job.  Is that the best we can expect?

Let’s assume these lower level workers treated the separated children carelessly or worse, with cruelty or disregard, those actions would seem inhumane.  On the other hand, these workers could have discharged their duties with care and feeling for the safety of the separated children.

Following orders while providing responsible care transfers to spotlight towards middle level managers and supervisors who developed the specific policies and practices for dealing with the process of separating the children, keeping track of them, and providing contact back to their parents or guardians.  These middle level managers are responsible also for ensuring the policies and practices work as intended.  Were the procedures or practices inappropriate for child protection and care, there is a ethical and moral responsibility for both the middle level and lower level staff to speak out and depending upon the onerous nature, to refuse to perform their jobs.

The senior executives including the Cabinet Secretary ultimately are responsible for what rules are developed and how they are implemented.  It is with senior management where the highest leverage point exists for stopping or shaping Executive Orders that smell of poor ethics or morality.  Asking subordinates to implement specious orders is the work of poor leaders.

Nazi Germany is often looked to as a place and time when immoral and unethical orders were passed from the top down to lower levels.  While separating children from the parents does not immediately rise to the level of Hitler Germany’s atrocity, President Trump’s border enforcement policies (Zero Tolerance) provides a good test run for government workers.

Are you sure this is a lawful order?